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CONFERENCES AT GERTRUYDENBERG.
Conferences at Gertruydenberg.-Negotiations for peace broken off.- Despotism and
Limited Monarchy. - The Whigs dismissed from office.- New Parliament.-Duchess of diariborough dismissed from her offices.--- Disasters in Spain.-Surrender of General Stanhope.--Hostility to Mariborough.- Party use of the Press.--Swift, the great party writer.- Property qualification for members of Parliament.--- Harley stabbed by Guiscard.-Marlborough's last campaign. --Parliament.-Prospect of Peace.The ministry defeated in the House of Lords.-Marlborough dismissed from all his offices.- New peers created.-Negotiations at Utrecht.-Note to Chapter xiji, -- Table of Treaties.
The negotiations for peace which were broken off in 1709 were renewed in 1710. Conferences were opened at Gertruydenberg. Each of the Allied powers was endeavouring to gain some peculiar advantage ; but all eventually concurred in pressing upon Louis the one humiliating condition which he had rejected in the previous year-namely, that he should assist in dethroning his grandson. Lord Chancellor Cowper seems to have stood alone amongst the British ministry in having no confidence of a peace, and to have offended his colleagues in doubting whether “ France was reduced so low as to accept such conditions."* Marlborough was the representative of England at these conferences; and he took the course which the selfish man ordinarily thinks the safest and most profitable. He was "white paper,” he said, upon which the cabinet might write their instructions, but he would have the responsibility of giving advice. The negotiations were broken off; and the'great general has the invariable resource of another season of battles and sieges: “I hope God will be pleased to bless this campaign,” he writes to the duchess, "for I see nothing else that can give us peace, either at home or abroad.” † He believed that another Oudenarde or another Malplaquet would have quieted the popular ferment about Sacheverel, and have disposed the queen to have confidence in her Whig advisers. “Yet,” he says, “I have never, during this war, gone into the war with so heavy a heart as I do at this time.
The present humours in England give me a good deal of trouble.” Louis le Grand was also troubled at this precise juncture ; but his trouble had no relation to the bellowings of the hydra-headed monster. Saint Simon tells us that the exo Diary, in Hardwicke Papers.
1 Coxe, vol. v. p. 179
haustion of the realm, and the impossibility of obtaining peace, had caused the king severe anguish. He really doubted whether it was right to consummate all the schemes of taxation proposed by his ministers, by taking at once the tenth of every man's substance. He was at last relieved of his scruples, when he had unbosomed himself to the Père Tellier. The considerate ecclesiastic required a few clays to reflect upon the reasonableness of the king's hesitation ; but finally restored his majesty to his wonted tranquillity by informing him, that, having consulted the ablest doctors of the Sorbonne, they had decided that all the wealth of the nation was the king's, and that when the king took it from his subjects he only took what belonged to himself.
The ways of despotism have a fascinating simplicity for some minds, even in our own day. Here is the magnificent Louis, the Jupiter of Versailles, approaching mere mortals in having a slight qualm of conscience, but is quickly the godhead again, when he knows that all of France is his. The edict for the tax was issued; the thought of peace was again postponed ; the armies of France again took the field with new strength. The workings of the machine of a limited monarchy are far more complicated and unintelligible than the caprices of absolute power. Marshal Villars, at the end of May, came with a great army to the relief of Douay, which was invested by the Allies under Marlborough and Eugene. The general of the absolute king, and the general of the limited monarchy, are face to face. Villars is commanded to do a certain work,-and he has but one course to take--he has one master to serve. Marlborough has the terror of parliamentary critics, and of unscrupulous office-seckers, to make him groan under his responsibilities. On the 26th of May he writes to Godolphin, “ I am this day threescore ; but I thank God I find myself in so good health that I hope to end this campaign without being sensible of the inconvenie ences of old age."* On the 12th he writes again to the Treasurer, “ I can't say that I have the same sanguine prophetic spirit I did use to have ; for in all the former actions I did never doubt of success, we having had constantly the great blessing of being of one mind. I cannot say it is so now; for I fear some are run so far into villainous faction, that it would give them more content to see us beaten." + Douay was surrendered to the Allies. But Marlborough now has no pleasure in success. "I must drurlge,” he writes to the duchess, “ for four or five months longer, and venture my life for those who do not deserve it from me.” The allusion is evidently to the queen.
Mrs. Morley had entirely given up Mrs. Freeman. * Coxe, vol. v. p. 195.
t Ibid., vol. v. T. 197.
THE WHICS DISMISSED FROM OFFICE.
Their sweet eternal friendship has become the bitterest hate. They parted, with these last words from the haughty duchess to her sovereign : “ I am confident you will suffer in this world or the next for so much inhumanity.” Whilst Marlborough was before Douay this pleasant information reached him. The next blow was the news that his son-in-law, lord Sunderland, had been dis inissed from his office of Secretary of State, the seals being given to lord Dartmouth. The most influential of the Whigs, still re. taining office, wrote an earnest letter to Marlborough, in which they urged him not to let his private mortification interfere with his public duty: “We conjure you by the glory you have already obtained, by the many services you have done your queen and country, by the expectation you have justly raised in all Europe, and by all that is dear and tender to you at home, whose chief de pendence is upon your success, that you would not leave this great work unfinished, but continue at the head of the army." Cowper, Godolphin, Somers, Newcastle, Devonshire, Orford, Halifax, and Boyle, who signed this letter, had probably no very strong apprehension that their own fall was so near at hand. The ascendancy of Mrs. Maslam, and the manæuvres of Harley, were triumphant. Godolphin was first dismissed, and his office was put in commis. sion. Harley was then made Chancellor of the Exchequer. The queen announced to the Council that it was her pleasure there should be a dissolution of Parliament. The Whigs were all thrust from power. There ensued four years of party contests, and of strange measures growing out of them, which must have been perplexing enough to all the honest, industrious, and quiet portion of the community; but which, to those who attempt to trace the secret springs of these political agitations, offer cause for thankfulness as well as wonder that we escaped without a convulsion into comparative safety and tranquillity. Swift says that queen Anne “ did appear, upon all occasions, as desirous of preserving reputation with posterity as might justly become a great prince to be ; ” and that he proposed to accept the offer of historiographer “to write her majesty's reign,” and especially desired to be furnished with materials for writing an account of “that great transaction;' the change in the ministry. He thought that, in the next reign, incorrect views would be taken of the queen's proceedings: "For instance, what would be more easy to a malicious pen than to charge the queen with inconstancy, weakness, and ingratitude, in remove ing and disgracing the duke of Marlborough, who had so many years commanded her armies with victory and success; in displacing so many great officers of her court and kingdom, by whose
coursels she had, in all appearance, so prosperously governed ; in extending the marks of her severity and displeasure toward the wife and daughters, as well as the relations and allies, of that person she had so long employed and so highly trusted; and all this by the private intrigues of a woman of her bedchamber, in concert with an artful man, who might be supposed to have acted that bold part only from a motive of revenge upon the loss of his employments, or of ambition to come again into power ?"* What, indeed, could be easier than to assume all this from the patent facts ! What, indeed, could be more difficult than to overturn these assumptions by the subsequent disclosures of a century and a half ! 'The revelations of what is called secret history are not such as materially to change these views. We doubt whether our readers will care to follow the political schemers into all their holes and
“ The private intrigues of the woman of the bed-chamber," have little interest for us now beyond the fact that we have arrived at that happier condition when public opinion has a direct influence upon courts and cabinets, and when the days of back stairs councils are at an end.
The campaign of Marlborough, in 1710, had no effect upon the state of affairs at home. There was no brilliant success to justify the war policy of the Whigs. The Parliament was dissolved on the 26th of September. “The practice and violence used in elections,” says Burnet, “went far beyond anything I had ever known in England.” He attributes the Tory preponderance to the efforts of the clergy: “Besides a course, for some months, of inflaming sermons, they went about from house to house, pressing their people to show, on this great occasion, their zeal for the Church, and now or never to save it." + Extraordinary efforts were made to prevent the election of the managers of the Sacheverel impeachment; but Jekyll, King, Lechmere, and Walpole, were returned. In 1734, Walpole, in his speech upon the Septennial Bill, looks back upon this time of agitation with painful recollections : “That there are ferments often raised among the people without any just cause is what I am surprised to hear controverted, since very late experience may convince us of the contrary. Do not we know what a ferment was raised in the nation toward the latter end of the late queen's reign ? And it is well known what a fatal change in the affairs of this nation was introduced, or at least confirmed, by an election coming on while the nation was in this ferment.” I The new Parliament assembled on the 25th of November. There
“Change in Queen Anne's Ministry.” ***Owu Time," vol. vi. p. 14.
Coxe's "Walpole," vol. I. p. 475.
was as great a cliange in the language which the queen addressed to the “Lords and Gentlemen,” as in the composition of the House of Commons. The usual topic of congratulation for the conduct of the war in Flanders was no more to be adverted to, although the campaign had been successful in holding France in check, in spite of the vast efforts that had been made to recover her lost ground. The queen announced her determination " to support and encourage the Church of England as by law established ;!! but the Dissenters had to hear the revival of the term which was so offensive to them--the term which implied that all they held of spiritual freedom was conceded as a favour, and not as a right: “I am resolved to maintain the Indulgence by law allowed to scrupulous consciences.” Her majesty had adopted the language of Sacheverel in substituting * Indulgence” for “ Toleration.” Marl borough returned to London in December. The queen took care to inform him that it was no accidental omission that no vote had been proposed in either House for his services in the campaign. Whilst expressing her desire that the duke should continue to serve her, she also said, “ I must request you would not suffer any vote of thanks to you to be moved in Parliament this year, because my ministers will certainly oppose it.” Harley, and especially St. John, had made up their minds to humiliate him whom they called “ the great man.” He had to endure indignities from those he had been accustomed to command. St. John writes a private letter to his friend Drummond, in which he exults at the duke's abasement. The queen, he says, and her advisers, wished that Marlborough should command the army, and that he should have everything which as a general be could expect; but "he has been told that he must draw a line between all that is passed, and all that is to come, and that he must begin entirely upon a new foot; that if he looked back to make complaints, he would have more retorted upon him than it was possible to answer.
What is the effect of all this plain dealing ? He submits, he yields, he promises to com
Swift says of Marlborough, “We are not to take the height of his ambition from his soliciting to be general for life. , I am persuaded bis chief motive was the pay and perquisites by conținuing the war;; and he had then no intentions of settling the erown in his family.", Marlborough was at the summit of royal favour, and of popular applause, when he asked to be general for life, and was very properly refused., Could Swift be serious in thus covertly imputing to the duke that he was aiming at the crown at any time, and especially at the time of his declining popularity ?
Astle Papers, in Coxe's Walpole, vol. & p. 36