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Reign of Queen Anne page 9

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The duke of Hamilton only the more vehemently returned to the proposal to pass to the consideration of the limitations on the crown and the treaty of trade, naming commissioners to treat with England. Nothing was to take precedence of these subjects except the granting a land-tax to pay the forces necessary for Scotland. As Hamilton and Athol were strongly suspected of leaning towards the pretender, the earl of Marchmont at once moved that they should pass an act to exclude for ever all popish successors from the throne. This produced a violent retort from Hamilton and his party. The lord chief justice then brought up a bill of supply, but to this there was a particular provision, which had been brought forward as a separate act in the preceding session, but refused signature by the queen, namely, " that if the queen should die without issue, a Scottish parliament should presently meet, and should declare the successor to the crown, who should not be the same person that was possessed of the crown of England, unless before that time there should be a settlement made in parliament of the rights and liberties of the nation, independent of the English councils." Besides this there was another clause - that the Scotch should be at liberty to arm and train soldiers for the defence of the country; and the whole was agitated with so much vehemence and heat that, though the presbyterians were perfectly agreeable to the settling the protestant succession, they were overawed, the dukes of Hamilton and Athol keeping the whole nation in a state of furious excitement.

This popish and Jacobite faction had, in fact, now carried their insolence so far as to menace the crown with setting up a separate king if their unreasonable demands were not unconditionally complied with. For it was not a fair and temperate decision and cession of the real rights of Scotland which they wanted, and which they might have had, but their aim was to embarrass the English government, and compel it to submit to a position of menace of a rival sovereign at any moment that they pleased. William would have lain quiet, as he did in similar difficulties in the commencement of his reign with that country, and have left the troops unpaid, and Scotland itself to feel the inconvenience of its position; but the ministers of Anne were alarmed. The people were parading the streets of Edinburgh, threatening to sacrifice all who should dare to prove traitors to their country and succumb to England's designs against their ancient independence; and Godolphin advised Anne to pass the supply bill with this extraordinary tack, which she did. Thus Scotland was, in fact, severed from England, and was authorised to set up a new monarch on the death of the queen in opposition to one chosen by England. So disgraceful a concession to the menaces of a faction had not been seen in England for generations. Godolphin would have certainly fallen a just victim of his baseness at this moment but for the wonderful news of the successes of Marlborough coming thick and fast, and filling the public mind. As it was, the English tories printed and circulated the Scottish Security Bill to show that the two countries were really separated in the most absolute manner. At the same time this disgraceful concession only encouraged the Jacobite faction, which returned again to the demand to have all the papers regarding the Frazer plot, and denounced the interference of the English house of lords in the matter as an encroachment on the independence of their nation. The only mode of putting a stop to the fierce demands of the faction was to prorogue the parliament, which was done.

Marlborough had left London for the Hague this year, on the 15th of January, whilst the English parliament was sitting. He was promised fifty thousand British troops under his own immediate command, and he was planning a campaign which gave the first evidence of a real military genius being at the head of the allied forces since these Dutch wars began. He saw that the elector of Bavaria, by his alliance with the French, was striking at the very heart of the empire, and that, if permitted to continue his plans, he would soon, with his French allies, be in possession of Vienna. Nothing could be more deplorable than the condition of Austria. Besides the successes of the elector of Bavaria, the insurgents of Hungary were triumphant, and between the two the empire was on the verge of ruin. The elector of Bavaria had possessed himself of all the places on the Danube as far as Passau, and should he come to act in concert with the Hungarians, Vienna would be lost. Prince Eugene put himself in communication with Marlborough, and these two great generals determined on striking a blow which should at once free Austria from its dangers. This was no other than a bold march of a powerful army to the Danube, and the destruction of the elector of Bavaria.

This was a design so far out of the mediocre range of Dutch campaigns that it was determined not to let its real character become known till it could be instantly put in execution, certain that the States-General, terrified at so daring a scheme, would prohibit it at once. To go securely to work, therefore, by the advice of Eugene, the emperor applied to the queen of England to send an army to his rescue. Marlborough supported the application with all Iiis energy, and, having procured the queen's consent, he left England on the 14th of January, was in the Hague on the 19th, and put himself into secret communication with the grand pensionary Heinsius. He fully approved of the scheme, and promised to give it his most strenuous support. It was thought, however, imprudent to confide the real extent of the plan to any other persons, not only because it was sure to alarm the States-General, but because it had been all along observed that every proposal, once known to the government or heads of the army, was immediately, by concealed traitors, made known to the French. The proposal made to the States-General, therefore, was merely that the next campaign should be made on the Moselle, as if the design was along that river to penetrate into France.

The States-General, as was expected, appeared thunderstruck by even the proposal of carrying the war to the Moselle, and it was only by the zeal of Heinsius that they were brought to consent to it. That accomplished, they were induced to grant a subsidy to the prince of Baden, and another to the circle of Suabia, and to take into pay four thousand Würtembergers instead of the same number of Dutch and English dispatched to Portugal- There was a promise of money given to the prince of Savoy, with an assurance of so vigorous a campaign on this side the Alps, that the French should not be able to send many troops against him. Similar assurances of co-operation were given to the elector palatine and to the new king of Prussia. These matters being arranged, Marlborough hastened back to England, and persuaded the queen to remit a hundred thousand crowns to Suabia, and to make a large remittance to the prince of Baden out of the privy purse. He then put himself on a good understanding with the now partly whig ministry, himself as well as his indefatigable duchess coming out in whig colours. He then returned to the Netherlands in the beginning of April. He found in his absence that the terms of his design, little of it as was known, had been actively operating in the cautious Dutch mind, and the states of Zealand and Friesland in particular were vehemently opposed to so bold a measure as carrying the war to the Moselle. Marlborough, who had brought with him to support him in command his brother, general Churchill, lieutenant-general Lumley, the earl of Orkney, and other officers of distinction, told the States plainly that he had the authority of his queen for taking such measures as he thought best for the common cause, and that he was determined to march with his forty thousand men to the Moselle. This struck with silence the opposers of the measure: the States consented with a good grace to the proposition, and gave him such powers as they never would have done had they any idea to what an extent he meant to use them. Prince Eugene alone, who was commanding the allied army on the Upper Danube, was in the secret. Leaving Auverquerque with a strong force to guard the frontiers of Holland, he commenced at once his march to Utrecht, where he spent a few days with Albemarle, thence to Ruremonde, and so to Maestricht, and on the 8th of May advanced to Bedburg, in the duchy of Juliers, which had been appointed as the place of rendezvous. There he found general Churchill with fifty-one battalions, and ninety-two squadrons of horse. He was there waited on by the prince of Saxe-Zeist, the envoy-extraordinary, M. Brianzoni, the bishop of Raab, and other dignitaries of the church from Cologne, and he sent by them to the elector of Treves, informing his highness that he should require to pass the Rhine at Coblentz, and requested him to see that a bridge of boats was laid across the river, so that his army might pass without delay, which would be an advantage to his highness's territory, while their detention would tend to exhaust it. Being joined by various detachments of Prussians, Hessians, Lunenburgers, and others, and also by eleven Dutch battalions, Marlborough, on the 19th of May, commenced his great expedition into the heart of Germany. The very next day, being at Kerpen, he received an urgent dispatch from Auverquerque, imploring him to halt and send him back reinforcements, as the French had crossed the Meuse at Namur, and were menacing Huy. The French, in fact, imagined that he meant to besiege Traer- bach, and to attempt an entrance into France along the Moselle, and this movement towards Huy was to draw him off; but he took no notice of it, only encouraging Auverquerque to stand firm, assuring him he was in no danger. At the same time came an equally urgent express from the prince of Baden, desiring him to hasten his march towards the lines of Stollhoffen, as Villeroi was marching on the Rhine. Marlborough was not to be drawn from his own plans. He dispatched letters to Auverquerque and the prince of Baden to appease their alarms, and maintained his march to Kalsecken. He visited the fortifications of Bonn, where he received information that Tallard had passed the Rhine, sent forward to the elector of Bavaria ten thousand men, and then fallen back on his old position near Strasburg. This quickened his motions: on the 26th he was at Coblentz, and from the grand old fortress of Ehrenbreitstein he watched the passage of his army over the Moselle and the Rhine. He wrote to the States-General for fresh reinforcements in order to secure his most important movement, and marched along the banks of the Rhine to Broubach. There he also wrote to the king of Prussia, praising the Prussian troops, and entreating him to send him more of them. While he was at Mainz, he halted a day to rest his troops, and there received the agreeable news that the States were sending after him twenty squadrons, and eight battalions of Danish auxiliaries; but at the same time he was mortified to find that the prince of Baden had managed so badly as to allow the ten thousand troops forwarded by Tallard to join the elector of Bavaria without molestation, and had lost the most tempting opportunities, whilst the elector was marching through narrow defiles, of cutting off his march, and reducing him to extremities. In fact, thirty thousand German troops had allowed the elector to quit his camp at Ulm, to pass the narrow defile of Stochach, where he might have most easily been cut off, and to return to his old position with this powerful reinforcement. It showed the absolute need of some better heads than those of these German princes, to bring the conflict to a successful issue. Marlborough was not, however, discouraged. He pointed out to the neighbouring princes where they were to join him with their respective quotas, obtained from the landgrave of Hesse a quantity of artillery, and pushed on towards the Neckar, which he passed on the 3rd of June, and encamped at Ladenburg.

The French were filled with wonder at this march of Marlborough, out far from the usual scene of the English operations, and could not for some time realise the object of it. At one time they expected only an attack on the Moselle, but that river and the Rhine being crossed, they apprehended that his design was to raise the siege of Landau, and this was confirmed by the advance of the landgrave of Hesse to Manheim. But when he crossed the Neckar and advanced on Erpingen, and was continually strengthened by fresh junctions of Prussians, Hessians, and Palatines, they began to comprehend his real object. He waited at Erpingen for the coming up of General Churchill with the artillery and part of the infantry, and he employed the time in sending a dispatch to warn the prince of Baden that Tallard and Villeroi were about to unite their armies, pass the Rhine, and hasten to the support of the elector of Bavaria. He pressed on the prince the extreme consequence of preventing this passage of the French army. He told him that they must not trouble themselves about any damage that Villeroi might do on the left bank of the Rhine, if he could only be kept there, as in that case he felt assured that six weeks would see the army of the elector of Bavaria annihilated, the empire saved.

Marlborough was anxious to keep the prince of Baden engaged on the Rhine, so that he might himself have the co-operation of the far abler Eugene on the Danube. On the 9th he crossed the Neckar again, marched to Mendelsheim, and on the 10th met for the first time prince Eugene of Savoy, who was destined to be for ever connected with his name in military glory. At Hippach Marlborough reviewed his cavalry in the presence of Eugene, who expressed his utmost admiration at their appearance and discipline. He was equally struck with the lively and ardent expression of the countenances of the English soldiers, which Marlborough flatteringly assured him was caused by their pleasure in seeing so renowned a commander. To the mutual mortification of Eugene and Marlborough, the prince of Baden, whom they were anxious to detain on the Rhine, quitted the post where his presence was so much required, and came up and joined them. He was determined to be in the quarter where the greatest share of reputation was to be won, and from his princely rank he did not hesitate to claim the chief command.

This notion of their princely claims, combined with their mediocrity of military talent, has always been the mischief of a campaign in alliance with the small princes of Germany. The whole plan of Marlborough and Eugene was in danger of defeat, and Eugene was compelled to go to the Rhine, and Marlborough to admit of the prince of Baden taking the command on alternate days. He secretly resolved, however, that any actions of consequence should only be entered upon on his own day. Whilst chagrined by these mortifying circumstances, came the news that Auverquerque had been succeeding very indifferently against the French on the Meuse, and that a detachment of Prussian and Suabian troops, who ought to have joined them, had lost their way, and were not likely to be up for some days. On the other hand, Marlborough was consoled amid his vexations by the arrival of count Wratislaw, with a proposal to create him a prince of the empire, and thus give him a rank equal to those who were continually seeking to supersede him in his command, and to give him a place in the diet. Though nothing could be more flattering to Marlborough, he declined accepting this high honour until he had the consent of his sovereign, and intimated that it would be more properly merited by a victory.

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