Churchill, John, first Duke of Marlborough 1650-1722, was born in 1650 at Ashe in the parish of Musbury, Devonshire. Coxe, quoting the parish register of Axminster, says that he was born 24 June, and baptised 28 June. Marlborough himself (Coxe, ii. 240) mentions 6 June 1707 as his fifty-seventh birthday, and 26 May 1710 as his sixtieth (ib. iii. 192). The difference between old and new styles would reconcile the last two dates. Lord Churchill, quoting family papers, gives the birthday as 24 May (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. viii. 492). Collins says 17 minutes after noon on 24 May; and a horoscope (Egerton MS. 2378) gives the date as 25 May at 12.58 p.m. Another hour, it is said, must be a mistake, as it would have proved his stars to have been unfavourable at Blenheim. His father was Sir Winston Churchill [qv.]. He was educated at St. Paul's School, and was apparently a scholar (Gardiner, Register of St. Paul's School, p. 53). A doubtful story (Coxe, i. 2) tells of his reading or looking at the plates in Vegetius de re Militari in his schooldays. His orthography was defective through life. After leaving the school he became page of honour to the Duke of York, and on 14 Sept. 1667 received his commission as ensign in the foot guards (Doyle, Baronage). Whether his sister Arabella [qv.] was already mistress to the duke is uncertain, and it is therefore uncertain whether he profited by her interest. At any rate, he saw some service; he was for a time at Tangier. In June 1672 he became captain in a foot regiment, and in that year served under Monmouth with the English contingent of six thousand men in the French army in Flanders. Turenne is said to have distinguished him for his gallantry at the siege of Nimeguen, to have called him the handsome Englishman, and to have won a bet that Churchill would recover a post with half the number of men who had failed to defend it. At the siege of Maestricht in June 1673 he was one of a dozen volunteers who supported Monmouth in a desperate and successful assault. Madgett (i. 739) mentions an official record of this feat. Monmouth presented him to Charles II, saying, I owe my life to his bravery. On 3 April 1674 he received a commission from Louis XIV as colonel of the English regiment. It is probable that he served in later campaigns, and was present at the battle of Sinzheim and at the operations of 1675 and 1677.
His personal beauty and charm of manner helped his promotion. Untrustworthy rumours are given that he had been sent to Tangier on account of the king's jealousy of his favour with the Duchess of Cleveland. Mrs. Manley recorded in the infamous New Atalantis the anecdote that the same duchess gave him 5,000l., of which he invested 4,500l. in an annuity upon Lord Halifax's estate. The fact that he made this purchase is proved by the existence of the original agreement in the Blenheim papers (Coxe, i. 10); while Lord Chesterfield, the grandson of Halifax, confirms the general truth of the story. Coxe charitably thinks that the duchess may have given him the money because she was his second cousin once removed. Mrs. Manley is also responsible for the assertion, repeated in Pope's Sober Advice from Horace, that he afterwards behaved ungratefully to his mistress. Even in his pleasures, it was said, he had an eye to business. Pope says (Spence, Anecdotes, p. 143) that he once showed Cadogan forty broad pieces, the first sum he ever got in his life, which he had always kept unbroken. That Marlborough in early life was neither strictly virtuous nor wanting in an eye for the main chance may be taken as proved; but the details represent current scandals, the accuracy of which cannot be determined. Churchill's amatory adventures came to an early end. He fell in love with Sarah, daughter of Richard Jennings of Sandridge, near St. Albans, whose elder sister, Frances, married, first Sir George (or Count) Hamilton, elder brother of the famous Anthony, author of the Mémoires de Grammont; and secondly Richard Talbot, created duke of Tyrconnel by James II. Sarah Jennings was born 29 May 1660, probably at Holywell, near St. Albans (Thomson, i. 9, 10). She was in the household of Mary of Modena, the second duchess of York, as an attendant upon the duchess's stepdaughter, the Princess Anne. Churchill's courtship was difficult; the lady was coy and quick-tempered; when his parents desired a richer marriage, his mistress urged him to abandon his suit, and threatened to escape his importunities by joining her sister, the Countess of Hamilton, in Paris. This produced so effective a remonstrance from her lover that they were married early in 1678, the courtship having begun some two years previously (Coxe, i. 11). The marriage was at first known only to the Duchess of York, but in the same summer they were reconciled to his parents.
On 17 Feb. 1677-8 Churchill received his commission as colonel of a regiment of foot, and during the following years was trusted in many confidential employments by the Duke of York. In April 1678 he was sent to communicate with the Prince of Orange, recently (4 Nov. 1677) married to the Princess Mary. Charles II and his brother were just then affecting a desire to renew the policy of the Triple Alliance. In the autumn there was a show of an active support of William, and Churchill returned to Holland with a warrant from the Duke of Monmouth (2 Sept. 1678), authorising him to command a brigade in the contemplated operations. The peace of Nimeguen immediately followed, and Churchill returned to England. The struggles over the Popish plot and the Exclusion Bill now began. When, in March 1679, James was forced to leave England, Churchill and his wife followed the duke to the Hague. Churchill returned with the duke to England in September upon the illness of Charles II. The duke was entrusted with the government of Scotland, as England was too hot to hold him. Churchill, after a mission to Paris, followed his patron to Scotland, reaching Edinburgh 4 Dec. 1679. During part of 1680 James, with Churchill, again visited London, but was forced to return to Edinburgh. In January 1681 he sent Churchill on a confidential mission to Charles, entreating the king to form a close alliance with France, to rule without a parliament, and to allow James to return to England. The return was impossible for the moment, but in 1682 Churchill accompanied James to England after the reaction against the popular party. He went with James to Scotland to bring back his court, when the yacht in which they sailed was lost [see Berry, Sir John], 6 May 1682, and Churchill was one of the few who escaped through James's especial care.
Churchill was created Baron Churchill of Aymouth in Scotland 21 Dec. 1682, and 19 Nov. 1683 appointed colonel of the 1st or royal regiment of dragoons, then newly raised. On 18 July 1683 the Princess Anne had been married to Prince George of Denmark, and at her earnest request Lady Churchill was appointed one of the ladies of her bedchamber. The intimacy rapidly grew closer. The famous nicknames Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman were adopted about this time by the princess and her friend. Lady Churchill's imperious character and vigorous intellect completely dominated for a time the weaker mind and will. Unsuccessful attempts were made to convert both of them to catholicism (Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, p. 16). Churchill himself had through life a strong religious feeling. His fidelity to the church of England is admitted even by his severest critics. When in Paris in 1685 he told Ruvigny, afterwards Lord Galway (as Galway told Burnet), that he would quit James's service if the new king attempted to change the religion and constitution of the country. Churchill had imbibed cavalier principles in his infancy, and for the first fifty years of his life was identified with the high church and tory party. The fanaticism of papists or puritans was equally abhorrent to him. He was not of the stuff of which martyrs are made, his practical sense being as conspicuous as his want of high-wrought principle. The church of England, by its moderation, its dignity, and its intimate connection with the whole fabric of English society, was thoroughly congenial to his temperament. To have betrayed the church would, to say the least, have cost him a severe strain, to which nothing could have persuaded him but the strongest possible perception of his own interests.
Upon James's accession Churchill was sent to Paris to compliment Louis XIV, and to express gratitude for past subsidies with a view to their continuance. He was at the coronation of James on 23 April 1685, was sworn gentleman of the bedchamber on 25 April, and on 14 May raised to the English peerage as Baron Churchill of Sandridge in Hertfordshire. Upon the insurrection of Monmouth he received command of the troops at Salisbury, harassed the movements of the insurgents, and was appointed major-general (3 July 1685). He commanded under Feversham at Sedgemoor (6 July), and by his coolness recovered the disorder into which the royal troops were thrown by the night attack of the rebels. He was rewarded by the colonelcy of the third troop of horse guards (commission dated 1 Aug. 1685). After the battle he helped a sister of one of the prisoners to obtain an interview with James. Even Macaulay admits that cruelty was not one of Churchill's numerous faults. But he prophesied too truly that the marble chimneypiece which he touched was not harder than the king.
Churchill seems to have taken no part in the political measures of the new reign. His position at the court of the Princess Anne was secure, and if his own strength of principle were doubtful, so keen an observer with such opportunities for gauging the calibre of James's intellect must have perceived the insanity of the royal policy. Dykvelt on his mission to England in 1687 was instructed to communicate especially with Churchill, whose influence with Anne and in the army gave him great importance. On his return to Holland he brought a letter to William (dated 17 May 1687) in which Churchill declared that the princess would suffer death rather than change her religion, and that he was equally determined, though in any other cause he would give his own life for the king. Though he could not (or did not) lead the life of a saint, he was resolved on occasion to show the resolution of a martyr. In the following summer, according to a story told by his first biographer, who professes to have heard the story at the time from Churchill himself, he remonstrated with the king and hinted at the necessary consequences of his policy. James, however, continued to trust implicitly in his fidelity. On 4 Aug. 1688 Churchill sent another message to William saying that he put his honour absolutely in the hands of the prince (Dalrymple, Memoirs, &c. pt. i. bk. v. pp. 62,121). After the first desertions to William, James called together his officers in London, when Churchill, just made lieutenant-general (commission dated 7 Nov. 1688), was the first to vow that he would shed the last drop of his blood for James (Clarke, Life of James, ii. 219). Churchill was in command at Salisbury, where James had collected a force to oppose William's march. He advised James to inspect the troops at Warminster, but a violent bleeding from the nose detained the king at Salisbury. It was afterwards rumoured among the Jacobites that Churchill, with Kirk, Trelawny, and other traitors, had intended to seize James and carry him to William, and it was even said that Churchill had proposed himself to stab the king (see Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 280-3, for the evidence). Churchill was not a conspirator of the Colonel Blood order, and it is impossible to believe that he would have committed a crime which must have been repudiated by those in whose interest it was intended. At a council of war on 24 Nov. 1688 James decided upon a retreat in opposition to Churchill's advice. The same night Churchill escaped and joined the prince at Axminster, leaving behind him a dignified letter about his conscience and his religion.
Anne heard the news at London. Alarmed at the consequences to her favourites and herself, she resolved to fly. Lady Churchill arranged the details, and on the night of the 25th escaped with her to the house of the bishop of London, and thence to Nottingham [see under Anne, 1665-1714]. Churchill himself was employed by William in restoring order among the royal troops who were disbanded by Feversham upon an order from James. He was one of the peers who formed a kind of provisional government during the interregnum. During the vehement debates in the Convention parliament, which settled the form in which the resolution was to be carried out, Churchill voted for a regency, but afterwards absented himself from the House of Peers, as Coxe states (i. 33), ‘from motives of delicacy.’ The Churchills, however, took a most important part by persuading Anne to consent that William should reign for life (Clarendon, Diary, ii. 225). Lady Churchill consulted Tillotson and Lady Russell on the occasion (Conduct, p. 22). Churchill was rewarded: he was sworn a member of the privy council (14 Feb. 1688-1689), made a gentleman of the bedchamber (1 March), and raised to the earldom of Marlborough on 9 April 1689, two days before the coronation. The title was suggested by his relationship to the Leys, earls of Marlborough, whose title became extinct in 1679. (His mother was granddaughter of John, lord Boteler, whose daughter Jane married James Ley, earl of Marlborough, killed in the battle off Lowestoft in 1665.) Sir Winston died in 1688, and his widow, Lady Churchill, in 1697, leaving the family estate of Mintern to Charles Churchill, afterwards general [q.v.]. Marlborough had bought the shares of his wife's two sisters in the family estate of the Jenningses at Sandridge, near St. Albans, and there built a mansion called Holywell House (demolished in 1837). He obtained a charter for St. Albans from James II, and was the first high steward of the town (16 March 1685).
Marlborough was sent in June 1689 to command a brigade of English troops under the Prince of Waldeck. A French attack upon the Dutch at Walcourt was repulsed with heavy loss, chiefly by a skilful flank attack of the English under Marlborough, who was highly complimented by the general. Marlborough returned to England, where the position of the Princess Anne was being eagerly discussed. The countess had taken an active part in the dispute, which ended by the parliamentary settlement of 50,000l. a year upon the princess [see details under Anne, 1665-1714]. A year later Anne acknowledged the services of the Marlboroughs by settling a pension of 1,000l. a year upon the countess (Conduct, p. 37).
Marlborough, who had been prevented by his absence on the continent from appearing in the earlier stages of this dispute, was still favoured by William. When the king sailed for Ireland in June 1690, Marlborough was one of the council of nine by whom Mary was to be advised during his absence, and was entrusted with the command of the troops in England. The defeat of the English fleet off Beachy Head caused some danger of a French invasion. After Tourville's feeble attempt at a landing in Devonshire, Marlborough suggested a counter-stroke by an English expedition to the south of Ireland. William approved, and on 18 Sept. Marlborough sailed from Portsmouth, and on the 20th appeared before Cork, which was still held for James. He was joined by the Duke of Würtemberg with troops lately employed against Limerick. A dispute as to precedency was settled by the agreement that Marlborough and the duke should command on alternate days. On the first day of his command Marlborough gave the word ‘Würtemberg,’ a courtesy which the duke reciprocated by giving ‘Marlborough’ on the next day. Cork was carried (28 Sept.) after two days' operations, four thousand men surrendering as prisoners of war. Marlborough instantly sent a force to attack Kinsale. One fort was stormed at once, and on 15 Oct. the town surrendered. Marlborough reached Kensington 28 Oct., when William observed that he knew no man so fit to be a general who had seen so few campaigns. Marlborough was sent back to Ireland, where he held a command during the winter. In the following summer he accompanied William to Flanders, but had no opportunity of distinguishing himself. It is said, however, that Prince Vaudemont was struck by ‘something inexpressible’ in his character, and prophesied his future glory (Vie de Marlborough, p. 30). The tories and high churchmen, whom James had managed to alienate, were now beginning to pardon the errors of an exile. National jealousy was giving to the Dutch ‘deliverers’ the aspect of conquerors. William had already been provoked by the factiousness of his new subjects to threats of retirement. Jacobite agents found ready hearing from many of his ministers. Among others, Marlborough's special intimate, Godolphin, had listened to their overtures and received promise of pardon. Marlborough, with Godolphin, now communicated with two of James's agents. He professed the deepest penitence for his betrayal of James, offered to bring over the English troops, gave useful information, and obtained a written promise of pardon. In December 1691 the Marlboroughs obtained a letter from the Princess Anne professing similar remorse and a desire to atone for her past conduct (Macpherson, History, i. 680-2; Original Papers, i. 236-238, 241). Marlborough about the same time communicated a scheme of his own to James. He was to propose a parliamentary address calling upon William to dismiss all strangers from his employment. A refusal to comply would excite a dangerous quarrel between William and the parliament, and enable Marlborough, at the head of the national forces, to play the part of Monck. Marlborough, according to Burnet (in the first draft of his ‘Own Times’), had worked upon the army in this sense, and there was a ‘constant randivous of the English officers’ at his house. The plot was carried on successfully, until some Jacobites conceived the suspicion that Marlborough intended to use the position thus gained to crown Anne instead of James. Hereupon they communicated the whole affair to Portland (see Macaulay, chap. xviii., who gives the statement of James, first published by Macpherson, and Burnet's original account from Harl. MS. 6584).
The real nature of Marlborough's ultimate intentions is of course conjectural. Probably he was too good a player to commit himself to the second move of the game before he had seen the issue of the first. There is, however, no reason to doubt James's assertion that the Jacobite suspicion existed, and led to the discovery of the scheme. On 9 Jan. 1691-2 Queen Mary had an explanation with Anne, and on the 10th Marlborough was dismissed from all his positions. Lady Marlborough still remained with the princess, and three weeks later accompanied Anne to the palace at Kensington. Next day Mary wrote to insist upon the dismissal of the favourite. A violent quarrel followed. Anne stood by the Marlboroughs; she had to leave the palace, and was deprived of the customary tokens of respect. During the following summer a sham plot was concocted by a wretch named Robert Young. He produced a forged association for the restoration of James, to which he appended the signatures of Marlborough, Sprat (bishop of Rochester), and others. Marlborough was at once sent to the Tower (5 May 1692). Sprat, however, succeeded in demonstrating the falsehood of the accusation, and Marlborough was released on bail 15 June. On 23 June his name, and those of his sureties, Halifax and Shrewsbury, were struck from the list of privy councillors. The secret of his real treachery was not revealed until the publication of James's papers; his contemporaries could only make vague conjectures, Evelyn supposing that William had detected him in peculation, while attempts to raise discontent in the army and quarrels between the queen and princess were suggested in other directions. The scandal most generally accepted, and for many years popularly believed, was that a plan for surprising Dunkirk had been confided by Marlborough to his wife, and through her to Lady Tyrconnel and the French (see e.g. Short Narrative, by ‘An Old Officer in the Army’ (1711), and Review of Conduct, &c. (1742), p. 42).
That Marlborough should have been a Jacobite at this period is neither surprising nor disgraceful. It is certainly disgraceful, though not surprising, that he helped James while serving William in positions of trust. Other statesmen yielded to the temptations of one of the revolutionary periods in which men are forced to be heroes or traitors. Resentment for his disgrace impelled him to a baser action. He wrote to James through an agent (who forwarded the letter on 3 May 1694) stating that an English expedition, then on the point of sailing, was intended to attack Brest. James had just before received (1 May) a similar intimation from Godolphin, then first lord of the treasury, and from Lord Arran. The English expedition was delayed by weather; the French were fully prepared; and a rash landing of troops in Camaret Bay was repulsed with heavy loss and the death of their leader, Talmash. It does not appear that the failure was due to the information supplied by Marlborough rather than to that supplied by Godolphin, Arran, and probably others. From the ‘Shrewsbury Correspondence’ (pp. 44-7) it seems that William regarded the action as imprudent, because the French had been ‘long apprised of the intended attack.’ It has therefore been argued that Marlborough made the statement, knowing it to be superfluous, in order to get credit from the Jacobites. This, however, can scarcely be maintained. The information from an authentic source might clearly be of the highest importance, even if more or less anticipated. Marlborough's conduct is only too much in harmony with his character. The implied absence of any chivalrous sentiment of honour is, unfortunately, no reason for disbelieving the accusation. Marlborough was not the man to shrink from any means which would lead to his end, and apparently regarded a treasonable action as not less admissible than a stratagem in war.
Macaulay, following a suggestion of Macpherson (Original Papers, i. 487), attributes to him also the desire to get rid of Talmash as his only military rival in England. Such insight into secret motives is only granted to men of Macaulay's omniscience. It is remarkable, however, that Shrewsbury remarks to William upon the want of any English soldier to take Talmash's place, and adds that Marlborough has been with him to apply for fresh employment ‘with all imaginable expressions of duty and fidelity.’ William coldly rejected the offer (Shrewsbury Correspondence, pp. 47, 53). The treachery is bad enough, without assuming that Marlborough foresaw all the consequences of which he tried to take advantage (Original Papers, i. 483, 487; Clarke, Life of James II, p. 522; Dalrymple, Memoirs, pt. iii. bk. iii. p. 62; and Puzzles and Paradoxes, by John Paget (1874), where all that is possible is said in defence of Marlborough).
Marlborough continued to correspond with the court of the Pretender for many years. During the first part of Queen Anne's reign, and again when he was losing power at the end of the reign, he made doubtful overtures. His sincerity was always suspected, and it remains questionable whether he had an eye to a possible reconciliation, or was acting as a spy (see his offer to the elector of Hanover in 1713, Macpherson, Hist. ii. 585), or simply wished to be prepared for all contingencies. Nothing came of his overtures in any case (ib. ii. 232, 303, 315, 441, 453, 502, 504, 623; and Original Papers, i. 672, 695-701). His interest was soon on the other side.
The death of Mary, 28 Dec. 1694, produced a reconciliation between the king and the Princess Anne, who, as next in succession, occupied a position of the highest political importance. The Marlboroughs, however, were not at first admitted to the royal circle, though Marlborough's interest was now in favour of the settlement upon which Anne's title depended. Marlborough was allowed to kiss the king's hand 29 March 1695 (Luttrell, iii. 455). He continued to act with the high tory party in the House of Lords. In the course of the proceedings against Sir John Fenwick [q.v.] in 1696, the accused made a confession implicating Marlborough among others. Marlborough denied, in the House of Lords, that he had held any communications with Fenwick since William's accession (Shrewsbury Correspondence, p. 438), and both spoke and voted in favour of the bill of attainder under which Fenwick was executed.
In 1698 Marlborough was fully restored to favour. He was appointed governor to the young Duke of Gloucester, 12 June 1698, with a salary of 2,000l. a year; Burnet being appointed preceptor at the same time. The appointment was supposed to indicate William's growing favour towards Albemarle, and a corresponding decline in the influence of Portland, Marlborough's persistent enemy. Whatever the secret history, William had made up his mind to trust Marlborough. ‘Teach my nephew to be what you are,’ the king is reported to have said, ‘and he cannot want accomplishments.’ Marlborough was at the same time restored to his place in the privy council, and to his military rank. On 19 June the king, upon his departure for Holland, made Marlborough one of the nine lords justices, and the same appointment was renewed in 1699 and 1700. The Duke of Gloucester died 29 July 1700. Two connections formed at this time were of great importance to Marlborough's career. In 1698 his eldest daughter, Henrietta, married Francis, the only son of Lord Godolphin, his old political ally. The Princess Anne offered 10,000l., of which the Marlboroughs accepted 5,000l., towards a marriage portion. In January 1700-1 his second daughter, Anne, became the second wife of Lord Spencer, only son of Lord Sunderland. Lady Marlborough was especially intimate with Lady Sunderland, but Marlborough had strong objections to the match on the ground of Spencer's extreme political principles. He gave way, however, and the princess again gave 5,000l. towards a dowry.
Marlborough cautiously absented himself from the house upon the final vote for the resumption of the Irish grants (10 April 1700), and complains of the king's coldness to him in consequence (to Shrewsbury, 11 May 1700). His tory friends were equally displeased at his want of zeal. The king was now inclining to try a tory ministry. Marlborough's allies, Godolphin and Rochester, came into office, and his friend, Harley, became speaker of the parliament which met 17 Feb. 1701. The death of the king of Spain (1 Nov. 1700) and of the Duke of Gloucester made it expedient to provide for difficulties on the continent and to regulate the succession. Anne, no doubt under the influence of the Marlboroughs, wrote (either now or previously) to her father asking permission to accept the crown and holding out hopes of a restoration. She consented, however, to the bill (passed 12 June 1701) by which the Electress Sophia and her heirs were placed in the succession to the throne. Yet Marlborough again showed his tory sympathies by joining in the violent protests of the peers against the acquittal of the whig ministers impeached for their share in the partition treaties.
Parliament was prorogued 24 June 1701. William appointed Marlborough commander-in-chief of the forces in Holland, and plenipotentiary for the negotiations at the Hague. He sailed with the king from Margate 1 July, and during the autumn reviewed troops and took his share in the important negotiations for forming an alliance against France. He used his influence with William on behalf of the tory ministers. The death of James II (16 Sept. 1701) and the recognition of the Pretender by Louis turned the national sentiment to the whig side. The king returned to England and dissolved parliament. The election produced a body in which the whigs, though not in a majority, were powerful enough to encourage the king to strengthen the whig element in his ministry. The tories re-elected Harley as speaker by a small majority; but all parties joined in a vigorous resolution to support the king against the French, and acts were passed for securing the protestant succession.
The death of William (8 March 1702) gave the power to Anne and her favourites. Marlborough was at once made a knight of the Garter (14 March)¾an honour which Anne and the Prince of Denmark had begged for him at the beginning of William's reign (Dalrymple, pt. ii. bk. vii. p. 255)¾captain-general of the forces (15 March), and (26 June) master-general of the ordnance. The countess became groom of the stole, mistress of the robes, and keeper of the privy purse. The rangership of Windsor Park, previously held by the Earl of Portland, was also bestowed upon Lady Marlborough, and Windsor Lodge became a favourite residence of the countess. The pension of 2,000l. bestowed by William upon the Earl of Sunderland was renewed by Marlborough's request; Godolphin, Marlborough's closest ally, became lord treasurer; and other tories took nearly all the great offices of state. The war policy, however, was continued. Marlborough returned to the Hague on 28 March 1702 (N.S.) as ambassador extraordinary, promised support, and arranged a plan of campaign. He returned at once to London, where the party difficulties already showed themselves. Rochester, the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, protested, according to the then accepted views of his party, against continental alliances, and proposed that England should only appear as an auxiliary in the war. Marlborough, however, overruled this policy, with the support even of the other tories; parliament sanctioned the conventions with other states, voted supplies, and on 4 May war was formally declared. Marlborough left Margate on 15-26 May for Holland, writing a lover-like letter to his wife. (Dates on the continent are given in new style, in England in old style.) He left difficulties behind. Godolphin, his firmest ally, was timid. His brother, George Churchill, a high tory, was at the admiralty, where he had great influence with the queen's husband, Prince George of Denmark, now lord high admiral. The duchess still ruled the queen, but her influence began to decline (as Swift states) from this time. Bickerings began which rose gradually into violent altercations. Lady Marlborough sympathised with the whigs, and her son-in-law, Lord Spencer, slandered Godolphin, interfered in business, and had to be pacified with great difficulty by her husband. Anne's natural sympathies with the tory party remained, though she could still be persuaded into acquiescence.
On reaching Holland Marlborough was appointed to the chief command, with a salary of 10,000l. a year. He had previously endeavoured to secure the nomination of the Prince of Denmark, who not unnaturally suspected the sincerity of his advocacy. Marlborough took command of a motley force of Dutch, English, and Germans. The Earl of Athlone was the Dutch commander. The king of Prussia sent a contingent. Prince Louis of Baden commanded a force on the Upper Rhine. A body of Prussians, Dutch, and Germans, under the Prince of Saarbruck, was already besieging Kaiserswerth on the Lower Rhine, while Dutch forces under Athlone and Cohorn were protecting the Dutch frontier. The French army under the Duke of Burgundy and Marshal Boufflers, foiled by Athlone in an attempt to surprise Nimeguen, had taken up a threatening position between the Waal and the Meuse. Kaiserswerth surrendered on 15 June, and Marlborough, collecting his forces, found himself at the head of sixty thousand men on the line of the Waal, near Nimeguen. He had formed a plan of campaign, which, however, required the co-operation of the Dutch, the Hanoverians, and the Prussians, all of whom raised difficulties only surmounted by tiresome negotiations.
The French occupied the great network of fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands, stretching from the Meuse to the sea. The possession of Venloo and Rüremonde, upon the Lower Meuse, gave them the command of the Meuse with the exception of Maestricht, into which Athlone had thrown a garrison of twelve thousand men. They also commanded the district between the Meuse and the Rhine; and the Dutch province south of the Waal was thus flanked both to south and east by territory in French hands. Marlborough's first two campaigns enabled him to occupy the lines of the Meuse and the Rhine, with the country between the rivers, and thus to secure a base for operations against the barrier of fortresses to the south.
After the fall of Kaiserswerth he gave up a plan for attacking Rheinberg, a fortress on the Rhine below Düsseldorf. A direct attack on the French army was too hazardous. ‘I shall soon deliver you from these troublesome neighbours,’ he said to the Dutch deputies; and crossing the Meuse (26 July 1702), he advanced due south towards the Spanish Netherlands. The French army retired, crossed the Meuse at Venloo and Rüremonde, and took up a position to bar his advance. Maneuvring followed between the two armies, and an attack upon the French, which, according to Berwick, must have been successful, was forbidden by the Dutch deputies. At the end of August the armies were exchanging a heavy cannonade, when the delay of his right wing to obey an order to advance again, as Marlborough thought, deprived him of a victory. Marlborough, however, was now in a position to form the siege of Venloo. The Duke of Burgundy left the French army, seeing no chance of laurels. It was weakened by detachments to the Upper Rhine, where Prince Louis of Baden was besieging Landen, and by the despatch of Tallard to take over Bonn from the elector of Cologne, and to occupy places on the Moselle. Boufflers was reduced to look on while Marlborough took Venloo, after a siege from 5 to 23 Sept.; Stevenswaert, a small fortress on the Meuse, on 5 Oct.; and Rüremonde on 6 Oct. He had thus seized the line of the Meuse up to Maestricht, and, in spite of some feeble demonstrations from Boufflers, he advanced to the great town of Liège, which surrendered after a short siege on 29 Oct.
The campaign being over, a boat in which Marlborough descended the Meuse was seized by a party of French from Guelder. The presence of mind of an attendant, who put into his hand an old passport, procured his release, the captors not recognising their prisoner in the darkness. Two years later Marlborough observes to the duchess that the man has cost him 50l. a year ‘ever since’ (Coxe, i. 144). Athlone honourably acknowledged that the whole success of the campaign was due to Marlborough, and he returned to England to be welcomed with the applause due to successes which were in strong contrast to any recent achievements of the English arms. An address was voted by the House of Commons, in which it was declared (in order to vex the whigs) that Marlborough had ‘signally retrieved the ancient honour of this nation.’ The queen of her own accord offered him a dukedom. Lady Marlborough objected, on the ground apparently that a higher title would require a better estate. Her reluctance, however, was overcome. On 14 Dec. 1702 her husband was created Marquis of Blandford and Duke of Marlborough, while the economical objection was removed by a grant of 5,000l. a year from the post-office for the queen's life. The House of Commons remonstrated, however, when the queen requested them to find means for settling the grant permanently upon himself and his heirs. At Marlborough's request the queen recalled her message, but offered the new duchess to add a pension of 2,000l. a year from the privy purse. The duchess declined for the present to accept the additional sum.
Marlborough still acted with the tories in parliament. He supported the grant of 100,000l. a year to the Prince of Denmark, which was strongly opposed by the whig lords, and, to his great annoyance, by his son-in-law, who had just become Lord Sunderland. He also supported the bill against occasional conformity, which throughout the reign continued to be the favourite measure of the church party and the great offence to dissenters.
Marlborough's only surviving son, Charles, marquis of Blandford, a promising youth, died of small-pox at King's College, Cambridge, on 20 Feb. 1702-3. The father's frequent references to his grief are proofs of the really affectionate nature which he undoubtedly possessed. Marlborough's daughter Elizabeth married Scroop Egerton, earl of Bridgewater, in the beginning of 1703, and his youngest daughter Mary, in 1704, married Lord Monthermer, son of Ralph, earl of Montagu, who was created Duke of Montagu through Marlborough's interest; the son became master of the wardrobe on his father's death in 1709.
The king of Portugal had now joined the confederacy, and Marlborough had to arrange for a detachment from the army in the Netherlands to be employed on the Spanish frontier. He had also to concert measures for communicating with the insurgents in the Cevennes, and was opposed by Nottingham, who objected to complicity with rebels. The elector of Bavaria had meanwhile declared for France, had surprised Ulm, and was communicating with the French commanders on the Upper Rhine. Parliament voted liberal supplies, and agreed to engage ten thousand additional troops on condition that the Dutch should break off all commercial intercourse with the French. Marlborough reached the Hague on 17 March. Athlone and the Prince of Saarbruck were both dead, and Ouwerkerk (also called Overkirk, Auverquerque, &c.) was appointed to command the Dutch troops, with Obdam and Slangenberg in subordinate commands. Rheinberg had now been taken, and Guelder was blockaded. Leaving Ouwerkerk on the Meuse, Marlborough advanced up the Rhine to Bonn, which surrendered on 15 May 1703 after twelve days' siege. He returned to the Meuse, where Ouwerkerk was threatened by a superior force, and combined a plan for an attack upon Antwerp and Ostend. The English were to make a descent on the French coast near Dieppe; the Dutch, under Obdam and Cohorn, to threaten Ostend from the neighbourhood of Bergen-op-Zoom; while Marlborough was to advance from the Meuse. The French under Boufflers had formed strong lines for the protection of the district threatened, and the combination failed. Cohorn and Spaar passed the French lines drawn from Ostend to the Scheldt above Antwerp (Madgett, i. 207). Cohorn, instead of obeying Marlborough by approaching Ostend, made an irruption into the Pays de Waes, attracted, as Marlborough thought, by a desire of perquisites (Coxe, i. 183). His colleague, Obdam, got into an isolated position, where he was surprised at Eckeren (30 June 1703) by the French, and deserted his army, which only secured a retreat by desperate fighting at severe loss. Obdam was dismissed. Slangenberg, who commanded at Eckeren, complained that Marlborough had not supported him properly. Meanwhile, Marlborough effected a junction with the Dutch, and proposed to assault the lines by which Antwerp was protected. A victory would have been crushing, as the French had their backs to the Scheldt. The Dutch refused, and Marlborough had to return to the Meuse, where he took Huy (27 Aug.). He once more proposed an attack upon the lines on the Mehaigne, and was again stopped by the Dutch. The campaign closed by the siege of Limburg, which surrendered on 27 Sept. 1703. The surrender of Guelders (17 Dec.), after a long blockade by the Prussian forces, put the whole country between the Meuse and the Rhine in possession of the confederates.
Politics in England were still distracting. Rochester had been forced to resign, but Nottingham, who still remained in the ministry, led the high tories and obstructed Marlborough's plans. Godolphin, worried by the cabinet disputes, threatened resignation. Marlborough himself talked of retiring till the queen pathetically entreated him to stand by her. The duchess brought overtures from the whigs, but Marlborough still protested that he would be independent of party. In October 1703 he wrote from the Hague to protest against Godolphin's inclination to adopt the tory plan of a merely defensive war in the Netherlands. He was deeply annoyed at the discovery that Nottingham had without his knowledge ordered a detachment of two thousand men from his army to Portugal. Such a step naturally excited the distrust of the Dutch. Godolphin and Marlborough gave proof of a growing alienation from the tories by allowing the Occasional Conformity Bill to be defeated in the House of Lords, though they still endeavoured to maintain neutrality by signing a protest against its rejection, a device which satisfied nobody. In the early part of 1704 these party troubles came to a head. Nottingham, accused of obstructing inquiry into a Jacobite plot in Scotland, was vigorously assailed in parliament, especially by the whig leaders in the House of Lords. He at last tried to extort from the queen the expulsion of his whig rivals by a threat of himself resigning. His resignation, by Godolphin's advice, was accepted 18 May 1704. Harley on the same day became secretary of state, and St. John secretary at war. Marlborough had a special liking for St. John (see Private Correspondence, ii. 292 n.), and Harley was his old ally. Although the impracticable tories had thus been ejected, and a cabinet formed which was personally acceptable to Marlborough, the whigs were naturally discontented. The five great lords (Somers, Wharton, Orford, Halifax, and Sunderland), who came to be known as the Junto, were not admitted to power, and thus the strongest supporters of the war policy had neither a share of the spoils nor a direct influence in the management of affairs. The duchess and her son-in-law, Sunderland, were discontented, and suspected the sincerity of Harley and St. John.
While Marlborough had slowly gained ground in the Netherlands, the emperor was in the utmost difficulty. There was a dangerous insurrection in Hungary. The French had established themselves on the Upper Rhine, retaking Landau, Kehl, and Brisach. They were thus in communication with their ally, the elector of Bavaria, who during 1703 took possession of Augsburg, Ratisbon, and other cities, and thus commanded the whole valley of the Danube from its source to the frontiers of Austria. The resistance of the Tyrolese and the accession of the Duke of Savoy to the alliance had delayed operations; but in the beginning of 1704 the French were preparing to join the elector from the Rhine and the Moselle, and advance down the Danube upon Vienna. A small imperial army under the Prince of Baden which occupied the lines of Stollhofen on the Rhine below Strasburg, and a few Dutch, Hessian, and Prussian troops in Würtemberg and the Palatinate, constituted the only force by which this dangerous invasion could be impeded. Marlborough had privately concerted a scheme with Prince Eugene to meet the difficulty. Parliament granted subsidies to Portugal and Savoy, and raised the force in the Netherlands to fifty thousand men. Marlborough himself went to Holland in January, and induced the States to consent to a scheme for carrying on operations upon the Moselle, while remaining on the defensive in the Netherlands. He persuaded them to make advances to other allies, and induced the king of Prussia to increase his contingent. His complete plan was revealed to Eugene alone, but he obtained instructions from the English government (4 April 1704), authorising him in general terms to concert measures for the relief of the emperor. He reached the Hague on 21 April, and, after many difficulties, persuaded the States to entrust him with a sufficient force. They were to operate on the Moselle, while Ouwerkerk remained to care for the defence of the Netherlands. The army, including sixteen thousand English, started from Bedburg, near Juliers, 19 May 1704. Marlborough advanced to Coblentz and up the Rhine to Mayence, which he reached 29 May. Here he learned that the French had been able, through the want of enterprise of the Prince of Baden, to reinforce the elector of Bavaria. They were still, however, perplexed by his movements, and prepared to meet him first upon the Moselle and then in Alsace. His design had now to be revealed. He halted at Ladenburg on the Neckar 4 June, and thence sent word to the States of his intention to fall upon the elector of Bavaria. They at once approved and placed the army fully at his disposal. He moved up the Neckar, and on 10 June met Eugene for the first time at the village of Mondelsheim. The Prince of Baden joined them on the 13th, and it was arranged that Eugene should command the troops on the Rhine, while Marlborough and the Prince of Baden should command the other army upon alternate days. Marlborough now advanced to the Danube through the defile of Gieslingen, forming a junction with the forces of the Prince of Baden on the 23rd at Westerstetten, some miles north of Ulm. The elector of Bavaria left Ulm, and moved down the Danube to an entrenched camp between Lauingen and Dillingen, detaching a force to occupy the Schellenberg, a strong position above Donauwerth. He thus covered the approach to Bavaria.
The confederates resolved to seize this position before it could be strengthened. On 1 July they moved to a camp in sight of the elector's lines and fourteen miles from the Schellenberg. Next morning Marlborough turned his day of command to account by starting at five a.m. The whole force was at the foot of the Schellenberg about mid-day. News came at the same time that the elector was expecting reinforcements. Marlborough at once ordered an assault, which began at six in the evening. The English and Dutch suffered severely, when an attack by their allies upon an unfinished part of the lines decided the victory, with a loss to the conquerors of fifteen hundred killed and four thousand wounded. The elector of Bavaria immediately evacuated Donauwerth, and fell back to Augsburg to preserve his communications with the French. He thus left Bavaria at the mercy of the confederates. After a nugatory attempt to detach the elector from the French alliance, the allies endeavoured to enforce compliance by laying waste the country. Marlborough speaks with creditable feeling of the sufferings thus inflicted upon the unhappy Bavarians, and did his best, it is said, to restrain wanton injury. The elector, as might be expected, was exasperated, and not coerced, by the sufferings of his subjects. Some small places were taken in the district south of the Danube, and the country ravaged to the gates of Munich.
Marshal Tallard was meanwhile hastening from the Rhine, through the country south of the Danube, while Eugene with a smaller force made a parallel march on the north. Eugene reached the plains of Hochstadt about the time when Tallard joined the elector at Biberbach on the Schmutten, south of Donauwerth. On 6 Aug. Eugene himself came to Marlborough's camp at Schrobenhausen, a village on the river Paar, which joins the Danube from the south below Ingolstadt. It was agreed to detach the troublesome Prince Louis to besiege Ingolstadt with some twelve thousand men, while Marlborough hastened to effect a junction with Eugene's forces. Tallard and the elector marched upon Lauingen, crossing the Danube, and compelling Eugene to fall back towards Donauwerth. Marlborough joined him by a rapid march to Donauwerth on 11 Aug. The two armies were now in presence on the north bank of the Danube. In a reconnaissance on the 12th Marlborough and Eugene found the enemy occupying a strong position across the narrow plain between the Danube at Blenheim and the wooded heights to the north. The armies were of nearly equal force, between fifty thousand and sixty thousand men, the French having a slight superiority. Marlborough and Eugene decided, however, upon an immediate attack, lest the enemy should fortify themselves; while an advance of another French force under Villeroy might threaten the chief sources of their own supplies in Würtemberg. Delays were dangerous, as the Dutch or other allies might at any time recall their troops and neutralise all the results of the march to the Danube. The generals therefore advanced at two a.m. on 13 Aug. Tallard had thrown a strong force into the village of Blenheim on his right, while the elector of Bavaria held Lutzingen on the left. The village of Oberglauh was held by the French under Marsin, while the stream of the Nebel covered the front. The centre, however, was comparatively weak, and no sufficient means were taken to obstruct the passage of the Nebel. Marlborough took advantage of this error. A vigorous attack upon Blenheim was opened by the English troops about one p.m. It was repulsed with severe loss, but Marlborough directed Lord Cutts to maintain a feigned attack which kept the French in their post, while he brought all available forces to bear upon the centre of the line. After a long struggle he got his troops across the Nebel, and by a general assault about five p.m. the French cavalry were hopelessly broken and their infantry supports cut to pieces. Part of the troops dispersed to Hochstadt in the rear, while many were driven into the Danube. Tallard himself was surrounded and taken prisoner. The forces in Blenheim were now completely isolated, and surrendered. The enemy's left wing had been driven out of Lutzingen by Eugene after desperate fighting, and fell back through the night towards Lauingen.
A pencil note to the duchess written by Marlborough on the field of battle (facsimile in Coxe) announced the greatest triumph achieved by an English general since the middle ages. The confederates lost 4,500 killed and 7,500 wounded. The loss of the enemy, including deserters after the battle, was reckoned at forty thousand. Marlborough and Eugene had to dispose of eleven thousand prisoners taken on the field. The whole French army, and with it the combination against the emperor, was ruined.
After a short rest the confederate generals marched to the Rhine. They undertook the siege of Landau. While it proceeded slowly for want of proper material, Marlborough made a sudden advance with twelve thousand men up the valley of the Queich, crossing the ‘terriblest country that could be imagined for an enemy with cannon,’ and reached the camp of St. Wendel, near Trèves, on 26 Oct. A weak French garrison left the fort upon his approach. He occupied the town, ordered the siege of Traerbach, and returned to the camp before Landau. He had thus, as he hoped, prepared for a campaign in the following year upon the Moselle. Landau surrendered on 25 Nov. 1704, and Traerbach on 20 Dec. Marlborough was on his way to Berlin before the fall of Landau. The king of Prussia was nervous about the conflict between Sweden and Poland, and wished to have his troops at home. Marlborough succeeded in persuading him to send eight thousand men to Italy for the relief of the Duke of Savoy, who was now in great straits. Marlborough returned to the Hague by Hanover, made arrangements for the future, and returned to England, reaching London 14 Dec. to receive the reward of his victories. The emperor had proposed, even before the storm of Schellenberg, to make him a prince of the empire. The offer was renewed after Blenheim, though the necessity of providing a proper territory delayed the affair till next year, when Joseph, the new emperor (18 Nov. 1705), gave him the dignity and conferred upon him the principality of Mindelheim. The standards taken at Blenheim were solemnly deposited in Westminster Hall on 3 Jan. 1705. Parliament voted their thanks, though the tory House of Commons ingeniously diminished the compliment by coupling him with Rooke, the hero of an ambiguous victory off Malaga. They requested the queen, however, to reward Marlborough, and passed an act enabling her to bestow upon him and his heirs the manor of Woodstock with the hundred of Wootton. She accompanied the grant with an order for the construction of the palace of Blenheim. This year Godolphin and Marlborough ventured to give silent votes against the occasional conformity. Rooke was superseded in his command of the fleet by Sir Clowdisley Shovell, a sound whig; and the privy seal was transferred from the Duke of Buckinghamshire to the Duke of Newcastle. The leaders of the whigs still remained out of office; but they made a strong claim on behalf of Sunderland. Marlborough until leaving England declined to force his violent son-in-law upon the queen; but in the course of 1705 he yielded to the importunities of the duchess and Godolphin, and Sunderland was at last gratified by an embassy to Vienna.
Marlborough reached the Hague 14 April 1705. He had planned an invasion of France from the Moselle¾a scheme which he continued to favour in later years, though he could not overcome the Dutch objections (Marlborough Despatches, iii. 269). The Duke of Lorraine was in favour of the allies; the French frontier was weakest in that direction; and he hoped to collect an army of ninety thousand men between the Saar and the Moselle, to besiege Saar-Louis before the French were ready, and then to penetrate by the Moselle, supported by the imperial forces on the Saar. Magazines had been collected during the winter. The Dutch made difficulties; the cabinet at Vienna wished to send Eugene to Italy; and the Prince of Baden was jealous and sulky. He discovered that a wound in his leg, received at Schellenberg, must delay his movements. The Emperor Leopold died 5 May, and his successor, Joseph, supported Eugene more cordially. Still the German princes hung back. Marlborough's troops advanced to Trèves, through so bare a country that the Scots declared that they would be more comfortable in the highlands (Coxe, i. 388). At Trèves Marlborough could at first muster only thirty thousand troops. Villars, who was opposed to him, occupied a strong position on the heights of Sirk. Marlborough, by a forced march, seized a counter-position, offered battle, and waited for reinforcements and supplies. Meanwhile, Villeroy took the offensive on the Meuse. He retook Huy on 1 June, and then occupied the town of Liège and invested the citadel. Ouwerkerk could only look on from Maestricht; the Dutch became alarmed; and Marlborough found it necessary to abandon the Moselle and come to their help, hoping still to return in ‘six weeks’ (Marlborough Despatches, ii. 102-14). Grievously disappointed at losing the chance of a ‘glorious campaign,’ he suddenly decamped (17 June 1705) from his position and moved upon Liège. The French retired, and Marlborough, having joined Ouwerkerk, began by recovering Huy, which surrendered 11 July. Marlborough now determined to invade Brabant. During the last three years the French had been erecting a formidable series of lines to guard against invasion from the line of the Meuse, which Marlborough had occupied since his first campaign. Entrenchments ran from a point on the Meuse below Namur to Leuwe on the little Gheet. Rivers formed a natural defence as far as Aerschot, and thence other lines extended to Antwerp. Villeroy lay behind these lines with seventy thousand men, and supported by the great fortresses. Marlborough succeeded in obtaining permission from the Dutch to make the attack, though violently opposed by Slangenberg. By a skilful feint he attracted Villeroy to one quarter, while he made a sudden movement in another direction. The lines were carried near Tirlemont before any effectual opposition could be made. The French had to fall back towards Louvain, and took up a strong position behind the Dyle. A heavy flood delayed operations and gave them time to fortify. Marlborough then made a fresh advance, and had pushed a Dutch division successfully across the Dyle, when, to his disgust, the Dutch generals, especially Slangenberg, became alarmed and ordered it to retire. Marlborough made one more effort. Leaving detachments at Tirlemont, he marched with provisions for a few days, moved round the sources of the Dyle, and advanced against the French, who abandoned the Dyle and took up a position to cover Brussels. Marlborough now proposed an attack, in which he would have nearly occupied the position of Napoleon at Waterloo, at which place a skirmish actually took place. The Dutch generals, among whom Slangenberg was again conspicuous, persuaded the deputies that the attack was too hazardous (ib. ii. 229). Marlborough had to fall back, inexpressibly mortified, and gained nothing by his expedition but the destruction of the lines. He talked of resigning or refusing to serve again with the Dutch. He recovered his self-command as usual, and judiciously objected to a proposed mission of Lord Pembroke to the Hague to protest against the mismanagement of the Dutch generals. Public opinion came to his side. The Dutch minister in England apologised, and Slangenberg was turned out of the army. The winter again called for active negotiations. The French had made overtures to Holland which alarmed Godolphin and the court of Vienna. The Duke of Savoy had been supported by Eugene with the eight thousand Prussians obtained through Marlborough, but was appealing for help. The emperor could not help him without a loan from England or Holland. Marlborough was entreated to go to Vienna to arrange this and other difficulties. He left the army 26 Oct., reached Vienna 12 Nov., received his principality, smoothed matters between the various allies, and exerted his influence and his private credit in raising a loan. He then travelled to Berlin, where the king was in a state of irritability, requiring some pacification, visited the Electress Sophia and her son at Hanover, and returned to the Hague 11 Dec. to stimulate the fulfilment by the Dutch ministers of the promises made in their name at Vienna.
The victory of Blenheim had greatly strengthened the war party in England. The extreme tories were not the less irritated by every concession to the whigs. In October Anne, acting under Marlborough's advice, had yielded to Godolphin's entreaties and gratified the whigs by transferring the chancellorship from Wright to Cowper. The tories were irritated that so much ecclesiastical patronage should be entrusted to a whig. A pamphlet called ‘The Memorial of the Church of England,’ traced to James Drake [q.v.], accused Marlborough and Godolphin of treachery to the church. Marlborough ‘could not forbear laughing,’ as he tells his colleague (Coxe, i. 515), when they of all men were accused of fanaticism. He was, however, stung by the libel; a prosecution was instituted, which failed on technical grounds; but a clergyman, Stephens, who had taken part in the controversy, was convicted of libel and sentenced to the pillory, a penalty which was remitted at Marlborough's request upon the author's submission. The cry of danger to the church was raised in the parliament which met in October 1705. The whigs, however, had now at last a decided majority, and it was decided that the church was perfectly safe. The tories tried a more ingenious maneuvre, by moving (15 Nov.) that the Electress Sophia should be invited to England. By agreeing to this the whigs would, it was thought, annoy the queen, while by resisting they would be apparently deserting their own principles. They decided, however, to resist, and Godolphin passed a less offensive measure for securing the succession. Marlborough's chief business at Hanover was to soothe the electress, who had been attracted to the tories by this maneuvre, and to effect some reconciliation between her and her son, who was inclined to the whigs. Marlborough and Godolphin were now at the height of their power. The whigs were pacified for the time; the queen was satisfied; Harley, the chief representative of the tories in office, appeared to be reconciled to his whig colleagues; and parliament was enthusiastic and ready to support the war vigorously.
Marlborough reached the Hague 25 April 1706. The vexatious restraints which had ruined his last campaign had suggested to him the advantage of a campaign in Italy, where he would again have Eugene for a colleague, and be as free from interference as at Blenheim. The emperor pressed him to act upon the Moselle, but his experience of German delays induced him to decline. The Dutch, however, were opposed to an Italian campaign, for the same reasons which commended it to Marlborough. They did not care to send their troops so far from home; and difficulties occurred with Prussia, Denmark, and Hanover. The kings liked to see their money before they sent their troops. While Marlborough was struggling to overcome the various objections of the heterogeneous confederacy, the news came that Villars was operating actively and successfully on the Upper Rhine. Marlborough was therefore forced to make a diversion by again assailing the great barrier of the Netherlands. The Dutch, alarmed by Villars's success, allowed Marlborough to choose his field deputies, or ordered them to be more yielding (Coxe, ii. 14). He advanced once more from the Meuse. He had established communications with an inhabitant of Namur, which gave him hopes of surprising that great fortress. He moved, therefore, towards Tirlemont, crossed the position where he had destroyed the French lines in the previous year, and thus threatened to intervene between Namur and the French army under Villeroy at Louvain and Brussels. Villeroy at once advanced to oppose this movement, knowing that Marlborough had not yet been joined by some German and Danish contingents (Marlborough Despatches, ii. 549), and took up the position of Mount St. André, a line of heights above the sources of the little Gheet, close to the village of Ramillies; his right resting upon the Mehaigne. On 23 May 1706 Marlborough came in sight of the enemy, and was now at last allowed to make an attack such as had been forbidden by the Dutch in their previous campaigns. The French position was on the arc of a curve, while Marlborough could operate upon a chord. By a skilful maneuvre he induced Villeroy to transfer large supports to his right wing, and then threw his own main force upon the villages of Tavieres and Ramillies on his left. The result was a crushing victory, after a sharp contest, of which the Dutch under Ouwerkerk had the sharpest fighting. Marlborough had a narrow escape. His horse fell in the midst of a body of repulsed cavalry, and his equerry, Bingfield, while helping him to remount, was killed by a cannon-ball. The enemy lost thirteen thousand men killed and wounded, besides many deserters, while the allies admitted a loss of over a thousand killed and two thousand five hundred wounded. Villeroy, with the elector of Bavaria, retreated in hopeless disorder to Louvain, and thence fell back behind Brussels.
The effect of this battle was enormous. The French army was disorganised, and Marlborough could at last attack the towns and fortresses composing the hitherto inaccessible barrier. French garrisons seemed to be panic-stricken, while allies became suddenly cordial. Place after place fell. ‘It really looks more like a dream than truth,’ wrote Marlborough on 31 May (Coxe, ii. 38). Louvain, Malins, and Brussels were at once occupied. On 28 May Marlborough made a public entry into Brussels, where the States of Brabant acknowledged Charles, the imperialist claimant to the Spanish crown, as their legitimate sovereign. Marlborough advanced to the Scheldt, and encamped in the neighbourhood of Ghent. The French abandoned the town, and fell back towards their own country, leaving garrisons in some strong places. Bruges, Ghent, and Oudenarde surrendered. A force was sent under Cadogan to Antwerp, where the Walloon troops were disaffected, and enforced their French allies to make a speedy surrender (6 June). Godolphin begged Marlborough to think of Dunkirk, which, however, was still too little exposed. After a visit to the Hague to hasten the provision of the necessary material, Marlborough advanced to the siege of Ostend, which had a great reputation for strength. Trenches were opened on 28 June, and the place surrendered on 6 July. The French had meanwhile collected considerable detachments, and were even superior in numbers; but they had to supply many garrisons, and the discouragement of their troops gave Marlborough confidence. He moved upon Menin, reputed to be one of the masterpieces of Vauban, the possession of which would open the road into French territory, and bring Lille within reach. The place was invested on 23 July; and although Vendôme, who now arrived at Valenciennes to take the command, tried to interrupt the siege, it finally surrendered on 23 Aug. Vendôme now took up a position to defend Lille; but Marlborough resolved to secure Dendermond, on the Scheldt, which had hitherto been only blockaded. Dry weather favoured a siege for which Louis was reported to have said that an ‘army of ducks’ would be necessary (Coxe, ii. 77). It surrendered on 5 Sept., and finally Ath upon the Dender was taken on 4 Oct. Marlborough was anxious to complete his triumphs by taking Mons; but the Dutch were backward, and he closed a campaign of extraordinary success by sending his troops to winter quarters in November.
Marlborough's victory had thus transferred to the allies a great part of the barrier of fortresses. He was in command of the great system of water communication in the Netherlands, and had a new communication with England through Ostend. He was thus in a position to threaten the French frontier. But his victories led to an outburst of jealousy; it was more difficult than ever to hold the confederacy together, and while carrying on his campaign he was involved in the most troublesome negotiations. Upon the conquest of Brabant the emperor immediately filled a blank power of appointment left by his brother as king of Spain, thus assigning the administration of the Belgic provinces to Marlborough. The appointment would bring in 60,000l. a year besides the honour. The Dutch, however, protested energetically. Their whole aim in the war was precisely to gain a barrier for themselves, and they naturally did not wish the stakes to be held by their allies (see the letter of the States-General to the emperor, Heinsius Correspondence, pp. 73-9). They had endangered their finances, and their armies had done a lion's share of the fighting. If the deputies had objected to battles, they had at least placed large forces in the field with more punctuality than any of the allies. If they were nervous about fighting, they were in the most exposed situation. In any case their co-operation was essential; Marlborough had to yield, and a provisional government was appointed to be administered by England and Holland in the name of Charles. A fresh offer to Marlborough from Charles himself renewed the jealousy. Marlborough kept his eye upon the post and received fresh offers from the emperor in later years. In 1710 he applied for a fulfilment of this promise in view of his loss of influence at home, but was finally put off with an evasive answer (Coxe, iii. 335). Fresh troubles were produced by the complicated intrigues arising in the court of Charles, who was carrying on an unsuccessful campaign in Spain. The Earl of Peterborough quarrelled with Charles and his colleagues, appealed to Marlborough and Godolphin, flattered the duchess, and complained of his neglect. Marlborough, amid his various anxieties, had to correspond with Charles, and try to arrange schemes for a more effective warfare in Spain. Meanwhile Louis was taking advantage of the jealousies among his enemies. A secret correspondence was opened with Marlborough through the elector of Bavaria. Other negotiations were opened with the Dutch. Louis offered the relinquishment of Spain and the Indies, a barrier for the republic, and other advantages to England and Holland, on condition that the Two Sicilies and Milan should be ceded to Philip (Heinsius Correspondence, p. 93). The Dutch showed a favourable disposition, caring little for the interests of the emperor. The English ministers objected to terms which, as they urged, would make the French masters of Italy and the Mediterranean. All parties distrusted each other. The French held that Marlborough's ambition was the great obstacle to a peace of which the Dutch seem to have been sincerely desirous. Marlborough finally succeeded in persuading the Dutch to join in a document setting forth the terms to which the allies would adhere. A congress was held at the Hague, at which the foreign ministers were informed that no overtures for peace should be received without the concurrence of all the allies (Coxe, ii. 133; for these negotiations see the correspondence between Heinsius, Hop, and Marlborough, published at Amsterdam in 1850).
These difficulties had a bearing upon English party quarrels. The allies, jealous of each other, were also watching every movement of English sentiment. Unless Marlborough and Godolphin were supported at home, they could not expect to speak with authority abroad. Marlborough was always complaining with natural indignation of party spirit, while circumstances were forcing him to become the ally or the servant of a party. He held himself to be the servant of the crown on the old theory, and therefore held that the queen should be free to take men of all parties who would support her policy. But the great change was developing itself which made the ministry really the servants of the House of Commons, and therefore of the dominant party in the house. The whigs had now a majority, and on the modern practice would have virtually appointed the cabinet. They wanted a share of the spoils, and were naturally jealous of ministers who might defeat or impede the vigorous prosecution of the war. But as the queen still sympathised with their opponents, and had never even heard of modern constitutional theories, they could only enforce their system by constant pressure, and frequently by factious threats. Their first aim was to secure a seat in the cabinet for Sunderland, and the duchess did her best to bully the queen into accepting him. Godolphin was anxious to obtain the support of the whigs, and threatened to resign if the queen did not yield. The whigs themselves threatened a withdrawal of their support of the ministry. Marlborough was entreated to interfere. He was alarmed by Godolphin's desire to withdraw. He complained bitterly to the duchess of the want of confidence in him shown by the whigs. The queen piteously begged for a compromise. She resented the duchess's reproaches, and at last gave up answering her letters. Marlborough wrote to her in vain, pointing out the necessity of making concessions to the party upon which the war depended. Harley meanwhile tried to bring over the two great leaders to his own side, while protesting his fidelity to their interests. Marlborough began to doubt his sincerity. He returned to London 18 Nov. 1706, and at last persuaded the queen to yield. Sunderland was appointed secretary of state in the room of Sir Charles Hedges 3 Dec. 1706. Other changes were made in favour of the whigs, whose continued support was thus assured.
Parliament now entailed the honours of the duke with an annual pension of 5,000l. from the post-office upon his posterity by his daughters. The standards taken at Ramillies were solemnly deposited in the Guildhall of the city, and supplies were voted for the next campaign. Before opening military operations Marlborough had to meet a new danger. Charles XII of Sweden was now at the height of his career. He had dethroned Augustus in Poland, and, having entered Saxony victoriously, was encamped at Alt Ranstadt, near Leipzig. He had various grievances against the emperor, and was tempted to try the part of a new Gustavus Adolphus. Louis XIV endeavoured to turn him to account by asking him to become a mediator in the European quarrel. Marlborough had managed to obtain accounts of the various schemes under discussion, and resolved himself to visit the king. Leaving the Hague 28 April 1707, he passed through Hanover, and, after consulting the elector, went to the Swedish camp. He was introduced to the king 20 April, and showed himself as daring in diplomatic as in military maneuvres by assuring Charles that he would like to serve some campaigns in the Swedish army, in order to perfect himself in the art of war (see Coxe, ii. 196). Ledyard, who was in Saxony at the time, gives some details as to these interviews, of which Voltaire has constructed a fanciful account (Ledyard, ii. 160-79). In one way or other he succeeded in soothing the king's irritability and persuading him that delicate questions, especially as to the rights of protestants, might be postponed till the peace. He also adopted a judicious hint of the elector of Hanover by promising annual pensions, the first year payable in advance, to Charles's ministers. He then visited the king of Prussia, when the frugal monarch surprised Marlborough by ‘forcing upon him’ a diamond ring worth 1,000l., and was back at the Hague 8 May 1707, having been eighteen days on his journey.
The crushing defeat at Almanza (25 April) made fresh efforts necessary in Spain. The Dutch seemed to care little for this part of the war, while the emperor had his own private views. His jealousy had been excited by the French overtures to Holland and England, and he determined to make sure of Naples. The Duke of Savoy hereupon insisted upon an equivalent in Lombardy, and Marlborough again had to make the necessary agreement. He then endeavoured to bring the emperor to consent to a combined attack upon Toulon. The emperor was resolved to secure Naples in the first place; he made a secret treaty with the French for neutrality in Italy; allowed their garrisons to withdraw from Milan and Mantua, and sent a detachment of nine thousand men under Daun (father of the Daun of the seven years' war) to occupy Naples. The French, thus relieved from pressure in Italy, could spare more forces for the Rhine and the Netherlands (Despatches, iii. 392). Marlborough was opposed by a superior force under Vendôme (ib. p. 393), and the weather was very unfavourable (ib. p. 529), although this does not appear to explain the remarkable inactivity of his campaign. His numerical inferiority was not great; his troops were in good spirits, and he was himself anxious to take the offensive. Yet nothing happened of importance. The Dutch were inclined to be cautious, and their nervousness about the towns already taken appears to have impeded Marlborough's motions (ib. p. 454; Private Correspondence, i. 78). The French advanced from Mons and were confronted by Marlborough from Brussels and Louvain. No battle, however, took place, though Marlborough was only prevented by the Dutch from attacking Vendôme on the field of Waterloo (Coxe, ii. 301), nor were the contemplated sieges of Tournay or Mons attempted. After long maneuvring the French were forced to retreat with some loss, and ultimately fell back upon Lille at the end of the campaign.
Marlborough was still occupied in various negotiations. The erratic Peterborough, who attributed the misfortunes in Spain to his own absence, was rambling over Europe negotiating on his own account, and, after visiting Charles XII and the elector of Hanover, pestered Marlborough in his camp by prolonged conversations. The death of Prince Louis of Baden (4 Jan. 1707) caused the transference of the command on the Rhine to the margrave of Bareuth, who was unable to resist Villars; and Marlborough had to manage long negotiations to secure the appointment of the elector of Hanover to replace the margrave. Charles XII again became troublesome; and Marlborough had to obtain satisfaction from various governments until the king was persuaded to take himself off into Russia in September. The expedition against Toulon had especially occupied Marlborough's attention, but failed because the emperor, diverted by the scheme against Naples, would not support it with sufficient vigour. Marlborough, after making arrangements for the next campaign at the Hague and at Frankfort, where he met the elector of Hanover and the imperial minister, Count Wratislaw, returned to England on 7 Nov. to take part in the party struggles which had lasted through the summer. The whigs were still trying to force themselves into power. The duchess had introduced Abigail Hill, whose mother was one of the twenty-two children of the duchess's grandfather, Sir John Jennings (Conduct, p. 177), to the queen's service. She speedily rose in favour, and became the confidante of Harley in his communications with the queen. The duchess soon became jealous, appealed to her husband and Godolphin, and bitterly reproached the queen (see letter of 29 Oct. 1707, Private Correspondence, i. 88). The discovery of Abigail's private marriage to Mr. Masham, who also owed a place in the household to the duchess, produced a violent quarrel, which was for the time smoothed over by the intervention of Godolphin. Godolphin and Marlborough became more suspicious of Harley, and drew nearer to the whig junto. The resolution of the queen to appoint two tory bishops (Blackall and Sir W. Dawes) embittered the quarrel. The two ministers were suspected by the whigs of insincerity for their failure to coerce the queen, while their attempts at coercion only strengthened her regard for Harley; and the domineering duchess interfered at intervals to make things worse. Harley continued to protest his fidelity to Marlborough and Godolphin, while the Dutch began to suppose that the power of the ministers was declining, and became more anxious for peace. These complicated intrigues produced their fruit on the meeting of parliament. Violent debates took place upon the discontent in Spain and the failures of the admiralty, where Marlborough's brother, the admiral, was accused of corruption as well as Jacobitism. Whigs and tories joined for a time in attacking the ministry. In the house of peers a debate took place in which the tory Rochester joined with the whig Halifax to endorse the complaints of Peterborough and call for more vigorous action in Spain. Marlborough replied by explaining that measures had been taken, in conjunction with the emperor, for a more vigorous prosecution of the Spanish war under the command of Eugene. His statement appears to have given satisfaction for the moment. A resolution was passed on the motion of Somers declaring that no peace would be satisfactory which left Spain and the Indies to the Bourbons. This was apparently understood as implying a reconciliation between the ministers and the whigs, who had sufficiently shown their power. The ministers now induced the queen to give assurances that she would make no more tory appointments; and the complaints in both houses were gradually dropped. The final seal was put upon the new understanding by the expulsion of Harley. His maneuvres were coming to light, and some unjust suspicion was cast upon him by the treachery of subordinates in his office. The queen still stood by him, while Marlborough and Godolphin demanded his dismissal. They absented themselves from a meeting of the cabinet held 19 Feb. 1708, at which Harley attended. The cabinet broke up on the ground that the absence of the two ministers made business impossible. After a violent discussion with Marlborough, the queen at last consented to dismiss Harley (11 Feb.), who was succeeded by Boyle, while St. John was replaced by Robert Walpole.
The Pretender's attempted invasion of Scotland in the spring of 1708 roused the national spirit. Vigorous measures were passed, and Marlborough was active in providing for the defence of the country, and in supporting the Bank of England during a temporary run. The duchess meanwhile carried on her quarrel with the queen by threatening to leave the court. She asked leave to resign her offices in favour of her two elder daughters. The queen professed kindness and said they should never part, promising that even in that case the daughters should have the places. The duchess afterwards wrote angry letters, recalling this promise, and showing a spirit which made any friendly communication impossible (Coxe, ii. 401-2).
Marlborough again left for Holland at the end of March. He met Eugene and concerted a plan of campaign. It was decided that Eugene should take command of an army ostensibly intended to act on the Moselle, while it was secretly resolved that they should combine for an attack upon the French in Holland before preparations for resistance were completed. The French meanwhile were making great efforts, and the Duke of Burgundy was appointed to command with Vendôme in the Netherlands. Marlborough took command of the army near Brussels after troublesome negotiations with the elector of Hanover, who made difficulties about the diversion of his contingent from the Rhine, and was afterwards offended by not having been trusted with the secret of the campaign. Marlborough was delayed by the slowness with which the promised reinforcements were supplied to Eugene, and his own forces were not assembled till the end of May. The French advanced while he moved to cover Brussels and Louvain. It was not till 2 July that Marlborough was able to announce to the States his plans for a junction with Eugene, who was only then able to move. Meanwhile the French had made a bold strike for the recovery of their lost ground. The cities of Bruges and Ghent were discontented with their new masters, and had entered into communications with the French commanders. After distracting Marlborough by feints towards Louvain, the French suddenly moved upon the Dender and sent detachments to Ghent and to Bruges, to which place they were immediately admitted on 5 July. Vendôme proposed in the next place to take Oudenarde, the only place held by Marlborough on the Scheldt. The English would thus lose the advantages won in 1706 of a command of the Scheldt, and be cut off from communication with England through Ostend. The Duke of Burgundy wished to occupy the heights above Oudenarde, and to besiege Menin on the Lys in their rear (see ‘Berwick’ in Petitot, lxv. 115). Marlborough, whose anxiety brought on an attack of fever, threw a small force into Oudenarde, and heard from the governor that the town had been invested ‘on both sides on 9 July’ (Coxe, ii. 467). This appears to have been only a demonstration by a French force under Chemerault (see Quincy, v. 493). The French at the same time moved upon a strong position at Lessines on the Dender, with a view to defending the passage of that river, and so covering a siege of Oudenarde. Marlborough was at this moment joined by Eugene, whose army was following at a distance. He sent a force under Cadogan which succeeded in reaching Lessines just in time to anticipate the French. They then resolved to adopt the other plan, and take up the position behind Oudenarde, crossing the Scheldt at Gavre, two leagues below the town, where Chemerault rejoined them. Marlborough and Eugene left Lessines in the morning of 11 July 1708, made a rapid march of fifteen miles upon Oudenarde, and struck the French army while still on the march. The advanced column under Cadogan reached the Scheldt at half-past ten, and discovered the French crossing at Gavre. Cadogan crossed the river and began a skirmish with the French cavalry. The French commanders were still at cross purposes. While Vendôme proposed to form a line across the plain in front of Oudenarde, the Duke of Burgundy gave counter orders with the intention of falling back upon Ghent or taking up a more distant position on a high ground separated by the stream of the Norken from the nearer plains. Some of the French brigades thus became isolated, and Marlborough and Eugene were able to attack them before the confusion could be remedied. Other misunderstandings followed, with the result that the French right became opposed to superior forces and was ultimately surrounded and completely crushed. The fighting continued till nightfall, and the French, with a loss of some twenty thousand including deserters, fell back in complete disorder upon Ghent, where they entrenched themselves. Eugene returned to Brussels to hasten the advance of his army, while Marlborough sent a detachment which seized a French position near Ypres and followed with the main army to encamp at Werwick, near Menin. Some hesitation followed as to future movements. It was at first proposed to recover Ghent. So long as it was held by the French, the allies could not use the Scheldt or the Lys for the transport of cannon. On the other hand, the French might be forced to abandon Ghent for the sake of their own territory if he could threaten an invasion of France. Marlborough was inclined for a direct advance into France (Despatches, iv. 129), but, Eugene thinking this impracticable, it was unanimously determined (ib. p. 146) to obtain a battering train by land and attack Lille, which had been in French hands since 1667, was strongly fortified, and occupied by a garrison of nearly fifteen thousand men under Boufflers. The cannon and stores had been collected at Brussels, where Eugene's army was now quartered, and the first operation was to send them with a strong convoy to the siege. Berwick had followed Eugene from the Rhine, and had been in communication with Vendôme. He now proposed a combined attack upon the convoy. Vendôme refused to leave his position at Ghent, and his immobility or the skilful arrangements of the allies enabled the convoy to reach Marlborough safely in the early part of August. Trenches were opened on 22 Aug. 1708, and Eugene commanded at the siege, while Marlborough commanded the covering army. Vendôme, leaving a flying camp near Ghent, joined Berwick and slowly approached Lille with an army of over a hundred thousand men. On 10 Sept. he confronted Marlborough from the south. Vendôme and Berwick disagreed, and in spite of orders from Louis at last declined to attack Marlborough in his strong position. A counter attack proposed by Marlborough was forbidden by the Dutch deputies, and the French fell back behind the Scheldt, where they took up a strong position, cutting off all communication with Holland or Brussels. The siege, however, made slow progress. The engineers had promised to take the town in ten days, but after desperate assaults, in one of which (20 Sept.) Eugene was seriously wounded, little advance had been made, and stores began to fail. The French army blocked the route to Brussels. Marlborough made arrangements for a convoy from Ostend, and sent a detachment under Webb to protect the advance. It reached him on 30 Sept. after a gallant action at Wynendal (28 Sept.), where Webb repulsed an attack by a greatly superior force, Cadogan, who had been sent to support, only reaching the field towards the close of the action. At the same time the French managed to send some supplies of powder into the town in bags carried by a force of cavalry. Vendôme made a new attempt. He moved through Ghent to the neighbourhood of Ostend, and though he fell back upon the approach of Marlborough, he opened sluices and inundated the country, causing fresh difficulties to the transport of supplies.
Soon afterwards a sudden assault from Dunkirk upon Nieuport succeeded, and cut off Marlborough's communications with Ostend. Marlborough's old ally, Ouwerkerk, died on 18 Oct. On 22 Oct., however, Boufflers was forced to agree to a capitulation for the town after sixty days' siege. The citadel had still to be attacked. After again threatening Lille, Vendôme now tried to make a diversion. The elector of Bavaria, with a detachment from Mons, marched upon Brussels, and opened trenches on 24 Nov. Marlborough, by a brilliant maneuvre, passed the lines upon the Scheldt without loss below Oudenarde, and the elector, upon hearing of his approach, decamped from Brussels. At last the siege of Lille, in which Marlborough declared that he had been all along betrayed and great part of the stores embezzled, came to an end. Boufflers marched out on 9 Dec. 1708, having lost eight thousand men, while the allies had lost in sick, killed, and wounded not less than fourteen thousand. Ghent was now occupied, after a short siege, on 30 Dec. 1708, and the French, abandoning other towns, retired into their own territory.
Party struggles had continued through the summer, the main object of the whigs being to obtain the appointment of Somers. The junto even joined with the Jacobites to influence the Scotch elections; Sunderland greatly offended the queen by taking part in this maneuvre. Marlborough had to be constantly writing letters to urge the duchess to restrain their son-in-law, and tried to soothe the queen's irritation. The whigs again talked of inviting the Electress Sophia to England, though Marlborough remonstrated as well as he could. His extreme vexation, increased by ill-health, led him to a fresh offer of resignation, and the usual appeals and remonstrances. A bitter quarrel broke out between the queen and the duchess on the victory of Oudenarde because the duchess had made some arrangements about the queen's jewels to be worn at the ‘Te Deum,’ which the queen rejected, at the diabolical instigation, as the duchess supposed, of Mrs. Masham. Angry letters were followed by a vehement altercation, after which the duchess announced her resolution, judiciously applauded by her husband, of holding her tongue for the future. The death of the Prince of Denmark (28 Oct. O.S. 1708) brought about a temporary improvement. The troublesome Admiral Churchill lost his seat and was succeeded by Lord Pembroke at the board; Somers became lord president, and Wharton lord-lieutenant of Ireland. The queen, in her depression, was for a time softened towards the duchess, though Mrs. Masham's favour at court still continued and strengthened. Webb's name had been omitted by oversight in the gazette which described the action of Wynendal. The omission, however, was ascribed to Marlborough's jealousy. Marlborough gave the credit to Webb in his despatches to Sunderland (Despatches, iv. 243) and Godolphin (Coxe, ii. 559n.), though scarcely with full acknowledgment. A vote of thanks to Webb was passed in the House of Commons, when some insinuations were made against Marlborough's supposed jealousy. Marlborough was delayed upon the continent by the negotiations for peace. He was appointed plenipotentiary, and Lord Townshend, to Halifax's great indignation, was appointed his colleague. Berwick states (Petitot, lxvi. 138) that Marlborough had tried to open negotiations through him during the siege of Lille, and had been repulsed so offensively by Louis XIV as to be permanently prejudiced against peace. Louis had made overtures to Holland and the emperor, and the Dutch consulted Marlborough. He paid a short visit to England, and discussed the question of terms. The Dutch roused fresh jealousy by their claims for a barrier. At last, on 18 May, Marlborough and Townshend reached the Hague, where they met Torcy, the French minister. In an interview with Marlborough, Torcy was empowered to offer him large bribes, rising from two million to four million livres, on condition of his obtaining certain specified terms (Mémoires de Torcy, Petitot, lxvii. 259-65). He hinted also significantly at Marlborough's Jacobite correspondence. Marlborough met the proposals with dignity, and with florid references to Providence, which rather disgusted Torcy, and simply urged sufficient concessions. The discussions finally broke off upon the demand of the allies that Louis should take part in, if necessary, expelling his grandson from Spain. The insistence upon this offensive proposal has been generally condemned. It gave good ground for Louis' resolution to appeal to his people for a continuance of the war. According to Coxe, Marlborough was sincerely anxious for peace; his hands were tied by his instructions, and letters quoted by Coxe (iii. 40) show that he considered, in fact, that the allies might have sufficient security without pushing this demand (see also letters in Private Correspondence, i. 172-9). There seems to be no reason to doubt that he really desired and expected peace, but it cannot be said that he fully exerted his influence in favour of practicable terms. He did his utmost to protest against the barrier treaty, by which the Dutch were to be secured in their demands without being pledged to secure the evacuation of Spain and the demolition of Dunkirk. In consequence of his strong objection this treaty was signed by Townshend alone.
The expectation of peace had delayed the preparations of the allies, while Louis was enabled to make a great effort. All available troops were sent to oppose Marlborough. The general distress drove recruits to the ranks, and a large army was confided to Villars, the ablest of Marlborough's antagonists, who took up a strong position between Douay and Bethune to guard against an invasion of the frontier. Marlborough and Eugene with 110,000 men confronted him in the neighbourhood of Lille. Finding that it would be too hazardous to assail Villars, they moved to their left and formed the siege of Tournay, the garrison of which had been weakened by Villars, who expected a movement in the opposite direction towards Picardy. Trenches were opened 7 July 1709, and in spite of some attempts of Villars for its relief, the town surrendered on 28 July. The citadel was still defended, and an elaborate system of mines caused desperate encounters of peculiar horror. The siege lasted through August, and the citadel surrendered 3 Sept. The town was of great importance as covering Spanish Flanders, but the delay had been great. Marlborough and Eugene now resolved to attack Mons. By a rapid march the Prince of Hesse seized a position near Mons on 6 Sept. The main army followed, and Villars hastened to interrupt the siege. The town was now completely invested, and Villars approached from the south. A broken country, covered in great part by forests, pierced by narrow glades, fills the angle between the Hain and the Trouille, two rivers which join at Mons. Villars formed a strong position in face of two little valleys which intersect this region. Each army appears to have consisted of over ninety thousand men. The allies, after observing Villars's position, resolved to take the offensive. Councils of war were held on 9 and 10 Sept., and it was decided to wait for reinforcements. Marlborough seems on the second occasion to have desired an immediate attack (see Coxe, iii. 73, 77). Villars made use of the delay by forming strong entrenchments and abattis along the edge of the woods. The allies attacked him on 11 Sept. The ‘very murdering battle,’ as Marlborough calls it, of Malplaquet (sometimes called Blaregnies) ensued. The assault was made upon a narrow front, in woods which broke up the order of the troops, and against the skilfully arranged defences. Villars was wounded and carried off the field at an important crisis. The allies gradually carried the position after a confused series of desperate conflicts. Marlborough took advantage of a movement by which Villars had weakened his centre to resist Eugene on his left by a sudden attack, which carried the entrenchments in the centre and decided the battle. An attack of the Dutch under the Prince of Orange was made, as Coxe asserts (iii. 106), but apparently without grounds, contrary to Marlborough's orders, and repulsed with tremendous loss. The slaughter of the infantry was such that the allies could not pursue the French (Private Correspondence, ii. 399), who retreated in perfect order. The official returns state the loss of the infantry at 5,554 killed and 12,706 wounded and missing. The loss of the Dutch alone was ten thousand, chiefly in the attack under the Prince of Orange. The whole loss was not less than twenty thousand, and the French put it at thirty thousand, while their own loss is variously estimated at from six thousand to sixteen thousand. Marlborough was deeply affected by the horrors of the scene, and speaks with real pathos of his misery at seeing so many old comrades killed when they thought themselves sure of a peace. He attributes a severe illness chiefly to this cause.
The army now besieged Mons, after the usual delays in bringing up stores, and it finally surrendered on 20 Oct., and the campaign then concluded.
The weary party struggles had gone on as usual. Marlborough was teased into supporting the claims of Lord Orford, whom he specially disliked, to a post, and he was ultimately placed at the admiralty. A specially absurd quarrel about the duchess's demand for a new entrance to her apartments at St. James's Palace led to a fresh outbreak of temper. The duchess sent the queen a memorial with extracts about friendship from the ‘Whole Duty of Man,’ the prayer-book, and the works of Jeremy Taylor (Conduct, p. 224). These religious admonitions had ‘no apparent effect on her majesty,’ except that she smiled pleasantly but ambiguously as she was going to receive the communion. The queen was thrown back upon Harley, who was now intriguing with the Duke of Somerset and Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, popular feeling was shifting. The war seemed to be endless; it was terribly expensive, and the bloody battle of Malplaquet had no such results as former victories. English blood and money were being wasted to secure a good barrier for our Dutch rivals. The failure of the peace negotiations strengthened the belief that Marlborough was promoting the war in his own interests. As if to give fresh colour to such imputations, he now made the strange request that he should be appointed captain-general for life. Cowper assured him that there was no precedent. Even Monck, it appeared, had only held his office during pleasure. Marlborough, however, applied to the queen, and on her refusal wrote a reproachful letter, dwelling on all the offensive topics.
Parliament voted thanks and supplies without any signs of declining zeal. But parliaments were shortlived under the Triennial Act, and the whigs felt that a new House of Commons might withdraw its support. They foolishly attempted to impress public opinion by the impeachment of Sacheverell. The effect was only to rouse the growing sentiment of opposition. Acting under Harley's advice, the queen now began to attempt her own liberation. She first attacked Marlborough by giving the lieutenancy of the Tower to Lord Rivers, without waiting, as usual, for the recommendation of the commander-in-chief, and by offering a vacant regiment to Colonel Hill, Mrs. Masham's brother. Marlborough protested against the last appointment, as injurious to his influence in the army. The whigs promised support, and he demanded the dismissal either of Mrs. Masham or himself. Angry interviews followed between the queen and the various whig leaders, Sunderland even proposing to bring the matter before parliament. Marlborough retired to Windsor Lodge, and absented himself from a council meeting, where no notice was taken of his absence. It gradually became evident that he could not reckon upon the support of the party or of Godolphin. Marlborough, after long resistance, withdrew his demand for the dismissal of the favourite, and was allowed to give the regiment to Colonel Meredith, though Hill was immediately afterwards consoled by a pension of 1,000l. a year.
The Dutch were asking for Marlborough's presence at the Hague. A complimentary address, asking that he should be ordered to depart, was carried in the house, to which the queen gave a reply calculated to insinuate a suspicion that he had been anxious to stay in England. He reached the Hague on 18 Feb. 1710. The party disintegration continued; Harley attracted waverers to his side; Sacheverell became a popular hero; while Marlborough, though he attended the conferences now held at Gertruydenberg, felt himself deprived of any home support, and confined himself to formally obeying the decisions of the cabinet. He declares his conviction that the French were not in earnest (Despatches, iv. 717). A final interview between the duchess and the queen, with floods of tears and vehement recriminations, received with sullen resentment, took place on 6 April (Conduct, 238-44; Private Correspondence, i. 295-9), and Harley further weakened the whigs by obtaining the support of Shrewsbury, who was appointed chamberlain on 13 April. Godolphin submitted to this appointment, though made without his knowledge, and the ministry began to lose all moral weight. Marlborough, however, concerted, with Eugene, a large scheme for the campaign. Arras, the most important fortress which still covered the French frontier, was to be taken, and the allies were thence to attack Abbeville, Calais, and Boulogne. Great efforts were also to be made on Spain and the south of France. Marlborough reached Tournay on 18 April 1710, and began operations by the siege of Douay, passing the French lines by surprise on 20 April. Trenches were opened on 5 May. Villars took command of the French army near Cambray about 20 May. His forces, though he asserts the contrary, seem to have been about equal to Marlborough's, and he made various maneuvres to interrupt the siege. Douay surrendered on 26 June, after an obstinate defence. The passage of the French lines had incidentally led to another indication of loss of influence. A list of officers was recommended for promotion by Marlborough, which stopped short of Hill and Masham. The queen forced him to give way on both points. The duchess declined to make his concession a ground for proposing a reconciliation with Mrs. Masham. Sunderland was dismissed on 13 June, when the ministry sent a memorial to Marlborough entreating him to restrain his resentment at the fall of his son-in-law and remain at the head of the army. They told him that he would thus hinder the dissolution of parliament, an argument which shows the real secret of their weakness. Marlborough consented, moved chiefly, as he said, by this consideration (Coxe, iii. 241-9). The allies were alarmed at the prospect. The Dutch sent a memorial to protest; the emperor wrote to the queen begging her not to dissolve parliament or dismiss the ministry, and to Marlborough begging him not to resign. The interference was useless, or worse; and the duchess improved the occasion by a series of violent epistles, to which the queen finally declined to reply.
Villars now avoided an engagement, the loss of which must have been disastrous, and took up a strong position from Arras to the Somme. His skilful dispositions forced the allies to abandon their attack upon Arras, and content themselves with the capture of Bethune (28 Aug.), St. Vincent (29 Sept.), and Aire (12 Nov.) Marlborough mentions the loss of a convoy during the siege of St. Vincent as the ‘first ill news’ he had had to send in nine years' war (Private Correspondence, i. 393). He complains of the want of engineers, which delayed these and other sieges (Despatches, v. 105). While slow progress was thus being made abroad, the ministry was rapidly collapsing. Halifax was partly detached from the whigs by his appointment as joint plenipotentiary at the Hague. At last the catastrophe came. Godolphin was dismissed on 8 Aug., and by the end of the month Somers, Orford, and Cowper were out of office, and the administration formed, of which Harley and St. John were the prominent leaders. Parliament was dissolved on 26 Sept. The new ministers showed their sympathies by delaying to provide funds for Blenheim. Marlborough felt himself ill supported, while the allies became suspicious. The campaigns on the Rhine and in the south were nugatory, and the Spanish war ended with the disasters at Brihuega and Villa Viciosa. Marlborough, after the campaign, went to the Hague, to consider future measures. In the House of Commons, which met on 25 Nov., the tories had a great majority. Marlborough did not receive the customary vote of thanks. For some time the dismissal of the duchess had been contemplated, while efforts were made to persuade Marlborough to submit. The duchess herself wrote letters to Sir David Hamilton, one of the queen's physicians, remonstrating as usual, and insinuating a threat of publishing the old affectionate correspondence. Marlborough reached London on 28 Dec., while the controversy was still raging. At last, on 17 Jan. 1711, Marlborough took a letter from the duchess to the queen containing a final protest. He himself entreated the queen to retreat or delay, while complaining of a recent dismissal of three officers for drinking ‘confusion to his enemies.’ The queen was immovable, and Marlborough the same night returned the duchess's golden key of office. He yielded to the solicitations of the whigs and Eugene by still retaining his command.
The duchess now sent in her accounts, in which she cleared herself from insinuations of peculation. Swift, in the ‘Examiner’ (No. 16, 23 Nov. 1710), had accused the duchess of appropriating 22,000l. a year out of the privy purse. According to the duchess (Conduct, p. 293) this referred to the pension of 2,000l. a year which had been offered to her by the queen in 1702 and then absolutely refused. She now put things straight by charging the whole amount of the pension for nine years as arrears. ‘It went very much against’ the duchess to desire anything of the queen; but, considering how much was due to her economy and her other good services, she felt that the claim was only due to herself. She added a last insult by taking away the locks and the marble chimneypiece from her lodgings in the palace.
The following session brought fresh annoyances. The old ministers were blamed: Peterborough received the thanks denied to Marlborough, and his old friend Cadogan was dismissed from the post of envoy to the States. Supplies, however, were voted, and Marlborough reached the Hague on 4 March 1711 to concert the new campaign. St. John and Harley gave him assurances of support, though committees of inquiry were ordered to investigate the state of national accounts, where it was expected that great corruption would be detected. The death of the emperor on 17 April 1711 brought new perplexities. Eugene with German contingents was obliged to leave the Netherlands. Charles, the claimant of the Spanish crown, was now head of the house of Austria, and it was urged that such an accumulation of power was as undesirable as the accumulation in the hands of the Bourbons. Villars meanwhile had constructed formidable lines in defence of the French frontier from Namur to the coast of Picardy. On 30 April Marlborough took command of his army between Lille and Douay. His forces, weakened by the departure of Eugene, were apparently rather inferior to those of Villars. Louis forbade Villars to risk an engagement. He took up a position near Cambray, his front covered by the Sanzet, which joins the Scheldt at Bouchain. Marlborough's camp was on the other side of the Sanzet, between Bouchain and Douay. The armies confronted each other for some weeks, till Marlborough concerted a series of movements which have been regarded as among his most skilful operations. Villars had written to Louis boasting that Marlborough was at his ne plus ultra. After taking a small fort at Arleux which protected the Sanzet, Marlborough moved to his left towards Bethune. Villars retook the fort at Arleux and demolished it, as he supposed it to be valued by his antagonist. Marlborough had, according to Kane (Campaigns, pp. 88-96), anticipated this destruction; ‘but he affected extreme annoyance.’ He then approached Villars's lines further west, near Arras. Villars moved to confront him, and Marlborough on 4 Aug. advanced as if for an attack, spoke to his officers of his grievances, and professed that his resentment was leading him to a rash assault on a strong position. Suddenly on the same night he made a forced march of thirteen leagues to his left, many men dropping from fatigue, crossed the Sanzet near Arleux, and seized Villars's lines without opposition, while the marshal was still awaiting the attack near Arras. Villars speedily followed, and confronted Marlborough near Cambray. The Dutch deputies for once urged a battle, and Marlborough declined. He was much annoyed by the criticisms upon this decision, and declares that the enemy had a superiority of numbers and strength of position which would have made an attack hopeless (Despatches, v. 443, 455, &c.). He turned his advantage to account by skilfully crossing the river in face of Villars and immediately investing Bouchain. The operation was one of great difficulty, and every movement was closely watched by Villars. All his attempts, however, were foiled, and the town surrendered on 14 Sept. 1711. Marlborough on this occasion carefully protected the estates of the see of Cambray from plunder, to show his respect for Fénelon.
The siege of Quesnay was intended, but Marlborough's campaigns were now closed. Some fruitless attempts at a reconciliation with Oxford had been made through Lord Stair in the summer of 1711 (Coxe, iii. 404, 441). St. John and Harley (now Lord Oxford), though still approving his plans, were secretly negotiating with the French. Preliminaries were signed at London, 27 Sept. (O.S.), and immediately became public. All prosecution of the war on the part of England dropped. Marlborough reached the Hague, where he found that he had been accused of corruption. The commissioners appointed to inquire into abuses of the accounts reported that he received sums from Sir Solomon Medina, contractor for supplying bread to his army, amounting between 1707 and 1710 to 63,319l. Marlborough at once wrote declaring that this sum was a regular perquisite of the general, and had been applied by him to maintaining secret correspondence. He added that in the last war parliament had voted 10,000l. a year for secret service. This being found insufficient, William III had arranged for a deduction of 2¾ per cent. on the pay of all foreign auxiliaries for the same purpose. Marlborough had obtained a royal warrant for the continuance of this arrangement, and had applied the whole sum to this purpose, which had been essential to the continuance of the war.
He landed at Greenwich 17 Nov. 1711. It was the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession, and generally celebrated by burning effigies of the pope, the devil, and the Pretender. A jesuit spy, named Plunket, circulated an absurd story, first published in the ‘Memoirs of Torcy,’ to the effect that Marlborough had proposed to raise a popular tumult, seize the queen, and murder Oxford. The plot was supposed to have been concocted with Eugene, who came to England in the following January on a mission from the emperor, and with the hope of working upon popular enthusiasm. The story only deserves mention because Swift afterwards believed in it (Four Last Years of Queen Anne), and it illustrates the prevailing excitement. Parliament met 6 Dec., when Nottingham, who had joined the whigs on consideration of their accepting the Occasional Conformity Bill, moved that no peace would be safe which left Spain and the Indies to the Bourbons. Marlborough defended himself against the imputation of desiring war, and the motion was carried by 64 to 52 in the House of Lords. The House of Commons rejected a similar motion by 232 to 106. After voting an address to the queen (20 Dec.) the lords adjourned on 21 Dec. The queen gave signs of wavering, and Shrewsbury made advances to Marlborough, when the ministers determined on a vigorous move. The report of the commissioners charging Marlborough with the appropriation of public money was ordered to be laid before the House of Commons. On 31 Dec. 1711 the queen made an order dismissing Marlborough from all his employments, in order ‘that the matter might undergo an impartial investigation.’ Another decisive step followed. The whig junto had virtually begun the system of party government, and their expulsion as a single body had made the fact evident. But they still commanded the upper house, while the tories commanded in the commons. It had to be settled which house should be supreme, and this was virtually decided by the creation of the twelve tory peers who, on the meeting of parliament after Christmas, gave a majority to the ministry. The accusation against Marlborough was again brought up in the commons. Resolutions were passed, and an order was obtained from the queen for his prosecution by the attorney-general. The ministers made inquiries, but the prosecution was ultimately dropped, and the failure of his enemies when in power to justify their accusation is sufficient proof that no case could be made out. The withdrawal of the English troops from the operations under Eugene produced violent debates in the lords. Halifax on 28 May moved an address condemning this proceeding, and Marlborough was violently attacked by the tories. Lord Poulet accused him of sending his officers to slaughter in order to profit by the sale of their commissions. Marlborough remained silent, but sent a challenge to his accuser by Lord Mohun. Lady Poulet secured the queen's interference, and the duel was stopped.
On 15 Sept. 1712 Godolphin died at Marlborough's house at St. Albans. Soon afterwards Marlborough resolved to leave England. There has been some speculation as to his motives. Marlborough was in a position of singular isolation, especially after Godolphin's death. The ministers and their party were his bitter enemies; his connection with the whigs had always been due to external pressure, not to genuine sympathy, and, with the exception of Somers, the great lords were personally disagreeable to him. He had probably less public sympathy than any successful general. If he had contributed to the national glory, his motives had not been unselfish. The splendid rewards of rank and wealth which had been bestowed upon him were a main object of his desires, and he was, therefore, sufficiently paid by receiving them without deserving the gratitude due to men animated, like Wellington, by a sense of duty, or, like Nelson, by enthusiastic patriotism. The attacks in the press, led by Swift in the ‘Examiner,’ had struck the weak point. It was believed that he had prolonged the war for purposes of self-aggrandisement and for the gratification of a boundless avarice. The suit brought against him for the recovery of the sums received as percentage was still pending, and a sum of 30,000l. was claimed as arrears for works at Blenheim, for which he was considered to be personally responsible, the payments from the civil list having been stopped. It was not wonderful that he should prefer the continent, where he would be welcomed by his old allies in proportion to the coldness of his treatment by the country which had deserted them, and where he might hope to take part in diplomatic arrangements bearing upon the English succession. Dalrymple records a very questionable story that Oxford got possession of a copy of the letter about the Brest expedition, and used it in terrorem (Memoirs, pt. ii. bk. iii. p. 62).
Marlborough obtained a passport 30 Oct. 1712, vested his estates in his sons-in-law as trustees, and consigned 50,000l. to Cadogan to be invested in the Dutch funds. On 28 Nov. he sailed for Ostend. He stayed some time at Aix-la-Chapelle. The duchess joined him in the beginning of 1713, and they settled at Frankfort. In May he visited his principality at Mindelheim. Returning to Frankfort he had to meet a new charge of having mustered defective troops as complete in order to receive the pay. To this he made a satisfactory reply, stating that the sums were used to obtain recruits. At the end of July he moved to Antwerp. On the conclusion of peace between the emperor and France at Rastadt in the spring of 1713, Mindelheim again became part of the Bavarian territories, and Marlborough vainly demanded an indemnity. He retained the rank of prince, without holding a fief.
During 1713-14 he held various communications with the court of Hanover, and made arrangements with a view to transporting troops to England in the event of Anne's death. In 1714 he sent an agent to the court of Hanover to counteract Oxford's mission of his relation, Mr. Harley. His correspondence with the Jacobites so late as 1713 was probably a mere blind; he is said to have refused a loan of 100,000l. asked by the Pretender as a test of his sincerity (Lockhart, i. 461); and he was no doubt serious in concerting measures with the supporters of the Hanoverian succession. It is also said that his old friend Bolingbroke endeavoured to obtain his support during the final intrigues against Lord Oxford (Macpherson, History, ii. 619, 621).
On the news of Anne's last illness he sailed from Ostend. He reached Dover on the day of her death, 1 Aug. 1714. He was mortified by the omission of his name from the list of lords justices nominated by the new king, who remembered, it is said, the refusal of Marlborough and Eugene to confide to him the scheme of campaign in 1708, or possibly suspected his sincerity. He was induced, however, after a short time (September 1714) to resume the offices of captain-general and master of the ordnance. He took some part in military measures, and pacified the guards who had grievances as to clothing by ordering a double supply ‘of shirts and jackets of superior quality,’ with a ‘liberal donation of beer.’ During the Scotch insurrection of 1715 he raised money to support the bank, and gave directions for the movements which ended in the capture of the Jacobite force at Preston. He was saddened by the loss of his third daughter, the Countess of Bridgewater, 22 March 1714, and of his second daughter, the Countess of Sunderland, 15 April 1716. On 28 May 1716 he had a paralytic stroke, followed by another on 10 Nov. Marlborough had been remarkable for his physical as well as his intellectual vigour; but his multitudinous labours and responsibilities had told upon his strength. His letters during his campaigns are full of complaints of severe headaches. In December 1711 he said in a debate that his ‘great age’ (sixty-one) and ‘numerous fatigues in war’ made him long for repose. He was prematurely broken. Although he recovered the use of his faculties, could attend in parliament, and discharge his official duties, he was clearly declining (see the duchess's account of his state, Coxe, iii. 648). His chief public appearance was at the impeachment of Oxford in 1717, when he voted against Oxford's friends. A story that he was frightened into helping Oxford's acquittal by a threat of the production of some early communications of a Jacobite tendency is given in the ‘Biographia,’ but the evidence, though circumstantial, is unsatisfactory and inconsistent. During the South Sea mania he, or the duchess in his name, made a judicious speculation, and cleared 100,000l. At some indefinite date we find him troubled by having 150,000l. on his hands and not knowing what to do with it (Thomson, ii. 547). He spent his time at Blenheim, Windsor, and Holywell; he was fond of riding, amused himself with cards, and was much attached to his grandchildren. Some of them took part in amateur performances of ‘Tamerlane’ and ‘All for Love,’ at Blenheim; Bishop Hoadly wrote a prologue for the last, which the duchess bowdlerised. No kissing was allowed. We hear little more of his domestic life, except occasional anecdotes of his love of petty savings. King (Anecdotes, p. 104) says that he always walked when old and infirm to save sixpence for a chair. He had a fresh stroke of paralysis in June 1722, and died on the 16th. He was buried with great splendour in Westminster Abbey, but the body was afterwards removed to the chapel at Blenheim, where a mausoleum was erected by Rysbrach.
The duchess passed the remainder of her life in a series of deadly quarrels. Her pugnacity was boundless, and, though wrong-headed, she was far too shrewd to be contemptible. The duke left her a jointure of 15,000l. a year. She had also the right to spend 10,000l. a year for five years in completing Blenheim. She received offers of marriage before the end of 1722 from an old friend, Lord Coningsby [q.v.], and a few months later from ‘the proud’ Duke of Somerset. She declined both, and successfully recommended Lady Charlotte Finch to the duke as a substitute. The completion of Blenheim gave rise to long lawsuits, of which some account is given in Coxe (iii. 633-40) and Thomson (ii. 445-60). An act was passed in the first year of George making the crown responsible for the arrears incurred up to the suspension of the works. Disputes, however, arose, and ultimately it was decided that the duke was responsible for a considerable sum. The duchess took the matter into her own hands after the duke's death, and finished the house within the five years, and for less than half the sum allowed. The whole sum spent, according to Coxe, was 300,000l., of which 60,000l. was spent by the Marlboroughs. The remainder was paid from the civil list (not, of course, from the queen's private purse). In the course of the proceedings the duchess had a long and bitter quarrel with the architect Vanbrugh. He tried in vain to preserve the ancient manor-house of Woodstock, alleging very excellent reasons (Thomson, ii. 529-47). She afterwards accused him of extravagance, and forbade him to enter the building. The quarrel was complicated by his taking part in arranging a marriage between the duchess's granddaughter Lady Harriet Godolphin and the Duke of Newcastle. She accused Cadogan of misapplying the 50,000l. entrusted to him in 1712, and carried on a successful lawsuit against him (Coxe, iii. 626). She had another series of quarrels with the Duke of St. Albans arising out of the rangership of Windsor Park, and others about a permission to pass through St. James's Park. This last was part of an endless series of quarrels with Sir Robert Walpole, who had wished her to lend a large sum of trust money to the public funds, and who, as she thought, had got the better of her in the transaction. Hatred of Walpole seems to have become her pet antipathy.
She fell out with the two daughters who survived the duke¾Henrietta, wife of Francis, earl of Godolphin, who became duchess on her father's death, and died in 1733; and Mary, duchess of Montagu, who alone survived her. Lady Anne Egerton, the only daughter of Lady Bridgewater, offended her, and the grandmother got a portrait, blackened its face, and hung it up in her room with the inscription ‘She is much blacker within.’ Her son-in-law, Lord Sunderland, had annoyed her by a third marriage. He afterwards brought to the duke in 1720 a report that the duchess had been engaged in a Jacobite plot. She called upon George I and the Duchess of Kendal to express their disbelief in the story, and received an unsatisfactory answer. The quarrel led to a breach with Lord Sunderland, which was increased by his share in the South Sea schemes. His son Charles Spencer, who became Duke of Marlborough in 1733 on the death of his aunt, was not a favourite with his grandmother, but she had a weakness for his brother John, to whom she left all her disposable property, in spite of his dissolute and extravagant life (see Thomson, vol. ii. for details of the disputes). The least unpleasant account of the duchess comes from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (Works, ed. Lord Wharncliffe, i. 76). From her comes the story that the duchess had one day cut off her hair to annoy the duke, who took no notice at the time, but laid up the curls in a cabinet, where she found them after his death. At this point of the story she always burst into tears (see Walpole's ‘Reminiscences’ in Cunningham, vol. i. cxxxix-clxi, for other anecdotes).
The duchess spent much time in writing memorials and arranging papers for her own and her husband's lives. She did not publish her account of her ‘conduct’ until 1742, though some draft had been prepared in 1711 and suppressed by Burnet's advice (Historical MSS. Commission, 8th Report, p. 26). She was helped in the final redaction by Nathaniel Hooke [q.v.], and is said to have given him 5,000l. for his trouble. It provoked various replies, and was defended by Fielding. In 1740 she had been told by her doctors (Walpole to Mann, 10 Dec. 1741) that she would die if she were not blistered. ‘I won't be blistered, and I won't die,’ she replied, and she kept her word for the time. She died, probably at Marlborough House (Life of Sarah, late Duchess Dowager of Marlborough, 1745, a catchpenny production), on 18 Oct. 1744. She is said to have left 60,000l. a year. The most remarkable bequests were 20,000l. to Lord Chesterfield, 10,000l. to William Pitt, for the ‘noble defence he made for the support of the laws of England,’ and 500l. apiece to Glover and Mallet to write the history of the Duke of Marlborough. No part of the history was to be in verse. None of it was ever written. Her will shows that she had spent large sums in buying landed estates. After the South Sea she bought Wimbledon Manor from Sir Theodore Jansen, who was then ruined, and there built a house, which became her favourite residence. The manor descended to the Spencers; the house was burnt down in 1785. The duchess was not an amiable woman. It would be wrong, however, to overlook her remarkable ability, and her writing, if spiteful and untrustworthy, is frequently vigorous and undeniably shrewd. It would be less easy to show that her policy was mistaken than that she was wrong in trying to scold it into a weak mind. She probably exaggerated her influence with the duke, who rather temporised with her fury than gave way to her wishes. Of him it may be said that he really possessed such virtues as are compatible with an entire absence of the heroic instincts. Not only is his paternal tenderness touching, but he was signally humane in the conduct of war. He was supreme as a man of business, and allowed no scruples to interfere with the main chance. Every one who saw him declares the dignity and grace of his manner to have been irresistible. Lord Chesterfield's characteristic theory that he owed his success principally to this quality is partly due to the love of an epigram, but is also significant of the limitations of his intellect. His judgment was of superlative clearness, but without the brilliant genius which would make a charge of commonplace palpably absurd.
A list of the preferments of the duke and duchess has been frequently reprinted (see Hearne's Collections by Doble, i. 162). The duke had 7,000l. as plenipotentiary, 10,000l. as general of the English forces, 3,000l. as master of the ordnance, 2,000l. as colonel of the guards, 10,000l. from the States-General, 5,000l. pension, 1,825l. for travelling, and 1,000l. for a table, or in all 39,825l. He received also 15,000l. as percentage, which, according to him, was spent on secret service, and handsome presents from foreign powers. The duchess had 3,000l. as groom of the stole, and 1,500l. for each of her three offices as ranger of Windsor Park, mistress of the robes, and keeper of the privy purse, or in all 7,500l. The united sums thus amount to 62,325l. The duchess reckons her own offices as worth only 5,600l. a year. She says that the rangership was worth only the ‘milk of a few cows and a little firing.’ She ultimately received also the nine years' pension at 2,000l. a year. Besides this, she had after the death of the queen-dowager (1705) a lease, ‘for fifty years at first,’ of the ground called the ‘Friery’ in St. James's Park, on which Marlborough House was built in 1709 (see Wentworth Papers, 89, 98), at a cost, she says, of from 40,000l. to 50,000l. (Conduct, 291-7). She gives careful details of her economical management of the office of the robes, and declares that she would never sell offices.
On the death in 1733 of Henrietta (duchess of Marlborough in succession to the first duke), the title was assumed by her nephew, Charles Spencer [q.v.], fifth earl of Sunderland, and son of the fourth earl of Sunderland, by Anne, second daughter of the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.
The best life of Marlborough is still the tiresome but exhaustive Memoirs by Archdeacon Coxe (3 vols. 1818-19), with many original papers from the family records at Blenheim. Previous lives were: Lives of the two illustrious generals, John, Duke of Marlborough, and Francis Eugene, Prince of Savoy, 1713; Annals of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eugene, 1714; life by Thomas Lediard, in 3 vols. 1736 (some original matter); History of Marlborough by the author of the History of Prince Eugene, three editions, 1741, 1742, and 1755 (of no value); Histoire de John Churchill, duc de Marlborough, 1808, 3 vols. readable and impartial, by Madgett, who had been desired by Napoleon to translate Ledard, and the Abbé Dutems, who seems (see Dutems in Biographie Universelle) to have done most of the work. The only considerable life since Coxe is the loose narrative by Alison [see under Alison, Sir Archibald], second and fullest edition in 1852. Short summaries have been recently published by Mrs. Creighton in Historical Biographies, 1879, and by G. Saintsbury in English Worthies Series, 1885. The military history is given from the French side by Histoire Militaire du regne de Louis le Grand, by the Marquis de Quincy, 7 vols. 1726. In 1725 appeared Batailles gagnées par le ¼ Prince Eugène, 2 vols. folio, the first consisting of Explications Historiques by J. Dumont (Baron de Carelscroom); the second a volume of handsome, but not very useful engravings, of plans of battles, sieges, &c., by Huchtenburg. In 1729 was published the Histoire Militaire du Prince Eugène, du Prince et Duc de Marlborough et du Prince de Nassau-Frise, in 2 vols. folio. The first reprints Dumont's accounts from the ‘Batailles gagnées,’ with an introduction on Eugene's earlier history by J. Rousset; the second contains a supplement by Rousset, with the plates from the ‘Batailles gagnées,’ the supplement being also issued separately to form a second volume to the ‘Batailles gagnées.’ A translation of Dumont forms the fourth part, and a translation of Rousset's supplement the fifth part, of Des grossen Feldherrns Eugenii ¼ Heldenthaten, Nürnberg, 1736. In 1747 Rousset published a third volume of the Histoire Militaire, with fresh documents and discussions. The Military History of Eugene and Marlborough (by John Campbell, 1708-1775, q.v.), 2 vols. fol. 1736, is mainly a reproduction of Dumont and Rousset (1725-9). Recent publications of original documents are the Mémoires Militaires relatifs à la Succession d Espagne, 1835, &c. in the Documents Inédits, edited by General Pelet; Letters and Despatches of Marlborough (1702-12), edited by Sir George Murray, from original letter-books at Blenheim, 5 vols. 1845; and the Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen v. Savoyen, published by the Austrian government, which gives the fullest accounts of the campaign of Blenheim (ser. i. vol. vi.), and of the campaign of Oudenarde and Lille (ser. ii. vol. i.) Viscount Wolseley's Life of Marlborough to accession of Anne, 2 vols. 1894, remains a fragment. Among contemporary books may be noticed: The Conduct of the Duke of Marlborough during the present War, with original Papers, 1712 (by Francis Hare, chaplain to the duke, afterwards bishop of Chichester); Campaigns of King William and the Duke of Marlborough, by Brigadier-general Richard Kane (2nd edition, 1747); Compleat History of the late War in the Netherlands (1713), by Thomas Brodrick; and A Compendious Journal of all the Marches, Battles, Sieges, &c. ¼ by John Millner, sergeant in the Royal Regiment of Foot of Ireland (1736). The Memoirs of the Marquis de Feuquière (d. 1711) (3rd edition, 1736) contain some interesting criticisms by a contemporary military observer. See also Memoirs of Villars (in Petitot Collection, vol. lxix.) for campaigns of 1705, 1709, 1710, 1711; and of Berwick (Petitot, vol. lxv. lxvi) for campaigns of 1702, 1703, 1708 (especially), and 1709. The Correspondance Diplomatique et Militaire de Marlborough, Heinsius et Hop, edited from the originals by Vreede in 1850, gives important details of negotiations in 1706-7. For the political life see (besides the ordinary books) the Duchess of Marlborough's Account of her Conduct from her first Coming to Court till the year 1710, 1742 (‘digested’ by R. N. Hooke). With this are to be compared The Other Side of the Question, or an Attempt to Rescue the Characters of the two Royal Sisters, Q. Mary and Q. Anne, out of the hands of the D4 D4 of 4 in a letter to her Grace, by a Woman of Quality, 1742 (by J. Ralph); A Review of a late Treatise entitled Conduct, &c. (with Continuation, both in 1742); and a Full Vindication of the Dutchess Dowager of Marlborough, 1742 (by H. Fielding, but of no other value). The Private Correspondence of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 2 vols. 1838, contains many letters from herself and her contemporaries, chiefly from Coxe's manuscripts and the Opinions of the Duchess of Marlborough, reprinted from a volume privately printed by D. Dalrymple, lord Hailes, in 1788, from letters to Lord Stair. Memoirs of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by Mrs. A. T. Thomson, 2 vols. 1839, is chiefly founded upon the Coxe manuscripts. In 1875 appeared Letters of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, now first printed from the original manuscripts at Madresfield Court, chiefly to a relation named Jennings (or Jennens) at St. Albans. An account of the manuscripts at Blenheim is given in the eighth report of the Historical MSS. Commission.
Contributor: L. S. [Leslie Stephen]