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In contemplating the progress of part of the seventeenth century, the arrested by the actions of one ma France. He perceives every contin the dominions of that terrible despot dread of encroachment and invas attempt next can be conjectured on afforded ; and his undertakings hav design a contempt for the laws of s tion a degree of cruelty scarcely to ordinary brigand. It will not have student that the period at which sceptre is one eminently favourabl. aspires to subvert the liberties of the century has been disastrous to ordinary circumstances of imposing The chivalrous and enterprising s strangely disappeared. The migh nation of the preceding age, the calamity of imbecile monarchs and
HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN
REIGN OF QUEEN ANNE.
In contemplating the progress of Europe through the latter part of the seventeenth century, the attention of the student is arrested by the actions of one man-Louis XIV., King of France. He perceives every continental nation bordering on the dominions of that terrible despot paralyzed by the constant dread of encroachment and invasion. What the King will attempt next can be conjectured only by the precedents he has afforded ; and his undertakings have hitherto shown in their design a contempt for the laws of society, and in their execution a degree of cruelty scarcely to be surpassed by those of an
ordinary brigand. It will not have escaped the notice of the studerit that the period at which his Majesty assumes the sceptre is one eminently favourable to a French prince who aspires to subvert the liberties of Europe. The first half of the century has been disastrous to every Power capable under ordinary circumstances of imposing a check upon his ambition. The chivalrous and enterprising spirit of the Spaniards has strangely disappeared. The mightiest and most prosperous nation of the preceding age, they have, under the double calamity of imbecile monarchs and a debasing priesthood, sunk
into a condition of poverty and mental prostration in which it is impossible for them to defend the immense empire built up by their ancestors. Germany has been devastated, and in some regions depopulated, by the longest and bloodiest civil war on record. In Holland alone is to be found a people resolutely determined to fight for their freedom and country. Yet the Dutch are a nation of traders and fishermen rather than of soldiers. Their little Republic, defended only by a small and ill-equipped army of mercenaries, lies open to an invader; and human judgment cannot but mournfully prognosticate the futility of their resistance against an ambitious tyrant, who numbers his warriors by hundreds of thousands. Under such circumstances the reign of Louis commences, and the student perceives him through a course of thirty years taking advantage of the weakness of his neighbours, snatching from Spain a portion of the Netherlands, robbing the Empire of the province of Alsace, invading the peaceful Dutch Republic with the full intention of rooting out the religion and liberties of an industrious people, and bribing the ignoble sovereign of England to connive at and even to assist him in his iniquities. At length the scene changes. The student, not without joy that the hour of retribution has arrived, perceives all Europe banded against the tyrant, and stirred up to enthusiasm by men who have been taught from their cradles that enmity to the King of France is the first duty of every patriot.
It is my design to commence this history from the accession of Queen Anne. But as the war which England, in conjunction with other Powers, carried on against France forms the chief feature of her reign, and as this war was entirely provoked by the conduct of Louis, a brief summary of the French king's policy will, I hope, not be regarded as a superfluous introduction. Upon two occasions in the history of modern times the ambition of France has threatened the liberties of Europe; and upon both it has been the proud fortune of England, by unsparing sacrifices of her children and her wealth, to stem the torrent of invasion, and to roll back upon France a large portion of the calamities which she had designed to inflict on other countries.
At the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661 the French