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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

XVII. Political Literature

§ 1. Revival of Controversy after the death of Henry Pelham

THE DEATH of Henry Pelham in 1754 destroyed the equilibrium of English politics. “Now,” said King George II, regretting, possibly, the minister more than the man, “Now, I shall have no peace.” And he was right, for the leading whigs entered on an angry struggle for supreme power which only ended when, in 1757, the domination of the elder Pitt was, virtually, established. Round the duke of Newcastle, formidable by his phalanx of obedient votes, Pitt, the man of genius and of the public confidence, and the shrewd, but far from high-minded, Henry Fox arose a dense dust of controversy.

It was not merely the conflict of personal ambitions that was in question. Great public issues were rapidly raised and discussed, if, as rapidly, let fall again. The sober middle class were weary of the prevailing corruption which handed over the country’s government to glaring incompetence. Tories, abandoning their vain hopes of a revolution, were eager to loose England from the Hanoverian tether which involved her in the intricacies of German politics, and to have done with the long feud with France. And both parties were anxious to see power held by men more representative than were the members of the existing narrow whig oligarchy, who, on their side, still believed in their hereditary mission to rule. Material for honest discussion there was in plenty.