Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/John Carteret, Earl Granville

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GRANVILLE, John Carteret, Earl (1690-1763), English statesman, son of George, Lord Carteret, was born 22d April 1690, and in his fifth year succeeded to his father's title. He was educated at Westminster school and at Christ Church, Oxford, and even early in life had acquired a knowledge of the classics, of philosophy, of general literature, and of modern languages, which rendered him perhaps superior to all his contemporaries in the extent of his intellectual accomplishments. Soon after taking his seat in the House of Lords in 1711, he began to distinguish himself by his eloquent advocacy of the Protestant succession, and his zeal was rewarded when George I. came to the throne, by the appointment in 1715 of bailiff of the island of Jersey, and in 1716 of lord -lieutenant of Devon; and his mother was also created countess of Granville. In 1719 he was sent on an embassy to Sweden; and in 1720 he was named ambassador-extraordinary to the congress of Cambray. In May of the following year he was appointed secretary of state under Walpole's administration; but Walpole's jealousy of his influence with the king led to his resignation on the 3d April 1724, and on the same day he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland, an office which he held till 1730, when differences with the ministry led to his resignation. After his return he became the leader of the opposition, the duties of which office he discharged with great versatility of resource and with frequent effectiveness, but with a negligent rashness which rendered him almost as dangerous to his friends as to his opponents. In 1742 he was at last successful in overthrowing Sir Robert Walpole's Government, and was immediately thereafter appointed secretary of state. He now obtained a complete ascendency over the mind of George II., whose German policy he carried out irrespective of the opinions of his colleagues; but his imperiousness soon gained him both their enmity and the hatred of the people, and enabled his opponents, for whom he cherished unmitigated contempt, to effect his political annihilation. Pitt, afterwards earl of Chatham, spoke of him as "an execrable, a sole minister, who had renounced the British nation, and seemed to have drunk of the potion described in poetic fiction, which made men forget their country." In 1744 he found it necessary, from the resignation of his colleagues and his inability to find proper successors, to tender his resignation; and, according to Horace Walpole, he "retired from St James's laughing." Shortly before this he had, by the death of his mother, become Earl Granville. His administration was popularly distinguished by the epithet "drunken" a title which had reference to his character both as a politician and as a private individual. Notwithstanding his want of political success, contemporary opinion is unanimous in affirming that he was not only the most brilliant debater but the ablest statesman of his time. Chatham declared that he owed all that he was to his friendship and instruction, and Swift, Smollett, Chesterfield, and Horace Walpole have borne equally laudatory testimony to his abilities. He was besides regarded as an authority in questions of scholarship by the most eminent classicists of his time, and Beritley was greatly indebted to his assistance in preparing his edition of Homer. His fatal defects appear to have been his careless arrogance and his deficiency in definite political principle and purpose. After the resignation of the Pelham ministry he was again appointed secretary of state, but almost immediately resigned, holding office, according to a political squib, for only forty-eight hours, three quarters, seven minutes, and eleven seconds. In 1749 he was created knight of the garter and appointed president of the council; but, though he retained his influence with the king, the part he thenceforth played in English politics was indirect and subordinate. He died January 2, 1763.
Various information regarding Earl Granville will be found in Chesterfield's Characters; Lord Hervey's Memoirs of the Reign of George II.; Horace Walpole's Letters and Memoirs of the Reign of George II.; and the Autobiography of Shelburne. See also Lecky's History of England in the Eighteenth Century.