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Reign of William and Mary. - (Continued.) page 14


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On the continent no very decided events of war occurred. William, early in June, found himself at Louvain at the head of one hundred thousand men, where he was joined by the electors of Bavaria and Cologne. About the same time the Dauphin arrived in the camp of Luxembourg, and assumed the nominal command; but Luxembourg was still the real general, who pitched his camp at Fleurus. His force was much inferior to that of the allies, and according to the plan of the campaign determined on by Louis, he acted solely on the defensive. Various marches and countermarches took place, but at length Luxembourg appeared to be moving on Maestricht, and William having no fear of his taking that place, determined to march boldly on French Flanders. He resolved to pass the Scheldt, and dispatched the duke of Wurtemberg to cross it at Oudenarde, and the elector of Bavaria to do the same at Pont des Espieres. But Luxembourg instantly comprehended the design, and by a forced march of such rapidity that he astonished every one, he reached the most distant place before the slow German elector; and to the astonishment of that commander, was seen already entrenching himself on one bank of the river when he arrived on the other. William, however, still determined to cross the river, and finding that Wurtemberg had effected it at Oudenarde, he followed and passed there. His intention was to get possession of Courtray, but Luxembourg had extended his lines so as to prevent that. William, therefore, drafted some forces from Maestricht and Liege, and sent them against the town of Huy, which they took. William himself passed the Lys and encamped at Wanneghem, and ordered Dixmude, Deynese, Tirlemont, and Ninone, to be secured for winter quarters, and quitted the army on the last day of September; the Dauphin returned to Versailles, and both armies retired into their winter quarters in the middle of October. William had advanced dangerously near to Dunkirk and the French frontiers, yet Louis was delighted with Luxembourg's wonderful march, and wrote a letter with his own hand, praising the whole army, which was read at the head of every regiment. It is clear that had William been well informed of Louis's inability to maintain the campaign actively, and had kept the field longer, he might, by a skilful and bold manoeuvre, have still marched into French Flanders, greatly to his own reputation. At that day, however, it was the established fashion to retire early to winter quarters, as they did to bed; and William was rather a sturdy keeper of the field, than a commander of comprehensive genius.

On the Rhine the prince of Baden met de Lorges, the brutal ravager of Heidelberg and the palatinate, in the valley of the Neckar, near Heibronn, and drove him across the Rhine near Manheim, to a position betwixt Spires and Wurms. The prince then crossed also, higher up, into Alsace, which he laid under contribution, but retired again on the approach of de Lorges. In Austria, the Turks in the neighbourhood of Belgrade and Peterwaradin had effected nothing. In Savoy as little was done; but lord Gal way, a brave general, was sent to supply the loss of Schomberg; and in Catalonia, as we have related, the appearance of Russell put a stop to the triumphs of Noailles, who bad already taken Gironne and Ostalric. Such were the meagre details of the land campaign.

On the 9th of November William landed at Margate, where the queen met him, and their journey to the capital was like an ovation. On the 12th the king met his parliament, and congratulated it on having decidedly given a check to the arms of the French. This was certainly true, though it had not been done by any battle this campaign. Russell had effaced at Barcelona the defeat of Camaret Bay, and in the Netherlands, if there had been no battle, there had been no repulse, as in every former campaign. He had now no Mons, no Fleurus, no Namur, no Landen to deplore; on the contrary, he had driven the French to their own frontiers without the loss of a man. But he still deemed it necessary to continue their exertions, and completely to reduce the French arrogance, and he called for supplies as liberal as in the preceding year. The customs act was about to expire, and he desired its renewal.

The commons adjourned for a week, and before they met again archbishop Tillotson was taken suddenly ill whilst performing service in the chapel at Whitehall, and died on the 22nd of November. With the exception of the most violent Jacobites, who could not forgive him taking the primacy whilst Sancroft was living, the archbishop was universally and justly beloved and venerated. In the city especially, where he had preached at St. Lawrence in the Jewry for nearly thirty years, and where, as we have seen, bis friend Firmin took care to have his pulpit supplied with the most distinguished preachers during his absence at Canterbury, he was enthusiastically admired as a preacher and beloved as a man. The king and queen were greatly attached to him, and William pronounced him, at his death, the best friend he ever had, and the best man he ever knew.

Tillotson was succeeded by Dr. Tennison, bishop of Lincoln. Mary was very earnest for Stillingfleet; but even Stillingfleet was too high church for William. Could he, however, have foreseen that it was the last request that the queen would ever make, he would no doubt have complied with it. In a few weeks Mary herself was seized with illness. She had been worn down by the anxieties of governing amid the feuds of parties and the plottings of traitors during the king's absence, and had now not strength to combat with a strong disease. The disease was, moreover, the most fatal which then attacked the human frame - the smallpox. No means had yet been discovered to arrest its ravages, and in her the physicians were for a time divided in opinion as to its real character. One thought it measles, one scarlet fever, another spotted fever, a fourth erysipelas. The famous Radcliffe at once pronounced it smallpox, and smallpox it proved. It was soon perceived that it would prove fatal, and Dr. Tennison was selected to break the intelligence to her. She received the solemn announcement with great fortitude and composure. She instantly issued orders that no person, not even the ladies of her bed-chamber, should approach her if they had not already had the complaint. She shut herself up for several hours in her closet, during which she was busy burning papers and arranging others. Her sister Anne, on being apprised of her danger, sent a message, offering to come and see her; but she thanked her, and replied that she thought she had better not. But she sent her a kind message, expressing her forgiveness of whatever she might have thought unkindness in Anne.

Mary has been accused of great want of feeling. It has been said that she was ready to mount her father's throne and send him into exile, and that she lived in feud or estrangement with her sister. In the case of her father, it was clear and stern necessity that he should be removed; it was the national will, and it was Mary's equal duty to obey the national will in succeeding to the throne in exclusion of a papist succession. In every emergency Mary entreated that her father should receive no personal injury or dishonour, and her wishes were fully complied with by William. As it regarded Anne, Mary was certainly more sinned against than sinning. Anne allied herself to a party which was, during the whole life of Mary, incessantly plotting to annoy her, and, if possible, to expel her from the throne. In no previous reign would Anne have received the same liberal and honourable treatment, being, as she was, the perpetual centre of a hostile and irritating party, of which her friends, the mean-souled Marlborough and his termagant wife, were the head.

In everything else the very enemies of Mary were compelled to praise her, She was tall, handsome, and dignified in person, yet of the most mild and amiable manners; strong in her judgment, quick in perceiving the right, anxious to do it, warm in her attachment to her friends, and most lenient towards her enemies. To her husband she was devotedly attached; had the most profound confidence in his abilities, and was more happy in regarding herself as his faithful wife than as joint sovereign of the realm. William, on his part, had not avoided giving her the mortification of seeing a mistress in his court in the person of Mrs. Villiers, yet she had borne it with a quiet dignity which did her much credit; and now William showed that, cold as he was outwardly, he was passionately attached to her. His grief was so excessive that, when he knew that he must lose her, he fainted many times in succession, and his own life, even, began to be despaired of. He would not quit her bedside for a moment day or night till he was borne away in a sinking state a short time before she expired. After her death he shut himself up for some weeks, and scarcely saw any one, and attended to no business, till it was feared that he would lose his reason. During his illness he had called Burnet into his closet, and, bursting into a passion of tears, he said " he had been the happiest, and now he was going to be the most miserable of men; that during the whole course of their marriage he had never known a single fault in her. There was a worth in her that no one knew beside himself."

Mary died in the utmost peace after taking the sacrament, and ordering a small cabinet which she called for to be delivered to the king as soon as she was dead. The public, as it had just cause, testified the most genuine grief for her loss, and the same sentiment was everywhere expressed abroad, especially amongst the persecuted Huguenots, to assist whom she had deprived herself even of the usual indulgences of her station. At St. Germains only was there no sign of respect to her memory; the court was forbade to put on the slightest tinge of mourning.

The funeral of the queen might be said to be attended by all London. During the whole time that she lay in state the whole of the neighbourhood of Whitehall remained from day to day one dense crowd, and on the day of the funeral the whole population appears to have drawn towards the palace. The procession was not only attended by the lord mayor and all officers of the city, but by both houses of parliament - a circumstance never attending a royal funeral before, because with every other sovereign the parliament itself had expired. Mary was only in her thirty- third year, and the sixth of her reign.

Mary's remains were deposited in the south aisle of Henry VII.'s chapel, but her real monument is at Greenwich. When the battle of La Hogue was fought, she had begged of William, who was in Holland, that the palace of Greenwich, begun by Charles II., should be completed on an ampler and more magnificent plan as the home of the veteran seamen of England. William now ordered Wren to produce a plan worthy of the queen and the object; and the present splendid palace, or hospital as it is called, rose to her memory, a most noble and befitting trophy of a true woman's sympathy with the defenders of her country.

We must now step back a little to notice the business of the session which this mournful event interrupted and terminated. In the matter of supply the commons voted the same sums as in the former session for the army and navy, settled the act for the customs for another term of five years, and fixed the land-tax again at four shillings in the pound. They then entertained some vehement complaints against Sir John Trenchard for having imprisoned and brought to trial certain innocent men, as the complainants termed them, as conspirators, at the instigation of the notorious Hugh Speke, Aaron Smith, and one Taafe, an Irish papist. Trenchard was, in fact, very severe against plotting malcontents, and had arrested a number of men in Lancashire on the evidence of Taafe and one Lunt, and brought them to trial at Manchester. The men were guilty enough, for they had been found with concealed arms and accoutrements, and Taafe and Lunt had been in communication with them; but Taafe not having been rewarded as he expected by Trenchard, turned round, sold himself to the Jacobites, and on the day of trial suddenly appeared in the witness-box, and declared the whole thing a hoax. The triumph of the Jacobite party was immense, and, not satisfied with having won it, they determined to pursue their success in parliament; but there the scene was changed. Howe, who was one of the firmest of the opposition, denounced the ministers for their treatment of innocent men, and their employment of knaves against them; but the whigs eagerly caught at the matter, demanded an inquiry, and then the whole truth came out. Both lords and commons voted that there had been a dangerous conspiracy, declared the conduct of government not only just but meritorious, and sent Taafe to prison.

The bills for the regulation of trials in cases of treason, the place bill, and the triennial bill, were again brought forward. The two former were again rejected, but the triennial bill was passed by both houses by large majorities, and William no longer ventured to refuse his signature. The precarious state of the queen's health probably hastened his acquiescence, as, in case of her death, he would need all his popularity. He ratified it, to the great joy of all parties; and by this bill the present parliament would end before the 25th of March, 1696.

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