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Art. I. The Hisory of Great Britain, during the Reign of
Queen Anne ; with a Dissertation concerning the Danger of the Protestant Succession ; and an Appendix, containing original Papers. By Thomas Somerville, D.D. F.R.S.C. one of his Majesty's Chaplains in Ordinary, and Minister at Jedburgh. 4to. Pp. 674. Price il. is. Cadell and Davies, Strand, London.
O period of English history, antecedent to the present
reign, is more important to a British, or, indeed, any' European, reader, than the History of Anne. The ambition and power of France had been rapidly increasing during a period of near fixty years, from the destruction of the Spanish infantry at Rocroc, in 1643, to the accession of a French Prince to the Spanish throne in 1700. The character of the French Monarch, of his counsellors, of his various civil and military officers, operating on the vivacity, activity, and enterprize of his subjects, had extended the dominion and influence of France so far as to be inconsistent with the security of Europe. The state of neighbouring nations; the conduét and character of neighbouring Princes, combined in promoting the ambitious and unjust projects of France. Spain, enfeebled by long wars, and impoverished by expenditure, which there was not national industry to supply, NO. X. VOL. II.
governed by weak Princes and weak Ministers, sunk, after the peace of the Pyrenées, into a secondary kingdom. Austria, by no means recovered from the consequences of Gustavus's victories, and also engaged in war with Turkey, was unable, effectually, to check the encroachments of France. Nothing less than a general combination of Eu. ropean powers could arreft the progress of Gallic encroachment and injustice. The genius and courage of William, conducted with that wisdom, without which talents and vigour are often pernicious instead of being beneficial, saved his own country from French invaders, and ultimately, though not immediately, effected the deliverance of Europe. The profligate corruption, and the indolent debauchery of Charles The Second, rendered him the tool of France, who ought to have taken the lead in a confederacy, to reduce her power, and punish her infolcrce. While England kept aloof, William faw that no continental efforts would be fully adequate to the preservation of the balance of power. The weakness and bigotry of the priest-ridden James were as unfavourable to the wise and politic confederacy as the unprincipled mcanness of his brother. When James's total deviation from the conduct befitting a King of England, and his abdication of the throne, placed the crown on the head of his daughter, and another descendant of his father, Britain acceded to the grand alliance. William destroyed the naval power of France, obstructed her career by land, and made her, at the peace of Ryswick, less powersol than at the commencement of hostilities. The elevation, however, of his grandfon to the Spanish throne extended the power and influence of the House of Bourbon to a greater degree than in any of the most splendid epochs of Louis's reign. To oppose a power, now comprehending France and Spain, likely, by land, to overwhelm the empire and hereditary dominions of Austria, and, by sea, to become equal to the combined navies of Britain and the States General, William formed a second confederacy, but died as the execution of his plans was commencing:
To head a combination for repressing the ambition, reducing the power, humbling the infolence of France, aided and supported by her dependent ally, was reserved for Anne.
Dr. Somerville, in his preface, informs us of the reasons which have induced him to treat of this important period of British history :
“ The reign of QUEEN ANNE comprehends a greater variety of interesting events than any period of the Britihh history of equal duration. Though many volumes upon this subject are already in
the hands of the public, there is still opportunity for resuming it, with the prospect of promoting useful instruction.
“ The accounts of this reign, written by contemporary authors, are often rendered tedious and unpleasant from the intrusion of occurrences which are frivolous and uninteresting in our own day. The frequent and abrupt transitions from one subject to another, cccafioned by a strict adherence to chronological arrangement, destroy that unity and connection which are essential to the clearness and dignity of genuine history. But what, above all, renders the earlier histories of this reign exceptionable is, their being tinged with the party spirit, which then arose to the highest pitch of intemperance and malignity : nor are later authors entirely free from these objections ; some have servilely followed the track of their predecessors; and none, perhaps, have obtained fufficient information for correcting their mistakes, and supplying their defects.
“ After the most careful perusal of all the printed materials relating to my subject, and a large store of original papers which have not been seen by former writers, I have attempted to present to the public an exact, impartial, and connected detail of the most important events and transactions during the reign of Queen Anne."
Dr. Somerville goes on, in the preface, to describe the manuscripts which he has consulted. To the Duchess of Buccleugh he is indebted for a collection of original manuscripts, by the Duke of Shrewsbury, containing several state papers, and some hundred letters, mostly political, and written by persons who were conspicuous actors in public life during the reigns of King Charles II. King James II. King William, and Queen Anne.
The Earl of Hardwicke communicated to him copies of letters from the Earl of Godolphin, Mr. Harley, Lord Halifax, and the Duke of Marlborough. The letters of the Earl of Godolphin and Mr. Harley gave him “an insight into the disputes of the cabinet, which produced the changes in administration at the end of the year 1707 ; those from Lord Halifax refer to his embassy to the court of Hanover in 1706, and the project of the barrier treaty ; the Duke of Marlborough's, dated 1711, to the state of the war, and the defence of his own conduct.”
From the Townshend, Orford, and Walpole papers he has been furnished with authentic documents, concerning important transactions, external and internal.
“ The Townshend papers contain almost the whole correspondence between the British Cabinet and the Plenipotentiaries, relative to the negociations at the Hague, 1709, and at Gertruidenberg, 1710, and to the scheme and progress of the barrier treaty. They contain allo a part of the correspondence between Mr. St. John, Lord Townshend, Q 92
Mr. Boyle, and Lord Dartmouth, upon the subject of the armed neutrality, and the conduct of the allies during the war, and, occasionally, illustrative coincident political transactions.
• The Orford and Walpole collection consists of extracts from the journals of the residents at foreign courts, and several of their letters, disclosing circumstances respecting the state of the confederacy, and the temper and interests of its members, which have not hitherto been known or attended to. The letters of Generals Stanhope, Carpenter, and Wade, and extracts from their journals in Spain, also included in this collection, throw great light upon military affairs in that quarter,"
These papers he procured through Mr. Coxe, to whose liberality he pays a handsome compliment. “ He also," he says, “ favoured me with copies of a few letters from the Earl of Peterborough, written from Vienna and Venice in 1711, and anecdotes and miscellaneous papers, which have been useful in the profecution of my design.
But materials of peculiar importance, at the present time, are those which relate to the Union between the two kingdoms. Of the sources of his information and the grounds of his conclusions, on this subject, he gives the following account:
“To the late Sir John Clerk, of Pennywick, I owe great obligations, for access to the manuscripts composed by his grandfather, Sir John Clerk. Sir John was a member of the Scottish Parliament at the time of the Union, and devoted himself, with affiduous application, to the study of the momentous question then in agitation. To the accomplishments of a scholar and antiquary he added an accurate knowledge of the history and constitution of Scotland. He was highly esteemed, and much consulted, by the Duke of Queensbury, her Majesty's Commissioner in the Scottish Parliament, and published fome excellent treatises for explaining the scheme of the Union, and refuting the objections of its ignorant and factious oppofers. Besides these publications, Sir John left several valuable manuscripts. Those which I have inspected, as particularly suitable to my purpose, are fhort journals of the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament, while the Union was depending ; observations on Lockhart's Memoirs ; and a testamentary inemorial, for the instruction of his own family, giving a concise and perspicuous account of the treaty, and, after the experience of more than thirty years, comparing its effects with the presages and expectations, both of its abertors and its opposers, at the time of its formation. From these materials, fraught with private anecdotes, and marked descriptions of the conduct of parties, and the characters and intrigues of their leaders, I am able to treat of Scottish affairs with greater precision and certainty than former hir. torians, wlio, for want of better sources of information, have im. plicitly relied upon annals and materials, of which the authors are unknown
" To obtain the present information concerning parliamentary proceedings in Scotland, I have had recourse to the original records, in the Register Ofice, at Edinburgh; and for an account of ministerial transactions there, to the minutes of the Scottish Privy Council, deposited in the o Sice of the justiciary court. With respect to the im. portant state affairs of both kingdoms, I have been furnished with copies of the original vouchers, from the Paper Office, in London."
In speaking of the plan of his work, he gives the following account of his mode of treating military operations :
“ Military events form fo large and splendid a part of the English history, at the beginning of this century, that I have found it difficult to restrain my accounts of them within the limits consistent with the plan of a general history.
“ I have ftated, at the beginning of each campaign, the principal circumstances affecting the grand alliance and the force of the bellige. rent powers. I have shortly mentioned their operations in every quarter, and those of the British army more fully ; and endeavoured to give such a description of the principal occurrences of the war, in each successive campaign, as will enable the reader to estimate the balance of success at the close of it. From the limitations and re. strictions observed in conducting this branch of my history, the in. termediate movements and manæuvres of the contending armies are often necessarily omitted, and great events, which are divided by a wide interval of time and place, follow, in immediate fucceflion, in the narrative. This imperfection the reader will, therefore, impute, not to ignorance, or carelessness, but to a studied compression, in order to adjust, in due proportion, the details of the complicated and diversified facts which belong to the period of which I treat.”
The history opens with the accession of Queen Anne, which, though satisfactory to the nation at large in other respects, afforded to the Whigs some grounds of apprehenfion.
The Queen was known to be a Tory, and it was feared the would have that aversion from interference in continental politics which, though not in effect necessarily resulting from Tory principles, during a considerable time made a part of the Tory character. The official arrangements made by the Queen justified the apprehensions of the Whigs ; the principal places, civil and military, were conferred upon their antagonists. Lords Somers and Halifax, who had been diftinguished by the confidence of King William, were dismilled from the Privy Council, and it was suspected that, in the progress of change, all the persons who had been patronized by the Whig adıninistration would be deprived of every favour dependent on the court. Though the Whigs themselves were depressed, yet the political measures molt agrecable Q 93