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Reign of Queen Anne page 3

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The French had more success on the upper Rhine and in Germany farther south. The electors of Bavaria and Cologne, having obtained all they asked of the French, threw off their pretended neutrality and openly joined them. The elector of Bavaria surprised Ulm, and the diet, incensed at this treachery, denounced both him and the elector of Cologne as enemies, and forbade the appearance of their ministers in the diet. The French, encouraged by the alliance of the electors, took Newburg, in Swabia, and compelled the prince of Baden to lie inactive near Fridlingen. He was soon after attacked by the marshal de Villiers and count Guiscard, was defeated, and Fridlingen taken. On the other hand, Landau was reduced by the king of the Romans, the eldest son of the emperor, and a detachment from the army of Liege took Lintz, Brisac, and Andernach; the French on their side taking Triers and Traerbach.

In Italy prince Eugene had been left to contend single- handed with the French and his countrymen of Savoy. The emperor had exhausted his strength in supporting the king of the Romans in the upper Rhinelands. Philip, the king of Spain, also sailed to Naples to support the French by his appearance there, and was cordially received by the pope. Notwithstanding the powers arrayed against him, Eugene determined to attack the French army about to besiege Luzzara and Guastalla, and posted himself for this purpose behind the dyke of Zero, in order to surprise the enemy before they had pitched their tents on arriving there. But his ambush was discovered by the advanced guard ascending the dyke to survey the country, where it beheld Eugene's army lying on its face behind the dyke. Eugene, notwithstanding, attacked the French army vigorously, but with only half the amount of force, and could not prevent their assaults of Luzzara and Guastalla, which fell. The prince, however, maintained his ground, and Philip returned to Spain without having achieved much advantage.

The operations at sea had not been so decisive as those of Marlborough on land. On the 12th of May Sir John Munden, sent out to intercept the French fleet convoying the viceroy of Mexico from Corunna to the West Indies, chased fourteen sail of French ships into Corunna, but, judging the fortifications too strong to attack them there, put out to sea again, and soon after returned home for provisions, to the great indignation of the people. Munden was tried by court-martial and acquitted, but the prince of Denmark dismissed him from the service notwithstanding. King William having planned the reduction of Cadiz, the queen was now advised to put the project into execution. Sir George Rooke was sent out with a squadron of fifty ships of the line, besides frigates, fireships, and smaller vessels, and carrying the duke of Ormonde with a land-force of fourteen thousand men. The fleet sailed from St. Helen's near the end of June, and anchored on the 12th of August within two leagues of Cadiz. The governor of Fort St. Catherine was summoned to surrender, but he refused; and on the 15th the duke of Ormonde landed under a fire from the batteries, and soon took the forts of St. Catherine and St. Mary. He issued a proclamation declaring that they came, not to make war on the Spaniards, but to free Spain from the yoke of France, and that the people and their property should be protected. But the English soldiers paid no regard to the proclamation, but got drunk in the wine-stores and committed great excesses. Some of the general officers were found as eager as the soldiers for pillaging; and the inhabitants, resenting their sufferings, held aloof. To complete the mischief, the land and the sea commander, as has been too commonly the case, fell to quarrelling. Ormonde wanted to storm the Isla de Leon; Rooke deemed it too hazardous. An attempt was made to batter Montagorda fort, but failed, and the troops were reimbarked.

As the fleet was returning from its inglorious enterprise, it was met by captain Hardy, who informed the commander that the galleons from the West Indies had entered Yigo bay under convoy of a French squadron. A council of war was immediately summoned, and it was resolved to tack about and proceed to Vigo. They appeared before the place on the 11th of October. The passage into the harbour they found strongly defended by forts and batteries on both sides, and the passage closed by a strong boom of iron chains, topmasts, and cables. The admirals shifted their flags into smaller vessels, for neither first nor second-rates could enter. Five-and-twenty English and Dutch ships of the line of lesser size, with their frigates, fireships, and ketches, now prepared to make the attempt to force the boom and burn the fleet, and the duke of Ormonde prepared the way by landing two thousand eight hundred men at six miles from Vigo, and marching on the harbour, where he attacked and carried a strong fort and a platform of forty pieces of cannon at its mouth. The moment the British colours were seen flying on the fort the fleet put itself in motion. Admiral Hopson led the way in the "Torbay," and, running with all sail set, dashed against the boom and burst through it. He was followed by the whole squadron under a tremendous fire from the ships and batteries; but both ships and batteries were soon silenced, the, batteries by the soldiers on land, the ships by the fleet. They captured eight ships of war and six galleons; the rest were set fire to by themselves or the French, to prevent them falling into the hands of the English. The Spaniards had lost no time in removing as much of the plate and merchandise as they could; but the allies seized on seven millions of pieces of eight in plate and other goods, and the Spaniards are supposed to have saved twice as much. Sir George Rooke left Sir Cloudesley Shovel, who just arrived, to bring home the prizes, and sailed home with the rest of the fleet and troops in triumph, complaining that Cadiz too might have been taken had Ormonde done his duty, and Ormonde retorting the blame upon him.

Had this terminated the usual campaign it might have been considered, to a certain extent, a success; but an expedition, sent out to cruise in the waters of the West Indies under the brave old Benbow, had a worse fate. He came up with a French fleet under Du Casse, steering along the shore near St. Martha, and though he had ten sail of the line and the enemy only the same, he found himself deserted by most of his captains, under the plea that the enemy was too strong. Benbow, upbraiding their cowardice, attacked the whole fleet with only two vessels. The battle lasted off and on from the 19th of August to the 24th, some others of the ships occasionally joining him. On the last day his leg was shattered by a chain-shot, and he was wounded in the face and in the arm; yet he caused himself to be placed on the quarter-deck in a cradle, and continued issuing his orders to the last. Seeing it in vain to contend longer, he returned to Jamaica, and ordered a court-martial to be held on his officers. Du Casse, who had reached Carthagena in safety, wrote to Benbow this note: - " Sir, - I had little hope on Monday last but to have supped in your cabin; but it pleased God to order it otherwise. I am thankful for it. As for those cowardly captains who deserted you, hang them up, for by God they deserve it. Yours, Du Casse."

Benbow certainly acted in the Frenchman's spirit of honest indignation over such cowardice. Kirby and Wade were sentenced to be shot; Constable, of the "Windsor," was cashiered and imprisoned; others were suspended or reprimanded. Kirby and Wade were sent home to receive their punishment; but, to prevent any applications in their favour, order had been taken at all the ports, and they were shot on board ship at Plymouth under a death warrant ready waiting them there. The reason assigned for the disobedience of the officers was the rough conduct of Benbow, who was one of the old boisterous school of seamen, but brave and honest. The disgrace thus inflicted on his command, combining with his shattered condition, soon also brought him to his grave,

Marlborough returned to England in November, and was received with great applause. Notwithstanding some sharp criticisms on his campaign, the public saw clearly enough that he was a far superior general to William, and augured great things from his future command. The queen during the summer had been making acquaintance with her subjects in Oxford, Bath, and Bristol, with the double object of cultivating a good feeling towards her amongst the people, and cultivating the health of her husband, who was attacked with a severe asthma. She was royally received at every place, and dined with the heads of the university at Oxford, not fearing any poison, like king William. During this journey, too, occurred an incident which was a perfect reiteration of "The King and the Miller of Mansfield," except that the incident befell in the first place the prince of Denmark. Having gone from Bath to Bristol incognito, and with only a single military officer, amongst other places he appeared on 'Change; and, though he was recognised, none of the merchants presumed to accost him, or to invite him to their houses. But one honest John Duddlestone, a boddice-maker, thinking it would be a lasting disgrace to the city should the prince be allowed to go away without any courteous recognition, stepped up to him when all the merchants had gone away, and asked whether he were the queen's husband, as was reported. Being assured that this was the case, he excused his townsmen's apparent want of loyalty by attributing it to their not venturing to accost him, and invited him to take a simple dinner at his house. He promised him only plainest English fare, a piece of roast beef, a plum-pudding, and home-brewed of his wife's own making. The prince, delighted with the simple loyalty of the man, went along with him. On reaching the house, honest John Duddlestone shouted at the foot of the stairs to his wife to put on her best apron and come down, for the queen's husband and a gentleman-officer were come to dine with them. Dame Duddlestone soon made her appearance in a smart blue apron, and the prince was so charmed with his host and hostess and their entertainment, that he invited them to visit him at Windsor Castle. In course of time, John Duddlestone going to London to buy whalebone, took his wife with him, and made Windsor on their road. They found ready access to the prince through a card he had left them, and were heartily received by him and introduced to the queen. The queen, equally pleased at their attention to her husband, invited them to stay dinner, had them clad in full court costume, and introduced them to the courtiers as the most loyal persons in the city of Bristol. After dinner the queen knighted the worthy boddice-maker, saying, according to the good wife's version of it, when she often related the extraordinary story, "Ston up, Sir Jan." Queen Anne also presented Lady Duddlestone with her own gold watch and chain, which the good dame always wore on holiday occasions with much pride. The queen, moreover, offered Sir John a place under government, or a handsome sum of money; but the stout knight respectfully declined anything, saying that from the number of people he saw about the queen's house, her living must be very expensive, and as for him, he wanted for nothing, and had fifty pounds out at interest.

Anne worthily endeavoured to put down the practice of buying and selling the places in her household. The practice had been imported from France at the restoration, like many another vice; but it had been more than ever prevalent since the revolution. As every one bought his or her place, every one claimed to sell them, and did sell them as openly as eggs in a market. By this means the monarch was totally deprived of the choice of his servants, and, bad as courts are generally, he must know that there was no claim whatever to virtue or faithful duty in such a mercenary crew. Anne, by order of council, put an end to the practice, as far as an order in council could do it; but Cunningham, the historian, tells us that it had the effect only of confining the custom to one person - namely, lady Marlborough. "Within the palace itself was a busy market of all the offices of government. The queen's own relations were kept at a distance, and all things were transacted by the sole authority of one woman, to whom there was no access but by the golden road."

Lady Marlborough boasts that this virtuous order was issued at her suggestion, as, indeed, she pretends was every other good thing, so long as she held the favour of the queen. And there can be little doubt of the fact in this case, as it so completely threw the sale of the whole into her hands, which, like those of her husband, were never insensible to the touch of gold. She was now at the pinnacle of her long desired glory, and ruled supreme over both nation and sovereign. She complained that Anne never made her a present of so much as a diamond or a fan, If that had been true it would have conferred no disgrace on Anne, after she had given to her husband a dukedom, the fine royal estate of Woodstock, ten thousand pounds a year as general-in-chief; and when parliament having refused Marlborough, before he had fought the battle of Blenheim, five thousand pounds a year, she gave him two thousand a year out of her privy purse, which was indignantly refused until the five thousand pounds a year was at length granted by parliament, when the queen's two thousand pounds was also claimed, and had. Under these circumstances, had she given no present whatever to lady Marlborough, she could not be taxed with penuriousness; but whatever the facts, the places which Anne gave to the duchess of Marlborough amounted to five thousand six hundred pounds a year. She had the means of making untold sums by her position and influence, the queen being wholly in her hands, and she made ample use of the opportunity. So far from its being true, even, that the queen did not give her presents, she presented her not with a mere solitary diamond or two, but with a miniature portrait of her husband, the duke, set in diamonds, and covered with a plate diamond valued at eight thousand pounds. Whatever she saw and asked for she had. She was not contented with the rangership of the great and little park at Windsor, but she asked the queen for the gift of the ranger's lodge, got it, and then gave it to a brother of the duke of Marlborough's for his life.

The queen met her new parliament on the 20th of October, which turned out to be so completely tory as to carry all before it in that direction. The government had no occasion to make much exertion to obtain that result; it was enough that the queen's decided leaning to the tories was known. This party had diligently spread the feeling that they were the whigs who had supported the late king in plunging the nation into foreign wars, and had taken advantage of it to grow rich themselves on the taxes levied in consequence. Toryism, therefore, came forward in the new parliament furious against the late king, who had been especially a whig king. Harley was chosen speaker. The tone of the queen's speech, though apparently maintaining a royal dignity and impartiality, was virtually of the same kind, for it began by desiring the commons to make a strict examination of the public accounts, and to punish all who should be found to have been guilty of corruption and peculation. This was but the tory animus still directed against the whig ministers who had been in power under William. At the same time, as is always the case, these virtuous statesmen, after having condemned their rivals, were ready to rush into the same policy and the same abuses. They condemned the foreign war, and yet the queen called on the commons to provide funds for its vigorous maintenance, and we shall see that these tory ministers and tory parliament were just as lavish of the public money for this purpose as the censured whigs had been. The queen regretted the failure of the attack on Cadiz, and condemned the excesses at St. Mary's. The news of the success at Vigo Bay had not yet arrived.

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