A History of the Four Georges, Volume I (of 4)
by Justin McCarthy
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E-text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of that section.

In the original volumes in this set, each even-numbered page had a header consisting of the page number, the volume title, and the chapter number. The odd-numbered page header consisted of the year with which the page deals, a subject phrase, and the page number. In this set of e-books, the odd-page year and subject phrase have been converted to sidenotes, usually positioned between the first two paragraphs of the even-odd page pair. If such positioning was not possible for a given sidenote, it was positioned where it seemed most logical.

In the original book set, consisting of four volumes, the master index was in Volume 4. In this set of e-books, the index has been duplicated into each of the other volumes, with its first page re-numbered as necessary, and an Index item added to each volume's Table of Contents.




Author of "A History of Our Own Times" Etc.

In Four Volumes


New York Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square 1901



I. "MORE, ALAS! THAN THE QUEEN'S LIFE!" . . . . . . . 1 II. PARTIES AND LEADERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 III. "LOST FOR WANT OF SPIRIT" . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 IV. THE KING COMES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 V. WHAT THE KING CAME TO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 VI. OXFORD'S HALL; BOLINGBKOKE'S FLIGHT . . . . . . . 91 VII. THE WHITE COCKADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 VIII. AFTER THE REBELLION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 IX. "MALICE DOMESTIC.—FOREIGN LEVY" . . . . . . . . . 158 X. HOME AFFAIRS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 XI. "THE EARTH HATH BUBBLES" . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 XII. AFTER THE STORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202 XIII. THE BANISHMENT OF ATTERBURY . . . . . . . . . . . 211 XIV. WALPOLE IN POWER AS WELL AS OFFICE . . . . . . . . 224 XV. THE DRAPIER'S LETTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240 XVI. THE OPPOSITION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249 XVII. "OSNABRUCK! OSNABRUCK!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262 XVIII. GEORGE THE SECOND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272 XIX. "THE PATRIOTS" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284 XX. A VICTORY FOR THE PATRIOTS . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322







"The Queen is pretty well," Swift wrote to Lord Peterborough on May 18, 1714, "at present, but the least disorder she has puts all in alarm." Swift goes on to tell his correspondent that "when it is over we act as if she were immortal; neither is it possible to persuade people to make any preparations against an evil day." Yet on the condition of Queen Anne's health depended to all appearance the continuance of peace in England. While Anne was sinking down to death, rival claimants were planning to seize the throne; rival statesmen and rival parties were plotting, intriguing, sending emissaries, moving troops, organizing armies, for a great struggle. Queen Anne had reigned for little more than twelve years. She succeeded William the Third on March 8, 1702, and at the time when Swift wrote the words we have quoted, her reign was drawing rapidly to a close.

Anne was not a woman of great capacity or of elevated moral tone. She was moral indeed in the narrow and more limited sense which the word has lately come to have among us. She always observed decorum and propriety herself; she always discouraged vice in others; but she had no idea of political morality or of high {2} political purpose, and she had allowed herself to be made the instrument of one faction or another, according as one old woman or the other prevailed over her passing mood. While she was governed by the Duchess of Marlborough, the Duke of Marlborough and his party had the ascendant. When Mrs. Masham succeeded in establishing herself as chief favorite, the Duke of Marlborough and his followers went down. Burnet, in his "History of My Own Times," says of Queen Anne, that she "is easy of access, and hears everything very gently; but opens herself to so few, and is so cold and general in her answers, that people soon find that the chief application is to be made to her ministers and favorites, who, in their turns, have an entire credit and full power with her. She has laid down the splendor of a court too much, and eats privately; so that, except on Sundays, and a few hours twice or thrice a week, at night, in the drawing-room, she appears so little that her court is, as it were, abandoned." Although Anne lived during the Augustan Age of English literature, she had no literary capacity or taste. Kneller's portrait of the Queen gives her a face rather agreeable and intelligent than otherwise—a round, full face, with ruddy complexion and dark-brown hair. A courtly biographer, commenting on this portrait, takes occasion to observe that Anne "was so universally beloved that her death was more sincerely lamented than that of perhaps any other monarch who ever sat on the throne of these realms." A curious comment on that affection and devotion of the English people to Queen Anne is supplied by the fact which Lord Stanhope mentions, that "the funds rose considerably on the first tidings of her danger, and fell again on a report of her recovery."

[Sidenote: 1714—Fighting for the Crown]

England watched with the greatest anxiety the latest days of Queen Anne's life; not out of any deep concern for the Queen herself, but simply because of the knowledge that with her death must come a crisis and might come a revolution. Who was to snatch the crown as it fell from Queen Anne's dying head? Over at Herrenhausen, in {3} Hanover, was one claimant to the throne; flitting between Lorraine and St. Germains was another. Here, at home, in the Queen's very council-chamber, round the Queen's dying bed, were the English heads of the rival parties caballing against each other, some of them deceiving Hanover, some of them deceiving James Stuart, and more than one, it must be confessed, deceiving at the same moment Hanoverians and Stuarts alike. Anne had no children living; she had borne to her husband, the feeble and colorless George of Denmark, a great many children—eighteen or nineteen it is said—but most of them died in their very infancy, and none lived to maturity. No succession therefore could take place, but only an accession, and at such a crisis in the history of England any deviation from the direct line must bring peril with it. At the time when Queen Anne lay dying, it might have meant a new revolution and another civil war.

While Anne lies on that which is soon to be her death-bed, let us take a glance at the rival claimants of her crown, and the leading English statesmen who were partisans on this side or on that, or who were still hesitating about the side it would be, on the whole, most prudent and profitable to choose.

The English Parliament had taken steps, immediately after the Revolution of 1688, to prevent a restoration of the Stuart dynasty. The Bill of Rights, passed in the first year of the reign of William and Mary, declared that the crown of England should pass in the first instance to the heirs of Mary, then to the Princess Anne, her sister, and to the heirs of the Princess Anne, and after that to the heirs, if any, of William, by any subsequent marriage. Mary, however, died childless; William was sinking into years and in miserable health, apparently only waiting and anxious for death, and it was clear that he would not marry again. The only one of Anne's many children who approached maturity, the Duke of Gloucester, died just after his eleventh birthday. The little duke was a pupil of Bishop Burnet, and was a child of great promise. {4} Readers of fiction will remember that Henry Esmond, in Thackeray's novel, is described as having obtained some distinction in his academical course, "his Latin poem on the 'Death of the Duke of Gloucester,' Princess Anne of Denmark's son, having gained him a medal and introduced him to the society of the University wits." After the death of this poor child it was thought necessary that some new steps should be taken to cut off the chances of the Stuarts. The Act of Settlement, passed in 1701, excluded the sons or successors of James the Second, and all other Catholic claimants, from the throne of England, and entailed the crown on the Electress Sophia of Hanover as the nearest Protestant heir, in case neither the reigning king nor the Princess Anne should have issue. The Electress Sophia was the mother of George, afterwards the First of England. She seems to have had good-sense as well as talent; her close friend Leibnitz once said of her that she was not only given to asking why, but also wanted to know the why of the whys. She was not very anxious to see her son George made sovereign of England, and appeared to be under the impression that his training and temper would not allow him to govern with a due regard for the notions of constitutional liberty which prevailed even then among Englishmen. It even seems that Sophia made the suggestion that James Stuart, the Old Pretender, as he has since been called, would do well to become a Protestant, go in for constitutional Government, and thus have a chance of the English throne. It is certain that she strongly objected to his being compared with Perkin Warbeck, or called a bastard. She accepted, however, the position offered to her and her son by the Act of Settlement, and appears to have become gradually reconciled to it, and even, as she sank into years, is said to have expressed a hope many times that the name of Queen of England might be inscribed upon her coffin. She came very near to the gratification of her wish. She died in June, 1714, being then in her eighty-fourth year—only a very few days before {5} Queen Anne received her first warning of the near approach of death. Her son George succeeded to her claim upon the crown of England.

[Sidenote: 1714—The House of Brunswick]

The reigning house of Hanover was one of those lucky families which appear to have what may be called a gift of inheritance. There are some such houses among European sovereignties; whenever there is a breach in the continuity of succession anywhere, one or other of them is sure to come in for the inheritance. George the Elector, who was now waiting to become King of England as soon as the breath should be out of Anne's body, belonged to the House of Guelf, or Welf, said to have been founded by Guelf, the son of Isembert, a count of Altdorf, and Irmintrude, sister of Charlemagne, early in the ninth century. It had two branches, which were united in the eleventh century by the marriage of one of the Guelf ladies to Albert Azzo the Second, Lord of Este and Marquis of Italy. His son Guelf obtained the Bavarian possessions of his wife's step-father, a Guelf of Bavaria. One of his descendants, called Henry the Lion, married Maud, daughter of Henry the Second of England, and became the founder of the family of Brunswick. War and imperial favor and imperial displeasure interfered during many generations with the integrity of the Duchy of Brunswick, and the Electorate of Hanover was made up for the most part out of territories which Brunswick had once owned. The Emperor Leopold constructed it formally into an Electorate in 1692, with Ernest Augustus of Brunswick-Lueneberg as its first Elector. The George Louis who now, in 1714, is waiting to become King of England, was the son of Ernest Augustus and of Sophia, youngest daughter of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, sister to Charles First of England. Elizabeth had married Frederick, the Elector-Palatine of the Rhine, and her life was crossed and thwarted by the opening of the Thirty Years' War, and then by the misfortunes of her brother Charles and his dynasty. Elizabeth survived the English troubles and saw the Restoration, and came to live in {6} England, and to see her nephew, Charles the Second, reign as king. She barely saw this. Two years after the Restoration she died in London. Sophia was her twelfth child: she had thirteen in all. One of Sophia's elder brothers was Prince Rupert—that "Rupert of the Rhine" of whom Macaulay's ballad says that "Rupert never comes but to conquer or to die"—the Rupert whose daring and irresistible charges generally won his half of the battle, only that the other half might be lost, and that his success might be swallowed up in the ruin of his companions. His headlong bravery was a misfortune rather than an advantage to his cause, and there seems to have been one instance—that of the surrender of Bristol—in which that bravery deserted him for the moment. We see him afterwards in the pages of Pepys, an uninteresting, prosaic, pedantic figure, usefully employed in scientific experiments, and with all the gilt washed off him by time and years and the commonplace wear and tear of routine life.

[Sidenote: 1714—The "Princess of Ahlden"]

George inherited none of the accomplishments of his mother. His father was a man of some talent and force of character, but he cared nothing for books or education of any kind, and George was allowed to revel in ignorance. He had no particular merit except a certain easy good-nature, which rendered him unwilling to do harm or to give pain to any one, unless some interest of his own should make it convenient. His neglected and unrestrained youth was abandoned to license and to profligacy. He was married in the twenty-second year of his age, against his own inclination, to the Princess Sophia Dorothea of Zeil, who was some six years younger. The marriage was merely a political one, formed with the object of uniting the whole of the Duchy of Lueneberg. George was attached to another girl; the princess is supposed to have fixed her affections upon another man. They were married, however, on November 21, 1682, and during all her life Sophia Dorothea had to put up with the neglect, the contempt, and afterwards the cruelty of {7} her husband. George's strongest taste was for ugly women. One of his favorites, Mademoiselle Schulemberg, maid of honor to his mother, and who was afterwards made Duchess of Kendal, was conspicuous, even in the unlovely Hanoverian court, for the awkwardness of her long, gaunt, fleshless figure. Another favorite of George's, Madame Kilmansegge, afterwards made Countess of Darlington, represented a different style of beauty. She is described by Horace Walpole as having "large, fierce, black eyes, rolling beneath lofty-arched eyebrows, two acres of cheeks spread with crimson, an ocean of neck that overflowed and was not distinguishable from the lower part of her body, and no portion of which was restrained by stays."

It would not be surprising if the neglected Sophia Dorothea should have looked for love elsewhere, or at least should not have been strict enough in repelling it when it offered itself. Philip Christof Koenigsmark, a Swedish soldier of fortune, was supposed to be her favored lover. He suffered for his amour, and it was said that his death came by the special order—one version has it by the very hand—of George the Elector, the owner of the ladies Schulemberg and Kilmansegge. Sophia Dorothea was banished for the rest of her life to the Castle of Ahlden, on the river Aller. In the old schloss of Hanover the spot is still shown, outside the door of the Hall of Knights, which tradition has fixed upon as the spot where the assassination of Koenigsmark took place.

The Koenigsmarks were in their way a famous family. The elder brother was the Charles John Koenigsmark celebrated in an English State trial as the man who planned and helped to carry out the murder of Thomas Thynne. Thomas Thynne, of Longleat, the accused of Titus Oates, the "Wise Issachar," the "wealthy Western friend" of Dryden, the comrade of Monmouth, the "Tom of Ten Thousand," of every one, was betrothed to Elizabeth, the child widow—she was only fifteen years old—of Lord Ogle. Koenigsmark, fresh from love-making in {8} all the courts of Europe, and from fighting anything and everything from the Turk at Tangiers to the wild bulls of Madrid, seems to have fallen in love with Thynne's betrothed wife, and to have thought that the best way of obtaining her was to murder his rival. The murder was done, and its story is recorded in clumsy bas-relief over Thynne's tomb in Westminster Abbey. Koenigsmark's accomplices were executed, but Koenigsmark got off, and died years later fighting for the Venetians at the siege of classic Argos. The soldier in Virgil falls on a foreign field, and, dying, remembers sweet Argos. The elder Koenigsmark, dying before sweet Argos, ought of right to remember that spot where St. Albans Street joins Pall Mall, and where Thynne was done to death. The Koenigsmarks had a sister, the beautiful Aurora, who was mistress of Frederick Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and so mother of the famous Maurice de Saxe, and ancestress of George Sand. Later, like the fair sinner of some tale of chivalry, she ended her days in pious retirement, as prioress of the Protestant Abbey at Quedlinburg.

[Sidenote: 1714—Wooden shoes and warming-pans]

George was born in Osnabrueck, in May, 1660, and was therefore now in his fifty-fifth year. As his first qualification for the government of England, it may be mentioned that he did not understand one sentence of the English language, was ignorant of English ways, history, and traditions, and had as little sympathy with the growing sentiments of the majority of educated English people as if he had been an Amurath succeeding an Amurath.

When George became Elector, on the death of his father in 1698, he showed, however, some capacity for improvement, under the influence of the new responsibility imposed upon him by his station. His private life did not amend, but his public conduct acquired a certain solidity and consistency which was not to have been expected from his previous mode of living. One of his merits was not likely to be by any means a merit in the eyes of the English people. He was, to do him justice, deeply attached to his native country. He had all the {9} love for Hanover that the cat has for the hearth to which it is accustomed. The ways of the place suited him; the climate, the soil, the whole conditions of life were exactly what he would have them to be. He lived up to the age of fifty-four a contented, stolid, happy, dissolute Elector of Hanover; and it was a complete disturbance to all his habits and his predilections when the expected death of Anne compelled him to turn his thoughts to England.

The other claimant of the English crown was James Frederick Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, as he came to be afterwards called by his enemies, the Chevalier de Saint George, as his friends called him when they did not think it prudent to give him the title of king. James was the step-brother of Queen Anne. He was the son of James the Second, by James's second wife, Maria D'Este, sister to Francis, Duke of Modena. Maria was only the age of Juliet when she married: she had just passed her fourteenth year. Unlike Juliet she was not beautiful; unlike Juliet she was poor. She was, however, a devout Roman Catholic, and therefore was especially acceptable to her husband. She had four children in quick succession, all of whom died in infancy; and then for ten years she had no child. The London Gazette surprised the world one day by the announcement that the Queen had become pregnant, and upon June 10, 1688, she gave birth to a son. It need hardly be told now that the wildest commotion was raised by the birth of the prince. The great majority of the Protestants insinuated, or stoutly declared, that the alleged heir-apparent was not a child of the Queen. The story was that a newly-born child, the son of a poor miller, had been brought into the Queen's room in a warming-pan, and passed off as the son of the Queen. It was said that Father Petre, a Catholic clergyman, had been instrumental in carrying out this contrivance, and therefore the enemies of the royal family talked of the young prince as Perkin or Petrelin. The warming-pan was one of the most familiar objects in satirical literature and art for many generations after. {10} A whole school of caricature was heated into life, if we may use such an expression, by this fabulous warming-pan. Warming-pans were associated with brass money and wooden shoes in the mouths and minds of Whig partisans, down to a day not very far remote from our own. Mr. Jobson, the vulgar lawyer in Scott's "Rob Roy," talks rudely to Diana Vernon, a Catholic, about "King William, of glorious and immortal memory, our immortal deliverer from Papists and pretenders, and wooden shoes and warming-pans." "Sad things those wooden shoes and warming-pans," retorted the young lady, who seemed to take pleasure in augmenting his wrath; "and it is a comfort you don't seem to want a warming-pan at present, Mr. Jobson." There was not, of course, the slightest foundation for the absurd story about the spurious heir to the throne. Some little excuse was given for the spread of such a tale by the mere fact that there had been delay in summoning the proper officials to be present at the birth; but despite all the pains Bishop Burnet takes to make the report seem trustworthy, it may be doubted whether any one whose opinion was worth having seriously believed in the story, even at the time, and it soon ceased to have any believers at all. At the time, however, it was accepted as an article of faith by a large proportion of the outer public; and the supposed Jesuit plot and the supposed warming-pan served as missiles with which to pelt the supporters of the Stuarts, until long after there had ceased to be the slightest chance whatever of a Stuart restoration. This story of a spurious heir to a throne repeats itself at various intervals of history. The child of Napoleon the First and Maria Louisa was believed by many Legitimist partisans to be supposititious. In our own days there were many intelligent persons in France firmly convinced that the unfortunate Prince Louis Napoleon, who was killed in Zululand, was not the son of the Empress of the French, but that he was the son of her sister, the Duchess of Alva, and that he was merely palmed off on the French {11} people in order to secure the stability of the Bonapartist throne.

[Sidenote: 1714—The "Old Pretender"]

James Stuart was born, as we have said, on June 10, 1688, and was therefore still in his twenty-sixth year at the time when this history begins. Soon after his birth his mother hurried with him to France to escape the coming troubles, and his father presently followed discrowned. He had led an unhappy life—unhappy all the more because of the incessant dissipation with which he tried to enliven it. He is described as tall, meagre, and melancholy. Although not strikingly like Charles the First or Charles the Second, he had unmistakably the Stuart aspect. Horace Walpole said of him many years after that, "without the particular features of any Stuart, the Chevalier has the strong lines and fatality of air peculiar to them all." The words "fatality of air" describe very expressively that look of melancholy which all the Stuart features wore when in repose. The melancholy look represented an underlying habitual mood of melancholy, or even despondency, which a close observer may read in the character of the "merry monarch" himself, for all his mirth and his dissipation, just as well as in that of Charles the First or of James the Second. The profligacy of Charles the Second had little that was joyous in it. James Stuart, the Chevalier, had not the abilities and the culture of Charles the Second, and he had much the same taste for intrigue and dissipation. His amours were already beginning to be a scandal, and he drank now and then like a man determined at all cost to drown thought. He was always the slave of women. Women knew all his secrets, and were made acquainted with his projected political enterprises. Sometimes the fair favorite to whom he had unbosomed himself blabbed and tattled all over Versailles or Paris of what she had heard, and in some instances, perhaps, she even took her newly-acquired knowledge to the English Ambassador and disposed of it for a consideration. At this time James Stuart is not yet married; but marriage made as little {12} difference in his way of living as it had done in that of his elderly political rival, George the Elector. It is strange that James Stuart should have made so faint an impression upon history and upon literature. Romance and poetry, which have done so much for his son, "Bonnie Prince Charlie," have taken hardly any account of him. He figures in Thackeray's "Esmond," but the picture is not made very distinct, even by that master of portraiture, and the merely frivolous side of his character is presented with disproportionate prominence. James Stuart had stronger qualities for good or evil than Thackeray seems to have found in him. Some of his contemporaries denied him the credit of man's ordinary courage; he has even been accused of positive cowardice; but there does not seem to be the slightest ground for such an accusation. Studied with the severest eye, his various enterprises, and the manner in which he bore himself throughout them, would seem to prove that he had courage enough for any undertaking. Princes seldom show any want of physical courage. They are trained from their very birth to regard themselves as always on parade; and even if they should feel their hearts give way in presence of danger, they are not likely to allow it to be seen. It was not lack of personal bravery that marred the chances of James Stuart.

[Sidenote: 1714—Anne's sympathies]

It is only doing bare justice to one whose character and career have met with little favor from history, contemporary or recent, to say that James might have made his way to the throne with comparative ease if he would only consent to change his religion and become a Protestant. It was again and again pressed upon him by English adherents, and even by statesmen in power—by Oxford and by Bolingbroke—that if he could not actually become a Protestant he should at least pretend to become one, and give up all outward show of his devotion to the Catholic Church. James steadily and decisively refused to be guilty of any meanness so ignoble and detestable. His conduct in thus adhering to his convictions, even at {13} the cost of a throne, has been contrasted with that of Henry the Fourth, who declared Paris to be "well worth a mass!" But some injustice has been done to Henry the Fourth in regard to his conversion. Henry's great Protestant minister, Sully, urged him to become an open and professing Catholic, on the ground that he had always been a Catholic more or less consciously and in his heart. Sully gave Henry several evidences, drawn from his observation of Henry's own demeanor, to prove to him that his natural inclinations and the turn of his intellect always led him towards the Catholic faith, commenting shrewdly on the fact that he had seen Henry cross himself more than once on the field of battle in the presence of danger. Thus, according to Sully, Henry the Fourth, in professing himself a Catholic, would be only following the bent of his own natural inclinations. However that may be, it is still the fact that Henry the Fourth, by changing his profession of religion, succeeded in obtaining a crown, and that James the Pretender, by refusing to hear of such a change, lost his best chance of a throne.

What were Anne's own inclinations with regard to the succession? There cannot be much doubt as to the way her personal feelings went. There is a history of the reign of Queen Anne, written by Dr. Thomas Somerville, "one of His Majesty's Chaplains in Ordinary," and published in 1798, with a dedication "by permission" to the King. It is called on its title-page "The History of Great Britain during the Reign of Queen Anne, with a Dissertation Concerning the Danger of the Protestant Succession." Such an author, writing comparatively soon after the events, and in a book dedicated to the reigning king, was not likely to do any conscious injustice to the memory of Queen Anne, and was especially likely to take a fair view of the influence which her personal inclinations were calculated to have on the succession. Dr. Somerville declares with great justice that "mildness, timidity, and anxiety were constitutional ingredients in the temper" of Queen Anne. This very timidity, this very anxiety, {14} appears, according to Dr. Somerville's judgment, to have worked favorably for the Hanoverian succession. [Sidenote: 1714—James the Third] The Queen herself, by sentiment, and by what may be called a sort of superstition, leaned much towards the Stuarts. "The loss," says Dr. Somerville, "of all her children bore the aspect of an angry Providence adjusting punishment to the nature and quality of her offence." Her offence, of course, was the part she had taken in helping to dethrone her father. "Wounded in spirit, and prone to superstition, she naturally thought of the restitution of the crown to her brother as the only atonement she could make to the memory of her injured father." This feeling might have ripened into action with her but for that constitutional timidity and anxiety of which Somerville speaks. There would undoubtedly have been dangers, obvious to even the bravest or the most reckless, in an attempt just then to alter the succession; but Anne saw those dangers "in the most terrific form, and recoiled with horror from the sight." Moreover, she had a constitutional objection, as strong as that of Queen Elizabeth herself, to the presence of an intended successor near her throne. "She trembled," says Somerville, "at the idea of the presence of a successor, whoever he might be; and the residence of her own brother in England was not less dreadful to her than that of the electoral prince." But it is probable that had she lived longer she would have found herself constrained to put up with the presence either of one claimant or the other. Her ministers, whoever they might be, would surely have seen the imperative necessity of bringing over to England the man whom the Queen and they had determined to present to the English people as the destined heir of the throne. In such an event as that, and most assuredly if men like Bolingbroke had been in power, it may be taken for granted that the Queen would have preferred her own brother, a Stuart, to the Electoral Prince of Hanover. "What the consequence might have been, if the Queen had survived," says Somerville, "is merely a matter of conjecture; but we may {15} pronounce, with some degree of assurance, that the Protestant interest would have been exposed to more certain and to more imminent dangers than ever had threatened it before at any period since the revolution." This seems a reasonable and just assertion. If Anne had lived much longer, it is possible that England might have seen a James the Third.




[Sidenote: 1714—Whig and Tory]

All the closing months of Queen Anne's reign were occupied by Whigs and Tories, and indeed by Anne herself as well, in the invention and conduct of intrigues about the succession. The Queen herself, with the grave opening before her, kept her fading eyes turned, not to the world she was about to enter, but to the world she was about to leave. She was thinking much more about the future of her throne than about her own soul and future state. The Whigs were quite ready to maintain the Hanoverian succession by force. They did not expect to be able to carry matters easily, and they were ready to encounter a civil war. Their belief seems to have been that they and not their opponents would have to strike the blow, and they had already summoned the Duke of Marlborough from his retirement in Flanders to take the lead in their movement. Having Marlborough, they knew that they would have the army. On the other hand, if Bolingbroke and the Tories really had any actual hope of a restoration of the Stuarts, it is certain that up to the last moment they had made no substantial preparations to accomplish their object.

The Whigs and Tories divided between them whatever political force there was in English society at this time. Outside both parties lay a considerable section of people who did not distinctly belong to the one faction or the other, but were ready to incline now to this and now to that, according as the conditions of the hour might inspire them. Outside these again, and far outnumbering these and all others combined, was the great mass of the English {17} people—hard-working, much-suffering, poor, patient, and almost absolutely indifferent to changes in governments and the humors and struggles of parties. "These wrangling jars of Whig and Tory," says Dean Swift, "are stale and old as Troy-town story." But if the principles were old, the titles of the parties were new. Steele, in 1710, published in the Tatler a letter from Pasquin of Rome to Isaac Bickerstaff, asking for "an account of those two religious orders which have lately sprung up amongst you, the Whigs and the Tories." Steele declared that you could not come even among women "but you find them divided into Whig and Tory." It was like the famous lawsuit in Abdera, alluded to by Lucian and amplified by Wieland, concerning the ownership of the ass's shadow, on which all the Abderites took sides, and every one was either a "Shadow" or an "Ass."

Various explanations have been given of these titles Whig and Tory. Titus Oates applied the term "Tory," which then signified an Irish robber, to those who would not believe in his Popish plot, and the name gradually became extended to all who were supposed to have sympathy with the Catholic Duke of York. The word "Whig" first arose during the Cameronian rising, when it was applied to the Scotch Presbyterians, and is derived by some from the whey which they habitually drank, and by others from a word, "whiggam," used by the western Scottish drovers.

The Whigs and the Tories represent in the main not only two political doctrines, but two different feelings in the human mind. The natural tendency of some men is to regard political liberty as of more importance than political authority, and of other men to think that the maintenance of authority is the first object to be secured, and that only so much of individual liberty is to be conceded as will not interfere with authority's strictest exercise. Roughly speaking, therefore, the Tories were for authority, and the Whigs for liberty. The Tories naturally held to the principle of the monarchy and of the State church; the Whigs {18} were inclined for the supremacy of Parliament, and for something like an approach to religious equality. [Sidenote: 1714—Political change] Up to this time at least the Tory party still accepted the theory of the Divine origin of the king's supremacy. The Whigs were even then the advocates of a constitutional system, and held that the people at large were the source of monarchical power. To the one set of men the sovereign was a divinely appointed ruler; to the other he was the hereditary chief of the realm, having the source of his authority in popular election. The Tories, as the Church party, disliked the Dissenters even more than they disliked the Roman Catholics. The Whigs were then even inclined to regard the Church as a branch of the Civil Service—to adopt a much more modern phrase—and they were in favor of extending freedom of worship to Dissenters, and in a certain sense to Roman Catholics. According to Bishop Burnet, it was in the reign of Queen Anne that the distinction between High-Church and Low-Church first marked itself out, and we find almost as a natural necessity that the High-Churchmen were Tories, and the Low-Churchmen were Whigs. Then as now the chief strength of the Tories was found in the country, and not in the large towns. So far as town populations were concerned, the Tories were proportionately strongest where the borough was smallest. The great bulk of the agricultural population, so far as it had definite political feelings, was distinctly Tory. The strength of the Whigs lay in the manufacturing towns and the great ports. London was at that time much stronger in its Liberal political sentiments than it has been more recently. The moneyed interest, the bankers, the merchants, were attached to the Whig party. Many peers and bishops were Whigs, but they were chiefly the peers and bishops who owed their appointments to William the Third. The French envoy, D'Iberville, at this time describes the Whigs as having at their command the best purses, the best swords, the ablest heads, and the handsomest women. The Tory party was strong at the University of Oxford; the Whig party was {19} in greater force at Cambridge. Both Whigs and Tories, however, were in a somewhat subdued condition of mind about the time that Anne's reign was closing. Neither party as a whole was inclined to push its political principles to anything like a logical extreme. Whigs and Tories alike were practically satisfied with the form which the English governing system had put on after the Revolution of 1688. Neither party was inclined for another revolution. The civil war had carried the Whig principle a little too far for the Whigs. The Restoration had brought a certain amount of scandal on sovereign authority and the principle of Divine right. The minds of men were settling down into willingness for a compromise. There were, of course, among the Tories the extreme party, so pledged to the restoration of the Stuarts that they would have moved heaven and earth, at all events they would have convulsed England, for the sake of bringing them back. These men constituted what would now be called in the language of French politics the Extreme Right of the Tory party; they would become of importance at any hour when some actual movement was made from the outside to restore the Stuarts. Such a movement would of course have carried with it and with them the great bulk of the new quiescent Tory party; but in the mean time, and until some such movement was made, the Jacobite section of the Tories was not in a condition to be active or influential, and was not a serious difficulty in the way of the Hanoverian succession.

The Whigs had great advantages on their side. They had a clear principle to start with. The constitutional errors and excesses of the Stuarts had forced on the mind of England a recognition of the two or three main principles of civil and religious liberty. The Whigs knew what they wanted better than the Tories did, and the ends which the Whigs proposed to gain were attainable, while those which the Tories set out for themselves were to a great extent lost in dream-land. The uncertainty and vagueness of many of the Tory aims made some of the {20} Tories themselves only half earnest in their purposes. Many a Tory who talked as loudly as his brothers about the king having his own again, and who toasted "the king over the water" as freely as they, had in the bottom of his heart very little real anxiety to see a rebellion end in a Stuart restoration. But, on the other hand, the Whigs could strive with all their might and main to carry out their principles in Church and in State without the responsibility of plunging the country into rebellion, and without any dread of seeing their projects melt away into visions and chimeras. A great band of landed proprietors formed the leaders of the Whigs. Times have changed since then, and the representatives of some of those great houses which then led the Whig party have passed or glided insensibly into the ranks of the Tories; but the main reason for this is because a Tory of our day represents fairly enough, in certain political aspects, the Whig of the days of Queen Anne. What is called in American politics a new departure has taken place in England since that time; the Radical party has come into existence with political principles and watchwords quite different even from those of the early Whigs. Some of the Whig houses, not many, have gone with the forward movement; some have remained behind, and so lapsed almost insensibly into the Tory quarter. But at the close of Queen Anne's reign all the great leading Whigs stood well together. They understood better than the Tories did the necessity of obtaining superior influence in the House of Commons. They even contrived at that time to secure the majority of the county constituencies, while they had naturally the majority of the commercial class on their side. Then, as in later days, the vast wealth of the Whig families was spent unstintingly, and it may be said unblushingly, in securing the possession of the small constituencies, the constituencies which were only to be had by liberal bribery. Then, as afterwards, there was perceptible in the Whig party a strange combination of dignity and of meanness, of great principles and of somewhat degraded practices. They had high {21} purposes; they recognized noble principles, and they held to them; they were for political liberty as they then understood it, and they were for religious equality—for such approach at least to religious equality as had then come to be sanctioned by responsible politicians in England. They were ready to make great sacrifices in defence of their political creed. But the principles and purposes with which they started, and to which they kept, did not succeed in purifying and ennobling all their parliamentary strategy and political conduct. They intrigued, they bribed, they bought, they cajoled, they paltered, they threatened, they made unsparing use of money and of power, they employed every art to carry out high and national purposes which the most unscrupulous cabal could have used to secure the attainment of selfish and ignoble ends. Their enemies had put one great advantage into their hands. The conduct of Bolingbroke and of Oxford during recent years had left the Whigs the sole representatives of constitutional liberty.

[Sidenote: 1714—Anarchy or "Perkin"]

The two great political parties hated and denounced each other with a ferocity hardly known before, and hardly possible in our later times. The Whigs vituperated the Tories as rebels and traitors; the Tories cried out against the Whigs as the enemies of religion and the opponents of "the true Church of England." Many a ballad of that time described the Whigs as men whose object it was to destroy both mitre and crown, to introduce anarchy once again, as they had done in the days of Oliver Cromwell. The Whig balladists retorted by describing the Tories as men who were engaged in trying to bring in "Perkin" from France, and prophesied the halter as a reward of their leading statesmen. In truth, the bitterness of that hour was very earnest; most of the men on both sides meant what they said. Either side, if it had been in complete preponderance, would probably have had very little scruple in disposing of its leading enemies by means of the halter or the prison. It was for the time not so much a struggle of political parties as a {22} struggle of hostile armies. The men were serious and savage, because the crisis was serious and portentous. The chances of an hour might make a man a prime-minister or a prisoner. Bolingbroke soon after was in exile, and Walpole at the head of the administration. The slightest chance, the merest accident, might have sent Walpole into exile, and put Bolingbroke at the head of the State.

[Sidenote: 1714—John Churchill]

The eyes of the English public were at this moment turned in especial to watch the movements of two men—the Duke of Marlborough and Lord Bolingbroke. Marlborough was beyond question the greatest soldier of his time. He had gone into exile when Queen Anne consented to degrade him and to persecute him, and now he was on his way home, at the urgent entreaty of the Whig leaders, in order to lend his powerful influence to the Hanoverian cause.

The character of the Duke of Marlborough is one which ought to be especially attractive to the authors of romance and the lovers of strong, bold portrait-painting. One peculiar difficulty, however, a romancist would have in dealing with Marlborough—he could hardly venture to paint Marlborough as nature and fortune made him. The romancist would find himself compelled to soften and to modify many of the distinctive traits of Marlborough's character, in order that he might not seem the mere inventor of a human paradox, in order that he might not appear to be indulging in the fantastic and the impossible. Pope has called Bacon "the wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind," but Bacon was not greater in his own path than Marlborough in his, and Bacon's worst meannesses were nobility itself compared with some of Marlborough's political offences. Marlborough started in life with almost every advantage that man could have—with genius, with boundless courage, with personal beauty, with favoring friends. From his early youth he had been attached to James the Second and James the Second's court. One of Marlborough's {23} biographers even suggests that the Duchess of York, James's first wife, was needlessly fond of young Churchill. The beautiful Duchess of Cleveland—she of whom Pepys said "that everything she did became her"—was passionately in love with Marlborough, and, according to some writers, gave him his first start in life when she presented him with five thousand pounds, which Marlborough, prudent then as ever, invested in an annuity of five hundred a year. Burnet said of him that "he knew the arts of living in a court beyond any man in it; he caressed all people with a soft and obliging deportment, and was always ready to do good offices." His only personal defect was in his voice, which was shrill and disagreeable. He was, through all his life, avaricious to the last degree; he grasped at money wherever he could get it; he took money from women as well as from men. A familiar story of the time represents another nobleman as having been mistaken for the Duke of Marlborough by a mob, at a time when Marlborough was unpopular, and extricating himself from the difficulty by telling the crowd he could not possibly be the Duke of Marlborough, first, because he had only two guineas in his pocket, and next, because he was perfectly ready to give them away. Marlborough had received the highest favors from James the Second, but he quitted James in the hour of his misfortunes, only, however, it should be said, to return secretly to his service at a time when he was professing devotion to William the Third. He betrayed each side to the other. In the same year, and almost in the same month, he writes to the Elector at Hanover and to the Pretender in France, pouring forth to each alike his protestations of devotion. "I shall be always ready to hazard my fortune and my life for your service," he tells the Elector. "I had rather have my hands cut off than do anything prejudicial to King James's cause," he tells an agent of the Stuarts. James appears to have believed in Marlborough, and William, while he made use of him, to have had no faith in him. "The Duke of Marlborough," William {24} said, "has the best talents for a general of any man in England; but he is a vile man and I hate him, for though I can profit by treasons I cannot bear the traitor." William's saying was strikingly like that one ascribed to Philip of Macedon. Schomberg spoke of Marlborough as "the first lieutenant-general whom I ever remember to have deserted his colors." Lord Granard, who was in the camp of King James the Second on Salisbury Plain, told Dr. King, who has recorded the story, that Churchill and some other colonels invited Lord Granard to supper, and opened to him their design of deserting to the Prince of Orange. Granard not merely refused to enter into the conspiracy, but went to the King and told him the whole story, advising him to seize Marlborough and the other conspirators. Perhaps if this advice had been followed, King William would never have come to the throne of England. James, however, gave no credit to the story, and took no trouble about it. Next morning he found his mistake; but it was then too late. The truth of this story is corroborated by other authorities, one of them being King James himself, who afterwards stated that he had received information of Lord Churchill's designs, and was recommended to seize his person, but that he unfortunately neglected to avail himself of the advice. "Speak of that no more," says Egmont, in Goethe's play; "I was warned."

[Sidenote: 1714—Marlborough]

Swift said of Marlborough that "he is as covetous as hell, and ambitious as the prince of it." Marlborough was as ignorant as he was avaricious. Literary taste or instinct he must have had, because he read with so much eagerness the historical plays of Shakespeare, and indeed frankly owned that his only knowledge of English history was taken from their scenes. Even in that time of loose spelling his spelling is remarkably loose. He seems to spell without any particular principle in the matter, seldom rendering the same word a second time by the same combination of letters. He was at one period of his life a libertine of the loosest order, so far as morals were {25} concerned, but of the shrewdest kind as regarded personal gain and advancement. He would have loved any Lady Bellaston who presented herself, and who could have rewarded him for his kindness. He was not of the type of Byron's "Don Juan," who declares that

The prisoned eagle will not pair, nor I Serve a Sultana's sensual phantasy.

Marlborough would have served any phantasy for gain. It has been said of him that the reason for his being so successful with women as a young man was that he took money of them. Yet, as another striking instance of the paradoxical nature of his character, he was intensely devoted to his wife. He was the true lover of Sarah Jennings, who afterwards became Duchess of Marlborough. A man of the most undaunted courage in the presence of the enemy, he was his wife's obedient, patient, timid slave. He lived more absolutely under her control than Belisarius under the government of his unscrupulous helpmate. Sarah Jennings was, in her way, almost as remarkable as her husband. She was a woman of great beauty. Colley Gibber, in his "Apology," pays devoted testimony to her charms. He had by chance to attend on her in the capacity of a sort of amateur lackey at an entertainment in Nottingham, and he seems to have been completely dazzled by her loveliness. "If so clear an emanation of beauty, such a commanding grace of aspect, struck me into a regard that had something softer than the most profound respect in it, I cannot see why I may not without offence remember it, since beauty, like the sun, must sometimes lose its power to choose, and shine into equal warmth the peasant and the courtier." He quaintly adds, "However presumptuous or impertinent these thoughts may have appeared at my first entertaining them, why may I not hope that my having kept them decently a secret for full fifty years may be now a good round plea for their pardon?" The imperious spirit which could rule Churchill long dominated the feeble nature of Queen Anne. But {26} when once this domination was overthrown, Sarah Jennings had no art to curb her temper into such show of respect and compliance as might have won back her lost honors. She met her humiliation with the most childish bursts of passion; she did everything in her power to annoy and insult the Queen who had passed from her haughty control. She was always a keen hater; to the last day of her life she never forgot her resentment towards all who had, or who she thought had, injured her. In long later years she got into unseemly lawsuits with her own near relations. But if one side of her character was harsh and unlovely enough, it may be admitted that there was something not unheroic about her unyielding spirit—something noble in the respect to her husband's memory, which showed itself in the declaration that she would not marry "the emperor of the world," after having been the wife of John, Duke of Marlborough.

[Sidenote: 1714—Bolingbroke]

Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, was in his way as great a man as the Duke of Marlborough. At the time we are now describing he seemed to have passed through a long, a varied, and a brilliant career, and yet he had only arrived at the age when public men in England now begin to be regarded as responsible politicians. He was in his thirty-sixth year. The career that had prematurely begun was drawing to its premature close. He had climbed to his highest position; he is Prime-minister of England, and has managed to get rid of his old colleague and rival, Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. Bolingbroke had almost every gift and grace that nature and fortune could give. Three years before this Swift wrote to Stella, "I think Mr. St. John the greatest young man I ever knew; wit, capacity, beauty, quickness of apprehension, good learning and an excellent taste; the greatest orator in the House of Commons, admirable conversation, good nature and good manners, generous, and a despiser of money." Yet, as in the fairy story, the benign powers which had combined to endow him so richly had withheld the one gift which might have made all the rest of {27} surpassing value, and which being denied left them of little account. If Bolingbroke had had principle he would have been one of the greatest Englishmen of any time. His utter want of morality in politics, as well as in private life, proved fatal to him; he only climbed high in order to fall the lower. He was remarkable for profligacy even in that heedless and profligate time. Voltaire, in one of his letters, tells a story of a famous London courtesan who exclaimed to some of her companion nymphs on hearing that Bolingbroke had been made Secretary of State, "Seven thousand guineas a year, girls, and all for us!" Even if the story be not true it is interesting and significant as an evidence of the sort of impression which Bolingbroke had made upon his age. It was his glory to be vicious; he was proud of his orgies. He liked to be known as a man who could spend the whole night in a drunken revel, and the afternoon in preparing some despatch on which the fortunes of his country or the peace of the world might depend. The sight of a beautiful woman could turn him away for the time from the gravest political purposes. He was ready at such a moment to throw anything over for the sake of the sudden love-chase which had come in his way. He bragged of his amours, and boasted that he had never failed of success with any woman who seemed to him worth pursuing. Like Faust, he loved to reel from desire to enjoyment, and from enjoyment back again into desire. Bolingbroke was the first of a great line of parliamentary debaters who have made for themselves a distinct place in English history, and whose rivals are not to be found in the history of any other parliament. It is difficult at this time to form any adequate idea of Bolingbroke's style as a speaker or his capacity for debate when compared with other great English parliamentary orators. But so far as one may judge, we should be inclined to think that he must have had Fox's readiness without Fox's redundancy and repetition; and that he must have had the stately diction and the commanding style of the younger Pitt, with a certain freshness and force which {28} the younger Pitt did not always exhibit. Bolingbroke's English prose style is hardly surpassed by that of any other author, either before his time or since. It is supple, strong, and luminous; not redundant, but not bare; ornamented where ornament is suitable and even useful, but nowhere decorated with the purple rags of unnecessary and artificial brilliancy. Such a man, so gifted, must in any case have held a high place among his contemporaries, and probably if Bolingbroke had possessed the political and personal virtues of men like Burke and Pitt, or even the political virtues of a man like Charles Fox, he would have been remembered as the greatest of all English parliamentary statesmen. But, as we have already said, the one defect filled him with faults. The lack of principle gave him a lack of purpose, and wanting purpose he persevered in no consistent political path. Swift has observed that Bolingbroke "had a great respect for the characters of Alcibiades and Petronius, especially the latter, whom he would gladly be thought to resemble." He came nearer at his worst to Petronius than at his best to Alcibiades. Alcibiades, to do him justice, admired and understood virtue in others, however small the share of it he contrived to keep for himself. It is impossible to read that wonderful compound of dramatic humor and philosophic thought, Plato's "Banquet," without being moved by the generous and impassioned eulogy which Alcibiades, in the fulness of his heart and of his wine, pours out upon the austere virtue of Socrates. Such as Alcibiades is there described we may suppose Alcibiades to have been, and no one who has followed the career of Bolingbroke can believe it possible that he ever could have felt any sincere admiration for virtue in man or woman, or could have thought of it otherwise than as a thing to be sneered at and despised. The literary men, and more especially the poets of the days of Bolingbroke, seem to have had as little scruple in their compliments as a French petit-maitre might have in sounding the praises of his mistress to his mistress's ears. Pope talks of his villa, where, "nobly {29} pensive, St. John sat and thought," and declared that such only might

Tread this sacred floor Who dare to love their country and be poor.

[Sidenote: 1714—Pope's praises]

It is hard to think of Bolingbroke, even in his more advanced years, as "nobly pensive," sitting and thinking, and certainly neither Bolingbroke nor any of Bolingbroke's closer political associates was exactly the sort of man who would have dared "to love his country and be poor." In Bolingbroke's latest years we hear of him as amusing himself by boasting to his second wife of his various successful amours, until at last the lady, weary of the repetition, somewhat contemptuously reminds him that however happy as a lover he may have been once, his days of love were now over, and the less he said about it the better.

Nor was Pope less extravagant in his praise to Harley than to St. John. He says:

If aught below the seats divine Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine; A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried, Above all pain, all passion, and all pride, The rage of power, the blast of public breath, The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.

These lines, it is right to remember, were addressed to Harley, not in his power, but after his fall. Even with that excuse for a friend's overcharged eulogy, they read like a satire on Harley rather than like his panegyric. Caricature itself could not more broadly distort the features of a human being than his poetic admirer has altered the lineaments of Oxford. Harley had been intriguing on both sides of the field. He professed devoted loyalty to the Queen and to her appointed successor, and he was at the same time coquetting, to put it mildly, with the Stuart family in France. Nothing surprises a reader more than the universal duplicity that seems to have prevailed in the days of Anne and of the early Georges. Falsehood appears to have been a recognized diplomatic {30} and political art. Statesmen, even of the highest rank and reputation, made no concealment of the fact that whenever occasion required they were ready to state the thing which was not, either in private conversation or in public debate. Nothing could exceed or excuse the boundless duplicity of Marlborough, but it must be owned that even William the Third told almost as many falsehoods to Marlborough as Marlborough could have told to him. At a time when William detested Marlborough, he yet occasionally paid him in public and in private the very highest compliments on his integrity and his virtue. Men were not then supposed or expected to speak the truth. A statesman might deceive a foreign minister or the Parliament of his own country with as little risk to his reputation as a lady would have undergone, in later days, who told a lie to the custom-house officer at the frontier to save the piece of smuggled lace in her trunk.

[Sidenote: 1714—Harley]

If a man like William of Nassau could stoop to deceit and falsehood for any political purpose, it is easy to understand that a man like Harley would make free use of the same arts, and for personal objects as well. Harley's political changes were so many and so rapid that they could not possibly be explained by any theory consistent with sincerity. It was well said of him that "his humor is never to deal clearly or openly, but always with reserve, if not dissimulation, and to love tricks when not necessary, but from an inward satisfaction in applauding his own cunning." He entered Parliament in 1689, and in 1700 was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons. At that time, and for long after, it was not an uncommon thing that a man who had been Speaker should afterwards become a Secretary of State, sitting in the same House. This was Harley's case: in 1704 he was made principal Secretary of State. In 1708 Harley resigned office, and immediately after took the leadership of the Tory party. In about two years he overthrew the Whig administration, and became the head of a new government, with the place of Lord High Treasurer, and the title of Earl of Oxford. {31} His craft seems only to have been that low kind of artifice which enables an unscrupulous man to cajole his followers and to stir up division among his enemies. His word was not to be relied upon by friend or enemy, and when he most affected a tone of frankness or of candor he was least to be trusted. As Lord Stanhope well says of him "His slender and pliant intellect was well fitted to crawl up to the heights of power through all the crooked mazes and dirty by-paths of intrigue; but having once attained the pinnacle, its smallness and meanness were exposed to all the world." Even his private life had not the virtues which one who reads some of the exalted panegyrics paid to him by contemporary poets and others would be apt to imagine. He was fond of drink and fond of pleasure in a small and secret way; his vices were as unlike the daring and brilliant profligacy of his colleague and rival Bolingbroke as his intellect was inferior to Bolingbroke's surpassing genius. For all Pope's poetic eulogy, the poet could say in prose of Lord Oxford that he was not a very capable minister, and had a good deal of negligence into the bargain. "He used to send trifling verses from court to the Scriblerus Club every day, and would come and talk idly with them almost every night, even when his all was at stake." Pope adds that Oxford "talked of business in so confused a manner that you did not know what he was about, and everything he went to tell you was in the epic way, for he always began in the middle." Swift calls him "the greatest procrastinator in the world." It is of Lord Oxford that the story is originally told which has been told of so many statesmen here and in America since his time. Lord Oxford, according to Pope, invited Rowe, the dramatic poet, to learn Spanish. Rowe went to work, and studied Spanish under the impression that some appointment at the Spanish court would follow. When he returned to Harley and told him he had accomplished the task, Harley said, "Then, Mr. Rowe, I envy you the pleasure of reading 'Don Quixote' in the original." Pope asks, "Is not that cruel?" But {32} others have held that it was unintentional on Lord Oxford's part, and merely one of his unthinking oddities.

[Sidenote: 1714—Walpole]

Another man, fifteen years younger than Harley, a school-fellow at Eton of Bolingbroke, was rising slowly, surely, into prominence and power. All the great part of his career is yet to come; but even already, while men were talking of Marlborough and Bolingbroke, they found themselves compelled to give a place in their thoughts to Robert Walpole. If Bolingbroke was the first, and perhaps the most brilliant, of the great line of parliamentary debaters who have made debate a moving power in English history, Walpole was the first of that line of statesmen who, sprung from the class of the "Commoner," have become leaders of the English Parliament. In position and in influence, although not in personal character or accomplishments, Walpole may be described as the direct predecessor of Peel and Gladstone. Just two years before the death of William the Third, Walpole entered Parliament for the first time. He married, entered Parliament, and succeeded to his father's estates in the same year, 1700. Walpole was only twenty-four years of age when he took his seat in the House of Commons as member for Castle Rising in Norfolk. He was a young country squire of considerable fortune, and a thorough supporter of the Whig party. Walpole came into Parliament at that happy time for men of his position when the change was already taking place which marked the representative assembly as the controlling power in the State. The Government as a direct ruling power was beginning to grow less and less effective, and the House of Commons beginning to grow more and more strong. This change had begun to set in during the Restoration, and by the time Walpole came to be known in Parliament it was becoming more and more evident that the Ministers of State were in the future only to be men intrusted with the duty of carrying out the will of the majority in the House of Commons. Before that majority every other power in the State was ultimately to bend. The man, therefore, {33} who could by eloquence, genuine statesmanship, and force of character, or even by mere tact, secure the adhesion of that majority, had become virtually the ruler of the State. But as will easily be seen, his rule even then was something very different indeed from the rule of an arbitrary minister. He would have to satisfy, to convince, to conciliate the majority. A single false step, an hour's weakness of purpose, nay, even a failure for which he was not himself accountable in home or foreign policy, might deprive him of his influence over the majority, and might reduce him to comparative insignificance. Therefore, the controlling power which a great minister acquired was held by virtue of the most constant watchfulness, the most unsparing labor, energy, and devotion, and also in a great measure by the favor of fortune and of opportunity.

Walpole was a man eminently qualified to obtain influence over the House of Commons, and to keep it up when he had once obtained it. No man could have promised less in the beginning. That was an acute observer who divined the genius of Cromwell under Cromwell's homely exterior when he first came up to Parliament. Almost as much acuteness would have been needed to enable any one to see the future Prime-minister of England and master of the House of Commons in the plain, unpromising form, the homely, almost stolid countenance, the ungainly movements and gestures of Walpole. Walpole was as much of a rustic as Lord Althorp in times nearer to our own acknowledged himself to be. Althorp said he ought to have been a grazier, and that it was an odd chance which made him Prime-minister. But the difference was great. Walpole had the gifts which make a man prime-minister, despite his country gentleman or grazier-like qualities. It was not chance, but Walpole himself which raised him to the position he came to hold. Walpole knew nothing and cared nothing about literature and art. His great passion was for hunting; his next love was for wine, and his third for his dinner. Without any natural gift of eloquence he became a great debater. {34} Nature, which seemed to have lavished all her most luxurious gifts on Bolingbroke, appeared to have pinched and starved Walpole. Where Bolingbroke was richest Walpole was poorest; Bolingbroke's genius required a frequent rein; Walpole's intellect needed the perpetual spur. Yet Walpole, with his lack of imagination, of eloquence, of wit, of humor, and of culture, went farther and did more than the brilliant Bolingbroke. It was the old fable of the hare and the tortoise over again; perhaps it should rather be called a new version of the old fable. The farther the hare goes in the wrong way the more she goes astray, and thus many of Bolingbroke's most rapid movements only helped the tortoise to get to the goal before him. In 1708 Walpole, now recognized as an able debater, a clever tactician, and, above all things, an excellent man of business, was appointed Secretary at War. He became at the same time leader of the House of Commons. He was one of the managers in the unfortunate impeachment of the empty-headed High-Church preacher, Dr. Sacheverell. He resigned office with the other Whig ministers in 1710. Harley coming into power offered him a place in the new administration, which Walpole declined to accept. The Tories, reckless and ruthless in their majority, expelled Walpole from the House in 1712 and imprisoned him in the Tower. The charge against him was one of corruption, a charge easily made in those days against any minister, and which, if high moral principles were to prevail, might probably have been as easily sustained as it was made. Walpole, however, was not worse than his contemporaries; nor, even if he had been, would the contemporaries have been inclined to treat his offences very seriously so long as they were not inspired to act against him by partisan motives. At the end of the session he was released, and now, in the closing days of Anne's reign, all eyes turned to him as a rising man and a certain bulwark of the new dynasty.

[Sidenote: 1714—The Dean of St. Patrick's]

It would be impossible not to regard Jonathan Swift as one of the politicians, one of the statesmen, of this age. {35} Swift was a politician in the highest sense, although he had seen little of the one great political arena in which the battles of English parties were fought out. He has left it on record that he never heard either Bolingbroke or Harley speak in Parliament or anywhere in public. He was at this time about forty-seven years of age, and had not yet reached his highest point in politics or in literature. The "Tale of a Tub" had been written, but not "Gulliver's Travels;" the tract on "The Conduct of the Allies," but not the "Drapier's Letters." Even at this time he was a power in political life; his was an influence with which statesmen and even sovereigns had to reckon. No pen ever served a cause better than his had served, and was yet to serve, the interests of the Tory party. He was probably the greatest English pamphleteer at a time when the pamphlet had to do all the work of the leading article and most of the work of the platform. His churchmen's gown sat uneasily on him; he was like one of the fighting bishops of the Middle Ages, with whom armor was the more congenial wear. He had a fierce and domineering temper, and indeed out of his strangely bright blue eyes there was already beginning to shine only too ominously the wild light of that saeva indignatio which the inscription drawn up by his own hand for his tomb described as lacerating his heart. The ominous light at last broke out into the fire of insanity. We shall meet Swift again; just now we only stop to note him as a political influence. At this time he is Dean of St. Patrick's in Ireland; he has been lately in London trying, and without success, to bring about a reconciliation between Bolingbroke and Harley; and, finding his efforts ineffectual, and seeing that troubled times were near at hand, he has quietly withdrawn to Berkshire. Before leaving London he wrote the letter to Lord Peterborough containing the remarkable words with which we have opened this volume. It is curious that Swift himself afterwards ascribed to Harley the saying about the Queen's health and the heedless {36} behavior of statesmen. In his "Enquiry into the Behaviour of the Queen's Last Ministry," dated June, 1715, he tells us that "about Christmas, 1713," the Treasurer said to him "whenever anything ails the Queen these people are out of their wits; and yet they are so thoughtless that as soon as she is well they act as if she were immortal." To which Swift adds the following significant comment: "I had sufficient reason, both before and since, to allow his observation to be true, and that some share of it might with justice be applied to himself." It was at the house of a clergyman at Upper Letcomb, near Wantage, in Berkshire, that Swift stayed for some time before returning to his Irish home. From Letcomb the reader will perhaps note with some painful interest that Swift wrote to Miss Esther Vanhomrigh, whom all generations will know as Vanessa, a letter, in which he describes his somewhat melancholy mode of life just then, tells her "this is the first syllable I have wrote to anybody since you saw me," and adds that "if this place were ten times worse, nothing shall make me return to town while things are in the situation I left them."

[Sidenote: 1714—Addison]

Swift, in his heart, trusted neither Bolingbroke nor Harley. It seems clear that Lady Masham was under the impression that she had Swift as her accomplice in the intrigue which finally turned Harley out of office. She writes to him while he is at Letcomb a letter which could not have been written if she were not in that full conviction; and he does not reply until the whole week's crisis is past and a new condition of things arisen; and in the reply he commits himself to nothing. If he distrusted Bolingbroke he could not help admiring him. Bolingbroke was the only man then near the court whose genius must not have been rebuked by Swift. But Swift must, for all his lavish praises of Harley, have sometimes secretly despised the hesitating, time-serving statesman, with whom indecision was a substitute for prudence, and to be puzzled was to seem to deliberate. That Harley should have had the playing of a great political game {37} while Swift could only look on, is one of the anomalies of history which Swift's sardonic humor must have appreciated to the full. Swift took his revenge when he could by bullying his great official friends now and then in the roughest fashion. He knew that they feared him, and flattered him because they feared him, and he was glad of it, and hugged himself in the knowledge. He knew even that at one time they were uncertain of his fidelity, and took much pains by their praises and their promises to keep him close at their side; and this, too, amused him. He was amused as a tyrant might be at the obvious efforts of those around him to keep him in good-humor, or as a man conscious of incipient madness might find malign delight in the anxiety of his friends to fall in with all his moods and not to cross him in anything he was pleased to say.

Joseph Addison had a political position and influence on the other side of the controversy which entitle him to be ranked among the statesmen of the day. Only in the year before his tragedy of "Cato" had been brought out, and it had created an altogether peculiar sensation. Each of the two great political parties seized upon the opportunity given by Gate's pompous political virtue, and claimed him as the spokesman of their cause. The Whigs, of course, had the author's authority to appropriate the applause of Cato, and the Whigs had endeavored to pack the House in order to secure their claim. But the Tories were equal to the occasion. They appeared in great numbers, Bolingbroke, then Secretary of State, at their head. When Cato lamented the extinguished freedom of his country the Whigs were vociferous in their cheers, and glared fiercely at the Tories; but when the austere Roman was made to denounce Caesar and a perpetual dictatorship, the Tories professed to regard this as a denunciation of Marlborough, and his demand to be made commander-in-chief for life, and they gave back the cheering with redoubled vehemence. At last Bolingbroke's own genius suggested a master-stroke. He sent for the actor who played Cato's part, thanked him in face of the {38} public, and presented him with a purse of gold because of the service he had done in sustaining the cause of liberty against the tyranny of a perpetual dictator.

Addison held many high political offices. He was Secretary to a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland more than once; he was made Secretary to the "Regents," as they were called—the commissioners intrusted by George the First with the task of administration previous to his arrival in England. He sat in Parliament; he was appointed Under-secretary of State, and was soon to be for a while one of the principal Secretaries of State. The last number of his Spectator was published at the close of 1714. This was indeed still a time when literary men might hold high political office. The deadening influence of the Georges had not yet quite prevailed against letters and art. Matthew Prior, about whose poetry the present age troubles itself but little, sat in Parliament, was employed in many of the most important diplomatic negotiations of the day, and had not long before this time held the office of Plenipotentiary in Paris. Richard Steele not merely sat in the House of Commons, but was considered of sufficient importance to deserve the distinction of a formal expulsion from the House because of certain political diatribes for which he was held responsible and which the Commons chose to vote libellous. At the time we are now describing he had re-entered Parliament, and was still a brilliant penman on the side of the Whigs. His career as politician, literary man, and practical dramatist combined, seems in some sort a foreshadowing of that of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Gay was appointed Secretary to Lord Clarendon on a diplomatic mission to Hanover. Nicholas Rowe, the author of the "Fair Penitent" and the translator of Lucan's "Pharsalia," was at one time an Under-Secretary of State. Rowe's dramatic work is not yet absolutely forgotten by the world. We still hear of the "gallant gay Lothario," although many of those who are glib with the words do not know that they come from the "Fair Penitent," and would not care even if they did know.




[Sidenote: 1714—The Duke of Ormond]

When Bolingbroke found himself in full power he began at once to open the way for some attempt at the restoration of the Stuart dynasty. He put influential Jacobites into important offices in England and Scotland; he made the Duke of Ormond Warden of the Cinque Ports, that authority covering exactly the stretch of coast at some point of which it might be expected that James Stuart would land if he were to make an attempt for the crown at all. Ormond was a weak and vain man, but he was a man of personal integrity. He had been sent out to Flanders to succeed the greatest commander of the age as captain-general of the allied armies there, and he had naturally played a poor and even ridiculous part. The Jacobites in England still, however, held him in much honor, identified his name, no one exactly knew why, with the cause of High-Church, and elected him the hero and the leader of the movement for the restoration of the exiled family. Bolingbroke committed Scotland to the care of the Earl of Mar, a Jacobite, a personal friend of James Stuart, and a votary of High-Church. It can hardly be supposed that in making such an appointment Bolingbroke had not in his mind the possibility of a rising of the Highland clans against the Hanoverian succession. But it is none the less evident that Bolingbroke was as usual thinking far more of himself than of his party, and that his preparations were made not so much with a view to restoring the Stuarts as with the object of securing himself against any chance that might befall.


Had Bolingbroke been resolved in his heart to bring back the Stuarts, had he been ready, as many other men were, to risk all in that cause, to stand or fall by it, he might, so far as one can see, have been successful. It is not too much to say that on the whole the majority of the English people were in favor of the Stuarts. Certainly the majority would have preferred a Stuart to the dreaded and disliked German prince from Herrenhausen. For many years the birthday of the Stuart prince had been celebrated as openly and as enthusiastically in English cities as if it were the birthday of the reigning sovereign. James's adherents were everywhere—in the court, in the camp, on the bench, in Parliament, in the drawing-rooms, the coffee-houses, and the streets. Bolingbroke had only to present him at a critical moment, and say "Here is your king," and James Stuart would have been king. Such a crisis came in France in our own days. There was a moment, after the fall of the Second Empire, when the Count de Chambord had only to present himself in Versailles in order to be accepted as King of France, not King of the French. But the Count de Chambord put away his chance deliberately; he would not consent to give up the white flag of legitimacy and accept the tricolor. He acted on principle, knowing the forfeit of his decision. The chances of James Stuart were frittered away in half-heartedness, insincerity, and folly. While Bolingbroke and his confederates were caballing and counselling, and paltering and drinking, the Whig statesmen were maturing their plans, and when the moment came for action it found them ready to act.

[Sidenote: 1714—The Council at Kensington]

The success was accomplished by a coupe d'etat on Friday, July 30, 1714. The Queen was suddenly stricken with apoplexy. A Privy Council was to meet that morning at Kensington Palace. The Privy Council meeting was composed then, according to the principle which prevails still, only of such councillors as had received a special summons. In truth, the meeting of the Privy Council {41} in Anne's time was like a Cabinet meeting of our days, and was intended by those who convened it to be just as strictly composed of official members. But, on the other hand, there was no law or rule forbidding any member of the Privy Council, whether summoned or not, to present himself at the meeting. Bolingbroke was in his place, and so was the Duke of Ormond, and so were other Jacobite peers. The Duke of Shrewsbury had taken his seat, as he was entitled to do, being one of the highest officers of State. Shrewsbury was known to be a loyal adherent of the Act of Settlement and the Hanoverian Succession. He was a remarkable man with a remarkable history. His father was the unfortunate Shrewsbury who was killed in a duel by the Duke of Buckingham. The duel arose out of the duke's open intrigue with the Countess of Shrewsbury, and the story went at the time that the lady herself, dressed as a page, held her lover's horse while he fought with and killed her husband. Charles Talbot, the son, was brought up a Catholic, but in his twentieth year accepted the arguments of Tillotson and became a Protestant. He was Lord Chamberlain to James the Second, but lost all faith in James, and went over to Holland to assist William of Nassau with counsel and with money. When William became King of England he made Lord Shrewsbury a Privy Councillor and Secretary of State, created him first marquis and afterwards duke, and called him, in tribute to his great popularity, the King of Hearts. He was for a short time British Ambassador at the Court of France, and then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He had flickered a little between the Whigs and the Tories at different periods of his career, and in 1710 he actually joined the Tory party. But it was well known to every one that if any question should arise between the House of Hanover and the Stuarts, he would stand firmly by the appointed succession. He was a man of undoubted integrity and great political sagacity; he had a handsome face, although he had lost one of his eyes by an accident when riding, and {42} he had a stately presence. His gifts and graces were said to have so much attracted the admiration of Queen Mary that if she had outlived the King she would probably have married Shrewsbury. The condition of the political world around him had impressed him with so little reverence for courts and cabinets, that he used to say if he had a son he would rather bring him up a cobbler than a courtier, and a hangman than a statesman. Bolingbroke once kindly said of him, "I never knew a man so formed to please, and to gain upon the affections while challenging the esteem."

[Sidenote: 1714—The Dukes of Somerset and Argyll]

Before there was time to get to any of the business of the council the doors were opened, and the Duke of Argyll and the Duke of Somerset entered the room. The Duke of Argyll, soldier, statesman, orator, shrewd self-seeker, represented the Whigs of Scotland; the honest, proud, pompous Duke of Somerset those of England. The two intruders, as they were assuredly regarded by the majority of those present, announced that they had heard the news of the Queen's danger, and that they felt themselves bound to hasten to the meeting of the council, although not summoned thither, in order that they might be able to afford advice and assistance.

The Duke of Somerset was in many respects the most powerful nobleman in England. But all his rank, his dignity, and his influence, could not protect him against the ridicule and contempt which his feeble character, his extravagant pride, and his grotesquely haughty demeanor, invariably brought upon him. He was probably the most ridiculous man of his time; he had the pomp of an Eastern pasha without the grave dignity which Eastern manners confer. He was like the pasha of a burlesque or an opera bouffe. His servants had to obey him by signs; he disdained to give orders by voice. His first wife was Elizabeth Percy, the virgin widow of Lord Ogle and Tom Thynne of Longleat, the beloved of Charles John Koenigsmark, the "Carrots" of Dean Swift. While she was Duchess of Somerset and Queen Anne's close friend, Swift, who {43} hated her, hinted pretty broadly that she was privy to Koenigsmark's plot to murder Tom Thynne, and the Duchess revenged herself by keeping the Dean out of the bishopric of Hereford. When she died, Somerset married Lady Charlotte Finch, one of the "Black Funereal Finches," celebrated by Sir Charles Hanbury Williams. Once, when she tapped him on the shoulder with a fan, he rebuked her angrily: "My first wife was a Percy, and she never took such a liberty." When he had occasion to travel, all the roads on or near which he had to pass were scoured by a vanguard of outriders, whose business it was to protect him, not merely from obstruction and delay, but from the gaze of the vulgar herd who might be anxious to feast their eyes upon his gracious person. The statesmen of his own time, while they made use of him, seem to have vied with each other in protestations of their contempt for his abilities and his character. Swift declared that Somerset had not "a grain of sense of any kind." Marlborough several times professed an utter contempt for Somerset's abilities or discretion, and was indignant at the idea that he ever could have made use of such a man in any work requiring confidence or judgment. Yet Somerset, ridiculous as he was, came to be a personage of importance in the crisis now impending over England. He was, at all events, a man whose word could be trusted, and who, when he promised to take a certain course, would be sure to follow it. That very pride which made him habitually ridiculous raised him on great occasions above any suspicion of mercenary or personal views in politics. One of his contemporaries describes him as "so humorsome, proud, and capricious, that he was rather a ministry spoiler than a ministry maker." In the present condition of things, however, he could be made use of for the purpose of making one ministry after spoiling another. When he carried his great personal influence over to the side of the Hanoverian accession, and joined with Argyll and with Shrewsbury, it must have been evident, to men like Bolingbroke at least, that the enterprises of the Jacobites {44} would require rare good-fortune and marvellous energy to bring them to any success.

[Sidenote: 1714—The coup d'etat]

Poetry and romance have shown to the world the most favorable side of the character of John Campbell, Duke of Argyll, who was then at least as powerful in Scotland as the Duke of Somerset in England. Pope describes him as

Argyll, the State's whole thunder born to wield, And shake alike the senate and the field.

Scott has drawn a charming picture of him in the "Heart of Mid-Lothian" as the patriotic Scotchman, whose heart must "be cold as death can make it when it does not warm to the tartan"—the kind and generous protector of Jeanie Deans. Argyll was a man of many gifts. He was a soldier, a statesman, and an orator. He had charged at Ramilies and Oudenarde, had rallied a shrinking column at Malplaquet, and served in the sieges of Ostend and Lille and Ghent. His eloquence in the House of Lords is said to have combined the freshness of youth, the strength of manhood, and the wisdom of old age. Lord Hervey, who is not given to praise, admits that Argyll was "gallant, and a good officer, with very good parts, and much more reading and knowledge than generally falls to the share of a man educated a soldier, and born to so great a title and fortune." But Hervey also says that Argyll was "haughty, passionate, and peremptory," and it cannot be doubted that he was capable of almost any political tergiversation, or even treachery, which could have served his purpose; and his purpose was always his own personal interest. He changed his opinions with the most unscrupulous promptitude; he gave an opinion one way and acted another way without hesitation, and without a blush. He was always equal to the emergency; he had the full courage of his non-convictions. He was the grandson of that Argyll whose last sleep before his execution is the subject of Mr. Ward's well-known painting; his great-grandfather, too, gave up his life on the scaffold. He did not want any of the courage of his ancestors; but he was {45} likely to take care that his advancement should not be to the block or the gallows. At such a moment as this which we are now describing his adhesion and his action were of inestimable value to the Hanoverian cause.

When these two great peers entered the council-chamber a moment of perplexity and confusion followed. Bolingbroke and Ormond had probably not even yet a full understanding of the meaning of this dramatic performance, and what consequences it was likely to insure. While they sat silent, according to some accounts, the Duke of Shrewsbury arose, and gravely thanking the Whig peers for their courtesy in attending the council, accepted their co-operation in the name of all the others present. They took their places at the council-table, and St. John and Ormond must have begun to feel that all was over. The intrusion of the Whig peers was a daring and a significant step in itself, but when the Duke of Shrewsbury welcomed their appearance and accepted their co-operation, it was clear to the Jacobites that all was part of a prearranged scheme, to which resistance would now be in vain. The new visitors to the council called for the reports of the royal physician, and having received and read them, suggested that the Duke of Shrewsbury should be recommended to the Queen as Lord High Treasurer. St. John did not venture to resist the proposal; he could only sit with as much appearance of composure as he was enabled to maintain, and accept the suggestion of his enemies. A deputation of the peers, with the Duke of Shrewsbury among them, at once sought and obtained an interview with the dying Queen. She gave the Lord High Treasurer's staff into Shrewsbury's hand, and bade him, it is said, in that voice of singular sweetness and melody which was almost her only charm, to use it for the good of her people.

The office of Lord High Treasurer is now always put into what is called commission; its functions are managed by several ministers, of whom the First Lord of the Treasury is one, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer {46} another. In all recent times the First Lord of the Treasury has usually been Prime-minister, and his office therefore corresponds fairly enough with that which was called the office of Lord High Treasurer in earlier days. It was clear that when the Duke of Shrewsbury became Lord High Treasurer at such a junction he would stand firmly by the Protestant succession, and would oppose any kind of scheming in the cause of the exiled Stuarts.

[Sidenote: 1714—Whigs in possession]

Some writers near to that time, and Mr. Lecky among more recent historians, are of opinion that it was not either of the intruding dukes who proposed that Shrewsbury should be appointed Treasurer. Mr. Lecky is even of opinion that it may have been Bolingbroke himself who made the suggestion. That seems to us extremely probable. All accounts agree in confirming the idea that Bolingbroke was taken utterly by surprise when the great Whig dukes entered the council-chamber. The moment he saw that Shrewsbury welcomed them he probably made up his mind to the fact that an entirely new condition of things had arisen, and that all his previous calculations were upset. He was not a man to remain long dumfounded by any change in the state of affairs. It would have been quite consistent with his character and his general course of action if, when he saw the meaning of the crisis, he had at once resolved to make the best of it and to try to keep himself still at the head of affairs. In that spirit nothing is more likely than that he should have pushed himself to the front once more, and proposed, as Lord High Treasurer, the man whom, but for the sudden and overwhelming pressure brought to bear upon him, he would have tried to keep out of all influence and power at such a moment.

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