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Reign of William and Mary. - (Continued.) page 5


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That this was no mere surmise is clear enough now. It was, indeed, one of the various rumours of the time. Evelyn says that it was one of these that Marlborough "was endeavouring to breed division in the army, and to make himself the more necessary by making an ill correspondence betwixt the princess and the court." But James himself as plainly asserts the fact of this charge against Marlborough. "It was the plan," he says, "of my friends to recall me through the parliament. My lord Churchill was to propose in parliament to drive away all the foreigners from the councils and the army of the kingdom. If the prince of Orange consented to this, he would have been in their hands. If he refused, parliament would have declared against him, and lord Churchill was at the same time to cause the army to declare for the parliament, the fleet the same, and then to recall me. Already this plan was in agitation, and a large party was already gained over, when some faithful but indiscreet subjects, thinking to serve me, and imagining that Lord Churchill was not acting for me, but really for the princess of Denmark, discovered all to Bentinck, and thus destroyed the whole scheme."

The proof that William was satisfied that Marlborough's grand plan was real, was that he at once dismissed him from all his employments. That Marlborough had long intrigued with James, William was quite aware, but on that account he never troubled him; this, however, was by far a more dangerous treachery, and he resented it accordingly. The Marlboroughs, notwithstanding, continued at Whitehall with Anne, and might probably never have been molested, had not the imperious lady Marlborough in her anger determined to set the king and queen at defiance. She, therefore, had the assurance to accompany the princess to the drawing-room at Kensington Palace a few evenings after, and the next day brought an expostulatory letter from the queen to her sister, informing her that after such an outrage lady Marlborough must quit Whitehall. Anne sent to entreat Mary to pass the matter over, declaring that there was no misery that she would not suffer rather than be deprived of lady Marlborough. The only answer was an order from the lord chamberlain, commanding her ladyship to quit the palace. Anne, determined not to lose the society of her favourite, quitted Whitehall with the Marl- boroughs, and betook herself to Sion House, which was lent to her by the duke of Somerset, and soon after she removed to Berkeley House, standing on the present site of Devonshire House, in Piccadilly, which became her permanent residence. There all the Marlborough faction assembled, and there Anne vented her indignation without restraint or delicacy against William, calling him a Dutch abortion, a monster, a Caliban. A fresh stimulus was given to the malice of that clique; every means was used to excite hatred to the government of William, and to increase the partisans of James. With such a termagant spirit as lady Marlborough, and such a plotting spirit as that of her husband, a strong feeling was excited against the queen, who was represented as totally without heart, as having usurped the throne of her father, and sought to strip her sister of her most valued friendships. Amidst such an atmosphere of malice and detraction William was compelled to leave the queen.

He embarked for Holland on the 5th of March. He left the country amid the rumours of false plots and real schemes of invasion. One Fuller, under the tuition of the notorious Titus Oates, had been accusing no less than fifty lords and gentlemen, including Halifax and some of the king's own ministers, of having pledged themselves to bring in James. However true it might be that many of these were at heart really ready for such a change, it was clearly shown that Fuller's story was got up merely to make money by it, and it was treated with contempt. The rumour of an invasion was, as we shall find, more real. Disbelieving it, or pressed by the necessity of giving a blow to Louis in Flanders, William made a speedy journey to the Hague. There the difficulties which he had to overcome were such as would have sunk the courage of any less firm-hearted man. His allies, the German princes, were only held to the alliance by continual bribes to their cupidity, their poverty, or their preposterous pride. They looked to England and Holland to furnish not only all the requisite funds for the war, but to heap upon them honours and money for defending their own interest. The emperor of Germany, king of Austria - whose territories in Italy, as well as on the Danube, were menaced by France - was always feeling that as a catholic he was fighting against a catholic monarch, Louis, and promoting the interests of protestantism. He looked to the English and Dutch to defend his territories in both Germany and the north of Italy, and to furnish him with the means of beating off the Turks from his Danubian frontiers. The lesser tribes of landgraves, and electors, and margraves were voracious of subsidies from the allies, and of honours. The landgraves and margraves, whose estates would not equal that of a good English squire, would be made electors; the electors, kings; and if they were not gratified, threatened to join the kings of Denmark and Sweden, who were jealous of the maritime ascendancy of the Dutch and English, and were doing all they could to form a northern party in order to weaken the allied cause. Others vowed they would make peace with France if their eternal demands for money were not gratified. Spain was in the lowest state of national degeneracy and weakness, and Gastanaga, the viceroy of the Netherlands, was incapable and inert beyond all power of appeal. To make all worse, the pope, Innocent XI., died, and was succeeded by Cardinal Pignatelli, a weak old man, who was inclined to be reconciled to France.

There was nothing for it but to soothe, pay, daub over with the finery of stars and garters, and allure with the hopes of augmented titles, the debased, pauper, and pretentious petty rulers of Germany, and to hold them together as well as he could; but William must have felt, and he had soon occasion to experience it, that he could depend on nothing but his own energies and his English and Dutch forces. With a world of trouble he succeeded in getting Gastanaga removed, and the elector of Bavaria appointed regent of Flanders. His agents exerted themselves amongst the influential cardinals, whom he found as much as ever averse to the plans of Louis; and in Savoy the duke and prince Eugene, assisted by young Schomberg, promised to do good service on that side.

But though William managed to just hold his stupid and selfish allies together - too stupid and selfish to perceive their own real interests - he found it impossible to get them into the field. Whilst they were moving like tortoises, each afraid to be before his neighbour, each taking leave to delay because his neighbour delayed, Louis rushed in the arena with his wonted alertness. On the 20th of May he was in his camp at Flanders. He made a grand review of his troops in the neighbourhood of Mons. There a hundred and twenty thousand men were drawn up in a line of eight miles long. Such a circumstance was well calculated to spread a deadening report amongst the allies of the crushing immensity of his army. He was attended by a splendid retinue of nearly all the princes and rulers of France; there was the duke de Chartres, in his fifteenth year only; the dukes of Bourbon and Vendome; the prince of Conti; and whole troops of young nobles following them as volunteers. Louis appeared in the midst of them with all the splendour and luxury of an eastern emperor. He had brought with him all the courtly throngs and amusements of Paris. There were the singers and dancers of the opera, mistresses and parasites, his court band of musicians, and all the ministers of pleasure and voluptuousness. Racine, the great poet of the age, was there to immortalise the actions of Louis by his muse. Every noble and gentleman appeared with an unheard-of splendour and retinue. The duke de Saint Simon, afterwards so celebrated for his "Memoirs," though then scarcely more than a boy, appeared with a long train of gorgeously-dressed servants, and thirty-five horses and sumpter mules.

From the imposing review Louis bore down directly on Namur. Namur stood strongly at the confluence of the Meuse and the Sambre. It was strong by nature on the sides next the rivers, and made so by art on the land side. The baron de Cohorn, an engineer who rivalled Vauban, was always in William's army to advise and throw up fortifications. Cohorn had made it one of the most considerable fortresses on the continent, and he now lay in the city with a garrison of nine thousand men under the prince de Brabazon. All the other fortresses - Mons, Valenciennes, Cambray, Antwerp, Ostend, Ypres, Lisle, Tournay, Luxembourg, and others, had yielded to the Grande Monarque; Namur alone had resisted every attempt upon it. And now Louis invested it with his whole force. Louis himself laid siege to the place with forty thousand men, and posted Luxembourg with eighty thousand more on the road betwixt Namur and Brussels. Brabazon calculated on the army of William effecting the relief of the place, and Louis resolved to make his approach impossible.

William, joined by the forces of Brandenburg and Liege, and with his army swelled to a hundred thousand men, advanced to the Mehaigne, within cannon-shot of Luxembourg's camp, but there he found himself stopped. Luxembourg's army lay on the other bank of the river, and was so strongly posted, and watched so vigilantly every movement of William, that he saw no means of forcing a way towards the belligerent city. Whilst thus impeded by the river and the vast force of Luxembourg, nature came to complete the chafing king's mortifications. Heavy rains set in on St. Medard's day, the 8th of June, the French St. Swithin. The rivers burst their banks, and the whole country lay under water. If William had the means to cross the river, the drenching torrents and the muddy soil rendered ail military operations impossible. Louis with difficulty could keep his men to their posts in the siege. Still the assault was pushed on. Cohorn, the engineer, was disabled by a severe wound whilst defending a fort on which he greatly prided himself; and from that hour the defence languished. Brabazon was a man of no spirit; Cohorn's fort was taken, and the town surrendered on the 20th of June.

The exultation of Louis and the French on the fall of Namur was unbounded. This triumph had been won in the very presence of William and the allies at the head of a hundred thousand men. He ordered medals to be struck to commemorate this success, which his flatterers, and amongst them Boileau himself, declared was more glorious than the mastery of Troy by the Greeks. Te Deum was sung in Paris; the French nation was in ecstacies, and Louis returned to Versailles to enjoy all the incense of his elated courtiers and mistresses. But he did not return without a sting to his triumph. The news of a signal defeat of his fleet at La Hogue reached him even as he lay before Namur, and the thunder of William's artillery at the great intelligence wounded his vanity though it could not reach his army.

Louis having quitted the Netherlands, Luxembourg strongly garrisoned Namur, despatched the marquis of Boufflers to La Bassiere, and himself encamped at Soignies. William posted himself at Genappe, sent detachments to Ghent and Liege, and determined to attack Luxembourg. That general shifted his ground to a position betwixt Steinkirk and Enghein, and William then encamped at Lambeque. Here he discovered that all his movements had been previously betrayed to Luxembourg by the private secretary of the elector of Bavaria, one Millevoix, a letter of whose to the French general had been picked up by a peasant and brought to the camp. William seized on the circumstance to mislead Luxembourg. The detected spy was compelled to write a letter to the French general, informing him that the next day William was intending to send out a great foraging party, and, to prevent its being surprised, would draw out a large body of troops to protect it. The letter being dispatched to the French camp, William took immediate measures for the engagement. His object was to surprise the camp of Luxembourg, and the story of the foraging party was to prevent his alarm on the approach of the troops. He sent his heavy baggage across the Seine, and by four in the morning his troops were on the march towards Luxembourg's position. The prince of Wurtemberg led the van with ten battalions of English, Dutch, and Danish infantry, supported by a large body of horse and foot under the command of general Mackay, and count Solmes followed with the reserve.

William's forces reached the outposts of Luxembourg's army about two o'clock in the afternoon, and drove them in with a sudden and unlooked-for onset. A regiment from the Bourbonnais was put to instant flight, and William, who had been informed that he should have to march through a country of hedges, ditches, and narrow lanes, but that, on approaching Luxembourg's army, he would find it open plain, now calculated that he had nothing to do but to dash into the surprised camp and produce universal confusion. He had indeed had to pick his way through the hedges and ditches, but now, instead of the open plain, there lay still a network of hedges and ditches betwixt him and the enemy. This caused so much delay, that the enemy soon became aware of the real fact, that William was upon them with his whole army. There was an instant hurrying to standards, and William found himself face to face with a body sufficient to dispute the ground with him till the whole was in order.

Luxembourg had been deceived by the forced letter of Millevoix. He had relied on it as being as correct as usual; and, though scout after scout brought intelligence of the English approaching, he deemed it only the foraging party and their supporters, and sate coolly at cards till it was nearly too late. Then he mounted his horse, reconnoitred the enemy, threw forward the Swiss regiments and the far-famed household troops of Louis, and encouraged his men to fight with their usual bravery. The young princes put themselves at the head of the household troops, and displayed an enthusiasm which communicated itself to the whole line. They found as vigorous opponents in the duke of Wurtemberg and the gallant and pious Mackay. The conflict was maintained at the muzzles of the muskets, and Luxembourg afterwards declared that he never saw so fierce a struggle. The duke of Wurtemberg had already seized one of the enemy's batteries, and penetrated within their entrenchments, but the immense weight of troops that kept pouring on against them at length bore them back. Mackay sent messenger after messenger to bid Solmes hasten up his reserve, but, from cowardice or treachery, Solmes would not move. He said coolly, "Let us see what sport these English bull-dogs will make." At length William sent an express order for him to move up; whereupon he trotted his horse forward a little, but never advanced his infantry. When, therefore, Mackay saw that his soldiers were being hewed down by hundreds and no succour came, he said, "God's will be done," and fought on till he fell.

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Pictures for Reign of William and Mary. - (Continued.) page 5

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