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his dependants. In 1707, William Gregg, one of the clerks in his office, abused his confidence by secretly copying some letters of the highest importance and by selling the copies to the Court of France.

The treachery was discovered by the Secretary himself, and such steps were taken to lessen the mischief as the case admitted. Much excitement naturally followed upon the publicity of the crime. The least scrupulous of Harley's enemies conceived a hope that the traitor who had served the public enemy for a bribe might also be tempted to ruin his master for another and greater bribe. Means were found to convey to Gregg strong assurances of a certain escape, and of a wealthy exile, if he would but declare that he had copied the despatches, and forwarded the transcripts, by the Secretary's direction. Pending the attempt, they circulated throughout the country a report that such a declaration had actually been made, and that the Secretary was to be impeached. But the clerk, instead of betraying his master, exposed his temptors. His first emphatic declaration of Harley's innocence was repeated immediately before his death in these words :—' As I shall answer it before the judgment seat of Christ, the gentleman aforesaid [t. e. Harlky] was not privy to my writing to France, neither directly nor indirectly.'

Harley himself, and also his nearest friends, were wont to speak of this affair as one that had brought his life into real peril. It is certain that the incident and its consequences helped materially to make his continuance in office impossible. But he struggled hard.

Meanwhile, the dissensions in the Ministry were daily increasing. They became so bitter as to lead to personal altercations at the Council Board, even when the Queen herself was present. On one such occasion (February, 1708) Godolphin and Marlborough went together to the Booki. Queen a little before the hour at which a Cabinet Council Th?co1, had been summoned. They told her they must quit her °' service, since they saw that she was resolved not to part MSS with Harley. 'She seemed,' says Bishop Burnet, ' not much concerned at the Lord Godolphin's offering to lay down; and it was believed to be a part of Harley's new scheme to remove him. But she was much touched with the Duke of Marlborough's offering to quit, and studied, with some soft expressions, to divert him from that resolu- Bumei, tion; but he was firm; and she did not yield to them.' %!'°Znmc, So they both went away, without attending the Council, ' to J* ^ the wonder of the whole Court.' <«m. \my

When the Council met, it became part of Harley's duty as Secretary to deliver to the Queen a memorial relating to the conduct of the war. The Duke of Somerset rose, as the Secretary was about to read it, and with the words 'If Your Majesty suffers that fellow ' (pointing to Harley) s,viftt0

J. * xr ii- Archbishop

'to treat affairs of the war without the General's advice, I King, 12 n*.


cannot serve you,' abruptly left the Council. 'The rest,' ComP. according to Burnet, 'looked so cold and sullen that the ^nert' ** Cabinet Council was soon at an end.'

Whilst a result which—for the time—had thus become so plainly inevitable, remained still doubtful, Harley had imposed on himself the humiliating task of assuring the Duke of Marlborough of the honesty of his former professions of attachment. 'I have never writ anything to Harlh-s you,' said he, ' but what I really thought and intended.' JBOU THE And then he went on to say :—' I have for near two years *"TMT4"" seen the storm coming upon me, and now I find I am to Feb' 1708be sacrificed to sly insinuations and groundless jealousies.' These words were written in September, 1707. On the

Book i, 1 Oth of February in the following year, Marlborough had, Tub Col- at length, the satisfaction of writing from St. James' to a Ctetiat foreign correspondent:—' Mr. Secretary Harley has this I.*TM* Mss. afternoon given up the seals of office to the Queen. Between Marlborough ourselves he richly deserves what has befallen him.'* Among wmtiliaw the two or three friends who went out with Harley was 10W,-1W Henry St. John.

For the next two years and a half, Harley's principal Triou" occupation was to prepare the way for a return, in kind, of AQAissTTnE the defeat thus inflicted upon him. Some of the steps by Ministry, which he achieved his end are among the most familiar i/08-mo. portions of our political history. But from the necessities of the case it has been, and probably it must continue to be, one of those portions in which the basis of truth can scarcely, by any researches that are now possible, be separated from the large admixture of falsehood built thereon by party animosities.

His own correspondence shows that strong hopes of success in the effort were entertained within eight months of his dismissal. It shows also that the channel employed, unsuccessfully, in 1708, was that which became an effectual one in 1710.

* In the interval between June, 1707 (after the Union with Scotland), and February, 1708, the following entries occur in the Council Books :—

'1 July, 1707. The Rt. Hon. Robert Harley, one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, delivered up the old signet of office— which was thereupon broken before Her Majesty—and received a new one by the Queen's command.' The entiy is followed by the note:— 'This order was thus drawn by Mr. Harley's particular direction.' {Megister of Privy Council, Anne, vol. iii. p. 395.)

'8 January, 170J. The Rt. Hon. R. Harley, . . . having this day presented to Her Majesty in her Privy Council a new signet with supporters, Her Majesty was pleased to deliver it back to him, whereupon he returned to Her Majesty the old signet, which was immediately defaced,' &c. (Ib., p. 485.)

Early in October, Harley received from the Court an Book I,

unsigned letter in which these passages occur:—' The Queen Tb'/col

stands her ground and refuses to enter into any capitula- ^"har'

tion with the [Whig Lords]. She has not hitherto con- LKIAB Mss sented to offer or hear of any terms. The Lord T[reasure]r desired she might allow him to treat with 'em, and the Duke of S[omerse]t was employed to persuade her, but she was inflexible. The Lord Treasurer offered to resign the Staff, but she would neither take the Staff nor advice from him, and he went to Newmarket without getting any

powers or leave to treat. . . . Your friend cannot answer II"rl''>'

1 i ^ Corrcsp. in

for the event. ... I will add no more but that your friend Ms.ii.iri. thinks your being here is very necessary, and that Her Majesty .... would be the better of assistance and good advice.'

It was not, however, until the 8th of August, 1710, that the Godolphin Ministry was dismissed. Two days afterwards, Harley was made Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Treasury being put into commission.

He entered upon that office amidst enormous obstacles. THKC»Ari


His enemies were unable to deny that his exertions to over- or The come the difficulties in his path were marked by financial mo, ability, and by a large measure of temporary success. But as little can it be denied that the immediate triumph laid the groundwork of public troubles to come.

His own account of the situation of affairs, and of the methods taken to improve it, must, of course, be read with the due allowance. The pith of it lies in these sentences: —' The army was in the field. There was no money in the Treasury. None of the remitters would contract again. The Bank had recently refused to lend the Lord Treasurer Godolphin a hundred thousand pounds. The Army and Navy Services were in debt nearly eleven millions. The


Letter to the

June 9, 1714.
(Part. Hist.,
vol. vji, ipp.)

Book i, Civil List owed £600,000. The annual deficit was, at Ti'iTcoL. least, a hundred and twenty-four thousand pounds. The Tmfti"" new Commissioners of the Treasury, nevertheless, made Lxiak Mss. provision, within a few days of their appointment, for paying the Army by the greatest remittance that was ever known. When Parliament met, on the 27th of November, funds had been prepared for the service of the year, and a plan was submitted for easing the nation of nine millions of debt.'

Harley was scarcely warm in his new office before he made the acquaintance of Swift, then full of ambitious though vague schemes for the future, and very angry with the leaders of the Whig party for the coolness with which his proffers, both of counsel and of service, had lately been received.

At the time of his introduction to Harley, Swift's immediate business in London consisted in soliciting from the Government a remission of first-fruits to the clergy of Ireland. His nominal colleagues in that trust were the Bishops of Ossory and Killaloe, but the whole weight of the negotiations rested upon Swift's shoulders. His treatment of it soon displayed his parts. The Minister saw that he was both able and willing to render efficient political service. To the intercourse so begun we owe a life-like portraiture of Harley, under all his aspects, and in every mood of mind. Nor is the depicter himself anywhere seen under stronger light than in those passages of his journal which narrate, from day to day, the rise and fall of the Government founded on the unstable alliance between Harley and St. John.

Of their first interview Swift notes:—'I was brought privately to Mr. Harley, who received me with the greatest respect and kindness imaginable.' Of the second :—' We

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