Anne. A.D. 1702—1714.
Queen Anne, the second daughter of James II., began to reign on the death of William III. She was a well-meaning woman, but very weak and silly; and any person who knew how to manage her could make her have no will of her own. The person who had always had such power over her has Sarah Jennings, a lady in her train, who had married an officer named John Churchill. As this gentleman had risen in the army, he proved to be one of the most able generals who ever lived. He was made a peer, and, step by step, came to be Duke of Marlborough. It was he and his wife who, being Whigs, had persuaded Anne to desert her father; and, now she was queen, she did just as they pleased. The duchess was mistress of the robes, and more queen at home than Anne was; and the duke commanded the army which was sent to fight against the French, to decide who should be king of Spain. An expedition was sent to Spain, which gained the rock of Gibraltar, and this has been kept by the English ever since.
Never were there greater victories than were gained by the English and German forces together, under the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy, who commanded the Emperor’s armies. The first and greatest battle of them all was fought at Blenheim, in Bavaria, when the French were totally defeated, with great loss. Marlborough was rewarded by the queen and nation buying an estate for him, which was called Blenheim, where woods were planted so as to imitate the position of his army before the battle, and a grand house built and filled with pictures recording his adventures. The other battles were all in the Low Countries—at Ramillies, Oudenard, and Malplaquet. The city of Lisle was taken after a long siege, and not a summer went by without tidings coming of some great victory, and the queen going in a state coach to St. Paul’s Cathedral to return thanks for it.
But all this glory of her husband made the Duchess of Marlborough more proud and overbearing. She thought the queen could not do without her, and so she left off taking any trouble to please her; nay, she would sometimes scold her more rudely than any real lady would do to any woman, however much below her in rank. Sometimes she brought the poor queen to tears; and on the day on which Anne went in state to St. Paul’s, to return thanks for the victory of Oudenarde, she was seen to be crying all the way from St. James’s Palace in her coach, with the six cream-colored horses, because the duchess had been scolding her for putting on her jewels in the way she liked best, instead of in the duchess’s way.