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Reign of Queen Anne (Continued) page 8


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On the death of the prince his offices were quickly divided amongst the expectant whigs, no doubt in consequence of preconcerted arrangement. The earl of Pembroke took his office of lord high admiral, resigning the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland and the presidency of the council. But he soon found the business of the admiralty too arduous for him, and it was put into commission, the chief commissioner being lord Orford, that mercenary Russell whom the whigs had so long been endeavouring to restore to that post. The post of warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle was separated from that of admiral to accommodate lord Dorset. Lord Somers was again brought into the cabinet as president of the council. Even the witty and wicked lord Wharton was promoted to the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland. As Marlborough and Godolphin had a great fear and distrust of Wharton, this astonished many, but was accounted for by those more in the secrets of court, by Wharton being in possession of an autograph letter of Godolphin's to the court of St. Germains, by which that minister, and probably Marlborough too, was greatly in his power.

But though the whigs were now apparently omnipotent in the government, that was far from being the case. Harley and Mrs. Masham had the ear of the queen as much or more than ever. They were continually closeted with her, and laboured hard to disconcert all the measures of the whigs; the fierce and implacable duchess of Marlborough, raging with jealousy of the influence of Mrs. Masham, who had supplanted her, did perhaps still more than Harley himself, by her impolitic anger and insolence, to render the queen only the more desirous to be rid of the Marlborough pest. Nothing but the duke's continued victories made the countenance of the duchess at court possible. There is no instance in history of a discarded favourite continuing to pursue the monarch, even when a woman, with such unremitting insult and annoyance. Certainly there is nothing like the open, daring hectoring of this woman over the queen in public, which occurred on the occasion of the queen's going to St. Paul's to return thanks for the victory of Oudenarde, which took place before the prince's death. As mistress of the robes, lady Marlborough had laid out the queen's jewels to be worn on this occasion, but as the royal procession passed up Ludgate Hill, the duchess, casting her eyes on the queen's dress, was astonished to perceive that she had not put on the jewels at all. Her indignant mind instantly attributed this omission to the contrary advice of the queen's Abigail, and, unable to restrain her rage to a private opportunity, she broke loose on Anne, without regard to the presence of the public. Poor Anne had not the necessary spirit of a queen to preserve her dignity, and retorted ' the scolding of the duchess with equally angry and more undignified freedom. The altercation continued not only to the door of the cathedral, but even till the queen had taken her seat, who spoke so loud that it began to excite the attention of the spectators, whereupon the duchess audaciously bade her sovereign " to hold her tongue," or, as she puts it herself, desired her not to answer her.

Anne had suffered far too much from this virago, but this command to hold her tongue astonished even her, and she never forgave it. But the duchess, far from seeking pardon for her conduct, followed up the tirade, as she always did, by letter, informing her majesty that the duke would be surprised to hear that when she had taken so much pains to put her jewels in readiness for her, she had allowed Mrs. Masham to persuade her to refuse to wear them in so unkind a manner, and that she thought she had chosen a very wrong day on which to mortify her, when they were on the way to return thanks for a victory obtained by my lord Marlborough. Anne should have returned no answer, but she did reply by a few lines that marked the memory of the insult. " After the command you gave me on the thanksgiving day, of not answering you, I should not have troubled you but to return the duke of Marlborough's letter safe into your hands, and for the same reason I do not say anything to that, or to yours which inclosed it."

The unsilenceable duchess wrote again, pretending to explain away the word command, but only adding insult to insult, by telling her royal mistress that since she had not answered her observations, she flattered herself that she had said several things that were unanswerable.

As this most foolish and indecent conduct of the haughty duchess was now fast producing its natural results, and the queen ceased to notice her insolent notes, she roused up Godolphin to represent that nothing could go on well if her majesty continued to discourage her cabinet - this meant by following the mischievous secret counsels of Harley; and she got her husband to write the same from Flanders. As the queen preserved her offended silence, the fierce woman again forced herself into the royal presence to demand why she treated her so. The death of the prince and the grief of the queen had little effect in restraining the duchess's violence. She maintained a system of annoyance which now-a- days assumes a most incredible aspect as tolerated by even the most patient of queens from any subject, much less one whom she had raised from insignificance to greatness. When the queen at length put such a distance between them as served to promise her some defence against her tormentor, she still discovered new means of assailing her.

One of the most amusing of these was, finding that, in her outrageous attempts to reduce the queen again by audacity and assumption to the passive slavery she so long kept her in, she had overshot the mark and only made the queen more determined to have done with her, she intimated to her majesty that, before taking the sacrament at Christmas, as a sincere Christian she ought to dismiss from her mind all enmity and harsh feeling. She therefore presented her with a handsome Common Prayer Book, underlining such passages in the service as enjoined forgiveness of injuries; and to this she added a copy of Jeremy Taylor's " Holy Living and Dying," with the passages marked and the leaves turned down which recommended the necessary preparation of heart for taking the sacrament by casting out all resentments. The proceeding was all the more extraordinary, inasmuch as lady Marlborough was a professed disbeliever in Christianity. Her stratagem, however, was vain. She placed herself in the way at St. James's chapel when the queen went to communicate, and the queen observing her, gave her a gracious nod and smile, and passed on to the altar. No other notice of the matter followed, no interview was granted; and the chagrined duchess remarked bitterly uthat the smile and nod were only meant for Jeremy Taylor and the Common Prayer."

We have dwelt on these petty squabbles of the palace longer than they would merit did they not now present a striking example of the daring insolence to which a spoiled favourite of royalty may arrive, and of the origin of some of the greatest events of history. This warfare still went on in distant skirmishes; but all the time Harley and St. John, through the medium of Abigail of the back stairs, were undermining the whigs with the queen. Their party, the tories, at this juncture greatly alarmed her by privately informing her that the whigs were intending to bring over prince George of Hanover whether she wished it or not. Lord Haversham was deputed to privately inform her of this, and it had the effect of greatly alarming and incensing poor Anne. Like most monarchs, she was utterly averse to her successor, and waved off all overtures on the part of the electress Sophia or her son, whom she termed "the German boor," to come to England. She had, in fact, no desire to see the whigs paying court to the heir-apparent during her lifetime, and she wrote to Marlborough to say that she should consider any persons or parties her enemies who promoted such a thing; that she herself never would invite the elector, and should regard it as a most disloyal act should any attempt be made in parliament to that end.

The new parliament assembled on the 16th of November. It proved to be much in favour of the whigs, and all appeals against undue elections were, without much pretence of impartiality, decided to their advantage. The queen did not open parliament in person, owing to the recent loss of her husband; but it was opened by a commission consisting of the archbishop of Canterbury, the chancellor, the lord treasurer, the lord steward, and master of the horse. The lord chancellor Cowper spoke in the name of the sovereign. He congratulated the two houses on the splendid successes of the last campaign, which he asserted were the strongest reasons for pursuing the war with additional vigour; that we might now, by proper activity, calculate on carrying the war into France, and thus compelling that country to conclude a satisfactory and permanent peace. The honourable service of the fleet and the conquest of Sardinia and Minorca were duly dwelt upon, and the facilities the possession of Port Mahon would afford for operations in the Mediterranean. The great event of the union was commented on with just pride, and the parliament was assured that the queen would take every precaution to prevent any fresh attempts of invasion of Scotland by the pretender. The lords and commons sent up addresses of congratulation on the prosperous condition of the war, and of condolence on the queen's late bereavement.

The commons then went into the question of supply, and voted no less than seven millions for the service of the ensuing year. They voted also an augmentation of ten thousand men. Great debates then took place regarding the elected sons of Scottish peers being excluded from sitting in the commons. The shires of Aberdeen and Linlithgow had sent up lord William Haddo and James lord Johnstone, who were in that predicament, and it was determined that their election was invalid, and fresh writs were issued. It was decided that such Scotch lords as were created English peers should no longer retain their votes in Scotland for one of the sixteen Scottish representatives in the house of lords, but that those lords who were unavoidably absent could vote by proxy; so that such of the noblemen as were confined in the castle of Edinburgh had this right. The Scottish peers who sate in the house of lords had, like the English ones, their particular factions. The duke of Queensberry and his friends were in favour with the queen; and the lord treasurer Godolphin, the dukes of Hamilton, Montrose, and Roxburgh had different views, and coalesced with the earls of Sunderland and lord Somers.

In the peers lord Haversham did the work of Harley and the tories by contending that proper precautions had not been taken to prevent the late attempt to invade Scotland; that ministers had had timely information of the preparations in France, but had taken no sufficient precautions, except it could be called a precaution to take up a number of nobles of the highest quality and character on mere suspicion, who, he contended, had been most harshly treated by the government. He asserted that so insufficient were the defences of Scotland that there was nothing to prevent Louis XIV. resuming the attempt the next season with much greater success; that he had as many ships, as many friends, and as much encouragement in these kingdoms now as he had then. He next went on to depreciate the victories abroad on which so much had been said. The lords, however, carried a motion that timely and effectual care had been taken to disappoint the designs of her majesty's enemies both at home and abroad.

The tories carried a vote of thanks to major-general Webbe, who had been defrauded of his due honour for his splendid action at Wynendael through the misrepresentations of Cardonnel, Marlborough's secretary; but as this was deemed a censure on Marlborough, and as it would appear, a very just one, the whigs also moved and carried a vote of thanks to Marlborough too. And thus closed the year 1708.

One of the first parliamentary acts of 1709 was to pray the queen to think of a second marriage. The indelicate haste with which this was done - for the prince of Denmark had scarcely been three months in his grave - was attributed to Anne having issued an order in council to omit the prayers used on the anniversary of her accession, for making her a happy mother of children. She had been the mother of several children, and had now reached the age of forty- five. She marked her surprise and displeasure at this indecorous request, by replying that she had taken full precautions for the protestant succession, and that the nature of their address was such that she was persuaded that they did not expect a particular answer to it.

As some persons, who were deemed unquestionably guilty of high treason in Scotland, had been suffered to escape - as it was said, by the connivance of the judges there - the government brought into the lords a bill for altering the laws of Scotland as it regarded high treason, and assimilating them to those of England. The Scots protested against this as contrary to the articles of the union, but the ministers paid little regard to the argument. The Scottish law had, in political as well as in civil cases, to this day admitted the verdict of the majority of a jury as valid, instead of the whole jury, as the law was and is in England. The jury consisted of fifteen persons, and formerly a simple majority had been held sufficient; but by a recent act the majority was required to consist of at least two-thirds of the jury. Besides this, in Scotland, the accused were furnished fifteen days before the trial with the indictment against them, and with the names of the witnesses who were to appear against them. The horrid practices of an English execution were unknown to the Scottish law, neither did confiscation of the accused's property follow conviction. All this was to be altered, and the law of high treason in all particulars assimilated to the English practice. No wonder that the Scottish peers protested against this legislation as a gross violation of the articles of the union, which provided that Scotland should retain her ancient laws and courts of justice. This bill went even to interfere with these courts, and permit the crown to grant commissions of oyer and terminer.

Many of the English members of parliament and lawyers contended that the Scotch had the utmost ground for their complaint. Amongst these were Sir John Hawkes, a lawyer of high reputation, Sir Peter King, Mr. Hampden, and Mr. Wortley. Sir John Hawkes affirmed that he had carefully examined the laws of treason in both kingdoms, and that he considered those of Scotland much the best in many particulars. The same was the case in the lords, many of the tories taking the Scotch side, though probably more to embarrass the whig government than from any other cause. Bishop Burnet opposed the alteration strenuously, and the Scottish peers contended that the English practices would be unknown to the Scottish judges, and these changes might lead to much confusion and mischief.

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