Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 59.djvu/194

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policy. He now proved himself the first great commercial minister since the days of Thomas Cromwell. On 19 Oct. 1721 the speech from the throne announced his proposals. He recommended the removal of export duties from 106 articles of British manufacture, and of import duties from 38 articles of raw material. He also relieved the colonies from export duties upon naval stores, hoping to encourage supplies for the navy from that source, and thereby to render the country independent of political contingencies in the Baltic. He thus reversed the traditional attitude of statesmen's minds towards imports. They were to be treated, so far as possible, as raw materials for our manufactures rather than as intrusive foreign products. Encouragement to imports would, he saw, facilitate exportation, which up to that time had exclusively monopolised attention. It is not unlikely that Arthur Moore [q. v.], who had been the real author of Bolingbroke's commercial treaty with France in 1713, was Walpole's adviser in this policy (Harrop, Bolingbroke, pp. 149, 245). The restless Sunderland now began to coquet with the tories. With the hope of getting rid of Walpole, he suggested to the king his appointment for life to the lucrative office of postmaster-general. This would have excluded him from parliament. The proposal elicited from the king the reply, ‘I will never part with him again.’ On 19 April 1722 Sunderland died. Early in May 1722 the regent Orleans disclosed to Walpole the Atterbury conspiracy [see Atterbury, Francis]. It was accompanied by a plot to assassinate Walpole himself (H. Walpole, Reminiscences, p. cxiv). Walpole with characteristic vigour ‘took the chief part in unravelling this dark mystery’ (Onslow MSS. p. 462). His usual moderation towards political opponents showed itself in proceeding against the bishop by a bill of pains and penalties instead of by attainder. He appeared as a witness against the bishop in the House of Lords, where a memorable duel of wits took place, ‘but he was too hard for the bishop upon every turn’ (ib. p. 463). In the following October (17th) he took the unprecedented step of suspending the habeas corpus act for a year—‘too long,’ Hallam not unjustly says. On 31 Oct. he intimated to the House of Commons his intention to introduce a bill for raising 100,000l. by a special tax on the estates of Roman catholics and nonjurors. This bill when brought into the house on 23 Nov. 1722 proved to refer to Roman catholics only. Walpole justified it, against the objection that it savoured of persecution, upon purely political grounds—that the recent plot had been hatched in Rome, and that the Roman catholics were unanimously favourable to the restoration of the pretender. Upon this reasoning the house revived his original intention and extended the bill to all nonjurors (10 May 1723). The consequence was ‘a ridiculous sight to see, people crowding to give a testimony of their allegiance to a government, and cursing it at the same time for giving them the trouble’ (Onslow MSS. p. 463). This act (9 Geo. I, c. 24) was one of Walpole's least judicious measures, the disaffection it excited more than compensating for the aid it brought to the treasury.

On 10 June 1723 the king rewarded Walpole's services by creating his eldest son Robert a peer, by the title of Lord Walpole of Walpole. For himself the minister had refused the honour, a significant indication that he regarded the House of Commons as the seat of power. About this time the elements of a new whig opposition began to crystallise. The centre was John, lord Carteret [q. v.], who had been nominated by Sunderland to succeed James Craggs, jun., on 5 March 1721. He followed Sunderland's example and intrigued with the German dependents of the king. Daniel Pulteney [q. v.] and Sir John Barnard [q. v.], Walpole's principal opponents on matters of finance, were at first the leaders of this faction in the commons; in 1726 the Earl of Chesterfield [see Stanhope, Philip Dormer] became the chief ally of Carteret in the lords.

In the summer of 1723 Townshend and Carteret, the two secretaries of state, accompanied the king to Hanover, leaving Walpole in undisputed possession of power in England. So tranquil were public affairs that on 30 Aug. 1723 Walpole boasted to Townshend that money could be raised at 3l. 12s. 6d. per cent. Meanwhile Carteret was attempting to play again the part enacted by Sunderland in 1716. A struggle took place at the Hanoverian court between Townshend, supported by the Duchess of Kendal, and Carteret in alliance with Bernstorff and Bothmar, the Hanoverian ministers. The immediate question at issue, the Platen marriage [see George I], ended in the victory of Townshend and the substitution (12 Oct. 1723) of Horatio Walpole [q. v.] for Carteret's agent, Sir Luke Schaub [q. v.], as envoy to Paris. Carteret had in the meantime been casting about for supporters in parliament, and projected a coalition with the tories to oust Walpole. This intrigue was betrayed to Walpole in July