Archaeologia/Volume 38/Lord Coningsby's Account of the State of Political Parties during the Reign of Queen Anne
Read 29 April and 20 May, 1858.
4th March, 1858.
My dear Sir,
Among the Lansdowne Manuscripts in the British Museum there is a short Memoir of the State of Political Parties in England from the last year of the reign of William the Third to the death of Queen Anne, written by the Earl of Coningsby (at least so afterwards created), who was throughout engaged in the ministerial divisions of that period, and divisions they were of no ordinary character.
It is said upon its Title to have been presented to King George the First, evidently for his information as to the state of parties then engaged in politics; but, although it professedly extends to the month of July 1716, it gives no details of any events subsequent to Lord Coningsby's dismissal from office in July 1710.
Whether His Majesty gained much information from the entanglement of the detail may, I think, be doubted. The King himself knew but little of the tution, or of the character of the inhabitants of the British Isles; and could not speak English. In Hanover, I believe, it was universally acknowledged that he was beloved. He certainly must have felt unaccustomed to details of turmoil such as this Memoir brought before his view, and which, if at all considered by him, must, I think, have disturbed his peace, and added much to the perplexities which were then assailing his position.
His Majesty's first visit back to Hanover was made about the time of his receiving Lord Coningsby's Memoir; and his voyage and visit to Hanover, I presume, gave him leisure to consult his more immediate and trusted friends upon its contents.
Lord Coningsby was of ancient English descent though resident in Ireland. He was the great-grandson of Sir Thomas Coningsby who was knighted by the Earl of Leicester at the siege of Rouen in 1591. Joining in the Revolution upon James the Second's abdication, he distinguished himself in the battles of the Boyne and of Aughrim, and in reward for his services was created an Irish baron by King William, in addition to which he was made joint Paymaster of the Forces in Ireland, one of its Lords Justices, and a Privy Councillor in England.
He held office also during a great part of the reign of Queen Anne.
Soon after the arrival of George the First his zeal for the Protestant Succession gained his entry into the Baronage of England. He became Baron Coningsby of Coningsby co. Lincoln in 1710, and in April 1719 was created Earl of Coningsby, of the same place, with remainder to the issue of any future marriage, and on failure thereof to his daughter Margaret, who had been already created in 1716 Baroness and Viscountess Coningsby of Hampton Court in the county of Hereford, and in whom those titles became extinct. The Earl died, according to the Historical Register for 1729, on April 30 of that year.
I remain, my dear Sir,
Very sincerely yours,
Director Soc. Antiq.
Earl Coningsbie's History of Parties; presented to King George the First.
I begin this Tract with a state of our unhappy divisions, factions, and circumstances, from the last year of King William 3d to the death of the late Queen; and shall then proceed to shew how the passions, animosities, and private interests and views of the chief actors upon the publick stage at that time have influenc'd every part of affairs, from the death of the Queen (wch deliver'd us from immediate ruin) to the happy day when his sacred Majesty King George the 1st landed in England, and from that day to the sitting down of this the best dispos'd Parliament for the true interest of Britain that ever was elected.
From the opening the Parliament, the 17th of March, till their recess from business by their first ajournment.
From their first ajournment to the taking of the rebels at Preston, and from thence to the meeting of the Parliament ye 9th January.
And lastly, from the said 9th January, when his Majesty open'd this 2d part of yt sessions, to the prorogation of it in June, when his Majesty went to Hanover.
And in the severall periods of time aforesd I shall mention some few of the most notorious mismanagements (whether voluntary or involuntary) that have been run into by those who have call'd themselves the Ministry, and the malignant consequences yt have happen'd from such their corrupt or unskilfull administration; and such farther mischiefs (even to make the support of ye very Government it self impracticable) yt must follow, unless wiser, steadier, and less corrupt measures are taken for ye future by those who are employ'd at ye helm of affairs.
The Church Party, in revenge to King James for invading their power and property by seizing Magdalen College in Oxford for his Popish priests, and imprisoning ye seven bishops in ye Tower, having (tho' directly contrary to their establish'd principles of passive obedience and hereditary right) been the chief instruments in bringing about the late happy Revolution, oblig'd K. William upon the first entrance on his government to make the Duke of Shrewsbury (a new convert from Popery, tho' then for his pretended zeal for the Revolution the declar'd head of the Whig Party) and my Lord Nottingham (chief of ye Tory faction) Secretaries of State; which employments are the two principal wheels wch turn the whole administration in these kingdoms.
The Duke of Shrewsbury continued in his post but 'till the year 1690; when, having about that time either sent or resolv'd to send his uncle my Lord Middleton with the Compounders proposition for restoring King James, upon King William's going to Ireland to reduce that kingdom, wch by the traitorous management of the Ministry was, except Londonderry, entirely in the enemies hands; when Scotland was in arms likewise for King James; and when we know we were to expect an invasion from France, and an insurrection at home; he quitted, and left my Ld Nottingham to be sole Secretary of State, 'till King William, upon his return, sent for my Ld Rumney (who he had left joint Lord Justice with me in Ireland) to take upon him the employment of second Secretary; and they two continued so 'till the latter end of ye year '93.
Then, Ireland being entirely reduced; the invasion design'd from La Hogue baffled by burning the French fleet; Scotland in profound quiet, and upon a perfect good settlement; and to common appearance every thing as well dispos'd at home as the best affected could wish; another invasion from Dunkirk, an insurrection in Lancashire, with the villainous assassination of King William, in order to restore the late King James, being resolv'd on, the Duke of Shrewsbury was restor'd to the place of Secretary, and Sr William Trumball (a man better inclined to his secret machinations in favour of Popery and King James) was made his partner. What share his Grace had in stiffling and preventing a more early and full discovery of the assassination and Lancashire plots, every honest man that was acquainted with the secret of those times can tell.
And, tho' after this he accepted the place of Lord Chamberlain, and was nominated to go Lord Lieutenant to Ireland, one Capt. Smith, nephew to Sr William Perkins (who was one of the chief conspirators in the assassination plot, and hanged for the same), having given information upon oath at the bar of the House of Lords, and publish'd a book setting forth all the particulars, how that he the said Smith had acquainted my Lord Duke (being then Secretary of State) of the design to murder the King, and with the names of most of the assassinators, a very considerable time before it was discover'd by Pendergast, his courage would not allow him to stay and execute these great and beneficial employments (for he was to hold both), but his fears hurried him to retire to Rome, where he remained 'till he was invited over by Harley to come and assist in prosecuting his old ruinous designs against his native country upon the late unhappy turn of affairs.
My Lord Nottingham's province during his continuance in the Secretary's office was encouraging and promoting all the party of the Tories wch he had headed when he oppos'd the declaring King William and Queen Mary King and Queen, and was for having the Revolution settled upon the sandy foundation of a Regency, and the discouraging of all the other parties who opposed that madness; and his particular frenzy carried him such extravagant lengths in this particular, yt he endeavour'd to impeach my Lord Oxford for burning the French fleet; and that folly turn'd him out. So that it may by innumerable facts be made appear, that all the Popish plotts both at home and abroad, all the Protestant fatal follies at home, the whole uneasiness of King William's reign, all the traiterous part of Queen Anne's Government, and the disturbances given to his present Majesty, are owing to that first fatal mistake of King William's in employing those two men in the posts of Secretary of State; to the perfidious arts of the Duke of Shrewsbury, and to the foolish tho' inveterate principles of my Lord Nottingham.
And to them, and them alone, was owing the dissolving of the Convention Parliament wch set the crown on the King's head; the passing the Triennial Bill, wch broke to pieces the whole Revolution interest all over the kingdom. And the consequences of the above treasonable counsells were the increase of the Jacobite interest in the House of Commons to that heighth, that they were enabled, by delaying the supplies so late in the year that they were useless for the ends they were design'd, viz. to carry on the war with success, by giving deficient funds, and by cramping the publick credit, to prolong the war and increase the taxes to such an annual exorbitancy yt ye people readily believ'd them when they laid those traiterous acts to the charge of ye King and Government.
And these forc'd King William not only to make the Peace of Reswick upon the French terms, tho' to my knowledge he foresaw all the destructive consequences of it; but likewise, when upon the death of the King of Spain these consequences appear'd and a new war became unavoidable, oblig'd him to throw himself into the Tories hands, that party being now become (by the horrid means abovesd) the majority of the House of Commons. And he was the rather induced to comply with this necessity, my Ld Rochester, Sr Edwd Seymour, and that party, having given him as he told me full assurances that they would not only come in to the vigorous carrying on of the war against France, but to the settling of the Crown on your sacred Majesty's illustrious house.
How they complied with either of these engagements is needless to relate, but sure I am (because I had it from his own mouth more than 20 times) he was fully convinc'd, from their pressing him to own the Duke of Anjou for King of Spain, their backwardness to enter into the war with any vigour, but above all by their manner of proceeding in the passing of the Succession Act, that it was not possible for a King who held under the Revolution settlement ever to be supported by a Tory Parliament or Administration, and he was unalterably determin'd never more to imploy in the considerable parts of the Government any of that set of men; but God took him off before he could put this resolution in practice, and so we were left intirely in the hands of the Tories, when the Queen ascended to the throne with a heart entirely English, as she was pleas'd to declare in her first speech to Her Parliament; the true English of which expression was then by all discerning men construed to be an inveterate reflection on her glorious predecessor, and a fix'd resolution in her Majesty and her Ministry to break as soon as possible with his foreign friends and allies, and to give us the Pretender for an English successor.
But the disagreement that soon follow'd between my Lord Marlborough and my Lord Godolphin (who by my Lady Duchesses interest had the entire Government of the Queen), and my Lord Rochester, who was as absolute over the party of the Tories in both houses; and my Lord Marlborough after the success of his first campaign, wherein he took Leige, Huy, and Cambray, having in view great prospects of acquiring riches and honours to himself and his family, wch he found could not otherwise be arrived at but by renewing the Confederacy and continuing the war against France that he might command their armies; but above all, having been disappointed of the pension of £5000 per annum out of the Post Office, wch the Queen then first desired to be enabled by Parliament to settle upon him for her life and his, by means of my Lord Rochester's interest with Sr Christopher Musgrave, Sr Edward Seymour, and the Tory Party in the House of Commons, upon a full debate (in which some Whigs appear'd for him) was refused; the Queen was prevail'd on by her yet beloved favourite to change some hands, tho' not altogether measures, especially in the great points, and my Lord Rochester was removed from being Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and the D. of Ormond was put in his room; my Lord Notingham transferred from being Secretary of State, and Mr. Harley, tho' then Speaker of the House of Commons, succeeded him; Mr. Mansell, since Lord Mansell, was made Comptrollour instead of Sr Edwd Seymour, Mr. St. John Secretary of War, and Sr Simon Harcourt Attorney-General.
And from this change and no change, commenc'd all the succeeding miseries of Europe; for Harley having by his employment got access to the Queen, and by Mrs. Hill, since Lady Masham, (who was then, upon my Lady Marlborough's losing ground on account of her insolent behaviour to the Queen, a growing favourite with her) having got credit, he soon found the way to make his court was to make (on any terms) a peace with France, and to settle the Succession on her pretended brother, instead of your sacred Majesty. And he fell into these wicked measures so warmly, that it soon appeared he had a superior interest with the Queen to my Lord Godolphin, who, contrary to the advice of all his friends, promoted him.
And by his often telling the Queen that he, i. e. my Lord Godolphin, notwithstanding the repeated assurances he had formerly given her Majesty of hastening the peace, and of altering the Succession according to her wishes, was now so absolutely influenc'd by my Lady Marlborough's passions, who was, in opposition to her Majesty and in hatred to Mrs. Masham, as entirely govern'd by the Whig Lords, and attach'd to that interest, that he thought no more of those engagements.
He, Mr. Harley, soon became strong enough to form a scheme of government in which the first proposition was, to remove my Lord Godolphin from the place of Treasurer, in order to put the staff into his own destructive hands. And so sure was he of the fix'd resolution in the Queen to enter into these his ruinous measures at that time, that he made her write a letter to my Lord Marlborough, who the Queen thought (and she had then too much reason to think so) would readily enter into the same scheme, to acquaint him with the whole affair. And this letter was carried to his grace by Mr. St. John, now Lord Bullingbroke, then my Lord's chief favourite and most trusted friend, whose part in this new scheme was to be Secretary of State, and my Lord Harcourt Lord Chancellour.
And there having been a party of Whig Lords call'd the Junto, and wch consisted of Lord Sommers, Lord Oxford, Lord Halifax, Lord Wharton, and Lord Sunderland, who had for some time before openly shown themselves envious at, and jealous of, my Lord Marlborough's exorbitant encrease of power and riches, and who in the House of Peers, where the interest of the Lords aforenamed only prevailed, had done several things to lessen his grace's great and emminent services to the publick, and particularly on all occasions whenever they were mention'd in the House, by applying the greatest share of them to Prince Eugene's skill and conduct in military affairs; and my Lord Marlborough having this provocation from the Whigs added to his inclination to the Tories, and more particularly to St. John, Harcourt, and Mansell, (and at this instant, even to Harley himself,) on account of their inveteracy to the Junto Lords; and my Lord Godolphin and my Lord Sunderland, both hurried on by my Lady Marlborough's furious passion, having, notwithstanding their near relation to my Lord Marlborough, enter'd into as close or closer engagements with the Junto Lords, in opposition, even in personal things, to my Lord Marlborough himself; his grace, if he had not underhand promoted and advised the Queen to make this change at this time, had most certainly determined to be passive in it and submit to it, if the then House of Commons (being composed of a very great majority of the moderate Whigs, and who, under the influence of Lord Carlton, Mr. Smith, then Chancellour of the Exchequer, and myself, had carried on the publick business with the greatest success, in opposition to the wild embroilments attempted by the Junto, and the open opposition given by the Jacobite faction,) had not absolutely refused to have anything to do with such men. And after I had told my Lord Marlborough the same, in the presence of my Lady Duchess, my Lord Godolphin, and my Lord Sunderland, I was privately desired by Lord Godolphin to go immediately to Kensington, and to lay the same reasons before the Queen against her intended alterations of her Ministry as I had before them; wch I did accordingly. And from that moment Lord Marlborough came to the trimming resolution to cut Harley singly, by wch he thought entirely to justifie himself to my Lord Godolphin (who, as he had cause sufficient, thought himself abandon'd and given up by him), and to keep in St. John, Harcourt, and Hansel, his great friends and confidents, in order to support him against the Junto Lords, and to keep his interest with the Queen, by not acting directly contrary to the advice he most certainly had formerly given her in relation to these men and their destructive projects. But they were too closely linked wth Harley and Hasham to be separated from them; and knowing the Queen's resolutions in relation to the Peace and Succession to be unalterably fixed, her inveteracy against my Lady Marlborough, and likewise against my Lord Sunderland and Lord Godolphin, for being influenced by her, and the assurances wch the Queen most certainly gave to Harley at parting of a speedy restoration; but above all, depending upon Mrs. Masham's unbounded influence over her unhappy mistress's will in all things whatever, but especially in keeping her steady to the aforesaid engagements; upon Harley's dismission, St. John, Harcourt, and Mansel, notwithstanding all my Lord Marlbro' could say to persuade them to the contrary, likewise flung up their employments with him.
And these your Majesty may depend upon to be the true reasons how our design'd destruction came to be at that time postponed. And it was no better. For the middle part my Lord Marlborough acted in this whole affair had these fatal consequences to his own and the publick's prejudice:—
1st. It made such a breach in the confidence that had ever been between Lord Godolphin and his Grace, that, to my knowledge, who was at this time entrusted by them both, could never be again restored 'till one of the best administrations that ever Great Britain knew was overturned by each of them underhand acting counter to each other.
2dly. The jealousies of the Junto Lords were now turn'd into certainties, and their cover'd opposition into an open and inveterate one against his Grace, his two brothers, and all his other relations and friends except my Lady Duchess, Lord Sunderland, and Lord Godolphin, and such as with them join'd in the mad measures of the Junto Lords.
3dly. And lastly, by his having forced the Queen to part with Harley, when she concluded (and 't is to be fear'd she had too much reason to do so) that his Grace was privy to all the crimes objected to him, he lost all his interest with her Majesty.
And tho', by the virtue of the House of Commons singly, things were kept in a right channel, notwithstanding all the factions, divisions, and dangerous intrigues that had for some time been in agitation amongst us, 'till the fatal year 1710, yet then the antipathies of the several persons and parties were grown to such a height against each other that they seem'd determined to sacrifice all other considerations, sacred and civil, to their respective passions and resentments. And this fire of destruction could now be no longer smother'd, but broke into an open flame in the following manner.
The Queen, who, from the moment she parted with Harley, had held a private correspondence with him by Mrs. Masham's means, now was known to see him every day. And the first publick instance that he chose to show the world his power with the Queen was, persuading her Majesty to give Collll Hill, Mrs. Masham's brother, (a very young officer in the army,) my Lord Essex's old Regiment of Dragoons, wch was designed by Lord Marlborough for Meredith, one of his favourites; and this was done without so much as consulting his Grace about it. And as the man this was done for, Mrs. Masham's brother, and the manner it was done in, were demonstrations to my Lord Duke, not only who was the adviser of her Majesty, but that her Majesty intended, by following that advice, to let his Grace see that his interest was lost with her; and therefore, by this affront, she design'd to put upon him this dilemma—either of quiting his command of the army, or serving on, under the heavy load of disgrace Harley and Mrs. Masham had thought fit to lay upon him.
If 'twere possible to add to my Lady Marlborough's fury, this matter, thus circumstanced, made her passions yet more wild; and being govern'd by one Manwaring at this time, even more than by either Lord Godolphin or Lord Sunderland, he being a creature of the Junto's and more particularly of Lord Sommers's, who was their head, and President of the Council, and most certainly enter'd then and some time before into underhand measures with Harley to ruin my Lord Marlborough, who he abhorr'd; he the said Manwaring told my Lady Duchess, that this was the happy opportunity to drive her mortal enemy Mrs. Masham from the Queen; that an Address of both Houses of Parliament would infallibly do it; that if my Lord Sommers, who was head of the Whig Party in the House of Lords, could be brought to promote it there, and that I would propose it in the House of Commons, and she, by her influence over my Lord Godolphin, would oblige him to engage my Lord Carlton and Mr. Smith, the Speaker, to support me, it was not possible it could miscarry in either House; and that he would undertake to bring my Lord Sommers, notwithstanding the coolness had been for some time between them, upon this occasion to come to my Lord Marlborough, and to give him all the assurances his Grace could expect.
My Lord Duke was catch'd in this snare, and my Lord Sommers on a Saturday came and dined with the Duke of Marlborough privately, none being present but my Lady Duchess and this Manwaring, and then advis'd the Duke to write a letter to the Queen that he could no longer serve, in case her Majy insisted on Hill's having the regiment; and then to go the next morning out of town and wait the event; which he accordingly did on Sunday morning, without imparting the fatal secret to any one friend in the world; but order'd Manwaring to acquaint me with the part he hoped I would act in it, which he never did, and trusted all the rest to my Lord Sommers; who, I can assure your Majesty, not five hours after my Lord Duke was gone to Windsor, it being the same Sunday before the Queen went to church, having an audience of her, and her Majesy shewing him my Lord Marlborough's letter, and complaining that the hardship he would impose upon her by it was so great, that in case she knew who to send over to command the confederate army in his place she would readily accept of his resignation; my Lord Somers immediately replied, that the letter (tho by himself advis'd as before) was an insolence not to be born by a sovereign from a subject, and that her Majesty need not be in pain for a general, since your sacred Majesty might supply that place; but if she did not approve of that, the Prince of Savoy, who had had the greatest share in the glorious successes past, if commission'd by her Majesty, might perform things full as great when he had the single command.
This so encouraged the Queen and her new counsellours that she sent for all the heads of either party, Tories or Whigs, in both Houses, and all in her service, to know if they would stand by her in case any such insolent Address as that proposed of removing Mrs. Masham from about her person was attempted in either House of Parliament.
And as it was impossible for any man of sense, honour, or honesty to come into an Address to remove a dresser from the Queen (for, notwithstanding all her secret influence, in outward appearance she was no more,) only to gratifie my Lady Marlborough's passions; so her Majesty had such assurances from all as gave her full satisfaction as to this point, wch Harley and his brother conspirators made her believe would go to all others; and from hence flattered her so much with her own power and interest, that they made her take courage then to resolve on the destructive change she soon after made of her Ministers and Councils.
And at this instant began the hatred that has since continued between my Lord Argyle and my Lord Marlborough; he, my Lord Argyle, appearing at the head of the warmest reflecters on my Lord Marlborough's insolence to the Queen; and when he spoke to her himself on this subject, he, amongst many other things, told her that Queen Elizabeth for infinitely a less provocation gave my Lord Essex a box on the ear. Whilst my Lord Marlborough continued att Woodstock under keeping of my Lady Duchess, by Manwaring's directions, who fed her with assurances that if he did but stay away the Queen must at last comply; my Ld Godolphin, who knew nothing of what had past between Ld Sommers and Ld Marlborough, and was an entire stranger to the letter wrote to the Queen, or the true reasons of my Ld Marlborough's retirement 'till he was gone, enter'd into a consultation with my Ld Sommers, my Lord Carlton (then Mr. Boyle), and Mr. Smith, to find an expedient of accommodation, and fixed upon this, that neither Meredith, proposed by the Duke to succeed to my Ld Essex's Regimt of Dragoons, nor Hill, to whom the Queen had given it, should have it, but that it should be given to Sr Richard Temple, a friend of the Junto Lords, and that Hill should have a pension of £1000 per annum out of the Post Office for the Queen's life; and as this proposal certainly came from Harley by my Ld Sommers, they being not yet strong enough to venture to come to such an entire breach with my Lord Marlborough as to turn him out, not knowing what consequences such a step as that would have in the House of Commons to their own destruction; so her Majesty on her part agreed to it, and was prevail'd on to write to my Ld Marlborough that she did so, and to desire him to come to town; notwithstanding which seeming condescension of her Majesty, my Lady Duchess (being deluded by Manwaring's letters to believe that my Ld Sommers would engage the Parliament to interpose in the Duke's favour, and oblige the Queen to comply upon better terms than the expedient offer'd), kept my Ld at Windsor 'till the Sunday following, and made him write a letter to me by Mr. Craggs to move the mad Address in the House of Commons, telling me that he was assured, if I would undertake it there, it could not fail of success there, or any where else.
Upon which, on the Sunday morning, I went down to his Grace at Windsor, and having, tho' with great difficulty, got him from my Lady Duchess (he not daring to talk with me before her), I did, by shewing him how barbarously he was betray'd in town whilst he stay'd in the country, and even by those who sent him and by their base artifices kept him there, and, by letting him see how wild and groundless his expectations were that either House of Parliament would interpose in the manner he was falsely made to believe they would, I persuaded him (notwithstanding all my Lady Marlborough could do to oppose it when she came to know his resolution) to come to town on the Monday, to go immediately to the Queen, and, in appearance at least, to seem fully satisfied with the expedient propos'd.
This, Sir, is the secret of that whole transaction wch laid the foundation of all our succeeding miseries, and was the fatal spring from whence even our present distractions and ruinous divisions flow.
This gave courage to the Queen openly to shew her hatred to your Majesty's family, and her inclinations to her brother; power to Harley and the rest of her traitorous advisers to resolve upon our immediate destruction; and created such an eternal distrust amongst those men who had managed the publick business so much to their own honour and the glory and safety of the nation for the seven preceding years, that the whole party, being thereby splinter'd into so many pieces, became entirely disabled from making any stand in opposition to the dangerous designs of theirs and the kingdom's enemies. And from this moment (your Majesty may depend upon it to be a most certain truth, for I presume to affirm it to be so upon my own knowledge), my Ld Godolphin (who had always been the greatest favourite of King James's Queen, and who had all along held correspondence with her, 'till the interest became directly opposite to the Marlborough family's greatness, wch was by Act of Parliament to descend to his son by his mariage with Lady Hariott, my Ld Marlborough's eldest daughter), finding the Duke and Duchesses interest with the Queen not only to be irrecoverably lost, but that her Majesty's former affection was turn'd into an absolute hatred and aversion to their very persons; and knowing how determin'd she was to have her pretended brother to succeed her; most certainly hearken'd to proposals brought to him by old Colll Graham (formerly Privy Purse to King James) from the heads of the High Church Party both of the Lords and Commons, that if he would leave my Lord Marlborough, and come into the Queen's measures, who resolved to abandon the Whigs, they would rather take him for their head than Harley, who had made the same offer to them.
But this transaction being before Doctor Sacheverell's tryal was over, and therefore built upon a supposition that the same Parliament must be kept for another sessions, when it would be dissolv'd by law; because, if then dissolv'd, another of the same principles would be chosen, as the kingdom then stood affected; and all the business of the House of Commons being then devolved upon me, my Lord Godolphin told Graham that it was absolutely necessary I should be brought [into] this new scheme in opposition to Harley, or otherwise he, my Lord Godolphin, could never carry on the publick business in the Parliament; and accordingly sent Graham to me, at eleven o'clock at night, with the proposal contain'd in the paper mark'd A, which is the very original, taken from his own mouth at the instant he made it to me.
And when I observed my Lord Marlborough was excluded, and therefore desir'd he might be acquainted with it, he answer'd me that he knew my Lord Godolphin so well that he could trust him, and so he did me at his desire, and upon the assurance his Lordp had given him that he might do so; but for my Lord Marlborough, he knew that neither the Church Party nor the Queen would have to do with him.
Tho' I was extreamly surpriz'd at my Lord Godolphin's message, and more at the messenger by whom it was sent, yet I suspended giving any great check to his proposal 'till I had acquainted my Lord Marlborough with it; which I did the next morning, before I went to my Ld Godolphin, to discourse him freely about it, and with a design to let him know my abhorrence of such measures.
But my Lord Marlborough, who was mortally struck with the account I gave him, dissuaded me from breaking off the correspondence by entirely discouraging the scheme at that time, that I might give him an account of their proceedings, in order that he might see how far my Lord Godolphin would engage in such perfidious counsells to him, his friend, and his country.
Accordingly, I went to Ld Godolphin, and only laid before him my surprize at Graham's coming to me with such a message at such a time, and desir'd to know if he was sent by his Lordp, and what was meant by it?
He freely own'd he sent him to me, and told me the reasons why he harken'd to any proposals from the Church Party of that nature were because there was no other way to break Masham's and Harley's schemes, and to save this Parliament from a dissolution, and, consequently, the moderate Whig interest from irretrievable destruction. He told me, likewise, my Ld Sommers and my Ld Halifax were, out of hatred to him and Lord Marlborough, entering into confidence with Harley, wch intrigue was carried on by the Duke of Newcastle; and therefore, if he should absolutely reject the offers made him by the Tories, he, and those of the House of Commons who had opposed the Junto and turn'd out Harley, should be left to the mercy of a conjunction of the said Harley and the inraged Tories, for such his refusal to treat with them. Tho' it appear'd to me to a demonstration, that these were false and pretended reasons, and that he acted this part upon more dangerous views, yet, to enable me to prevent as much as possible, by my influence in the House of Commons, the steps they should resolve to take towards bringing their dark designs to a head, I seem'd to acquiesce at that time.
And, by the frequent interviews I had after with Graham, I did guess at their real drift in every step they took towards this black work, either in Parliament or any where else. And, particularly by this means, I came to know why my Lord engaged us in the fatal impeachment and tryal of Doctor Sacheverell; and therefore I opposed to the last moment making his preaching for passive obedience and non-resistance one of the articles against him, because I knew that whilst he, my Lord Godolphin, on the one hand, told my Lord Sommers, my Lord Halifax, and my Lord Sunderland (who cram'd this article down our throats), that it was the only way to terrifie the Queen from changing hands (wch he knew she was otherwise determin'd to do), he had, at the same time, agreed with the High Church to dissolve the Parliament before another Session, as the basis of their new scheme, and that this impeachment upon that point of condemning passive obedience and non-resistance, was a certain way not only to fix the Queen in her resolution of changing hands, but to secure a new election, intirely Tory, by the notions it would give the common people, that the principle of the whole Whig party tended to ruin the Monarchy and to destroy the Church.
And how well this cursed delusion answered the designs of the conspirators the late rebellion has shown, and the madness that still remains in the minds of the people does demonstrate. Whilst this treatise was carrying on between my Ld Godolphin and the heads of the High Church party by Graham, and my Ld Sommers and Ld Halifax were in secret measures with Harley, Lord Marlborough, who had constant accounts from me of what Graham and Ld Godolphin thought fit to impart to me, with my own observations thereupon, finding he was at home abandon'd by all sides, resolved to go over to the head of the Army, concluding, when there, he should be able, if not alltogether to baffle the several schemes of his enemies here, yet, at least, to secure himself from receiving any great prejudice from them; and that whether the Queen turn'd out the Whigs by Harley and his set of knaves, or by my Ld Godolphin and the High Church men, yet still he, in that station, must unavoidably be courted by the party that prevail'd.
The Duke of Marlborough was no sooner gone but I plainly found that my Ld Godolphin (from the frequent complaints he made to me of his Grace's late carriage to him, and by all his other workings) was resolved, on any terms, to secure himself and his dependants against the impending storm; and in return to my Ld Marlborough for deserting his Lordp in Harley's first scheme, to sacrifice him and all his relations and friends either to the High Church, or Harley, with which he could make the best bargain to attain the ends aforesaid. And he being then (as has been observed) in treaty with the High Church, he immediately gave up Ld Sunderland to that party, and my Ld Anglesea, elder brother to the present Lord of that name, was pitch'd upon by them to succeed him.
But when Ld Sunderland had the seals taken from him, Harley's superior interest with the Queen soon appear'd, by my Lord Dartmouth's being declared Secretary of State, tho' he could not write true English, and was an utter stranger to all business; but, because a servile creature of Harley's, he was chose to fill this great employment, to demonstrate to all partys and sorts of people that he was to be chief Minister, and that his power was to be uncontroulable.
And this disappointment was, in some short time after, the occasion of breaking off all correspondence between the High Church and Lord Godolphin; for, as he saw he could not support himself against Harley by them, so they were sufficiently convinc'd they could not expect to get the Queen from Harley by him. From this time I heard no more of Graham, neither did Ld Godolphin entertain me with the same freedom as formerly on any subject after this, but never mentioned at all anything relating to a junction with the Church Party.
On the contrary, he enter'd into close engagements with Lord Halifax and Ld Sommers, tho' at the same time he engag'd to get my Lord Anglesea, as an equivalent for the Secretaries office, my employment; and this was his last effort to make the Tories think he had any interest with the Queen equal to Harley's.
Accordingly I was turn'd out and his Lord'p put in my place; and Harley sent me word by my cousin Boyle, now Lord Carlton, that my remove was no part of his scheme, but an unexpected force upon him and his friends, which they could not prevent because they did not foresee it, nor withstand for the same reason.
Here it must be observed, that Ld Sunderland was remov'd the 14th of June, and my place was not taken from me 'till the 7th of July; and likewise that the Duke of Shrewsbury, having been some time before my Lord Sunderland's discharge, to the surprise of all parties, and most certainly by the sole interest of Harley, made Lord Chamberlain in the room of the Duke of Kent; my Lord Godolphin (knowing the intimate friendship that had been between his Grace and myself at the beginning of the Revolution, when all mankind, and I amongst the rest, was deceived in concluding him firm to the Protestant interest,) sent me to him with the following proposal, viz. that he, Ld Godolphin, was ready to enter into strict confidence with his Grace in carrying on the Queen's and kingdom's business upon the foot it then stood, with a moderate regard to all parties.
The Duke received me and the proposal I brought seemingly with great joy and kindness, and told me he had by my Ld Wharton received the same offers from the Junto Lords, but would have nothing to do with them: that he had rather act with Ld Godolphin and myself than with any two men in England; and, therefore, though he had appointed to discourse Ld Wharton at his Ldps own house before he had heard from me, yet he came to me first to desire me to give Ld Godolphin all the assurances he could expect from him.
But when I told him (tho' wthout any directions from Ld Godolphin so to do, but of my own head to try his sincerity,) that Ld Marlborough must be taken in, and that it was absolutely necessary his Grace should write to him (who was then in Flanders), of these his excellent resolutions, he was not prepared for such an attack; but in spite of all his art (which perhaps was more than any other man in England was master of) discover'd to me the rottenness of his heart, and the certainty of his dangerous engagements. However, he pretended to submit to the reasons I gave him for doing it, and said he would consult with my Lord Godolphin about it on their first interview, which I was empower'd to appoint, and which, after I had reported to my Lord Godolphin all that had pass'd between the Duke of Shrewsbury and myself, was settled for the next day; and after that I never was acquainted with the time or subject of their interviews.
Though some time after, and a few days before I was dismist, Ld Godolphin sending for me, surpriz'd me with telling me that the Queen was unalterably resolved to bring Harley into business again; and that in case Mr. Boyle, then Secretary of State, Mr. Smith, then Speaker and Chancellour of the Exchequer, and myself, would continue to act in concert with him in carrying on the publick business, he, whose interest with the Queen was much the greatest, would prevail with her Majesty to continue the Parliament in spite of all the efforts the Tories made for a new election. That Mr. Boyle and Mr. Smith had already given assurances to her Majesty of their compliance, and that there remain'd nothing to secure this great point of saving the Parliament but my going that afternoon to Kensington, and desiring a private audience of the Queen, wch he would prepare her to allow me, and after laying before her Majesty the fatal consequences to the publick credit, and especially to her Civil List, that must follow the dissolution of the Parliament at that time, to give her Majesty the like assurances Mr. Boyle and Mr. Smith had done, viz. that I was ready to act in conjunction with my countryman Harley, who I understood her Majesty was resolved to employ.
But my Ld told me, that since this happy expedient for saving the Parliament had been carried on between Harley and his Ldp by my Ld Halifax, he desir'd I would go first, and immediately from him, to his Ldp , who expected me that morning, and was then able to give me a farther light into this matter, and better instructions for carrying it on than he could do.
And tho' I plainly saw by this strange discourse that Ld Godolphin's treaty with the Tories was broken off; that Ld Shrewsbury had brought him into a treaty with Harley; that Ld Halifax and Ld Sommers had deserted the rest of the Junto Lords, and were likewise engaged with them; and that Harley, finding, by the offer the High Church had made Ld Godolphin in the aforesaid broken treaty, what aversion they had to act under his directions, in order to bring that set of men to their wits, who, he well knew, would only come in to carry on his wicked designs against his country, had given these false hopes to the abovesaid Lords; and Ld Godolphin that he, upon the approaching turn of affairs, wch he knew could no longer be withstood, might fall easy, and be screen'd from any fatal consequences by impeachment, &c. (and that he might likewise make the best terms for his particular friends, relations, and dependants), wch fears his natural timorousness suggested to him; and my Lords Sommers and Halifax, in order to secure themselves, their friends, and relations, in their pensions and imployments, and at the same time to gratifie their hatred against my Lord Marlborough, were willing (tho' their eyes were open) to be deluded by him; yet, after I had laid before my Lord Godolphin my reasons why Harley was never to be trusted, I went to my Lord Halifax (who I then understood had kissed the King's hand to go Embassadour into Holland in the room of Lord Townshend,) immediately, as he desired, and to the Queen in the afternoon.
And upon a very short discourse with Ld Halifax, I saw so plainly into the dreadfull and dangerous consequences of their horrid engagements, that, when I came to the Queen, instead of giving her any assurances of acting in concert with Harley, I began with laying before her the inevitable dangers that must attend her making any such change in her Ministry (till after a peace with France) to the credit of the nation; to herself, with regard to her Civil List; and even to the safety of her person and government, and the whole Protestant interest of the world.
At which her Majesty having been, by Lord Godolphin, made to expect a discourse of quite another turn from me, she cut me short by rising from her seat and telling me, with a very angry air, that "she was not to be frighten'd from pursuing the measures she had resolved on by any thing I could say to dissuade her."
Upon which I thought it my duty to leave the room, and never after had the honour to see her Majesty, but received, the night following, a letter from my Lord Dartmouth, that she had no more occasion for my service.