Boyle, Henry

, Lord Carleton, and lord president of the council in the reign of king George I. was descended from Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork in Ireland, and was third son of Charles lord Clifford of Lanesborough in the county of York, by Jane, youngest daughter of William Seymour, duke of Somerset. Being elected a member of the house of commons, he scon distinguished himself to | such advantage, that in March 1700-1, he was appointed chancellor and nnder-treasurer of the exchequer by king William, and was admitted into a high degree of favour and confidence with that prince. He continued in that post till the 11th of February, 1707-8, when he was made one of the principal secretaries of state, in the room of Robert Harley, esq. and was consequently one of the ministry when the reputation of England was carried to so great an height, and when the queen obtained so many successes in defence of the common cause of Europe. In this station he took all occasions of shewing his regard for men of genius and learning; and soon after the battle of Blenheim, was employed by the lord treasurer Godolphin, at the solicitation of the lord Halifax, to go to Mr. Addison, and desire him to write some piece, which might transmit the memory of that glorious victory to posterity. Mr. Addison, who was at that time but indifferently lodged, was surprised with this visit from a person of Mr. Boyle’s rank and station; who, after having acquainted him with his business, added, that the lord treasurer, to encourage him to enter upon this subject, had already made him one of the commissioners of the appeals; but entreated him to look upon that post only as an earnest of something more considerable. In short, Mr. Boyle said so many obliging things, and in so graceful a manner, as gave Mr. Addison the utmost spirit and encouragement to begin that poem, which he entitled “The Campaign;” soon after the publication of which, he was, according to Mr. Boyle’s promise, preferred to a considerable post. In 1710, Mr. Boyle was one of the managers at the trial of Dr. Sacheverell; but upon the general change of the ministry, not long after, was dismissed from the post of secretary of state; in which he was succeeded by Henry St. John, esq. afterwards lord viscount Bolingbroke. “I never,” says Swift, “remember such bold steps taken by a court; I am almost shocked at it, though I did not care if they were all hanged.” Upon the accession of his late majesty king George I. in 1714, he was created a baron of this kingdom, by the title of baron Carleton of Carleton, in the county of York, and was soon after made lord president of the council, in which post he continued till his death, which happened on Sunday the 14th of March, 1724-5, at his house in Pall-mall, now the residence of his royal highness the Prince Regent. | Mr. Budgell tells us, that he was endowed with great prudence and a winning address; and that his long experience in public affairs had given him a thorough knowledge in business. He spoke frequently while he was a member of the house of commons; and it was allowed by very good judges, that he was never once known to say an imprudent thing in a public debate, or to hurt the cause which he engaged in; a circumstance peculiar to himself above most other speakers in so public an assembly. The author of the “Spectator,” in the dedication to him of the third volume of that work, observes likewise, that there was no person, whose merit was more universally acknowledged by all parties, and who had made himself more friends and fewer enemies: that his great abilities and unquestioned integrity in those high employments which he had passed through, would not have been able to have raised this general approbation, had they not been accompanied with that moderation in a high fortune, and that affability of manners, which were so conspicuous through all parts of his life: that his aversion to any ostentatious arts of setting to show those great services which he had done the public, contributed likewise not a little to that universal acknowledgment which was paid him by his country: and that he was equally remarkable for the great figure which he made in the senate, as for that elegance and politeness, which appeared in his more retired conversation. Davis, in his characters published under the name of Mackay, says of him, “He is a good companion in conversation; agreeable among the ladies; serves the queen very assiduously in council; makes a considerable figure in the house of commons; by his prudent administration obliges every body in the exchequer; and in time may prove a great man.” To this Swift added in his copy of the book, “had some very scurvy qualities, particularly avarice.1


Birch’s Lives.—Budgell’s Lives of the Boyles.—Swift’s Works, vol. XIV, P. 205, XVIII. 230, edit. 1801.