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subject. The affairs of Spain were then the subject of discussion. The question as to who was responsible for the evident mismanagement that appeared in this quarter had excited much angry contention between the rival factions. Speeches had, however, been made on each side in favour of making vigorous efforts to retrieve the disgrace. Rochester, perceiving that a majority was warmly set upon sending a considerable reinforcement to Spain, dexterously attempted to turn this mood to advantage. “If,” he remarked, “ the main object of this war

” be to establish Charles upon the throne, the sending of our best troops to Flanders, and allowing Spain to be lost for want of men, appears like neglecting the principal for the accessory design. I remember that the old Duke of Schomberg used to say that to attack France through the Netherlands was like seizing a bull by the horns. As we have not soldiers enough to carry out our plans efficiently in both countries, it will surely be better to starve the war in Flanders than in Spain. I move, therefore, that for the future we content ourselves with standing on the defensive in the first-named country, and send a detachment of fifteen or twenty thousand men from the army of the Netherlands to Catalonia."

Nottingham, with many complaints against the Ministers for the indifference which they had shown to the interests of the Allies in Spain, seconded the motion. It was but rarely that Marlborough condescended to open his lips in a House which to him appeared perhaps as little better than an arena in which violent and wrong-headed orators were perpetually worrying and trying to foil one another. But this insidious attempt to reduce the army of the Netherlands stung him beyond endurance. He started to his feet, and combated the motion with a vehemence which, proceeding from a being generally so dispassionate, astounded his hearers. The army in Flanders, he contended, should be augmented rather than diminished if it was expected to hold the conquered towns. A single battalion might be sufficient to defend one of the small Spanish fortresses ; but twenty battalions would scarcely be enough to garrison one of the great towns of Brabant. And should the French obtain any advantage through a reduction of the forces of the Allies in this quarter, he left his audience

to imagine the clamour for peace which would be raised by the discontented party in Holland.

This reasoning was, as far as it went, unanswerable ; but Rochester, delighted with having awakened emotion in the man he most hated, again rose. “I wonder,” he said with a sneer, " to see the noble lord who has been always so distinguished for calmness and moderation, so much out of temper. But as men must be found to serve in Spain, perhaps his Grace will inform us where we can get them.” “Upon a subject so important,” returned Marlborough, with a resumption of his accustomed dignity, “it is impossible that I should speak without concern.To disclose secret projects, he proceeded to state, in so large an assembly, and one to which strangers were admitted, was impolitic, inasmuch as the enemy would not fail to get intelligence of them. But for the gratification of their lordships he might assure them that arrangements had been concerted with the Emperor for sending powerful succours to Charles, and that there was a hope that Prince Eugene might be prevailed upon to undertake the command in Spain. This announcement reduced the Tories to silence. Before the House separated on that day some resolutions had been passed which expressed in a plainer manner than had yet been done the aspirations of the Whigs in regard to the war. No peace, ran the first of these resolutions, can be safe or honourable for her Majesty and her Allies, if Spain and the Spanish West Indies be suffered to continue in the power of the House of Bourbon. The Commons, it soon appeared, were in the same warlike mood as the Lords. A few days afterwards an address was presented to Anne, embodying this resolution as the unanimous opinion of both Houses of Parliament, and Anne replied that she was of the same opinion herself. Henceforth, therefore, there could be no mistake about the object which the English Government proposed to achieve by the war.

It stood committed to the task of wresting Spain from the domination of the House of Bourbon. The address and reply made it impossible for that or any future Government to conclude a peace under which a French prince should retain Spain, without virtually admitting that Queen, Lords, and Commons had not understood what was good for the national interests, or had



greatly .over-estimated the national resources. It may be doubted whether the Treaty of Utrecht would have been thought so humiliating to England, but for this boastful and imprudent expression of opinion.

Whether Peterborough had done more good or harm to the cause of the Allies in Spain, was a subject which naturally engendered much animated discussion. Indeed had no party feeling been mixed up with the question, it is easy to conceive how various would have been opinions concerning this extraordinary compound of genius and extravagance. His conduct since his recall from Spain had not been of a kind to raise him in the good graces of the Ministers. He had been flying all over Europe to spread the tale of his grievances. He had paid a visit to Charles of Sweden. The Elector of Hanover had indulged him with long conversations, much to Marlborough's annoyance, who was uneasy whenever an Englishman spoke in private to his Highness. He had then passed a fortnight in the Allied camp, and favoured by the heavy rains which confined the Commander-in-Chief to his quarters, had inflicted upon the latter more of his society than was agreeable. The hero of Blenheim and Ramilies, in truth, thought the hero of Barcelona little better than a prattling, hare-brained, mischiefmaking politician. The unhappy Earl had then returned to England to find himself excluded from access to the sovereign until he had given a satisfactory explanation of sundry grave charges of mismanagement and malversation of money. He proceeded, with his usual disregard of offending those who had it most in their power to injure him, to the task of justifying himself. To set himself right with the public he published, through the medium of a certain Dr. Freind, a narrative of his brilliant exploits. The Tories at length took up his cause, and an investigation was forced upon the House. But the Lords soon found that to investigate any charge against Peterborough required more than human patience. There seemed no end to the evidence which the indefatigable culprit could bring in his defence. The table groaned beneath the mass of his papers. The senses of the judges were distracted by the interminable string of his witnesses. After ten days had been consumed to little purpose, the leading Whigs persuaded the


tired Peers to give over the examination without announcing any result. In truth, the prejudices of the rival factions excluded all chances of a fair judgment. There can be no doubt that the eagerness shown by the Tories to extol the Earl above his real merits did him injury. The Whigs would suffer no hero to shine by the side of Marlborough. The abandonment of the investigation amounted in effect to an acquittal of the Earl ; but more than a bare acquittal his friends could not obtain. A vote of thanks to him for his services was opposed and defeated.



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