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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

Countless caricatures of Bolingbroke


[Sidenote:

1714--Lords and Commons]

The House of Lords had then two hundred and seven members, many of whom, being Catholics, were not permitted to take any part in public business. That number of Peers is about in just proportion to the population of England as it was then when compared with the Peers and the population of England at present. In the House of Commons there were at the same time five hundred and fifty-eight members. England sent in five hundred and thirteen, and Scotland, which had lately accepted the union, returned forty-five. It need hardly be said that at that time Ireland had her own Parliament, and sent no members to Westminster. A great number of the county family names in the House of Commons were just the same as those which we see at present. The Stanhopes, the Lowthers, the Lawsons, the Herberts, the Harcourts, {52} the Cowpers, the Fitzwilliams, the Cecils, the Grevilles; all these, and many others, were represented in Parliament then as they are represented in Parliament now. Then, as more lately, the small boroughs had the credit of returning, mostly of course through family influence, men of eminence other than political, who happened to sit in the House of Commons. Steele sat for Stockbridge, in "Southampton County," as Hampshire was then always called, Addison for Malmesbury, Prior for East Grinstead. There were no reports of the debates, nor printed lists of the divisions. Questions of foreign policy were sometimes

discussed with doors strictly closed against all strangers, just as similar questions are occasionally, and not infrequently, discussed in the Senate of the United States at present. The pamphlet supplied in some measure the place of the newspaper report and the newspaper leading article. Some twelve years later than this the brilliant pen of Bolingbroke, who, if he had lived at a period nearer to our own, might have been an unrivalled writer of leading articles, was able to obtain for the series of pamphlets called "The Craftsman" a circulation greater than that ever enjoyed by the _Spectator_. Pulteney co-operated with him for a time in the work. Steele, as we have said, had been expelled from the House of Commons for his pamphlet "The Crisis." The caricature which played so important a part in political controversy all through the reigns of the Georges had just come into recognized existence. Countless caricatures of Bolingbroke, of Walpole, of Shrewsbury, of Marlborough, began to fly about London. Scurrilous ballads were of course in great demand, nor was the supply inadequate to the demand.

[Sidenote: 1714--Malbrouck de Retour]

One of the most successful of these compositions described the return of the Duke of Marlborough to London. On the very day of the Queen's death Marlborough landed at Dover. He came quickly on to London, and there, according to the descriptions given by his admirers, he was received like a restored sovereign returning to his throne. A procession of two hundred gentlemen on {53} horseback met him on the road to London, and the procession was joined shortly after by a long train of carriages. As he entered London the enthusiasm deepened with every foot of the way; the streets were lined with crowds of applauding admirers. Marlborough's carriage broke down near Temple Bar, and he had to exchange it for another. The little incident was only a new cause for demonstrations of enthusiasm. It was a fresh delight to see the hero more nearly than he could be seen through his carriage-windows. It was something to have delayed him for a moment, and to have compelled him to stand among the crowd of those who were pressing round to express their homage. This was the Whig description. According to Tory accounts Marlborough was more hissed than huzzaed, and at Temple Bar the hissing was loudest. The work of the historian would be comparatively easy if eye-witnesses could only agree as to any, even the most important, facts.


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