Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/155

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system of party government which was elaborated during his time and resulted in the subordination of the royal authority to the parliamentary combinations. His ideal is therefore the king who will ‘begin to govern as soon as he begins to reign’ (Idea of a Patriot King). The king is to be powerful enough to override parties, and yet to derive strength like Queen Elizabeth, whom he specially admires, from representing the true rule of the people. In other words, Bolingbroke advocates a kind of democratic toryism, and may be understood as anticipating Disraeli's attacks upon the ‘Venetian aristocracy.’ Disraeli claims Bolingbroke and Wyndham as representatives of the true political creed in ‘Sybil’ (bk. iv. chap. 14). His theories, however, had to be adapted to the circumstances of the day; and he was forced to see his ideal ruler in Frederick, prince of Wales. He emits brilliant flashes of perception rather than any steady light, and fails in the attempt to combine philosophical tone with personal ends. His dignified style, his familiarity with foreign politics, and with history especially as regarded by a diplomatist mainly interested in the balance of power, impressed his contemporaries. But his dignity prevents him from rivalling Swift's hard hitting, on the one hand, while his philosophy is too thin on the other to bear a comparison with Burke. His philosophical writings are still less satisfactory. He began to study such topics, as he says in the letter to Pouilly, when he was past forty, and was chiefly anxious to display his rhetoric. His favourite topic is a supposed alliance between divines and atheists; and, in order to attack both, he adopts a very flimsy deism. He hates the divines the worse of the two, and especially such metaphysicians as Leibnitz and Clarke, whom he assails with weapons taken from Locke and with strong language of his own. He made many attacks upon the chronology and history of the Old Testament, but without much originality. His tendency is best represented by Pope's ‘Essay on Man,’ which, though often brilliant, has never passed for logical. Bolingbroke seems to have been singularly sensitive to criticism, and often lost his temper in controversy. Mr. Churton Collins gives reasons for thinking that he had much influence upon Voltaire. The personal connection, however, seems to have been slight; and Voltaire had studied more thoroughly the writers from whom Bolingbroke drew. The concidences, therefore, may be susceptible of a different explanation. Bolingbroke's philosophical works were published after the deist controversy in England had lost much of its novelty. They were attacked by Warburton, Robert Clayton (1695–1758) [q. v.], James Hervey (1714–1758) [q. v.], and John Leland (1691–1766) [q. v.]; and Voltaire wrote a short pamphlet in defence of the ‘Letters on History,’ ‘Défense de Milord Bolingbroke, par le docteur Good-natured Wellwisher, chapelain du Comte de Chesterfield,’ which was also published in English. It is given in the section ‘Philosophie’ in Voltaire's works, where it follows ‘Un Examen important de Lord Bolingbroke.’ Bolingbroke's name is here merely used as a convenient mask for one of Voltaire's characteristic essays. Bolingbroke's works excited only a momentary attention, and are too fragmentary and discursive to be of much value. Burke's ‘Vindication of Natural Society,’ another essay in imitation of Bolingbroke, but intended to expose his principles, is an interesting illustration of the positions of both thinkers.

Bolingbroke's works are: 1. ‘Letter to the Examiner’ (1710); reprinted in ‘Somers Tracts’ (1815), vol. xiii. 2. ‘The Considerations upon the Secret History of the White Staff’ (1714); and 3. ‘The Representation of the Lord Viscount Bolingbroke,’ 1715 (reprinted in ‘Somers Tracts,’ vol. xiii.), have been conjecturally attributed to him. The following have been reprinted from the ‘Craftsman:’ (1) ‘The Occasional Writer’ (three numbers), 1727; (2) ‘Remarks on the History of England, from the Minutes of Humphry Oldcastle’ (5 Sept. 1730 to 22 May 1731, in the ‘Craftsman’); (3) ‘The Freeholder's Political Catechism,’ 1733 (reprinted at the time and in ‘Collection’ of 1748, but not in works); (4) ‘A Dissertation upon Parties’ (27 Oct. 1733 to 21 Dec. 1734, in ‘Craftsman’); reprinted in 1735; 11th ed. 1786. In the ‘Craftsman’ appeared also an ‘Answer to the “London Journal” of 28 Dec. 1728;’ ‘Answer to the Defence of the Enquiry,’ &c.; ‘Final Answer to the Remarks on the “Craftsman's” Vindication;’ and the ‘First Vision of Camilick.’ These are reprinted (except the ‘Catechism’) in his ‘Works.’ A ‘Collection of Political Tracts by the Author of the Dissertation on Parties,’ 1748, includes the ‘Occasional Writer,’ various papers from the ‘Craftsman,’ and the ‘The Case of Dunkirk considered,’ not in the collected works. It was reprinted by Cadell in 1788. The ‘Letter on the Spirit of Patriotism,’ ‘The Idea of a Patriot King,’ and the essay ‘On the State of Parties at the Accession of George I’ were published (see above) in 1749.

The ‘Letters on the Study and Use of