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By R. Eccleshall

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Pelham died in office at the age of 59 after a short illness. In the ensuing ministerial struggle for advantage, the extent to which he had contained the tensions of disagreement was made bitterly obvious. Setting aside his weaknesses and foibles, friends and enemies alike could agree without reservation that he had discharged his public duties with exemplary care and honesty. ‘He lived without abusing his power’, wrote Horace Walpole, ‘and died poor’ (Hodgart 1963:46). References and further reading Barnes, D.

Earl of Wilmington 15 to increase their majority by unseating political opponents. He was rewarded with the lucrative office of Paymaster of the Queen’s Pensions, despite showing some independence in voting and his criticisms of Godolphin’s allies, the Whig Junto. As a manager of the trial of Dr Sacheverell, the High Tory cleric, he showed uncharacteristic passion, trembling and foaming at the mouth as he denounced Sacheverell as a criminal. In the Tory backlash of the 1710 election, the managers were liable to incur insults and personal injury from enraged Tory mobs and Compton prudently stood down.

Fox complained that he had Duke of Newcastle 31 no power of making a friend or intimidating an adversary; and yet to attempt to lead a House of Commons with less help even in debate on our side than was known…. I not only would not, but could not carry on the King’s affairs without the Duke of Newcastle. It is absolutely impossible to go on with him. I therefore must get out of court…I find my credit in the House of Commons diminishing for want of support. These charges were symptomatic of an essential distrust in a relationship strained by deteriorating political circumstances and put under stress by the ambiguous nature of links between senior ministers in a political system that lacked a sense of stability, clear conventions for ministerial responsibility and a prime minister whose functions of directing government business and deploying ministerial patronage were clear-cut.

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