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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Sir Robert Walpole

  • [An English statesman; born 1676; educated at Cambridge; entered Parliament, 1700; secretary at war, 1708; expelled and imprisoned on a charge of corruption, 1712; first lord of the treasury, 1715, and chancellor of the exchequer; prime minister, 1721, under George I. and II.; resigned 1742, and created Earl of Orford; died 1745.]
  • All those men have their price.

  • A saying which grew out of Walpole’s remark to Mr. Leveson: “You see with what zeal and vehemence those gentlemen oppose me; and yet I know the price of every man in this house except three, and your brother, Lord Gower, is one of them.” In 1741 he said of some who called themselves patriots, “Patriots! I could raise fifty of them within four and twenty hours. I have raised many of them in one night. ’Tis but to refuse an unreasonable demand, and up springs a patriot.” “Patriotism,” said Dr. Johnson, “is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
  • As for history, I know that’s a lie.

  • More accurately, “Oh, don’t read history! that I know must be false;” to his son, who offered to read history to him.
  • When the bells were rung in London on the declaration of war against Spain in 1739, of which Walpole really disapproved, but which he was compelled by popular clamor to support, he was heard to say, “They may ring their bells now, before long they will be wringing their hands.”—COXE: Life, I. 579.
  • He replied to a proposal to tax the North-American Colonies in 1750, “I have Old England set against me, and do you think I will have New England also?”
  • When Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, joined Frederick, Prince of Wales, against the court party, Walpole deprived him of a cornetcy in the Blues, saying, “We must at all events muzzle this terrible cornet of horse.”
  • Only three crowns.

  • His reply to Queen Caroline, who asked him what it would cost to enclose St. James’s Park in the palace-yard; the park being considered ground to which the people had acquired indefeasible rights.
  • Walpole said of his rival Pulteney, to whom Speaker Onslow ascribed the most popular parts for public speaking that he had ever known, “I fear Pulteney’s tongue more than another man’s sword.” To Pulteney is attributed a remark similar to that quoted of Lord Chesterfield, that when he had turned Walpole out of office he “would retire to that hospital for invalids, the House of Peers.” Pulteney was made first Marquis of Bath; and Walpole on being raised to the peerage accosted him by saying, “My Lord Bath, you and I are now two as insignificant men as any in England.” Both had by that time fallen in public estimation.
  • Pulteney refused to promise in 1742, that he would not, in coming into power, prosecute Sir Robert Walpole, and expressed his want of control of his own party by saying, “The heads of parties are like the heads of snakes, which are carried on by their tails.”
  • It was a maxim of Walpole’s, that “the gratitude of place-expectants is a lively sense of future favors,” which La Rochefoucauld has expressed in his “Maxims:” “The gratitude of most men is but a secret desire of receiving greater benefits.”
  • Dr. Johnson said of two statesmen of this time: “Walpole was a minister given by the king to the people: Pitt was a minister given by the people to the king—as an adjunct.”