Walpole and his Critics

During his many years of administration, writes H.T. Dickinson, Walpole was highly unpopular with large sections of the community.

For more than twenty years Robert Walpole dominated a successful administration, which commanded the support of the King and the confidence of Parliament. During these years he achieved all his major political aims. He restored financial stability after the ravages of war and the disaster of the South Sea Bubble; he avoided war abroad until 1739 and promoted domestic harmony; and he reconciled a majority of the nation to the Hanoverian dynasty, the Revolution settlement, the Whig supremacy and to his own powerful position.

Many of his contemporaries and nearly all historians have recognized that his objectives were clear and rational, his policies pragmatic and expedient, and his methods usually effective. It can come, therefore, as something of a surprise to learn how unpopular he was and how much abuse was heaped upon him. These criticisms have sometimes been ignored and rarely taken seriously because they were made by such ambitious and frustrated politicians and writers as Pulteney, Bolingbroke, Swift and Pope.

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