Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/454

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dans la maison de Brunswick, p. 128). At the time of the proclamation of George I as king of Great Britain, Melusina von der Schulenburg was supposed to hold the second place in his regard, the first being occupied by Baroness von Kielmannsegge (afterwards Countess of Darlington). The second mistress followed, at a short interval, the example of the first in hastening across the water in the wake of the king.

From this time forward Melusina's influence seems gradually to have eclipsed, without ever entirely extinguishing, that of her younger and fairer rival. The London populace nicknamed Mademoiselle de Schulenburg, who was spare of frame, ‘the Maypole;’ but though physically unlike, the two ladies closely resembled each other in the most prominent feature of their characters—an insatiable rapacity. The elder lady gathered the larger share of titles, and doubtless also of wealth. According to Walpole, Melusina ‘would have sold the king's honour for a shilling advance to the best bidder’ (Coxe, i. 551). In June 1716, after having been naturalised, she was created Baroness of Dundalk, Countess and Marchioness of Dungannon, and Duchess of Munster in the peerage of Ireland (Lady Cowper, Diary, p. 107). In March 1719 she became Baroness of Glastonbury, Countess of Feversham, and Duchess of Kendal—a title which the sons of two English kings and the consort of the last English queen had borne as dukes or earls (Doyle). Finally, in January 1723, she was created princess of the empire under the title of Princess of Eberstein, by the emperor, Charles VI, with whose wife (a Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel princess) she had for some time carried on a correspondence, supposed to be directed to a renewal of the Anglo-Austrian alliance (Coxe, i. 151). An annual pension of 7,500l. was settled on her from the English exchequer (ib. ii. 251); but this can have represented but a portion of her usual income. Among the receipts of corruption imputed to her are the 5,000l. paid to her for his viscountcy by Bolingbroke's father, Sir Henry St. John (Lady Cowper, p. 113); the 4,000l. previously paid by the same client for a two lives' tenure of a place in the customs-house with 1,200l. a year (Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, Letters, ed. Cunningham, ii. 140); the payment for the ill-starred patent for supplying Ireland with copper coin bestowed on her by Sunderland, and sold by her in 1723 to Wood (Coxe, ii. 169); her enormous share of South Sea profits (T. Wright, England under the House of Hanover, ii. 79, 80); and, finally, the monster bribe of 11,000l. paid to her, apparently in 1724, by the Marquise de la Villette, Bolingbroke's second wife, on behalf of her husband (Coxe, ii. 250; cf. Macknight, Life of Bolingbroke, p. 551).

Walpole declared that her ‘intellects’ were ‘mean and contemptible,’ but it must be remembered that the minister ‘did not readily speak in any foreign language,’ and the mistress ‘could not converse in English’ (Coxe, i. 551). Horace Walpole reported on hearsay that she was ‘no genius’ (Lord Orford, Reminiscences; cf. Mémoires de F. S. Wilhelmine, Margrave de Bareith, ed. 1845, i. 67). But George I, in whom considerable capacity was united to unmistakable candour, would not have kept up the custom of transacting state affairs in her apartments if her counsel had been valueless; and, so far as is known, she avoided the blunder of futile intrusion.

In 1720, when Walpole and Townshend had returned to office, the former told Lady Cowper that the Duchess of Kendal's ‘interest did everything; that she was in effect as much queen of England as ever any was,’ and that ‘he did everything by her’ (Lady Cowper, Diary, p. 137). She alone of the Hanoverians around the king was in the secret of the transactions that led to the reconciliation between him and the Prince of Wales in 1720 (ib. p. 145), and her reticence probably contributed to make it possible. In 1723 Carteret, who had thoroughly entered into the foreign policy of the king and his Hanoverian advisers, secured the goodwill of the king's other mistress, Lady Darlington; while his opponents, Walpole and Townshend, were supported by their ‘fast friend,’ the ‘good duchess.’ The result was not only Carteret's loss of the seals as secretary of state, but a reconstitution of the Hanoverian ministry in London, involving the downfall of Bernstorff. The foothold of the Hanoverian dynasty was probably strengthened by this sacrifice of its ablest servants (ib. p. 145; cf. Coxe, ii. 104–5; Stanhope, ii. 56; Ranke, Englische Geschichte, 1868, vii. 106).

The most notable intrigue in which the Duchess of Kendal had a share was inimical to Walpole's ascendency. In 1725 Walpole was obliged by the express command of the king to ‘partially restore’ Bolingbroke, a result which may be attributed to the pressure exercised by the duchess in return for the consideration already noted. But although Bolingbroke now returned to England, his attainder remained unreversed. In 1727 the duchess induced the king to grant him a personal interview in the royal closet. But the memorial which Bolingbroke presented the king was handed on to Walpole, and nothing came of this intrigue (see Lord