Temple, Sir William (16281699)

Temple, Sir William, diplomatist and essayist, born in London, and educated at Cambridge; travel on the Continent, courtship, and marriage, and some years of quiet and studious retirement in Ireland, occupied him during the Protectorate; in 1660 was returned to the Convention Parliament at Dublin, and five years later, having resettled in England, began his diplomatic career, the most notable success in which was his arrangement in 1668 of the Triple Alliance between England, Holland, and Sweden to hold in check the growing power of France; as ambassador at The Hague became friendly with the Prince of Orange, whose marriage with the Princess Mary (daughter of James II.) he negotiated; was recalled in 1671, but after the Dutch War returned to his labours at The Hague, and in 1679 carried through the Peace of Nimeguen; although offered a State Secretaryship more than once, shrank from the responsibilities of office under Charles II., a diffidence he again showed in the reign of William III.; the later years of his life were spent in Epicurean ease, in the enjoyment of his garden, and in the pursuit of letters at his villa at Sheen, and, after 1686, at Moor Park, in Surrey, where he had Swift for secretary; is remembered in constitutional history for his scheme (a failure ultimately) to put the king more completely under the check of the Privy Council by remodelling its constitution; was a writer of considerable distinction, his miscellaneous essays and memoirs being notable for grace and perspicuity of style (16281699).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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