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Care to prefer a Petition to the House of Commons, defiring to be reinstated in his former Emoluments and Capacities. This Petition at first occafioned very warm Debates; Walpok, who pretended to espouse his Cause, alledged that it was very right to admit him to his Inheritance; and when Lord William Pawlett, moved for a Clause to disqualify him from fitting in either House, Walpole rejected the Motion, fecretly satisfied with a Resolution which had been fettled in the Cabinet, that he should never more be admitted into any Share of Power. To this artful Method of evading his Pretensions, Bolingbroke was no Stranger ; and he was now resolved to Thake that Power, which thus endeavoured to obstruct the Increase of his own : taking therefore his part in the Opposition with Pultney, while the latter engaged to manage the House of Commons, Bolingbroke undertook to enlighten the People: accordingly he foon distinguished himself by a Multitude of Pieces, written during the latter Part of George the First's Reign, and likewise the Beginning of that which fucceeded. These were conceived with great Vigour and Boldness; and now, once more engaged in the Service of his Country, though difarmed, gagged, and almost bound, as he declared himself to be, yet he resolved not to abandon his Cause, as long as he could depend on the Firmness and Integrity of those Coadjutors, who did not labour under the fame Disadvantges with himself. His Letters in a Paper called the Craftsman, were particularly diftinguished in this political Contest; and though several of the most expert Politicians of the Times joined in this Paper, his Etlays were peculiarly relished by the Public. However, it is the Fate of Things written to an Occasion, seldom to survive that Occasion : the Craftsman, though written with great Spirit and Sharpness, is now almost forgotten, although when it was published as a weekly Paper, it sold much more rapidly than even the Spectator. Besides this Work, he published several other separate Pamphlets, which were afterwards reprinted in the Second Edition of his Works, and which were very popular in their
This political Warfare continued for Ten Years, during which Time he laboured with great Strength and Perseverance, and drew up such a System of Politics as some have supposed to be the most complete now existing. But as upon all other Occasions, he had the Mortification once more, to fee those Friends desert him, upon whose Affistance he most firmly relied, and all that Web of fine-spun Speculation actually destroyed at once by the Ignorance of fome, and the Perfidy of others. He then declared that he was perfectly cured of his Patriotic Phrenzy; he fell out not only with Pultney for his selfish Views, but with his old Friends the Tories, for abandoning their Cause as desperate, averring, that the faint and unsteady Exercise of Parts on one side, was a Crime but one Degree inferior to the iniquitous Misapplication of them on the other. But he could not take leave of a Controversy in which he had been so many Years engaged, without giving a parting Blow, in which he seemed to summon up all his Vigour at once, and where, as the Poet says,
Animam in vulnere posuit. This inimitable Piece is intituled, A Dissertation on Parties, and of all his masterly Pieces, it is in general esteemed the best.
Having finished this, which was received with the utmost Avidity, he resolved to take leave not only of his Enemies and Friends, but even of his Country; and in this Resolution, in the Year 1736, he once more retired to France, where he looked back to his native Country with a Mixture of Anger and Pity, and upon his former professing Friends, with a Share
of Contempt and Indignation. I expect little,' says he, "from the principal Actors that tread the Stage at present. They are divided not so much as it seemed, and as they would have it believed, about Measures. The true Division is about their différent Ends. Whilst the Minister was not hard pushed, nor the Prospect of succeeding to him near, they appeared to have but one End, the Reforination of the Government. The Destruction of the Minister was pursued only as a Preliminary,
but of essential and indisputable Necessity, to that • End: But when his Destruction : seemed to ap
proach, the Object of his Succeflion interposed to the Sight of many, and the Reformation of the Government was no longer their Point of View. "They had divided the Skin, at least in their " Thoughts, before they had taken the Beast. The common Fear of hastening his Downfal for others,
made them all faint in the Chace. It was this, ' and this alone, that saved him, and put off his
• evil Day'
Such were his cooler Reflections, after he had laid down his political Pen, to employ it in a Manner that was much more agreeable to his usual Profesfions, and his approaching Age, He had long em ployed the few Hours he could spare on Subjects of a more general and important Nature to the Interests of Mankind; but as he was frequently interrupted by the Alarms of Party, he made no great Proficis ency in his Design. Still, however, he kept it in View, and he makes frequent Mention in his Letters to Swift, of his Intentions to give Metaphysics a new and useful Turn. I know,' says he, in
one of these, how little Regard you pay to Writings of this Kind; but I imagine, that if you can like any, it must be those that strip Metaphysics of
all their Bombast, keep within the Sight of every well-constituted Eye, and never bewilder them.
• felves, whilst they pretend to guide the Reason of 6 others.'
Having now arrived at the fixtieth Year of his Age, and being bleffed with a very competent Share of Fortune, he retired into France, far from the Noise and Hurry of Party; for his Seat at Dawley was too near to devote the rest of his Life to Retire. ment and Study. Upon his going to that Country, as it was generally known that Disdain, Vexation, and Disappointment had driven him there, many of his Friends, as well as his Enemies, supposed, that he was once again gone over to the Pretender. Among the Number who entertained this Suspicion, was Swift, whom Pope, in one of his Letters, very roundly chides for harbouring such an unjust Opinion. You should be cautious,' says he, of cen“suring any Motion or Action of Lord Bolingbroki,
because you hear it only from shallow, envious, • and malicious Reporters. What you writ to me
about him, I find, to my great Scandal, repeated ' in one of yours to another. Whatever you might
hint to me, was this for the Profane? The Thing, . if true, should be concealed ; but it is, I affure
you, absolutely untrue in every Circumstance. He • has fixed in a very agreeable Retirement, near Fon
tainbleau, and makes it his whole Business vacare & litteris.'
This Reproof from Pope was not more friendly than it was true; Lord Bolingbroke was too well acquainted with the forlorn State of that Party, and the Folly of its Conductors, once more to embark in their desperate Concerns. He now saw that he had gone as far towards reinstating himself in the full Possession of his former Honours, as the mere Dint of Parts and Application could go, and was at length experimentally convinced, that the Decree was absolutely irreversible, and the Dcor of the House of Lords finally shut against him. He therefore, at
Pope's Suggestion, retired merely to be at Leisure from the Broils of Opposition, for the calmer Pleafures of Philosophy. Thus the Decline of his Life, though less brilliant, became more amiable; and even his Happiness was improved by Age, which had rendered his Passions more moderate, and his Wishes more attainable.
But he was far from suffering, even in Solitude, his Hours to glide away in torpid Inactivity. That active restless Disposition still continued to actuate his Pursuits; and having lost the Season for gaining Power over his Cotemporaries, he was now resolved upon acquiring Fame from Pofterity. He had not been long in his Retreat near Fontainbleau, when he began a Course of Letters on the Study and Use of History, for the Use of a young Nobleman. In these he does not follow the Methods of St. Real and others who have treated on this Subject, who make History the great Fountain of all Knowledge ; he very wisely confines its Benefits, and supposes them to confift rather in deducing general Maxims from particular Facts, than in illustrating Maxims by the Application of Historical Passages In mentioning Ecclesiastical History, he gives his Opinion very freely upon the Subject of the divine Original of the fac cred Books, which he supposes to have no such Foundation. This new System of Thinking, which he had always propagated in Conversation, and which he began now to adopt in his more laboured Compofitions, seemed no Way supported either by his Acuteniefs or his Learning. He began to reflect feriously on these Subjects too late in Life, and to suppose those Objections very new and unanswerable, which had been already confuted by Thousands.
Lord Bolingbroke,' says Pope, ' in one of his Letters, is above trifling; when he writes of any « Thing in this World, he is more than mortal. If ? ever he trifles, it must be when he turns Divine.' VOL. III