Frank Taylor.

The wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) online

. (page 33 of 44)
Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

House of Austria. And Charles was employing in Catalonia
troops which Peterborough desired to divert to Italy, and
which Eugene himself desired to see in Naples or Piedmont.

Sensible that unity of purpose and concentration of force
could alone ensure success, the Emperor was anxious to
take counsel with Marlborough in person at Vienna. After
the fatigues of the last campaign, the Duke regarded the
prospect of so long a journey on the eve of winter without
enthusiasm. " I am worn to nothing," he wrote to
Godolphin, "... I am so extremely lean that it is uneasy
to me when I am in bed."^ But Sunderland reported that
the presence of his father-in-law at Vienna was " absolutely
necessary," and " that if he does come, there is nothing
in the power of this court that he will not persuade them
to."^ The King of Prussia desired that Marlborough

^ Coxe, vol. i., p. 342: Marlborough to Godolpliin.

2 Ibid.: Lord Sunderland to Godolphin, September 26/ October 7, 1705.


should visit the Emperor, the Emperor desired that he
should visit the King of Prussia, and the States-General
desired that he should visit them both. The English
ministers, though they wanted him in London, decided in
the interest of the common cause, that he should proceed
to Vienna and return by way of Berlin and Hanover. They
gave him ample powers of negotiation. During his short
visit to the Hague he procured from the Dutch government
authority sufficient for his purpose. On all hands it seemed
to be accepted that the Duke was the only man in Europe
who could hold the coalition together, and utiHse its resources
to any real advantage.

Marlborough arrived at Diisseldorf on October 28. On
the 29th he was magnificently entertained by the Elector
Palatine, with whom he provisionally arranged for the
increase of the Palatine forces and for the dispatch of a
strong contingent to Italy. On the 31st he reached Frank-
furt, where he was visited by the Margrave of Baden.
Marlborough listened attentively to the Margrave's projects
for the next campaign; but he attached no value to the
promises of a prince who could sacrifice the interest of
Europe to a private grudge. Their public intercourse,
however, revealed nothing to the closest observers but
cordiahty and confidence. The Duke continued his journey
on the 3rd, and came on the 6th to Ratisbon. At every
stage, he encountered fresh evidences of his popularity in
Germany. Everywhere he was received as the victor of
Blenheim and the liberator of the Empire. At Ratisbon
he embarked upon a yacht, and after a six days' voyage
on the Danube, reached Vienna on the 12th. He was met
by Sunderland and Stepney, whom he accompanied to the
British embassy. Joseph had offered to defray his expenses,
and had prepared a princely palace for his use. But both
these favours he declined. After a gratifying reception by
the Emperor and the ladies of the Imperial family, Marl-
borough engaged in a series of important conferences with
the Austrian ministers. He formed the opinion that they
were sincerely desirous of pushing the war with vigour;
but he recognised that their resources were unequal to their
zeal. Having settled the terms of a new treaty with the

1705-1706 347

maritime powers in place of the old one which had lapsed
at Leopold's death, he urged that the Empire would neither
attain its own ends nor fulfil its obligations to its allies, so
long as the Hungarian insurrection diverted its armies from
their true objective. This was a delicate topic; but Joseph
lent a wilHng ear to the Duke's representations, and promised
that, if reasonable concessions would pacify the rebels, no
mistaken notions of imperial dignity should stand in the
way. He also exhibited a similar inclination to satisfy
and to concihate the King of Prussia, who had actually
recalled three regiments from the Rhine. Neither he nor
his advisers, however, were so easily persuaded of the loyalty
of the Dutch to the Grand Alliance. But Marlborough was
in a position to prove that the French proposals were not
regarded seriously at the Hague; and he succeeded at
length in allaying, if not in entirely removing, the suspicions
which not unnaturally existed at the Austrian Court. In
discussing the prospects of the next campaign, it was
generally agreed that the Margrave of Baden should be
bidden to Vienna to explain his views. And Marlborough
wrote him a friendly letter, urging him in the public interest,
no less than in his own, to accept the invitation.

But the question which at this time overshadowed all
others was the question of the war in Italy. " My army,"
wrote Eugene to Marlborough, " is ruined, the horses worn
out with past fatigues, no sure footing in the country, and
the enemy reassembling their forces in my front, "-^ In
these circumstances, much as he had desired to meet the
Duke at Vienna, he did not venture to abandon his com-
mand. His immediate need was money. To keep the
field at all, he required 300,000 crowns. Marlborough did
not hesitate. He pledged the maritime powers to advance
this amount, England guaranteeing to find two-thirds of
it. His own credit and the credit of his country stood
high at Vienna. The bankers and merchants of that city
readily consented to pay over to Eugene a first instalment
of 100,000 crowns on behalf of the English government.
But Marlborough had no intention of feeding a merely
defensive war in Italy. He knew that the French were

1 Coxe, vol. i., p. 356: Eugene to Marlborough, October, 1705.


resolved to treat the Duke of Savoy as the allies had treated
the Elector of Bavaria, and that they would spare neither
men nor money in the attainment of their purpose. They
must be met with equal spirit, Eugene must be enabled
to march to Turin, and to expel the armies of Louis from
Italian soil. " H we could once be in a condition to act
offensively in Italy," he wrote to Hill, " we should soon
feel the good effects of it everywhere else."^ It was esti-
mated that with £250,000 the offensive could be assumed.
Marlborough undertook to raise that sum. It was possible,
though hardly probable, that the Dutch might be willing
to assist him. But in the event of their refusal, the Duke
proposed to ask the people of England to subscribe the
entire loan.

The Austrian ministers were satisfied. The Emperor's
gratitude took a tangible form. He presented Sunderland
with his portrait set in diamonds, and Marlborough with a
diamond ring. And he took the opportunity of creating
the Duke a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. More than
twelve months before, Leopold had desired to bestow this
mark of imperial favour on the victor of Blenheim. But
Marlborough having objected that a title without a territory
was a barren honour, the offer had remained unaccepted,
while the Court of Vienna was making various inadequate
proposals which the Duke declined. A suitable fief had
now been discovered in the lordship of Mindelheim in
Bavaria. Joseph created Mindelheim into a principality,
and by a patent of November 14, 1705, he conferred the
title of Prince upon the English general, as also upon his
heirs and descendants both male and female. Marlborough
had no time to make the acquaintance of his new subjects
or to receive their homage. Formal and ceremonial matters
arising out of the grant he entrusted to the management of

An attack of the gout confined the Duke to his room for
three days. During that time he was visited by everybody
of distinction at the Imperial Court. Nowhere indeed did
his amiable personality stand him in better stead than at
Vienna. The Emperor treated him as an intimate friend;

^ Murray, vol. ii., p. 327: Marlborough to Hill, November 8, 1705.

1705-17U6 340

and Sinzendorf, Wratislaw, and the Prince of Salm did not
disdain to imitate the example of their master. Wratislaw
in particular he won completely by a secret promise to
remove Stepney to some other capital at an early date.

On November 23 Marlborough and Sunderland set off for
Berlin. With a considerate prevision, very grateful to
travellers in late November, the Emperor had ordered
elaborate and expensive preparations for their comfort on
the way. They made the journey with three coaches and
two waggons; but at every stage relays of six horses for
each vehicle were awaiting them. The route lay through
Olmutz, Breslau, and Frankfurt on the Oder. In all the
towns enthusiastic multitudes assembled to gaze upon the
deliverer of the Empire. The nobility and the magistrates
vied with one another in magnificent hospitahty. It was
a hard season. The distance to be traversed was 532 miles.
But thanks to the excellence of the arrangements, Marl-
borough and Sunderland accomplished the journey in eight
days, and arrived at Berlin on the 30th.

Marlborough received a cordial welcome at the Prussian
capital, where he was saluted by the Imperial Resident as
Prince of Mindelheim. The King, who had a peculiar
regard for him, poured into his ears a catalogue of grievances
both imaginary and real. That the Margrave of Baden
was an indifferent commander, Marlborough of all men
was in no position to dispute. That the Dutch were in
arrear with their payments to the Prussian troops, was also
undeniable. But the demands upon their exchequer had
been very heavy. Marlborough excused them as best he
could, and promised on their behalf a prompt settlement of
outstanding claims. He also laboured to remove such
misunderstanding as had arisen with the Austrian govern-
ment. His task was no easy one, for he found the monarch,
as he reported to Harley, " very much exasperated both
against the court of Vienna and the States."-^ The King's
ill-humour was so pronounced, that Marlborough did not
venture to raise the question of the regiments that had
been recalled from the Rhine. But he spoke plainly to
the ministers on the subject. And he succeeded in renew-

^ Ibid., p. 333: Marlborough to Harley, December i, 1705.


ing for another year the treaty which secured the presence
of 8,000 Prussian troops in Italy, though Frederick con-
sented to sign it only " as a mark of respect to the Queen,
and of particular friendship to the Duke."^ In view of the
continued troubles in the north, it included a secret article
guaranteeing in the name of England the safety of the
Prussian dominions. At parting, the King presented Marl-
borough with a diamond-mounted sword, while to Sunder-
land he gave a diamond ring.

On December 3 the Duke and his son-in-law set off for
Hanover, which they reached on the 6th. Letters from
England were awaiting him there. They contained intel-
ligence which closely concerned the affairs of that court,
and which imposed on him a task of extreme delicacy.

It was not without reason that the Cabinet had desired
his presence in London in the autumn. The new Parlia-
ment had met in October; and although Harley was con-
fident of a working majority in the House of Commons,
which had proceeded with alacrity to the business of supply,
the opposition was known to be powerful and vindictive.^
In pursuance of the policy which had sent Lord Sunderland
to Vienna, the Whigs had been gratified by the dismissal of
Sir Nathan Wright, the incompetent Lord Keeper, and the
appointment in his stead of WiUiam Cowper, who was one
of the Junta's most prominent and able supporters. The
Queen's consent to this departure, which placed ecclesiastical
patronage under the control of those whom she regarded
as the enemies of the Church, had not been easily obtained.
The influence of the Duchess had been exerted in vain.
The methods of Sarah, which were peremptory rather than
persuasive, had irritated Anne beyond endurance, and had
caused the first unkindness between the two friends.
Eventually the Queen had appealed to Marlborough him-
self for support. The Duke in his reply, while he manifested
his personal sympathy with her views, had convinced her
of the necessity of sacrificing them to the public good.
Cowper was appointed only a fortnight before the meeting
of Parliament. The Whigs were delighted. In the voting

1 Coxe, vol. i., p. 360.

2 MSS. of the Earl of Mar and Kellie : The Earl of Loudoun to the Earl
of Mar, October 25. 1705 (Hist. MSS. Comm., p. 237).

1705-1706 351

for a new Speaker of the House of Commons, Bromley,
" the Tackers' " candidate, was beaten by forty-three votes.
But Tories Uke St. John regretted that circumstances
should have compelled them to support his opponent, Smith,
who was a determined Whig. The bitterness of the van-
quished was not concealed. In the debates on the disputed
elections, the Duchess of Marlborough, who had exerted
her influence in the borough of St. Albans, was denounced
by Bromley as an Alice Ferrers. But the opposition had
something more in their arsenal than common abuse. They
put up Lord Haversham in the House of Lords to move
that the Protestant succession could never be secure unless
the Queen's heir, the old Electress of Hanover, came to
reside in England. This was a stone judiciously calculated
to slay several birds at the same time. In the first place,
a proposal so essentially Whiggish in character, was ex-
pected by the Tories who promoted it to kill the electioneer-
ing slander that every Tory was a concealed Jacobite.
Secondly, it was intended to secure for the Tory party the
favour of the Queen's successor. And thirdly, it was
designed to place the government in a dilemma. The
project of inviting the Electress to England was, obviously,
a prudent and sensible one. Nor was it new. Already
the Duchess of Marlborough had frequently suggested it to
the Queen. No subject of the Crown, unless he were a
Jacobite, could honestly find fault with it. But the Crown
itself both could and did. The Queen detested the idea,
" it being," as she declared, " a thing I cannot bear, to
have any successor here, though but for a week."^ When
the Duchess " pressed her that she would at least invite
hither the young Prince of Hanover, who was not to be
her immediate successor, and that she would let him live
here as her son,"" Anne most emphatically declined. " She
would listen," says Sarah, "to no proposal of this kind in
any shape whatsoever." Rochester and Nottingham knew
well " how insuperably averse "^ the Queen had shown
herself to any such measure. But they had nothing to lose.
They could not forfeit a favour which had already been

^ Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, p. 144: The Queen to Marl-
borough, July 22, 1708.

2 P. 142. 3 p, 142,


withdrawn from them. The ministry on the other hand
must choose between two risks. If they supported Lord
Haversham's motion, their relations with the Queen would
become intolerably strained. If they opposed it, their
loyalty to the Protestant succession could be questioned
in the country. Godolphin's decision was soon made.
Supported by the lords of the Junta, he resisted the motion
and defeated it. There were those among the Whigs who
considered that an error had been committed, and that
advantage should have been taken of so fair an oppor-
tunity of ensuring the succession. These critics, however,
could have known little or nothing of the Queen's mind.
Anne was extremely irritated. She was fully capable of
dismissing Godolphin, had he attempted any other course.
Suspecting that " the disagreeable proposal," as she
termed it, was secretly encouraged by the Court of Hanover,
she wrote to Marlborough that she depended on his " kind-
ness and friendship to set them right in notions of things
here."-^ It was more easily said than done. The old
Electress, whose sympathies were already Tory, and who
would gladly have fixed her residence in England, was
highly indignant that Godolphin's ministry should have
combined with the Whigs to defeat Lord Haversham's
resolution. Marlborough himself, as a member of that
ministry and a personal friend of the Queen, was in a some-
what false position. Fortunately the Cabinet had decided
to spoil the Tory game by introducing bills to naturalise
the House of Hanover, and to provide for a commission
of regency in the event of the Queen's death. The Duke
was able to communicate this intelligence to the Electress
and her son. They received it with genuine satisfaction.
The Elector, who was inclined to Whiggery, gave little
trouble. " He has commanded me," wrote Marlborough
to Godolphin, " to assure Her Majesty that he will never
have any thoughts but what may be agreeable to hers."^ His
mother was charmed by the Duke's manners, and persuaded
by his arguments of the futility of antagonism to Anne.
All misunderstanding had been completely removed when

1 Coxe, vol. i., p. 361: The Queen to Marlborough, November 13/24,


2 Ibid., p. 362: Marlborough to Gk)dolphin, December 8, 1705.

1705-1706 353

Marlborough and Sunderland departed on the 9th for the
Hague. The Elector gave the Duke a coach and six, and
the Earl a set of horses. The Duchess of Marlborough and
the Electress subsequently exchanged presents.

On December 14 the Duke arrived at the Hague, where
a letter from Eugene informed him that the French were
sparing no effort to maintain and to augment their forces
in Italy. The Prince insisted that the allied army must do
one of two things, either take the offensive in superior
strength, or abandon that theatre of the war altogether.
" No consideration," he declared, " shall induce me to
make another campaign like the last, in which I wanted
everything."^ He urged that the maritime powers should
furnish him with 10,000 men and a quarter of a million of
money, that the Emperor should recruit and remount the
Austrian troops, and that the fleet should effect a diversion
on the Itahan coast. Marlborough had virtually arranged
with the Elector Palatine and the Duke of Saxe-Gotha for
the dispatch of 10,000 men to Eugene, on the understanding
that the Dutch provided one-third of the cost, and the
Enghsh the remaining two. But the government of the
Hague was so pressed for money that it was not until
December 25 that they could be induced to pay their share
of the loan of 300,000 crowns, and not until the 30th that
they assented to the bargain with the Elector Palatine.
When Marlborough hinted at the project of a second loan
of a quarter of a milhon pounds sterling, the suggestion
was so coldly received that, rather than hazard a rebuff,
he determined to reserve for his own countrymen the entire
honour of rendering this signal service to the common
cause. Meantime the English Parliament was cheerfully
voting both men and money to be employed in every theatre
of the war. Marlborough had ascertained that the French
were diverting troops from Alsace to Catalonia, and that
with the exception of Italy, they regarded Spain as the
most important field of action in the coming campaign.
Nevertheless he had experienced no little difficulty in
persuading the Dutch to contribute their share of support
to the operations in the Peninsula. " They pretend," he

* Ibid., p. 364: Eugene to Marlborough, December 2, 1705.
I. 23


informed Godolphin, " to want everything."^ At this time
also he was much annoyed by the objections of the Princes
on the Rhine to the quartering of troops in their territories
during the winter; and he was eventually compelled to
invoke the imperial authority in settlement of the dispute.
But his principal vexation came from Vienna. An acci-
dental delay having occurred in the payment of the first
instalment of 100,000 crowns, Wratislaw, who knew only
too well that the army of Eugene was reduced to the most
miserable straits, wrote to the Duke on December 12 in
terms so bitter that a smaller man might have deemed
them deliberately insulting. " We require realities and
not merely hopes," he said. He spoke of " the cruel fate
to which our own inability, and the negligence of our friends
condemn us." In particular he complained of the insidious
methods of French diplomacy. " I cannot sufficiently
express our concern and surprise," he said, "in observing
that the emissaries of France are freely permitted to appear
at the Hague. Your Highness will recollect that you
assured us they would be dismissed, and we gave full credit
to your assertion, on which account we have not made
any pressing remonstrances." He went on to suggest that
the negotiation was already far advanced, and that England,
notwithstanding her high professions, was hypocritically
promoting it. " We are already acquainted," he remarked,
" with various intrigues of the German princes, who have
followed the example of the Dutch." In a postscript he
inserted these words: "A prompt succour in men and
money is necessary for Italy, or at least we must entreat
you to be so kind as to tell us plainly that it cannot be
granted."^ Marlborough replied on December 27. He
wrote with dignity, and with that gentleness which he
invariably manifested under extreme provocation. Wratis-
law's zeal for the House of Hapsburg had carried him too
far. Marlborough told him as much. He stated precisely
what he had done, what he was doing, and what he intended
to do. He declared that the negotiations at the Hague
were dead, and that those Dutchmen who had favoured

^ Coxe, vol. i., p. 369: Marlborough to Godolphin, December 25, 1705.
2 Ibid., pp. 366, 367: Wratislaw to Marlborough, December 12, 1705.

1705-1706 355

them had already admitted their mistake. He referred to
the sacrifices which England was making for the common
cause, and which, as he justly observed, should have pro-
tected her from the stigma of Austrian suspicion. For
himself, he protested that, if he had beUeved that his
countrymen were contemplating a treachery, he should
have held himself in honour bound to tell the Emperor.

The Duke continued at the Hague till January 7. Having
procured the acceptance of all his proposals and arranged
for the immediate departure of 4,000 Palatines, who would be
useful in suppressing the disturbances in Bavaria, he sailed
for home. He was accompanied by several of the captured
officers, and also by Buys, whom the Dutch government
had selected as a special envoy to the Court of St. James.

Marlborough received the thanks of the House of Commons
for " his great services."^ In his reply he expressed his
indifference to all attacks originating in " private maUce."^
He had recently been libelled by one Stephens, a Whig
clergyman, who was subsequently sentenced to be fined
and pilloried for the offence. Stephens confessed his fault,
and for the sake of his wife and children piteously appealed
to the Duchess of Marlborough for a remission of the
degrading part of his punishment. The Duchess begged
the Queen to exercise the royal prerogative. Anne con-
sented, though reluctantly. " Nothing but your desire,"
she wrote, " could have incHned me to it."^ Marlborough
was pleased with this result. " I should be very uneasy,"
he said, " if the law had not found him guilty, but much
more uneasy if he suffered the punishment on my account."'*
Marlborough had all the EngUsh gentleman's loathing of
pubHcity. " I do not love to see my name in print," he
said, when the Duchess sent him an eulogistic pamphlet,
" for I am persuaded that an honest man must be justified
by his own actions and not by the pen of a writer, though
he should be a zealous friend."^

Immediately upon his arrival in England, the Duke
proceeded to negotiate the loan of a quarter of a million for

^ Ibid., p. 374. 2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 375: The Queen to the Duchess.
* Ibid., p. 376: The Duke to the Duchess, May 20, 1706.
5 Ibid., p. 375: The Duke to the Duchess, May 9/20, 1706.


the army of Italy. A quarter of a million had a much higher
purchasing power then than now ; and the population of
England at that period did not exceed 6,000,000. The
moment seemed hardly propitious, seeing that the Treasury
was borrowing two and a half millions for its own uses.
Nevertheless, the merchants and bankers of the City of
London entered heartily into the project. The Emperor's
credit was good; the security offered, " his lands, rents, and
revenues whatsoever within the province of Silesia," was
deemed satisfactory; but the rate of interest was fixed at
8 per cent., though the Austrian government had suggested 7.
The capital was to be repaid in eight years. To encourage
the public, Marlborough collected over £160,000 before the
lists were open. Prince George subscribed £20,000. The

Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 44)