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they afterwards travelled in France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries.
On his return to England, Thomas Wharton speedily made it evident that he was bent on casting off the restraints of his early education, and freely indulged in the frivolous amusements and licentious pleasures, which in the violent reaction of the Restoration had come in like a flood. Even when much older (1682) he and his brother Henry sometimes ran into an “excess of riot” that nothing could excuse. Whilst he made no profession of religion, although lightly submitting to the forms of public worship imposed by authority, he was throughout his life a courageous, consistent, and devoted supporter of the political party which opposed all measures for the oppression of Nonconformists, and on which, as he believed, the liberty and prosperity of the nation depended.
Under parental pressure, he married (1673) Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Lee, Bart., of Ditchley, Oxfordshire, with whom he had £10,000 dowry and £2,000 a year. She was a young lady of only 14 years of age, of reserved demeanour and literary tastes, and between her and himself there existed little sympathy or affection. Shortly before his marriage he was returned member of Parliament for Wendover, and subsequently, along with Richard Hampden (son of the celebrated patriot), for Buckinghamshire, where he long enjoyed great popularity and exerted immense political influence. He continued to represent the shire until, by the death of his father, he took his place in the House of Lords; and his residence during this period was at Winchendon.
He voted for the Exclusion Bill in the Parliament of 1679, when the terms Whig and Tory came into common use to denote respectively the supporters or opponents of that measure. On the accession of James II. (1685) his house at Winchendon was searched for arms on the groundless suspicion of his being concerned in the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth. He was a
strenuous opponent of the king's design to make Roman Catholicism supreme, and when the course pursued by James led to a general revolt from his rule, Wharton, it is said, drew up the invitation, which was subscribed by several peers and gentlemen, and sent (June 30th, 1688) to the Prince of Orange to land with an armed force to defend the laws and liberties of the realm. As soon as he heard of the landing of the Prince at Torbay (November 5th), taking with him twenty of his friends, he hastened to meet him at Exeter, and attended him to London-whence James shortly afterwards fled to France, subsequently landing in Ireland (March, 1689) in a vain attempt to recover his throne.
About this time Wharton wrote a popular satirical ballad on the administration of Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel, who was noted for his violent measures against the Protestants, and was appointed viceroy a second time by James II. (October, 1688). In it an Irishman congratulates a brother Irishman on the approaching triumph of Popery and the Irish race, the words lilli burlero, &c., being a sort of gibberish said to have been used as words of distinction among the Irish papists in their massacre of Protestants in 1641. It expressed and intensified the public excitement of the time. The verses, set to a quick step by Purcell, took the fancy of the nation; and “the whole army, and at last the people, both in city and country, were singing it perpetually; and perhaps never had so slight a thing so great an effect" (Burnet). Wharton boasted, accordto Dean Swift, that "he had sung a deluded prince out of three kingdoms.” A few of the lines of this “idle rhyme” are here given as a matter of curiosity :
“ Ho, broder Teague, dost hear de decree,
Lilli burlero, bullen-a-la.
Lilli burlero, bullen-a-la.
Ho, by Shaint Tyburn, it is de Talbote,
&c., &c.* On the settlement of the government of William III., Wharton was made Comptroller of the Household, and sworn of the Privy Council. He subsequently held various other positions of honour and emolument, and took a prominent place as a debater in the House of Commons. His wife, Anne Lee, having died in 1685, he married for his second wife (1692) Lucy Loftus, only daughter and heiress of Adam, Viscount Lisburne, in the peerage of Ireland (who was killed at the siege of Limerick, September 15th, 1691), a lady with a large fortune, and as much addicted to pleasure as himself. On the death of his father (1696) he inherited an estate of about £8,000 (£30,000) a year, and took his seat in the House of Lords. At the baptism of his son Philip, at Wooburn (January 5th, 1698-9), the sponsors were William III., the Duke of Shrewsbury, and the Princess Anne (afterwards Queen).
It was said of him at this period : “ He is certainly one of the completest gentlemen in England, hath a very clear understanding, and manly expressions, with abundance of wit; he is brave in his person, much of a libertine, of a middle stature, fair complexion, and fifty years old.”+ On the race-course his horses were unrivalled. He was a skilful duellist, and, as stated in his Memoirs, “ he made a vow to himself never to give or refuse a challenge, and it was his particular happiness that in several duels in which he was engaged he never had the misfortune to kill a man, or to be worsted,
* Percy's “Reliques of English Poetry." "More than 70 years after the Revolution Sterne delineated with exquisite skill a veteran who had fought at the Boyne and at Namur one of the characteristics of the good soldier in his trick of whistling Lilli burlero."-Macaulay's History. The tune is given in “ Tristram Shandy.”
† John Macky, “Characters of the Court of Great Britain," 1705.
as he had great agility of body, and constant presence of mind. He was always too hard for his antagonists, and he had particularly a dexterous way of disarming them, flinging up their swords, and closing in with them, which never failed of giving him an opportunity to show his forgiving as well as heroic temper.” But his chief distinction was that he was a leading statesman of the Whig party, and an unequalled and unscrupulous adept in the art of electioneering. “It was commonly believed,” says Macaulay," that in the course of his life he expended on his Parliamentary interest not less than eighty thousand pounds, a sum which, when compared with the value of estates, must be considered as equivalert to more than three hundred thousand pounds in our time.”
On the accession of Queen Anne in 1702, when the Tory and High Church party came into power, Wharton was dismissed from all his public offices. About this time he became involved in a lawsuit about the ownership of lead mines in Swale-dale, which was ultimately decided against him. By the elections of 1705 the Whig party again became dominant, and he was created Viscount Winchendon and Earl of Wharton (1706). He was also appointed one of the Commissioners to treat with the Scots for the Union of England and Scotland. His vigilance on behalf of religious liberty never relaxed. When a motion was made in the House of Lords by Sharp, Archbishop of York, that the judges should be consulted as to whether there were sufficient laws for the suppression of Dissenting academies, it was met by the counter proposal of Wharton that they should be consulted about the means of suppressing schools and seminaries kept by non-jurors (who refused to swear allegiance to the reigning dynasty), in one of which a noble lord of that House had both his sons educated. His reference was to the Archbishop himself, who replied that he did not know that the tutor of his sons was a non-juror, and as soon as he was made acquainted with the fact he took them away.
Although Wharton possessed none of his father's piety, he always showed himself a zealous advocate of the just claims of the Nonconformists. “His friend Robin [Robert Harley, son of Sir Edward Harley, and first Earl of Oxford, who had gone over from the Whigs to the Tories], having spoken pretty warmly against Dissenters in the debate, my Lord Wharton told him it was strange to hear him talk so; for 'My Lord,' says he, “though we have none of their grace in our hearts, we have much of their blood in our veins; and you have forgotten how often we have been together in Pinner's Hall.'* 'My Lord,' says the White Staff, that was my brother Edward, 'twas not I. 'Yes, yes,' replied my Lord Wharton, 'I say, my Lord, 'twas your brother Edward's brother, Robin, used to go there.'” (Memoirs of the Marquis of Wharton.)
In 1708 he was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and had as his Secretary the accomplished essayist Joseph Addison, for whom he always cherished great esteem, and whom he got returned M.P. for the Borough of Malmesbury, where his influence was paramount. His dignity in Ireland was, however, of short duration. Largely under the influence of the cry, “The Church in danger," and the ill-judged prosecution of Dr. Sacheverell for preaching at St. Paul's a sermon advocating the doctrine of non-resistance (November 5th, 1709), the elections went against the Whigs, and the Tories once more returned to power. Wharton remained faithful to his political principles in adversity as well as in prosperity. He strongly opposed both the Occasional Conformity and the Schism Bills.t And in the debates
* A noted Nonconformist meeting-house, where a lecture was given on Tuesday mornings in support of the doctrines of the Reformation by eminent Presbyterian and Independent ministers.
+ “ The object of the Occasional Conformity Bill was to exclude the Dissenters from all Government positions of power, dignity, or profit. It was followed in 1714 by the Schism Act, which was intended to crush their seminaries and deprive them of the means of educating their children in their faith. As carried through the House of Commons it provided that no one, under pain of three months' imprisonment, should keep either a public or private school, or should even act as tutor or usher unless he had obtained a licence from the Bishop, had engaged to conform to the Anglican liturgy, and had received the Sacrament in some Anglican church within the year. In