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Sicily alone. By the proposition of France the union of the crowns of France and Spain would have been effectually prevented. The division of the Spanish dominions would have fully realised the object of the treaties of partition, and the great danger arising to Europe from the weakness of Holland would have been as far as possible removed. The Emperor, however, claimed for the Archduke the whole Spanish succession, and this claim, which, if realised, would have created in Europe a supremacy for the House of Austria, hardly less dangerous than that which Lewis desired for France, was so strenuously supported by the Whig ministers of England that they made the cession of all the Spanish dominions to the Austrian Prince an essential preliminary to the peace. No such condition had been laid down by William in the treaty of alliance, but in 1707 Somers induced both Houses of Parliament to carry resolutions to the effect that no peace could be safe or honourable if Spain, the West Indies, or any part of the Spanish monarchy were suffered to remain under the House of Bourbon. 'I am fully of your opinion,' said the Queen, in replying to the address, that no peace can be honourable or safe for us or our allies till the entire monarchy of Spain be restored to the House of Austria.' A year later the House of Lords again. pledged itself by an address to the same policy.

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The danger and the impolicy of such pledges were very clearly shown by the event. Had the peace been made in 1706 instead of 1713, more than thirty millions of English money as well as innumerable English lives would have been saved, and there can be little doubt that the party interest of the Whig ministers was a main cause of the failure of the negotiation. Still more indefensible was their conduct in 1709. The years that had elapsed since the previous negotiation, though very chequered, had, on the whole, been disastrous to France. The allies had, it is true, been compelled to raise the siege of Toulon, and in the beginning of 1708 the French had

1 Parl. Hist. vi. 609-610. See too Marlborough's Letters in Coxe, ch. 1. VOL. I.

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retaken some of the towns they had lost in Flanders, but the battle of Oudenarde speedily ruined all their hopes in that quarter, and Mons, Nieuport, and Luxembourg were soon the only towns of the Spanish Netherlands which were not in the hands of the allies. The English had taken Port Mahon and Sardinia; the Duke of Savoy had taken Exilles and Fenestrelles, and a succession of Austrian victories had driven the French out of Lombardy and out of Naples. In Spain, however, a brilliant gleam of success had lit up the fallen fortunes of Lewis. In the great battle of Almanza the allies were utterly defeated by Berwick, and all Spain, except Catalonia, was again under the sceptre of Philip. The position of France itself, however, was most deplorable. Lewis, who in the beginning of the war had given his orders on the banks of the Danube, the Po, and the Tagus, was now reduced to such straits that it was doubtful whether he could long be secure in his capital. To the ruin of the finances, the frightful drain of men, the despondency produced by a long train of crushing calamities in the field, were now added the horrors of famine. A winter of almost unparalleled severity had ruined the olives and a great proportion of the vineyards throughout France; the corn crops were everywhere deficient, and the people were reduced to the most abject wretchedness. Even in Paris, though every effort was made to produce an artificial plenty at the expense of the provinces, it was noticed that in 1709 the death-rate was nearly double the average, while the decrease in the average of births and marriages amounted to one quarter. Under these circumstances Lewis, resolving on peace at any price, submitted to the allies the most humiliating offers ever made by a French king. He consented, after a long and painful struggle, to abandon the whole of the Spanish dominions to the Austrian Prince without any compensation whatever, to yield Strasburg, Brisach, and Luxembourg to the

St. Simon's Memoirs. Torcy's Memoirs. M. Martin in his Hist. de France has collected much evidence of

the French distress at this period. See too Cooke's Hist. of Parties, i. 573.

Emperor, to yield ten fortresses as a barrier to the Dutch, including Lille and Tournay, which were justly regarded as essential to the security of France, to yield Exilles and Fenestrelles to the Duke of Savoy, to recognise the titles of the Queen of England, of the King of Prussia, and of the Elector of Hanover, to expel the Pretender from his dominions, to destroy the fortifications and harbour of Dunkirk, and to restore Newfoundland to England. All these concessions, together with considerable commercial advantages to the maritime powers, were offered by France without any compensation whatever except the peace, and they were all found to be insufficient. By a provision as impolitic as it was barbarous-for it once more kindled the flagging enthusiasm of the French into a flame-it was insisted, as a preliminary to the peace, that Lewis should join with the allies in expelling, if necessary, by force of arms, his grandson from Spain, that this task must be accomplished within two months, that if it was not accomplished within that time the war should begin anew, but that in the meantime the fortifications of Dunkirk should be demolished, and all the strong places mentioned in the treaty which were still in French hands should be ceded, so that at the expiration of what might be merely a truce of two months, France should be helpless before her enemies.1

There are few instances in modern history of a more scandalous abuse of the rights of conquest than this transaction. It may be in part explained by the ambition of the Emperor, who desired a complete ascendancy in Europe; and in part also by the excessive demands and animosity of the Dutch, who remembered the unprovoked invasion of their country in 1670, and the almost insane arrogance with which Louvois had threatened their ambassador with the Bastille. The prolongation of the war, however, would have been impossible but for the policy of the Whig ministers, who supported the most extravagant claims of their allies. Marlborough himself went over to the Hague, and

'Torcy's Memoirs. Coxe's Life of Marlborough. Burnet's Own Times, Martin, Hist. de France, tom. xiv.

the French endeavoured to bribe him by graduated offers, ranging from two to four millions of livres, in case he could obtain for Philip a compensation in Italy, and for France Strasborg and Landau and the integrity of Dunkirk, or at least some part of these boons. The offer was unavailing; no one of these several advantages was conceded, and Marlborough steadily opposed the peace. His conduct was very naturally ascribed to his interest as a general and a politician in the continuance of the war, but his private correspondence shows the imputation to be unfounded. It appears from his letters to his wife that he, at this time, earnestly desired repose, that he considered the demands of the allies, in more than one respect, excessive, and that the chief blame of the failure rests upon his colleagues. He took, however, about this time, a step which greatly injured him with the country. It was evident that his position was very precarious. The old affection of the Queen for his wife, which had been the firm basis of his power, was gone. The war, which made him necessary, could hardly be greatly protracted. Godolphin, who of all statesmen was most closely allied with him, was evidently declining. The Tories and Jacobites could never forgive the part which Marlborough had taken in the Revolution, and since the accession of Anne; while, on the other hand, he had tried to secure himself from possible ruin by more than one Jacobite intrigue, and his conversion to Whiggism was too recent and too partial to enable him to win the confidence of the uncompromising Whigs who had now risen to power. It must be added, that he had recently undergone a very serious disappointment. In 1706, when the battle of Ramillies had driven the French out of the Spanish Netherlands, the Emperor, filling up a blank form which had been given him by his brother, conferred upon Marlborough the governorship of that province. It was a post of much dignity and power, and of very great emolument, and Marlborough earnestly desired to accept it. The Queen at this

See the curious letter of Lewis authorising these offers. Torcy's Memoirs.

time cordially approved of the appointment; the ministers supported it; and Somers, who was the most important Whig outside the ministry, expressed a strong opinion in its favour. But in Holland it excited the most violent opposition. The Dutch desired that no step should be taken conferring the province definitely upon the Austrian claimant till the question of the barrier had been settled. They hoped that some of the towns would pass under their undivided dominion, and that the system of government would be such as to give them a complete ascendancy in the rest; and the danger of breaking up the alliance was so great that Marlborough at once gracefully declined the offer. It was renewed by Charles himself in 1708, after the battle of Oudenarde, in terms of the most flattering description, but was again, on public grounds, declined. Under these circumstances, Marlborough considered himself justified, in 1709, in taking the startling step of asking the position of Captain-General for life. It is possible, and by no means improbable, that his motive was mainly to secure himself from disgrace, and to disentangle himself from party politics. In his most confidential letters he frequently speaks of his longing' for repose, of his weariness of those personal and political intrigues which had so often paralysed his military enterprise, of his sense of the growing infirmities of age. The position of commander-in-chief for life would at once free him from political apprehensions and embarrassments, and enable him. to restrict himself to that department in which he had no rival. But if, on the other hand, his object was ambition, it is plain that the position to which he aspired would give him a power of the most formidable kind. Cautious, reticent, and, at the same time, in the highest degree sagacious and courageous, he had ever shrunk from identifying himself absolutely with" either side, and it had been his aim to hold the balance between parties and dynasties, to dictate conditions, to watch opportunities. A general who was the idol of his troops, who possessed to the highest degree every military acquirement, and who, at the same time, held his command independently of

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