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such an "innocent" document as his preface to James's devotional papers is actually in the Bodleian. Nairne's handwriting is therefore as certain as Melfort's. Again, Melfort himself undeniably made corrections, in his own hand, in these Nairne drafts, even in the draft of the translation of Marlborough's letter of May 4. Consequently the papers must have been written by his secretary,— who was Nairne. Thus Colonel Parnell does not succeed in disparaging the authenticity of Nairne's handwriting. He does not speak of comparing it with other specimens, or of any search for them, though he visited the Bodleian, where they lie. He cites no expert's opinion. All these objections, therefore, fall to the ground. The Nairne Papers, so far, are just what they were bound to be a secretary's drafts and brouillons.
The first document is a draft of a French translation of James's Memorial to Louis, dated November 1692. Macaulay accepts it as "James's words," "James's concise narrative" of his dealings with William's English Ministers. This is the paper in which he describes Marlborough's plot for his Restoration (1691), and the disclosure of that plot by indiscreet Jacobites, who thought that Marlborough was fighting for his own hand. Colonel Parnell dismisses all this as a specimen of "the brazen style in which poor James was deluded by the Ministers and secretaries who designed and drafted his Memorials to Louis." But Macaulay supports James's statement by one of Burnet's, in the Harleian MSS. (6584). This the Colonel does not notice.
in what Admiral Russell sent him word of by the Earl of Middleton, and Mr Floyd" (or Lloyd). We shall presently prove the reality of Lloyd's dealings with Admiral Russell. Colonel Parnell says that the date is after Melfort was superseded as James's secretary by Middleton. Middleton arrived at St Germains in April 1693, but Macaulay says that he was joined with Melfort as secretary, not that he superseded Melfort. Macaulay is right.
The third document need not detain us: the fourth calls itself, "Draft of certain reports from England," and is in Melfort's hand. It inculpates the usual English nobles, and Colonel Parnell supposes it to be, not a true copy of reports, but a thing concocted by Nairne and Melfort, in collusion with their English reporting agents. This is only his theory. The fifth document, another draft of English reports, by Nairne, implicates Sunderland, Arran, and Churchill. As Macpherson points out, the passages concerning them are deleted by pen strokes. For some reason Melfort and Nairne did this, and we can only conjecture at their motive. The paper represents an abandoned project. Why abandoned, as all the characters were already implicated, we do not know. Then we have a French rendering, by Nairne, of a letter from Arran to James, implicating Sunderland. It is, says Colonel Parnell," considerably corrected," -as drafts of translations usually
In the next document (October 16, 1693), we find Melfort's Instructions to William's Ministers. "His Majesty" (James) "trusts
We now come to a human being, Captain Lloyd, whose report of what he did in England (in April 1694) is done by Melfort into French, and is indorsed " carried to Versailles, the 1st of May 1694." Lloyd reports on his interviews with Admiral Russell,
Marlborough, and Godolphin. Russell, he made says, promises, Marlborough paid compliments, Godolphin betrayed the attack on Brest,-familiar to Louis weeks before. Colonel Parnell decides that "if not a later forgery," Lloyd's report "was quietly composed at St Germains by Melfort and Lloyd in concert," to delude Louis, who, the Colonel thinks, was easily deluded about Englishmen. Louis was not so simple! Of Lord Ailesbury he said, "This is the first man of quality with a great estate that hath repaired to you; the first man that came over about an affair of the most high importance; and the first that never asked anything for himself." This is not the tone of credulity.
But did Lloyd in fact have interviews with Admiral Russell, as Melfort makes him say? He did; and for William's admiral to receive an agent of James and France is sufficient treason. Lloyd was no ordinary man; he had served James on the deck as captain of a ship, on shore as groom of the bed-chamber. Lord Ailesbury, who hated him, says :
"He was the very picture of Captain Surly, in the Comedy of 'Sir Courtly Nice.' I was most credibly informed that once he went from my Lord Marlborough and Admiral Russell, and I know that, at his return, he did alight at the house of the latter, and was carried into his closet in the presence of Captain Priestman, and Captain Matthew Aylmer, and other sub-officers. And a little before, the two last had told it as news of the town, that Lloyd was in France, and he coming in soon after, the old Admiral said, 'See, gentlemen, how you are mistaken!' This Lloyd, as I said, went often over, but the secret was to be kept from me, to my great satisfaction. When he
arrived at St Germains, King James used to ask him if he had seen me, and he saying 'No;' 'What, in the name of God, do you come over without imparting it to my best friend?'" 2
Captain Lloyd, adds Ailesbury, was "a snarling creature of my Lord Middleton.'
Thus Lloyd's dealings with Admiral Russell were well known at the time. He was also a "creature," not of Melfort's, but of Melfort's coadjutor and rival Middleton.
Now, observe, about May 1 1694, Middleton's creature and Melfort are (Colonel Parnell says) "concerting" a report for Louis. But Colonel Parnell makes it an argument against Marlborough's letter of May 4-three days later -that Sackville and Marlborough are communicating news, not to the Protestant Middleton, but to "the displaced and more or less disgraced "Catholic, Melfort. "Does not this alone destroy the possibility of the paper" (the French draft of Marlborough's letter) "being authentic?"
Alas! Marlborough's letter is not to Melfort, but "to the King of England," James. It is enclosed with one from Sackville, to whom addressed we do not know. But, as the Lloyd report of three days earlier shows, even Middleton's very "creature," Lloyd, had, when preparing memorials for the French Court, to deal "in concert" not with Middleton, but with Melfort. This was the regular course of business. So Colonel Parnell's argument against the authenticity of the letter vanishes. Vanishes, too, his theory that the letter was "a design of Melfort's to show Louis and his Ministers that, though a Roman Catholic and nominally
1 Memoirs of Lord Ailesbury, i. 335, May 1693
Ibid., i. 273.
dismissed, he was still, in the eyes of Marlborough," more important, and more to be trusted, than Middleton.
Melfort was not, then, "dismissed" at all. In January, February, April, and May 1694, the Nairne Papers show Melfort acting as agent between James and Louis. Thus Marlborough's letter cannot be "a design of Melfort's" to keep up his importance. The theory is absurd. Louis needed only to ask James, "Had you a letter, of which I possess a translation, from my Lord Churchill?" and Melfort was ruined if he had forged.
The colonel has another string to his bow. The letter "forms the apex of the pyramid of falsehood under which Macpherson has striven to bury Marlborough." But if the design was Melfort's, what has the wretched Macpherson to do with the matter? Why, Colonel Parnell, nimbly shifting his ground, suggests that Macpherson forged the French draft of the letter of Marlborough, a draft in Nairne's hand, with a dishonest interpolation in Melfort's! No expert's evidence is cited for the forgery. Clearly the letter cannot be an imposture by Melfort, and also by Macpherson.
How did the Celtic bard, ex hypothesi, work the forgery Thus, in the Life of King James II.' (taken from his Memoirs, now lost) occurs a copy of part of Marlborough's letter. This Macpherson read, copied, and forged the rest, doing it into French, in Nairne's hand, and adding, with infernal cunning, a roguish interpolation, in Melfort's interest, and in the hand of Melfort. But how did the copy of
Marlborough's letter get into the Life of James'? Is that a forgery too, and, if so, to what end? For the author of the Life, while giving the letter (as far as essential), states his doubt as to whether Marlborough, after all, was sincere.
Unluckily, Macpherson, constitutionally false, added to his copy of the Nairne French draft translation of Marlborough's letter this note: "In King James's Memoirs there is the following memorandum, written, upon receipt of the letter, in his own hand: May 4th, Lord Churchill informed the King of the design on Brest (p. 521, ann. 1694).
Macpherson lied. He never saw James's autograph Memoirs. He merely copies the marginal note of the Life. What did he mean by "p. 521"? The references in the Life to the original Memoirs, from 1694 to 1696, cite the Memoirs from "vol. ix. p. 390" to "vol. ix. p. 395." There is no room for "p. 521"! We admit Macpherson's roguery, but a complete forgery needs proof by experts' evidence. Nor is Marlborough's letter in the Life accounted for by Colonel Parnell, unless by a suggestion that it is a Jacobite slander, — and it is enough to damn him.
There is another puzzle. Macpherson dates Sackville's letter
May 3." The Life dates it "May 4." Colonel Parnell has a theory to account for Macpherson's forging the date "May 3," but it fails, for Macpherson himself dates it "May 4" in his History, founded on the papers, and published in the same year. More, he gives the date
May 4" in his "Extracts from the Life of King James."1 The date May 3 is a blunder by some
1 Original Papers, i. 244.
body, not a fresh supercherie of Macpherson's. We have no doubt whatever that Marlborough wrote the letter of May 4, and that the Nairne draft of a French translation is no forgery of Macpherson's. Not that he had a grain of honesty, but because no kind of proof of forgery is adduced.
Colonel Parnell has yet another means of exculpating all William's treacherous servants. They were in correspondence with James, but by William's permission, and for the purpose of extracting, for William's use, information as to his designs. It is a pretty employment for English gentlemen who first betray their king, and then act as spies on him, and as agents provocateurs. Colonel Parnell proves his point by "the Ailesbury admission "-that is, assertion. Lord Ailesbury says, "It is very certain that King William gave leave to" the old set "to correspond with my Lord Middleton at St Germains. . The plausible pretext was that Lord Middleton should be deluded, that he should know nothing of what passed in England of high secret moment, but that they four would wiredraw all out of my Lord Middleton." This pretext Ailesbury attributes to Sunderland. His meaning is clear. By the pretext of "wire-drawing" Middleton, the old set of double-dyed traitors got William's leave to correspond with James. Having got it, they could use it exactly as suited them; could betray William to James or James to William; and, at least, could "hedge" against a Restoration. Colonel Parnell assigns to Marlborough the noble part of swindling James, even when he was in William's disgrace "to complete the great work of
This is the disclosure to which I have been leading up, while stating the arguments of Marlborough's defenders. The case is clear. Marlborough wrote his warning on May 4. Russell set sail on May 5. He might have been in Camaret Bay, say, on May 8. He must have found Brest undermanned and undefended. For Vauban himself did not reach Brest till May 13, and, later, reported that "as yet no reinforcements have arrived." He then, after May 13, made all the subterranean passages bomb-proof; mounted ninety mortars and three hundred guns in good positions; removed the ships beyond the reach of English shells; and had large reinforcements.1 All this was done on the first possible moment after the intelligence sent by Marlborough could reach Vauban from Versailles, and not till then. Before that moment, before Marlborough's letter arrived, nothing was done. Till that fatal letter had been received by Louis, Vauban made no preparations at all.
Louis's letter to Vauban, announcing the intended English assault on Brest, is indeed of April 1. But, for reasons best
1 Wolseley's Marlborough, ii. 315.
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXX.
known to himself, Louis does not enjoin haste. Vauban is not to go to Brest till "he has seen the other ports of Normandy," which were not threatened.1 Vauban got Louis's letter on April 18. He answered it next day, "saying that as the king had mentioned no date for his arrival at Brest, he would" first "finish his work at St Malo." For some reason known to Louis, there was occasion for hurry. Nor, in fact, did Vauban go to Brest at all, till after receipt of Marlborough's letter. He found it without reinforcements. He found it devoid of the bomb-proof subterranean passages. He found the shipping exposed to our guns. He found the "good positions" unsupplied with artillery. He got the reinforcements. He made the bombproof passages. He mounted ninety mortars and three hundred guns. He placed the French ships beyond the reach of English shells. He organised victory-all after receipt of Marlborough's letter, and, on June 7, he defeated England.
Thus it is certain that, even if Vauban's arrival at Brest just after Marlborough's news must have come to him is a casual coincidence, yet Marlborough gave his warning in time. It reached Louis before Brest was ready to meet our attack.
imminence of Russell's approach, the works of Brest were strengthened, and the garrison reinforced, and not before. Marlborough had over-finessed. Trying to save himself with James by sending -news which was stale,-betraying James, in fact, he betrayed William and his country. Such were the statesmen of the Glorious Revolution. Spies, by their friends' admission, on the king whom they had betrayed, in Marlborough's case they also betrayed the prince to whom they had betrayed him!
The one hope for Marlborough, then, is in Colonel Parnell's plannamely, to denounce the Nairne Letters as of uncertain provenance, concoctions, forgeries by the Celtic bard in the interest of the Tories of 1775. This Colonel Parnell does, with what success we have tried to explain. We have shown that Nairne's handwriting is certain; that the possession of the papers by Carte is easily accounted for; that they could only be what they profess to be, brouillons, drafts, translations, projects; that Lloyd really trafficked with Russell; that Melfort had not the supposed motive for forging Marlborough's letter; that there is no kind of attempt to prove it a forgery of Macpherson's in the only possible way-by expert evidence; and that, if the letter were a forgery of Macpherson's, that does not invalidate the copy of the letter in the 'Life of James II.'
Thus Marlborough is left with the stain on his renown of a crime which he committed, but probably did not intend to commit. Marlborough thought, we may say, that he was only sending news which Louis had already received and acted on. The news was not acted on, however, till after it was received, as a
To quote Lord Wolseley again, William held "that Brest might be taken by open assault if suddenly attacked before the French could have had time to strengthen the works or to reinforce the garrison." Marlborough's traitorous letter came to Louis before the garrison was reinforced, or the works strengthened. On receipt of the letter conveying the certainty and
1 Wolseley's Marlborough, ii. 314.