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It was evident that in the war about to commence Louis would have to protect not only his own frontiers, but also all the scattered dominions of Spain. From his grandson it was hopeless to expect assistance. The splendid Spanish navy
had rotted away almost to the last ship. The Spanish troops dispersed about the empire would have been shamed, in point of discipline and equipment, by the brigands of some countries, The royal treasury was empty, and the unparalleled destitution prevailing all over Spain might be regarded as an augury that it could not speedily be replenished. Philip, in fact, looked to his grandfather to supply him.with efficient statesmen, ships, soldiers, arms, ammunition, and money.
England presented a remarkable contrast to the great military power of France. The entire number of professional soldiers which the jealousy of the Parliament permitted William to retain after the peace of Ryswick was only seven thousand in England and twelve thousand in Ireland. But the pride and glory of the country lay in its incomparable fleet. It numbered no less than a hundred and seventy-four ships of war, each carrying from twenty-four to a hundred and ten guns, in addition to innumerable fire-ships and gunboats, or yachts, as these were then termed. The size and gorgeous decorations of the interiors of our first-rates were subjects upon which it was the delight of every Englishman to expatiate. Beside the ships of other nations these vessels appeared, in his admiring eyes, as floating palaces. The public revenue at the close of the century did not exceed two millions four hundred thousand pounds, a sum not half that which was annually raised by the King of France. Yet the large debt due from the French crown and the high rate of interest payable for that debt probably produced something near equality between the revenues of England and France applicable for state purposes. The debt of England amounted to six millions seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds, nearly the whole of which had been incurred during the reign of William, and the deduction from the state revenues on account of this debt was four hundred
truth. The financial condition of France presents at this period a perfect laby. rinth of confusion. During the war, the King's expenditure averaged about two hundred millions of livres annually.
HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN
DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN ANNE. would have to protect not only his own frontiers, but also excellent. An English minister could congratulate himself
It was evident that in the war about to commence Lot and fifty thousand pounds. The public credit was, however, the scattered dominions of Spain. From his grandson it w hopeless to expect assistance. The splendid Spanish navy ha
that, while the King of France would find it difficult to obtain almost to the last ship. The Spanish troops di much money as he pleased by a promise of paying siz
a loan at fifteen or twenty per cent. interest, he could obtain as persed about the empire would have been shamed, in point o
six per cent.* discipline and equipment, by the brigands of some countries
The resources of Holland resembled in some respects the The royal treasury was empty, and the unparalleled destitutior
resources of England. Her native army was small, but her prevailing all over Spain might be regarded as an augury this
fleet was fine, admirably manned and directed, and her public it could not speedily be replenished. Philip, in fact, looked to
credit was good. The power of Holland at the close of the his grandfather to supply him.with efficient statesmen, ship The small extent of her territory, scarcely larger than Wales
seventeenth century was relatively much greater than it is now. soldiers, arms, ammunition, and money. England presented a remarkable contrast to the great mili
or a single province of France, has prevented her from keeping tary power of France. The entire number of professional soldiers
pace with the growth of surrounding nations. But at the
period of which I write she was entitled to be regarded as a which the jealousy of the Parliament permitted William to retain after the peace of Ryswick was only seven thousand i
Power of the first magnitude. She had been able to repel the England and twelve thousand in Ireland. But the pride and
enormous military strength of France, and had frequently dis
puted with England the supremacy of the seas. A review of glory of the country lay in its incomparable fleet. It numbered the internal state of the Republic fills the mind of the student no less than a hundred and seventy-four ships of war, each
with admiration. It was estimated that in 1669 its seven procarrying from twenty-four to a hundred and ten guns, il vinces contained two millions four hundred thousand souls, and addition to innumerable fire-ships and gunboats, or yachts
, ai that of this population only two hundred thousand persons, these were then termed. The size and gorgeous decorations of comprising the gentry, the officers of government, soldiers, the interiors of our first-rates were subjects upon which it was invalids, and beggars, were not employed in the production of the delight of every Englishman to expatiate. Beside the wealth. The riches of the state showed themselves by unmisships of other nations these vessels appeared, in his admiring takable signs—by streets composed of the finest houses in eyes, as floating palaces. The public revenue at the close of Europe, by public buildings erected at enormous cost, by banks the century did not exceed two millions four hundred thousand and exchanges constantly filled with busy men, and by ports pounds, a sum not half that which was annually raised by the crowded with shipping. It was said that Holland, although King of France. Yet the large debt due from the French not a corn-producing country, was by her commerce with crown and the high rate of interest payable for that debt
Muscovy and Poland, Sicily and Barbary, the granary of the vably produced something near equality between the revenues world; and that although she possessed not a vineyard, the f England and France applicable for state purposes. The finest wines could be bought at the Hague at cheaper rates than ebt of England amounted to six millions seven hundred and in Paris. The trade of the Dutch in distant countries, and ty thousand pounds, nearly the whole of which had been especially in the East Indies, seems at this period to have curred during the reign of William, and the deduction from equalled, if it did not even surpass, the trade of the English.
state revenues on account of this debt was four hundred Poverty was little known, and the houses of the merchant princes of the Republic were filled in far greater profusion with the luxuries procured by trade than the homes of the English gentry. It was no pleasant reflection to our ancestors that the origin of Dutch prosperity and power was the fisheries of the Northern Ocean, to which the English had enjoyed equal if not greater facilities of access, but which they had perversely and unaccountably neglected. Those fisheries, in addition to filling the country with wealth, had reared a hardy race of sailors which extended the commerce of the nation over the globe. To the happiness of the Dutch as a people there was but one drawback, the defencelessness of their frontiers against the aggression and ever-advancing power of France.*
1. The financial condition of France presents at this period a perfect laby
of confusion. During the war, the King's expenditure averaged about two red millions of livres annually.
Political State of England; Davenant's Discourses on the Revenues, 1698. In addition to the funded, there was a large floating, debt. The total indebtedness of the country Davenant estimated at seventeen millions and a half.
The riches of England and Holland contrast strangely with the resources of that Power which, looking to the much larger quota of troops it had agreed to furnish, ought to be considered as the principal member of the Grand Alliance. Soldiers in plenty the Emperor could indeed procure if he could find money to maintain them. But poverty seemed to be the natural condition of that prince who was the nominal lord of all the dukes and princes of Germany, and to whom were attributed the most magnificent titles in Europe. Except in his capacity of Duke of the poor states of Austria, the Emperor had no certain revenues whatever. The Empire, as an institution in actual force, had ceased to exist from the time of the Reformation. Two of its greatest members, the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony, had then practically separated from the confederation, and had since made little recognition of imperial rights except in occasionally soliciting a title. The present Emperor Leopold was a sickly, melancholy man, little adapted to contend with the difficulties of his station. But on this occasion his extreme wrath against Louis seemed for a moment to have braced his feeble character, and notwithstanding his poverty he had contrived to place in the field some large armies. One of these, commanded by a general whose fame was shortly to be spread through Europe, had been during the season of 1701 making head against the French in Italy.
Such, then, were the position and power of the respective
• Les Délices des Pays-Bas, Brussels, 1711; A New Description of Holland, 1701.
combatants, and some reflections will naturally occur to the thoughtful reader. In the first place, it was probable that France would merely maintain a defensive attitude, and leave to the Allies, who had forced this war upon her, the difficult business of attacking. Under such circumstances, the chances might seem to be that France would in time exhaust her assailants. It was evident that, if the Allies held to their respective quotas of forces, the balance of military strength would be greatly in her favour. She would outnumber the Allies at all points—in the Netherlands, on the Rhine, and in Italy. The Emperor was the only party who had engaged to bring a sufficient force into the field: yet if he kept his word and actually raised ninety thousand men, it might be anticipated as a certainty that much of the burden of maintaining them would be thrown upon his richer confederates. For England and Holland the war promised to be an expensive affair. In neither of those rich and commercial countries was the unprofitable profession of a soldier held in much esteem. To tempt natives into the ranks, therefore, they would be compelled to offer much higher pay than would content a Frenchman or a German. But a large area of recruiting ground was open to them in Denmark and North Germany, and the poverty and populousness of those countries were guarantees that, so long as the Allies were able and willing to find money, the supply of mercenaries would be inexhaustible.
In addition to probable superiority in point of military strength, France might seem to possess a second advantage. Louis had in the war but one definite object, that of retaining in his grasp those Spanish dominions of which he had allowed his grandson to assume the sovereignty. Of all his enormous resources he was absolute master. He could, without fear of contradiction, order his armies and marshals from one end of Europe to the other, and combine or separate them as emergencies required. But the Grand Alliance was a most heterogeneous body without a head. Between the despotic Emperor, constitutional England, and republican Holland, there was scarcely a sentiment in common, except detestation of France. The interests of Holland and of the Emperor in the war were quite dissimilar. To Holland it could not be very material
whether a Bourbon or a prince of the House of Hapsburg reigned in Madrid and Naples, so long as the Netherlands were not visibly in the hands of the King of France. It was essential to her safety that between her frontiers and that of the aggressive Louis there should be some independent power. If, therefore, she succeeded, with the aid of her allies, in wresting the fortresses of the Spanish Netherlands out of the hands of the French king, her object in the war was accomplished. Philip, for all that could interest her, might continue to reign in every other part of the world. But the Emperor was contending, not for safety, but for ambition. Nothing would satisfy him short of depriving Philip of the crown of Spain and setting that crown upon the head of his own son. For the security of Holland he cared nothing. It was probable that both Powers would be true to their own immediate interests, that the Emperor would not send a soldier into the Netherlands to save Holland from a second invasion, and that Holland would begrudge every battalion which the exigencies of war required her to send to a distance from her own soil.
Indeed, the best chance for the success of the Allies seemed to be that England should be permitted to exercise a controlling
a influence in their counsels. Yet, of all the Powers concerned in this .war, England was certainly the least interested in its results. The objects for which the Emperor and Holland were contending were well defined. Holland wanted a barrier in the Netherlands, and the Emperor wanted Spain and Italy. But England had really no demands to make upon France except that satisfaction should be given to her allies. The insult which Louis had so thoughtlessly levelled against her he had striven his utmost to explain away, and a calm reasoner must have owned that, foolish as his action was in acknowledging the Prince of Wales, it afforded no ground for imputing to him any evil designs against England. But indignation had in English minds been quickly followed by alarm. The King was aspiring at universal dominion : he was already master of Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands : his next steps would be to enslave Holland, and to send over the Pretender with an army. England would become a Catholic country and the vassal of France. Such was the train of reasoning which