Billeder på siden

is accused, on very good and sufficient evidence, of negotiating with his old master, making large professions of repentance, and holding out vague promises of effectual service. Still, however, he stood high in the opinion of William, and was designated by the marquis of Caermarthen, as the general of favour.”

““ In May, 1691, he accompanied the king to the continent, and was employed in accelerating the military preparations, and assembling the troops for the ensuing campaign. On this occasion he experienced that jealous opposition from the states general and their officers, which afterwards defeated his more important undertakings. Among other suggestions he strongly recommended measures for the security of Mons, the barrier of Flanders; but his advice was rejected, and the place was lost. During this campaign his merit attracted particular notice, and induced discerning judges to prognosticate his future celebrity. Among others, the prince of Vaudemont, being asked by the king to give his opinion on the characters of the English generals, replied, “ Kirk has fire, Laneir thought, Mackay skill, and Colchester bravery; but there is something inexpressible in the earl of Marlborough. All their virtues seem to be united in his single person. I have lost,' he emphatically added 'my wonted skill in physiognomy, if any subject of your majesty can ever attain such a height of military glory, as that to which this combination of sublime perfections must raise him.' William acknowledged the propriety of the observation by replying, with a smile, Cousin, you have done your part in answering my question; and I believe the earl of Marlborough will do his to verify your prediction.'”' Vol. I. p. 44.

'The numerous intrigues connected with the variances between queen Mary and the princes Anne, Marlborough's digrace and committal to the Tower, his subsequent correspondence with the exiled family, together with his restora

tion to the ostensible favour of William, and his appointment to the office of governor to the son of the princess Anne, are distinctly, though briefly narrated in the present work. In 1698, Marlborough gave his eldest daughter to the only son of his friend lord Godolphin; and in January 1699—1700, he united his lovely and accomplished daughter Anne, to lord Spencer, the only son of the celebrated earl of Sunderland. This latter marriage was afterwards productive of considerable uneasiness to the parents of lady Anne, for Spencer, instead of yielding himself implicitly, as they expected, to their political direction, proved to be steady in his rejection of all control.

"“Lord Spencer in person was highly favoured by nature, and no less liberally gifted with intellectual endowments, which he had improved by assiduous study. He was remarkable for a sedateness above his years; but in him a bold and impetuous spirit was concealed under a cold and reserved exterior. Imbued with that ardent love of liberty, which the youthful mind generally draws from the writers of Greece and Rome, and educated amidst the effervescence which produced the revolution, he was a zealous champion of the whig doctrines, in their most enlarged sense. Associating with the remnant of republicans who had survived the commonwealth, he caught their spirit. He was an animated speaker; and in the warmth of debate, disdained to spare the prejudices or failings even of those with whom he was most intimately connected. His political idol was lord Somers, though he wanted both the prudence and temper of so distinguished a leader.” Vol. I. p. 74.

In 1700, the king tried the experiment of dismissing the whigs, and committing the conduct of government to the management of the tory party. Of the new parliament elected in this year, Robert Harley was chosen speaker, and in this instance, as well as on future occasions, his political ad

vancement was “ zealously promoted” by Marlborough, who could not anticipate that in this subtle and tergiversating intriguer, he was patronising a future rival, who should retaiiate upon him the injuries of the deserted James. Previously, however, to the king's death, the royal favour was restored to the whigs, and in his later arrangements for the administration of government, William was guided by the counsels of Somers. The last advice given by the king to his successor, is affirmed to have been, that she should employ

Marlborough as the most proper person in her dominions, to lead her armies, and direct her counsels."

* The accession of the new sovereign was the auspicious opening of the golden period of Marlborough's life. His countess and himself had remained attached 10 the princess through all the changes of her fortunes; and although it is sufficiently clear that their devotedness to her interest was little more than a shrewd political calculation, it was repaid by the weak and warm hearted Anne, with all the fervour and sincerity of pure and strong affection. She considered them as martyrs to her cause, and gave herself up to their direction. The ministerial appointments were made in great measure under the influence of Marlborough, who, though not a very warm partisan, leaned to the tory side. But his great object was, no doubt, the advancement of his own fortune and power, by obtaining the direction of the war against France; and he succeeded in those preliminary arrangements which ultimately led to the accomplishment of his purpose. In the mean time, minor acquisitions were not neglected; the garter, the captainship-general, and the direction of the ordnance department, for himself, sundry profitable offices for his countess, and a variety of good things for his family and immediate connexions, were among the earliest distributions of the new fountain of wealth and honours. We fully coincide, however, with Mr. Coxe, in his opinion, that the influence of the countess of Marlborough has been much overrated. Her

vile and imperious temper seems to have disgusted the queen, at the very commencement of her reign, and the following remarks appear to us, in all respects, just.

"“ Swift observes, that the alienation of the queen from the dutchess of Marlborough commenced at her accession. This opinion, which is correct, he evidently formed from the information of Mrs. Masham and Mr. Harley.

““ The duchess herself, in her conduct, has so far overrated her influence, as to assume the merit of having procured the nomination of the principal whig ministers, after the queen's accession, and her assertions have been implicitly adopted by those writers who are not acquainted with the secret history of the times. The fact is, that on points of minor consideration, the recommendation of the favourite was often attended with effect, but in the great arrangements of state she had no real interest. She felt and even resented this mortification, though in vain; and she has made it a subject of complaint in one of her manuscript narratives. A tory administration was formed in spite of her remonstrances; and from this cause as well as from this period of time, we trace a series of incessant bickerings with the queen. The discrimination invariably made by Anne between the two parties, who were contending for power, furnished an inexhaustible source of controversy; and this discordance of sentiment, though trifling in its origin, increased in vehemence on every subsequent change, till it ended in open and irreconcilable enmity.” pp. 116, 117, Note.

• Anne, from the timidity of her character, was averse from the hazards of war; but it was made clear to her, that the honour and interest of England were concerned in maintaining her continental alliances, and in resisting the undisguised encroachments of the French king. Louis had, indeed, at this time, contrived to place himself in a most formidable attitude. His armies menaced, from commanding positions, Germany, Holland, and Italy; his grandson occupied the Spanish throne; and the intrigues of the Pretender gave the means of harassing and enfeebling the exertions of Great Britain. After various negotiations, and the removal of many difficulties, Marlborough was appointed to the command of the allied armies on the lower Rhine. Mr. C. describes him as suffering before his departure the “keenest anguish” at his separation from his wife, and tells us, with all possible gravity, that " no lover ever quitted an adored mistress with more poignant sorrow, than he felt on taking leave of his countess!" He did, however, take leave of her; and early in July, 1702, assumed the command of the troops. The first transactions in which he was engaged, afforded a presage of the vexations and entanglements which were to embarrass and impede his future operations. The difficulty of collecting the various contingents, the necessity of adjusting so many conflicting claims, and of soothing so many captious tempers, but above all, the constant and teazing interference of a set of incubi, in the shape of Dutch generals, and Dutch deputies, make it matter of real astonishment, not only that he accomplished so much, but that he was able to succeed in any enterprise whatever. In three instances during the campaign, he had it in his power to force the enemy to battle under circumstances that, humanly speaking, would have ensured their defeat; but the timidity of the deputies, and the tardy movements of the Dutch officers, withheld him, and the campaign terminated with the capture of a few fortresses, the possession of which was of advantage for his future movements.

+" In closing our narrative of military transactions, we cannot neglect to render justice to the candour and liberality of Athlone. The veteran general, instead of indulging that jealousy, which too often rankles in less noble minds, seized an early opportunity to acknowledge his own errors, and applaud the merits of his illustrious colleague. "The success

« ForrigeFortsæt »