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or to make his first intentions, at least, strictly agreeable to the good of his country, and thac of all his fellow-citizens; and therefore, the account of it may be a present not unworthy a gentleman of
free and disinterested character ; and I flatter myself it will have the influ. ence of your Lordship in the prosecution of it. I need not say how great that influence must needs be, where you act for them in the greatest capacities your fellow-citizens have to bestow.
I congratulate both them and you, that a person of such known equanimity is vested with the double capacity of asserting and protecting their privileges; whose candour and benignity naturally tend to abate animosity, encourage industry, promote peace, prevent disorder, fecure wealth, and relieve poverty : in all which noble ends and cares I wish you a prosperous and memorable mayoralty; and again humbly defiring, that if the design shall in the least de gree appear serviceable in any of these generous respects, it may have your protection. I res nain, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient, and most humble servant, RICHARD STEELE.
PILET TER CCCCLIII.
To the Earl of OXFORD *
[1719.] AM yery glad of the occasion wherein I have the good fortune to think the same way
* Robert Harley, esq. eldest son of Şir Edward Harley, born Dec. 5, 1661. At the Revolution, Sir Edward and his son Robert raised a troop of horse at their own expence. On the accession of King William, Mr. Harley was elected member for Tregony; and afterward for Radnor, which: he represented till called to the Upper House. Feb. i1, 1701-2, he was chosen Speaker; as he was again, 31 Dec. followings and a third time, in the first parliament of Queen Anne." April 14, 1704, he was sworn of the Privy Council ; and, May 18 following, appointed Secretary of State, being 'ftill Speaker of the House of Com. mons. His office of Secretary he refigned, Feb, 12, 1707-8.. He was made a Commissioner of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Aug. 10, 1700; and three days after sworn again of the Privy Council, where, March 8, 1711, his life was attacked by Guiscard : the address of both houses of parliament will best lhew the sense of the nation-át that alarming attempt. Her Majesty, in reward for his many services, was graciously pleased to advance him to the peerage, by the title of Baron Harley, Earl of Oxford, and Earl Mortimer, May 11, 1911: on the 29th, he was appointed Lord Treasurer; August 15, chosen Governor of the South Sea Company, of which he had been the founder; and, Oct. 26, 1712, was honoured with the Garter. July 27, 1714, he resigned the Treasurer's staff. June 10, 1715, his Lordship was impeached by the House of Commons; and though it is not ftrictly true that he was dismissed without a trial, is actually was so in effect, the Commons having declined appearing to make good their charge. His Lordship’s situation was somewhat fingular. The articles of impeachment against him were carried up July 9, 1715, when he was committed to The Tower. On August 2, additional articles were sent up; on the 3d of September his Lordship’s answer was delivered ; and on the 19th the House of Commons нь
with your Lordship, because I have very long fuffered a great deal of pain in reflecting upon a certain virulence with which my zeal has heretofore transported me to treat your Lordship's person and character. ' 1 do protest to you, excepting in the first smart of my disgrace and expulfion out of the House of Commons, I never -writ any thing that ought to displease you but joined issue by replication. After several adjournments, the Parliament re-assembled Jan. 9, '1715, and continued fitting until June 26,.1916, when an end was put to the feffion by a prorogation. Feb. 20, 1717, a new feffion was opened. May 22, the Earl, being still in confinement, petitioned the House of Peers to take the circumstances of his case into consideration, “ being afsured it was not their Lordships' intention that his “ confinement should be indefinite." - The petition having been referred to a Committee, who made their report May 25, it was agreed by the House, that the " impeachment was not determined “ by the prorogation." The day for trial was accordingly fixed, fork for June 13, and, at the desire of the Commons, deferred till the 24th, on which day. it actually commenced. The charge was opened by Mr. Hampden, and Sir Jofeph Jekyll began to proceed to make good the first article of the impeachment; but the Upper House having resolved, “ that the Commons Rould “ not be admitted to proceed, in order to make good their articles “ for high crimes and misdemeanors, till judgment were firft
given on the articles for high treason,” the managers for the Commons proceeded no further that day. Several conferences having been held on the subject, without effect, the Upper House · proceeded on the trial July 1; and, after proclamation for all persons concerned to take notice that the Earl of Oxford stood on his trial, that they might come forth to make good their charge, and the Commons not appearing, his Lordship was brought to the bar, “ acquitted of the articles, and all things " therein contained;the impeachment was dismissed; and the following day his Lord'hip re-assumed his seat in Parliament.
His Lordfhip died, in the 64th year of his age, May 21, 1724, - after having been twicë married.
with a reluctant heart, and in opposition to
I transgressed, my
* Sec his former Letter, p. 371. Letter CCCCXXIII.
fo now I congratulate you upon the pleasure you must needs have in looking back upon the true fortitude with which you have paffed through the dangers arising from the rage of the people, and the envy of the rest of the world. If to have rightly judged of men's paffions and prejudices, vices and virtues, interests and inclinations, and to have waited with skill and courage
seasons and incidents to make use of them for a man's fafety and honour, can administer pleasure to a man of sense and spirit, your Lordship has abundant cause of satisface tion. In confidence that you will accept of my forrow and repentance for the unprovoked liberties I have taken in my former writings, I make you my patron in this present discourse * on the greatest occasion that has perhaps ever happened in England. Your Lordship will fee I write in hafte; and the necessity of preffing forward to be time enough to be of any use, will excuse the failures in style and expression. 1 fhall therefore immediately fall into the matter of the bill, which, I fear, may change this free state into the worst of all tyrannies, that of an aristocracy. I shall support my reasons for that terror by running through the several parts of it, and making it appear, that this is more likely than any other consequence that can be
* His oppofition to the Peerage Bill. It was during this opposition to the Court that his licence for acting plays was re. voked, and his patent rendered ineffectual, at the instance of the Lord Chamberlain. See the next Letter,