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And now, Madam, your Grace must give me leave to end my letter by telling you, that if the Duke of Newcastle was surpris’d to find you had said so much to Mr. Walters at the Bath, and nothing to me on this subject at Blenheim, I was no less surpris'd than he, after the honour you had done me of opening your first thoughts of it to me; and giving me leave to make several steps about it to his friends and relations, as well as to take such a part with himself as you seem'd to think might probably the most contribute towards disposing his inclinations the way you wish'd them.
I don't say this, Madam, to court being further employ'd in this matter, for match-making is a d-d trade, and I never was fond of meddling with other people's affairs. But as in this, on your own motion and at your own desire, I had taken a good deal of very hearty pains to serve you, and I think with a view of good success, I cannot but wonder, (tho’ not be sorry) you shou'd not think it right to continue your commands upon your obedient humble servant,
Whatever people may think of the nature of the work in which Sir John was engaged, and which he so unceremoniously tells her Grace was a d-d trade, they cannot accuse the knight of much obsequiousness to the great lady. He treats her on a footing of equality which almost surprises us, and the whole tone of his letter is what we should call blunt, if not rude. The Lady H. of the letter was Lady Henrietta, daughter of the Earl of Godolphin by Sarah's eldest daughter. Perhaps it may be well to mention, for the benefit of those who do not happen to have Lodge's Peerage at their finger-ends, that the match the architect was employed in making up was finished, and actually took place. Lady Henrietta was married to Thomas Pelham Holles, Duke of Newcastle; but whether our knight gave the finishing hand to the negotiation, or whether that honour was due to “Mr. Walters at the Bath,” at whose interference in the matter Sir John was so angry, we cannot at the moment decide. Old Sarah had another granddaughter, whom she lived to make a duchess of: Lady Mary, the sister of Lady Henrietta, was married to Thomas Osborne, Duke of Leeds.
XVI. SARAH, DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH, AND QUEEN ANNE.
THE document we are about to produce is from the same rich repertory as our last. Archdeacon Coxe, in his marginal notes, calls it “a curious letter from the Duchess, (probably to Mr. Maynwaring), very characteristic of her frank and imperious temper, and aversion to the restraint of attending on the Queen.” It was written after her own and her husband’s fall at court and in the cabinet. Sarah, though an acute woman, does not appear to have discovered all the weaknesses of royalty, and the miseries of being a Queen's favourite, until she had ceased to be one. It was then “sour grapes” with her. The copy of the letter in the Coxe papers is imperfect, and we have omitted a few lines that have no particular interest.
“I have most of the copies of the letters that passed through my hands of any consequence; the letters I mention to the Queen, upon the 12th of June 1710, were only copies of letters from Lord Rochester, Mr. Harley, and all parties, to shew the great sense they had of Lord Marlborough's services to the Queen and to England, all which I hoped might contribute to move her: but I fear you will have some contempt for me when you come to my last expression in my letter of the 12th of June, after so much inhuman usage, and I do assure you that I could not have done it for any thing in the world that related only to myself; and, after what has passed, I do solemnly protest that if it were in my power I would not again be a favourite, which few will believe ; and since I shall never be able to give any demonstration of that truth, I had as good say no more of it. But, as fond as people are of power, I fancy any body that had been shut up so many tedious hours as I have been, with a person that had no conversation, and yet must be treated with respect, would feel something of what I did; and be very glad, when their circumstances did not want it, to be freed from such a slavery, which must be uneasy at all times, though I do protest that upon the account of her loving me and trusting me so entirely as she did, I had a concern for her which was more than you will easily believe. And I would have served her with the hazard of my life upon any occasion; but after she put me at liberty, by using me ill, I was very easy, and liked better that any body should have her favour than myself at the price of flattery, without which, I believe, nobody can be well with a King or Queen, unless the world should come to be less corrupt, or they wiser than any I have seen since I was born ; and I was so far from having any inclination to flatter, that I remember I read the Tatler, No. 14, with great pleasure, where he says, “Bless us! is it possible that when the necessities of life are supplied, a man would flatter to be rich, or circumvent to be powerful? and then goes on with a great deal very fine, and ends, that 'tis less despicable to beg a supply to a man's hunger than his vanity. I must add one thing more, which I had almost forgot, that the Queen never gave any particular reason for all that violent proceeding against Lord Sunderland. She was angry with him, about two years before, for something in the Scotch business, which was
misrepresented to her, but she took his excuse upon it; and he certainly had said nothing disrespectful or uneasy to her; and she appeared so well satisfied with him, that, just before he was put out, (after she had allowed my Lord Godolphin to write to my Lord Marlborough upon it,) she took care of his health, and advised some medicine for him to take, I think, for a cold.” “St. Alban's, April 23d, 1711.”
In many other of her letters, Sarah treats her Majesty much more severely; and, scattered through her numerous defences of her own conduct while favourite and comptroller of the Queen's purse, there are numerous passages of the most bitter sarcasm, and withering scorn. She paints the “good Queen Anne,” as people once called her, as a selfish, sensual, and low-minded woman; ignorant and helpless in the extreme, a slattern and a shrew ; weak and yet obstinate; endowed with worse than plebeian vulgarity of manners, and yet entertaining the highest notions of royal blood, and gentility “by the grace of God.” The grain of salt with which all this is to be taken, ought, no doubt, to be a large one.
In one of the papers we have read in the Coxe collection, it is said, “The Queen's friendships were flames of extravagant passion, ending in indifference or aversion. Her love to the Prince (Anne's husband, the Prince of Denmark) seemed in the eyes of the world to be prodigiously great. But if the passion of grief were great, her stomach was much greater; for that very day he died she eat three very large and hearty meals: so that one would think, that, as other persons' grief takes away their