The Second Tory Party, 1714-1832

By Keith Grahame Feiling | Go to book overview

V
THE WATERSHED: I
1754-1760

WHEN the Duke of Newcastle was sole minister, parties at an end, everything had done happening', such was the present burden of Horace Walpole's song, and an unhappy prophecy. In the sense, however, that Sir Robert's son had been used to, party was indeed 'at an end'. Though pockets of an older Tory society survived, they were in protest against all about them, against a political machine, moneyed men, and centralization. The party genealogy henceforward must thus be found in the absorption of this fragment by one, or perhaps by more than one, of the Whig groups. For all men in power were 'Whigs' now, alike Newcastle with his 'age, rank, uncommon disinterestness, and an immense fortune spent in the service of liberty, the Whig cause',* and his inveterate rivals. Wyndham's son Egremont was this year urging Newcastle to watch 'the Whig interest in the west'. Bedford's friend Marlborough would 'keep the Whig interest together' by a canonry for a friend. Halifax must be a lord-lieutenant, since 'the Whigs of our county consider me as their head'. And Newcastle's kinsman, young Lord North, soon gratefully accepted a lordship of the Treasury.

'To find pasture enough for the beasts they must feed', here, wrote Chesterfield, was the problem for the party. In a world nine-tenths 'Whig', any strains, war, or revolution must make a new division, or a new diversion on the left, driving part of this Whig bloc towards the right, even towards (in Pitt's phrase) 'the gentlemen called Tories'. But the exact source of such division, the fusion of groups, or their colouring of each other,--nothing in 1754 could have foretold this unpredictable work of time.

____________________
*
F. Montague, 11 Jan. 1766, Add. 32973.
Egremont, July 1754, ib. 32736; Halifax and Marlborough, July 1749, ib. 32718; North, ib. 32890 ( 1759).

-58-

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