« PreviousContinue »
he, “ five times one of the lords-justices of Great Britain, whilst his majesty went to Hanover; and being elected a knight of the most noble order of the Garter on March 31st, 1718, he was installed on April 30th following, and placed in the fourteenth stall at Windsor. On September 15th, 1727, he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Lincolnshire by his late majesty; and on November 10th, in that year, was constituted lord-lieutenant of the county of Gloucester, and cities and counties of Gloucester and Bristol, as also of the county of Surrey, and likewise Custos-rotuloruin of the counties of Gloucester and Surrey: moreover, on the 17th of the same month, he was appointed keeper of the forest of Dean and constable of St Briavel's castle, also vice-admiral of Great Britain, and lieutenant of the admiralties thereof, and lieutenant of the navies and seas of this kingdom. He departed this life at the castle of Aubigny, a seat of the duke of Richmond, near Rochelle in France, being there for the recovery of his health, on the 17th of August, 1736, and was buried at Berkeley.".
Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough.
BORN A. D. 1658.-DIED A. D. 1735.
CHARLES MORDAUNT, son of John, Lord Mordaunt of Reigate in Surrey, by Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Carey, second son of Robert, Earl of Monmouth, was born in 1658. When a mere boy he served on board the Mediterranean fleet under Admiral Torrington. In 1680 he was present at the siege of Tangier, but had previous to this date exchanged the naval for the military service. He succeeded to the titles and estate of his family in 1675, and appears to have embraced the politics of the opposition party from his earliest entrance on political life. Walpole states that he was implicated in Lord Russell's affair, and that he boldly accompanied Sydney to the scaffold: be this as it may, it is certain that he actively opposed the ill-advised proceeding of James II., and eventually quitted England in disgust with the measures of the court. He retired to Holland. 6 The Lord Mor. daunt,” says
Burnet, was the first of all the English nobility that came over openly to see the prince of Orange. He asked the king's leave to do it. He was a man of much heat, many notions, and full of discourse. He was brave and generous, but had not true judgment. His thoughts were crude and undigested, and his secrets were soon known. with the prince in 1686 ; and then he pressed him to undertake the business of England, and he represented the matter as so easy, that this appeared too romantical to the prince to build upon it." Yet, adds Burnet soon after, he was one whom his highness chiefly trusted, and by whose advice he governed his motions."
When William ascended the throne of England, Mordaunt was created earl of Monmouth; on the 9th of April, 1689, he was also nominated first-commissioner of the treasury. But we find him suddenly dismissed from the king's counsels in the month of November 1690. The occasion of this rupture is not exactly known; he retained his military appointments, however, and accompanied the horse-guards to the continent in 1692.
In 1696, Monmouth was suddenly thrown into the Tower. Mr Gleig has thus compressed the substance of the information furnished by Tindal and Burnet on this transaction : “We need scarcely remind our readers, that in 1696 a plot for the assassination of King William was detected; and that Sir John Fenwick, a violent Jacobite, was, along with other persons, arrested as one of the conspirators. Through the management of his wife, a near relative of the earl of Carlisle, one of the principal witnesses against the prisoner was induced to fly the country ; so that, wben the day of trial came, it was found necessary to suspend the proceedings, the testimony of one being insufficient to convict of high treason. A bill of attainder was in consequence introduced into parliament; during the preparation and progress of which, considerable delays occurred ; and other and more powerful parties were, by means highly disgraceful to all concerned, dragged as it were before the bar of public opinion. A pamphlet appeared, having the name of Smith upon the title-page, which charged Lord Shrewsbury with being accessory to the plot; while Fenwick himself threw out more than one hint that the accusation was not absolutely groundless. As the proceedings went on, however, Fenwick refused to repeat his insinuations, or to fasten a positive charge on Lord Shrewsbury; while Peterborough, who at first appeared reluctant to sanction the act of attainder, spoke vehemently in favour of its passing. Strange occurrences followed upon this. The dutchess of Norfolk openly declared, that the whole device of Lord Shrewsbury's accusation originated with Lord Monmouth. She asserted that he, assisted by Dr Davenant, drew up the pamphlet of which Smith stood forth as the ostensible author ; and that Lady Fenwick had repeatedly been worked upon, the dutchess herself being the instrument, to encourage her husband in his designs against Shrewsbury. We are not called upon to decide whether this story, given in part by Tindal, in part by Bishop Burnet, be or be not correct : all that we know on the subject is, that an inquiry took place before both houses of parliament; that Smith's book was pronounced by the commons to be libellous and false ; that both Fenwick and his lady confirmed before the lords the statements of the dutchess of Norfolk; and that Peterborough suffered immediately afterwards, the disgrace of which we have already spoken. Yet, though the tale undeniably received credence at the time (and Marlborough among others believed it), the king would not push matters to an extremity. Monmouth was liberated, after a short confinement; and the loss (of places) says Burnet, was secretly made up to him; for the court was resolved not to lose him quite.'
On the death of Henry, second earl of Peterborough, in June 1697, Monmouth, his nephew and heir-at-law, succeeded to the title. After this period, he does not appear for some years to have held any public office. In 1704, however, we find him appointed to command the landforces sent into Spain with the view of exciting a movement on behalf of the Austrian party. His instructions on this occasion were conceived in very general terms, and amounted to little more than an indefinite commission to make “a vigorous push in Spain," and thus distract the attention of the enemy. He sailed in May, 1705, with an
"Life of Peterborough in Cabinet Cyclopædia.'
armament consisting of something less than 5,000 men, of whom onethird were Dutch, the rest English. On the 20th of June, he arrived in Lisbon, where he was joined by the prince of Hesse and the archduke Charles, previous to sailing for the Tagus. This union was so far unfortunate, that it proved the cause of Peterborough abandoning a very brilliant and well-conceived plan for making a dash upon Madrid ; but he was compensated in a considerable degree for this disappointment by the reduction of Barcelona, -a task which, but for the inventive genius and extraordinary resources of the English commander, would have been utterly impracticable to an assailing force of six times the number. Almost equally brilliant in conception and execution was the scheme by which he contrived to relieve San Mateo, when hard pressed by the forces under Las Torres. “ Among the various qualities required in forming the character of an active military commander,” says Mr Gleig, “not the least important, perhaps, is the possession of a hardy and robust constitution : with this, nature had, in a striking degree, gifted Peterborough ; for, though slight of form, and delicately fair in his complexion, there was no extent of fatigue or privation which he seemed unable to endure. Night and day he was in the saddle; scarce a patrol, however weak, sallied forth from headquarters, which he did not accompany either in part or throughout; and hence there was not a service performed, of the slightest importance, which he was not personally present to control. With such a leader at their head, we cannot be surprised to learn that every private trooper became a hero. There was not a man in his little corps, indeed, who did not feel that upon himself, in a great degree, depended the success or failure of the enterprise ; and hence there was not a man whose energies, both of mind and body, were not, fronı first to last, exerted to their utmost stretch. It is not surprising that men so acted upon by what may be termed the best spirit of chivalry, should have performed prodigies both of valour and discretion."
There is little doubt, had Peterborough's suggestion been followed throughout, that the fate of the campaign in Spain against the duke of Berwick would have been very different from what it was. But Charles knew not the value of his man; and when Peterborough, in a moment of disgust and disappointment, intimated his intentions of directing his future operations to the assistance of the duke of Savoy, no wish was expressed against the suggestion. His reception at the court of Turin, however, was disappointing, and for some time Peterborough appears to have led a restless and inglorious life, quarrelling successively with the chiefs of the Austrian party, and even with his patron Marlborough,
In November, 1709, he presented himself in London, but kept aloof from court. He did not take any very prominent part in politics, but attached himself decidedly to Harley and the tories. “Time passed," says Mr Gleig, "and the increasing influence of the tories opened out to Peterborough prospects of honours more and more brilliant. The wrongs under which he believed that he had so long laboured, were gradually adınitted as such in the highest quarter ; and the session of 1710-11 brought with it a more than adequate compensation for all his sufferings. The same parliament which refused its thanks to Marlborough, instituted an elaborate inquiry into the conduct of the war in Spain; which it summed up by pronouncing, through its official organ, the
lord-keeper, an extravagant eulogium on the gallantry and good conduct of the earl. Far be it from us to insinuate that the judgment at which parliament arrived was not a correct one.
From the tone of this memoir it will have been already discovered, that we regard Peterborough as by far the ablest officer employed in the Spanish war; yet we must be permitted to observe, that commendation from a body which could even indirectly censure the military conduct of Marlborough, need not be rated at an extravagant value. The earl was, however, gratified by the compliment; and became, in consequence, more and more the supporter of the court party, and the enemy of Godolphin and his friends.
“ One effect of the changes which occurred about this time in the constitution of the queen's cabinet, was to bring Peterborough again prominently forward into public life. We find him, for example, in 1711, in the capacity of ambassador at Turin, and other courts of Italy, whence he proceeded to Vienna, with the view of softening down certain differences which had arisen between the duke of Savoy and the emperor. He was eminently successful here; so much so, indeed, that not even the death of Joseph, and the uncertainty as to a successor which ensued, operated to hold back Victor Amadeus from taking the field in force. He was rewarded for his services on this occasion by being appointed colonel of the royal regiment of horse-guards,-a dignity which was speedily followed by others neither less gratifying nor less coveted. During the year 1712, he was successively promoted to the rank of general of marines, and lord-lieutenant of the county of Northampton. This was followed by his nomination to the government of Minorca, a post of profit but not of labour, while, on the 4th of August, 1713, the order of the Garter was bestowed upon him."
After the death of Queen Anne, Peterborough retained his generalship of marines, but was in no wise taken notice of by the ministry. He endeavoured to banish ennui by the company and correspondence of the leading wits of the day; among whom he contrived to make a tolerably respectable figure, notwithstanding the deficiencies of his early education; he also became a frequenter of green-rooms, and a dangler after the actresses and singers of the day. At last, worn out in body, and the victim of chagrin and intemperance united, he set out to seek the restoration of his health in a milder climate, but died, in his voyage to Lisbon, on the 25th of October, 1735.
Charles, Wiscount Townshend.
BORN A. D. 1674.-DIED A. D. 1738.
This eminent man, the eldest son of Horatio, first Viscount Townshend, was born on the 10th of March, 1674. He took his seat in the house of peers on attaining his majority, and became successively lordlieutenant of the county of Norfolk,-a commissioner for treating of an union with Scotland,-captain-yeoman of Queen Anne's guard,-a privycounsellor,—and one of the plenipotentiaries for negotiating a peace with France in 1709. His colleague, on this occasion, was the duke of Marlborough. In the following year Townshend, who had remained
at the Hague, again entered into a negotiation for peace with the French government; but, as on the previous occasion, his labours proved abortive. Queen Anne having dismissed her whig ministers, Townshend resigned his embassy, and, on his return to England, was deprived of his post as captain-yeoman of the guard, and censured by the house of commons, in which tory influence at that time predominated, for having signed the preliminaries of the barrier-treaty,-a measure which materially increased his consequence with the whigs. He remained in disgrace at court during the remainder of the queen's reign.
On the accession of George I., whose entire confidence Townshend had previously obtained, he was nominated one of the lords-justices to whom the government was confided until the king's arrival. On the 14th of September, 1714, he was made chief secretary of state, and took the lead in administration until the latter end of 1716, when the king's Hanoverian advisers having prejudiced the royal mind against him, he resigned his seals of office. In the following month he was appointed to the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland; but having refused to go over to that kingdom, he was dismissed in the ensuing April. In June, 1720, he became president of the council, and was appointed one of the lords-justices during the king's visit to Hanover. Shortly afterwards he resumed his office of chief secretary of state, and in May, 1723, accompanied George I. to his electorate.
The death of Stanhope and the disgrace of Sunderland at length left Townshend, and his brother-in-law, Walpole, without any formidable competitors, and their political supremacy was for some time secured by the favour of the king and the approbation of his people. In July, 1724, Townshend was made a knight of the Garter. In 1727 he again accompanied George I. to the continent, and was present at that monarch's decease.
He continued in office after the accession of George II., until May 1730, when, in consequence of various differences that had occurred between him and his coadjutor Walpole, he finally retired from the administration, and devoted himself, during the remainder of his life, to rural pursuits and dignified hospitality. He never revisited the capital after his secession from power, and died at Runham in 1738.
Townshend is described as having been rude in manners,—sanguine, impetuous, overbearing, and impatient of contradiction, inelegant in language, and often perplexed in argument, but a sensible orator, and always master of the subjects on which he spoke,-generous, disinterested, of unblemished integrity, and perfect honour,-an able man of business, and, notwithstanding his despotic conduct in the cabinet, a kind master, an indulgent parent, an affectionate husband, and a faithful friend. Burnet thus describes him at the period when he was appointed a plenipotentiary to negotiate peace with France :-“ Lord Townshend had great parts,—had improved them by travelling, and was by much the most shining person of all our young nobility, and had, on many occasions, distinguished himself very eminently; so he was a man of integrity and of good principles in all respects,—free from all vice, and of an engaging conversation.”
He was twice married ; first, in 1700, to Elizabeth, only child of Viscount Pelham by his first wife, who, after having born him five children, died in May, 1711; and secondly to Dorothy, the sister of