OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of William III. (Continued.) page 16


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 <16> 17 18 19

William then set out to survey the defences of the frontiers, and the state of the garrisons; and having visited Bergemop-Zoom, Sluys, and other places, and taken such measures as appeared necessary, he returned to the Hague, where the news met him that Louis had recalled his ambassador, D'Avaux, who left a memorial in a very insolent tone, asserting that his royal master was convinced that no good could come of the negotiations, but still declaring that it depended on themselves whether there should be peace or war. This event by no means surprised William, for both he and Marlborough had felt from the first that there was no sincerity in the professions of D'Avaux, and that they were meant only to gain time. The treaty betwixt England, Holland, and the emperor was, therefore, urged forward briskly, and was signed on the 7th of September, being styled "The Second Grand Alliance." By this treaty it was contracted that the three allies should mutually exert themselves to procure satisfaction for the emperor for the Spanish succession, and Security for the peace and trade of the allies. Two months were yet to be allowed for obtaining the objects by negotiation. If this failed, war was to be made to recover the Spanish Flanders, the kingdoms of Sicily, Naples, and the other Spanish territories in Italy; that the States and England might seize and keep for themselves whatever they could of the colonial possessions of Spain. No peace was to be made by any one of the allies until they had obtained security for the absolute separation of France and Spain, and that France should not hold the Spanish Indies. All kings, princes, and states were invited to enter the alliance, and tempting offers of advantages were made to induce them to do so. William had already secured the interest of Denmark, and the promises of Sweden; but the young king of Sweden, Charles XII., was too busily pursuing the war with Russia and Poland to lend any real service to this cause. At the very moment that the allies were canvassing for confederates, this "madman of the north," as he was called, gave the czar Peter a most terrible overthrow at Narva, killing thirty thousand of his men, namely, on the 30th of November. Holstein and the palatinate came into the treaty, and the news from Italy soon induced the German petty princes to profess their adhesion, especially the electors of Bavaria and Cologne, who had received subsidies from France, and raised troops, with which they would have declared for Louis, had not the victories of prince Eugene swayed their mercenary minds the other way.

For several weeks before the signing of the treaty at the Hague, Eugene, at the head of the emperor's troops in Italy, had opened the war. He had entered Italy at Vicenza, and passed the Adige near Carpi, where, being opposed by Catinat and the duke of Savoy, he defeated them with considerable slaughter, and forced them to retire into the Mantuan territory. Catinat and the French had excited the hatred of the peasantry by their insolence and oppressions, and they flew to arms and assisted Eugene, who was very popular with them, by harassing the outposts of the French cutting off their foragers, and obstructing their supplies. Marshal Villeroi being sent to their aid, Catinat retired in disgust. Villeroi marched towards Chiari, and attacked Eugene in his camp, but was repulsed with the loss of five thousand men. By the end of the campaign the prince had reduced all the Mantuan territory except Mantua itself and Goito, which he blockaded. He reduced all the places on the Oglio, and continued in the field all the winter, displaying a genius for war which greatly alarmed the king of France. He dispatched fresh reinforcements to Piedmont, under the marshal Vendome, but he found the duke of Savoy now cold and backward in assisting him. The duke had now got all that he could look for from France; his second daughter was married to the new king of Spain, and, satisfied with that, he was by no means ambitious of French domination in his own territories.

On the other hand, France endeavoured to distract Austria by sowing insurrection in Hungary, and Louis's emissaries were busy all over Europe. He managed to make an alliance with Portugal, though the king himself was attached to the house of Austria, but was a weak prince, and was betrayed by his ministers, who were corrupted by France. Meantime the English and Dutch fleets sailed in strong force along the coasts of Spain, to overawe the French, and another fleet was dispatched to the West Indies, to be ready in case of hostilities. In Spain itself both people and nobles began to repent bitterly of their subjection to France. They felt greatly insulted by the insolence of the king's French ministers and attendants, who treated the highest grandees with very little consideration. The French dress was introduced into the court, and French manners also, and a formal edict was issued, putting the French nobles on the same level with the proud Hidalgoes of Spain. The finances of Spain were at the lowest ebb, the spirit of the nation was thoroughly demoralised, and the condition of France was very little better. These circumstances being universally known, encouraged the allies in their projects. Yet the emperor, for whose cause the alliance was ostensibly created, was almost equally poor. He had engaged to bring 90,000 troops into the field - 66,000 infantry and 24,000 horse; yet he was compelled to negotiate a loan with Holland for 500,000 crowns. William, on his part, was to furnish 33,000 infantry and 7,000 horse, and the States-General 32,000 infantry and 20,000 horse. Such were the circumstances under which commenced what was "called the war of the Spanish succession, which was destined to continue eleven years, and to cost this country alone £62,500,000, of which £32,500,000 was added to the national debt, and this in one hundred and fifty-six years which have since elapsed has cost in interest upwards of £150,000,000, thus making a total of cost to England alone up to this time of upwards of £180,000,000 for that one war alone, and still destined to press on our posterity. Such are the curses which monarchs inflict on nations when they rush into war. We may well inquire what advantages the balance of power in Europe has ever brought to place in the scale against this monstrous burthen, which every day is pressing on the population of this kingdom in taxation, and, therefore, in the rate of rental and of everything consumed. But this, as we shall soon have occasion to note, is but a small item of the burthens first originated in these Dutch wars of William III. The people of England are at this day paying annually one million and a half for this very war, besides its haying cost at the time a quarter of a million of the lives of Englishmen. We may well ask, too, what had we to do with the Spanish succession? That was the sole business of the Spaniards themselves; and, disguise the present alliance as historians may, it was but a combination of robbers to pluck a nation limb from limb, and possess themselves of the bleeding members. Austria was to get Naples, Sicily, Milan, &c., with the Spanish Netherlands; Holland and England the colonial dependencies, if they could conquer them. The petty princes of Germany contented themselves with the more certain subsidies from England and the States.

Whilst these great powers, under the gilded names of patriotism and restoring the much-admired though never- achieved balance of power, were contemplating the dismemberment of a great but enfeebled nation, the "sick man" of those days, the poor old ex-king James, was closing his career. James, towards the latter part of his life, had become more than ever a religious devotee. Though his religion was not of a kind which could preserve him from the worst of tyrannies, the most insane of follies, which could open his eyes to see the will of a nation must be respected as much as the will of a monarch, we must admit that at least he was sincere in his faith in it. It was a narrow and a mistaken faith, but it was deep and immovable in him. For his religion, such as it was, he actually sacrificed his crown and the brilliant destiny of his family; for his religion he refused every offer which might have restored him; he would abandon no iota of the dogmas in which he believed. On his deathbed he exhorted his son to the same course, and to suffer any loss but the loss of his religion. He was a man, therefore, with all his faults, his follies, and his crimes, who was to be respected for his sincerity, and that was his only title to respect; for his creed was of a nature which went to destroy all liberty of life and mind, which would have made this nation a nation of slaves, and the worst kind of slaves, the slaves of priestcraft. As his end approached, the poor, worn-out, and, as we may say, doomed monarch - for he was the victim of his grandfather's theory of kingcraft, as his father, Charles I., was - he endeavoured to win his place in heaven by those outward penances and austerities which the church of Rome has so much substituted for the trusting faith in the Saviour of mankind, whose blood purifies from all sin. If James had had that enlightened faith, he need not have put so much faith in flagellations and fasts. As it was, he became almost a monk, and sought a savage kind of consolation amongst the most rigorous of them all, the brethren of La Trappe. He gives himself this account of his visits to La Trappe: - "At first it was partly curiosity, and a desire to see whether the discourses I had heard and the relations I had read whilst I was in England of that holy place came up to my expectations, and whether the abbot who began that reform deserved all the commendations that were given him. An old friend of mine, the marshal de Belfond, carried me thither, for which, as long as he lived, I gave him many thanks, and by degrees found myself, as I thought, improved; for, till I had been there some time, and made a kind of retreat for three or four days at a time - which I have continued to do at least once a year since my coming from Ireland - 1 found not that change which was necessary in myself. It gave me a true sense of the vanity of all worldly greatness, and that nothing was to be coveted but the love of God, and to endeavour to live up to his law, and mortify oneself by all lawful means," &c.

How every one must wish that the marshal de Belfond had conveyed James to La Trappe in his youth and left him there. That was his right place, and his being in it would have saved the world much misery. James expired on the 16th of September, 1701, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. He made a most exemplary end. As we have said, on his deathbed he exhorted the prince of Wales to adhere to the catholic faith, let it cost him what it would, and it was sure to cost him every chance of the English crown. He endeavoured to convert lord Middleton and his other protestant followers. He declared repeatedly his entire forgiveness of the prince of Orange, his daughter Anne, the emperor, and all his enemies. When he had received the sacrament he exclaimed, "The happy day is come at last!"

Louis XIV. made three successive visits to the dying king; and this strange monarch, who had no feeling for human misery in the gross, who let loose his legions to lay waste happy human homes in all the countries round him, to ravage, massacre, and destroy the unoffending people by barbarities which must have instructed the very devils in cruelty - shed maudlin tears over the departure of this poor, silly, bigoted old man, whose life had been one great, miserable blunder, and whose death was the best thing that could happen to him. He promised the dying man that he would maintain the right of his son to the English crown as he had maintained his, though he had sworn at the treaty of Ryswick to do nothing to disturb the throne of William; and the moment that the breath was out of James's body he proclaimed the prince king of England by the title of James III.

After the body of James had lain four-and-twenty hours in the midst of lights, and priests, and monks, singing the office for the dead, and performing mass at two altars erected in the room, it was opened and embalmed, and part of his bowels were deposited in the church of St. Germains, part in that of the English college at St. Omer, the brain and the fleshy parts of the head were sent to the Scotch college at Paris, and the heart to the convent of Chalist. Thus were the fragments of the body of this wretched king distributed as precious relics, and the body itself deposited in the vault of the church of the English Benedictine monks in Paris, "there to remain till it should please God to dispose the people of England to repair, in some measure, the injuries they did him in his life, by the honour they should think fit to show him after his death." But England has never shown any compunction on that head.

The title of James III. was acknowledged by the king of Spain, the duke of Savoy, and the pope. The moment William received the news of Louis having proclaimed James's son king of England, he dispatched a messenger to inform the king of Sweden, who was guarantee of the peace of Ryswick, of this flagrant breach of it. He ordered the earl of Manchester immediately to retire from Paris without taking leave, and Poussin, the secretary of Tallard, to quit London. Louis pretended that his acknowledgment of the prince of Wales was mere form; that he meant no infraction of the treaty, and might justly complain of William's declarations and preparations in favour of the emperor. In fact, kings never want pleas when they have a purpose, however unwarrantable it may be. The people of England hastened to express their abhorrence of the perfidy of the French king. Addresses of resentment were poured in from the city of London and from all parts of the kingdom, and with declarations of their determination to defend the king and his crown against all pretenders or invaders.

William was impatient to be in London to make the necessary arrangements for a new ministry and a new parliament, and also for the war, which was now inevitable. But he was detained by a severe illness; in fact, he was fast succumbing to the weakness of his constitution, and the ravages made on it by his stupendous exertions in the wars he had been constantly engaged in, and, still more, by the eternal wear and harass of the unprincipled factions which raged around his island throne. He was, in addition, menaced by another attempt on his life by one Boselli, an Italian ruffian, infamous for many villanous deeds, and who had either escaped from the Bastille, or had been let out for this purpose. To cast a damp on his allies, and to encourage proportion ably the adherents of Louis, the Spanish minister, De Quiros, hired a number of physicians to consult on William's health, who issued a bulletin that he could not live many weeks, and this opinion was circulated in all quarters with all diligence. Certainly Louis and his court watched with intense interest for the death of William, believing that, if he were out of the way, their course all over Europe were easy.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 <16> 17 18 19

Pictures for Reign of William III. (Continued.) page 16

Defeat of the Turks by prince Eugene
Defeat of the Turks by prince Eugene >>>>
Thanksgiving at St. Pauls
Thanksgiving at St. Pauls >>>>
Peter the czar receiving visitors in the dockyard
Peter the czar receiving visitors in the dockyard >>>>
Old palace at Madrid
Old palace at Madrid >>>>
William III. and duke of Gloucester
William III. and duke of Gloucester >>>>
Capitan Kydd
Capitan Kydd >>>>
Madame De Maintenon
Madame De Maintenon >>>>
Charles XII
Charles XII >>>>
View of Ostend
View of Ostend >>>>
View of Naples
View of Naples >>>>
Harley receiving the “Legion” memorial
Harley receiving the “Legion” memorial >>>>
King James II
King James II >>>>
The vinery at Hampton Court
The vinery at Hampton Court >>>>
William III.
William III. >>>>
Queen Anne
Queen Anne >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About