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The tales of a grandfather : being the history of Scotland from the earliest period to the close of the rebellion, 1745-46 (Volume 2) online

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fierce, northern people, at liberty to put themselves under a
different king." He censures Godolphin highly for suffering
the Act of Security to pass, by which the Scots assumed the
privilege of universally arming themselves. " The Union, he
allows, became necessary, because it might have cost England
a year or two of war to reduce the Scots." In this admission

1 u In The Orisii, the Union is pronounced to be sacred and inviolable.
No blame is, however, thrown on the Scottish peers who had moved for
the dissolution. On the contrary, it is intimated, that it became the
English, in generosity, to be more particularly careful in preserving the
Union, sinca the Scotch had sacrificed their national independence, and
left themselves in a state of comparative impotence of redressing theii
own wrongs. " Note to Swift's Works.


Swift pronounces the highest panegyric on the treaty, since the
one or two years of hostilities might have only been the recom-
mencement of that war which had blazed inextinguishably for
more than a thousand years.

The Duke of Argyle had been a friend, even a patron, of the
satirist, but that was when he acted with Oxford and Boling-
broke, in the earlier part of the administration, at which time
he gratified at once their party spirit and his own animosity
by attacking the Duke of Marlborough, and declining to join in
the vote of thanks to that great general. While Argyle was in
Spain, Swift had addressed a letter to him in that delicate style
of flattery of which he was as great a master as of every power
of satirical sarcasm. But when the Duke returned to Britain,
embittered against Ministers by their breach of promise to
supply him with money and reinforcements, and declared him-
self the unrelenting opponent of them, their party, and their
measures, Swift, their intimate confident and partisan, espoused
their new quarrel, and exchanged the panegyrics of which the
Duke had been the object for poignant satire. Of the number
of the Scottish nobility, he talks as one of the great evils of the
Union, and asks if it were ever reckoned as an advantage to a
man who was about to marry a woman much his inferior, and
without a groat to her fortune, that she brought in her train a
numerous retinue of retainers and dependents. He is supposed
to have aimed particularly at the Duke of Argyle, and his
brother, Lord Islay, in these words : "I could point out some
with great titles, who affected to appear very vigorous for dis-
solving the Union, although their whole revenue, before that
period, would have ill maintained a Welsh justice of peace, and
have since gathered more money than ever any Scotsman who
had not travelled could form an idea of."

These shafts of satire against a body of men so sensitive and
vindictive as the Scots had lately shown themselves, and directed
also against a person of the Duke of Argyle's talents and con-
sequence, were not likely, as the Ministers well knew, to be
passed over lightly, either by those who felt aggrieved, or the
numerous opposition party, who were sure to avail themselves
of such an opportunity for pressing home a charge against Swift,
whom all men believed to be the author of the tract, and under
whose shafts they had suffered both as a party and as indi-
viduals. The Ministry therefore formed a plan to elude an


attack which might have been attended with evil consequences
to so valued and valuable a partisan.

They were in the right to have premeditated a scheme of
defence, or rather of evasion, for the accusation was taken up in
the House of Lords by the Earl of Wharton, a nobleman of high
talent, and not less eager in the task that the satirist had pub-
lished a character of the Earl himself, drawn when Lord-Lieu-
tenant of Ireland, in which he was painted in the most detestable
colours. Wharton made a motion, concluding that the honour
of the House was concerned in discovering the villainous author
of so false and scandalous a libel, that justice might be done
to the Scottish nation. 1 The Lord Treasurer Oxford disclaimed
all knowledge of the author, and readily concurred in an order
for taking into custody the publisher and printer of the pamphlet
complained of. On the next day, the Earl of Mar informed the
House that he, as Secretary of State, had raised a prosecution
in his Majesty's name against John Barber. This course was
intended, and had the effect, to screen Swift; for, when the
printer was himself made the object of a prosecution, he could
not be used as an evidence against the author, whom, and not
the printer or publisher, it was the purpose of the Whigs to
prosecute. Enraged at being deprived of their prey, the House
of Peers addressed the Queen, stating the atrocity of the libel,
and beseeching her Majesty to issue a proclamation offering a
reward for the discovery of the author. The Duke of Argyle
and the Scottish Lords, who would have perhaps acted with a
truer sense of dignity had they passed over such calumnies with
contempt, pressed their address on the Queen by personal remon-
strance, and a reward of three hundred pounds was offered for
the discovery of the writer. 2

1 " It was not the least remarkable circumstance that, while the vio-
lence of party was levelled against Swift in the House of Peers, no less
injustice was done to his adversary, Steele, by the Commons, who expelled
him from their House for writing the Crisis, that very pamphlet which
called forth Swift's answer." Note, Sunft's Works.

8 " In his ' Political Poetry The Author upon himself,' Swift says,

' The Qneen incensed, his services forgot,
Leaves him a victim to the vengeful Scot.
Now through the realm a proclamation spread,
To fix a price on his devoted head.
While innocent, he scorns ignoble flight ;
His watchful friends preserve him by a sleight'

Works, vol. xii. p. 31.

" It appears, however, that Swift did meditate a flight in case discovery


Every one knew Swift to be the person aimed at as the
author of the offensive tract. But he remained, nevertheless,
safe from legal detection.

Thus I have given you an account of some, though not of
the whole debates, which the Union was, in its operation, the
means of exciting in the first British Parliament. The narrative
affords a melancholy proof of the errors into which the wisest
and best statesmen are hurried, when, instead of considering
important public measures calmly and dispassionately, they regard
them in the erroneous light in which they are presented by
personal feeling and party prejudices. Men do not in the latter
case ask, whether the public will be benefited or injured by the
enactment under consideration, but whether their own party
will reap most advantage by defending or opposing it.


Influence of the Duchess of Marlborough Trial of Doctor Sacheverel
Unpopularity of the Whigs their Dismissal Accession of Harley
and the Tory Party to Power Peace of Utrecht Intrigues of
Bolingbroke Duel between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun

Retrospect, 1708 1713

IN my last chapter I detailed to you the consequences of
the Union, and told you how the unfair, unkind, and disparaging
reception which the English afforded to the Scottish members
in the Houses of Lords and Commons, although treating them
in their private capacities with every species of kindness, had
very nearly occasioned the breach of the treaty. I must now
retrace the same ground, to give you a more distinct idea how
Britain stood in general politics, independent of the frequent

had taken place. In the letter to his friend in Ireland about renewing
his licence of absence, dated 29th July 1714, he says, ' I was very near
wanting it some months ago with a witness,' which can only allude to the
possibility of his being obliged to abscond." Life of Si/nfl, Note,
p. 167.


and fretful bickerings between England and Scotland in the
British Parliament.

King William, as I have already told you, died in 1701,
little lamented by his subjects, for though a man of great ability,
he was too cold and phlegmatic to inspire affection, and besides
he was a foreigner. In Scotland his memory was little reverenced
by any party. The Highlanders remembered Glencoe, the
Lowlanders could not forget Darien ; the Episcopalians resented
the destruction of their hierarchy ; the Presbyterians discovered
in his measures something of Erastianism, that is, a purpose of
subjecting the Church to the State.

Queen Anne, therefore, succeeded to her brother-in-law to
the general satisfaction of her subjects. Her qualities, too,
were such as gained for her attachment and esteem. She was
a good wife, a most affectionate mother, a kind mistress, and,
to add to her domestic virtues, a most confiding and faithful

The object of her attachment in this latter capacity was
Lady Churchill, who had been about her person from a very
early period. This woman was so high-spirited, haughty, and
assuming, that even her husband (afterwards the celebrated
Duke of Marlborough), the conqueror in so many battles, fre-
quently came off less than victorious in any domestic dispute
with her. To this lady, Anne, for several years before her
succession to the crown, had been accustomed in a great
measure to yield up her own opinions. She left the house of
her father, James II., and mingled in the Revolution at the
instance of Lady OhurchilL At her accession Queen Anne was
rather partial to the Tories, both from regarding their principles
as more favourable to monarchy, and because, though the love
of power, superior to most other feelings, might induce her to
take possession of the throne, which by hereditary descent ought
to have been that of her father or brother, yet she still felt the
ties of family affection, and was attached to that class of politi-
cians who regarded the exiled family with compassion, at least,
if not with favour. All these, Queen Anne's own natural wishes
and predilections, were overborne by her deference to her
favourite's desires and interest Their intimacy had assumed
so close and confidential a character that she insisted that her
friend should lay aside all the distinctions of royalty in address-
ing her, and they together in terms of the utmost


equality, the sovereign assuming the name of Moiiey, the
servant that of Freeman, which Lady Churchill, now Countess
of Marlborough, chose as expressive of the frankness of her own
temper. Sunderland and Godolphin were ministers of unques-
tionable talent, who carried on with perseverance and skill the
scheme formed by King William for defending the liberties of
Europe against the encroachments of France. But Queen Anne
reposed her confidence in them chiefly because they were closely
connected with Mrs. Freeman and her husband. Now this
species of arrangement, my dear boy, was just such a childish
whim as when you and your little brother get into a basket,

and play at sailing down to A , to see grandpapa. A

sovereign cannot enjoy the sort of friendship which subsists
between equals, for he cannot have equals with whom to form
such a union ; and every attempt to play at make-believe inti-
macy commonly ends in the Royal person's being secretly guided
and influenced by the flattery and assentation of an artful and
smooth-tongued parasite, or tyrannised over by the ascendance
of a haughtier and higher mind than his own. The husband
of Queen Anne, Prince George of Denmark, might have broken
off this extreme familiarity between his wife and her haughty
favourite ; but he was a quiet, good, humane man, meddling
with nothing, and apparently considering himself as unfit for
public affairs, which agreed with the opinion entertained of him
by others.

The death of Queen Anne's son and heir, the Duke of Glou-
cester, the sole survivor of a numerous family, by depriving her
of the last object of domestic affection, seemed to render the
Queen's extreme attachment to her friend more direct, and
Lady Marlborough's influence became universal. The war
which was continued against the French had the most brilliant
success, and the general was loaded with honours ; but the
Queen favoured Marlborough less because he was the most ac-
complished and successful general at that time in the world
than as the husband of her affectionate Mrs. Freeman. In
short, the affairs of England, at all times so influential in
Europe, turned altogether upon the private friendship between
Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Morley.

At the moment when it seemed most completely secure,
this intimacy was overthrown by the influence of a petty in-
trigue in the Queen's family. The Duchess of Marlborough,


otherwise Mrs. Freeman, had used the power with which hei
mistress's partiality had invested her far too roughly. She
was avaricious and imperious in her demands, careless, and
even insolent in her conduct towards the Queen herself. For
some time this was endured as an exercise of that frank privi-
lege of equality with which her Majesty's friendship had in-
vested her. For a much longer space it may be supposed, the
Queen tolerated her caprice and insolence, partly because she
was afraid of her violent temper, partly because she was
ashamed to break off the romantic engagement which she
had herself formed. She was not, however, the less impatient
of the Duchess of Marlborough's yoke, or less watchful of an
opportunity to cast it off.

The Duchess had introduced among the Queen's attendants,
in the capacity of what was called a dresser, a young lady of
good birth, named Abigail Hill, a kinswoman of her own.
She was the reverse of the Duchess in her temper, being
good-humoured, lively, and, from disposition and policy, willing
to please her mistress in every manner possible. She attracted
by degrees first the Queen's favour, and at length her confi-
dence ; so that Anne sought, in the solicitous attentions and
counsels of her new friend, consolation from the rudeness with
which the Duchess treated her both in private and public life.
The progress of this intimacy was closely watched by Harley,
a statesman of talents, and hitherto professing the principles of
the Whigs. He had been repeatedly Speaker of the House of
Commons, and was Secretary of State in the existing Whig
administration. But he was ambitious of higher rank in the
cabinet, being conscious of superior talents, and he caballed
against the Duchess of Marlborough, in consequence of her
having repulsed his civilities towards her with her usual
insolence of manner. The partner of Barley's counsels was
Mr. Henry St. John (afterwards Lord Bolingbroke), a young
man of the most distinguished abilities, and who subsequently
made a great figure both in politics and in literature.

Harley lost no time in making advances to intimacy with
the new favourite ; and as he claimed some kindred with Miss
Hill's family, this was easily accomplished. This lady's interest
with the Queen was now so great that she was able to pro-
cure her cousin private audiences with the Queen, who,
accustomed to the harshness of the Duchess of Marlborough.


whose tone of authority had been adopted by the Whig
Ministers of the higher class, was soothed by the more
respectful deportment of these new counsellors. Harley was
more submissive and deferential in his manners, and conducted
himself with an attention to the Queen's wishes and opinions,
to which she had been hitherto little accustomed. It was un-
doubtedly his purpose to use the influence thus acquired to the
destruction of Godolphin's authority, and to accomplish his own
rise to the office of first Minister. But his attempt did not
succeed in the first instance. His secret intrigues and private
interviews with the sovereign were prematurely discovered, and
Harley and his friends were compelled to resign their offices ;
so that the Whig administration seemed more deeply rooted
than ever.

About the same time, Miss Hill was secretly married to Mr.
Masham ; a match which gave great offence to the Duchess of
Marlborough, who was beginning to feel that her relation had
superseded her in her mistress's affections. As this high-
tempered lady found the Queen's confidence was transferred
from her, she endeavoured to maintain her ascendency by
threats and intimidation, and was for a time successful in ruling
the mind of her late friend by means of fear, as she did for-
merly by affection. But a false step of the Whig administra-
tion enabled Queen Anne at last to shake off this intolerable

A silly and hot-headed clergyman, named Sacheverel, had
preached and printed a political sermon, in which he maintained
high Tory principles, and railed at Godolphin, the Lord High
Treasurer, and head of Queen Anne's Administration, whom he
termed Volpone, after an odious character so named in one of
Ben Jonson's Plays. The great majority of the landed gentle-
men of England were then addicted to Tory principles, and
those of the High Church. So bold and daring a sermon,
though it had no merit but its audacity to recommend it, pro-
cured immense popularity amongst them. The Ministers were
incensed beyond becoming moderation. The House of Commons
impeached the preacher before the tribunal of the House of
Lords, and his trial came before the Peers on 27th February
1710. The utmost degree of publicity was given to it by the
efforts of the Whigs to obtain Dr. Sacheverel's conviction and
a severe sentence, and by the corresponding exertions of the

1 7 10- 1 3 DOCTOR SACHEVEREL 819

Tories to screen him from punishment. The multitude took
up the cry of High Church and Sacheverel, with which they
beset the different members of both Houses as they went down
to Parliament. The trial, which lasted three weeks, excited
public attention in a degree hitherto almost unknown. The
Queen herself attended almost every day, and her sedan chair
was surrounded by crowds, shouting, "God bless the Queen
and Dr. Sacheverel ! we hope your Majesty is for High
Church and Sacheverel." The mob arose, and exhibited their
furious zeal for the Church by destroying the chapels and meet-
ing-houses of dissenters, and committing similar acts of violence.

The consequence was, that the Doctor was found guilty indeed
by the House of Peers, but escaped with being suspended from
preaching for three years ; a sentence so slight, that it was
regarded by the accused and his friends as an acquittal, and
they triumphed accordingly. Bonfires, illuminations, and other
marks of rejoicing appeared in celebrating of the victory.

As these manifestations of the public sentiment were not
confined to the capital, but extended over all England, they
made evident the unpopularity of the Whig government, and
encouraged the Queen to put in execution the plan she had long
proposed to herself, of changing her Ministry, and endeavour-
ing to negotiate a peace, and terminate the war, which seemed
to be protracted without end. Anne, by this change of govern-
ment and system, desired also to secure the Church, which her
old prejudices taught her to believe was in danger and, above
all, to get rid of the tyranny of her former friend, Mrs. Freeman.
A new Administration, therefore, was formed under Harley and
St. John, who, being supported by the Tory interest, were chiefly
if not exclusively governed by Tory principles. At the same
time, the Duchess of Marlborough was deprived of all her
offices about the Queen's person, and disgraced, as it is termed,
at court, that is, dismissed from favour and employment. Her
husband's services could not be dispensed with so easily ; for
while the British army were employed no general could supply
the place of Marlborough, who had so often led them to victory.
But the Tory Ministers endeavoured to lower him in the eyes
of the public by an investigation into certain indirect emolu-
ments taken in his character as general-in-chief, and to get rid
of the indispensable necessity of his military services by enter-
ing into negotiations for peace.


The French Government saw and availed themselves of the
situation in which that of Britain was placed. They perceived
that peace was absolutely necessary to Oxford and Bolingbroke's
existence as ministers, even more so than it was to France as
a nation, though her frontiers had been invaded, her armies
repeatedly defeated, and even her capital to a certain degree
exposed to insult. The consequence was, that the French rose
in their terms, and the peace of Utrecht, after much negotia-
tion, was at length concluded, on conditions which, as they
respected the allies, and the British nation in particular, were
very much disproportioned to the brilliant successes of the war.

That article of the treaty, which was supposed by all friends
of Revolution principles to be most essential to the independ-
ence and internal peace of Great Britain, seemed indeed to have
been adjusted with some care. The King of France acknow-
ledged, with all formality, the right of Queen Anne to the throne,
guaranteed the Act of Succession settling it upon the House of
Hanover, and agreed to expel from his territories the unfortunate
son of James II. This was done accordingly. Yet notwith-
standing that the Chevalier de St. George was compelled to re-
move from the territories of his father's ally, who on James's
death had formally proclaimed him King of England, the un-
happy Prince had perhaps at the moment of his expulsion more
solid hopes of being restored to his father's throne than any
which the favour of Louis could have afforded him. This will
appear from the following considerations.

Queen Anne, as we have already stated, was attached to the
High Church establishment and clergy ; and the principles with
which these were imbued, if not universally Jacobitical, were at
least strftngly tinctured with a respect for hereditary right.
These doctrines could not be supposed to be very unpleasing to
the Queen herself, as a woman or as a sovereign, and there were
circumstances in her life which made her more ready to admit
them. We have already said that the part which Anne had
taken at the Revolution, by withdrawing from her father's
house, had been determined by the influence of Lady Churchill,
who was now, as Duchess of Marlborough, the object of the
Queen's hatred, as much as ever she had been that of her
affection in the character of Mrs. Freeman, and her opinions and
the steps which they had led to, were not probably recollected
with much complacency. The desertion of a father, also, how-



ever coloured over with political argument, is likely to become
towards the close of life a subject of anxious reflection. There
is little doubt that the Queen entertained remorse on account of
her filial disobedience ; more especially, when the early death of
her children, and finally that of a hopeful young Prince, the
Duke of Gloucester, deprived her of all chance of leaving the
kingdom to an heir of her own. These deprivations seemed an
appropriate punishment to the disobedient daughter who had
been permitted to assume for a time her father's crown, but not
to transmit it to her heirs. As the Queen's health became
broken and infirm, it was natural that these compunctious
thoughts should become still more engrossing, and that she
should feel no pleasure in contemplating the prospect which
called the Prince of Hanover, a distant relation, to reign over
England at her decease ; or that she should regard with aversion,
almost approaching to horror, a proposal of the Whig party to
invite the Electoral Prince to visit Britain, the crown of which
was to devolve upon him after the decease of its present
possessor. On the other hand, the condition of the Chevalier
de St. George, the Queen's brother, the only surviving male of
her family, a person whose restoration to the crown of his
fathers might be the work of her own hand, was likely to affect
the Queen with compassionate interest, and seemed to afford
her at the same time an opportunity of redressing such
wrongs as she might conceive were done to her father by making
large though late amends to his son.

Actuated by motives so natural, there is little doubt that
Queen Anne, so soon as she had freed herself from the control
of the Duchess of Marlborough, began to turn her mind to-

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe tales of a grandfather : being the history of Scotland from the earliest period to the close of the rebellion, 1745-46 (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 62)