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THÉ, LIFE OF CHARLES MONTAGUE,
" Earl of H 4 L IF A x.
** HARLES MONTAGUE,' ticularly excelled. At this school he con
the most diftinguished tracted a very great friend Mhip with Mr. 10
statesman of his time, George Stepney, who, being his senior, 9 was born the 16th of April,' was elected to Trinity college, Cambridge,
You 1661, at Horton, in Nor. in 1682. Mr. Montague's election came A
i thamptonshire, the seat on the next year, but the apprehenfion of his father, the lionourable George Mon- of being chosen to Christ's Church in Oxtague, Esq; younger fon, by a second wise, ford, and thereby separated from his to Henry earl of Manchester. He had a friend, gave him so much trouble, that he numerous family, confifting of four fons, earnestly intreated his relations not to and as many daughters; and though por. keep him waiting the issue of his election, feffed of no other estate than his mother's but to forego that advantage, and let him jointure, yet, by an excellent aconomy, he now accompany Mr. Stepney to Cambred up all his children in the genteelett bridge. His request was granted, and he manner, and provided handsome fortunes was admitted at Trinity college there that for them. Charles, the youngest, gave year, in the station of a fellow.commoner ; very early tokens of an admirable genius, his kinsman Dr. John Montague, then * At the age of 14, he was sent to Weft. master of that college, taking him under minfter school, where he was, two years his tuition. He quickly made a moft exafter, chosen a king's fcholar. That ex- traordinary proficiency in every branch of cellent obferver of a boy's genius, Doctor academical learning, presently recommendBusby, under whore immediate care heed himself to the notice and acquaintance was, perceiving his inclination towards of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Isaac Newton ; poetry, took care to improve it by fre- and in 1684, joined with him in endeaquently putting him upon making extem-' vouring to crect a philosophical society at pore epigrams, in which exercise be para Cambridge, like:lat eRablinted in the fifter. Auguft, 1761.
university. But the poets employed Mr. making a man of him ;" and fortly after Montague's brighter hours. The death he had a pension of sool, a year, cill an of king Charles the second furnished him, opportunity should offer of promoting as well as his friend Stepney, with a ta. hm. Accordingly, in the beginning of vourable opportunity of thewing their March 1691, having in the house of commerit in that way.
mons, displayed his eminent abilities in Mr. Montague's verses on this occasion, the debates upon the bill for regulating drew the regard of the earl of Dorset upon trials, in cases of high trearon ; lord Dortheir author, who was thereupon invited fet, though the bill miscarried, obtained to London by that noble patron of the for him the place of one of the commismuses, and brought into the acquaintance soners of the treasury, then vacant by the of some of the choicest wits of the age. resignation of Themas Pelham, Esq. This Mr. Stepney had the same invitation, but was the first opening of his talents as a declined it out of his love to a retired life. speaker in the house. The design of the Among there, it was not long before Mr. bill was, amongst other things, to allow Montague procured himself a place in the first counsel to prisoners charged with that ofclass; and his fame in this kind was com- fence, while it was depending. Ma, pletely established, by the sñare he had in Montague rose up in order to speak for it, transversing Dryden's fable of the Hind and having begun his speech, was sudand Panther, into the Country Mouse and denly struck with such a surprize, that for City Mouse, in 1687. This travesty was a while he was not able to go on; but undertaken by Mr. Montague and Mr. recovering himself, he took occasion from Prior, at the request of their friends. Our this very surprize, to enforce the necessity author had the greatest mare in it, and the of allowing counsel to prisoners, who were preface was entirely his. It was of fingu- to appear before their judges ; fince he, jar service to the cause of liberty and pro- who was not only innocent and unaccused, testantism. Before this, the university but one of their own members, was so had given their atteftation to the diftin- dashed when he was to fpeak before that guished merit of Mr. Montague, by con- wise and illustrious assembly; which turn ferring upon him the degree of master of of wit did no small service in facilitating arts, in an extraordinary manner, and he the passage of that bill through the house had been also elected fellow of his college. of commons, though it was loft after
In 1688 he signed, among many others, wards by an amendment, with which it the invitation of the prince of Orange to was clogged in the upper house. come over to England. Upon the depar- He was now sworn a privy counsellor, ture of king James the second, he was chosen and distinguished himself so eminently a member of the convention, where he both at the treasury and council boards, voted for declaring the throne vacant by that upon a change in the former, in the that king's abdication. Before the coro. beginning of May 1694, he was made nation of king William, he married the second commissioner, chancellor of the excountess dowager of Manchester, and went chequer, and under-treasurer. The exi. to London with a design to enter into holy gence of the public affairs called for the orders, but was afterwards diverted from utmost skill of the ableft statesmen at this that design, and purchased the place of one juncture. However, Mr. Montague Mew. of the clerks of the council for 1goal. ed his abilities to be equal to the neceflity · Not long after the earl of Dorset, then of the state ; and conducted the govern. lord-chamberlain, who had been very in- ment safe through dangers, that were strumental in bringing on the revolution, thought by many to be utterly infurmounintroduced Mr. Montague in the most en table. In 1695 he entered into the degaging manner to king William, saying, sign of reçoining all the current money of “May it please your majetty, I have brought the nation, which, notwithstanding the exa mouse to have the honour of kissing your treme difficulties that attended it, he unland." The king smiled, his looks at the dertook, and perfectiy completed in the same time seeming to demand an expla- compass of two years; an affair, which nation of the earl's meaning in that was looked upon with astonishment and address; upon which his lordship ac- wonder by our enemies, as we were then Quainted him, and his majesty replied, engaged in a difficult and expensive war, : You will do well to put me in a way of and, as Mir, Montague kad foreseen, inti
midated them not a little. In the fame arising from the scarcity of money, by degree it raised the admiration of the Eng. raising for the service of the government lith people, who had regarded this above two millions in exchequer notes.' scheme as the highest temerity, and that Before the end of this parliament, on an it would have been productive of greater inspection into 'king William's grants in evils than the grievance it was intended Ireland, and one being found in favour to remedy, fuppofing it practicable, which of Mr. Montague, a warm debate arose was what many good men thought impof- in the house of commons, wherein it was fible to be ; but the constancy, perseve moved that he mould withdraw; but the rance, and indefatigable induftry of Mr. motion passed in the negative ; and thereMontague surmounted all difficulties. In upon it was refolved, that Charles Montague 1696 he projected the scheme, and pro- Esq; cbancellor of the exchequer, did deferve cured the establithment of a general fund, bis majesty's favour : a very remarkable in order to retrieve the public credit, and vote, and which will render his name fabe a discharge to national incumbrances. mous to all succeeding ages. It is well known that this igeneral fund. In 1698 he had the chief hand in mawas the first stone that was laid towards naging the project for erecting a new Easterecting the finking fund, the great boast India company, and the same year was of Sir Robert Walpole; which might be of made first commissioner of the treasury ; great benefit towards discharging the na- and July 16th appointed one of the lords tional debt, if the necessities of the times justices of England during his majesty's would permit this deposit to be regarded absence; as he was also in 1699, in which more sacred, and appropriated Tolely to last mentioned year he was made auditor that use for which it was originally in of the exchequer. On the 13th of Decemtended. The same year Mr. Montaguc ber 1700, having refigned his post in the found out a method to support the credit treasury, he was erected a peer of Engof the bank of England; and the fol-' land, by the title of baron Halifax of Halilowing year he prevented the mischiefs fax, in the county of York *: but so
* As the preamble to his patent, which was drawn up in very clegant Latin by Mr. Prior, is remarkable, it may not be amiss to transcribe it. It was as follows: “If it be accounted honourable to be descended from a most ancient family of noblemen ; if it be any glory to grow illustrious by great actions, proceeding from personal and inherent merit, our right well-beloved, and very faithful counsellor, Charles Montague, Esg; on both accounts recommends himself to our fingular good opinion and esteem, who derives his splendor from a house, which at once very plentifully provides for the or. nament and support of our kingdom, in three earls, and eight members of parliament: a gentleman adorned with those virtues, to which no good citizen can envy any increase of honour, and which a just prince cannot but freely offer. Nature has endued him with a genius to manage affairs of the highest concern, and which being cultivated by learning, and by a continual practice of speaking well, and acting wisely, we have found him ftrenuous and eloquent in parliament, in council faithful and prudent, in determining causes relating to the exchequer, upright and penetrating. We grate. fully acknowledge ourselves altogether indebted to the parliament, for the supplies we have received to carry on a nine years war, in fighting for religion and liberty, and the common welfare of Europe : but we must not pass over in silence the sagacity of this excellent gentleman, who took care, that in the greatest scarcity the public credit Mould not fink, by being overburthened with exceffive intereft. We must likewise reckon it a happiness, that he was at that time chancellor of our exchequer, when, to our admiration, we beheld the current money, which was adulterated and debased by the fraud and villainy of wicked men, in the space of two years (though accounted the work of an age) coined anew, and restored to its intrinfic value : an attempt as fortunate as it was bold. And the demands of money increasing upon us, by his counsel and advice we entered upon a new and unusual method of establishing a paper credit, wherehy we made provision to advance the riches of the nation. For these good offices he gained the love and eleem of the people; and for the benefit which they received by Dad 2