Churchill, John

, duke of Marlborough, and prince of the holy Roman empire, was eldest son of sir Winston Churchill, and born at Ashe in Devonshire on Midsummerday in 1650. A clergyman in the neighbourhood instructed him in the first principles of literature, and he | was for some time educated at St. Paul’s school*

*

It is rather singular that this fact should have escaped the notice of his biographers, especially as Knight, in his Life of Dean Colet, mentions him among the eminent scholars of St. Paul’s. The fact, however, is corroborated by the following ms note of George North, of Codicote, in his copy of Colei’s Life, sent with Mr. Cough’s books to the Bodleian library. The note occurs in p. 483 of the Catalogue Of the Library of St, Paul’s, under the article “Vegetius de re Militari.” “From this very book, John Churchill, scholar of this school, afterwards the celebrated duke of Marlborough, first learnt the elements of the art of War; as was told me, George North, on St. Paul’s day 1724-5, by an old clergyman, who said he was a contemporary scholar, was then well acquainted with him, and frequently saw him read it. This I testify to be true. ”G. North."

but his father, having other views than what a learned education afforded, carried him to court in the twelfth year of his age, where he was particularly favoured by James duke of York. He had a pair of colours given him in the guards, during the first Dutch war, about 1666; and afterwards obtained leave to go over to Tangier, then in our hands, and besieged by the Moors, where he resided for some time, and cultivated the science of arms. Upon his return to England, he attended constantly at court, and was greatly respected by both the king and the duke. In 1672, the duke of Monmouth commanding a body of English auxiliaries in the service of France, Churchill attended him, and was soon after made a captain of grenadiers in his grace’s own regiment. He had a share in all the actions of that famous campaign against the Dutch; and at the siege of Nimeguen, distinguished himself so much, that he was particularly taken notice of by the celebrated marshal Turenne, who bestowed on him the name of the handsome Englishman. He appeared also to so much advantage at the reduction of Maestricht, that the French king thanked him for his behaviour at the head of the line, and assured him that he would acquaint his sovereign with it, which the duke of Monmouth also confirmed, telling the king his father how much he had been indebted to the bravery of captain Churchill.

The laurels he brought from France could not fail to gain him preferment at home; accordingly the king made him a lieutenant-colonel, and the duke made him gentleman of his bed-chamber, and soon after master of the robes. The second Dutch war being over, colonel Churchill was again obliged to pass his days at court, where he behaved with great prudence and circumspection in the troublesome times that ensued. In 1679, when the duke of York was constrained to go to the Netherlands, colonel Churchill | attended him; as he did through all his peregrinations, till he was suffered to reside again in London. While he waited upon the duke in Scotland, he had a regiment of dragoons given him; and thinking it now time to take a consort, he made his addresses to Sarah Jennings, who waited on the lady Anne, afterwards queen of Great ­Britain. This young lady, then about twenty-one years of age, and universally admired both for her person and wit, he married in 1681, and by this match strengthened the interest he had already at court. In 1682 the duke of York returned to London; and, having obtained leave to quit Scotland, resolved to bring his family from thence by sea. For this purpose he embarked in May, but unluckily ran upon the Lemon Oar, a dangerous sand, that lies about 16 leagues from the mouth of the Humber, where his ship was lost, with some men of quality, and upwards of 120 persons on board. He was particularly careful of colonel Churchill’s safety, and took him into the boat in which himself escaped. The first use made by his royal highness of his interest, after he returned to court, was to obtain a title for his favourite; who, by letters patent, bearing date Dec. 1, 1682, was created baron of Eymouth in Scotland, and also appointed colonel of the 3d troop of guards. He was continued in all his posts upon the accession of James II. who sent him also his ambassador to France to notify that event. On his return, he assisted at the coronation in April 1685; and May following was created a peer of England, by the title of baroti Churchill of Sandridge in the county of Hertford.

In June, being then lieutenant-general of his majesty’s forces, he was ordered into the west to suppress Monmouth’s rebellion; which he did in a month’s time, with an inconsiderable body of horse, and took the duke himself prisoner. He was extremely well received by the king at his return from this victory; but soon discerned that it only served to confirm the king in an opinion that, by virtue of a standing army, the religion and government of England might easily be changed. How far lord Churchill concurred with or opposed the king, while he was forming this project, has been disputed by historians. According to bishop Burnet, “he very prudently declined meddling much in business, spoke little except when his advice was asked, and then always recommended moderate measures.” It is said he declared very early to lord Galway, that if his master attempted to overturn the established religion, | he would leave him; and that he signed the memorial transmitted to the prince and princess of Orange, by which they were invited to fill the throne. Be this as it will, it is certain that he remained with the king, and was entrusted by him, after the prince of Orange was landed in 1688. He attended king James when he marched with his forces to oppose the prince, and had the command of 5000 men; yet the earl of Feversham, suspecting his inclinations, advised the king to seize him. The king’s affection to him was so great, that he could not be prevailed upon to do it; and this left him at liberty -to go over to the prince, which accordingly he did, but without betraying any post, or carrying off any troops. Whoever considers the great obligations lord Churchill lay under to king James, must naturally conclude, that he could not take the resolution of leaving him, and withdrawing to the prince of Orange, but with infinite concern and regret; and that this was really the case, appears from a letter, which he left for the king, to shew the reasons of his conduct, and to express his grief for the step he was obliged to take.

Lord Churchill was graciously received by the prince of Orange; and it is supposed to have been in consequence of his lordship’s solicitation, that prince George of Denmark took the same step, as his consort the princess Anne did also soon after, by the advice of lady Churchill. He was entrusted in that critical conjuncture by the prince of Orange, first to re-assemble his troop of guards at London, and afterwards to reduce some lately-raised regiments, and to new model the army, for which purpose he was invested with the rank and title of lieutenant-general. The prince and princess of Orange being declared king and queen of England, Feb. 6, 1689, lord Churchill was on the 14th sworn of their privy council, and one of the gentlemen of the bed-chamber to the king; and on the 9th of April following, raised to the dignity of earl of Marlborough in the county of Wilts. He assisted at the coronation of their majesties, and was soon after made commander in chief of the English forces sent over to Holland. He presided at the battle of Walconrt, April 15, 1689, and gave such extraordinary proofs of his skill, that prince Waldeck, speaking in his commendation to king William, declared, that “he saw more into the art of war in a day, than some generals in many years.” It is to be observed, that king William commanded this year in Ireland, which was the reason of the earl of Marlborough’s being at the head | of the English troops in Holland, where he laid the foundation of that fame among foreigners, which he afterwards extended all over Europe. He next did great services for king William in Ireland, by reducing Cork and some other places of much importance; in all which he shewed such uncommon abilities, that, on his first appearance at court after his return, the king was pleased to say, that “he knew no man so fit for a general, who had seen so few campaigns.” All these services notwithstanding did not hinder his being disgraced in a very sudden manner: for, being in waiting at court as lord of the bed-chamber, and having introduced to his majesty lord George Hamilton, he was soon followed to his own house by the same lord, with this short and surprising message, “That the king had no farther occasion for his services;” the more surprising, as his majesty just before had not discovered the least coldness or displeasure towards him. The cause of this disgrace is not even at present known; but only suspected to have proceeded from his too close attachment to the interest of the princess Anne. This strange and unexpected blow was followed by one much stranger, for soon after he was committed to the Tower for high treason; but was released, and acquitted, upon the principal accuser being convicted of perjury and punished; yet it is now believed that a correspondence had been carried on between the earl of Marlborough and the exiled king; and during queen Mary’s life, he kept at a distance from court, attending principally, with his lady, on the princess Anne. After queen Mary’s death, when the interests of the two courts were brought to a better agreement, king William thought fit to recall the earl of Marlborough to his privy council; and in June 1698, appointed him governor to the duke of Gloucester, with this extraordinary compliment, “My lord, make him but what you are, and my nephew will be all I wish to see him.” He continued in favour to the king’s death, as appears from his having been three times appointed one of the lords justices during his absence namely, July 16, 1698; May 31, 1699; and June 27, 1700. As soon as it was discerned that the death of Charles II. of Spain would become the occasion of another general war, the king sent a body of troops over to Holland, and made lord Marlborough commander in chief of them. He appointed him also ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to their high mightinesses. The king following, and taking a view of the forces, dined | with him at his quarters in Sept. 1700; and this was one of the last favours he received from king William, who died the 8th of March following, unless we reckon his recommendation of him to the princess of Denmark, a little before his death, as the fittest person to be trusted with the command of the army which was to protect the liberty of Europe. About a week after, he was elected knight of the most noble order of the garter, and soon declared captaingeneral of all her majesty’s forces in England and abroad; upon which he was immediately sent over to the Hague with the same character that he had the year before. His stay in Holland was very short, but enough to give the States General the necessary assurances of his mistress’s sincere intention to pursue the plan that had formerly been settled. The States concurred with him in all that he proposed, and made him captain-general of all their forces, appointing him 100,000 florins per annum.

On his return to England, he found the queen’s council already divided; some being for carrying on the war as auxiliaries only, others for declaring against France and Spain immediately, and so becoming principals at once. The earl of Marlborough joined with the latter; and these carrying their point, war was declared May 4, 1702, and approved afterwards by parliament, though the Dutch at that time had not declared. The earl took the command June 20; and discerning that the States were made uneasy by the places which the enemy held on their frontiers, he began with attacking and reducing them. Accordingly, in this single campaign, he made himself master of the castles of Gravenbroeck and Waerts, the towns of Venlo, Ruremond, and Stevenswaert, together with the city and citadel of Liege; which last was taken sword in hand. These advantages were considerable, and acknowledged as such by the States; but they had like to have been of a very short date: for, the army separating in the neighbourhood of Liege, Nov. 3, the earl was taken the next day in his passage by water, by a small party of thirty men from the garrison at Gueldres; but it being towards night, and the earl insisting upon an old pass given to his brother, and now out of date, was suffered to proceed, and arrived at the Hague, when they were in the utmost consternation at the accident which had befallen him. The winter approaching, he embarked for England, and arrived in London Nov. 28. The queen had been complimented some time before by both houses of parliament, on the success | of her arms in Flanders; in consequence of which there had been a public thanksgiving Nov. 4, when her majesty went in great state to St. Paul’s. Soon after a committee of the house of commons waited upon him with the thanks of the house; and Dec. 2, her majesty declared her intention in council of creating him a duke: which she soon did, by the title of marquis of Blandford, and duke of Marlborough. She likewise added a pension of 5000l. per annum out of the post-office, during her own life, and sent a message to the house of commons, signifying her desire that it might attend the honour she had lately conferred; but with this the house would not Comply, contenting themselves, in their address to the queen, with applauding fyer manner of rewarding public service, but declaring their inability to make such a precedent for alienating the revenue of the crown.

He was on the point of returning to Holland, when, Feb. S, 1703, his only son, the marquis of Blandford, died at Cambridge, at the age of 18, and was interred in the magnificent chapel of King’s college. This very afflicting accident did not however long retard him; but he passed over to Holland, and arrived at the Hague March 6. The nature of our work will not suffer us to relate all the military acts in which the duke of Marlborough was engaged: it is sufficient to say, that, numerous as they were, they were all successful. The French had a great army this year in Flanders, in the Netherlands, and in that part of Germany which the elector of Cologn had put into their hands; and prodigious preparations were made under the most experienced commanders: but the vigilance and activity of the duke baffled them all. When the campaign was over, his grace went to Dusseldorp to meet the late emperor, then styled Charles III. king of Spain, who made him a present of a rich sword from his side, with very high compliments; and then returning to the Hague, after a very short stay, came over to England. He arrived Oct. 13, 1703; and soon after king Charles, whom he had accompanied to the Hague, came likewise over to England, and arrived at Spithead on Dec. 26; upon which the dukes, of Somerset and Marlborough were immediately sent down to receive and conduct him to Windsor. In January the States desired leave of the queen for the duke to come to the Hague; which being granted, he embarked on the 15th, and passed over to Rotterdam. He went immediately to the Hague, where he communicated to the | pensionary his sense of the necessity there was of attempting something the next campaign for the relief of the emperor; whose affairs at this time were in the utmost distress, having the Bavarians on one side, and the Hungarian malcontents on the other, making incursions to the very gates of Vienna, while his whole force scarce enabled him to maintain a defensive war. This scheme being, approved of, and the plan of it adjusted, the duke returned to England in the middle of February.

When measures were properly settled at home, April 6, 1704, he embarked for Holland; where, staying about a month to adjust the necessary steps, he began his march towards the heart of Germany; and after a conference held with prince Eugene of Savoy, and Lewis of Baden, he arrived before the strong entrenchments of the enemy at Schellenburg, very unexpectedly, on June 21; whom, after an obstinate and bloody dispute, he entirely routed. It was on this occasion that the emperor wrote the duke a letter with his own hand, acknowledging his great services, and offering him the title of a prince of the empire, which he modestly declined, till the queen afterwards commanded him to accept of it. He prosecuted this success, and the battle of Hochstet was fought by him and prince Eugene, on August 2; when the French and Bavarians were the greatest part of them killed and taken, and their commander, marshal Tallard, made a prisoner. After this glorious action, by which the empire was saved, and the whole electorate of Bavaria conquered, the duke continued his pursuit till he forced the French to repass the Rhine. Then prince Lewis of Baden laid siege to Landau, while the duke and prince Eugene covered it; but it was not taken before the 12th of November. He made a tour also to Berlin; and by a short negotiation, suspended the disputes between the king of Prussia and the Dutch, by which he gained the good will of both parties. When the campaign was over, he returned to Holland, and, Dec. 14, arrived in England. He brought over with him marshal Tallard, and 26 other officers of distinction, 121 standards, and 179 colours, which by her majesty’s order were put up in Westminster-hall. He was received by the queen with the highest marks of esteem, and had the solemn thanks of both houses of parliament. Besides this, the commons addressed her majesty to perpetuate the memory of this victory, which she did, by granting Woodstock, with the hundred of Wotton, to him and his heirs for ever. This | was confirmed by an act of parliament, which passed on the 14th of March following, with this remarkable clause, that they should be held by tendering to the queen, her heirs and successors, on August 2, every year for ever, at the castle of Windsor, a standard with three fleurs de lys painted thereon. Jan. 6, the duke was magnificently entertained by the city; and Feb. 8, the commons addressed the queen, to testify their thanks for the wise treaty which the duke had concluded with the court of Berlin, by which a large body of Prussian troops were sent to the assistance of the duke of Savoy.

The next year, 1705, he went over to Holland in March, with a design to execute some great schemes, which he had been projecting in the winter. The campaign was attended with some successes, which would have made a considerable figure in a campaign under any other general, but are scarcely worth mentioning where the duke of Marlborough commanded. He could not carry into execution his main project, on account of the impediments he met with from the allies, and in this respect was greatly disappointed. The season for action being over, he made a tour to the courts of Vienna, Berlin, and Hanover. At the first of these he acquired the entire confidence of the new emperor Joseph, who presented him with the principality of Mindelheim: at the second, he renewed the contract for the Prussian forces: and at the third, he restored a perfect harmony, and adjusted every thing to the elector’s satisfaction. After this he returned to the Hague, and towards the close of the year embarked for, and arrived safe in England. In January the house of commons came to a resolution, to thank his grace of Marlborough, as well for his prudent negotiations, as for his great services: but notwithstanding this, it very soon appeared that there was a strong party formed againjt the war, and steps were taken to censure and disgrace the duke.

All things being concerted for rendering the next year’s campaign more successful than the former, the duke, in the beginning of April, 1706, embarked for Holland. This year the famous battle of Ramilies was fought, and won upon May 12, being Whitsunday. The duke was twice here in the utmost danger, once by a fall from his horse, and a second time by a cannon-shot, which took off the head of colonel Bingfield, as he was. holding the stirrup for him to remount. The advantages gained by this | victory were so far improved by the vigilance and wisdom of the duke, that Louvain, Brussels, Mechlin, and even Ghent and Bruges, submitted to king Charles without a stroke; and Oudenard surrendered upon the first summons. The city of Antwerp followed this example; and thus, in the short space of a fortnight, the duke reduced all Brabant, and the marquisate of the holy empire, to the obedience of king Charles. He afterwards took the towns of Ostend, Menin, Dendermonde, and Aeth. The forces of the allies after this glorious campaign being about to separate, his grace went to the Hague Oct. 16, where the proposals, which France had made for a peace, contained in a letter from the elector of Bavaria to the duke of Marlborough, were communicated to the ministers of the allies, after which he embarked for England, and arrived at London Nov. 18, 1706 and though at this time there was a party formed against him at court, yet the great services he had done the nation, and the personal esteem the queen always had for him, procured him an universal good reception. The house of commons, in their address to the queen, spoke of the success of the campaign in general, and of the duke of Marlborough’s share in particular, in the strongest terms possible; and the day after unanimously voted him their thanks, as did the lords. They went still farther; for, Dec. 17, they addressed the queen for leave to bring in a bill to settle the duke’s honours upon the male and female issue of his daughters. This was granted; and Blenheim-house, with the manor of Woodstock, was, after the decease of the duchess, upon whom they were settled in jointure, entailed in the same manner with the honours. Two days after this, the standards and colours taken at Ramilies being carried in state through the city, in order to be hung up in Guildhall, the duke, by invitation, partook of a grand dinner with the lord-mayor. The last day of the year was appointed for a general thanksgiving, and her majesty went in state to St. Paul’s; in which there was this singularity observed, that it was the second thanksgiving within the year. Jan. 17, the house of commons presented an address to the queen, in which they signified, that as her majesty had built the house of Blenheim to perpetuate the memory of the duke of Marlborough* s services, and as the house of lords had ordered a bill for continuing his honours, so they were desirous to make some provision for the more honourable support of his dignity. In | consequence of this, and of the queen’s answer, the pension of 5000l. per ann. from the post-office was settled in the manner the queen had formerly desired of another house of commons, which happened not to be in quite so good a temper.

These points adjusted, the duke made haste to return to his charge, it being thought especially necessary he should acquaint the foreign ministers at the Hague, that the queen of Great Britain would hearken to no proposals for a peace, but what would firmly secure the general tranquillity of Europe. The campaign of the year 1707 proved the most barren he ever made, which was chiefly owing to a failure on the part of the allies, who began to be remiss in supporting the common cause. Nor did things go on more to his mind at home; for upon his return to England, after the campaign was over, he found that the fire, which he suspected the year before, had broke out in his absence; that the queen had a female favourite, who was in a fair way of supplanting the duchess; and that she listened to the insinuations of a statesman who was no friend to him. He is said to have borne all this with firmness and patience, though he easily saw whither it tended; and went to Holland as usual, early in the spring of 1708, arriving at the Hague March 19. The ensuing campaign was carried on by the duke, in conjunction with prince Eugene, with such prodigious success, that the French king thought fit, in the beginning of 1709, to set on foot a negotiation for peace. The house of commons this year gave an uncommon testimony of their respect for the duke of Marlborough; for, besides addressing the queen, they, January 22, 1709, unanimously voted him thanks, and ordered them to be transmitted to him abroad by the speaker. He returned to England Feb. 25, and on his first appearance in the house of lords, received the thanks of that august assembly. His stay was so very short, that we need not dwell upon what passed in the winter. It is sufficient to say, that they who feared the dangerous effects of those artful proposals France had been making for the conclusion of a general’ peace, were also of opinion, that nobody was so capable of setting their danger, in a true light in Holland as his grace of Marlborough. This induced the queen to send Mm thither, at the end of March, with the character of her plenipotentiary, which contributed not a little to the enemy’s disappointment, by defeating all their projects. | Marshal Villars commanded the French army in the campaign of 1709; and Lewis XIV. expressed no small hopes of him, in saying a little before the opening of it, that “Villars was never beat.” However the siege of Tournay, and the battle of Malplaquet, convinced the monarch that Villars was not invincible. Upon the news of the glorious victory gained Aug. 1, 1709, the city of London renewed their congratulatory addresses to the queen; and her majesty in council, Oct. 3, ordered a proclamation for a general thanksgiving. The duke of Marlborough came t6 St. James’s Nov. 10, and soon after received the thanks of both houses: and the queen, as if desirous of any occasion to shew her kindness to him, appointed him lord lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Oxford. But amidst these honours, preferments, and favours, he was really chagrined to the last degree. He perceived that the French intrigues began to prevail both in England and Holland: the affair of Dr. Sacheverell had thrown the nation into a ferment: and the queen was not only estranged from the duchess of Marlborough, but had taken such a dislike to her that she seldom appeared at court.

In the beginning of 1710 the French set on foot a new negotiation for a peace, which was commonly called the treaty of Gertruydenburg. The States upon this having shewn an inclination to enter into conferences with the French plenipotentiaries, the house of commons immediately framed an address to the queen, that she would be pleased to send the duke of Marlborough over to the Hague. Accordingly, towards the latter end of February he went to the Hague, where he met with prince Eugene, and soon after set out with him for the army, which was assembled in the neighbourhood of Tournay. This campaign was very successful, many towns being taken and fortresses reduced: notwithstanding which, when the duke came over to England, as he did about the middle of December, he found his interest declining, and his services undervalued. The negotiations for peace were carried on during a great part of the summer, but ended at last in nothing. In the midst of the summer, the queen began the great change in her ministry, by removing the earl of Sunderland from being secretary of state; and on Aug. 8, the lord treasurer Godolphin was likewise removed. Upon the meeting of parliament no notice was taken in the addresses of the duke of Marlborough’s success: an attempt | indeed was made to procure him the thanks of the house of peers, but it was eagerly opposed by the duke of Argyle. His grace was kindly received by the queen, who seemed desirous to have him live upon good terms with her new ministry; but this was thought impracticable, and it was every day expected that he would lay down his commission. He did not do this; but he carried the golden key, the ensign of the duchess of Marl borough’s office, January 19, 1711, to the queen, and resigned all her employments with great duty and submission. With the same firmness and composure he consulted the necessary measures for the next campaign, with those whom he knew to be no friends of his; and treated all parties with candour and respect. There is no doubt that the duke felt some inward disquiet, though he shewed no outward concern, at least for himself: but when the earl of Galway was very indecently treated in the house of lords, the duke of Marlborough could not help saying, “it was somewhat strange, that generals, who had acted according to the best of their understandings, and had lost their limbs in their service, should be examined like offenders about insignificant things.” An exterior civility, in court language styled a good understanding, being established between the duke and the new ministry, the duke went over to the Hague, to prepare for the next campaign, which at the same time he knew would be his last. He exerted himself in an uncommon manner, and was attended with the same success as usual. There was in this campaign a continued trial of skill between the duke of Marlborough and marshal Villars; and brave and judicious as the latter was, he was obliged at length to submit to the former. The duke embarked for England when the campaign was over, and came to London Nov. 8; and happening to land the very night of queen Elizabeth’s inauguration, when great rejoicings were intended by the populace, he continued very prudently at Greenwich, and the next day waited on the queen at Hampton-court, who received him graciously. He was visited by the ministers, and visited them; but he did not go to council, because a negotiation of peace was then on the carpet, upon a basis which he did by no means approve. He acquainted her majesty in the audience he had at his arrival, that as he could not concur in the measures of those who directed her councils, so he would not distract them by a fruitless opposition. Yet finding himself | attacked in the house of lords, and loaded with the imputation 5 of having protracted the war, he vindicated his conduct and character with great dignity and spirit; and in a most pathetic speech appealed to the queen his mistress, who was there incognito, for the falsehood of thut imputation; declaring, that he was as much for peace as any man, provided it was such a peace as might be expected from a war undertaken on such just motives, and carried on with uninterrupted success. This had a great effect on that august assembly, and perhaps made some impression on the queen; but at the same time it gave such an edge to the resentment of his enemies, who were then in power, that they resolved at all adventures to remove him. Those who were thus resolved to divest him of his commission, found themselves under a necessity to engage the queen to take it from him. This necessity arose chiefly from prince Eugene’s being expected to come over with a commission from the emperor; and to give some kind of colour to it, an inquiry was promoted in the house of commons, to fix a very high imputation upon the duke, as if he had put very large sums of public money into his own pocket. When a question to this purpose had been carried, the queen, by a letter, conceived in very obscure terms, acquainted him with her having no farther occasion for his service, and dismissed him from all his employments.

He was from this time exposed to a most painful persecution. On the one hand, he was attacked by the clamours of the populace, and by those hirelings of the press who are always ready to espouse the quarrels of a ministry, and to insult without mercy whoever they know may be insulted with impunity: on the other hand, a prosecution was commenced against him by the attorney-general, for applying public money to his private use; and the workmen employed in building Blenheim-house, though set at work by the crown, were encouraged to sue him for the money that was due to them. All his actions were also shamefully misrepresented. These uneasinesses, joined to his grief for the death of the earl of Godolphin, induced him* to gratify his enemies, by going into a voluntary exile. Accordingly he embarked at Dover, November 14, 1712; and landing at Ostend, went to Antwerp, and so to Aix la Chapelle, being every where received with the honours due to his high rank and merit. The duchess also attended her lord in all his journeys, and particularlyin his visit to the | principality of Mindelheim, which was given him by the emperor, and exchanged for another at the peace, which was made while the duke was abroad. The conclusion of that peace was so. far from restoring harmony among the several parties of Great- Britain, that it widened their differences exceedingly insomuch that the chiefs, despairing of safety in the way they were in, are said to have secretly invited the duke back to England. Be that as it will, it is very certain that he took a resolution of returning, a little before the queen’s death; and landing at Dover, came to London, Aug. 4, 1714. He was received with all demonstrations of joy, by those who, upon the demise of the queen, which had happened upon the 1st, were entrusted with the government; and upon the arrival of George I. was particularly distinguished by acts of royal favour: for he was again declared captain-general and commander in chief of all his majesty’s Jand forces, colonel of the first regiment of foot guards, and master of the ordnance.

His advice was of great use in concerting those measures by which the rebellion in 1715 was crushed; and this advice was the last effort he made in respect to public affairs; for his infirmities increasing with his years, he retired from business, and spent the greatest part of his time, during the remainder of his life, at one or other of his countryhouses. During his last years he suffered a decay of his mental faculties, which terminated in his death June 16, 1722, in his 73d year, at Windsor-lodge; and his corpse, on Aug. 9, was interred with the highest solemnity in Westminster-abbey. Besides the marquis of Bland ford, whom we have already mentioned, he had four daughters, who married into the best families of the kingdom.

Various characters have been given of this illustrious nobleman, whom party prejudice misrepresented in his life-time, and who has since been censured by succeeding writers, some of whom seem to have become more bold in proportion to their distance from his time, and from all opportunities of judging with impartiality. A late historian, however, seems with great justice to characterise him as possessing the accomplishments of a statesman and courtier in a degree inferior to none of his contemporaries; while his military talents raised him far above all rivalship and competition. The natural advantages of a fine figure and dignified mien, embellished with all the graces of the court, | to which he was introduced at an early stage of life, hefore his more useful qualifications were discovered, made lord Churchill the first object of notice and admiration in every polite circle. While these exterior excellencies recommended him as the fittest person to be employed on business of compliment at foreign courts, his fascinating address, his political knowledge, and his acute penetration into characters, rendered him the most able and successful negociator in the more weighty affairs of state. His early proficiency in every branch of warlike science, and his meritorious exploits in the station of a subaltern commander, had excited a general expectation of his ascending to distinguished superiority in the line of his profession. The history of ten eventful campaigns demonstrated that nothing was expected from him which he did not perform; and that there was not a single accomplishment of a general, in which he did not excell. His comprehensive and various capacity was equally adapted to complicated and detached objects. In the several departments of plan and stratagem, and of enterprize and action, he was alike successful. The general arrangement of the campaign, and the dispositions which he made in the day of battle, the choice of ground, his composure and presence of mind in the heat of an. engagement, his improvement of victory, and" his ready expedients under bad fortune, for a defeat he never knew, were all evidences of such diversity of talents, and such a stupendous pitch of military genius, as never were surpassed by those of the greatest commanders in ancient and modern times.

The only personal failing attributed to the duke of Marlborough, upon any fair evidence, was avarice; but how far he owes the imputation of that to himself, or to the misconduct and caprice of one nearly allied to him. and to whom it was his weakness to be too subservient, may admit of a doubt. That Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, brought her husband into frequent trouble and disgrace seems to be generally acknowledged; and Swift was not far wrong when he said that the duke owed to her both his greatness (his promotions) and his fall. No woman was perhaps ever less formed by nature and habit for a court, yet she arrived to such a pitch of grandeur at the court of queen Anne, that her sovereign was, in fact, but the second person in it. Never were two women more the reverse of one another in their natural dispositions, than queen Anne and the duchess | of Marlborough; yet never had any servant a greater ascendancy over a mistress, than the latter had over the former. But though the duchess did not rise by a court, yet she rose by a party, of which she had the art to put her mistress at the head, who was merely the vehicle of her sentiments, and the minister of her avarice. Few sovereign princes in Europe could, from their own revenues, command such sums of ready money, as the duchess did during the last thirty-five years of her life. Conscious at length that she had incurred the contempt of the nation, she employed Hooke, the Roman historian, at the price of 5000l. to write a defence of her, which was published in 1742, under the title of “An account of the conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from her first coming to court to the year 1710. In a letter from herself to my lord ——————” This work excited considerable

attention at the time of its appearance, and gave rise to many strictures and some controversy. The ease and elegance with which the book is composed, the anecdotes it relates, and the original letters it contains, render it by no means an uninteresting performance; and it is not without its use in the elucidation of our general history. Nevertheless, from the prejudice and passion wherewith the duchess, or rather her amanuensis, writes, from her severity to her enemies, and from the malignity she displays against the memories of king William and queen Mary, she has contrived to make her own character stand in no higher a degree of estimation than that in which it was held before. Lord Orford, who, on account of this book, has introduced her among his “Royal and Noble Authors,” very justly remarks on it, that “it is seldom the public receives information on princes and favourites from the fountain-head: flattery or invective is apt to pervert the relations of others. It is from their own pens alone, whenever they are so gracious, like the lady in question, as to have * a passion for fame and approbation,' that we learn exactly, how trifling and foolish and ridiculous their views and actions were, and how often the mischief they did proceeded from the most inadequate causes.

It is well known that Pope’s character of Atossa was designed for her; and when these lines were shewn to her grace, as if they were intended for the portrait of the duchess of Buckingham, she soon stopped the person that was reading them to her, and called out aloud—“I cannot | be so imposed upon—I see plainly enough for whom they are designed;” and abused Pope for the attack, though she was afterwards reconciled to, and courted him. The violence of the duchess of Marlborough‘ s temper, which is so strongly painted in the character of Atossa, frequently broke out into wonderful and ridiculous indecencies. In the last illness of the great duke her husband, when Dr. Mead left his chamber, the duchess, disliking his advice, followed him down stairs, swore at him bitterly, and was going to tear oft’ his perriwig. Dr. Hoadly, the late bishop of Winchester, was present at this scene. Disappointed ambition, great wealth, and increasing years, rendered her more and more peevish. She hated courts, says lord Hailes, over which she had no influence, and she became at length the most ferocious animal that is suffered to go loose a violent party-woman. In the latter part of her life she became bed-ridden. Paper, pens, and ink were placed by her side, and she used occasionally to write down either what she remembered, or what came into her head. A selection from these loose papers was made in the way of diary, by sir David Dalryraple, lord Hailes, under the title of “The Opinions of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, published from the original Mss.” 1788, 12mo, which Mr. Park, who has given a specimen, very properly characterises as the effusions of caprice and arrogance. This lady died Oct. 18, 1744. 1

1

Biog. Brit. Lediard’s Life of the Duke of Marlborough. Swift’s Works, see Index. Barnet’s Own Times. Chesterfield’s Letters and Memoirs by Dr. Maty. Bowles’s edition of Pope’s Works. Somerville’s History of Queen Anne, p. 251. Continuation of Rapin’s History. Park’s edition of the Royal and Noble Authors. Mirror, No. 21, a paper by Lord Hailes. —Gent. Mag. 1742. Dr. Johnson’s Rmarl on the Duchess’s Apology.- Coxe’s Memoirs of Walpole.