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Reign of Queen Anne (Continued) page 14

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The queen prorogued parliament on the 5th of April, expressing her concern for the occasion which had occupied so much of the session. She declared that no prince could have a more zealous desire for the welfare of the church than she had, and that it was mischievous in wicked and malicious libels to pretend that the church was in danger, and she trusted that men would now study to be quiet and mind their own business, instead of busying themselves to revive questions of a very high nature, and which could only be with an ill intention. But every one knew all the while that Anne was only pleased at the demonstrations which had been made through Sacheverel; that it had damaged the whigs essentially, and brought the day near when she could safely send them adrift, and liberate herself for ever from them and the Marlboroughs. Mrs. Masham now ruled triumphantly, and disposed of commissions and offices as royally as ever the duchess had done. It was openly said in the army that fighting was not the road to promotion, but carrying Mrs. Masham's lapdogs, or putting a heavy purse into the hand of Mrs. Abigail Earwig. The duchess of Marlborough did not abate her exertions to recover favour, but in vain; and the great Marlborough complained in a letter to the queen that all his victories for her majesty's honour could not shield him from the malice of a bedchamber woman.

Indeed, the display of the queen's bias now became rapid and open. The duke of Shrewsbury, who had now joined the tories, returned from his long residence at Rome, where he had married an Italian lady, and had taken the part of Sacheverel in the trial. The queen immediately dismissed the marquis of Kent, a stanch whig, from the office of lord chamberlain, and, much to the grief and consternation of the lord treasurer, Godolphin, bestowed it on Shrewsbury. There was great alarm in the cabinet, and Walpole recommended the instant and entire resignation of the whole whig cabinet as the only means to intimidate the queen and her secret advisers; but Harley is said to have persuaded the rest of the whig ministers that the only object was to get rid of Godolphin, Marlborough, and his son-in-law, Sunderland. The rumour of Sunderland's dismissal became general, and not without foundation. The queen had an extreme dislike to him, not only because of his belonging to Marlborough's clique, but on account of his blunt and outspoken manners. He was perfectly undisguised in his expressions of dislike for Mrs. Masham, and of his resolve, if possible, to get her out of the palace; and, with the queen's present devotion to that lady, he could have taken no surer way of getting himself out. Lady Marlborough, who could not now get to the presence of the queen, yet wrote to her, imploring her to defer any intention of removing lord Sunderland till the duke's return; but the queen forthwith gave Sunderland his dismissal, and appointed lord Dartmouth, an actual Jacobite, in his place. Anne endeavoured to qualify lord Sunderland's dismissal by offering him a retiring pension but he rejected it with disdain; and such was the fear thai the duke of Marlborough, on this act of disrespect to him, would throw up the command of the army, that all the leading ministers, including Cowper, Somers, Halifax, Devonshire, Godolphin, and Orford wrote to him, imploring him to retain his command, as well for the security of the whig government as for his own glory and the good of the country. The allies on the continent were equally alarmed at this indication of the declining favour of Marlborough, and France equally elated at it. But nothing could now stay the fall of the whigs. Anne, indeed, ordered secretary Boyle to write to all the allied sovereigns and to the States- General to assure them that nothing was farther from her thoughts than the removal of the duke of Marlborough from his command, and that she still proposed to conduct her government by the same party. The hollowness of these assurances was immediately shown by her also dismissing Godolphin from the treasury, and appointing Harley chancellor of the exchequer. Harley thereupon proposed to lord chancellor Cowper and Walpole to make a coalition; but they rejected the overture; and, as a tory cabinet could not expect to carry on with a whig house of commons, a dissolution was determined upon, and parliament was dissolved accordingly, and writs issued for a new election.

The nomination of the tory cabinet immediately followed. Lord Rochester, the queen's high church and deep-drinking uncle, was made president of the council in place of Somers; the duke of Buckingham succeeded the duke of Devonshire as lord steward; St. John succeeded Mr. Secretary Boyle; Sir Simon Harcourt, as lord chancellor, superseded lord Cowper; the duke of Ormonde took the lord lieutenancy of Ireland from lord Wharton; the duke of Somerset had anticipated these changes by throwing up his post of master of the horse, and the earl of Orford was removed from the admiralty, and that office was put in commission. In the room of Walpole, George Granville was made secretary-at- war. Here was a clean sweep of all the whigs, except some subordinate officials, who clung to office as long as it was permitted. Dr. Sacheverel had done a mighty work for the tories, and, having the living of Salatin, in Shropshire, conferred on him, he made quite a triumphant progress thither in May, during all the heat and violence of the elections, still labouring in his vocation of self-glorification, and of damaging the whig cause all in his power, in which he was energetically supported by his patrons.

Through his whole journey he was accompanied from town to town by a numerous body of gentlemen and other people on horseback, and travelled with all the airs of a prince or the saviour of his country. He was received and entertained in the country houses as he went along with all luxury and festivity. The towns were in a tumult, and the great champion of the church was feasted and hurrahed to his heart's content. At Oxford he was received with the highest honours, and entertained at a great feast, at which many a nobleman attended, paying the most profound deference to him, and yet, it is said, secretly laughing at their assumed idol. At Bridgenorth he was met by a Mr. Cresswell at the head of four thousand persons on horseback, and as many on foot, wearing white knots edged with gold, and three leaves of gilt laurel in their hats. The hedges for two miles before reaching the town were garlanded with flowers and fined with people. The steeples were covered with colours, flags, and streamers, and he was deafened with cries of "The church and Dr. Sacheverel!" Such were the honours paid to this swelling puppet of the time, who received all the incense as due to his own merit, when it was only the farce of toryism using him to demolish whiggism. According to the lively malice of the duchess of Marlborough, "putting the air of a saint on a lewd, drunken, pampered man, dispensing his blessings to all his worshippers, and his kisses to some; taking their good money as fast as it could be brought in, drinking their best wines, eating their best provisions, without reserve and without temperance; and, what completed the farce, complaining in the midst of this scene of luxury and triumph - as the old, fat monk did over a hot venison pasty in his barbarous Latin, 'Heu quanta patimus pro ecclesid! - Oh, what dreadful things do we undergo for the sake of the church!'"

The truth was that the doctor did receive many and great presents, and the drinking wherever he went was terrible. At the same time the drinking was universal, for the election was going on, and the two factions were straining every nerve, and bribing and treating the populace to beer in the most extravagant manner.

On the continent war and negotiation were going on at the same time whilst the Sacheverel fever had been raging at home. Early in the spring Louis XIV., sensible of the miserable condition of his kingdom and of his finances, had again made overtures for peace through the medium of Petikum, the agent of the duke of Holstein. Pensionary Heinsius, in consequence, sent Petikum to Versailles to assure Louis that the allies were ready to treat on condition that he signed the preliminaries agreed upon before, leaving the separate articles to which he objected to be discussed in the course of the treaty; that as to these articles, the States would grant passports to his plenipotentiaries to endeavour to settle them or some equivalent for them. To this Louis agreed, without, however, signing the preliminaries, and proposed that the conference should take place at the Hague. The Dutch objected to the Hague, well aware that Louis's emissaries, once admitted there, would omit no endeavours to penetrate into the councils of the allies, and to influence the Lövenstein faction so as to operate in his favour. They, therefore, appointed the little town of Gertruydenberg as the place of conference. On the part of the French the marshal d'Uxelles and the Abbe de Polignac were appointed plenipotentiaries, and on that of the Dutch, the deputies Buys and Vanderdussen.

These ministers of the two parties met at first at Maardyk, on the water in a yacht, but the French preferred the wretched little town of Gertruydenberg for their sojourn, where they complained of the miserable accommodations they obtained. The Dutch States-General had sent a pressing request that Marlborough might be allowed to go to Holland in time to give his advice in these negotiations, and the two houses of parliament seconded this request. The queen readily consented, though it was suspected the whole was done at the suggestion of Marlborough himself, to show how essential his services were deemed by the allies. Though Marlborough hastened to the Hague in consequence, he did not in any way appear openly in the matter, but appeared busy with prince Eugene in setting early on foot the campaign. The French ambassadors represented themselves as being not only most meanly entertained, but as meanly and narrowly watched - their letters being opened, and their propositions met by haughty discourtesy. Certainly, if we were to regard the concessions made by Louis XIV. on this occasion as honestly offered, the allies had never a fairer opportunity of closing the war triumphantly, and were most blamable in refusing them. Louis offered to give up all Spain, and the Indies, East and West; to acknowledge Charles king of undivided Spain; to give no support to Philip, but to claim for him only Sicily and Naples. When it was objected that Naples was already in the possession of Austria, and could not be given up, the ambassadors waived the claim of Naples, and contented themselves with Sicily and Sardinia for Philip. As a security for Philip evacuating Spain, they offered to give up four cautionary towns in Flanders; to restore Strasburg and Brisac; to destroy all their fortifications on the Rhine from Basle to Philipsburg; to level all the fortifications of Dunkirk; and to surrender to the Dutch Mauberge, Conde, Furnes, Menin, Ypres, Tournai, and Lille.

Surely nothing could be more complete. By gaining all these advantages the allies gained everything they had been fighting for. They wanted not only an agreement for the surrender of Spain, but a sufficient guarantee for it; and this guarantee they demanded in the shape of an engagement that Louis should help them with actual money and arms to expel Philip from Spain if he refused to evacuate it, and really to put Austria into possession of it. This was certainly putting the sincerity of Louis to sufficient test, and Louis failed under it. He contended that it would be monstrous and unnatural to take arms against his own grandson, but that he would contribute money for this purpose - which, to ordinary intellects, looks quite as monstrous. He offered, according to his able prime minister De Torcy, to pay five hundred thousand livres a month towards this object, or even to raise it to a million of money if the allies would not be satisfied with less. But as the allies, in the first place, knew that Louis had not money to meet the demands of his own government, and in the second place, that Philip had sent an express declaration to the allies, when this question was mooted before, that he stood on his rightful claim through the will of Charles II., the late king of Spain, and would recognise no pretensions of any party to deal with his patrimony - they declined the offer, and declared they would be contented with nothing less than the actual possession of the country. They knew that at the very time that these negotiations were going on Philip was making fresh and strenuous exertions to drive Charles from Spain; that he had appealed to Louis to send him the duke de Yendome to take the command in that country, with which request Louis promptly complied. They knew that France had only to close the passes of the Pyrenees, and, under the pretence of protecting her own frontiers from the armies in Spain, shut out all attack on Philip, except by sea.

On this rock, therefore, the whole negotiation was wrecked. Louis had flattered himself that Marlborough, distracted by the state of affairs in England, would be anxious to make peace, in order that he might be on the spot to resist the fall of the whig party at home, and with it of his influence. But the wiser De Torcy reasoned very differently. He saw that the party of Marlborough was already ruined, and for him to return home would be to return to insignificance, mortification, and insult. His only safety and strength lay in the continuance of the war; on the chance of reaping new victories, and, therefore, new humiliation to his enemies. And in this De Torcy was correct. Marlborough did not appear in the matter. Lord Townshend for England, and Count Zinzendorff for the emperor, were consulted by the States-General on all the points of the treaty; but the pensionary Heinsius, the devoted friend of Marlborough and Eugene, kept them au fait on the whole subject, and influenced the States-General as they dictated. The result was that, after the negotiation had continued from the 19th of March to the 21st of July, during which there was a rapid and frequent interchange of messages with Versailles, the conference broke up. The French ministers returned home, declaring that the demands made by the deputies were so utterly exorbitant and unreasonable, that the king, with all his desire for peace, could not comply with them; and they at the same time complained of the treatment they had received. On the other hand, the States-General issued a memorial, declaring that France had retreated from the conditions first offered; had studiously evaded the grand point, that of giving up Spain and the Indies, and that it was evident that Louis had no serious intention, except to sow dissension amongst the allies. Lord Townshend assured the States-General that her Britannic majesty fully shared their sentiments on this head; that she was satisfied that everything possible had been done for peace, and that, on her part, she was resolved to prosecute the war with the utmost vigour. Louis, however, did not fail to represent himself before Europe as a deeply-injured and hardly-treated man, who in his old age had been called upon himself to take the field against his own children, and to perpetrate deeds that were unnatural and revolting to human feeling. And there were numbers, especially the tories and Jacobites of England, who were only too ready to echo this opinion, and ostensibly to sympathise with so amiable a grandfather. There was another point, too, in which Louis represented the allies as very unreasonable: he had magnanimously offered to surrender Alsace; but he had taken care to demand as an equivalent for this, that his German allies, the electors of Bavaria and Cologne, should be restored to all their territories and honours, with which, after the unpatriotic career of those princes, the confederates were not disposed to comply.

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