A SHORT NARRATIVE OF THE
Life and Actions
Of His GRACE
_JOHN_, D. of Marlborough
PAULA R. BACKSCHEIDER
Publication Number 168
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
University Of California, Los Angeles
William E. Conway, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
George Robert Guffey, University of California, Los Angeles
Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles
David S. Rodes, University of California, Los Angeles
Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan
James L. Clifford, Columbia University
Ralph Cohen, University of Virginia
Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles
Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago
Louis A. Landa, Princeton University
Earl Miner, Princeton University
Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota
Everett T. Moore, University of California, Los Angeles
Lawrence Clark Powell, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
James Sutherland, University College, London
H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles
Robert Vosper, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Edna C. Davis, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Beverly J. Onley, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Typography by Wm. M. Cheney
Opinion is a mighty matter in war, and I doubt but the French think it
impossible to conquer an army that he leads, and our soldiers think
the same; and how far even this step may encourage the French to play
tricks with us, no man knows.
Swift's _Journal to Stella_, 1 January 1711
... the moment he leaves the service and loses the protection of
the Court, such scenes will open as no victories can varnish over.
Bolingbroke's _Letters and Correspondence_,
23 January 1711
The career of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, reflects the
political battles of nearly thirty years of English politics. In an
age when duplicity, intrigue, personality, and an immediate history of
violence characterized politics, John Churchill was a constant, steady
military success even while his political and personal fortunes
alternately plunged and soared. His military ability insured his
importance to the Grand Alliance and his victories brought the
reverence of the European powers opposing Louis XIV as well as that of
his own people, but, at the same time, his successes also assured his
involvement with the fortunes of nearly every major English political
figure and movement in the years 1688 to 1712.
Marlborough's military career spanned two periods. Aware of the danger
of the "exorbitant power of France" and the corresponding danger to
the Protestant religion, disgusted with James's actions at the
_Gloucester_ shipwreck and in dealing with Scottish Protestants,
Marlborough had joined the bloodless shift to William of Orange. For
William, he led the English forces in Flanders in 1689 and in Ireland
in 1690; in 1691 he was in charge of the British forces in Europe with
the rank of lieutenant-general. In January, 1692, however, Marlborough
was dismissed from all of his offices for a combination of reasons,
each insufficient in itself but all too typical for him--open
opposition to William's Dutch dominated army, rumors that he and
Sarah, his ambitious and sometimes presumptuous wife, were plotting
Anne's usurpation of the throne, and dissension aroused between Anne
and her sister Queen Mary by the quixotic Sarah. When rumors of a
Jacobite uprising began, Marlborough spent six weeks in the Tower.
Although Marlborough was restored to political favor in 1698 partly as
a placatory gesture to Anne, it was 1701 before he resumed his
military career, this time as William's Commander-in-Chief and
Ambassador Extraordinary to the United Provinces. In this second phase
of his military career, he won every battle, took every fort that he
besieged, held the Grand Alliance together, broke the threatening
supremacy of France, and established England as a major power. Yet,
during these ten years, Queen Anne's ministry and Parliament underwent
several major upheavals: the resulting shifts in policy and
personalities alternately inconvenienced and vexed Marlborough. The
year 1711 marked the culmination of warring factions and clandestine
arrangement, and Daniel Defoe's _A Short Narrative of the Life and
Actions of his grace, John, Duke of Marlborough_, published 20
February 1711, originated in this battle. (For discussion of
authorship, please see Appendix.)
Much that happened in these years can be unraveled back to Harley,
Earl of Oxford. His influences and circuitous dealing emerge wherever
a close examination of politics is made. Hiding his activities from
even his closest associates, employing spies and journalists whose
purposes seem contradictory, manipulating the House of Commons'
radical October Club while preaching a "broad bottomed" moderate
government, and buzzing in the Queen's ear in a variety of ways,
Harley was ready for any exigency. England had wanted peace since 1709
when their insistence on "no peace without Spain" and on the XXXVII
Article asking for guarantees of three Spanish towns had rallied the
French behind the war; Marlborough's pleas that peace be made and
Spain be dealt with later were ignored. Although Parliament voted
Malplaquet a triumph, Marlborough's power and prestige were
systematically shorn away, and embarrassing decisions contrived to
force his resignation were effected. Should Marlborough resign, a
scapegoat for defeat or an unfavorable peace would be assured. By
1710, foreign policy had changed--a growing interest in trade and
colonization urged Parliament to end a costly and now unnecessary war
and had united the Tories, Jacobites, the Church party, as well as
such diverse men as the Dukes of Argyll, Somerset, Newcastle, and
Shrewsbury, a Whig. With the election of the radical Tory majority
(240 new members were seated) to the Commons in 1710 and the creation
of twelve new peers, Harley's job of using diverse elements to form
a moderate government became more complex. He found it expedient to
establish and maintain influence with groups ranging from the radical
Tory October Club to Swift's country squire and clergy _Examiner_
readers to moderate Whigs such as Shrewsbury. Moreover, Defoe had
impressed upon him the importance of assuring the nation that moderate
and sensible men were at the bottom of all of the political
changes. Harley, therefore, prepared for at least three apparently
exclusive possibilities--prosecuting the war for several more years,
negotiating a peace with the Allies, or making a separate peace with
France without the Allies. To keep all these possibilities alive,
Harley had to remain in harmony with Marlborough. The general's
popularity with the soldiers and the European powers and France's awe
of his military prowess necessitated the appearance that Marlborough's
command was secure. While the _Examiner_, with its Tory audience and
its emphasis on pressure for peace, was essential to Harley, so were
Swift's and Defoe's appeals for moderation at a time when sympathy for
Marlborough was rampant and the call "no peace without Spain" was
still defended even by the October Club; for the same reasons he was
glad to have Bolingbroke openly associated with the _Examiner_.
January of 1711 brought the decisive defeat at Brihuega which
effectively took the issue of Spanish succession away; in the ensuing
witch hunt, Almanza and the peace talks of 1709 were revived to
distract the people. While these inquiries proceeded, England received
word that France was ready to discuss terms. The delay between this (8
February) and France's formal proposal (2 May) was an anxious time for
Harley and his schemers. Defoe was busy setting the stage for the
While Swift, the high Tory, could easily set about discrediting
Marlborough, the hero and standard bearer, and, by so doing, weaken
the Whig's position, Defoe's readers required different handling. His
most effective writing at this time was in pamphlets which reached a
wider audience and which were not bound by the consistency of the
Review. Defoe and Swift, primed with the Minister's inside knowledge,
set about to discredit the Whig ministry in basically the same way. In
the 15 February _Examiner_, Swift wrote,
No Body, that I know of, did ever dispute the Duke of Marlborough's
Courage, Conduct, or Success; they have been always unquestionable
and will continue to be so, in spight of the Malice of his Enemies,
or which is yet more, the Weakness of his Advocates. The Nation
only wished to see him taken out of ill Hands, and put into better.
But, what is all this to the Conduct of the late Ministry, the
shameful Mismanagements in Spain, or the wrong Steps in the Treaty
of Peace.... 
Defoe remarks, "our General wants neither Conduct or Courage" and
describes his greatest successes as "daughters to preserve his Memory"
while dissociating him somewhat from the Jacobites, Whigs, and
"business of [making] peace and war." When the _Review_ finally
discusses Marlborough's fall, Defoe suggests that the "greatest Guilt
... is the Error in Policy, and Prudence among his Friends." Both
writers presented the Duke as a means to an end and discredited him on
personal grounds (avarice, ambition) thereby protecting the military
hero and the newborn glory of England fathered by his victories.
Faced with Dissenters and moderate Whig readers, Defoe's _Review_ had
to seem to oppose Swift's _Examiner_ with its sneers at trade; not only
must it be consistent but it was obliged to shift its readers'
attention more slowly to the earlier failures of the Whig ministry and
the rich commercial advantages gained in the separate peace.
The _Life of Marlborough_ is part of a stream of pamphlets which Defoe
wrote supporting the Harley administration; _A Supplement to the Faults
on Both Sides_, a discussion of the Sacheverell case by two "displac'd
officers of state," _Rogues on Both Sides_, a study in contrasts
between old and new Whigs, and old, high flyer, and new Tories, and _A
Seasonable Caution to the General Assembly_ were published immediately
before and after. That same year, his pamphlets discuss the October
Club, the Spanish succession, "Mr. Harley," and the state of religion.
By summer when the peace was nearly assured though still secret, Defoe
was writing _Reasons for a Peace; Or, the War at an End_.
Taken in chronological order, Defoe's 1711 pamphlets indicate two
emerging directions: first, the reasons for ending the war become more
positive and entirely unconcerned with the General, and, second,
Defoe's comments about the Duke become less wholeheartedly admiring,
especially in _No Queen; Or, No General_. _Rogues on Both Sides_ is
witty praise for moderate men who act "according to English principles
of Law and Liberty regardless of People and Party" rather than
believing any demagogue who "cries it rains butter'd Turnips." After
this, the pamphlets become more informative and solemn--Defoe
demonstrates Whigs and Tories want the same things and that the country
bleeds to death. _Armageddon; or the Necessity of Carrying on the War_
(30 October 1711), _Reasons Why This Nation Ought to put a speedy End
to this Expensive War_ (6 October), and _Reasons for a Peace: or, the
War at an End_, for example, catalog the economic ailments--taxes,
pirates, hard to replace sailors and soldiers killed, but far worse, a
decline in trade resulting in closed shops and declining manufacturing
increasing unemployment--"the whole Kingdom sold to Usury" and
"Consumption of the Growth of the Country." As the year passed, Defoe
mentioned Marlborough less and less, but the General's possible
mistakes were progressively forced into balance with his victories.
While seeming to be moderate, Defoe both tempers his readers' opinions
of the Duke and turns their attention to other issues.
The techniques and movement in _No Queen: Or, No General_ (10 January
1712) parallel the techniques and movement in the 1711 pamphlets. In
this 1712 pamphlet, Defoe's double-edged balance sheet is most obvious;
in the first six pages he lists the charges against the General which
he will not discuss--this reminds his readers of every possible failing
and, because of the language ("I'le forbear to lessen his Glorious
Character by Reckoning the Number of the Slain, or counting the Cost of
the Towns"), the significance of each "ignored" charge is increased.
Defoe recounts the economic issues at stake and insists that when
Marlborough's "blinded party" made him its representative, regardless
of his intentions, he became a formidable threat to the Queen and had
to be removed. The pamphlet gradually turns to the destructiveness of
party factions and by the patriotic ending ("Alas, what a Condition
were Britain in if her Fate depended upon the Life, or Gallantry, or
Merit, of one Man"), Marlborough is no longer an issue.
In the _Life_, Defoe defends the general from the charge of avarice,
the most plausible charge that the journalists were propagating.
Marlborough's courage and skill had also been called into question in
such papers as _The Post Boy_, and a spurious debate raged which could
only injure Marlborough over the gratitude of the nation. Defoe alludes
to pamphlets which impugn great men and represent them as "unworthy of
the Favour of the Prince" slanting the charge that Marlborough had been
rewarded perhaps too bountifully in order to imply that such writers
were malicious, uninformed, and ungrateful. Furthermore, Defoe says,
Marlborough deserved his reward, having bought it at a dear rate, and
it was no more than what "in all Times belong'd to Generals." Indeed,
Marlborough's successor, the Duke of Ormond, received the same bread
perquisite and percentage of foreign pay, but Defoe chooses to "defend"
Marlborough not with comparable facts which would destroy the
credibility of the attacking group, but rather with passing references
to the two other generals with whom he had to divide the money and with
the profits of sea captains and petty clerks in yards and stores! With
descriptions of the fitting appearance for generals and Marlborough's
sobriety in the field, Defoe tips the scales in Marlborough's favor.
That he ends the section with
Indeed Generals, tho' the most accomplish'd Heroes, are but Men,
they are not Infallible, but may be mistaken as well as other
Mortals, they are subject to Faults and Infirmities as well as
their Fellow-Creatures; but then their great Services for the good
of their Country ought to be cast into the Ballance, against their
humane Mistakes; and not only Charity, but Self-consideration
should give them very good Quarter, unless their Faults are prov'd
to be Wilful and Contumacious.(38)
is a paradigm of his technique. Coming immediately after this defense,
the argument that his victories should be "cast in the Ballance" is
somewhat degrading and implies that Marlborough may have been mistaken
in what he did and even leaves the question open with the phrase
"unless their Faults are prov'd Wilful and Contumacious." The
following paragraph, however, opens the subject of Marlborough's
invincibility. Under the guise of wondering what an ungrateful nation
would do should he lose a battle, Defoe brings Marlborough's perfect
record, his piety, and the esteem France and his soldiers had for him
to our attention. The paragraph before, then, may be taken to introduce
Defoe's concern--even Marlborough could be mistaken in battle and lose,
and what would such a nation do then? The paragraph on the whole
reflects on the nation and is an eloquent defense of the Duke--he is
human, human beings make mistakes and his great good should excuse him
even more than an ordinary man's mistakes should be forgiven.
Harley knew that Marlborough was essential until peace negotiations
were secured. Marlborough had distrusted Harley throughout 1710, but he
also knew that Harley's stakes in a moderate government were great. In
1711, Rochester and the October Club began to challenge Harley, and
their demands alarmed even Queen Anne. The Queen, Bolingbroke, and
Harley all wrote Marlborough conciliatory letters. Marlborough answered
in kind and his letter after Harley was stabbed expresses deep concern.
Harley became increasingly convinced that only peace would preserve his
power, and Marlborough's power and reputation were essential for an
acceptable peace. As late as July, Harley's letters to Marlborough are
respectful and deceitfully warm:
My lord; I received from the hands of lord Mar, just as I came from
Windsor, the honour of your grace's letter, and I am not willing to
let a post pass, without making your grace my acknowledgments. It
is most certain, that you can best judge what is fit to be proposed
upon the subject you are pleased to mention....
I hope it will be needless to renew the assurances to your grace,
that I will not omit any thing in my power, which may testify my
zeal for the public, and my particular honour and esteem for your
grace; and I doubt not, but when the lord you mention comes, I
shall satisfy him of the sincerity of my intentions towards your
Harley's perfidy allowed him to assure Marlborough he would "never do
any thing which shall forfeit your good opinion" while pretending to
plan to restore Marlborough to the Queen's confidence. Further, when
Marlborough appealed to him to silence the libellous attacks by
journalists, Harley replied, "I do assure your grace I neither know nor
desire to know any of the authors; and as I heartily wish this
barbarous war was at an end, I shall be very ready to take my part in
suppressing them." Details about the financing of Woodstock and
mutual friends crop up in the letters. So successful is Harley's
deception that when Sir Solomon Medina accuses Marlborough of graft,
Marlborough writes Harley:
Upon my arrival here, I had notice that my name was brought before
the commissioners of accounts, possibly without any design to do me
a prejudice. However, to prevent any ill impression it might make,
I have writ a letter to those gentlemen ... and when you have taken
the pains to read the inclosed copy, pray be so kind as to employ
your good offices, so as that it may be known I have the advantage
of your friendship. No one knows better than your lordship the
great use and expence of intelligence, and no one can better
explain it; and 'tis for that reason I take the liberty to add a
farther request, that you would be so kind to lay the whole, on
some fitting opportunity, before the queen, being very well
persuaded her majesty, who has so far approved, and so well
rewarded my services would not be willing they should now be
Defoe points out that criticism of the Duke "may prove Dangerous and
Fatal" and the joy in the French court at each step in Marlborough's
fall reinforces Defoe's and Harley's opinion Defoe recounts
Marlborough's greatest military victories beginning as far back as his
campaign in Brabant (reminding his readers of possible wealth gained
through a shipwreck and of the betrayal of Dunkirk as he goes along),
includes descriptions of his exemplary behavior including regular
prayers for the Camp, and praises Marlborough as a "finish'd Hero." The
conclusion to the pamphlet warns the nation again of Marlborough's
importance; his battles are bringing the enemy to "reason," procuring
"an honorable and lasting peace." References to the detrimental effect
of discrediting the general are found intermittently throughout the
pamphlet in allusion to Hannibal.
Defoe, then, served Harley's purposes well. He defended Marlborough and
shored up his prestige in a time when it was important for the French
to think that Marlborough could prosecute the war freely. As a known
employee of Harley's, Defoe furthered Marlborough's impression that
Harley could be depended upon. Finally, he began to prepare the
moderate Whigs for peace by presenting the economic considerations and
disassociating Marlborough from the Queen's and the ministry's
"business of peace."
The possibility that Defoe acted independently in this writing cannot
be discounted. Defoe had praised Marlborough since the beginning of
his career and the extent to which he and Godolphin adopted William's
policies added to Defoe's admiration; admiration is clear in this
pamphlet. Defoe had worked for Godolphin and Sunderland, and may have
used "by an Old Officer in the Army" as a disguise from Harley or even
as a means of publishing independently. That Defoe resented attacks on
his hero can hardly be doubted--the _Review_ and his pamphlets are
a catalog of the general's triumphs, and no where does he attack
unequivocably; even in _No Queen_ he puts chief blame on rumors and on
Marlborough's party. Harley's failure to make permanent provisions for
Defoe may suggest some dissatisfaction, but even if the possibility
that the _Life_ was not expressly ordered by Harley is considered, it
is noteworthy that nothing in it is offensive to Harley, and, more
important, remarkable that it serves Harley's needs and ends at the
time so well.
Definitely Defoe's, however, are veiled but telling attacks on Swift
and his type. Although the purpose of the _Examiner_ was to "furnish
Mankind, with a Weekly Antidote to that Weekly Poison," Defoe
parodied this by saying his pamphlet was to "undeceive the People." The
"base Pamphleteers" are labeled uninformed and ungrateful; they have
no way of making right judgments in the matter of perquisites and
soldier's pay; they go out to see a battlefield as they might a well
laid-out garden, and, of course, their "Mouths go off smartly with a
Whiff of Tobacco" (an obvious ridiculing contrast to the cannon fire of
the real fighters).
Furthermore, compared to attacks on Marlborough in libels such as _The
Duke of M***'s Confessions to a Jacobite Priest_, _The Land-Leviathan_:
_or_, _the Modern Hydra_, and _The Perquisite Monger_, Defoe's pamphlet
was exemplary in its moderation. Even Swift's attacks are moderate
beside the majority of these 1711-12 pamphlets; not even he conjured
up memories of regicide and rebellion as did the more numerous and
libellous pamphleteers. For example, _The Mobb's Address to my Lord
M***_ (1710) linked Marlborough to Sacheverell and assured the Duke his
"most dutiful Mobb, will use our utmost Care and Diligence to raise all
riotous and tumultous Assemblys, and with undaunted Vigour ... oppose
... all who will keep up the Authority of the Crown." _Oliver's
Pocket Looking Glass_ (1711) while more erudite was scarcely less
inflammatory--shades of Cromwell were called up, a "Colossus" with an
"Army compos'd of almost all nations" faced the "body politic."
The _Life_ exemplifies many of Defoe's life long interests and opinions
and points to the fiction he was to write. Virtues espoused throughout
his career are praised here. Ingratitude was a deplorable but all too
common failing of mankind--that Marlborough should be "undervalued and
slighted" was "no new Thing, all the Histories of the World are full of
Examples to this purpose" and his greatness provides but a mark at
which the envious may shoot. In _Atalantis Major_ Defoe elaborates on
the causes of the nation's ingratitude: the debt was too great for
payment and resentment was the natural result. A second interest was
the military hero; much of Defoe's fiction--_Memoirs of a Cavalier_,
_Captain Singleton_, for instance--involved military men, and
Marlborough along with King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, another
soldier who scorned the conventional seventeenth century chess game
tactics, furnished a model. The "finish'd Hero" described includes all
of the virtues of Defoe's fictional leaders from Robinson Crusoe to
John in _Journal of the Plague Year_ to the Cavalier--"Prudent, and
Vigilant, and Temperate, Alert, and industrious, with an humble
Submission to the Will of the Almighty" (26), "Temperate, Sober,
Careful, Couragious, Politick, Skilful, so he is Courteous, Mild,
Affable, Humble, and Condescending to People of the meanest Condition"
(45). The Duke's virtues as well as Gustavus's enable the reader of
_Memoirs of a Cavalier_ and _The Memoirs of Captain George Carlton_ to
judge the commanders as Defoe would have. Above all, the "assured
Skill" and "daring Courage" appealed to Defoe--Robinson Crusoe's
campaigns against the cannibals and in the Far East repeat the daring,
risk-all quality of Ramilles. Defoe's enjoyment of marching vicariously
over great battles has led biographers such as J. R. Moore to say that
it was unfortunate his military genius was never used, and is
obvious in almost all of his fiction. So skillful are his descriptions
that J. H. Burton pauses to note "the character and claims of a book
(_Memoirs of Capt. George Carlton_, 1728) that has afforded him
valuable instruction on the general character of the war, along with
special instructions in its leading events."
Defoe's _Life_ was his first biography; other "memoirs" of the Duke of
Melfort (1714), Daniel Williams (1718), and Major Ramkins (1719)
suggest the progression to _The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures
of Robinson Crusoe_ (1719) and two other lives in that same year.
Defoe's sometimes troublesome skill with narrative voices is, in the
_Life_, a shadow of the competence displayed in _Moll Flanders_.
Although the "old Officer's" voice is sustained and there are excellent
touches, the distinctiveness and absorbing intimacy are only hinted at.
The polemist appeals too apparently to his readers while the opening
pages approach a declamation. The persona protests that he doesn't
"pretend in this Narrative to Inform the great People at Court,
concerning this thing," and that he writes only for the common people.
Defoe does limit carefully his material to events which were common
knowledge or would have been open to an old soldier--while he describes
the key maneuver of Ramilles, he certainly lacks a complete overview.
Many of the virtues praised would appeal most strongly to men who might
have been common foot concerned with regular bread, a well-run camp,
and a conscientious strategist, or to simple, pious women glad to hear
that their general prayed and provided Sunday sermons. Allusions to
Satan, "the cunning engineer," Solomon, and Moses were common enough,
while those to Hannibal and Raleigh had been exploited in Defoe's
other writing. Perhaps the most graphic section in this voice is the
description of the common soldier's misery in a rainy season march and
siege. A few passages have the confidential, gossipy tone of ordinary
people around a tavern table--Sarah was admired abroad, but in her own
country it was said she was "guilty of more Folly than a Retainer to
the College in Moore-Fields," an experienced old general knows more
coffeehouse quarterbacks, and the soldier naively speculates with
relish how "my Lord" narrowly escaped being "torn in Pieces" for the
rumor that he spoke words which would be "brutal from the mouth of
a Porter." Naive arguments (no man would continue in so hard an
undertaking from selfish motives), sincere patriotism (defense of his
King and Queen and praise for a nation "with a generous Race of Warlike
People" ready to risk their lives), and honest indignation at
"barbarous Lies" authenticate the narrator.
Defoe's writing--fiction and non-fiction--is all of a piece. The same
subjects and opinions reoccur and the techniques and style are nearly
indistinguishable. Expository material alternates with narrative
examples (which may in turn be followed by a paragraph or two drawing a
conclusion or a "moral") in all of his writing. The primary difference
is in the length of the narrative examples--in the fiction they are
naturally much longer. Over the years, they become increasingly
dramatic as may be seen in books such as _The Fortunate Mistress_ and
_Conjugal Lewdness_. _A Short Narrative_ conforms to this structural
pattern. Sentences which direct the reader's attention to this
structure are common. For instance, Defoe defends Marlborough's courage
with descriptions of the battle of Brabant, Ramilles, references to
Hannibal, and concludes, "And thus then you see, that our General wants
neither Conduct or Courage." Defoe's skill with these short, dramatic,
illustrative examples developed with the years. Defoe was always
concerned with presenting a case clearly and persuasively. Clearly
marked structure and "reasonable" conclusions alternate with anecdotes
and reminiscences intended to hold the reader's interest and dramatize
Defoe's _Life of Marlborough_ serves as a kind of barometer for the age
and for Defoe. A reliable if sketchy list of the Duke's military
successes and the major charges raised against him at various times
during his life may be matched to the struggles in the English
government and on the continent. The time had nearly come for the
Jacobites, whom Marlborough had offended by deserting James, and the
Tories, who had long thought him a presumptuous general and a former
Tory (or a lukewarm Tory as Marlborough might have thought himself) who
had perverted a Tory Queen, brought the Bill of Occasional Conformity
to defeat, and driven Tories out of office, to collect the debt that
they felt Marlborough owed them. The biography, written in the interim
between two foreign policies when so many momentous plans were
proceeding backstage, mirrors the age. It is also a barometer by which
Defoe's development can be measured; his journalistic involvement and
employment, his non-fiction techniques as well as his progress toward
the fiction are implied.
Winter Park, Florida
NOTES TO THE INTRODUCTION
1. Harley as a "trickster is a doctrine as deeply rooted in historical
opinion as the military skill of Marlborough and the oratorical
accomplishments of Bolingbroke." John Hill Burton, _A History of the
Reign of Queen Anne_ (New York: Scribner & Welford, 1880), iii, p. 71.
See also Elizabeth Hamilton, _The Backstairs Dragon: A Life of Robert
Harley, Earl of Oxford_ (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1969).
2. Winston S. Churchill, _Marlborough; His Life and Times_ (New
York: Scribner's, 1938), vi, pp. 85-6.
3. Marlborough was systematically deprived of the men upon whom he
relied most. The ministry took over Army promotions and dismissed
existing officers under the guise of protecting the Queen. Churchill,
vi, pp. 334-5.
4. Burton, iii, pp. 92-3.
5. Defoe to Harley, July 28, 1710. George Healey, ed., _The Letters
of Daniel Defoe_ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955).
6. _Examiner_, February 15, 1711. Herbert Davis, ed., _The Prose
Works of Jonathan Swift_ (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1940), p. 87.
7. Defoe's _Review_, January 22, 1712.
8. Cf. discussions of this in John Ross, _Swift and Defoe: A Study
in Relationship_ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1941);
Richard I. Cook, _Jonathan Swift as A Tory Pamphleteer_ (Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1967), and Irvin Ehrenpreis, _Swift:
The Man, His Works and the Age_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1967), ii, pp. 450ff. and 526ff.
9. This is similar to an argument Defoe uses to distinguish between
types of debtors in the _Review_ (iii, 83-4 and 397-400). Whether or
not the crime was "Wilful" was very important to Defoe; perhaps his
revised opinion of Marlborough as most obvious in his tribute to him
at his death is the result of his change of opinion about Marlborough's
motives and removing him from the list of heroes who possessed the
"courage of honor" as described in _An Apology for the Army_.
10. William Coxe, _Memoirs of John, Duke of Marlborough with his
Original Correspondence_ (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown,
1820), vi, p. 48.
11. Coxe, vi, p. 123.
12. Coxe, vi, 126.
13. The advantage France gained from Marlborough's fall and their
complete awareness of it is discussed in Churchill, vi, pp. 462-69.
14. Coxe, vi, p. 126; Hamilton, p. 172, and _The Letters and Dispatches
of John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough_ (London: John Murray,
15. J. R. Moore, _Daniel Defoe: Citizen of the Modern World_ (Chicago:
U. of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 255-56; Defoe's _An Appeal to Honor and
Justice_; and Chalmers says Defoe wrote what "either gratified his
prejudices or supplied his needs."
16. Davis, "_A Letter to the Examiner_," p. 221.
17. Moore, pp. 58-61.
18. Burton, ii, p. 171.
19. Bedlam and Grub Street as the colleges in the vicinity of
Moorefields were standard jokes. Moorfields was also associated with
cheap lodging, prostitution, theft, and the Pesthouse Burying Ground,
altogether an unhealthy environment.
20. Defoe discusses this in _Robinson Crusoe_, _Serious Reflections_,
and a _Collection of Miscellaney Letters_ and several other places. He
says, for example:
The custom of the ancients in writing fables is my very laudable
pattern for this; and my firm resolution in all I write to exalt
virtue, expose vice, promote truth, and help men to serious reflection,
is my first moving cause and last directed end.
(Preface to the Review)
Things seem to appear more lively to the Understanding, and to make a
stronger Impression upon the Mind when they are insinuated under the
cover of some Symbol or Allegory, especially where the moral is good,
and the Application obvious and easy.
(_Collection of Miscellaney Letters_, iv, 210)
21. For this and many other examples of Defoe's distinguishing
qualities in this appendix, I am deeply indebted to the late Professor
John Robert Moore.
The facsimile of Defoe's _A Short Narrative of ... Marlborough_ (1711)
is reproduced from a copy (Shelf Mark: *PR3404/S5451) in the William
Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The total type-page (p. 7) measures
153 x 79 mm.
A SHORT NARRATIVE OF THE
Life and Actions Of His GRACE
JOHN, D. of _Marlborough_,
FROM THE Beginning of the REVOLUTION,
to this present Time.
WITH SOME REMARKS on his CONDUCT.
_By an Old Officer in the Army._
Printed for _JOHN BAKER_, at the _Black-Boy_ in _Pater-noster-Row_,
A short NARRATIVE OF THE ACTIONS
Of his GRACE _John_, Duke of _Marlborough_.
Seeing the Press is open, and every body dares Write and Publish what
he pleases, and Persons of the highest Honour and Virtue, to the great
Shame and Scandal of our Country, are expos'd to the World, in base
Pamphlets; and according to the Malice or Misunderstanding of the
Authors, are represented to the World unworthy of the Favour of the
Prince, as well as Obnoxious to the Common-Wealth, in which they live:
It becomes every honest Man, who knows more of the Matter, to set
things in a true Light, to undeceive the People, as much as he is able,
that they may be no longer impos'd on by such false Reports, which in
the end may prove Dangerous and Fatal.
_There is nothing new_, saith Solomon, _under the Sun_; the same Causes
will always produce the same Effects; and while Mankind bear about
them, the various Passions of Love and Joy, Hatred and Grief, the
cunning Engineer, that stands behind the Curtain, will influence and
work these Passions according to his Malice, to the destruction of
Persons of highest Worth.
I shall therefore give a _short Narrative_ of the _Actions_ of the most
Illustrious _John_ Duke of _Marlborough_, with some Reflections on
them, that People may not wonder how it comes to pass, that such a
Great Captain, equal no doubt to any in all Ages, considering the
Powers whom he has Oppos'd, after all his Victories, should be
represented in the publick Writings of the Town, as over-Honoured and
over-Paid for all his past Services, and neglected and almost forgotten
in the midst of all his Triumphs, and his Name almost lost from the
Mouths of those People, who for several Years last past, and not many
Months since, have been fill'd with his Praises.
The first time that I had the Honour of seeing _John_, Earl of
_Marlborough_, (for so I shall call him till he was created a Duke) was
at a place call'd _Judoigne_ in _Brabant_, where our Army was Encamp'd,
I think about three Months after the late King was Crown'd. He was sent
over the King's Lieutenant, with the _British_ Forces under his
Command, which could then be spared for that Service. Our united Forces
were Commanded in general, by the Old Prince _Waldeck_.
After several Marches, we came to the Confines of _Haynault_, within a
League of a small Town call'd _Walcourt_, and on St. _Lewis_'s Day, a
Saint suppos'd to be prosperous to the _French_ Nation, their Army,
Commanded by Mareschal _d'Humiers_, very betimes in the Morning,
Marched to Attack us.
An _English_ Colonel guarded a Pass towards the aforesaid little Town,
to which the Enemy bent their Course; and being in Distress, was
reliev'd by my Lord in Person, who ordred his Retreat to such an
Advantage, that he flank'd the Enemy with perpetual Fire; and this was
the first Cause that cool'd them in their Design of pushing our Army.
At his return, the Prince receiv'd him with a great deal of
Satisfaction, and assured him that he would let the King know that he
saw into the Art of a General more in one Day, than others do in a
great many Years.
At the end of this Campaign, my Lord _Marlborough_ was ordered, with
half of the Forces under his Command, to Embark for _Ireland_; where I
come to relate what he performed there: As soon as he arrived in the
Harbour of _Kingsale_, having Landed his Forces, without the least loss
of Time, Marched directly to the Fort or Citadel of that Place, which
is a strong Fortification, and at that time, well provided with a good
Garrison, and all things necessary for a strong Defence.
My Lord did not stand to use Forms with them, which might look like a
Siege; but with a conquering Resolution, and perpetual Volleys, so
terrified them, that they soon Surrendred.
And now at this Place it was where the Duke's Actions began to be
Envied, and evil Reports touching his good Name and Reputation were
industriously spread abroad; and I am apt to believe, such back Friends
as these will hardly leave him so long as he remains in the World.
There was a Ship at that time in the said Harbour, which 'twas reported
had some Money on Board for paying of the Forces in these Parts; which
Ship, by some untimely Accident, was blown up and lost; and presently
after it was given out by some ill People there present with my Lord,
and by them sent into _England_ to their Party, that he had gotten the
Money beforehand to himself, and that the Ship was destroyed by his
Contrivance; that he had vast Sums of Money in _Holland_, and at
_Venice_; nay, some went farther and affirmed, that he had settled a
good Fund, upon Occasion, at _Constantinople_: And I am sure some such
like Reports and palpable Falsities are continued on him to this very
And now I suppose it could not be in this Year that the strong City of
_Dunkirk_ was to be betrayed by the Governour of it, and Surrendred to
some of the King's Forces.
In the next Campaign in _Flanders_, the Old _Waldeck_ was severely
beaten by Duke _Luxembourg_, at the Battle of _Flerus_: We were only
Six Battalions of _British_ left in _Ghent_, under the Command of the
then Brigadier _Talmach_: We had Orders to march, and to join the grand
Army at least a Fortnight before the Fight happened; but as we were
about to march out of the City, the City Gates were shut against us by
the People of that Place, because we had no Money to pay our Quarters.
Mr. _Sizar_, whom my Lord brought over with him the Year before, was
our Pay-Master-General, and at this time was gone down into _Holland_
to get some Money upon Credit, till our Supply was returned from
_England_; and then I remember there was a barbarous Lie spread up and
down among us, that our Money was kept in the Hands of Merchants by the
contrivance of my Lord and Mr. _Sizar_, that they might reap such a
particular Benefit, which could not be much, for the use of it.
_Waldeck_ being beaten, the Elector of _Brandenbourg_, for supporting
of him, was oblig'd by long Marches, to come and join us; after which,
nothing more of Consequence happened this Year. And now I suppose it
could not be in this Year that _Dunkirk_ was to be given up to some
party of the King's Forces; both his Majesty and my Lord _Marlborough_
being absent from us, and we had no Marches towards that part of the
Country, and good Reason for it, for we could not if we would.
I come now to our third Campaign, which was made in _Flanders_; and if
ever _Dunkirk_ was to be betrayed in some secret manner to the late
King; and if ever the Secret thereof was reveal'd by his Majesty to the
Earl of _Marlborough_; and if my Lord did reveal the same weighty
Secret to his Wife; and if by her it was discovered to her Sister at
_St. Germans_, and by her to the _French_ King, it must be placed in
this Year, or else it must be _extra anni solisque Vias_, the Lord
knows when and where.
I am sure that the pretended Discovery of this same Secret hath lain
hard on my Lord's Name for a great many Years; and upon most Discourses
of the Affairs in _Flanders_, that business of _Dunkirk_ is trump'd up
against my Lord to this very Day.
For as soon as this Story was sent abroad, it flew like Lightening, and
like the sham tragical Report which was put upon the _Irish_ at the
Revolution, it was scattered over all the Kingdom in an instant. The
loss of _Dunkirk_ is not to be forgotten, and 'tis fresh in the Minds
of the common People, both in Town and Country; and not only the
Farmers over a Pot of Ale at Market, will shake their Heads at
_Malbur_, (for so they call him) for losing of _Dunkirk_; but also
Gentlemen of good Rank and Condition believe it to be true, and talk of
it with a great deal of Regret to this very time. I don't pretend in
this Narrative to Inform the great People at Court, concerning this
thing; without doubt they very well know there was no great matter in
this mighty Secret; but most of it a design to Disgrace my Lord
_Marlborough_, that he might the more easily be turn'd out of his
Places at Court and in the Army: I write this to the common People
only; to vindicate the Innocent, and to undeceive a good part of the
Nation, who have not had an Opportunity to be better Informed.
This Summer then being our Third Campaign, the King came to the Army,
and with Him my Lord _Marlborough_, and several other Persons of
Quality: Among the rest was Count _Solmes_, a nigh Relation to his
Majesty, and Colonel of the great Regiment of _Dutch_ Blue Guards; and
then it was after two or three Marches that my Lord was observ'd to be
somewhat neglected, and his Interest in the Army to decay and cool; and
upon a certain Morning, as we were in full March, a Man might judge by
what then happened that it was so: For it seems the Count had ordered
his Baggage and Sumpters to take Place of my Lord's, and to cut them
out of the Line; of which Affront my Lord being inform'd by his
Servants, soon found him out, and having caus'd his Baggage to enter
the Post which was his due, with his Cane lifted up, and some hard
Words in _French_, 'twas thought by a great many that it would end in a
single Combat; but the Count thought fit to shear off, and we heard no
more of it.
All this Summer was spent in a great many Marches after the _French_,
to bring them to a Battle, but they Industriously and Artfully declin'd
it. The Summer being spent, the King committed the Army again to Prince
_Waldeck_, and went in haste to the _Hague_. Our Regiment was sent to
Garrison at _Mechlen_, where came the _Dutch_ Foot Guards to Winter
also. Count _Solmes_, as he designed for _Holland_, took this City in
his way, and there he assured a certain _English_ Colonel, who not long
before had been check'd by my Lord, about some Disorders in his
Regiment, that the Earl of _Marlborough_ had made his Peace with
_France_, and in a short time he would hear, that he would be call'd to
an Account for it.
When I went to _England_ that same Winter, my Lord's Appartments were
at the _Cock-pit_. 'Twas fine to see them full of Gentlemen and
Officers of all Ranks, as they are now to be seen every Day at his
Levee at St. _James_'s; but no sooner had my Lord _Sidney_ brought him
word from the King, that His Majesty had no farther Service for him in
the Court, or in the Army, but my Lord was forsaken by all his Shadows,
and his House left in a profound Silence.
Now a Person of my Lord's high Posts, especially having been so
eminently instrumental in the Revolution, could not be well laid aside
from all his Employments, without some Reasons were given to the People
for it; and in a short time the pretended Reasons were produced, and
they prevailed mightily.
The first was, That at the King's Levee at the putting on of the Shirt,
my Lord should speak scornfully of the Person of the King, who at the
same time having made a great Spitting (for his Majesty was a long time
troubled with a Consumptive Cough) that my Lord should say to some
Gentlemen nigh him, that _he wish'd it might be his last_.
As soon as this gross Affront was made known to the King, by a certain
Party, who can calumniate stoutly, and blast as well as blacken, it was
in a Moment all over the Court and Town; and 'tis a wonder my Lord was
not torn in Pieces.
But now to the Truth of this Matter. My Lord has been always esteem'd a
nice Courtier, well guarded in his Words, and one of the most Mannerly
best-bred Men of the Nation; and no Man of Sense can believe that a Man
of his Character could be so Indiscreet, as to drop such Words, which
would be Barbarous and Brutal from the Mouth of a Porter, much more
from the Lips of a Noble-Man and a General.
The other Reason was, That through his or his Lady's Treachery or
Indiscretion, the contrivance about _Dunkirk_ was discovered to the
_French_, or else 'tis very probable it would have been in our
Possession. And now to clear this Aspersion also.
_Dunkirk_ is suppos'd to be one of the strongest Fortresses of
_Europe_, either by Sea or Land, the _French_ King, by vast Labour, Art
and Cost, having made it to be so, and accordingly regards it with a
careful Eye, always keeping in it a good Garrison, with all manner of
Plenty for the Defence of it. The next Garrisons of ours towards that
Place, were _Bruges_, _Ostend_, and _Newport_, the nighest is
_Newport_, a small Fortress on the Sea, and about twenty Miles from
_Dunkirk_; we had no Marches towards any of these Places all this
Campaign, neither was it known that any Detachment was sent that way,
either in Summer or Winter: Scarce less than a body of Three Thousand
Men would suffice to secure that City if it were to be betrayed to
them; now how such a Party could march over so many Canals, Morasses,
and Trenches in that low Country, some part of the Enemy's, & most part
of it their Friends, unobserved, and not look'd after, especially a
Royal Army of theirs being at Hand, is not easie to be conceived by any
Person who understands the Business of a Soldier. 'Tis a great Hazzard,
a nice Difficulty for a _French_ Governour to betray a strong City;
unless all his Officers be in the Secret, and then 'tis wonderful, if
by some one or other it is not revealed, or else he has with him in the
Place several good Officers, who understand the Duty as well as
himself, and very probable that one or more of them may have private
Instructions to have an Eye upon him, and to keep him in View. Every
one that has a Command, knows his Alarm-Post, and every hour, Night and
Day, the Majors, or their Aids, or some other Officers, go their Rounds
upon the Walls all the Year long, in Places of so great Importance. As
for the betraying of it to any Naval Forces, I suppose 'twas never
thought on, unless the whole Garrison, with the Burghers, should give
their Consent, and stand idly gazing on whilst the Ships were
approaching: Indeed there was once a Design upon some Sea-port of this
Garrison, to shake and shatter it with a Vessel, which was called for
that purpose _The Terrible Machine_; it made a horrible Crack when it
was Fired, and so the Engine and the Design vanish'd in Smoak.
But now admitting that all this was true, and that there was a
Contrivance to put _Dunkirk_ into our Hands, and the Plot was
discovered, and the Governour was hang'd, (which upon strict Enquiry no
one could tell whom he was, or when or where he was Executed) yet why
must my Lord _Marlborough_, or his Lady, be the Betrayers of this
weighty Secret? If it was for a good Reward, I suppose no one living
can tell how, or when, or where it was paid. And what great Services my
Lord has done for the _French_ King, for a great many Years to this
very Day; let the World judge.
But to put all this Matter out of doubt, our most Gracious Sovereign
Lady the QUEEN, who was then Princess, was at that time the best Judge
of this Untruth cast upon them; for notwithstanding the high
displeasure of the Court, she always gave them Umbrage and Protection,
which without doubt she would not have done, unless she was thoroughly
persuaded of their Innocence.
To be short, my Lord was a true Lover of the Interest of his Country,
and a true Member of the Church of _England_; and most Places of State
and Power were in the Hands of such Persons, who seem'd to depress the
Fences of the Church, and favour the Dissenters, and their Favourers
the Whigs: So 'twas not thought convenient that my Lord should be
admitted into their Secrets; upon which they gave him a good Name, and
turned him out.
My Lord was no sooner discharged of his Places, but like the old
_Roman_ Dictator, with the same calmness of Temper he retired from the
highest Business of State, to his _Villa_ in the Country; but he shew'd
himself as skilful an Husband-Man, as he had been a Soldier: But here
he could not long enjoy the Quiet which he sought, but the same Malice
found him here, which had turn'd him from the Court; from hence he was
taken and clap'd up into the _Tower_, where most of Friends thought he
would have lost that Head, which has since done so much good to his
Queen and Country.
And thus I have shew'd how very much my Lord has been obliged to the
Whigs in those Days. The Jacobites at this time were not behind hand
with him in their good Wishes, but all they could do, was to Rail and
call Names, and so promise their good Nature, when 'twas in their
The King, who was certainly an able Judge of Men, had never time enough
to be acquainted with the excellent Merits of this Noble Lord, but he
was blasted by His Enemies, before his Virtues were sufficiently made
known to Him.
But when several great Men, who were true Lovers of their Country, had
fully inform'd his Majesty, that my Lord was always his most faithful
Servant and Subject, and most willing to serve Him to the utmost of his
Power; and that 'twas pity such an able Man should be laid by as
useless _and forgotten_: My Lord was brought again to the King's nearer
Conversation; and after the late Peace, as his Majesty found himself
decaying in his Health, and the _French_ King dealing more and more
every Day insincerely with him, and his Allies, he chose him again his
General, and his Ambassador to the States; and having brought him to
_Holland_, that he might be fully instructed in all the necessary
Affairs of both Nations, he recommended him to his Successor, our most
Gracious QUEEN, as the only fit Person, whose Spirit might encounter
the Genius of _France_, and strangle their Designs of swallowing
No sooner had our Sovereign Lady Queen ANNE mounted the Throne, but in
concert with her High Allies, she proclaim'd War against _France_; and
having created my Lord, Duke of _Marlborough_, she sent him her
Plenepotentiary into _Holland_ to the States, and Captain General of
Her Forces; and I am sure a great many Officers who had serv'd under
him in the former War, were glad to see him once more at the Head of an
In the beginning of this first Year of the War, the _French_ Army,
under the Conduct of Mareschal _Boufflers_, was a little beforehand
with us, and came into the Field stronger than ours; some Troops of the
Allies having not yet join'd us. The _French_ had coop'd up our Army
under the Walls of _Nimeguen_, and much ado we had, by frequent
Skirmishes, to hinder them from investing that considerable Frontier,
at that time unprovided by the neglect of the Governour, as 'tis
reported, of all warlike Necessaries for the Defence of it. A Man might
then see but an indifferent Ayre in the face of our Forces: The States
were under great Apprehensions, least the Enemy should penetrate into
their Country; and nothing could recover them from their Fears, till
his Grace, after three or four Days, had join'd our Army with some
additional Troops; upon his Approach we had immediately a new Scene of
Affairs; each Soldier seem'd to receive a new Life by the Cheerfulness
of their Officers; and he presently assured the Deputies of the States,
that the _French_ should be no longer their bad Neighbours, but he
would oblige them to March farther off that Country, and that with a
Witness. They were like People in a Trance, and could hardly believe
that their Affairs had receiv'd so happy a turn; accordingly we
march'd, and having passed the _Maes_, Coasted along that side of
_Brabant_, which lies towards that River, towards the open Country of
_Mastricht_ and _Luickland_, and not long after, almost in Sight of
their Army, we opened that noble River, to the great Benefit of the
Trade of the Country, having taken from the _French_ the Fortresses of
_Stochum_, of _Stevenswaert_, of _Ruremond_, and _Venlo_, and at last
the strong Cittadel and City of _Liege_, with a vast quantity of Cannon
and Prisoners; the _French_ not daring to relieve any of them by
venturing a Battle.
In this Campaign our General shew'd himself a true Master of his Art,
having outdone the _French_ Mareschal in every March. When he came into
_Holland_, he was receiv'd into their Cities, as their Tutelar Angel,
and their own Generals came to thank him for this happy Campaign,
without any sign of Envy.
When he returned to _England_, he was well receiv'd by the Queen his
Mistress, and with the Joy of all good People; but then there was some
allay to this good Fortune, several People were heard to Grumble, that
after this Manner we should not get to _Paris_ in a long time, and a
Speech was Printed, as if a Peer of the Realm had been the Author of
it, with some ironical Touches on the Duke, about raising the ancient
Valour of the Nation; and that 'twas unreasonable, that one Man should
have a _King-Key_, which should open every Door in the Nation.
About this time also Pamphlets began to fly, much reflecting on the
Countess of _Marlborough_, which I think have not ceas'd, but very much
increased against her every Year, to this very Day. I never had the
Honour to see that Lady, but once at the _Hague_; she was there with
her Husband, the last time our late King was in that Country; and it
was a common Report, at that Court, among a great many Gentlemen of
very good Quality, that she was esteemed there among the Foreign
Ladies, one of the best bred Women of her Age; and here are Ladies from
most Courts of _Europe_, who, without doubt, are the nicest Judges: But
to be sure here at home they give her Name very poor Quarters, and make
her guilty of more Folly, than a Retainer to the College in
It will be too long for me to set down the particular Victories of
every Campaign, and I hope no need of it; because 'tis probable they
are fresh in the Memory of every good Subject. His wonderful and
conquering March to the Banks of the _Danube_; His artful Passing the
_French_ Lines, purely owing to his own good Conduct; His Beating each
one of the _French_ Great Mareschals round in their Turns, in several
well fought Battles: A People, who for an Age had bullied the rest of
_Europe_, and had taught other Nations the Art and Tactiques of War, as
well as their Modes and Language: Their Captiv'd Generals and Conquered
Towns, perhaps the Strongest in the Universe, demonstrate not only his
Wisdom, Skill and Conduct, but also his surmounting Courage, and
And now at first View a Man might wonder how it should come to pass
that such a Renown'd General, after so many Signal Services, and great
Actions, for the good of his Country, should be so undervalued and
slighted at his return home from the very middle of his Labours, by any
one who pretends to value the good of his Nation: But this is no new
Thing, all the Histories of the World are full of Examples to this
purpose, and most of them of Men of War and Great Captains.
Sir _Walter Raleigh_ has mustered up a long Roll of Glorious Sufferers,
from the most ancient to his own Times; and in the Condition in which
he then was, might have brought in himself for a remarkable Sharer. For
the most eminent Virtues are but as so many fair Marks set up on high
for Envy to shoot at with her poysonous Darts, and in all States, 'tis
sometimes dangerous to be Great and Good, for cunning Envy is often
very strong, and when once its Devices are effectually spread in the
Mouths of the Multitude, will produce a Blast able to blow down the
most lofty Cedar: 'Tis therefore for the good of the common People of
the Nation, that I shall let them see the scandalous Reflections which
are scattered abroad on the Honour of the Duke of _Marlborough_; and
when I have shewn to any rational Man that they are all False,
Unreasonable, and Malicious, I have my End.
The first Scandal that is put abroad upon his Grace is this: That he
has avoided several Opportunities of Fighting, not considering the
great burden of Taxes that lies upon the Nation, because the War should
be continued longer, whereby he may increase his Riches, and keep up
his Power. Now how false this Report is, will easily appear.
For the Business of Peace and War does not depend on a General: 'Tis
the Business of his Monarch, who best knows the proper times for such
Treaties. Other Princes are concern'd in the War, as well as ours, and
their Subjects are as desirous of Peace as any of us can be, yet this
Peace can't well be obtain'd without a joint Consent; but if the Enemy
against whom we Fight, will not come to any terms of Peace that are
Reasonable, and Honourable, and Just, and upon which the War is
founded, but in his pretended Treaties, chicanes and falsifies, and is
altogether Insincere, then 'tis not the General's Fault if we can't
have Peace; we are in for the War, and we must stand to it.
Indeed in the last dear Year of Corn, _France_ was almost reduced to
their last Shifts; their Sufferings could be call'd little less than a
Famine, and most of the Powers of _Europe_ did really believe that they
must have sued for a Peace, if they had not been assisted; but whilst
the Circumstances of this Peace were in Agitation, then did the good
People of Great _Britain_ and _Ireland_, the north part of them to
_Burgundy_, and _Champaign_, by way of _Holland_, thro' the _Maes_; and
the South Part of them from _Dunkirk_ and _Calais_ over-against _Kent_,
beyond the Mouth of the _Garroon_ on the Western Ocean, supply that
Country with vast quantities of Corn, almost to the starving of their
own People. Not one of them cried out for Peace, or blam'd the General,
their Pockets being well fill'd; But swore in the Markets, over
plentiful Nappy, that in a short time they would pull old _Lewis_ out
of his Throne.
As for our Generals avoiding Fighting, 'tis easie to guess out of what
Quiver this Arrow of Scandal was drawn; for without doubt 'twas forg'd
in his own Army; and seeing the _Roman_ History is now much in Fashion,
I shall give an Example, as an Answer to this Scandal, and without
doubt 'tis home to the Purpose. _Haniball_ had beaten the _Romans_ in
three great Battles of _Ticinum_, _Trebia_, and _Thrasymene_: 'Twas his
Business to Fight the _Romans_ wherever he could come at them; his Army
being compounded of rough old Mercenary Soldiers of divers Nations, who
are ready to Mutiny and Desert upon all Occasions, if they have not
present Pay or continual Plunder; in this Extremity the old _Fabius_
was chosen Dictator, or supream Commander; he was a good Man of War,
and understood his Business; and for his Lieutenant, or Master of the
Horse, which among them was all one, he chose one _Minutius_, the worst
thing that ever he did; because in a short time he found him to be an
Ungrateful, Conceited, Hot-headed Accuser. _Fabius_ with great skill
and caution avoided Battle by Coasting _Hanibal_ on the sides of Hills
in rough Ground, by Woods and Rivers, and hard Passes; because much
inferior in Horse to the _Carthaginian_; and thereby gain'd time to
confirm the Hearts of his Soldiers, and so make them capable by degrees
to look the Enemy in the Face. _Hanibal_ soon found that by no means he
could draw in this wary old _Gamester_, but declar'd, that he fear'd
nothing more than that Clowd which hung about the Hill Tops, least some
time or other it should fall down and severely wet him. Winter coming
on, and the Dictator being obliged to return home about some other
Affairs; He left his Army to the Care of this Master of the Horse, with
a strict charge to shun Fighting with all possible Care, and to follow
the Example which he had set before him: He was prowd of this
Opportunity of Commanding the Army, and believ'd himself the best and
the ablest Man for it; he procured to have his Courage magnified at
home among the common People, and that if he had a Command equal to the
Captain General, he would soon give a better Account of _Hanibal_ and
his Army; that _Fabius_ was afraid to look towards his Enemy, and
thereby disheartned the Soldiers, who were otherwise naturally Brave;
and by his Fearfulness suffered these Barbarians to Ravage in their
Country, to their Ruine and Destruction. The Tribunes of the People,
not much better than Captains of the Mob, were his particular Friends,
and they complaining to the Senate, every where gave it out, that after
this manner of _Fabius_ his going on, the War would never have an end,
that the City would be undone by perpetual Taxes; that all Trade was
ceas'd, and nothing to be seen among the Commons, but a sad Prospect of
The Senate was wearied out by these Factious Importunities, till at
last 'twas granted, that the Master of the Horse should have equal
Command with that Great Man who would preserve them from Ruine.
Accordingly he receiv'd half of the Army to be under his Charge, by a
Lot, for _Fabius_ would not endure, because he foresaw what would come
to pass, that it shou'd be in his Power, for one Day, to command the
whole. _Minutius_, forsooth, to show his Bravery, march'd nearer to the
Enemy. _Hannibal_ had laid a Train for the Hotspur, and soon caught
him; and both he and his Army had been soon cut to pieces if the Old
General, not permitting private Revenge to interfere with the good of
his Country, had not drawn down in very good Order, repuls'd the
Ambush, and secur'd his Retreat. The best thing that _Minutius_ cou'd
do, was to beg Pardon for his Fault, and promise more regard to his
Superiors for the future. So that you see 'tis the Experienc'd,
Skilful, Old General who is best Judge of times of Fighting; and that
Man who asperses his Honour is to be suspected as either wanting
Judgment, or an Enemy to the Publick.
Another Scandal was lately rais'd against his Grace, as touching his
good Conduct and Skill, as he is a General; and this is much among
those sort of People, whose Mouths go off smartly with a Whiff of
Tobacco, and fight Battles, and take Towns over a Dish of Coffee. They
give out, like Men of great Understanding in the Art Military, that the
Duke is more beholding to his Good-Fortune than his Skill, in the
Advantages he has gain'd over the _French_, and that he may thank the
Prince of _Savoy_, and the good Forces which he Commands, more than his
own Skill in War, for his great Reputation.
The Good-Fortune of His Grace ought to be attributed to the good
Providence of GOD, for which, both he and the whole Nation ought to be
thankful. 'Tis a great Happiness to have such a Fortunate General; and,
without doubt, the _French_ King would purchase such another at any
rate, if he could.
But then, _Nullum numen abest, si sit Prudentia_. The General that is
Prudent, and Vigilant, and Temperate, Alert, and Industrious, with an
humble Submission to the Will of the Almighty, takes the right way of
obliging Fortune to be of his Side: Or, to speak better, the Blessings
of Heaven to crown his Endeavours: For in War 'tis seldom known, (quite
contrary to the Old Proverb) that in conducting Armies and fighting
Battles, _Fools_ _have Fortune_.
As for his Acting in Concert with the Heroick Prince of _Savoy_, who
is, without doubt, one of the ablest Generals of the Universe, and
chusing of him to be his Friend and Colleague, is one of the strongest
Arguments of his Art and Knowledge: Mutual Danger, and mutual
Principles of Honour, have entirely united them. In all difficult
Points they presently agree, as if what one was Speaking, the other was
Thinking of the same Matter at the very same time: And no Person can
believe, that Prince _Eugene_ would endure that any Person in the World
should share with him in his Fame and Glory, unless such an Hero, whom
he thinks in all Points to be his Equal. As for the Troops under his
Command, 'tis evident to the World, that they excel all others; for the
sake of their Countries they are prodigal of their Blood; and under
such a General, by their own Confession, when they go to Action, think
of nothing else but Victory and Triumph.
But Matters of Fact are the best Arguments. Amongst the great number
which might be produc'd, I shall only Instance these two following; and
I am sorry that those People who have not seen Marching or Embatteling
Armies cannot be competent Judges of them. Let the first be in the
first Campaign, in the first Year of Her Majesty's Reign. We were
encamp'd on the Confines of _Brabant_, not far from a little Town
call'd _Peer_; the Country round about is almost all great Heaths and
large Commons; we were in full March betimes in the Morning, and, by
the countenance of our March, 'twas suppos'd we should have a long and
a late Fatigue; when, on a sudden, about Eleven a Clock, we had Orders
to halt, and to encamp at the bottom of an Heath, behind some rising
Grounds and great Sand-Hills, near a Place called _Hilteren_; and
according to the Time that my Lord Duke had projected, Mareschal
_Boufflers_, with his Army, was blunder'd upon us, within Shot of our
Cannon, not knowing where we were. At that time we were superior to the
_French_, especially in Horse; they could by no means avoid a Battle,
the Mareschal was caught: And if the Deputies of the States, and their
Generals, could have been perswaded to venture a Battle, in conjunction
with the other Allies; and they were entreated enough, almost with
Tears, by all the other Princes and Generals of the Army, 'tis very
probable the _French_, under that great surprize, had been severely
beaten. At last they stole away from us in a dark Night, and were glad
of the Escape. And thus then you see the great Skill of our General, to
entrap the _French_ Mareschal in his March, in the middle of the Day,
and to make him, in a manner, fall into his Arms.
The second Instance is from the Battle of _Ramelies_. A Stratagem well
laid argues the great Dexterity and Penetration of a General; in deep
hollow Ways, in close Bottoms, and nigh sides of Woods, Ambuscades are
often laid, and, perhaps, as often discovered; but to bring an Ambush
upon an Enemy, into the open Country, in the face of the Sun, requires
an assured Skill, as well as a daring Courage. Thus 'tis said of the
Great _Hannibal_, at the Battle of _Cannæ_, that in the open Field he
brought an Ambush on the Backs of the _Romans_, which very much help'd
to encrease their Terror and Confusion. And thus did our General, at
the foremention'd Battle, but with a better Contrivance.
The _French_ King had Intelligence given him, that all the Forces of
our Army were not join'd, and accordingly sent positive Orders to his
General, not to let slip that Opportunity of chastising the Insolence
of the Allies, for that was the Expression; and indeed 'twas true, the
Allies had been pretty bold with him several times before: and the
Mareschal doubted not but to have time enough to execute his Master's
Commands, before a good Body of Horse, which he understood to be at a
great distance, could be able to come up and assist us. The Duke gave a
pretty good Guess at the Monsieur's Designs, and before-hand had sent
strict Order, that they, without the least delay, should speed
immediately towards him, and in the middle of the Night, to halt at a
Village where he had appointed, not above two Leagues from his Camp;
and after a little Refreshment, and Preparation for Service, must be
ready to move at break of Day, upon the first bruit of Cannon: For
their resting in that Place, and at such a distance, would be much more
to his Advantage than if they had join'd him.
The Business being thus order'd, he was resolv'd the Enemy should not
take all the Pains in coming towards him, but to meet them on part of
the Way. The _French_ Right Wing, in which were their best Troops,
oppos'd our Left, and in their vigorous Charge had the better of the
Allies: The Duke, with the other Generals, rallied them again; but
finding it difficult to sustain the strong Impression of the Enemy,
presently gave out, and it took among all the Squadrons in a Moment,
That a great number of the best Troops in the World, who were their
Friends, were just at their Heels with Sword in hand, ready to sustain
them, that no Power of the Enemy could look them in the Face; which
being seen to be true, as well as felt by the Enemy, they were soon
repulsed, discourag'd, and put into Confusion, which was the first
cause of the general Rout of their Army.
And thus then you see, that our General wants neither Conduct or
Courage: And as 'twas once said to that Renown'd Captain _Epaminondas_,
who having no Children, and being about to die of his honourable
Wounds, that his two Battels of _Leuctra_ and _Mantinæa_ should be as
two fair Daughters to preserve his Memory. So may we say, that the many
Battles and Sieges, fought and won by our Great _Marlborough_, in the
Provinces of _Gelders_, of _Limbourg_, of _Brabant_, of _Flanders_, of
_Artois_, of _Hainault_, shall be far excelling the most numerous
Progeny to eternize his Name.
The other false Reports that are spread among the People, by the
Enemies of the Duke, are these; That his way of Living in the Army is
Mean and Parsimonious, unbecoming the Honour and Dignity of his Post.
That the Income and Revenue from the Profits of his Places are too much
for a Subject: And that he minds nothing so much as getting of Riches.
All which Reports are false and malicious, and only the Designs of his
_Wo be to them that call Evil Good, and Good Evil._ Some of this was
part of the False Accusation that was urged against _Scipio_ the
_Asiatic_, by the Malice and ill Nature of _Cato_ and his Accomplices;
That he had squandred away the Money of the Government, in a great
measure, by his excessive Way of Living; for so his Magnificence was
termed by them: That his vast Treats and luxurious Tables had some
popular Design. And, to be sure, if our General should offer to live
after any such manner, the Nation would be fill'd with perpetual
Clamour, that he treated the Officers to make them his Creatures, and
in a short time would set up for himself; for, without doubt, those
things which other Men might do, tho' much inferior to the Duke, with a
general Applause, in him would be Criminal, and of bad Consequence.
In all ancient Histories nothing is more highly prais'd in Princes and
great Captains, than Temperance and Moderation in Meat and Drink. The
Commander of the Army ought to be vigilant, that (as a good Prince once
said) the People committed to his Charge may sleep more safely; and
'tis not to be conceiv'd how such a Person, who is loaded continually
with foggy Intemperance, can be Careful, Active, Watchful, Alert,
Thoughtful, Foreseeing, being all Qualities necessary for so great a
His Grace governs his Family abroad like a wise Master, with good Order
and Method; every thing about him shines with a temperate Use, and a
daily chearful Plenty, not only for his own Domesticks, but for many
others; but then all this is in due time and season: He has no
Constitution for an Intemperate Life, and the Loads of it would soon
As for his great Profits in the Army, let us take a view of them: There
is an Author call'd, _The Examiner_, who has been very diligent in
searching into His Grace's Revenue: But I am sure, in his Perquisites
belonging to the Army he can be no Judge; the Pay of a Captain General,
by the Day, may be known to any one, I suppose 'tis set down in the
_Present State of England_, as well as Master of the Ordnance, and
Colonel of a Regiment of Foot-Guards; these are all his Military
Employments, and the Pay of them as much his due, as the Pay of Three
Shillings and Six-Pence is to an Ensign. The Earl of _Rumney_ had all
these Places except Captain-General; he was both a Lieutenant-General
and an Ambassador, and enjoy'd them a long time, and yet I never heard
of any Man that envied him, or found fault that he had too many Places.
And 'tis a common thing for a great Mareschal of _France_ to have many
more Posts, and of much greater Profits.
Any young Clerk, who belongs to an Agent, can presently show how many
Regiments of Horse, Foot, and Dragoons are in the Pay of Her Majesty,
under the Duke; and everyone there, from a General to a Drummer, what
their proper Pay is, nor can they be deceived. The Hospitals and the
Artillery are paid accordingly, in an exact Method. The Pay of each
particular Body is issued out to the Pay-masters of the Army, from the
Pay-Master-General; and the Duke touches not a Farthing but what
properly belongs to him. And whereas abundance of People complain, that
almost all the Money of the Nation was, by the late Lord Treasurer,
sent into _Flanders_ to pay the Troops there; no matter what became of
the other parts of the War. This I know to be true, That the mercenary
or hired Forces, which are in our Pay, and are the greatest part of our
Army under the Duke, being most of them _Danes_, _Swiss_, _Saxons_, and
_Palatines_, all of the _German_ kind, will not march one Foot,
notwithstanding all the Perswasions that any General can use; no, not
to save any King or Prince in the World, unless they are duly paid, at
the appointed times, according to their first Agreement: but then, as
soon as you shew the _Gheldt_, they presently Shoulder, and Stalk
wheresoever you please.
What the Queen is pleas'd to allow the Duke for his Secret Service,
because his Eyes and Ears must be in all Secret Cabinets, (and, without
doubt, his Intelligence must be very good) it is not fit for me or the
_Examiner_ to know; or, for ought I can judge, any one else besides in
The Perquisites of Safeguards and Contributions, which in all Times
have belong'd to Generals, can't easily be valued, they are according
to the Countries in which the War is carried. But for all these Profits
to be ascrib'd to the Duke, (as in several Pamphlets 'tis evident they
are) is very unreasonable; because there are two other Chief Generals
besides, the Prince of _Savoy_ for the Imperialists, and Count _Tilly_
for the States, each of which will claim their Parts as well as His
Grace; besides the gross of them, which are given to the States
themselves: and yet we hear of no Complaint, or Papers printed against
them, or in the least envied by any of the Nations under whom they
In short, 'tis all the Reason that a conquering General, who fights our
Battels, and must look the Powers of _Europe_ in the Face, as he is
distinguish'd by Titles of Honour, so where-ever he goes he ought to be
attended with Plenty and Riches.
A Sea-Captain, after the Service of Nine or Ten Years, is usually
Master of a very great Fortune, he Sails in his Coach with rich
Liveries for his Colours, and Steers from his City to his Country-House
unenvied, and without unmerciful Remarks. The honest Gentlemen in Town,
call'd Agents, most of whom are risen from a mean Condition to be
Members of Parliament, Justices of the Peace, and to purchase Estates,
where-ever they can find out Land to be dispos'd of, who never ventur'd
their Lives farther than from the Pay-Office to the Tavern; and yet
they make a Figure in the World with a very good Grace, untouch'd, or
not mark'd by any Observator.
But this has been the Fortune of the most glorious Persons, to be
envied and persecuted whilst they are alive, and when taken away from
us by some unlucky Accident, are desir'd too late, and lamented with a
If we observe, through the whole Nation, either here in this Capital,
or in any other Parts of _England_, allowing but for proportion of
Merit and Dignity, we shall find more People belonging to Offices of
Docks and Yards, to Offices of Stores and Victualling, who have made as
good use of the Places in which they serve, and with no greater Fatigue
and Danger than Figuring and Writing, as the best and richest General
When my Lord _Marlborough_ had escap'd the Wars, and was return'd to
the quiet of the Country, no Word was heard of him in Court or Town, no
one talked of his Money, or Riches, or Estate; but no sooner was he
again call'd to the High Station in which he now Acts, but Envy had
presently found him out, even in the midst of Guards and Arms, and ever
since has follow'd him close with all sorts of False-Reports, to this
very time; as if nothing but his most excellent Qualities, and growing
Glory, could make him Unfortunate.
Indeed Generals, tho' the most accomplish'd Heroes, are but Men, they
are not Infallible, but may be mistaken as well as other Mortals, they
are subject to Faults and Infirmities as well as their Fellow-Creatures;
but then their great Services for the good of their Country ought to be
cast into the Ballance, against their humane Mistakes; and not only
Charity, but Self-consideration should give them very good Quarter,
unless their Faults are prov'd to be Wilful and Contumacious.
I know not how it might happen to the Duke if he should chance to
Miscarry, or be beaten in a Battle; God be prais'd, as yet he has never
been foil'd: but then we must not suppose that he is Invincible, that
Fortune will always be confin'd to the Pomel of his Sword. But this is
certain, that the _French_ King has not been severe to any of his Great
Captains, tho', in their turns, they have been all beaten by the Prince
of _Savoy_ and the Duke, the Prince taking one of his chief Mareschals
a Prisoner with him out of the midst of his Garison; the Duke another
of them on the Banks of the _Danube_, with the greatest part of the
Banners and Trophies of his almost captiv'd Army: there are no Outcries
of the Common People for a Sacrifice to the Publick, nor base
Reflections made on their Courage or Conduct; because 'tis suppos'd in
all those fiery Ordeals of Battles, a General exerts all the Faculties
and Powers of Body and Soul; he puts Nature on the stretch. And as my
Lord Duke, at the conclusion of the great Battle of _Blenheim_ said, I
think to his Honour, that he believed he had pray'd more that Day than
all the Chaplains of his Army.
Therefore let not People think, that those Gentlemen who are call'd to
fight Battles make use of those Employments, in the heat of a bloody
War, for Diversion or Pleasure. They who have been Spectators of what
they do and what they suffer, will soon be perswaded, that no People
under Heaven purchase their Profits and Honours at a dearer rate.
'Tis a great happiness to a Nation to have a generous Race of Warlike
People, who, at all times, are ready to venture their Lives in the
defence of it. Cowardice is the highest Scandal to a Country, and
exposes it to be a Prey to every Invader, as well as a Scorn to their
Neighbours. In all Histories of the World, they who dare die for the
sake of their Country, have been esteem'd as a sort of Martyrs: And the
People who are protected at Home in their Estates, Ease, Safety, and
Liberties, ought not to grudge them of any of their Perquisites; but to
bless God for such a gallant number of Martial Brethren, who drive the
War at a great distance, so that we see none, we do but hear of it; for
'tis a sad thing to behold the Ravages, the Ruine, the Spoils, the
Devastations of those Countries which happen to be the Seats of War.
When the Officers, coming from _Flanders_, after the Campaign, appear
in the newest Fashions, which they bring over with them, with a good
Ayre and genteel Mien, which is almost common to them, the People, who
never saw the Hardships which they undergo, think them only design'd
for Pleasure and Ease, and their Profession to be desir'd above any
thing in the World besides. They often hear of Fights and Sieges, and
of a great many Men kill'd in a few Hours; but because they see not the
Actions, the Talk leaves but a small and transient Impression, and so
in a small time is wip'd off and forgotten. But if they did but see
them in a Rainy Season, when the whole Country about them is trod into
a Chaos, and in such intolerable Marches, Men and Horses dying and dead
together, and the best of them glad of a bundle of Straw to lay down
their wet and weary Limbs: If they did but see a Siege, besides the
daily danger and expectation of Death, which is common to all, from the
General to the Centinel; the Watches, the Labours, the Cares which
attend the greatest; the ugly Sights, the Stinks of Mortality, the
Grass all wither'd and black with the Smoke of Powder, the horrid
Noises all Night and all Day, and Spoil and Destruction on every side;
I am sure they would be perswaded, that a State of War, to those who
are engag'd in it, must needs, be a state of Labour and Misery; and
that a great General, I mean such a one as the Duke of _Marlborough_,
weak in his Constitution, and well stricken in Years, would not undergo
those eating Cares, which must be continually at his Heart; the Toils
and Hardships which he must endure, and the often Sorrows which must
prick his Heart for ugly Accidents, if he has the least Spark of humane
Commiseration, I say, he would not engage himself in such a Life, if
not for the sake of his Queen and Country, and his Honour.
I come now to add a word or two of the government of the Forces under
his Care. His own Example gives a particular Life to his Orders; and as
no indecent Expression, unbecoming, unclean, or unhandsome Language
ever drops from his Lips, so he is imitated by the genteel part of his
Army: His Camps are like a quiet and well-govern'd City; and, I am apt
to believe, much more Mannerly; Cursing and Swearing, and boisterous
Words being never heard among those who are accounted good Officers:
And, without doubt, his Army is the best Academy in the World to teach
a young Gentlemen Wit and Breeding; a Sot and a Drunkard being scorn'd
These poor Wretches, that are (too many of them) the refuse and
off-scowrings of the worst parts of our Nation, after two Campaigns, by
the Care of their Officers, and good Order and Discipline, are made
Tractable, and Civil, and Orderly, and Sensible, and Clean, and have an
Ayre and a Spirit that is beyond vulgar People.
The Service of GOD, according to the Order of our Church, is strictly
enjoin'd by the Dukes special Care; and in all fixed Camps, every Day,
Morning and Evening, there are Prayers; and on Sundays Sermons are duly
perform'd with all Decency and Respect, as well as in Garisons. And, to
be sure, the Good-Nature, and Compassion, and Charity of Officers
express'd to the poor sick and wounded Soldiers, and to their Families
in Garison, is more Liberal, and Generous, and Free, than usually we
meet with in our own Country.
And now then I hope my good Country-men will not suffer themselves any
longer to be impos'd on by false Reports, which are cunningly spread
abroad among them, against a Gentleman, a Patriot, who ventures his
Life, every Day, for their Safety, and is endeavouring to the utmost of
his Power, under his Most Gracious Sovereign, by his Courage, his
Skill, and his Wisdom, to bring the Common Enemy to Reason, and to
procure them and our Allies, an honourable and lasting Peace.
'Tis a thing of ill Consequence to bring a Disreputation on the good
Name of a General; and to lessen his Honour is to dispirit his Army:
for when the Forces under his Command have once a mean Opinion of the
Integrity, and Honour, and Conduct of their General, they may be drawn
out and forced to Battle, but never be perswaded to think of Laurels
'Tis an old Piece of Policy for an Enemy, if possible, to bring an
Odium on the Honour of a General against whom he is to act. Thus did
_Hannibal_, who, in his moroding Marches, had spared some Grounds
belonging to the Dictator _Fabius_, not out of any respect or kindness
to his Person, but to bring him into Envy and Suspicion among the
People at _Rome_; and so 'twas given out by one of the Tribunes, that
_Hannibal_ and he had, as it were, made a Truce; that the drift of
_Fabius_ could be nothing else but to prolong the War, that he might be
long in Office, and have the sole Government both of City and Armies.
And, without doubt, the _French_ King would have been very well
satisfied, if this same Aspersion, which was lately spread abroad
concerning our General, had taken the effect of having him laid aside,
and put out of his Places. A Finish'd Hero does not grow up every Day,
they are scarce Plants, and do not thrive in every Soil; He may be
easily lost, but then that Loss cannot easily be repair'd; therefore
there is great Reason to Value and Esteem him.
To conclude, As our great Commander is known to the World, or at least
to the greatest part of it, to be Temperate, Sober, Careful,
Couragious, Politick, Skilful, so he is Courteous, Mild, Affable,
Humble, and Condescending to People of the meanest Condition. And as
'tis said of _Moses_, the Great, the Valiant Captain-General of
Almighty God, for an immortal Title of Honour, that he was one of the
Meekest Men upon the Earth; so, without doubt, our Captain-General,
_John_ Duke of _Marlborough_, has a great share of it.
Authorship of _A Short Narrative_
While no direct contemporary corroboration exists as evidence for
Defoe's authorship, a considerable number of literary mannerisms,
interests, and opinions appear to establish it conclusively.
As Professor John Robert Moore said, _The Life_ is "exceptionally
characteristic" of Defoe, so characteristic in fact that "one can
recognize his style and manner as one would a familiar voice." The
list of phrases and mannerisms which produce this effect is extensive:
The insertion of qualifying or explanatory phrases ("The first time
that I had the Honour of seeing John, Earl of Marlborough, [for so I
shall call him till he was created Duke] ..."), the use of "sentence
paragraphs," the repetition of such introductory phrases as "To be
short," "but now to the Truth of the matter," "in short," and "to put
all this matter out of doubt," and the frequent use of words such as
"matter" and "purpose" to emphasize the force and pertinence of his
arguments mark Defoe's writings throughout his career. The use of the
present participle construction as subject ("As for his Acting in
Concert with the Heroick Prince of Savoy ... is one of the strongest
Arguments of his Art and Knowledge"), long sentences hung together with
"and" and qualified with subordinate clauses, and a propensity for
coining words ("over-Honored and over-Paid") make Defoe's writing
nearly unmistakable and give it the hasty, colloquial quality. His
Latin quotations are off hand and rather careless.
At the same time, Defoe has great stylistic virtuosity. He is always
direct and forceful. Although he is attacking some of the most powerful
men in politics and literature in _The Life_, there is nothing at all
deferential. He includes trivial and often superfluous details which
give whatever he writes an authentic tone; these details may be places
("After several Marches, we came to the Confines of Haynault, within a
League of a small Town call'd Walcourt...."), names of people ("Mr.
Sizar was our Pay-Master General...."), or observations ("twas
supposed we would have a long and a late Fatigue"). The same sort of
verisimilitude which deceived the readers of _Memoirs of Captain
Carleton_ and _Journal of the Plague Year_ supports the illusion of an
eye witness account. Defoe's metaphors are also distinctive. While
there are no great number, they are graphic, often simplify and
condense an idea, and join image and idea in much the same way that
seventeenth-century conceits do. Drawing on the common place, the
originality and force comes from their aptness ("'tis easie to guess
out of what Quiver this Arrow of Scandal was drawn," "For the most
eminent Virtues are but as so many fair Marks set up on high for
Envy to shoot at with her poysonous darts"). Characteristic
idioms--"Engineer that stands behind the curtains," "the Lord knows who
and where"--can be found on every page. Small touches such as an
allusion to one of Defoe's favorite jokes (Lord Craven's retort to de
Vere concerning his ancestry) can also be identified.
Furthermore, the allusions to historical and Biblical figures are
consistent with Defoe's life-long usage, opinions and interests. Sir
Walter Raleigh and Hannibal, Moses and Solomon are referred to for the
same purposes in writings from _The Shortest Way with Dissenters_ to
_Atalantis Major_ (a typically explicit analog: from _The Shortest
Way_--"Moses was a merciful meek man" and from _The Life_--"Moses ...
one of the Meekest Men upon the Earth"). Defoe habitually commented on
the policies of military men and statesmen, traced topography, and
included the large features of military campaigns which could be found
in printed records. Defoe's opinions on drinking, swearing, reliance on
Providence, leadership qualities, gratitude, and courage, to mention a
few, are consistent throughout his life and found in this pamphlet. For
example, he makes the same distinctions in types of courage in _Journal
of the Plague Year_, the _Review_, _Robinson Crusoe_, _Atalantis
Major_, and _Memoirs of Captain Carleton_ that he does in _The Life_
("True courage cannot proceed from what Sir Walter Raleigh finely calls
the art or philosophy of quarrel. No! It must be the issue of
Moreover, the pamphlet itself bears certain marks indicative of
Defoe's hand. It was published by John Baker, "at the Black-Boy in
Pater-noster-Row," Defoe's usual publisher for that year. Had it been
published by, say, Tonson, the immediate conclusion would be that it
was not Defoe's. Baker appeared to take greater care with Defoe's
pamphlets than he did with some others; _A Defence of Dr. Sacheverell_,
for example, has fifty lines of small type to the page. Six other
tracts by Defoe have titles beginning with "Short" or "Shortest." The
use of the eye witness narrator and the soldier narrator are recurring
devices which Defoe used to protect himself or his sources and to add
weight to what he was purporting to be factual.
Finally Marlborough was one of Defoe's heroes until at least late 1711.
He praises him highly in _Seldom Comes a Better_, _Atalantis Major_,
and _The Quaker's Sermon_. It is with reluctance that Defoe is
persuaded that Marlborough must be displaced, and even in the poem on
the occasion of Marlborough's funeral, his disapproval seems to be more
for the ostentatiousness and inappropriateness of the funeral than for
the man himself. All in all, there is scarcely a line in _The Life_
which does not bear Defoe's fingerprints.
WILLIAM ANDREWS CLARK MEMORIAL LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
The Augustan Reprint Society
PUBLICATIONS IN PRINT
The Augustan Reprint Society
PUBLICATIONS IN PRINT
16. Henry Nevil Payne, _The Fatal Jealousie_ (1673).
18. "Of Genius," in _The Occasional Paper_, Vol. III, No. 10
(1719), and Aaron Hill, Preface to _The Creation_ (1720).
19. Susanna Centlivre, _The Busie Body_ (1709).
20. Lewis Theobald, _Preface to the Works of Shakespeare_ (1734).
22. Samuel Johnson, _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749), and two
_Rambler_ papers (1750).
23. John Dryden, _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681).
26. Charles Macklin, _The Man of the World_ (1792).
31. Thomas Gray, _An Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard_ (1751),
and _The Eton College Manuscript_.
41. Bernard Mandeville, _A Letter to Dion_ (1732).
109. Sir William Temple, _An Essay Upon the Original and Nature of
110. John Tutchin, _Selected Poems_ (1685-1700).
111. _Political Justice_ (1736).
113. T. R., _An Essay Concerning Critical and Curious Learning_ (1698).
114. Two Poems Against Pope: Leonard Welsted, _One Epistle to Mr. A.
Pope_ (1730); and _The Blatant Beast_ (1742).
115. Daniel Defoe and others, _Accounts of the Apparition of Mrs.
116. Charles Macklin, _The Convent Garden Theatre_ (1752).
117. Sir Roger L'Estrange, _Citt and Bumpkin_ (1680).
118. Henry More, _Enthusiasmus Triumphatus_ (1662).
119. Thomas Traherne, _Meditations on the Six Days of the Creation_
120. Bernard Mandeville, _Aesop Dress'd or a Collection of Fables_
123. Edmond Malone, _Cursory Observations on the Poems Attributed to
Mr. Thomas Rowley_ (1782).
124. _The Female Wits_ (1704).
125. _The Scribleriad_ (1742). Lord Hervey, _The Difference Between
Verbal and Practical Virtue_ (1742).
133. John Courtenay, _A Poetical Review of the Literary and Moral
Character of the Late Samuel Johnson_ (1786).
134. John Downes, _Roscius Anglicanus_ (1708).
135. Sir John Hill, _Hypochondriasis, a Practical Treatise_ (1766).
136. Thomas Sheridan, _Discourse ... Being Introductory to His Course
of Lectures on Elocution and the English Language_ (1759).
137. Arthur Murphy, _The Englishman From Paris_ (1736).
138. [Catherine Trotter] _Olinda's Adventures_ (1718).
139. John Ogilvie, _An Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients_
140. _A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling_ (1726) and _Pudding Burnt to
Pot or a Compleat Key to the Dissertation on Dumpling_ (1727).
141. Selections from Sir Roger L'Estrange's _Observator_ (1681-1687).
142. Anthony Collins, _A Discourse Concerning Ridicule and Irony in
143. _A Letter From A Clergyman to His Friend, With An Account of the
Travels of Captain Lemuel Gulliver_ (1726).
144. _The Art of Architecture, A Poem. In Imitation of Horace's Art of
145-146. Thomas Shelton, _A Tutor to Tachygraphy, or Short-writing_
(1642) and _Tachygraphy_ (1647).
147-148. _Deformities of Dr. Samuel Johnson_ (1782).
149. _Poeta de Tristibus: or the Poet's Complaint_ (1682).
150. Gerard Langbaine, _Momus Triumphans: or the Plagiaries of the
English Stage_ (1687).
151-152. Evan Lloyd, _The Methodist. A Poem_ (1766).
153. _Are these Things So?_ (1740), and _The Great Man's Answer to Are
these Things So?_ (1740).
154. Arbuthnotiana: _The Story of the St. Alb-ns Ghost_ (1712), and _A
Catalogue of Dr. Arbuthnot's Library_ (1779).
155-156. A Selection of Emblems from Herman Hugo's _Pia Desideria_
(1624), with English Adaptations by Francis Quarles and Edmund Arwaker.
157. William Mountfort, _The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus_ (1697).
158. Colley Cibber, _A Letter from Mr. Cibber, to Mr. Pope_ (1742).
159. [Catherine Clive], _The Case of Mrs. Clive_ (1744).
160. [Thomas Tryon], _A Discourse ... of Phrensie, Madness or
Distraction_ from _A Treatise of Dreams and Visions_ .
161. Robert Blair, _The Grave. A Poem_ (1743).
162. Bernard Mandeville, _A Modest Defence of Publick Stews_ (1724).
Publications of the first fifteen years of the Society (numbers
1-90) are available in paperbound units of six issues at $16.00
per unit, from the Kraus Reprint Company, 16 East 46th Street,
New York, N.Y. 10017.
Publications in print are available at the regular membership rate
of $5.00 for individuals and $8.00 for institutions per year.
Prices of single issues may be obtained upon request. Subsequent
publications may be checked in the annual prospectus.
_Make check or money order payable to_
THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
and send to
The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street, Los Angeles, California 90018