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Upon his return home in 1730, he was elected a Knight of the Garter, and appointed Steward of the Household; and the same year resumed his diplomatic function at the Hague, where he was materially instrumental in forming an important arrangement between the Courts of London and Vienna, and the States General. Having impaired, however, both his health and his fortune by his residence abroad, he procured his recall in 1732. Soon afterward, in consequênce of some misrepresentation of his conduct in the Household, or more probably from his strenuous opposition to the minister's favourite Excise-scheme, he resigned the stewardship of that department, and retired to his seat in Derbyshire. Yet he still constantly attended his duty in parliament; where, though for the present he had renounced all hopes of farther promotion at court, he only opposed the measures of administration when he was convinced that they militated against the honour and the interest of his country.
About the same time, he married Lady Melosina de Schulenberg, Countess of Walsingham, and natural daughter of George I. by the Duchess of Kendal; a lady of merit and accomplishments, who by her prudence and attention greatly contributed to retrieve his deranged affairs.
He afterward distinguished himself by the active part, which he took in all the measures of that important period. He opposed the reduetion of the army ; supported the motion for ordering the Directors of the South Sea Company to deliver an account of the disposal of the forfeited estates of their infamous predecessors in 1720; and, upon the failure of another motion to appoint a Committee for
examining into the management of their affairs subsequently to that calamitous year, drew up a spirited protest, which was signed by several other Lords.
In the spring of the year 1734, the Duke of Marlborough brought a bill into the Upper House, to prevent officers of the army from being cashiered otherwise than by the sentence of a court-martial; and at the same time moved an address to his Majesty, requesting him to communicate the names of those, who had advised him to deprive the Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham of their regiments for having opposed the ministry. Chesterfield warmly seconded the motion, and supported the bill; but they were both rejected by a considerable majority. In the following session, he espoused the cause of the six Scotch Noblemen, who presented a petition to the House, complaining of an undue election of the Sixteen Peers to sit in parliament,
In 1737, he gave great disgust to the court, by a masterly speech in favour of an address to his Majesty, requesting him to settle 100,0001. per ann. upon the Prince of Wales; and, on it's failure, he entered his protest. But his most remarkable effort in this session was, against the bill* for subjecting plays to the inspection and licence of the Lord Chamberlain. Upon this occasion, his Lordship displayed all the
* This bill, brought into the Lower House by Sir Robert Walpole, who had gotten into his possession the manuscript of a comedy replete with the bitterest sarcasms upon his administration, was admirably contrived to intercept dramatic satire, by subjecting all new pieces to the necessity of being licensed by an officer of the court. It passed the Commons by a majority of two to one.
powers of oratory, though without success. As the composition of his speech, however, has been highly extolled, some parts of it are here introduced :
“ Every unnecessary 'restraint (said his Lordship) on licentiousness is a fetter upon the legs, is a shackle on the hands, of Liberty. One of the greatest blessings we enjoy, one of the greatest blessings a people can enjoy, is liberty; but every good in this life has it's alloy of evil. Licentiousness is the alloy of liberty: it is an ebullition, an excrescence; it is a speck upon the eye of the political body, which I can never touch but with a gentle, with a trembling hand, lest I destroy the body, lest I injure the eye, upon which it is apt to appear.
-" There is such a connexion between licentiousness and liberty, that it is not easy to correct the one without dangerously wounding the other. It is extremely hard to distinguish the true limit between them. Like a changeable silk, we can easily see there are two different colours; but we cannot easily discover where the one ends, or the other begins.
“ When we complain of the licentiousness of the stage, and of the insufficiency of our laws, I fear we have more reason to complain of bad measures in our polity, and a general decay of virtue and morality among the people. In public as well as private life, the only way to prevent being ridiculed or censured is, to avoid all ridiculous or wicked measures, and to pursue such only as are virtuous and worthy. The people never endeavour to ridicule those they love and esteem, nor will they suffer them to be ridiculed : if any one attempts it, the ridicule returns upon the author; he makes himself only the object of public hatred and contempt. The actions or behaviour of a private man may pass unobserved, and consequently unapplauded, uncensured; but the actions of those in high stations can neither pass without notice, nor without censure or applause: and therefore an administration without esteem, without authority among the people, let their power be never so great, let their power be never so arbitrary, will be ridiculed. The severest edicts, the most terrible punishments, cannot entirely prevent it.
" When a man has the misfortune to incur the hatred or contempt of the people, when public measures are despised, the audience will apply what never was, what could not be, designed as a satire on the present times. Nay, even though the people should not apply, those who are conscious of guilt, those who are conscious of the wickedness or weakness of their own conduct, will take to themselves what the author never designed. A public thief is as apt to take the satire, as he is apt to take the money, which was never intended for him.
Hence, my Lords, I think it must appear, that the bill now before us cannot so properly be called ' a bill for restraining the licentiousness, as it may be called ' a bill for restraining the liberty,' of the stage; and for restraining it, too, in that branch, which in all countries has been the most useful : therefore, I must look upon the bill as a most dangerous encroachment upon liberty in general.
Nay farther, it is not only an encroachment upon liberty, but it is likewise an encroachment upon property. Wit, my Lords, is a sort of property of
those that have it, and too often the only property they have to depend on.
It is, indeed, but a precarious dependence. Thank God! we, my Lords, have a dependence of another kind; we have a much less precarious support, and therefore cannot feel the inconveniences of the bill now before us: but it is our duty to encourage and protect wit, whosesoever property it may be. Those gentlemen, who have any such property, are all I hope our friends : do not let us subject them to any unnecessary, or arbitrary, restraint. I must own, I cannot easily agree to laying any tax upon wit; but by this bill it is to be heavily taxed, it is to be excised : for, if this bill passes, it cannot be retailed in a proper way without a permit; and the Lord Chamberlain is to have the honour of being chief-gauger, supervisor, commissioner, judge, and jury.
“ Let us consider, my Lords, that arbitrary power has seldom or never been introduced into any country at once; it must be introduced by slow degrees, and as it were step by step, lest the people should perceive it's approach.
The barriers and fences of the people's liberty must be plucked up one by one, and some plausible pretences must be found for removing or hoodwinking, one after another, those sentries who are posted by the constitution of every free country for warning the people of their danger. When these preparatory steps are once made, the people may then, indeed, with regret see Slavery and Arbitrary Power making long strides over their land; but it will then be too late to think of preventing, or avoiding, the impending ruin. The Stage, my Lords, and the Press are two of our outsentries: if we remove them, if we hood-wink them,