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  • 1898
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world of their good intentions to the established religion,[58] and that their oppositions to the court wholly proceeded from their care of the nation, and concern for its honour and safety.[59]

[Footnote 55: P. Fitzgerald says “factious.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 56: John Ker, Earl of Roxburgh, was created Earl of Kelso, Marquess of Cessford and Beaumont, and Duke of Roxburgh in 1707. [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 57: P. Fitzgerald says “Whig.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 58: P. Fitzgerald says “established Church.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 59: Nottingham succeeded in carrying the bill against Occasional Conformity on December 15th, 1711. See Swift’s “Letter to a Whig Lord,” in vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

These preparations were public enough, and the ministers had sufficient time to arm themselves; but they seem to have acted, in this juncture, like men who trusted to the goodness of their cause, and the general inclinations of the kingdom, rather than to those arts which our corruptions have too often made necessary. Calculations were indeed taken, by which it was computed, that there would be a majority of ten upon the side of the court. I remember to have told my Lord Harcourt and Mr. Prior, that a majority of ten was only a majority of five, because if their adversaries could bring off five, the number would be equal: and so it happened to prove; for the mistake lay in counting upon the bare promises of those who were wholly in the interest of the old ministry, and were only kept in awe by the fear of offending the crown, and losing their subsistence, wherein the Duke of Somerset had given them full satisfaction.

With these dispositions of both parties, and fears and hopes of the event, the Parliament met upon the seventh of December, one thousand seven hundred and eleven. The Queen’s speech (excepting what related to supplies) was chiefly taken up in telling both Houses what progress she had made towards a general peace, and her hopes of bringing it to a speedy conclusion. As soon as Her Majesty was withdrawn, the House of Lords, in a committee, resolved upon an address of thanks; to which the Earl of Nottingham proposed an addition of the following clause.

“And we do beg leave to represent it to Your Majesty, as the humble opinion and advice of this House, that no peace can be safe or honourable to Great Britain and Europe, if Spain and the West Indies are to be allotted to any branch of the house of Bourbon.”

He was seconded by the Earl of Scarborough; and, after a debate of several hours, the question for the clause was carried, as I remember, by not above two voices.[60] The next day the House agreed with the committee. The depending lords, having taken fresh courage from their principals, and some who professed themselves very humble servants to the present ministry, and enemies to the former, went along with the stream, pretending not to see the consequences that must visibly follow. The address was presented on the eleventh, to which Her Majesty’s answer was short and dry. She distinguished their thanks from the rest of the piece; and, in return to Lord Nottingham’s clause, said, She should be sorry that any body could think she would not do her utmost to recover Spain and the West Indies from the house of Bourbon.

[Footnote 60: The previous question in favour of the Earl of Nottingham’s amendment was carried by a single vote, the main question by a majority of no less than eight! [S.] But Bishop Burnet says “by three voices” (“Hist. Own Time,” ii. 584), and Coxe says “by a majority of 64 to 52.” [W.S.J.]]

Upon the fifteenth of December the Earl of Nottingham likewise brought in the bill to prevent occasional conformity (although under a disguised title), which met with no opposition; but was swallowed by those very lords, who always appeared with the utmost violence against the least advantage to the established Church.

But in the House of Commons there appeared a very different spirit; for when one Mr. Robert Walpole offered a clause of the same nature with that of the Earl of Nottingham, it was rejected with contempt by a very great majority. Their address was in the most dutiful manner, approving of what Her Majesty had done towards a peace, and trusting entirely to her wisdom in the future management of it. This address was presented to the Queen a day before that of the Lords, and received an answer distinguishedly gracious. But the other party[61] was no ways discouraged by either answer, which they looked upon as only matter of course, and the sense of the ministry, contrary to that of the Queen.

[Footnote 61: P. Fitzgerald says “faction.” [W.S.J.]]

The Parliament sat as long as the approaching festival would allow; and upon the twenty-second, the land-tax and occasional bills having received the royal assent, the House of Commons adjourned to the fourteenth of January following: but the adjournment of the Lords was only to the second, the prevailing party there being in haste to pursue the consequences of the Earl of Nottingham’s clause, which they hoped would end in the ruin of the treasurer, and overthrow the ministry; and therefore took the advantage of this interval, that they might not be disturbed by the Commons.

When this address against any peace without Spain, &c. was carried in the House of Lords, it is not easy to describe the effects it had upon most men’s passions. The partisans of the old ministry triumphed loudly, and without any reserve, as if the game were their own. The Earl of Wharton was observed in the House to smile, and put his hands to his neck when any of the ministry was speaking, by which he would have it understood that some heads were in danger. Parker, the chief justice, began already with great zeal and officiousness to prosecute authors and printers of weekly and other papers, writ in defence of the administration: in short, joy and vengeance sat visible in every countenance of that party.[62]

[Footnote 62: See “Journal to Stella,” December 13th (vol. ii., p. 299 of present edition). [W.S.J.]]

On the other side, all well-wishers to the Queen, the Church, or the peace, were equally dejected; and the treasurer stood the foremost mark both of his enemies’ fury, and the censure of his friends: among the latter, some imputed this fatal miscarriage to his procrastinating nature; others, to his unmeasurable public thrift: both parties agreed, that a first minister, with very moderate skill in affairs, might easily have governed the event: and some began to doubt, whether the great fame of his abilities, acquired in other stations, were what he justly deserved: all this he knew well enough, and heard it with great phlegm; neither did it make any alteration in his countenance or humour. He told Monsieur Buys, the Dutch envoy, two days before the Parliament sat, that he was sorry for what was like to pass, because the States would be the first sufferers, which he desired the envoy to remember: and to his nearest friends, who appeared in pain about the public or themselves, he only said that all would be well, and desired them not to be frighted.[63]

[Footnote 63: See Swift’s account of an interview with the lord treasurer in his “Journal to Stella,” December 8th (_ibid.,_ p. 296). [W.S.J.]]

It was, I conceive, upon these motives, that the treasurer advised Her Majesty to create twelve new lords,[64] and thereby disable the sting of faction for the rest of her lifetime: this promotion was so ordered, that a third part were of those on whom, or their posterity, the peerage would naturally devolve; and the rest were such, whose merit, birth, and fortune, could admit of no exception.

[Footnote 64: See note, vol. ii., p. 308, and note, vol. v., p. 446. [W.S.J.]]

The adverse party, being thus driven down by open force, had nothing left but to complain, which they loudly did; that it was a pernicious[65] example set for ill princes to follow, who, by the same rule, might make at any time an hundred as well as twelve, and by these means become masters of the House of Lords whenever they pleased, which would be dangerous to our liberties. To this it was answered, that ill princes seldom trouble themselves to look for precedents; that men of great estates will not be less fond of preserving their liberties when they are created peers; that in such a government as this, where the Prince holds the balance between two great powers, the nobility and people, it is the very nature of his office to remove from one scale into the other, or sometimes put his own weight in the lightest, so as to bring both to an equilibrium; and lastly, that the other party had been above twenty years corrupting the nobility with republican principles, which nothing but the royal prerogative could hinder from overspreading us.

[Footnote 65: P. Fitzgerald says “dangerous.” [W.S.J.]]

The conformity bill above mentioned was prepared by the Earl of Nottingham before the Parliament met, and brought in at the same time with the clause against peace, according to the bargain made between him and his new friends: this he hoped would not only save his credit with the Church party, but bring them over to his politics, since they must needs be convinced, that instead of changing his own principles, he had prevailed on the greatest enemies to the established religion to be the first movers in a law for the perpetual settlement of it. Here it was worth observing, with what resignation the Junto Lords (as they were then called) were submitted to by their adherents and followers; for it is well known, that the chief among the dissenting teachers in town were consulted upon this affair, and such arguments used, as had power to convince them, that nothing could be of greater advantage to their cause than the passing this bill. I did, indeed, see a letter at that time from one of them to a great[66] man, complaining, that they were betrayed and undone by their pretended friends; but they were in general very well satisfied upon promises that this law should soon be repealed, and others more in their favour enacted, as soon as their friends should be re-established.

[Footnote 66: It was to the Treasurer himself. [ORIGINAL NOTE.] Scott says that it was written by Mr. Shower on December 20th, and that the writer complained that the Dissenters had “been shamefully abandoned, sold, and sacrificed, by their professed friends.” [W.S.J.]]

But nothing seemed more extraordinary than the event of this refined management, by which the Earl of Nottingham was so far from bringing over proselytes (wherein his abilities fell very short even of the Duke of Somerset’s); or preserving the reputation of a firm churchman, that very few people did so much as imagine he had any such design; only when he brought in the bill, they conceived it was some wonderful deep reach of politics, which they could not comprehend: however, they liked the thing, and without troubling themselves about the persons or motives from whence it rose, it had a very speedy passage through both Houses. It must be confessed, that some attempt of this nature was much more necessary to the leaders of that party, than is generally thought. The desire of power and revenge was common to them all; but several among them were also conscious that they stood in need of protection, whose safety was therefore concerned in the design of ruining the ministry, as well as their ambition. The Duke of Marlborough foresaw those examinations, which were afterwards made into some parts of his management, and was apprehensive of a great deal more; that the Parliament would perhaps enquire into the particulars of the negotiation at The Hague in one thousand seven hundred and nine; for what ends, and by whose advice the propositions of peace from France were rejected: besides, he dreaded lest that mysterious policy might be laid open to the world, of desiring the Queen to constitute him general for life, which was a very tender point, and would admit of much proof. It is true, indeed, that whilst the Duke’s affair was under the consideration of the House of Commons, one of his creatures[67] (whether by direction or otherwise) assured the Speaker, with a very serious countenance, that the world was mistaken in censuring his lord upon this article; for it was the Queen who pressed the Duke to accept that commission; and upon his humble refusal conceived her first displeasure against him. How such a defence would have passed, if it had been offered in form, is easier to be conceived, than how any person in his wits could have the confidence to affirm it; which last it would indeed be hard to believe, if there were any room left for doubt.

[Footnote 67: Craggs, father to the secretary. [ORIGINAL NOTE.]]

The Earl of Godolphin wanted protection, notwithstanding the act of general pardon, which had been procured by his credit, and was principally calculated for his own security. He knew that his long neglect of compelling the accomptants to pass their accompts, might be punished as a breach of trust. He had run the kingdom into immense debts, by taking up stores for the navy upon a vast discount, without parliamentary security; for which he could be able to plead neither law nor necessity: and he had given way, at least, to some proceedings, not very justifiable, in relation to remittances of money, whereby the public had suffered considerable losses. The Barrier Treaty sat heavy upon the Lord Townshend’s spirits, because if it should be laid before the House of Commons, whoever negotiated that affair, might be subject to the most severe animadversions: and the Earl of Wharton’s administration in Ireland was looked upon as a sufficient ground to impeach him, at least, for high crimes and misdemeanours.

The managers in Holland were sufficiently apprised of all this; and Monsieur Buys, their minister here, took care to cultivate that good correspondence between his masters and their English friends, which became two confederates, pursuing the same end.

This man[68] had been formerly employed in England from that republic, and understood a little of our language. His proficiency in learning has been such, as to furnish now and then a Latin quotation, of which he is as liberal as his stock will admit. His knowledge in government reaches no farther than that of his own country, by which he forms and cultivates matters of state for the rest of the world. His reasonings upon politics are with great profusion at all meetings; and he leaves the company with entire satisfaction that he hath fully convinced them. He is well provided with that inferior sort of cunning, which is the growth of his country, of a standard with the genius of the people, and capable of being transferred into every condition of life among them, from the boor to the burgomaster. He came into England with instructions, authorizing him to accommodate all differences between Her Majesty and the States; but having first advised with the confederate lords, he assured the ministry he had powers to hear their proposals, but none to conclude: and having represented to his masters what had been told him by the adverse party, he prevailed with them to revoke his powers. He found the interest of those who withstood the court, would exactly fall in with the designs of the States, which were to carry on the war as they could, at our expense, and to see themselves at the head of a treaty of peace, whenever they were disposed to apply to France, or to receive overtures from thence.[69]

[Footnote 68: P. Fitzgerald says “gentleman.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 69: Erasmus Lewis, in the letter already cited, refers to Buys, and gives the opinion of the gentlemen who had read the “History,” on this matter, as follows: “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.” And yet the facts as related by Swift in this and the last book of this “History” are substantially the facts as disclosed in Bolingbroke’s Political Correspondence. [T.S.]]

The Emperor, upon many powerful reasons, was utterly averse from all counsels which aimed at putting an end to the war, without delivering him the whole dominion of Spain; nay, the Elector of Hanover himself, although presumptive heir to the crown of England, and obliged by all sorts of ties to cultivate Her Majesty’s friendship, was so far deceived by misrepresentations from hence, that he seemed to suffer Monsieur Bothmar, his envoy here, to print and publish a Memorial in English, directly disapproving all Her Majesty’s proceedings; which Memorial, as appeareth by the style and manner of it, was all drawn up, or at least digested, by some party pen on this side of the water.[70]

[Footnote 70: See Swift’s “Some Free Thoughts upon the Present State of Affairs,” and the note on p. 410 of vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

Cautious writers, in order to avoid offence or danger, and to preserve the respect even[71] due to foreign princes, do usually charge the wrong steps in a court altogether upon the persons employed; but I should have taken a securer method, and have been wholly silent in this point, if I had not then conceived some hope, that his Electoral Highness might possibly have been a stranger[72] to the Memorial of his resident: for, first, the manner of delivering it to the secretary of state was out of all form, and almost as extraordinary as the thing itself. Monsieur Bothmar having obtained an hour of Mr. Secretary St. John, talked much to him upon the subject of which that Memorial consists; and upon going away, desired he might leave a paper with the secretary, which he said contained the substance of what he had been discoursing. This paper Mr. St. John laid aside, among others of little consequence; and a few days[73] saw a Memorial in print,[74] which he found upon comparing to be the same with what Bothmar had left.

[Footnote 71: Edition of 1775 has “ever due.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 72: P. Fitzgerald says “If I had not very good reason to believe that his Electoral Highness was altogether a stranger.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 73: Edition of 1775 has “a few days after.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 74: This was published as a broadside, with the title: “The Elector of Hanover’s Memorial to the Queen of Great-Britain, relating to the Peace with France.” It was dated 28th of Nov/9th of Dec., 1711. [W.S.J.]]

During this short recess of Parliament, and upon the fifth day of January, Prince Eugene, of Savoy, landed in England. Before he left his ship he asked a person who came to meet him, whether the new lords were made, and what was their number? He was attended through the streets with a mighty rabble of people to St. James’s, where Mr. Secretary St. John introduced him to the Queen, who received him with great civility. His arrival had been long expected, and the project of his journey had as long been formed here by the party leaders, in concert with Monsieur Buys, and Monsieur Bothmar, the Dutch and Hanover envoys. This prince brought over credentials from the Emperor, with offers to continue the war upon a new foot, very advantageous to Britain; part of which, by Her Majesty’s commands, Mr. St. John soon after produced to the House of Commons; where they were rejected, not without some indignation, by a great majority. The Emperor’s proposals, as far as they related to Spain, were communicated to the House in the words following.

“His Imperial Majesty judges, that forty thousand men will be sufficient for this service, and that the whole expense of the war in Spain, may amount to four millions of crowns, towards which His Imperial Majesty offers to make up the troops, which he has in that country, to thirty thousand men, and to take one million of crowns upon himself”.

On the other side the House of Commons voted a third part of those four millions as a sufficient quota for Her Majesty toward that service, for it was supposed the Emperor ought to bear the greatest proportion in a point that so nearly concerned him, or at least, that Britain contributing one third, the other two might be paid by his Imperial Majesty and the States, as they could settle it between them.

The design of Prince Eugene’s journey, was to raise a spirit in the Parliament and people for continuing the war, for nothing was thought impossible to a prince of such high reputation in arms, in great favour with the Emperor, and empowered to make such proposals from his master, as the ministry durst not reject. It appeared by an intercepted letter from Count Gallas, (formerly the Emperor’s envoy here) that the prince was wholly left to his liberty of making what offers he pleased in the Emperor’s name, for if the Parliament could once be brought to raise funds, and the war go on, the ministry here must be under a necessity of applying and expending those funds, and the Emperor could afterwards find twenty reasons and excuses, as he had hitherto done, for not furnishing his quota; therefore Prince Eugene, for some time, kept himself within generals, until being pressed to explain himself upon that particular of the war in Spain, which the house of Austria pretended to have most at heart, he made the offer above mentioned, as a most extraordinary effort, and so it was, considering how little they had ever done before, towards recovering that monarchy to themselves; but shameful as these proposals were, few believed the Emperor would observe them, or, indeed, that he ever intended to spare so many men, as would make up an army of thirty thousand men, to be employed in Spain.

Prince Eugene’s visit to his friends in England continued longer than was expected; he was every day entertained magnificently by persons of quality of both parties; he went frequently to the treasurer, and sometimes affected to do it in private; he visited the other ministers and great officers of the court, but on all occasions publicly owned the character and appellation of a Whig; and in secret, held continual meetings with the Duke of Marlborough, and the other discontented lords, where M. Bothmar usually assisted. It is the great ambition of this prince to be perpetually engaged in war, without considering the cause or consequence; and to see himself at the head of an army, where only he can make any considerable figure. He is not without a natural tincture of that cruelty, sometimes charged upon the Italians; and being nursed in arms, hath so far extinguished pity and remorse, that he will at any time sacrifice a thousand men’s lives, to a caprice of glory or revenge. He had conceived an incurable hatred for the treasurer, as the person who principally opposed this insatiable passion for war; said he had hopes of others, but that the treasurer was _un mechant diable_, not to be moved; therefore, since it was impossible for him or his friends to compass their designs, while that minister continued at the head of affairs, he proposed an expedient, often practised by those of his country, that the treasurer (to use his own expression) should be taken off, _a la negligence_; that this might easily be done, and pass for an effect of chance, if it were preceded by encouraging some proper people to commit small riots in the night: and in several parts of the town, a crew of obscure ruffians were accordingly employed about that time, who probably exceeded their commission; and mixing themselves with those disorderly people that often infest the streets at midnight, acted inhuman outrages on many persons, whom they cut and mangled in the face and arms, and other parts of the body, without any provocation; but an effectual stop was soon put to these enormities, which probably prevented the execution of the main design.[75]

[Footnote 75: Erasmus Lewis, Lord Oxford, and the others who read the MS., advised the elimination of this insinuation against Prince Eugene. They thought there was truth in it, but “a matter of so high a nature,” as Lewis expressed it to Swift, “ought not to be asserted without exhibiting the proofs.” The paragraph following the one in the text, containing the imputation, seems as if it had been written after Swift had received Lewis’s strictures. [T.S.]]

I am very sensible, that such an imputation ought not to be charged upon any person whatsoever, upon slight grounds or doubtful surmises; and that those who think I am able to produce no better, will judge this passage to be fitter for a libel than a history; but as the account was given by more than one person who was at the meeting, so it was confirmed past all contradiction by several intercepted letters and papers: and it is most certain, that the rage of the defeated party, upon their frequent disappointments, was so far inflamed, as to make them capable of some counsels yet more violent and desperate than this, which, however, by the vigilance of those near the person of Her Majesty, were happily prevented.

On the thirtieth day of December, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, the Duke of Marlborough was removed from all his employments: the Duke of Ormonde succeeding him as general, both here and in Flanders. This proceeding of the court (as far as it related to the Duke of Marlborough) was much censured both at home and abroad, and by some who did not wish ill to the present situation of affairs. There were few examples of a commander being disgraced, after an uninterrupted course of success for many years against a formidable enemy, and this before a period was put to the war: those who had least esteem for his valour and conduct, thought it not prudent to remove a general, whose troops were perpetually victorious, while he was at their head; because this had infused into his soldiers an opinion that they should always conquer, and into the enemy that they should always be beaten; than which, nothing is to be held of greater moment, either in the progress of a war, or upon the day of battle; and I have good grounds to affirm, that these reasons had sufficient weight with the Queen and ministry to have kept the Duke of Marlborough in his post, if a way could have been found out to have done it with any assurance of safety to the nation. It is the misfortune of princes, that the effects of their displeasure make usually much more noise than the causes: thus, the sound of the Duke’s fall was heard farther than many of the reasons which made it necessary; whereof, though some were visible enough, yet others lay more in the dark. Upon the Duke’s last return from Flanders, he had fixed his arrival to town (whether by accident or otherwise) upon the seventeenth of November, called Queen Elizabeth’s day, when great numbers of his creatures and admirers had thought fit to revive an old ceremony among the rabble, of burning the Pope in effigy; for the performance of which, with more solemnity, they had made extraordinary preparations.[76] From the several circumstances of the expense of this intended pageantry, and of the persons who promoted it, the court, apprehensive of a design to inflame the common people, thought fit to order, that the several figures should be seized as popish trinkets; and guards were ordered to patrol, for preventing any tumultuous assemblies. Whether this frolic were only intended for an affront to the court, or whether it had a deeper meaning, I must leave undetermined. The Duke, in his own nature, is not much turned to be popular; and in his flourishing times, whenever he came back to England upon the close of a campaign, he rather affected to avoid any concourse of the _mobile_, if they had been disposed to attend him; therefore, so very contrary a proceeding at this juncture, made it suspected as if he had a design to have placed himself at their head. “France,” “Popery,” “The Pretender,” “Peace without Spain,” were the words to be given about at this mock parade; and if what was confidently asserted be true, that a report was to have been spread at the same time of the Queen’s death, no man can tell what might have been the event.

[Footnote 76: See Swift’s “Journal to Stella,” Letter xxxv. (vol. ii., pp. 283-84), and “A True Relation of the Intended Riot,” printed in Scott’s edition, vol. v., pp. 399-413. [W.S.J.]

“The burning of a Pope in effigy,” notes Scott–in his reprint of what Swift called “the Grub Street account of the tumult”–“upon the 17th November, the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, was a favourite pastime with the mob of London, and often employed by their superiors as a means of working upon their passions and prejudices.” A full account of this ceremony is given in his edition of Dryden’s Works, 1808, vol. vi., p. 222. An account of the attempt “to revive an old ceremony,” referred to by Swift, was published also in “The Post Boy” for November 20th, 1711. [T.S.]]

But this attempt, to whatever purposes intended, proving wholly abortive by the vigilance of those in power, the Duke’s arrival was without any noise or consequence; and upon consulting with his friends, he soon fell in with their new scheme for preventing the peace. It was believed by many persons, that the ministers might, with little difficulty, have brought him over, if they had pleased to make a trial; for as he would probably have accepted any terms to continue in a station of such prodigious[77] profit, so there was sufficient room to work upon his fears, of which he is seldom unprovided[78] (I mean only in his political capacity) and his infirmity very much increased by his unmeasurable possessions, which have rendered him, _ipsique[79] onerique timentem;_ but reason, as well as the event, proved this to be a mistake: for the ministers being determined to bring the war to as speedy an issue as the honour and safety of their country would permit, could not possibly recompense the Duke for the mighty incomes he held by the continuance of it. Then the other party had calculated their numbers; and by the accession of the Earl of Nottingham, whose example they hoped would have many followers, and the successful solicitations of the Duke of Somerset, found they were sure of a majority in the House of Lords: so that in this view of circumstances, the Duke of Marlborough thought he acted with security, as well as advantage: he therefore boldly fell, with his whole weight, into the design of ruining the ministry, at the expense of his duty to his sovereign, and the welfare of his country, after the mighty obligations he had received from both. WHIG and TORY were now no longer the dispute, but THE QUEEN or THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH: He was at the head of all the cabals and consults with Bothmar, Buys, and the discontented lords. He forgot that government of his passion, for which his admirers used to celebrate him, fell into all the impotencies of anger and violence upon every party debate: so that the Queen found herself under a necessity, either on the one side to sacrifice those friends, who had ventured their lives in rescuing her out of the power of some, whose former treatment she had little reason to be fond of, to put an end[80] to the progress she had made towards a peace, and dissolve her Parliament; or, on the other side, by removing one person from so great a trust, to get clear of all her difficulties at once: Her Majesty therefore determined upon the latter, as the shorter and safer course; and during the recess at Christmas, sent the Duke a letter, to tell him she had no farther occasion for his service.[81]

[Footnote 77: P. Fitzgerald says “immense.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 78: P. Fitzgerald adds “being in his nature the most timorous person alive.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 79: P. Fitzgerald says “sibique.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 80: P. Fitzgerald says “to complete.” [W.S.J.]]

[Footnote 81: See the Duchess of Marlborough’s narrative of this transaction in the “Account of her Conduct,” etc., pp. 264-269, where his Grace’s letter to the Queen, on his dismission from her service, is printed. [N.]]

There hath not perhaps in the present age been a clearer instance to shew the instability of greatness which is not founded upon virtue; and it may be an instruction to princes, who are well in the hearts of their people, that the overgrown power of any particular person, although supported by exorbitant wealth, can by a little resolution be reduced in a moment, without any dangerous consequences. This lord, who was, beyond all comparison, the greatest subject in Christendom, found his power, credit, and influence, crumble away on a sudden; and, except a few friends or followers, by inclination, the rest dropped off in course. From directing in some manner the affairs of Europe, he descended to be a member of a faction, and with little distinction even there: that virtue of subduing his resentments, for which he was so famed when he had little or no occasion to exert it, having now wholly forsaken him when he stood most in need of its assistance; and upon trial was found unable to bear a reverse of fortune, giving way to rage, impatience, envy, and discontent.

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The House of Lords met upon the second day of January, according to their adjournment; but before they could proceed to business, the twelve new-created peers were, in the usual form, admitted to their seats in that assembly, who, by their numbers, turned the balance on the side of the court, and voted an adjournment to the same day with the Commons. Upon the fourteenth of January the two Houses met; but the Queen, who intended to be there in person, sent a message to inform them, that she was prevented by a sudden return of the gout, and to desire they would adjourn for three days longer, when Her Majesty hoped she should be able to speak to them. However, her indisposition still continuing, Mr. Secretary St. John brought another message to the House of Commons from the Queen, containing the substance of what she intended to have spoken; “That she could now tell them, her plenipotentiaries were arrived at Utrecht; had begun, in pursuance of her instructions, to concert the most proper ways of procuring a just satisfaction to all powers in alliance with her, according to their several treaties, and particularly with relation to Spain and the West Indies; that she promised to communicate to them the conditions of peace, before the same should be concluded; that the world would now see how groundless those reports were, and without the least colour, that a separate peace had been treated; that her ministers were directed to propose, that a day might be fixed for the finishing, as was done for the commencement of this treaty; and that, in the mean time, all preparations were hastening for an early campaign,” etc.

Her Majesty’s endeavours towards this great work having been in such a forwardness at the time that her message was sent, I shall here, as in the most proper place, relate the several steps by which the intercourse between the courts of France and Britain was begun and carried on.

The Marquis de Torcy,[1] sent by the Most Christian King to The Hague, had there, in the year one thousand seven hundred and nine, made very advantageous offers to the allies, in his master’s name; which our ministers, as well as those of the States, thought fit to refuse, and advanced other proposals in their stead, but of such a nature as no prince could digest, who did not lie at the immediate mercy of his enemies. It was demanded, among other things, “That the French King should employ his own troops, in conjunction with those of the allies, to drive his grandson out of Spain.” The proposers knew very well, that the enemy would never consent to this; and if it were possible they could at first have any such hopes, Mons. de Torcy assured them to the contrary, in a manner which might well be believed; for then the British and Dutch plenipotentiaries were drawing up their demands. They desired that minister to assist them in the style and expression; which he very readily did, and made use of the strongest words he could find to please them. He then insisted to know their last resolution, whether these were the lowest terms the allies would accept; and having received a determinate answer in the affirmative, he spoke to this effect:

[Footnote 1: Jean Baptiste Colbert (1665-1746), Marquis de Torcy, was nephew of the celebrated Colbert. [W.S.J.]]

“That he thanked them heartily for giving him the happiest day he had ever seen in his life: that, in perfect obedience to his master, he had made concessions, in his own opinion, highly derogatory to the King’s honour and interest: that he had not concealed the difficulties of his court, or the discontents of his country, by a long and unsuccessful war, which could only justify the large offers he had been empowered to make: that the conditions of peace, now delivered into his hands by the allies, would raise a new spirit in the nation, and remove the greatest difficulty the court lay under, putting it in his master’s power to convince all his subjects how earnestly His Majesty desired to ease them from the burthen of the war; but that his enemies would not accept of any terms, which could consist either with their safety or his honour.” Mons. Torcy assured the pensionary, in the strongest manner, and bid him count upon it, that the King his master would never sign those articles.

It soon appeared, that the Marquis de Torcy’s predictions were true; for upon delivering to his master the last resolutions of the allies, that Prince took care to publish them all over his kingdom, as an appeal to his subjects against the unreasonableness and injustice of his enemies: which proceeding effectually answered the utmost he intended by it; for the French nation, extremely jealous of their monarch’s glory, made universal offers of their lives and fortunes, rather than submit to such ignominious terms; and the clergy, in particular, promised to give the King their consecrated plate, towards continuing the war. Thus that mighty kingdom, generally thought to be wholly exhausted of its wealth, yet, when driven to a necessity by the imprudence of the allies, or by the corruption of particular men, who influenced their councils, recovered strength enough to support itself for three following campaigns: and in the last, by the fatal blindness or obstinacy of the Dutch (venturing to act without the assistance of Britain, which they had shamefully abandoned), was an overmatch for the whole confederate army.[2]

[Footnote 2: Alluding to the defeat at Denain (July 24th, 1712). [S.]]

Those who, in order to defend the proceedings of the allies, have given an account of this negotiation, do wholly omit the circumstance I have now related, and express the zeal of the British and Dutch ministers for a peace, by informing us how frequently they sent after Mons. de Torcy, and Mons. Rouille, for a farther conference. But in the mean time, Mr. Horatio Walpole, secretary to the Queen’s plenipotentiaries, was dispatched over hither, to have those abortive articles signed and ratified by Her Majesty at a venture, which was accordingly done. A piece of management altogether absurd, and without example; contrived only to deceive our people into a belief that a peace was intended, and to shew what great things the ministry designed to do.

But this hope expiring, upon the news that France had refused to sign those articles, all was solved by recourse to the old topic of the French perfidiousness. We loaded them plentifully with ignominious appellations; “they were a nation never to be trusted.” The Parliament cheerfully continued their supplies, and the war went on. The winter following began the second and last session of the preceding Parliament, noted for the trial of Dr. Sacheverell, and the occasions thereby given to the people to discover and exert their dispositions, very opposite to the designs of those who were then in power. In the summer of one thousand seven hundred and ten, ensued a gradual change of the ministry; and in the beginning of that winter the present Parliament was called.

The King of France, whose real interests made him sincerely desirous of any tolerable peace, found it impossible to treat upon equal conditions with either of the two maritime powers engaged against him, because of the prevalency of factions in both, who acted in concert to their mutual private advantage, although directly against the general dispositions of the people in either, as well as against their several maxims of government. But upon the great turn of affairs and councils here in England, the new Parliament and ministers acting from other motives, and upon other principles, that Prince hoped an opportunity might arise of resuming his endeavours towards a peace.

There was at this time in England a French ecclesiastic, called the Abbe Gaultier,[3] who had resided several years in London, under the protection of some foreign ministers, in whose families he used, upon occasion, to exercise his function of a priest. After the battle of Blenheim, this gentleman went down to Nottingham, where several French prisoners of quality were kept, to whom he rendered those offices of civility suitable to persons in their condition, which, upon their return to France, they reported to his advantage. Among the rest, the Chevalier de Croissy told his brother, the Marquis de Torcy, that whenever the French court would have a mind to make overtures of peace with England, Mons. Gaultier might be very usefully employed in handing them to the ministers here. This was no farther thought on at present. In the mean time the war went on, and the conferences at The Hague and Gertruydenberg miscarried, by the allies insisting upon such demands as they neither expected, nor perhaps desired, should be granted.

[Footnote 3: See note prefixed to “A New Journey to Paris” in vol. v. of present edition. Gaultier, although a priest, was nothing more than a superior spy in the pay of the French Court. He had been chaplain to Tallard and the disgraced Count Gallas, and was a sort of _protege_ of the Earl of Jersey; but his character does not bear very close scrutiny. The Duke of Berwick could not have had any high opinion either of the man or his abilities, since in the “Memoires de Berwick” (vol. ii., p. 122, edit. 1780) he is thus referred to: “Sa naissance etoit toute des plus ordinaires, et ses facultes a l’avenant, c’est a dire, tres pauvre.” St. John called Gaultier his “Mercury,” and De Torcy styled him “the Angel of Peace” (Torcy’s “Memoires,” vol. ii., p. 148, edition of 1828). [T.S.]]

Some time in July, one thousand seven hundred and ten, Mons. Gaultier received a letter from the Marquis de Torcy, signifying, that a report being spread of Her Majesty’s intentions to change her ministry, to take Mr. Harley into her councils, and to dissolve her Parliament, the Most Christian King thought it might be now a favourable conjuncture to offer new proposals of a treaty: Mons. Gaultier was therefore directed to apply himself, in the Marquis’s name, either to the Duke of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Jersey, or Mr. Harley, and inform the French court how such a proposition would be relished. Gaultier chose to deliver his message to the second of those, who had been ambassador from the late king to France; but the Earl excused himself from entering into particulars with a stranger, and a private person, who had no authority for what he said, more than a letter from Mons. de Torcy. Gaultier offered to procure another from that minister to the Earl himself; and did so, in a month after: but obtained no answer till December following, when the Queen had made all necessary changes, and summoned a free Parliament to her wishes. About the beginning of January, the abbe (after having procured his dismission from Count Gallas, the emperor’s envoy, at that time his protector) was sent to Paris, to inform Mons. Torcy, that Her Majesty would be willing his master should resume the treaty with Holland, provided the demands of England might be previously granted. Gaultier came back, after a short stay, with a return to his message, that the Dutch had used the Most Christian King and his ministers in such a manner, both at The Hague and Gertruydenberg, as made that Prince resolve not to expose himself any more to the like treatment; that he therefore chose to address himself to England, and was ready to make whatever offers Her Majesty could reasonably expect, for the advantage of her own kingdoms, and the satisfaction of her allies.

After this message had been duly considered by the Queen and her ministers, Mons. Gaultier was dispatched a second time to France, about the beginning of March, one thousand seven hundred and ten-eleven, with an answer to the following purpose: “That since France had their particular reasons for not beginning again to treat with Holland, England was willing to remove that difficulty, and proposed it should be done in this manner: That France should send over hither the propositions for a treaty, which should be transmitted by England to Holland, to be jointly treated on that side of the water; but it was to be understood, that the same proposition formerly offered to Holland, was to be made to England, or one not less advantageous to the allies; for although England would enter most sincerely into such a treaty, and shew, in the course of it, the clearness of their intentions; yet they could not, with honour, entertain a less beneficial proposal than what was offered to the States.”

That Prince, as well as his minister, Mons. de Torcy, either felt, or affected, so much resentment of the usage the latter had met at The Hague and Gertruydenberg, that they appeared fully determined against making any application to the States, where the same persons continued still in power, of whose treatment they so heavily complained.[4]

[Footnote 4: There can be little doubt that De Torcy’s resentment against the Dutch, as expressed in the first of the propositions above cited, was an affected one, since it is well known that the Dutch were, at the very time these propositions were sent to England, and even for some time previously, engaged in separate overtures with the French Court. Indeed, according to Prior (“History of his Own Time”), they had been so engaged ever since the breaking up of the Gertruydenberg Conference; and when Prior arrived in France in August, 1711, he was shown three letters written as from the Pensionary, but probably by Petecum, promising Louis every advantage if the Conference so unhappily broken off at Gertruydenberg were renewed. “The negotiations must be secret and separate,” reported Prior, “His Most Christian Majesty need only name his own terms.” Swift knew of the existence of at least one of these letters, because he was very anxious to obtain it “to get some particulars for my History,” as he notes in his “Journal,” “one letter of Petecum’s showing the roguery of the Dutch.” See also “Portland Manuscripts,” vol. v., p. 34 _et seq_. [T.S.]]

They seemed altogether to distrust the inclination of that republic towards a peace; but at the same time shewed a mighty complaisance to the English nation, and a desire to have Her Majesty at the head of a treaty. This appears by the first overture in form sent from that kingdom, and signed by Mons. de Torcy, on the twenty-second of April, N.S. one thousand seven hundred and eleven, to the following effect:

“That as it could not be doubted but the King was in a condition of continuing the war with honour, so it could not be looked on as a mark of weakness in His Majesty to break the silence he had kept since the conferences at Gertruydenberg; and that, before the opening of the campaign, he now gives farther proof of the desire he always had to procure the repose of Europe. But after what he hath found, by experience, of the sentiments of those persons who now govern the republic of Holland, and of their industry in rendering all negotiations without effect, His Majesty will, for the public good, offer to the English nation those propositions, which he thinks fit to make for terminating the war, and for settling the tranquillity of Europe upon a solid foundation. It is with this view that he offers to enter into a treaty of peace, founded on the following conditions.

“First, The English nation shall have real securities for carrying on their trade in Spain, the Indies, and ports of the Mediterranean.

“Secondly, The King will consent to form a sufficient barrier in the Low Countries, for the security of the republic of Holland; and this barrier shall be such as England shall agree upon and approve; His Majesty promising, at the same time, an entire liberty and security to the trade of the Dutch.

“Thirdly, All reasonable methods shall be thought on, with sincerity and truth, for giving satisfaction to the allies of England and Holland.

“Fourthly, Whereas the affairs of the King of Spain are in so good a condition as to furnish new expedients for putting an end to the disputes about that monarchy, and for settling it to the satisfaction of the several parties concerned, all sincere endeavours shall be used for surmounting the difficulties arisen upon this occasion; and the trade and interest of all parties engaged in the present war shall be secured.

“Fifthly, The conferences, in order to treat of a peace upon these conditions, shall be immediately opened; and the plenipotentiaries, whom the King shall name to assist thereat, shall treat with those of England and Holland, either alone, or in conjunction with those of their allies, as England shall choose.

“Sixthly, His Majesty proposes the towns of Aix la Chapelle or Liege, for the place where the plenipotentiaries shall assemble, leaving the choice likewise to England of either of the said towns, wherein to treat a general peace.”

These overtures, although expressing much confidence in the ministry here, great deference to the Queen, and displeasure against the Dutch, were immediately transmitted by Her Majesty’s command to her ambassador in Holland, with orders, that they should be communicated to the pensionary. The Abbe Gaultier was desired to signify this proceeding to the Marquis de Torcy; at the same time to let that minister understand, that some of the above articles ought to be explained. The Lord Raby, now Earl of Stafford, was directed to tell the Pensionary, that Her Majesty being resolved, in making peace as in making war, to act in perfect concert with the States, would not lose a moment in transmitting to him a paper of this importance: that the Queen earnestly desired, that the secret might be kept among as few as possible; and that she hoped the Pensionary would advise upon this occasion with no person whatsoever, except such, as by the constitution of that government, are unavoidably necessary: that the terms of the several propositions were indeed too general; but, however, they contained an offer to treat: and that, although there appeared an air of complaisance to England through the whole paper, and the contrary to Holland, yet this could have no ill consequences, as long as the Queen and the States took care to understand each other, and to act with as little reserve as became two powers, so nearly allied in interest; which rule, on the part of Britain, should be inviolably observed. It was signified likewise to the Pensionary, that the Duke of Marlborough had no communication of this affair from England, and that it was supposed he would have none from The Hague.

After these proposals had been considered in Holland, the ambassador was directed to send back the opinion of the Dutch ministers upon them. The court here was, indeed, apprehensive, that the Pensionary would be alarmed at the whole frame of Monsieur de Torcy’s paper, and particularly at these expressions, “That the English shall have real securities for their trade, &c.” and “that the barrier for the States-General shall be such as England shall agree upon and approve.” It was natural to think, that the fear which the Dutch would conceive of our obtaining advantageous terms for Britain, might put them upon trying underhand for themselves, and endeavouring to overreach us in the management of the peace, as they had hitherto done in that of the war: the ambassador was therefore cautioned to be very watchful in discovering any workings, which might tend that way.

When the Lord Raby was first sent to The Hague, the Duke of Marlborough, and Lord Townshend, had, for very obvious reasons, used their utmost endeavours to involve him in as many difficulties as they could; upon which, and other accounts, needless to mention, it was thought proper, that his Grace, then in Flanders, should not be let into the secret of this affair.

The proposal of Aix or Liege for a place of treaty, was only a farther mark of their old discontent against Holland, to shew they would not name any town which belonged to the States.

The Pensionary having consulted those who had been formerly employed in the negotiations of peace, and enjoined them the utmost secrecy, to avoid the jealousy of the foreign ministers there, desired the ambassador to return Her Majesty thanks, for the obliging manner of communicating the French overtures, for the confidence she placed in the States, and for her promise of making no step towards a peace, but in concert with them, assuring her of the like on their part: that although the States endeavoured to hide it from the enemy, they were as weary of the war as we, and very heartily desirous of a good and lasting peace, as well as ready to join in any method, by which Her Majesty should think proper to obtain it: that the States looked upon these propositions as very dark and general; and they observed how the enemy would create jealousies between the Queen, their republic, and the other allies; but they were satisfied it would have no effect, and relied entirely on the justness and prudence of Her Majesty, who they doubted not, would make the French explain themselves more particularly in the several points of their proposals, and send a plan of the particular conditions whereupon they would make a peace: after which, the States would be ready, either to join with Her Majesty, or to make their objections, and were prepared to bring with them all the facility imaginable, towards promoting so good a work.

This is the sum of the verbal answer made by the Pensionary, upon communicating to him the French proposals; and I have chosen to set it down, rather than transcribe the other given to the ambassador some days after, which was more in form, and to the same purpose, but shorter, and in my opinion not so well discovering the true disposition of the Dutch ministers.

For after the Queen had transmitted the French overtures to Holland, and the States found Her Majesty was bent in earnest upon the thoughts of a peace, they began to cast about how to get the negotiation into their own hands. They knew that whatever power received the first proposals, would be wise enough to stipulate something for themselves, as they had done in their own case, both at The Hague and Gertruydenberg, where they carved as they pleased, without any regard to the interests of their nearest allies. For this reason, while they endeavoured to amuse the British court with expostulations upon the several preliminaries sent from France, Monsieur Petecum, a forward meddling agent of Holstein, who had resided some years in Holland, negotiated with Heinsius, the Grand Pensionary, as well as with Vanderdussen and Buys, about restoring the conferences between France and that republic, broke off in Gertruydenberg. Pursuant to which, about the end of May, N.S. one thousand seven hundred and eleven, Petecum wrote to the Marquis de Torcy, with the privity of the Pensionary, and probably of the other two. The substance of his letter was to inform the Marquis, that things might easily be disposed, so as to settle a correspondence between that crown and the republic, in order to renew the treaty of peace. That this could be done with the greater secrecy, because Monsieur Heinsius, by virtue of his oath as Pensionary, might keep any affair private as long as he thought necessary, and was not obliged to communicate it, until he believed things were ripe; and as long as he concealed it from his masters, he was not bound to discover it, either to the ministers of the Emperor, or those of her British Majesty. That since England thought it proper for King Charles to continue the whole campaign in Catalonia, (though he should be chosen emperor) in order to support the war in Spain, it was necessary for France to treat in the most secret manner with the States, who were not now so violently, as formerly, against having Philip on the Spanish throne, upon certain conditions for securing their trade, but were jealous of England’s design to fortify some trading towns in Spain for themselves. That Heinsius, extremely desired to get out of the war for some reasons, which he (Petecum) was not permitted to tell; and that Vanderdussen and Buys were impatient to have the negotiations with France once more set on foot, which, if Monsieur Torcy thought fit to consent to, Petecum engaged that the States would determine to settle the preliminaries, in the midway between Paris and The Hague, with whatever ministers the Most Christian King should please to employ. But Monsieur Torcy refused this overture, and in his answer to Monsieur Petecum, assigned for the reason the treatment his master’s former proposals had met with at The Hague and Gertruydenberg, from the ministers of Holland. Britain and Holland seemed pretty well agreed, that those proposals were too loose and imperfect to be a foundation for entering upon a general treaty; and Monsieur Gaultier was desired to signify to the French court, that it was expected they should explain themselves more particularly on the several articles.

But in the mean time the Queen was firmly resolved, that the interests of her own kingdoms should not be neglected at this juncture, as they had formerly twice been, while the Dutch were principal managers of a negotiation with France. Her Majesty had given frequent and early notice to the States, of the general disposition of her people towards a peace, of her own inability to continue the war upon the old foot, under the disadvantage of unequal quotas, and the universal backwardness of her allies. She had likewise informed them of several advances made to her on the side of France, which she had refused to hearken to, till she had consulted with those, her good friends and confederates, and heard their opinion on that subject: but the Dutch, who apprehended nothing more than to see Britain at the head of a treaty, were backward and sullen, disliked all proposals by the Queen’s intervention, and said it was a piece of artifice of France to divide the allies; besides, they knew the ministry was young, and the opposite faction had given them assurances, that the people of England would never endure a peace without Spain, nor the men in power dare to attempt it, after the resolutions of one House of Parliament to the contrary. But, in the midst of this unwillingness to receive any overtures from France by the Queen’s hands, the Dutch ministers were actually engaged in a correspondence with that court, where they urged our inability to begin a treaty, by reason of those factions which themselves had inflamed, and were ready to commence a negotiation upon much easier terms than what they supposed we demanded. For not to mention the Duke of Lorraine’s interposition in behalf of Holland, which France absolutely refused to accept; the letters sent from the Dutch to that court, were shewn some months after to a British minister there,[5] which gave much weight to Monsieur de Torcy’s insinuations; that he knew where to meet with more compliance, if the necessity of affairs should force him to it, by our refusal. And the violence of the States against our entertaining of that correspondence, was only because they knew theirs would never be accepted, at least till ours were thrown off.

[Footnote 5: Matthew Prior. See note, _ante_, p. 55. [T.S.]] The Queen, sensible of all this, resolved to provide for her own kingdoms; and having therefore prepared such demands for her principal allies, as might be a ground for proceeding to a general treaty, without pretending to adjust their several interests, she resolved to stipulate in a particular manner the advantage of Britain: the following preliminary demands were accordingly drawn up, in order to be transmitted to France.

“Great Britain will not enter into any negotiation of peace, otherwise than upon these conditions, obtained beforehand.

“That the union of the two crowns of France and Spain shall be prevented: that satisfaction shall be given to all the allies, and trade settled and maintained.

“If France be disposed to treat upon this view, it is not to be doubted that the following propositions will be found reasonable.

“A barrier shall be formed in the Low Countries for the States-General; and their trade shall be secured.

“A barrier likewise shall be formed for the Empire.

“The pretensions of all the allies, founded upon former treaties, shall be regulated and determined to their general satisfaction.

“In order to make a more equal balance of power in Italy, the dominions and territories, which in the beginning of the present war belonged to the Duke of Savoy, and are now in the possession of France, shall be restored to his Royal Highness; and such other places in Italy shall be yielded to him, as will be found necessary and agreeable to the sense of former treaties made with this prince.

“As to Great Britain in particular, the succession to the crown of the kingdoms, according to the present establishment, shall be acknowledged.

“A new treaty of commerce between Great Britain and France shall be made, after the most just and reasonable manner.

“Dunkirk shall be demolished.

“Gibraltar and Port-Mahon shall remain in the hands of the present possessors.

“The English shall have the Assiento in the same manner the French now enjoy it; and such places in the Spanish West Indies shall be assigned to those concerned in this traffic, for the refreshment and sale of their negroes, as shall be found necessary and convenient.

“All advantages, rights, and privileges already granted, and which may hereafter be granted by Spain to the subjects of France, or to any other nation whatsoever, shall be equally granted to the subjects of Great Britain.

“And for better securing the British trade in the Spanish West Indies, certain places to be named in the treaty of peace, shall be put into possession of the English.

“Newfoundland, with the Bay and Straits of Hudson, shall be entirely restored to the English; and Great Britain and France shall severally keep and possess all those countries and territories in North America, which each of the said nations shall be in possession of at the time when the ratification of this treaty shall be published in those parts of the world.

“These demands, and all other proceedings between Great Britain and France, shall be kept inviolably secret, until they are published by the mutual consent of both parties.”

The last article was not only intended for avoiding, if possible, the jealousy of the Dutch, but to prevent the clamours of the abettors here at home, who, under the pretended fears of our doing injustice to the Dutch, by acting without the privity of that republic, in order to make a separate peace, would be ready to drive on the worst designs against the Queen and ministry, in order to recover the power they had lost.

In June, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, Mr. Prior, a person of great distinction, not only on account of his wit, but for his abilities in the management of affairs, and who had been formerly employed at the French court, was dispatched thither by Her Majesty with the foregoing demands. This gentleman was received at Versailles with great civility. The King declared, that no proceeding, in order to a general treaty, would be so agreeable to him as by the intervention of England; and that His Majesty, being desirous to contribute with all his power towards the repose of Europe, did answer to the demands which had been made,

“That he would consent freely and sincerely to all just and reasonable methods, for hindering the crowns of France and Spain from being ever united under the same prince; His Majesty being persuaded, that such an excess of power would be as contrary to the general good and repose of Europe, as it was opposite to the will of the late Catholic King Charles the Second. He said his intention was, that all parties in the present war should find their reasonable satisfaction in the intended treaty of peace; and that trade should be settled and maintained for the future, to the advantage of those nations which formerly possessed it.

“That as the King will exactly observe the conditions of peace, whenever it shall be concluded, and as the object he proposeth to himself, is to secure the frontiers of his own kingdom, without giving any sort of disturbance to his neighbours, he promiseth to agree, that by the future treaty of peace, the Dutch shall be put into possession of all such fortified places as shall be specified in the said treaty to serve for a barrier to that republic, against all attempts on the side of France. He engages likewise to give all necessary securities, for removing the jealousies raised among the German princes of His Majesty’s designs.

“That when the conferences, in order to a general treaty, shall be formed, all the pretensions of the several princes and states engaged in the present war, shall be fairly and amicably discussed; nor shall any thing be omitted, which may regulate and determine them to the satisfaction of all parties.

“That, pursuant to the demands made by England, His Majesty promiseth to restore to the Duke of Savoy these demesnes and territories, which belonged to that prince at the beginning of this war, and which His Majesty is now in possession of; and the King consents further, that such other places in Italy shall be yielded to the Duke of Savoy, as shall be found necessary, according to the sense of those treaties made between the said Duke and his allies.

“That the King’s sentiments of the present government of Great Britain, the open declaration he had made in Holland of his resolution to treat of peace, by applications to the English; the assurances he had given of engaging the King of Spain to leave Gibraltar in their hands (all which are convincing proofs of his perfect esteem for a nation still in war with him); leave no room to doubt of His Majesty’s inclination to give England all securities and advantages for their trade, which they can reasonably demand. But as His Majesty cannot persuade himself, that a government, so clear-sighted as ours, will insist upon conditions which must absolutely destroy the trade of France and Spain, as well as that of all other nations of Europe, he thinks the demands made by Great Britain may require a more particular discussion.

“That, upon this foundation, the King thought the best way of advancing and perfecting a negotiation, the beginning of which he had seen with so much satisfaction, would be to send into England a person instructed in his intention, and authorized by him to agree upon securities for settling the trade of the subjects of England; and those particular advantages to be stipulated in their favour, without destroying the trade of the French and Spaniards, or of other nations in Christendom.

“That therefore His Majesty had charged the person chosen for this commission, to answer the other articles of the memorial given him by Mr. Prior, the secret of which should be exactly observed.”

Mons. de Torcy had, for some years past, used all his endeavours to incline his master towards a peace, pursuant to the maxim of his uncle Colbert, “That a long war was not for the interest of France.” It was for this reason the King made choice of him in the conferences at The Hague; the bad success whereof, although it filled him with resentments against the Dutch, did not alter his opinion: but he was violently opposed by a party both in the court and kingdom, who pretended to fear he would sacrifice the glory of the prince and country by too large concessions; or perhaps would rather wish that the first offers should have been still made to the Dutch, as a people more likely to be less solicitous about the interest of Britain, than Her Majesty would certainly be for theirs: and the particular design of Mr. Prior was to find out, whether that minister had credit enough with his prince, and a support from others in power, sufficient to overrule the faction against peace.

Mr. Prior’s journey[6] could not be kept a secret, as the court here at first seemed to intend it. He was discovered at his return by an officer of the port at Dover, where he landed, after six weeks absence; upon which the Dutch Gazettes and English newspapers were full of speculations.

[Footnote 6: See Swift’s “A New Journey to Paris” (vol. v. of this edition, pp. 187-205). [W.S.J.]]

At the same time with Mr. Prior there arrived from France Mons. Mesnager, knight of the order of St. Michael, and one of the council of trade to the Most Christian King. His commission was, in general, empowering him to treat with the minister of any prince engaged in the war against his master. In his first conferences with the Queen’s ministers, he pretended orders to insist, that Her Majesty should enter upon particular engagements in several articles, which did not depend upon her, but concerned only the interest of the allies reciprocally with those of the Most Christian King; whereas the negotiation had begun upon this principle, that France should consent to adjust the interests of Great Britain in the first place, whereby Her Majesty would be afterwards enabled, by her good offices on all sides, to facilitate the general peace. The Queen resolved never to depart from this principle; but was absolutely determined to remit the particular interests of the allies to general conferences, where she would do the utmost in her power to procure the repose of Europe, and the satisfaction of all parties. It was plain, France could run no hazard by this proceeding, because the preliminary articles would have no force before a general peace was signed: therefore it was not doubted but Mons. Mesnager would have orders to waive this new pretension, and go on in treating upon that foot which was at first proposed. In short, the ministers required a positive and speedy answer to the articles in question, since they contained only such advantages and securities as Her Majesty thought she had a right to require from any prince whatsoever, to whom the dominions of Spain should happen to fall.

The particular demands of Britain were formed into eight articles; to which Mons. Mesnager, having transmitted them to his court and received new powers from thence, had orders to give his master’s consent, by way of answers to the several points, to be obligatory only after a general peace. These demands, together with the answers of the French King, were drawn up and signed by Mons. Mesnager, and Her Majesty’s two principal secretaries of state; whereof I shall here present an extract to the reader.

In the preamble the Most Christian King sets forth, “That being particularly informed by the last memorial which the British ministers delivered to Mons. Mesnager, of the dispositions of this crown to facilitate a general peace, to the satisfaction of the several parties concerned; and His Majesty finding, in effect, as the said memorial declares, that he runs no hazard by engaging himself in the manner there expressed, since the preliminary articles will be of no force, until the signing of the general peace; and being sincerely desirous to advance, to the utmost of his power, the repose of Europe, especially by a way so agreeable as the interposition of a Princess, whom so many ties of blood ought to unite to him, and whose sentiments for the public tranquillity cannot be doubted; His Majesty, moved by these considerations, hath ordered Mons. Mesnager, knight, &c. to give the following answers, in writing, to the articles contained in the memorial transmitted to him, intituled, ‘Preliminary Demands for Great Britain in particular.'”

The articles were these that follow.

“First, The succession to the crown to be acknowledged, according to the present establishment.

“Secondly, A new treaty of commerce between Great Britain and France to be made, after the most just and reasonable manner.

“Thirdly, Dunkirk to be demolished.

“Fourthly, Gibraltar and Port-Mahon to continue in the hands of those who now possess them.

“Fifthly, The Assiento (or liberty of selling negroes to the Spanish West Indies) to be granted to the English, in as full a manner as the French possess it at present; and such places in the said West Indies to be assigned to the persons concerned in this trade, for the refreshment and sale of their negroes, as shall be found necessary and convenient.

“Sixthly, Whatever advantages, privileges, and rights are already, or may hereafter be, granted by Spain to the subjects of France, or any other nation, shall be equally granted to the subjects of Great Britain.

“Seventhly, For better protecting their trade in the Spanish West Indies, the English shall be put into possession of such places as shall be named in the treaty of peace.

“Or, as an equivalent for this article, that the Assiento be granted to Britain for the term of thirty years.

“That the isle of St. Christopher’s be likewise secured to the English.

“That the advantages and exemption from duties, promised by Monsieur Mesnager, which he affirms will amount to fifteen _per cent_. upon all goods of the growth and manufacture of Great Britain, be effectually allowed.

“That whereas, on the side of the river of Plate, the English are not in possession of any colony, a certain extent of territory be allowed them on the said river, for refreshing and keeping their negroes, till they are sold to the Spaniards; subject, nevertheless, to the inspection of an officer appointed by Spain.

“Eighthly, Newfoundland and the Bay and Straits of Hudson, shall be entirely restored to the English; and Great Britain and France shall respectively keep whatever dominions in North America each of them shall be in possession of, when the ratification of this treaty shall be published in those parts of the world.”

The six first articles were allowed without any difficulty, except that about Dunkirk, where France was to have an equivalent, to be settled in a general treaty.

Difficulty arising upon the seventh article, the proposed equivalent was allowed instead thereof.

The last article was referred to the general treaty of peace, only the French insisted to have the power of fishing for cod, and drying them on the island of Newfoundland.

These articles were to be looked upon as conditions, which the Most Christian King consented to allow; and whenever a general peace should be signed, they were to be digested into the usual form of a treaty, to the satisfaction of both crowns.

The Queen having thus provided for the security and advantage of her kingdoms, whenever a peace should be made, and upon terms no way interfering with the interest of her allies; the next thing in order, was to procure from France such preliminary articles, as might be a ground upon which to commence a general treaty. These were adjusted, and signed the same day with the former; and having been delivered to the several ministers residing here from the powers in alliance with England, were quickly made public. But the various constructions and censures which passed upon them, have made it necessary to give the reader the following transcript:

“The King being willing to contribute all that is in his power, to the re-establishing of the general peace. His Majesty declares,

“I. That he will acknowledge the Queen of Great Britain in that quality, as also the succession of that crown, according to the settlement,

“II. That he will freely, and _bona fide_, consent to the taking all just and reasonable measures, for hindering that the crowns of France and Spain may ever be united on the head of the same prince; His Majesty being persuaded, that this excess of power would be contrary to the good and quiet of Europe.

“III. The King’s intention is, that all the parties engaged in the present war, without excepting any of them, may find their reasonable satisfaction in the treaty of peace, which shall be made: That commerce may be re-established and maintained for the future, to the advantage of Great Britain, of Holland, and of the other nations, who have been accustomed to exercise commerce.

“IV. As the King will likewise maintain exactly the observance of the peace, when it shall be concluded, and the object, the King proposes to himself, being to secure the frontiers of his kingdom, without disturbing in any manner whatever the neighbouring states, he promises to agree, by the treaty which shall be made, that the Dutch shall be put in possession of the fortified places, which shall be mentioned, in the Netherlands, to serve hereafter for a barrier; which may secure the quiet of the republic of Holland against any enterprise from the part of France.

“V. The King consents likewise, that a secure and convenient barrier should be formed for the empire, and for the house of Austria.

“VI. Notwithstanding Dunkirk cost the King very great sums, as well to purchase it, as to fortify it; and that it is further necessary to be at very considerable expense for razing the works. His Majesty is willing however to engage to cause them to be demolished, immediately after the conclusion of the peace, on condition, that, for the fortifications of that place, a proper equivalent, that may content him, be given him: And, as England cannot furnish that equivalent, the discussion of it shall be referred to the conferences to be held for the negotiation of the peace.

“VII. When the conferences for the negotiation of the peace shall be formed, all the pretensions of the princes and states, engaged in the present war, shall be therein discussed _bona fide_, and amicably: And nothing shall be omitted to regulate and terminate them, to the satisfaction of all the parties.


These overtures are founded upon the eighth article of the Grand Alliance, made in one thousand seven hundred and one; wherein are contained the conditions, without which a peace is not to be made; and whoever compares both, will find the preliminaries to reach every point proposed in that article, which those who censured them at home, if they spoke their thoughts, did not understand: for nothing can be plainer, than what the public hath often been told, that the recovery of Spain from the house of Bourbon was a thing never imagined, when the war began, but a just and reasonable satisfaction to the Emperor. Much less ought such a condition to be held necessary at present, not only because it is allowed on all hands to be impracticable, but likewise because, by the changes in the Austrian and Bourbon families, it would not be safe: neither did those, who were loudest in blaming the French preliminaries, know any thing of the advantages privately stipulated for Britain, whose interests, they assured us, were all made a sacrifice to the corruption or folly of the managers; and therefore, because the opposers of peace have been better informed by what they have since heard and seen, they have changed their battery, and accused the ministers for betraying the Dutch.

The Lord Raby, Her Majesty’s ambassador at The Hague, having made a short journey to England, where he was created Earl of Strafford, went back to Holland about the beginning of October, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, with the above preliminaries, in order to communicate them to the Pensionary, and other ministers of the States. The Earl was instructed to let them know, “That the Queen had, according to their desire, returned an answer to the first propositions signed by Mons. Torcy, signifying, that the French offers were thought, both by Her Majesty and the States, neither so particular nor so full as they ought to be; and insisting to have a distinct project formed, of such a peace as the Most Christian King would be willing to conclude: that this affair having been for some time transacted by papers, and thereby subject to delays, Mons. Mesnager was at length sent over by France, and had signed those preliminaries now communicated to them: that the several articles did not, indeed, contain such particular concessions as France must and will make in the course of a treaty; but that, however, Her Majesty thought them a sufficient foundation whereon to open the general conferences.

“That Her Majesty was unwilling to be charged with determining the several interests of her allies, and therefore contented herself with such general offers as might include all the particular demands, proper to be made during the treaty; where the confederates must resolve to adhere firmly together, in order to obtain from the enemy the utmost that could be hoped for, in the present circumstances of affairs; which rule, Her Majesty assured the States, she would, on her part, firmly observe.”

If the ministers of Holland should express any uneasiness, that Her Majesty may have settled the interests of her own kingdoms, in a future peace, by any private agreement, the ambassador was ordered to say, “That the Queen had hitherto refused to have the treaty carried on in her own kingdom, and would continue to do so, unless they (the Dutch) constrained her to take another measure: That by these means the States, and the rest of the allies, would have the opportunity of treating and adjusting their different pretensions; which Her Majesty would promote with all the zeal she had shewn for the common good, and the particular advantage of that republic (as they must do her the justice to confess), in the whole course of her reign: That the Queen had made no stipulation for herself, which might clash with the interests of Holland; and that the articles to be inserted in a future treaty, for the benefit of Britain, were, for the most part, such as contained advantages, which must either be continued to the enemy, or be obtained by Her Majesty; but, however, that no concession should tempt her to hearken to a peace, unless her good friends and allies the States General had all reasonable satisfaction, as to their trade and barrier, as well as in all other respects.”

After these assurances given in the Queen’s name, the Earl was to insinuate, “That Her Majesty should have just reason to be offended, and to think the proceeding between her and the States very unequal, if they should pretend to have any further uneasiness upon this head: That being determined to accept no advantages to herself, repugnant to their interests, nor any peace, without their reasonable satisfaction, the figure she had made during the whole course of the war, and the part she had acted, superior to any of the allies, who were more concerned in danger and interest, might justly entitle her to settle the concerns of Great Britain, before she would consent to a general negotiation.”

If the States should object the engagements the Queen was under, by treaties, of making no peace but in concert with them, or the particular obligations of the Barrier Treaty, the ambassador was to answer, “That, as to the former, Her Majesty had not in any sort acted contrary thereto; That she was so far from making a peace without their consent, as to declare her firm resolution not to make it without their satisfaction; and that what had passed between France and her, amounted to no more than an introduction to a general treaty.” As to the latter, the Earl had orders to represent very earnestly, “How much it was even for the interest of Holland itself, rather to compound the advantage of the Barrier Treaty, than to insist upon the whole, which the house of Austria, and several other allies, would never consent to: That nothing could be more odious to the people of England than many parts of this treaty; which would have raised universal indignation, if the utmost care had not been taken to quiet the minds of those who were acquainted with the terms of that guaranty, and to conceal them from those who were not: That it was absolutely necessary to maintain a good harmony between both nations, without which it would be impossible at any time to form a strength for reducing an exorbitant power, or preserving the balance of Europe: from whence it followed, that it could not be the true interest of either country to insist upon any conditions, which might give just apprehension to the other.

“That France had proposed Utrecht, Nimeguen, Aix, or Liege, wherein to hold the general treaty; and Her Majesty was ready to send her plenipotentiaries, to whichever of those towns the States should approve.”

If the imperial ministers, or those of the other allies, should object against the preliminaries as no sufficient ground for opening the conferences, and insist that France should consent to such articles as were signed on the part of the allies in the year one thousand seven hundred and nine, the Earl of Strafford was in answer directed to insinuate, “That the French might have probably been brought to explain themselves more particularly, had they not perceived the uneasiness, impatience, and jealousy among the allies, during our transactions with that court.” However, he should declare to them, in the Queen’s name, “That if they were determined to accept of peace upon no terms inferior to what was formerly demanded, Her Majesty was ready to concur with them; but would no longer bear those disproportions of expense, yearly increased upon her, nor the deficiency of the confederates in every part of the war: That it was therefore incumbent upon them to furnish, for the future, such quotas of ships and forces as they were now wanting in, and to increase their expense, while Her Majesty reduced hers to a reasonable and just proportion.”

That if the ministers of Vienna and Holland should urge their inability upon this head, the Queen insisted, “They ought to comply with her in war or in peace; Her Majesty desiring nothing, as to the first, but what they ought to perform, and what is absolutely necessary: and as to the latter, that she had done, and would continue to do, the utmost in her power towards obtaining such a peace as might be to the satisfaction of all her allies.”

Some days after the Earl of Stafford’s departure to Holland, Mons. Buys, pensionary of Amsterdam, arrived here from thence with instructions from his masters, to treat upon the subject of the French preliminaries, and the methods for carrying on the war. In his first conference with a committee of council, he objected against all the articles, as too general and uncertain; and against some of them, as prejudicial. He said, “The French promising that trade should be re-established and maintained for the future, was meant in order to deprive the Dutch of their tariff of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four; for the plenipotentiaries of that crown would certainly expound the word _retablir_, to signify no more than restoring the trade of the States to the condition it was in immediately before the commencement of the present war.” He said, “That in the article of Dunkirk, the destruction of the harbour was not mentioned; and that the fortifications were only to be razed upon condition of an equivalent, which might occasion a difference between Her Majesty and the States, since Holland would think it hard to have a town less in their barrier for the demolition of Dunkirk; and England would complain to have this thorn continue in their side, for the sake of giving one town more to the Dutch.”

Lastly, he objected, “That where the French promised effectual methods should be taken to prevent the union of France and Spain under the same king, they offered nothing at all for the cession of Spain, which was the most important point of the war.

“For these reasons, Mons. Buys hoped Her Majesty would alter her measures, and demand specific articles, upon which the allies might debate whether they would consent to a negotiation or no.”

The Queen, who looked upon all these difficulties, raised about the method of treating, as endeavours to wrest the negotiation out of her hands, commanded the lords of the committee to let Mons. Buys know, “That the experience she formerly had of proceeding by particular preliminaries towards a general treaty, gave her no encouragement to repeat the same method any more: That such a preliminary treaty must be negotiated either by some particular allies, or by all. The first, Her Majesty could never suffer, since she would neither take upon her to settle the interests of others, nor submit that others should settle those of her own kingdoms. As to the second, it was liable to Mons. Buys’s objection, because the ministers of France would have as fair an opportunity of sowing division among the allies, when they were all assembled upon a preliminary treaty, as when the conferences were open for a negotiation of peace: That this method could therefore have no other effect than to delay the treaty, without any advantage: That Her Majesty was heartily disposed, both then and during the negotiation, to insist on every thing necessary for securing the barrier and commerce of the States; and therefore hoped the conferences might be opened, without farther difficulties.

“That Her Majesty did not only consent, but desire to have a plan settled for carrying on the war, as soon as the negotiation of peace should begin; but expected to have the burthen more equally laid, and more agreeable to treaties; and would join with the States in pressing the allies to perform their parts, as she had endeavoured to animate them by her example.”

Mons. Buys seemed to know little of his masters’ mind, and pretended he had no power to conclude upon any thing.[1] Her Majesty’s minister proposed to him an alliance between the two nations, to subsist after a peace. To this he hearkened very readily, and offered to take the matter _ad referendum_, having authority to do no more. His intention was, that he might appear to negotiate, in order to gain time to pick out, if possible, the whole secret of the transactions between Britain and France; to disclose nothing himself, nor bind his masters to any conditions; to seek delays till the Parliament met, and then observe what turn it took, and what would be the issue of those frequent cabals between himself and some other foreign ministers, in conjunction with the chief leaders of the discontented faction.

[Footnote 1: Buys’s mission seemed to have been to act on behalf of the States General for the purpose of preventing England obtaining any commercial advantage which the States did not share, and for causing delays. He certainly had no powers to treat definitely, and Swift’s remark is emphasized by the statement in the Bolingbroke Correspondence (vol. ii. p. 25) about him, he could “only speak as Monsieur Buys.” [T.S.]]

The Dutch hoped, that the clamours raised against the proceedings of the Queen’s ministers towards a peace, would make the Parliament disapprove what had been done; whereby the States would be at the head of the negotiation, which the Queen did not think fit to have any more in their hands, where it had miscarried twice already; although Prince Eugene himself owned, “that France was then disposed to conclude a peace upon such conditions, as it was not worth the life of a grenadier to refuse them.” As to insisting upon specific preliminaries, Her Majesty thought her own method much better, for each ally, in the course of the negotiation, to advance and manage his own pretensions, wherein she would support and assist them, rather than for two ministers of one ally to treat solely with the enemy, and report what they pleased to the rest, as was practised by the Dutch at Gertruydenberg.

One part of Mons. Buys’s instructions was to desire the Queen not to be so far amused by a treaty of peace, as to neglect her preparation for war against the next campaign. Her Majesty, who was firmly resolved against submitting any longer to that unequal burthen of expense she had hitherto lain under, commanded Mr. Secretary St. John to debate the matter with that minister, who said he had no power to treat; only insisted, that his masters had fully done their part, and that nothing but exhortations could be used to prevail on the other allies to act with greater vigour.

On the other side, the Queen refused to concert any plan for the prosecution of the war, till the States would join with her in agreeing to open the conferences of peace; which therefore, by Mons. Buys’s application to them, was accordingly done, by a resolution taken in Holland upon the twenty first of November, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, NS.

About this time the Count de Gallas[7] was forbid the court, by order from the Queen, who sent him word, that she looked upon him no longer as a public minister.

[Footnote 7: The Austrian ambassador [T.S.]]

This gentleman thought fit to act a very dishonourable part here in England, altogether inconsistent with the character he bore of envoy from the late and present emperors, two princes under the strictest ties of gratitude to the Queen, especially the latter, who had then the title of King of Spain. Count Gallas, about the end of August, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, with the utmost privacy, dispatched an Italian, one of his clerks, to Frankfort, where the Earl of Peterborough was then expected. This man was instructed to pass for a Spaniard, and insinuate himself into the Earl’s service, which he accordingly did, and gave constant information to the last emperor’s secretary at Frankfort of all he could gather up in his lordship’s family, as well as copies of several letters he had transcribed. It was likewise discovered that Gallas had, in his dispatches to the present emperor, then in Spain, represented the Queen and her ministers as not to be confided in, that when Her Majesty had dismissed the Earl of Sunderland, she promised to proceed no farther in the change of her servants, yet soon after turned them all out, and thereby ruined the public credit, as well as abandoned Spain, that the present ministers wanted the abilities and good dispositions of the former, were persons of ill designs, and enemies to the common cause, and he (Gallas) could not trust them. In his letters to Count Zinzendorf[8] he said, “That Mr. Secretary St John complained of the house of Austria’s backwardness, only to make the King of Spain odious to England, and the people here desirous of a peace, although it were ever so bad one,” to prevent which, Count Gallas drew up a memorial which he intended to give the Queen, and transmitted a draught of it to Zinzendorf for his advice and approbation. This memorial, among other great promises to encourage the continuance of the war, proposed the detaching a good body of troops from Hungary to serve in Italy or Spain, as the Queen should think fit.

[Footnote 8: The Austrian envoy at The Hague, characterized by Mr Walter Sichel as “a martyr to etiquette, and devoured by zeal for the Holy Roman Empire” (“Bolingbroke and his Times,” p 392) [T.S.]]

Zinzendorf thought this too bold a step, without consulting the Emperor: to which Gallas replied, that his design was only to engage the Queen to go on with the war; that Zinzendorf knew how earnestly the English and Dutch had pressed to have these troops from Hungary, and therefore they ought to be promised, in order to quiet those two nations, after which several ways might be found to elude that promise; and, in the mean time, the great point would be gained of bringing the English to declare for continuing the war: that the Emperor might afterwards excuse himself, by the apprehension of a war in Hungary, or of that between the Turks and Muscovites: that if these excuses should be at an end, a detachment of one or two regiments might be sent, and the rest deferred, by pretending want of money; by which the Queen would probably be brought to maintain some part of those troops, and perhaps the whole body. He added, that this way of management was very common among the allies; and gave for an example, the forces which the Dutch had promised for the service of Spain, but were never sent; with several other instances of the same kind, which he said might be produced.

Her Majesty, who had long suspected that Count Gallas was engaged in these and the like practices, having at last received authentic proofs of this whole intrigue, from original letters, and the voluntary confession of those who were principally concerned in carrying it on, thought it necessary to show her resentment, by refusing the count any more access to her person or her court.

Although the Queen, as it hath been already observed, was resolved to open the conferences upon the general preliminaries, yet she thought it would very much forward the peace to know what were the utmost concessions which France would make to the several allies, but especially to the States General and the Duke of Savoy: therefore, while Her Majesty was pressing the former to agree to a general treaty, the Abbe Gaultier was sent to France with a memorial, to desire that the Most Christian King would explain himself upon those preliminaries, particularly with relation to Savoy and Holland, whose satisfaction the Queen had most at heart, as well from her friendship to both these powers, as because, if she might engage to them that their just pretensions would be allowed, few difficulties would remain, of any moment, to retard the general peace.

The French answer to this memorial contained several schemes and proposals for the satisfaction of each ally, coming up very near to what Her Majesty and her ministers thought reasonable. The greatest difficulties seemed to be about the Elector of Bavaria, for whose interests France appeared to be as much concerned, as the Queen was for those of the Duke of Savoy: however, those were judged not very hard to be surmounted.

The States having at length agreed to a general treaty, the following particulars were concerted between Her Majesty and that republic:

“That the congress should be held at Utrecht.

“That the opening of the congress should be upon the twelfth of January, N.S. one thousand seven hundred and eleven-twelve.

“That, for avoiding all inconveniences of ceremony, the ministers of the Queen and States, during the treaty, should only have the characters of plenipotentiaries, and not take that of ambassadors, till the day on which the peace should be signed.

“Lastly, The Queen and States insisted, that the ministers of the Duke of Anjou, and the late Electors of Bavaria and Cologne, should not appear at the congress, until the points relating to their masters were adjusted; and were firmly resolved not to send their passports for the ministers of France, till the Most Christian King declared, that the absence of the forementioned ministers should not delay the progress of the negotiation.”

Pursuant to the three former articles, Her Majesty wrote circular letters to all the allies engaged with her in the present war: and France had notice, that as soon as the King declared his compliance with the last article, the blank passports should be filled up with the names of the Marechal d’Uxelles,[9] the Abbe de Polignac, and Mons. Mesnager, who were appointed plenipotentiaries for that crown.

[Footnote 9: In his “Letter to Sir William Windham,” Bolingbroke thus refers to M. d’Uxelles: “The minister who had the principal direction of foreign affairs I lived in friendship with, and I must own to his honour, that he never encouraged a design which he knew that his court had no intention of supporting” (p. 141). This was written of the time when Bolingbroke was in Paris, an adherent of the Pretender. [T.S.]]

From what I have hitherto deduced, the reader sees the plan which the Queen thought the most effectual for advancing a peace. As the conferences were to begin upon the general preliminaries, the Queen was to be empowered by France to offer separately to the allies what might be reasonable for each to accept; and her own interests being previously settled, she was to act as a general mediator: a figure that became her best, from the part she had in the war, and more useful to the great end at which she aimed, of giving a safe and honourable peace to Europe.

Besides, it was absolutely necessary, for the interests of Britain, that the Queen should be at the head of the negotiation, without which Her Majesty could find no expedient to redress the injuries her kingdoms were sure to suffer by the Barrier Treaty. In order to settle this point with the States, the ministers here had a conference with Mons. Buys, a few days before the Parliament met. He was told, how necessary it was, by previous concert between the Emperor, the Queen, and the States, to prevent any difference which might arise in the course of the treaty at Utrecht: That, under pretence of a barrier for the States General, as their security against France, infinite prejudice might arise to the trade of Britain in the Spanish Netherlands; for, by the fifteenth article of the Barrier Treaty, in consequence of what was stipulated by that of Minister, the Queen was brought to engage that commerce shall not be rendered more easy, in point of duties, by the sea-ports of Flanders, than it is by the river Scheldt, and by the canals on the side of the Seven Provinces, which, as things now stood, was very unjust; for, while the towns in Flanders were in the hands of France or Spain, the Dutch and we traded to them upon equal foot; but now, since by the Barrier Treaty those towns were to be possessed by the States, that republic might lay what duties they pleased upon British goods, after passing by Ostend, and make their own custom-free, which would utterly ruin our whole trade with Flanders.

Upon this, the lords told Mons. Buys very frankly, “That if the States expected the Queen should support their barrier, as well as their demands from France and the house of Austria upon that head, they ought to agree, that the subjects of Britain should trade as freely to all the countries and places, which, by virtue of any former or future treaty, were to become the barrier of the States, as they did in the time of the late King Charles the Second of Spain; or as the subjects of the States General themselves shall do: and that it was hoped, their High Mightinesses would never scruple to rectify a mistake so injurious to that nation, without whose blood and treasure they would have had no barrier at all.” Mons. Buys had nothing to answer against these objections, but said, he had already wrote to his masters for further instructions.

Greater difficulties occurred about settling what should be the barrier to the States after a peace: the envoy insisting to have all the towns that were named in the Treaty of Barrier and Succession; and the Queen’s ministers excepting those towns, which, if they continued in the hands of the Dutch, would render the trade of Britain to Flanders precarious. At length it was agreed in general, that the States ought to have what is really essential to the security of their barrier against France; and that some amicable expedient should be found, for removing the fears both of Britain and Holland upon this point.

But at the same time Mons. Buys was told, “That although the Queen would certainly insist to obtain all those points from France, in behalf of her allies the States, yet she hoped his masters were too reasonable to break off the treaty, rather than not obtain the very utmost of their demands, which could not be settled here, unless he were fully instructed to speak and conclude upon that subject: That Her Majesty thought the best way of securing the common interest, and preventing the division of the allies, by the artifices of France, in the course of a long negotiation, would be to concert between the Queen’s ministers and those of the States, with a due regard to the other confederates, such a plan as might amount to a safe and honourable peace.” After which the Abbe Polignac, who of the French plenipotentiaries was most in the secret of his court, might be told, “That it was in vain to amuse each other any longer; that on such terms the peace would be immediately concluded; and that the conferences must cease, if those conditions were not, without delay, and with expedition, granted.”

A treaty between Her Majesty and the States, to subsist after a peace, was now signed, Mons. Buys having received full powers to that purpose. His masters were desirous to have a private article added, _sub spe rati_, concerning those terms of peace; without the granting of which, we should stipulate not to agree with the enemy. But neither the character of Buys, nor the manner in which he was empowered to treat, would allow the Queen to enter into such an engagement. The congress likewise approaching, there was not time to settle a point of so great importance. Neither, lastly, would Her Majesty be tied down by Holland, without previous satisfaction upon several articles in the Barrier Treaty, so inconsistent with her engagements to other powers in the alliance, and so injurious to her own kingdoms.

The lord privy seal, and the Earl of Stafford, having, about the time the Parliament met, been appointed Her Majesty’s plenipotentiaries for treating a general peace, I shall here break off the account of any further progress made in that great affair, until I resume it in the last book of this History.

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The House of Commons seemed resolved, from the beginning of the session, to inquire strictly not only into all abuses relating to the accounts of the army, but likewise into the several treaties between us and our allies, upon what articles and conditions they were first agreed to, and how these had been since observed. In the first week of their sitting, they sent an address to the Queen, to desire that the treaty, whereby Her Majesty was obliged to furnish forty thousand men, to act in conjunction with the forces of her allies in the Low Countries, might be laid before the House. To which the secretary of state brought an answer, “That search had been made, but no footsteps could be found of any treaty or convention for that purpose.” It was this unaccountable neglect in the former ministry, which first gave a pretence to the allies for lessening their quotas, so much to the disadvantage of Her Majesty, her kingdoms, and the common cause, in the course of the war. It had been stipulated by the Grand Alliance, between the Emperor, Britain, and the States, that those three powers should assist each other with their whole force, and that the several proportions should be specified in a particular convention. But if any such convention were made, it was never ratified; only the parties agreed, by common consent, to take each a certain share of the burthen upon themselves, which the late King William communicated to the House of Commons by his secretary of state; and which afterwards the other two powers, observing the mighty zeal in our ministry for prolonging the war, eluded as they pleased.

The commissioners for stating the public accounts of the kingdom, had, in executing their office the preceding summer, discovered several practices relating to the affairs of the army, which they drew up in a report, and delivered to the House.

The Commons began their examination of the report with a member of their own, Mr. Robert Walpole, already mentioned; who, during his being secretary at war, had received five hundred guineas, and taken a note for five hundred pounds more, on account of two contracts for forage of the queen’s troops quartered in Scotland. He endeavoured to excuse the first contract; but had nothing to say about the second. The first appeared so plain and so scandalous to the Commons, that they voted the author of it guilty of a high breach of trust, and notorious corruption, committed him prisoner to the Tower, where he continued to the end of the session, and expelled him the House.[1] He was a person much caressed by the opposers of the Queen and ministry, having been first drawn into their party by his indifference to any principles, and afterwards kept steady by the loss of his place. His bold, forward countenance, altogether a stranger to that infirmity which makes men bashful, joined to a readiness of speaking in public, hath justly entitled him, among those of his faction, to be a sort of leader of the second form. The reader must excuse me for being so particular about one, who is otherwise altogether obscure.[2]

[Footnote 1: See “Part Hist,” vi. 1071. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Walpole was not too obscure, however, to be then the object of Bolingbroke’s attack; and in 1726, when Bolingbroke had again attacked Walpole, this time in a letter, the latter replied: “Whatever contradictions these gentlemen may have observed in my character; there is one which I’ll venture to assure you, you will never discover, which is my ever being alarmed at an opposition from one in the impotence of disgrace, who could never terrify me in the zenith of his prosperity.” “An Answer to the Occasional Writer.” [T.S.]]

Another part of the report concerned the Duke of Marlborough, who had received large sums of money, by way of gratuity, from those who were the undertakers for providing the army with bread.[3] This the Duke excused, in a letter to the commissioners, from the like practice of other generals: but that excuse appeared to be of little weight, and the mischievous consequences of such a corruption were visible enough; since the money given by these undertakers were but bribes for connivance at their indirect dealings with the army. And as frauds, that begin at the top, are apt to spread through all the subordinate ranks of those who have any share in the management, and to increase as they circulate: so, in this case, for every thousand pounds given to the general, the soldiers at least suffered fourfold.

[Footnote 3: See “The Examiner,” Nos. 17 and 28, in vol. ix. of this edition. [W.S.J.]]

Another article of this report, relating to the Duke, was yet of more importance. The greatest part of Her Majesty’s forces in Flanders were mercenary troops, hired from several princes of Europe. It was found that the Queen’s general subtracted two and a half _per cent_, out of the pay of those troops, for his own use, which amounted to a great annual sum. The Duke of Marlborough, in his letter already mentioned, endeavouring to extenuate the matter, told the commissioners, “That this deduction was a free gift from the foreign troops, which he had negotiated with them by the late King’s orders, and had obtained the Queen’s warrant for reserving and receiving it: That it was intended for secret service, the ten thousand pounds a year given by Parliament not proving sufficient, and had all been laid out that way.” The commissioners observed, in answer, “That the warrant was kept dormant for nine years, as indeed no entry of it appeared in the secretary of state’s books, and the deduction of it concealed all that time from the knowledge of Parliament: That, if it had been a free gift from the foreign troops, it would not have been stipulated by agreement, as the Duke’s letter confessed, and as his warrant declared, which latter affirmed this stoppage to be intended for defraying extraordinary contingent expenses of the troops, and therefore should not have been applied to secret services.” They submitted to the House, whether the warrant itself were legal, or duly countersigned. The commissioners added, “That no receipt was ever given for this deducted money, nor was it mentioned in any receipts from the foreign troops, which were always taken in full. And lastly, That the whole sum, on computation, amounted to near three hundred thousand pounds.”

The House, after a long debate, resolved, “That the taking several sums from the contractors for bread by the Duke of Marlborough, was unwarrantable and illegal; and that the two and a half _per cent_, deducted from the foreign troops, was public money, and ought to be accounted for:” which resolutions were laid before the Queen by the whole House, and Her Majesty promised to do her part in redressing what was complained of. The Duke and his friends had, about the beginning of the war, by their credit with the Queen, procured a warrant from Her Majesty for this perquisite of two and a half _per cent_. The warrant was directed to the Duke of Marlborough, and countersigned by Sir Charles Hedges, then secretary of state; by virtue of which the paymaster-general of the army was to pay the said deducted money to the general, and take a receipt in full from the foreign troops.

It was observed, as very commendable and becoming the dignity of such an assembly, that this debate was managed with great temper, and with few personal reflections upon the Duke of Marlborough. They seemed only desirous to come at the truth, without which they could not answer the trust reposed in them by those whom they represented, and left the rest to Her Majesty’s prudence. The attorney-general was ordered to commence an action against the Duke for the subtracted money, which would have amounted to a great sum, enough to ruin any private person, except himself. This process is still depending, although very moderately pursued, either by the Queen’s indulgence to one whom she had formerly so much trusted, or perhaps to be revived or slackened, according to the future demeanour of the defendant.[4]

[Footnote 4: Marlborough’s defence of himself may be found in the “Parliamentary History,” vol. vi., 1079. Writing to the Earl of Strafford, under date January 27, 1711, Bolingbroke speaking of this debate on Marlborough says: “What passed on Thursday in the House of Commons, will, I hope, show people abroad, as well as at home, that no merit, no grandeur, no riches can excuse, or save any one, who sets himself up in opposition to the Queen;” and, he might have added, to Mrs. Masham. It is to be questioned if Marlborough would have had to undergo the ordeal of this debate had it not been for the animosity against him on the part of this lady and her royal mistress, so deftly aroused by Harley. [T.S.]]

Some time after, Mr. Cardonnell,[5] a Member of Parliament, and secretary to the general in Flanders, was expelled the House, for the offence of receiving yearly bribes from those who had contracted to furnish bread for the army; and met with no further punishment for a practice, voted to be unwarrantable and corrupt.

These were all the censures of any moment which the Commons, under so great a weight of business, thought fit to make, upon the reports of their commissioners for inspecting the public accounts. But having promised, in the beginning of this History, to examine the state of the nation, with respect to its debts; by what negligence or corruption they first began, and in process of time made such a prodigious increase; and, lastly, what courses have been taken, under the present administration, to find out funds for answering so many unprovided incumbrances, as well as put a stop to new ones; I shall endeavour to satisfy the reader upon this important article.

By all I have yet read of the history of our own country, it appears to me, that the national debts, secured upon parliamentary funds of interest, were things unknown in England before the last Revolution under the Prince of Orange. It is true, that in the grand rebellion the king’s enemies borrowed money of particular persons, upon what they called the public faith; but this was only for short periods, and the sums no more than what they could pay at once, as they constantly did. Some of our kings have been very profuse in peace and war, and are blamed in history for their oppressions of the people by severe taxes, and for borrowing money which they never paid:[6] but national debts was a style, which, I doubt, would hardly then be understood. When the Prince of Orange was raised to the throne, and a general war began in these parts of Europe, the King and his counsellors thought it would be ill policy to commence his reign with heavy taxes upon the people, who had lived long in ease and plenty, and might be apt to think their deliverance too dearly bought: wherefore one of the first actions of the new government was to take off the tax upon chimneys, as a burthen very ungrateful to the commonalty. But money being wanted to support the war (which even the convention-parliament, that put the crown upon his head, were very unwilling he should engage in), the present Bishop of Salisbury[7] is said to have found out that expedient (which he had learned in Holland) of raising money upon the security of taxes, that were only sufficient to pay a large interest. The motives which prevailed on people to fall in with this project were many, and plausible; for supposing, as the ministers industriously gave out, that the war could not last above one or two campaigns at most, it might be carried on with very moderate taxes; and the debts accruing would, in process of time, be easily cleared after a peace. Then the bait of large