APPENDIX - A brief account of public affairs: August 1710 - present (June 1714)

Pages 155-160

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 5, 1713-1714. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

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In this section

A Brief Account of Public Affairs, since August the 8th, 1710, to this present 8th of June, 1714. To which is added, The State of Affairs Abroad, as they relate to this Kingdom; with some humble Proposals for securing the future Tranquillity of her Majesty's Reign, and for the Safety of her Kingdoms.

Her Majesty, on the 8th of August 1710, was pleased to alter her Treasury, and two Days after, in a new Commission, Robert Harley, by her Majesty's great Favour, was made Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The State of Affairs at Home and Abroad are fresh in every one's Memory.

The Condition of the Treasury at that Time was laid before her Majesty in a large Representation.

I beg Leave to touch some few Heads. The Army was in the Fie d; no Money in the Treasury; none of the Remitters would contract again; the Bank had refus'd to lend a hundred thousand Pounds to Lord Godolphin on very good Security; the Navy, and other Branches of Service, eleven Millions in Debt, which enhaunced the Price of every thing proportionably; the Civil List in Debt about six hundred thousand Pounds, and the yearly Income too little for the current certain Expence, by the lowest Computation, one hundred twenty-four thousand, four hundred ninety-five Pounds, two Shillings and Four-pence.

In a few Days this new Commission made Provision for paying the Army, by the greatest Remittance that had ever been known: Though the Opposition from every Office which was full of Persons, who were Enemies to the Change made by the Queen, was very strong, and very troublesome and vexatious; and such was the Situation of Affairs, that nothing but great Patience, could ever have overcome these Difficulties; it being impossible, as well as unavoidable, to make Removes but by Degrees.

'As soon as it was possible, (and notwithstanding the Clamours then raised, it was the only proper Time) a new Parliament is called.

'Its first Meeting was November the 27th, 1710, Robert Harley had prepar'd the Funds ready before the Parliament met, as he has done every Session to this Day) not only for the current Service of the Year, both by Sea and Land, but also for easing the Nation of above nine Millions of Debt. This was thought so chimerical when Robert Harley did begin to open it, that it was treated with Ridicule, until he shew'd how practicable it was. It is true, this gave great Reputation Abroad, and enabled to treat advantageously of a Peace: It rais'd sinking Credit at Home, but, at the same time, as it drew Envy upon Harley from some, and the Rage of others, so it gave Offence to some of his Fellow-Servants, who told him plainly that he ought to have told his Secret, and, if he would not get Money himself, he ought to have let his Friends share a Hundred Thousand Pounds, which would not have been felt or found out in so vast a Sum as Nine or Ten Millions.

'To this Principle was owing the setting on Foot at this Time the unhappy Voyage to Canada: To all which Meetings Harley avoided coming, and gave Lord Rochester his Reasons, and after he desir'd his Lordship to be a Means to the Queen to hinder that Expedition; but it happen'd to be too late. But Lady Masham knows how much Harley was concern'd at it, though he did not know the true Spring of that Voyage, which will appear after in this Paper.

'The Beginning of February 1710-11, there began to be a Division amongst those called Tories in the House, and Mr. Secretary St. John thought it convenient to be Listing a separate Party for himself.

'To prevent this, Lord Rochester and Harley desired to have a Meeting, and to cool such rash Attempts; and it was contriv'd Mr. Secretary St. John should invite us to Dinner, (which was the last Time he ever invited Robert Harley, being now above three Years) where were Duke of Shrewsbury, Earl Powlet, Lord Rochester, and others; and Lord Rochester took the Pains to calm the Spirit of Division and Ambition.

'Harley was at this time seized by a violent Fever, and on his first coming Abroad, March the 8th, met with a Misfortune which confin'd him many Weeks. The Transactions during that Time are too public, as well as too black, for Harley to remember or to mention. In the End of May, 1711, the Queen, out of her abounding Goodness, was pleased to confer undeserved Honours on Robert Harley; and on the 29th of the same Month was pleased to put the Treasurer's Staff into his Hands: A Post so much above Harley's Abilities to struggle with, that he had nothing but Integrity and Duty to recommend him to her Majesty's Choice; so he must have Recourse to her Majesty's transcendent Goodness and Mercy, to pardon all his Faults and Failings, both of Omission and Commission, during the whole Course of his Service.

'But to return, and resume the Thread of this Discourse: The 4th of June 1711, three Days after the Treasurer was sworn, he was surpriz'd with a Demand of twenty-eight thousand thirty-six Pounds and five Shillings, for Arms and Merchandize, said to be sent to Canada. When the Treasurer scrupled this, Mr. Secretary St. John and Mr. Moore came to him with much Passion upon this Affair; and, about a Fortnight after, the Secretary of State signified the Queen's positive Pleasure to have that Money paid; and accordingly her Majesty sign'd a Warrant June 21, and the Treasurer not being able then, with all his Precaution, to discover further Light, the Money was paid July 4, 1711.

'Since the Return from that Expedition, the Secret is discover'd, and the Treasurer's Suspicion justified: For the Public was cheated of above twenty thousand Pounds.

'There is Reason to be more particular upon this Head, because it is one of the Things never to be forgiven the Treasurer; and Lord Chancellor told him more to that Purpose; that they told him, no Government was worth serving, that would not let them make those Advantages, and get such Jobbs.

'One thing more is crav'd Leave to be added, That the Treasurer was forc'd to use all his Skill and Credit to keep the House of Commons from examining this Affair last Parliament.

June the 12th, 1712, the first Session of last Parliament ended.

'From this Time, to the beginning of the next Session, the Treasurer's Hands were full of negociating the Peace in all Courts abroad; and, besides the ordinary and necessary Duty of his Office at home, he had frequent Occasion of calming the Quarrels and Grudges Mr. Secretary had sometimes against Lord Dartmouth, sometimes against Lady Masham, and sometimes against the Treasurer himself.

'The second Session of the last Parliament began December the 7th, 1711.

'This was attended with great Difficulties and Dangers, as well from the Practices of the Discontented here, as the Designs carry'd on by Mr. Buys, Prince Eugene and Bothmar; in which Designs concurr'd the Emperor, and other States and Princes who gain'd by the War.

'This put her Majesty under a sort of Necessity, to preserve the whole, and to take a Method which had been us'd before, to create some new Peers.

'So many having been brought formerly out of the House of Commons of those who us'd to manage Public Affairs, it was propos'd to Mr. Secretary, That, if he would be contented to stay in the House of Commons that Sessions, her Majesty would have the Goodness to create him a Peer, and that he should not lose his Rank.

'The second Session ended the 21st of June, 1712; and, notwithstanding Bothmar's Memorial, and all other Attacks both from Abroad and at Home, Supplies were provided, and every Thing relating to the Public put upon a good Foot, and the Malecontents began to despair, as appear'd by the Duke of Marlborough's retiring Abroad, and other Particulars.

'After the Session was ended, the Queen, as she had promis'd, ordered a Warrant for Mr. Secretary St. John to be a Viscount; this happen'd to put him in the utmost Rage against the Treasurer, Lady Masham, and without sparing the Greatest.

'It did avail very little to tell him, how much he had got in Place; for had he been created with the other Lords, it would have fallen to his Share to have come next after Lord Trevor; but the Treasurer with great Patience bore all the Storm, of which Lord Masham was often a Witness of the outrageous Speeches; and Mr. Moore very lately told the Treasurer, that Lord Bolingbroke said very lately to him, that he ow'd him a Revenge upon that Head.

'This Discontent continu'd, until there happen'd an Opportunity of sending him to France, of which there was not much Occasion; but it was hop'd, that this would have put him in good Humour; which it did, until in October 1712, there were Knights of the Garter made. This created a new Disturbance, which is too well remember'd, and breaks out now very often in outrageous Expressions publicly against all then made.

'In November, on the Death of Duke Hamilton, he was much against Duke Shrewsbury's going, for Reasons very plain, which then were in Negociation; for, before the last Session of that Parliament began, a new Model was fram'd, or a Scheme of Ministry; which, how they afterwards came to fall out, will appear in its due Place.

'The third and last Session began April the 9th, 1713; which was as soon as the Peace was concluded, and could be proclaim'd.

'It is not decent to take Notice, That, during this whole Negociation, the Treasurer was oblig'd by his own Hand, and at his own Charge, to correspond in all the Courts concern'd in the Negociation; and very often he had the good Luck to set right several Mistakes, and to obtain some Things very little expected; but the only Merit of this belongs to her Majesty, the Credit of whose Favour brought it about, and gave Power to the Treasurer to act with Success.

'During this Session, the Lords of the Cabinet, and Others, met every Saturday, at the Treasurer's, in order to carry on the Queen's Business, as they had done the Year before on Thursdays. Many Offers were made, and repeated by the Treasurer, in order to attack former Offenders, and quiet the Minds of the Gentlemen, and of the Church Party; and the only Reason for this Failing, was, because of the Project laid for their new Scheme, and putting themselves at the Head, as they call'd it, of the Church Party.

'This being the last Session of Parliament, and some Gentlemen fearing their Elections, and some for other Reasons, dropt the Bill of Commerce.

'The Treasurer saw this Opportunity, and immediately took it, and prevailed with Sir Thomas Hanmer, and others, to come into the Payment of the Civil-List Debts, incurr'd before the Change of the Treasury, though the present Treasurer was rail'd at, and malign'd; which he chose to bear patiently, rather than own the true Reason, that there was no Money to do it with, which would have ruin'd all at once.

'This Step of paying the Debts, put the Malecontented into the utmost Rage, which they did very publicly express in both Houses.

'This last Session of that Parliament, and the Third since the Change of the Ministry, ended July the 16th 1713.

'The Peace with France being over, and it growing necessary to put her Majesty's Affairs into a further and more settled Regulation, and to ease the Treasurer of the Burden, as well as Envy, of such a Bulk of Business; her Majesty was pleased to approve of the Scheme of the Duke of Ormond's staying here to attend the Army Affairs, which was necessary at the time of Disbanding; Duke Shrewsbury to go to Ireland, upon his Return from France; Lord Finlater to be Chancellor of Scotland; Lord Mar third Secretary; Lord Dartmouth Privy-Seal, and Mr. Bromley Secretary of State, and Sir William Wyndham Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am sure the Queen very well remembers the Rage this caus'd, as perfectly defeating their Scheme, and shewing that her Majesty would put her Affairs upon a solid Foot; the Lord Chancellor said it was against Law, and to this Day will not treat Lord Finlater with Decency; and Lord Mar has met with many ill Treatments as well as Mr. Secretary Bromley.

'But that the Treasurer might leave them without Excuse, and make her Majesty's Affairs, if possible, easy with and to those in her Service; as soon as he was recovered enough to write, he wrote a large Letter to the Lord Bolingbroke, containing his Scheme of the Queen's Affairs and what was necessary for Lord Bolingbroke to do, as belonging only to his Province. This Letter was dated July the 25th 1713, and was answer'd July 27th, by Lord Bolingbroke; the Copy was shown to Lady Masham, who came to visit the Treasurer then confin'd to his Chamber; and she then thought it was a very good one, and what was proper for the Occasion. I believe the whole would be of Use to give Light to Her Majesty into the Ground and Foundation of the Follies and Madness which have since appear'd: And the whole is ready for her Majesty's Perusal when she pleases.

'In this Letter the Treasurer gives an Account to Lord Bolingbroke of the Occasions, or rather the Pretences for giving Disturbance to the Queen's Servants. He proposes the Remedy, and what was requisite to be done by him as Secretary to his own Province, and also Assurance of the Treasurer's Assistance to the utmost, and of his Desire to consult with him (Lord Bolingbroke) how to unite the rest of our Friends.

'Being then Sick, the Treasurer took the Liberty to put Lord Bolingbroke in mind of the several Particulars which then requir'd Dispatch, and were solely belonging to his Province, without any other Interposition than that of taking Your Majesty's Direction.

'Amongst others, that of a Circular Letter upon the Addresses of both Houses relating to the Pretender.

'This was not done in Three Months. His Lordship wrote Word it was done July 27th.

'In the same Letter, the Treasurer propos'd, that (according to the Treaty of Peace) Care should be taken of the following Particulars, viz. Newfoundland, Hudson's Bay, Acadia, St. Christophers, Assiento, and other Things contain'd in the Treaties of Commerce.

'These Particulars the Treasurer thought to have been executed, until within a few Weeks he heard the contrary by Accident, and that the Time in the several Treaties was elapsed. Upon this, the Treasurer, on Wednesday June 2, told Mr. Moore of this, and that every Body would be liable to Blame who are in the Queen's Service. Thursday June 3 1714, Lord Bolingbroke writes to the Treasurer a Letter, which begins thus:

'Mr. Moore has been this Morning with me, and has put into my Hands a Paper, which he calls, I think not improperly, a Charge upon me.'

This Paper contains the Neglect above-mentioned in the Treasurer's Letter of July 25 1713, 11 Months before; and yet these Faults are now charg'd upon the Treasurer.

The Lord Treasurer removed. The Queen dies.

Notwithstanding this Apology of the Treasurer, he was removed from his high Office, July 27. And on the First of August following, died that most accomplish'd Lady and excellent Princess, Queen Anne, in the 50th Year of her Age, and in the 13th of her Reign; who, having been left Husbandless, and Childless, was expos'd to the Persecutions of two designing Factions, whose too prevalent Artifices, not only troubled her Repose, but fully'd her Glory, and help'd to shorten her Days.