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ployments. Having lived very splendidly at Warsaw, he had contracted debts, which at that time lay heavy upon him. His plate and equipage would have been arrested, if one Mr Lawson, who had been a lieutenant in a Cameronian regiment, had not generously lent him the sum of £1800. It is hard to say whether Mr Lawson's friendship, or the earl of Stair's gratitude ever after, was most to be admired. He did not remain long in retirement, for, upon the accession of George I., he was received into favour; and, on the 28th of October, 1714, was appointed one of the lords of the bed-chamber; the next day he was sworn one of the privy-council, and, in November, was made commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in Scotland.
The scene now changed in favour of the duke of Marlborough, whose friends were, for the most part, chosen to represent the counties and boroughs in the parliament that was summoned to meet on the 17th of March, 1715. In Scotland the opposers of the former ministry prevailed, and the earl of Stair was elected one of the sixteen peers to sit in the first septennial parliament. Ambassadors were now sent to the several courts in Europe to notify the king's accession; and, as the French court was both the most splendid and most intriguing, it was requisite to fix upon an ambassador of address and deep penetration The person thought of by the duke of Marlborough and by the king himself, was Lord Stair, who was intrusted with discretionary powers.
He set out for Paris in January, 1715, and, in a few days after, entered that capital in so splendid a manner, that the proud old monarch considered it as an insult offered to him in his own capital, that a petty prince, whom, only a few months before, he had entertained hopes of depriving of even his electoral title and dominions in Germany, should, upon his ascending a throne so unexpectedly, authorise his ambassador to make a more splendid appearance than the minister of any potentate had ever done before at Paris. Stair was not many days in Paris, however, before an opportunity offered of confirming his royal master in the good opinion he had formed of him.
By the ninth article of the treaty of Utrecht, it was expressly stipulated that the harbour of Dunkirk should be filled up, and that the dykes which form the canal and moles should be destroyed. There had been a pretended execution of this article, but nothing like fulfilling of the treaty, and the king had ordered a haven and canal to be made at Mardyke, of much greater extent than those of Dunkirk itself. Mr Prior, the former ambassador, had complained of this, and insisted that the treaty should be fulfilled; but an answer full of the most evasive arguments had been given. As the matter still continued open, the earl of Stair laid a clear representation of the case before the French ministry, and with uncommon address and vigilance got to the bottom of the secret machinations of the French court, and transmitted home such early and exact intelligence concerning the intended invasion, that the pretender's enterprise failed, and a great number of his abettors in England were taken into custody. Various stories are told concerning the methods made use of by the earl of Stair to procure such important secret intelligence, most of them calculated to amuse the reader by agreeable fictions at the expense of historical truth. The real fact, as it stands authenticated on record, is, that the earl of Stair was master of the most insinuating address, and knew how to apply a
bribe properly. By the influence of both, he gained over an English Roman Catholic priest, named Strickland, who was one of the pretender's chaplains, and his chief confidant. By means of this spy, Lord Stair knew every project formed in the pretender's council; and from the same quarter he obtained a list of the French officers who had engaged to accompany him to Scotland, with an exact account of the quantity of arms, ammunition, and provisions, to be furnished by the French ministry. Stair at the same time made such strong representations to the regent, that his royal highness saw that to remove all suspicions, and preserve the friendship of Great Britain, to which he was strongly inclined, he must be obliged to alter his policy: he therefore answered, "That he would forbid the exportation of any arms or ammunition out of the kingdom, and that he should send such orders to all the ports in France, as his Britannic majesty desired; together with proper instructions to the captains of such vessels as were bound for any part of Scotland." The success of this negotiation contributed greatly to the suppression of the rebellion; for, when the insurgents found themselves deprived of the powerful succours they had been promised from France, their courage failed them, and they began to disperse. No sooner did the news of this reach the earl of Stair, than he repaired to the regent, and completely put an end to the pretender's hopes by reducing the regent to the necessity of declaring himself once for all. There was no medium; he must either satisfy Great Britain by refusing the pretender a retreat in France, or absolutely break with a prince whose friendship might be of service to him, for the sake of a guest who was both useless to him and his friends, and troublesome to those who protected him. By the advice of the Abbé du Bois, he therefore gave the earl of Stair a most explicit and satisfactory answer, after having acquainted the pretender with his resolution, who immediately retired to Avignon. A good understanding was now established between the courts of Versailles and London, highly agreeable to the latter, as it gave the new Sovereign an opportunity of inspecting and regulating the domestic administration of government. The earl of Stair's conduct upon this occasion gained him the esteem of the duke of Orleans, now declared regent during the minority of Louis XV. But neither adulations nor civilities could put him off his guard, or relax his attention to the interests of his royal master, as the following anecdote testifies.
One day, the regent, attended by a splendid retinue, went in his coach to pay the earl a visit. The coach halted at the gate of the ambassador's hotel, but when the earl of Stair descended from his apartment, the regent only partly alighted from his coach, setting one foot on the ground and keeping the other fixed on the step. The earl, in the meantime, was advancing towards the gate; but observing the posture the regent was in, he stopped short, turned about, walked three or four times backward and forward, and at last asked one of the attendants, "Whether his royal highness was come to visit him as his Britannic majesty's ambassador, or as earl of Stair?" To which receiving no answer, he added, "If he comes to see Lord Stair, I shall reckon it my greatest honour to receive any one officer of the crown, much more the duke-regent, at the door of his coach; but if he comes to visit the ambassador of my august and royal master, I think I should be unworthy the trust reposed in me, if I went farther than I have done."
This being told the regent, he re-entered his coach, and afterwards caused it to be notified to his excellency, that he was not desirous of seeing him at court; and, for some months, Stair actually withdrew; till, hearing of the regent's fitting out a strong squadron at Toulon, which the court of Britain could not look on with indifference, he went to court, and brought about an interview with the regent in the following manner. The guards knowing him, declared they had orders to refuse him admittance. "Oh!" says he, "though the British ambassador be debarred access, yet Lord Stair is not." On this he was allowed to enter, and having passed the first guard he hastened through the others, and entered the presence-chamber, where the king and regent were, surrounded by a vast number of nobility, gentry, foreign ambassadors, and general officers. No sooner did the regent observe the earl than he withdrew to an inner chamber, whither, however, he was followed by his lordship, who, as he entered the room, told him, that if at present he denied him audience, perhaps in time he might be glad to have one in his turn. On this the regent and he entered into conversation for two hours. His royal highness perceiving, that nothing, though ever so secretly transacted, could be kept from so prying an ambassador, and that one-half of the French nation were, through poverty, become spies upon the other, he made a merit of discovering the whole plan of the Spanish minister to Lord Stair. It was deeply laid, and we shall endeavour to give a concise account of it, that the reader may be made acquainted with the political history of the first years of the reign of George I., in which the earl of Stair was the principal agent.
Though Philip V., the grandson of the late king of France, was, by the treaty of Utrecht, allowed to reign peaceably over the ruins of the Spanish monarchy, yet neither he nor his ministers were content with the terms obtained. Cardinal Alberoni, the then Spanish minister, knew very well, that though the emperor, by the late treaty, was put in possession of Sicily and Flanders, and secured in his other vast dominions, he was yet so far drained of his treasure by the last war as to have no great inclination to a rupture; he judged the same of the other powers engaged; and thinking that Great Britain had obtained too advantageous terms at the last general pacification, his aim was to give her a king who would be apt to relinquish every advantage in gratitude for the favours done him. But as Spain was unable alone to accomplish so great a project, the cardinal thought of gaining over Charles XII. of Sweden, with the czar of Muscovy, to his views. The former was easily brought into the scheme, from a prospect of regaining Bremen and Verden, the investment of which had been given to George I. by the emperor. In connexion with this scheme, Baron Goertz, the Swedish minister to the states-general, and one of the ablest statesmen in Europe, had twice an interview with the czar at the Hague, and having informed him that he had got considerable sums from the disaffected in England to buy ships and ammunition for invading Scotland, the Russian monarch went in person to Paris in May, 1717, and, under the pretext of visiting the academy, the arsenals, the chambers of rarities, and every thing that might excite the attention of the curious, conferred with the regent upon the intended scheme. The conference with the czar, was, by the regent's secretary, communicated to the British ambassador, who directly acquainted his court, and such active
measures were instantly taken as rendered the scheme impracticable; at the same time, a letter from Count Gyllenburgh, the Swedish envoy at London, to his brother, Gustavus, then ambassador in France, having fallen into the earl of Stair's hands, he transmitted it to the British ministry, by whom Count Gyllenburgh was arrested, and most of his papers seized, in which were many letters from and to Baron Goertz. From these it appeared plainly that an invasion was designed.
But these were not the only attempts in favour of the unhappy fugitive, that were defeated through Stair's means. He likewise had a principal share in bringing about the quadruple alliance, offensive and defensive, between his Britannic majesty, the emperor, the most christian king, and the states-general of the United Provinces, by which the designs of the court of Madrid were totally defeated. However, the cardinal now openly received and entertained the pretender at the court of Madrid; and, in hopes of making a powerful diversion in Hungary, he attacked the emperor, and fomented disturbances in the British dominions. Having likewise formed a design of seizing the island of Sicily, he fitted out a fleet for that purpose; and, in July 1718, this Spanish armament took several considerable places in the island. But while they were busily employed in attacking the citadel of Messina, the British fleet came to the assistance of the Sicilians, and, on the 11th of August, attacked twenty-seven Spanish ships of the line, off Cape Passaro; after an obstinate engagement, the English took and sunk most of them, and soon after the king of Sicily acceded to the quadruple alliance. This blow so much chagrined the court of Spain, that an order was issued for seizing all British merchantships, and effects in that kingdom. His majesty, George I., thereupon granted letters of marque and reprisals to the British subjects against those of Spain, on the 3d of October; and on the 17th, war was declared against Spain. The Spanish court was, at this time, the most intriguing in Europe; for she not only endeavoured to disturb the tranquillity of Britain, but likewise of France, for which purpose, the prince of Cellamare, her ambassador at Paris, had entered into a conspiracy with some mutineers, to whom he gave pensions. The design was, to take away the regent's life; to make an inroad into four provinces of the kingdom; to gain over the French ministry to the Spanish interest; and thus pave a way for uniting the whole, or at least the greatest part, of the French dominions, with those of the younger branch of the house of Bourbon reigning in Spain. The scheme might have taken place, and have rekindled a general war, if it had not been discovered in the following extraordinary manner.-Two noblemen, who were intrusted with a packet from the Spanish ambassador, in France, to Cardinal Alberoni, containing a relation of the progress he had made with some noblemen, took a chaise, which broke down about two leagues from Paris. The postilion, observing them to take more care of their portmanteau than of themselves, and struck with the remark of one of them, that he would rather lose one hundred thousand pistoles than it, after driving them to the end of the first stage, hastened to Paris, and gave immediate notice of what he had seen to the governThe council of regency being instantly called, proper officers were immediately sent off, with orders to stop them; which they effect
ed at Poictiers, and not only arrested their persons, but sent their portmanteau to Paris, in which were found the plainest marks of a conspiracy. The same night several persons of distinction were seized, and sent to the Bastile; and the Spanish ambassador was commanded to leave the kingdom. The Abbé du Bois, secretary of state, wrote a circular letter, the next day, to the several ministers residing at the French court, and particularly to the earl of Stair, acquainting him with the motives which induced them to take this step. Soon after this, a declaration of war was made by France against Spain; and although it was looked upon rather as fictitious than real, yet the burning of six new men-of-war upon the stocks at Los-passages, and the taking of some towns, put the matter of France's being in earnest beyond all possibility of doubt.
But no disappointments could check the restless spirit of the cardinal, who still fomented the tumultuous passions of the British rebels, many of the most considerable of whom had retired into the dominions of his master. The duke of Ormond, in particular, having received notice to leave France, upon an application made to the regent for that purpose, Alberoni pressed him to repair to Madrid. This invitation was kept a profound secret, but there were some people about the duke who thought proper to communicate the design to their correspondents in Paris; and these having shown their letters to one Macdonald, a lieutenant-colonel in the Irish brigades, he handed them about, till at last it came to the ears of the British ambassador, who sent Captain Gardiner express, with an account, that the preparations of the Spaniards at Cadiz were certainly designed against England, and that their fleets would put to sea the 7th or 8th of March 1718. This piece of intelligence was communicated by the king to parliament; and every military preparation was made by land and at sea to oppose the invasion, which might have proved very formidable, if the enemies of their country had not met with a check from another quarter.
The duke of Ormond, with 5000 land forces on board, having provisions, ammunition, and every other necessary, had embarked for the west of England; but, meeting with a storm off Cape Finisterre, they were separated. His Grace, with most of the English and Irish officers, were obliged to put back to Cadiz; while the earls of Marshal and Seaforth, and the marquess of Tullibardin, pursued their voyage, and landed at Kintail, in the north of Scotland, on the 15th of April, with about 400 Spanish troops. They were very uneasy to know the fate of the duke of Ormond, and deferred moving from thence till they should hear what was become of his Grace; but, before any certain accounts arrived of his disappointment, General Wightman was in march to disperse them, having with him two Swiss and three Dutch battalions, 120 dragoons, and about 350 foot soldiers. He came up with them on the pretender's birthday, at the pass of Glenshiel, where the M'Kenzies were stationed on one side, the marquess of Tullibardin, with the laird of M'Doual, upon the other, and the Spaniards intrenched in their front, making in all 1650. No sooner did they enter the pass, than the rebels, who lay concealed among the heath, poured in upon them a volley, and killed the colonel of a Dutch regiment upon the spot. General Wightman, observing the matter, ordered some handgrenades to be thrown in among them, which fired the heath; and one