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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

VIII. Historical and Political Writers

§ 12. His last Political Pamphlets

The letter or paper Of the State of Parties at the Accession of George I, which, apparently put together to satisfy Lyttelton, was published with the two “patriotic” treatises in 1749, may be unreservedly dismissed as a piece of special pleading neither effective nor adequate. Bolingbroke here takes it upon himself to deny that, during the last four years of queen Anne’s reign, there existed any plan for bringing the pretender to the throne. Clearly, he expected the fact of his own correspondence with James, at a time when he was secretary of state under his sister, to be ignored by the reader as it was by the writer. Thus, the charge against George I of having let loose the fury of revenge upon the tories, and goaded men into the rebellion of 1715, instead of accomplishing his succession quietly, as he might have done, falls to the ground, or recoils upon its author.

Finally, in 1749, Bolingbroke put forth Some Reflections on the Present State of the Nation, principally with regard to her Trade and her Debts, and on the Causes and Consequences of them. Although this pamphlet remains a fragment, it would seem as if the main points of the argument were put in the completed portion. After a most unsuccessful and costly war, and after we have participated, “like principal actors,” in continental wars and negotiations covering a period of threescore years, it becomes time that public attention should be turned homeward, and especially to the question of national taxes and debts. Since the revolution of 1688, and, more particularly, during the Spanish Succession war, in which the whole weight of expenditure fell on England and Holland, the chief way of meeting it has been that of funding debt (whence the beginning of an era of stock-jobbing), in order to make the fortunes of great numbers depend on the preservation of the new government. The increase of the public debt has been enormous, and has risen since the Hanoverian acquisition of Bremen and Verden became the first link in a chain which has dragged England into new and expensive broils. When, of late, war with Spain became unavoidable, the part we took in it could only end to the advantage of France. We have no Sullys among us; but the public debt must be diminished, and the interest on it reduced; and, though it is necessary to foster the rivalry between Austria and France, and to support the former against the latter, this should be done in accordance with the present interest of England only.

The tone of this pamphlet, though some of the old fire still burns beneath the surface, is, on the whole, calmer and more temperate than is usual with the writer.