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TO ARCHBISHOP KING.
London, Jan. 8, 1711-12. My Lord,
I can Not in conscience take up your grace's time with an empty letter; and it is not every day one can furnish what will be worth your reading. I had all your grace's packets; and I humbly thank your grace for your good instructions to me, which I shall observe as soon as ever it shall please God to put me into a way of life where I can have leisure for such speculations.
In above twenty years that I have known something of courts and ministers, I never saw so strange and odd a complicated disposition of affairs as what we have had for six weeks past. The facts your grace may have met with in every common newspaper; but the springs of them are hardly discoverable even by those who had most opportunity of observing. Neither do I find those who should know best, agree upon the matter. There is a perpetual trial of skill between those who are out and those who are in ; and the former are generally more industrious at watching opportunities. Last
September, at Windsor, the Duke of Somerset, * who had not been at cabinet council for many months, was advised by his friends of the late ministry to appear there, but the rest refused to sit with him; and the council was put off until next day, when the duke went to a horse-race. This was declaring open war; and ever since both he and his duchess (who is in great favour) have been using all sorts of means to break the present ministry. Mrs Masham was absent two months from Windsor, with lying in at Kensington, and my lord-treasurer six weeks by indisposition. Some time before the session, the duke above-mentioned went to all those lords, who, by the narrowness of their fortunes, have depended on the court, and engaged them to vote against the ministry, by assuring them it was the queen's pleasure. He is said to have added other powerful motives. Bothmar's f memorial was published just at that juncture, as Hoffman the emperor's resident had some time before printed the French king's propositions. It is confidently af. firmed, by those who should know, that money was plentifully scattered. By these and some other accidents, the vote was carried against the ministry; and every body of either party understood the thing as intended directly against my lord-treasurer's head. The house of lords made a very short adjournment, and were preparing some resolutions and addresses of the most dangerous importance. We had a very melancholy Christmas, and the most fearless persons were shaken: for our great danger lay where I cannot tell your grace at this distance. The thing wished for was, the removal of the Somerset family; but that could not be done, nor yet is. * After some time, the queen declared herself as you have heard, and twelve new lords were created. My Lord Nottingham's game in this affair has been most talked off, and several hard things said of him are affirmed to be true. The dissenting ministers in this town were consulted about the occasional bill, and agreed to it, for what reasons I cannot learn; that which is offered not satisfying me, that they were afraid of worse. I believe they expected an entire change of ministry and measures, and a new parliament, by which it might be repealed, and have instead some law to their advantage. The Duke of Marlborough's removalf has passed very silently : the particular reasons for it I must tell your grace some other time: but how it will pass abroad I cannot answer. People on both sides conclude from it, that the peace is certain; but the conclusion is ill drawn: the thing would have been done, although we had been sure of continuing the war. We are terribly afraid of Prince Eugene's coming, and therefore it was put off until the resolutions were taken. Before he came out of his yacht, he asked how many lords were made? He was a quarter of an hour with the queen, on Sunday about seven at might, The great men resolve to entertain him in their turns; and we suppose it will all end in a journey of pleasure. We are so confidently told of
* This happened August 12, 1711. See Wol. II, p. 321. + Baron Bothmar, only from the Elector of. Hanover, afterwards King George I.