Page images
PDF
EPUB

occurring, he not only refused to march towards them, but declared that he would abandon the allies unless they consented to a cessation of arms, This conduct, while it greatly incensed the confederates, was secretly agreeable to Queen Anne; by whom, on his return to England, the duke was received in a very flattering manner. He continued to be a great favourite with the multitude, and, about this period, increased the sphere of his popularity by zealously encouraging literature and the arts." In June, 1713, he was appointed governor of Dovercastle and warden of the cinque-ports ; and in addition to these valuable sinecures, he obtained a grant of £5000 per annum for fifteen years out of the Irish revenue.

The more auspicious part of the duke's career terminated on the death of Queen Anne. The new monarch refused to admit him to the privy chamber, and dismissed him from his post as captain-general of the forces; but a pitiful attempt was subsequently made to allay his resentment, by appointing him a member of the Irish privy council

, and giving him an invitation to make his appearance at court. He was still the darling of the mob. On his birth-day, in 1715, the streets of the metropolis were thronged by large bodies of his admirers, who severely assaulted all such as refused to join in their shouts of “ Ormond for ever!” On the 28th of May, in the same year, riots of a more alarming character took place; the populace, on this occasion, mixing religion with politics, vociferated, “ High church and Ormond !" It was supposed that these disorderly acts were secretly encouraged by the duke: threats of an impeachment were, consequently, held out to him by ministers; but blind to the probable consequences of his folly, he continued to render himself offensive to government, until, at length, the menaces which he had despised were actually carried into effect.

The turbulence of his spirit, and his greediness for applause, led him to commit a number of absurdities, for which the moderate portion of his friends in vain endeavoured to excuse him. About the middle of June the following advertisement appeared in the public prints, without the least foundation, it is suspected, for the purpose of exciting the feelings of the populace in his favour :-“ On Tuesday the 7th instant, her Grace, the dutchess of Ormond, on her return from Richmond, was stopped in her coach by three persons in disguise, well-armed and mounted, who asked if the duke was in the coach, and seemed to have a design on his life; and it has been observed, that many armed persons lurk about in the Richmond road, botlı day and night, no doubt with a view to assassinate him." On the 21st of June, after a debate of nine hours' duration, in which several of his friends spoke warmly in his favour, he was impeached by a majority of forty-seven. On the 5th of August, articles of impeachment were exhibited against him, for having treacherously neglected to fight the enemies of England, while he was captain-general of the forces in Flanders, &c. Being consequently attainted of high treason, his name was erased from the list of peers. On the 12th of November, in the same year, the Irish parliament not only attainted him, but offered a reward of £10,000 for his head.

It appears that he felt desirous of personally engaging in the rebellion of 1715, having actually embarked for England on receiving intelligence of the insurrection, and hovered for several days about the coast, but without being able to effect a landing. In 1716-17 he made an unsuccessful attempt to induce the king of Sweden—who had affected great consideration for the pretender—to invade England with an army of Swedes. In 1718–19 the Spanish government determined on making an attempt to place James Frederick on the British throne. An armament, consisting of ten sail of the line, and numerous transports, with six thousand regular troops, and twelve thousand stand of arms for the pretender's English and Scotch adherents, was accordingly fitted out at Cadiz, and placed under the duke of Ormond's command. Rumours of the intended invasion having reached this country, the house of commons addressed the king to offer a reward of £5000 for the duke's apprehension. The Jacobites eagerly prepared for his landing; and great alarm appears to have prevailed among the more loyal classes of his majesty's subjects. But the expedition was unsuccessful. Many of the transports drifted ashore and went to pieces,-most of the troops were rendered unserviceable,—and the duke, after having narrowly escaped shipwreck, was compelled to return to Cadiz without having seen an enemy, but utterly discomfited by the elements.

In 1722 a Jacobite, named Layer, was executed for having partly, it is said, at the instigation of Ormond, attempted to enlist a body of recruits for the service of the pretender in Essex. In 1726 the duke appears to have made some fruitless efforts to engage the Spanish government in a new project for the invasion of this country. From this period he gradually dwindled in importance. He spent the remainder of his life chiefly at Avignon, in melancholy indolence, wholly subsisting on a pension from Spain of 2000 pistoles per annum. His death took place on the 16th of November, in the memorable year 1745.

The duke married at rather an early period of his public career; but he left no children by his wife, for whom, although they lived upon tolerable terms, he appears to have entertained but very little affection. He was principally indebted for that iinportance which he so long enjoyed to his rank and connexions. His abilities were good, but not splendid ;-his morals in private life, and his principles as a public character, were equally lax,—his judgment was evidently weak, and his vanity contemptible. He has been praised for his fidelity to the pretender; but it does not appear that he ever received any temptation to be treacherous to James Frederick, or that he could have bettered him. self by abandoning the Jacobite cause.

John, Earl of Stair.

BORN A. D. 1673.-DIED A. D. 1747.

'This celebrated general and accompkished statesman was the eldest son of John Dalrymple, created, for his services at the Revolution, first viscount, and afterwards earl of Stair. His mother was Lady Elizabeth Dundas, daughter of Sir John Dundas of Newliston. He was early sent to the college of Edinburgh under a guardian, and had run through the whole course of his studies at the fourteenth year of his age. He was designed by his father for the law; but his passion for the military life was unconquerable. He left Edinburgh in 1687, and went over to

Holland, where he passed through the first military gradations under the eye of the prince of Orange. About this time he learned the French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Dutch languages, all of which he spoke with great purity.

At the Revolution he came over to Scotland, where he performed the most substantial services for the prince of Orange. He was amongst the first to declare for King William ; and went up with his father to London to pay his homage to the deliverer, by whom he was most graciously received. He attended the king to Ireland, and also accompanied him to Holland, in the beginning of the year 1691. Upon this occasion his majesty conferred a colonel's commission upon Mr Dalrymple. In this capacity he served under his great commander at the battle of Steenkirk, fought on the 3d of August, 1692. No British officer signalized himself more in this engagement than Colonel Dal. rymple. He several times rallied his regiment when the ranks were broken by the cannon, and brought them back to the charge, and was instrumental in saving many of the troops from being cut in pieces, as he stopped the pursuit till they could rally and renew the attack.

From this time to the year 1702, we have no accounts of Colonel Dalrymple; but, in the campaign of that year, we find him taking a vigorous part in the expulsion of the French from Spanish Guelderland. Marlborough honoured Colonel Dalrymple with his particular notice, though, by national prejudice, not very fond of encouraging Scotsmen. The duke promoted our hero to be colonel of the Royal North British dragoons. At the assault on the citadel of Venloo, when the fort of Chartreuse was taken by the allies, Colonel Dalrymple had the happiness to save the life of the prince of Hesse-Cassel, afterwards king of Sweden, who, in wresting the colours from a French officer, was upon the point of being cut down by a grenadier, when Dalrymple shot the assailant dead upon the spot with his pistol. He subsequently became aid-de-camp to Marlborough; and, after the battle of Hockstet, was appointed colonel of the Scotch Greys.

When the success of the British arms in Flanders obliged Louis XIV. to sue for peace, and the duke of Marlborough had returned home in March, 1709, he took occasion to introduce Colonel Dalrymple to her majesty, as an officer who had performed the most signal services in the campaign in the Low Countries. Soon after this he succeeded to the title of Earl of Stair by the death of his father; and the queen, as a reward for his military conduct, and as a first essay of his political abilities, was pleased to appoint him her ambassador-extraordinary to Augustus II., king of Poland. The success of this negotiation was gwing, in a great measure, to the amiable qualities of the earl of Stair, by which he gained the entire confidence and esteem of the king of Poland, who entered heartily into all the measures of the allies. His lordship remained four years at the Polish court; in which time he formed an intimate acquaintance with most of the foreign ambassadors, and framed to himself a clear idea of the interests of the several courts in the north. He is thought by some to have been the first, who, by means of the duke of Marlborough, projected the renunciation of Bremen and Verden, on the part of the king of Denmark, in favour of George I.

He was called home in 171.3, when he was stripped off all his em,

ployments. Having lived very splendidly at Warsaw, he had contracted debts, which at that time lay heavy upon him. His plate and equipage would have been arrested, if one Mr Lawson, who had been ,a lieutenant in a Cameronian regiment, had not generously lent him the sum of £1800. It is hard to say whether Mr Lawson's friendship, or the earl of Stair's gratitude ever after, was most to be admired. He did not remain long in retirement, for, upon the accession of George I., he was received into favour; and, on the 28th of October, 1714, was appointed one of the lords of the bed-chamber; the next day he was sworn one of the privy-council, and, in November, was made commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in Scotland.

The scene now changed in favour of the duke of Marlborough, whose friends were, for the most part, chosen to represent the counties and boroughs in the parliament that was summoned to meet on the 17th of March, 1715. In Scotland the opposers of the former ministry prevailed, and the earl of Stair was elected one of the sixteen peers to sit in the first septennial parliament. Ambassadors were now sent to the several courts in Europe to notify the king's accession; and, as the French court was both the most splendid and most intriguing, it was requisite to fix upon an ambassador of address and deep penetration The person thought of by the duke of Marlborough and by the king himself, was Lord Stair, who was intrusted with discretionary powers.

He set out for Paris in January, 1715, and, in a few days after, entered that capital in so splendid a manner, that the proud old monarch considered it as an insult offered to him in his own capital, that a petty prince, whom, only a few months before, he had entertained hopes of depriving of even his electoral title and dominions in Germany, should, upon his ascending a throne so unexpectedly, authorise his ambassador to make a more splendid appearance than the minister of any potentate had ever done before at Paris. Stair was not many days in Paris, however, before an opportunity offered of confirming his royal master in the good opinion he had formed of him.

By the ninth article of the treaty of Utrecht, it was expressly stipu. lated that the harbour of Dunkirk should be filled up, and that the dykes which form the canal and moles should be destroyed. There had been a pretended execution of this article, but nothing like fulfilling of the treaty, and the king had ordered a haven and canal to be made at Mardyke, of much greater extent than those of Dunkirk itself. Mr Prior, the former ambassador, had complained of this, and insisted that the treaty should be fulfilled; but an answer full of the most evasive arguments had been given. As the matter still continued open, the earl of Stair laid a clear representation of the case before the French ministry, and with uncommon address and vigilance got to the bottom of the secret machinations of the French court, and transmitted home such early and exact intelligence concerning the intended invasion, that the pretender's enterprise failed, and a great number of his abettors in England were taken into custody. Various stories are told concerning the methods made use of by the earl of Stair to procure such important secret intelligence, most of them calculated to amuse the reader by agreeable fictions at the expense of historical truth. The real fact, as it stands authenticated on record, is, that the earl of Stair was master of the most insinuating address, and knew how to apply a

« PreviousContinue »