Schaub, Luke (DNB00)


SCHAUB, Sir LUKE (d. 1758), diplomatist, was born at Basle in Switzerland. He was secretary to Richard, lord Cobham, who was English ambassador at Vienna in 1715, and on the departure of his chief for England he remained in charge of the embassy. In 1716 he was attached to the English mission at Copenhagen, and during parts of 1718 and 1719 he was again at Vienna. In January 1717 James Stanhope (afterwards the first Earl Stanhope) applied for a pension of 200l. per annum for him in recognition of the services which he had rendered to the state. He then became, on account of his skill in foreign languages, Stanhope's confidental secretary, and was ‘principally employed in penning his foreign despatches.’ In August 1718 he accompanied Stanhope to Madrid, and for a year he remained there as English agent. Afterwards he was sent to Hanover to maintain friendly terms between the two courts. He was acceptable to George I, to whom he is said to have been secretary at one time, and, according to Peter Cunningham, he was a ‘kind of Will. Chiffinch’ to that monarch.

On Stanhope's death Schaub became the close friend of Lord Carteret, and was considered by his new employer as the best person, through his intimate friendship with Cardinal Dubois, to represent English interests at Paris. He was accordingly knighted (8 Oct. 1720) and sent thither as ambassador in March 1721, carrying with him official assurances that Stanhope's death would make no change in the policy of England towards France. As the nominee of Carteret he was obnoxious to Townshend and Walpole, and they determined upon effecting his removal from his post. Horace Walpole, the brother of Sir Robert Walpole, was sent by them in October 1723 to Paris to intrigue in secret against Schaub, and so to diminish the influence of his patron. The ambassador's position was weakened by the death of Dubois, and by the failure to obtain a dukedom for the father of the French nobleman who was to marry the niece of Lady Darlington. He was also represented to George I ‘as a foreigner, and without distinction either from birth or connections.’ These representations at last succeeded. He was recalled in May 1724. He claimed for salary and expenses the sum of 12,120l. 1s. 11d.

After his recall from Paris he often dabbled in diplomatic affairs. In June 1736 Walpole expressed to Lord Waldegrave great suspicion as to the motives of a visit which Schaub was about to make to Paris, and he projected in August 1744 a quadruple alliance of England, Maria Theresa, the king of Poland, and the States-General. He was a favourite companion of George II, and had much influence with Queen Caroline (cf. King, Anecdotes, pp. 48–50). Lord Chesterfield, when in retirement at Blackheath, was one of his friends. He lived in Bond Street, and had around him an admirable collection of pictures. He died on 27 Feb. 1758. His smallness in stature is frequently commented upon.

Schaub married a French widow from Nismes, a protestant, who is said to have been ‘very gallant’ (Prior, Life of Malone, p. 371). She had apartments for many years in Hampton Court Palace, and died there on 25 Aug. 1793. The ‘Long Story’ of Gray was written in August 1750 to commemorate an afternoon call paid to him by Lady Schaub and another lady, when he was not at home. One of Schaub's daughters, Frederica Augusta, married, in 1767, William Lock, who, with his wife, long dispensed a generous hospitality at his residence, Norbury Park, Mickleham, Surrey.

When in Spain, Schaub bought cheap ‘some good old copies’ of famous pictures, ‘some fine small ones and a parcel of Flemish, good in their way’ (Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, iii. 127). The Prince of Wales offered him 12,000l. for the whole, Schaub to keep them for his life; but he would not sell through mistrust of obtaining the money. They were sold by Langford at the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, on three days, 26 to 28 April 1758. A copy of the catalogue, priced and with the names of the purchasers, is in the British Museum (cf. Gent. Mag. 1758, pp. 225–7; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ii. 22–3). The sale produced 7,784l., a prodigious price in those days. A copy of the ‘Holy Family,’ by Raphael (belonging to the king of France), fetched 703l. 10s., and ‘Sigismunda,’ attributed to Correggio, is entered as sold to Sir Thomas Sebright for 404l. 5s., but is said to have been bought in. This extravagant sum provoked Hogarth into painting his Sigismunda. Schaub's library was sold by Thomas Osborne of Gray's Inn in 1760.

Many letters to and from Schaub are preserved at the British Museum, the chief of them being in the Sloane MS. 4204, the Additional MSS. 22521–2, 23780–3, 32414–21, and among the correspondence of the Duke of Newcastle. Some of his letters belong to the Earl of Stair (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. pp. 188–90), Earl De La Warr (ib. 3rd Rep. App. pp. 218–20), and Mr. G. H. Finch of Rutland (ib. 7th Rep. App. p. 518).

[Mrs. Delany's Life and Correspondence, iii. 495–7; Graham's Earls of Stair, ii. 134; Coxe's Pelham Administration, i. 170; Coxe's Lord Walpole, i. 53–145; Coxe's Sir Robert Walpole, i. 179–92, ii. 251–3, 262–3, 270–5, 326–7, iii. 322; Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 83–84, 309; Ballantyne's Carteret, pp. 73–100; Gent. Mag. 1758 p. 146, 1793 ii. 864; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. ix. 207, 331–2; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iii. 650; Gray's Works, ed. Gosse, i. 82; Thorne's Environs of London, ii. 429–30; Walpole's Notes on Chesterfield's Memoirs (Philobilon Soc.), xi. 78–9; Lord Hervey's Memoirs (1884 ed.), iii. 159, 207, 251; Wheatley's Piccadilly, pp. 182–3; Calendars of Treasury Papers, 1714–19 pp. 157, 272, 343, 1720–8 pp. 47, 112, 166, 270.]

W. P. C.