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whig leaders, and fell through. That it was actually placed before the queen and refused by her seems unproved (see Noorden, iii. 616 note, where it is stated that no such draft of a letter from the duke to the queen referring to her refusal as is cited by Coxe, iii. 136 note, can be discovered among the Coxe MSS. in the British Museum). But the fact of the application was bruited abroad, and soon Marlborough was subjected to a series of annoyances. When, early in 1710, he was ordered by the queen to confer a vacant regiment upon Colonel Hill, the brother of Mrs. Masham, he sought an audience in order to represent the inexpediency of distinguishing so young an officer; but the queen dryly bade him ‘advise with his friends.’ Hereupon he temporarily withdrew from London, leaving it on the day appointed for a cabinet council. Finding, however, that the queen had taken no notice of his absence, he at first sought to obtain the support of the other members of the government for a letter offering the queen the choice between his resignation and the dismissal of Mrs. Masham. Perhaps a united effort might have carried the day; but among the leaders only Sunderland supported the bold policy of an address to the queen in the lords. Marlborough accordingly compromised matters by addressing to her a strong remonstrance against ‘the malice of a bedchamber woman,’ without, however, insisting upon her removal (Conduct, 232–4; cf. The Other Side, 409–10). The queen, on being further importuned by Godolphin and the whigs, hereupon gave way as to the regiment, and, Marlborough having at the advice of the whig leaders forborne from further pressing the dismissal of the favourite, an audience in which he was graciously received by the queen seemed to put a satisfactory termination to the incident (4 Feb.). The Dutch envoy reported to the Hague a complete reconciliation, and Marlborough was enthusiastically congratulated by Heinsius (Noorden, iii. 622 note). In truth, however, the affair had, besides incensing the favourite, increased the coolness between Marlborough and the whigs. When in March the commons addressed the queen on his approaching departure to the Netherlands as both general and plenipotentiary, she caused the answer prepared by Godolphin to be so altered as to deprive it of its cordiality. Scarcely had he crossed the water when the news reached him of the virtual failure of the Sacheverell impeachment (20 March 1709–10). The queen's sympathy could not but be on Sacheverell's side; nor was the mob in error which shouted to her as she passed in her chair, ‘God bless your majesty! God bless the church! We hope your majesty is for Dr. Sacheverell.’ Afterwards, when the suspension to which he was sentenced had expired, she presented him to the valuable living of St. Andrew's, Holborn, though she prudently declined to make him a bishop. Her favourite prelates, York and London, voted not guilty, and there were other indications that those on whom she looked with the greatest goodwill were against the spirit of the impeachment.

After this fiasco the air was again full of rumours of impending ministerial changes. Yet this was the time chosen by the Duchess of Marlborough, who had been in vain importuning the queen to allow her to resign her offices in favour of her daughters, to force herself into the royal presence. Though repulsed by a command to make her communication in writing, she contrived afterwards to obtain the promise of an interview, and when this promise was again withdrawn renewed her request, declaring that no misunderstanding should be caused by her, and that no answer would be required from the queen. Then, without waiting for a reply, she appeared at Kensington (17 April 1710). On being at last admitted, she could hardly elicit any words from the queen but ‘You desired no answer, and you shall have none.’ Protestations and tears were alike in vain, though, after the queen had brusquely left the room and been followed to the door of the closet by the duchess, the latter had extracted from her a species of permission to pay her respects when the queen should be at Windsor (the graphic narrative in the Conduct, 238–44, is supplemented by Coxe, iii. 202, from another version apparently by the duchess, and from her letter to Mr. Hutchinson). Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman never met again. On the day after their parting the duchess sent to the queen a letter from the duke to Godolphin concerning a dangerous foreigner, against whom it was thought prudent to protect the queen's person. The letter was returned to the duchess with a brief formal message and without thanks. Their correspondence, too, was nearly at an end.

The appointment of Shrewsbury to the office of lord chamberlain, which took place about this time, and of which the queen informed Godolphin as of a settled thing, was the first public sign of the coming change, for Shrewsbury was known to have a secret understanding with Harley. Then a possibly unintentional awkwardness on the part of Marlborough involved him in another personal difficulty with the queen. In a list of promotions sent by him for her approval he had not included the names of Colonel Hill