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The Reign of Queen Anne - (Concluded) page 17


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Bolingbroke had assured Iberville, the French agent, that, had the queen only lived six weeks longer, his measures were so well taken that he should have brought in the pretender in spite of everything. Well might he moralise on fortune, and well may England congratulate itself on a Providence. On the very day of the queen's death Marlborough landed at Dover, so exactly had he timed his return. He found George I. proclaimed in London, in York, and in other large towns, not only without disorder, but with an acclamation of joy from the populace which plainly showed where the heart lay. Lady Mary Wortley Montague, who was at York, describes the enthusiasm there as unbounded: - ""'went to-day to see the king proclaimed, which was done, the archbishop walking next the lord mayor, and all the country people following, with greater crowds of people than I believed in York. Vast acclamations and the appearance of a general satisfaction, the pretender afterwards dragged about the streets and burnt, ringing of bells, bonfires, and illuminations, the mob crying 'Liberty and prosperity!' and 'Long live king George!' All the protestants here seem unanimous for the Hanover succession."

Queen Anne was not remarkable for any talent, but she was good-hearted, and extremely regardful of the comfort and liberties of her people, excepting when, towards the end of her reign, she was swayed by a minister who had no religion himself, under pretence for the safety of the church, to attack the religious freedom of her people. Like most of her family, she had strong affections, which led her to what in monarchs is styled favoritism, but what in private life is called friendship. In the indulgence of this she heaped the most superb favours on the most domineering and vindictive of women, lady Marlborough, and neglected the interests of the second and more steadfast friend, lady Masham, whom, not having signed her will, she left comparatively poor. Anne was indolent and self-indulgent, and thus grew excessively corpulent and diseased, and by this means greatly shortened her term of existence. But if an enemy to herself, she was a friend to her country. She lamented sincerely the bloodshed which cast a martial glory over her reign; and her humanity was abused by a party to rob the country and Europe of all its hard-won advantages in the moment when they should have been secured for all ages. She was equally averse to blood spilled on the scaffold, and no great political execution took place in her reign. Like her sister, Mary, and unlike her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, she preferred the love of her subjects to the destruction of their privileges; and it ought never to be forgotten that she secured the comfort of numbers of the families of poor clergymen to every future generation by her " bounty," and conferred on the nation at large one of the greatest political blessings which it ever acquired - perhaps the most solid cause of its now wondrous prosperity - the union with Scotland.

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Pictures for The Reign of Queen Anne - (Concluded) page 17

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