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739
MARLBOROUGH, IST DUKE of


failed on their first attack in breaking the line of the enemy's centre. But in the end the victory of the allies was conclusive. Nearly thirty thousand of the French and Bavarians were killed and wounded, and eleven thousand of the French who had been driven down to the Danube were forced to surrender. Bavaria fell into the hands of the allies. Never was a victory more eagerly welcomed than this, and never was a conquering leader more rewarded than Marlborough. Poets and prose writers were employed to do him honour, and the lines of Addison comparing the English commander to the angel who passed over " pale Britannia ” in the storm of 1703 have been famous for over two centuries. The manor of Woodstock, which was transferred by act of parliament from the crown to the duke, was a reward more after his own heart. The gift even in that form was noble, but the queen heightened it by instructing Sir John Vanbrugh to build a palace in the park at the royal expense, and £240,000 of public money was spent on the buildings. He was also created a prince of the empire and the principality of Mindelheim was formed in his honour.

The following year was not marked by any stirring incident. Marlborough was hampered by tedious formalities at the Hague and by jealousies at the German courts. The armies of the French were again brought up to their full standard, but the generals of Louis were instructed to entrench themselves behind earthworks and to act on the defensive. In the darkness of a July night these lines were broken through near Tirlemont, and the French were forced to take shelter under the walls of Louvain. Marlborough in vain urged an attack upon them in their new position, and when 1705 had passed away the forces of the French king had suffered no diminution. This immunity from disaster tempted Villeroi in the next spring into meeting the allied forces in an open ight, but his assurance proved his ruin. Through the superior tactics of Marlborough the battle of Ramillies (May 2 3, 1706) ended in the total rout of the French, and caused the transference of nearly the whole-of Brabant and Flanders to the allies. Five days afterwards the victor entered Brussels in state, and the inhabitants acknowledged the rule of the archduke. Antwerp and Ostend surrendered themselves with slight loss. Menin held out until three thousand of the soldiers of the allies were laid low around its walls, but Dendermonde, which Louis had forty years previously besieged in vain, quickly gave itself up to the resistless Marlborough. Again a year of activity and triumph was succeeded by a period of languor and depression. During the whole of 1707 fortune inclined to the other side, with the result that in July 1708 Ghent and Bruges returned to the allegiance of the French, and Marlborough, fearing that their example, might be followed by the other cities, advanced with his whole army towards Oudenarde. Had the counsels of Vendome, one of the ablest of the French generals, prevailed, the fight might have had a different issue, but his suggestions were disregarded by the duke of Burgundy, the grandson of Louis, and the battle, which raged on the high ground above Oudenarde, ended in their defeat (July 1 1, 1 708). After this victory Marlborough, ever anxious for decisive measures, wished to advance on Paris, but he was overruled. The allied army invested the town of Lille, on the fortifications of which Vauban had expended an immensity of thought; and after a struggle of nearly four months, and the loss to the combatants of thirty thousand men, the citadel was surrendered by Marshal Boufflers on the oth of December. By the end of the year Brabant was again subject to the rule of the allies. The suffering in France at this time weighed so heavily upon the people that its proud king humbled himself to sue for peace. Each of the allies in turn did he supplicate, and Torcy his minister endeavoured by promises of large sums of money to obtain the support of Marlborough to his proposals. These attempts were in vain, and when the winter passed away a French army of one hundred and ten thousand, under the command of Villars, took the field. On the 3rd of September 1709 Tournay capitulated, and the two leaders, Marlborough and Eugene, led their forces to Mons, in spite of the attempt of Villars to prevent them. For the last time during the protracted war the two armies met in fair fight at Malplaquet, on the south of Mons (Sept. 11, 1709), where the French leader had strengthened his position by extensive earthworks. The fight was long and doubtful, and although the French ultimately retreated under the direction of Boufflers, for Villars had been wounded on the knee, it was in good order, and their losses were less than those of their opponents. The campaign lasted for a year or two after this indecisive contest, but it was not signalized by any such “ glorious victory ” as Blenheim. All that the English could plume themselves on was the acquisition of a few such fortresses as Douai and Bethune, and all that the French had to fear was the gradual tightening of the enemy's chain until it reached the walls of Paris. The energies of the French were concentrated in the construction of fresh lines of defence, until their commander boasted that his position was impregnable. In this way the war dragged on until the conclusion of the Peace of Utrecht in June 1712. These victorious campaigns had not prevented the position of Marlborough from being undermined by party intrigues at home. In the early part of Queen Anne's reign his political friends were to be found among the Tories, and the ministry under Sidney Godolphin was chiefly composed of members of that party. After a year or two, however, the more ardent Tories withdrew, and two younger adherents of the same cause, Harley and St John, were introduced in May 1704 into the ministry. The duchess, partly through the influence of her son-inélaw, the earl of Sunderland, who came into office against the queen's wish on the 3rd of December 1706, and partly through the opposition of the Tories to the French war, had gone over to the Whig cause, and she pressed" her Views on the sovereign with more vehemence than discretion. She had obtained for her indigent cousin, Abigail Hill, a small position at court, and the poor relation very soon began to injure the benefactor who had befriended her. With Hill's' assistance Harley and St John widened the breach with the queen which was commenced by the imperious manner of the duchess. The love of the two friends changed into hate, and no opportunity for humiliating the family of Marlborough was allowed to pass neglected. Sunderland and Godolphin were the first to fall (July-Aug. 1710); a few months later the duchess was dismissed from her offices; and, although Marlborough himself was permitted to continue in his position a short time longer, his fall was only delayed until the last day of 1711. Life in England had become so unpleasant that he went to the Continent in November 1712 and remained abroad until the death of Anne (Aug. 1, 1714). Then he once more returned to England and resumed his old military posts, but he took little part in public affairs. Even if he had wished to regain his commanding position in the country, ill health would have prevented him from obtaining his desires. Johnson indeed says, in the Vanity of H mmm Wishes, that “ the streams of dotage ” flowed from his eyes; but this is a poetical exaggeration. It is certain that at the time of his death he was able to understand the remarks of others and to express his own wishes. At four o'clock on the morning of the 16th of June 1722 he died at Cranbourn Lodge, near Windsor. His remains were at first deposited in Westminster Abbey, in the vault' at the east end of King Henry VII.'s chapel, but they now rest in a mausoleum in the chapel at Blenheim.

His widow, to whom must be assigned a considerable share both in his rise and in his fall, survived till the 18th of October 1744. Those years were spent in bitter animosity with many within and without her own family. Left by her husband with the command of boundless wealth, she used it for the vindication of his memory and for the justification of her own resentment. Two of the leading opponents of the Whig ministry, Chesterfield and Pitt, were especially honoured by her attentions. To Pitt she left ten thousand pounds, to the other statesman twice that sumand a reversionary interest in her landed property at Wimbledon. Whilst a widow she received numerous offers of marriage from titled suitors. She refused them all: from her marriage to her death her heart had no other inmate than the man as whose wife she had become almost a rival to royalty.