Now, Duchess Sarah had brought to the palace, to help to wait on the queen, a poor cousin of her own, named Abigail Masham, a much more smooth and gentle person, but rather deceitful. When the mistress of the robes was unkind and insolent, the queen used to complain to Mrs. Masham; and by-and-by Abigail told her how to get free. There was a gentleman, well known to Mrs. Masham—Mr. Harley, a member of Parliament and a Tory, and she brought him in by the back stairs to see the queen, without the duchess knowing it. He undertook, if the queen would stand by him, to be her minister, and to turn out the Churchills and their Whig friends, send away the tyrant duchess, and make peace, so that the duke might not be wanted any more. In fact, the war had gone on quite long enough; the power of the King of France was broken, and he was an old man, whom it was cruel to press further; but this was not what Anne cared about so much as getting free of the duchess. There was great anger and indignation among all the Whigs at the breaking off the war in the midst of so much glory; and, besides, the nation did not keep its engagements to the others with whom it had allied itself. Marlborough himself was not treated as a man deserved who had won so much honor for his country, and he did not keep his health many years after his fall. Once, when he felt his mind getting weak, he looked up at his own picture at Blenheim, taken when he was one of the handsomest, most able, and active men in Europe, and said sadly, “Ah! that was a man.”
Mr. Harley was made Earl of Oxford, and managed the queen’s affairs for her. He and the Tories did not at all like the notion of the German family of Brunswick—Sophia and her son George—who were to reign next, and they allowed the queen to look towards her own family a little more. Her father had died in exile, but there remained the young brother whom she had disowned, and whom the French and the Jacobites called King James III. If he would have joined the English Church Anne would have gladly invited him, and many of the English would have owned him as the right king; but he was too honest to give up his faith, and the queen could do nothing for him.
Till her time the Scots—though since James I. they had been under the same king as England—had had a separate Parliament, Lords and Commons, who sat at Edinburgh; but in the reign of Queen Anne the Scottish Parliament was united to the English one, and the members of it had to come to Westminster. This made many Scotsmen so angry that they became Jacobites; but as every body knew that the queen was a gentle, well-meaning old lady, nobody wished to disturb her, and all was quiet as long as she lived, so that her reign was an unusually tranquil one at home, though there were such splendid victories abroad. It was a time, too, when there were almost as many able writers as in Queen Elizabeth’s time. The two books written at that day, which you are most likely to have heard of, are Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe, and Alexander Pope’s translation of Homer’s Iliad.