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A history of the reign of Queen Anne online

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qui avait, par une longue habitude, acquis Tart de ddmSler les hommes,
et de p6n6trer les rapports qui sont entre leurs plus secrfetes pens^es,
leurs actions, leurs gestes, leurs discours, — ^tudia attentivement le Roi.



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11 8 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.

There remained yet a visit to another Court to
complete this diplomatic episode in the soldier's
career. He took Berlin on his way, and conferred
with the monarch of the new kingdom he had helped
to make. This was essentially a visit of courtesy,
for the policy of King Frederick in the great contest
was securely adjusted, and required no prompting.
As Hanover was in his way, he concluded all by
a passing visit to the Court of the Elector who was
soon to be his king. The rapidity of his motions is
perhaps the most signal feature in the whole affair,
and indicates skilful organisation. Though he must
have had to treat with tedious etiquettes and other
obstructions, he was but eighteen days absent from
the head of his troops. It is diflScult to believe a
commercial traveller making such a circuit more
rapidly in that age.^

We have thus seen how Marlborough met the
warrior-king of Sweden. At an earlier period he
had seen Peter the Great in a dockyard io Holland,
where he was seated on a log of timber, with an axe

En lui parlant de guerre en g^n^ral, il crut apercevoir dans Charles XII.
une aversion naturelle pour la France ; il remarqua qu'il se plaisait k
parler des conquetes des Allies. II lui prononga le nom du Czar, et
vit que les yeux du Eoi s'allumaient toujours k ce nom, malgr^ la
moderation de cette conference ; il apergut de plus sur une table une
carte de Moscovie. II ne lui en Mlut pas davantage pour juger que le
veritable dessein du Hoi de Suede et sa seule ambition ^taient de
d^troner le Czar apr^s le Eoi de Pologne. II comprit que si ce Prince
restait en Saze, c'^tait pour imposer quelques conditions un peu dures
k TEmpereur d'Allemagne. II savait bien que I'Empereur ne r^sisterait
pas, et qu*ainsi les affaires se termineraient aisement. II laissa Charles
XII. k son penchant naturel ; et, satisfait de I'avoir p^n^tr^, il ne lui
fit aucune proposition. Ces particularit^s m*ont ^t^ confirmees par
Mme. la Duchesse de Marlborough, sa veuve, encore vivante."— Voltaire,
Hist, de Charles XII., 1. iii.
1 Coxe, iii. 153.



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THE MUSCOVITE AMBASSADOR. 1 19

in his hand, clothed in a red woollen shirt, and the
hat and trousers of an able seaman. At the forma-
tion of the Grand Alliance, it was a question whether
the Czar, who had not yet arrogated the dignity of
Sovereign of the East by the title of Emperor, should
be attracted into the Grand Alliance ; but he had
not then gained the battle of Pultowa, and though
he might be treated as a friend to the cause of the
allies, he was not deemed suflSciently important as a
potentate to become one of the august allies.^ The
Duke of Muscovy, as he was called, was not at that
time represented at the Courts of the great Powers
by ambassadors. When Peter the Great had achieved
that position, it befell that the treatment of his rep-
resentative by some tradesmen of London caused a
political crisis, and threatened to create a war. It
proved a striking exemplification of the English spirit
that, in the adjustment of the constitution, had set
the law of private rights above diplomacy; but it
was also a lesson to have the limits of private rights
so reasonably and accurately adjusted as to preserve
the community from peril at the instance of any of
its preposterous or greedy individual members.

In 1708 Peter's representative, the Muscovite am-
bassador as he was now called, had taken his audience
of leave. He was indebted to tradesmen in London to
the extent of £300, and one of these — Thomas Morton,
a laceman in King Street, Covent Garden — after con-
sultation with the other creditors, and the expression

1 " Touchant les Moscovites, tocher d'^luder I'affaire sans chagriner
le Czar : mais qu'il ne convient de Tadmettre dans le grand alliance." —
Remarques des resolutions prise k la Haye le 16 avril, entre My Lord
Due de Marlborough, Mess™- les Etats G^neraux et Prince Eugene ;
Brit. Mus. MSS., 28093, f. 271.



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I20 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.

of a general belief among them that their debtor
would abscond without payment, sued out a writ,
and arrested him on the 21st of July, as he was pass-
ing through an open street. The affair was unluckily
managed. It was a period when the Mohawks were
in their glory, and the streets of London were in-
fested by ruffianism in various shapes. He resisted
the officers as robbers or illegal assailants of some
sort, and was overpowered by them. They conveyed
him to a spunging-house — an institution half tavern,
half prison, and altogether abominable, at *' the sign
of the Raven." There he was detained, till the Earl
of Faversham bringing with him a merchant of Lon-
don, the two bailed him out. The whole was aggra-
vated by the discovery that the ambassador had made
arrangements for the payment of aU his debts.

It will be easily believed that the Muscovite am-
bassador was enraged, and demanded the punishment
of the offenders. The British sovereigns had, he said,
ever been signally punctilious in arrogating the sacred-
ness not only of the persons of their ambassadors, but
of the menials in their trains ; and told how the Earl
of Manchester, the envoy to Venice, finding that
some gentlemen among his attendants had been in-
juriously treated by custom-house officers at Venice,
vindicated the honour of his country so firmly, that
of the offenders some were pilloried and others com-
mitted to the galleys.

Several of the persons concerned were committed
on a charge of assault ; and though there was a cer-
tainty that no punishment could legally be inflicted
on them — unless in the instance of the ambassador
they had employed more violence or insult than they



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THE MUSCOVITE AMBASSADOR. 121

could legally inflict on any man about town resisting
an arrestment at the instance of his creditors — strong
language was used to make the ambassador believe in
strong measures. Her Majesty and her Privy Council
were holding meetings on the matter. Nothing was
omitted to show the perplexity, even the grief, of the
queen and her ministers. But all this was unin-
telligible to a despotic Court ; why should there be
hesitation? The ambassador produced in the end
a letter from his master the Czar, of a character to
sw^eep away all dubieties and subterfuges from the
question. He demanded that the culprits should be
punished with death. He was in the middle of the
conquering career that was speedily to reach its
climax at Pultowa. Was Britain to have a war with
the conqueror of the heroic King of Sweden for the
protection of a shopkeeper and a parcel of men in the
lowest stratum of the humble ranks — and these in
the most odious savour with their own community
at home — when the deed whence the ambassador
suffered was on all hands admitted to have been a
criminal outrage of a gross character ?

The prosecution of the offenders took the solemn
form of an information before Chief- Justice Holt in the
Queen's Bench ; but it had a suspicious resemblance
to a solemn sham when month after month it was
making no progress, and the only end it came to was a
natural death in the inability of the law to find any
punishment that could be inflicted for seeking to
recover a debt in the usual form. The Czar was
favoured with abundant asseverations of regret,
wrath, and horror for what had occurred, and was
informed that an Act of Parliament was in prepara-



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122 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.

tion to carry a perpetual record of sorrow and con-
trition for the past, and to render such a calamity
impossible in the future. On this it was suggested,
that as the queen had power, by her Parliament, to
render such outrages punishable in the future, let
her, through the same potent medium, inflict punish-
ment for the past ; and it was useless to endeavour to
convince him that there were things not to be done
in Great Britain, even by the all-powerful Estates in
Parliament.

Meanwhile the affair roused a general commotion
in the diplomatic fraternity ; and there being at the
time several ambassadors in London, they met to
discuss the matter in the house of Baron Spanheim,
the Prussian ambassador. They desired that the
denunciatory preamble of the Act might be strength-
ened in expression. That was a matter of taste. It
was no more than decorating a statute with the poetry
noted by the Chinese and other oriental nations as
lamentably deficient in our laws and State papers ;
and so in the statute-book the Act is announced thus :
''Whereas several turbulent and disorderly persons
having in a most outrageous manner insulted the
person of his Excellency, Andrew Artemonowitz,
Ambassador Extraordinary to his Czarish Majesty,
Emperor of Great Russia, her Majesty's good friend
and ally, by arresting him and taking him by violence
out of his coach in the public street, and detaining
him in custody for several hours, in contempt of the
protection granted by her Majesty, contrary to the
law of nations, and prejudice of the rights and privi-
leges which ambassadors and other public ministers,
authorised and received as such, have at all times



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THE MUSCOVITE AMBASSADOR. 1 23

been thereby possessed of, and ought to be kept
sacred and inviolable."^

The diplomatic body were thus allowed their own
way with the preamble, but they made other sugges-
tions rejected as inconsistent with the tenor and
objects of British legislation. Among these was
a proposal to strengthen the clauses of the Act,
rendering the an*estment of ambassadors null, and
those concerned in it, on conviction, punishable as
"violators of the law of nations, and disturbers of
the public peace ; " and to place their offence in
the category of high crimes. At the same time, the
diplomatic body in vain protested against a clause
providing that no one could be prosecuted for taking
steps of legal remedy of 3,ny kind against any fol-
lower or servant of an ambassador, '^ unless the name
of such servant be first registered in the office of one
of the principal Secretaries of State," so that it may
be publicly seen in the offices of the city magistrates.
In a community where defects in the law are so
nimbly hunted out and applied to fraudulent ends,
even this precaution was not deemed sufficient ; and
there was a clause in the Act to prevent bankrupt
debtors from qualifying for defiance of the law, by
obtaining an appointment in an ambassador's house-
hold.

A copy of the statute, gorgeously bound, was in
solemn pomp conveyed to the Czar, but with what
effect is not on record. It seems probable that in
his critical struggle, to be triumphantly completed at
Pultowa in a few months, he thought the affair too

1 7 Anne, c. 12 — ^** An Act for Preserving the Privileges of Ambassa-
dors and other Public Ministers of foreign Princes and States."



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124 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT,

paltry for the issues of wax with Britain. He showed
his ill -humour, however, in a manner that amused
the Town. Two young Kussians visiting London,
and claiming the title of prince, were received at the
palace with great hospitality as royal persons. That
they were in some measure related to the royal family
seems certain. Peter, however, proclaimed loudly that
they had no right to compromise him by accepting
courtesies from the sovereign of Britain.^

Before the treaty, destined to bring repose to
Europe, came under deliberation, the small old town
of Gertruydenberg, in North Brabant, got a name in
the geography of history as the place where the ne-
gotiation for the treaty was resumed. But there no
conclusion was reached, or even approached ; and the
only point distinct enough to be interesting in the
purposeless discussion is the repetition of the demand
that the King of France must clear Spain of French
occupancy in two months. And this has only an
interest from its curious unconformability to the pro-
gress of events, divulged when the treaty came to an
actual practical shape.

The conference that was destined to be effective
was opened at Utrecht on the 29th of January 1712.
It had thus been but a month at work when, on the
the 1st of March, the Commons, after a laborious and
fruitful investigation, presented to the queen a solemn
representation on "the War in Spain, the Barrier
Treaty, and the State of the Nation.'' In fact, an
announcement of their views on the policy that
Britain should express at the conference, where Britain

1 Kapin and Tindal, iv. 103, 117.



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PRELIMINARIES. 1 25

was represented by the Earl of Strafford, and Dr
Robinson Bishop of Bristol, Lord Privy Seal The
Commons found that at the signally effective early
years of the war, the cost to England somewhat
exceeded three millions and a half. The cost to the
United Kingdom had now risen to seven millions, and
there was a floating debt attached to it exceeding a
million. The original agreement as to the propor-
tions of the several forces to be furnished by the
parties to the Grand Alliance had been that the
Empire should equip 90,000 men, Britain 40,000,
and the States 120,000. This last item might seem
disproportionate to the others, but these others were
sent to a distance from their own country, while
Holland employed her troops near home, where she
had mighty issues at stake. 42,000 were to serve in
her many garrisons ; and she was only bound to send
60,000 into the field. To the war in the Spanish
Peninsula, the States had neither contributed men
nor money, beyond a small force sent for a short
period in 1705. And as to the King of Portugal,
" notwithstanding that by his treaty he has obliged
himself to furnish 12,000 foot and 3000 horse upon
his own account, besides 11,000 foot and 2000 horse
more, in consideration of a subsidy paid to him," yet
it appears that he had never at any time sent 13,000
auxiliaries to the British and Austrian forces. It
appeared that in the seven years beginning in 1 705,
the contingent furnished by Britain to the hapless
Spanish war was a small fraction less than 58,000
men, while a subsidy had been voted to the em-
peror for thirteen battalions of infantry and thirteen
squadrons of cavalry. The expenditure on the fleet



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126 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT,

sent to hover round the Peninsula, was a fraction
above six millions of pounds. Farther, ^* The charge
for transports on the part of Great Britain, for car-
rying on the war in Spain and Portugal from the
beginning of it till this time, hath amounted to
£1,336,719, 10s. lid.; that of victualling land-forces
for the same service, to £583,770, 3s. 6d.; and that
of contingencies and other extraordinaries for the
same service, to £1,840,353." But the naval service
was not barren to us. It gained Gibraltar and Port
Mahon. There were considerable acquisitions, by
plunder, at Vigo and other places, and great hoards
acquired by naval oflScers in what we have found
Peterborough calling "galley-hunting." It was in
the land service in Spain that the weight of painful
sacrifice rested. The expeditions were sent on the
understanding that they would be supported by a
strong Austrian interest among the Spanish people ;
we have seen how paltry must have been the aid
obtained in that shape. The greed nourished by the
subsidising of needy Courts becomes so familiar to
all who follow the various divisions of the war of the
Spanish succession, that the following, considered as
strong parliamentary language by some, appears mild
and decorous. It is noted that " the more the wealth
of this nation hath been exhausted, and the more
your Majesty's arms have been attended with suc-
cess, the heavier hath been the burden laid upon us."
Farther, " At the first entrance into this war the
Commons were induced to exert themselves in the
extraordinary manner they did, and to grant such
large supplies as had been unknown to former ages,
in hopes thereby to prevent the mischief of a linger-



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PRELIMINARIES. 127

ing war, and to bring that in which they were
necessarily engaged to a speedy conclusion ; but they
have been very unhappy in the event, while they
have so much reason to suspect that what was in-
tended to shorten the war hath proved the very
cause of its long continuance; for those to whom
the profits of it have accrued have not been dis-
posed easily to forego them ; and your Majesty will
from thence discern the true reason why so many
have delighted in a war which brought in so rich a
harvest yearly from Great Britain/'

A charge against the subsidised Courts is imputed
in these sentences of a kind that it would not have
been becoming in the House of Commons to utter
collectively, whatever might be said in the heat of
debate. But the terms of the rebuke court con-
siderate examination, because there has been an in-
clination to infer that this and other allusions to an
unbecoming seK-interest in the continuance of the
war are aimed against Marlborough and his brother
soldiers. The Commons say in continuation : —

" We are as far from desiring, as we know your
Majesty will be from concluding, any peace but upon
safe and honourable terms ; and we are far from in-
tending to excuse ourselves from raising all neces-
sary and possible supplies for an effectual prosecution
of the war till such a peace can be obtained. All
that your faithful Commons aim at, all that they
wish, is an equal concurrence from the other Powers
engaged in alliance with your Majesty, and a just
application of what hath been already gained from
the enemy towards promoting the common cause."
It is believed by the Commons that the Empire is



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128 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.

drawing revenue from the territories recovered or
acquired by British money, and the sacrifice of Brit-
ish lives, and it is desired that this source of rev-
enue should be applied to the furtherance of the war
where it is most needed, and that is in Spain. ^^ And
therefore," the Commons say, " we make it our earnest
request to your Majesty that you would give instruc-
tions to your ministers to insist with the Emperor
that the revenues of those several places, excepting
only such a proportion thereof as is necessary for
their defence, be actually so applied."

Something like fair co-operation being thus estab-
lished, the Commons, in this interesting and momen-
tous State paper, give assurance for themselves and
their duty to the country and its allies. " As to the
other parts of the war to which your Majesty hath
obliged yourself by particular treaties to contribute,
we humbly beseech your Majesty that you will be
pleased to take effectual care that your allies do per-
form their parts stipulated by those treaties ; and
that your Majesty will for the future no otherwise
furnish troops or pay subsidies than in proportion
to what your allies shall actually furnish and pay.
When this justice is done to your Majesty and to
your people, there is nothing which your Commons
will not cheerfully grant towards supporting your
Majesty in the cause in which you are engaged.
And whatever further shall be necessary in the war,
either at sea or land, we will effectually enable your
Majesty to bear your reasonable share of any such
expense, and will spare no supplies which your sub-
jects are able with their utmost efforts to afford."

There had been throughout the war, on our part, a



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PRELIMINARIES. 1 29

generous appreciation of the perils of the Dutch, and
their need of the peculiar arrangement called the
Barrier. Their danger was from France, and it was
on that side only that they ought to seek protection.
But the Dutch were stretching forth their hands upon
certain territories, "particularly Neuport, Dender-
mond, and the Castle of Ghent, which can in no
sense be looked upon as a part of a barrier against
France, but being the keys of the Netherlands to-
wards Britain, must make the trade of your Majesty's
subjects in those parts precarious ; and whenever the
States think fit, totally exclude them from it. The
pretended necessity of putting those places into the
hands of the States -General in order to secure to
them a communication with their Barrier, must ap-
pear vain and groundless ; for the sovereignty of the
Low Countries being not to remain to an enemy,
but to a friend and an ally, that communication
must be always secure and uninterrupted; besides,
that in case of a rupture or an attack, the States have
full liberty allowed them to take possession of all
the Spanish Netherlands, and therefore needed no
particular stipulation for the towns above mentioned.^'

To understand the significance of all this, it is to
be remembered that but for a few years had it been
visible that Britain had taken the lead in the contest
with Holland for superiority at sea, and the balance
might yet turn. There were persons alive who had
heard in London the guns of Admiral Van Tromp at
Sheerness. It was, therefore, not without reasonable
ground of apprehension that the Commons said, " so
that if it should at any time happen — which your
Commons are very unwilling to suppose — that they

VOL. III. I



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130 THE TREATY OF UTRECHT.

should quarrel, even with your Majesty, the riches,
strength, and advantageous situation of these coun-
tries may be made use of against yourself, without
whose generous and powerful assistance they had
never been conquered."^

The representation is a fair and concise testimony
to the state of public feeling throughout the country
while victory after victory was hailed. The threat-
ening power of France was broken by blow after
blow, and the fear of '* the Pretender " returning with
a foreign army to fight a way for him back to the
throne, had all passed oflF. The nation was pros-
perous. Financiers had become learned in the easiest
ways of raising funds, and there was no disposition
to inquire whether the resources of the country were
overstretched, or whether our allies had borne their
full share of the burden. It is only at the end that
there come a few bitter words, sounding as if they
had been added by a stranger hand after the docu-
ment had been completed. "Upon these faithful
informations and advices from your Commons, we
assure ourselves your Majesty, in your great goodness
to your people, will rescue them from those evils
which the private councils of ill-designing men have
exposed them to ; " an imputation that all the world
understood, yet not specific enough to entitle any one
to take it up and repudiate it

The royal answer was in harmony with the appeal,
and, like it, conveyed an imputation not expressed ; it
was well understood in the use of the pronoun " this,"

1 Representation of the Commons to the Queen on the War in Spain,
the Barrier Treaty, and the State of the Nation. — Pari. Hist., vi. 1095
etseq.



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THE LANGUAGE OF DIPLOMACY. 131

in lauding the representation as " a farther instance
of that dutiful affection to my service and concern for
the public interest which this House of Commons has
always shown. You may be assured that I will give
such orders as shall effectually answer what you
desire of me in every particular."^

If in this great historical conference Britain was
master of the situation — and even the sordid and
plebeian Dutch held debate with, and ia some meas-
ure dictated terms to, the mighty monarch who had
utterly despised them — yet the French had the grati-
fication and the advantage that always comes to them
with a critical diplomatic conference. Not only the
terms of the treaty when concluded, but the sugges-
tions, disQussions, and debates, if there were any,
must be rendered in the language of France, for that
had been fixed by absolute usage as the language of
diplomacy.

After the fall of the Koman Empire, the Church
retained the Latin as the language of Christianity and
literature. Debased as it became, it was the symbol
of universal homage to that ecclesiastical half of the
old empire which was still alive and vigorous. The

1 Ibid., 1106. Swift, in his Journal to Stella, says: "Feb. 20.—
Sir Thomas Hanmer is chairman of the committee for drawing up a



Online LibraryJohn Hill BurtonA history of the reign of Queen Anne → online text (page 9 of 25)