The precise truth I take to have been this. Marlborough and Godolphin both knew the meanness and credulity of James’s character. They knew that he must be ever dealing for partisans; and they might be sure, that if he could hope for support from the General and the Lord-treasurer he must be less solicitous for more impotent supporters. “Is it impossible,” said I to the Doctor, “but they might correspond with the King even by Anne’s own consent? Do not be surprised, Sir,” said I: “such things have happened. My own father often received letters from the Pretender, which he always carried to George ii and had them endorsed by his Majesty- I myself have seen them countersigned by the King’s own hand.”
In short,. I endeavoured to impress him with Proper ideas of his subject, and painted to him the difficulties., and the want of materials. But- the booksellers will out-argue me, and the Doctor will forget his education—Panem et Circenses, if you will allow me to use the latter for those that are captivated by favour in the circle, will decide his writing and give the colour. I once wished he should write the History of King William; but his Charles V. and his America have opened my eyes, and the times have shut his.(301) Adieu!
(299) This letter, which is without date, was most probably written in April or May 1778; at which time Dr. Robertson was in London.-E.
(300) Dr. Watson’s History of the Reign of philip ii. of Spain was published, in two quarto volumes, in 1777.-E.
(301) By the life of Dr. Robertson, in Chamvers’s
Scottish Biography, it will be seen, that several
persons suggested to him
a History of Great Britain from the Revolution to the
accession of the House of Hanover; and it appears, from a letter to Dr. Waddilour, Dean of Rippon, written in July of this year, that he had made up his mind to encounter the responsibility of the task, but abandoned it, in consequence of a correspondence with his friend, Mr. James Macpherson, had, three years before, published a history of the same reigns.-E.
I will not dispute with you, dear Sir, on patriots and politics. One point is Past controversy, that the ministers have ruined this country; and if the church of England is satisfied with being reconciled with the church of Rome, and thinks it a compensation for the loss of America and all credit in Europe, she is as silly an old woman as any granny in an almshouse. France is very glad we are grown such fools, and soon saw that the Presbyterian Dr. Franklin(302) had more sense than our ministers together. She has got over all her prejudices, has expelled the Jesuits, and made the Protestant Swiss, Necker, her comptroller-general. It is a little woful, that we are relapsing into the nonsense the rest of Europe is shaking off! and it is more deplorable, as we know by repeated experience, that this country has always been disgraced by Tory administrations. The rubric is the only gainer by them in a few martyrs.