« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
invited the public to exchange Government stock for equal nominal amounts in the South Sea stock-said to be vastly more valuable. The cunning of Blount and his fellow-directors was so well aided by the cupidity of the public, that when the books were opened for this notable transfer there was a positive struggle for the precedence; a consequent run took place for South Sea shares, which in a few days were sold at more than double their original value, and ere the end of the delusion, which was kept up for several months, the shares met with a ready sale at ten times their original cost ! When we reflect that a thousand pounds thus produced ten thousand to the speculator, and a hundred thousand a million, we may judge how much excitement and eagerness prevailed. Enormous fortunes, of course, were made in the transfer and re-transfer of shares, and to those who sold out while the delusion was still at its height, the scheme was a very El Dorado. But the great majority of the supposed fortunate possessors of South Sea stock were far too well pleased with their prospects to part with them, as they imagined it difficult to put a sufficient value upon their probabilities of vast and ever-increasing interest! Among this number was the poet Gay, who, though a scholar and a wit, was, nevertheless, in the actual business of life, as simple as a child. He was strongly advised by his friends to sell some stock which had been presented to him, and thus, while the stock was at its highest value, secure himself a competence for life. But no, like thousands more, he persisted in holding this precious stock; and all who did so found their scrip mere waste paper when the company was called upon to pay the very first vast and very genuine demand out of profits which were represented as being equally vast, but which had the slight defect of being wholly imaginary. Thousands upon thousands of families were by this artful and most vile scheme reduced to utter ruin, and nothing that has occurred in our own time-replete as it is with bubbles and swindling directors—is calculated to give us any adequate idea of the suffering, the rage, and the dismay that were felt in all parts of the kingdom. The Government did all that it consistently could to remedy the disastrous effects produced by individual knavery acting upon general cupidity and credulity. The chief managers of the scheme were deprived of the immense property they had unfairly acquired by it, and redresses as far as possible afforded to the sufferers; but in the almost infinite variety of transfers which had taken place, it inevitably followed that millions of property passed from the nands of those who speculated foolishly into the hands of those who were more sagacious and more wary, though not positively involved in the guilt of the deception; and for many years thousands had to toil for bread who but for this scheme would have been affluent, while thousands more enjoyed wealth not a jot more honestly or usefully earned than the gains of the veriest gambler.
So extensive were the suffering and confusion created by this event, that the friends of the Pretender deemed the crisis a fit one at which to bring forward his pretensions again. But, as was usual with that party, there was so much dissension among the deading malcontents, and their affairs were so clumsily conducted on the part of some of them, that the ministry got intelligence of the designs which were on foot, and suddenly ordered the apprehension of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Orrery, the Lords North and Grey, Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, Mr. Layer, and several other persons of less note. In the investigation that followed, sufficient legal evidence could be found only gainst the Bishop of Rochester and Mr. Layer, though there could be no moral doubt of the guilt of the others. All, therefore, were discharged out of custody except the Bishop, who was banished the kingdom, and Mr. Layer, who was hanged at Tyburn.—Maunder's "Treasury of History'
THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH'S VICTORIES. (QUEEN ANNE.)
THE war of the succession, as it was called, lasted eleven years. Its chief theatre was the Netherlands, and there most of Marlborough's victories were gained. On the 13th of August, 1704, was fought the great battle of Blenheim, on the banks of the Danube, in Germany. The emperor being hard pressed by the French and their allies, Marlborough marched to his relief. He was joined by the imperial general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, and their united force amounted to about 52,000 men, while that of the enemy, under the Elector of Bavaria and the French Marshal Tallard, amounted to 56,000. The battle began at one o'clock in the afternoon and lasted till night, when it terminated in the total defeat of the enemy, whose loss in killed (including those drowned in the Danube) and prisoners was 40,000 men. Among those taken were Marshal Tallard and one hundred of his officers. The loss of the allies was 4500 killed, and 7500
wounded. For this great victory Marlborough received the thanks of the two houses of Parliament; the royal manor of Woodstock was conferred on him and his heirs, and the queen gave orders to erect on it, at the expense of the crown, a splendid mansion, to be named Blenheim Castle.* In the campaign of the year 1706 Marlborough was preparing to lay siege to the town of Namur. The court of France sent orders to Marshal Villeroy to risk a battle in its defence, and on Whit Monday, the 23rd of May, he engaged the allies near a village named Ramillies. The armies on both sides were nearly equal, each counting about 60,000 men. As at Blenheim, the action commenced at one o'clock and lasted till night, and it also terminated in the total defeat of the French, who had 13,000 men killed, wounded, and taken, while the allies had only 1000 killed, and 2500 wounded. The next victory of Marlborough was in the campaign of 1708. The French army, under one of Loui grandsons and the Duke of Vendome, was besieging the town of Oudenarde. Marlborough marched to its relief; the French raised the siege at his approach; but on the 11th of July he brought them to an engagement near that town. The coming on of night saved them from a total rout, but they lost 3000 men killed, and 7000 prisoners; the total loss of the allies was about 2000 men. Marlborough's last victory was in the year 1709. As he and Prince Eugene were preparing to lay siege to Mons, the French Marshal Villars hastened to its relief. He posted his army of 19,000 men between two woods, near a place named Malplaquet, and secured his camp with strong entrenchments. Here, however, he was attacked by the allies on the 11th of September. The troops were equal in number, but the advantage in position was greatly on the side of the French; the contest was the most obstinate of any that had occurred during the war. But the honour of the day, with the loss of 20,000 killed and wounded, remained with the allies, the French retiring with a loss of 14,000 men. The siege and capture of Mons terminated the campaign. Though only the great battles fought by the Duke of Marlborough are here noticed, they by no means alone contribute to his military reputation. The siege and capture of Dendermond, Ostend,
This was one of the completest victories ever obtained by any general. The French army was almost entirely destroyed; of 60,000 men so long victorious, there never re-assembled more than 20,000 effective. The news of the defeat arrived at Versailles in the midst of the rejoicings for the birth of a great grandson of Louis XIV. Nobody dared inform the king of so cruel a truth. Madame de Maintenon was obliged to tell his majesty " that he was no longer invincible."
Lisle, Ghent, Mons, and other places are distinguished in the annals of war; and the skill with which he managed to make the troops and cabinets of so many different states act in concert are worthy of a Hannibal.-- Keightley's 'History of England.
CHARACTERS OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH.
THE Duke's great power and influence under Queen Anne arose in part from the intrigues of his wife, Sarah Jennings. This lady was daughter of Richard Jennings, Esq., of Sandridge,* in Hertfordshire, and lady of the bedchamber to the queen. She is described as a woman of little knowledge, but of clear apprehension and sound judgment; a warm and hearty friend, violent and sudden in her resolutions, and impetuous in her manners. She was not much addicted to flattery, nor any mean compliances, and her power over the queen appeared rather the result of a high opinion her majesty entertained of her judgment, sincerity, and frankness. The violence of her temper brought her husband into some serious difficulties, which made Swift remark that the Duke was indebted to her both for his rise and downfall. Pope's character of Atossa was designed for her; when these lines were shown to her grace, as if intended for the Duchess of Buckingham, she soon stopped the reader, and called aloud, “I cannot be so imposed upon; I see plainly enough for whom they were designed,” and abused Pope for the attack, though she afterwards courted his friendship. As she advanced in years her temper became more irascible. It is related, that the duke being sick, and not liking the advice of his physician, she followed him down stairs, swearing bitterly, and made an attempt to pull off his periwig. Like her husband she was extremely avaricious. Her rapacity having rendered her unpopular, she gave Hooke, the Roman historian, 5oool. to write a book in her defence, containing an account of her connexion with the queen. She died in 1744, quite worn out with age and infirmities.
The great defect of the Duke's character was his avarice, and some mercenary practices in which he was detected tarnished his military glories. In 1711 it was discovered that he had
* A little village near St. Albans.
received an annual present of five or six thousand pounds from Sir Solomon Medina, a Jew, concerned in the contract for furnishing the army with bread; to have been gratified by the queen with 10,000l. a year, on pretence of procuring intelligence; and to have pocketed a deduction of two and a half per cent. from the pay of foreign troops maintained by England. It was alleged in his justification that these sums were only the ordinary perquisites of office, which had been received by his predecessors. The Commons, however, voted his conduct unwarrantable and illegal, and the Attorney-General was directed to prosecute him.
With the exception of being implicated in these practices he was undoubtedly the greatest man of his age. He united in his own character, in an eminent degree, all the qualities which form a courtier, a soldier, and a statesman. His person was lofty and well made, his features manly yet beautiful, his looks gracious and open, his mien great, his parts quick, his memory faithful and exact, his penetration deep, his judgment solid, his courage undaunted. He knew the art of living in a court beyond any man in it. He caressed all people with a soft and obliging deportment, and was always ready to do good offices. He was ambitious, but free from haughtiness and ostentation. As a soldier he was a man of the strictest honour, cool, vigilant, and indefatigable; on the day of battle he gave his orders with all the clearness and composedness imaginable, leading on his troops without hurry or perturbation, and rallying those who were disordered without abusive reproofs, which damp rather than animate the soldier's courage. As a statesman he managed a variety of business, either single or in concert with the prime minister, with great dexterity, ease, and sufficiency. In council he was never supercilious or assuming, but could bear contradiction without passion, and by cool argumentation bring others over to his own opinion. To sum up the character of this great man King William said of him, that he had the coolest head and the warmest heart of any man he ever knew.
This upon the whole may be considered rather a favourable view of the duke's character, and a few more particulars may be necessary to enable the reader to form a just estimate of this extraordinary man.
Lord Chesterfield, after admitting that his manner was absolutely irresistible, either by man or woman, says that he was eminently illiterate, wrote bad English, and spelled still worse. -Kings of England,