The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 4/The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen
FOUR LAST YEARS
FIRST PRINTED IN 1758.
THE "History of the Four Last Years of the Queen," has been unaccountably decried; though a work of undoubted merit. It has even been supposed to be spurious, though every paragraph it contains is a sufficient voucher for its authenticity. It is repeatedly mentioned by our Author, in various parts of his writings. He has called it "his grand business;" and thought it "the best work he had ever written." As far as it extends, it is indeed a masterly performance; and will be deemed a valuable acquisition to future Historians. Deriving his intelligence, at that remarkable era, from the fountainhead, Swift could not be mistaken in the facts which he relates. He had ready access to every requisite source of information: and his manly fortitude must have placed him far above the necessity of wilful misrepresentation. Professedly an advocate for the tories, to the whigs he was an avowed, a formidable opponent. In his Journal to Stella (the more valuable for discovering his unreserved sentiments) he frequently laments the necessity of displacing the duke of Marlborough; and declares, though he loved not the man, he had prevented many hard things being said against him. And the favours he obtained from the ministry for the men of wit among the adverse party are too notorious to be enlarged on.
His earnestness to communicate this history to the publick is evident in many of his letters. In 1736, it was actually intended for the press; and in April, 1738, the dean expressed his dissatisfaction at the publication being so long delayed. Whatever motives might have then existed for such delay, whether tenderness to living characters, or more prudential reasons, a period of forty years must totally have removed them. The rage of party is subsided; and we may be allowed to contemplate the reign of Anne as impartially as that of Elizabeth.
At length this history was committed to the press in the year 1758; under the censure, it may be said, of its own editor; in justice to whom, however we may differ in opinion concerning Dr. Swift's candour, the editor's Advertisement is preserved entire. In the same year also it met with some severe strictures from another writer. These we shall give too in his own words; and then fairly submit "The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen" to the judgment of the publick:
"These characters, and the history from whence they have been extracted, may serve as a striking example of the melancholy effects of prejudice and party zeal; a zeal, which, whilst it corrupts the heart, vitiates the understanding itself; and could mislead a writer of so penetrating a genius as Dr. Swift, to imagine that posterity would accept satire in the place of history, and would read with duke of Marlborough are called in question. The real character of these great men was not what the low idolatry of the one faction, or the malignity of the other, would represent it. They were men, who, with great virtues and great talents, mixed with some human infirmities, did their country much service and honour. Their talents were a publick benefit, their failings such as only affected their private character. The display of this mixture had been a very proper task for an impartial historian; and had proved equally agreeable and instructive to the reader, in such hands. But these characters before us have all the signs of being written, as Tacitus calls it, recentibus odiis. In all other respects, the piece seems to be a work not unworthy of its author; a clear and strong, though not an elevated style; an entire freedom from every sort of affected ornament; a peculiar happiness of putting those he would satirize in the most odious and contemptible light, without seeming directly to intend it. These are the characteristicks of all Swift's works; and they appear as strongly in this as in any of them. If there be any thing different in this performance, from the manner of his works published in his lifetime, it is, that the style is in this thrown something more backwards, and has a more antique cast. This probably he did designedly, as he might think it gave a greater dignity to the work. He had a strong prejudice in favour of the language, as it was in queen Elizabeth's reign; and he rated the style of the authors of that time a little above its real value. Their style was indeed sufficiently bold and nervous, but deficient in grace and elegance."a performance, in which the courage and military skill of the
March 25, 1775.
PREFIXED TO THE EDITION OF 1758.
THUS, the long-wished for History of the Four Last Years of the Queen's Reign is at length brought to light, in spite of all attempts to suppress it!
As this publication is not made under the sanction of the name, or names, which the author and the world had a right to expect; it is fit some account of the work's appearing in this manner should be here given.
Long before the dean's apparent decline, some of his intimate friends, with concern, foresaw the impending fate of his fortune and his works. To this it is owing, that these sheets, which the world now despaired of ever seeing, are rescued from obscurity, perhaps from destruction.
For this, the publick is indebted to a gentleman, now in Ireland, of the greatest probity and worth, with whom the dean long lived in perfect intimacy. To this gentleman's hands the dean intrusted a copy of his history, desiring him to peruse and give his judgment of it, with the last corrections and amendments the author had given it, in his own hand.
His friend read, admired, and approved. And from a dread of so valuable and so interesting a work's being by any accident lost or effaced, as was probable by its not being intended to be published in the author's life time; he resolved to keep this copy, till the author should press him for it; but with a determined purpose, it should never see the light, while there were any hopes of the author's own copy being published, or even preserved.
This resolution he inviolably kept, till he and the world had full assurance, that the dean's executors, or those into whose hands the original copy fell, were so far from intending to publish it, that it was actually suppressed, perhaps destroyed.
Then, he thought himself not only at liberty, but judged it his duty to his departed friend, and to the publick, to let this copy, which he had now kept many years most secretly, see the light.
Thus it has at length fallen into the hands of a person, who publishes it for the satisfaction of the publick, abstracted from all private regards; which are never to be permitted to come into competition with the common good.
Every judicious eye will see, that the author of these sheets wrote with strong passions, but with stronger prepossessions and prejudices in favour of a party. These, it may be imagined, the editor, in some measure, may have adopted; and published this work, as a kind of support of that party, or some surviving remnant thereof.
It is but just to undeceive the reader, and inform him from what kind of hand he has received this work. A man may regard a good piece of painting, while he despises the subject: if the subject be ever so despicable, the masterly strokes of the painter may demand our admiration; while he, in other respects, is intitled to no portion of our regard.
In poetry, we carry our admiration still farther; and like the poet, while we actually condemn the man. Historians share the like fate; hence some, who have no regard to propriety or truth, are yet admired for diction, style, manner, and the like.
The editor considers this work in another light: he long knew the author, and was no stranger to his politicks, connexions, tendencies, passions, and the whole economy of his life. He has long been hardily singular in condemning this great man's conduct amid the admiring multitude; nor ever could have thought of making an interest in a man, whose principles and manners he could by no rule of reason or honour approve, however he might have admired his wit and parts.
Such was judged the disposition of the man, whose history of the most interesting period of time in the annals of Britain is now, herein, offered to the reader. He may well ask from what motives? The answer is easily, simply given.
The causes assigned for delaying the publication of this history were principally these: That the manuscript fell into the hands of men, who, whatever they might have been by the generality deemed, were by the dean believed to be of his party; though they did not, after his death, judge it prudent to avow his principles, more than to deny them in his lifetime. These men, having got their beavers, tobacco boxes, and other trifling remembrances of former friendship, by the dean's will, did not choose publickly to avow principles, that had marred their friend's promotion, and might probably put a stop to theirs: therefore, they gave the inquisitive world to understand, that there was something too strong against many great men, as well as the succeeding system of publick affairs in general, in the dean's history of the four last years of the queen's reign, to admit of a publication, in our times; and, with this poor insinuation, excused themselves, and satisfied the weakly well affected, in suppressing the manifestation of displeasing truths, of however great importance to society.
This manuscript has now fallen into the hands of a man, who never could associate with, or even approve, any of the parties or factions, that have differently distracted, it might be said disgraced, these kingdoms; because he has as yet known none, whose motives or rules of action were truth and the publick good alone; of one, who judges, that perjured magistrates of all denominations, and their most exalted minions, may be exposed, deprived, or cut off, by the fundamental laws of his country; and who, upon these principles, from his heart, approves, and glories in, the virtues of his predecessors, who revived the true spirit of the British polity, in laying aside a priest-ridden, a hen-pecked, tyrannical tool, who had overturned the political constitution of his country, and in reinstituting the dissolved body politick, by a revolution, supported by the laws of nature and the realm, as the only means of preserving the natural and legal, the civil and religious liberties of the members of the commonwealth.
Truth, in this man's estimation, can hurt no good cause. And falsehood and fraud, in religion and politicks, are ever to be detected, to be exploded.
Insinuations, that this history contained something injurious to the present establishment, and therefore necessary to be suppressed, serve better the purposes of mistaken or insidious malecontents, than the real publication can. And, if any thing were by this or any other history to be shown essentially erroneous in our politicks; who, that calls himself a Briton, can be deemed such an impious slave, as to conceal the destructive evil? The editor of this work disdains and abhors the servile thought; and wishes to live no longer, than he dares to think speak, write, and, in all things, to act worthy of a Briton.
From this regard to truth and to his country, the editor of this history was glad of an opportunity of rescuing such a writing from those who meant to suppress it: the common cause, in his estimation, required and demanded it should be done; and the sooner it is published he judged, the better: for if the conduct of the queen and her ministers does not deserve the obloquy that has been long industriously cast upon it; what is more just than to vindicate it? what more reasonable, than that this should be done while living witnesses may yet be called, to prove or disprove the several allegations and assertions; since in a few years more, such witnesses may be as much wanting as to prevent a canonization, which is therefore prudently procrastinated for above an age? Let us then coolly hear what is to be said on this side the question, and judge like Britons.
The editor would not be thought to justify the author of this history, in all points, or even to attempt to acquit him of unbecoming prejudices and partiality: without being deeply versed in history or politicks; he can see his author, in many instances, blinded with passions, that disgrace the historian; and blending, with phrases worthy of a Cæsar or a Cicero, expressions not to be justified by truth, reason, or common sense; yet think him a most powerful orator, and a great historian.
No unprejudiced person will blame the dean, for doing all that is consistent with truth and decency to vindicate the government of the queen, and to exculpate the conduct of her ministers and her last general; all good men would rejoice at such a vindication. But, if he meant no more than this, his work would ill deserve the title of history. That he generally tells truth, and founds his most material assertions upon facts, will, I think, be found very evident. But, there is room to suspect, that while he tells no more than the truth, he does not tell the whole truth. However, he makes it very clear that the queen's allies, especially our worthy friends the Dutch, were much to blame for the now generally condemned conduct of the queen, with regard to the prosecution of the war and the bringing about the peace.
The author's drawings of characters are confessedly partial: for he tells us openly, he means not to give characters intire, but such parts of each man's particular passions, acquirements, and habits, as he was most likely to transfer into his political schemes. What writing, what sentence, what character, can stand this torture? — What extreme perversion may not, let me say, does not this produce? — Yet thus does he choose to treat all men, that were not favourers of the latest measures of the queen; when the best that has been said for her, shows no more than that she was blindfolded and held in leading-strings by her ministers.
He does not spare a man, confessed by all the world to have discharged the duties of his function like a soldier, like a hero. But charges prince Eugene with raising and keeping up a most horrible mob, with intent to assassinate Harley. For all which odious charges, he offers not one individual point of proof.
He is not content with laying open again the many faults already publickly proved upon the late duke of Marlborough; but insinuates a new crime, by seeming to attempt to acquit him of aspiring at the throne. But this is done in a manner peculiar to this author.
On the other hand, he extols the ministers, and minions of the queen in the highest terms; and while he robs their antagonists of every good quality, generally gives those wisdom and every virtue that can adorn human nature.
He is not ashamed to attempt to justify, what all thinking good men must condemn, the queen's making twelve peers at once, to serve a particular turn.
All these may be ascribed to the strength of his passions, and to the prejudices, early imbibed, in favour of his indulgent royal mistress and her favourites and servants. The judicious will look through the elegant clothing, and dispassionately consider these as mere human errours, to which no well informed mind can assent. The editor thinks himself bound to protest against them.
He makes a few lapses on the other side, without being as clear as an impartial historian would choose to appear. He more than hints at the queen's displeasure at its being moved in parliament, that the prince elector should be invited to reside in England, to whose crown he was by law declared presumptive heir. But is always open upon the queen's insisting on the pretender's being sent out of France. — It is easy to see how incompatible these things appear: Nothing could tend more to secure the Hanover succession, and to enlarge its benefits to Britain, than the bringing over the successor, who should, in every country, be well instructed in the language, customs, manners, religion and laws of his future subjects, before he comes to hold the reins of government. And our author does not take the proper care to inform us how far the French thought fit to comply with banishing the Pretender their dominions; since many still live in doubt, that if he was sent out of France, he was sent into England.
But there is one expression of our author too perverse, too grossly abused, to admit of any apology, of any palliation. It is not to be supposed, that he was ignorant of any word in the English language. And least of all can be supposed ignorant of the meaning of a word, which, had it been ever so doubtful before, had a certain meaning impressed upon it by the authority of parliament, of which no sensible subject can be ignorant.
Notwithstanding this, where our author speaks of the late king James, he calls him the abdicated king, and gives the same epithet even to his family. Though this weak, ill advised, and ill fated prince, in every sense of the word, with Romans and English, and to all intents and purposes, abdicated; yet can he, in no sense be called abdicated; unless the people's asserting their rights, and defending themselves against a king, who broke his compact with his subjects, and overturned their government, can be called abdication in them; which no man in his senses can be hardy enough to support upon any principle of reason or the laws of England. Let the reader judge which this is most likely to be, errour or design.
These exceptions the editor thought himself bound to make to some parts of this work, to keep clear of the disagreeable imputations of being of a party, of whatsoever denomination, in opposition to truth and the rights and liberties of the subject.
These laid aside, the work will be found to have many beauties, many excellencies. Some have of late affected to depreciate this history, from an insinuation, made only since the author's death; to wit, that he was never admitted into the secrets of the administration, but made to believe he was a confident, only to engage him in the list of the ministerial writers of that reign.
The falsehood of this will readily appear upon perusal of this work. This shows he knew the most secret springs of every movement in the whole complicated machine. That he states facts, too well known to be contested, in elegant simplicity, and reasons upon them with the talents of the greatest historian. And thus makes a history, composed rather of negotiations than actions, most entertaining, affecting, and interesting, instead of being, as might be expected, heavy, dull, and disagreeable.
It is now fit to apologize for some errours, which the judicious must discover upon a perusal of this work. It is for this, among other reasons, much to be lamented, that this history was not published under the author's own inspection. It is next to impossible to copy or print any work without faults; and most so, where the author's eye is wanting.
It is not to be imagined, that even our author, however accurate, however great, was yet strictly and perfectly correct in his writings. Yet, where some seeming inaccuracies in style or expression have been discovered; the deference due to the author made any alteration too presumptuous a task for the editor. These are therefore left to the amending hand of every sensible and polite reader, while the editor hopes it will suffice, that he should point out some of those errours, which are to be ascribed either to transcribers or the press.
HAVING written the following history at Windsor, in the happy reign of her majesty queen Anne, of ever glorious, blessed, and immortal memory; I resolved to publish it, for the satisfaction of my fellow-subjects, in the year 1713; but, being under a necessity of going to Ireland, to take possession of the deanry of St. Patrick's, Dublin, I left the original with the ministers; and having staid in that kingdom not above a fortnight, I found, at my return, that my lord treasurer Oxford, and the secretary my lord Bolingbroke, who were then unhappily upon very ill terms with each other, could not agree upon publishing it, without some alterations which I would not submit to. Whereupon I kept it by me until her majesty's death, which happened about a year after.
I have ever since preserved the original very safely; too well knowing what a turn the world would take, upon the German family's succeeding to the crown; which indeed was their undoubted right, having been established solemnly by the act of an undisputed parliament, brought into the house of commons by Mr. Harley, who was then speaker.
But, as I have said in another discourse, it was very well understood, some years before her majesty's death, how the new king would act, immediately upon his entrance, in the choice of those (and those alone) whom he resolved to trust; and consequently what reports would industriously be raised, as well as spread, to expose the proceedings of her majesty herself, as well as of her servants; who have been ever since blasted as enemies to the present establishment, by the most ignorant and malicious among mankind.
Therefore, as it was my lot, to have been daily conversant with the persons then in power; never absent in times of business or conversation, until a few weeks before her majesty's death; and a witness of almost every step they made, in the course of their administration; I must have been very unfortunate, not to be better informed, than those miserable pamphleteers, or their patrons, could pretend to. At the same time, I freely confess it appeared necessary, as well as natural, upon such a mighty change as the death of a sovereign, that those who were to be in power upon the succession, and resolved to act, in every part, by a direct contrary system of politicks, should load their predecessors, with as much infamy, as the most inveterate malice and envy could suggest, or the most stupid ignorance and credulity in their underlings, could swallow.
Therefore, as I pretend to write, with the utmost impartiality, the following history of the four last years of her majesty's reign, in order to undeceive prejudiced persons at present, as well as posterity; I am persuaded in my own mind, as likewise by the advice of my oldest and wisest friends, that I am doing my duty to God and man, by endeavouring to set future ages right, in their judgment of that happy reign; and, as a faithful historian, I cannot suffer falsehoods to run on any longer, not only against all appearance of truth, as well as probability, but even against those happy events, which owe their success, to the very measures then fixed in the general peace.
The materials of this history, beside what I have already mentioned, I mean the confidence reposed in me for those four years, by the chief persons in power, were extracted out of many hundred letters written by our ambassadors abroad, and from the answers, as well as instructions sent them, by our secretaries of state, or by the first minister the earl of Oxford. The former, were all originals, and the latter, copies entered into books in the secretaries office, out of both which I collected all that I thought convenient; not to mention several memorials given me by the ministers at home. Farther, I was a constant witness and observer of all that passed; and entered every particular of any consequence upon paper.
I was so far from having any obligation to the crown, that on the contrary, her majesty issued a proclamation, offering three hundred pounds to any person who would discover the author of a certain short treatise, which the queen well knew to have been written by me. I never received one shilling from the minister, or any other present, except that of a few books; nor did I want their assistance to support me. I very often dined indeed with the treasurer and secretary; but, in those days, that was not reckoned a bribe, whatever it may have been at any time since. I absolutely refused to be chaplain to the lord treasurer; because I thought it would ill become me, to be in a state of dependence.
I say this, to show that I had no other bias than my own opinion of persons and affairs. I preserved several of the opposite party in their employments, who were persons of wit and learning, particularly Mr. Addison and Mr. Congreve; neither of whom were ever in any danger from the treasurer, who much esteemed them both; and by his lordship's commands, I brought the latter to dine with him. Mr. Steele might have been safe enough, if his continually repeated indiscretions, and a zeal mingled with scurrilities, had not forfeited all title to lenity.
I know very well the numberless prejudices of weak and deceived people, as well as the malice of those, who, to serve their own interest or ambition, have cast off all religion, morality, justice, and common decency. However, although perhaps I may not be believed in the present age, yet I hope to be so in the next, by all who will bear any regard for the honour and liberty of England, if either of these shall then subsist or not.
I have no interest, or inclination, to palliate the mistakes, or omissions, or want of steadiness, or unhappy misunderstandings, among a few of those, who then presided in affairs.
Nothing is more common, than the virulence of superficial and illinformed writers, against the conduct of those who are now called prime ministers: and since factions appear at present, to be at a greater height, than in any former times, although perhaps not so equally poised; it may probably concern those who are now in their height, if they have any regard to their own memories in future ages, to be less warm against others, who humbly differ from them in some state opinions. Old persons remember, at least by tradition, the horrible prejudices that prevailed against the first earl of Clarendon, whose character, as it now stands, might be a pattern for all ministers; although even bishop Burnet of Sarum, whose principles, veracity, and manner of writing, are so little esteemed upon many accounts, has been at the pains to vindicate him.
Upon that irreparable breach between the treasurer and secretary Bolingbroke, after my utmost endeavours, for above two years, to reconcile them, I retired to a friend in Berkshire; where I staid until her majesty's death; and then immediately returned to my station in Dublin, where I continued about twelve years without once seeing England. I there often reviewed the following Memoirs; neither changing nor adding, farther than by correcting the style: and if I have been guilty of any mistakes, they must be of small moment; for it was hardly possible I could be wrong informed, with all the advantages I have already mentioned.
I shall not be very uneasy, under the obloquy that may perhaps be cast upon me, by the violent leaders and followers of the present prevailing party. And yet I cannot find the least inconsistence with conscience or honour, upon the death of so excellent a princess as her late majesty, for a wise and good man to submit, with a true and loyal heart, to her lawful protestant successor; whose hereditary title was confirmed by the queen and both houses of parliament, with the greatest unanimity; after it had been made an article in the treaty, that every prince in our alliance, should be a guarantee of that succession. Nay, I will venture to go one step farther; that if the negotiators of that peace, had been chosen out of the most professed zealots, for the interest of the Hanover family, they could not have bound up the French king, or the Hollanders, more strictly, than the queen's plenipotentiaries did, in confirming the present succession; which was in them, so much a greater mark of virtue and loyalty, because they perfectly well knew, that they should never receive the least mark of favour, when the succession had taken place.
FOUR LAST YEARS
I PROPOSE to give the publick an account, of the most important affairs at home, during the last session of parliament; as well as of our negotiations of peace abroad, not only during that period, but some time before and since. I shall relate the chief matters transacted by both houses in that session; and discover the designs carried on, by the heads of a discontented party, not only against the ministry, but in some manner, against the crown itself: I likewise shall state the debts of the nation; show by what mismanagement, and to serve what purposes, they were at first contracted; by what negligence or corruption, they have so prodigiously grown; and what methods have since been taken, to provide not only for their payment, but to prevent the like mischief for the time to come. Although, in an age like ours, I can expect very few impartial readers, yet I shall strictly follow truth; or what reasonably appeared to me to be such, after the most impartial inquiries I could make, and the best opportunities of being informed, by those who were the principal actors or advisers.
Neither shall I mingle panegyrick or satire, with a history intended to inform posterity, as well as to instruct those of the present age, who may be ignorant or misled; since facts, truly related, are the best applauses, or most lasting reproaches.
Discourses upon subjects relating to the publick, usually seem to be calculated for London only, and some few miles about it; while the authors, suppose their readers to be informed of several particulars, to which those that live remote, are, for the generality, utter strangers. Most people who frequent this town, acquire a sort of smattering, such as it is, which qualifies them for reading a pamphlet, and finding out what is meant by innuendoes or hints at facts or persons, and initial letters of names; wherein gentlemen at a distance, although perhaps of much better understandings, are wholly in the dark: wherefore, that these memoirs may be rendered more generally intelligible and useful, it will be convenient to give the reader, a short view of the state and disposition of affairs, when the last session of parliament began. And because the party leaders, who had lost their power and places, were, upon that juncture, employing all their engines, in an attempt to reestablish themselves; I shall venture one step farther, and represent so much of their characters, as may be supposed to have influenced their politicks.
On the 7th day of December, 1711, began the second session of parliament. It was now above a year since the queen had thought fit to put the great offices of state, and of her own household, into other hands: however, three of the discontented lords were still in possession of their places; for the duke of Marlborough continued general, the duke of Somerset master of the horse, and the earl of Cholmondeley treasurer of her majesty's household: likewise great numbers of the same party, still kept employments of value and importance, which had not been usual of late years upon any changes of ministry. The queen, who judged the temper of her people, by this house of commons, which a landed interest had freely chosen, found them very desirous of a secure and honourable peace, and disposed to leave the management of it, to her own wisdom, and that of her council: she had therefore, several months before the session began, sent to inform the States-General, of some overtures which had been made her by the enemy; and during that summer, her majesty took several farther steps in that great affair, until at length, after many difficulties, a congress at Utrecht, for a general peace, was agreed upon; the whole proceedings of which previous negotiations, between our court and that of France, I shall, in its proper place, very particularly relate.
The nation was already upon a better foot, with respect to its debts: for the earl of Oxford, lord treasurer, had, in the preceding session, proposed and effected ways and means, in the house of commons, where he was then a member, for providing a parliamentary fund, to clear the heavy arrear of ten millions (whereof the greatest part lay upon the navy) without any new burden (at least after a very few years) to the kingdom; and at the same time, he took care to prevent farther incumbrances upon that article, by finding ready money for naval provisions, which has saved the publick somewhat more than cent per cent in that mighty branch of our expenses.
The clergy were altogether in the interests and the measures of the present ministry, which had appeared so boldly in their defence, during a prosecution against one of their members, where the whole sacred order was understood to be concerned. The zeal shown for that most religious bill, to settle a fund for building fifty new churches in and about the city of London, was a fresh obligation; and they were farther highly gratified, by her majesty's choosing one of their body to be a great officer of state.
By this time likewise, all disputes about those principles, which used originally to divide whig and tory, were wholly dropped; and those fantastical words, ought in justice to have been so too, provided we could have found out more convenient names, whereby to distinguish lovers of peace, from lovers of war; or those, who would leave her majesty some degree of freedom, in the choice of her ministers, from others, who could not be satisfied with her choosing any, except such as she was most averse from: but, where a nation is once divided, interest and animosity will keep open the breach, without being supported by any other principles: or, at worst, a body of discontented people can change, and take up what principles they please.
As to the disposition of the opposite party, we all remember that the removal of the last ministry, was brought about by several degrees; through which means it happened, that they and their friends were hardly recovered out of one astonishment, before they fell into another. This scene lasted for some months, and was followed by a period of rage and despair, natural to those, who reflect that they have lost a secure game, by their own rashness, folly, and want of common management; when, at the same time, they knew by experience, that a watchful and dextrous adversary, lay ready to take the advantage. However, some time before the session, the heads of that party began to recollect themselves, and rally their forces, like an enemy who has been beaten out of the field, but finds he is not pursued; for although the chiefs of this faction, were thought to have but little esteem or friendship for each other, yet they perfectly agreed in one general end, of distressing, by all possible methods, the new administration; wherein if they could succeed so far, as to put the queen under any great necessity, another parliament must be called, and perhaps the power devolve again into their own hands.
The issue and event of that grand confederacy appearing in both houses, although under a different form, upon the very first day the parliament met, I cannot better begin the relation of affairs, commencing from that period, than by a thorough detection of the whole intrigue, carried on with the greatest privacy and application; which must be acknowledged to have for several days disconcerted some of the ministry, as well as dispirited their friends; and the consequences thereof, which have in reality been so very pernicious to the kingdom.
But because the principal leaders in this design, are the same persons, to whom, since the loss of their power, all the opposition has been owing, which the court received, either in treaties abroad, or the administration at home; it may not be improper to describe those qualities in each of them, which few of their admirers will deny, and which appear chiefly to have influenced them, in acting their several parts upon the publick stage; for I do not intend to draw their characters entire, which would be tedious, and little to the purpose; but shall only single out those passions, acquirements, and habits, which the owners were most likely to transfer into their political schemes, and which were most subservient to the designs they seemed to have in view.
The lord Somers may very deservedly be reputed the head and oracle of that party: he has raised himself, by the concurrence of many circumstances, to the greatest employments of the state, without the least support from birth or fortune: he has constantly, and wih great steadiness, cultivated those principles, under which he grew. That accident which first produced him into the world, of pleading for the bishops whom king James had sent to the Tower, might have proved a piece of merit, as honourable, as it was fortunate; but the old republican spirit, which the Revolution had restored, began to teach other lessons — That since we had accepted a new king, from a calvinistical commonwealth, we must also admit new maxims, in religion and government. But, since the nobility and gentry would probably adhere to the established church, and to the rights of monarchy, as delivered down from their ancestors; it was the practice of those politicians, to introduce such men, as were perfectly indifferent to any or no religion, and who were not likely to inherit much loyalty, from those, to whom they owed their birth. Of this number was the person I am now describing. I have hardly known any man, with talents more proper to acquire and preserve, the favour of a prince; never offending in word or gesture; in the highest degree courteous and complaisant; wherein he set an excellent example to his colleagues, which they did not think fit to follow: but this extreme civility is universal and undistinguished; and in private conversation, where he observes it as inviolably, as if he were in the greatest assembly, it is sometimes censured as formal. Two reasons are assigned for this behaviour: first, from the consciousness of his humble original, he keeps all familiarity at the utmost distance, which otherwise might be apt to intrude; the second, that being sensible how subject he is to violent passions, he avoids all incitements to them, by teaching those he converses with, from his own example, to keep a great way within the bounds of decency and respect. And it is indeed true, that no man is more apt to take fire, upon the least appearance of provocation; which temper he strives to subdue, with the utmost violence upon himself: so that his breast has been seen to heave, and his eyes to sparkle with rage, in those very moments when his words, and the cadence of his voice, were in the humblest and softest manner: perhaps that force upon his nature, may cause that insatiable love of revenge, which his detractors lay to his charge, who consequently reckon dissimulation among his chief perfections. Avarice he has none; and his ambition is gratified, by being the uncontested head of his party. With an excellent understanding adorned by all the polite parts of learning, he has very little taste for conversation, to which he prefers the pleasure of reading and thinking; and in the intervals of his time, amuses himself with an illiterate chaplain, an humble companion, or a favourite servant.
These are some few distinguishing marks in the character of that person, who now presides over the discontented party, although he be not answerable for all their mistakes: and if his precepts had been more strictly followed, perhaps their power would not have been so easily shaken. I have been assured, and heard him profess, that he was against engaging in that foolish prosecution of Dr. Sacheverell, as what he foresaw was likely to end in their ruin; that he blamed the rough demeanour of some persons to the queen, as a great failure in prudence; and that when it appeared her majesty was firmly resolved upon a treaty of peace, he advised his friends not to oppose it in its progress, but find fault with it after it was made; which would be a copy of the like usage themselves had met with, after the treaty of Ryswick; and the safest, as well as the most probable way, of disgracing the promoters and advisers. I have been the larger in representing to the reader some idea of this extraordinary genius, because, whatever attempt has hitherto been made, with any appearance of conduct, or probability of success, to restore the dominion of that party, was infallibly contrived by him; and I prophesy the same for the future, as long as his age and infirmities will leave him capable of business.
The duke of Marlborough's character has been so variously drawn, and is indeed of so mixed a nature in itself, that it is hard to pronounce on either side, without the suspicion of flattery or detraction. I shall say nothing of his military accomplishments, which the opposite reports, of his friends and enemies among the soldiers, have rendered problematical: but if he be among those who delight in war, it is agreed to be, not for the reasons common with other generals. Those maligners who deny him personal valour, seem not to consider, that this accusation is charged at a venture; since the person of a wise general is too seldom exposed, to form any judgment in the matter: and that fear, which is said to have sometimes disconcerted him before an action, might probably be more for his army than for himself. He was bred in the height of what is called the tory principle; and continued with a strong bias that way, till the other party had bid higher for him, than his friends could afford to give. His want of literature, is in some sort supplied by a good understanding, a degree of natural elocution, and that knowledge of the world which is learned in armies and courts. We are not to take the height of his ambition, from his soliciting to be general for life: I am persuaded, his chief motive was the pay and perquisites, by continuing the war; and that he had then no intentions of settling the crown in his family, his only son having been dead some years before. He is noted to be master of great temper, able to govern, or very well to disguise his passions, which are all melted down, or extinguished, in his love of wealth. That liberality which nature has denied him, with respect to money, he makes up by a great profusion of promises: but this perfection, so necessary in courts, is not very successful in camps among soldiers, who are not refined enough to understand or to relish it.
His wife the duchess, may justly challenge her place in this list. It is to her the duke is chiefly indebted for his greatness, and his fall; for above twenty years she possessed, without a rival, the favours of the most indulgent mistress in the world; nor ever missed one single opportunity that fell in her way of improving it to her own advantage. She has preserved a tolerable court-reputation, with respect to love and, gallantry; but three Furies reigned in her breast, the most mortal enemies of all softer passions, which were, sordid Avarice, disdainful Pride, and ungovernable Rage; by the last of these often breaking out in sallies of the most unpardonable sort, she had long alienated her sovereign's mind, before it appeared to the world. This lady is not without some degree of wit, and has in her time affected the character of it, by the usual method of arguing against religion, and proving the doctrines of Christianity to be impossible and absurd. Imagine what such a spirit, irritated by the loss of power, favour, and employment, is capable of acting or attempting; and then I have said enough.
The next in order to be mentioned, is the earl of Godolphin. It is said, he was originally intended for a trade, before his friends preferred him to be a page at court; which some have very unjustly objected as a reproach. He has risen gradually in four reigns, and was much more constant to his second master king James, than some others, who had received much greater obligations; for he attended the abdicated king to the sea side, and kept constant correspondence with him, till the day of his death. He always professed a sort of passion for the queen at St. Germain's; and his letters were to her, in the style of what the French call double entendre. In a mixture of love and respect, he used frequently to send her from hence, little presents of those things which are agreeable to ladies, for which he always asked king William's leave, as if without her privity; because, if she had known that circumstance, it was to be supposed she would not accept them. Physiognomists would hardly discover, by consulting the aspect of this lord, that his predominant passions were love and play; that he could sometimes scratch out a song in praise of his mistress, with a pencil and card; or that he has tears at command, like a woman, to be used either in an intrigue of gallantry, or politicks. His alliance with the Marlborough family, and his passion for the duchess, were the cords which dragged him into a party, whose principles he naturally disliked, and whose leaders he personally hated, as they did him. He became a thorough convert, by a perfect trifle; taking fire at a nickname delivered by Dr. Sacheverell, with great indiscretion, from the pulpit, which he applied to himself: and this is one among many instances given by his enemies, that magnanimity is none of his virtues.
The earl of Sunderland is another branch of that alliance. It seems to have been this gentleman's fortune, to have learned his divinity, from his uncle, and his politicks, from his tutor. It may be thought a blemish in his character, that he has much fallen from the height of those republican principles with which he began; for in his father's life time, while he was a member of the house of commons, he would often, among his familiar friends, refuse the title of Lord, (as he has done to myself) swear he would never be called otherwise than Charles Spencer, and hoped to see the day, when there should not be a peer in England. His understanding, at the best, is of the middling size; neither has he much improved it, either in reality, or, which is very unfortunate, even in the opinion of the world, by an overgrown library. It is hard to decide, whether he learned that rough way of treating his sovereign, from the lady he is allied to, or whether it be the result of his own nature. The sense of the injuries he has done, renders him (as it is very natural) implacable towards those, to whom he has given greatest cause to complain; for which reason, he will never forgive either the queen, or the present treasurer.
The earl of Wharton has filled the province allotted him by his colleagues, with sufficiency equal to the ablest of them all. He has imbibed his father's principles in government; but dropped his religion, and took up no other in its stead: excepting that circumstance, he is a firm presbyterian. He is perfectly skilled in all the arts of managing at elections, as well as in large baits of pleasure, for making converts of young men of quality, upon their first appearance; in which publick service, he contracted such large debts, that his brethren were forced, out of mere justice, to leave Ireland at his mercy, where he had only time to set himself right. Although the graver heads of his party, think him too profligate and abandoned, yet they dare not be ashamed of him; for, beside his talents above mentioned, he is very useful in parliament, being a ready speaker, and content to employ his gifts upon such occasions, where those who conceive they have any remainder of reputation or modesty, are ashamed to appear. In short, he is an uncontestable instance to discover the true nature of faction; since, being overrun with every quality which produces contempt and hatred, in all other commerce of the world, he has notwithstanding been able to make so considerable a figure.
The lord Cowper, although his merits are later than the rest, deserves a rank in this great council. He was considerable in the station of a practising lawyer; but, as he was raised to be a chancellor, and a peer, without passing through any of the intermediate steps, which in late times had been the constant practice, and little skilled in the nature of government, or the true interest of princes, farther than the municipal or common law of England; his abilities, as to foreign affairs, did not equally appear in the council. Some former passages of his life were thought to disqualify him for that office, by which he was to be the guardian of the queen's conscience; but these difficulties were easily overruled by the authors of his promotion, who wanted a person that would be subservient to all their designs; wherein they were not disappointed. As to his other accomplishments, he was what we usually call a piece of a scholar, and a good logical reasoner; if this were not too often allayed, by a fallacious way of managing an argument, which made him apt to deceive the unwary, and sometimes to deceive himself.
The last to be spoken of in this list, is, the earl of Nottingham, a convert and acquisition to that party since their fall, to which he contributed his assistance, I mean his words, and probably his wishes; for he had always lived under the constant visible profession, of principles directly opposite to those of his new friends. His vehement and frequent speeches, against admitting the prince of Orange to the throne, are yet to be seen; and although a numerous family, gave a specious pretence to his love of power and money, for taking an employment under that monarch, yet he was allowed to have always kept a reserve of allegiance to his exiled master; of which his friends produce several instances, and some, while he was secretary of state to king William. His outward regularity of life, his appearance of religion, and seeming zeal for the church, as they are an effect, so they are the excuse of that stiffness and formality with which his nature is fraught. His adust complexion disposes him to rigour and severity, which his admirers palliate with the name of zeal. No man had ever a sincerer countenance, or more truly representing his mind and manners. He has some knowledge in the law, very amply sufficient to defend his property at least. A facility of utterance, descended to him from his father, and improved by a few sprinklings of literature, has brought himself, and some few admirers, into an opinion of his eloquence. He is every way inferiour to his brother Guernsey, but chiefly in those talents which he most values and pretends to; over whom, nevertheless, he preserves an ascendant. His great ambition was, to be the head of those who were called the church party; and indeed, grave solemn deportment and countenance, seconded by abundance of professions for their service, had given many of them an opinion of his veracity, which he interpreted as their sense of his judgment and wisdom; and this mistake lasted till the time of his defection, of which it was partly the cause: but then it plainly appeared, that he had not credit to bring over one single proselyte, to keep himself in countenance.
These lineaments, however imperfectly drawn, may help the reader's imagination to conceive what sort of persons those were, who had the boldness to encounter the queen and ministry, at the head of a great majority of the landed interest; and this upon a point, where the quiet of her majesty's reign, the security, or at least the freedom, of her person, the lives of her most faithful friends, and the settling of the nation by a peace, were, in the consequences, deeply concerned.
During the dominion of the late men in power, addresses had been procured from both houses to the queen, representing their opinion, that no peace could be, secure for Britain, while Spain or the West-Indies remained in the possession of the Bourbon family. But her majesty, having, for reasons which have been often told to the world, and which will not soon be forgotten, called a new parliament, and chosen a new set of servants, began to view things and persons in another light. She considered the necessities of her people; the distant prospect of a peace upon such an improbable condition, which was never mentioned or understood in the grand alliance; the unequal burden she bore in the war, by the practices of the allies upon the corruption of some, whom she most trusted, or perhaps by the practices of these upon the allies; and lastly, by the changes which death had brought about in the Austrian and Bourbon families. Upon all which motives, she was prevailed upon to receive some overtures from France, in behalf of herself and the whole confederacy. The several steps of this negotiation, from its first rise to the time I am now writing, shall be related in another part of this history. Let it suffice for the present to say, that such proposals were received from France, as were thought sufficient by our court, whereupon to appoint time and place for a general treaty; and soon after the opening of the session, the bishop of Bristol, lord privy seal, was dispatched to Utrecht, where he and the earl of Strafford, were appointed plenipotentiaries for the queen of Great Britain.
The managers of the discontented party, who, during the whole summer, had observed the motions of the court running fast toward a peace, began to gather up all their forces, in order to oppose her majesty's designs, when the parliament should meet. Their only strength was in the house of lords, where the queen had a very crazy majority, made up by those whose hearts were in the other interest; but whose fears, expectations, or immediate dependance, had hitherto kept them within bounds. There were two lords, upon whose abilities and influence, of a very different nature, the managers built their strongest hopes. The first was the duke of Somerset, master of the horse. This duke as well as his duchess, was in a good degree of favour with the queen, upon the score of some civilities and respects, her majesty had received from them, while she was princess. For some years after the revolution, he never appeared at court, but was looked upon as a favourer of the abdicated family; and it was the late earl of Rochester who first presented him to king William. However, since the time he came into employment, which was toward the close of the last reign, he has been a constant zealous member of the other party; but never failed either in attendance or respect toward the queen's person; or, at most, only threatened sometimes, that he would serve no longer, while such or such men were employed; which, as things went then, was not reckoned any offence at all against duty, or good behaviour. He had been much caressed and flattered by the lords of the Junto, who sometimes went so far as to give him hopes of the crown, in reversion to his family, upon failure of the house of Hanover. All this worked so far upon his imagination, that he affected to appear the head of their party, to which his talents were no way proportioned; for they soon grew weary of his indigested schemes, and his imperious manner of obtruding them: they began to drop him at their meetings, or contradicted him with little ceremony, when he happened to be there, which his haughty nature was not able to brook. Thus a mortal quarrel was kindled between him and the whole assembly of party leaders; so that upon the queen's first intention of changing her ministry, soon after the trial of Dr. Sacheverell, he appointed several meetings with Mr. Harley alone, in the most private manner, in places and at times least liable to suspicion. He employed all his credit with the queen, to drive on the removal of my lord Godolphin, and the rest; and in the council, treated the small remainder, who continued some time longer in their places, with all possible marks of hatred or disdain. But, when the question came for dissolving the parliament, he stopped short; he had already satiated his resentments, which were not against things, but persons: he furiously opposed that counsel, and promised to undertake for the parliament himself. When the queen had declared her pleasure for the dissolution, he flew off in greater rage than ever; opposed the court in all elections, where he had influence or power; and made very humble advances to reconcile himself with the discarded lords, especially the earl of Godolphin, who is reported to have treated him at Newmarket in a most contemptuous manner. But the sincerity of his repentance, which appeared manifestly in the first session of the new parliament, and the use he might be of by his own remaining credit, or rather that of his duchess, with the queen, at length begat a reconcilement. He still kept his employment, and place in the cabinet council; but had never appeared there, from an avowed dislike of all persons and proceedings. It happened, about the end of summer, 1711, at Windsor, when the cabinet council was summoned, this duke, whether by direction from his teachers, or the instability of his nature, took a fancy to resume his place, and a chair was brought accordingly; upon which, Mr. secretary St. John refused to assist, and gave his reasons, "that he would never sit in council with a man, who had so often betrayed them, and was openly engaged with a faction, which endeavoured to obstruct all her majesty's measures."
Thus the council was put off to next day, and the duke made no farther attempts to be there. But, upon this incident, he declared open war against the ministry; and, from that time to the session, employed himself in spiriting up several depending lords, to adhere to their friends, when an occasion should offer. The arguments he made use of were, "That those in power designed to make an ignominious and unsecure peace, without consulting the allies: That this could be no otherwise prevented, than by an address from the lords, to signify their opinion, that no peace could be honourable or secure, while Spain or the West Indies remained in any of the Bourbon family; upon which, several farther resolutions and inquiries would naturally follow: That the differences between the two houses, upon this point, must either be made up by the commons agreeing with the lords, or must end in a dissolution, which would be followed by a return of the old ministry; who, by the force of money and management, could easily get another parliament to their wishes." He farther assured them boldly, "That the queen herself was at the bottom of this design, and had empowered him to desire their votes against the peace, as a point that would be for her service; and therefore they need not be in pain upon account of their pensions, or any farther marks of favour they expected." Thus by reviving the old arts, of using her majesty's authority against her person, he prevailed over some, who were not otherwise in a station of life to oppose the crown; and his proselytes may pretend to some share of pity, since he offered for an argument his own example, who kept his place and favour, after all he had done to deserve the loss of both.
The other lord, in whom the discontented managers placed much of their hopes, was the earl of Nottingham, already mentioned; than whom no man ever appeared to hate them more, or to be more pleased at their fall; partly, from his avowed principles, but chiefly, from the hopes he had of sharing in their spoils. But it fell out, that he was no way acceptable to the queen, or her new servants: these apprehended no little trouble and impediment to the publick business, from his restless, talkative, overweening manner, if once he was suffered to have any part in affairs; and he stood very ill with the court, having made a motion in the house of lords, and in her majesty's presence, "That the electoral prince of Hanover might be invited to reside in England;" although he had before declared to the queen, how much he was against that proposal, when it was first offered by the other party. However, some very considerable employments had been given to his nearest relations; and he had one or two offers for himself, which he thought fit to refuse, as not equal to his merits and character. Upon the earl of Rochester's decease, he conceived that the crown would hardly overlook him for president of the council, and deeply resented that disappointment. But the duke of Newcastle, lord privy seal, dying some time after, he found that office was first designed for the earl of Jersey, and, upon this lord's sudden death, was actually disposed of to the bishop of Bristol: by which he plainly saw, that the queen was determined against giving him any opportunity of directing in affairs, or displaying his eloquence in the cabinet council. He had now shaken off all remains of patience or temper; and, from the contemplation of his own disappointments, fell, as it is natural, to find fault with the publick management, and to assure his neighbours in the country, "that the nation was in imminent danger of being ruined." The discontented lords were soon apprised of this great change; and the duke of Roxburgh, the earl's son-in-law, was dispatched to Burleigh on the Hill to cultivate his present dispositions, and offer him whatever terms he pleased to insist on. The earl immediately agreed to fall in with any measures, for distressing or destroying the ministry: but, in order to preserve his reputation with the church party, and perhaps bring them over to his interests, he proposed that a bill should be brought into the house of lords, for preventing occasional conformity, and be unanimously agreed to by all the peers of the low-church principle; which would convince the world of their good intentions to the established religion, and that their oppositions to the court, wholly proceeded from their care of the nation, and concern for its honour and safety.
These preparations were publick enough, and the ministers had sufficient time to arm themselves; but they seem to have acted, in this juncture, like men who trusted to the goodness of their cause, and the general inclinations of the kingdom, rather than to those arts, which our corruptions have too often made necessary. Calculations were indeed taken, by which it was computed, that there would be a majority of ten upon the side of the court; I remember to have told my lord Harcourt and Mr. Prior, that a majority of ten was only a majority of five, because if their adversaries could bring off five, the number would be equal: and so it happened to prove; for the mistake lay, in counting upon the bare promises of those, who were wholly in the interest of the old ministry, and were only kept in awe, by the fear of offending the crown, and losing their subsistence; wherein the duke of Somerset had given them full satisfaction.
With these dispositions of both parties, and fears and hopes of the event, the parliament met upon the 7th of December, 1711. The queen's speech (excepting what related to supplies) was chiefly taken up, in telling both houses, what progress she had made towards a general peace, and her hopes of bringing it to a speedy conclusion. As soon as her majesty was withdrawn, the house of lords, in a committee, resolved upon an address of thanks; to which the earl of Nottingham proposed an addition of the following clause.
"And we do beg leave to represent it to your majesty, as the humble opinion and advice of this house, that no peace can be safe or honourable to Great Britain and Europe, if Spain and the West Indies are to be allotted to any branch of the house of Bourbon.
He was seconded by the earl of Scarborough; and, after a debate of several hours, the question for the clause was carried, as I remember, by not above two voices. The next day, the house agreed with the committee. The depending lords (having taken fresh courage from their principals, and some who professed themselves very humble servants to the present ministry, and enemies to the former) went along with the stream, pretending not to see the consequences that must visibly follow. The address was presented on the eleventh; to which her majesty's answer was short and dry. She distinguished their thanks from the rest of the piece; and, in return to lord Nottingham's clause, said, "She should be sorry that any body could think she would not do her utmost to recover Spain and the West Indies from the house of Bourbon."
Upon the 15th of December, the earl of Nottingham likewise brought in the bill to "prevent occasional conformity, (although under a disguised title) which met with no opposition; but was swallowed by those very lords, who always appeared with the utmost violence, against the least advantage to the established church.
But in the house of commons there appeared a very different spirit; for, when one Mr. Robert Walpole, offered a clause of the same nature with that of the earl of Nottingham, it was rejected with contempt by a very great majority. Their address was in the most dutiful manner, approving of what her majesty had done toward a peace, and trusting entirely to her wisdom, in the future management of it. This address was presented to the queen a day before that of the lords, and received an answer distinguishedly gracious. But the other party was nowise discouraged by either answer; which they looked upon as only matter of course, and the sense of the ministry, contrary to that of the queen.
The parliament sat as long as the approaching festival would allow; and upon the 22d, the land tax and occasional bills having received the royal assent, the house of commons adjourned to the 14th of January following: but the adjournment of the lords was only to the 2d, the prevailing party there, being in haste to pursue the consequences of the earl of Nottingham's clause, which they hoped would end in the ruin of the treasurer, and overthrow the ministry; and therefore took the advantage of this interval, that they might not be disturbed by the commons.
When this address against any peace without Spain, &c. was carried in the house of lords, it is not easy to describe the effects it had upon most men's passions. The partisans of the old ministry triumphed loudly, and without any reserve, as if the game were their own. The earl of Wharton was observed in the house to smile, and put his hands to his neck, when any of the ministry were speaking, by which he would have it understood that some heads were in danger. Parker, the chief justice, began already, with great zeal and officiousness, to prosecute authors and printers of weekly and other papers, writ in defence of the administration: in short, joy and vengeance sat visible in every countenance of that party.
On the other side, all well wishers to the queen, the church, or the peace, were equally dejected; and the treasurer stood the foremost mark, both of his enemies fury, and the censure of his friends: among the latter, some imputed this fatal miscarriage, to his procrastinating nature; others, to his immeasurable publick thrift. Both parties agreed, that a first minister, with very moderate skill in affairs, might easily have governed the event; and some began to doubt, whether the great fame of his abilities, acquired in other stations, were what he justly deserved. All this he knew well enough, and heard it with great phlegm; neither did it make any alteration in his countenance or humour. He told monsieur Buys, the Dutch envoy, two days before the parliament sat, "That he was sorry for what was likely to pass, because the States would be the first sufferers; which he desired the envoy to remember." And to his nearest friends, who appeared in pain about the publick or themselves, he only said, "That all would be well:" and desired them not to be frighted.
It was, I conceive, upon these motives, that the treasurer advised her majesty to create twelve new lords, and thereby disable the sting of faction for the rest of her lifetime. This promotion was so ordered, that a third part, were of those, on whom, or their posterity, the peerage would naturally devolve; and the rest were such, whose merit, birth, and fortune, could admit of no exception.
The adverse party, being thus driven down by open force, had nothing left but to complain, which they loudly did: — "That it was a pernicious example set for ill princes to follow, who, by the same rule, might make at any time a hundred as well as twelve, and by these means become masters of the house of lords whenever they pleased; which would be dangerous to our liberties." To this it was answered, "That ill princes seldom trouble themiselves to look for precedents; that men of great estates will not be less fond of preserving their liberties, when they are created peers; that in such a government as this, where the prince holds the balance between two great powers, the nobility and people, it is the very nature of his office to remove from one scale into the other, or sometimes put his own weight in the lightest, so as to bring both to an equilibrium: and lastly, that the other party, had been above twenty years, corrupting the nobility, with republican principles, which nothing but the royal prerogative could hinder from overspreading us."
The conformity bill abovementioned was prepared by the earl of Nottingham, before the parliament met, and brought in at the same time with the clause against peace, according to the bargain made between him and his new friends. This, he hoped, would not only save his credit with the church party, but bring them over to his politicks; since they must needs be convinced, that instead of changing his own principles, he had prevailed on the greatest enemies to the established religion, to be the first movers in a law for the perpetual settlement of it. Here it was worth observing, with what resignation the Junto Lords (as they were then called) were submitted to, by their adherents and followers: for it is well known, that the chief among the dissenting teachers in town, were consulted upon this affair: and such arguments used, as had power to convince them, that nothing could be of greater advantage to their cause, than the passing of this bill. I did indeed see a letter at that time from one of them, to a great man, complaining, "That they were betrayed and undone by their pretended friends;" but they were in general very well satisfied, upon promises that this law should soon be repealed, and others more in their favour enacted, as soon as their friends should be reestablished.
But nothing seemed more extraordinary, than the event of this refined management, by which the earl of Nottingham was so far from bringing over proselytes, (wherein his abilities fell very short even of the duke of Somerset's) or preserving the reputation of a firm churchman, that very few people did so much as imagine he had any such design; only, when he brought in the bill, they conceived it was some wonderful deep reach of politicks, which they could not comprehend: however, they liked the thing; and without troubling themselves about the persons or motives from whence it rose, it had a very speedy passage through both houses. It must be confessed, that some attempt of this nature was much more necessary to the leaders of that party, than is generally thought. The desire of power and revenge was common to them all; but several among them were also conscious that they stood in need of protection; whose safety was therefore concerned in the design of ruining the ministry, as well as their ambition. The duke of Marlborough foresaw those examinations, which were afterwards made into some parts of his management, and was apprehensive of a great deal more; that the parliament would perhaps inquire into the particulars of the negotiation at the Hague, 1709; for what ends, and by whose advice, the propositions of peace from France were rejected. Besides, he dreaded lest that mysterious policy might be laid open to the world, of desiring the queen to constitute him General for life, which was a very tender point, and would admit of much proof. It is true, indeed, that while the duke's affair was under the consideration of the house of commons, one of his creatures (whether by direction or otherwise) assured the speaker, with a very serious countenance, "that the world was mistaken, in censuring his lord upon this article; for it was the queen who pressed the duke to accept that commission; and upon his humble refusal conceived her first displeasure against him." How such a defence would have passed, if it had been offered in form, is easier to be conceived, than how any person in his wits could have the confidence to affirm it; which last it would indeed be hard to believe, if there were any room left for doubt.
The earl of Godolphin wanted protection, notwithstanding the act of general pardon, which had been procured by his credit, and was principally calculated for his own security. He knew that his long neglect of compelling the accomptants to pass their accompts, might be punished as a breach of trust. He had run the kingdom into immense debts, by taking up stores for the navy upon a vast discount, without parliamentary security; for which he could be able to plead neither law nor necessity: and he had given way at least, to some proceedings, not very justifiable, in relation to remittances of money, whereby the publick had suffered considerable losses. The barrier treaty sat heavy upon the lord Townshend's spirits, because, if it should be laid before the house of commons, whoever negotiated that affair, might be subject to the most severe animadversions: and the earl of Wharton's administration in Ireland, was looked upon as a sufficient ground to impeach him, at least, for high crimes and misdemeanours.
The managers in Holland were sufficiently apprised of all this; and monsieur Buys, their minister here, took care to cultivate that good correspondence between his masters, and their English friends, which became two confederates pursuing the same end.
This man had been formerly employed in England from that republick, and understood a little of our language. His proficiency in learning has been such, as to furnish now and then a Latin quotation, of which he is as liberal as his stock will admit. His knowledge in government, reaches no farther than that of his own country, by which he forms and cultivates matters of state for the rest of the world. His reasonings upon politicks, are with great profusion at all meetings; and he leaves the company with entire satisfaction, that he has fully convinced them. He is well provided with that inferiour sort of cunning, which is the growth of his country, of a standard with the genius of the people, and capable of being transferred into every condition of life among them, from the boor to the burgomaster. He came into England with instructions, authorizing him to accommodate all differences, between her majesty and the States; but, having first advised with the confederate lords, he assured the ministry, "He had powers to hear their proposals, but none to conclude:" and having represented to his masters what had been told him by the adverse party, he prevailed with them to revoke his powers. He found the interest of those who withstood the court, would exactly fall in with the designs of the States; which were, to carry on the war as they could, at our expense; and to see themselves at the head of a treaty of peace, whenever they were disposed to apply to France, or to receive overtures from thence.
The emperor, upon many powerful reasons, was utterly averse from all counsels which aimed at putting an end to the war, without delivering him the whole dominion of Spain. Nay, the elector of Hanover himself, although presumptive heir to the crown of England, and obliged by all sorts of ties to cultivate her majesty's friendship, was so far deceived by misrepresentations from hence, that he seemed to suffer monsieur Bothmar, his envoy here, to print and publish a memorial in English, directly disapproving all her majesty's proceedings; which memorial, as appears by the style and manner of it, was all drawn up, or at least digested, by some party pen on this side of the water.
Cautious writers, in order to avoid offence or danger, and to preserve the respect ever due to foreign princes, do usually charge the wrong steps in a court, altogether upon the persons employed. But I should have taken a securer method, and have been wholly silent in this point, if I had not then conceived some hope, that his electoral highness, might possibly have been a stranger to the memorial of his resident: for, first, the manner of delivering it to the secretary of state, was out of all form, and almost as extraordinary as the thing itself. Monsieur Bothmar, having obtained an hour of Mr. secretary St. John, talked much to him upon the subject of which that memorial consists; and upon going away, desired he might leave a paper with the secretary, which, he said, contained the substance of what he had been discoursing. This paper Mr. St. John laid aside, among others of little consequence; and a few days after, saw a memorial in print, which he found, upon comparing, to be the same with what Bothmar had left.
During this short recess of parliament, and upon the 5th day of January, prince Eugene of Savoy landed in England. Before he left his ship, he asked a person who came to meet him, "Whether the new lords were made, and what was their number?" He was attended through the streets with a mighty rabble of people, to St. James's; where Mr. secretary St. John introduced him to the queen, who received him with great civility. His arrival had been long expected; and the project of his journey, had as long been formed here, by the party leaders, in concert with monsieur Buys and monsieur Bothmar, the Dutch and Hanover envoys. This prince brought over credentials from the emperor, with offers to continue the war on a new foot, very advantageous to Britain; part of which, by her majesty's commands, Mr. St. John soon after produced to the house of commons; where they were rejected, not without some indignation, by a great majority. The emperor's proposals, as far as they related to Spain, were communicated to the house in the words following:
"His imperial majesty judges that forty thousand men will be sufficient for this service; and that the whole expense of the war in Spain may amount to four millions of crowns; toward which, his imperial majesty offers to make up the troops which he has in that country to thirty thousand men, and to take one million of crowns upon himself."
On the other side, the house of commons voted a third part of those four millions as a sufficient quota for her majesty toward that service: for it was supposed the emperor ought to bear the greatest proportion, in a point that so nearly concerned him: or at least, that Britain contributing one third, the other two might be paid by his imperial majesty, and the States, as they could settle it between them.
The design of prince Eugene's journey was, to raise a spirit in the parliament and people for continuing the war; for nothing was thought impossible to a prince of such high reputation in arms, in great favour with the emperor, and empowered to make such proposals from his master, as the ministry durst not reject. It appeared by an intercepted letter from count Gallas, (formerly the emperor's envoy here) that the prince was wholly left to his liberty, of making what offers he pleased in the emperor's name; for, if the parliament could once be brought to raise funds, and the war go on, the ministry here must be under a necessity of applying, and expending those funds; and the emperor could find afterwards twenty reasons and excuses, as he had hitherto done, for not furnishing his quota. Therefore prince Eugene, for some time, kept himself within generals; until, beng pressed to explain himself upon that particular of the war in Spain, which the house of Austria pretended to have most at heart, he made the offer abovementioned, as a most extraordinary effort; and so it was, considering how little they had ever done before, towards recovering that monarchy to themselves: but, shameful as these proposals were, few believed the emperor would observe them; or, indeed, that he ever intended to spare so many men, as would make up an army of thirty thousand men to be employed in Spain.
Prince Eugene's visit to his friends in England, continued longer than was expected. He was every day entertained magnificently, by persons of quality of both parties. He went frequently to the treasurer, and sometimes affected to do it in private. He visited the other ministers, and great officers of the court: but on all occasions, publickly owned the character and appellation of a whig; and, in secret, held continual meetings with the duke of Marlborough, and the other discontented lords, where M. Bothmar usually assisted. It is the great ambition of this prince, to be perpetually engaged in war, without considering the cause or consequence; and to see himself at the head of an army, where only he can make any considerable figure. He is not without a natural tincture of that cruelty, sometimes charged upon the Italians; and his being nursed in arms, has so far extinguished pity and remorse, that he will at any time sacrifice a thousand men's lives, to a caprice of glory or revenge. He had conceived an incurable hatred for the treasurer, as the person who principally opposed this insatiable passion for war; said, "He had hopes of others; but that the treasurer was un mechant diable, not to be moved." Therefore, since it was impossible for him or his friends to compass their designs, while that minister continued at the head of affairs, he proposed an expedient, often practised by those of his country, "That the treasurer (to use his own expression) should be taken off à la negligence; that this might be easily done, and pass for an effect of chance, if it were preceded by encouraging some proper people, to commit small riots in the night." And in several parts of the town, a crew of obscure ruffians were accordingly employed about that time, who probably exceeded their commission; and, mixing themselves with those disorderly people, that often infest the streets at midnight, acted inhuman outrages on many persons, whom they cut and mangled in the face and arms, and other parts of the body, without any provocation. But an effectual stop was soon put to those enormities, which probably prevented the execution of the main design.
I am very sensible that such an imputation, ought not to be charged upon any person whatsoever, upon slight grounds, or doubtful surmises; and that those who think I am able to produce no better, will judge this passage to be fitter for a libel than a history. But, as the account was given by more than one person, who was at the meeting, so it was confirmed, past all contradiction, by several intercepted letters and papers: and it is most certain, that the rage of the defeated party, upon their frequent disappointments, was so far inflamed, as to make them capable of some counsels, yet more violent and desperate than this; which, however, by the vigilance of those near the person of her majesty, were happily prevented.
On the 30th day of December, 1711, the duke of Marlborough was removed from all his employments: the duke of Ormond succeeding him as general, both here and in Flanders. This proceeding of the court (as far as it related to the duke of Marlborough) was much censured both at home and abroad, and by some, who did not wish ill to the present situation of affairs. There were few examples of a commander being disgraced, after an uninterrupted course of success, for many years, against a formidable enemy, and this before a period was put to the war. Those who had least esteem for his valour and conduct, thought it not prudent to remove a general, whose troops were perpetually victorious while he was at their head; because this had infused into his soldiers, an opinion that they should always conquer, and into the enemy, that they should always be beaten; than which nothing is to be held of greater moment, either in the progress of a war, or upon the day of battle: and I have good grounds to affirm, that these reasons had sufficient weight with the queen and ministry, to have kept the duke of Marlborough in his post, if a way could have been found out, to have done it with any assurance of safety to the nation. It is the misfortune of princes, that the effects of their displeasure, make usually much more noise, than the causes. Thus, the sound of the duke's fall, was heard farther than many of the reasons which made it necessary; whereof, though some were visible enough, yet others lay more in the dark. Upon the duke's last return from Flanders, he had fixed his arrival to town (whether by accident or otherwise) upon the 17th of November, called queen Elizabeth's day; when great numbers of his creatures and admirers, had thought fit to revive an old ceremony among the rabble, of burning the pope in effigy; for the performance of which with more solemnity, they had made extraordinary preparations. From the several circumstances of the expense of this intended pageantry, and of the persons who promoted it; the court, apprehensive of a design to inflame the common people, thought fit to order, that the several figures should be seized as popish trinkets; and guards were ordered to patrole, for preventing any tumultuous assemblies. Whether this frolick were only intended for an affront to the court, or whether it had a deeper meaning, I must leave undetermined. The duke, in his own nature, is not much turned to be popular; and in his flourishing times, whenever he came back to England upon the close of a campaign, he rather affected to avoid any concourse of the mobile, if they had been disposed to attend him: therefore, so very contrary a proceeding at this juncture, made it suspected as if he had a design to have placed himself at their head. "France," "Popery," "The Pretender," "Peace without Spain," were the words to be given about at this mock parade; and if what was confidently asserted be true, that a report was to have been spread at the same time of the queen's death, no man can tell what might have been the event.
But this attempt, to whatever purposes intended, proving wholly abortive, by the vigilance of those in power, the duke's arrival was without any noise or consequence; and upon consulting with his friends, he soon fell in with their new scheme for preventing the peace. It was believed by many persons, that the ministers might with little difficulty have brought him over, if they had pleased to make a trial; for, as he would probably have accepted any terms, to continue in a station of such prodigious profit, so there was sufficient room to work upon his fears, of which he is seldom unprovided (I mean only in his political capacity) and this infirmity very much increased by his unmeasurable possessions, which have rendered him, ipsique onerique timentem. But reason, as well as the event, proved this to be a mistake: for the ministers, being determined to bring the war to as speedy an issue, as the horour and safety of their country would permit, could not possibly recompense the duke, for the mighty incomes he held by the continuance of it. Then, the other party had calculated their numbers; and by the accession of the earl of Nottingham, whose example they hoped would have many followers, and the successful solicitations of the duke of Somerset, found they were sure of a majority in the house of lords: so that, in this view of circumstances, the duke of Marlborough thought he acted with security, as well as advantage. He therefore boldly fell, with his whole weight, into the design of ruining the ministry, at the expense of his duty to his sovereign, and the welfare of his country, after the mighty obligations he had received from both. Whig and tory were now no longer the dispute; but THE QUEEN, or the duke of Marlborough. He was at the head of all the cabals and consults with Bothmar, Buys, and the discontented lords. He forgot that government of his passion, for which his admirers used to celebrate him; fell into all the impotences of anger and violence, upon every party debate: so that the queen found herself under a necessity; either, on the one side, to sacrifice those friends, who had ventured their lives, in rescuing her out of the power of some, whose former treatment she had little reason to be fond of; to put an end to the progress she had made towards a peace, and dissolve her parliament; or, on the other side, by removing one person from so great a trust, to get clear of all her difficulties at once. Her majesty therefore determined upon the latter, as the shorter and safer course; and, during the recess at Christmas, sent the duke a letter, to tell him she had no farther occasion for his service.
There has not perhaps in the present age, been a clearer instance, to show the instability of greatness, which is not founded upon virtue; and it may be an instruction to princes, who are well in the hearts of their people, that the overgrown power of any particular person, although supported by exorbitant wealth, can, by a little resolution, be reduced in a moment, without any dangerous consequences. This lord, who was beyond all comparison the greatest subject in Christendom, found his power, credit, and influence, crumble away on a sudden; and except a few friends or followers by inclination, the rest dropped off in course. From directing in some manner the affairs of Europe, he descended to be a member of a faction, and with little distinction even there: that virtue of subduing his resentments, for which he was so famed when he had little or no occasion to exert it, having now wholly forsaken him, when he stood most in need of its assistance; and, upon trial, was found unable to bear a reverse of fortune, giving way to rage, impatience, envy, and discontent.
FOUR LAST YEARS
THE house of lords met upon the 2d day of January, according to their adjournment; but, before they could proceed to business, the twelve new created peers were, in the usual form, admitted to their seats in that assembly; who, by their numbers, turned the balance on the side of the court, and voted an adjournment to the same day with the commons. Upon the 14th of January, the two houses met; but the queen, who intended to be there in person, sent a message, to inform them, "That she was prevented by a sudden return of the gout; and to desire they would adjourn for three days longer, when her majesty hoped she should be able to speak to them." However, her indisposition still continuing, Mr. secretary St. John brought another message to the house of commons from the queen, containing the substance of what she intended to have spoken: "That she could now tell them, her plenipotentiaries were arrived at Utrecht; had begun, in pursuance of her instructions, to concert the most proper ways of procuring a just satisfaction to all powers in alliance with her, according to their several treaties, and particularly with relation to Spain and the West Indies: That she promised to communicate to them the conditions of peace, before the same should be concluded: That the world would now see how groundless these reports were, and without the least colour, that a separate peace had been treated: That her ministers were directed to propose, that a day might be fixed for the finishing, as was done, for the commencement, of this treaty; and that in the mean time, all preparations were hastening for an early campaign, &c."
Her majesty's endeavours toward this great work, having been in such a forwardness at the time that her message was sent, I shall here, as in the most proper place, relate the several steps, by which the intercourse between the courts of France and Britain, was begun and carried on.
The marquis de Torcy, sent by the most Christian king to the Hague, had there, in the year 1709, made very advantageous offers to the allies, in his master's name; which our ministers, as well as those of the States, thought fit to refuse; and advanced other proposals in their stead; but of such a nature as no prince could digest, who did not lie at the immediate mercy of his enemies. It was demanded, among other things, "That the French king should employ his own troops, in conjunction with those of the allies, to drive his grandson out of Spain." The proposers knew very well, that the enemy would never consent to this; and if it were possible they could at first have any such hopes, mons. de Torcy assured them to the contrary, in a manner which might well be believed; for, when the British and Dutch plenipotentiaries were drawing up their demands, they desired that minister to assist them in the style and expression: which he very readily did, and made use of the strongest words he could find to please them. He then insisted to know their last resolution, whether these were the lowest terms the allies would accept; and having received a determinate answer in the affirmative, he spoke to this effect:
"That he thanked them heartily, for giving him the happiest day he had ever seen in his life: That in perfect obedience to his master, he had made concessions, in his own opinion, highly derogatory to the king's honour and interest: That he had not concealed the difficulties of his court, or the discontents of his country, by a long and unsuccessful war, which could only justify the large offers he had been empowered to make: That the conditions of peace, now delivered into his hands by the allies, would raise a new spirit in the nation, and remove the greatest difficulty the court lay under; putting it in his master's power, to convince all his subjects, how earnestly his majesty desired to ease them from the burden of the war; but that his enemies would not accept of any terms, which could consist either with their safety, or his honour. Mons. de Torcy assured the pensionary, in the strongest manner, and bid him count upon it, That the king his master would never sign those articles."
It soon appeared that the marquis De Torcy's predictions were true; for, upon delivering to his master the last resolutions of the allies, that prince took care to publish them all over his kingdom, as an appeal to his subjects, against the unreasonableness and injustice of his enemies: which proceeding effectually answered the utmost he intended by it; for, the French nation, extremely jealous of their monarch's glory, made universal offers of their lives and fortunes, rather than submit to such ignominious terms; and the clergy, in particular, promised to give the king their consecrated plate, towards continuing the war. Thus that mighty kingdom (generally thought to be wholly exhausted of its wealth) when driven to a necessity by the imprudence of the allies, or by the corruption of particular men who influenced their councils, recovered strength enough to support itself, for three following campaigns; and in the last, by the fatal blindness or obstinacy of the Dutch (venturing to act without the assistance of Britain, which they had shamefully abandoned) was an overmatch for the whole confederate army.
Those who in order to defend the proceedings of the allies, have given an account of this negotiation, do wholly omit the circumstance I have now related; and express the zeal of the British and Dutch ministers for a peace, by informing us how frequently they sent after mons. De Torcy and mons. Rouille, for a farther conference. But in the mean time, Mr. Horatio Walpole, secretary to the queen's plenipotentiaries, was dispatched over hither, to have those abortive articles signed and ratified by her majesty at a venture; which was accordingly done: a piece of management altogether absurd, and without example; contrived only to deceive our people into a belief that a peace was intended, and to show what great things the ministry designed to do.
But, this hope expiring, upon the news that France had refused to sign those articles, all was resolved by recourse to the old topick of the French perfidiousness. We loaded them plentifully with ignominious appellations: "they were a nation never to be trusted." The parliament cheerfully continued their supplies, and the war went on. The winter following began the second and last session of the preceding parliament, noted for the trial of Dr. Sacheverell, and the occasions thereby given to the people, to discover and exert their dispositions, very opposite to the designs of those who were then in power. In the summer of 1710, ensued a gradual change of the ministry; and in the beginning of that winter the present parliament was called.
The king of France, whose real interests made him sincerely desirous of any tolerable peace, found it impossible to treat upon equal conditions, with either of the two maritime powers engaged against him, because of the prevalency of factions in both; who acted in concert to their mutual private advantage, although directly against the general dispositions of the people in either, as well as against their several maxims of government. But, upon the great turn of affairs and councils here in England, the new parliament and ministers, acting from other motives, and upon other principles, that prince hoped an opportunity might arise, of resuming his endeavours toward a peace.
There was at this time in England a French ecclesiastick, called the abbé Gaultier, who had resided several years in London, under the protection of some foreign ministers, in whose families he used, upon occasion, to exercise his function of a priest. After the battle of Blenheim, this gentleman went down to Nottingham, where several French prisoners of quality were kept; to whom he rendered those offices of civility, suitable to persons in their condition, which, upon their return to France, they reported to his advantage. Among the rest, the chevalier de Croissy told his brother, the marquis de Torcy, "That, whenever the French court would have a mind to make overtures of peace with England, monsieur Gaultier might be very usefully employed, in handing them to the ministers here." This was no farther thought of at present. In the mean time the war went on; and the conferences at the Hague, and Gertruydenberg, miscarried, by the allies insisting upon such demands, as they neither expected, nor perhaps desired should be granted.
Some time in July, 1710, mons. Gaultier Mr. Harley into her councils, and to dissolve her parliament, the most Christian king thought it might be now a favourable conjuncture to offer new proposals of a treaty." Mons. Gualtier was therefore directed to apply himself, in the marquis's name, either to the duke of Shrewsbury, the earl of Jersey, or Mr. Harley; and inform the French court how such a proposition would be relished. Gualtier chose to deliver his message to the second of those, who had been ambassador from the late king to France. But the earl excused himself from entering into particulars with a stranger, and a private person, who had no authority for what he said, more than a letter from monsieur de Torcy, Gualtier offered to procure another from that minister to the earl himself; and did so, in a month after: but obtained no answer till December following; when the queen had made all necessary changes, and summoned a free parliament to her wishes. About the beginning of January, the abbé (after having procured his dismission from count Gallas, the emperor's envoy, at that time his protector) was sent to Paris, to inform mons. de Torcy, "That her majesty would be willing his master should resume the treaty with Holland, provided the demands of England might be previously granted." Gualtier came back, after a short stay, with a return to his message, "That the Dutch had used the most christian king and his ministers in such a manner, both at the Hague and Gertruydenberg, as made that prince resolve not to expose himself any more to the like treatment; that he therefore chose to address himself to England, and was ready to make whatever offers her majesty could reasonably expect, for the advantage of her own kingdoms, and the satisfaction of her allies.a letter from the marquis de Torcy, signifying, "That, a report being spread of her majesty's intentions to change her ministry, to take
After this message had been duly considered by the queen and her ministers, mons. Gualtier was dispatched a second time to France, about the beginning of March, 1710-11, with an answer to the following purpose; "That since France had their particular reasons for not beginning again to treat with Holland, England was willing to remove that difficulty, and proposed it should be done in this manner: That France should send over hither the propositions for a treaty, which should be transmitted by England to Holland, to be jointly treated on that side of the water; but it was to be understood, that the same proposition formerly offered to Holland, was to be made to England, or one not less advantageous to the allies: for although England would enter most sincerely into such a treaty, and show in the course of it the clearness of their intentions; yet they could not with honour, entertain a less beneficial proposal, than what was offered to the States."
That prince, as well as his minister mons. de Torcy, either felt, or affected, so much resentment of the usage the latter had met at the Hague and Gertruydenherg, that they appeared fully determined against making any application to the States, where the same persons continued still in power, of whose treatment they so heavily complained. They seemed altogether to distrust the inclination of that republick towards a peace; but, at the same time, showed a mighty complaisance to the English nation, and a desire to have her majesty at the head of a treaty. This appears by the first overture in form sent from that kingdom, and signed by mons. de Torcy, on the 22d of April, N. S. 1711, to the following effect:
"That, as it could not be doubted but the king was in a condition of continuing the war with honour, so it could not be looked on as a mark of weakness in his majesty, to break the silence he had kept, since the conferences at Gertruydenberg, and that before the opening of the campaign, he now gives farther proof of the desire he always had, to procure the repose of Europe. But, after what he has found, by experience, of the sentiments of those persons who now govern the republick of Holland, and of their industry in rendering all negotiations without effect, his majesty will, for the publick good, offer to the English nation those propositions which he thinks fit to make, for terminating the war, and for settling the tranquillity of Europe upon a solid foundation. It is with this view that he offers to enter into a treaty of peace, founded on the following conditions:
"First, The English nation shall have real securities for carrying on their trade in Spain, the Indies, and ports of the Mediterranean.
"Secondly, The king will consent to form a sufficient barrier in the Low Countries, for the security of the republick of Holland; and this barrier shall be such as England shall agree upon and approve; his majesty promising, at the same time, entire liberty and security to the trade of the Dutch.
"Thirdly, All reasonable methods shall be thought of, with sincerity and truth, for giving satisfaction to the allies of England and Holland.
"Fourthly, Whereas the affairs of the king of Spain are in so good a condition, as to furnish new expedients, for putting an end to the disputes about that monarchy, and for settling it to the satisfaction of the several parties concerned, all sincere endeavours shall be used, for surmounting the difficulties arisen upon this occasion; and the trade and interest of all parties engaged in the present war shall be secured.
"Fifthly, The conferences, in order to treat of a peace upon these conditions, shall be immediately opened; and the plenipotentiaries whom the king shall name to assist thereat, shall treat with those of England and Holland, either alone, or in conjunction with those of their allies, as England shall choose.
"Sixthly, His majesty proposes the towns of Aix la Chapelle, or Liege, for the place where the plenipotentiaries shall assemble; leaving the choice likewise to England, of either of the said towns, wherein to treat of a general peace."
These overtures, although expressing much confidence in the ministry here, great deference to the queen, and displeasure against the Dutch, were immediately transmitted by her majesty's command to her ambassador in Holland, with orders that they should be communicated to the pensionary. The abbé Gualtier was desired to signify this proceeding to the marquis de Torcy; at the same time to let that minister understand, "that some of the above articles ought to be explained." The lord Raby, now earl of Strafford, was directed to tell the pensionary, "That her majesty, being resolved, in making peace, as in making war, to act in perfect concert with the States, would not lose a moment in transmitting to him a paper of this importance: That the queen earnestly desired, that the secret might be kept among as few as possible; and that she hoped the pensionary would advise upon this occasion, with no person whatsoever, except such, as by the constitution of that government, are unavoidably necessary: That the terms of the several propositions were indeed too general; but, however, they contained an offer to treat: And that, although there appeared an air of complaisance to England, through the whole paper, and the contrary to Holland, yet this could have no ill consequence, as long as the queen and the States took care to understand each other, and to act with as little reserve, as became two powers so nearly allied in interest; which rule, on the part of Britain, should be inviolably observed." It was signified likewise to the pensionary, "That the duke of Marlborough had no communication of this affair from England; and that it was supposed he would have none from the Hague."
After these proposals had been considered in Holland, the ambassador was directed to send back the opinion of the Dutch ministers upon them. The court here was indeed apprehensive, that the pensionary would be alarmed at the whole frame of monsieur de Torcy's paper, and particularly at these expressions, "That the English shall have real securities for their trade, &c.; and that the barrier for the States general shall be such as England shall agree upon and approve." It was natural to think, that the fear which the Dutch would conceive, of our obtaining advantageous terms for Britain, might put them upon trying underhand for themselves, and endeavouring to overreach us in the management of the peace, as they had hitherto done in that of the war: the ambassador was therefore cautioned to be very watchful, in discovering any workings, which might tend that way.
When the lord Raby was first sent to the Hague, the duke of Marlborough and lord Townshend had, for very obvious reasons, used their utmost endeavours, to involve him in as many difficulties as they could; upon which, and other accounts needless to mention, it was thought proper that his grace, then in Flanders, should not be let into the secret of this affair.
The proposal of Aix or Liege, for a place of treaty, was only a farther mark of their old discontent against Holland, to show they would not name any town which belonged to the States.
The pensionary, having consulted those who had been formerly employed in the negotiations of peace, and enjoined them the utmost secrecy, to avoid the jealousy of the foreign ministers there, desired the ambassador to return her majesty thanks, for the obliging manner of communicating the French overtures, for the confidence she placed in the States, and for her promise of making no step towards a peace, but in concert with them; assuring her of the like on their part: "That although the States endeavoured to hide it from the enemy, they were as weary of the war as we: and very heartily desirous of a good and lasting peace, as well as ready to join in any method, which her majesty should think proper to obtain it: That the States looked upon these propositions as very dark and general; and they observed how the enemy would create jealousies between the queen, their republick, and the other allies; but they were satisfied it would have no effect, and relied entirely on the justness and prudence of her majesty, who, they doubted not, would make the French explain themselves more particularly, in the several points of their proposals, and send a plan of the particular conditions, whereupon they would make a peace; after which, the States would be ready, either to join with her majesty, or to make their objections; and were prepared to bring with them all the facility imaginable, towards promoting so good a work."
This is the sum of the verbal answer made by the pensionary, upon communicating to him the French proposals: and I have chosen to set it down, rather than transcribe the other given to the ambassador some days after; which was more in form, and to the same purpose, but shorter, and in my opinion not so well discovering the true disposition of the Dutch ministers: for, after the queen had transmitted the French overtures to Holland, and the States found her majesty was bent in earnest upon the thoughts of a peace, they began to cast about how to get the negotiation into their own hands. They knew that whatever power received the first proposals, would be wise enough to stipulate something for themselves; as they had done in their own case, both at the Hague and Gertruydenberg, where they carved as they pleased, without any regard to the interests of their nearest allies. For this reason, while they endeavoured to amuse the British court, with expostulations upon the several preliminaries sent from France, monsieur Petecum, a forward meddling agent of Holstein, who had resided some years in Holland, negotiated with Heinsius the grand pensionary, as well as with Vanderdussen and Buys, about restoring the conferences between France and that republick, broken off in Gertruydenberg; pursuant to which, about the end of May, N. S. 1711, Petecum wrote to the marquis de Torcy, with the privity of the pensionary, and probably of the other two. The substance of his letter was, to inform the marquis, "That things might easily be disposed, so as to settle a correspondence between that crown and the republick, in order to renew the treaty of peace: That this could be done with the greater secrecy, because monsieur Heinsius, by virtue of his oath as pensionary, might keep any affair private, as long as he thought necessary, and was not obliged to communicate it, until he believed things were ripe; and as long as he concealed it from his masters, he was not bound to discover it, either to the ministers of the emperor, or those of her British majesty: That since England thought it proper for king Charles, to continue the whole campaign in Catalonia (though he should be chosen emeperor) in order to support the war in Spain, it was necessary for France to treat in the most secret manner with the States, who were not now, so violently as formerly, against having Philip on the Spanish throne, upon certain conditions for securing their trade; but were jealous of England's design, to fortify some trading towns in Spain for themselves: That Heinsius extremely desired to get out of the war, for some reasons which he (Petecum) was not permitted to tell; and that Vanderdussen and Buys were impatient to have the negotiations with France, once more set on foot; which if monsieur Torcy thought fit to consent to, Petecum engaged that the States would determine to settle the preliminaries, in the midway between Paris and the Hague, with whatever ministers the most Christian king should please to employ."
Monsieur Torcy refused this overture; and in his answer to monsieur Petecum, assigned for the reason, the treatment his master's former proposals had met with, at the Hague and Gertruydenberg, from the ministers of Holland, Britain and Holland seemed pretty well agreed, that those proposals were too loose and imperfect, to be a foundation for entering upon a general treaty; and monsieur Gualtier was desired to signify to the French court, "That it was expected they should explain themselves more particularly, on the several articles."
But in the mean time, the queen was firmly resolved, that the interests of her own kingdoms, should not be neglected at this juncture, as they had formerly twice been, while the Dutch were principal managers of a negotiation with France. Her majesty had given frequent, and early notice to the States, of the general disposition of her people toward a peace, of her own inability to continue the war, upon the old foot, under the disadvantage of unequal quotas, and the universal backwardness of her allies. She had likewise informed them of several advances made to her on the side of France; which she had refused to hearken to, till she had consulted with those her good friends and confederates, and heard their opinion on that subject. But the Dutch, who apprehended nothing more than to see Britain at the head of a treaty, were backward and sullen, disliked all proposals by the queen's intervention, and said, "It was a piece of artifice in France, to divide the allies." Besides, they knew the ministry was young; and the opposite faction had given them assurances, "That the people of England would never endure a peace without Spain, nor the men in power dare to attempt it, after the resolutions of one house of parliament to the contrary." But, in the midst of this unwillingness to receive any overtures from France by the queen's hands, the Dutch ministers were actually engaged in a correspondence with that court; where they urged our inability to begin a treaty, by reason of those factions which themselves had inflamed; and were ready to commence a negotiation upon much easier terms, than what they supposed we demanded. For, not to mention the duke of Lorrain's interposition in behalf of Holland, which France absolutely refused to accept; the letters sent from the Dutch to that court, were shown some months after to a British minister there, which gave much weight to monsieur de Torcy's insinuations, "That he knew where to meet with more compliance, if the necessity of affairs should force him to it by our refusal." And the violence of the States against our entertaining that correspondence, was, only because they knew theirs would never be accepted, at least till ours were thrown off.
The queen, sensible of all this, resolved to provide for her own kingdoms; and having therefore prepared such demands for her principal allies, as might be a ground for proceeding to a general treaty, without pretending to adjust their several interests; she resolved to stipulate in a particular manner the advantage of Britain. The following preliminary demands were accordingly drawn up, in order to be transmitted to France:
"Great Britain will not enter into any negotiation of peace, otherwise than upon these conditions obtained beforehand.
"That the union of the two crowns of France and Spain shall be prevented: That satisfaction shall be given to all the allies, and trade settled and maintained.
"If France be disposed to treat upon this view, it is not to be doubted that the following propositions will be found reasonable:
"A barrier shall be formed in the Low Countries for the States General; and their trade shall be secured.
"A barrier likewise shall be formed for the Empire.
"The pretensions of all the allies, founded upon former treaties, shall be regulated and determined to their general satisfaction.
"In order to make a more equal balance of power in Italy, the dominions and territories, which in the beginning of the present war belonged to the duke of Savoy, and are now in the possession of France, shall be restored to his royal highness; and such other places in Italy shall be yielded to him, as will be found necessary and agreeable to the sense of former treaties, made with this prince.
"As to Great Britain in particular, the succession to the crown of the kingdoms, according to the present establishment, shall be acknowledged.
"A new treaty of commerce between Great Britain and France shall be made, after the most just and reasonable manner.
"Dunkirk shall be demolished.
"The English shall have the assiento, in the same manner the French now enjoy it; and such places in the Spanish West Indies, shall be assigned to those concerned in this traffick, for the refreshment and sale of their negroes, as shall be found necessary and convenient.
"All advantages, rights, and privileges, already granted, and which may hereafter be granted, by Spain, to the subjects of France, or to any other nation whatsoever, shall be equally granted to the subjects of Great Britain.
"And, for better securing the British trade in the Spanish West Indies, certain places to be named in the treaty of peace, shall be put into possession of the English.
"Newfoundland, with the Bay and Straits of Hudson, shall be entirely restored to the English; and Great Britain and France shall severally keep and possess, all those countries and territories in North America, which each of the said nations shall be in possession of, at the time when the ratification of this treaty, shall be published in those parts of the world.
"These demands, and all other proceedings between Great Britain and France, shall be kept inviolably secret, until they are published by the mutual consent of both parties."
The last article was not only intended for avoiding, if possible, the jealousy of the Dutch, but to prevent the clamours of the abettors here at home; who, under the pretended fears of our doing injustice to the Dutch, by acting without the privity of that republick, in order to make a separate peace, would be ready to drive on the worst designs against the queen and ministry, in order to recover the power they had lost.
In June, 1711, Mr. Prior, a person of great distinction, not only on account of his wit, but for his abilities in the management of affairs, and who had been formerly employed at the French court, was dispatched thither by her majesty with the foregoing demands. This gentleman was received at Versailles with great civility. The king declared, "That no proceeding in order to a general treaty would be so agreeable to him, as by the intervention of England; and that his majesty, being desirous to contribute with all his power, towards the repose of Europe, did answer to the demands which had been made.
"That he would consent freely and sincerely, to all just and reasonable methods, for hindering the crowns of France and Spain from being ever united under the same prince; his majesty being persuaded that such an excess of power would be as contrary to the general good and repose of Europe, as it was opposite to the will of the late catholick king Charles the Second." He said, "His intention was, that all parties in the present war should find their reasonable satisfaction in the intended treaty of peace; and that trade should be settled, and maintained for the future, to the advantage of those nations which formerly possessed it.
"That as the king will exactly observe the conditions of peace, whenever it shall be concluded; and as the object he proposes to himself is, to secure the frontiers of his own kingdom, without giving any sort of disturbance to his neighbours; he promises to agree, that by the future treaty of peace, the Dutch shall be put into possession of all such fortified places, as shall be specified in the said treaty, to serve for a barrier to that republick, against all attempts on the side of France. He engages likewise, to give all necessary securities, for removing the jealousies raised among the German princes, of his Majesty's designs.
"That when the conferences in order to a general treaty shall be formed, all the pretensions of the several princes, and states, engaged in the present war, shall be fairly and amicably discussed; nor shall any thing be omitted, which may regulate and determine them to the satisfaction of all parties.
"That pursuant to the demands made by England, his majesty promises to restore to the duke of Savoy, those demesnes and territories which belonged to that prince, at the beginning of this war, and which his majesty is now in possession of; and the king consents farther, that such other places in Italy shall be yielded to the duke of Savoy, as shall be found necessary, according to the sense of those treaties, made between the said duke and his allies.
"That the king's sentiments of the present government of Great Britain, the open declaration he made in Holland, of his resolution to treat of peace by applications to the English, the assurances he had given of engaging the king of Spain to leave Gibraltar in their hands, (all which are convincing proofs of his perfect esteem for a nation still in war with him) leave no room to doubt of his majesty's inclination, to give England all securities and advantages for their trade, which they can reasonably demand. But, as his majesty cannot persuade himself that a government so clear-sighted as ours, will insist upon conditions which must absolutely destroy the trade of France and Spain, as well as that of all other nations of Europe, he thinks the demands made by Great Britain may require a more particular discussion.
"That upon this foundation, the king thought the best way of advancing and perfecting a negotiation, the beginning of which he had seen with so much satisfaction, would be, to send into England a person instructed in his intention, and authorized by him to agree upon securities for settling the trade of the subjects of England, and those particular advantages to be stipulated in their favour, vvdthout destroying the trade of the French and Spaniards, or of other nations in Christendom.
"That therefore his majesty had charged the person chosen for this commission, to answer the other articles of the memorial given him by Mr. Prior, the secret of which should be exactly observed."
Mons. De Torcy had, for some years past, used all his endeavours to incline his master toward a peace, pursuant to the maxim of his uncle Colbert, "That a long war was not for the interest of France." It was for this reason, the king made choice of him in the conferences at the Hague; the bad success whereof, although it filled him with resentments against the Dutch, did not alter his opinion: but he was violently opposed by a party, both in the court and kingdom, who pretended to fear he would sacrifice the glory of the prince and country, by too large concessions; or perhaps would rather wish that the first offers should have been still made to the Dutch, as a people more likely to be less solicitous about the interest of Britain, than her majesty would certainly be for theirs; and the particular design of Mr. Prior was, to find out whether that minister had credit enough with his prince, and a support from others in power, sufficient to overrule the faction against peace.
Mr. Prior's journey could not be kept a secret, as the court here at first seemed to intend it. He was discovered, at his return, by an officer of the port at Dover, where he landed, after six weeks absence; upon which, the Dutch Gazettes, and English newspapers, were full of speculations.
At the same time with Mr. Prior there arrived from France Mons. Mesnager, knight of the order of St. Michael, and one of the council of trade to the most Christian king. His commission was in general, empowering him to treat with the minister of any prince, engaged in the war against his master. In his first conferences with the queen's ministers, he pretended orders to insist that her majesty should enter upon particular engagements in several articles, which did not depend upon her, but concerned only the interest of the allies, reciprocally with those of the most Christian king: whereas the negotiation had begun upon this principle, That France should consent to adjust the interests of Great Britain in the first place, whereby her majesty would be afterwards enabled, by her good offices on all sides, to facilitate the general peace. The queen resolved, never to depart from this principle: but was absolutely determined to remit the particular interests of the allies, to general conferences, where she would do the utmost in her power to procure the repose of Europe, and the satisfaction of all parties. It was plain, France could run no hazard by this proceeding, because the preliminary articles would have no force, before a general peace was signed: therefore it was not doubted but mons. Mesnager would have orders to wave this new pretension, and go on in treating upon that foot, which was at first proposed. In short, the ministers required a positive and speedy answer, to the articles in question; since they contained only such advantages and securities, as her majesty thought she had a right to require from any prince whatsoever, to whom the dominions of Spain should happen to fall.
The particular demands of Britain were formed into eight articles; which mons. Mesnager having transmitted to his courts and received new powers from thence, had orders to give his master's consent, by way of answers to the several points, to be obligatory only after a general peace. These demands, together with the answers of the French king, were drawn up and signed by mons. Mesnager, and her majesty's two principal secretaries of state; whereof I shall here present an extract to the reader.
In the preamble, the most Christian king sets forth, "That, being particularly informed, by the last memorial which the British ministers delivered to mons. Mesnager, of the dispositions of this crown to facilitate a general peace, to the satisfaction of the several parties concerned; and his majesty finding, in effect, as the said memorial declares, that he runs no hazard by engaging himself in the manner there expressed, since the preliminary articles will be of no force, until the signing of the general peace; and being sincerely desirous to advance to the utmost of his power the repose of Europe, especially by a way so agreeable as the interposition of a princess, whom so many ties of blood ought to unite to him, and whose sentiments for the publick tranquillity cannot be doubted; his majesty, moved by these considerations, has ordered mons. Mesnager, knight, &c. to give the following answers, in writing, to the articles contained in the memorial transmitted to him, entitled, Preliminary Demands for Great Britain in particular."
The articles were these that follow:
"First, The succession to the crown to be acknowledged, according to the present establishment.
"Secondly, A new treaty of commerce between Great Britain and France to be made, after the most just and reasonable manner.
"Thirdly, Dunkirk to be demolished.
"Fourthly, Gibraltar and Port-Mahon to continue in the hands of those who now possess them.
"Fifthly, The assiento (or liberty of selling Negroes to the Spanish West Indies) to be granted to the English, in as full manner as the French possess it at present; and such places in the said West Indies to be assigned to the persons concerned in this trade, for the refreshment and sale of their Negroes, as shall be found necessary and convenient.
"Sixthly, Whatever advantages, privileges, and rights, are already, or may hereafter be, granted by Spain to the subjects of France, or any other nation, shall be equally granted to the subjects of Great Britain.
"Seventhly, For better protecting their trade in the Spanish West Indies, the English shall be put into possession of such places, as shall be named in the treaty of peace: or, as an equivalent for this article, that the assiento be granted Britain for the term of thirty years.
"That the isle of St. Christopher's be likewise secured to the English.
"That the advantages and exemption from duties, promised by mons. Mesnager, which he affirms will amount to fifteen per cent upon all goods of the growth and manufacture of Great Britain, be effectually allowed.
" That whereas, on the side of the river of Plate, the English are not in possession of any colony, a certain extent of territory be allowed them on the said river, for refreshing and keeping their Negroes, till they are sold to the Spaniards; subject nevertheless to the inspection of an officer appointed by Spain.
"Eighthly, Newfoundland, and the Bay and Straits of Hudson, shall be entirely restored to the English; and Great Britain and France shall respectively keep whatever dominions, in North America, each of them shall be in possession of, when the ratification of this treaty shall be published in those parts of the world."
The six first articles were allowed, without any difficulty, except that about Dunkirk, where France was to have an equivalent, to be settled in a general treaty.
A difficulty arising upon the seventh article, the proposed equivalent was allowed instead thereof.
The last article was referred to the general treaty of peace; only the French insisted to have the power of fishing for cod, and drying them on the island of Newfoundland.
These articles were to be looked upon as conditions which the most Christian king consented to allow; and whenever a general peace should be signed, they were to be digested into the usual form of a treaty, to the satisfaction of both crowns.
The queen having thus provided for the security and advantage of her kingdoms, whenever a peace should be made, and upon terms no way interfering with the interest of her allies; the next thing in order was, to procure from France such preliminary articles, as might be a ground upon which to commence a general treaty. These were adjusted, and signed the same day with the former; and, having been delivered to the several ministers residing here, from the powers in alliance with England, were quickly made publick. But the various constructions and censures which passed upon them, have made it necessary to give the reader the following transcript:
"The king being willing to contribute all that is in his power to the reestablishing of the general peace; his majesty declares,
"1. That he will acknowledge the queen of Great Britain in that quality, as also the succession of that crown according to the settlement.
"2. That he will freely and bonâ fide consent to the taking all just and reasonable measures, for hindering that the crowns of France and Spain, may ever be united on the head of the same prince; his majesty being persuaded, that this excess of power would be contrary to the good and quiet of Europe.
"3. The king's intention is, that all the parties engaged in the present war, without excepting any of them, may find their reasonable satisfaction, in the treaty of peace which shall be made; that commerce may be reestablished and maintained for the future, to the advantage of Great Britain, of Holland, and of the other nations who have been accustomed to exercise commerce.
"4. As the king will likewise maintain exactly the observance of the peace when it shall be concluded; and the object the king proposes to himself being to secure the frontiers of his kingdom, without disturbing in any manner whatever the neighbouring states; he promises to agree, by the treaty which shall be made, that the Dutch shall be put in possession of the fortified places which shall be mentioned in the Netherlands, to serve hereafter for a barrier, which may secure the quiet of the republick of Holland against any enterprise from the part of France.
"5. The king consents likewise, that a secure and convenient barrier should be formed for the empire, and for the house of Austria.
"6. Notwithstanding Dunkirk cost the king very great sums, as well to purchase it, as to fortify it; and that it is farther necessary to be at very considerable expense for razing the works; his majesty is willing, however, to engage to cause them to be demolished immediately after the conclusion of the peace, on condition, that for the fortifications of that place, a proper equivalent, that may content him, be given him: and as England cannot furnish that equivalent, the discussion of it shall be referred to the conferences to be held for the negotiation of the peace.
"7. When the conferences for the negotiation of the peace shall be formed, all the pretensions of the princes and states engaged in the present war shall be therein discussed bonâ fide and amicably: and nothing shall be omitted, to regulate and terminate them to the satisfaction of all the parties.
These overtures are founded upon the eighth article of the grand alliance made in 1701, wherein are contained the conditions without which a peace is not to be made; and whoever compares both, will find the preliminaries to reach every point proposed in that article, which those who censured them at home, if they spoke their thoughts, did not understand: for nothing can be plainer than what the publick has often been told, "That the recovery of Spain from the house of Bourbon, was a thing never imagined when the war began, but a just and reasonable satisfaction to the emperor." Much less ought such a condition to be held necessary at present, not only because it is allowed on all hands to be impracticable; but likewise, because, by the changes in the Austrian and Bourbon families, it would not be safe: neither did those who were loudest in blaming the French preliminaries, know any thing of the advantages privately stipulated for Britain, whose interests they assured us, were all made a sacrifice to the corruption or folly of the managers; and therefore, because the opposers of peace, have been better informed by what they have since heard and seen, they have changed their battery, and accused the ministers for betraying the Dutch.
The lord Raby, her majesty's ambassador at the Hague, having made a short journey to England, where he was created earl of Strafford, went back to Holland about the beginning of October, 1711, with the above preliminaries, in order to communicate them to the pensionary, and other ministers of the States. The earl was instructed to let them know, "That the queen had, according to their desire, returned an answer to the first propositions signed by mons. Torcy, signifying, that the French offers were thought, both by her majesty and the States, neither so particular nor so full as they ought to be; and insisting to have a distinct project formed, of such a peace as the most Christian king would be willing to conclude: That this affair having been for some time transacted by papers, and thereby subject to delays, mons. Mesnager was at length sent over by France, and had signed those preliminaries now communicated to them: That the several articles did not, indeed, contain such particular concessions as France must and will make in the course of a treaty; but that however, her majesty thought them a sufficient foundation whereon to open the general conferences.
"That her majesty was unwilling to be charged with determining the several interests of her allies, and therefore contented herself with such general offers, as might include all the particular demands, proper to be made during the treaty; where the confederates must resolve to adhere firmly together, in order to obtain from the enemy the utmost that could be hoped for in the present circumstances of affairs; which rule, her majesty assured the States, she would, on her part, firmly observe."
If the ministers of Holland should express any uneasiness, that her majesty may have settled the interest of her own kingdoms, in a future peace, by any private agreement; the ambassador was ordered to say, "That the queen had hitherto refused to have the treaty carried on in her own kingdom, and would continue to do so, unless they (the Dutch) constrained her to take another measure: That by these means, the States, and the rest of the allies, would have the opportunity of treating and adjusting their different pretensions; which her majesty would promote with all the zeal she had shown for the common good, and the particular advantage of that republick, (as they must do her the justice to confess) in the whole course of her reign: That the queen had made no stipulation for herself, which might clash with the interests of Holland: And that the articles to be inserted in a future treaty, for the benefit of Britain, were, for the most part, such as contained advantages, which must either be continued to the enemy, or be obtained by her majesty; but, however, that no concession should tempt her to hearken to a peace, unless her good friends and allies, the States General, had all reasonable satisfaction as to their trade, and barrier, as well as in all other respects."
After these assurances given in the queen's name, the earl was to insinuate, "That her majesty should have just reason to be offended, and to think the proceedings between her and the States very unequal, if they should pretend to have any farther uneasiness upon this head: That being determined to accept no advantages to herself repugnant to their interests, nor any peace without their reasonable satisfaction, the figure she had made during the whole course of the war, and the part she had acted superiour to any of the allies, who were more concerned in danger and interest, might justly entitle her to settle the concerns of Great Britain, before she would consent to a general negotiation."
If the States should object the engagements the queen was under by treaties, of making no peace but in concert with them, or the particular obligations of the Barrier-treaty; the ambassador was to answer, "That as to the former, her majesty had not in any sort acted contrary thereto: That she was so far from making a peace without their consent, as to declare her firm resolution not to make it without their satisfaction; and that what had passed between France and her, amounted to no more than an introduction to a general treaty." As to the latter, the earl had orders to represent very earnestly, "How much it was even for the interest of Holland itself, rather to compound the advantage of the Barrier-treaty, than to insist upon the whole, which the house of Austria, and several other allies, would never consent to: That nothing could be more odious to the people of England than many parts of this treaty; which would have raised universal indignation, if the utmost care had not been taken to quiet the minds of those who were acquainted with the terms of that guaranty, and to conceal them from those who were not: That it was absolutely necessary to maintain a good harmony between both nations, without which it would be impossible at any time to form a strength for reducing an exorbitant power, or preserving the balance of Europe; whence it followed, that it could not be the true interest of either country, to insist upon any conditions, which might give just apprehension to the other.
"That France had proposed Utrecht, Nimeguen, Aix, or Liege, wherein to hold the general treaty; and her majesty was ready to send her plenipotentiaries to whichever of those towns the States should approve."
If the Imperial ministers, or those of the other allies, should object against the preliminaries as no sufficient ground for opening the conferences, and insist that France should consent to such articles as were signed on the part of the allies in the year 1709; the earl of Stratford was, in answer, directed to insinuate, "That the French might have probably been brought to explain themselves more particularly, had they not perceived the uneasiness, impatience, and jealousy among the allies, during our transactions with that court." However, he should declare to them, in the queen's name, "That, if they were determined to accept of peace upon no terms inferiour to what was formerly demanded, her majesty was ready to concur with them; but would no longer bear those disproportions of expense yearly increased upon her, nor the deficiency of the confederates in every part of the war: That it was therefore incumbent upon them to furnish, for the future, such quotas of ships and forces as they were now wanting in, and to increase their expense, while her majesty reduced hers to a reasonable and just proportion."
That, if the ministers of Vienna and Holland should urge their inability upon this head, the queen insisted, "They ought to comply with her in war or in peace; her majesty desiring nothing as to the first, but what they ought to perform, and what is absolutely necessary: and as to the latter, that she had done, and would continue to do, the utmost in her power towards obtaining such a peace, as might be to the satisfaction of all her allies."
Some days after the earl of Strafford's departure to Holland, mons. Buys, pensionary of Amsterdam, arrived here from thence, with instructions from his masters, to treat upon the subject of the French preliminaries, and the methods for carrying on the war. In his first conference with a committee of council, he objected against all the articles, as too general and uncertain; and against some of them, as prejudicial. He said, "The French promising that trade should be reestablished and maintained for the future, was meant in order to deprive the Dutch of their tariff of 1604; for the plenipotentiaries of that crown would certainly expound the word rétablir, to signify no more than restoring the trade of the States to the condition it was in immediately before the commencement of the present war." He said, "That in the article of Dunkirk, the destruction of the harbour was not mentioned; and that the fortifications were only to be razed upon condition of an equivalent, which might occasion a difference between her majesty and the States; since Holland would think it hard to have a town less in their barrier for the demolition of Dunkirk; and England would complain, to have this thorn continue in their side, for the sake of giving one town more to the Dutch."
Lastly, he objected, "That where the French promised effectual methods should be taken to prevent the union of France and Spain under the same king, they offered nothing at all for the cession of Spain, which was the most important point of the war.
"For these reasons, mons. Buys hoped her majesty would alter her measures, and demand specifick articles, upon which the allies might debate, whether they would consent to a negotiation or not."
The queen, who looked upon all these difficulties raised about the method of treating, as endeavours to wrest the negotiation out of her hands, commanded the lords of the committee to let mons. Buys know, "That the experience she formerly had, of proceeding by particular preliminaries toward a general treaty, gave her no encouragement to repeat the same method any more: That such a preliminary treaty must be negotiated either by some particular allies, or by all; the first, her majesty could never suffer, since she would neither take upon her to settle the interest of others, nor submit that others should settle those of her own kingdoms; as to the second, it was liable to mons. Buys's objection, because the ministers of France would have as fair an opportunity of sowing division among the allies, when they were all assembled upon a preliminary treaty, as when the conferences were open for a negotiation of peace: That this method could therefore have no other effect than to delay the treaty, without any advantage: That her majesty was heartily disposed, both then, and during the negotiation, to insist on every thing necessary for securing the barrier and commerce of the States; and therefore hoped the conferences might be opened, without farther difficulties.
"That her majesty did not only consent, but desire, to have a plan settled for carrying on the war, as soon as the negotiation of peace should begin; but expected to have the burden more equally laid, and more agreeable to treaties: and would join with the States in pressing the allies to perform their parts, as she had endeavoured to animate them by her example."
Mons. Buys seemed to know little of his masters mind, and pretended he had no power to conclude upon any thing. Her majesty's minister proposed to him an alliance between the two nations, to subsist after a peace. To this he hearkened very readily; and offered to take the matter ad referendum, having, authority to do no more. His intention was, that he might appear to negotiate, in order to gain time to pick out, if possible, the whole secret of the transactions between Britain and France; to disclose nothing himself, nor bind his masters to any conditions; to seek delays till the parliament met, and then observe what turn it took, and what would be the issue of those frequent cabals between himself and some other foreign ministers, in conjunction with the chief leaders of the discontented faction.
The Dutch hoped, that the clamours raised against the proceedings of the queen's ministers toward a peace, would make the parliament disapprove what had been done; whereby the States would be at the head of the negotiation, which the queen did not think fit to have any more in their hands, where it had miscarried twice already; although prince Eugene himself owned, "That France was then disposed to conclude a peace upon such conditions, that it was not worth the life of a grenadier to refuse them." As to insisting upon specifick preliminaries, her majesty thought her own method much better, "for each ally, in the course of the negotiation, to advance and manage his own pretensions, wherein she would support and assist them:" rather than for two ministers of one ally, to treat solely with the enemy, and report what they pleased to the rest, as was practised by the Dutch at Gertruydenberg.
One part of mons. Buys's instructions was, "To desire the queen not to be so far amused by a treaty of peace, as to neglect her preparation for war against the next campaign." Her majesty, who was firmly resolved against submitting any longer to that unequal burden of expense she had hitherto lain under, commanded Mr. secretary St. John to debate the matter with that minister; who said, "He had no power to treat;" only insisted, that his masters had fully done their part; and that nothing but exhortations could be used, to prevail on the other allies to act with greater vigour."
On the other side, the queen refused to concert any plan for the prosecution of the war, till the States would join with her in agreeing to open the conferences of peace; which, therefore, by mons. Buys's application to them, was accordingly done, by a resolution taken in Holland upon the 21st of November, 1711, N. S.
About this time the count de Gallas was forbid the court, by order from the queen; who sent him word, "that she looked upon him no longer as a publick minister."
This gentleman thought fit to act a very dishonourable part here in England, altogether inconsistent with the character he bore of envoy from the late and present emperors; two princes under the strictest ties of gratitude to the queen, especially the latter, who had then the title of king of Spain. Count Gallas, about the end of August, 1711, with the utmost privacy, dispatched an Italian, one of his clerks, to Franckfort, where the earl of Peterborough was then expected. This man was instructed to pass for a Spaniard, and insinuate himself into the earl's service; which he accordingly did, and gave constant information to the last emperor's secretary at Franckfort, of all he could gather up in his lordship's family, as well as copies of several letters he had transcribed. It was likewise discovered that Gallas had, in his dispatches to the present emperor, then in Spain, represented the queen and her ministers as not to be confided in: "That when her majesty had dismissed the earl of Sunderland, she promised to proceed no farther in the change of her servants; yet soon after turned them all out, and thereby ruined the publick credit, as well as abandoned Spain: That the present ministers wanted the abilities and good dispositions of the former; were persons of ill designs, and enemies to the common cause, and he (Gallas) could not trust them." In his letters to count Zinzendorf, he said, "That Mr. secretary St. John complained of the house of Austria's backwardness, only to make the king of Spain odious to England, and the people here desirous of a peace, although it were ever so bad;" to prevent which, count Gallas drew up a memorial which he intended to give the queen, and transmitted a draught of it to Zinzendorf for his advice and approbation. This memorial, among other great promises to encourage the continuance of the war, proposed the detaching of a good body of troops from Hungary, to serve in Italy or Spain, as the queen should think fit.
Zinzendorf thought this too bold a step, without consulting the emperor: to which Gallas replied, That his design was only to engage the queen to go on with the war: That Zinzendorf knew how earnestly the English and Dutch had pressed to have these troops from Hungary; and therefore they ought to be promised, in order to quiet those two nations; after which, several ways might be found to elude that promise; and in the mean time, the great point would be gained, of bringing the English to declare for continuing the war: That the emperor might afterwards excuse himself, by the apprehension of a war in Hungary, or of that between the Turks and Muscovites. That if these excuses should be at an end, a detachment of one or two regiments might be sent, and the rest deferred by pretending want of money; by which the queen would probably be brought to maintain some part of those troops, and perhaps the whole body." He added, "That this way of management was very common among the allies;" and gave for an example, the forces which the Dutch had promised for the service of Spain, but were never sent; with several other instances of the same kind, which, he said, might be produced.
Her majesty, who had long suspected that count Gallas was engaged in these and the like practices, having at last received authentick proofs of this whole intrigue, from original letters, and the voluntary confession of those who were principally concerned in carrying it on, thought it necessary to show her resentment, by refusing the count any more access to her person or her court.
Although the queen, as it has been already observed, was resolved to open the conferences upon the general preliminaries; yet she thought it would very much forward the peace, to know what were the utmost concessions which France would make to the several allies, but especially to the States General, and the duke of Savoy. Therefore, while her majesty was pressing the former to agree to a general treaty, the abbé Gualtier was sent to France, with a memorial, to desire that the most Christian king would explain himself upon those preliminaries, particularly with relation to Savoy and Holland, whose satisfaction the queen had most at heart; as well from her friendship to both these powers, as because, if she might engage to them, that their just pretensions would be allowed, few difficulties would remain, of any moment, to retard the general peace.
The French answer to this memorial contained several schemes and proposals for the satisfaction of each ally, coming up very near to what her majesty and her ministers thought reasonable. The greatest difficulties seemed to be about the elector of Bavaria, for whose interests France appeared to be as much concerned, as the queen was for those of the duke of Savoy. However, those were judged not very hard to be surmounted.
The States having at length agreed to a general treaty, the following particulars were concerted between her majesty and that republick:
"That the congress should be held at Utrecht.
"That the opening of the congress should be upon the 12th of January, N. S. 1711-12.
"That, for avoiding all inconveniences of ceremony, the ministers of the queen and States, during the treaty, should only have the characters of plenipotentiaries, and not take that of ambassadors, till the day on which the peace should be signed.
"Lastly, The queen and States insisted, that the ministers of the duke of Anjou, and the late electors of Bavaria and Cologne, should not appear at the congress, until the points relating to their masters were adjusted; and were firmly resolved not to send their passports for the ministers of France, till the most Christian king declared, that the absence of the forementioned manisters should not delay the progress of the negotiation."
Pursuant to the three former articles, her majesty wrote circular letters to all the allies engaged with her in the present war; and France had notice, "That, as soon as the king declared his compliance with the last article, the blank passports should be filled up with the names of the mareschal D'Uxelles, the abbé De Polignac, and mons. Mesnager, who were appointed plenipotentiaries for that crown."
From what I have hitherto deduced, the reader sees the plan which the queen thought the most effectual for advancing a peace. As the conferences were to begin upon the general preliminaries, the queen was to be empowered by France, to offer separately to the allies, what might be reasonable for each to accept; and her own interests being previously settled, she was to act as a general mediator; a figure that became her best, from the part she had in the war, and more useful to the great end at which she aimed, of giving a safe and honourable peace to Europe.
Besides, it was absolutely necessary for the interests of Britain, that the queen should be at the head of the negotiation; without which, her majesty could find no expedient to redress the injuries her kingdoms were sure to suffer by the Barrier-treaty. In order to settle this point with the States, the ministers here had a conference with mons. Buys, a few days before the parliament met. He was told, "How necessary it was, by a previous concert between the emperor, the queen, and the States, to prevent any difference which might arise in the course of the treaty at Utrecht: That under pretence of a barrier for the States General, as their security against France, infinite prejudice might arise to the trade of Britain in the Spanish Netherlands; for, by the fifteenth article of the Barrier-treaty, in consequence of what was stipulated by that of Munster, the queen was brought to engage that commerce shall not be rendered more easy, in point of duties, by the sea-ports of Flanders, than it is by the river Scheld, and by the canals on the side of the Seven Provinces; which, as things now stood, was very unjust; for, while the towns in Flanders were in the hands of France or Spain, the Dutch and we traded to them upon equal foot; but now, since by the Barrier-treaty those towns were to be possessed by the States, that republick might lay what duties they pleased upon British goods, after passing by Ostend, and make their own custom-free, which would utterly ruin our whole trade with Flanders."
Upon this, the lords told mons. Buys very frankly, "That, if the States expected the queen should support their barrier, as their demands from France and the house of Austria upon that head, they ought to agree that the subjects of Britain should trade as freely to all the countries and places, which, by virtue of any former or future treaty, were to become the barrier of the States, as they did in the time of the late king Charles the Second of Spain, or as the subjects of the States General themselves shall do: and it is hoped, their Highmightinesses would never scruple to rectify a mistake so injurious to that nation, without whose blood and treasure they would have had no barrier at all." Mons. Buys had nothing to answer against these objections; but said, "He had already wrote to his masters for farther instructions."
Greater difficulties occurred about settling what should be the barrier to the States after a peace: the envoy insisting to have all the towns that were named in the treaty of barrier and succession; and the queen’s ministers excepting those towns, which, if they continued in the hands of the Dutch, would render the trade of Britain to Flanders precarious. At length it was agreed in general, that the States ought to have what is really essential to the security of their barrier against France; and that some amicable expedient should be found, for removing the fears both of Britain and Holland upon this point.
But at the same time mons. Buys was told, "That, although the queen would certainly insist to obtain all those points from France, in behalf of her allies, the States; yet she hoped his masters were too reasonable to break off the treaty, rather than not obtain the very utmost of their demands, which could not be settled here, unless he were fully instructed to speak and conclude upon that subject: That her majesty thought the best way of securing the common interest, and preventing the division of the allies, by the artifices of France, in the course of a long negotiation, would be, to concert between the queen's ministers and those of the States, with a due regard to the other confederates, such a plan, as might amount to a safe and honourable peace. After which, the abbé Polignac, who, of the French plenipotentiaries, was most in the secret of his court, might be told, that it was in vain to amuse each other any longer; that on such terms the peace would be immediately concluded; and that the conferences must cease, if those conditions were not, without delay, and with expedition, granted."
A treaty between her majesty and the States, to subsist after a peace, was now signed, mons. Buys having received full powers to that purpose. His masters were desirous to have a private article added, sub spe rati, concerning those terms of peace; without the granting of which, we should stipulate not to agree with the enemy. But neither the character of Buys, nor the manner in which he was empowered to treat, would allow the queen to enter into such an engagement. The congress likewise approaching, there was not time to settle a point of so great importance. Neither lastly, would her majesty be tied down by Holland, without previous satisfaction upon several articles in the Barrier-treaty, so inconsistent with her engagements to other powers in the alliance, and so injurious to her own kingdoms.
The lord privy seal and the earl of Strafford, having, about the time the parliament met, been appointed her majesty's plenipotentiaries for treating on a general peace: I shall here break off the account of any farther progress made in that great affair, until I resume it in the last book of this History.
FOUR LAST YEARS
THE house of commons seemed resolved, from the beginning of the session, to inquire strictly, not only into all abuses relating to the accounts of the army, but likewise into the several treaties between us and our allies, upon what articles and conditions they were first agreed to, and how these had been since observed. In the first week of their sitting, they sent an address to the queen, to desire that the treaty, whereby her majesty was obliged to furnish forty thousand men, to act in conjunction with the forces of her allies in the Low Countries, might be laid before the house. To which the secretary of state brought an answer, "That search had been made, but no footsteps could be found of any treaty or convention for that purpose." It was this unaccountable neglect in the former ministry, which first gave a pretence to the allies for lessening their quotas, so much to the disadvantage of her majesty, her kingdoms, and the common cause, in the course of the war. It had been stipulated, by the grand alliance between the emperor, Britain, and the States, "That those three states should assist each other with their whole force; and that the several proportions should be specified in a particular convention." But if any such convention were made, it was never ratified; only the parties agreed, by common consent, to take each a certain share of the burden upon themselves, which the late king William communicated to the house of commons by his secretary of state; and which afterwards, the other two powers, observing the mighty zeal in our ministry for prolonging the war, eluded as they pleased.
The commissioners for stating the publick accompts of the kingdom, had, in executing their office the preceding summer, discovered several practices relating to the affairs of the army; which they drew up in a report, and delivered to the house.
The commons began their examination of the report with a member of their own, Mr. Robert Walpole, already mentioned p. 43; who, during his being secretary at war, had received five hundred guineas, and taken a note for five hundred pounds more, on account of two contracts for forage of the queen's troops quartered in Scotland. He endeavoured to excuse the first contract; but had nothing to say about the second. The first appeared so plain and so scandalous to the commons, that they voted the author of it guilty of a high breach of trust, and notorious corruption, committed him prisoner to the Tower, where he continued to the end of the session, and expelled him the house. He was a person much caressed by the opposers of the queen and ministry; having been first drawn into their party, by his indifference to any principles, and afterwards, kept steady by the loss of his place. His bold, forward countenance, altogether a stranger to that infirmity which makes men bashful, joined to a readiness of speaking in publick, has justly entitled him, among those of his faction, to be a sort of leader in the second form. The reader must excuse me for being so particular about one, who is otherwise altogether obscure.
Another part of the report concerned the duke of Marlborough, who had received large sums of money, by way of gratuity, from those who were the undertakers for providing the army with bread. This the duke excused, in a letter to the commissioners, from the like practice of other generals: but that excuse appeared to be of little weight, and the mischievous consequences of such a corruption were visible enough; since the money given by these undertakers, were but bribes for connivance at their indirect dealings with the army. And, as frauds that begin at the top, are apt to spread through all the subordinate ranks of those who have any share in the management, and to increase as they circulate; so, in this case, for every thousand pounds given to the general, the soldiers at least suffered fourfold.
Another article of this report, relating to the duke, was yet of more importance. The greatest part of her majesty's forces in Flanders, were mercenary troops, hired from several princes of Europe. It was found that the queen's general subtracted two and half per cent out of the pay of those troops, for his own use, which amounted to a great annual sum. The duke of Marlborough, in his letter already mentioned, endeavouring to extenuate the matter, told the commissioners, "That this deduction was a free gift from the foreign troops, which he had negotiated with them by the late king's orders, and had obtained the queen's warrant for reserving and receiving it: That it was intended for secret service, the ten thousand pounds a year given by parliament not proving sufficient; and had all been laid out that way." The commissioners observed, in answer, "That the warrant was kept dormant for nine years, as indeed no entry of it appeared in the secretary of state's books, and the deduction of it concealed all that time from the knowledge of parliament: That if it had been a free gift from the foreign troops, it would not have been stipulated by agreement, as the duke's letter confessed, and as his warrant declared; which latter affirmed this stoppage to be intended for defraying extraordinary contingent expenses of the troops, and therefore should not have been applied to secret services." They submitted to the house, whether the warrant itself were legal, or duly countersigned. The commissioners added, "That no receipt was ever given for this deducted money; nor was it mentioned in any receipts from the foreign troops, which were always taken in full. And lastly, That the whole sum, on computation, amounted to near three hundred thousand pounds."
The house, after a long debate, resolved, "That the taking several sums from the contractors for bread for the duke of Marlborough, was unwarrantable and illegal; and that the two and a half per cent deducted from the foreign troops, was publick money, and ought to be accounted for:" which resolutions were laid before the queen by the whole house, and her majesty promised to do her part in redressing what was complained of. The duke and his friends had, about the beginning of the war, by their credit with the queen, procured a warrant from her majesty for this perquisite of two and a half per cent. The warrant was directed to the duke of Marlborough, and countersigned by sir Charles Hedges, then secretary of state; by virtue of which, the paymaster-general of the army was to pay the said deducted money to the general, and take a receipt in full from the foreign troops.
It was observed, as very commendable and becoming the dignity of such an assembly, that this debate was managed with great temper, and with few personal reflections upon the duke of Marlborough. They seemed only desirous to come at the truth, without which, they could not answer the trust reposed in them by those whom they represented; and left the rest to her majesty's prudence. The attorney general was ordered to commence an action against the duke for the subtracted money; which would have amounted to a great sum, enough to ruin any private person, except himself. This process is still depending, although very moderately pursued, either by the queen's indulgence to one whom she had formerly so much trusted; or, perhaps, to be revived or slackened, according to the future demeanour of the defendant.
Some time after, Mr. Cardonnell, a member of parliament, and secretary to the general in Flanders, was expelled the house, for the offence of receiving yearly bribes from those who had contracted to furnish bread for the army; and met with no farther punishment for a practice voted to be unwarrantable and corrupt.
These were all the censures of any moment, which the commons, under so great a weight of business, thought fit to make, upon the reports of their commissioners for inspecting the publick accompts. But having promised, in the beginning of this history, to examine the state of the nation, with respect to its debts; by what negligence or corruption they first began, and in process of time made such a prodigious increase; and lastly, what courses have been taken, under the present administration, to find out funds for answering so many unprovided incumbrances, as well as put a stop to new ones; I shall endeavour to satisfy the reader upon this important article.
By all I have yet read of the history of our own country, it appears to me, that the national debts, secured upon parliamentary funds of interest, were things unknown in England, before the last revolution under the prince of Orange. It is true, that in the grand rebellion the king's enemies borrowed money of particular persons, upon what they called the publick faith; but this was only for short periods, and the sums no more than what they could pay at once, as they constantly did. Some of our kings have been very profuse in peace and war, and are blamed in history for their oppressions of the people by severe taxes, and for borrowing money which they never paid: but national debts was a style, which, I doubt, would hardly then be understood. When the prince of Orange was raised to the throne, and a general war began in these parts of Europe, the king and his counsellors thought it would be ill policy to commence his reign with heavy taxes upon the people, who had lived long in ease and plenty, and might be apt to think their deliverance too dearly bought: wherefore one of the first actions of the new government was, to take off the tax upon chimneys, as a burden very ungrateful to the commonalty. But money being wanted to support the war, (which even the convention parliament, that put the crown upon his head, were very unwilling he should engage in) the present bishop of Salisbury, is said to have found out that expedient (which he had learned in Holland) of raising money upon the security of taxes, that were only sufficient to pay a large interest. The motives which prevailed on people to fall in with this project, were many, and plausible; for, supposing as the ministers industriously gave out, that the war could not last above one or two campaigns at most, it might be carried on with very moderate taxes; and the debts accruing would, in process of time, be easily cleared after a peace. Then the bait of large interest would draw in a great number of those, whose money, by the danger and difficulties of trade, lay dead upon their hands; and whoever were lenders to the government, would, by surest principle, be obliged to support it. Besides, the men of estates could not be persuaded, without time and difficulty, to have those taxes laid on their lands, which custom has since made so familiar: and it was the business of such as were then in power, to cultivate a monied interest; because the gentry of the kingdom did not very much relish those new notions in government, to which the king, who had imbibed his politicks in his own country, was thought to give too much way. Neither, perhaps, did that prince think national incumbrances to be any evil at all; since the flourishing republick where he was born, is thought to owe more than ever it will be able, or willing to pay. And I remember, when I mentioned to mons. Buys the many millions we owed, he would advance it as a maxim, "That it was for the interest of the publick to be in debt;" which, perhaps, may be true in a commonwealth so crazily instituted, where the governors cannot have too many pledges of their subjects fidelity, and where a great majority must inevitably be undone by any revolution, however brought about. But to prescribe the same rules to a monarch, whose wealth arises from the rents and improvements of lands, as well as trade and manufactures, is the mark of a confined and cramped understanding.
I was moved to speak thus, because I am very well satisfied that the pernicious counsels of borrowing money upon publick funds of interest, as well as some other state lessons, were taken indigested from the like practices among the Dutch, without allowing in the least for any difference in government, religion, law, custom, extent of country, or manners and dispositions of the people.
But when this expedient of anticipations and mortgages, was first put in practice, artful men, in office and credit, began to consider what uses it might be applied to; and soon found it was likely to prove the most fruitful seminary, not only to establish a faction they intended to set up for their own support, but likewise to raise vast wealth for themselves in particular, who were to be the managers and directors in it. It was manifest, that nothing could promote these two designs so much, as burdening the nation with debts, and giving encouragement to lenders: for, as to the first, it was not to be doubted that monied men would be always firm to the party of those, who advised the borrowing upon such good security, and with such exorbitant premiums and interest; and every new sum that was lent, took away as much power from the landed men, as it added to theirs: so that, the deeper the kingdom was engaged, it was still the better for them. Thus a new estate and property sprung up in the hands of mortgagees, to whom every house and foot of land in England paid a rent-charge, free of all taxes and dafalcations, and purchased at less than half value. So that the gentlemen of estates were, in effect, but tenants to these new landlords; many of whom were able, in time, to force the election of boroughs out of the hands of those who had been the old proprietors and inhabitants. This was arrived at such a height, that a very few years more of war and funds, would have clearly cast the balance on the monied side.
As to the second, this project of borrowing upon funds, was of mighty advantage to those who were in the management of it, as well as to their friends and dependants; for, funds proving often deficient, the government was obliged to strike tallies for making up the rest; which tallies were sometimes (to speak in the merchants phrase) at above forty per cent discount. At this price, those who were in the secret bought them up, and then took care to have that deficiency supplied in the next session of parliament; by which they doubled their principal in a few months: and for the encouragement of lenders, every new project of lotteries or annuities, proposed some farther advantage, either as to interest or premium.
In the year 1697, general mortgage was made of certain revenues and taxes already settled, which amounted to near a million a year. This mortgage was to continue till 1706, to be a fund for the payment of above five millions one hundred thousand pounds. In the first parliament of the queen the said mortgage was continued till 1710, to supply a deficiency of two millions three hundred thousand pounds, and interest of above a million; and in the intermediate years a great part of that fund was branched out into annuities for ninety-nine years: so that the late ministry raised all their money, to 1710, only by continuing funds, which were already granted to their hands. This deceived the people in general, who were satisfied to continue the payments they had been accustomed to; and made the administration seem easy, since the war went on without any new taxes raised, except the very last year they were in power; not considering what a mighty fund was exhausted, and must be perpetuated, although extremely injurious to trade, and to the true interest of the nation.
This great fund of the general mortgage, was not only loaded, year after year, by mighty sums borrowed upon it, but with the interest due upon those sums: for which the treasury was forced to strike tallies, payable out of that fund, after all the money already borrowed upon it, there being no other provision of interest for three or four years; till at last, the fund was so overloaded, that it could neither pay principal nor interest; and tallies were struck for both, which occasioned their great discount.
But, to avoid mistakes upon a subject where I am not very well versed either in the style or matter, I will transcribe an account sent me by sir John Blunt, who is thoroughly instructed in these affairs:
"In the year 1707, the sum of eight hundred twenty-two thousand three hundred and eighty-one pounds, fifteen shillings, and sixpence, was raised, by continuing part of the general mortgage from 1710 to 1712; but with no provision of interest till August the first, 1710, otherwise than by striking tallies for it on that fund, payable after all the other money borrowed.
"In 1708, the same funds were continued from 1712 to 1714, to raise seven hundred twenty-nine thousand sixty-seven pounds, fifteen shillings, and sixpence; but no provision for interest till August the first, 1712; otherwise than as before, by striking tallies for it on the same fund, payable after all the rest of the money borrowed. And the discount of tallies then beginning to rise, great part of that money remained unraised; and there is nothing to pay interest for the money lent, till August the first, 1712. But the late lord treasurer struck tallies for the full sum directed by the act to be borrowed; great part of which have been delivered in payment to the navy and victualling offices; and some are still in the hands of the government.
"In 1709, part of the same fund was continued from August the first, 1714, to August the first, 1716, to raise six hundred forty-five thousand pounds; and no provision for interest till August the first, 1714 (which was about five years), but by borrowing money on the same fund, payable after the sums before lent; so that little of that money was lent. But the tallies were struck for what was unlent; some of which were given out for the payment of the navy and victualling; and some still remain in the hands of the government.
"In 1710, the sums which were before given from 1714 to 1716 were continued from thence to 1720, to raise one million two hundred ninety-six thousand five hundred and fifty-two pounds, nine shillings, and eleven pence three farthings; and no immediate provision for interest till August the first, 1716: only, after the duty of one shilling per bushel on salt should be cleared from the money it was then charged with, and which was not so cleared till Midsummer 1712 last; then that fund was to be applied to pay the interest till August the first, 1716; which interest amounted to about seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and ninety-three pounds per annum: and the said salt fund produced but about fifty-five thousand pounds per annum: so that no money was borrowed upon the general mortgage in 1710, except one hundred and fifty thousand pounds lent by the Swiss Cantons; but tallies were struck for the whole sum. These all remained in the late treasurer's hands at the time of his removal; yet the money was suspended, which occasioned those great demands upon the commissioners of the treasury who succeeded him, and were forced to pawn those tallies to the bank, or to remitters, rather than sell them at twenty or twenty-five per cent discount, as the price then was. About two hundred thousand pounds of them they paid to clothiers of the army, and others; and all the rest, being above ninety thousand pounds, have been subscribed into the Southsea Company, for the use of the publick.
When the earl of Godolphin was removed from his employment, he left a debt upon the navy of several millions, all contracted under his administration, which had no parliament security, and was daily increased. Neither could I ever learn, whether that lord had the smallest prospect of clearing this incumbrance, or whether there were policy, negligence, or despair, at the bottom of this unaccountable management. But the consequences were visible and ruinous; for by this means navy bills grew to be forty per cent discount, and upwards; and almost every kind of stores, bought by the navy and victualling offices, cost the government double rates, and sometimes more: so that the publick has directly lost several millions upon this one article, without any sort of necessity, that I could ever hear assigned, by the ablest vindicators of that party.
In this oppressed and entangled state was the kingdom, with relation to its debts, when the queen removed the earl of Godolphin from his office, and put it into commission, of which the present treasurer was one. This person had been chosen speaker successively to three parliaments, was afterwards secretary of state, and always in great esteem with the queen for his wisdom and fidelity. The late ministry, about two years before their fall, had prevailed with her majesty, much against her inclination, to dismiss him from her service; for which they cannot be justly blamed, since he had endeavoured the same thing against them, and very narrowly failed; which makes it the more extraordinary, that he should succeed in a second attempt, against those very adversaries, who had such fair warning by the first. He is firm and steady in his resolutions, not easily diverted from them after he has once possessed himself of an opinion that they are right; nor very communicative where he can act by himself, being taught by experience, "That a secret is seldom safe in more than one breast." That which occurs to other men after mature deliberation, offers to him as his first thoughts; so that he decides immediately what is best to be done, and therefore is seldom at a loss upon sudden exigencies. He thinks it a more easy and safe rule in politicks, to watch incidents as they come, and then turn them to the advantage of what he pursues, than to pretend to foresee them at a great distance. Fear, cruelty, avarice, and pride, are wholly strangers to his nature; but he is not without ambition. There is one thing peculiar in his temper, which I altogether disapprove, and do not remember to have heard or met with in any other man's character: I mean an easiness and indifference under any imputation, although he be ever so innocent, and although the strongest probabilities and appearances are against him; so that I have known him often suspected by his nearest friends, for some months, in points of the highest importance, to a degree that they were ready to break with him, and only undeceived by time and accident. His detractors, who charge him with cunning, are but ill acquainted with his character; for, in the sense they take the word, and as it is usually understood, I know no man to whom that mean talent could be with less justice applied, as the conduct of affairs, while he has been at the helm, does clearly demonstrate, very contrary to the nature and principles of cunning, which is always employed in serving little turns, proposing little ends, and supplying daily exigencies, by little shifts and expedients. But to rescue a prince out of the hands of insolent subjects, bent upon such designs as must probably end in the ruin of the governrnment; to find out means for paying such exorbitant debts as this nation hath been involved in, and reduce it to a better management; to make a potent enemy offer advantageous terms of peace, and deliver up the most important fortress of his kingdom as a security; and this against all the opposition mutually raised and inflamed by parties and allies: such performances can only be called cunning by those, whose want of understanding, or of candour, puts them upon finding ill names for great qualities of the mind, which themselves do neither possess, nor can form any just conception of. However, it must be allowed, that an obstinate love of secrecy in this minister, seems, at distance, to have some resemblance of cunning; for he is not only very retentive of secrets, but appears to be so too; which I number among his defects. He has been blamed by his friends, for refusing to discover his intentions, even in those points where the wisest man may have need of advice and assistance; and some have censured him upon that account, as if he were jealous of power: but he has been heard to answer, "That he seldom did otherwise, without cause to repent."
However, so undistinguished a caution, cannot, in my opinion, be justified, by which the owner loses many advantages, and whereof all men who deserve to be confided in, may, with some reason, complain. His love of procrastination (wherein doubtless nature has her share) may probably be increased by the same means; but this is an imputation laid upon many other great ministers, who, like men under too heavy a load, let fall that which is of the least consequence, and go back to fetch it when their shoulders are free; for, time is often gained, as well as lost, by delay, which, at worst, is a fault on the securer side. Neither probably is this minister answerable for half the clamour raised against him upon that article: his endeavours are wholly turned upon the general welfare of his country, but perhaps with too little regard to that of particular persons; which renders him less amiable, than he would otherwise have been, from the goodness of his humour, and agreeable conversation in a private capacity, and with few dependers. Yet some allowance may perhaps be given to this failing, which is one of the greatest he has; since he cannot be more careless of other men's fortunes, than he is of his own. He is master of a very great and faithful memory; which is of mighty use in the management of publick affairs: and I believe there are few examples to be produced, in any age, of a person who has passed through so many employments in the state, endowed with a greater share both of divine and human learning.
I am persuaded that foreigners, as well as those at home who live too remote from the scene of business to be rightly informed, will not be displeased with this account of a person, who, in the space of two years, has been so highly instrumental in changing the face of affairs in Europe, and has deserved so well of his own prince and country.
In that perplexed condition of the publick debts which I have already described, this minister was brought into the treasury and exchequer, and had the chief direction of affairs. His first regulation was that of exchequer bills, which, to the great discouragement of publick credit, and scandal to the crown, were three per cent less in value than the sums specified in them. The present treasurer, being then chancellor of the exchequer, procured an act of parliament, by which the bank of England should be obliged, in consideration of forty-five thousand pounds, to accept and circulate those bills without any discount. He then proceeded to stop the depredations of those who dealt in remittances of money to the army; who, by unheard of exactions in that kind of traffick, had amassed prodigious wealth at the publick cost; to which the earl of Godolphin had given too much way, possibly by neglect, for I think he cannot be accused of corruption.
But the new treasurer's chief concern was, to restore the credit of the nation, by finding some settlement for unprovided debts, amounting in the whole to ten millions, which hung on the publick as a load equally heavy and disgraceful, without any prospect of being removed, and which former ministers never had the care, or courage to inspect. He resolved to go at once to the bottom of this evil; and having computed and summed up the debt of the navy and victualling, ordnance, and transport of the army, and transport debentures made out for the service of the last war, of the general mortgage tallies for the year 1710, and some other deficiencies, he then found out a fund of interest sufficient to answer all this; which, being applied to other uses, could not raise present money for the war, but in a very few years would clear the debt it was engaged for. The intermediate accruing interest was to be paid by the treasurer of the navy; and as a farther advantage to the creditors, they should be erected into a company for trading to the South Seas, and for encouragement of fishery. When all this was fully prepared and digested, he made a motion in the house of commons (who deferred extremely to his judgment and abilities) for paying the debts of the navy and other unprovided deficiencies, without entering into particulars; which was immediately voted. But a sudden stop was put to this affair by an unforeseen accident. The chancellor of the exchequer (which was then his title) being stabbed with a penknife, the following day, at the Cockpit, in the midst of a dozen lords of the council, by the sieur de Guiscard, a French papist; the circumstances of which fact being not within the compass of this history, I shall only observe, that after two months confinement, and frequent danger of his life, he returned to his seat in parliament.
The overtures made by this minister, of paying so vast a debt under the pressures of a long war, and the difficulty of finding supplies for continuing it, was, during the time of his illness, ridiculed by his enemies as an impracticable and visionary project: and when, upon his return to the house, he had explained his proposal, the very proprietors of the debt were many of them prevailed on to oppose it; although the obtaining this trade, either through Old Spain, or directly to the Spanish West Indies, had been one principal end we aimed at by this war. However, the bill passed; and, as an immediate consequence, the navy bills rose to about twenty per cent nor ever fell within ten of their discount. Another good effect of this work appeared by the parliamentary lotteries, which have since been erected. The last of that kind, under the former ministry, was eleven weeks in filling; whereas the first, under the present, was filled in a very few hours, although it cost the government less; and the others which followed were full before the acts concerning them could pass. And to prevent incumbrances of this kind from growing for the future, he took care, by the utmost parsimony, or by suspending payments where they seemed less to press, that all stores for the navy should be bought with ready money; by which cent per cent has been saved in that mighty article of our expense, as will appear from an account taken at the victualling office on the 9th of August, 1712. And the payment of the interest was less a burden upon the navy, by the stores being bought at so cheap a rate.
It might look invidious to enter into farther particulars upon this head, but of smaller moment. What I have above related, may serve to show in how ill a condition the kingdom stood, with relation to its debts, by the corruption, as well as negligence of former management; and what prudent effectual measures have since been taken to provide for old incumbrances, and hinder the running into new. This may be sufficient for the information of the reader, perhaps already tired with a subject so little entertaining as that of accompts: I shall therefore now return to relate some of the principal matters that passed in parliament during this session.
Upon the 18th of January, the house of lords sent down a bill to the commons, for fixing the precedence of the Hanover family, which probably had been forgot in the acts for settling the succession of the crown. That of Henry VIII, which gives the rank to princes of the blood, carries it no farther than to nephews, nieces and grandchildren, of the crown; by virtue of which, the princess Sophia is a princess of the blood, as niece to king Charles I. of England, and precedes accordingly; but the privilege does not descend to her son the elector, or the electoral prince. To supply which defect, and pay a compliment to the presumptive heirs of the crown, this bill, as appears by the preamble, was recommended by her majesty to the house of lords; which the commons, to show their zeal for every thing that might be thought to concern the interest or honour of that illustrious family, ordered to be read thrice, passed nem. con. and returned to the lords, without any amendment, on the very day it was sent down.
But the house seemed to have nothing more at heart, than a strict inquiry into the state of the nation, with respect to foreign alliances. Some discourses had been published in print, about the beginning of the session, boldly complaining of certain articles in the Barrier-treaty, concluded about three years since by the lord viscount Townshend, between Great Britain and the States General; and showing, in many particulars, the unequal conduct of the powers in our alliance, in furnishing their quotas and supplies. It was asserted, by the same writers, "That these hardships put upon England, had been countenanced and encouraged by a party here at home, in order to preserve their power, which could be no otherwise maintained than by continuing the war; as well as by her majesty's general abroad, upon account of his own peculiar interest and grandeur." These loud accusations spreading themselves throughout the kingdom, delivered in facts directly charged, and thought, whether true or not, to be but weakly confuted, had sufficiently prepared the minds of the people; and by putting arguments into every body's mouth, had filled the town and country with controversies, both in writing and discourse. The point appeared to be of great consequence, whether the war continued or not; for, in the former case, it was necessary that the allies should be brought to a more equal regulation; and that the States in particular, for whom her majesty had done such great things, should explain and correct those articles in the Barrier-treaty, which were prejudicial to Britain; and in either case, it was fit the people should have at least the satisfaction of knowing by whose counsels, and for what designs, they had been so hardly treated.
In order to this great inquiry, the Barrier-treaty, with all other treaties and agreements entered into between her majesty and her allies, during the present war, for raising and augmenting the proportions for the service thereof, were, by the queen's directions, laid before the house.
Several resolutions were drawn up, and reported at different times, upon the deficiencies of the allies in furnishing their quotas, upon certain articles in the Barrier-treaty, and upon the state of the war; by all which it appeared, "That whatever had been charged, by publick discourses in print, against the late ministry, and the conduct of the allies, was much less than the truth." Upon these resolutions, (by one of which the lord viscount Townshend, who negotiated and signed the Barrier-treaty, was declared an enemy to the queen and kingdom) and upon some farther directions to the committee, a representation was formed; and soon after, the commons, in a body, presented it to the queen, the endeavours of the adverse party not prevailing to have it recommitted.
This representation (supposed to be the work of sir Thomas Hanmer's pen) is written with much energy and spirit, and will be a very useful authentick record, for the assitance of those, who at any time shall undertake to write the history of the present times.
I did intend, for brevity sake, to have given the reader only an abstract of it; but, upon trial, found myself unequal to such a task, without injuring so excellent a piece. And although I think historical relations are but ill patched up with long transcripts already printed, which, upon that account, I have hitherto avoided: yet, this being the sum of all debates and resolutions of the house of commons in that great affair of the war, I conceived it could not well be omitted:
"Most gracious sovereign,
"We, your majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, having nothing so much at heart, as to enable your majesty to bring this long and expensive war, to an honourable and happy conclusion, have taken it into our most serious consideration, how the necessary supplier to be provided by us may be best applied, and how the common cause may in the most effectual manner be carried on, by the united force of the whole confederacy: We have thought ourselves obliged, in duty to your majesty, and in discharge of the trust reposed in us, to inquire into the true state of the war in all its parts: We have examined what stipulations have been entered into between your majesty and your allies; and how far such engagements have, on each side, been made good: We have considered the different interests which the confederates have in the success of this war; and the different shares they have contributed to its support: We have with our utmost care and diligence endeavoured to discover the nature, extent, and charge of it; to the end that by comparing the weight thereof with our own strength, we might adapt the one to the other in such measure, as neither to continue your majesty's subjects under a heavier burden than in reason and justice they ought to bear, nor deceive your majesty, your allies, and ourselves, by undertaking more than the nation in its present circumstances is able to perform.
"Your majesty has been graciously pleased, upon our humble applications, to order such materials to be laid before us, as have furnished us with the necessary information, upon the particulars we have inquired into: and when we shall have laid before your majesty our observations, and humble advice upon this subject, we promise to ourselves this happy fruit from it, that if your majesty's generous and good purposes for the procuring of a safe and lasting peace, should, through the obstinacy of the enemy, or by any other means, be unhappily defeated, a true knowledge and understanding of the past conduct of the war, will be the best foundation for a more frugal and equal management of it, for the time to come.
"In order to take the more perfect view of what we proposed, and that we might be able to set the whole before your majesty in a true light, we have thought it necessary to go back to the beginning of the war; and beg leave to observe the motives and reasons, upon which, his late majesty king William engaged first in it. The treaty of the grand alliance explains those reasons to be, for the supporting of the pretensions of his imperial majesty, then actually engaged in a war with the French king, who had usurped the entire Spanish monarchy, for his grandson the duke of Anjou; and for the assisting of the States General, who, by the loss of their barrier against France, were then in the same, or a more dangerous condition, than if they were actually invaded. As these were just and necessary motives for undertaking this war, so the ends proposed to be obtained by it were equally wise and honourable; for, as they are set forth in the eighth artide of the same treaty, they appear to have been, the procuring of an equitable and reasonable satisfaction to his imperial majesty; and sufficient securities for the dominions, provinces, navigation, and commerce, of the king of Great Britain and the States General; and making effectual provision, that the two kingdoms of France and Spain, should never be united under the same government; and particularly, that the French should never get into the possession of the Spanish West Indies, or be permitted to sail thither, upon the account of traffick, or under any pretence whatsoever; and lastly, the securing to the subjects of the king of Great Britain, and the States General, all the same privileges and rights of commerce, throughout the whole dominions of Spain, as they enjoyed before the death of Charles II., king of Spain, by virtue of any treaty, agreement, or custom, or any other way whatsoever. For the obtaining of these ends, the three confederated powers engaged to assist one another with their whole force, according to such proportions as should be specified in a particular convention afterwards to be made for that purpose. We do not find that any such convention was ever ratified: but it appears, that there was an agreement concluded, which, by common consent, was understood to be binding upon each party respectively, and according to which, the proportions of Great Britain were from the beginning regulated and founded. The terms of that agreement were, That for the service at land, his imperial majesty should furnish ninety men, the king of Great Britain forty thousand, and the States General one hundred and two thousand: of which there were forty-two thousand intended to supply their garrisons, and sixty thousand to act against the common enemy in the field; and with regard to the operations of the war at sea, they were agreed to be performed jointly by Great Britain and the States General, the quota of ships to be furnished for that service being five-eighths on the part of Great Britain, and three-eighths on the part of the States General.
"Upon this foot, the war began in the year 1702; at which time, the whole yearly expense of it to England, amounted to three millions seven hundred and six thousand four hundred ninety-four pounds; a very great charge, as it was then thought by her majesty's subjects, after the short interval of ease they had enjoyed from the burden of the former war; but yet a very moderate proportion, in comparison with the load which has since been laid upon them: for it appears, by estimates given in to your commons, that the sums necessary to carry on the service for this present year, in the same manner as it was perfonned the last year, amount to more than six millions nine hundred and sixty thousand pounds, beside interest for the publick debts, and the deficiencies accruing the last year, which two articles require one million one hundred and forty-three thousand pounds more; so that the whole demands upon your commons, are arisen to more than eight millions, for the present annual supply. We know your majesty's tender regard for the welfare of your people, will make it uneasy to you to hear of so great a pressure as this upon them: and as we are assured it will fully convince your majesty of the necessity of our present inquiry; so, we beg leave to represent to you from what causes, and by what steps, this immense charge appears to have grown upon us.
"The service at sea, as it has been very large and extensive in itself, so it has been carried on, through the whole course of the war, in a manner highly disadvantageous to your majesty and your kingdom: for the necessity of affairs requiring that great fleets should be fitted out every year, as well for maintaining a superiority in the Mediterranean, as for opposing any force which the enemy might prepare, either at Dunkirk, or in the ports of West France; your majesty's example and readiness, in fitting out your proportion of ships for all parts of that service, have been so far from prevailing with the States General to keep pace with you, that they have been deficient every year to a great degree, in proportion to what your majesty has furnished; sometimes, no less than two-thirds, and generally, more than half of their quota: hence your majesty has been obliged, for the prevention of disappointments in the most pressing services, to supply those deficiencies by additional reinforcements of your own ships; nor has the single increase of such a charge been the only ill consequence that attended it; for, by this means the debt of the navy has been enhanced, so that the discounts arising upon the credit of it, have affected all other parts of the service, from the same cause. Your majesty's ships of war have been forced in greater numbers to continue in remote seas, and at unseasonable times of the year, to the great damage and decay of the British navy. This also has been the occasion that your majesty has been straitened in your convoys for trade; your coasts have been exposed, for want of a sufficient number of cruisers to guard them; and you have been disabled from annoying the enemy in their most beneficial commerce with the West Indies, from whence they received those vast supplies of treasure, without which they could not have supported the expenses of this war.
"That part of the war which has been carried on in Flanders, was at first immediately necessary to the security of the States General, and has since brought them great acquisitions both of revenue and dominion: yet even there the original proportions have been departed from, and during the course of the war, have been sinking by degrees on the part of Holland: so that, in this last year, we find the number in which they fell short of their three-fifths, to your majesty's two-fifths, have been twenty thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven men. We are not unmindful that in the year 1703, a treaty was made between the two nations, for a joint augmentation of twenty thousand men, wherein the proportions were varied, and England consented to take half upon itself. But it having been annexed as an express condition to the grant of the said augmentation in parliament, that the States General should prohibit all trade and commerce with France; and that condition having not been performed by them; the commons think it reasonable, that the first rule of three to two ought to have taken place again, as well in that, as in other subsequent augmentations; more especially when they consider, that the revenues of those rich provinces which have been conquered, would, if they were duly applied, maintain a great number of new additional forces against the common enemy: notwithstanding which, the States General have raised none upon that account: but make use of those fresh supplies of money, only to ease themselves in the charges of their first established quota.
As, in the progress of the war in Flanders, a disproportion was soon created to the prejudice of England; so the very beginning of the war in Portugal, brought an unequal share of burden upon us: for, although the emperor and the States General were equally parties with your majesty, in the treaty with the king of Portugal; yet, the emperor neither furnishing his third part of the troops and subsidies stipulated for, nor the Dutch consenting to take an equal share of his imperial majesty's defect upon themselves, your majesty has been obliged to furnish two-thirds of the entire expense created by that service. Nor has the inequality stopped there; for ever since the year 1706, when the English and Dutch forces marched out of Portugal into Castile, the States General have entirely abandoned the war in Portugal, and left your majesty to prosecute it singly at your own charge; which you have accordingly done, by replacing a greater number of troops there, than even at first you took upon you to provide. At the same time, your majesty's generous endeavours for the support and defence of the king of Portugal, have been but ill seconded by that prince himself; for, notwithstanding that by his treaty he had obliged himself to furnish twelve thousand foot, and three thousand horse, upon his own account, beside eleven thousand foot, and two thousand horse more, in consideration of a subsidy paid him; yet, according to the best information your commons can procure, it appears that he has scarce at any time furnished thirteen thousand men in the whole.
"In Spain, the war has been yet more unequal and burdensome to your majesty, than in any other branch of it; for, being commenced without any treaty whatsoever, the allies have almost wholly declined taking any part of it upon themselves. A small body of English and Dutch troops were sent thither in the year 1705; not as being thought sufficient to support a regular war, or to make the conquest of so large a country; but with a view only of assisting the Spaniards to set king Charles upon the throne; occasioned by the great assurances which were given of their inclinations to the house of Austria; but, this expectation failing, England was insensibly drawn into an established war, under all the disadvantages of the distance of the place, and the feeble efforts of the other allies. The account we have to lay before your majesty upon this head, is, that although this undertaking was entered upon at the particular and earnest request of the imperial court, and for a cause of no less importance and concern to them than the reducing of the Spanish monarchy to the house of Austria; yet, neither the late emperors, nor his present imperial majesty, have ever had any forces there on their own account, till the last year; and then only one regiment of foot, consisting of two thousand men. Though the States General have contributed something more to this service, yet their share has been inconsiderable; for, in the space of four years, from 1705 to 1708, both inclusive, all the forces they have sent into that country, have not exceeded twelve thousand two hundred men; and from the year 1708 to this time, they have not sent any forces or recruits whatsoever. To your majesty's care and charge the recovery of that kingdom has been in a manner wholly left, as if none else were interested or concerned in it. And the forces which your majesty has sent into Spain, in the space of seven years, from 1705 to 1711, both inclusive, have amounted to no less than fifty-seven thousand nine hundred seventy-three men; beside thirteen battalions, and eighteen squadrons, for which your majesty has paid a subsidy to the emperor.
"How great the established expense of such a number of men has been, your majesty very well knows, and your commons very sensibly feel: but the weight will be found much greater when it is considered how many heavy articles of unusual and extraordinary charge, have attended this remote and difficult service; all which have been entirely defrayed by your majesty, except that one of transporting the few forces which were sent by the States General, and the victualling of them during their transportation only. The accounts delivered to your commons show, that the charge of your majesty's ships and vessels, employed in the service of the war in Spain and Portugal, reckoned after the rate of four pounds a man per month, from the time they sailed from hence, till they returned, were lost, or put upon other services, has amounted to six millions five hundred forty thousand nine hundred and sixty-six pounds, fourteen shillings; the charge of transports on the part of Great Britain, for carrying on the war in Spain and Portugal, from the beginning of it till this time, has amounted to one million three hundred thirty-six thousand seven hundred and nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings, and eleven pence; that of victualling land forces for the same service, to five hundred eighty-three thousand seven hundred and seventy pounds, eight shillings, and sixpence; and that of contingencies, and other extraordinaries for the same service, to one million eight hundred forty thousand three hundred and fifty-three pounds.
"We should take notice to your majesty of several sums paid upon account of contingencies and extraordinaries in Flanders, making together the sum of one million one hundred seven thousand ninety-six pounds; but we are not able to make any comparison of them, with what the States General have expended upon the same head, having no such state of their extraordinary charge before us. There remains, therefore, but one particular more for your majesty's observation, which arises from the subsidies paid to foreign princes. These, at the beginning of the war, were born in equal proportion by your majesty and the States General; but in this instance also, the balance has been cast in prejudice of your majesty: for it appears that your majesty has since advanced, more than your equal proportion, three millions one hundred and fifty-five thousand crowns, beside extraordinaries paid in Italy, and not included in any of the foregoing articles, which arise to five hundred thirty-nine thousand five hundred and fifty-three pounds.
"We have laid these several particulars before your majesty in the shortest manner we have been able; and by an estimate grounded on the preceding facts, it does appear, that over and above the quotas on the part of Great Britain, answering to those contributed by your allies, more than nineteen millions have been expended by your majesty, during the course of this war, by way of surplusage, or exceeding in balance; of which none of the confederates have furnished any thing whatsoever.
"It is with very great concern that we find so much occasion given us, to represent how ill a use hath been made of your majesty's, and your subjects zeal for the common cause: that the interest of that cause has not been proportionably promoted by it, but others only have been eased at your majesty's, and your subjects costs; and have been connived at in laying their part of the burden upon this kingdom, although they have, upon all accounts, been equally, and in most respects, much more nearly concerned than Britain, in the issue of the war. We are persuaded, your majesty will think it pardonable in us, with some resentment, to complain of the little regard, which some of those, whom your majesty of late years intrusted, have shown to the interest of their country, in giving way at least to such unreasonable impositions upon it, if not in some measure contriving them: the course of which impositions has been so singular and extraordinary, that the more the wealth of this nation has been exhausted, and the more your majesty's arms have been attended with success, the heavier has been the burden laid upon us; while, on the other hand, the more vigorous your majesty's efforts have been, and the greater the advantages which have redounded thence to your allies, the more those allies have abated in the share of their expense.
"At the first entrance into this war, the commons were reduced to exert themselves in the extraordinary manner they did, and to grant such large supplies, as had been unknown to former ages, in hopes thereby to prevent the mischiefs of a lingering war, and to bring that, in which they were necessarily engaged, to a speedy conclusion: but they have been very unhappy in the event, while they have so much reason to suspect that what was intended to shorten the war, has proved the very cause of its long continuance; for, those to whom the profits of it have accrued, have been disposed not easily to forego them. And your majesty will thence discern the true reason why so many have delighted in a war, which brought in so rich a harvest yearly from Great Britain.
"We are as far from desiring, as we know your majesty will be from concluding, any peace, but upon safe and honourable terms: and we are far from intending to excuse ourselves from raising all necessary and possible supplies, for an effectual prosecution of the war, till such a peace can be obtained. All that your faithful commons aim at, all that they wish; is an equal concurrence from the other powers, engaged in alliance with your majesty; and a just application of what has been already gained from the enemy, toward promoting the common cause. Several large countries and territories have been restored to the house of Austria; such as, the kingdom of Naples, the duchy of Milan, and other places in Italy. Others have been conquered, and added to their dominions; as the two electorates of Bavaria and Cologn, the duchy of Mantua, and the bishoprick of Liege. These, having been reduced, in a great measure, by our blood and treasure, may, we humbly conceive, with great reason, be claimed to come in aid toward carrying on the war in Spain. And therefore we make it our earnest request to your majesty, that you will give instructions to your ministers, to insist with the emperor, that the revenues of those several places, excepting only such a portion thereof as is necessary for their defence, be actually so applied. And as to the other parts of the war, to which your majesty has obliged yourself by particular treaties to contribute, we humbly beseech your majesty, that you will be pleased to take effectual care, that your allies do perform their parts stipulated by those treaties; and that your majesty will, for the future, no otherwise furnish troops, or pay subsidies, than in proportion to what your allies shall actually furnish and pay. When this justice is done to your majesty and to your people, there is nothing which your commons will not cheerfully grant, toward supporting your majesty in the cause in which you are engaged. And whatever farther shall appear to be necessary for carrying on the war, either at sea or land, we will effectually enable your majesty to bear your reasonable share, of any such expense; and will spare no supplies which your subjects are able, with their utmost efforts, to afford.
"After having inquired into, and considered the State of the war, in which the part your majesty has born, appears to have been not only superiour to that of any one ally, but even equal to that of the whole confederacy; your commons naturally inclined to hope, that they should find care had been taken of securing some particular advantages to Britain, in the terms of a future peace; such as might afford a prospect of making the nation amends, in time, for that immense treasure which has been expended, and those heavy debts which have been contracted, in the course of so long and burdensome a war. This reasonable expectation could no way have been better answered, than by some provision made for the farther security, and the greater improvement of the commerce of Great Britain. But we find ourselves so very far disappointed in these hopes, that, in a treaty not long since concluded between your majesty and the States General, under colour of a mutual guarantee given for two points of the greatest importance to both nations, the Succession and the Barrier; it appears, the interest of Great Britain has been not only neglected, but sacrificed; and that several articles in the said treaty are destructive to the trade and welfare of this kingdom, and therefore highly dishonourable to your majesty.
"Your commons observe, in the first place, that several towns and places are, by virtue of this treaty, to be put into the hands of the States General; particularly Newport, Dendermond, and the castle of Ghent, which can in no sense be looked upon as part of a barrier against France; but, being the keys of the Netherlands toward Britain, must make the trade of your majesty's subjects in those parts, precarious, and whenever the States think fit, totally exclude them from it. The pretended necessity of putting these places into the hands of the States General, in order to secure to them a communication with their barrier, must appear vain and groundless; for, the sovereignty of the Low Countries being not to remain to an enemy, but to a friend and an ally, that communication must be always secure and uninterrupted; beside that, in case of a rupture or an attack, the States have full liberty allowed them to take possession of all the Spanish Netherlands, and therefore needed no particular stipulation for the towns abovementioned.
"Having taken notice of this concession made to the States General, for seizing upon the whole ten provinces; we cannot but observe to your majesty, that in the manner this article is framed, it is another dangerous circumstance which attends this treaty; for, had such a provision been confined to the case of an apparent attack from France only, the avowed design of this treaty had been fulfilled, and your majesty's instructions to your ambassador had been pursued: but this necessary restriction has been omitted; and the same liberty is granted to the States, to take possession of all the Netherlands, whenever they shall think themselves attacked by any other neighbouring nation, as when they shall be in danger from France: so that, if it should at any time happen (which your commons are very unwilling to suppose) that they should quarrel even with your majesty, the riches, strength, and advantageous situation of these countries, may be made use of against yourself, without whose generous and powerful assistance, they had never been conquered.
"To return to those ill consequences which relate to the trade of your kingdoms. We beg leave to observe to your majesty, that though this treaty revives and renders your majesty a party to the fourteenth and fifteenth articles of the treaty of Munster, by virtue of which the impositions upon all goods and merchandises brought into the Spanish Low Countries by the sea, are to equal those laid on goods and merchandises imported by the Scheld, and the canals of Sass and Swyn, and other mouths of the sea adjoining; yet no care is taken to preserve that equality, upon the exportation of those goods out of the Spanish provinces, into those countries and places which, by virtue of this treaty, are to be in possession of the States; the consequence of which must in time be, and your commons are informed that in some instances it has already proved to be the case, that the impositions upon goods carried into those countries and places by the subjects of the States General, will be taken off, while those upon the goods imported by your majesty's subjects remain: by which means, Great Britain will entirely lose this most beneficial branch of trade, which it has in all ages been possessed of, even from the time when those countries were governed by the house of Burgundy, one of the most ancient, as well as the most useful allies to the crown of England.
"With repard to the other dominions and territories of Spain, your majesty's subjects have always been distinguished in their commerce with them; and, both by ancient treaties, and an uninterrupted custom, have enjoyed greater privileges and immunities of trade, than either the Hollanders, or any other nation whatsoever. And that wise and excellent treaty of the Grand Alliance, provides effectually for the security and continuance of these valuable privileges to Britain, in such a manner, as that each nation might be left, at the end of war, upon the same foot as it stood at the commencement of it. But this treaty we now complain of, instead of confirming your subjects rights, surrenders and destroys them; for, although by the sixteenth and seventeenth articles of the treaty of Munster, made between his Catholick majesty and the States General, all advantages of trade are stipulated for, and granted to the Hollanders, equal to what the English enjoyed; yet, the crown of England not being a party to that treaty, the subjects of England have never submitted to those articles of it, nor even the Spaniards themselves ever observed them. But this treaty revives those articles in prejudice of Great Britain; and makes your majesty a party of them, and even a guarantee to the States General, for privileges against your own people.
"In how deliberate and extraordinary a manner your majesty's ambassador consented to deprive your subjects of their ancient rights, and your majesty of the power of procuring to them any new advantage, most evidently appears from his own letters, which, by your majesty's directions, have been laid before your commons: for, when matters of advantage to your majesty, and to your kingdom, had been offered, as proper to be made parts of this treaty, they were refused to be admitted by the States General, upon this reason and principle: That nothing foreign to the guaranties of the succession and of the barrier, should be mingled with them. Notwithstanding which, the States General had no sooner received notice of a treaty of commerce concluded between your majesty and the present emperor, but they departed from the rule proposed before, and insisted upon the article of which your commons now complain; which article, your majesty's ambassador allowed of, although equally foreign to the succession or the barrier; and although he had, for that reason, departed from other articles, which would have been for the service of his own country.
"We have forborn to trouble your majesty with general observations upon this treaty, as it relates to, and affects the empire, and other parts of Europe. The mischiefs which arise from it to Great Britain are what only we have presumed humbly to represent to you, as they are very evident and very great. And as it appears that the lord viscount Townshend had not any orders, or authority, for concluding several of those articles, which are most prejudicial to your majesty's subjects; we have thought we could do no less than declare your said ambassador who negotiated and signed, and all others who advised the ratifying of this treaty, enemies to your majesty and your kingdom.
"Upon these faithful informations and advices from your commons, we assure ourselves, your majesty, in your great goodness to your people, will rescue them from those evils, which the private counsels of ill-designing men have exposed them to; and that, in your great wisdom, you will find some means for explaining and amending the several articles of this treaty, so as that they may consist with the interest of Great Britain, and with real and lasting friendship between your majesty and the States General."
Between the representation, and the first debates upon the subject of it, several weeks had passed; during which time the parliament had other matters likewise before them, that deserve to be mentioned. For, on the 9th of February was repealed the act for naturalizing foreign protestants, which had been passed under the last ministry, and, as many people thought, to very ill purposes. By this act, any foreigner, who would take the oaths to the government, and profess himself a protestant, of whatever denomination, was immediately naturalized, and had all the privileges of an English born subject, at the expense of a shilling. Most protestants abroad differ from us in the points of church government; so that all the acquisitions by this act, would increase the number of dissenters; and therefore, the proposal that such foreigners should be obliged to conform to the established worship, was rejected. But, because several persons were fond of this project, as a thing that would be of mighty advantage to the kingdom, I shall say a few words upon it.
The maxim, "That people are the riches of a nation," has been crudely understood by many writers and reasoners upon that subject. There are several ways by which people are brought into a country. Sometimes a nation is invaded, and subdued; and the conquerors seize the lands and make the natives their under tenants or servants. Colonies have been always planted where the natives were driven out or destroyed, or the land uncultivated and waste. In those countries, where the lord of the soil is master of the labour and liberty of his tenants, or of slaves bought by his money, men's riches are reckoned by the number of their vassals. And sometimes, in governments newly instituted, where there are not people to till the ground, many laws have been made to encourage and allure numbers from the neighbouring countries. And in all these cases, the new comers have either lands allotted them, or are slaves to the proprietors. But to invite helpless families, by thousands, into a kingdom inhabited like ours, without lands to give them, and where the laws will not allow that they should be part of the property as servants, is a wrong application of the maxim; and the same thing, in great, as infants dropped at the doors, which are only a burden and charge to the parish. The true way of multiplying mankind to publick advantage, in such a country as England, is, to invite from abroad only able handicraftsmen and artificers, or such who bring over a sufficient share of property to secure them from want; to enact and enforce sumptuary laws against luxury, and all excesses in clothing, furniture, and the like; to encourage matrimony, and reward, as the Romans did, those who have a certain number of children. Whether bringing over the Palatines were a mere consequence of this law for a general naturalization; or whether, as many surmised, it had some other meaning; it appeared manifestly, by the issue, that the publick was a loser by every individual among them; and that a kingdom can no more be the richer by such an importation, than a man can be fatter by a wen, which is unsightly and troublesome at best, and intercepts that nourishment, which would otherwise diffuse itself through the whole body.
About a fortnight after, the commons sent up a bill for securing the freedom of parliaments, by limiting the number of members in that house, who should be allowed to possess employments under the crown. Bills to the same effect, promoted by both parties, had, after making the like progress, been rejected in former parliaments; the court and ministry, who will ever be against such a law, having usually a greater influence in the house of lords: and so it happened now. Although that influence were less, I am apt to think that such a law would be too thorough a reformation in one point, while we have so many corruptions in the rest; and perhaps the regulations already made on that article are sufficient, by which several employments incapacitate a man from being chosen a member, and all of them bring it to a new election.
For my own part, when I consider the temper of particular persons, and by what maxims they have acted (almost without exception) in their private capacities, I cannot conceive how such a bill should obtain a majority, unless every man expected to be one of the fifty, which, I think, was the limitation intended.
About the same time, likewise, the house of commons advanced one considerable step, toward securing us against farther impositions from our allies; resolving that the additional forces should be continued; but with a condition, that the Dutch should make good their proposition of three-fifths to two-fifths, which those confederates had so long, and in so great degree, neglected. The duke of Marlborough's deduction of two and a half per cent from the pay of the foreign troops, was also applied for carrying on the war.
Lastly, within this period is to be included the act passed to prevent the disturbing those of the episcopal communion in Scotland, in the exercise of their religious worship, and in the use of the liturgy of the church of England. It is known enough, that the most considerable of the nobility and gentry there, as well as great numbers of the people, dread the tyrannical discipline of those synods and presbyteries; and at the same time, have the utmost contempt for the abilities and tenets of their teachers. It was besides thought an inequality, beyond all appearance of reason or justice, that dissenters of every denomination here, who are the meanest and most illiterate part among us, should possess a toleration by law, under colour of which they might, upon occasion, be bold enough to insult the religion established; while those of the episcopal church in Scotland, groaned under a real persecution. The only specious objection against this bill was, that it set the religion by law in both parts of the island upon a different foot, directly contrary to the Union; because, by an act passed this very session against occasional conformity, our dissenters were shut out from all employments. A petition from Carstairs, and other Scotch professors, against this bill, was offered to the house, but not accepted; and a motion made by the other party, to receive a clause, that should restrain all persons who have any office in Scotland, from going to episcopal meetings, passed in the negative. It is manifest, that the promoters of this clause, were not moved by any regard for Scotland, which is by no means their favourite at present; only they hoped, that if it were made part of a law, it might occasion such a choice of representatives in both houses, from Scotland, as would be a considerable strength to their faction here. But the proposition was in itself extremely absurd, that so many lords and other persons of distinction, who have great employments, pensions, posts in the army, and other places of profit, many of whom are in frequent or constant attendance at the court, and utterly dislike their national way of worship, should be deprived of their liberty of conscience at home; not to mention those who are sent thither from hence, to take care of the revenue and other affairs, who would ill digest the changing of their religion for that of Scotland.
With a farther view of favour toward the episcopal clergy of Scotland, three members of that country, were directed to bring in a bill, for restoring the patrons to their ancient rights of presenting ministers to the vacant churches there; which the kirk, during the height of their power, had obtained for themselves. And, to conclude this subject at once, the queen, at the close of the session, commanded Mr. secretary St. John to acquaint the house, "That, pursuant to their address, the profits arising from the bishops estates in Scotland, which remained in the crown, should be applied to the support of such of the episcopal clergy there, as would take the oaths to her majesty."
Nothing could more amply justify the proceedings of the queen and her ministers, for two years past, than that famous representation above at large recited; the unbiassed wisdom of the nation, after the strictest inquiry, confirming those facts upon which her majesty's counsels were grounded: and many persons, who were before inclined to believe that the allies and the late ministry had been too much loaded by the malice, misrepresentations, or ignorance of writers, who were now fully convinced of their mistake by so great an authority. Upon this occasion I cannot forbear doing justice to Mr. St. John, who had been secretary at war, for several years, under the former administration, where he had the advantage of observing how affairs were managed both at home and abroad. He was one of those who shared in the present treasurer's fortune, resigning up his employment at the same time; and upon that minister's being again taken into favour, this gentleman was some time after made secretary of state. There he began afresh, by the opportunities of his station, to look into past miscarriages; and, by the force of an extraordinary genius, and application to publick affairs, joined with an invincible eloquence, laid open the scene of miscarriages and corruptions, through the whole course of the war, in so evident a manner, that the house of commons seemed principally directed in their resolutions, upon this inquiry, by his information and advice. In a short time after the representation was published, there appeared a memorial in the Dutch gazette, as by order of the States, reflecting very much upon the said representation, as well as the resolutions on which it was founded, pretending to deny some of the facts, and to extenuate others. This memorial, translated into English, a common writer of news had the boldness to insert in one of his papers. A complaint being made thereof to the house of commons; they voted the pretended memorial to be a false, scandalous, malicious libel, and ordered the printer to be taken into custody.
It was the misfortune of the ministers, that while they were baited by their professed adversaries of the discontented faction, acting in confederacy with emissaries of foreign powers, to break the measures her majesty had taken toward a peace, they met, at the same time, with frequent difficulties from those who agreed and engaged with them to pursue the same general end, but sometimes disapproved the methods as too slack and remiss, or in appearance now and then, perhaps, a little dubious. In the first session of this parliament, a considerable number of gentlemen, all members of the house of commons, began to meet by themselves, and consult what course they ought to steer in this new world. They intended to revive a new country party in parliament, which might, as in former times, oppose the court in any proceedings they disliked. The whole body was of such who profess what is commonly called high-church principles, upon which account, they were irreconcileable enemies to the late ministry and all its adherents. On the other side, considering the temper of the new men in power, that they were persons who had formerly moved between the two extremes, those gentlemen who were impatient for an entire change, and to see all their adversaries laid at once as low as the dust, began to be apprehensive that the work would be done by halves. But the juncture of affairs at that time, both at home and abroad, would by no means admit of the least precipitation, although the queen and her first minister had been disposed to it: which certainly they were not. Neither did the court seem at all uneasy at this league, formed in appearance against it, but composed of honest gentlemen, who wished well to their country, in which both were entirely agreed, although they might differ about the means; or, if such a society should begin to grow resty, nothing was easier than to divide them, and render all their endeavours ineffectual.
But, in the course of that first session, many of this society became gradually reconciled to the new ministry, whom they found to be greater objects of the common enemy's hatred than themselves; and the attempt of Guiscard, as it gained farther time for deferring the disposal of employments, so it much endeared that person to the kingdom, who was so near falling a sacrifice to the safety of his country. Upon the last session, of which I am now writing, this October Club (as it was called) renewed their usual meetings; but were now very much altered from their original institution, and seemed to have wholly dropped the design, as of no farther use. They saw a point carried in the house of lords against the court, that would end in the ruin of the kingdom; and they observed the enemy's whole artillery directly levelled at the treasurer's head. In short, the majority of the club had so good an understanding with the great men at court, that two of the latter, to show to the world how fair a correspondence there was between the court and country party, consented to be at one of their dinners; but this intercourse had an event very different from what was expected: for, immediately the more zealous members of that society broke off from the rest, and composed a new one, made up of gentlemen who seemed to expect little of the court; and perhaps with a mixture of others, who thought themselves disappointed, or too long delayed. Many of these were observed to retain an incurable jealousy of the treasurer; and to interpret all delays, which they could not comprehend, as a reserve of favour in this minister, to the persons and principles of the abandoned party.
Upon an occasion offered about this time, some persons, out of distrust to the treasurer, endeavoured to obtain a point which could not have been carried without putting all into confusion. A bill was brought into the house of commons, appointing commissioners to examine into the value of all lands, and other interests granted by the crown, since the 13th day of February, 1688, and upon what considerations such grants had been made. The united country interest in the house was extremely set upon passing the bill. They had conceived an opinion, from former precedents, that the court would certainly oppose all steps toward a resumption of grants; and those who were apprehensive that the treasurer inclined the same way, proposed the bill should be tacked to another, for raising a fund by duties upon soap and paper; which has been always imputed, whether justly or not, as a favourite expedient of those called the tory party. At the same time it was very well known, that the house of lords had made a fixed and unanimous resolution against giving their concurrence to the passing of such united bills: so that the consequences of this project must have been, to bring the ministry under difficulties, to stop the necessary supplies, and endanger the good correspondence between both houses: notwithstanding all which, the majority carried it for a tack; and the committee was instructed accordingly to make the two bills into one: whereby the worst that could happen would have followed, if the treasurer had not convinced the warm leaders in this affair, by undeniable reasons, that the means they were using would certainly disappoint the end; that neither himself, nor any other of the queen's servants, were at all against this inquiry; and he promised his utmost credit to help forward the bill in the house of lords. He prevailed at last to have it sent up single; but their lordships gave it another kind of reception. Those who were of the side opposite to the court, withstood it to a man, as in a party case: among the rest, some were personally concerned, and others by friends and relations, which they supposed a sufficient excuse to be absent, or dissent. Even those, whose grants were antecedent to this intended inspection, began to be alarmed, as men whose neighbours houses are on fire. A show of zeal for the late king's honour, occasioned many reflections upon the date of this inquiry, which was to commence with his reign: and the earl of Nottingham, who had now flung away the mask which he had lately pulled off, like one who had no other view but that of vengeance against the queen and her friends, acted consistently enough with his design, by voting as a lord against the bill, after he had directed his son in the house of commons to vote for the tack.
Thus miscarried this popular bill for appointing commissioners to examine into royal grants; but whether those chiefly concerned, did rightly consult their own interest, has been made a question, which perhaps time will resolve. It was agreed that the queen, by her own authority, might have issued out a commission for such an inquiry, and every body believed that the intention of the parliament was, only to tax the grants with about three years purchase, and at the same time establish the proprietors in possession of the remainder for ever; so that, upon the whole, the grantees would have been great gainers by such an act, since the titles of those lands, as they stood then, were hardly of half value with others, either for sale or settlement. Besides, the example of the Irish forfeitures might have taught these precarious owners, that when the house of commons has once engaged in a pursuit, which they think is right, although it be stopped or suspended for a while, they will be sure to renew it upon every opportunity that offers, and seldom fail of success: for instance, if the resumption should happen to be made part of a supply, which can be easily done without the objection of a tack, the grantees might possibly then have much harder conditions given them; and I do not see how they could prevent it. Whether the resuming of royal grants be consistent with good policy or justice, would be too long a disquisition; besides, the profusion of kings is not likely to be a grievance for the future, because there have been laws since made to provide against that evil, or indeed rather because the crown has nothing left to give away. But the objection made against the date of the intended inquiry, was invidious and trifling; for king James II. made very few grants: he was a better manager, and squandering was none of his faults; whereas the late king, who came over here a perfect stranger to our laws and to our people, regardless of posterity, wherein he was not likely to survive, thought he could no way better strengthen a new title, than by purchasing friends at the expense of every thing which was in his power to part with.
The reasonableness of uniting to a money bill one of a ditferent nature, which is usually called tacking, has been likewise much debated, and will admit of argument enough. In ancient times, when a parliament was held, the commons first proposed their grievances to be redressed, and then gave their aids; so that it was a perfect bargain between the king and the subject. This fully answered the ends of tacking. Aids were then demanded upon occasions which would hardly pass at present; such, for instance, as those for making the king's son a knight, marrying his eldest daughter, and some others of the like sort. Most of the money went into the king's coffers, for his private use; neither was he accountable for any part of it. Hence arose the form of the king's thanking his subjects for their benevolence, when any subsidies, tenths, or fifteenths, were given him. But the supplies now granted are of another nature, and cannot be properly called a particular benefit to the crown, because they are all appropriated to their several uses: so that, when the house of commons tack to a money bill, what is foreign and hard to be digested, if it be not passed, they put themselves and their country in as great difficulties as the prince. On the other side, there have been several regulations made, through the course of time, in parliamentary proceedings; among which, it is grown a rule, that a bill once rejected shall not be brought up again the same session; whereby the commons seem to have lost the advantage of purchasing a redress of their grievances by granting supplies, which, upon some emergencies, has put them upon this expedient of tacking; so that there is more to be said on each side of the case, than is convenient for me to trouble the reader or myself in deducing.
Among the matters of importance during this session, we may justly number the proceedings of the house of commons with relation to the press; since her majesty's message to the house, of January the seventeenth, concludes with a paragraph, representing the great licenses taken in publishing false and scandalous libels, such as are a reproach to any government; and recommending to them to find a remedy equal to the mischief. The meaning of these words in the message seems to be confined to those weekly and daily papers and, pamphlets, reflecting upon the persons and the management of the ministry. But the house of commons, in their address which answers this message, makes an addition of the blasphemies against God and religion; and it is certain that nothing would be more for the honour of the legislature, than some effectual law for putting a stop to this universal mischief; but as the person who advised the queen in that part of her message, had only then in his thoughts the redressing of the political and factious libels, I think he ought to have taken care, by his great credit in the house, to have proposed some ways by which that evil might be removed; the law for taxing single papers having produced a quite contrary effect, as was then foreseen by many persons, and has since been found true by experience. For the adverse party, full of rage and leisure since their fall, and unanimous in defence of their cause, employ a set of writers by subscription, who are well versed in all the topicks of defamation, and have a style and genius levelled to the generality of readers; while those who would draw their pens on the side of their prince and country, are discouraged by this tax, which exceeds the intrinsick value both of the materials and the work; a thing, if I be not mistaken, without example.
It must be acknowledged, that the bad practices of printers have been such, as to deserve the severest animadversions of the publick; and it is to be wished, the party quarrels of the pen were always managed with decency and truth: but, in the mean time, to open the mouths of our enemies, and shut our own, is a turn of politicks that wants a little to be explained. Perhaps the ministry now in possession, because they are in possession, may despise such trifles as this; and it is not to be denied, that acting as they do upon a national interest, they may seem to stand in less need of such supports, or may safely fling them down as no longer necessary. But, if the leaders of the other party had proceeded by this maxim, their power would have been none at all, or of very short duration: and had not some active pens fallen in to improve the good dispositions of the people upon the late change, and continued since to overthrow the falsehood plentifully, and sometimes not un plausibly, scattered by the adversaries, I am very much in doubt whether those at the helm would now have reason to be pleased with their success. A particular person may with more safety despise the opinion of the vulgar, because it does a wise man no real harm or good, but the administration a great deal; and whatever side has the sole management of the pen, will soon find hands enough to write down their enemies, as low as they please. If the people had no other idea of those whom her majesty trusts in her greatest affairs, than what is conveyed by the passions of such as would compass sea and land for their destruction; what could they expect, but to be torn in pieces by the rage of the multitude? How necessary therefore was it, that the world should, from time to time, be undeceived by true representations of persons and tacts, which have kept the kingdom steady to its interests, against all the attacks of a cunning and virulent faction!
However, the mischiefs of the press were too exorbitant to be cured by such a remedy as a tax upon the smaller papers; and a bill for a much more effectual regulation of it, was brought into the house of commons, but so late in the session that there was no time to pass it; for there has hitherto always appeared an unwillingness to cramp overmuch the liberty of the press, whether, from the inconveniencies apprehended from doing too much, or too little; or whether, the benefit proposed by each party to themselves, from the service of their writers toward the recovering or preserving of power, be thought to outweigh the disadvantages. However it came about, this affair was put off from one week to another, and the bill not brought into the house till the eighth of June. It was committed three days, and then heard of no more. In this bill there was a clause inserted (whether industriously with design to overthrow it) that the author's name, and place of abode should be set to every printed book, pamphlet, or paper; to which I believe no man, who has the least regard to learning, would give his consent; for beside the objection to this clause from the practice of pious men, who, in publishing excellent writings for the service of religion, have chosen, out of an humble Christian spirit, to conceal their names; it is certain that all persons of true genius or knowledge, have an invincible modesty and suspicion of themselves, upon their first sending their thoughts into the world; and that those who are dull or superficial, void of all taste and judgment, have dispositions directly contrary: so that, if this clause had been made part of a law, there would have been an end, in all likelihood, of any valuable production for the future, either in wit or learning: and that insufferable race of stupid people, who are now every day loading the press, would then reign alone, in time destroy our very first principles of reason, and introduce barbarity among us, which it already kept out with so much difficulty by so few hands.
Having given an account of the several steps made toward a peace, from the first overtures begun by France, to the commencement of the second session; I shall, in the fourth book, relate the particulars of this great negotiation, from the period last mentioned to the present time; and because there happened some passages in both houses, occasioned by the treaty, I shall take notice of them under that head. There only remains to be mentioned one affair of another nature, which the lords and commons took into their cognizance, after a very different manner, wherewith I shall close this part of my subject.
The sect of quakers among us, whose system of religion, first founded upon enthusiasm, has been many years growing into a craft, held it an unlawful action to take an oath to a magistrate. This doctrine was taught them by the author of their sect, from a literal application of the text, Swear not at all; but, being a body of people wholly turned to trade and commerce of all kinds, they found themselves on many occasions, deprived of the benefit of the law, as well as of voting at elections, by a foolish scruple, which their obstinacy would not suffer them to get over. To prevent this inconvenience, these people had credit enough in the late reign to have an act passed, that their solemn affirmation and declaration should be accepted, instead of an oath in the usual form. The great concern in those times was, to lay all religion upon a level; in order to which, this maxim was advanced, "That no man ought to be denied the liberty of serving his country, upon account of a different belief in speculative opinions;" under which term some people were apt to include every doctrine of Christianity. However, this act in favour of the quakers was only temporary, in order to keep them in constant dependence; and expired of course after a certain term, if it were not continued. Those people had, therefore, very early in the session, offered a petition to the house of commons, for a continuance of the act, which was not suffered to be brought up. Upon this, they applied themselves to the lords; who passed a bill accordingly, and sent it down to the commons, where it was not so much as allowed a first reading.
And indeed it is not easy to conceive, upon what motives, the legislature of so great a kingdom, could descend so low, as to be ministerial and subservient to the caprices of the most absurd heresy that ever appeared in the world; and this, in a point where those deluding or deluded people, stand singular from all the rest of mankind, who live under civil government: but the designs of an aspiring party, at that time, were not otherwise to be compassed, than by undertaking any thing that would humble and mortify the church; and I am fully convinced, that if a set of sceptick philosophers (who profess to doubt of every thing) had been then among us, and mingled their tenets with some corruptions of Christianity, they might have obtained the same privilege; and that a law would have been enacted, whereby the solemn doubt of the people called scepticks, should have been accepted, instead of an oath in the usual form: so absurd are all maxims formed upon the inconsistent principles of faction, when once they are brought to be examined by the standard of truth and reason.
FOUR LAST YEARS
WE left the plenipotentiaries of the allies, and those of the enemy, preparing to assemble at Utrecht on the first of January, N. S. in order to form a congress for negotiating a general peace; wherein, although the Dutch had made a mighty merit of their compliance with the queen, yet they set all their instruments at work, to inflame both houses against her majesty's measures. M. Bothmar, the Hanover envoy, took care to print and disperse his memorial, of which I have formerly spoken: Hoffman, the emperor's resident, was soliciting for a yacht and convoys to bring over prince Eugene at this juncture, fortified, as it was given out, with great proposals from the Imperial court: the earl of Nottingham became a convert, for reasons already mentioned: money was distributed where occasion required; and the dukes of Somerset and Marlborough, together with the earl of Godolphin, had put themselves at the head of their junto and their adherents, in order to attack the court. Some days after the vote passed the house of lords for admitting into the address the earl of Nottingham's clause, against any peace without Spain; M. Buys, the Dutch envoy, who had been deep in all the consultations with the discontented party for carrying that point, was desired to meet with the lord privy seal, the earl of Dartmouth, and Mr. secretary St. John, in order to sign a treaty between the queen and the States, to subsist after a peace. There the envoy took occasion to expostulate upon the advantages stipulated for Britain with France: said, "It was his opinion, that those ministers ought, in respect of the friendship between both nations, to acquaint him what these advantages were; and that he looked upon his country to be entitled by treaty, to share them equally with us: That there was now another reason why we should be more disposed to comply with him upon this head; for, since the late resolution of the house of lords, he took it for granted, it would be a dangerous step in us to give Spain to a prince of the house of Bourbon; and therefore that we should do well to induce the States, by such a concession, to help us out of this difficulty."
Mr. St. John made answer, "That there was not a man in the queen's council capable of so base a thought: That if Buys had any thing to complain of, which was injurious to Holland, or justly tending to hurt the good correspondence between us and the States, he was confident her majesty would at all times be ready to give it up; but that the ministers scorned to screen themselves at the expense of their country: That the resolution Buys mentioned was chiefly owing to foreign ministers intermeddling in our affairs, and would perhaps have an effect the projectors did not foresee: That if the peace became impracticable, the house of commons would certainly put the war upon another foot; and reduce the publick expense within such a compass, as our treaties required in the strictest sense, and as our present condition would admit, leaving the partizans for war to supply the rest."
Although the secretary believed this answer would put an end to such infamous proposals, it fell out otherwise; for, shortly after, M. Buys applied himself to the treasurer, promising to undertake, "That his masters should give up the article of Spain, provided they might share with us in the assiento for negroes." To which the treasurer's answer was short, "That he would rather lose his head than consent to such an offer."
It is manifest by this proceeding, that whatever schemes were forming here at home, in this juncture, by the enemies to the peace, the Dutch only designed to fall in with it, as far as it would answer their own account; and by a strain of the lower politicks, wherein they must be allowed to excel every country in Christendom, lay upon the watch for a good bargain, by taking advantage of the distress, they themselves had brought upon their nearest neighbour and ally.
But the queen highly resented this indignity from a republick, upon whom she had conferred so many obligations. She could not endure that the Dutch should employ their instruments to act in confederacy with a cabal of factious people, who were prepared to sacrifice the safety of their prince and country, to the recovery of that power, they had so long possessed and abused. Her majesty knew very well, that, whatever were the mistaken, or affected opinion of some people at home, upon the article of Spain, it was a point the States had long given up; who had very openly told our ministry, "That the war in that country was only our concern, and what their republick had nothing to do with." It is true, the party-leaders were equally convinced that the recovery of Spain was impracticable; but many things may be excused in a professed adversary fallen under a disgrace, which are highly criminal in an ally, upon whom we are that very instant conferring new favours. Her majesty therefore thought it high time to exert herself, and at length put a stop to foreign influence upon British counsels; so that, after the earl of Nottingham's clause against any peace without Spain was carried in the house of lords, directions were immediately sent to the earl of Strafford at the Hague, to inform the Dutch, "That it was obtained by a trick, and would consequently turn to the disappointment and confusion of the contrivers and the actors." He was likewise instructed to be very dry and reserved to the pensionary and Dutch ministers; to let them know, "The queen thought herself ill-treated; and that they would soon hear what effects those measures would have upon a mild and good temper, wrought up to resentment by repeated provocations: That the States might have the war continued, if they pleased; but that the queen would not be forced to carry it on after their manner; nor would suffer them to make her peace, or to settle the interests of her kingdoms."
To others in Holland, who appeared to be more moderate, the earl was directed to say, "That the States were upon a wrong scent: That their minister here mistook every thing that we had promised: That we would perform all they could reasonably ask from us, in relation to their barrier and their trade: and that mons. Buys dealt very unfairly, if he had not told them as much: but that Britain, proceeding in some respects upon a new scheme of politicks, would no longer struggle for impossibilities, nor be amused by words: That our people came more and more to their senses: and that the single dispute now was, whether the Dutch would join with a faction against the queen, or with the nation for her?"
The court likewise resolved to discourage prince Eugene from his journey to England, which he was about this time undertaking, and of which I have spoken before. He was told, "That the queen wanted no exhortations to carry on the war; but the project of it should be agreed abroad, upon which her majesty's resolutions might soon be signified: and, until she saw what the emperor and allies were ready to do, she would neither promise nor engage for any thing." At the same time, Mr. St. John told Hollman, the emperor's resident here, "That, if the prince had a mind to divert himself in London, the ministers would do their part to entertain him, and be sure to trouble him with no manner of business."
This coldness retarded the prince's journey for some days; but did not prevent it, although he had a second message by the queen's order, with this farther addition, "That his name had lately been made use of, on many occasions, to create ferment, and stir up sedition; and that her majesty judged it would be neither safe for him, nor convenient for her, that he should come over at this time." But all would not do: it was enough that the queen did not absolutely forbid him: and the party-confederates, both foreign and domestick, thought his presence would be highly necessary for their service.
Toward the end of December, the lord privy-seal set out for Holland. He was ordered to stop at the Hague, and in conjunction with the earl of Strafford, to declare to the States, in her majesty's name, "Her resolutions to conclude no peace, wherein the allies in general, and each confederate in particular, might not find their ample security, and their reasonable satisfaction: That she was ready to insist upon their barrier, and advantages in their trade, in the manner the States themselves should desire; and to concert with them such a plan of treaty, as both powers might be under mutual engagements never to recede from: That nothing could be of greater importance, than for the ministers of Great Britain and Holland, to enter the congress under the strictest ties of confidence, and entirely to concur throughout the course of these negotiations; to which purpose, it was her majesty's pleasure, that their lordships should adjust with the Dutch ministers the best manner and method for opening and carrying on the conferences, and declare themselves instructed to communicate freely their thoughts and measures to the plenipotentiaries of the States, who, they hoped, had received the same instructions."
Lastly, the two lords were to signify to the pensionary and the other ministers, "That her majesty's preparations for the next campaign, were carried on with all theand vigour the present circumstances would allow: and to insist, that the same might be done by the States; and that both powers should join in pressing the emperor, and other allies, to make greater efforts than they had hitherto done; without which, the war must languish, and the terms of peace become every day more disadvantageous."
The two British plenipotentiaries went to Utrecht with very large instructions; and after the usual manner, were to make much higher demands from France (at least in behalf of the allies) than they could have any hope to obtain. The sum of what they had in charge, beside matter of form, was, to concert with the ministers of the several powers engaged against France, "That all differences arising among them should be accommodated between themselves, without suffering the French to interfere: That whatever were proposed to France by a minister of the alliance, should be backed by the whole confederacy: That a time might be fixed for the conclusion, as there had been for the commencement of the treaty." Spain was to be demanded out of the hands of the Bourbon family, as the most effectual means for preventing the union of that kingdom with France; and whatever conditions the allies could agree upon, for hindering that union, their lordships were peremptorily to insist on.
As to the interests of each ally in particular, the plenipotentiaries of Britain were to demand "Strasburgh, the fort of Kehl with its dependencies, and the town of Brisac with its territory, for the emperor: That France should possess Alsatia, according to the treaty of Westphalia, with the right of the prefecture only over the ten imperial cities in that country: That the fortifications of the said ten cities, be put into the condition they were in at the time of the said treaty, except Landau, which was to be demanded for the emperor and empire, with liberty of demolishing the fortifications: That the French king should, at a certain time, and at his own expense, demolish the fortresses of Hunningen, New Brisac, and Fort Lewis, never to be rebuilt.
"That the clause relating to religion, in the fourth article of the treaty of Ryswick, and contrary to that of Westphalia, should be annulled; and the state of religion in Germany restored to the tenour of the treaty of Westphalia.
"That the duke of Hanover should be acknowledged elector.
"That the king of Portugal should enjoy all the advantages stipulated between him and the allies.
"That the States should have for their barrier Furnes, Fort Knock, Menin, Ipres, Lisle, Tournay, Condé, Valenciennes, Maubeuge, Douay, Bethune, Avie, St. Venant, and Bouchain, with their cannon, &c.: That the French king should restore all the places belonging to Spain, now, or during this war, in his possession, in the Netherlands: That such part of them as should be thought fit, might be allowed likewise for a barrier to the States: That France should grant the tariff of 1664 to the States; and exemption of fifty pence per tun upon Dutch goods trading to that kingdom: But that these articles in favour of the States should not be concluded, till the Barrier-treaty were explained to the queen's satisfaction.
"That the duke of Savoy should be put in possession of all taken from him in this war, and enjoy the places yielded to him by the emperor and other allies: That France should likewise yield to him Exilles, Fenestrilles, Chaumont, the valley of Pregata, and the land lying between Piedmont and Mount Genu.
"That the article about the demolishing of Dunkirk should be explained."
As to Britain; the plenipotentiaries were to insert, "That Nieuport, Dendermond, Ghent, and all places which appear to be a barrier rather against England than France, should either not be given to the Dutch, or at least in such a manner as not to hinder the queen's subjects free passage to and from the Low Countries.
"That the seventh article of the Barrier-treaty, which empowers the States, in case of an attack, to put troops at discretion in all the places of the Low Countries, should be so explained as to be understood only of an attack from France.
"That Britain should trade to the Low Countries with the same privileges as the States themselves.
"That the most Christian king should acknowledge the succession of Hanover, and immediately oblige the pretender to leave France; and that the said king should promise, for himself and his heirs, never to acknowledge any person for king or queen of England, otherwise than according to the settlements now in force.
"That a treaty of commerce should be commenced, as soon as possible, between France and Britain; and in the mean time, the necessary points relating to it be settled.
"That the isle of St. Christophers should be surrendered to the queen, Hudson's Bay restored, Placentia and the whole island of Newfoundland yielded to Britain by the most Christian king; who was likewise to quit all claim to Nova Scotia and Annapolis Royal.
"That Spain should grant to the subjects of Britain, as large privileges as to any other nation whatsoever; as likewise an exemption of duties, amounting to an advantage of at least fifteen per cent.
"That satisfaction should be demanded for what should appear to be justly due to her majesty, from the emperor and the States.
"Lastly, That the plenipotentiaries should consult, with those of the protestant allies, the most effectual methods for restoring the protestants of France to their religious and civil liberties, and for the immediate release of those who are now in the galleys."
What part of these demands were to be insisted on, and what were to be given up, will appear by the sequel of this negotiation. But there was no difficulty of moment enough to retard the peace, except a method for preventing the union of France and Spain under one prince, and the settling the barrier for Holland; which last, as claimed by the States, could, in prudence and safety, be no more allowed by us, than by France.
The States General having appointed mons. Buys to be one of their plenipotentiaries at Utrecht, that minister left England a few days after the lord privy-seal. In his last conference with the lords of the council, he absolutely declared, "That his masters had done their utmost, both by sea and land: That it was unreasonable to expect more: That they had exceeded their proportion, even beyond Britain; and that as to the emperor and other allies, he knew no expedient left for making them act with more vigour, than to pursue them with pathetical exhortations."
This minister was sent over hither, instructed and empowered by halves. The ferment raised by the united endeavours of our party leaders, among whom he was a constant fellow labourer to the utmost of his skill, had wholly confounded him; and, thinking to take the advantage of negotiating well for Holland, at the expense of Britain, he acted but ill for his own country, and worse for the common cause. However, the queen's ministers and he parted with the greatest civility; and her majesty's present was double the value of what is usual to the character he bore.
As the queen was determined to alter her measures in making war, so she thought nothing would so much convince the States of the necessity of a peace, as to have them frequently put in mind of this resolution; which her ambassador Strafford, then at the Hague, was accordingly directed to do: and if they should object, of what ill consequence it would be for the enemy to know her majesty designed to lessen her expenses; he might answer, "That the ministers here were sorry for it; but the Dutch could only blame themselves, for forcing into such a necessity, a princess, to whose friendship they owed the preservation and grandeur of their republick, and choosing to lean on a broken faction, rather than place their confidence in the queen."
It was her majesty's earnest desire, that there should be a perfect agreement at this treaty between the ministers of all the allies; than which nothing could be more effectual to make France comply with their just demands. Above all, she directed her plenipotentiaries to enter into the strictest confidence with those of Holland; and that after the States had consented to explain the Barrier-treaty to her reasonable satisfaction, both powers should form between them a plan of general peace, from which they would not recede, and such as might secure the quiet of Europe, as well as the particular interests of each confederate.
The Dutch were accordingly pressed, before the congress opened, to come to some temperament upon that famous treaty; because the ministers here expected it would be soon laid before the house of commons, by which the resentment of the nation would probably appear against those, who had been actors and advisers in it: but mons. Buys, who usually spoke for his colleagues, was full of opposition, began to expostulate upon the advantages Britain had stipulated with France; and to insist, "That his masters ought to share equally in them all, but especially the assiento contract:" so that no progress was made in fixing a previous good correspondence between Britain and the States, which her majesty had so earnestly recommended.
Certain regulations having been agreed upon, for the avoiding of ceremony and other inconveniencies; the conferences began at Utrecht, upon the 29th of January, N. S. 1711-12, at ten in the morning. The ministers of the allies going into the town-house at one door, and those of France at the same instant at another, they all took their seats without distinction; and the bishop of Bristol, lord privy seal, first plenipotentiary of Britain, opened the assembly with a short speech, directed to the ministers of France, in words to the following effect:
"We are here to meet to-day, in the name of God, to enter upon a treaty of general peace, between the high allies and the king your master. We bring sincere intentions, and express orders from our superiors, to concur, on their part, with whatever may advance and perfect so salutary and Christian a work. On the other side, we hope, you have the same disposition; and that your orders will be so full, as to be able, without loss of time, to answer the expectation of the high allies, by explaining yourselves clearly and roundly upon the points we shall have to settle in these conferences; and that you will perform this in so plain and specifick a manner, as every prince and state in the confederacy may find a just and reasonable satisfaction."
The French began, by promising to explain the overtures which mons. Mesnager had delivered to the queen some months before, and to give in a specifick project of what their master would yield, provided the allies would each give a specifick answer, by making their several demands; which method, after many difficulties and affected delays in the Dutch, was at length agreed to.
But the States, who had with the utmost discontent seen her majesty at the head of this negotiation, where they intended to have placed themselves, began to discover their ill-humour upon every occasion. They raised endless difficulties about settling the Barrier-treaty as the queen desired; and in one of the first general conferences, they would not suffer the British secretary to take the minutes, but nominated some Dutch professor for that office; which the queen refused, and resented their behaviour, as a useless cavil, intended only to show their want of respect. The British plenipotentiaries had great reason to suspect that the Dutch were, at this time, privately endeavouring to engage in some separate measures with France, by the intervention of one Moleau, a busy factious agent at Amsterdam, who had been often employed in such intrigues; and that this was the cause which made them so litigious and slow in all their steps, in hopes to break the congress, and find better terms for their trade and barrier from the French, than we ever could think fit to allow them. The Dutch ministers did also apply themselves with industry to cultivate the imperial plenipotentiary's favour, in order to secure all advantages of commerce with Spain and the West Indies, in case those dominions could be procured for the emperor: for this reason, they avoided settling any general plan of peace in concert with the plenipotentiaries of Britain, which her majesty desired; and mons. Buys plainly told their lordships, "That it was a point, which neither he nor his colleagues could consent to, before the States were admitted equal sharers with Britain in the trade of Spain."
The court, having notice of this untractable temper in the Dutch, gave direct orders to the plenipotentiaries of Britain, for pressing those of the States to adjust the gross inequalities of the Barrier-treaty; since nothing was more usual, or agreeable to reason, than for princes, who find themselves aggrieved by prejudicial contracts, to expect they should be modified and explained. And since it now appeared, by votes in the house of commons, that the sense of the nation agreed with what her majesty desired, if the Dutch ministers would not be brought to any moderate terms upon this demand, their lordships were directed to improve and amend the particular concessions made to Britain by France, and form them into a treaty; for the queen was determined never to allow the States any share in the assiento, Gibraltar, and Port Mahon; nor could think it reasonable that they should be upon an equal foot with her in the trade of Spain, to the conquest whereof they had contributed so little.
Nor was the conduct of the imperial minister, at this time, less perplexing than that of the States; both those powers appearing fully bent, either upon breaking off the negotiation, or upon forcing from the queen those advantages she expected by it for her own kingdoms. Her majesty therefore thought fit, about the beginning of March, to send Mr. Thomas Harley, a near relation of the treasurer's, to Utrecht, fully informed of her mind; which he was directed to communicate to the plenipotentiaries of Britain.
Mr. Harley stopped in his way to Utrecht at the Hague, and there told the pensionary, "That nothing had happened lately in England, but what was long ago foretold him, as well as the other ministers of the allies: That the proceedings of the house of commons, particularly about the Barrier-treaty, must chiefly be ascribed to the manner in which the queen and the nation had been treated by mons. Bothmar, count Gallas, Buys, and other foreign ministers: That if the States would yet enter into a strict union with the queen, give her satisfaction in the said treaty, and join in concert with her plenipotentiaries at Utrecht, a safe and advantageous peace might be obtained for the whole alliance; otherwise, her majesty must save her own country, and join with such of her allies as would join with her.
"As to the war, that the conduct of the allies, and their opposition to the queen, her private intrigues carried on among her own subjects, as well as by open remonstrances, had made the house of commons take that matter out of the hands of the ministers.
"Lastly, that in case the present treaty were broken off by the Dutch refusing to comply, her majesty thought it reasonable to insist that some cautionary places be put into her hands, as pledges that no other negotiation should be entered into by the States General, without her participation."
Mr. Harley's instructions to the queen's plenipotentiaries were, "That they should press those of France to open themselves as far as possible, in concerting such a plan of a general peace as might give reasonable satisfaction to all the confederates, and such as her parliament would approve: That the people of England believed France would consent to such a plan; wherein if they found themselves deceived, they would be as eager for prosecuting the war as ever."
Their lordships were to declare openly to the Dutch, "That no extremity should make her majesty depart from insisting to have the assiento for her own subjects, and to keep Gibraltar and Port Mahon: but, if the States would agree with her upon these three heads, she would be content to reduce the trade of Spain and the West Indies, to the condition it was in under the late Catholick king Charles II."
The French were farther to be pressed, "That the pretender should be immediately sent out of that kingdom; and that the most eflectual method should be taken, for preventing the union of France and Spain under one prince."
About this time her majesty's ministers, and those of the allies at Utrecht, delivered in the several postulata or demands of their masters, to the French plenipotentiaries; which, having been since made publick, and all of them, except those of Britain, very much varying in the course of the negotiation, the reader would be but ill entertained with a transcript of them here.
Upon intelligence of the last dauphin's death, the father, son, and grandson, all of that title, dying within the compass of a year, mons. Gualtier went to France, with letters to the marquis de Torcy, to propose her majesty's expedient for preventing the union of that kingdom with Spain; which, as it was the most important article to be settled, in order to secure peace for Europe, so it was a point that required to be speedily adjusted, under the present circumstances and situation of the Bourbon family; there being only left a child of two years old, to stand between the duke of Anjou, and his succeeding to the crown of France.
Her majesty likewise pressed France, by the same dispatches, to send full instructions to their plenipotentiaries; empowering them to offer such a plan of peace, as might give reasonable satisfaction to all her allies.
The queen's proposal for preventing a union between France and Spain, was, "That Philip should formally renounce the kingdom of France, for himself and his posterity; and that this renunciation should be confirmed by the cortes or states of Spain, who, without question, would heartily concur against such a union, by which their country must become a province to France." In like manner, the French princes of the blood were severally to renounce all title to Spain.
The French raised many difficulties upon several particulars of this expedient; but the queen persisted to refuse any plan of peace, before this weighty point were settled in the manner she proposed: which was afterwards submitted to, as in proper place we shall observe. In the mean time, the negotiation at Utrecht proceeded with a very slow pace; the Dutch interposing all obstructions they could contrive, refusing to come to any reasonable temper upon the Barrier-treaty, or to offer a plan, in concert with the queen, for a general peace. Nothing less would satisfy them, than the partaking in those advantages we had stipulated for ourselves, and which did no wise interfere with their trade or security. They still expected some turn in England. Their friends on this side had ventured to assure them, "That the queen could not live many months;" which, indeed, from the bad state of her majesty's health, was reasonable to expect. The British plenipotentiaries daily discovered new endeavours of Holland to treat privately with France. And, lastly, those among the States, who desired the war should continue, strove to gain time, until the campaign should open; and by resolving to enter into action with the first opportunity, render all things desperate, and break up the congress.
This scheme did exactly fall in with prince Eugene's dispositions, whom the States had chosen for their general, and of whose conduct in this conjuncture the queen had too much reason to be jealous. But her majesty, who was resolved to do her utmost toward putting a good and speedy end to the war, having placed the duke of Ormond at the head of her forces in Flanders, where he was now arrived, directed him to keep all the troops in British pay, whether subjects or foreigners, immediately under his own command; and to be cautious, for a while, in engaging in any action of importance, unless upon a very apparent advantage. At the same time the queen determined to make one thorough trial of the disposition of the States, by allowing them the utmost concessions that could any way suit either with her safety or honour. She therefore directed her ministers at Utrecht to tell the Dutch, "That in order to show how desirous she was to live in perfect amity with that republick, she would resign up the fifteen per cent advantage upon English goods sent to the Spanish dominions, which the French king had offered her by a power from his grandson; and be content to reduce that trade, to the state in which it was under the late king of Spain. She would accept of any tolerable softening of those words in the seventh article of the Barrier-treaty, where it is said, 'The States shall have power, in case of an apparent attack, to put as many troops as they please into all the places of the Netherlands,' without specifying an attack from the side of France, as ought to have been done; otherwise, the queen might justly think they were preparing themselves for a rupture with Britain. Her majesty likewise consented, that the States should keep Nieuport, Dendermond, and the castle of Ghent, as an addition to their barrier, although she were sensible how injurious those concessions would be to the trade of her subjects; and would wave the demand of Ostend being delivered into her hands, which she might with justice insist on. In return for all this, that the queen only desired the ministers of the States would enter into a close correspondence with ; and settle between them some plan of a general peace, which might give reasonable content to all her allies, and which her majesty would endeavour to bring France to consent to. She desired the trade of her kingdoms to the Netherlands, and to the towns of their barrier, might be upon as good a foot as it was before the war began: That the Dutch would not insist to have a share in the assiento, to which they had not the least pretensions; and that they would no longer encourage the intrigues of a faction against her government. Her majesty assured them, in plain terms, That her own future measures, and the conduct of her plenipotentiaries should be wholly governed by their behaviour in these points; and that her offers were only conditional, in case of their compliance with what she desired."
But all these proofs of the queen's kindness and sincerity could not avail. The Dutch ministers pleaded, "They had no power to concert the plan of general peace with those of Britain." However, they assured the latter, "That the assiento was the only difficulty which stuck with their masters." Whereupon, at their desire, a contract for that traffick was twice read to them; after which, they appeared very well satisfied, and said, "They would go to the Hague, for farther instructions." Thither they went; and after a week's absence, returned the same answer, "That they had no power to settle a scheme of peace; but could only discourse of it when the difficulties of the Barrier-treaty were over." And mons. Buys took a journey to Amsterdam, on purpose to stir up that city, where he was pensionary, against yielding the assiento to Britain: but was unsuccessful in his negotiation; the point being yielded up there, and in most other towns in Holland.
It will have an odd sound in history, and appear hardly credible, that in several petty republicks of single towns, which make up the States General, it should be formally debated, whether the queen of Great Britain, who preserved the commonwealth at the charge of so many millions, should be suffered to enjoy, after a peace, the liberty granted her by Spain, of selling African slaves in the Spanish dominions of America! But there was a prevailing faction at the Hague, violently bent against any peace, where the queen must act that part, which they had intended for themselves. These politicians, who held constant correspondence with their old dejected friends in England, were daily fed with the vain hopes of the queen's death, or the party's restoration. They likewise endeavoured to spin out the time, till prince Eugene's activity had pushed on some great event, which might govern or perplex the conditions of peace. Therefore the Dutch plenipotentiaries, who proceeded by the instructions of those mistaken patriots, acted in every point with a spirit of litigiousness, than which nothing could give greater advantage to the enemy; a strict union between the allies, but especially Britain and Holland, being doubtless the only means for procuring safe and honourable terms from France.
But neither was this the worst: for the queen received undoubted intelligence from Utrecht, that the Dutch were again attempting a separate correspondence with France; and by letters intercepted here from Vienna, it was found, that the Imperial court, whose ministers were in the utmost confidence with those of Holland, expressed the most furious rage against her majesty, for the steps she had taken to advance a peace.
This unjustifiable treatment the queen could not digest, from an ally upon whom she had conferred so many signal obligations, whom she had used with so much indulgence and sincerity, during the whole course of the negotiation, and had so often invited to go along with her, in every motion toward a peace. She apprehended likewise, that the negotiation might be taken out of her hands, if France could be secure of easier conditions in Holland, or might think that Britain wanted power to influence the whole confederacy. She resolved, therefore, on this occasion, to exert herself with vigour, steadiness, and dispatch; and in the beginning of May, sent her commands to the earl of Strafford, to repair immediately to England, in order to consult with her ministers what was proper to be done.
The proposal abovementioned, for preventing the union of France and Spain, met with many difficulties; mons. de Torcy raising objections against several parts of it. But the queen refused to proceed any farther with France, until this weighty point were fully settled to her satisfaction; after which, she promised to grant a suspension of arms, provided the town and citadel of Dunkirk might be delivered as a pledge into her hands; and proposed that Ipres might be surrendered to the Dutch, if they would consent to come into the suspension. France absolutely refused the latter; and the States General having acted in perpetual contradiction to her majesty, she pressed that matter no farther, because she doubted they would not agree to a cessation of arms. However, she resolved to put a speedy end, or at least intermission, to her own share in the war: and the French having declared themselves ready to agree to her expedients for preventing the union of the two crowns, and consented to the delivery of Dunkirk, positive orders were sent to the duke of Ormond, to avoid engaging in any battle or siege, until he had farther instructions: but he was directed to conceal his orders; and to find the best excuses he could, if any pressing occasion should offer.
The reasons for this unusual proceeding, which made a mighty noise, were of sufficient weight to justify it; for, pursuant to the agreement made between us and France, a courier was then dispatched from Fontainbleau to Madrid, with the offer of an alternative to Philip either of resigning Spain immediately to the duke of Savoy, upon the hopes of succeeding to France, and some present advantage, which, not having been accepted, is needless to dilate on; or of adhering to Spain, and renouncing all future claim to France for himself and his posterity.
Until it could be known which part Philip would accept, the queen would not take possession of Dunkirk, nor suffer an armistice to be declared. But, however, since the most Christian king had agreed that his grandson should be forced, in case of a refusal, to make his choice immediately; her majesty could not endure to think, that perhaps some thousands of lives of her own subjects and allies might be sacrificed without necessity, if an occasion should be found or sought for fighting a battle; which, she very well knew, prince Eugene would eagerly attempt, and put all into confusion, to gratify his own ambition, the enmity of his new masters the Dutch, and the rage of his court.
But the duke of Ormond, who, with every other quality that can accomplish or adorn a great man, inherits all the valour and loyalty of his ancestors, found it very difficult to acquit himself of his commission; for prince Eugene, and all the field-deputies of the States, had begun already to talk either of attacking the enemy, or besieging Quesnoy; the confederate army being now all joined by the troop they expected. And accordingly, about three days after the duke had received those orders from courts it was proposed to his grace, at a meeting with the prince and deputies, "That the French army should be attacked, their camp having been viewed, and a great opportunity offering to do it with success; for the mareschal de Villars, who had notice sent him by mons. de Torcy of what was passing, and had signified the same by a trumpet to the duke, showed less vigilance than was usual to that general; taking no precautions to secure his camp, or observe the motions of the allies, probably on purpose to provoke them." The duke said, "That the earl of Strafford's sudden departure for England made him believe there was something of consequence now transacting, which would be known in four or five days; and therefore desired they would defer this, or any other undertaking, until he could receive fresh letters from England." Whereupon the prince and deputies immediately told the duke, "That they looked for such an answer as he had given them: That they had suspected our measures for some time; and their suspicions were confirmed by the express his grace had so lately received, as well as by the negligence of mons. Villars." They appeared extremely dissatisfied; and the deputies told the duke, "That they would immediately send an account of his answer to their masters:" which they accordingly did; and soon after, by order from the States, wrote him an expostulating letter, in a style less respectful than became them; desiring him, among other things, to explain himself, whether he had positive orders not to fight the French; and afterwards told him, "They were sure he had such orders; otherwise he could not answer what he had done." But the duke still waved the question; saying "He would be glad to have letters from England, before he entered upon action; and that he expected them daily."
Upon this incident, the ministers and generals of the allies immediately took the alarm; vented their fury in violent expressions against the queen, and those she employed in her councils; said, "They were betrayed by Britain;" and assumed the countenance of those who think they have received an injury, and are disposed to return it.
The duke of Ormond's army consisted of eighteen thousand of her majesty's subjects, and about thirty thousand hired from other princes, either wholly by the queen, or jointly by her and the States. The duke immediately informed the court of the dispositions he found among the foreign generals upon this occasion; and "that upon an exigency, he could only depend on the British troops adhering to him; those of Hanover having already determined to desert to the Dutch, and tempted the Danes to do the like; and that he had reason to suppose the same of the rest."
Upon the news arriving at Utrecht, that the duke of Ormond had refused to engage in any action against the enemy; the Dutch ministers there went immediately to make their complaints to the lord privy-seal: aggravating the strangeness of this proceeding, together with the consequence of it, in the loss of a most favourable opportunity of ruining the French army, and the discontent it must needs create in the whole body of the confederates; adding, "How hard it was, that they should be kept in the dark, and have no communication of what was done, in a point which so nearly concerned them." They concluded, "That the duke must needs have acted by orders;" and desired his lordship to write, both to court and to his grace, what they had now said.
The bishop answered, "That he knew nothing of this fact, but what they had told him; and therefore was not prepared with a reply to their representations: only, in general, he could venture to say, that this case appeared very like the conduct of their field-deputies upon former occasions: That if such orders were given, they were certainly built upon very justifiable foundations; and would soon be so explained, as to convince the States and all the world, that the common interest would be better provided for another way, than by a battle or siege: That the want of communication, which they complained of, could not make the States so uneasy, as their declining to receive it, had made the queen, who had used her utmost endeavours to persuade them to concur with her in concerting every step toward a general peace, and settling such a plan as both sides might approve and adhere to; but, to this day, the States had not thought fit to accept those offers, or to authorize any of their ministers, to treat with her majesty's plenipotentiaries upon that affair, although they had been pressed to it ever since the negotiation began: That his lordship, to show that he did not speak his private sense alone, took this opportunity to execute the orders he had received the evening before, by declaring to them, that all her majesty's offers for adjusting the differences between her and the States, were founded upon this express condition, That they should come immediately into the queen's measures, and act openly and sincerely with her; and that, from their conduct so directly contrary, she now looked upon herself to be under no obligation to them."
Monsieur Buys and his colleagues were stunned with this declaration, made to them at a time when they pretended to think the right of complaining to be on their side, and had come to the bishop upon that errand. But after their surprise was abated, and Buys's long reasonings at an end, they began to think how matters might be retrieved; and were of opinion, that the States should immediately dispatch a minister to England, unless his lordship were empowered to treat with them; which, without new commands, he said, he was not. They afterwards desired to know of the bishop, what the meaning was of the last words in his declaration, "That her majesty looked upon herself to be under no obligation to them." He told them his opinion, "That as the queen was bound by treaty to concert with the States the conditions of a peace; so, upon their declining the concert so frequently offered, she was acquitted of that obligation: but that he verily believed, whatever measures her majesty should take, she would always have a friendly regard to the interest of their commonwealth; and that, as their unkindness had been very unexpected and disagreeable to her majesty, so their compliance would be equally pleasing."
I have been the more circumstantial in relating this affair, because it furnished abundance of discourse, and gave rise to many wild conjectures and misrepresentations, as well here as in Holland, especially that part which concerned the duke of Ormond; for the angry faction in the house of commons, upon the first intelligence that the duke had declined to act offensively against France, in concurrence with the allies, moved for an address, wherein the queen should be informed of "the deep concern of her commons, for the dangerous consequences to the common cause, which must arise from this proceeding of her general; and to beseech her, that speedy instructions might be given to the duke, to prosecute the war with vigour, in order to quiet the minds of her people, &c." But a great majority was against this motion; and a resolution drawn up, and presented to the queen by the whole house, of a quite contrary tenour: "That they had an entire confidence in her majesty's most gracious promise, to communicate to her parliament the terms of the peace before the same should be concluded; and that they would support her majesty, in obtaining an honourable and safe peace, against all such persons, either at home or abroad, who have endeavoured, or shall endeavour, to obstruct the same."
The courier sent with the alternative to Spain was now returned, with an account that Philip had chosen to renounce France, for himself, and his posterity; whereof the queen having received notice, her majesty, upon the 6th of June, in a long speech to both houses of parliament, laid before them the terms of a general peace, stipulated between her and France. This speech being the plan whereby both France and the allies have been obliged to proceed in the subsequent course of the treaty, I shall desire the reader's leave to insert it at length, although I believe it has been already in most hands:
"My lords and gentlemen,
"The making of peace and war is the undoubted prerogative of the crown. Yet such is the just confidence I place in you, that at the opening of this session, I acquainted you that a negotiation for a general peace was begun; and afterwards, by messages, I promised to communicate to you the terms of peace, before the same should be concluded.
"In pursuance of that promise, I now come to let you know upon what terms a general peace may be made.
"I need not mention the difficulties which arise from the very nature of this affair; and it is but too apparent, that these difficulties have been increased by other obstructions, artfully contrived to hinder this great and good work.
"Nothing, however, has moved me from steadily pursuing, in the first place, the true interests of my own kingdoms; and I have not omitted any thing, which might procure to all our allies, what is due to them by treaties, and what is necessary for their security.
"The assuring of the protestant succession, as by law established, in the house of Hanover, to these kingdoms, being what I have nearest at heart; particular care is taken, not only to have that acknowledged in the strongest terms; but to have an additional security, by the removal of that person out of the dominions of France, who has pretended to disturb this settlement.
"The apprehension that Spain and the West Indies might be united to France, was the chief inducement to begin this war; and the effectual preventing of such a union, was the principle I laid down at the commencement of this treaty: former examples, and the late negotiations, sufficiently show how difficult it is to find means to accomplish this work. I would not content myself with such as are speculative, or depend on treaties only; I insisted on what was solid, and to have at hand the power of executing what should be agreed.
"I can therefore now tell you, that France at last is brought to offer, that the duke of Anjou shall, for himself and his descendants, renounce for ever all claim to the crown of France; and that this important article may be exposed to no hazard, the performance is to accompany the promise.
"At the same time, the succession to the crown of France is to be declared, after the death of the present dauphin and his sons, to be in the duke of Berry and his sons, in the duke of Orleans and his sons, and so on to the rest of the house of Bourbon.
"As to Spain and the Indies, the succession to those dominions, after the duke of Anjou and his children, is to descend to such prince as shall be agreed upon at the treaty; for ever excluding the rest of the house of Bourbon.
"For confirming the renunciations and settlements beforementioned, it is farther offered, that they should be ratified in the most strong and solemn manner, both in France and Spain; and that those kingdoms, as well as all the other powers engaged in the present war, shall be guarantees to the same.
"The nature of this proposal is such, that it executes itself: the interest of Spain is, to support it; and in France, the persons to whom that succession is to belong, will be ready and powerful enough to vindicate their own right.
"France and Spain are now more effectually divided than ever. And thus, by the blessing of God, will a real balance of power be fixed in Europe, and remain liable to as few accidents, as human affairs can be exempted from.
"A treaty of commerce between these kingdoms and France has been entered upon; but the excessive duties laid on some goods, and the prohibition of others, make it impossible to finish this work so soon as were to be desired. Care is however taken to establish a method of settling this matter; and in the mean time provision is made, that the same privileges and advantages as shall be granted to any other nation by France, shall be granted in like manner to us.
"The division of the island of St. Christopher, between us and the French, having been the cause of great inconveniency and damage to my subjects; I have demanded to have an absolute cession made to me of that whole island: and France agrees to this demand.
"Our interest is so deeply concerned in the trade of North America, that I have used my utmost endeavours to adjust that article in the most beneficial manner. France consents to restore to us the whole Bay and Straits of Hudson; to deliver up the island of Newfoundland, with Placentia; and to make an absolute cession of Annapolis, with the rest of Nova Scotia or Acadie.
"The safety of our home trade will be better provided for, by the demolition of Dunkirk.
"Our Mediterranean trade, and the British interest and influence in those parts, will be secure by the possession of Gibraltar and Port Mahon, with the whole island of Minorca; which are offered to remain in my hands.
"The trade to Spain and to the West Indies, may in general be settled as it was in the time of the late king of Spain Charles the Second; and a particular provision be made, that all advantages, rights, or privileges, which have been granted, or which may hereafter be granted, by Spain, to any other nation, shall be in like manner granted to the subjects of Great Britain.
"But, the part which we have born in the prosecution of this war, entitling us to some distinction in the terms of peace, I have insisted, and obtained, that the assiento, or contract for furnishing the Spanish West Indies with negroes, shall be made with us, for the term of thirty years, in the same manner as has been enjoyed by the French, for ten years past.
"I have not taken upon me to determine the interests of our confederates: These must be adjusted in the congress at Utrecht; where my best endeavours shall be employed, as they have hitherto constantly been, to procure to every one of them all just and reasonable satisfaction. In the mean time, I think it proper to acquaint you, that France offers to make the Rhine the barrier of the Empire; to yield Brisack, the fort of Kehl, and Landau; and to raze all the fortresses both on the other side of the Rhine, and in that river.
"As to the protestant interest in Germany; there will be, on the part of France, no objection to the resettling thereof, on the foot of the treaty of Westphalia.
"The Spanish Low Countries may go to his imperial majesty; the kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia, the duchy of Milan, and the places belonging to Spain on the coast of Tuscany, may likewise be yielded by the treaty of peace to the emperor.
"As to the kingdom of Sicily; though there remains no dispute concerning the cession of it by the duke of Anjou, yet the disposition thereof is not yet determined.
"The interests of the States General with respect to commerce, are agreed to, as they have been demanded by their own ministers, with the exception only of some very few species of merchandise; and the entire barrier, as demanded by the States in 1709 from France, except two or three places at most.
"As to these exceptions, several expedients are proposed: and I make no doubt but this barrier may be so settled, as to render that republick perfectly secure against any enterprise on the part of France; which is the foundation of all my engagements, upon this head, with the States.
"The demands of Portugal depending on the disposition of Spain, and that article having been long in dispute, it has not been yet possible to make any considerable progress therein: but my plenipotentiaries will now have an opportunity to assist that king in his pretensions.
"Those of the king of Prussia are such as, I hope, will admit of little difficulty on the part of France; and my utmost endeavours shall not be wanting, to procure all I am able to so good an ally.
"The difference between the barrier demanded for the duke of Savoy in 1709, and the offers now made by France, is very inconsiderable: but, that prince having so signally distinguished himself in the service of the common cause, I am endeavouring to procure for him still farther advantages.
"The electoral dignity is likewise acknowledged in the house of Hanover, according to the article inserted, at that prince's desire, in my demands.
"And as to the rest of the allies, I make no doubt of being able to secure their several interests.
"My lords, and gentlemen,
"I have now communicated to you not only the terms of peace, which may, by the future treaty, be obtained for my own subjects; but likewise the proposals of France, for satisfying our allies.
"The former, are such as I have reason to expect, to make my people some amends, for that great and unequal burden which they have lain under, through the whole course of this war; and I am willing to hope that none of our confederates, and especially those to whom so great accessions of dominion and power are to accrue by this peace, will envy Britain her share in the glory and advantage of it.
"The latter, are not so perfectly adjusted, as a little more time might have rendered them; but, the season of the year making it necessary to put an end to this session, I resolved no longer to defer communicating these matters to you.
"I can make no doubt but you are all fully persuaded, that nothing will be neglected on my part, in the progress of this negotiation, to bring the peace to a happy, and speedy issue; and I depend on your entire confidence in me, and your cheerful concurrence with me."
The discontented party in the house of commons, finding the torrent against them not to be stemmed, suspended their opposition; by which means, an address was voted, nemine contradicente, to acknowledge her majesty's condescension, to express their satisfaction in what she had already done, and to desire she would please to proceed with the present negotiations, for obtaining a speedy peace.
During these transactions at home, the duke of Ormond was in a very uneasy situation at the army, employed in practising those arts, which perhaps are fitter for a subtle negotiator, than a great commander. But, as he had always proved his obedience where courage or conduct could be of use; so, the duty he professed to his prince, made him submit to continue in a state of inactivity at the head of his troops, however contrary to his nature, if it were for her majesty's service. He had sent early notice to the ministers, "That he could not depend upon the foreign forces in the queen's pay;" and he now found some attempts were already begun, to seduce them.
While the courier was expected from Madrid, the duke had orders to inform the mareschal de Villars of the true state of this affair; and "That his grace would have decisive orders in three or four days." In the mean time, he desired the mareschal would not oblige him to come to any action, either to defend himself, or to join with prince Eugene's army; which he must necessarily do, if the prince were attacked.
When the courier was arrived, with the account that Philip had chosen to accept of Spain, her majesty had proposed to France a suspension of arms for two months (to be prolonged to three or four) between the armies now in Flanders, upon the following conditions:
"That, during the suspension, endeavours should be used for concluding a general peace; or, at least, the article for preventing the union of France and Spain should be punctually executed, by Philip's renouncing France, for himself and his posterity; and the princes of Bourbon, in like manner, renouncing Spain: and that the town, citadel, and forts of Dunkirk, should be immediately delivered into the queen's hands." Her majesty, at the same time, endeavoured to get Cambray for the Dutch, provided they would come into the suspension. But this was absolutely rejected by France; which that court never would have ventured to do, if those allies could have been prevailed on to have acted with sincerity and openness, in concert with her majesty, as her plenipotentiaries had always desired. However, the queen promised, "That if the States would yield to a suspension of arms, they should have some valuable pledge put into their possession."
But now fresh intelligence daily arrived, both from Utrecht and the army, of attempts to make the troops in her majesty's pay desert her service; and a design even of seizing the British forces was whispered about, and with reason suspected.
When the queen's speech was published in Holland, the lord privy seal told the Dutch ministers at Utrecht, "That what her majesty had laid before her parliament could not, according to the rules of treaty, be looked on as the utmost of what France would yield in the course of a negotiation; but only the utmost of what that crown would propose, in order to form the plan of a peace: That these conditions would certainly have been better, if the States had thought fit to have gone hand in hand with her majesty, as she had so frequently exhorted them to do: That nothing but the want of harmony among the allies, had spirited the French to stand out so long: That the queen would do them all the good offices in her power, if they thought fit to comply; and did not doubt of getting them reasonable satisfaction, both in relation to their barrier and their trade." But this reasoning made no impression. The Dutch ministers said, "The queen's speech had deprived them of the fruits of the war." They were in pain lest Lisle and Tournay might be two of the towns to be excepted out of their barrier. The rest of the allies grew angry, by the example of the Dutch. The populace in Holland began to be inflamed: they publickly talked, "That Britain had betrayed them." Sermons were preached in several towns of their provinces;, whether by direction or connivance, filled with the highest instances of disrespect to her Britannick majesty, whom they charged as a papist, and an enemy to their country. The lord privy seal himself believed something extraordinary was in agitation, and that his own person was in danger from the fury of the people.
It is certain that the States appeared, but a few days before, very much disposed to comply with the measures the queen had taken; and would have consented to a general armistice, if count Zinzendorf, one of the plenipotentiaries for the emperor, had not, by direct orders from his court, employed himself in sowing jealousies between Britain and the States; and at the same time made prodigious offers to the latter, as well as to the ministers of Prussia, the Palatinate, and Hanover, for continuing the war. That those three electors, who contributed nothing, except bodies of men in return of pay and subsidies, should readily accept the proposals of the emperor, is easy to be accounted for. What appears hardly credible is, that a grave republick, usually cautious enough in making their bargains, should venture to reject the thoughts of a peace upon the promises of the house of Austria, the little validity whereof they had so long experienced; and especially when they counted upon losing the support of Britain, their most powerful ally: but the false hopes given them by their friends in England, of some new change in their favour; or an imagination of bringing France to better terms, by the appearance of resolution; added to the weakness or corruption of some who administered their affairs, were the true causes which first created, and afterwards inflamed, this untractable temper among them.
The Dutch ministers were wholly disconcerted and surprized, when the lord privy seal told them, "That a suspension of arms in the Netherlands would be necessary; and that the duke of Ormond intended very soon to declare it, after he had taken possession of Dunkirk." But his lordship endeavoured to convince them, that this incident ought rather to be a motive for hastening the States into a compliance with her majesty. He likewise communicated to the ministers of the allies, the offers made by France, as delivered in the speech from the throne, which her majesty thought to be satisfactory: and hoped, "their masters would concur with her in bringing the peace to a speedy conclusion, wherein, each in particular, might be assured of her best offices for advancing their just pretensions."
In the mean time the duke of Ormond was directed to send a body of troops to take possession of Dunkirk, as soon as he should have notice from the mareschal de Villars that the commandant of the town had received orders from his court to deliver it. But the duke foresaw many difficulties in the executing of this commission. He could trust such an enterprise to no forces, except those of her majesty's own subjects. He considered the temper of the States in this conjuncture; and was loth to divide a small body of men, upon whose faithfulness alone he could depend. He thought it not prudent to expose them to march through the enemy's country, with whom there was yet neither peace nor truce; and he had sufficient reasons to apprehend that the Dutch would either not permit such a detachment to pass through their towns, (as themselves had more than hinted to him) or would seize them as they passed: besides, the duke had fairly signified to mareschal de Villars, "that he expected to be deserted by all the foreign troops in her majesty's pay, as soon as the armistice should be declared;" at which the mareschal appearing extremely disappointed, said, "The king his master reckoned, that all the troops under his grace's command should yield to the cessation; and wondered how it should come to pass, that those who might be paid for lying still, would rather choose, after a ten years war, to enter into the service of new masters, under whom they must fight on for nothing." In short, the opinion of mons. Villars was, "That this difficulty cancelled the promise of surrendering Dunkirk;" which therefore he opposed as much as possible, in the letters he writ to his court.
Upon the duke of Ormond's representing those difficulties, the queen altered her measures, and ordered forces to be sent from England to take possession of Dunkirk. The duke was likewise commanded to tell the foreign generals in her majesty's service how highly she would resent their desertion; after which their masters must give up all thoughts of any arrears, either of pay or subsidy. The lord privy seal spoke the same language at Utrecht, to the several ministers of the allies, as Mr. secretary St. John did to those who resided here: adding, "That the proceeding of the foreign troops would be looked upon as a declaration for, or against her majesty; and that in case they desert her service, she would look on herself as justified before God and man, to continue her negotiation at Utrecht, or any other place, whether the allies concur or not." And particularly the Dutch were assured, "That, if their masters seduced the forces hired by the queen, they must take the whole pay, arrears, and subsidies, on themselves."
The earl of Strafford, preparing about this time to return to Utrecht, with instructions proper to the present situation of affairs, went first to the army, and there informed the duke of Ormond of her majesty's intentions. He also acquainted the States deputies with the queen's uneasiness, lest, by the measures they were taking, they should drive her to extremities, which she desired so much to avoid. He farther represented to them, in the plainest terms, the provocations her majesty had received, and the grounds and reasons for her present conduct. He likewise declared to the commanders in chief of the foreign troops in the queen's pay, and in the joint pay of Britain and the States, "with how much surprise her majesty had heard that there was the least doubt of their obeying the orders of the duke of Ormond: which if they refused, her majesty would esteem it not only as an indigniry and affront, but as a declaration against her: and in such a case, they must look on themselves as no farther entitled either to any arrear, or future pay, or subsidies."
Six regiments, under the command of Mr. Hill, were now preparing to embark, in order to take possession of Dunkirk; and the duke of Ormond, upon the first intelligence sent him that the French were ready to deliver the town, was to declare, "He could act no longer against France." The queen gave notice immediately of her proceedings to the States. She let them plainly know, "That their perpetual caballing with her factious subjects, against her authority, had forced her into such measures, as otherwise she would not have engaged in. However, her majesty was willing yet to forget all that had passed, and to unite with them in the strictest ties of amity, which she hoped they would now do; since they could not but be convinced, by the late dutiful addresses of both houses, how far their highmightinesses had been deluded, and drawn in as instruments to serve the turn, and gratify the passions, of a disaffected party: That their opposition; and want of concert with her majesty's ministers, which she had so often invited them to, had encouraged France to except towns out of their barrier, which otherwise might have been yielded: That however, she had not precluded them, or any other ally, from demanding more; and even her own terms were but conditional, upon a supposition of a general peace to ensue: That her majesty resolved to act upon the plan laid down in her speech." And she repeated the promise of her best offices to promote the interest of the States, if they would deal sincerely with her.
Some days before the duke of Ormond had notice that orders were given for the surrender of Dunkirk, prince Eugene of Savoy sent for the generals of the allies, and asked them severally, "Whether, in case the armies separated, they would march with him, or stay with the duke?" All of them, except two, who commanded but small bodies, agreed to join with the prince; who thereupon, about three days after, sent the duke word, "That he intended to march the following day (as it was supposed to besiege Landrecy.") The duke returned an answer, "That he was surprised at the prince's message, there having been not the least previous concert with him, nor any mention in the message, which way, or upon what design, the march was intended: therefore, that the duke could not resolve to march with him; much less could the prince expect assistance from the queen's army, in any design undertaken after this manner." The duke told this beforehand, that he (the prince) might take his measures accordingly, and not attribute to her majesty's general, any misfortune that might happen.
On the 16th of July, N. S. the several generals of the allies joined prince Eugene's army, and began their march, after taking leave of the duke and the earl of Strafford, whose expostulations could not prevail on them to stay; although the latter assured them, "That the queen had made neither peace nor truce with France; and that her forces would now be left exposed to the enemy."
The next day after this famous desertion, the duke of Ormond received a letter from mons. de Villars, with an account that the town and citadel of Dunkirk should be delivered to Mr. Hill. Whereupon a cessation of arms was declared, by sound of trumpet, at the head of the British army; which now consisted only of about eighteen thousand men, all of her majesty's subjects, except the Holsteiners, and count Wallis's dragoons. With this small body of men the general began his march; and pursuant to orders from court, retired toward the sea, in the manner he thought most convenient for the queen's service. When he came as far as Flines, he was told by some of his officers, "That the commandants of Bouchain, Douay, Lisle, and Tournay, had refused them passage through those towns, or even liberty of entrance; and said it was by order of their masters." The duke immediately recollected, that when the deputies first heard of this resolution to withdraw his troops, they told him. "They hoped he did not intend to march through any of their towns." This made him conclude, that the orders must be general, and that his army would certainly meet with the same treatment which his officers had done. He had likewise, before the armies separated, received information of some designs that concerned the safety, or at least the freedom, of his own person, and (which he much more valued) that of those few British troops entrusted to his care. No general was ever more truly or deservedly beloved by his soldiers, who, to a man, were prepared to sacrifice their lives in his service; and whose resentments were raised to the utmost, by the ingratitude, as they termed it, of their deserters.
Upon these provocations, he laid aside all thoughts of returning to Dunkirk, and began to consider how he might perform, in so difficult a conjuncture, something important to the queen, and at the same time find a secure retreat for his forces. He formed his plan without communicating it to any person whatsoever; and the disposition of the army being to march toward Warneton, in the way to Dunkirk, he gave sudden orders to lieutenant-general Cadogan, to change his route (according to the military phrase) and move toward Orchies, a town leading directly to Ghent.
When prince Eugene and the States deputies received news of the duke's motions, they were alarmed to the utmost degree; and sent count Nassau, of Wordenberg, to the general's camp near Orchies, to excuse what had been done; and to assure his grace, "That those commandants who had refused passage to his officers, had acted wholly without orders." Count Hompesch, one of the Dutch generals, came likewise to the duke with the same story; but all this made little impression on the general, who held on his march; and on the 23d of July, N. S. entered Ghent, where he was received with great submission by the inhabitants, and took possession of the town, as he likewise did of Bruges a few days after.
The duke of Ormond thought, that considering the present disposition of the States toward Britain, it might be necessary for the queen to have some pledge from that republick in her hands, as well as from France; by which means her majesty would be empowered to act the part that best became her, of being mediator at least; and that while Ghent was in the queen's hands, no provisions could pass the Scheldt or the Lis without her permission, by which he had it in his power to starve their army. The possession of these towns, might likewise teach the Dutch and Imperialists, to preserve a degree of decency and civility to her majesty, which both of them were upon some occasions too apt to forget: and besides, there was already in the town of Ghent a battalion of British troops, and a detachment of five hundred men in the citadel, together with a great quantity of ammunition stores for the service of the war, which would certainly have been seized or embezzled: so, that no service could be more seasonable or useful; in the present juncture, than this; which the queen highly approved, and left the duke a discretionary power to act as he thought fit on any future emergency.
I have a little interrupted the order of time in relating the duke of Ormond's proceedings, who, after having placed a garrison at Bruges, and sent a supply of men and ammunition to Dunkirk, retired to Ghent, where he continued some months, till he had leave to return to England.
Upon the arrival of colonel Disney at court, with an account that Mr. Hill had taken possession of Dunkirk, a universal joy spread over the kingdom; this event being looked on as the certain forerunner of a peace: besides, the French faith was in so ill a reputation among us, that many persons, otherwise sanguine enough, could never bring themselves to believe that the town would be delivered, till certain intelligence came that it was actually in our hands. Neither were the ministers themselves altogether at ease, or free from suspicion, whatever countenance they made; for they knew very well that the French king had many plausible reasons to elude his promise, if he found cause to repent it; one condition of surrendering Dunkirk being a general armistice of all the troops in the British pay, which her majesty was not able to perform; and upon this failure, the mareschal de Villars (as we have before related) endeavoured to dissuade his court from accepting the conditions, and in the very interval while those difficulties were adjusting, the mareschal d'Uxelles, one of the French plenipotentiaries at Utrecht (whose inclinations, as well as those of his colleague mons. Mesnager, led him to favour the States more than Britain) assured the lord privy seal, "That the Dutch were then pressing to enter into separate measures with his master." And his lordship, in a visit to abbé de Polignac, observing a person to withdraw as he entered the abbé's chamber, was told by this minister, "That the person he saw was one Moleau of Amsterdam (mentioned before) a famous agent for the States with France, who had been entertaining him (the abbé) upon the same subject; but that he had refused to treat with Moleau, without the privity of England."
Mr. Harley, whom we mentioned above to have been sent early in the spring to Utrecht, continued longer in Holland than was at first expected; but, having received her majesty's farther instructions, was about this time arrived at Hanover. It was the misfortune of his electoral highness, to be very ill served by mons. Bothmar, his envoy here, who assisted at all the factious meetings of the discontented party, and deceived his master by a false representation of the kingdom, drawn from the opinion of those to whom he confined his conversation. There was likewise at the elector's court a little Frenchman, without any merit or consequence, called Robethon, who, by the assistance and encouragement of the last ministry, had insinuated himself into some degree of that prince's favour, which he used in giving his master the worst impressions he was able of those whom the queen employed in her service; insinuating, "That the present ministers were not in the interest of his highness's family; that their views were toward the pretender; that they were making an unsecure and dishonourable peace; that the weight of the nation was against them; and that it was impossible for them to preserve much longer their credit or power."
The earl Rivers had, in the foregoing year, been sent to Hanover, in order to undeceive the elector, and remove whatever prejudices might be infused into his highness against her majesty's proceedings; but it should seem that he had no very great success in his negotiation: for, soon after his return to England, mons. Bothmar's memorial appeared, in the manner I have already related, which discovered the sentiments of his electoral highness (if they were truly represented in that memorial) to differ not a little from those of the queen. Mr. Harley was therefore directed to take the first opportunity of speaking to the elector in private; to assure him, "That, although her majesty had thought herself justly provoked by the conduct of his minister, yet such was her affection for his highness, and concern for the interests of his family, that instead of showing the least mark of resentment, she had chosen to send him (Mr. Harley) fully instructed to open her designs, and show his highness the real interest of Britain in the present conjuncture." Mr. Harley was to give the elector a true account of what had passed in England, during the first part of this session of parliament; to expose to his highness the weakness of those with whom his minister had consulted, and under whose directions he had acted; to convince him how much lower that faction must become when a peace should be concluded, and when the natural strength of the kingdom, disencumbered from the burden of the war, should be at liberty to exert itself: to show him how his interest in the succession was sacrificed to that of a party: "That his highness had been hitherto a friend to both sides, but that the measures taken by his ministers, had tended only to set him at the head of one, in opposition to the other:" To explain to the elector, how fully the safety of Europe was provided for by the plan of peace in her majesty's speech: and how little reason those would appear to have, who complained the loudest of this plan, if it were compared either with our engagements to them when we began the war, or with their performances in the course of it.
Upon this occasion, Mr. Harley was to observe to the elector, "That it should rather be wondered at, how the queen had brought France to offer so much, than yet to offer no more; because, as soon as ever it appeared that her majesty would be at the head of this treaty, and that the interests of Britain were to be provided for, such endeavours were used to break off the negotiation, as are hardly to be paralleled; and the disunion thereby created among the allies, had given more opportunties to the enemy of being slow in their concessions, than any other measures might possibly have done: That this want of concert among the allies, could not in any sort be imputed to the queen; who had all along invited them to it with the greatest earnestness, as the surest means to bring France to reason: That she had always in a particular manner pressed the States General to come into the strictest union with her, and opened to them her intentions with the greatest freedom; but finding that instead of concurring with her majesty, they were daily carrying on intrigues to break off the negotiation, and thereby deprive her of the advantages she might justly expect from the ensuing peace, having no other way left, she was forced to act with France, as she did, by herself: That however, the queen had not taken upon herself to determine the interests of the allies, who were at liberty of insisting on farther pretensions; wherein her majesty would not be wanting, to support them as far as she was able, and improve the concessions already made by France; in which case, a good understanding and harmony among the confederates, would yet be of the greatest use, for making the enemy more tractable and easy."
I have been more particular in reciting the substance of Mr. Harley's instructions, because it will serve as a recapitulation of what I have already said upon this subject, and seems to set her majesty's intentions and proceedings at this time in the clearest light.
After the cessation of arms declared by the duke of Ormond, upon the delivery of Dunkirk, the British plenipotentiaries very earnestly pressed those of Holland to come into a general armistice; for, if the whole confederacy acted in conjunction, this would certainly be the best means for hanging the common enemy to reasonable terms of peace: but the States, deluded by the boundless promises of count Zinzendorf, and the undertaking talent of prince Eugene, who dreaded the conclusion of the war, as the period of his glory, would not hear of a cessation. The loss of eighteen thousand Britons, was not a diminution of weight in the balance of such an ally as the emperor, and such a general as the prince. Besides, they looked upon themselves to be still superiour to France in the field; and although their computation was certainly right in point of number, yet, in my opinion, the conclusion drawn from it was grounded upon a great mistake. I have been assured by several persons of our own country, and some foreigners of the first rank both for skill and station in arms, that in most victories obtained in the present war, the British troops were ever employed in the post of danger and honour, and usually began the attack; (being allowed to be naturally more fearless than the people of any other country) by which they were not only an example of courage to the rest, but must be acknowledged, without partiality, to have governed the fortune of the day; since it is known enough, how small a part of an army is generally engaged in any battle. It may likewise be added, that nothing is of greater moment in war than opinion. The French, by their frequent losses, which they chiefly attributed to the courage of our men, believed that a British general, at the head of British troops, was not to be overcome; and the mareschal de Villars was quickly sensible of the advantage he had got; for, in a very few days after the desertion of the allies, happened the earl of Albemarle's disgrace at Denain, by a feint of the mareschal's, and a manifest failure, somewhere or other, both of courage and conduct on the side of the confederates; the blame of which was equally shared between prince Eugene and the earl; although it is certain, the duke of Ormond gave the latter timely warning of his danger; observing, he was neither intrenched as he ought, nor provided with bridges sufficient for the situation he was in, and at such a distance from the main army.
The marquis de Torcy had likewise the same sentiments of what mighty consequence those few British battalions were to the confederate army; since he advised his master to deliver up Dunkirk, although the queen could not perform the condition understood, which was a cessation of arms of all the foreign forces in her pay.
It must be owned, that mons. de Torcy made great merit of this confidence that his master placed in the queen; and observing her majesty's displeasure against the Dutch, on account of their late proceedings, endeavoured to inflame it with aggravations enough; insinuating, "That, since the States had acted so ungratefully, the queen should let her forces join with those of France, in order to compel the confederates to a peace." But, although this overture were very tenderly hinted from the French court, her majesty heard it with the utmost abhorrence; and ordered her secretary Mr. St. John (created about this time viscount Bolingbroke) to tell mons. de Torcy, "That no provocations whatever should tempt her to distress her allies; but she would endeavour to bring them to reason by fair means, or leave them to their own conduct: That if the former should be found impracticable, she would then make her own peace, and content herself with doing the office of a mediator between both parties: but, if the States should at any time come to a better mind, and suffer their ministers to act in conjunction with hers, she would assert their just interests to the utmost, and make no farther progress in any treaty with France, until those allies received all reasonble satisfaction, both as to their barrier and their trade." The British plenipotentiaries were directed to give the same assurances to the Dutch ministers at Utrecht; and withal to let them know, "That the queen was determined, by their late conduct, to make peace either with, or without them; but would much rather choose the former."
There was, however, one advantage, which her majesty resolved to make by this defection of her foreigners. She had been led, by the mistaken politicks of some years past, to involve herself in several guaranties with the princes of the North, which were in some sort contradictory to one another: but this conduct of theirs wholly annulled all such engagements, and left her at liberty to interpose in the affairs of those parts of Europe, in such a manner, as would best serve the interests of her own kingdoms, as well as that of the protestant religion, and settle a due balance of power in the North.
The grand article for preventing the union of France and Spain, was to be executed during a cessation of arms. But many difficulties arising about that, and some other points of great importance to the common cause, which could not easily be adjusted, either between the French and British plenipotentiaries at Utrecht, or by correspondence between mons. de Torcy and the ministry here; the queen took the resolution of sending the lord viscount Bolingbroke immediately to France, fully instructed in all her intentions, and authorized to negotiate every thing necessary for settling the treaty of peace in such a course, as might bring it to a happy and speedy conclusion. He was empowered to agree to a general suspension of arms, by sea and land, between Great Britain, France, and Spain, to continue for four months, or until the conclusion of the peace; provided France and Spain would previously give positive assurances to make good the terms demanded by her majesty for the duke of Savoy, and would likewise adjust and determine the forms of the several renunciations to be made by both those crowns, in order to prevent their being ever united. The lord Bolingbroke was likewise authorized to settle some differences relating to the elector of Bavaria, for whose interests France was as much concerned, as her majesty was for those of the duke of Savoy; to explain all doubtful articles which particularly related to the advantages of Britain; to know the real ultimatum, as it is termed, of France upon the general plan of peace; and lastly, to cut off all hopes from that court of ever bringing the queen to force her allies to a disadvantageous peace; her majesty resolving to impose no scheme at all upon them, or to debar them from the liberty of endeavouring to obtain the best conditions they could.
The lord Bolingbroke went to France in the beginning of August; was received at court with particular marks of distinction and respect; and in a very few days, by his usual address and ability, performed every part of his commission, extremely to the queen's content, and his own honour. He returned to England before the end of the month; but Mr. Prior, who went along with him, was left behind, to adjust whatever differences might remain or arise between the two crowns.
In the mean time, the general conferences at Utrecht, which for several weeks had been let fall, since the delivery of Dunkirk, were now resumed. But, the Dutch still declaring against a suspension of arms, and refusing to accept the queen's speech as a plan to negotiate upon, there was no progress made for some time in the great work of the peace. Whereupon the British plenipotentiaries told those of the States, "That, if the queen's endeavours could not procure more than the contents of her speech, or if the French should ever fall short of what was there offered, the Dutch could blame none but themselves, who, by their conduct, had rendered things difficult, that would otherwise have been easy." However, her majesty thought it prudent to keep the States still in hopes of her good offices, to prevent them from taking the desperate course of leaving themselves wholly at the mercy of France; which was an expedient they formerly practised, and which a party among them was now inclined to advise.
While the congress at Utrecht remained in this inactive state, the queen proceeded to perfect that important article for preventing the union of France and Spain. It was proposed, and accepted, that Philip should renounce France, for himself and his posterity; and that the most christian king, and all the princes of his blood, should in the like manner renounce Spain.
It must be confessed, that this project of renunciation lay under a great disrepute, by the former practices of this very king Lewis XIV., pursuant to an absurd notion among many in that kingdom, of a divine right annexed to proximity of blood, not to be controlled by any human law.
But it is plain the French themselves had recourse to this method, after all their infractions of it, since the Pyrenean treaty; for the first dauphin, in whom the original claim was vested, renounced for himself and his eldest son, which opened the way to Philip duke of Anjou; who would however hardly have succeeded, if it had not been for the will made in his favour by the last king, Charles II.
It is indeed hard to reflect with any patience, upon the unaccountable stupidity of the princes of Europe for some centuries past, who left a probability to France of succeeding, in a few ages, to all their dominions; while, at the same time, no alliance with that kingdom could be of advantage to any prince, by reason of the salique law. Should not common prudence have taught every sovereign in Christendom, to enact a salique law with respect to France? for want of which, it is almost a miracle that the Bourbon family has not possessed the universal monarchy by right of inheritance. When the French assert that a proximity of blood gives a divine right, as some of their ministers (who ought to be more wise or honest) have lately advanced in this very case to the title of Spain; do they not, by allowing a French succession, make their own kings usurpers? Or, if the salique law be divine, is it not of universal obligation, and consequently of force to exclude France from inheriting by daughters? Or, lastly, if that law be of human institution, may it not be enacted in any state, with whatever extent or limitarion the legislature shall think fit? for the notion of an unchangeable human law, is an absurdity in government, to be believed only by ignorance, and supported by power. Hence it follows, that the children of the late queen of France, although she had renounced, were as legally excluded from succeeding to Spain, as if the salique law had been fundamental in that kingdom; since that exclusion was established by every power in Spain which could possibly give a sanction to any law there; and therefore the duke of Anjou's title is wholly founded upon the bequest of his predecessor (which has great authority in that monarchy, as it formerly had in ours) upon the confirmation of the cortes, and the general consent of the people.
It is certain, the faith of princes is so frequently subservient to their ambition, that renunciations have little validity, otherwise than from the powers and parties whose interest it is to support them. But this renunciation, which the queen has exacted from the French king and his grandson, I take to be armed with all the essential circumstances that can fortify such an act: for, as it is necessary for the security of every prince in Europe, that those two great kingdoms should never be united; so the chief among them will readily consent to be guarantees for preventing such a misfortune.
Besides, this proposal (according to her majesty's expression in her speech) is of such a nature, that it executes itself; because the Spaniards, who dread such a union for every reason that can have weight among men, took care that their king should not only renounce in the most solemn manner; but likewise that the act should be framed in the strongest terms themselves could invent, or we could furnish them with. As to France, upon supposal of the young dauphin's dying in a few years, that kingdom will not be in a condition to engage in a long war against a powerful alliance, fortified with the addition of the Spaniards, and the party of the duke of Berry, or whoever else shall be next claimer: and the longer the present dauphin lives, the weaker must Philip's interest be in France; because the princes who are to succeed by this renunciation, will have most power and credit in the kingdom.
The mischiefs occasioned by the want of a good understanding between the allies, especially Britain and Holland, were increased every day; the French taking the advantage, and raising difficulties, not only upon the general plan of peace, but likewise upon the explanation of several articles in the projected treaty between them and her majesty. They insisted to have Lisle, as the equivalent for Dunkirk: and demanded Tournay, Maubeuge, and Condé, for the two or three towns mentioned in the queen's speech, which the British plenipotentiaries were so far from allowing, that they refused to confer with those of France upon that foot; although at the same time, the former had fresh apprehensions that the Dutch, in a fit of despair, would accept whatever terms the enemy pleased to offer, and, by precipitating their own peace, prevent her majesty from obtaining any advantages, both for her allies and herself.
It is most certain that the repeated losses suffered by the States, in little more than two months after they had withdrawn themselves from the queen's assistance, did wholly disconcert their counsels; and their prudence (as it is usual) began to forsake them with their good fortune. They were so weak as to be still deluded by their friends in England, who continued to give them hopes of some mighty and immediate resource from hence; for, when the duke of Ormond had been about a month in Ghent, he received a letter from the mareschal de Villars, to inform him, "That the Dutch generals taken at Denain had told the mareschal publickly of a sudden revolution expected in Britain; that particularly the earl of Albemarle and mons. Hompesch discoursed very freely of it; and that nothing was more commonly talked of in Holland." It was then likewise confidently reported in Ghent, that the queen was dead; and we all remember what rumour flew about here at the very same time, as if her majesty's health were in a bad condition.
Whether such vain hopes as these gave spirit to the Dutch; whether their frequent misfortunes made them angry and sullen; whether they still expected to overreach us by some private stipulations with France, through the mediation of the elector of Bavaria, as that prince afterwards gave out; or whatever else was the cause; they utterly refused a cessation of arms, and made not the least return to all the advances and invitations made by her majesty, until the close of the campaign.
It was then the States first began to view their affairs in another light; to consider how little the vast promises of count Zinzendorf were to be relied on; to be convinced that France was not disposed to break with her majesty, only to gratify their ill humour, or unreasonable demands; to discover that their factious correspondents on this side the water had shamefully misled them; that some of their own principal towns grew heartily weary of the war, and backward in their loans; and, lastly, that prince Eugene, their new general, whether his genius or fortune had left him, was not for their turn. They, therefore, directed their ministers at Utrecht to signify to the lord privy seal and the earl of Strafford, "That the States were disposed to comply with her majesty, and to desire her good offices with France; particularly, that Tournay and Condé might be left to them as part of their barrier, without which they could not be safe: That the elector of Bavaria might not be suffered to retain any town in the Netherlands, which would be as bad for Holland as if those places were in the hands of France: Therefore the States proposed, that Luxembourg, Namur, Charleroy, and Nieuport, might be delivered to the emperor: Lastly, That the French might not insist on excepting the four species of goods out of the tariff of 1664: That, if her majesty could prevail with France to satisfy their masters on these articles, they would be ready to submit in all the rest."
When the queen received an account of this good disposition in the States General, immediately orders were sent to Mr. Prior, to inform the ministers of the French court, "That her majesty had now some hopes of the Dutch complying with her measures; and therefore she resolved, as she had always declared, whenever those allies came to themselves, not to make the peace without their reasonable satisfaction." The difficulty that most pressed was, about the disposal of Tournay and Condé. The Dutch insisted strongly to have both, and the French were extremely unwilling to part with either.
The queen judged the former would suffice for completing the barrier of the States. Mr. Prior was therefore directed to press the marquis de Torcy effectually on this head: and to terminate all that minister's objections, by assuring him of her majesty's resolution to appear openly on the side of the Dutch, if this demand were refused. It was thought convenient to act in this resolute manner with France; whose late success against Holland, had taught the ministers of the most christian king, to resume their old imperious manner of treating with that republick; to which they were farther encouraged by the ill understanding between her majesty and the allies.
This appeared from the result of an idle quarrel that happened, about the end of August, at Utrecht, between a French and a Dutch plenipotentiary, mons. Mesnager and count Rechteren; wherein the court of France demanded such abject submissions, and with so much haughtiness, as plainly showed they were pleased with any occasion of mortifying the Dutch.
Besides, the politicks of the French ran at this time very opposite to those of Britain. They thought the ministers here durst not meet the parliament without a peace; and that therefore, her majesty would either force the States to comply with France, by delivering up Tournay, which was the principal point in dispute; or would finish her own peace with France and Spain, leaving a fixed time for Holland to refuse or accept the terms imposed on them. But the queen, who thought the demand of Tournay by the States to be very necessary and just, was determined to insist upon it; and to declare openly against France, rather than suffer her ally to want a place so useful for their barrier. And Mr. Prior was ordered to signify this resolution of her majesty to mons. de Torcy, in case that minister could not be otherwise prevailed on.
The British plenipotentiaries did likewise, at the same time, express to those of Holland, her majesty's great satisfaction, "That the States were at last disposed to act in confidence with her: That she wished this resolution had been sooner taken, since nobody had gained by the delay but the French king; That however, her majesty did not question the procuring of a safe and honourable peace, by united counsels, reasonable demands, and prudent measures: That she would assist them in getting whatever was necessary to their barrier, and in settling to their satisfaction the exceptions made by France out of the tariff of 1664: That no other difficulties remained of moment to retard the peace, since the queen had obtained Sardinia for the duke of Savoy; and in the settlement of the Low Countries, would adhere to what she delivered from the throne: That as to the Empire, her majesty heartily wished their barrier as good as could be desired; but that we were not now in circumstances to expect every thing exactly according to the scheme of Holland: France had already offered a great part: and the queen did not think the remainder worth the continuance of the war."
Her majesty conceived the peace in so much forwardness, that she thought fit, about this time, to nominate the duke Hamilton, and the lord Lexington, for ambassadors in France and Spain, to receive the renunciations in both courts, and adjust matters of commerce.
The duke was preparing for his journey, when he was challenged to a duel by the lord Mohun, a person of infamous character. He killed his adversary upon the spot, though he himself received a wound; and weakened by the loss of blood, as he was leaning in the arms of his second, was most barbarously stabbed in the breast by lieutenant-general Macartney, who was second to lord Mohun. He died a few minutes after in the field, and the murderer made his escape. I thought so surprising an event might deserve barely to be related, although it be something foreign to my subject.
The earl of Strafford, who had come to England in May last, in order to give her majesty an account of the disposition of affairs in Holland, was now returning with her last instructions, to let the Dutch minister know, "That some points would probably meet with difficulties not to be overcome, which once might have been easily obtained: To show what evil consequences had already flowed from their delay and irresolution; and to entreat them to fix on some proposition, reasonable in itself, as well as possible to be effected: That the queen would insist upon the cession of Tournay by France, provided the States would concur in finishing the peace, without starting new objections, or insisting upon farther points: That the French demands, in favour of the elector of Bavaria, appeared to be such as the queen was of opinion the States ought to agree to; which were, to leave the elector in possession of Luxembourg, Namur, and Charleroy, subject to the terms of their barrier, until he should be restored to his electorate; and to give him the kingdom of Sardinia, to efface the stain of his degradation in the electoral college: That the earl had brought over a project of a new treaty of succession and barrier, which her majesty insisted the States should sign, before the conclusion of the peace; the former treaty having been disadvantageous to her subjects, containing in it the seeds of future dissensions, and condemned by the sense of the nation: Lastly, that her majesty, notwithstanding all provocations, had, for the sake of the Dutch, and in hopes of their recovery from those false notions which had so long misled them, hitherto kept the negotiations open: That the offers now made them were her last, and this the last time she would apply to them: That they must either agree, or expect the queen would proceed immediately to conclude her treaty with France and Spain, in conjunction with such of her allies as would think fit to adhere to her.
"As to Savoy; that the queen expected the States would concur with her in making good the advantage stipulated for that duke, and in prevailing with the emperor to consent to an absolute neutrality in Italy, until the peace should be concluded."
The governing party in Holland, however in appearance disposed to finish, affected new delays; and raised many difficulties about the four species of goods, which the French had excepted out of the tariff. Count Zinzendorf, the emperor's plenipotentiary, did all that was possible to keep up this humour in the Dutch, in hopes to put them under a necessity of preparing for the next campaign; and some time after went so far in this pursuit, that he summoned the several ministers of the empire, and told them he had letters from his master, with orders to signify to them, "That his Imperial majesty resolved to begin the campaign early, with all his forces united, against France; of which he desired they would send notice to all their courts, that the several princes might be ready to furnish their contingents and recruits." At the same time, Zinzendorf endeavoured to borrow two millions of florins upon the security of some Imperial cities; but could not succeed either among the Jews or at Amsterdam.
When the earl of Strafford arrived at Utrecht, the lord privy seal and he communicated to the Dutch ministers the new treaty for a succession and barrier, as the queen had ordered it to be prepared here in England, differing from the former in several points of the greatest moment, obvious to any who will be at the pains to compare them. This was strenuously opposed, for several weeks, by the plenipotentiaries of the States. But the province of Utrecht, where the congress was held, immediately sent orders to their representatives at the Hague, to declare their province thankful to the queen: "That they agreed the peace should be made on the terms proposed by France, and consented to the new projected treaty of barrier and succession." And about the close of the year 1712, four of the seven provinces had delivered their opinions for putting an end to the war.
This unusual precipitation in the States, so different from the whole tenour of their former conduct, was very much suspected by the British plenipotentiaries. Their lordships had received intelligence, "That the Dutch ministers held frequent conferences with those of France, and had offered to settle their interests with that crown, without the concurrence of Britain." Count Zinzendorf and his colleagues appeared likewise all on the sudden to have the same dispositions, and to be in great haste to settle their several differences with the States. The reasons for this proceeding were visible enough. Many difficulties were yet undetermined in the treaty of commerce between her majesty and France; for the adjusting of which, and some other points, the queen had lately dispatched the duke of Shrewsbury to that court. Some of these were of hard digestion, with which the most christian king would not be under a necessity of complying, when he had no farther occasion for us, and might, upon that account, afford better terms to the other two powers. Besides, the emperor and the States could very well spare her majesty the honour of being arbitrator of a general peace; and the latter hoped, by this means, to avoid the new treaty of barrier and succession, which were now forcing on them.
To prevent the consequences of this evil, there fortunately fell out an incident, which the two lords at Utrecht knew well how to make use of. The quarrel between mons. Mesnager and count Rechteren (formerly mentioned) had not yet been made up. The French and Dutch differing in some circumstances, about the satisfaction to be given by the count for the affront he had offered, the British plenipotentiaries kept this dispute on foot for several days; and in the mean time, pressed the Dutch to finish the new treaty of barrier and succession between her majesty and them, which about the middle of January was concluded fully to the queen's satisfaction.
But, while these debates and differences continued at the congress, the queen resolved to put a speedy end to her part in the war. She therefore sent orders to the lord privy seal and the earl of Strafford, to prepare every thing necessary for signing her own treaty with France. This she hoped might be done against the meeting of her parliament, now prorogued to the third of February; in which time, those among the allies who were really inclined towards a peace, might settle their several interests, by the assistance and support of her majesty's plenipotentiaries; and as for the rest, who would either refuse to comply, or endeavour to protract the negotiation, the heads of their respective demands, which France had yielded by her majesty's intervention, and agreeable to the plan laid down in her speech, should be mentioned in the treaty; and a time limited for the several powers concerned to receive or reject them.
The pretender was not yet gone out of France, upon some difficulties alleged by the French, about procuring him a safe conduct to Bar-le-duc in the duke of Lorrain's dominions, where it was then proposed he should reside. The queen, altogether bent upon quieting the minds of her subjects, declared, "She would not sign the peace till that person were removed;" although several wise men believed he could be no where less dangerous to Britain, than in the place where he was.
The argument which most prevailed on the States to sign the new treaty of barrier and succession with Britain, was, her majesty's promise to procure Tournay for them from France; after which, no more differences remained between us and that republick; and consequently they had no farther temptations to any separate transactions with the French, who thereupon began to renew their litigious and haughty manner of treating with the Dutch. The satisfaction they extorted for the affront given by count Rechteren to mons. Mesnager, although somewhat softened by the British ministers at Utrecht, was yet so rigorous, that her majesty could not forbear signifying her resentment of it to the most Christian king. Mons. Mesnager, who seemed to have more the genius of a merchant than a minister, began, in his conferences with the plenipotentiaries of the States, to raise new disputes upon points which both we and they had reckoned upon as wholly settled. The abbé de Polignac, a most accomplished person, of great generosity and universal understanding, was gone to France, to receive the cardinal's cap; and the mareschal d'Uxelles was wholly guided by his colleague mons. Mesnager, who kept up those brangles that for a time obstructed the peace; some of which were against all justice, and others of small importance, both of very little advantage to his country, and less to the reputation of his master or himself. This low talent in business, which the cardinal de Polignac used, in contempt, to call a spirit of negotiating, made it impossible for the two lords plenipotentiaries, with all their abilities and experience, to bring Mesnager to reason, in several points both with us and the States. His concessions were few and constrained, serving only to render him more tenacious of what he refused. In several of the towns which the States were to keep, he insisted, "That France should retain the chatellanies, or extent of country depending on them, particularly that of Tournay;" a demand the more unjustifiable, because he knew his master had not only proceeded directly contrary, but had erected a court in his kingdom, where his own judges extended the territories about those towns he had taken as far as he pleased to direct them. Mons. Mesnager showed equal obstinacy in what his master expected for the elector of Bavaria, and in refusing the tariff of 1664: so that the queen's plenipotentiaries represented these difficulties as what might be of dangerous consequence, both to the peace in general, and to the States in particular, if they were not speedily prevented.
Upon these considerations, her majesty thought it her shortest and safest course to apply directly to France, where she had then so able a minister as the duke of Shrewsbury.
The marquis de Torcy, secretary to the most Christian king, was the minister with whom the duke was to treat, as having been the first who moved his master to apply to the queen for a peace, in opposition to a violent faction in that kingdom, who were as eagerly bent to continue the war, as any other could be, either here or in Holland.
It would be very unlike an historian, to refuse this great minister the praise he so justly deserves, of having treated, through the whole course of so great a negotiation, with the utmost candour and integrity; never once failing in any promise he made, and tempering a firm zeal to his master's interest, with a ready compliance to what was reasonable and just. Mr. Prior, whom I have formerly mentioned, resided likewise now at Paris, with the character of a minister plenipotentiary; and was very acceptable to that court, upon the score of his wit and humour.
The duke of Shrewsbury was directed to press the French court upon the points yet unsettled in the treaty of commerce between both crowns: To make them drop their unreasonable demands for the elector of Bavaria: To let them know, "That the queen was resolved not to forsake her allies, who were now ready to come in; that she thought the best way of hastening the general peace was, to determine her own particular one with France, until which time she could not conveniently suffer her parliament to meet."
The States were by this time so fully convinced of the queen's sincerity and affection to their republick, and how much they had been deceived by the insinuations of the factious party in England, that they wrote a very humble letter to her majesty, to desire her assistance towards settling those points they had in dispute with France, and professing themselves ready to acquiesce in whatever explanation her majesty would please to make of the plan proposed in her speech to the parliament.
But the queen had already prevented their desires; and in the beginning of February, 1712-13. directed the duke of Shrewsbury to inform the French court, "That, since she had prevailed on her allies the Dutch to drop the demand of Condé, and the other of the four species of goods which the French had excepted out of the tariff of 1664, she would not sign without them: That she approved of the Dutch insisting to have the chatellanies restored wdth the towns; and was resolved to stand or fall with them, until they were satisfied in this point."
Her majesty had some apprehensions that the French created these difficulties, on purpose to spin out the treaty until the campaign should begin. They thought it absolutely necessary that our parliament should meet in a few weeks; which could not well be ventured, until the queen were able to tell both houses, that her own peace was signed: That this would not only facilitate what remained in difference between Britain and France, but leave the Dutch entirely at the mercy of the latter.
The queen, weary of these refined mistakes in the French politicks, and fully resolved to be trifled with no longer, sent her determinate orders to the duke of Shrewsbury, to let France know, "That her majesty had hitherto prorogued her parliament, in hopes of accommodating the difficulties in her own treaties of peace and commerce with that crown, as well as settling the interests of her several allies; or at least, that the differences in the former being removed, the most Christian king would have made such offers for the latter, as might justify her majesty in signing her own peace, whether the confederates intended to sign theirs or not. But, several points being yet unfinished between both crowns, and others between France and the rest of the allies, especially the States, to which the plenipotentiaries of that court at Utrecht had not thought fit to give satisfaction; the queen was now come to a final determination, both with relation to her own kingdoms, and to the whole alliance: That the campaign approaching, she would not willingly be surprised in case the war was to go on: That she had transmitted to the duke of Shrewsbury her last resolutions, and never would be prevailed on to reduce her own demands, or those of her allies, any lower than the scheme now sent over, as an explanation of the plan laid down in her speech: That her majesty had sent orders to her plenipotentiaries at Utrecht to assume the character of ambassadors, and sign the peace immediately with the ministers of the most Christian king, as soon as the duke of Shrewsbury should have sent them notice that the French had complied: That the queen had therefore farther prorogued her parliament to the third of March, in hopes to assure them, by that time, of her peace being agreed on; for, if the two houses should meet, while any uncertainty remained, supplies must be asked as for a war."
The duke of Shrewsbury executed this important commission with that speed and success, which could only be expected from an able minister. The French king immediately yielded to the whole scheme her majesty proposed; whereupon directions were sent to the lord privy seal, and the earl of Strafford, to sign a peace between Great Britain and France, without delay.
Upon the second day of March, the two British plenipotentiaries met those of the allies in the townhouse at Utrecht; where the lord privy seal addressed himself to them in a short speech: "That the negotiation had now continued fourteen months with great slowness, which had proved very injurious to the interests of the allies: That the queen had staid thus long, and stopped the finishing of her own peace, rather than leave her allies in any uncertainty: That she hoped they would now be all prepared to put an end to this great work; and therefore had commanded her plenipotentiaries to tell those of the allies. That she found it necessary to conclude her own treaty immediately; and it was her opinion, that the confederates ought to finish theirs at the same time; to which they were now accordingly invited, by her majesty's orders." And lastly, his lordship declared, in the queen's name, "That whoever could not be ready on the day prefixed, should have a convenient time allowed them to come in."
Although the orders sent by the queen to her plenipotentiaries were very precise, yet their lordships did not precipitate the performance of them, they were directed to appoint as short a day for the signing as they conveniently could; but, however, the particular day was left to their discretion. They hoped to bring over the Dutch, and most of the other allies, to conclude at the same time with the queen; which as it would certainly be more popular to their country, so they conceived it would be more safe for themselves. Besides, upon looking over their commission, a scruple sprang in their minds, that they could not sign a particular peace with France; their powers, as they apprehended, authorising them only to sign a general one. Their lordships therefore sent to England, to desire new powers; and, in the mean time, employed themselves with great industry, between the ministers of France and those of the several allies, to find some expedient for smoothing the way to an agreement among them.
The earl of Strafford went for a few days to the Hague, to inform the States of her majesty's express commands to his colleague and himself, for signing the peace as soon as possible; and to desire they would be ready at the same time: which the pensionary promised; and that their plenipotentiaries should be empowered accordingly, to the great contentment of mons. Buys, who was now so much altered, either in reality or appearance, that he complained to the earl of mons. Heinsius's slowness: and charged all the delays and mismanagements of a twelvemonth past, to that minister's account.
While the earl of Strafford staid at the Hague, he discovered that an emissary of the duke of Marlborough's had been there some days before, sent by his grace to dissuade the Dutch from signing at the same time with the ministers of the queen, which, in England, would at least have the appearance of a separate peace, and oblige their British friends, who knew how to turn so short a delay to very good account, as well as gratify the emperor; on whom, it was alleged, they ought to rely much more than on her majesty. One of the States likewise told the earl, "That the same person employed by the duke was then in conference with the magistrates of Rotterdam (which town had declared for the continuance of the war) to assure them, if they would hold off a little, they should see an unexpected turn in the British parliament: That the duke of Marlborough had a list of the discontented members in both houses, who were ready to turn against the court: and to crown all, that his grace had certain intelligence of the queen being in so ill a state of health, as made it impossible for her to live above six weeks." So restless and indefatigable are avarice and ambition, when inflamed by a desire of revenue!
But representations which had been so often tried, were now offered too late. Most of the allies, except the emperor, were willing to put an end to the war upon her majesty's plan; and the farther delay of three weeks must be chiefly imputed to that litigious manner of treating peculiar to the French; whose plenipotentiaries at Utrecht insisted with obstinacy upon many points, which at Paris mons. de Torcy had given up.
The emperor expected to keep all he already possessed in Italy; that Port Longue, on the Tuscan coast, should be delivered to him by France; and lastly, that he should not be obliged to renounce Spain. But the queen, as well as France, thought that his imperial majesty ought to sit down contented with his partage of Naples and Milan: and to restore those territories in Italy which he had taken from the rightful proprietors, and by the possession of which he was grown dangerous to the Italian princes, by reviving antiquated claims upon them.
This prince had likewise objected to her majesty's expedient of suffering the elector of Bavaria to retain Luxembourg, under certain conditions, by way of security, until his electorate were restored. But the queen, supposing that these affected delays were intended only with a view of continuing the war, resolved to defer the peace no longer on the emperor's account.
In the middle of March 1712-13, a courier arrived at Utrecht from France, with the plan of a general peace, as it had been agreed between the duke of Shrewsbury and mons. de Torcy; wherein every particular relating to the interests and pretensions of the several allies, was brought so near to what each of them would accept, that the British plenipotentiaries hoped the peace would be general in ten or twelve days. The Portuguese and Dutch were already prepared, and others were daily coming in, by means of their lordships good offices, who found mons. Mesnager and his colleague very stubborn to the last. Another courier was dispatched to France, upon some disputes about inserting the titles of her majesty and the most christian king; and to bring a general plan for the interests of those allies, who should not be ready against the time prefixed. The French renunciations were now arrived at Utrecht; and it was agreed that those, as well as that of the king of Spain, should be inserted at length in every treaty; by which means the whole confederacy would become guarantees of them.
The courier last sent to France returned to Utrecht on the 27th of March, with the concessions of that court upon every necessary point; so that, all things being ready for putting a period to this great and difficult work, the lord privy seal and the earl of Strafford gave notice to the ministers of the several allies, "That their lordships had appointed Tuesday the 31st instant, wherein to sign a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce, between the queen of Great Britain their mistress, and the most christian king; and hoped the said allies would be prepared at the same time to follow their example." Accordingly their lordships employed the three intervening days, in smoothing the few difficulties that remained between the French ministers, and those of the several confederate powers.
The important day being now come, the lord bishop of Bristol and the earl of Strafford having assumed the character of ambassadors extraordinary, gave a memorial in behalf of the French protestants to the mareschal d'Uxelles and his colleague, who were to transmit it to their court; and these delivered to the British ambassadors a declaration in waiting, that the pretender was actually gone out of France.
The conditions of peace to be allowed the emperor and the empire, as adjusted between Britain and France, were now likewise delivered to the count Zinzendorf. These and some other previous matters of smaller consequence being finished, the treaties of peace and commerce between her majesty of Britain and the most christian king, were signed at the lord privy seal's house, between two and three of the clock in the afternoon. The ministers of the duke of Savoy signed about an hour after. Then the assembly adjourned to the earl of Strafford's, where they all went to dinner; and about nine at night the peace was signed by the ministers of Portugal, by those of Prussia at eleven, and when it was near midnight, by the States.
Thus, after all the opposition raised by a strong party in France, and by a virulent faction in Britain; after all the artifices of those who presided at the Hague, who, for their private interest, endeavoured, in conjunction with their friends in England, to prolong the war; after the restless endeavours of the imperial court to render the treaty ineffectual; the firm steady conduct of the queen, the wisdom and courage of her ministry, and the abilities of those whom she employed in her negotiations abroad, prevailed to have a peace signed in one day, by every power concerned, except that of the emperor and the empire; for, his imperial majesty liked his situation too well, to think of a peace, while the drudgery and expenses of the war lay upon other shoulders, and the advantages were to redound only to himself.
During this whole negotiation, the king of Spain, who was not acknowledged by any of the confederates, had consequently no minister at Utrecht; but the differences between her majesty and that prince, were easily settled by the lord Lexington at Madrid, and the marquis of Monteleon here: so that, upon the duke d'Ossuna's arrival at the congress, some days after the peace, he was ready to conclude a treaty between the queen and his master. Neither is it probable that the Dutch, or any other ally, except the emperor, will encounter any difficulties of moment, to retard their several treaties with his catholick majesty.
The treaties of peace and commerce between Britain and France were ratified here on the 7th of April; on the 28th, the ratifications were exchanged; and on the 5th of May, the peace was proclaimed in the usual manner; but with louder acclamations, and more extraordinary rejoicings of the people, than had ever been remembered on the like occasion.
- See Dr. Swift's Preface to the History; and see also particularly sir Thomas Hanmer's very honourable testimony; who, having perused the manuscript, returned it with a very few observations, "which (he says) were as many as I could see occasion for; though, I do assure you, I read with the same strictness and ill-nature as in the former part."
- Journal to Stella, Feb. 27, 1710⁄11.
- See the Dean's Preface.
- Printed for A. Millar; and, in 1767, it was inserted by Mr. Tonson in a small edition of the Dean's Works.
- The compiler of the Annual Register, 1758.
- These errours have been corrected in the present edition.
- Public Spirit of the Whigs.
- It should be, wrongly informed.
- Which owed its origin to Dr. Swift.
- Dr. Robinson, lord bishop of Bristol, to be lord privy seal.
- Dr. Trimnel, afterwards bishop of Winton.
- "Neither has he much improved it, either in reality," &c. The repetition of those similar sounds so near each other offends the ear; it should be — 'nor has he much improved it, either in reality,' &c.
- His lordship married the duchess of Marlborough's second daughter.
- The earl, his father, was a rigid presbyterian.
- Dr. John Robinson, bishop of Bristol in 1710; lord privy seal in 1711, in the room of John Holles, duke of Newcastle; and in 1713, translated to the see of London.
- John Ker, earl of Roxburgh and Kelso, created marquis of Beaumont and Cessford, and duke of Roxburgh, April 27, 1707, was one of the sixteen peers in the first two parliaments of Great Britain.
- The new lords were, James lord Compton, eldest son of the earl of Northampton; and Charles lord Bruce, eldest son to the earl of Aylesford; these two were called up by writ, December 28, 1711. Three days after, the following ten were created: George Henry (lord Hay, viscount Dupplin and earl of Kinnoul in Scotland, married to Mr. Harley's youngest daughter Abigail), baron Hay of Bedwarden, Herefordshire; the lord viscount Windsor of Ireland, baron Mountjoy of the Isle of Wight; Henry Paget, esq. (son to the lord Paget) baron Burton of Burton, Staffordshire; Sir Thomas Mansell, bart. baron Mansell of Margam, Glamorganshire; sir Thomas Willoughby, baron Middleton of Middleton, Warwickshire; sir Thomas Trevor, baron Trevor of Brunham, Bedfordshire; George Granville, esq. baron Lansdowne of Biddiford, Devonshire; Samuel Masham, esq. baron Masham of Oates, Essex; Thomas Foley, esq. baron Foley of Kidderminster, Worcestershire; and Allen Bathurst, esq. baron Bathurst of Battlesden, Bedfordshire.
- Mr. Craggs, father to the secretary.
- "Prince Eugene's character was so justly high, that all people for some weeks pressed about the places where he was to be seen, to look on him; I had the honour to be admitted, at several times, to much discourse with him. His character is so universally known, that I will say nothing of him but from what appeared to myself. He has a most unaffected modesty, and does scarcely bear the acknowledgments that all the world pay him. He descends to an easy equality with those with whom he converses; and seems to assume nothing to himself while he reasons with others. He was treated with great respect by both parties." Burnet, IV, 350. This illustrious general was born in 1663; and died April 10, 1736.
- It should be, 'of a commander's being disgraced,' &c.
- Arrival to a place, is not English; it should be arrival at.
- Abbé Gaultier was the son of a tradesman at St. Germain, and was known to be a French emissary, though he had been suffered to remain in England, under the protection of count Gallas, during the war.
- Would have a mind — would, is here improperly used for should.
- Reckoning from the date of his instructions (July 1). He left his own house July 11, and arrived in London again Aug. 7. O. S.
- He arrived in London, Aug. 7, O. S.
- It should be — 'more agreeably to treaties,' to correspond with the other adverb — 'more equally.'
- 'He had already wrote,' &c. It should be, — 'He had already written,' &c.
- James Cardonnell, esq. was turned out from being a commissioner of the salt-office, April 8, 1713.
- Dr. Gilbert Burnet.
- Chosen speaker of the house of commons, Feb. 18, 1713-14. He was a fine scholar and celebrated orator. He published by subscription a most elegant edition of , at Oxford; and printed no more copies than were subscribed for; which made it a great curiosity; but it has lately been reprinted. He married Isabella duchess dowager of Grafton; and died May 5, 1746.
- Mr. Harley.
- Mr. St. John and Mr. Bromley.
- Mr. secretary St John.
- Dr. John Robinson, bishop of London. See p. 24.
- The count de Rechteren had filled the highest offices in the state; he had been field deputy, and ambassador extraordinary at the Imperial court, several years; was of noble birth, possessed a great fortune, and on several occasions distinguished himself as a gallant man.
- James duke of Hamilton was a gentleman of the bed-chamber to king Charles II. He succeeded his father in the title, April 18, 1694, and was sent the same year envoy extraordinary to France; was appointed [w:Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire|lord lieutenant of Lancaster]], in 1710; created duke of Brandon, September 10, 1711; master-general of the ordinance, August 29, 1712; knight of the garter, October 26; and when preparing for his embassy to France, was killed November 15, 1713.
- Dr. Swift's account of the duel is exactly agreeable to the depositions of colonel Hamilton before a committee of the council.
- Charles lord Mohun was the last offspring of a very noble and ancient family, of which William de Mohun, who accompanied the Norman conqueror, was the first founder in England.
- General Macartney was tried, at the king's bench bar, for the murder, June 13, 1716; and the jury found him guilty of manslaughter.