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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. X. by Jonathan Swift

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[Illustration: _Jonathan Swift on the bust by Rouldiac in Trinity
College Dublin]










Of late years, that is to say, within the last thirty odd years, there
has existed a certain amount of doubt as to whether or no the work known
to us as "The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen," was really
the product of Swift's pen. That a work of this nature had occupied
Swift during his retirement at Windsor in 1713, is undoubted. That the
work here reprinted from the edition given to the world in 1758, "by an
anonymous editor from a copy surreptitiously taken by an anonymous
friend" (to use Mr. Churton Collins's summary), is the actual work upon
which Swift was engaged at Windsor, is not so certain. Let us for a
moment trace the history of what is known of what Swift did write, and
then we shall be in a better position to judge of the authenticity of
what we have before us.

All that we know of this work is gathered from Swift's correspondence,
as published by Sir Walter Scott in his edition of Swift's Works issued
in 1824. The first reference there made is in a note from Dr. William
King to Mrs. Whiteway, from which we gather that Swift, towards the end
of the year 1736, was meditating the publication of what he had written
in 1713. "As to the History," writes King, "the Dean may be assured I
will take care to supply the dates that are wanting, and which can
easily be done in an hour or two. The tracts, if he pleases, may be
printed by way of appendix. This will be indeed less trouble than the
interweaving them in the body of the history, and will do the author as
much honour, and answer the purpose full as well."

This was written from Paris, under date November 9th, O.S., 1736. It can
easily be gathered from this that the tracts referred to are the tracts
on the same period which Swift wrote at the time in defence of the
Oxford ministry. They are given in the fifth volume of this edition.

On December 7th, 1736, King was in London, and he immediately writes to
Swift himself on the matter of the History. "I arrived here yesterday,"
he says, "and I am now ready to obey your commands. I hope you are come
to a positive resolution concerning the History. You need not hesitate
about the dates, or the references which are to be made to any public
papers; for I can supply them without the least trouble. As well as I
remember, there is but one of those public pieces which you determined
should be inserted at length; I mean Sir Thomas Hanmer's Representation;
this I have now by me. If you incline to publish the two tracts as an
Appendix to the History, you will be pleased to see if the character
given of the Earl of Oxford in the pamphlet of 1715 agrees with the
character given of the same person in the History.[1] Perhaps on a
review you may think proper to leave one of them quite out. You have (I
think) barely mentioned the attempt of Guiscard, and the quarrel between
Rechteren and Mesnager. But as these are facts which are probably now
forgot or unknown, it would not be amiss if they were related at large
in the notes; which may be done from the gazettes, or any other
newspapers of those times. This is all I have to offer to your

[Footnote 1: See note on page 95 of this volume.]

There is thus no doubt left as to which were the tracts referred to by
King, and as to the desire of Swift to include Sir Thomas Hanmer's
Representation--two points that are important as evidence for the
authenticity of the edition issued by Lucas in 1758.

Towards the middle of 1737, it must have become common knowledge among
Swift's friends in London, that he was preparing for publication his
"History of the Four Last Years of Queen Anne's Reign." Possibly King
may have dropped a hint of it; possibly Swift may have written to others
for information and assistance. Be that as it may, on April 7th, 1737,
the Earl of Oxford (son of Swift's old friend) wrote to Swift as

"... One reason of my writing to you now is, (next to my asking
your forgiveness) this: I am told that you have given leave and
liberty to some one or more of your friends to print a history
of the last four years of Queen Anne's reign, wrote by you.

"As I am most truly sensible of your constant regard and sincere
friendship for my father, even to partiality, (if I may say so,)
I am very sensible of the share and part he must bear in such a
history; and as I remember, when I read over that history of
yours, I can recollect that there seemed to me a want of some
papers to make it more complete, which was not in our power to
obtain; besides there were some severe things said, which might
have been very currently talked of; but now will want a proper
evidence to support; for these reasons it is that I do entreat
the favour of you, and make it my earnest request, that you will
give your positive directions, that this history be not printed
and published, until I have had an opportunity of seeing it;
with a liberty of showing it to some family friends, whom I
would consult upon this occasion. I beg pardon for this; I hope
you will be so good as to grant my request: I do it with great
deference to you. If I had the pleasure of seeing you, I would
soon say something to you that would convince you I am not
wrong: they are not proper for a letter as you will easily

It is evident that Swift had gone so far as to consult with Faulkner on
the matter of the printing of the "History," because he was present when
Oxford's letter arrived, and he tells us that Swift answered the letter
immediately, and made him read the answer, the purport of which was:
"That although he loved his lordship's father more than he ever did any
man; yet, as a human creature, he had his faults, and therefore, as an
impartial writer, he could not conceal them."

On the 4th of June, 1737, Swift wrote at length to Oxford a letter in
which he details the circumstances and the reasons which moved him to
write the History. The letter is important, and runs as follows:


"I had the honour of a letter from your lordship, dated April
the 7th, which I was not prepared to answer until this time.
Your lordship must needs have known, that the History you
mention, of the Four last Years of the Queen's Reign, was
written at Windsor, just upon finishing the peace; at which
time, your father and my Lord Bolingbroke had a misunderstanding
with each other, that was attended with very bad consequences.
When I came to Ireland to take this deanery (after the peace was
made) I could not stay here above a fortnight, being recalled by
a hundred letters to hasten back, and to use my endeavours in
reconciling those ministers. I left them the history you
mention, which I finished at Windsor, to the time of the peace.
When I returned to England, I found their quarrels and coldness
increased. I laboured to reconcile them as much as I was able: I
contrived to bring them to my Lord Masham's, at St. James's. My
Lord and Lady Masham left us together. I expostulated with them
both, but could not find any good consequences. I was to go to
Windsor next day with my lord-treasurer; I pretended business
that prevented me, expecting they would come to some
[agreement?]. But I followed them to Windsor; where my Lord
Bolingbroke told me, that my scheme had come to nothing. Things
went on at the same rate; they grew more estranged every day. My
lord-treasurer found his credit daily declining. In May before
the Queen died, I had my last meeting with them at my Lord
Masham's. He left us together; and therefore I spoke very freely
to them both; and told them, 'I would retire, for I found all
was gone'. Lord Bolingbroke whispered me, 'I was in the right'.
Your father said, 'All would do well'. I told him, 'That I would
go to Oxford on Monday, since I found it was impossible to be of
any use'. I took coach to Oxford on Monday, went to a friend in
Berkshire, there stayed until the Queen's death, and then to my
station here, where I stayed twelve years, and never saw my lord
your father afterward. They could not agree about printing the
History of the Four last Years and therefore I have kept it to
this time, when I determine to publish it in London, to the
confusion of all those rascals who have accused the queen and
that ministry of making a bad peace, to which that party
entirely owes the Protestant succession. I was then in the
greatest trust and confidence with your father the
lord-treasurer, as well as with my Lord Bolingbroke, and all
others who had part in the administration I had all the letters
from the secretary's office, during the treaty of peace out of
those, and what I learned from the ministry, I formed that
History, which I am now going to publish for the information of
posterity, and to control the most impudent falsehoods which
have been published since. I wanted no kind of materials. I knew
your father better than you could at that time, and I do
impartially think him the most virtuous minister, and the most
able, that ever I remember to have read of. If your lordship has
any particular circumstances that may fortify what I have said
in the History, such as letters or materials, I am content they
should be printed at the end, by way of appendix. I loved my
lord your father better than any other man in the world,
although I had no obligation to him on the score of preferment,
having been driven to this wretched kingdom, to which I was
almost a stranger, by his want of power to keep me in what I
ought to call my own country, although I happened to be dropped
here, and was a year old before I left it, and to my sorrow did
not die before I came back to it again. As to the History, it
is only of affairs which I know very well and had all the
advantages possible to know, when you were in some sort but a
lad. One great design of it is, to do justice to the ministry at
that time, and to refute all the objections against them, as if
they had a design of bringing in Popery and the Pretender: and
farther to demonstrate, that the present settlement of the crown
was chiefly owing to my lord your father...."

The Earl of Oxford had failed to extract the manuscript from Swift for
the purpose he had expressed in his letter. But his friend and Swift's
old friend, Erasmus Lewis, who had been Under-Secretary of State during
Lord Oxford's administration, came to the Earl's assistance. He had not
written to Swift for many years, but on June 30th, 1737, he took
occasion to renew the correspondence and referred to the proposal for
publishing the History in a manner which leaves no doubt as to who
suggested to him to write:

" ... Now I name him, I mean Lord Oxford, let me ask you if it
be true, that you are going to print a History of the Four Last
Years of the Queen? if it is, will not you let me see it before
you send it to the press? Is it not possible that I may suggest
some things that you may have omitted, and give you reasons for
leaving out others? The scene is changed since that period of
time: the conditions of the peace of Utrecht have been applauded
by most part of mankind, even in the two Houses of Parliament:
should not matters rest here, at least for some time? I presume
your great end is to do justice to truth; the second point may
perhaps be to make a compliment to the Oxford family: permit me
to say as to the first, that though you know perhaps more than
any one man, I may possibly contribute a mite; and, with the
alteration of one word, viz. by inserting _parva_ instead of
_magna_, apply to myself that passage of Virgil, _et quorum pars
parva fui_. As to the second point, I do not conceive your
compliment to Lord Oxford to be so perfect as it might be,
unless you lay the manuscript before him, that it may be
considered here."

On the 4th of July, 1737, Oxford replied to Swift's letter of the 4th of
June (referring to it as of the 14th of June), and emphasizes his
earnest wish to see the manuscript. He also asks that it may be
permitted him to show it to some friends:


"Your letter of June 14th, in answer to mine of the 7th of
April, is come to my hands; and it is with no small concern that
I have read it, and to find that you seem to have formed a
resolution to put the History of the Four last Years of the
Queen to the press; a resolution taken without giving your
friends, and those that are greatly concerned, some notice, or
suffering them to have time and opportunity to read the papers
over, and to consider them. I hope it is not too late yet, and
that you will be so good as to let some friends see them, before
they are put to the press; and, as you propose to have the work
printed here, it will be easy to give directions to whom you
will please to give the liberty of seeing them; I beg I may be
one: this request I again repeat to you, and I hope you will
grant it. I do not doubt that there are many who will persuade
you to publish it; but they are not proper judges: their reasons
may be of different kinds, and their motives to press on this
work may be quite different, and perhaps concealed from you.

"I am extremely sensible of the firm love and regard you had for
my father, and have for his memory; and upon that account it is
that I now renew my request, that you would at least defer this
printing until you have had the advice of friends. You have
forgot that you lent me the History to read when you were in
England, since my father died; I do remember it well. I would
ask your pardon for giving you this trouble; but upon this
affair I am so nearly concerned, that, if I did not my utmost to
prevent it, I should never forgive myself."

While this correspondence was in progress, Swift had given the
manuscript to Lord Orrery to hand over to Dr. King. On June 24th, 1737,
King wrote to Swift stating that he had received a letter from Mrs.
Whiteway in which he was told to expect the manuscript from the hands of
Lord Orrery. To Mrs. Whiteway he replied, on the same day, that he would
wait on Lord Orrery to receive the papers. On July 23rd, 1737, Lord
Orrery wrote to Swift informing him that "Dr. King has his cargo."

With the knowledge that the manuscript was on its way to King, Swift
wrote the following reply to Lewis's letter:

July 23, 1737.


"While any of those who used to write to me were alive, I always
inquired after you. But, since your secretaryship in the queen's
time, I believed you were so glutted with the office, that you
had not patience to venture on a letter to an absent useless
acquaintance; and I find I owe yours to my Lord Oxford. The
History you mention was written above a year before the queen's
death. I left it with the treasurer and Lord Bolingbroke, when I
first came over to take this deanery. I returned in less than a
month; but the ministry could not agree about printing it. It
was to conclude with the peace. I staid in London above nine
months; but not being able to reconcile the quarrels between
those two, I went to a friend in Berkshire, and, on the queen's
death, came hither for good and all. I am confident you read
that History; as this Lord Oxford did, as he owns in his two
letters, the last of which reached me not above ten days ago.
You know, on the queen's death, how the peace and all
proceedings were universally condemned. This I knew would be
done; and the chief cause of my writing was, not to let such a
queen and ministry lie under such a load of infamy, or posterity
be so ill-informed, &c. Lord Oxford is in the wrong to be in
pain about his father's character, or his proceedings in his
ministry; which is so drawn, that his greatest admirers will
rather censure me for partiality; neither can he tell me
anything material out of his papers, which I was not then
informed of; nor do I know anybody but yourself who could give
me more light than what I then received; for I remember I often
consulted with you, and took memorials of many important
particulars which you told me, as I did of others, for four
years together. I can find no way to have the original delivered
to Lord Oxford, or to you; for the person who has it will not
trust it out of his hands; but, I believe, would be contented to
let it be read to either of you, if it could be done without
letting it out of his hands, although, perhaps, that may be too

Swift is evidently about to accede to the desires of his two friends,
and Lewis, in his reply, takes it for granted that the manuscript will
soon be in his possession for perusal and examination:

London, Aug. 4, 1737.

"I assure you, my dear Dean, 'twas matter of joy to me to
receive a letter from you, and I hope 'tis an earnest of many
more I may have hereafter, before you and I leave this world;
though I must tell you, that if you and I revive our former
Correspondence, you must indulge me the liberty of making use of
another hand; for whether it be owing to age, or writing
formerly whole nights by candle-light, or to both those causes,
my sight is so far impaired, that I am not able, without much
pain, to scratch out a letter.

"I do not remember ever to have read your History. I own my
memory is much decayed; but still I think I could not have
forgotten a matter of so much consequence, and which must have
given me so great a pleasure. It is fresh in my mind, that Lord
Oxford and the Auditor desired you to confer with me upon the
subject matter of it; that we accordingly did so; and that the
conclusion was, you would bury everything in oblivion. We
reported this to those two, I mean to his lordship and his
uncle, and they acquiesced in it. Now I find you have finished
that piece. I ask nothing but what you grant in your letter of
July 23d, viz. That your friend shall read it to me, and forbear
sending it to the press, till you have considered the
objections, if any should be made.

"In the meantime, I shall only observe to you in general, that
three and twenty years, for so long it is since the death of
Queen Anne, having made a great alteration in the world, and
that what was sense and reason then, is not so now; besides, I
am told you have treated some people's characters with a
severity which the present times will not bear, and may possibly
bring the author into much trouble, which would be matter of
great uneasiness to his friends. I know very well it is your
intention to do honour to the then treasurer. Lord Oxford knows
it; all his family and friends know it; but it is to be done
with great circumspection. It is now too late to publish a
pamphlet, and too early to publish a History.

"It was always my opinion, that the best way of doing honour to
the treasurer, was to write a History of the Peace of Utrecht,
beginning with a short preamble concerning the calamitous state
of our debt, and ending with the breaking our army, and
restoring the civil power; that these great things were
completed under the administration of the Earl of Oxford, and
this should be his epitaph. Lord Bolingbroke is undoubtedly
writing a History, but I believe will not live to finish it,
because he takes it up too high, viz. from the Restoration. In
all probability he'll cut and slash Lord Oxford. This is only my
guess. I don't know it...."

King must have taken the manuscript to Lord Oxford and Lewis,
and been present at its reading. When that reading actually took
place is not ascertainable; but there is no doubt that before
March 15th, 1738, King was aware of the criticisms made on it.
On that day he writes to Mr. Deane Swift, explaining that he has
been obliged to defer the publication until he has received
Swift's answers to the objections made by the friends who read
it. On April 25th, 1738, King wrote again to Mr. Deane Swift,
regretting that he could not see him, "because I might have
talked over with you all the affair of this History, about which
I have been much condemned: and no wonder, since the Dean has
continually expressed his dissatisfaction that I have so long
delayed the publication of it. However, I have been in no fault:
on the contrary, I have consulted the Dean's honour, and the
safety of his person. In a word, the publication of this work,
as excellent as it is, would involve the printer, publisher,
author, and everyone concerned, in the greatest difficulties, if
not in a certain ruin; and therefore it will be absolutely
necessary to omit some of the characters...."

From which we gather that Lewis and the friends had been able to show
King the extreme inadvisability of publishing the work. Swift knew
nothing of this at the time, but Lewis did not long keep him in doubt,
and the letter Lewis wrote Swift on April 8th, 1738, sets forth at
length the objections and criticisms which had so changed King's

"London, April 8, 1738.

"I can now acquaint you, my dear Dean, that I have at last had
the pleasure of reading your History, in the presence of Lord
O------d, and two or three more, who think, in all political
matters, just as you do, and are as zealous for your fame and
safety as any persons in the world. That part of it which
relates to the negotiations of peace, whether at London or at
Utrecht, they admire exceedingly, and declare they never yet saw
that, or any other transaction, drawn up with so much
perspicuity, or in a style so entertaining and instructive to
the reader, in every respect; but I should be wanting to the
sincerity of a friend, if I did not tell you plainly, that it
was the unanimous opinion of the company a great deal of the
first part should be retrenched, and many things altered.

"1st, They conceive the first establishment of the South Sea
Company is not rightly stated, for no part of the debt then
unprovided for was paid: however the advantages arising to the
public were very considerable; for, instead of paying for all
provisions cent. per cent. dearer than the common market-price,
as we did in Lord Godolphin's times, the credit of the public
was immediately restored, and, by means of this scheme, put upon
as good a footing as the best private security.

"2d, They think the transactions with Mr. Buys might have been
represented in a more advantageous light, and more to the honour
of that administration; and, undoubtedly they would have been so
by your pen, had you been master of all the facts.

"3d, The D---- of M----'s courage not to be called in question.

"4th, The projected design of an assassination they believe
true, but that a matter of so high a nature ought not to be
asserted without exhibiting the proofs.

"5th, The present ministers, who are the rump of those whose
characters you have painted, shew too plainly that they have not
acted upon republican, or, indeed, any other principles, than
those of interest and ambition.

"6th, Now I have mentioned characters, I must tell you they were
clearly of opinion, that if those you have drawn should be
published as they now stand, nothing could save the author's
printer and publishers from some grievous punishment. As we have
no traces of liberty now left but the freedom of the press, it
is the most earnest desire of your friends that you would strike
out all that you have said on that subject.

"Thus, my dear Dean, I have laid before you, in a plain manner
the sentiments of those who were present when your History was
read; if I have mistaken in anything, I ask pardon of you and

"I am not at liberty to name those who were present, excepting
only the E---- of O----d, who has charged me to return you his
thanks for what you have said of his father.

"What I have to say from myself is, that there were persons in
the company to whose judgment I should pay entire deference. I
had no opportunity of paying any on this occasion, for I
concurred in the same opinion with them, from the bottom of my
heart, and therefore conjure you as you value your own fame as
an author, and the honour of those who were actors in the
important affairs that make the subject of your History, and as
you would preserve the liberty of your person, and enjoyment of
your fortune, you will not suffer this work to go to the press
without making some, or all the amendments proposed. I am, my
dear Dean, most sincerely and affectionately yours,


"I thank you for your kind mention of me in your letter to Lord

"I had almost forgot to tell you, you have mistaken the case of
the D---- of S----, which, in truth, was this, that his grace
appearing at court, in the chamber next to the council-chamber,
it was apprehended he would come into the cabinet-council; and
therefore the intended meeting was put off: whereas one would
judge, by your manner of stating it, that the council had met,
and adjourned abruptly upon his taking his place there.

"I must add, that if you would so far yield to the opinions of
your friends, as to publish what you have writ concerning the
peace, and leave out everything that savours of acrimony and
resentment, it would, even now, be of great service to this
nation in general, and to them in particular, nothing having
been yet published on the peace of Utrecht in such a beautiful
and strong manner as you have done it. Once more, my dear Dean,
adieu; let me hear from you."

It is to be presumed that Swift was again persuaded to abandon the
publication of his History. Nothing further is heard of it, except a
slight reference by Pope in a letter he wrote to Swift, under date May
17th, 1739, in which Pope informed him that Bolingbroke (who is writing
his History of his own Time) has expressed his intention of differing
from Swift's version, as he remembers it when he read the History in
1727. The variation would relate in particular to the conduct of the
Earl of Oxford.

Slight as this reference is, there is yet enough in it to suggest
another reason why Swift should withhold the publication of his work. It
might be that this expressed intention of Bolingbroke's to animadvert on
his dear friend's conduct, would just move Swift to a final rejection of
his intention, and so, possibly, prevent Bolingbroke from publishing his
own statement. However, the manuscript must have been returned, for
nothing more was heard of it during Swift's lifetime.

Swift died in 1745, and thirteen years later appeared the anonymously
edited "History of the Four Last Years." Is this the work which Swift
wrote in 1713, which he permitted Pope and Bolingbroke to read in 1727,
and which he prepared for publication in 1737?

In 1758 there was no doubt whatever raised, although there were at least
two persons alive then--Lord Orrery and Dr. William King--who could
easily have proved any forgery, had there been one.

The first suspicion cast on the work came from Dr. Johnson. Writing, in
his life of Swift, of the published version, he remarks, "that it seemed
by no means to correspond with the notions that I had formed of it from
a conversation that I once heard between the Earl of Orrery and old Mr.
Lewis." In what particulars this want of correspondence was made evident
Johnson does not say. In any case, his suspicion cannot be received with
much consideration, since the conversation he heard must have taken
place at least twenty years before he wrote the poet's life, and his
recollection of such a conversation must at least have been very hazy.
Johnson's opinion is further deprived of weight when we read what he
wrote of the History in the "Idler," in 1759, the year after its
publication, that "the history had perished had not a straggling
transcript fallen into busy hands." If the straggling manuscript were
worth anything, it must have had some claims to authenticity; and if it
had, then Johnson's recollection of what he heard Orrery and Lewis say,
twenty years or more after they had said it, goes for very little.

Sir Walter Scott concludes, from the fact that Swift sent the manuscript
to Oxford and Lewis, that it was afterwards altered in accordance with
Lewis's suggestions. But a comparison of Lucas's text with Lewis's
letter shows that nothing of the kind was done.

Lord Stanhope had "very great reason to doubt" the authenticity of the
History, and considered it as "falsely ascribed to Swift." What this
"very great reason" was, his lordship nowhere stated.

Macaulay, in a pencilled note in a copy of Orrery's "Remarks" (now in
the British Museum) describes the History as "Wretched stuff; and I
firmly believe not Swift's." But Macaulay could scarcely have had much
ground for his note, since he took a description of Somers from the
History, and embodied it in his own work as a specimen of what Somers's
enemies said of him. If the History were a forgery, what object was
gained in quoting from it, and who were the enemies who wrote it?

When, in 1873, Lord Beaconsfield, then Mr. Disraeli, made a speech at
Glasgow, in which he quoted from the History and spoke of the words as
by Swift, a correspondent in the "Times" criticised him for his
ignorance in so doing. But the discussion which followed in the columns
of that periodical left the matter just where it was, and, indeed,
justified Beaconsfield. The matter was taken up by Mr. Edward Solly in
"Notes and Queries;" but that writer threw no new light whatever on the

But the positive evidence in favour of the authenticity is so strong,
that one wonders how there could have been any doubt as to whether Swift
did or did not write the History.

In the first place we know that Swift was largely indebted for his facts
to Bolingbroke, when that statesman was the War Secretary of Queen Anne.
A comparison of those portions of Swift's History which contain the
facts with the Bolingbroke Correspondence, in which the same facts are
embodied, will amply prove that Swift obtained them from this source,
and as Swift was the one man of the time to whom such a favour was
given, the argument in favour of Swift's authorship obtains an added

In the second place, a careful reading of the correspondence between
Swift and his friends on the subject of the publication of the History
enables us to identify the references to the History itself. The
"characters" are there; Sir Thomas Hanmer's Representation is also
there, and all the points raised by Erasmus Lewis may be told off, one
by one.

In the third place, Dr. Birch, the careful collector, had, in 1742,
access to what he considered to be the genuine manuscript. This was
three years before Swift's death. He made an abstract of this manuscript
at the time, and this abstract is now preserved in the British Museum.
Comparing the abstract with the edition published in 1758, there is no
doubt that the learned doctor had copied from a manuscript which, if it
were not genuine, was certainly the text of the work published in 1758
as "The History of the Four Last Years." But Dr. Birch's language
suggests that he believed the manuscript he examined to be in Swift's
own handwriting. If that be so, there is no doubt whatever of the
authenticity. Birch was a very careful person, and had he had any doubts
he could easily have settled them by applying to the many friends of the
Dean, if not to the Dean himself. Moreover, it is absurd to believe that
a forged manuscript of Swift's would be shown about during Swift's
lifetime without it being known as a forgery. Mrs. Whiteway alone would
have put a stop to its circulation had she suspected of the existence of
such a manuscript.

Finally, it must be remembered that when the History was published in
1758, Lord Orrery was still living. If the work were a forgery, why did
not Lord Orrery expose it? Nothing would have pleased him more. He had
read the manuscript referred to in the Correspondence. He had carried it
to Oxford and given it to King, at Swift's request. He knew all about
it, and he said nothing.

These considerations, both negative and positive, lead us to the final
conclusion that the History published in 1758 is practically the History
referred to in Swift's Correspondence, and therefore the authentic work
of Swift himself. We say practically, because there are some
differences between it and the text published here. The differences have
been recorded from a comparison between Lucas's version and the
transcript of a manuscript discovered in Dublin in 1857, and made by Mr.
Percy Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald found that this manuscript contained
many corrections in Swift's own handwriting. At the time he came across
it the manuscript was in the possession of two old ladies named Greene,
grand-daughters of Mrs. Whiteway, and grand-nieces of Swift himself. On
the title-page there was the following note:

"This is the originall manuscript of the History, corrected by me, and
given into the custody of Mrs. Martha Whiteway by me Jonathan Swift,
June 15, 1737. seven.

"I send a fair copy of this History by the Earl of Orrery to be printed
in England.


Mr. Fitzgerald was permitted to make a collation of this manuscript, and
his collation he sent to the late John Forster. It is now in the
Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington.[2]

[Footnote 2: I regret that I have been unable to trace the existence of
this manuscript of Swift's "History." Mr. Fitzgerald himself has no
recollection of having made the collation. "Forty-five years ago," he
writes, "is a long time to look back to," and he cannot recall the

If this manuscript be what, on the face of it, it claims to be, then the
question of authenticity is for ever settled. As we have no doubt on
this point, the corrections and variations between this manuscript, as
collated by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald and the Lucas version, have been noted
in the present edition.

In 1752 Lord Orrery issued his "Remarks" on the life and character of
Swift. The work obtained for him a certain notoriety, and brought down
upon him some severe censure from the friends of Swift who were still
alive. But, whatever may have been Orrery's private opinion of Swift,
that should not invalidate any information as to fact of which he had
the knowledge to speak. Writing in that book of the History, he says:
"Dr. Swift left behind him few manuscripts. Not one of any consequence,
except an account of the peace of Utrecht, which he called 'An History
of the four last Years of Queen Anne.' The title of an history is too
pompous for such a performance. In the historical style, it wants
dignity and candour: but as a pamphlet it will appear the best defence
of Lord Oxford's administration, and the clearest account of the Treaty
of Utrecht, that has hitherto been written."[3]

[Footnote 3: Second edition, pp. 206-207.]

The most ardent and devoted of Swift's admirers could hardly find a
juster criticism of the work. It should satisfy any unprejudiced reader
of the printed History as we now have it, and to that extent emphasize
the authenticity.

An interesting sidelight on Swift's History is thrown by Chesterfield in
a letter he wrote to Dr. Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, on May 23rd,
1758. We must believe that the noble lord wrote in good faith and
certainly in the full belief that the work he was criticising was the
work of Swift. Chesterfield's criticism points directly to Swift as the
author, since his justification for Bolingbroke's story is to be found
in the work as Lucas printed it in 1758. Speaking of the History,
Chesterfield calls it "a party pamphlet, founded on the lie of the day,
which, as lord Bolingbroke who had read it often assured me, was coined
and delivered out to him, to write Examiners, and other political papers
upon. That spirit remarkably runs through it. Macarteney, for instance,
murdered duke Hamilton;[4] nothing is falser, for though Macarteney was
very capable of the vilest actions, he was guiltless of that, as I
myself can testify, who was at his trial on the king's bench, when he
came over voluntarily to take it, in the late king's time. There did not
appear even the least ground for a suspicion of it; nor did Hamilton,
who appeared in court, pretend to tax him with it, which would have been
in truth accusing himself of the utmost baseness, in letting the
murderer of his friend go off from the field of battle, without either
resentment, pursuit, or even accusation, till three days afterwards.
This _lie_ was invented to inflame the Scotch nation against the Whigs;
as the other, that prince Eugene intended to murder lord Oxford, by
employing a set of people called Mohocks, which society, by the way,
never existed, was calculated to inflame the mob of London. Swift took
those hints _de la meilleure foi du monde_, and thought them materials
for history. So far he is blameless."[5]

[Footnote 4: See page 178 of this volume.]

[Footnote 5: "Chesterfield's Works," pp. 498-499.]

Ignoring Chesterfield's indignation, we must believe that the references
made by him to Macartney and Eugene, must have been in the manuscript
Bolingbroke read; else how could Bolingbroke tell Chesterfield of their
meaning? If this be so, we have a still further warrant for a strong
presumption in favour of authenticity. There can really be very little
doubt on the matter.

What we may doubt, however, is not the authenticity, but the value of
the History as an historical document. Without question, Swift wrote in
good faith; but he also wrote as a partisan, and a partisan with an
affectionate leaning for the principal character in the drama he was
describing. Orrery was right when he called it "a pamphlet," and "the
best defence of Lord Oxford's administration." As a pamphlet and as a
defence it has some claim on our attention. As a contribution to the
history of the treaty of Utrecht it is of little account. Swift could
not, had he even known everything, write the true story of the
negotiations for publication at the time. In the first place, he would
never have attempted it--the facts would have been demoralizing; and in
the second place, had he accomplished it, its publication would have
been a matter for much more serious consideration than was given even to
the story he did write. For Swift's purpose, it was much better that he
did not know the full extent of the ministry's perfidy. His affection
for Oxford and his admiration for Bolingbroke would have received a
great shock. He knew their weaknesses of character, though not their
infidelity to honour. There can be no defence of the Oxford
administration, for the manner in which it separated England from its
allies and treated with a monarch who was well known to it as a
political chicaner. The result brought a treaty by which Louis XIV.
gained and the allies lost, and this in spite of the offers previously
made by the bankrupt monarch at Gertruydenberg.

The further contents of this volume deal with what might better be
called Swiftiana. They include a collection of very interesting
annotations made by Swift in his copies of Macky's "Characters,"
Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion," Burnet's "History of his Own
Time," and Addison's "Freeholder." The notes to Clarendon and Burnet
have always found an important place in the many editions of these
well-known works which have been issued from time to time. As here
reprinted, however, they have in all cases been compared with the
originals themselves. It will be found that very many additions have
been made, the result of careful comparison and collation with the
originals in Swift's handwriting.

My obligations are again due to Mr. W. Spencer Jackson for very valuable
assistance in the collation of texts; to Mr. George Ravenscroft Dennis
for several important suggestions; to Mr. Percy Fitzgerald for the use I
have made of his transcriptions; and to Mr. Strickland of the National
Gallery of Ireland for his help in the matter of Swift portraits.

I am greatly indebted to Mr. C. Litton Falkiner of Killiney, co.
Wicklow, for his untiring assistance to me during my stay in Dublin; to
the Very Rev. the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral for permission to
consult the Marsh collection; and to the Rev. Newport J.D. White, the
courteous librarian of the Marsh Library, for enthusiastic aid in my
researches. I also owe very hearty thanks to Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole for
introductions to the librarians of Trinity College and the Royal Irish

The portrait prefixed to this volume is a reproduction of the bust by
Roubiliac in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.



_August 14th_, 1902.



From the invasion of it by Julius Caesar to the Reign of Henry the Second









By the late


D.D. D.S.P.D.

Published from the

Last MANUSCRIPT Copy, Corrected and

Enlarged by the Author's OWN HAND.


Printed for A. MILLAR, in the Strand:




[Footnote 1: This advertisement was written by the editor, Dr. Charles
Lucas of Dublin. This Lucas was the patriot who created such a stir in
Irish politics between the years 1743 and 1750. Lord Townshend, in a
letter to the Marquis of Granby, called him "the Wilkes of Ireland." As
an author he seems to have been very prolific, though of no polish in
his writings. Lucas's disclaimers of sympathy with the opinions
contained in the work he edited are somewhat over-stated, and his
criticisms are petty. A full account of this hot-headed physician may be
found in the Dictionary of National Biography. It was Dr. Johnson, in
his life of Swift, who first published the information that Lucas edited
this "History." [T.S.]]

_Thus, the long wished for_ History of the Four Last Years of the
Queen's Reign _is at length brought to light, in spite of all attempts
to suppress it_!

As this publication is not made under the sanction of the name, or
names, which the author and the world had a right to expect; it is fit
some account of the works appearing in this manner should be here given.

Long before the Dean's apparent decline, some of his intimate friends,
with concern, foresaw the impending fate of his fortune and his works.
To this it is owing, that these sheets, which the world now despaired of
ever seeing, are rescued from obscurity, perhaps from destruction.

For this, the public is indebted to a gentleman, now in Ireland, of the
greatest probity and worth, with whom the Dean long lived in perfect
intimacy. To this gentleman's hands the Dean entrusted a copy of his
History, desiring him to peruse and give his judgment of it, with the
last corrections and amendments the author had given it, in his own

His friend read, admired, and approved. And from a dread of so valuable
and so interesting a work's being by any_ _accident lost or effaced, as
was probable by its not being intended to be published in the author's
lifetime; he resolved to keep this copy, till the author should press
him for it; but with a determined purpose, it should never see the
light, while there was any hopes of the author's own copy being
published, or even preserved.

This resolution he inviolably kept, till he and the world had full
assurance, that the Dean's executors, or those into whose hands the
original copy fell, were so far from intending to publish it, that it
was actually suppressed, perhaps destroyed.

Then, he thought himself not only at liberty, but judged it his duty to
his departed friend, and to the public, to let this copy, which he had
now kept many years most secretly, see the light.

Thus it has at length fallen into the hands of a person, who publishes
it for the satisfaction of the public, abstracted from all private
regards; which are never to be permitted to come in competition with the
common good.

Every judicious eye will see, that the author of these sheets wrote with
strong passions, but with stronger prepossessions and prejudices in
favour of a party. These, it may be imagined, the editor, in some
measure, may have adopted, and published this work as a kind of support
of that party, or some surviving remnant thereof.

It is but just to undeceive the reader, and inform him from what kind of
hand he has received this work. A man may regard a good piece of
painting, while he despises the subject; if the subject be ever so
despicable, the masterly strokes of the painter may demand our
admiration, while he, in other respects, is entitled to no portion of
our regard.

In poetry, we carry our admiration still farther; and like the poet,
while we actually contemn the man. Historians share the like fate; hence
some, who have no regard to propriety or truth, are yet admired for
diction, style, manner, and the like.

The editor considers this work in another light. He long knew the
author, and was no stranger to his politics, connections, tendencies,
passions, and the whole economy of his life. He has long been hardily
singular in condemning this great man's conduct amid the admiring
multitude, nor ever could have thought of making an interest in a man,
_whose principles and manners he could by no rule of reason or honour
approve, however he might have admired his parts and wit_.

_Such was judged the disposition of the man, whose history of the most
interesting period of time in the annals of Britain are now, herein,
offered to the reader. He may well ask from what motives? The answer is
easily, simply given_.

_The causes assigned for delaying the publication of this history were
principally these:_[2] _That the manuscript fell into the hands of men,
who, whatever they might have been by the generality deemed, were by the
Dean believed to be of his party, though they did not, after his death,
judge it prudent to avow his principles, more than to deny them in his
lifetime. These men, having got their beavers, tobacco-boxes, and other
trifling remembrances of former friendship, by the Dean's will, did not
choose publicly to avow principles, that had marred their friend's
promotion, and might probably put a stop to theirs. Therefore, they gave
the inquisitive world to understand, that there was something too strong
against many great men, as well as the succeeding system of public
affairs in general, in the Dean's_ History of the Four Last Years of the
Queen's Reign, _to admit of a publication, in our times; and, with this
poor insinuation, excused themselves, and satisfied the weakly
well-affected, in suppressing the manifestation of displeasing truths,
of however great importance to society_.

[Footnote 2: The causes for the delay in the publication of the
"History" are given at length by the present editor in the Introduction.

_This manuscript has now fallen into the hands of a man, who never could
associate with, or even approve, any of the parties or factions, that
have differently distracted, it might be said disgraced, these kingdoms;
because he has as yet known none, whose motives or rules of action were
truth and the public good alone; of one, who judges, that perjured
magistrates of all denominations, and their most exalted minions, may be
exposed, deprived, or cut off, by the fundamental laws of his country;
and who, upon these principles, from his heart approves and glories in
the virtues of his predecessors, who revived the true spirit of the
British polity, in laying aside a priest-ridden, an hen-pecked,
tyrannical tool, who had overturned the political constitution of his
country, and in reinstituting the dissolved body politic, by a
revolution supported by the laws of nature and the realm, as the only
means of preserving the natural and legal, the civil and religious
liberties of the members of the commonwealth_.

_Truth, in this man's estimation, can hurt no good cause. And falsehood
and fraud, in religion and politics, are ever to be detected, to be

_Insinuations, that this History contained something injurious to the
present establishment, and therefore necessary to be suppressed, serve
better the purposes of mistaken or insidious malcontents than the real
publication can. And, if any thing were by this, or any other, History
to be shown essentially erroneous in our politics, who, that calls
himself a Briton, can be deemed such an impious slave, as to conceal the
destructive evil? The editor of this work disdains and abhors the
servile thought, and wishes to live no longer than he dares to think,
speak, write, and, in all things, to act worthy of a Briton_.

_From this regard to truth and to his country, the editor of this
History was glad of an opportunity of rescuing such a writing from those
who meant to suppress it. The common cause, in his estimation, required
and demanded it should be done; and the sooner it is published, he
judged, the better: for, if the conduct of the Queen and her ministers
does not deserve the obloquy that has been long industriously cast upon
it, what is more just than to vindicate it? What more reasonable than
that this should be done, while living witnesses may yet be called, to
prove or disprove the several allegations and assertions; since, in a
few years more, such witnesses may be as much wanting as to prevent a
canonization, which is therefore prudently procrastinated for above an
age? Let us then coolly hear what is to be said on this side the
question, and judge like Britons._

_The editor would not be thought to justify the author of this History,
in all points, or even to attempt to acquit him of unbecoming prejudices
and partiality. Without being deeply versed in history or politics, he
can see his author, in many instances, blinded with passions that
disgrace the historian; and blending, with phrases worthy of a Caesar or
a Cicero, expressions not to be justified by truth, reason, or common
sense, yet think him a most powerful orator, and a great historian._

_No unprejudiced person will blame the Dean for doing all that is
consistent with truth and decency to vindicate the government of the
Queen, and to exculpate the conduct of her ministers and her last
general; all good men would rejoice at such a vindication. But, if he
meant no more than this, his work would ill deserve the title of an
History. That he generally tells truths, and founds his most material
assertions upon fact, will, I think be found very evident. But there is
room to suspect, that, while he tells no more than the truth, he does
not tell the whole truth. However, he makes it very clear, that the
Queen's allies, especially our worthy friends the Dutch, were much to
blame for the now generally condemned conduct of the Queen, with regard
to the prosecution of the war and the bringing about the peace_.

_The authors drawings of characters are confessedly partial: for he
tells us openly, he means not to give characters entire, but such parts
of each man's particular passions, acquirements, and habits, as he was
most likely to transfer into his political schemes. What writing, what
sentence, what character, can stand this torture?--What extreme
perversion may not, let me say, does not, this produce? Yet thus does he
choose to treat all men, that were not favourers of the latest measures
of the Queen, when the best that has been said for her, shows no more
than that she was blindfolded and held in leading-strings by her

_He does not spare a man, confessed by all the world to have discharged
the duties of his function like a soldier, like an hero. But charges
Prince Eugene with raising and keeping up a most horrible mob, with
intent to assassinate Harley. For all which odious charges he offers not
one individual point of proof_.

_He is not content with laying open again the many faults already
publicly proved upon the late Duke of Marlborough, but insinuates a new
crime, by seeming to attempt to acquit him of aspiring at the throne.
But this is done in a manner peculiar to this author_.

_On the other hand, he extols the ministers, and minions of the Queen,
in the highest terms; and while he robs their antagonists of every good
quality, generally gives those wisdom and every virtue that can adorn
human nature_.

_He is not ashamed to attempt to justify, what all thinking good men
must condemn, the Queen's making twelve peers at once, to serve a
particular turn_.

_All these may be ascribed to the strength of his passions, and to the
prejudices, early imbibed, in favour of his indulgent royal mistress and
her favourites and servants.[3] The judicious will look through the
elegant clothing, and dispassionately consider these as mere human
errors, to which no well-informed mind can assent. The editor thinks
himself bound to protest against them_.

[Footnote 3: That Swift should have a strong partiality to Harley and
St. John, by whom he was respected and trusted to a most uncommon
degree, is natural and obvious; but upon what ground Queen Anne, who
disliked his person, and obstructed his preferment, is here termed his
_indulgent_ mistress, the author of this preface ought to have
condescended to explain. [S.]]

_He makes a few lapses on the other side, without being as clear as an
impartial historian would choose to appear. He more than hints at the
Queen's displeasure at its being moved in Parliament, that the Prince
Elector should be invited to reside in England, to whose crown he was by
law declared presumptive heir, but is always open upon the Queen's
insisting on the Pretender's being sent out of France.--It is easy to
see how incompatible these things appear. Nothing could tend more to
secure the Hanover succession, and to enlarge its benefits to Britain,
than the bringing over the successor, who should, in every country, be
well instructed in the language, customs, manners, religion, and laws of
his future subjects, before he comes to hold the reins of government.
And our author does not take the proper care to inform us how far the
French thought fit to comply with banishing the Pretender their
dominions, since many still live in doubt, that if he was sent out of
France, he was sent into England_.

_But there is one expression of our author too perverse, too grossly
abused, to admit of any apology, of any palliation. It is not to be
supposed, that he was ignorant of any word in the English language. And
least of all can he be supposed ignorant of the meaning of a word,
which, had it been ever so doubtful before, had a certain meaning
impressed upon it by the authority of Parliament, of which no sensible
subject can be ignorant_.

_Notwithstanding this, where our author speaks of the late King James,
he calls him the_ abdicated King, _and gives the same epithet even to
his family. Though this weak, ill-advised, and ill-fated prince, in
every sense of the word, with Romans and English, and to all intents and
purposes_, abdicated, _yet can he, in no sense, be called_ abdicated;
_unless the people's asserting their rights, and defending themselves
against a king, who broke his compact with his subjects, and overturned
their government, can be called_ abdication _in them; which no man in
his senses can be hardy enough to support upon any principle of reason
or the laws of England. Let the reader judge which this is most likely
to be, error or design_.

_These exceptions the editor thought himself bound to make to some parts
of this work, to keep clear of the disagreeable imputations of being of
a party, of whatsoever denomination, in opposition to truth and the
rights and liberties of the subject._

_These laid aside, the work will be found to have many beauties, many
excellencies. Some have of late affected to depreciate this History,
from an insinuation, made only since the author's death, to wit, that he
was never admitted into the secrets of the administration, but made to
believe he was a confident, only to engage him in the list of the
ministerial writers of that reign_.

_The falsehood of this will readily appear upon perusal of the work.
This shows he knew the most secret springs of every movement in the
whole complicated machine. That he states facts, too well known to be
contested, in elegant simplicity, and reasons upon them with the talents
of the greatest historian. And thus makes an History, composed rather of
negotiations than actions, most entertaining, affecting, and
interesting, instead of being, as might be expected, heavy, dull, and

_It is now fit to apologize for some errors, which the judicious must
discover upon a perusal of this work. It is for this, among other
reasons, much to be lamented, that this History was not published under
the author's own inspection. It is next to impossible to copy or print
any work without faults, and most so where the author's eye is wanting_.

_It is not to be imagined, that even our author, however accurate,
however great, was yet strictly and perfectly correct in his writings.
Yet, where some seeming inaccuracies in style or expression have been
discovered, the deference due to the author made any alteration too
presumptuous a task for the editor. These are, therefore, left to the
amending hand of every sensible and polite reader; while the editor
hopes it will suffice, that he should point out some of those errors,
which are to be ascribed either to transcribers or the press, and which
may be rectified in the manner following, in reading the work._[4]

[Footnote 4: Here follows list of _errata_. (These errors have been
corrected in the present edition.)]

_And thus; with these and perhaps some few such like corrections, it is
hoped this work will be found completely correct._


[Footnote 1: The time when it was written does not appear; but it was
probably many years after the Queen's death. [N.] First published in
1765. [W.S.J.]]

Having written the following History at Windsor, in the happy reign of
Her Majesty Queen Anne, of ever glorious, blessed, and immortal memory;
I resolved to publish it, for the satisfaction of my fellow-subjects, in
the year 1713; but, being under a necessity of going to Ireland, to take
possession of the deanery of St. Patrick's, Dublin, I left the original
with the ministers; and having stayed in that kingdom not above a
fortnight, I found, at my return, that my Lord Treasurer Oxford, and the
secretary my Lord Bolingbroke, who were then unhappily upon very ill
terms with each other, could not agree upon publishing it, without some
alterations which I would not submit to. Whereupon I kept it by me until
Her Majesty's death, which happened about a year after.

I have ever since preserved the original very safely; too well knowing
what a turn the world would take upon the German family's succeeding to
the crown; which indeed was their undoubted right, having been
established solemnly by the act of an undisputed Parliament, brought
into the House of Commons by Mr. Harley, who was then Speaker.

But, as I have said in another discourse,[2] it was very well
understood, some years before Her Majesty's death, how the new King
would act, immediately upon his entrance, in the choice of those (and
those alone) whom he resolved to trust; and consequently what reports
would industriously be raised, as well as spread, to expose the
proceedings of Her Majesty herself, as well as of her servants; who have
been ever since blasted as enemies to the present establishment, by the
most ignorant and malicious among mankind.

[Footnote 2: "Memoirs relating to the Change in the Queen's Ministry."
See vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

Therefore, as it was my lot to have been daily conversant with the
persons then in power; never absent in times of business or
conversation, until a few weeks before Her Majesty's death; and a
witness of almost every step they made in the course of their
administration; I must have been very unfortunate not to be better
informed than those miserable pamphleteers, or their patrons, could
pretend to. At the same time, I freely confess, it appeared necessary,
as well as natural, upon such a mighty change as the death of a
sovereign, that those who were to be in power upon the succession, and
resolved to act in every part by a direct contrary system of politics,
should load their predecessors with as much infamy as the most
inveterate malice and envy could suggest, or the most stupid ignorance
and credulity in their underlings could swallow.

Therefore, as I pretend to write with the utmost impartiality, the
following History of the Four Last Years of her Majesty's Reign, in
order to undeceive prejudiced persons at present, as well as posterity;
I am persuaded in my own mind, as likewise by the advice of my oldest
and wisest friends, that I am doing my duty to God and man, by
endeavouring to set future ages right in their judgment of that happy
reign; and, as a faithful historian, I cannot suffer falsehoods to run
on any longer, not only against all appearance of truth as well as
probability, but even against those happy events, which owe their
success to the very measures then fixed in the general peace.

The materials for this History, besides what I have already mentioned, I
mean the confidence reposed in me for those four years, by the chief
persons in power, were extracted out of many hundred letters written by
our ambassadors abroad, and from the answers as well as instructions
sent them by our secretaries of state, or by the first minister the Earl
of Oxford. The former were all originals, and the latter copies entered
into books in the secretaries' office, out of both which I collected all
that I thought convenient; not to mention several Memorials given me by
the ministers at home. Further, I was a constant witness and observer of
all that passed; and entered every particular of any consequence upon

I was so far from having any obligation to the crown, that, on the
contrary, Her Majesty issued a proclamation, offering three hundred
pounds to any person who would discover the author of a certain short
treatise,[3] which the Queen well knew to have been written by me. I
never received one shilling from the minister, or any other present,
except that of a few books; nor did I want their assistance to support
me. I very often dined indeed with the treasurer and secretary; but, in
those days, that was not reckoned a bribe, whatever it may have been at
any time since. I absolutely refused to be chaplain to the Lord
Treasurer; because I thought it would ill become me to be in a state of

[Footnote 3: "The Public Spirit of the Whigs." [D.S.]]

I say this, to shew that I had no other bias than my own opinion of
persons and affairs. I preserved several of the opposite party in their
employments, who were persons of wit and learning, particularly Mr.
Addison and Mr. Congreve, neither of whom were ever in any danger from
the treasurer, who much esteemed them both; and, by his lordship's
commands, I brought the latter to dine with him. Mr. Steele might have
been safe enough, if his continually repeated indiscretions, and a zeal
mingled with scurrilities, had not forfeited all title to lenity.[4]

[Footnote 4: A full account of the severance of the friendly relations
between Swift and Steele is given in the fifth volume of the present
edition (see pp. 276-282). [T.S.]]

I know very well the numberless prejudices of weak and deceived people,
as well as the malice of those, who, to serve their own interest or
ambition, have cast off all religion, morality, justice, and common
decency. However, although perhaps I may not be believed in the present
age, yet I hope to be so in the next, by all who will bear any regard
for the honour and liberty of England, if either of these shall then
subsist or not.

I have no interest or inclination to palliate the mistakes, or
omissions, or want of steadiness, or unhappy misunderstandings, among a
few of those who then presided in affairs.

Nothing is more common than the virulence of superficial and ill
informed writers, against the conduct of those who are now called prime
ministers: And, since factions appear at present to be at a greater
height than in any former times, although perhaps not so equally poised;
it may probably concern those who are now in their height, if they have
any regard for their own memories in future ages, to be less warm
against others, who humbly differ from them in some state opinions. Old
persons remember, at least by tradition, the horrible prejudices that
prevailed against the first Earl of Clarendon, whose character, as it
now stands, might be a pattern for all ministers; although even Bishop
Burnet of Sarum, whose principles, veracity, and manner of writing, are
so little esteemed upon many accounts, hath been at the pains to
vindicate him.

Upon that irreparable breach between the treasurer and secretary
Bolingbroke, after my utmost endeavours, for above two years, to
reconcile them, I retired to a friend in Berkshire, where I stayed until
Her Majesty's death;[5] and then immediately returned to my station in
Dublin, where I continued about twelve years without once seeing
England. I there often reviewed the following Memoirs; neither changing
nor adding, further than by correcting the style: And, if I have been
guilty of any mistakes, they must be of small moment; for it was hardly
possible I could be wrong informed, with all the advantages I have
already mentioned.

[Footnote 5: See vol. v. of the present edition--the notes on pp. 390,
393-394, 420, 421, and 426. [T.S.]]

I shall not be very uneasy under the obloquy that may, perhaps, be cast
upon me by the violent leaders and followers of the present prevailing
party. And yet I cannot find the least inconsistence with conscience or
honour, upon the death of so excellent a princess as her late Majesty,
for a wise and good man to submit, with a true and loyal heart, to her
lawful Protestant successor; whose hereditary title was confirmed by the
Queen and both Houses of Parliament, with the greatest unanimity, after
it had been made an article in the treaty, that every prince in our
alliance should be a guarantee of that succession. Nay, I will venture
to go one step farther; that, if the negotiators of that peace had been
chosen out of the most professed zealots for the interests of the
Hanover family, they could not have bound up the French king, or the
Hollanders, more strictly than the Queen's plenipotentiaries did, in
confirming the present succession; which was in them so much a greater
mark of virtue and loyalty, because they perfectly well knew, that they
should never receive the least mark of favour, when the succession had
taken place.



I propose give the public an account of the most important affairs at
home, during the last session of Parliament, as well as of our
negotiations of peace abroad, not only during that period, but some time
before and since. I shall relate the chief matters transacted by both
Houses in that session, and discover the designs carried on by the heads
of a discontented party,[1] not only against the ministry, but, in some
manner, against the crown itself. I likewise shall state the debts of
the nation, show by what mismanagement, and to serve what purposes, they
were at first contracted, by what negligence or corruption they have so
prodigiously grown, and what methods have since been taken to provide
not only for their payment, but to prevent the like mischief for the
time to come. Although, in an age like ours, I can expect very few
impartial readers, yet I shall strictly follow truth, or what reasonably
appeared to me to be such, after the most impartial inquiries I could
make, and the best opportunities of being informed, by those who were
the principal actors or advisers.[2]

[Footnote 1: P. Fitzgerald says "faction." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 2: Swift's informants were, of course, Harley and Bolingbroke,
though the latter stated that Swift was given only such information as
served the ministry's purpose in the work they had given him for "The
Examiner" and the party pamphlets written in their defence. It is,
however, quite interesting in this connection, to see how closely
Swift's narrative follows the published political correspondence of
Bolingbroke. [T.S.]]

Neither shall I mingle panegyric or satire with an history intended to
inform posterity, as well as to instruct those of the present age, who
may be ignorant or misled; since facts, truly related, are the best
applauses, or most lasting reproaches.

Discourses upon subjects relating to the public usually seem to be
calculated for London only, and some few miles about it; while the
authors suppose their readers to be informed of several particulars, to
which those that live remote are, for the generality, utter strangers.
Most people, who frequent this town, acquire a sort of smattering (such
as it is), which qualifies them for reading a pamphlet, and finding out
what is meant by innuendoes, or hints at facts or persons, and initial
letters of names, wherein gentlemen at a distance, although perhaps of
much better understandings, are wholly in the dark. Wherefore, that
these Memoirs may be rendered more generally intelligible and useful, it
will be convenient to give the reader a short view of the state and
disposition of affairs, when the last session of Parliament began. And
because the party-leaders, who had lost their power and places, were,
upon that juncture, employing all their engines, in an attempt to
re-establish themselves, I shall venture one step further, and represent
so much of their characters as may be supposed to have influenced their

On the seventh day of December, one thousand seven hundred and eleven,
began the second session of Parliament. It was now above a year since
the Queen had thought fit to put the great offices of state, and of her
own household, into other hands; however, three of the discontented
lords were still in possession of their places, for the Duke of
Marlborough continued general, the Duke of Somerset master of the horse,
and the Earl of Cholmondeley treasurer of Her Majesty's household;[3]
likewise great numbers of the same party[4] still kept employments of
value and importance, which had not been usual of late years upon any
changes of ministry. The Queen, who judged the temper of her people by
this House of Commons, which a landed interest had freely chosen, found
them very desirous of a secure and honourable peace, and disposed[5] to
leave the management of it to her own wisdom, and that of her own
council. She had, therefore, several months before the session began,
sent to inform the States General of some overtures which had been made
her by the enemy; and, during that summer, Her Majesty took several
farther steps in that great affair, until at length, after many
difficulties, a congress at Utrecht, for a general peace, was agreed
upon, the whole proceedings of which previous negotiations, between our
court and that of France, I shall, in its proper place, very
particularly relate.

[Footnote 3: See note on p. 385 of vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: P. Fitzgerald says "the ejected party." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 5: P. Fitzgerald adds "(as it was their duty)." [W.S.J.]]

The nation was already upon a better foot, with respect to its debts;
for the Earl of Oxford, lord treasurer, had, in the preceeding session,
proposed and effected ways and means, in the House of Commons (where he
was then a member), for providing a parliamentary fund, to clear the
heavy arrear of ten millions (whereof the greatest part lay upon the
navy), without any new burthen (at least after a very few years) to the
kingdom; and, at the same time, he took care to prevent farther
incumbrances upon that article, by finding ready money for naval
provisions, which has saved the public somewhat more than _cent. per
cent_. in that mighty branch of our expenses.

The clergy were altogether in the interests and the measures of the
present ministry, which had appeared so boldly in their defence, during
a prosecution against one of their members,[6] where the whole sacred
order was understood to be concerned. The zeal shown for that most
religious bill, to settle a fund for building fifty new churches in and
about the city of London,[7] was a fresh obligation; and they were
farther highly gratified, by Her Majesty's choosing one of their body to
be a great officer of state.[8]

[Footnote 6: Dr. Sacheverell. [N.]]

[Footnote 7: A suggestion originally made by Swift himself. See vol.
iii., p. 45, of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: Dr. Robinson, Lord Bishop of Bristol, to be Lord Privy
Seal. [ORIGINAL NOTE.] Dr. Robinson, who was appointed Bishop of London
in 1713, died in 1723. [W.S.J.]]

By this time likewise, all disputes about these principles, which used
originally to divide Whig and Tory, were wholly dropped; and those
fantastical words ought in justice to have been so too, provided we
could have found out more convenient names, whereby to distinguish
lovers of peace from lovers of war;[9] or those who would leave Her
Majesty some degree of freedom in the choice of her ministers, from
others, who could not be satisfied with her choosing any, except such as
she was most averse from. But, where a nation is once divided, interest
and animosity will keep open the breach, without being supported by any
other principles; or, at worst, a body of discontented people can
change, and take up what principles they please.

[Footnote 9: Swift had already, in his "Some Free Thoughts upon the
Present State of Affairs," attempted to re-define the distinctions of
Whig and Tory. The latter, he urged, was of that party which pronounced
for the principles of loyalty to the Church and the preservation of the
Protestant succession in the House of Hanover. Swift felt that the
majority of the people at large were strong for these principles, and
the party that would openly accept them as its "platform" would, he
argued, be the party that would obtain the people's support. Had
Bollngbroke not delayed the publication of this tract, it might have had
great influence in keeping the Tories in power. See vol. v. of present
edition, pp. 380, 393. [T.S.]]

As to the disposition of the opposite party, we all remember, that the
removal of the last ministry was brought about by several degrees;
through which means it happened, that they and their friends were hardly
recovered out of one astonishment, before they fell into another. This
scene lasted for some months, and was followed by a period of rage and
despair, natural to those who reflect that they have lost a secure game,
by their own rashness, folly, and want of common management, when, at
the same time, they knew by experience, that a watchful and dexterous
adversary lay ready to take the advantage. However, some time before the
session, the heads of that party began to recollect themselves, and
rally their forces, like an enemy who hath been beaten out of the field,
but finds he is not pursued; for although the chiefs of this faction
were thought to have but little esteem or friendship for each other, yet
they perfectly agreed in one general end, of distressing, by all
possible methods, the new administration, wherein if they could succeed
so far as to put the Queen under any great necessity, another Parliament
must be called, and perhaps the power[10] devolve again into their own

[Footnote 10: P. Fitzgerald says "and the power naturally." [W.S.J.]]

The issue and event of that grand confederacy appearing in both Houses,
although under a different form, upon the very first day the Parliament
met, I cannot better begin the relation of affairs, commencing from that
period, than by a thorough detection of the whole intrigue, carried on
with the greatest privacy and application, which must be acknowledged to
have for several days disconcerted some of the ministry, as well as
dispirited their friends; and the consequences thereof, which have in
reality been so very pernicious to the kingdom.

But because the principal leaders in this design are the same persons to
whom, since the loss of their power, all the opposition has been owing
which the court received, either in treaties abroad, or the
administration at home; it may not be improper to describe those
qualities in each of them, which few of their admirers will deny, and
which appear chiefly to have influenced them in acting their several
parts upon the public stage. For I do not intend to draw their
characters entire, which would be tedious, and little to the purpose,
but shall only single out those passions, acquirements, and habits,
which the owners were most likely to transfer into their political
schemes, and which were most subservient to the designs they seemed to
have in view.

The Lord Somers[11] may very deservedly be reputed the head and oracle
of that party; he hath raised himself, by the concurrence of many
circumstances, to the greatest employments of the state, without the
least support from birth or fortune; he hath constantly, and with great
steadiness, cultivated those principles under which he grew. That
accident which first produced him into the world, of pleading for the
bishops whom King James had sent to the Tower, might have proved a piece
of merit, as honourable as it was fortunate, but the old republican
spirit, which the Revolution had restored, began to teach other
lessons--That since we had accepted a new King, from a Calvinistical
commonwealth, we must also admit new maxims in religion and government.
But, since the nobility and gentry would probably adhere to the
established Church, and to the rights of monarchy, as delivered down
from their ancestors, it was the practice of those politicians to
introduce such men as were perfectly indifferent to any or no religion,
and who were not likely to inherit much loyalty from those to whom they
owed their birth. Of this number was the person I am now describing. I
have hardly known any man, with talents more proper to acquire and
preserve the favour of a prince; never offending in word or gesture; in
the highest degree courteous and complaisant; wherein he set an
excellent example to his colleagues, which they did not think fit to
follow. But this extreme civility is universal and undistinguished, and
in private conversation, where he observeth it as inviolably as if he
were in the greatest assembly, it is sometimes censured as formal. Two
reasons are assigned for this behaviour: first, from the consciousness
of his humble original,[12] he keepeth all familiarity at the utmost
distance, which otherwise might be apt to intrude; the second, that
being sensible how subject he is to violent passions, he avoideth all
incitements to them, by teaching those he converses with, from his own
example, to keep a great way within the bounds of decency and respect.
And it is indeed true, that no man is more apt to take fire, upon the
least appearance of provocation; which temper he strives to subdue, with
the utmost violence upon himself: so that his breast has been seen to
heave, and his eyes to sparkle with rage, in those very moments when his
words, and the cadence of his voice, were in the humblest and softest
manner: perhaps that force upon his nature may cause that insatiable
love of revenge, which his detractors lay to his charge, who
consequently reckon dissimulation among his chief perfections. Avarice
he hath none; and his ambition is gratified, by being the uncontested
head of his party. With an excellent understanding, adorned by all the
polite parts of learning, he hath very little taste for conversation, to
which he prefers the pleasure of reading and thinking; and in the
intervals of his time amuseth himself with an illiterate chaplain, an
humble companion, or a favourite servant.

[Footnote 11: See note on p. 29 of vol. i. of present edition. Swift's
"Dedication" of "A Tale of a Tub" to Somers strikes a somewhat different
note from that of this "character." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: His father, John Somers, was an attorney at law in the
town of Worcester. [S.]]

These are some few distinguishing marks in the character of that person,
who now presideth over the discontented party, although he be not
answerable for all their mistakes; and if his precepts had been more
strictly followed, perhaps their power would not have been so easily
shaken. I have been assured, and heard him profess, that he was against
engaging in that foolish prosecution of Dr. Sacheverell, as what he
foresaw was likely to end in their ruin; that he blamed the rough
demeanour of some persons to the Queen, as a great failure in prudence;
and that, when it appeared Her Majesty was firmly resolved upon a treaty
of peace, he advised his friends not to oppose it in its progress, but
find fault with it after it was made; which would be a copy of the like
usage themselves had met with, after the treaty of Ryswick;[13] and the
safest, as well as the most probable, way of disgracing the promoters
and advisers. I have been the larger in representing to the reader some
idea of this extraordinary genius, because, whatever attempt hath
hitherto been made, with any appearance of conduct, or probability of
success, to restore the dominion of that party,[14] was infallibly
contrived by him; and I prophesy the same for the future, as long as his
age and infirmities will leave him capable of business.

[Footnote 13: See note in vol. v., p. 67, of present edition, [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: P. Fitzgerald says "faction." [W.S.J.]]

The Duke of Marlborough's character[15] hath been so variously drawn,
and is indeed of so mixed a nature in itself, that it is hard to
pronounce on either side, without the suspicion of flattery or
detraction. I shall say nothing of his military accomplishments, which
the opposite reports, of his friends and enemies among the soldiers,
have rendered[26] problematical: but if he be among those who delight in
war, it is agreed to be not for the reasons common with other generals.
Those maligners who deny him personal valour, seem not to consider that
this accusation is charged at a venture; since the person of a wise
general is too seldom exposed, to form any judgment in the matter: and
that fear, which is said to have sometimes[17] disconcerted him before
an action, might probably be more for his army than for himself.[18] He
was bred in the height of what is called the Tory principle; and
continued with a strong bias that way, till the other party had bid
higher for him than his friends could afford to give. His want of
literature is in some sort supplied by a good understanding, a degree of
natural elocution, and that knowledge of the world which is learned in
armies and courts. We are not to take the height of his ambition from
his soliciting to be general for life:[19] I am persuaded his chief
motive was the pay and perquisites, by continuing the war; and that he
had _then_ no intentions of settling the crown in his family, his only
son having been dead some years before.[20] He is noted to be master of
great temper, able to govern or very well to disguise his passions,
which are all melted down, or extinguished, in his love of wealth. That
liberality which nature has denied him, with respect of money, he makes
up by a great profusion of promises: but this perfection, so necessary
in courts, is not very successful in camps among soldiers, who are not
refined enough to understand or to relish it.[21]

[Footnote 15: For further remarks on Marlborough, see Swift's "Conduct
of the Allies," "The Learned Comment on Dr. Hare's Sermon," and "The
Examiner." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 16: P. Fitzgerald adds "altogether." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 17: P. Fitzgerald says "usually." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 18: This reflection on Marlborough's personal courage was one
of the points noted by Erasmus Lewis in his letter to Swift of April
8th, 1738. The friends who had met to read and pass opinion on this
"History" decided that in any printed form of this work it would be
advisable not to call in question the courage of Marlborough. See Sir W.
Scott's edition, vol. xix., pp. 133-136. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 19: See "Memoirs Relating to that Change," etc., in vol. v.,
pp. 372-373 of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 20: See "The Conduct of the Allies," vol. v., p. 103, and also
"A Learned Comment," etc., p. 179 of same volume of present edition.

[Footnote 21: See the Letter to Marcus Crassus in "The Examiner," No. 28
in vol. ix. of present edition. [T.S.]]

His wife, the Duchess, may justly challenge her place in this list. It
is to her the Duke is chiefly indebted for his greatness and his fall;
for above twenty years she possessed, without a rival, the favours of
the most indulgent mistress in the world, nor ever missed one single
opportunity that fell in her way of improving it to her own
advantage.[22] She hath preserved a tolerable court reputation, with
respect to love and gallantry;[23] but three Furies reigned in her
breast, the most mortal enemies of all softer passions, which were
sordid Avarice, disdainful Pride, and ungovernable Rage; by the last of
these often breaking out in sallies of the most unpardonable sort, she
had long alienated her sovereign's mind, before it appeared to the
world.[24] This lady is not without some degree of wit, and hath in her
time affected the character of it, by the usual method of arguing
against religion, and proving the doctrines of Christianity to be
impossible and absurd. Imagine what such a spirit, irritated by the loss
of power, favour, and employment, is capable of acting or attempting;
and then I have said enough.

[Footnote 22: See the "Account of the Conduct of the Duchess of
Marlborough, in a Letter from Herself, to Lord ----," 8vo, 1742,
_passim_. [N.] See also "Memoirs Relating to that Change," etc., in vol.
v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 23: P. Fitzgerald adds "(to which, however, she hath been
thought not entirely a stranger)." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 24: See note in vol. v., p. 368, of present edition. [T.S.]]

The next in order to be mentioned is the Earl of Godolphin.[25] It is
said, he was originally intended for a trade, before his friends
preferred him to be a page at court; which some have very unjustly
objected as a reproach. He hath risen gradually in four reigns, and was
much more constant to his second master King James than some others, who
had received much greater obligations; for he attended the abdicated
King to the sea-side, and kept constant correspondence with him till the
day of his death. He always professed a sort of passion for the Queen at
St. Germain's; and his letters were to her in the style of what the
French call _double entendre_. In a mixture of love and respect, he used
frequently to send her from hence little presents of those things which
are agreeable to ladies, for which he always asked King William's leave,
as if without her privity; because, if she had known that circumstance,
it was to be supposed she would not accept them. Physiognomists would
hardly discover, by consulting the aspect of this lord, that his
predominant passions were love and play; that he could sometimes scratch
out a song in praise of his mistress, with a pencil and card; or that he
hath tears at command, like a woman, to be used either in an intrigue of
gallantry or politics. His alliance with the Marlborough family, and his
passion for the Duchess, were the cords which dragged him into a party,
whose principles he naturally disliked, and whose leaders he personally
hated, as they did him. He became a thorough convert by a perfect
trifle; taking fire at a nickname[26] delivered by Dr. Sacheverell, with
great indiscretion, from the pulpit, which he applied to himself: and
this is one among many instances given by his enemies, that magnanimity
is none of his virtues.

[Footnote 25: See note in vol. v., p. 68, of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 26: Volpone. [ORIGINAL NOTE.]]

The Earl of Sunderland[27] is another of that alliance. It seems to have
been this gentleman's fortune, to have learned his divinity from his
uncle,[28] and his politics from his tutor.[29] It may be thought a
blemish in his character, that he hath much fallen from the height of
those republican[30] principles with which he began; for in his father's
lifetime, while he was a Member of the House of Commons, he would often,
among his familiar friends, refuse the title of Lord (as he hath done to
myself), swear he would never be called otherwise than Charles Spencer,
and hoped to see the day when there should not be a peer in England. His
understanding, at the best, is of the middling size; neither hath he
much improved it, either in reality, or, which is very unfortunate, even
in the opinion of the world, by an overgrown library.[31] It is hard to
decide, whether he learned that rough way of treating his sovereign from
the lady he is allied to,[32] or whether it be the result of his own
nature. The sense of the injuries he hath done, renders him (as it is
very natural) implacable towards those to whom he hath given greatest
cause to complain; for which reason he will never forgive either the
Queen or the present treasurer.

[Footnote 27: See note in vol. v., pp. 377-378 of present edition.

[Footnote 28: John Digby, third earl of Bristol. [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 29: Dr. Trimnel, since Bishop of Winton. [ORIGINAL NOTE.] He
was Bishop of Norwich, 1708-1721, and of Winchester from 1721 till his
death in 1723. [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 30: P. Fitzgerald says "Whiggish." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 31: The library that made such a sensation in the
bibliographical world when it was sold at auction in the latter part of
the last century. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 32: His lordship married the Duchess of Marlborough's second
daughter. "Account, etc.," p. 286. [N.]]

The Earl of Wharton[33] hath filled the province allotted him by his
colleagues, with sufficiency equal to the ablest of them all. He hath
imbibed his father's[34] principles in government; but dropped his
religion, and took up no other in its stead: excepting that
circumstance, he is a firm Presbyterian. He is perfectly skilled in all
the arts of managing at elections, as well as in large baits of pleasure
for making converts of young men of quality, upon their first
appearance; in which public service he contracted such large debts, that
his brethren were forced, out of mere justice, to leave Ireland at his
mercy, where he had only time to set himself right. Although the graver
heads of his party think him too profligate and abandoned, yet they dare
not be ashamed of him; for, beside his talents above mentioned, he is
very useful in Parliament, being a ready speaker, and content to employ
his gift upon such occasions, where those who conceive they have any
remainder of reputation or modesty are ashamed to appear. In short, he
is an uncontestable instance to discover the true nature of faction;
since, being overrun with every quality which produceth contempt and
hatred, in all other commerce of the world, he hath, notwithstanding,
been able to make so considerable a figure.

[Footnote 33: See also "A Short Character," etc. in vol. v. and "The
Examiner," Nos. 18 and 23, in vol. ix. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 34: The Earl, his father, was a rigid Presbyterian. [ORIGINAL

The Lord Cowper,[35] although his merits are later than the rest,
deserveth a rank in this great council. He was considerable in the
station of a practising lawyer; but, as he was raised to be a
chancellor, and a peer, without passing through any of the intermediate
steps, which in late times hath been the constant practice, and little
skilled[36] in the nature of government, or the true interests of
princes, further than the municipal or common law of England; his
abilities, as to foreign affairs, did not equally appear in the council.
Some former passages of his life were thought to disqualify him for that
office, by which he was to be the guardian of the Queen's
conscience;[37] but these difficulties were easily overruled by the
authors of his promotion, who wanted a person that would be subservient
to all their designs; wherein they were not disappointed. As to his
other accomplishments, he was what we usually call a piece of a scholar,
and a good logical reasoner; if this were not too often allayed, by a
fallacious way of managing an argument, which made him apt to deceive
the unwary, and sometimes to deceive himself.

[Footnote 35: See vol. v., p. 372 of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 36: P. Fitzgerald says "altogether unskilled." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 37: See "The Examiner," Nos. 18 and 23, in vol. ix. of this
edition. [W.S.J.]]

The last to be spoken of in this list is the Earl of Nottingham,[38] a
convert and acquisition to that party since their fall, to which he
contributed his assistance; I mean his words, and probably his wishes;
for he had always lived under the constant visible profession of
principles, directly opposite to those of his new friends. His vehement
and frequent speeches against admitting the Prince of Orange to the
throne are yet to be seen; and although a numerous family gave a
specious pretence to his love of power and money, for taking an
employment under that monarch, yet he was allowed to have always kept a
reserve of allegiance to his exiled master; of which his friends produce
several instances, and some while he was secretary of state to King
William. His outward regularity of life, his appearance of religion, and
seeming zeal for the Church, as they are an effect, so they are the
excuse for that stiffness and formality with which his nature[39] is
fraught. His adust complexion disposeth him to rigour[40] and severity,
which his admirers palliate with the name of zeal. No man had ever a
sincerer countenance, or more truly representing his mind and manners.
He hath some knowledge in the law, very amply sufficient to defend his
property at least.[41] A facility of utterance, descended to him from
his father,[42] and improved by a few sprinklings of literature, hath
brought himself, and some few admirers, into an opinion of his
eloquence. He is every way inferior to his brother Guernsey,[43] but
chiefly in those talents which he most values and pretends to; over
whom, nevertheless, he preserveth an ascendant.[44] His great ambition
was to be the head of those who were called the Church party; and,
indeed, his grave solemn deportment and countenance, seconded by
abundance of professions for their service, had given many of them an
opinion of his veracity,[45] which he interpreted as their sense of his
judgment and wisdom;[46] and this mistake lasted till the time of his
defection, of which it was partly the cause; but then it plainly
appeared, that he had not credit to bring over one single proselyte, to
keep himself in countenance.

[Footnote 38: See notes in vol. v., pp. 246-248 of present edition.

[Footnote 39: P. Fitzgerald says "that stiffness, pride, and formality
with which his intractable nature." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 40: P. Fitzgerald says "to cruelty." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote: 41 P. Fitzgerald says "some smattering in the law, which
makes it not very safe or easy to deal with him, where property is
concerned." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 42: P. Fitzgerald adds "grafted upon a wrong understanding."

[Footnote 43: Heneage Finch was created Lord Guernsey in 1703, and Earl
of Aylesford in 1714. He died in 1719. [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 44: P. Fitzgerald adds "I suppose by the right of
primogeniture." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 45: P. Fitzgerald says "of his honesty." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 46: He acquired, from his solemnity of deportment, the
nickname of _Diego_ and from his gravity, that of _Dismal_. [S.]]

These lineaments, however imperfectly drawn, may help the reader's
imagination to conceive what sort of persons those were, who had the
boldness to encounter the Queen and ministry, at the head of a great
majority of the landed interest; and this upon a point where the quiet
of Her Majesty's reign, the security, or at least the freedom, of her
person, the lives of her most faithful friends, and the settling of the
nation by a peace, were, in the consequences, deeply concerned.[47]

[Footnote 47: It was these "lineaments, imperfectly drawn," that Erasmus
Lewis specially emphasized for omission, in his letter to Swift already
referred to. "Now I have mentioned characters," wrote Lewis, "I must
tell you that they [the friends who had met to read the 'History' in
manuscript] were clearly of opinion, that if those you have drawn should
be published as they now stand, nothing could save the author's printer
and publishers from some grievous punishment. As we have no traces of
liberty now left but the freedom of the press, it is the most earnest
desire of your friends that you would strike out all that you have said
on that subject" (Sir W. Scott's edit., vol. xix., pp. 133-136). [T.S.]]

During the dominion of the late men in power, addresses had been
procured from both Houses to the Queen, representing their opinion, that
no peace could be secure for Britain, while Spain or the West Indies
remained in the possession of the Bourbon family. But Her Majesty
having, for reasons which have been often told to the world, and which
will not soon be forgotten, called a new Parliament, and chose a new set
of servants, began to view things and persons in another light. She
considered the necessities of her people, the distant prospect of a
peace upon such an improbable condition, which was never mentioned or
understood in the grand alliance; the unequal burthen she bore in the
war, by the practices of the allies upon the corruption of some whom she
most trusted, or perhaps by the practices of these upon the allies; and,
lastly, by the changes which death had brought about in the Austrian and
Bourbon families. Upon all which motives she was prevailed upon to
receive some overtures from France, in behalf of herself and the whole
confederacy. The several steps of this negotiation, from its first rise
to the time I am now writing, shall be related in another part of this
History. Let it suffice for the present to say, that such proposals were
received from France as were thought sufficient by our court whereupon
to appoint time and place for a general treaty; and soon after the
opening of the session, the Bishop[48] of Bristol, lord privy seal, was
dispatched to Utrecht, where he and the Earl of Strafford were appointed
plenipotentiaries for the Queen of Great Britain.

[Footnote 48: Dr. Robinson, afterwards Bishop of London. [ORIGINAL

The managers of the discontented party, who, during the whole summer,
had observed the motions of the court running fast towards a peace,
began to gather up all their forces, in order to oppose Her Majesty's
designs, when the Parliament should meet. Their only strength was in the
House of Lords, where the Queen had a very crazy majority, made up by
those whose hearts were in the other interest; but whose fears,
expectations, or immediate dependence, had hitherto kept them within
bounds. There were two lords upon whose abilities and influence, of a
very different nature, the managers built their strongest hopes. The
first was the Duke of Somerset, master of the horse. This duke, as well
as his duchess, was in a good degree of favour with the Queen, upon the
score of some civilities and respects Her Majesty had received from
them, while she was princess.[49] For some years after the Revolution,
he never appeared at court, but was looked upon as a favourer of the
abdicated family; and it was the late Earl of Rochester who first
presented him to King William. However, since the time he came into
employment, which was towards the close of the last reign, he hath been
a constant zealous member of the other party; but never failed in either
attendance or respect towards the Queen's person, or, at most, only
threatened sometimes, that he would serve no longer, while such or such
men were employed; which, as things went then, was not reckoned any
offence at all against duty or good behaviour. He had been much caressed
and flattered by the Lords of the Junto,[50] who sometimes went so far
as to give him hopes of the crown, in reversion to his family, upon
failure of the house of Hanover. All this worked so far upon his
imagination, that he affected to appear the head of their party, to
which his talents were no way proportioned; for they soon grew weary of
his indigested schemes, and his imperious manner of obtruding them: they
began to drop him at their meetings, or contradicted him, with little
ceremony, when he happened to be there, which his haughty nature[51] was
not able to brook. Thus a mortal quarrel was kindled between him and the
whole assembly of party leaders; so that, upon the Queen's first
intentions of changing her ministry, soon after the trial of Dr.
Sacheverell, he appointed several meetings with Mr. Harley alone, in the
most private manner, in places and at times least liable to suspicion.
He employed all his credit with the Queen to drive on the removal of my
Lord Godolphin, and the rest; and, in the council, treated the small
remainder, who continued some time longer in their places, with all
possible marks of hatred or disdain. But when the question came for
dissolving the Parliament, he stopped short: he had already satiated his
resentments, which were not against things, but persons: he furiously
opposed that counsel, and promised to undertake for the Parliament
himself. When the Queen had declared her pleasure for the dissolution,
he flew off in greater rage than ever; opposed the court in all
elections, where he had influence or power; and made very humble[52]
advances to reconcile himself with the discarded lords, especially the
Earl of Godolphin, who is reported to have treated him at Newmarket in a
most contemptuous manner. But the sincerity of his repentance, which
appeared manifestly in the first session of the new Parliament, and the
use he might be of by his own remaining credit, or rather that of his
duchess, with the Queen, at length begat a reconcilement. He still kept
his employment, and place in the cabinet council; but had never appeared
there, from an avowed dislike of all persons and proceedings. It
happened about the end of summer, one thousand seven hundred and eleven,
at Windsor, when the cabinet council was summoned, this duke, whether by
directions from his teachers, or the instability of his nature, took a
fancy to resume his place, and a chair was brought accordingly; upon
which Mr. Secretary St. John refused to assist, and gave his reasons,
that he would never sit in council with a man who had so often betrayed
them, and was openly engaged with a faction which endeavoured to
obstruct all Her Majesty's measures. Thus the council was put off to
next day, and the duke made no farther attempts to be there.[53] But,
upon this incident, he declared open war against the ministry; and, from
that time to the session, employed himself in spiriting up several
depending lords to adhere to their friends, when an occasion should
offer. The arguments he made use of, were, that those in power designed
to make an ignominious and insecure peace, without consulting the
allies; that this could be no otherwise prevented than by an address
from the Lords, to signify their opinion, that no peace could be
honourable or secure, while Spain or the West Indies remained in any of
the Bourbon family:[54] upon which several farther resolutions and
inquiries would naturally follow; that the differences between the two
Houses, upon this point, must either be made up by the Commons agreeing
with the Lords, or must end in a dissolution, which would be followed by
a return of the old ministry, who, by the force of money and management,
could easily get another Parliament to their wishes. He farther assured
them boldly, that the Queen herself was at the bottom of this design,
and had empowered him to desire their votes against the peace, as a
point that would be for her service; and therefore they need not be in
pain upon account of their pensions, or any farther marks of favour they
expected. Thus, by reviving the old art of using Her Majesty's authority
against her person, he prevailed over some, who were not otherwise in a
station of life to oppose the crown; and his proselytes may pretend to
some share of pity, since he offered for an argument his own example,
who kept his place and favour, after all he had done to deserve the loss
of both.

[Footnote 49: In 1692, on a difference which the princess had with King
William and his Queen, occasioned by her warm attachment to the Duchess
of Marlborough, she quitted The Cockpit, and accepted the Duke of
Somerset's offer of Sion House for a temporary residence. [N.]]

[Footnote 50: A cant name given to five lords of that party. [ORIGINAL

[Footnote 51: P. Fitzgerald says "the pride of his nature." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 52: P. Fitzgerald says "the meanest." [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 53: "I had almost forgot to tell you," writes Lewis to Swift
in the same letter, "you have mistaken the case of the D---- of S----,
which, in truth, was this, that his grace appearing at court, in the
chamber next to the council chamber, it was apprehended he would come
into the cabinet council, and therefore the intended meeting was put
off; whereas one would judge, by your manner of stating it, that the
council had met, and adjourned abruptly upon his taking his place
there." Sir W. Scott's edit. vol. xix., pp. 133-136. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 54: It was Nottingham who moved this argument in the form of
an amendment to the address on 7th December, 1711. See _infra_, and also
vol. v., p. 444 of present edition. [T.S.]]

The other lord, in whom the discontented managers placed much of their
hopes, was the Earl of Nottingham, already mentioned; than whom no man
ever appeared to hate them more, or to be more pleased at their fall,
partly from his avowed principles, but chiefly from the hopes he had of
sharing in their spoils. But it fell out, that he was no way acceptable
to the Queen or her new servants: these apprehended no little trouble
and impediment to the public business, from his restless, talkative,
overweening manner, if once he was suffered to have any part in affairs;
and he stood very ill with the court, having made a motion in the House
of Lords, and in Her Majesty's presence, that the Electoral Prince of
Hanover might be invited to reside in England, although he had before
declared to the Queen how much he was against that proposal, when it was
first offered by the other party. However, some very considerable
employments had been given to his nearest relations, and he had one or
two offers for himself, which he thought fit to refuse, as not equal to
his merits and character. Upon the Earl of Rochester's decease, he
conceived that the crown would hardly overlook him for president of the
council, and deeply resented that disappointment. But the Duke of
Newcastle, lord privy seal, dying some time after, he found that office
was first designed for the Earl of Jersey, and, upon this lord's sudden
death, was actually disposed of to the Bishop of Bristol by which he
plainly saw, that the Queen was determined against giving him any
opportunity of directing in affairs, or displaying his eloquence in the
cabinet council. He had now shaken off all remains of patience or
temper, and, from the contemplation of his own disappointments, fell, as
it is natural, to find fault with the public management, and to assure
his neighbours in the country, that the nation was in imminent danger of
being ruined. The discontented[55] lords were soon apprised of this
great change, and the Duke of Roxburgh,[56] the earl's son-in-law, was
dispatched to Burleigh on the Hill, to cultivate his present
dispositions, and offer him whatever terms he pleased to insist on. The
Earl immediately agreed to fall in with any measures for distressing or
destroying the ministry but, in order to preserve his reputation with
the Church party, and perhaps bring them over to his interests, he
proposed, that a bill should be brought into the House of Lords for
preventing occasional conformity, and be unanimously agreed to by all
the peers of the low-church[57] principle, which would convince the

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