Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/50

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Godolphin
Godolphin
44

be retained at the treasury. He was the only tory of the seven lords justices appointed when William left England in 1695. He held the same office in 1696. In that year he was implicated, along with Marlborough, Shrewsbury, and Russell, in the confession of Sir John Fenwick [q. v.] Fenwick's accusation was awkwardly near the truth; and it was found convenient to behead him and discredit his story. Godolphin, however, was obnoxious to the majority as the last tory in office. It was resolved to take the occasion for getting rid of him; and perhaps, as Macaulay suggests, it was felt that when he was thrown over there would be less motive for accepting the truth of Fenwick's narrative. By some manœuvre of Sunderland he was induced to resign in October before the debates on Fenwick's case. He afterwards complained that he had been tricked (Shrewsbury Papers, pp. 414, 420, 429). Apparently he had been frightened by an erroneous impression as to the mode in which Fenwick's statement was to be received. In the House of Lords he absolutely denied (1 Dec. 1696) that he had had the dealings with James described by Fenwick; but, unlike Marlborough, he voted against the bill of attainder.

Godolphin's only son, Francis, was married in the spring of 1698 to Henrietta Churchill, daughter of Marlborough, and the close alliance between the parents was thus cemented. When the tories returned to power at the end of William's reign, Godolphin again became head of the treasury (9 Dec. 1700). When William once more returned to the whigs, Godolphin wrote a letter to Marlborough, to be laid before the king, in which he professed the readiness of the tories to prosecute a war with France. He was, however, compelled to resign 30 Dec. 1701. On the accession of Anne, he shared Marlborough's fortune and became lord treasurer 6 May 1702. Godolphin was the head of the home government during the next eight years. He was on the most intimate terms with Marlborough, and corresponded confidentially upon every detail of policy [see under Anne (1665–1714), and Churchill, John, first Duke of Marlborough]. Few statesmen in so conspicuous a position have left so feeble a personal impression upon politics. Godolphin's talents fitted him to be an admirable head clerk, while circumstances compelled him to act as a first minister. He played, however, a considerable part in the field of action in which Marlborough was less conspicuous, especially in the Portuguese and Spanish affairs (see Addit. MSS. 28056, 28057, for Methuen correspondence). He was anxious for the invasion of France with the help of the Camisards, and supported the expedition against Toulon. At home he was the centre of the constant party struggles. He was timid, cold, and easily disheartened. In Marlborough's absence he was the immediate recipient of the dictatorial interference of Marlborough's wife, who seems to have had more power over him than over her husband. He was forced to join in the series of intrigues by which the ministry, originally composed of tories, gradually came to rest upon the support of the whig junto. The initiative, however, was generally taken by stronger natures. Godolphin was engaged in negotiating, trying to pacify allies or opponents, and holding together the distracting forces as long as he could. He was frequently driven to propose retirement, and was often irritable though seldom resolute.

The quarrel with the tories began in the first parliament. In June 1703 Godolphin with Marlborough contrived to get rid of Rochester, by procuring an order from the queen for his return to his duties as lord-lieutenant in Ireland. In May 1704 he persuaded the queen to accept the resignation of Nottingham, and induced Harley to take the secretaryship of state in his place. These changes implied the alienation of the high-church and tory party. In 1702 Godolphin with Marlborough had supported the Occasional Conformity Bill, the favourite measure of that party; they both voted for it again in 1703, and signed the protest against its rejection; but they were suspected of indirectly opposing it, and in 1704 they both silently voted against it. He was persuaded in 1705 by the Duchess of Marlborough to beg an appointment for her son-in-law, Sunderland, to the vexation of the queen, though with the reluctant consent of Marlborough. In the same year his financial scruples caused him to make many difficulties in the way of a loan to the emperor. He wrote an irritating despatch which hindered the negotiation; but Marlborough finally succeeded in extorting his acquiescence (Coxe, i. 479). In the parliament of 1705–8, Godolphin was driven to closer alliance with the whigs. He again offended the queen by urging the removal of Sir Nathan Wright, the lord-keeper, who was finally succeeded by Cowper on 11 Oct. 1705. In the following session he parried an insidious proposal of the tories for inviting the Electress Sophia to England by carrying a bill for securing the protestant succession by appointing a commission of regency. He and Marlborough were now attacked by the tory writers as traitors to the church. A dinner was arranged at the house of Harley at the begin-