Read CHARLES MONTAGUE (EARL of HALLIFAX) of The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Vol. III, free online book, by Theophilus Cibber, on

Was born the 16th of April 1661, and received the rudiments of his education at Westminster-school:  From thence he was removed to Trinity-College in Cambridge, where by the brightness of his parts he was early distinguished; and coming to town soon after the death of king Charles the IId. he contracted an intimacy with the earl of Dorset, Sir Charles Sedley, and other wits of the age.  After the accession of king William and queen Mary, having attached himself to the revolution interest, he was sworn one of the council:  He served in parliament for the cities of Durham, and Westminster, at different times, and distinguished himself by his speeches in the House of Commons, on several important affairs.  He was constituted one of the lords commissioners of the treasury, on the 21st of March 1691, and soon after sworn of the privy-council.  In 1694 he was made chancellor and under treasurer of the exchequer. In the year 1695, when the nation was distress’d, by the ill-state of the current coin of this kingdom, he projected the new coining of the silver money; and by his great prudence, and indefatigable industry brought it to bear.  He likewise proposed the issuing exchequer bills, to supply the great scarcity of money, which has since been made use of to the great benefit of the nation.  On the 16th of February, 1697.8, the House of Commons, came to a resolution, ’That it is the opinion of this house, that the honourable Charles Montague, Esq; chancellor of the exchequer, for his good services to this government, does deserve his majesty’s favour.’  His next concern, was the trade to the East-Indies; the settlement of which had been long depending, and was looked on as so nice, and difficult, that it had been referred to the king and council, and from them to the parliament; who on May the 26th, 1698, ordered a bill for settling the trade to that place:  Mr. Montague transacted this whole affair; and by his industry and skill, in touching the affections of the people, raised two-millions, by only doubling the duties on paper, parchment, and salt; which to have done by any other means, was at that time matter of the utmost difficulty.  These proofs of affection and zeal to his majesty’s person and government, induced the king to declare him first:  lord commissioner of the treasury; and on the 16th of July, 1698, appointed him one of the persons to whose fidelity, and honour, he reposed the trust of lords justices of England, for the administration of government during his absence.  In the year 1700 his lordship resigned the place of first lord commissioner of the treasury, having obtained a grant of the office of auditor of the receipts of the exchequer, vacant by the death of Sir Robert Howard; and on the 4th of December, the same year, was advanced to the dignity of baron Hallifax, in the county of York.

On the accession of queen Anne, he was concerned in vindicating the memory of king William, and on all occasions shewed a disinterested zeal in the service of his country.  He first projected the equivalent, which was given to the Scots, in order to promote the Union between the nations; and without which it had never been effected.  And as his lordship first moved for appointing commissioners to treat of an Union between the two kingdoms; so he had not only a great share in that treaty, as one of the commissioners, but causing it to be ratified in parliament, and answered, with all the force of which he was master, the various objections made against it.  And further, to strengthen the interest of the Whigs, which he thought was essentially connected with the protestant religion, his lordship proposed the bill for the naturalization of the illustrious house of Hanover, and for the better security of the succession of the crown in the protestant line; which being pass’d into an act, her majesty made choice of him to carry the news to our late sovereign; and to invest his son with the ensigns of the most noble order of the Garter.  On his arrival at Hanover, he was received with extraordinary marks of distinction, and honour.  During his residence there, the prince-royal of Prussia was married to his present majesty’s sister; and soon aster that prince set out with his lordship for the confederate army.  Hallifax then went to the Hague, where he laid the foundation of a stricter alliance between Great-Britain, and the United Provinces:  On his return to England he was graciously received by the-queen, and continued in her favour till the change of the ministry, in the year 1710.

On her majesty’s death, our author was one of the regency nominated by king George the Ist. till his arrival; who was no sooner possessed of the crown, but he shewed him distinguishing marks of his favour, having so strenuously promoted his succession to the British throne.  He had his majesty’s leave to resign his poll of auditor of the exchequer, to his nephew the honourable George Montague; and after being made first lord commissioner of the Treasury, and sworn of the privy-council, he was advanced to the dignity of earl of Hallifax, and viscount Sunbury, by letters patent, bearing date the 26th of October, 1714; and before the end of that year, was installed one of the knights companions of the most noble order of the garter, and made lord lieutenant of the county of Surry.

Lord Hallifax died in the 54th year of his age, on the 19th of May 1715, and on the 26th of the same month, was interred in general Monk’s vault in Westminster-Abbey:  leaving no issue, his titles devolved on his nephew, George late earl of Hallifax. Considered as a poet, his lordship makes a less considerable figure than the earl of Dorset; there is a languor in his verses, which seems to indicate that he was not born with a poetical genius.  That he was a lover of the muses, there is not the lead doubt, as we find him patronizing the poets so warmly; but there is some difference between a propensity to poetry, and a power of excelling in it.  His lordship has writ but few things, and those not of the utmost consequence.

Among others are the following, printed in Tonsen’s Minor Poets.

1.  Verses On the death of Charles the IId.

2.  An Ode on the Marriage of the Princess Anne, and Prince George of Denmark.

3.  The Man of Honour, occasioned by a Postscript to Penn’s Letter.

4.  An Epistle to Charles earl of Dorset; occasioned by King William’s Victory in Ireland.

5.  Verses written for the toasting Glasses of the Kit-Cat-Club, 1703; which consisted of persons of the first fashion, who were in the interest of the house of Hanover.  These Verses are by far the compleatest of lord Hallifax’s, and, indeed, genteel compliments to the radiant beauties, who were the chief toasts amongst the Whigs.  I shall here present the reader with them.

Duchess of Beaufort.

  Offspring of a tuneful fire,
  Blest with more than mortal sire: 
  Likeness of a mother’s face,
  Blest with more than mortal grace: 
  You with double charms surprize,
  With his wit, and with her eyes.

  Lady Mary Churchill.

Fairest, latest of the beauteous race, Blest with your parents wit, and her first blooming face; Born with our liberties in William’s reign, Your eyes alone that liberty restrain.

  Duchess of Richmond.

Of two fair Richmonds diff’rent ages boast, Their’s was the first, and our’s the brighter toast; Th’ adorers offspring prove who’s most divine, They sacrific’d in water, we in wine.

  Lady Sunderland.

  All nature’s charms in Sunderland appear,
  Bright as her eyes, and as her reason clear;
  Yet still their force, to men not safely known,
  Seems undiscover’d to herself alone.


  Admir’d in Germany, ador’d in France,
  Your charms to brighter glory, here advance;
  The stubborn Britons own your beauty’s claim,
  And with their native toasts enroll your name.