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  • 1898
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Her Majesty likewise pressed France by the same dispatches, to send full instructions to their plenipotentiaries, empowering them to offer to the allies such a plan of peace, as might give reasonable satisfaction to all her allies.

The Queen’s proposal for preventing an union between France and Spain was, “that Philip should formally renounce the kingdom of France for himself and his posterity; and that this renunciation should be confirmed by the Cortes or states of Spain, who, without question, would heartily concur against such an union, by which their country must become a province to France.” In like manner, the French princes of the blood were severally to renounce all title to Spain.

The French raised many difficulties upon several particulars of this expedient; but the Queen persisted to refuse any plan of peace before this weighty point were settled in the manner she proposed, which was afterwards submitted to, as in proper place we shall observe. In the mean time, the negotiation at Utrecht proceeded with a very slow pace; the Dutch interposing all obstructions they could contrive, refusing to come to any reasonable temper upon the Barrier Treaty, or to offer a plan, in concert with the Queen, for a general peace. Nothing less would satisfy them, than the partaking in those advantages we had stipulated for ourselves, and which did no ways interfere with their trade or security. They still expected some turn in England; their friends on this side had ventured to assure them, that the Queen could not live many months, which, indeed, from the bad state of Her Majesty’s health, was reasonable to expect. The British plenipotentiaries daily discovered new endeavours of Holland to treat privately with France; and, lastly, those among the States, who desired the war should continue, strove to gain time, until the campaign should open; and by resolving to enter into action with the first opportunity, render all things desperate, and break up the congress.

This scheme did exactly fall in with Prince Eugene’s dispositions, whom the States had chosen for their general, and of whose conduct, in this conjuncture, the Queen had too much reason to be jealous; but Her Majesty, who was resolved to do her utmost towards putting a good and speedy end to this war, having placed the Duke of Ormonde at the head of her forces in Flanders, whither he was now arrived, directed him to keep all the troops in British pay, whether subjects or foreigners, immediately under his own command; and to be cautious, for a while, in engaging in any action of importance, unless upon a very apparent advantage. At the same time the Queen determined to make one thorough trial of the disposition of the States, by allowing them the utmost concessions that could any way suit either with her safety or honour. She therefore directed her ministers at Utrecht, to tell the Dutch, “That, in order to shew how desirous she was to live in perfect amity with that republic, she would resign up the fifteen _per cent._, advantage upon English goods sent to the Spanish dominions, which the French King had offered her by a power from his grandson,[5] and be content to reduce that trade to the state in which it was under the late King of Spain. She would accept of any tolerable softening of these words in the seventh article of the Barrier Treaty, where it is said, ‘The States shall have power, in case of an apparent attack, to put as many troops as they please into all the places of the Netherlands,’ without specifying an attack from the side of France, as ought to have been done; otherwise, the Queen might justly think they were preparing themselves for a rupture with Britain. Her Majesty likewise consented, that the States should keep Nieuport, Dendermonde, and the Castle of Ghent, as an addition to their barrier, although she were sensible how injurious those concessions would be to the trade of her subjects; and would waive the demand of Ostend being delivered into her hands, which she might with justice insist on. In return for all this, that the Queen only desired the ministers of the States would enter into a close correspondence with hers, and settle between them some plan of a general peace, which might give reasonable content to all her allies, and which Her Majesty would endeavour to bring France to consent to. She desired the trade of her kingdoms to the Netherlands, and to the towns of their barrier, might be upon as good a foot as it was before the war began: That the Dutch would not insist to have share in the Assiento, to which they had not the least pretensions, and that they would no longer encourage the intrigues of a faction against her government. Her Majesty assured them in plain terms, that her own future measures, and the conduct of her plenipotentiaries, should be wholly governed by their behaviour in these points; and that her offers were only conditional, in case of their compliance with what she desired.”

[Footnote 5: Philip V., King of Spain. [W. S, J.]]

But all these proofs of the Queen’s kindness and sincerity could not avail. The Dutch ministers pleaded, they had no power to concert the plan of general peace with those of Britain: however, they assured the latter, that the Assiento was the only difficulty which stuck with their masters. Whereupon, at their desire, a contract for that traffic was twice read to them; after which they appeared very well satisfied, and said they would go to The Hague for further instructions. Thither they went, and, after a week’s absence, returned the same answer, “That they had no power to settle a scheme of peace; but could only discourse of it, when the difficulties of the Barrier Treaty were over.” And Mons. Buys took a journey to Amsterdam, on purpose to stir up that city, where he was pensionary, against yielding the Assiento to Britain; but was unsuccessful in his negotiation; the point being yielded up there, and in most other towns in Holland.

It will have an odd sound in history, and appear hardly credible, that in several petty republics of single towns, which make up the States General, it should be formally debated, whether the Queen of Great Britain, who preserved the commonwealth at the charge of so many millions, should be suffered to enjoy, after a peace, the liberty granted her by Spain of selling African slaves in the Spanish dominions of America! But there was a prevailing faction at The Hague, violently bent against any peace, where the Queen must act that part which they had intended for themselves. These politicians, who held constant correspondence with their old dejected friends in England, were daily fed with the vain hopes of the Queen’s death, or the party’s restoration. They likewise endeavoured to spin out the time, till Prince Eugene’s activity had pushed on some great event, which might govern or perplex the conditions of peace. Therefore the Dutch plenipotentiaries, who proceeded by the instructions of those mistaken patriots, acted in every point with a spirit of litigiousness, than which nothing could give greater advantage to the enemy; a strict union between the allies, but especially Britain and Holland, being doubtless the only means for procuring safe and honourable terms from France.

But neither was this the worst; for the Queen received undoubted intelligence from Utrecht, that the Dutch were again attempting a separate correspondence with France. And by letters, intercepted here, from Vienna, it was found, that the imperial court, whose ministers were in the utmost confidence with those of Holland, expressed the most furious rage against Her Majesty, for the steps she had taken to advance a peace.

This unjustifiable treatment, the Queen could not digest from an ally, upon whom she had conferred so many signal obligations, whom she had used with so much indulgence and sincerity during the whole course of the negotiation, and had so often invited to go along with her in every motion towards a peace. She apprehended likewise, that the negotiation might be taken out of her hands, if France could be secure of easier conditions in Holland, or might think that Britain wanted power to influence the whole confederacy. She resolved therefore, on this occasion, to exert herself with vigour, steadiness, and dispatch; and, in the beginning of May, sent her commands to the Earl of Strafford to repair immediately to England, in order to consult with her ministers what was proper to be done.

The proposal above mentioned, for preventing the union of France and Spain, met with many difficulties; Mons. de Torcy raising objections against several parts of it. But the Queen refused to proceed any farther with France, until this weighty point were fully settled to her satisfaction; after which, she promised to grant a suspension of arms, provided the town and citadel of Dunkirk might be delivered as a pledge into her hands: and proposed that Ypres might be surrendered to the Dutch, if they would consent to come into the suspension. France absolutely refused the latter; and the States General having acted in perpetual contradiction to Her Majesty, she pressed that matter no farther; because she doubted they would not agree to a cessation of arms. However, she resolved to put a speedy end, or at least intermission, to her own share in the war: and the French having declared themselves ready to agree to her expedients, for preventing the union of the two crowns, and consented to the delivery of Dunkirk; positive orders were sent to the Duke of Ormonde to avoid engaging in any battle or siege, until he had further instructions; but he was directed to conceal his orders, and to find the best excuses he could, if any pressing occasion should offer.

The reasons for this unusual proceeding, which made a mighty noise, were of sufficient weight to justify it; for, pursuant to the agreement made between us and France, a courier was then dispatched from Fontainebleau to Madrid, with the offer of an alternative to Philip, either of resigning Spain immediately to the Duke of Savoy, upon the hopes of succeeding to France, and some present advantage, which, not having been accepted, is needless to dilate on; or of adhering to Spain, and renouncing all future claim to France for himself and his posterity.

Until it could be known which part Philip would accept, the Queen would not take possession of Dunkirk, nor suffer an armistice to be declared. But, however, since the Most Christian King had agreed that his grandson should be forced, in case of a refusal, to make his choice immediately, Her Majesty could not endure to think, that perhaps some thousands of lives of her own subjects and allies might be sacrificed, without necessity, if an occasion should be found or sought for fighting a battle; which, she very well knew, Prince Eugene would eagerly attempt, and put all into confusion, to gratify his own ambition, the enmity of his new masters the Dutch, and the rage of his court.

But the Duke of Ormonde, who, with every other quality that can accomplish or adorn a great man, inherits all the valour and loyalty of his ancestors, found it very difficult to acquit himself of his commission;[6] for Prince Eugene, and all the field deputies of the States, had begun already to talk either of attacking the enemy, or besieging Quesnoy, the confederate army being now all joined by the troops they expected; and accordingly, about three days after the Duke had received those orders from court, it was proposed to his grace, at a meeting with the prince and deputies, that the French army should be attacked, their camp having been viewed, and a great opportunity offering to do it with success; for the Marechal de Villars, who had notice sent him by Mons. de Torcy of what was passing, and had signified the same by a trumpet to the Duke, shewed less vigilance than was usual to that general, taking no precautions to secure his camp, or observe the motions of the allies, probably on purpose to provoke them, the Duke said, “That the Earl of Strafford’s sudden departure for England, made him believe there was something of consequence now transacting, which would be known in four or five days; and therefore desired they would defer this or any other undertaking, until he could receive fresh letters from England.” Whereupon the prince and deputies immediately told the Duke, “That they looked for such an answer as he had given them: That they had suspected our measures for some time, and their suspicions were confirmed by the express his grace had so lately received, as well as by the negligence of Mons. Villars”. They appeared extremely dissatisfied; and the deputies told the Duke, that they would immediately send an account of his answer to their masters, which they accordingly did; and soon after, by order from the States, wrote him an expostulating letter, in a style less respectful than became them; desiring him, among other things, to explain himself, whether he had positive orders not to fight the French; and afterwards told him, “They were sure he had such orders, otherwise he could not answer what he had done.” But the Duke still waived the question, saying, “he would be glad to have letters from England, before he entered upon action, and that he expected them daily.”

[Footnote 6: For an estimate of Ormonde’s character see Swift’s “Enquiry into the Behaviour of the Queen’s Last Ministry,” vol. v. of present edition (pp. 428-430). Ormonde had done very little to deserve succeeding such a soldier as Marlborough. Indeed, his name was associated with the disgraceful expedition to Cadiz, in which he was in command of the English troops. [T.S.]]

Upon this incident, the ministers and generals of the allies immediately took the alarm, venting their fury in violent expressions against the Queen, and those she employed in her councils: said, they were betrayed by Britain, and assumed the countenance of those who think they have received an injury, and are disposed to return it.

The Duke of Ormonde’s army consisted of eighteen thousand of Her Majesty’s subjects, and about thirty thousand hired from other princes, either wholly by the Queen, or jointly by her and the States. The Duke immediately informed the court of the dispositions he found among the foreign generals upon this occasion; and that, upon an exigency, he could only depend on the British troops adhering to him; those of Hanover having already determined to desert to the Dutch, and tempted the Danes to do the like, and that he had reason to suppose the same of the rest.

Upon the news arriving at Utrecht, that the Duke of Ormonde had refused to engage in any action against the enemy, the Dutch ministers there went immediately to make their complaints to the lord privy seal; aggravating the strangeness of this proceeding, together with the consequence of it, in the loss of a most favourable opportunity for ruining the French army, and the discontent it must needs create in the whole body of the confederates. Adding, how hard it was that they should be kept in the dark, and have no communication of what was done in a point which so nearly concerned them. They concluded, that the Duke must needs have acted by orders; and desired his lordship to write both to court, and to his grace, what they had now said.

The bishop answered, “That he knew nothing of this fact, but what they had told him; and therefore was not prepared with a reply to their representations: only, in general, he could venture to say, that this case appeared very like the conduct of their field-deputies upon former occasions: That if such orders were given, they were certainly built upon very justifiable foundations, and would soon be so explained as to convince the States, and all the world, that the common interest would be better provided for another way, than by a battle or siege: That the want of communication which they complained of, could not make the States so uneasy as their declining to receive it had made the Queen, who had used her utmost endeavours to persuade them to concur with her in concerting every step towards a general peace, and settling such a plan as both sides might approve and adhere to; but, to this day, the States had not thought fit to accept those offers, or to authorize any of their ministers to treat with Her Majesty’s plenipotentiaries upon that affair, although they had been pressed to it ever since the negotiation began: That his lordship, to shew that he did not speak his private sense alone, took this opportunity to execute the orders he had received the evening before, by declaring to them, that all Her Majesty’s offers for adjusting the differences between her and the States were founded upon this express condition, That they should come immediately into the Queen’s measures, and act openly and sincerely with her; and that, from their conduct, so directly contrary, she now looked upon herself to be under no obligation to them.”

Mons. Buys and his colleagues were stunned with this declaration, made to them at a time when they pretended to think the right of complaining to be on their side, and had come to the bishop upon that errand. But after their surprise was abated, and Buys’s long reasonings at an end, they began to think how matters might be retrieved; and were of opinion, that the States should immediately dispatch a minister to England, unless his lordship were empowered to treat with them; which, without new commands, he said he was not. They afterwards desired to know of the bishop, what the meaning was of the last words in his declaration, “That Her Majesty looked upon herself to be under no obligation to them.” He told them his opinion, “That as the Queen was bound by treaty to concert with the States the conditions of a peace, so, upon their declining the concert so frequently offered, she was acquitted of that obligation: but that he verily believed, whatever measures Her Majesty should take, she would always have a friendly regard to the interest of their commonwealth; and that as their unkindness had been very unexpected and disagreeable to Her Majesty, so their compliance would be equally pleasing.”

I have been the more circumstantial in relating this affair, because it furnished abundance of discourse, and gave rise to many wild conjectures and misrepresentations, as well here as in Holland, especially that part which concerned the Duke of Ormonde;[7] for the angry faction in the House of Commons, upon the first intelligence, that the Duke had declined to act offensively against France, in concurrence with the allies, moved for an address, wherein the Queen should be informed of “the deep concern of her Commons for the dangerous consequences to the common cause, which must arise from this proceeding of her general; and to beseech her, that speedy instructions might be given to the Duke to prosecute the war with vigour, in order to quiet the minds of her people, &c.” But a great majority was against this motion, and a resolution drawn up and presented to the Queen by the whole House of a quite contrary tenor, “That they had an entire confidence in Her Majesty’s most gracious promise, to communicate to her Parliament the terms of the peace, before the same should be concluded; and that they would support Her Majesty, in obtaining an honourable and safe peace, against all such persons, either at home or abroad, who have endeavoured, or shall endeavour, to obstruct the same.”

[Footnote 7: This determination on the part of England to cease hostilities at this juncture has been most severely criticized. The matter formed, afterwards, the chief article in the impeachment of Bolingbroke, and an important article in the impeachment of Oxford. According to the “Report of the Committee of Secrecy,” and the Earl of Oxford’s answer to this charge in his impeachment, it seems as if St. John had instructed Ormonde so to act, without in any way consulting the council, and apparently purposely concealing the fact from his colleagues. Mr. Walter Sichel, however, in a note on p. 380 of his “Bolingbroke and his Times,” clearly traces the order to the desire of the Queen herself, and in his text lays on the Queen the blame that was visited on the heads of her ministers. See also note on p. 156. [T.S.]]

The courier sent with the alternative to Spain was now returned, with an account that Philip had chosen to renounce France for himself and his posterity, whereof the Queen having received notice, Her Majesty, upon the sixth of June, in a long speech to both Houses of Parliament, laid before them the terms of a general peace, stipulated between her and France. This speech, being the plan whereby both France and the allies have been obliged to proceed in the subsequent course of the treaty, I shall desire the reader’s leave to insert it at length, although I believe it hath been already in most hands.[7]

[Footnote 7: This speech was printed by John Baskett, 1712. [W.S.J.]]


“The making peace and war is the undoubted prerogative of the crown; yet such is the just confidence I place in you, that at the opening of this session, I acquainted you that a negotiation for a general peace was begun; and afterwards, by messages, I promised to communicate to you the terms of peace, before the same should be concluded.

“In pursuance of that promise, I now come to let you know upon what terms a general peace may be made.

“I need not mention the difficulties which arise from the very nature of this affair; and it is but too apparent, that these difficulties have been increased by other obstructions, artfully contrived to hinder this great and good work.

“Nothing, however, has moved me from steadily pursuing, in the first place, the true interests of my own kingdoms, and I have not omitted any thing, which might procure to all our allies what is due to them by treaties, and what is necessary for their security.

“The assuring of the Protestant succession, as by law established in the House of Hanover, to these kingdoms; being what I have nearest at heart, particular care is taken not only to have that acknowledged in the strongest terms, but to have an additional security, by the removal of that person out of the dominions of France, who has pretended to disturb this settlement.

“The apprehension that Spain and the West Indies might be united to France, was the chief inducement to begin this war; and the effectual preventing of such an union, was the principle I laid down at the commencement of this treaty. Former examples, and the late negotiations, sufficiently shew how difficult it is to find means to accomplish this work. I would not content myself with such as are speculative, or depend on treaties only: I insisted on what was solid, and to have at hand the power of executing what should be agreed.

“I can therefore now tell you, that France at last is brought to offer, that the Duke of Anjou shall, for himself and his descendants, renounce for ever all claim to the crown of France; and that this important article may be exposed to no hazard, the performance is to accompany the promise.

“At the same time the succession to the crown of France is to be declared, after the death of the present dauphin and his sons, to be in the Duke of Berry and his sons, in the Duke of Orleans and his sons, and so on to the rest of the House of Bourbon.

“As to Spain and the Indies, the succession to those dominions, after the Duke of Anjou and his children, is to descend to such prince as shall be agreed upon at the treaty, for ever excluding the rest of the House of Bourbon.

“For confirming the renunciations and settlements before mentioned, it is further offered, that they should be ratified in the most strong and solemn manner, both in France and Spain; and that those kingdoms, as well as all the other powers engaged in the present war, shall be guarantees to the same.

“The nature of this proposal is such, that it executes itself: the interest of Spain is to support it; and in France, the persons to whom that succession is to belong, will be ready and powerful enough to vindicate their own right.

“France and Spain are now more effectually divided than ever. And thus, by the blessing of God, will a real balance of power be fixed in Europe, and remain liable to as few accidents as human affairs can be exempted from.

“A treaty of commerce between these kingdoms and France has been entered upon; but the excessive duties laid on some goods, and the prohibitions of others, make it impossible to finish this work so soon as were to be desired. Care is however taken to establish a method of settling this matter; and in the mean time provision is made, that the same privileges and advantages, as shall be granted to any other nation by France, shall be granted in like manner to us.

“The division of the Island of St. Christopher, between us and the French, having been the cause of great inconveniency and damage to my subjects, I have demanded to have an absolute cession made to me of that whole island, and France agrees to this demand.

“Our interest is so deeply concerned in the trade of North America, that I have used my utmost endeavours to adjust that article in the most beneficial manner. France consents to restore to us the whole Bay and Straits of Hudson, to deliver up the Island of Newfoundland, with Placentia; and to make an absolute cession of Annapolis, with the rest of Nova Scotia, or Acadie.

“The safety of our home trade will be better provided for, by the demolition of Dunkirk.

“Our Mediterranean trade, and the British interest and influence in those parts, will be secured by the possession of Gibraltar and Port Mahon, with the whole island of Minorca, which are offered to remain in my hands.

“The trade to Spain and to the West Indies may in general be settled, as it was in the time of the late King of Spain, Charles the Second; and a particular provision be made, that all advantages, rights, or privileges, which have been granted, or which may hereafter be granted, by Spain to any other nation, shall be in like manner granted to the subjects of Great Britain.

“But the part which we have borne in the prosecution of this war, entitling us to some distinction in the terms of peace, I have insisted, and obtained, that the Assiento, or contract for furnishing the Spanish West Indies with negroes, shall be made with us for the term of thirty years, in the same manner as it has been enjoyed by the French for ten years past.

“I have not taken upon me to determine the interests of our confederates; these must be adjusted in the congress at Utrecht, where my best endeavours shall be employed, as they have hitherto constantly been, to procure to every one of them all just and reasonable satisfaction. In the mean time, I think it proper to acquaint you, that France offers to make the Rhine the barrier of the empire; to yield Brissac, the fort of Kehl, and Landau, and to raze all the fortresses, both on the other side of the Rhine, and in that river.

“As to the Protestant interest in Germany, there will be on the part of France no objection to the resettling thereof, on the foot of the treaty of Westphalia.

“The Spanish Low Countries may go to his Imperial Majesty: the kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia, the duchy of Milan, and the places belonging to Spain on the coast of Tuscany, may likewise be yielded by the treaty of peace to the Emperor.

“As to the kingdom of Sicily, though there remains no dispute concerning the cession of it by the Duke of Anjou, yet the disposition thereof is not yet determined.

“The interests of the States General, with respect to commerce, are agreed to, as they have been demanded by their own ministers, with the exception only of some very few species of merchandise; and the entire barrier, as demanded by the States in one thousand seven hundred and nine from France, except two or three places at most.

“As to these exceptions, several expedients are proposed; and I make no doubt but this barrier may be so settled, as to render that republic perfectly secure against any enterprise on the part of France; which is the foundation of all my engagements upon this head with the States.

“The demands of Portugal depending on the disposition of Spain, and that article having been long in dispute, it has not been yet possible to make any considerable progress therein; but my plenipotentiaries will now have an opportunity to assist that king in his pretensions.

“Those of the King of Prussia are such as, I hope, will admit of little difficulty on the part of France; and my utmost endeavours shall not be wanting to procure all I am able to so good an ally.

“The difference between the barrier demanded for the Duke of Savoy in one thousand seven hundred and nine, and the offers now made by France, is very inconsiderable: but that prince having so signally distinguished himself in the service of the common cause, I am endeavouring to procure for him still farther advantages.

“France has consented, that the Elector Palatine shall continue his present rank among the electors, and remain in possession of the Upper Palatinate.

“The electoral dignity is likewise acknowledged in the House of Hanover, according to the article inserted at that prince’s desire in my demands.

“And as to the rest of the allies, I make no doubt of being able to secure their several interests.

* * * * *


“I have now communicated to you, not only the terms of peace, which may, by the future treaty, be obtained for my own subjects; but likewise the proposals of France, for satisfying our allies.

“The former are such as I have reason to expect, to make my people some amends for that great and unequal burden which they have lain under, through the whole course of this war; and I am willing to hope, that none of our confederates, and especially those to whom so great accessions of dominion and power are to accrue by this peace, will envy Britain her share in the glory and advantage of it.

“The latter are not yet so perfectly adjusted, as a little more time might have rendered them; but the season of the year making it necessary to put an end to this session, I resolved no longer to defer communicating these matters to you.

“I can make no doubt but you are all fully persuaded, that nothing will be neglected on my part, in the progress of this negotiation, to bring the peace to an happy and speedy issue; and I depend on your entire confidence in me, and your cheerful concurrence with me.”

The discontented party in the House of Commons, finding the torrent against them not to be stemmed, suspended their opposition; by which means an address was voted, _nemine contradicente_, to acknowledge Her Majesty’s condescension, to express their satisfaction in what she had already done, and to desire she would please to proceed with the present negotiations for obtaining a speedy peace.

During these transactions at home, the Duke of Ormonde[8] was in a very uneasy situation at the army, employed in practising those arts which perhaps are fitter for a subtle negotiator than a great commander.[9] But as he had always proved his obedience, where courage or conduct could be of use; so the duty he professed to his prince, made him submit to continue in a state of inactivity at the head of his troops, however contrary to his nature, if it were for Her Majesty’s service. He had sent early notice to the ministers, that he could not depend upon the foreign forces in the Queen’s pay, and he now found some attempts were already begun to seduce them.

[Footnote 8: James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, succeeded his grandfather in that title in July, 1688, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1703, and again in 1710. He succeeded the Duke of Marlborough as captain general, and had the first regiment of Guards. Bishop Burnet says, “he had the same allowances that had been lately voted criminal in the Duke of Marlborough.” (“History,” vol. ii., p. 602). [N.]]

[Footnote 9: Bolingbroke had written a letter to Ormonde (dated May 10th, 1712) in which he informed the commander-in-chief that it was the “Queen’s positive command to your Grace, that you avoid engaging in any siege or hazarding a battle till you have farther orders from Her Majesty.” How to do this with dignity was not an easy matter. The continuation of this letter from Bolingbroke suggested the spirit, though it left to Ormonde the details of his procedure in so delicate a situation: “I am, at the same time, directed to let your Grace know that the Queen would have you disguise the receipt of this order; and her Majesty thinks that you cannot want pretences for conducting yourself so as to answer her ends, without owning that which might at present have an ill effect if it was publicly known.” (Bolingbroke, “Correspondence,” ii. 320). This is what Swift means by being: “employed in practicing those arts which perhaps are fitter for a subtle negotiator than a great commander.” [T.S.]]

While the courier was expected from Madrid, the Duke had orders to inform the Marechal de Villars of the true state of this affair; and that his grace would have decisive orders in three or four days. In the mean time, he desired the marechal would not oblige him to come to any action, either to defend himself, or to join with Prince Eugene’s army; which he must necessarily do, if the prince were attacked.

When the courier was arrived with the account, that Philip had chosen to accept of Spain, Her Majesty had proposed to France a suspension of arms for two months (to be prolonged to three or four), between the armies now in Flanders, upon the following conditions:

“That, during the suspension, endeavours should be used for concluding a general peace; or, at least, the article for preventing the union of France and Spain, should be punctually executed by Philip’s renouncing France, for himself and his posterity; and the princes of Bourbon, in like manner, renouncing Spain: and that the town, citadel, and forts of Dunkirk, should be immediately delivered into the Queen’s hands.” Her Majesty at the same time endeavoured to get Cambray for the Dutch, provided they would come into the suspension. But this was absolutely rejected by France; which that court would never have ventured to do, if those allies could have been prevailed on to have acted with sincerity and openness in concert with Her Majesty, as her plenipotentiaries had always desired. However, the Queen promised, that, if the States would yield to a suspension of arms, they should have some valuable pledge put into their possession.

But now fresh intelligence daily arrived, both from Utrecht and the army, of attempts to make the troops in Her Majesty’s pay desert her service; and a design even of seizing the British forces, was whispered about, and with reason suspected.

When the Queen’s speech was published in Holland, the lord privy seal told the Dutch ministers at Utrecht, “That what Her Majesty had laid before her Parliament could not, according to the rules of treaty, be looked on as the utmost of what France would yield in the course of a negotiation; but only the utmost of what that crown would propose, in order to form the plan of a peace: That these conditions would certainly have been better, if the States had thought fit to have gone hand in hand with Her Majesty, as she had so frequently exhorted them to do: That nothing but the want of harmony among the allies had spirited the French to stand out so long: That the Queen would do them all the good offices in her power, if they thought fit to comply; and did not doubt of getting them reasonable satisfaction, both in relation to their barrier and their trade.” But this reasoning made no impression: the Dutch ministers said, the Queen’s speech had deprived them of the fruits of the war. They were in pain, lest Lille and Tournay might be two of the towns to be excepted out of their barrier. The rest of the allies grew angry, by the example of the Dutch. The populace in Holland began to be inflamed: they publicly talked, that Britain had betrayed them. Sermons were preached in several towns of their provinces, whether by direction or connivance, filled with the highest instances of disrespect to Her Britannic Majesty, whom they charged as a papist, and an enemy to their country. The lord privy seal himself believed something extraordinary was in agitation, and that his own person was in danger from the fury of the people.

It is certain, that the States appeared but a few days before very much disposed to comply with the measures the Queen had taken, and would have consented to a general armistice, if Count Zinzendorf, one of the plenipotentiaries for the Emperor, had not, by direct orders from his court, employed himself in sowing jealousies between Britain and the States; and at the same time made prodigious offers to the latter, as well as to the ministers of Prussia, the Palatinate, and Hanover, for continuing the war. That those three electors, who contributed nothing, except bodies of men in return of pay and subsidies, should readily accept the proposals of the Emperor, is easy to be accounted for. What appears hardly credible is, that a grave republic, usually cautious enough in making their bargains, should venture to reject the thoughts of a peace upon the promises of the House of Austria, the little validity whereof they had so long experienced; and especially when they counted upon losing the support of Britain, their most powerful ally; but the false hopes given them by their friends in England of some new change in their favour, or an imagination of bringing France to better terms by the appearance of resolution, added to the weakness or corruption of some, who administered their affairs, were the true causes which first created, and afterwards inflamed, this untractable temper among them.

The Dutch ministers were wholly disconcerted and surprised, when the lord privy seal told them, “That a suspension of arms in the Netherlands would be necessary; and that the Duke of Ormonde intended very soon to declare it after he had taken possession of Dunkirk.” But his lordship endeavoured to convince them, that this incident ought rather to be a motive for hastening the States into a compliance with Her Majesty. He likewise communicated to the ministers of the allies the offers made by France, as delivered in the speech from the throne, which Her Majesty thought to be satisfactory, and hoped their masters would concur with her in bringing the peace to a speedy conclusion, wherein each, in particular, might be assured of her best offices for advancing their just pretensions.

In the mean time the Duke of Ormonde was directed to send a body of troops to take possession of Dunkirk, as soon as he should have notice from the Marechal de Villars, that the commandant of the town had received orders from his court to deliver it; but the Duke foresaw many difficulties in the executing of this commission. He could trust such an enterprise to no forces, except those of Her Majesty’s own subjects. He considered the temper of the States in this conjuncture, and was loth to divide a small body of men, upon whose faithfulness alone he could depend. He thought it not prudent to expose them to march through the enemy’s country, with whom there was yet neither peace nor truce; and he had sufficient reasons to apprehend, that the Dutch would either not permit such a detachment to pass through their towns (as themselves had more than hinted to him) or would seize them as they passed: besides, the Duke had very fairly signified to Marechal de Villars, that he expected to be deserted by all the foreign troops in Her Majesty’s pay, as soon as the armistice should be declared; at which the marechal appearing extremely disappointed, said, “The King his master reckoned, that all the troops under his grace’s command should yield to the cessation; and wondered how it should come to pass, that those who might be paid for lying still, would rather choose, after a ten years’ war, to enter into the service of new masters, under whom they must fight on for nothing.” In short, the opinion of Mons. Villars was, that this difficulty cancelled the promise of surrendering Dunkirk; which therefore he opposed as much as possible, in the letters he writ to his court.

Upon the Duke of Ormonde’s representing those difficulties, the Queen altered her measures, and ordered forces to be sent from England to take possession of Dunkirk. The Duke was likewise commanded to tell the foreign generals in Her Majesty’s service, how highly she would resent their desertion; after which, their masters must give up all thoughts of any arrears, either of pay or subsidy. The lord privy seal spoke the same language at Utrecht, to the several ministers of the allies; as Mr. Secretary St. John did to those who resided here; adding, “That the proceeding of the foreign troops would be looked upon as a declaration for or against Her Majesty: and that, in case they desert her service, she would look on herself as justified, before God and man, to continue her negotiation at Utrecht, or any other place, whether the allies concur or not.” And particularly the Dutch were assured, “That if their masters seduced the forces hired by the Queen, they must take the whole pay, arrears, and subsidies on themselves.”[10]

[Footnote 10: Compare this language of Bishop Robinson with the letter Bolingbroke had previously written to Thomas Harley (letter of May 17, 1712): “On the report which my Lord Strafford, who arrived here the day before yesterday, has made by word of mouth, as well as upon the contents of the latter dispatches from Utrecht, her Majesty is fully determined to let all negotiations sleep in Holland; since they have neither sense, nor gratitude, nor spirit enough to make a suitable return to the offers lately sent by the Queen, and communicated by the plenipotentiaries, her Majesty will look on herself as under no obligation towards them, but proceed to make the peace either with or without them.”

When the States-General addressed a complaint to the Queen of the manner in which England was deserting them, Bolingbroke had their letter formally condemned by a resolution of the House of Commons. He was determined to bring this peace about, and the Dutch might “kick and flounce like wild beasts caught in a toil; yet the cords are too strong for them to break.” (Report from the Committee of Secrecy.) [T.S.]]

The Earl of Strafford, preparing about this time to return to Utrecht, with instructions proper to the present situation of affairs, went first to the army, and there informed the Duke of Ormonde of Her Majesty’s intentions. He also acquainted the States deputies with the Queen’s uneasiness, lest, by the measures they were taking, they should drive her to extremities, which she desired so much to avoid. He farther represented to them, in the plainest terms, the provocations Her Majesty had received, and the grounds and reasons for her present conduct. He likewise declared to the commanders in chief of the foreign troops, in the Queen’s pay, and in the joint pay of Britain and the States, with how much surprise Her Majesty had heard, “That there was the least doubt of their obeying the orders of the Duke of Ormonde; which if they refused, Her Majesty would esteem it not only as an indignity and affront, but as a declaration against her; and, in such a case, they must look on themselves as no farther entitled either to any arrear, or future pay or subsidies.”

Six regiments, under the command of Mr. Hill,[11] were now preparing to embark, in order to take possession of Dunkirk; and the Duke of Ormonde, upon the first intelligence sent him, that the French were ready to deliver the town, was to declare he could act no longer against France. The Queen gave notice immediately of her proceedings to the States. She let them plainly know, “That their perpetual caballing with her factious subjects, against her authority, had forced her into such measures, as otherwise she would not have engaged in. However, Her Majesty was willing yet to forget all that had passed, and to unite with them in the strictest ties of amity, which she hoped they would now do; since they could not but be convinced, by the late dutiful addresses of both Houses, how far their High Mightinesses had been deluded, and drawn in as instruments to serve the turn, and gratify the passions, of a disaffected party: That their opposition, and want of concert with Her Majesty’s ministers, which she had so often invited them to, had encouraged France to except towns out of their barrier, which otherwise might have been yielded: That, however, she had not precluded them, or any other ally, from demanding more; and even her own terms were but conditional, upon supposition of a general peace to ensue: That Her Majesty resolved to act upon the plan laid down in her speech;” and she repeated the promise of her best offices to promote the interest of the States, if they would deal sincerely with her.

[Footnote 11: John Hill, brother to Mrs. Masham. It is not difficult to guess at the reason for this appointment. Here was a chance for Jack Hill to achieve some glory and wipe away the disgrace of the ill-starred Quebec expedition. As there was also no danger attached to the enterprise, all the more likely that he would succeed. Hill sailed with Admiral Sir John Leake and took peaceable possession of the town and forts. For this he was appointed Governor of Dunkirk, and while there he sent Swift a gold snuff-box as a present, “the finest that ever you saw,” as Swift wrote to Stella: See also vol. v., p. 80, of this edition. [T.S.]]

Some days before the Duke of Ormonde had notice, that orders were given for the surrender of Dunkirk, Prince Eugene of Savoy sent for the generals of the allies, and asked them severally, whether, in case the armies separated, they would march with him, or stay with the Duke? All of them, except two, who commanded but small bodies, agreed to join with the prince; who thereupon, about three days after, sent the Duke word, that he intended to march the following day (as it was supposed) to besiege Landrecies. The Duke returned an answer, “That he was surprised at the prince’s message, there having been not the least previous concert with him, nor any mention in the message, which way, or upon what design, the march was intended: therefore, that the Duke could not resolve to march with him; much less could the prince expect assistance from the Queen’s army, in any design undertaken after this manner.” The Duke told this beforehand, that he (the prince) might take his measures accordingly, and not attribute to Her Majesty’s general any misfortune that might happen.

On the sixteenth of July, N.S. the several generals of the allies joined Prince Eugene’s army, and began their march, after taking leave of the Duke and the Earl of Strafford, whose expostulations could not prevail on them to stay; although the latter assured them, that the Queen had made neither peace nor truce with France, and that her forces would now be left exposed to the enemy.

The next day after this famous desertion, the Duke of Ormonde received a letter from Mons. de Villars, with an account, that the town and citadel of Dunkirk should be delivered to Mr. Hill. Whereupon a cessation of arms was declared, by sound of trumpet, at the head of the British army; which now consisted only of about eighteen thousand men, all of Her Majesty’s subjects, except the Holsteiners, and Count Wallis’s dragoons.[12] With this small body of men the general began his march; and, pursuant to orders from court, retired towards the sea, in the manner he thought most convenient for the Queen’s service. When he came as far as Flines, he was told by some of his officers, that the commandants of Bouchain, Douay, Lille, and Tournay, had refused them passage through those towns, or even liberty of entrance, and said it was by order of their masters.[13] The Duke immediately recollected, that when the deputies first heard of his resolution to withdraw his troops, they told him, they hoped he did not intend to march through any of their towns. This made him conclude, that the orders must be general, and that his army would certainly meet with the same treatment which his officers had done. He had likewise, before the armies separated, received information of some designs that concerned the safety, or at least the freedom of his own person, and (which he much more valued) that of those few British troops entrusted to his care. No general was ever more truly or deservedly beloved by his soldiers, who, to a man, were prepared to sacrifice their lives in his service; and whose resentments were raised to the utmost, by the ingratitude, as they termed it, of their deserters.

[Footnote 12: Barner, who commanded the troops of Holstein, being two battalions and eight squadrons, and Walef or Waless, who commanded the dragoons of Liege, both followed Ormonde. [S.]]

[Footnote 13: At Bouchain, the British officers were told at the gates, that the commandant had positive orders to let no Englishman into the town; and at Douay, where the English had large stores and magazines, the same thing happened with considerable aggravation. Indeed, it was with difficulty and precaution that the commandant of the latter town would permit the body of an English colonel to be interred there. The same difficulties occurred at Tournay, Oudenarde, and Lille; and the Duke of Ormonde having sent an officer express to England on the 17th, he was stopped and interrupted at Haspre, misguided at Courtray, and refused admission at Bruges. (See “The Conduct of his Grace the Duke of Ormonde, in the Campagne of 1712,” 1715, pp. 46-50.) [S.]]

Upon these provocations, he laid aside all thoughts of returning to Dunkirk, and began to consider how he might perform, in so difficult a conjuncture, something important to the Queen, and at the same time find a secure retreat for his forces. He formed his plan without communicating it to any person whatsoever; and the disposition of the army being to march towards Warneton, in the way to Dunkirk, he gave sudden orders to Lieutenant-General Cadogan to change his route, according to the military phrase, and move towards Orchies, a town leading directly to Ghent.

When Prince Eugene and the States deputies received news of the Duke’s motions, they were alarmed to the utmost degree, and sent Count Nassau, of Woudenbourg, to the general’s camp near Orchies, to excuse what had been done, and to assure his grace, that those commandants, who had refused passage to his officers, had acted wholly without orders. Count Hompesch, one of the Dutch generals, came likewise to the Duke with the same story; but all this made little impression on the general, who held on his march, and on the twenty-third of July, N.S., entered Ghent, where he was received with great submission by the inhabitants, and took possession of the town, as he likewise did of Bruges, a few days after.

The Duke of Ormonde thought, that considering the present disposition of the States towards Britain, it might be necessary for the Queen to have some pledge from that republic in her hands, as well as from France, by which means Her Majesty would be empowered to act the part that best became her, of being mediator at least; and that while Ghent was in the Queen’s hands, no provisions could pass the Scheldt or the Lys without her permission, by which he had it in his power to starve their army. The possession of these towns might likewise teach the Dutch and Imperialists, to preserve a degree of decency and civility to Her Majesty, which both of them were upon some occasions too apt to forget: and besides, there was already in the town of Ghent, a battalion of British troops and a detachment of five hundred men in the citadel, together with a great quantity of ammunition stores for the service of the war, which would certainly have been seized or embezzled; so that no service could be more seasonable or useful in the present juncture than this, which the Queen highly approved, and left the Duke a discretionary power to act as he thought fit on any future emergency.

I have a little interrupted the order of time, in relating the Duke of Ormonde’s proceedings, who, after having placed a garrison at Bruges, and sent a supply of men and ammunition to Dunkirk, retired to Ghent, where he continued some months, till he had leave to return to England.

Upon the arrival of Colonel Disney[14] at court, with an account that Mr. Hill had taken possession of Dunkirk, an universal joy spread over the kingdom, this event being looked on as the certain forerunner of a peace: besides, the French faith was in so ill a reputation among us, that many persons, otherwise sanguine enough, could never bring themselves to believe, that the town would be delivered, till certain intelligence came that it was actually in our hands. Neither were the ministers themselves altogether at ease, or free from suspicion, whatever countenance they made; for they knew very well, that the French King had many plausible reasons to elude his promise, if he found cause to repent it. One condition of surrendering Dunkirk, being a general armistice of all the troops in the British pay, which Her Majesty was not able to perform; and upon this failure, the Marechal de Villars (as we have before related) endeavoured to dissuade his court from accepting the conditions: and in the very interval, while those difficulties were adjusting, the Marechal d’Uxelles, one of the French plenipotentiaries at Utrecht (whose inclinations, as well as those of his colleague Mons. Mesnager, led him to favour the States more than Britain) assured the lord privy seal, that the Dutch were then pressing to enter into separate measures with his master: and his lordship, in a visit to the Abbe de Polignac, observing a person to withdraw as he entered the abbe’s chamber, was told by this minister, that the person he saw was one Molo, of Amsterdam, mentioned before, a famous agent for the States with France, who had been entertaining him (the abbe) upon the same subject, but that he had refused to treat with Molo, without the privity of England.

[Footnote 14: Colonel Disney or Desnee, called “Duke” Disney, was one of the members of the Brothers Club, a boon companion of Bolingbroke, and, as Swift says, “not an old man, but an old rake.” From various sources we gather that he was a high liver, and not very nice in his ways of high living. In spite, however, of his undoubted profligacy, he must have been a man of good nature and a kindly heart, since he received affectionate record from Gay, Pope, and Swift. Mr. Walter Sichel quotes from “an unfinished sketch of a larger poem,” by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in which Disney’s worst characteristics are held up to ridicule. (“Bolingbroke and his Times,” pp. 288-290). Swift often refers to him in his “Journal.” [T.S.]]

Mr. Harley, whom we mentioned above to have been sent early in the spring to Utrecht, continued longer in Holland than was at first expected; but having received Her Majesty’s farther instructions, was about this time arrived at Hanover. It was the misfortune of his Electoral Highness, to be very ill served by Mons. Bothmar, his envoy here, who assisted at all the factious meetings of the discontented party, and deceived his master by a false representation of the kingdom, drawn from the opinion of those to whom he confined his conversation. There was likewise at the Elector’s court a little Frenchman, without any merit or consequence, called Robethon,[15] who, by the assistance and encouragement of the last ministry, had insinuated himself into some degree of that prince’s favour, which he used in giving his master the worst impressions he was able, of those whom the Queen employed in her service; insinuating, that the present ministers were not in the interest of his Highness’s family; that their views were towards the Pretender; that they were making an unsecure and dishonourable peace; that the weight of the nation was against them; and that it was impossible for them to preserve much longer their credit or power.

[Footnote 15: One of the Elector’s privy councillors. See note, vol. v., p. 468. “As little a fellow as Robethon is,” wrote Bolingbroke to Thomas Harley, “I have reason to believe that most of the ill impressions which have been given at that court have chiefly come from him; and as I know him to be mercenary, I doubt not but he has found his account in this his management.” (Bol., “Correspondence,” vol. ii., p. 385). [T.S.]]

The Earl Rivers had, in the foregoing year, been sent to Hanover, in order to undeceive the Elector, and remove whatever prejudices might be infused into his Highness against Her Majesty’s proceedings; but it should seem that he had no very great success in his negotiation: for soon after his return to England, Mons. Bothmar’s “Memorial” appeared in the manner I have already related, which discovered the sentiments of his electoral Highness (if they were truly represented in that “Memorial”) to differ not a little from those of the Queen. Mr. Harley was therefore directed to take the first opportunity of speaking to the Elector in private, to assure him, “That although Her Majesty had thought herself justly provoked by the conduct of his minister, yet such was her affection for his Highness, and concern for the interests of his family, that instead of showing the least mark of resentment, she had chosen to send him (Mr. Harley) fully instructed to open her designs, and shew his Highness the real interest of Britain in the present conjuncture.” Mr. Harley was to give the Elector a true account of what had passed in England, during the first part of this session of Parliament; to expose to his Highness the weakness of those with whom his minister had consulted, and under whose directions he had acted; to convince him how much lower that faction must become, when a peace should be concluded, and when the natural strength of the kingdom, disencumbered from the burthen of the war, should be at liberty to exert itself; to shew him how his interest in the succession was sacrificed to that of a party: that his Highness had been hitherto a friend to both sides, but that the measures taken by his ministers, had tended only to set him at the head of one in opposition to the other: to explain to the Elector, how fully the safety of Europe was provided for by the plan of peace in Her Majesty’s speech; and how little reason those would appear to have, who complained the loudest of this plan, if it were compared either with our engagements to them when we began the war, or with their performances in the course of it.

Upon this occasion Mr, Harley was to observe to the Elector, “That it should rather be wondered at, how the Queen had brought France to offer so much, than yet to offer no more; because, as soon as ever it appeared, that Her Majesty would be at the head of this treaty, and that the interests of Britain were to be provided for, such endeavours were used to break off the negotiation, as are hardly to be paralleled; and the disunion thereby created among the allies, had given more opportunities to the enemy, of being slow in their concessions, than any other measures might possibly have done: That this want of concert among the allies, could not in any sort be imputed to the Queen, who had all along invited them to it with the greatest earnestness, as the surest means to bring France to reason: That she had always, in a particular manner, pressed the States General to come into the strictest union with her, and opened to them her intentions with the greatest freedom; but finding, that instead of concurring with Her Majesty, they were daily carrying on intrigues to break off the negotiation, and thereby deprive her of the advantages she might justly expect from the ensuing peace, having no other way left, she was forced to act with France as she did, by herself: That, however, the Queen had not taken upon herself to determine the interests of the allies, who were at liberty of insisting on farther pretensions, wherein Her Majesty would not be wanting to support them as far as she was able, and improve the concessions already made by France; in which case, a good understanding and harmony among the confederates, would yet be of the greatest use for making the enemy more tractable and easy.”

I have been more particular in reciting the substance of Mr. Harley’s instructions, because it will serve as a recapitulation of what I have already said upon this subject, and seems to set Her Majesty’s intentions, and proceedings at this time, in the clearest light.

After the cessation of arms declared by the Duke of Ormonde, upon the delivery of Dunkirk, the British plenipotentiaries very earnestly pressed those of Holland to come into a general armistice; for if the whole confederacy acted in conjunction, this would certainly be the best means for bringing the common enemy to reasonable terms of peace: but the States, deluded by the boundless promises of Count Zinzendorf, and the undertaking talent of Prince Eugene, who dreaded the conclusion of the war, as the period of his glory, would not hear of a cessation. The loss of eighteen thousand Britons was not a diminution of weight in the balance of such an ally as the Emperor, and such a general as the Prince. Besides, they looked upon themselves to be still superior to France in the field; and although their computation was certainly right in point of number, yet, in my opinion, the conclusion drawn from it, was grounded upon a great mistake. I have been assured by several persons of our own country, and some foreigners of the first rank, both for skill and station in arms, that in most victories obtained in the present war, the British troops were ever employed in the post of danger and honour, and usually began the attack (being allowed to be naturally more fearless than the people of any other country), by which they were not only an example of courage to the rest, but must be acknowledged, without partiality, to have governed the fortune of the day; since it is known enough, how small a part of an army is generally engaged in any battle. It may likewise be added, that nothing is of greater moment in war than opinion. The French, by their frequent losses, which they chiefly attributed to the courage of our men, believed that a British general, at the head of British troops, was not to be overcome; and the Marechal de Villars was quickly sensible of the advantage he had got; for, in a very few days after the desertion of the allies, happened the Earl of Albemarle’s disgrace at Denain, by a feint of the Marechal’s, and a manifest failure somewhere or other, both of courage and conduct on the side of the confederates. The blame of which was equally shared between Prince Eugene and the Earl; although it is certain, the Duke of Ormonde gave the latter timely warning of his danger, observing he was neither intrenched as he ought, nor provided with bridges sufficient for the situation he was in, and at such a distance from the main army.[16]

[Footnote 16: It is alleged by the continuator of Rapin, that the surprise and defeat of the confederated troops under the Earl of Albemarle, at Denain, was, in a great measure, owing to the Duke of Ormonde having, in spite of all remonstrance, reclaimed and carried off certain pontoons which had been lent to the allies. For Prince Eugene having received intelligence of the design against Albemarle, marched to his succour; but the bridge having broken under the quantity of the baggage which had been transported across the Scheldt, he could only remain the spectator of their misfortune. [S.]]

The Marquis de Torcy had likewise the same sentiments, of what mighty consequence those few British battalions were to the confederate army; since he advised his master to deliver up Dunkirk, although the Queen could not perform the condition understood, which was a cessation of arms of all the foreign forces in her pay.

It must be owned, that Mons. de Torcy made great merit of this confidence that his master placed in the Queen; and observing Her Majesty’s displeasure against the Dutch, on account of their late proceedings, endeavoured to inflame it with aggravations enough; insinuating, “That, since the States had acted so ungratefully, the Queen should let her forces join with those of France, in order to compel the confederates to a peace.” But although this overture were very tenderly hinted from the French court, Her Majesty heard it with the utmost abhorrence; and ordered her secretary, Mr. St. John (created about this time Viscount Bolingbroke),[17] to tell Mons. de Torcy, “That no provocations whatever should tempt her to distress her allies; but she would endeavour to bring them to reason by fair means, or leave them to their own conduct: That if the former should be found impracticable, she would then make her own peace, and content herself with doing the office of a mediator between both parties: but if the States should at any time come to a better mind, and suffer their ministers to act in conjunction with hers, she would assert their just interests to the utmost, and make no farther progress in any treaty with France, until those allies received all reasonable satisfaction, both as to their barrier and their trade.” The British plenipotentiaries were directed to give the same assurances to the Dutch ministers at Utrecht, and withal to let them know, “That the Queen was determined, by their late conduct, to make peace either with or without them; but would much rather choose the former.”

[Footnote 17: Bolingbroke had understood that he would not lose rank on his promotion, from which he concluded that the earldom of Bolingbroke, extinct in his family, would be revived in his favour. His indignation, however, was very keen when he was created only a Viscount. He wrote to Strafford at Utrecht, that his promotion had been a mortification to him. “In the House of Commons,” he said, “I may say that I was at the head of business. … There was, therefore, nothing to flatter my ambition in removing me from thence, but giving me the title which had been many years in my family, and which reverted to the Crown about a year ago, by the death of the last of the elder house. … I own to you that I felt more indignation than ever in my life I had done.” (Letter to the Earl of Strafford, July 23, 1712). [T.S.]]

There was, however, one advantage which Her Majesty resolved to make by this defection of her foreigners. She had been led, by the mistaken politics of some years past, to involve herself in several guaranties with the princes of the north, which were, in some sort, contradictory to one another; but this conduct of theirs wholly annulled all such engagements, and left her at liberty to interpose in the affairs of those parts of Europe, in such a manner as would best serve the interests of her own kingdoms, as well as that of the Protestant religion, and settle a due balance of power in the north.

The grand article for preventing the union of France and Spain, was to be executed during a cessation of arms. But many difficulties arising about that, and some other points of great importance to the common cause, which could not easily be adjusted either between the French and British plenipotentiaries at Utrecht, or by correspondence between Mons. de Torcy and the ministry here; the Queen took the resolution of sending the Lord Viscount Bolingbroke immediately to France, fully instructed in all her intentions, and authorized to negotiate every thing necessary for settling the treaty of peace in such a course, as might bring it to a happy and speedy conclusion. He was empowered to agree to a general suspension of arms, by sea and land, between Great Britain, France and Spain, to continue for four months, or until the conclusion of the peace; provided France and Spain would previously give positive assurances to make good the terms demanded by Her Majesty for the Duke of Savoy, and would likewise adjust and determine the forms of the several renunciations to be made by both those crowns, in order to prevent their being ever united. The Lord Bolingbroke was likewise authorized to settle some differences relating to the Elector of Bavaria, for whose interests France was as much concerned as Her Majesty was for those of the Duke of Savoy; to explain all doubtful articles which particularly related to the advantages of Britain; to know the real _ultimatum_, as it is termed, of France upon the general plan of peace; and lastly, to cut off all hopes from that court of ever bringing the Queen to force her allies to a disadvantageous peace; Her Majesty resolving to impose no scheme at all upon them, or to debar them from the liberty of endeavouring to obtain the best conditions they could.

The Lord Bolingbroke went to France in the beginning of August,[18] was received at court with particular marks of distinction and respect; and in a very few days, by his usual address and ability, performed every part of his commission, extremely to the Queen’s content and his own honour. He returned to England before the end of the month; but Mr. Prior, who went along with him, was left behind, to adjust whatever differences might remain or arise between the two crowns.[19]

[Footnote 18: “Lord Bolingbroke and Prior set out for France last Saturday. My lord’s business is to hasten the peace before the Dutch are too much mauled, and hinder France from carrying the jest of beating them too far.” (“Journal to Stella,” August 7th, 1712. See vol. ii., p. 381 of present edition). The result of Bolingbroke’s visit was the signing, on August 19th, of an agreement for the suspension of arms for four months. Torcy’s reception of Bolingbroke was so managed that the _bon vivant_ peer had as pleasant a time as he could well have wished. How much influence that had on Bolingbroke we can only speculate; but it is certain that he would have made a separate peace with France, after his return, had Oxford been willing. See Torcy’s “Memoires” (vol. ii., p. 202). “Bolingbroke avoit conseille a la Reine sa maitresse de preferer une paix particuliere a la suspension d’armes, et d’assurer au plus tot a ses sujets la jouissance de toutes les conditions dont le Roi etoit convenu en faveur de l’Angleterre.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 19: There is a long letter from Lord Bolingbroke to Mr. Prior, on the subject of this negotiation, printed in Scott’s edition of Swift, vol. xv., pp. 524-529. [W.S.J.]]

In the mean time the general conferences at Utrecht, which for several weeks had been let fall, since the delivery of Dunkirk, were now resumed. But the Dutch still declaring against a suspension of arms, and refusing to accept the Queen’s speech as a plan to negotiate upon, there was no progress made for some time in the great work of the peace. Whereupon the British plenipotentiaries told those of the States, “That if the Queen’s endeavours could not procure more than the contents of her speech, or if the French should ever fall short of what was there offered, the Dutch could blame none but themselves, who, by their conduct, had rendered things difficult, that would otherwise have been easy.” However, Her Majesty thought it prudent to keep the States still in hopes of her good offices, to prevent them from taking the desperate course of leaving themselves wholly at the mercy of France; which was an expedient they formerly practised, and which a party among them was now inclined to advise.

Whilst the congress at Utrecht remained in this inactive state, the Queen proceeded to perfect that important article for preventing the union of France and Spain. It was proposed and accepted, that Philip should renounce France, for himself and his posterity; and that the Most Christian King, and all the princes of his blood, should, in the like manner, renounce Spain.

It must be confessed, that this project of renunciation lay under a great disrepute, by the former practices of this very King, Lewis XIV. pursuant to an absurd notion among many in that kingdom, of a divine right, annexed to proximity of blood, not to be controlled by any human law.

But it is plain, the French themselves had recourse to this method, after all their infractions of it, since the Pyrenean treaty; for the first dauphin, in whom the original claim was vested, renounced, for himself and his eldest son, which opened the way to Philip Duke of Anjou; who would however hardly have succeeded, if it had not been for the will made in his favour by the last King, Charles II.

It is indeed hard to reflect, with any patience, upon the unaccountable stupidity of the princes of Europe for some centuries past, who left a probability to France of succeeding in a few ages to all their dominions; whilst, at the same time, no alliance with that kingdom could be of advantage to any prince, by reason of the salique law. Should not common prudence have taught every sovereign in Christendom to enact a salique law, with respect to France; for want of which, it is almost a miracle, that the Bourbon family hath not possessed the universal monarchy by right of inheritance? When the French assert a proximity of blood gives a divine right, as some of their ministers, who ought to be more wise or honest, have lately advanced in this very case, to the title of Spain; do they not, by allowing a French succession, make their own kings usurpers? Or, if the salique law be divine, is it not of universal obligation, and consequently of force, to exclude France from inheriting by daughters? Or, lastly, if that law be of human institution, may it not be enacted in any state, with whatever extent or limitation the legislature shall think fit? For the notion of an unchangeable human law is an absurdity in government, to be believed only by ignorance, and supported by power. From hence it follows, that the children of the late Queen of France, although she had renounced, were as legally excluded from succeeding to Spain, as if the salique law had been fundamental in that kingdom; since that exclusion was established by every power in Spain, which could possibly give a sanction to any law there; and therefore the Duke of Anjou’s title is wholly founded upon the bequest of his predecessor (which hath great authority in that monarchy, as it formerly had in ours), upon the confirmation of the Cortes, and the general consent of the people.

It is certain, the faith of princes is so frequently subservient to their ambition, that renunciations have little validity, otherwise than from the powers and parties whose interest it is to support them. But this renunciation, which the Queen hath exacted from the French King and his grandson, I take to be armed with all the essential circumstances that can fortify such an act. For as it is necessary, for the security of every prince in Europe, that those two great kingdoms should never be united; so the chief among them will readily consent to be guarantees for preventing such a misfortune.

Besides, this proposal (according to Her Majesty’s expression in her speech) is of such a nature, that it executes itself; because the Spaniards, who dread such an union, for every reason that can have weight among men, took care that their king should not only renounce, in the most solemn manner; but likewise, that the act should be framed in the strongest terms themselves could invent, or we could furnish them with. As to France, upon supposal of the young dauphin’s dying in a few years, that kingdom will not be in a condition to engage in a long war against a powerful alliance, fortified with the addition of the Spaniards, and the party of the Duke of Berry, or whoever else shall be next claimer: and the longer the present dauphin lives, the weaker must Philip’s interest be in France; because the princes, who are to succeed by this renunciation, will have most power and credit in the kingdom.

The mischiefs occasioned by the want of a good understanding between the allies, especially Britain and Holland, were raised every day; the French taking the advantage, and raising difficulties, not only upon the general plan of peace, but likewise upon the explanation of several articles in the projected treaty between them and Her Majesty: They insisted to have Lille, as the equivalent for Dunkirk; and demanded Tournay, Maubeuge, and Conde, for the two or three towns mentioned in the Queen’s speech; which the British plenipotentiaries were so far from allowing, that they refused to confer with those of France upon that foot; although, at the same time, the former had fresh apprehensions that the Dutch, in a fit of despair, would accept whatever terms the enemy pleased to offer, and, by precipitating their own peace, prevent Her Majesty from obtaining any advantages, both for her allies and herself.

It is most certain, that the repeated losses suffered by the States, in little more than two months after they had withdrawn themselves from the Queen’s assistance, did wholly disconcert their counsels;[20] and their prudence (as it is usual) began to forsake them with their good fortune. They were so weak as to be still deluded by their friends in England, who continued to give them hopes of some mighty and immediate resource from hence; for when the Duke of Ormonde had been about a month in Ghent, he received a letter from the Marechal de Villars, to inform him, that the Dutch generals, taken at Denain, had told the marechal publicly, of a sudden revolution expected in Britain; that particularly the Earl of Albemarle and Mons. Hompesch discoursed very freely of it, and that nothing was more commonly talked of in Holland. It was then likewise confidently reported in Ghent, that the Queen was dead; and we all remember what rumour flew about here at the very same time, as if Her Majesty’s health were in a bad condition.

[Footnote 20: The Dutch had been defeated at Douay, and the Allies had suffered reverses by the reduction of Quesnoy and Bouchain. [T.S.]]

Whether such vain hopes as these gave spirit to the Dutch; whether their frequent misfortunes made them angry and sullen; whether they still expected to overreach us by some private stipulations with France, through the mediation of the Elector of Bavaria, as that prince afterwards gave out; or whatever else was the cause, they utterly refused a cessation of arms; and made not the least return to all the advances and invitations made by Her Majesty, until the close of the campaign.

It was then the States first began to view their affairs in another light; to consider how little the vast promises of Count Zinzendorf were to be relied on; to be convinced that France was not disposed to break with Her Majesty, only to gratify their ill humour, or unreasonable demands; to discover that their factious correspondents on this side the water had shamefully misled them; that some of their own principal towns grew heartily weary of the war, and backward in their loans; and, lastly, that Prince Eugene, their new general, whether his genius or fortune had left him, was not for their turn. They, therefore, directed their ministers at Utrecht to signify to the lord privy seal and the Earl of Strafford, “That the States were disposed to comply with Her Majesty, and to desire her good offices with France; particularly, that Tournay and Conde might be left to them as part of their barrier, without which they could not be safe: That the Elector of Bavaria might not be suffered to retain any town in the Netherlands, which would be as bad for Holland as if those places were in the hands of France: Therefore the States proposed, that Luxembourg, Namur, Charleroy, and Nieuport, might be delivered to the Emperor. Lastly, That the French might not insist on excepting the four species of goods out of the tariff of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four: That if Her Majesty could prevail with France to satisfy their masters on these articles, they would be ready to submit in all the rest.”

When the Queen received an account of this good disposition in the States General, immediately orders were sent to Mr. Prior, to inform the ministers of the French court, “That Her Majesty had now some hopes of the Dutch complying with her measures; and therefore she resolved, as she had always declared, whenever those allies came to themselves, not to make the peace without their reasonable satisfaction.” The difficulty that most pressed, was about the disposal of Tournay and Conde. The Dutch insisted strongly to have both, and the French were extremely unwilling to part with either.

The Queen judged the former would suffice, for completing the barrier of the States. Mr. Prior was therefore directed to press the Marquis de Torcy effectually on this head, and to terminate all that minister’s objections, by assuring him of Her Majesty’s resolutions to appear openly on the side of the Dutch, if this demand were refused. It was thought convenient to act in this resolute manner with France, whose late success, against Holland, had taught the ministers of the Most Christian King to resume their old imperious manner of treating with that republic; to which they were farther encouraged by the ill understanding between Her Majesty and the allies.

This appeared from the result of an idle quarrel that happened, about the end of August,[21] at Utrecht, between a French and a Dutch plenipotentiary, Mons. Mesnager and Count Rechteren;[22] wherein the court of France demanded such abject submissions, and with so much haughtiness, as plainly shewed they were pleased with any occasion of mortifying the Dutch.

[Footnote 21: July. [S]]

[Footnote 22: See note on p. 95. [T.S.]]

Besides, the politics of the French ran at this time very opposite to those of Britain: They thought the ministers here durst not meet the Parliament without a peace; and that, therefore, Her Majesty would either force the States to comply with France, by delivering up Tournay, which was the principal point in dispute, or would finish her own peace with France and Spain, leaving a fixed time for Holland to refuse or accept the terms imposed on them. But the Queen, who thought the demand of Tournay by the States to be very necessary and just, was determined to insist upon it, and to declare openly against France, rather than suffer her ally to want a place so useful for their barrier. And Mr. Prior was ordered to signify this resolution of Her Majesty to Mons. de Torcy, in case that minister could not be otherwise prevailed on.

The British plenipotentiaries did likewise, at the same time, express to those of Holland Her Majesty’s great satisfaction, that the States were at last disposed to act in confidence with her: “That she wished this resolution had been sooner taken, since nobody had gained by the delay, but the French King; that, however, Her Majesty did not question the procuring a safe and honourable peace, by united counsels, reasonable demands, and prudent measures; that she would assist them in getting whatever was necessary to their barrier, and in settling, to their satisfaction, the exceptions made by France out of the tariff of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four; that no other difficulties remained of moment to retard the peace, since the Queen had obtained Sicily for the Duke of Savoy; and, in the settlement of the Low Countries, would adhere to what she delivered from the throne: That as to the empire, Her Majesty heartily wished their barrier as good as could be desired; but that we were not now in circumstances to expect every thing exactly according to the scheme of Holland: France had already offered a great part, and the Queen did not think the remainder worth the continuance of the war.”

Her Majesty conceived the peace in so much forwardness, that she thought fit, about this time, to nominate the Duke of Hamilton and the Lord Lexington for ambassadors in France and Spain, to receive the renunciations in both courts, and adjust matters of commerce.

The duke[23] was preparing for his journey, when he was challenged to a duel[24] by the Lord Mohun,[25] a person of infamous character. He killed his adversary upon the spot, though he himself received a wound; and, weakened by the loss of blood, as he was leaning in the arms of his second, was most barbarously stabbed in the breast by Lieutenant-General Macartney,[26] who was second to Lord Mohun. He died a few minutes after in the field, and the murderer made his escape. I thought so surprising an event might deserve barely to be related, although it be something foreign to my subject.

[Footnote 23: James, Duke of Hamilton, was a gentleman of the bed-chamber to King Charles II. He succeeded his father in the title, April 18th, 1694, and was sent the same year envoy extraordinary to France; … he was killed, November 15th, 1712. [S.]]

[Footnote 24: Swift’s account of the duel is exactly agreeable to the depositions of Colonel Hamilton before a committee of the council. [S.]]

[Footnote 25: Charles Lord Mohun was the last offspring of a very noble and ancient family, of which William de Mohun, who accompanied the Norman conqueror, was the first founder in England. [S.]]

[Footnote 26: General Macartney was tried, at the King’s Bench bar, for the murder, June 13th, 1716; and the jury found him guilty of man-slaughter. [S.]]

The Earl of Strafford, who had come to England in May last,[27] in order to give Her Majesty an account of the disposition of affairs in Holland, was now returning with her last instructions, to let the Dutch minister know, “That some points would probably meet with difficulties not to be overcome, which once might have been easily obtained: To shew what evil consequences had already flowed from their delay and irresolution, and to entreat them to fix on some proposition, reasonable in itself, as well as possible to be effected: That the Queen would insist upon the cession of Tournay by France, provided the States would concur in finishing the peace, without starting new objections, or insisting upon farther points: That the French demands, in favour of the Elector of Bavaria, appeared to be such as, the Queen was of opinion, the States ought to agree to; which were, to leave the Elector in possession of Luxembourg, Namur, and Charleroy, subject to the terms of their barrier, until he should be restored to his electorate; and to give him the kingdom of Sardinia, to efface the stain of his degradation in the electoral college: That the earl had brought over a project of a new Treaty of Succession and Barrier, which Her Majesty insisted the States should sign, before the conclusion of the peace; the former treaty having been disadvantageous to her subjects, containing in it the seeds of future dissensions, and condemned by the sense of the nation. Lastly, That Her Majesty, notwithstanding all provocations, had, for the sake of the Dutch, and in hopes of their recovery from those false notions which had so long misled them, hitherto kept the negotiations open: That the offers now made them were her last, and this the last time she would apply to them: That they must either agree, or expect the Queen would proceed immediately to conclude her treaty with France and Spain, in conjunction with such of her allies as would think fit to adhere to her.

[Footnote 27: “Come to England in … last” in original edition. The word “May” was supplied in the edition of 1775. [W.S.J.]]

“As to Savoy, that the Queen expected the States would concur with her in making good the advantages stipulated for that duke, and in prevailing with the Emperor to consent to an absolute neutrality in Italy, until the peace should be concluded.”

The governing party in Holland, however in appearance disposed to finish, affected new delays, and raised many difficulties about the four species of goods, which the French had excepted out of the tariff. Count Zinzendorf, the Emperor’s plenipotentiary, did all that was possible to keep up this humour in the Dutch, in hopes to put them under a necessity of preparing for the next campaign; and some time after went so far in this pursuit, that he summoned the several ministers of the empire, and told them he had letters from his master, with orders to signify to them, “That his Imperial Majesty resolved to begin the campaign early, with all his forces united against France; of which he desired they would send notice to all their courts, that the several princes might be ready to furnish their contingents and recruits.” At the same time Zinzendorf endeavoured to borrow two millions of florins upon the security of some imperial cities; but could not succeed either amongst the Jews or at Amsterdam.

When the Earl of Strafford arrived at Utrecht, the lord privy seal and he communicated to the Dutch ministers the new Treaty for a Succession and Barrier, as the Queen had ordered it to be prepared here in England, differing from the former in several points of the greatest moment, obvious to any who will be at the pains to compare them. This was strenuously opposed for several weeks by the plenipotentiaries of the States; but the province of Utrecht, where the congress was held, immediately sent orders to their representatives at The Hague, to declare their province thankful to the Queen; that they agreed the peace should be made on the terms proposed by France, and consented to the new projected Treaty of Barrier and Succession: and about the close of the year, one thousand seven hundred and twelve, four of the seven provinces, had delivered their opinions for putting an end to the war.

This unusual precipitation in the States, so different from the whole tenor of their former conduct, was very much suspected by the British plenipotentiaries. Their Lordships had received intelligence, that the Dutch ministers held frequent conferences with those of France, and had offered to settle their interests with that crown, without the concurrence of Britain. Count Zinzendorf, and his colleagues, appeared likewise, all on the sudden, to have the same dispositions, and to be in great haste to settle their several differences with the States. The reasons for this proceeding were visible enough; many difficulties were yet undetermined in the treaty of commerce between Her Majesty and France, for the adjusting of which, and some other points, the Queen had lately dispatched the Duke of Shrewsbury to that court. Some of these were of hard digestion, with which the Most Christian King would not be under a necessity of complying, when he had no farther occasion for us, and might, upon that account, afford better terms to the other two powers. Besides, the Emperor and the States could very well spare Her Majesty the honour of being arbitrator of a general peace; and the latter hoped by this means, to avoid the new Treaty of Barrier and Succession, which we were now forcing on them.

To prevent the consequences of this evil, there fortunately fell out an incident, which the two lords at Utrecht knew well how to make use of: the quarrel between Mons. Mesnager and Count Rechteren (formerly mentioned) had not yet been made up. The French and Dutch differing in some circumstances, about the satisfaction to be given by the count for the affront he had offered, the British plenipotentiaries kept this dispute on foot for several days; and, in the mean time, pressed the Dutch to finish the new Treaty of Barrier and Succession between Her Majesty and them, which, about the middle of January, was concluded fully to the Queen’s satisfaction.

But while these debates and differences continued at the congress, the Queen resolved to put a speedy end to her part in the war; she therefore sent orders to the lord privy seal, and the Earl of Stafford, to prepare every thing necessary for signing her own treaty with France. This she hoped might be done against the meeting of her Parliament, now prorogued to the third of February; in which time, those among the allies, who were really inclined towards a peace, might settle their several interests by the assistance and support of Her Majesty’s plenipotentiaries; and as for the rest, who would either refuse to comply, or endeavour to protract the negotiation, the heads of their respective demands, which France had yielded by Her Majesty’s intervention, and agreeable to the plan laid down in her speech, should be mentioned in the treaty, and a time limited for the several powers concerned to receive or reject them.

The Pretender was not yet gone out of France, upon some difficulties alleged by the French, about procuring him a safe conduct to Bar-le-duc, in the Duke of Lorraine’s dominions, where it was then proposed he should reside. The Queen, altogether bent upon quieting the minds of her subjects, declared, she would not sign the peace till that person were removed; although several wise men believed he could be no where less dangerous to Britain, than in the place where he was.

The argument which most prevailed on the States to sign the new Treaty of Barrier and Succession with Britain, was Her Majesty’s promise to procure Tournay for them from France; after which, no more differences remained between us and that republic, and consequently they had no farther temptations to any separate transactions with the French, who thereupon began to renew their litigious and haughty manner of treating with the Dutch. The satisfaction they extorted for the affront given by Count Rechteren to Mons. Mesnager, although somewhat softened by the British ministers at Utrecht, was yet so rigorous, that Her Majesty could not forbear signifying her resentment of it to the Most Christian King. Mons. Mesnager, who seemed to have more the genius of a merchant than a minister, began, in his conferences with the plenipotentiaries of the States, to raise new disputes upon points which both we and they had reckoned upon as wholly settled. The Abbe de Polignac, a most accomplished person, of great generosity and universal understanding, was gone to France to receive the cardinal’s cap; and the Marechal d’Uxelles was wholly guided by his colleague, Mons. Mesnager, who kept up those brangles, that for a time obstructed the peace; some of which were against all justice, and others of small importance, both of very little advantage to his country, and less to the reputation of his master or himself. This low talent in business, which the Cardinal de Polignac used, in contempt, to call a “spirit of negotiating,” made it impossible for the two lords plenipotentiaries, with all their abilities and experience, to bring Mesnager to reason, in several points both with us and the States: his concessions were few and constrained, serving only to render him more tenacious of what he refused. In several of the towns, which the States were to keep, he insisted that France should retain the chatellanies, or extent of country depending on them, particularly that of Tournay; a demand the more unjustifiable, because he knew his master had not only proceeded directly contrary, but had erected a court in his kingdom, where his own judges extended the territories about those towns he had taken, as far as he pleased to direct them. Mons. Mesnager showed equal obstinacy in what his master expected for the Elector of Bavaria, and in refusing the tariff of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four: so that the Queen’s plenipotentiaries represented these difficulties as what might be of dangerous consequence, both to the peace in general, and to the States in particular, if they were not speedily prevented.

Upon these considerations Her Majesty thought it her shortest and safest course to apply directly to France, where she had then so able a minister as the Duke of Shrewsbury.[28]

[Footnote 28: Shrewsbury had been appointed the Duke of Hamilton’s successor. [T.S.]]

The Marquis de Torcy, secretary to the Most Christian King, was the minister with whom the Duke was to treat, as having been the first who moved his master to apply to the Queen for a peace, in opposition to a violent faction in that kingdom, who were as eagerly bent to continue the war, as any other could be either here or in Holland.

It would be very unlike a historian, to refuse this great minister the praise he so justly deserveth, of having treated, through the whole course of so great a negotiation, with the utmost candour and integrity; never once failing in any promise he made, and tempering a firm zeal to his master’s interest, with a ready compliance to what was reasonable and just. Mr. Prior, whom I have formerly mentioned, resided likewise now at Paris, with the character of minister plenipotentiary, and was very acceptable to that court, upon the score of his wit and humour.[29]

[Footnote 29: P. Fitzgerald adds, “as well as useful to Her Majesty by his knowledge and dexterity in the management of affairs.” [W.S.J.]]

The Duke of Shrewsbury was directed to press the French court upon the points yet unsettled in the treaty of commerce between both crowns; to make them drop their unreasonable demands for the Elector of Bavaria; to let them know, that the Queen was resolved not to forsake her allies who were now ready to come in; that she thought the best way of hastening the general peace, was to determine her own particular one with France, until which time she could not conveniently suffer her Parliament to meet.

The States were, by this time, so fully convinced of the Queen’s sincerity and affection to their republic, and how much they had been deceived by the insinuations of the factious party in England, that they wrote a very humble letter to Her Majesty, to desire her assistance towards settling those points they had in dispute with France, and professing themselves ready to acquiesce in whatever explanation Her Majesty would please to make of the plan proposed in her speech to the Parliament.

But the Queen had already prevented their desires; and in the beginning of February, one thousand seven hundred and twelve-thirteen, directed the Duke of Shrewsbury to inform the French court, “That since she had prevailed on her allies, the Dutch, to drop the demand of Conde, and the other of the four species of goods, which the French had excepted out of the tariff of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four, she would not sign without them: That she approved of the Dutch insisting to have the chatellanies restored, with the towns, and was resolved to stand or fall with them, until they were satisfied in this point.”

Her Majesty had some apprehensions, that the French created these difficulties on purpose to spin out the treaty, until the campaign should begin. They thought it absolutely necessary, that our Parliament should meet in a few weeks, which could not well be ventured, until the Queen were able to tell both Houses, that her own peace was signed: That this would not only facilitate what remained in difference between Britain and France, but leave the Dutch entirely at the mercy of the latter.

The Queen, weary of these refined mistakes in the French politics, and fully resolved to be trifled with no longer, sent her determinate orders to the Duke of Shrewsbury, to let France know, “That Her Majesty had hitherto prorogued her Parliament, in hopes of accommodating the difficulties in her own treaties of peace and commerce with that crown, as well as settling the interests of her several allies; or, at least, that the differences in the former being removed, the Most Christian King would have made such offers for the latter, as might justify Her Majesty in signing her own peace, whether the confederates intended to sign theirs or no. But several points being yet unfinished between both crowns, and others between France and the rest of the allies, especially the States, to which the plenipotentiaries of that court at Utrecht had not thought fit to give satisfaction; the Queen was now come to a final determination, both with relation to her own kingdoms, and to the whole alliance: That the campaign approaching, she would not willingly be surprised in case the war was to go on: That she had transmitted to the Duke of Shrewsbury her last resolutions, and never would be prevailed on to reduce her own demands, or those of her allies, any lower than the scheme now sent over, as an explanation of the plan laid down in her speech: That Her Majesty had sent orders to her plenipotentiaries at Utrecht, to assume the character of ambassadors, and sign the peace immediately with the ministers of the Most Christian King, as soon as the Duke of Shrewsbury should have sent them notice that the French had complied: That the Queen had therefore farther prorogued her Parliament to the third of March, in hopes to assure them, by that time, of her peace being agreed on; for if the two Houses should meet, while any uncertainty remained, supplies must be asked as for a war.”

The Duke of Shrewsbury[30] executed this important commission with that speed and success, which could only be expected from an able minister. The French King immediately yielded to the whole scheme Her Majesty proposed; whereupon directions were sent to the lord privy seal, and the Earl of Strafford, to sign a peace between Great Britain and France, without delay.

[Footnote 30: Swift writes to Abp. King, October 20th, 1713, that the Duke of Shrewsbury “is the finest gentleman we have, and of an excellent understanding and capacity for business” (Scott’s edition, xvi. 71). See also Swift’s remarks in “The Examiner,” No. 27 (vol. ix, of this edition, p. 171), and note in vol. v., p. 377. [W.S.J.]]

Upon the second day of March, the two British plenipotentiaries met those of the allies in the town-house at Utrecht; where the lord privy seal addressed himself to them in a short speech, “That the negotiation had now continued fourteen months with great slowness, which had proved very injurious to the interests of the allies: That the Queen had stayed thus long, and stopped the finishing of her own peace, rather than leave her allies in any uncertainty: That she hoped they would now be all prepared to put an end to this great work; and therefore had commanded her plenipotentiaries to tell those of the allies, That she found it necessary to conclude her own treaty immediately; and it was her opinion, that the confederates ought to finish theirs at the same time, to which they were now accordingly invited by Her Majesty’s orders.” And lastly, his lordship declared, in the Queen’s name, “That whoever could not be ready on the day prefixed, should have a convenient time allowed them to come in.”

Although the orders sent by the Queen to her plenipotentiaries were very precise, yet their lordships did not precipitate the performance of them. They were directed to appoint as short a day for the signing as they conveniently could; but, however, the particular day was left to their discretion. They hoped to bring over the Dutch, and most of the other allies, to conclude at the same time with the Queen; which, as it would certainly be more popular to their country, so they conceived it would be more safe for themselves: besides, upon looking over their commission, a scruple sprang in their minds, that they could not sign a particular peace with France; their powers, as they apprehended, authorizing them only to sign a general one. Their lordships therefore sent to England to desire new powers,[31] and, in the mean time, employed themselves with great industry, between the ministers of France and those of the several allies, to find some expedient for smoothing the way to an agreement among them.

[Footnote 31: “Lord Bolingbroke, who says he has not sagacity enough to find the objections that the plenipotentiaries had made to their first full powers, for their satisfaction, sends them a new commission, and repeats to them positive orders to sign and conclude with France…. These difficulties of the plenipotentiaries made my lord treasurer, who never failed to exert himself when he found it absolutely necessary, think it high time to interpose his authority;…. and as his lordship never yet appeared in vain, all further obstructions at Utrecht were after this soon removed.” (“Report from the Committee of Secrecy,” 1715, pp. 103, 104.) [N.]]

The Earl of Strafford went for a few days to The Hague, to inform the States of Her Majesty’s express commands to his colleague and himself, for signing the peace as soon as possible; and to desire they would be ready at the same time: which the pensionary promised; and that their plenipotentiaries should be empowered accordingly, to the great contentment of Mons. Buys, who was now so much altered, either in reality, or appearance, that he complained to the Earl of Mons. Heinsius’s slowness; and charged all the delays and mismanagements of a twelvemonth past to that minister’s account.

While the Earl of Strafford stayed at The Hague, he discovered that an emissary of the Duke of Marlborough’s had been there some days before, sent by his grace to dissuade the Dutch from signing at the same time with the ministers of the Queen, which, in England, would at least have the appearance of a separate peace, and oblige their British friends, who knew how to turn so short a delay to very good account, as well as gratify the Emperor; on whom, it was alleged, they ought to rely much more than on Her Majesty. One of the States likewise told the Earl, “That the same person, employed by the Duke, was then in conference with the magistrates of Rotterdam (which town had declared for the continuance of the war), to assure them, if they would hold off a little, they should see an unexpected turn in the British Parliament: That the Duke of Marlborough had a list of the discontented members in both Houses, who were ready to turn against the court; and, to crown all, that his grace had certain intelligence of the Queen being in so ill a state of health, as made it impossible for her to live above six weeks.” So restless and indefatigable is avarice and ambition, when inflamed by a desire of revenge.

But representations, which had been so often tried, were now offered too late. Most of the allies, except the Emperor, were willing to put an end to the war upon Her Majesty’s plan; and the further delay of three weeks must be chiefly imputed to that litigious manner of treating, peculiar to the French; whose plenipotentiaries at Utrecht insisted with obstinacy upon many points, which at Paris Mons. de Torcy had given up.

The Emperor expected to keep all he already possessed in Italy; that Port Longue,[32] on the Tuscan coast, should be delivered to him by France; and, lastly, that he should not be obliged to renounce Spain. But the Queen, as well as France, thought that his Imperial Majesty ought to sit down contented with his partage of Naples and Milan; and to restore those territories in Italy, which he had taken from the rightful proprietors, and by the possession of which he was grown dangerous to the Italian princes, by reviving antiquated claims upon them.

[Footnote 32: Portolongone, in the island of Elba, opposite the Tuscan coast. [W.S.J.]]

This Prince had likewise objected to Her Majesty’s expedient of suffering the Elector of Bavaria to retain Luxembourg, under certain conditions, by way of security, until his electorate were restored. But the Queen, supposing that these affected delays were intended only with a view of continuing the war, resolved to defer the peace no longer on the Emperor’s account.

In the middle of March, one thousand seven hundred and twelve-thirteen, a courier arrived at Utrecht from France, with the plan of a general peace, as it had been agreed between the Duke of Shrewsbury and Mons. de Torcy; wherein every particular, relating to the interests and pretensions of the several allies, was brought so near to what each of them would accept, that the British plenipotentiaries hoped the peace would be general in ten or twelve days. The Portuguese and Dutch were already prepared, and others were daily coming in, by means of their lordships’ good offices, who found Mons. Mesnager and his colleague very stubborn to the last. Another courier was dispatched to France, upon some disputes about inserting the titles of Her Majesty and the Most Christian King, and to bring a general plan for the interests of those allies, who should not be ready against the time prefixed. The French renunciations were now arrived at Utrecht, and it was agreed, that those, as well as that of the King of Spain, should be inserted at length in every treaty, by which means the whole confederacy would become guaranties of them.

The courier, last sent to France, returned to Utrecht on the twenty-seventh of March, with the concessions of that court upon every necessary point; so that, all things being ready for putting a period to this great and difficult work, the lord privy seal and the Earl of Strafford gave notice to the ministers of the several allies, “That their lordships had appointed Tuesday the thirty-first instant, wherein to sign a treaty of peace, and a treaty of commerce, between the Queen of Great Britain, their mistress, and the Most Christian King; and hoped the said allies would be prepared, at the same time, to follow their example.” Accordingly their lordships employed the three intervening days, in smoothing the few difficulties that remained between the French ministers and those of the several confederate powers.

The important day being now come, the Lord Bishop of Bristol and the Earl of Strafford, having assumed the character of ambassadors extraordinary,[33] gave a memorial in behalf of the French Protestants to the Marechal d’Uxelles and his colleague, who were to transmit it to their court; and these delivered to the British ambassadors a declaration in writing, that the Pretender was actually gone out of France.

[Footnote 33: To avoid the parade of ceremony, they had hitherto been considered only as _plenipotentiaries_. [N.]]

The conditions of peace to be allowed the Emperor and the empire, as adjusted between Britain and France, were now likewise delivered to the Count Zinzendorf. These and some other previous matters of smaller consequence being finished, the treaties of peace and commerce between Her Majesty of Britain and the Most Christian King, were signed at the lord privy seal’s house between two and three of the clock in the afternoon. The ministers of the Duke of Savoy signed about an hour after. Then the assembly adjourned to the Earl of Stafford’s, where they all went to dinner; and about nine at night the peace was signed by the ministers of Portugal, by those of Prussia at eleven, and when it was near midnight by the States.

Thus after all the opposition raised by a strong party in France, and by a virulent faction in Britain; after all the artifices of those who presided at The Hague, and, for their private interest, endeavoured, in conjunction with their friends in England, to prolong the war; after the restless endeavours of the imperial court to render the treaty ineffectual; the firm steady conduct of the Queen, the wisdom and courage of her ministry, and the abilities of those whom she employed in her negotiations abroad, prevailed to have a peace signed in one day by every power concerned, except that of the Emperor and the empire; for his Imperial Majesty liked his situation too well to think of a peace, while the drudgery and expenses of the war lay upon other shoulders, and the advantages were to redound only to himself.

During this whole negotiation, the King of Spain, who was not acknowledged by any of the confederates, had consequently no minister at Utrecht; but the differences between Her Majesty and that prince were easily settled by the Lord Lexington at Madrid, and the Marquis of Monteleon here: so that upon the Duke d’Ossuna’s arrival at the congress, some days after the peace, he was ready to conclude a treaty between the Queen and his master. Neither is it probable that the Dutch, or any other ally, except the Emperor, will encounter any difficulties of moment, to retard their several treaties with his Catholic Majesty.

The treaties of peace and commerce between Britain and France, were ratified here on the seventh of April; on the twenty-eighth the ratifications were exchanged; and on the fifth of May the peace was proclaimed in the usual manner; but with louder acclamations, and more extraordinary rejoicings of the people, than had ever been remembered on the like occasion.[34]

[Footnote: 34 The treaty was brought to England by George St. John, Bolingbroke’s young brother, who arrived with it in London on Good Friday, 3rd April, 1713. [T.S.]]

[It need hardly be observed, that this history is left incomplete by the author. [S.] Sir Walter Scott’s note hardly agrees with Swift’s own statement to Stella. Writing under date May 16th, 1713, he says: “I have just finished my Treatise, and must be ten days correcting it.” It is evident that Swift did not intend to write a “History of the Four Last Years of Queen Anne’s Reign.” A better title for this work would be the title originally given it, namely, “History of the Peace of Utrecht.” In the letter already quoted from Erasmus Lewis, Swift’s account of the negotiations for the peace are thus remarked upon: “That part of it which relates to the negotiations of peace, whether at London or at Utrecht, they admire exceedingly, and declare they never yet saw that, or any other transaction, drawn up with so much perspicuity, or in a style so entertaining and instructive to the reader in every respect.” [T.S.]]

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The Abstract of the History of England here reprinted calls for little or no comment. It is but a dry relation of events with no touch in the recital of any of those qualities which characterize Swift’s writings. The facts were evidently obtained from the old chroniclers. What object Swift had in writing this Abstract is not known. If the dedication to the Count de Gyllenborg truly states his intention, it must be confessed that the “foreigners, and gentlemen of our own country” had not much upon which to congratulate themselves. Why Swift should have chosen the Count de Gyllenborg to whom to address the dedication must also remain a matter for conjecture. The Count had been sent out of the British Isles for instigating a conspiracy for a Jacobite insurrection in Great Britain. Swift wrote his dedication three years after the Count’s expulsion. Knowing that the Count’s master, Charles XII. of Sweden, had been a party to the plot, he yet writes in a most amiable tone of friendliness towards both, with a parenthetical sneer at “his present Britannic Majesty.” Undoubtedly this dedication might easily and fairly be taken as strong presumptive evidence of a leaning on Swift’s part towards the Pretender. It will, however, be more truly interpreted, if it be considered as an expression of contempt for the King of England and the ministry in power.

The text of the present reprint is that given by Deane Swift from his edition of his kinsman’s works issued in 1765 and 1768 (4to edit, vols. viii. and xiii.). Deane Swift thought that the narratives of Rufus, Henry I. and Stephen, would “appear to be such a model of English history, as will make all men of taste, and especially foreigners, regret that he pursued his plan no further.”



[Footnote 1: Charles, Count Gyllenborg (1679-1746), was Swedish Ambassador at London 1710-16. He then joined in a Jacobite plot, was arrested in January, 1716-7, and expelled the kingdom in August, 1717. He afterwards filled high offices in his own country. [W.S.J.]]

Dublin in Ireland, Nov. 2, 1719.


It is now about sixteen years since I first entertained the design of writing a History of England, from the beginning of William Rufus to the end of Queen Elizabeth; such a History, I mean, as appears to be most wanted by foreigners, and gentlemen of our own country; not a voluminous work, nor properly an abridgement, but an exact relation of the most important affairs and events, without any regard to the rest. My intention was to inscribe it to the King[2] your late master, for whose great virtues I had ever the highest veneration, as I shall continue to bear to his memory. I confess it is with some disdain that I observe great authors descending to write any dedications at all: and for my own part, when I looked round on all the princes of Europe, I could think of none who might deserve that distinction from me, besides the King your master; (for I say nothing of his present Britannic Majesty, to whose person and character I am an utter stranger, and like to continue so) neither can I be suspected of flattery on this point, since it was some years after that I had the honour of an invitation to his court, before you were employed as his minister in England, which I heartily repent that I did not accept; whereby, as you can be my witness, I might have avoided some years’ uneasiness and vexation, during the last four years of our late excellent Queen, as well as a long melancholy prospect since, in a most obscure disagreeable country, and among a most profligate and abandoned people.

[Footnote 2: Charles XII., King of Sweden, who was killed in 1718. [D. S.]]

I was diverted from pursuing this History, partly by the extreme difficulty, but chiefly by the indignation I conceived at the proceedings of a faction, which then prevailed; and the papers lay neglected in my cabinet until you saw me in England; when you know how far I was engaged in thoughts and business of another kind. Upon Her Majesty’s lamented death, I returned to my station in this kingdom; since which time there is not a northern curate among you who hath lived more obscure than myself, or a greater stranger to the commonest transactions of the world. It is but very lately that I found the following papers, which I had almost forgotten. I publish them now, for two reasons; first, for an encouragement to those who have more youth,[3] and leisure, and good temper than I, towards pursuing the work as far as it was intended by me, or as much further as they please; the second reason is, to have an opportunity of declaring the profound respect I have for the memory of your royal master, and the sincere regard and friendship I bear to yourself; for I must bring to your mind how proud I was to distinguish you among all the foreign ministers, with whom I had the honour to be acquainted. I am a witness of the zeal you shewed not only for the honour and interest of your master, but for the advantage of the Protestant religion in Germany, and how knowingly and feelingly you often spoke to me upon that subject. We all loved you, as possessed of every quality that could adorn an English gentleman, and esteemed you as a faithful subject to your prince, and an able negotiator; neither shall any reverse of fortune have power to lessen you either in my friendship or esteem: and I must take leave to assure you further, that my affection towards persons hath not been at all diminished by the frown of power upon them. Those whom you and I once thought great and good men, continue still so in my eyes and my heart; only with a * * * * * *

_Caetera desiderantur_.

[Footnote 3: The author was then in his fifty-second year. [D.S.]]