Frank Taylor.

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

. (page 41 of 44)
Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 41 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And he did not entirely abandon the hope that one day he
would be permitted to accept an honour, which he richly-
merited, and which it was to the interest of the coalition
as a whole, though not perhaps to the selfish advantage of
Holland, that he, above all men, should enjoy.

1 See Vol. II., Chapter XXIV.: "The Misery of France," p. 304.

XVI.— 1706-1707

Marlborough landed at Margate on November 27, and
reached London on the 29th. By Godolphin, who was
to meet Parliament on December 14, his coming had long
been eagerly desired.

It is abundantly clear from the facts narrated in the
foregoing chapter that the summer and autumn of 1706
were a time of crisis for the Grand Alliance. They were
also a time of crisis for Godolphin's ministry. The govern-
ment, which in the preceding session had regularly availed
itself of the 160 Whig votes^ in the House of Commons, was
now presented with the bill. The Whig Junta, like the
German Princes, expected to be subsidised for the services
of their disciplined battaUons. These were the men who
in the crisis of 1704 had gleefully remarked that the Lord
Treasurer's head was " safe in the bag." The price which
they now demanded was the removal of Hedges from the
Secretaryship of State and the appointment of Sunderland
in his stead. And Godolphin, anxious before all else to
carry on the war, was prepared to pay it. But he was
confronted at once by the opposition of his colleagues,
Harley and St. John, and of the Queen herself. Harley
and St. John considered that, if Godolphin yielded, he would
be breaking for ever with the principles upon which the
ministry had originally been formed. Anne took a similar
view. Moreover, she objected strongly to personal associa-
tion with a peer who prided himself on his Republican
sympathies and his uncompromising plainness of speech.
The Junta imagined that, in pressing the claims of Marl-
borough's son-in-law, they were, as they told their friend the
Duchess, " driving the nail that would go." But they were
very much astonished at the tenacity of the Queen's re-
sistance. Excessively provoked by opposition from one
whose intellect she despised, Sarah espoused the cause of

1 See Chapter XIII., " 1705-1706," p. 357.
I. 453 28


Sunderland with such indecent violence that she seriously
offended the Queen. The careless writing of a word
produced an actual rupture. In one of her letters the
Duchess prayed that Mr. and Mrs. Morley might " see
their errors as to this notion,"-^ by which she meant the
notion that the government could be conducted on other
than a Whig basis. Anne read the word " notion " as
" nation." She complained to Godolphin, who experienced
no little difficulty in repairing the breach.

The Whig historian Hallam declares that the Queen's
" understanding and fitness for government were below
mediocrity,"^ which merely means that she refused to
recognise the Whig creed. "The Whig creed," says Lord
Rosebery, who was never a Tory, " lay in a triple divine
right: the divine right of the Whig families to govern the
Empire, to be maintained by the Empire, to prove their
superiority by humbling and bullying the sovereign of
the Empire." Like her predecessor William, the Queen
was too good a Stuart to admit such claims. On the other
hand she had no love for " the Lackers," whom she described
to Godolphin as " those violent persons, that have behaved
themselves so ill towards me."^ Her position was simple.
" All I desire," she told the Lord Treasurer, " is my liberty
in encouraging and employing all those that concur faith-
fully in my service, whether they are called Whigs or Tories,
not to be tied to one nor the other; for if I should be so
unfortunate as to fall into the hands of either, I shall not
imagine myself, though I have the name of Queen, to be
in reality but their slave, which as it will be my personal
ruin, so it will be the destroying all government; for
instead of putting an end to faction, it will lay a lasting
foundation for it. You press the bringing Lord Sunderland
into business . . .; and you think, if this is not complied
with, they will not be hearty in pursuing my service in the
parliament. But is it not very hard that men of sense and
honour will not promote the good of their country, because
everything in the world is not done that they desire?'""^

^ Coxe, vol. ii., p. 13: The Duchess to the Queen.

2 Hallam, vol. ii., p. 745.

3 Coxe, vol. ii., p. 3: The Queen to Godolphin, August 30/September 10.
* Ibid.

1706-1707 435

Theoretically at any rate this language was unanswerable.
What Anne said to Godolphin innumerable thinking persons
are saying in the twentieth century, after 200 years of that
government by faction which she clearly foresaw. But
Godolphin was a practical administrator. It was his
business to find the sinews of war. Without a reliable
majority in the Com.mons, he had no guarantee that supplies
would be voted. He therefore offered to resign.

Anne would not hear of it. " Never leave my service,
for Jesus Christ's sake," she had already said to him,
. . . "this is a blow I cannot bear."^ She suggested as a
compromise that Sunderland should be made a privy
councillor, and should receive a more remunerative appoint-
ment than the Secretaryship of State. But the Junta were
obdurate. On September 28, in a letter from Sunder-
land to the Duchess, they delivered their ultimatum.
" Lord Somers, Lord Halifax, and I," it ran, " have talked
very fully over all this matter, and we are come to our last
resolution in it, that this and what other things have been
promised, must be done, or we and the Lord Treasurer must
have nothing more to do together about business ; and that
we must let all our friends know just how the matter stands
between us and the Lord Treasurer, whatever is the con-
sequence of it."^ These words had only one meaning.
Unless they were admitted to office on their own terms, the
Whig leaders proposed to wreck the ministry.

It is questionable whether any body of men, who in time of
war undertake to embarrass or to overthrow their country's
government, can ever be right. It is certain that their
motives should be such as can at least endure inspection.
If they consider that the war is unjustifiable, or is grossly
mismanaged, they are entitled to be heard with respect.
Some such excuse may be pleaded on behalf of Rochester,
who heartily believed that England was doing too much
and was doing it in the wrong way. Or if like the clergy and
" the Tackers " they consider that the government has
gratuitously betrayed some vital principle, it may be said
that they are deficient in their sense of proportion, but not

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 4: Sunderland to the Duchess, September ij/'Z^, 1706.


in their sense of honour. The Whigs, however, could not
find language to express their enthusiasm for the war and
for the triumphant manner in which it had hitherto been
conducted. They recognised with delight that Godolphin
and Marlborough had adopted WiUiam's policy, and had
pursued it with more success than William ever dreamed
of. They could not but acknowledge that in the matter of
the Occasional Conformity Bill the Cabinet, at its own risk,
had dealt very tenderly with their allies, the Dissenters.
Members of their party had not been excluded from office
and patronage. Nevertheless, from the very men who were
diUgently practising the dearest of Whig principles they
demanded to be paid their own price for Whig votes.
Otherwise " we must let all our friends know just how the
matter stands between us and the Lord Treasurer, whatever
is the consequence of it." For this proceeding there is only
one word in the English language. It is ' blackmail.'

At various stages in the ignoble controversy everybody
turned, as usual, to Marlborough, whose military and
diplomatic duties were already more than one man could
thoroughly discharge. The Duchess and Godolphin urged
him to use his influence with Anne on behalf of Sunderland.
Harley and St. John appealed to him to adhere to the basis
on which the government had originally been constituted.
The persecuted Queen implored him to save her from the
machinations of the W^higs. The Duke was sincerely
devoted to Anne; he considered Sunderland an unsuitable
person for the Secretaryship of State; and he cordially
detested the party system. On the other hand, he regarded
Godolphin's financial ability as indispensable to the Cabinet,
and he trusted implicitly to Godolphin's judgment on
political affairs. While, therefore, he differed strongly from
his wife in regard to the appointment of Sunderland, and
plainly told her that " when it is too late, you will be of
my opinion, that it would have been much happier if he
had been employed in any other place of profit and honour,"^
he did his best to persuade the Queen to accept the advice
of the Lord Treasurer. But Anne remained unconvinced.
When Godolphin spoke of retiring, Marlborough was

^ Coxe, vol. ii., p. 2: The Duke to the Duchess, August 9, 1706.

1706-1707 437

alarmed. " You could not justify yourself to God or man,"
he wrote, " for without flattery, as England is divided,
there is nobody that can execute your place but yourself."-^
When the Whigs dehvered their ultimatum, he was furious.
" Since the resolution is taken," he wrote to the Duchess,
" to vex and ruin the Lord Treasurer, because the Queen
has not complied with what was desired for Lord Sunder-
land, I shall from henceforth despise all mankind, and think
there is no such thing as virtue; for I know with what zeal
the Lord Treasurer has pressed the Queen in that matter.
I do pity him, and shall love him as long as I live, and will
never be a friend to any that can be his enemy ."^ And to
Godolphin himself he wrote, " As I know you to be a sincere,
honest man, ma^^ God bless me as I shall be careful that
whatever man is your enemy shall never be my friend."^
He also declared to the Duchess that " if my Lord Treasurer
be obliged to retire, I cannot serve in the ministry.""* It
is evident that the Duke did not enjoy being blackmailed.
Nevertheless, believing as he did that the war would be
finished in another campaign, he continued to press the
Queen to accept the Junta's terms. " The Lord Treasurer,"
he told her, " assures me that any other measures but those
he has proposed must ruin your business, and obUge him
to quit his staff. ... It is true that your reign has been
so manifestly blessed by God, that one might reasonably
think you might govern without making use of the heads
of either party, but as it might be easy to yourself. This
might be practicable, if both parties sought your favour, as
in reason and duty they ought. But, Madam, the truth is
that the heads of one party have declared against you and
your government, as far as it is possible, without going
into open rebellion. Now, should your Majesty disoblige
the others, how is it possible to obtain near five millions
for carrying on the war with vigour, without which all is
undone ? Your Majesty has had so much knowledge and
experience ... of the Lord Treasurer, that you cannot but
know you may safely rely upon his advice."^ The Duchess

1 Ibid., vol. ii., p. 6: Marlborough to Godolphin, September 9, 1706.

2 Ibid., pp. 8, 9: The Duke to the Duchess.
^ Ibid., p. 9: Marlborough to Godolphin.

* Ibid., p. 16; The Duke to the Duchess, October 18, 1706.
5 Ibid., p. 17: Marlborough to the Queen, October 2 , 1706.


had already said the same thing. " 'Tis certain," she had
written, " that your government can't be carried on with a
part of the Tories, and the Whigs disobliged, who ivhen that
happens, will join with any people to torment you, and those
that are your true servants.'"^ The Duchess cherished no
illusions as to the blackmailing propensities of her Whig
associates. Anne, however, still stood firm. Sarah and
the Junta believed, and not without reason, that the Queen
was supported and encouraged in her resistance by Harley.
They therefore denounced him to Godolphin and Marl-
borough; but neither Godolphin nor Marlborough would
believe any ill of their trusted colleague. Coxe, like Sarah
and the Junta, would insinuate that Harley acted with
peculiar baseness. But the Queen was fully entitled to
console herself with the sympathy of the moderate Tories.
x\nd the moderate Tories were fully entitled to contend for
the maintenance of the government on the original footing
on which they had entered it. Harley wrote freely to
Godolphin on the subject. " I know no difference between
a mad Whig and a mad Tory," he exclaimed. He utterly
condemned " the Tackers "; " but, my lord," he said, " this
is now carrying further. Not only the 134 are to be per-
secuted, but all the rest." Of the Whigs he wrote, " there
is no need of going back two years, nor scarce four months,
to hear the most inveterate, malicious things said by their
leaders against the Queen, my lord duke, and your lord-
ship, that tongue could utter; . . . this is so notorious,
that it is very common to match one malicious story from
a Tory with another from a Whig." He added that
" another election will show that the party, as a party, are
very far from being a majority, though clothed with all
manner of authority that can be given it."^ Presumably
he meant that, if Godolphin resigned and the Junta were
called to power, they would not be able to carry the country.
On that point he was better informed than any man in
public life. To Marlborough he wrote in a similar strain.
"I heartily wish your grace a prosperous voyage and a speedy
arrival here," he said, " I doubt not but your grace has had

^ Coxe, vol. ii., p. 13: The Duchess to the Queen.

2 Ibid., p. 20: Harley to Godolphin, November 16, 1706.

170G-1707 439

all the requisite powers sent to you during my absence,
and I am sure your grace will manage and improve every-
thing for the glory of the Queen, and the common benefit
of the nation."^ St. John took the same line. " There are
some restless spirits," he said, " who are foolishly imagined
to be heads of a party, who make much noise and have no
real strength, that expect the Queen, crowned with success
abroad, and governing without blemish at home, should
court them at the expense of her own authority, and sup-
port her administration by the same shifts that a vile and
profligate one can only be kept up with. Nothing but
unnecessary compliance can give these people strength;
and their having that, is the great terror of those who are
trusty servants to the Queen, and who are entirely attached
to your grace, and to my Lord Treasurer."^ St. John at
any rate knew how to deal with blackmailers. " Nothing
but unnecessary compliance can give these people strength,"
was the language of a man of honour.

The crisis was terminated by the arrival of Marlborough.
In a personal interview with the Queen he persuaded her
to give way. Sunderland's appointment was announced
on the very day of the opening of Parliament. Peerages
were conferred upon Cowper and other Whigs. Wharton
became a viscount. Halifax's brother was made Solicitor-
General. Minor appointments were bestowed upon other
members of the party. The Tories, Rochester, Notting-
ham, Jersey, Govv^er, and Rooke, were removed from the
Privy Council. Godolphin himself received an earldom.

The Junta had triumphed. The supplies were now
secure. Another campaign was certain. But the price
paid was far too high. Anne brooded over her defeat.
She never forgave the Duchess ; and her confidence in Marl-
borough and Godolphin was severely shaken. When
Marlborough and Godolphin yielded to the Whigs in the
matter of the Occasional Conformity Bill, they lost the
clergy; when they yielded again in the matter of Sunder-
land's appointment, they lost the Queen.

But for the time all went well. The thanks of both

1 Ibid., p. 21 : Harley to Rlarlborougli, November 12/23, 1706.

2 Ibid., p. 21 : St. John to Marlborough.


Houses were accorded to the Duke. And the Speaker
announced to the Queen " that as the glorious victory
obtained by the Duke of Marlborough at Ramillies was so
surprising, that the battle was fought, before it could be
thought the armies were in the field; so it was no less sur-
prising that the Commons had granted supplies to Her
Majesty before her enemies could well know that her Parlia-
ment was sitting. "■'" Even the contentious and complicated
measure for the Parliamentary union of England and Scot-
land was carried in this session with astonishing ease. In the
summer of 1706 the Lords Commissioners of both kingdoms,
appointed to adjust the articles, had held no fewer than
forty- five meetings at " the Cockpit," near "Whitehall, the
Queen herself being often present. Somers was prominent
in this discussion. In October the result of their labours
was laid before the Parliament of Scotland. Bitter opposi-
tion was encountered there. Though England had acted
with great moderation and generosity, a combination of
Jacobites and Cameronians endeavoured to destroy the
scheme. The mob rose in Edinburgh and other towns. In
November insurrection seemed probable. The debates
were " long and fierce." But before the end of January,
1707, the Act was approved by no voices to 69. It was
approved, because as Defoe, who was present as Harley's
spy and pamphleteer, clearly saw, it was in " the nature
of things."^ There is no evidence that it was carried by
corruption. In England much less difficulty was en-
countered. The extreme Tories opposed the measure; but
they were somewhat embarrassed by the form in which
Harcourt had drawn it . All the articles, as already approved
by the Scottish Parliament, appeared in the preamble,
while the body of the Bill consisted of a single enacting
clause. Harley and St. John supported it in the Commons.
Haversham spoke against it in the Upper House, and
contrived to introduce into his oration an insulting reference
to the " she-favourite." Haversham as usual represented
a large body of opinion; England was grumbhng, just as
Scotland was rioting. But neither grumbling nor rioting
can alter " the nature of things." The royal assent was

^ Lediard, vol. ii., p. 150. 2 Lang, History of Scotland, vol. iv., p. no.

1706-1707 441

given on March 17. "Neither of the contracting parties,"
says Lecky, " entered into it with any enthusiasm, but each
of them gained by the treaty an end of the utmost im-
portance. England, at the expense of commercial con-
cessions, at which her manufacturers were deeply indignant,
obtained a strength in every contest with her enemies such
as she had never before enjoyed. Scotland, at the price of
the partial sacrifice of a nationality to which she was most
passionately and most legitimately attached, acquired the
possibiHty of industrial fife, and raised her people from the
condition of the most abject wretchedness."^ To England
in her struggle with France the Union was a strategical gain
of the first importance. To the Pretender's hopes it was
a serious blow. Those who regard Godolphin and Marl-
borough as concealed Jacobites must allow that in this
critical test, they were disagreeably successful in " dis-
sembling their love."

The nation's gratitude for Ramillies did not stop short
at votes of thanks. By acts unanimously carried, Marl-
borough's dukedom, together with the estate of Woodstock
and the house of Blenheim, were settled at his death upon
his daughters and their posterity, and the Queen's grant of
£5,000 a year was entailed in perpetuity, first upon his
Duchess and afterwards upon his children. At the request
of the Corporation the colours taken in the battle were
entrusted to the keeping of the City of London. And with
every circumstance of military splendour and popular
enthusiasm, they were borne in triumph through St. James'
Park, Pall Mall, and the Strand, and ultimately suspended
in the Guildhall " to remain there as trophies of that signal
victory."^ The Queen witnessed the procession from the
windows of the palace. Marlborough himself followed in
a royal coach. He was accompanied by the Dukes of
Somerset and Ormond, and attended by a lengthy train of
officers, nobles, and ambassadors. He was ceremoniously
received at Temple Bar, and magnificently entertained at
Vintners' Hall. But the bravest welcome that he got that
day was the welcome of the street .

The Acts of Parliament relating to the dukedom and to

^ Lecky, vol. ii., p. 300. 2 Lediard, vol. ii., p. 149.


Woodstock were peculiarly gratifying, because, as Marl-
borough informed Sinzendorf and Wratislaw, they were
" without precedent among us."-"- He hinted to his Austrian
friends that he would be well pleased if a similar course
could be adopted in regard to the principality of Mindel-
heim. But the natural pleasure which he felt in the recog-
nition accorded to his services by his own countrymen was
partially spoiled by the renewal of the outcry in Holland
on the subject of the patent. Charles' confirmation
of the Emperor's offer did not arrive till December 20.
Though Marlborough had long since promised that he
would not accept this honour, the suspicions of the Dutch
took fire at once. The Duke did not conceal his indignation.
" I am not conscious," he wrote to Slingelandt, " to have
at any time deserved the imputation of breaking my
word."^ " I think I may venture to say," he wrote to
Gueldermalsen, " without much vanity, that I have deserved
better usage. "'"^ " I am so perfectly satisfied," he wrote
to Stepney, " with Her Majesty's bounty and goodness to
me that I desire nothing more than to enjoy it quietly at
home, without coveting any such thing abroad, but rather
to spend the remainder of my life with those who have a
more grateful sense of the services I have done to the
common cause."'* To the Pensionary he repeated the
pledge which he had given six months before. " And you
will do me the honour to believe," he added, " if you please,
that I would never be false to my word, even to have this
whole country in possession."^ Cardonnel wrote to Stepney
of " the obstinacy and ingratitude of the Dutch, whom I
take for the most part of them to be the mere scum of the
earth. "^ Something of a scene occurred between Stepney
and Heinsius; and the Englishman roundly declared that
" this unreasonable jealousy was hardly to be conceived."
Stepney's position at this time was not a pleasant one. The
Dutch definition of the barrier being irreconcilable with

^ Murray, vol. iii., p. 305: Marlborough to Wratislaw, January 28, 1707.

2 Ibid., p. 271: Marlborough to Slingelandt, December 27, 1706.

^ Ibid., p. 271: Marlborough to Gueldermalsen, December 27, 1706.

* Ibid., p. 270: Marlborough to Stepney, December 27, 1706.

^ Ibid., p. 272: Marlborough to the Pensioner, December 27, 1706.

8 Stepney Papers, vol. vi.: Cardonnel to Stepney, December 27, 1706
(Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 7063).

1706-1707 443

the Austrian one, the last hope of Holland was to secure
the support of England and to exert the combined pressure
of the maritime powers at Vienna. Before his departure
Marlborough told Sinzendorf that of the fortresses named
in the Dutch list, Dendermonde was unnecessary, and
Ostend impossible; and he warned Stepney that in regard
to these two places there must be no yielding. After several
interviews with Heinsius, who contended that England's
objections were unreasonable, Stepney wrote to Marlborough
suggesting a surrender. Marlborough replied on Decem-
ber 17 that " the ministry and everybody here " were
" very positive not to allow these two places."^ Consider-
able bitterness ensued, the Dutch maintaining that whether
they had or had not a right to ask, the English had no
right to refuse. " There we stick,"" wrote Stepney to
Harley. After the explosion which ensued upon the receipt
of the King of Spain's letter, Marlborough requested Stepney
to correspond in future with the Secretary of State. The
dispute dragged on for some months. But the deadlock
remained unbroken.

During the first quarter of the new year, Marlborough
as usual was busy with the collection and dispatch of
horses, clothing, and recruits to the army in Belgium. An
important detail of equipment also engaged his attention
at this period. He induced the Dutch to strengthen their
cavalry by the addition of eight men to every troop. As an
equivalent for this expense, the British government promised
to equip and arm troops at the cost of £50,000. In the

Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 41 of 44)