Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Godolphin
Godolphin
45

ning of 1706, when the great whig leaders met Godolphin and Marlborough, and drank to ‘everlasting union’ (ib. i. 523; Cowper, Diary). Godolphin had taken an active share in promoting the union with Scotland (see correspondence in Addit. MS. 28055). By his advice Anne refused her assent in 1703 to the Act of Security, providing for a separation of the crowns at her death unless England would concede certain Scottish claims. He yielded, however, in 1704, when it was ‘tacked’ to the bill for supplies, thinking possibly that it would render the treaty for union more imperative. On 10 April 1706 he was appointed a commissioner for settling the terms of this treaty. In the next year he was summoned from the country to resist an attempt of Harley's to make a difficulty about some commercial regulations consequent on the union; a circumstance which precipitated the quarrel between the two (Cunningham, Great Britain, ii. 70). In the autumn of 1706 he was brought to threats of retirement by his difficulty in persuading the queen to make Sunderland secretary of state in room of Sir Charles Hedges [q. v.] He declares (Coxe, i. 138) that he has worn out his health and almost his life in the service of the crown. After many remonstrances the queen yielded in November 1706, and other changes in favour of the whigs followed. Godolphin at this period still trusted in Harley in spite of insinuations from the duchess. Harley's defection became manifest in the following year, and he was forced to resign on 11 Feb. 1708, Godolphin and Marlborough having absented themselves from a council meeting (9 Feb.). The whigs were now triumphant; Godolphin obtained credit in the spring for his efforts to meet the danger of the threatened Jacobite invasion, and to support the credit of the Bank of England. He had now to overcome the queen's reluctance to the appointment of Somers, which was not finally granted till November 1708.

The demands of the whigs and the growing alienation of the queen combined to make Godolphin's life miserable. He declares (10 Jan. 1709) that the ‘life of a slave in the galleys is a paradise in comparison of mine.’ Another of the whig junto, Halifax, was beginning to insist upon a recognition of his claims to office. The negotiations for peace were perplexing, and Godolphin, according to Coxe, insisted more strongly than Marlborough upon the demands ultimately rejected by Louis. Although disgusted with the Dutch, Godolphin, in obedience to the whig leaders, insisted upon the barrier treaty, and finally, when Marlborough declined to sign, ordered Townshend to sign it alone.

Godolphin was next bullied by the whigs and the Duchess of Marlborough to extort the appointment of Lord Orford to the admiralty. The sermon of Sacheverell which led to the famous impeachment attacked Godolphin under the name of Volpone. Godolphin was greatly irritated, and insisted on the impeachment, in spite of the advice of Somers that the question should be left to the ordinary courts (December 1709). The general reaction against the war, combined with the church feeling, now gathered strength, and Harley took advantage of it to detach some of the whigs, and to encourage the queen to subject Godolphin and Marlborough to successive slights. Godolphin appears to have shown little spirit. He persuaded Marlborough to withdraw his threat of resignation upon the appointment of Colonel Hill. He remonstrated with the queen on the appointment of the Duke of Somerset as chamberlain, but had not resolution enough to carry out his threat of resignation. In June 1710 he joined with his colleagues in appealing to Marlborough to submit to the dismissal of Sunderland. He submitted to a neglect of his wishes in the case of other appointments, and long refused to believe that the queen would venture on a dissolution of parliament. On hearing in July that this measure was decided upon, he remonstrated with her, but still did not resign. A violent dispute took place in a cabinet council between Godolphin and Shrewsbury, who in April had been appointed chamberlain without his advice and was allied with Harley. On 7 Aug. 1710 he had two audiences from the queen, who ended by telling him that she wished him to remain in office. Next morning she sent him a note, ordering him to break his staff of office, but promising a pension of 4,000l. a year. Godolphin's fall was followed by the dismissal of his son from the office of cofferer of the household (June 1711). He had the credit of retiring in poverty, as it was said that he would require Marlborough's assistance to support himself. Godolphin was devoted to gambling, and especially interested in horse-racing, which may partly account for his poverty. By the death of his elder brother, Sir William Godolphin, on 17 Aug. 1710, his son inherited an estate of 4,000l. a year. After his fall there were rumours of dishonesty, but they seem to have been sufficiently answered by Walpole in a pamphlet called ‘The thirty-five millions accounted for’ (Coxe, iii. 465). His health was already broken, and he died aged 67, according to his monument, on 15 Sept. 1712, at Marlborough House at St. Albans, after long sufferings from the stone.

Godolphin married Margaret Blagge [see