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ciently familiar. Without such a restatement the actual part that Marlborough played in history cannot be judged. At almost every point he has matter to bring forward that puts a different complexion upon the facts. His task has perhaps been somewhat lightened by Mr. Leslie Stephen's admirable sketch of Marlborough's career, which has already, so far as space would permit, exposed some of the more extravagant absurdities of Macaulay's estimate of Marlborough, and has supplied some of the most important points that had been omitted. Lord Wolseley's fuller statement, based entirely upon original investigation, pursues its course without reference to the established theory, except in a few instances where the statement of the charge usually made against Marlborough is necessary in order to set forth the facts. It introduces one all-important element which Mr. Stephen has hardly touched, and which, briefly stated, amounts to this. During the reigns of William III. and Anne, Marlborough stood very much in the position formerly occupied by Warwick as “King-maker'; and from this point of view, and not as a private citizen, his motives, his actions, his temptations, and his conduct generally, must be judged. Now Mr. Oman" has shown that, largely as personal ambition and intrigue entered into Warwick's career, he was yet, at nearly every period of his shifting course, the representative of popular feeling and the agent in behalf of what at least seemed to him the interests of the kingdom. It is clear that in any just estimate of Marlborough this fact, if established, has to be seriously taken into account. It must be remembered that that part of Marlborough's career which precedes the great campaigns in Flanders, extends over a period equal to the whole life of William. Though, in judging of him as a man, there are important questions to be discussed in regard to his conduct during the time when he was the central figure, not in England, only but in Europe, yet it is safe to say that when he has reached fifty-two years of age a man's character is fixed. It is the history of the first fifty-two years of Marlborough's life which has been most inadequately recorded. It is to this period that the two volumes now published of the Life are devoted. Lord Wolseley has in fact undertaken to show cause why, at least so far as regards one of the chief actors in it, the history of the “glorious Revolution’ should be read in a new and different light. He makes no attempt to defend the actions of Marlborough in all their details; but he is able to prove that many of the charges against him are without foundation, and that the determining motives of his conduct have been falsely judged according to the clearest rules of evidence. We may occasionally find ourselves unable to accept all the conclusions at which he has arrived. But no one can fail to realize the energy with which he has sought for all available data, and the value of the result in making clear many facts which had been previously obscured either by the blindness of hate or the carelessness of insufficient research. We must pass rapidly over the earlier years, though we by no means undervalue the interest of Lord Wolseley's elaborate treatment of them. John Churchill's father, Winston Churchill, was a Cavalier who had lost all in the cause of the King. John Churchill was born on May 26th (o.s.), 1650, at a time when Winston Churchill had taken refuge in Ash House, near Axminster, which belonged to his wife's Puritan mother, Lady Drake. In that house he was educated chiefly by his father, a well-read but somewhat pedantic man, with the assistance of a neighbouring Rector; afterwards he spent a year in the Dublin City Free School, and about two years at St. Paul's. At the Restoration the Cavalier's services were rewarded by the appointment of both himself and his children to various positions about the Court. John Churchill became page to James, then Duke of York. Arabella, his sister, joined the Duchess's household, and for a short time became the Duke's mistress; but, as he soon discarded her and she subsequently married, there is nothing to show that John Churchill's advance. ment was specially due to her influence. In any case, in that most dissolute Court there were few if any young men who would have resented such a relation for their sisters. Parents sought for such places both at Versailles and St. James's. Nor was it strange that a very handsome young man, most fascinating in his manners, should in such an atmosphere plunge into an intrigue with a distant connexion of his own, the Duchess of Cleveland, a thoroughly abandoned woman and certainly the temptress. It is probable that he received money from her; apparently, according to her own statement, not as her loweh but for certain services presumably connected with the concealment of her vices. It was a disgusting period of our history, at least as it presented itself at Court. There were in the land men who held themselves as loftily above its standard as any have done at any time. Nevertheless one may venturo to think that even at a later date Fielding had no intention of representing his hero as plunging into more than the ordinary
* In his volume of the “Men of Action’ series. charges
as speaking with contempt passing beyond words for ‘that fellow’ Tom Jones, because he did very much what at this time young Churchill did, he imports a different standard of morality from that in which Churchill lived at the Court. The question of the standard of those among whom he lived is important, because, though Churchill never pretended, as he says himself, ‘to be a saint,’ there is no reason to think for a moment that any of his Court life made him give himself up as abandoned to do wrong. There is no reason to assume that his appeal, in his later letters, to “good men’ to judge his subsequent transactions, was not a genuine one. When his letters appear to show that in positions of great difficulty, he chose what he believed to be the right course of action, there is no excuse, because of his early life, for treating them as therefore hypocritical. In many respects he was far superior in morals to the crowd around him. He neither drank nor gambled. Naturally the fact that his father had been beggared by taking the side of the King during the Civil War made money a pressing necessity for Churchill. It was surely a virtue, not a vice, that, having no money to spend, instead of running into debt, he acquired the habit of careful economy. That such a habit formed in youth is hardly ever afterwards shaken off and degenerates into niggardliness long after there is no need for saving, is one of the commonest experiences of life. We all know instances of it. They are not attractive certainly, but we might as well praise or blame trees for throwing out their leaves in spring as complain of the wealthy Duke of Marlborough for blowing out a superfluous candle, because John Churchill, if he was to be honest, had to stint himself in rushlights. Lord Wolseley has cleared up the doubtful points about the Parentage of Sarah Jennings. Even the painstaking biographer of the “Queens of England’ had declared that nothing was known of Sarah's father, and that her mother was an infamous woman. The early circumstances of Abigail Hill, due to family missortune, all the particulars of which Lord Wolseley has recorded, were used by Miss Strickland as evidence that Sarah herself rose from the dregs of society. Lord Wolseley has shown that the language about Mrs. Jennings is baseless scandal, and that she was much respected in her own county of Hertfordshire. She was however, like her daughter, almost insane in the violence of her temper. Both Sarah's father and mother belonged to old county families. Her great-grandfather, Sir John Jennings, appears to have become insane; so that Sarah's lineage gave air promise of that mad temper for which she was justly famous. It is not impossible that the marvellous patience and endurance endurance with which Marlborough habitually dealt with her,
may have been in part due to a knowledge of the danger of altogether overturning the balance of her mind. At all events, the way in which, after she has had one of her raging fits, he habitually writes to her, as if he were alone to blame, is suggestive of some such caution. In Marlborough's letters there are not a few passages which are positively comic in their effect; in these he begs her pardon for his ‘bad temper, having by the admission of all his enemies one of the sweetest and most genial of tempers, she by the avowal of all her friends the temper of a tigress. Lord Wolseley has brought out, with a fulness which has never been attempted before, the nature of Churchill's military services in France under Turenne. He was already a colonel at the time he married Sarah. The general effect of the ample details which Lord Wolseley has given of Churchill's life during the reign of Charles II., shows that he rendered most valuable services to his master, and that he remained absolutely loyal to him during all that long period when the ultimate exclusion of James appeared to be as certain as any future event. Almost however at the very moment when James mounted the throne, Churchill took care to give him a warning through a man who was sure, as he well knew, at once to repeat the conversation to the King. Whilst he was himself employed as Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of France, in order to report to Louis XIV. the accession of James, Churchill said to Lord Galway, ‘If the King should attempt to change our religion, I will instantly quit his service. Lord Macaulay has taken pains to establish the authority of Bishop Burnet on a higher footing than we are disposed to accord to it. Nevertheless Burnet makes that very important statement, and not a hint of it is given by the his torian. In order to realize its significance, it must be remem. bered that no king ever ascended the English throne with a better chance, if he had only used common prudence, of exer. cising despotic power than James. This point has, we think, been brought out with irresistible force by Mr. Brewer in his essays on the Stewarts which were originally contributed to these pages. After careful study of the ground over which the campaign against Monmouth was fought, Lord Wolseley has, largely from local sources and county chronicles, written a narrative of those operations which naturally gains much interest from his military knowledge and criticism. But our present purpose is to take advantage of the fresh materials which Lord Wolseley has collected, in order, by comparing them with others, “to bring' before
before our readers, as he puts it, “the man John Churchill, though we do not bind ourselves simply to sketch from the portrait which he has drawn. We shall therefore not attempt to follow him through the Sedgemoor operations, which are in their main outlines sufficiently familiar. The one fact which concerns us is that he has shown clearly that Churchill's services in that campaign were not merely very important, as both Macaulay and Green admit that they were. The effect of the campaign was to give him an authority, position, and influence in the army such as at that time no other man possessed or approached. Neither Peterborough nor Talmash had as yet made themselves famous.
The next fact that has to be taken into account is the profound disgust which was excited in Lord Churchill's mind by the fiendish cruelties of James and Judge Jeffreys during ‘the bloody assize.” Churchill's words, “I wish well to your suit with all my heart, but do not flatter yourself with hopes. This marble is not harder than the King's heart,’ are of course quoted by all historians; but, introduced as they are with phrases about him such as Jeffreys would have used to prejudice the trial of a prisoner, they are never weighed as indications which show how these events tended to determine his subsequent action. In the autumn of 1687, whilst Churchill was still a prime favourite, James asked him what the people thought of his having caused Romish priests to perform the religious rites connected with the ceremonies for ‘touching for the king's evil.” “Why, truly, Churchill replied, “they show very little liking to it; and it is the general voice of your people that your Majesty is paving the way for the introduction of Popery: ” and again, in reply to James, he added, ‘What I spoke, Sir, proceeded purely from my zeal for your Majesty's service, which I prefer above all things next to that of God, and I humbly beseech your Majesty to believe no subject in your three kingdoms would venture further than I would to purchase your favour and liking: but I have been bred a Protestant, and intend to live and die in that communion; that above nine parts in ten of the whole people are of the same persuasion, and I fear (which excess of duty makes me say), from the genius of the English nation and their natural aversion to the Roman Catholic worship, some consequences which I dare not so much as name, and which it creates a horror in me to think of.” The King replied by an assertion of his absolute claim to be obeyed, and afterwards at dinner, without speaking to Churchill, treated him to a conversation solely intended to enforce the duty of passive obedience.