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 Queen Anne page 2

Pages: 1 <2> 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The house of commons, on the 6th of May, passed - but not without strong opposition from Sir Edward Seymour and other tory members of the house and the cabinet - a bill to appoint commissioners to treat with the Scots concerning a union of the two nations. Some of the enemies of the late king charged him with having designed to exclude the present queen from the throne, and introducing the elector of Hanover as the immediate successor to the throne. They were in the habit of drinking to the health of Sorel, the horse which fell with the king, and to the mole which threw up the hillock over which the horse stumbled. Under the name of "the little gentleman in velvet," a Latin epigram was circulated, insinuating that, as Sorel had been Sir John Fenwick's horse, it was a judgment on the Dutchman. The spirit became so indecent, that the friends of the late king in the house of lords demanded of those peers who had examined William's papers whether they had found anything warranting such a blot on his memory as that of endeavouring to exclude the queen from her rights. These noblemen replied that they had found nothing of the kind; and the house immediately voted that it was a false, scandalous, and villanous libel, and that any one found repeating it should be prosecuted by the attorney-general. The same censure was passed on the other base attempts to promote faction in the kingdom. The commons presented an address to her majesty, praying her majesty to unite with the emperor and the States to prohibit all intercourse with France and Spain, and at the same time to promote commerce in other directions, and the lords addressed her, praying her to sanction the fitting out of privateers, to make reprisals on the enemies' ships, which interrupted our trade, and also to grant charters to all persons who should seize on any of the French and Spanish territories in the Indies. The queen thanked them for their zeal, and prorogued parliament on the 25th of May.

In Scotland a violent contest took place betwixt the revolutioners and the opposition. The queen, on announcing to the privy council of that kingdom her accession, authorised them to issue a proclamation, permitting all officers of state and magistrates to continue to retain and exercise their offices as under the late king, until new commissions should be issued, in accordance with an act passed in the late reign. But the opposition contended that the queen had not yet taken the coronation oath properly; that it ought not to have been tendered by the twelve Scottish counsellors who happened to be in London, but by persons specially appointed for that purpose by the privy council, or the parliament of Scotland. The Scottish ministry, consisting of the duke of Queensbury, the earls of Marchmont, Melvil, Seafield, Hyndford, and Selkirk, who were all of revolutionary principles, were desirous that, in accordance with the act passed in the late reign, the present parliament should continue in existence for six months from the death of the late king. But the queen having deferred the meeting of the parliament by successive adjournments for three months after his death, the opposition, headed by the duke of Hamilton, contended that the parliament had expired. The duke of Hamilton, accompanied by a great number of noblemen, including the marquis of Tweeddale, the earls Marshall and Rothes, went up to London and laid their views before the queen, but the council advised Anne that Scotland was in too excited a state to venture yet on calling a new parliament. Tie parliament of Scotland accordingly commenced its sittings on the 9th of June, the duke of Queensbury being named high commissioner. The duke of Hamilton and his party declared their conviction of her majesty's rightful ascent of the throne, and their determination to defend her person and rights to the utmost; but they still contended that the present parliament was no lawful parliament. Having read a paper to that effect, he and seventy-nine other members withdrew.

The rest of the estates, however, continued to sit, and the duke of Queensbury produced a letter from her majesty, assuring them of her resolve to maintain the rights, religion, liberties, and laws; informing them that she had declared war against France, exhorted them to provide a sufficient number of forces to assist in maintaining the peace of the kingdom and its power abroad, and to take into consideration the union of the two nations. Committees were therefore formed to carry out the royal wishes, for settling controverted elections, and for preparing a suitable answer to the queen. The opposition, however, made another attempt to enforce their views, by sending lord Blantyre to her majesty with a counter-address; but she refused to receive it, and wrote again to the parliament, assuring them that she would maintain their authority against all opponents. The parliament, encouraged by this assurance, acted with increased vigour. They expelled Sir Alexander Bruce for reflecting on the presbytery, and the lord advocate prosecuted the faculty of advocates for passing a vote in favour of the protest of the opposition. The whole nation was in a ferment. Parliament then passed a number of acts, one recognising the royal authority, another adjourning the court of session, a third declaring the present parliament legal, a fourth in security of the presbyterian church, a fifth for a land tax, and a sixth enabling her majesty to appoint commissioners for settling the union.

The earl of Marchmont, in an excess of zeal, brought in a bill to abjure the pretended prince of Wales but in this he was not supported by his colleagues, and on the 30th the high commissioner adjourned the parliament.

We may now turn our attention to the progress of the war. When the States-General received the news of the death of William, they were struck with the utmost consternation. They appeared to be absolutely paralysed with terror and dismay. There was much weeping, and amid vows and embraces they passed a resolution to defend their country with their lives. The arrival of the address of the queen of England to her privy council roused their spirits, and this was followed by a letter from the earl of Marlborough, addressed to the pensionary Fagel, assuring the States of the queen's determination to continue the alliance and assistance against the common enemy. The queen herself addressed to the States a letter confirming these assurances, and dispatched it by Mr. Stanhope, who was again appointed ambassador at the Hague. Marlborough himself, who left England on the 12th of May to assume his foreign command, arriving directly afterwards in the character not only of commander-in-chief of the British forces, with a salary of ten thousand pounds a year, but of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, assured the States that the queen of England was resolved to maintain all the alliances, and resist the encroachments of the French in the same spirit as the late king.

War had been going on some time on the Rhine before Marlborough arrived there, and still longer before he was prepared to join in it. In Germany many negotiations had been going on to induce the petty states to act as contingents of the empire, or to keep them from joining the French against their own nation. The house of Brunswick had engaged to bring to the allied army ten thousand men; Prussia had engaged to co-operate, and Saxe-Gotha and Wolfenbuttel to abandon the French. The electors of Bavaria and Cologne, who had, most traitorously to the empire, aided France in her attempts to enslave Germany, pretended now to stand neuter, but the neutrality was hollow, and the position of affairs in Poland effectually prevented the northern powers of Germany sending much assistance to the allies in Flanders. Charles XII., still pursuing the elector of Saxony as king of Poland, threatened to invade Saxony. He marched first to Warsaw, and ordered the cardinal-primate to summon a diet to choose another king, and Augustus, the Saxon king, posted himself at Cracow. This position of affairs overawed Prussia, and beyond the Alps the condition of Savoy and Milan, where the French were strong, all tended to prevent a full concentration of force in the Netherlands against France.

The position of the contending forces on the Rhine and in the Netherlands was this. The prince of Saarbruck, at the head of twenty-five thousand men, Dutch, Prussians, and Badenese, was besieging Kieserwerth. Athlone and Cohorn were covering the siege- of Kieserwerth, Athlone (Ginckell) lying between the Rhine and the Meuse, Cohorn with ten thousand at the mouth of the Scheldt. On the other hand, Tallard, with thirteen thousand men on the opposite side of the Rhine, annoyed the besiegers of Kieserwerth with his artillery, and managed to throw into the city fresh troops, ammunition, and supplies. Count Delamotte, and the Spanish marquis of Bedmar, covered the western frontier of the Spanish Netherlands, and the prince of Baden was posted on the upper Rhine.

Whilst in this position Cohorn marched into the Netherlands, destroyed the French lines betwixt the forts of Donat and Isabella, and levied contributions on the chatellanie of Bruges; but Bedmar and Delamotte advancing, he cut the dykes, inundated the country, and retired under the walls of Sluys. Meantime the duke of Burgundy, taking the command of the army of Bouffiers at Zanten near Cleves, formed a design to surprise Nimeguen in conjunction with Tallard, who suddenly quitted his post near Kieserwerth, and joined Burgundy. Nimeguen was without a garrison, and ill supplied with artillery, and must have fallen an easy prey, had not Athlone, perceiving the object of the enemy, by a masterly march got the start of them, and had posted himself under the walls of the town before the arrival of the French guards.

Marlborough all this time was undergoing his first experience of the difficulties of acting at the head of a miscellaneous body of allies, and with the caution of Dutch burgomasters. He had blamed William severely for his slow movements, and now he was himself hampered by the same obstructions. It was the end of June before he could bring the necessary arrangements for taking the field into order. Nor could he have effected this so soon had not the near surprise of Nimeguen alarmed the Dutch for their frontiers, and quickened their movements. The fall of Kieserwerth was another circumstance in his favour. He collected the forces which had been engaged there, marched the English troops up from Beda, and in the beginning of July found himself at Nimeguen at the head of sixty thousand men. Even then he did not find himself clear of difficulties. His bold plans were checked by the presence of two field deputies which the Dutch always sent along with their generals, and who would not permit him to undertake any movement until they had informed the States-General of it and received their sanction. Thus, it was not the general in the field, but the States-General at a distance who really directed the evolutions of the war; and the only wonder is, that a general in such absurd leading-strings could effect anything at all. Besides the standing nuisance, Marlborough found Athlone, the prince of Saarbruck, and the other chief generals all contending for equal authority with him, and refusing to submit to his commands; and when the States-General freed him, by a positive order, from this difficulty, the Hanoverians refused to march without an order from Bothmar, their ambassador at the Hague. Instead of sending to Bothmar, Marlborough summoned him to the camp, as the proper place for him if he was to direct the movements of the Hanoverian troops, and got rid of this obstacle only to find the Prussians raising the same difficulties.

It was not till the 7th of July that he crossed the Waal and encamped at Druckenburg, a little south of Nimeguen. It was the 16th when he crossed the Meuse and posted himself at Over-hasselt, with the French forces in front at the distance of two leagues and a half, entrenched betwixt Goch and Gedap. Here, in a letter to Godolphin, he complained that still the fears of the Dutch hampered his movements. He then recrossed the river below the Grave, and reached Gravenbroeck, where he was joined by the British train of artillery from Holland, Thus prepared, he advanced on the French; on the 2nd of August was at Petit Brugel in their front; but they retired before him, leaving Spanish Guelderland in his power. He determined to bring the French to an engagement, but was restrained by the fears of the Dutch deputies; but, fortunately for him, the French generals had their fears too, and the duke of Burgundy, finding Marlborough pressing on him in spite of his obstructions, resigned his command rather than risk a defeat, and returned to Versailles, leaving the command to Bouffiers. The deputies of the States, encouraged by these symptoms, recommended Marlborough to clear the French from Spanish Guelderland, where the places which they still held on the Meuse interrupted the commerce of that river. Though the Dutch were merely looking at their own interest in this design, Marlborough was glad to attack the enemy anywhere. He dispatched general Schultz to reduce the town and castle of Werk, and in the beginning of September laid siege to Venloo, which, on the 28th of the month, surrendered. Fort St. Michael, at Venloo, was stormed by the impetuous lord Cutts, unrivalled at that work, at the head of the English volunteers, amongst whom the young earl of Huntingdon greatly distinguished himself. He next invested and reduced Ruremonde and the fort of Stevenswerth; and Bouffiers, confounded by the rapid successes of Marlborough, retiring on Liege, the English general followed him, reduced the place, stormed the citadel, and seized in it three hundred thousand florins in gold and a million florins in bills on the substantial merchants of the city, who promptly paid the money. This terminated the campaign. Marlborough had wonderfully raised his reputation, won the entire confidence of the States, and, having seen the French retire behind their lines, he distributed his troops into winter quarters, and projected his journey homewards.

As he was descending the Meuse from Maestricht on the way to the Hague, he fell into the hands of the French. He was accompanied by general Opdam and Mynheer Gueldermalsen, one of the deputies, and at Ruremonde was joined by Cohorn in another and swifter boat. Near Guelders he was surprised by a French partisan, who was lying in wait with his men amongst the rushes for plunder, and who, seizing the tow-rope of the boat, drew it to the shore, discharged their firearms and hand-grenades, and, rushing aboard, secured the soldiers before they could make any defence. Marlborough's companions were provided with passports, he had none; but he produced an old French one which belonged to his brother, general Churchill, and which did as well. The object of the marauder being booty, he paid little attention to the persons in the boat, but rifled it and let it go on, little suspecting the grand prize he thus ignorantly abandoned. The governor of Venloo, hearing of the affair, and supposing Marlborough and his companions conveyed prisoners to Guelders, dispatched a force to invest the place; and the news reaching the Hague, threw the whole government into consternation. Marlborough, however, soon put an end to their fears by his appearance there in safety.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 <2> 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Pictures for Reign of Queen Anne page 2

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About