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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

Succeeded Townshend as Secretary of State


a man of austere character

and stainless life; but he seems, nevertheless, to have tried at one time the merest arts of the political intriguer to supplant his brother-in-law in the favor and confidence of the King. Perhaps he might have succeeded--it is at least possible--but for the watchful intelligence of Queen Caroline. She saw through all Townshend's schemes, and took care that they should not succeed. At last the two rivals quarrelled. Their quarrel broke out very openly, in the drawing-room of a lady, and in the presence of several distinguished {304} persons. From hot words they were going on to a positive personal struggle, when the spectators at last intervened to "pluck them asunder," in the words of the King in "Hamlet." They were plucked asunder, and then there was talk of a duel. The friends of both succeeded in preventing this scandal, but the brothers-in-law were never thoroughly reconciled, and after a short time Lord Townshend resigned his office. He withdrew from public life altogether, and devoted his remaining years to the enjoyment of the country and the cultivation of agriculture. It is to his credit that when once he had given way to the superior influence of Walpole, he did not afterwards cabal against him, or try to injure him, according to the fashion of the statesmen of the time. On the contrary, when he was once pressed to join in an attack on Walpole's ministry, he firmly refused to do anything of the kind. He said he had resolved to take no further part in political
contests, and he did not mean to break his resolution. He was particularly determined not to depart from his resolve in this case, he explained, because his temper was hot, and he was apprehensive that he might be hurried away by personal resentment to take a course which in his cooler moments he should have to regret. Nothing in his public life, perhaps, became him so well as his dignified conduct in his retirement. His place in history is not strongly marked; in this history we shall not hear of him any more.

[Sidenote: 1730--Signs of change in foreign policy]

Colonel Stanhope, who had made the Treaty of Seville, and had been raised to the peerage as Lord Harrington for his services, succeeded Townshend as Secretary of State. Horace Walpole, the brother of Robert, was at his own request recalled from Paris. Walpole, the Prime-minister, had begun to see that it would be necessary for the future to have something like a good understanding with Austria. The friendship with France had been a priceless advantage in its time, but Walpole believed that it had served its turn. It was valuable to England chiefly because it had enabled the Sovereign to keep {305} the movements of the Stuart party in check, and Walpole hoped that the House of Hanover was now secure on the throne, and believed, with too sanguine a confidence, that no other effort would be made to disturb it. Moreover, he saw some reason to think that France, no longer guided by the political intelligence of a man like the Duke of Orleans, was drawing a little too close in her relationship with Spain. Walpole was already looking forward to the coming of a time when it might be necessary for England to strengthen herself against France and Spain, and he therefore desired to get into a good understanding with the Emperor and Austria.

Walpole now had the Government entirely to himself. He was not merely all-powerful in the administration, he actually was the administration. The King knew him to be indispensable; the Queen put the fullest trust in him. His only trouble was with the intrigues of Bolingbroke and the opposition


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