Temple, Sir William

Temple, Sir William,

1628–99, English diplomat and author. He was married in 1655 to Dorothy OsborneOsborne, Dorothy
, later Lady Temple,
1627–95, English letter writer. The daughter of a royalist, she became engaged to Sir William Temple against the wishes of her family.
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. They settled in Ireland, and in 1661 Temple entered the Irish parliament. He moved (1663) to England, served on various diplomatic missions, and was made a baronet (1666). In 1668 he negotiated with great skill and speed a triple alliance with the Netherlands and Sweden to check the power of France. He became (1668) ambassador to The Hague but was secretly recalled (1670) after Charles IICharles II,
1630–85, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1660–85), eldest surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Early Life

Prince of Wales at the time of the English civil war, Charles was sent (1645) to the W of England with his council,
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 had concluded the secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV. He was reappointed (1674) at the conclusion of the unpopular English-Dutch war and negotiated the marriage (1677) of William of Orange to Princess Mary of England. Temple several times refused to become secretary of state, but he did promote a reorganization (1679) of the privy council. After this proved a failure, he retired (1681) to his estate, Moor Park, in Surrey, and devoted his time to writing. He produced a number of political works and essays. Jonathan SwiftSwift, Jonathan,
1667–1745, English author, b. Dublin. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest satirists in the English language. Early Life and Works
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, who was Temple's secretary for various periods in the 1690s, helped prepare his letters (1700–1703) and memoirs for publication (parts of both had earlier unauthorized publication). Temple's essay, Of Ancient and Modern Learning (1690), precipitated the famous "ancients versus moderns" controversy, which caused Swift to write The Battle of the Books (1697). Temple's style in his personal essays was long considered a model of balanced and polished prose.


See his life and works (1814); biographies by H. Woodbridge (1940, repr. 1966) and R. C. Steensma (1970).

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