To attempt to write a life of Robert Walpole is to climb one of the highest mountains in biography. He dominated English politics for over twenty years, and established a model of government that lasted until 1832 in substance, and beyond that date in spirit. It takes a brave man to undertake the task. Only J H Plumb attempted the summit, and, after two volumes, could not face a third. More recent biographers have preferred to stay in the foothills, and Edward Pearce must be counted among their number.