Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

Overview
Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751) was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 politician, government official and political philosopher. He was a leader of the Tories, and supported the Church of England politically despite his atheism. In 1715 he supported the Jacobite rebellion of 1715
Jacobitism
Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...

 which sought to overthrow the new king George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

. Escaping to France he became foreign minister for the Pretender. He was attainted
Attainder
In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura is the metaphorical 'stain' or 'corruption of blood' which arises from being condemned for a serious capital crime . It entails losing not only one's property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs...

 for treason, but reversed course and was allowed to return to England in 1723.
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Quotations

I have read somewhere or other, — in Dionysius of Halicarnassus|Dionysius of Halicarnassus, I think, — that history is philosophy teaching by examples.

On the Study and Use of History, letter 2. See Dionysius of Halicarnassus (quoting Thucydides), Ars Rhet. xi. 2, says: "The contact with manners then is education; and this Thucydides appears to assert when he says history is philosophy learned from examples."

Nations, like men, have their infancy.

On the Study and Use of History, letter 4 (1752).

They (Thucydides|Thucydides and Xenophon|Xenophon) maintained the dignity of history.

On the Study and Use of History, letter 5 (1752). Compare Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, book xi. chap. ii.; Horace Walpole, Advertisement to Letter to Sir Horace Mann; Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay|Thomas Babington Macaulay, History of England, vol. i. chap. i.

The landed men are the true owners of our political vessel, the moneyed men are no more than passengers in it.

Some Reflections on the Present State of the Nation (1753)

It is the modest, not the presumptuous, inquirer who makes a real and safe progress in the discovery of divine truths. One follows Nature and Nature's God; that is, he follows God in his works and in his word.

Letter to Alexander Pope. Compare: "Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, But looks through Nature up to Nature’s God", Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, epistle iv. line 331.

The shortest and surest way of arriving at real knowledge is to unlearn the lessons we have been taught, to mount the first principles, and take nobody's word about them.

As quoted in Treasury of Wisdom, Wit and Humor, Odd Comparisons and Proverbs (1891) by Adam Woolever
Encyclopedia
Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751) was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 politician, government official and political philosopher. He was a leader of the Tories, and supported the Church of England politically despite his atheism. In 1715 he supported the Jacobite rebellion of 1715
Jacobitism
Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...

 which sought to overthrow the new king George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

. Escaping to France he became foreign minister for the Pretender. He was attainted
Attainder
In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura is the metaphorical 'stain' or 'corruption of blood' which arises from being condemned for a serious capital crime . It entails losing not only one's property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs...

 for treason, but reversed course and was allowed to return to England in 1723. He is best known as the philosopher of the Country Party
Country Party (Britain)
In Britain in the era 1680-1740, especially in the days of Robert Walpole , the Country Party was a coalition of Tories and disaffected Whigs. It was a movement rather than an organized party and had no formal structure or leaders...

.

In Britain, "Bolingbroke" is pronounced Bullingbrook or Bullenbrook.

Early life


Henry St John was most likely born at Lydiard Tregoze
Lydiard Tregoze
Lydiard Tregoze is a small village and civil parish on the western edge of Swindon in the County of Wiltshire, in the south west of England. It has in the past been spelt as Liddiard Tregooze and in other ways.-History:...

, the family seat in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, and christened in Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

. St John was the son of Sir Henry St John, (later 1st Viscount St John) and Lady Mary Rich, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Warwick
Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick
Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick was an English colonial administrator, admiral, and puritan.Rich was the eldest son of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick and his wife Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich, and succeeded to his father's title in 1619...

. Although it has been asserted that St John was educated at Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

 and Christ Church College, Oxford, his name does not appear on registers for either institution and there is no evidence to support either claim. It is possible he was educated at a Dissenting
English Dissenters
English Dissenters were Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.They originally agitated for a wide reaching Protestant Reformation of the Established Church, and triumphed briefly under Oliver Cromwell....

 academy
Dissenting academies
The dissenting academies were schools, colleges and nonconformist seminaries run by dissenters. They formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries....

.

He travelled to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 during 1698 and 1699 and acquired an exceptional knowledge of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. St John made friends with the Whigs James Stanhope and Edward Hopkins
Edward Hopkins
Edward Hopkins was an English colonist and politician and Governor of the Connecticut Colony. Active on both sides of the Atlantic, he was a founder of the New Haven and Connecticut colonies, serving seven one-year terms as governor of Connecticut. He returned to England in the 1650s, where he...

 and corresponded with the Tory Sir William Trumball, who advised him: "There appears indeed amongst us [in England] a strong disposition to liberty, but neither honesty nor virtue enough to support it". St John

Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

 reported that he had been seen to "run naked through the park in a state of intoxication". Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

, his intimate friend, said that he wanted to be thought the Alcibiades
Alcibiades
Alcibiades, son of Clinias, from the deme of Scambonidae , was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War...

 or Petronius
Petronius
Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian age.-Life:...

 of his age, and to mix licentious orgies with the highest political responsibilities. In 1700, he married Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Winchcombe of Bucklebury
Bucklebury
Bucklebury is a village and civil parish in West Berkshire. The village is about north-east of Newbury and about north of the A4 road. It has a population of 2,066.-Geography:...

, Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, but this made little difference to his lifestyle.

Early career


He was returned to Parliament in 1701 for the family borough of Wootton Bassett
Wootton Bassett
Royal Wootton Bassett , informally known as Wootton Bassett, is a small market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 11,043 in 2001...

 in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, as a Tory. His seat was Lydiard Park at Lydiard Tregoze, now in the Borough of Swindon. He attached himself to Robert Harley (afterwards Lord Oxford), then speaker, and distinguished himself by his eloquence in debate, eclipsing his schoolfellow, Robert Walpole
Robert Walpole
Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG, KB, PC , known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as having been the first Prime Minister of Great Britain....

, and gaining an extraordinary ascendancy over the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

. In May, he had charge of the bill for securing the Protestant succession; he took part in the impeachment of the Whig lords for their conduct concerning the Partition treaties, and opposed the oath of loyalty against the "Old Pretender
James Francis Edward Stuart
James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales was the son of the deposed James II of England...

". In March 1702, he was chosen commissioner for taking the public accounts.

After Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

's accession, St John supported the bills in 1702 and 1704 against occasional conformity, and took a leading part in the disputes which arose between the two Houses. In 1704, St John took office with Harley as secretary at war
Secretary at War
The Secretary at War was a political position in the English and later British government, with some responsibility over the administration and organization of the Army, but not over military policy. The Secretary at War ran the War Office. It was occasionally a cabinet level position, although...

, thus being brought into intimate relations with John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, Prince of Mindelheim, KG, PC , was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs through the late 17th and early 18th centuries...

, by whom he was treated with favour. In 1708, he left office with Harley on the failure of the latter's intrigue, and retired to the country till 1710, when he became a privy counsellor
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 and secretary of state in Harley's new ministry, representing Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

 in parliament. He supported the bill for requiring a real property qualification for a seat in parliament. In 1711 he founded the Brothers' Club, a society of Tory politicians and men of letters, and the same year witnessed the failure of the two expeditions to the West Indies and to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 promoted by him. In 1712, he was the author of the bill taxing newspapers.

The refusal of the Whigs to make peace with France in 1706, and again in 1709 when Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 offered to yield every point for which the allies professed to be fighting, showed that the war was not being continued in the national interest, and the ministry was supported by the queen, Parliament and the people in wishing to terminate hostilities. Because of the diversity of aims among the allies, St John was induced to enter into separate and secret negotiations with France for the security of English interests. In May 1712, he ordered the Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde
James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde KG KT was an Irish statesman and soldier. He was the third of the Kilcash branch of the family to inherit the earldom of Ormonde...

, who had succeeded Marlborough in command, to refrain from any further engagement. These instructions were communicated to the French, though not to the allies, Louis putting Dunkirk as security into possession of England, and the English troops deserted their allies almost on the battlefield. Subsequently St John received the congratulations of the French foreign minister, Torcy, on the French victory over Prince Eugene
Prince Eugene of Savoy
Prince Eugene of Savoy , was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna. Born in Paris to aristocratic Italian parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV...

 at Denain
Battle of Denain
The Battle of Denain was fought on 24 July 1712, as part of the War of the Spanish Succession, and resulted in a French victory under Marshal Villars against Austrian and Dutch forces under Prince Eugene of Savoy.-Prelude:...

.

In August 1712, St John, who had been created Viscount Bolingbroke went to France and signed an armistice between England and France for four months. Finally, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in March 1713 by all the allies except the emperor. The first production of Addison's Cato was made by the Whigs the occasion of a great demonstration of indignation against the peace, and by Bolingbroke for presenting the actor Barton Booth
Barton Booth
Barton Booth was one of the most famous dramatic actors of the first part of the 18th century.Booth was from Lancashire and was educated at Westminster School, where his success in the Latin play Andria gave him an inclination for the stage...

 with a purse of fifty guineas for "defending the cause of liberty against a perpetual dictator" (Marlborough).

In June, Bolingbroke's commercial treaty with France, establishing free trade with that country, was rejected. Meanwhile, the friendship between Bolingbroke and Harley, the basis of the whole Tory administration, had been gradually dissolved. In March 1711, when the Marquis de Guiscard made an attempt on Harley's life, Bolingbroke assumed temporary leadership of the ministry's affairs. His difficulty in controlling the Tory back-benchers, however, only made Harley's absence the more noticeable. In May, Harley obtained the earldom of Oxford
Earl of Oxford
Earl of Oxford is a dormant title in the Peerage of England, held for several centuries by the de Vere family from 1141 until the death of the 20th earl in 1703. The Veres were also hereditary holders of the office of master or Lord Great Chamberlain from 1133 until the death of the 18th Earl in 1625...

 and was made lord treasurer, while in July, St John was greatly disappointed at receiving only his viscountcy instead of the earldom lately extinct in his family, and at being passed over for the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

.

In September 1713, Swift came to London, and made a final vain attempt to reconcile his two friends. But now a further cause of difference had arisen. The queen's health was visibly breaking, and the Tory ministers anticipated their downfall on the accession of the Elector of Hanover. During Bolingbroke's diplomatic mission to France he had incurred blame for remaining at the opera while the Pretender was present, and according to the Mackintosh
James Mackintosh
Sir James Mackintosh was a Scottish jurist, politician and historian. His studies and sympathies embraced many interests. He was trained as a doctor and barrister, and worked also as a journalist, judge, administrator, professor, philosopher and politician.-Early life:Mackintosh was born at...

 transcripts he had several secret interviews with him. Regular communications were kept up subsequently.

In March 1714, Herville, the French envoy in London, sent to Torcy, the French foreign minister, the substance of two long conversations with Bolingbroke in which the latter advised patience till after the accession of George I
George I
George I may refer to:* Patriarch George I of Constantinople * George I of Georgia * George I of Russia, * George I of Bulgaria * George I of Halych George I may refer to:* Patriarch George I of Constantinople (d. 686)* George I of Georgia (1014–1027)* George I of Russia, (c. 1099–1157)* George I...

, when a great reaction was to be expected in favour of the Pretender. At the same time, he spoke of the treachery of Marlborough and Berwick
James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick
James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick, 1st Duke of Fitz-James, 1st Duke of Liria and Jérica was an Anglo-French military leader, illegitimate son of King James II of England by Arabella Churchill, sister of the 1st Duke of Marlborough...

, and of one Other, presumably Oxford, whom he refused to name, all of whom were in communication with Hanover. Both Oxford and Bolingbroke warned James that he could have little chance of success unless he changed his religion, but the latter's refusal does not appear to have stopped the communications.

Bolingbroke gradually superseded Oxford in the leadership. Lady Masham, the queen's favourite, quarrelled with Oxford and identified herself with Bolingbroke's interests. The harsh treatment of the Hanoverian demands was inspired by him, and won favour with the queen, while Oxford's influence declined; and by his support of the Schism Bill in May 1714, a violent Tory measure forbidding all education by dissenters by making an episcopal licence obligatory for schoolmasters, he probably intended to compel Oxford to give up the game. Finally, a charge of corruption brought by Oxford in July against Bolingbroke and Lady Masham, in connexion with the commercial treaty with Spain, failed, and the lord treasurer was dismissed or retired on 27 July 1714. The Queen died four days later, after appointing Shrewsbury
Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury
Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury, KG, PC was an English statesman. Born to Roman Catholic parents, he remained in that faith until 1679 when—during the time of the Popish Plot and following the advice of the divine John Tillotson—he converted to the Church of England...

 to the lord treasurership.

Exile


On the accession of George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

 the illuminations and bonfire at Lord Bolingbroke's house in Golden Square were "particularly fine and remarkable," but he was immediately dismissed from office. The new king had been close to the Whigs but he was willing to bring in Tories. The Tories however refused to serve and gambled everything on an election, which they lost. The triumphant Whigs systematically removed the Tories for most of the posts nationally and regionally.

Bolingbroke followed an erratic course that baffled his contemporaries and historians. He retired to Bucklebury and is said to have now written the answer to the Secret History of the White Staff accusing him of being a Jacobite
Jacobite rising
The Jacobite Risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings were aimed at returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by...

. In March 1715, he in vain attempted to defend the late ministry in the new parliament; and on the announcement of Walpole
Robert Walpole
Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG, KB, PC , known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as having been the first Prime Minister of Great Britain....

's intended attack upon the authors of the Treaty of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht
The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, comprises a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713...

 he gave up.

Bolingbroke fled in disguise to Paris--a major blunder. In an even greater blunder he joined the Pretender, was made an earl, and took charge of foreign affairs in the Stuart court. The uprising of 1715 was badly botched and the death of Louis XIV meant the Pretender had lost his major sponsor; King Louis XV wanted peace with Britain and refused to endorse and further schemes. In March 1716, Bolingbroke switched sides again. He had lost his titles and property when Parliament voted a bill of attainder for treason. He hoped to recover the good graces of King George, and indeed managed to do so in a few years.

He wrote his Reflexions upon Exile, and in 1717, his letter to Sir William Wyndham in explanation of his position, generally considered one of his finest compositions, but not published till 1753 after his death. The same year, he formed a liaison with a widow Marie Claire Deschamps de Marcilly, whom he married in 1720, two years after his first wife's death. He bought and resided at the estate of La Source near Orléans
Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

, studied philosophy, criticized the chronology of the Bible, and was visited amongst others by Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, who expressed unbounded admiration for his learning and politeness.

Pardon and return


In 1723, through the medium of the king's mistress, Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal and Munster
Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal and Munster
Ehrengard Melusine Baroness von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal and Duchess of Munster was born at Emden near Magdeburg. Her middle name was probably given in reference to the Melusine legends. Her brother was Marshal Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg...

, he received a pardon, returned to London. Walpole reluctantly accepted his return. In 1725, Parliament enabled him to hold real estate but without power of alienating it. But this had been effected in consequence of a peremptory order of the king, against Walpole's wishes, who succeeded in maintaining his exclusion from the House of Lords. He now bought an estate at Dawley
Dawley
Dawley is a small town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshire, England. Today it forms part of the new town of Telford...

, near Uxbridge
Uxbridge
Uxbridge is a large town located in north west London, England and is the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon. It forms part of the ceremonial county of Greater London. It is located west-northwest of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres...

, where he renewed his intimacy with Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

, Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 and Voltaire, took part in Pope's literary squabbles, and wrote the philosophy for the Essay on Man.

On the first occasion which offered itself, that of Pulteney
William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath
William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath, PC was an English politician, a Whig, created the first Earl of Bath in 1742 by King George II; he is sometimes stated to have been Prime Minister, for the shortest term ever , though most modern sources reckon that he cannot be considered to have held the...

's rupture with Walpole in 1726, he endeavoured to organize an opposition in conjunction with the former and Wyndham; and in 1727, began his celebrated series of letters to the Craftsman, attacking the Walpoles, signed "an Occasional Writer". He gained over the Duchess of Kendal with a bribe of £11,000 from his wife's estates, and with Walpole's approval obtained an audience with George. His success was imminent, and it was thought his appointment as chief minister was assured. In Walpole's own words, "as St John had the duchess entirely on his side I need not add what must or might in time have been the consequence," and he prepared for his dismissal. But once more Bolingbroke's "fortune turned rotten at the very moment it grew ripe," and his projects and hopes were ruined by the king's death in June.

He wrote additional essays signed "John Trot" that appeared in the Craftsman in 1728, and in 1730 followed Remarks on the History of England by Humphrey Oldcastle, attacking Walpole's policy. Comment prompted by Bolingbroke was continued in the House of Commons by Windham, and great efforts were made to establish the alliance between the Tories and the Opposition Whigs. The Excise Bill in 1733 and the Septennial Bill in the following year offered opportunities for further attacks on the government, which Bolingbroke supported by a new series of papers in the Craftsman styled "A Dissertation on Parties"; but the whole movement collapsed after the new elections, which returned Walpole to power in 1735 with a large majority.

Bolingbroke retired baffled and disappointed from the fray to France in June, residing principally at the château of Argeville near Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau...

. He now wrote his Letters on the Study of History (printed privately before his death and published in 1752), and the True Use of Retirement. In 1738, he visited England, became one of the leading friends and advisers of Frederick, Prince of Wales
Frederick, Prince of Wales
Frederick, Prince of Wales was a member of the House of Hanover and therefore of the Hanoverian and later British Royal Family, the eldest son of George II and father of George III, as well as the great-grandfather of Queen Victoria...

, who now headed the opposition, and wrote for the occasion The Patriot King, which together with a previous essay, The Spirit of Patriotism, and The State of Parties at the Accession of George I, were entrusted to Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

 and not published. Having failed, however, to obtain any share in politics, he returned to France in 1739, and subsequently sold Dawley. In 1742 and 1743, he again visited England and quarrelled with Warburton. In 1744, he settled finally at Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

 with his friend Hugh Hume, 3rd Earl of Marchmont, and was present at Pope's death in May. The discovery that the poet had printed secretly 1500 copies of The Patriot King, caused him to publish a correct version in 1749, and stirred up a further altercation with Warburton, who defended his friend against Bolingbroke's bitter aspersions, the latter, whose conduct was generally reprehended, publishing a Familiar Epistle to the most Impudent Man Living.

Death


In 1744, he had been very busy assisting in the negotiations for the establishment of the new "broad bottom" administration, and showed no sympathy for the Jacobite expedition
Jacobite rising
The Jacobite Risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings were aimed at returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by...

 in 1745. He recommended the tutor for Prince George, afterwards George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

. About 1749, he wrote the Present State of the Nation, an unfinished pamphlet. Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield PC KG was a British statesman and man of letters.A Whig, Lord Stanhope, as he was known until his father's death in 1726, was born in London. After being educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he went on the Grand Tour of the continent...

 records the last words heard from him: "God who placed me here will do what He pleases with me hereafter and He knows best what to do". He died on 12 December 1751, aged 73, his second wife having predeceased him by one year. They were both buried in the parish church at Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

, where a monument with medallions and inscriptions composed by Bolingbroke was erected to their memory.

Impact



Republicanism in America


In the late 20th century, Bolingbroke was rediscovered by historians as a major influence on Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, and on the American patriots John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. Adams said that he had read all of Bolingbroke's works at least five times; indeed, Bolingbroke's works were widely read in the American colonies, where they helped provide the foundation for the emerging nation's devotion to republicanism in the United States
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. His vision of history as cycles of birth, growth, decline and death of a republic were influential in the colonies, as was his contention on liberty: that one is "free not from the law, but by the law."

Fading influence in Britain


Bute
John Stuart
John Stuart may refer to:*Sir John Stuart, 4th Baronet , MP for Kincardineshire*John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute , Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762–1763...

 and George III derived their political ideas from The Patriot King. Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 wrote his Vindication of Natural Society in imitation of Bolingbroke's style, but in refutation of his principles; and in the Reflections on the French Revolution he exclaims, "Who now reads Bolingbroke, who ever read him through?" Burke denied that Bolingbroke's words left "any permanent impression on his mind."

The loss of Bolingbroke's great speeches was regretted by William Pitt
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham PC was a British Whig statesman who led Britain during the Seven Years' War...

 more than that of the missing books of Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 and Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

. By the early 20th century, the writings and career of Bolingbroke would make a weaker impression than they made on contemporaries. He was thought to be a man of brilliant and versatile talents, but selfish, insincere and intriguing, defects of character which arguably led to his political ruin; and his writings were described as glittering, artificial and lacking philosophical merit. It has been said that his abilities were exercised upon ephemeral objects, and not inspired by lasting or universal ideas.

Country Party


Bolingbroke was especially influential in stating the need and outlining the machinery of a systematic parliamentary opposition. Such an opposition he called a "country party" which he opposed to the court party. Country parties had been formed before, for instance after the king's speech to Parliament in November 1685, but Bolingbroke was the first to state the need for a continual opposition to the government. To his mind the spirit of liberty was threatened by the court party's lust for power.

Liberty could only be safeguarded by an opposition party that used "constitutional methods and a legal course of opposition to the excesses of legal and ministerial power…" (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Idea of a Patriot King p. 117). He instructed the opposition party to "Wrest the power of government, if you can, out of the hands that employed it weakly and wickedly" (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism p. 42). This work could be done only by a homogeneous party "…because such a party alone will submit to a drudgery of this kind" (cf. Bolingbroke, On the idea of a Patriot King p. 170). It didn't suffice to be eager to speak, keen to act. "They who affect to head an opposition ,…, must be equal, at least, to those whom they oppose…" (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism p. 58). The opposition had to be of a permanent nature to make sure that it would be looked at as a part of daily politics. It had to contrast, on every occasion, the government (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism p. 61). He considered a party that systematically opposed the government to be more appealing than a party that occasionally opposed the government (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism pp. 62, 63). This opposition had to prepare itself to control government (cf. Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism p. 61).

He was succeeded in the title as 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke
Viscount Bolingbroke
Viscount Bolingbroke / Viscount St John is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain and is currently held by Nicholas Alexander Mowbray St John, the 9th Viscount Bolingbroke and 10th Viscount St John who lives in Sydney Australia....

, according to the special remainder, by his half-nephew Frederick, 3rd Viscount St John (a title granted to Bolingbroke's father in 1716), from whom the title has descended. Frederick was the son of the 1st Viscount's half brother John St John, by his father's 2nd wife Angelica Magdalena Pelissary.

Works


Further reading

  • Rex A. Barrell. Bolingbroke and France (1988)
  • Henry N. Fieldhouse, "Bolingbroke and the Idea of Non-Party Government," History (1938) 23:46+
  • Christine Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole: Politics, Poetry, and National Myth, 1725–1742 (1994).
  • Douglas, Sir Harkness. Bolingbroke: The Man and His Career (1957), biography
  • Brean S. Hammond. Pope and Bolingbroke: A Study of Friendship and Influence (1984)
  • Jeffrey Hart. Viscount Bolingbroke (1980)
  • Arthur Hassall. Life of Viscount Bolingbroke (2006). Originally published 1889.
  • F. J. C. Hearnshaw: Bolingbroke and Progressive Conservatism, Kessinger Publishing (2005) ISBN 9781425461959. Originally published as a chapter in Hearnshaw's Some Great Political Idealists of the Christian era (1937)
  • Isaac Kramnick. Bolingbroke and His Circle: The Politics of Nostalgia in the Age of Walpole (1992)
  • Harvey Claflin Mansfield. Statesmanship and party government;: A study of Burke and Bolingbroke (1965)
  • J. G. A. Pocock; The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. (1975)
  • Isaac Kramnick. "An Augustan Reply to Locke: Bolingbroke on Natural Law and the Origin of Government," Political Science Quarterly Vol. 82, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 571-594 in JSTOR
  • Walter Sichel. Bolingbroke And His Times, 2 vols. (1901–02) Vol. 1 The Reign of Queen Anne , Vol. 2 March 1715 - December 1751
  • Simon Varey. Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke (Twayne's English Authors Series) (1984), short summary
  • Perez Zagorin, “The Court and the Country: A Note on Political Terminology in the Earlier Seventeenth Century," English Historical Review (1962) 77;306-11 in JSTOR.

External links