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stroke of all. She made her ladies vow to her, that if she should lie senseless, they would not sit down in the room before she was dead." By her own direction she was buried with great pomp in Henry the Seventh's chapel, where there was formerly a waxen figure of her, adorned with jewels, and, in the same case, another figure of her daughter, Lady Sophia Katharina Sheffield, standing by her side. The figure of the Duchess had been prepared in her lifetime by her own hands.

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ROBERT HARLEY,

EARL OF OXFORD.

CHAPTER I.

Ancestors of Robert Harley.-His birth.-Offers his services to the Prince of Orange at the Revolution.-Is coldly received by him. Elected Speaker of the House of Commons.Appointed Secretary of State.-Procures the Secretaryship at War for Henry St. John.-His intrigues with Mrs. Masham. His efforts to insinuate himself into her confidence by promoting her union with Mr. Masham.-Jealousy of the Duchess of Marlborough.- Harley's influence over Queen Anne. His intrigues against the Duke of Marlborough, and Godolphin.-The Queen attends a Privy Council in person. -Harley dismissed from his office, through the influence of the Whig party.-The Queen's increasing dislike of the Whigs. Harley's interested patronage of literary men.-The Duke of Shrewsbury persuaded to league himself with the Tories. Ultimate overthrow of the Whig party.-Attempt on Harley's life by the Marquis de Guiscard. Warrant issued for his arrest.-Brought before the Privy Council.He endeavours to revenge himself on St. John.-Failing in that, he stabs Harley with a penknife during his examination before the Council.-And dies a few days afterwards in Newgate.

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ROBERT HARLEY, the celebrated minister, was the representative of an ancient family, who held the lordship of Harley, in Shropshire, and dis

VOL. II.

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tinguished themselves by their loyalty and valour, previous to the Norman conquest. The father of the statesman was Sir Edward Harley, a staunch Presbyterian, who raised a regiment during the civil troubles, and in one of the first engagements between Charles the First and the Parliament, was shot with a musket-ball, which, it is said, he carried in his body fifty-eight years. In 1647, this gentleman was one of the eleven members of the House of Commons who insisted on the expediency of coming to terms with the unfortunate King, and who were in consequence impeached by the army for high treason. He had a considerable share in effecting the restoration of Charles the Second, for which service he was rewarded with the government of Dunkirk and the order of the Bath, and was also offered a peerage, which he thought proper to refuse. During the whole of this reign, Sir Edward Harley distinguished himself as a frequent and able speaker in the House of Commons. At the Revolution of 1688, the old man joined the cause of the Prince of Orange, and marched with a troop of horse, of his own raising, to Worcester, of which place the gentlemen of the county voted him the governor. He sat in more than one Parliament during the reign of William and Mary, and died, at a very advanced age, on the 8th of December, 1700.

His eldest son, the subject of the present memoir, was born in Bow Street, Covent Garden, on the 5th of December, 1661. He was carefully

instructed in the Presbyterian principles of his family, and received his education at a private school, kept by the Rev. Mr. Birch at Shilton, in Oxfordshire. At the Revolution, he engaged with ardour in the cause of the Prince of Orange; and after assisting his father in raising a troop of horse, waited personally on the Prince with a tender of his allegiance. William, however, either underrated his services, or was blind to his abilities, and, consequently, he again found himself dependent on his own genius and resources, for the advancement of his interests, and the gratification of his ambitious views.

In the first Parliament called by William and Mary, he was chosen member for Tregony, in Cornwall; and in 1690, was returned for Radnor, for which place he sat, during several successive Parliaments, till he was called up to the House of Lords. His genius seems to have been rather of that order which attracts public attention imperceptibly and by degrees, than which flashes with sudden brilliancy, and commands the observation of mankind. He was a close debater rather than a splendid orator; and was better qualified to figure as a minister of finance, than as the leader of an administration. To talents, however, of a high order, he added industry and unwearying application. He was, moreover, inordinately ambitious; and, in the gratification of that passion, was little scrupulous in availing himself of chicanery and intrigue. Neglect and disappointment are excellent incentives to am

bition. "Harley," says Burnet, "not being considered at the Revolution as he thought he deserved, set himself to oppose the Court in everything, and to find fault with the whole administration." Though educated in the staunchest Whig principles, as soon as his interests required a sacrifice of those principles, he leagued himself with the Tories; and though a Presbyterian, and, indeed, suspected of a tendency to Puritanism, contrived to obtain the confidence of the highchurch party, while, at the same time, he had art enough to continue in favour with the Dissenters. It was owing to this temporizing policy, and to the dexterity with which he insinuated himself into the good graces of two very opposite parties, that when King William, at the close of his reign, surrounded himself with a Tory ministry, Harley had influence enough to get himself elected Speaker of the House of Commons. This high situation he held during three successive Parliaments.

Harley seems to have been eminently well qualified to fill the office of Speaker. Both Burnet and Lockhart agree, that his natural talents were of a high order, his learning great, and his application extraordinary.

On the accession of Queen Anne, the political rise of Harley was almost as rapid as he himself could have wished. Without entering into the complicated politics of the earlier part of that reign, it may be necessary to observe, that, at this period, the Tories were nominally in power.

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