Carteret, John

, earl Granville, one of the most distinguished orators and statesmen of the last century, was born on the 22d of April, 1690. His father was George lord Carteret, baron Carteret, of Hawnes in the county of Bedford, having been so created on the 19th of October 1681, when he was only fifteen years of age and his mother was lady Grace, youngest daughter of John earl of Bath. He succeeded his father when only in his fifth year. He was educated at Westminster school, from which he was removed to Christ-church Oxford in both which places he made such extraordinary improvements, that he became one of the most learned young noblemen of his time; and he retained to the last his knowledge and love of literature. Dr. Swift humorously asserts, that he carried away from Oxford, with a singularity scarcely to be justified, more Greek, Latin, and philosophy, than properly became a person of his rank; indeed, much more of each, than most of those who are forced to live by their learning will be at the unnecessary pains to load their heads with. Being thus accomplished, lord Carteret was qualified to | make an early figure in life. As soon as he was introduced into the house of peers, which was on the 25th of May, 1711, he distinguished himself by his ardent zeal for the protestant succession, which procured him the eariy notice of king George 1. by whom he was appointed, in 1714, one of the lords of the bed-chamber in 1715, bailiff of the island of Jersey and in 1716, lord lieutenant and custis rotulorum of the county of Devon which last office he held till August 1721, when he resigned it in favour of Hugh lord Clinton. His mother also, lady Grace, was created viscountess Carteret and countess Grai>ville, by letters patent, bearing date on the first of January, 1714-15, with limitation of these honours to her son John lord Carteret. His lordship, though still young, became, from the part of king George the First’s reign, an eminent speaker in the house of peers. The first instance of the display of his eloquence, was in the famous debate on the bill for lengthening the duration of Parliaments, in which he supported the duke of Devonshire’s motion for the repeal of the triennial act. On the 18th of February, 17 t 7- 18, he spoke in behalf of the bill for punishing mutiny and desertion; and in the session of parliament which met on the llth of November following, he moved, for the address of thanks to the king, to congratulate his majesty on the seasonable success of his naval forces; and to assume him, that the house would support him in the pursuit of those prudent and necessary measures he had taken to secure the trade and quiet of his dominions, and the tranquillity of Europe. In Jan. 1718-19 he was appointed ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the queen of Sweden, with whom his first business was to, remove the difficulties which the British subjects had met with* Jo their commerce in the Baltic, and to procure satisfaction for the losses they had sustained; and in both he completely succeeded. On the 6th of November, 1719, lord Carteret first took upon him the character of ambassador extraordinary ana plenipotentiary; at which time, in a private audience, he offered his royal master’s mediation t<v make peace between Sweden and Denmark, and between Sweden and the Czar; both of which were readily accepted by the queen. A peace between Sweden, Prussia, and Hanover, having been concluded by lord Carteret, it was proclaimed at Stockholm on the 9th of March, 1719-L’O. This was the prelude to a reconciliation between Sweden | and Denmark, which he also effected, and the treaty was signed July 3, 1720. In August his lordship was appointed, together with earl Stanhope and sir Robert Siutcm, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at the congress of Cambray but whether he acted in this capacity does not appear. From Denmark, however, he arrived in England Dec. 5, and a few weeks after took a share in the debates on the state of the national credit, occasioned by the unfortunate and iniquitous effects of the South-Sea scheme, maintaining that the estates of the criminals, whether directors or not directors, ought to be confiscated. Whilst this affair was in agitation, he was appointed ambassador extraordinary to the court of France, and was on the point of setting out, when the death of secretary Craggs induced his majesty to appoint lord Carteret his successor, May 4, 1721, and next day he was admitted into office, and sworn of his majesty’s most honourable privy council. Whilst lord Carteret was secretary of state, he not only discharged the general duties of his employment to the satisfaction of his royal master, but ably defended in parliament the measures of administration. This he did in the debate concerning Mr. Law, the famous projector of the Mississippi scheme, whose arrival in England, in 1721, by the connivance, as it was thought, and even under the sanction of the ministry, excited no small degree of disgust; and he also took a part on the side of government, in th debate on the navy debt, and with regard to the various other motions and bills of the session. In the new parliament, which met on the llth of October, 1722, his lordship, on occasion of Layer’s plot, spoke in favour of suspending the habeas corpus act for one year; acquainted the house with the bishop of Rochester’s, lord NortU and Grey’s, and the earl of Orrery’s commitment to the Tower; and defended the motion for the imprisonment of the duke of Norfolk. In all the debates concerning this conspiracy, and particularly with regard to Atterbury, lord Carteret vindicated the proceedings of the tectart; as he did, likewise, in the case of the act for laying an extraordinary tax upon papists. On the 26th of May, 1723, when the king’s affairs called him abroad, his lordship was appointed one of the lords justices of the kingdom; but notwithstanding this, he went to Hanover, in conjunction with lord Townshend, the other secretary; and both these noblemen, in their return to England, had | several conferences at the Hague, with the principal persons of the Dutch administration, on subjects of importance. In the session of parliament, January, 1723-4, lord Carteret, in the debate on the mutiny bill, supported the necessity of eighteen thousand men being kept up, as the number of land- forces, in opposition to lord Trevor, who had moved that the four thousand additional men, who had been raised the year before, should be discontinued., Not many days after this debate, several alterations took place at court. Lord Carteret quitted the office of secretary of state, in which he was succeeded by the duke of Newcastle; and on the same day, being the third of April, 1724, he was constituted lord -lieutenant of Ireland, and in October arrived at Dublin, where he was received with the usual solemnity. The Irish were at that time in a great ferment about the patent for Wood’s halfpence, which makes so signal a figure in the life and writings of Dr. Swift. One of the first things done by the lord-lieutenant was to publish a proclamation, offering a reward of three hundred pounds for a discovery of the author of the Drapier’s Letters. When he was asked, by Dr. Swift, howhe could concur in the prosecution of a poor honest fellow, who had been guilty of no other crime than that of writing three or four letters for the good of his country, his excellency replied, in the words of Virgil,

——————Regni novitas me talia cogit Moliri——————

Lord Carteret lived at that very time in great friendship with the dean; and, therefore, if he suspected the real author, could have no sincere wish that he might be discovered. Notwithstanding the measures his lordship was obliged officially to pursue, he was sensible that Wood’s patent ought not to be supported; and, accordingly, procured its being revoked; by which means, one of the most universal and remarkable ferments 1 ever raised in Ireland speedily subsided. The lord-lieutenant used sometimes to converse with Dr. Swift on public affairs. The deau, on some occasion, happening to dispute with him concerning the grievances suffered by the Irish, and the folly and nonsense of the English government in the management of Ireland, his excellency replied with such mastery and strength of reason, that Swift was incapable of supporting his argument. Being displeased at this, he cried out in a | violent passion, “What the vengeance brought you among us; get you gone, get you gone; pray God Almighty us our boobies back again.” At another tune, Dr. Suiit having written two lines on a window of the castle, in which his pride affected an absolute independence, lord Carteret gently rebuked his haughtiness, by inscribing under them the following couplet:

"My very good Dean, none ever comes here,

But who hath something to hope, or something to fear."

His lordship, however, kept on good terms with Swift, and obliged him by conferring preferment on Dr. Sheridan, and others of his friends. Even in the Drapier’s Letters, the dean expressed a very high opinion of the lord- lieutenant. Besides revoking Wood’s patent, lord Carteret’s administration was, in other respects, very acceptable and beneficial to the Irish. He discharged the duties of his high station, in general, with wisdom and fidelity, and the people were happy under his government. After the close of the session in March, 1725-6, his lordship having constituted lords justices during his absence, embarked for England, where he arrived in May, 1726, and received his majesty’s approbation of his prudent conduct. On the 24th of January, 1726-7, lord Carteret ably defended the king’s speech, which had been warmly animadverted upon by the opposition. On the 31st of May, 1727, he was appointed one of the chief justices during his majesty’s absence, and upon the decease of George I. who died suddenly at Osnabrug, in his way to Hanover, on the llth of June, 1727, lord Carteret was one of the old privy council who assembled at Leicester house, where the new king was proclaimed. This was on the 14th of June, and the same day he was sworn of his majesty’s privy council. On the 29th of July following, he was again appointed lord lieutenant and chief governor of the kingdom of Ireland, and having arrived there, the parliament was opened, by his excellency, Nov. 28, and the session continued till the 6th of May, 1728, when he gave the royal assent to twenty public acts, and concluded with a speech, expressive of his high regard for the welfare of the kingdom. After this, he embarked for England, but in 1729, returned again to Ireland, and held another session of parliament, which began on the 23d of September, and on the 15th of April, 1730. His lordship’s second | vicegerency over the Irish nation was as popular, if not more so, as the first. His polite and sociable manners were highly acceptable to all ranks of people. What particularly recommended him was, his being above the little distinctions of party. He maintained a good correspondence with several of those who were called or reputed tories, and occasionally distributed a few preferments, of no great significance, in that line. This having excited the complaint of some of the bigotted whigs, gave occasion to a facetious and sensible tract of Dr. Swift’s, entitled, “A Vindication of his excellency John lord Carteret, from the charge of favouring none but Tories, Highchurch-men, and Jacobites.” With Dr. Swift the lordlieutenant appears to have maintained a strict friendship; and he was solicitous to act agreeably to the dean’s views of the interest of the kingdom. In one of his letters, written to the dean some years afterwards, he thus expresses himself; “When people ask me how I governed Ireland? I say, that I pleased Dr. Swift.” The preferments which his excellency bestowed, at the instance of the dean of St. Patrick’s, were conferred on learned and worthy men, who did not disgrace their recommender; and whatever may be thought of the pride, petulance, and peculiarities of Swift} it cannot rationally be denied, that he was sincerely devoted to the welfare of the Irish nation. His lordship, having continued the usual time allotted to his high office, quitted it in 1730, and was succeeded by the duke of Dorset.

We now come to a part of lord Carteret’s life, including nearly twelve years, from 1730 to 1742, during which he engaged in the grand opposition, that was carried on so long, and with so much pertinacity, against sir Robert Walpole. In this opposition he took a very distinguished part, and was one of its ablest and most spirited leaders. There was scarcely any motion or question on which his eloquence was not displayed. His powers of oratory are allowed to have been eminently great; and it is highly probable, that they were invigorated and increased by that superior ardour which naturally accompanies an attack upon the measures of government. In the session of parliament, 1730-1, he supported the bill against pensioners being permitted to sit in that house; and the motion for discharging the twelve thousand Hessian forces in the pay of Great Britain. In the subsequent session, which opened | on the 13th of January, 1731-2, besides speaking in favour of the pension bill, lord Carteret exerted his whole ability against the passing of the act for reviving the salt duty. This tax he asserted to be grievous, pernicious, and insupportable; oppressive to the lower part of the people; and dangerous to public liberty, by the numerous dependents it would create upon the crown. In the next year, the grand objects that engaged the attention of the minority were, the motion for the reduction of the land forces; the produce of the forfeited estates of the SouthSea directors in 1720; and the bill for granting eightythousand pounds for the princess-royal’s marriage settlement, and a sum out of the sinking fund; on which occasions lord Carteret displayed his usual energy and eloquence. In the session which began on the 17th of January, 1733-4, his lordship made the motion for an address to the king, to know who had advised the removal of the duke of Bolton and lord Cobham from their regiments; and took the lead in the memorable debate which arose upon that question, and an, active part in the other matters that were agitated in this and the following sessions. It is observable that, about this time, Dr. Swift had some doubts concerning lord Carteret’s steadiness in the cause of opposition, yet, in the session>f parliament which opened on the 1st of February, 1736-7, his lordship distinguished himself greatly in the several question-s concerning the riots at Edinburgh, and the affair of captain Porteus; and he was the mover, in the house of peers, for the settlement of an hundred thousand pounds a year, out of the civil list, upon the prince of Wales; a matter which excited a very long and violent debate. He exercised the same vigour with regard to all the motions and questions of that busy session; and it is evident, from the records of the times, that he was the prime leader of opposition in the upper house. This character was preserved by lord Carteret in the parliament which met on the 15th of November, 1739; and in the following session, when the minority exerted their whole strength to overturn the administration, he made the motion in the house of peers, Feb. 13, 1740-1, to address his majesty, that he would graciously be pleased to remove sir Robert Walpole from his presence and councils for ever, and prefaced his proposal with the longest, as well as the ablest speech that, he ever appears to have delivered. A year after, when | views of opposition were attained, so far as related to the displacing of sir Robert Walpole, lord Carteret, Feb. 12> 1741-42, was appointed one of his majesty’s principal secretaries of state, and then began to change his parliamentary language, opposing the motion for the commitment of the pension -bill, and the bill to indemnify evidences against Robert earl of Orford, not consistently, although with some reason. In September 1742, he was sent to the States General, to concert measures with them, for the maintenance of the liberties of the United Provinces, and the benefit of the common cause and soon after his return, he opposed the motion for discharging the Hanoverian troops in British pay and distinguished himself in favour of the bill for retailing spirituous liquors. In 1743 he waited upon his majesty at Hanover, and attended him through the whole interesting campaign of that year; and the king placed the greatest confidence in his counsels, to which he was the more entitled, as he was eminently ^killed in foreign affairs. On the death of his mother, upon the 18th of October, 1744, he succeeded to the titles of viscount Carteret and earl Granville, and, a few weeks after, resigned the seals as secretary of state, unable to oppose the patriotic party, whom he had suddenly forsaken, and the duke of Newcastle and his brother, Mr. Pelham, who formed analliance with them against him. George II. however, with reluctance parted with a minister who had gained his personal affection by his great knowledge of the affairs of Europe, by his enterprizing genius, and, above all, by his ready compliance with the king’s favourite views. In the beginning of 1746, his lordship made an effort to retrieve his influence in the cabinet, but the duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pelham, who knew his aspiring disposition, refused to admit him into administration, yet mismanaged their intrigues so much, that at first they were themselves obliged to resign, and earl Granvilie was appointed secretary of state, and resumed the reins of administration, in February 1745-6: finding, however, that he could not counteract the accumulated opposition that preponderated against him, he resigned the seals four days after they had‘ been put into his hands. Still lord Granville’s political antagonists were not able to prevent his receiving,. personal marks of royal favour. On the 22d of June, 1749J he was elected at Kensington, one of the knights companions of the most noble | order of the garter, and next year was again brought into the ministry, in connection with the very men by whom he had been so long and so warmly opposed. He was then constituted president of the council, and notwithstanding the various revolutions of administration, was continued in this high post till his decease. When his majesty went to Hanover, in 17- r >2, earl Granville was appointed one of the lords justices of the kingdom and he was in the commissions for opening and concluding the session of parliament, which began on the 31st of May, 1754, and ended on the 5th of June following. The Ifist time in which he spoke in the house of peers, was in opposition to the third reading of the militia-bill, on the 24th of May, 1756, but not with his usual effect. When, in October 1761, Mr. Pitt proposed in council, an immediate declaration of war with Spain, and urged the measure with his usual energy, threatening a resignation, if his advice should not be adopted; lord Granville is said to have replied to him in terms both pointed and personal. Mr. Wood, in the preface to his “Essay on the original Genius and Writings of Homer,” informs us, that “being directed to wait upon his lordship, a few days before he died, with the preliminary articles of the treaty of Paris, he found him so languid, that he proposed postponing his business for another time; but earl Granville insisted that he should stay, saying, it could not prolong his life to neglect his duty; and repeating a passage out of Sarpedon’s speech in Homer, he dwelled with particular emphasis on one of the lines which recalled to his mind the distinguishing part he had taken in public affairs.” After a pause he desired to hear the treaty read and gave it the approbation of a “dying statesman (his own words) on the most glorious war, and most honourable peace, this nation ever saw.” In other respects, lord Granville so much retained his vivacity to the close of his life, as to be able to break out into sallies of wit and humour. He died Jan. 2, 1763, in. the seventy-third year of his age. He was twice married; first at Long-Leat, on the 17th of October, 1710, to Frances, only daughter of sir Robert Worsley, bart.; and secondly, on the 14th of April, 1744, to lady Sophia, daughter of Thomas earl of Pomfret. By his former wife he had three sons and five daughters; by the latter, only one daughter. | Lord Granville’s character has been drawn as follows, by the late earl of Chesterfield: “Lord Granville had great parts, and a most uncommon share of learning for a man of quality. He was one of the best speakers in the house of lords, both in the declamatory and the argumentative way. He had a wonderful quickness and precision in seizing the stress of a question, which no art, no sophistry, could disguise in him. In business he was bold, enterprizing, and overbearing. He had been bred up in high monarchical, that is, tyrannical principles of government, which his ardent and impetuous temper made him think were the only rational and practicable ones. He would have been a great first minister in France, little inferior, perhaps, to Richelieu; in this government, which is yet free, he would have been a dangerous one, little less so, perhaps, than lord Strafford. He was neither ill-natured nor vindictive, and had a great contempt for money. His ideas were all above it. In social life he was an agreeable, good-humoured, and instructive companion; a great but entertaining talker. He degraded himself by the vice of drinking, which, together with a great stock of Greek and Latin, he brought away with him from Oxford, and retained and practised ever afterwards. By his own industry, he had made himself master of all the modern languages, and had acquired a great knowledge of the law. His political knowledge of the interest of princes and of commerce was extensive, and his notions were just and great. His character may be summed up, in nice precision, quick decision, and unbounded presumption.

The late duke of Newcastle used to say of lord Granville, that he was a man who never doubted. From his lordship’s acknowledged literature, it may naturally be supposed that he patronized learned men and learned undertakings. His regard for Dr. Swift, and his attention to the dean’s recommendations, we have already mentioned. He assisted and encouraged Mr. Lye, in his edition of Junius’s Etymologicon, and the learned Mrs. Grierson of Dublin, when he was lord lieutenant of Ireland. Of Dr. Taylor, the celebrated Grecian, he was the particular patron. The doctor owed his principal preferments to lord Granville; and has testified his gratitude, in the dedication of his Demosthenes, by warmly celebrating his lordship’s excellencies, and especially his eloquence, and his eminent skill in the ancient and modern languages. Our learned peer | engaged Dr. Bentley to undertake an edition of Homer, and was very active in procuring the doctor the use of manuscripts, and- other necessary aids, for that purpose. Dr, Bentley, when he came to town, was accustomed, in his visits to lord Carteret, sometimes to spend the evenings with his lordship. One day ojjl lady Granville reproached her son with keeping the country tler^yman, who was with him the night before, till he was intoxicated. Lord Carteret denied the charge; upon which the lady replied, that the clergyman could not have sung in so ridiculous a manner, unless he had been in liquor. The truth was, that the singing thus mistaken by her ladyship, was Dr. Bentley’s endeavour to instruct and entertain his noble friend, by reciting Terence according to the? true cantilena of the ancients.

Earl Granville, amidst all his struggles for place and power, had an affectation of saying, “I love my fire-side; 11 which humour was vrell exposed, by Mr. Hawkins Browne, in a copy of verses, entitled” The Fire-side, a pastoral soliloquy.“Lord Carteret’s letter on the battle at Dettingen was much ridiculed at the time, and the only excuse for it was his lordship’s intoxication not merely with joy,*


Dr. Johnson, however, attributed the defects of this letter to want of practice in writing and informs us that when lord Granville had written it, he was so conscious of it being unworthy of the subject, a^ to say, “Here is a letter ixpif-std in terms not good enough for a tallow-chandler to have used.” Boswell’s Life of "Johnson.

In giving his judgment concerning men of high office in the state, earl Grauville sometimes spoke too incautiously for a politician. Having been asked who wrote the king’s speech in a certain year, he said,” Do you not see the blunt pen of the old attorney?“meaning lord Hardwicke. It was not always in his power to conceal the pangs of disappointed ambition. He made a present of a copy of the Polyglot Bible, which the owner got bound in an elegant manner. When lord Granville saw the book in its newdress, he said,” You have done with it as the king has done with me he made me fine, and he laid me by. "

In lord Egmont’s manuscripts are some curious traits of earl Granville’ s character. He was one of those politicians who make religion subservient to the state. The considering the kingdom of Christ as a separate kingdom from those of this world he counted absurd. On the contrary, be maintained that Christianity is incorporated with civil | government as sand with lime, each of which by itself makes no mortar. Where he imagined that the public interest might receive prejudice by Christianity, he was against its being taught. He hoped, therefore, never to see our negroes in America become Christians, because he believed that this would render them less laborious slaves. On the same principle, he was against any attempts to convert the American savages. In learning Christianity, they would fall into the use of letters, and a skill in the arts being the consequence, they would become more formidable to the plantations. Pursuing a similar train of reasoning, lord Granville wished to God that the pope might never turn protestant, or the Italians cease to be papists, for then we should sell them no fish. He was glad % N that the clergy sent abroad to our plantations were immoral and ignorant wretches, because they could have no influence over the inhabitants, as better and wiser men would have, and who would use that influence for the purpose of inspiring the planters with a spirit of iadependence on their mother country. He was hostile to the scheme of sending bishops to America. These, he thought, would labour to bring the several sects to one religion; whereas the security of that people’s dependence on England he conceived to arise from their mutual divisions. He was an enemy likewise to the improvement of our colonies in learning. This he said would take off their youth from wholly attending to trade, fill them with speculative notions of government and liberty, and prevent the education of the sons of rich planters in England, where they contract a love to this kingdom, and when grown old, come back and settle, to the great increase of our wealth. Even" at home he was against charity-schools, and was not for having the vulgar taught to read, that they might think of nothing but the plow, and their other low avocations. However unsound some of these opinions may appear, most readers may recollect that they did not die with his lordship. 1


Biog. Brit. Swift’s Works see Index. Coxe’s Life of Walpolc. Chesterfield’s Miscellanies and Memoirs.