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A Popular History of France Vol 5
CHAPTER XLV.LOUIS XIV., HIS WARS AND HIS REVERSES. (1697-1713.)
by Guizot, Francois Pierre Guillaume


France was breathing again after nine years of a desperate war, but she was breathing uneasily, and as it were in expectation of fresh efforts. Everywhere the memorials of the superintendents repeated the same complaints. "War, the mortality of 1693, the, constant quarterings and movements of soldiery, military service, the heavy dues, and the withdrawal of the Huguenots have ruined the country." "The people," said the superintendent of Rouen, "are reduced to a state of want which moves compassion. Out of seven hundred and fifty thousand souls of which the public is composed, if this number remain, it may be taken for certain that there are not fifty thousand who have bread to eat when they want it, and anything to lie upon but straw." Agriculture suffered for lack of money and hands; commerce was ruined; the manufactures established by Colbert no longer existed; the population had diminished more than a quarter since the palmy days of the king's reign; Pontchartrain, secretary of finance, was reduced to all sorts of expedients for raising money; he was anxious to rid himself of this heavy burden, and became chancellor in 1699; the king took for his substitute Chamillard, already comptroller of finance, honest and hard-working, incapable and docile; Louis XIV. counted upon the inexhaustible resources of France, and closed his ears to the grievances of the financiers. "What is not spoken of is supposed to be put an end to," said Madame de Maintenon. The camp at Compiegne, in 1698, surpassed in splendor all that had till then been seen; the enemies of Louis XIV. in Europe called him "the king of reviews."

Meanwhile the King of Spain, Charles II., dying as he was, was regularly besieged at Madrid by the queen, his second wife, Mary Anne of Neuburg, sister of the empress, as well as by his minister, Cardinal Porto-Carrero. The competitors for the succession were numerous; the King of France and the emperor claimed their rights in the name of their mothers and wives, daughters of Philip III. and Philip IV.; the Elector of Bavaria put up the claims of his son by right of his mother, Mary Antoinette of Austria, daughter of the emperor; for a short time Charles II. had adopted this young prince; the child died suddenly at Madrid in 1699. For a long time past King Louis XIV. had been secretly negotiating for the partition of the King of Spain's dominions, not—with the emperor, who still hoped to obtain from Charles II. a will in favor of his second son, the Archduke Charles, but with England and Holland, deeply interested as they were in maintaining the equilibrium between the two kingly houses which divided Europe. William III. considered himself certain to obtain the acceptance by the emperor of the conditions subscribed by his allies. On the 13th and 15th of May, 1700, after long hesitation and a stubborn resistance on the part of the city of Amsterdam, the treaty of partition was signed in London and at the Hague. "King William is honorable in all this business," said a letter to the king from his ambassador, Count de Tallard; "his conduct is sincere; he is proud—none can be more so than he; but he has a modest manner, though none can be more jealous in all that concerns his rank."

The treaty of partition secured to the dauphin all the possessions of Spain in Italy, save Milaness, which was to indemnify the Duke of Lorraine, whose duchy passed to France; Spain, the Indies, and the Low Countries were to belong to Archduke Charles. Great was the wrath at Vienna when it was known that the treaty was signed. "Happily," said the minister, Von Kaunitz, to the Marquis of Villars, ambassador of France, "there is One on high who will work for us in these partitions." "That One," replied M. de Villars, "will approve of their justice." "It is something new, however, for the King of England and for Holland to partition the monarchy of Spain," continued the count. "Allow me," replied M. de Villars, "to excuse them in your eyes; those two powers have quite recently come out of a war which cost them a great deal, and the emperor nothing; for, in fact, you have been at no expense but against the Turks. You had some troops in Italy, and in the empire two regiments only of hussars which were not on its pay-list; England and Holland alone bore all the burden." William III. was still negotiating with the emperor and the German princes to make them accept the treaty of partition, when it all at once became known in Europe that Charles II. had breathed his last at Madrid on the 1st of November, 1700, and that, by a will dated October 2, he disposed of the Spanish monarchy in favor of the Duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV.

This will was the work of the council of Spain, at the head of which sat Cardinal Porto-Carrero. "The national party," says M. Mignet in his Introduction aux Documents relatifs de la Succession d'Espagne, "detested the Austrians because they had been so long in Spain; it liked the French because they were no longer there. The former had been there time enough to weary by their dominion, whilst the latter were served by the mere fact of their removal." Singlehanded, Louis XIV. appeared powerful enough to maintain the integrity of the Spanish monarchy before the face and in the teeth of all the competitors. "The King of Spain was beginning to see the, things of this world by the light alone of that awful torch which is lighted to lighten the dying." [Memoires de St. Simon, t. iii. p. 16]; wavering, irresolute, distracted within himself, he asked the advice of Pope Innocent XII., who was favorable to France. The hopes of Louis XIV. had not soared so high; on the 9th of November, 1700, he heard at one and the same time of Charles II.'s death and the contents of his will.

It was a solemn situation. The acceptance by France of the King of Spain's will meant war; the refusal did not make peace certain; in default of a French prince the crown was to go to Archduke Charles; neither Spain nor Austria would hear of dismemberment; could they be forced to accept the treaty of partition which they had hitherto rejected angrily? The king's council was divided; Louis XIV. listened in silence to the arguments of the dauphin and of the ministers; for a moment the resolution was taken of holding by the treaty of partition; next day the king again assembled his council without as yet making known his decision; on Tuesday, November 16, the whole court thronged into the galleries of Versailles; it was known that several couriers had arrived from Madrid; the king sent for the Spanish ambassador into his closet. "The Duke of Anjou had repaired thither by the back way," says the Duke of St. Simon in his Memoires; the king, introducing him to him, told him he might salute him as his king. The instant afterwards the king, contrary to all custom, had the folding-doors thrown open, and ordered everybody who was there—and there was a crowd—to come in; then, casting his eyes majestically over the numerous company, "Gentlemen," he said, introducing the Duke of Anjou, "here is the King of Spain. His birth called him to that crown; the last king gave it him by his will; the grandees desired him, and have demanded him of me urgently; it is the will of Heaven, and I have yielded with pleasure." And, turning to his grandson, "Be a good Spaniard," he said; "that is from this moment your first duty; but remember that you are French born in order to keep up the union between the two nations; that is the way to render them happy and to preserve the peace of Europe." Three weeks later the young king was on the road to Spain. "There are no longer any Pyrenees," said Louis XIV., as he embraced his grandson. The rights of Philip V. to the crown of France had been carefully reserved by a formal act of the king's.

Great were the surprise and wrath in Europe; William III. felt himself personally affronted. "I have no doubt," he wrote to Heinsius, "that this unheard-of proceeding on the part of France has caused you as much surprise as it has me; I never had much confidence in engagements contracted with France, but I confess I never could have supposed that that court would have gone so far as to break, in the face of Europe, so solemn a treaty before it had even received the finishing stroke. Granted that we have been dupes; but when, beforehand, you are resolved to hold your word of no account, it is not very difficult to overreach your mail. I shall be blamed perhaps for having relied upon France, I who ought to have known by the experience of the past that no treaty has ever bound her! Would to God I might be quit for the blame, but I have only too many grounds for fearing that the fatal consequences of it will make themselves felt shortly. I groan in the very depths of my spirit to see that in this country the majority rejoice to find the will preferred by France to the maintenance of the treaty of partition, and that too on the ground that the will is more advantageous for England and Europe. This opinion is founded partly on the youth of the Duke of Anjou. 'He is a child,' they say; 'he will be brought up in Spain; he will be indoctrinated with the principles of that monarchy, and he will be governed by the council of Spain;' but these are surmises which it is impossible for me to entertain, and I fear that we shall before long find out how erroneous they are. Would it not seem as if this profound indifference with which, in this country, they look upon everything that takes place outside of this island, were a punishment from Heaven? Meanwhile, are not our causes for apprehension and our interests the same as those of the peoples of the continent?"

William III. was a more far-sighted politician than his subjects either in England or Holland. The States General took the same view as the English. "Public funds and shares have undergone a rise at Amsterdam," wrote Heinsius to the King of England; "and although this rests on nothing solid, your Majesty is aware how much influence such a fact has."

Louis XIV. had lost no time in explaining to the powers the grounds of his acceptance. "The King of Spain's will," he said in his manifesto, "establishes the peace of Europe on solid bases." "Tallard did not utter a single word on handing me his sovereign's letter, the contents of which are the same as of that which the states have received," wrote William to Heinsius. "I said to him that perhaps I had testified too eager a desire for the preservation of peace, but that, nevertheless, my inclination in that respect had not changed. Whereupon he replied, 'The king my master, by accepting the will, considers that he gives a similar proof of his desire to maintain peace.' Thereupon he made me a bow and withdrew."

William of Orange had not deceived himself in thinking that Louis XIV. would govern Spain in his grandson's name. Nowhere are the old king's experience and judgment more strikingly displayed than in his letters to Philip V. "I very much wish," he wrote to him, "that you were as sure of your own subjects as you ought to be of mine in the posts in which they may be employed; but do not be astounded at the disorder you find amongst your troops, and at the little confidence you are able to place in them; it needs a long reign and great pains to restore order and secure the fidelity of different peoples accustomed to obey a house hostile to yours. If you thought it would be very easy and very pleasant to be a king, you were very much mistaken." A sad confession for that powerful monarch, who in his youth found "the vocation of king beautiful, noble, and delightful."

"The eighteenth century opened with a fulness of glory and unheard-of prosperity;" but Louis XIV. did not suffer himself to be lulled to sleep by the apparent indifference with which Europe, the empire excepted, received the elevation of Philip V. to the throne of Spain. On the 6th of February, 1701, the seven barrier towns of the Spanish Low Countries, which were occupied by Dutch garrisons in virtue of the peace of Ryswick, opened their gates to the French on an order from the King of Spain. "The instructions which the Elector of Bavaria, governor of the Low Countries, had given to the various governors of the places, were so well executed," says M. de Vault in his account of the campaign in Flanders, "that we entered without any hinderance. Some of the officers of the Dutch troops grumbled, and would have complained, but the French general officers who had led the troops pacified them, declaring that they did not come as enemies, and that all they wanted was to live in good understanding with them."

The twenty-two Dutch battalions took the road back before long to their own country, and became the nucleus of the army which William of Orange was quietly getting ready in Holland as well as in England; his peoples were beginning to open their eyes; the States General, deprived of the barrier towns, had opened the dikes; the meadows were flooded. On the 7th of September, 1701, England and Holland signed for the second time with the emperor a Grand Alliance, engaging not to lay down arms until they had reduced the possessions of King Philip V. to Spain and the Indies, restored the barrier of Holland, and secured an indemnity to Austria, and the definitive severance of the two crowns of France and Spain. In the month of June the Austrian army had entered Italy under the orders of Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignano, son of the Count of Soissons and Olympia Mancini, conqueror of the Turks and revolted Hungarians, and passionately hostile to Louis XIV., who, in his youth, had refused to employ him. He had already crossed the Adige and the Mincio, driving the French back behind the Oglio. Marshal Catinat, a man of prudence and far-sightedness, but discouraged by the bad condition of his troops, coldly looked upon at court, and disquieted by the aspect of things in Italy, was acting supinely; the king sent Marshal Villeroi to supersede him; Catinat, as modest as he was warmly devoted to the glory of his country, finished the campaign as a simple volunteer.

The King of France and the emperor were looking up allies. The princes of the north were absorbed by the war which was being waged against his neighbors of Russia and Poland by the young King of Sweden, Charles XII., a hero of eighteen, as irresistible as Gustavus Adolphus in his impetuous bravery, without possessing the rare qualities of authority and judgment which had distinguished the Lion of the North. He joined the Grand Alliance, as did Denmark and Poland, whose new king, the Elector of Saxony, had been supported by the emperor in his candidature and in his abjuration of Protestantism. The Elector of Brandenburg, recently recognized as King of Prussia under the name of Frederic I., and the new Elector of Hanover were eager to serve Leopold, who had aided them in their elevation. In Germany, only Maximilian, Elector of Bavaria, governor of the Low Countries, and his brother, the Elector of Cologne, embraced the side of France. The Duke of Savoy, generalissimo of the king's forces in Italy, had taken the command of the army. "But in that country," wrote the Count of Tesse, "there is no reliance to be placed on places, or troops, or officers, or people. I have had another interview with this incomprehensible prince, who received me with every manifestation of kindness, of outward sincerity, and, if he were capable of it, I would say of friendship for him of whom his Majesty made use but lately in the work of peace in Italy. 'The king is master of my person, of my dominions,' he said to me, 'he has only to give his commands; but I suppose that he still desires my welfare and my aggrandizement.' 'As for your aggrandizement, Monseigneur,' said I, 'in truth I do not see much material for it just at present; as for your welfare, we must be allowed to see your intentions a little more clearly first, and take the liberty of repeating to you that my prescience does not extend so far. I do him the justice to believe that he really feels the greater part of all that he expresses for your Majesty; but that horrid habit of indecision and putting off till to-morrow what he might do to-day is not eradicated, and never will be.'"

The Duke of Savoy was not so undecided as M. de Tess supposed; he managed to turn to good account the mystery which hung habitually over all his resolutions. A year had not rolled by, and he was openly engaged in the Grand Alliance, pursuing, against France, the cause of that aggrandizement which he had but lately hoped to obtain from her, and which, by the treaty of Utrecht, was worth the title of king to him.

Pending the time to declare himself he had married his second daughter, Princess Marie Louise Gabrielle, to the young King of Spain, Philip V.

"Never had the tranquillity of Europe been so unstable as it was at the commencement of 1702," says the correspondence of Chamillard, published by General Pelet; "it was but a phantom of peace that was enjoyed, and it was clear, from whatever side matters were regarded, that we were on the eve of a war which could not but be of long duration, unless, by some unforeseen accident, the houses of Bourbon and Austria should come to an arrangement which would allow them to set themselves in accord touching the Spanish succession; but there was no appearance of conciliation."

Louis XIV. had just done a deed which destroyed the last faint hopes of peace. King James II. was dying at St. Germain, and the king went to see him. The sick man opened his eyes for a moment when he was told that the king was there [Memoires de Dangeau, t. viii. p. 192], and closed them again immediately. The king told him that he had come to assure him that he might die in peace as regarded the Prince of Wales, and that he would recognize him as King of England, Ireland, and Scotland. All the English who were in the room fell upon their knees, and cried, "God save the king!" James II. expired a week later, on the 16th of September, 1701, saying to his son, as his last advice, "I am about to leave this world, which has been to me nothing but a sea of tempests and storms. The Omnipotent has thought right to visit me with great afflictions; serve Him with all your heart, and never place the crown of England in the balance with your eternal salvation." James II. was justified in giving his son this supreme advice the solitary ray of greatness in his life and in his soul had proceeded from his religious faith, and his unwavering resolution to remain loyal to it at any price and at any risk.

"On returning to Marly," says St. Simon, "the king told the whole court what he had just done. There was nothing but acclamations and praises. It was a fine field for them: but reflections, too, were not less prompt, if they were less public. The king still flattered himself that he would hinder Holland and England, the former of which was so completely dependent, from breaking with him in favor of the house of Austria; he relied upon that to terminate before long the war in Italy, as well as the whole affair of the succession in Spain and its vast dependencies, which the emperor could not dispute with his own forces only, or even with those of the empire. Nothing, therefore, could be more incompatible with this position, and with the solemn recognition he had given, at the peace of Ryswick, of the Prince of Orange as King of England. It was to hurt him personally in the most sensitive spot, all England with him and Holland into the bargain, without giving the Prince of Wales, by recognition, any solid support in his own case."

William III. was at table in his castle of Dieren, in Holland, when he received this news. He did not utter a word, but he colored, crushed his hat over his head, and could not command his countenance. The Earl of Manchester, English ambassador, left Paris without taking leave of the king, otherwise than by this note to M. de Torcy:—

"Sir: The king my master, being informed that his Most Christian. Majesty has recognized another King of Great Britain, does not consider that his dignity and his service will permit him to any longer keep an ambassador at the court of the king your master, and he has sent me orders to withdraw at once, of which I do myself the honor to advertise you by this note."

"All the English," says Torcy, in his Memoires, "unanimously regard it as a mortal affront on the part of France, that she should pretend to arrogate to herself the right of giving them a king, to the prejudice of him whom they had themselves invited and recognized for many years past."

Voltaire declares, in the Siecle de Louis XIV., that M. de Torcy attributed the recognition of the Prince of Wales by Louis XIV. to the influence of Madame de Maintenon, who was touched by the tears of the queen, Mary of Modena. "He had not," he said, "inserted the fact in his Memoires, because he did not think it to his master's honor that two women should have made him change a resolution to the contrary taken in his council." Perhaps the deplorable state of William III.'s health, and the inclination supposed to be felt by Princess Anne of Denmark to restore the Stuarts to the throne, since she herself had lost the Duke of Gloucester, the last survivor of her seventeen children, might have influenced the unfortunate resolution of Louis XIV. His kingly magnanimity and illusions might have bound him to support James II., dethroned and fugitive; but no obligation of that sort existed in the case of a prince who had left England at his nurse's, breast, and who had grown up in exile. In the Athalie of Racine, Joad (Jehoiada) invokes upon the impious queen:
	  "That spirit of infatuation and error
	   The fatal avant-courier of the fall of kings."
The recognition of the Prince of Wales as King of England was, in the case of Louis XIV., the most indisputable token of that fatal blindness.

William III. had paid dear for the honor of being called to the throne of England. More than once he had been on the point of abandoning the ungrateful nation which so ill requited his great services; he had thought of returning to live in the midst of his Hollanders, affectionately attached to his family as well as to his person. The insult of the King of France restored to his already dying adversary all the popularity he had lost. When William returned from Holland to open a new Parliament, on the 10th of January, 1702, manifestations of sympathy were lavished upon him on all sides of the house. "I have no doubt," said he, "that the late proceedings of his Most Christian Majesty and the dangers which threaten all the powers of Europe have excited your most lively resentment. All the world have their eyes fixed upon England; there is still time, she may save her religion and her liberty, but let her profit by every moment, let her arm by land and sea, let her lend her allies all the assistance in her power, and swear to show her enemies, the foes of her religion, her liberty, her government, and the king of her choice, all the hatred they deserve."

This speech, more impassioned than the utterances of William III. generally were, met with an eager echo from his people; the houses voted a levy of forty thousand sailors and fifty thousand soldiers; Holland had promised ninety thousand men; but the health of the King of England went on declining; he had fallen from his horse on the 4th of March, and broken his collarbone; this accident hastened the progress of the malady which was pulling him down; when his friend Keppel, whom he had made Earl of Albemarle, returned, on the 18th of March, from Holland, William received him with these words: "I am drawing towards my end."

He had received the consolations of religion from the bishops, and had communicated with great self-possession; he scarcely spoke now, and breathed with difficulty. "Can this last long?" he asked the physician, who made a sign in the negative. He had sent for the Earl of Portland, Bentinek, his oldest and most faithful friend; when he arrived, the king took his hand and held it between both his own, upon his heart. Thus he remained for a few moments; then he yielded up his great spirit to God, on the 19th (8th) of March, 1702, at eight in the morning. He was not yet fifty-two.

In a greater degree perhaps than any other period, the eighteenth century was rich in men of the first order. But never did more of the spirit of policy, never did loftier and broader views, never did steadier courage animate and sustain a weaker body than in the case of William of Orange. Savior of Holland at the age of twenty-two in the war against Louis XIV., protector of the liberties of England against the tyranny of James II., defender of the independence of the European states against the unbridled ambition of the King of France, he became the head of Europe by the proper and free ascendency of his genius; cold and reserved, more capable of feeling than of testifying sympathy, often ill, always unfortunate in war, he managed to make his will triumph, in England despite Jacobite plots and the jealous suspicions of the English Parliaments, in Holland despite the constant efforts of the republican and aristocratic party, in Europe despite envy and the waverings of the allied sovereigns. Intrepid, spite of his bad health, to the extent of being ready, if need were, to die in the last ditch, of indomitable obstinacy in his resolutions, and of rare ability in the manipulation of affairs, he was one of those who are born masters of men, no matter what may at the outset be their condition and their destiny. In vain had Cromwell required of Holland the abolition of the stadtholderate in the house of Nassau, in vain had John van Witt obtained the voting of the perpetual edict, William of Orange lived and died stadtholder of Holland and king of that England which had wanted to close against him forever the approaches to the throne in his own native country. When God has created a man to play a part and hold a place in this world, all efforts and all counsels to the contrary are but so many stalks of straw under his feet. William of Orange at his death had accomplished his work: Europe had risen against Louis XIV.

The campaigns of 1702 and 1703 presented an alternation of successes and reverses favorable, on the whole, to France. Marshal Villeroi had failed in Italy against Prince Eugene. He was superseded by the Duke of Vendome, grandson of Henry IV. and captor of Barcelona, indolent, debauched, free in tone and in conduct, but able, bold, beloved by the soldiers, and strongly supported at court. Catinat had returned to France, and went to Versailles at the commencement of the year 1702. "M. de Chamillard had told him the day before, from the king, that his Majesty had resolved to give him the command of the army in Germany; he excused himself for some time from accepting this employment; the king ended by saying, 'Now we are in a position for you to explain to me, and open your heart about all that took place in Italy during the last campaign.' The marshal answered, 'Sir, those things are all past; the details I could give you thereof would be of no good to the service of your Majesty, and would serve merely, perhaps, to keep up eternal heart-burnings; and so I entreat you to be pleased to let me preserve a profound silence as to all that. I will only justify myself, sir, by thinking how I may serve you still better, if I can, in Germany than I did in Italy.'" Worn out and disgusted, Catinat failed in Germany as he had in Italy; he took his retirement, and never left his castle of St. Gratien any more: it was the Marquis of Villars, lately ambassador at Vienna, who defeated the imperialists at Friedlingen, on the 14th of August, 1702; a month later Tallard retook the town of Landau. The perfidious manoeuvres of the Duke of Savoy had just come to light. The king ordered Vendome to disarm the five thousand Piedmontese who were serving in his army. That operation effected, the prince sent Victor- Amadeo this note, written by Louis XIV.'s own hand:—

"Sir: As religion, honor, and your own signature count for nothing between us, I send my cousin, the Duke of Vendome, to, explain to you my wishes. He will give you twenty-four hours to decide."

The mind of the Duke of Savoy was made up, from this day forth the father of the Duchess of Burgundy and of the Queen of Spain took rank amongst the declared enemies of France and Spain.

Whilst Louis XIV. was facing Europe, in coalition against him, with generals of the second and third order, the allies were discovering in the Duke of Marlborough a worthy rival of Prince Eugene. A covetous and able courtier, openly disgraced by William III. in consequence of his perfidious intrigues with the court of St. Germain, he had found his fortunes suddenly retrieved by the accession of Queen Anne, over whom his wife had for a long time held the sway of a haughty and powerful favorite. The campaigns of 1702 and 1703 had shown him to be a prudent and a bold soldier, fertile in resources and novel conceptions; and those had earned him the thanks of Parliament and the title of duke. The campaign of 1704 established his glory upon the misfortunes of France. Marshals Tallard and Marsin were commanding in Germany together with the Elector of Bavaria; the emperor, threatened with a fresh insurrection in Hungary, recalled Prince Eugene from Italy; Marlborough effected a junction with him by a rapid march, which Marshal Villeroi would fain have hindered, but to no purpose; on the 13th of August, 1704, the hostile armies met between Blenheim and Hochstett, near the Danube; the forces were about equal, but on the French side the counsels were divided, the various corps acted independently. Tallard sustained single-handed the attack of the English and the Dutch, commanded by Marlborough; he was made prisoner, his son was killed at his side; the cavalry, having lost their leader and being pressed by the enemy, took to flight in the direction of the Danube; many officers and soldiers perished in the river; the slaughter was awful. Marsin and the elector, who had repulsed five successive charges of Prince Eugene, succeeded in effecting their retreat; but the electorates of Bavaria and Cologne were lost, Landau was recovered by the allies after a siege of two months, the French army recrossed the Rhine, Elsass was uncovered, and Germany evacuated. In Spain the English had just made themselves masters of Gibraltar. "This shows clearly, sir," wrote Tallard to Chamillard after the defeat, "what is the effect of such diversity of counsel, which makes public all that one intends to do, and it is a severe lesson never to have more than one man at the head of an army. It is a great misfortune to have to deal with a prince of such a temper as the Elector of Bavaria." Villars was of the same opinion; it had been his fate, in the campaign of 1703, to come to open loggerheads with the elector. "The king's army will march to-morrow, as I have had the honor to tell your Highness," he had declared. "At these words," says Villars, "the blood mounted to his face; he threw his hat and wig on the table in a rage. 'I commanded,' said he, 'the emperor's army in conjunction with the Duke of Lorraine; he was a tolerably great general, and he never treated me in this manner.' 'The Duke of Lorraine,' answered I, 'was a great prince and a great general; but, for myself, I am responsible to the king for his army, and I will not expose it to destruction through the evil counsels so obstinately persisted in.' Thereupon I went out of the room." Complete swaggerer as he was, Villars had more wits and resolution than the majority of the generals left to Louis XIV., but in 1704 he was occupied in putting down the insurrection of the Camisards in the south of France: neither Tallard nor Marsin had been able to impose their will upon the elector. In 1705 Villars succeeded in checking the movement of Marlborough on Lothringen and Champagne. "He flattered himself he would swallow me like a grain of salt," wrote the marshal. The English fell back, hampered in their adventurous plans by the prudence of the Hollanders, controlled from a distance by the grand pensionary Heinsius. The imperialists were threatening Elsass; the weather was fearful; letters had been written to Chamillard to say that the inundations alone would be enough to prevent the enemy from investing Fort Louis. "There is nothing so nice as a map," replied Villars; "with a little green and blue one puts under water all that one wishes but a general who goes and examines it, as I have done, finds in divers places distances of a mile where these little rivers, which are supposed to inundate the country, are quite snug in their natural bed, larger than usual, but not enough to hinder the enemy in any way in the world from making bridges." Fort Louis was surrounded, and Villars found himself obliged to retire upon Strasburg, whence he protected Elsass during the whole campaign of 1706.

The defeat of Hochstett, in 1704, had been the first step down the ladder; the defeat of Ramillies, on the 23d of May, 1706, was the second and the fatal rung. The king's personal attachment to Marshal Villeroi blinded him as to his military talents. Beaten in Italy by Prince Eugene, Villeroi, as presumptuous as he was incapable, hoped to retrieve himself against Marlborough. "The whole army breathed nothing but battle; I know it was your Majesty's own feeling," wrote Villeroi to the king, after the defeat: "could I help committing myself to a course which I considered expedient?" The marshal had deceived himself as regarded his advantages, as well as the confidence of his troops; there had been eight hours' fighting at Hochstett, inflicting much damage upon the enemy; at Ramillies, the Bavarians took to their heels at the end of an hour; the French, who felt that they were badly commanded, followed their example; the rout was terrible, and the disorder inexpressible. Villeroi kept recoiling before the enemy, Marlborough kept advancing; two thirds of Belgium and sixteen strong places were lost, when Louis XIV. sent Chamillard into the Low Countries; it was no longer the time when Louvois made armies spring from the very soil, and when Vauban prepared the defence of Dunkerque. The king recalled Villeroi, showing him to the last unwavering kindness. "There is no more luck at our age, marshal," was all he said to Villeroi, on his arrival at Versailles. "He was nothing more than an old wrinkled balloon, out of which all the gas that inflated it has gone," says St. Simon: "he went off to Paris and to Villeroi, having lost all the varnish that made him glitter, and having nothing more to show but the under-stratum."

The king summoned Vendome, to place him at the head of the army of Flanders, "in hopes of restoring to it the spirit of vigor and audacity natural to the French nation," as he himself says. For two years past, amidst a great deal of ill-success, Vendome had managed to keep in check Victor-Amadeo and Prince Eugene, in spite of the embarrassment caused him by his brother the grand prior, the Duke of La Feuillade, Chamillard's son-in-law, and the orders which reached him directly from the king; he had gained during his two campaigns the name of taker of towns, and had just beaten the Austrians in the battle of Cascinato. Prince Eugene had, however, crossed the Adige and the Po when Vendome left Italy.

"Everybody here is ready to take off his hat when Marlborough's name is mentioned," he wrote to Chamillard, on arriving in Flanders. The English and Dutch army occupied all the country from Ostend to Maestricht.

The Duke of Orleans, nephew of the king, had succeeded the Duke of Vendome. He found the army in great disorder, the generals divided and insubordinate, Turin besieged according to the plans of La Feuillade, against the advice of Vauban, who had offered "to put his marshal's baton behind the door, and confine himself to giving his counsels for the direction of the siege;" the prince, in his irritation, resigned his powers into the hands of Marshal Marsin; Prince Eugene, who had effected his junction with Victor-Amadeo, encountered the French army between the Rivers Doria and Stora. The soldiers remembered the Duke of Orleans at Steinkirk and Neerwinden; they asked him if he would grudge them his sword. He yielded, and was severely wounded at the battle of Turin, on the 7th of September, 1706; Marsin was killed, discouragement spread amongst the generals and the troops, and the siege of Turin was raised; before the end of the year, nearly all the places were lost, and Dauphiny was threatened. Victor-Amadeo refused to listen to a special peace: in the month of March, 1707, the Prince of Vaudemont, governor of Milaness for the King of Spain, signed a capitulation, at Mantua, and led back to France the troops which still remained to him. The imperialists were masters of Naples. Spain no longer had any possessions in Italy.

Philip V. had been threatened with the loss of Spain as well as of Italy. For two years past Archduke Charles, under the title of Charles III., had, with the support of England and Portugal, been disputing the crown with the young king. Philip V. had lost Catalonia, and had just failed in his attempt to retake Barcelona; the road to Madrid was cut off, the army was obliged to make its way by Roussillon and Warn to resume the campaign; the king threw himself in person into his capital, whither he was escorted by Marshal Berwick, a natural son of James II., a Frenchman by choice, full of courage and resolution, "but a great stick of an Englishman, who hadn't a word to say," and who was distasteful to the young queen, Marie-Louise. Philip V. could not remain at Madrid, which was threatened by the enemy: he removed to Burgos; the English entered the capital, and there proclaimed Charles III.

This was too, much; Spain could not let herself submit to have an Austrian king imposed upon her by heretics and Portuguese; the old military energy appeared again amongst that people besotted by priests and ceremonials; war broke out all at once at every point; the foreign soldiers were everywhere attacked openly or secretly murdered; the towns rose; a few horsemen sufficed for Berwick to recover possession of Madrid; the king entered it once more, on the 4th of October, amidst the cheers of his people, whilst Berwick was pursuing the enemy, whom he had cornered (rencogne), he says, in the mountains of Valencia. Charles III. had no longer anything left in Spain but Aragon and Catalonia. The French garrisons, set free by the evacuation of Italy, went to the aid of the Spaniards. "Your enemies ought not to hope for success," wrote Louis XIV. to his grandson, "since their progress has served only to bring out the courage and fidelity of a nation always equally brave and firmly attached to its masters. I am told that your people cannot be distinguished from regular troops. We have not been fortunate in Flanders, but we must submit to the judgment of God." He had already let his grandson understand that a great sacrifice would be necessary to obtain peace, which he considered himself bound to procure before long for his people. The Hollanders refused their mediation. "The three men who rule in Europe, to wit, the grand pensionary Heinsius, the Duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eugene, desire war for their own interests," was the saying in France. The campaign of 1707 was signalized in Spain by the victory of Almanza, gained on the 13th of April by Marshal Berwick over the Anglo-Portuguese army, and by the capture of Lerida, which capitulated on the 11th of November into the hands of the Duke of Orleans. In Germany, Villars drove back the enemy from the banks of the Rhine, advanced into Suabia, and ravaged the Palatinate, crushing the country with requisitions, of which he openly reserved a portion for himself. "Marshal Villars is doing very well for himself," said somebody, one day, to the king. "Yes," answered his Majesty, "and for me too." "I wrote to the king that I really must fat my calf," said Villars.

The inexhaustible elasticity and marvellous resources of France were enough to restore some hope in 1707. The invasion of Provence by Victor-Amadeo and Prince Eugene, their check before Toulon, and their retreat, precipitated by the rising of the peasants, had irritated the allies; the attempts at negotiation which the king had entered upon at the Hague remained without result; the Duke of Burgundy took the command of the armies of Flanders, with Vendome for his second; it was hoped that the lieutenant's boldness, his geniality towards the troops, and his consummate knowledge of war, would counterbalance the excessive gravity, austerity, and inexperience of the young prince so virtuous and capable, but reserved, cold, and unaccustomed to command; discord arose amongst the courtiers; on the 5th of July Ghent was surprised; Vendome had intelligence inside the place, the Belgians were weary of their new masters. "The States have dealt so badly with this country," said Marlborough, "that all the towns are ready to play us the same trick as Ghent, the moment they have the opportunity." Bruges opened its gates to the French. Prince Eugene advanced to second Marlborough, but he was late in starting; the troops of the Elector of Bavaria harassed his march. "I shouldn't like to say a word against Prince Eugene," said Marlborough, "but he will arrive at the appointed spot on the Moselle ten days too late." The English were by themselves when they encountered the French army in front of Audernarde. The engagement began. Vendome, who commanded the right wing, sent word to the Duke of Burgundy. The latter hesitated and delayed; the generals about him did not approve of Vendome's movement. He fought single-handed, and was beaten. The excess of confidence of one leader, and the inertness of the other, caused failure in all the operations of the campaign; Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough laid siege to Lille, which was defended by old Marshal Boufflers, the bravest and the most respected of all the king's servants. Lille was not relieved, and fell on the 25th of October; the citadel held out until the 9th of December; the king heaped rewards on Marshal Bouffers: at the march out from Lille, Prince Eugene had ordered all his army to pay him the same honors as to himself. Ghent and Bruges were abandoned to the imperialists. "We had made blunder upon blunder in this campaign," says Marshal Berwick, in his Memoires, "and, in spite of all that if somebody had not made the last in giving up Ghent and Bruges, there would have been a fine game the year after." The Low Countries were lost, and the French frontier was encroached upon by the capture of Lille. For the first time, in a letter addressed to Marshal Berwick, Marlborough let a glimpse be seen of a desire to make peace; the king still hoped for the mediation of Holland, and he neglected the overtures of Marlborough: "the army of the allies is, without doubt, in evil plight," said Chamillard.

The campaign in Spain had not been successful; the Duke of Orleans, weary of his powerlessness, and under suspicion at the court of Philip V., had given up the command of the troops; the English admiral, Leake, had taken possession of Sardinia, of the Island of Minorca, and of Port Mahon; the archduke was master of the isles and of the sea. The destitution in France was fearful, and the winter so severe that the poor were in want of everything; riots multiplied in the towns; the king sent his plate to the mint, and put his jewels in pawn; he likewise took a resolution which cost him even more; he determined to ask for peace.

"Although his courage appeared at every trial," says the Marquis of Torcy, "he felt within him just sorrow for a war whereof the weight overwhelmed his subjects. More concerned for their woes than for his own glory, he employed, to terminate them, means which might have induced France to submit to the hardest conditions before obtaining a peace that had become necessary, if God, protecting the king, had not, after humiliating him, struck his foes with blindness."

There are regions to which superior minds alone ascend, and which are not attained by the men, however distinguished, who succeed them. William III. was no longer at the head of affairs in Europe; and the triumvirate of Heinsius, Marlborough, and Prince Eugene did not view the aggregate of things from a sufficiently calm height to free themselves from the hatreds and, bitternesses of the strife, when the proposals of Louis XIV. arrived at the Hague. "Amidst the sufferings caused to commerce by the war, there was room to hope," says Torcy, "that the grand pensionary, thinking chiefly of his country's interest, would desire the end of a war of which he felt all the burdensomeness. Clothed with authority in his own republic, he had no reason to fear either secret design or cabals to displace him from a post which he filled to the satisfaction of his masters, and in which he conducted himself with moderation. Up to that time the United Provinces had borne the principal burden of the war. The emperor alone reaped the fruit of it. One would have said that the Hollanders kept the temple of peace, and that they had the keys of it in their hands."

The king offered the Hollanders a very extended barrier in the Low Countries, and all the facilities they had long been asking for their commerce. He accepted the abandonment of Spain to the archduke, and merely claimed to reserve to his grandson Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily. This was what was secured to him by the second treaty of partition lately concluded between England, tine United Provinces, and France; he did not even demand Lothringen. President Rouille, formerly French envoy to Lisbon, arrived disguised in Holland; conferences were opened secretly at Bodegraven.

The treaties of partition negotiated by William of Orange, as well as the wars which he had sustained against Louis XIV. with such persistent obstinacy, had but one sole end, the maintenance of the European equilibrium between the houses of Bourbon and Austria, which were alone powerful enough to serve as mutual counterpoise. To despoil one to the profit of the other, to throw, all at once, into the balance on the side of the empire all the weight of the Spanish succession, was to destroy the work of William III.'s far-sighted wisdom. Heinsius did not see it; but led on by his fidelity to the allies, distrustful and suspicious as regarded France, burning to avenge the wrongs put upon the republic, he, in concert with Marlborough and Prince Eugene, required conditions so hard that the French agent scarcely dared transmit them to Versailles. What was demanded was the abdication, pure and simple, of Philip V.: Holland merely promised her good offices to obtain in his favor Naples and Sicily; England claimed Dunkerque; Germany wanted Strasburg and the renewal of the peace of Westphalia; Victor-Amadeo aspired to recover Nice and Savoy; to the Dutch barrier stipulated for at Ryswick were to be added Lille, Conde, and Tournay. In vain was the matter discussed article by article; Rouille for some time believed that he had gained Lille. "You misinterpreted our intentions," said the deputies of the States General; "we let you believe what you pleased; at the commencement of April. Lille was still in a bad condition; we had reason to fear that the French had a design of taking advantage of that; it was a matter of prudence to let you believe that it would be restored to you by the peace. Lille is at the present moment in a state of security; do not count any longer on its restitution." "Probably," said the States' delegate to Marlborough, "the king will break off negotiations rather than entertain such hard conditions." "So much the worse for France," rejoined the English general; "for when the campaign is once begun, things will go farther than the king thinks. The allies will never unsay their preliminary demands." And he set out for England without even waiting for a favorable wind to cross.

Louis XIV. assembled his council, the same which, in 1700, had decided upon acceptance of the crown of Spain. "The king felt all these calamities so much the more keenly," says Torcy, "in that he had experienced nothing of the sort ever since he had taken into his own hands the government of a flourishing kingdom. It was a terrible humiliation for a monarch accustomed to conquer, belauded for his victories, his triumphs, his moderation when he granted peace and prescribed its laws, to see himself now obliged to ask it of his enemies, to offer them to no purpose, in order to obtain it, the restitution of a portion of his conquests, the monarchy of Spain, the abandonment of his allies, and forced, in order to get such offers accepted, to apply to that same republic whose principal provinces he had conquered in the year 1692, and whose submission he had rejected when she entreated him to grant her peace on such terms as he should be pleased to dictate. The king bore so sensible a change with the firmness of a hero, and with a Christian's complete submission to the decrees of Providence, being less affected by his own inward pangs than by the suffering of his people, and being ever concerned about the means of relieving it, and terminating the war. It was scarcely perceived that he did himself some violence in order to conceal his own feelings from the public; indeed; they were so little known that it was pretty generally believed that, thinking more of his own glory than of the woes of his kingdom, he preferred to the blessing of peace the keeping of certain places he had taken in person. This unjust opinion had crept in even amongst the council."

The reading of the Dutch proposals tore away every veil; "the necessity of obtaining peace, whatever price it might cost, was felt so much the more." The king gave orders to Rouille to resume the conferences, demanding clear and precise explanations. "If the worst comes to the worst," said he, "I will give up Lille to the Hollanders, Strasburg dismantled to the Empire, and I will content myself with Naples without Sicily for my grandson. You will be astounded at the orders contained in this despatch, so different from those that I have given you hitherto, and that I considered, as it was, too liberal, but I have always submitted to the divine will, and the evils with which He is pleased to afflict my kingdom do not permit me any longer to doubt of the sacrifice He requires me to make to Him of all that might touch me most nearly. I waive, therefore, my glory." The Marquis of Torcy, secretary of state for foreign affairs, followed close after the despatch; he had offered the king to go and treat personally with Heinsius.

"The grand pensionary appeared surprised when he heard that his Majesty was sending one of his ministers to Holland. He had been placed at that post by the Prince of Orange, who put entire confidence in him. Heinsius had not long before been sent to France to confer with Louvois, and, in the discharge of that commission, he had experienced the bad temper of a minister more accustomed to speak harshly to military officers than to treat with foreigners; he had not forgotten that the minister had threatened to have him put in the Bastille. Consummate master of affairs, of which he had a long experience, he was the soul of the league with Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough; but the pensionary was not accused either of being so much in love with the importance given him by continuance of the war as to desire its prolongation or of any personally interested view. His externals were simple, there was no ostentation in his household; his address was cold without any sort of rudeness, his conversation was polished, he rarely grew warm in discussion." Torcy could not obtain anything from Heinsius, any more than from Marlborough and Prince Eugene, who had both arrived at the Hague: the prince remained cold and stern; he had not forgotten the king's behavior towards his house. "That's a splendid post in France, that of colonel general," said he one day; "my father held it; at his death we hoped that my brother might get it; the king thought it better to give it to one of his, natural sons. He is master, but all the same is one not sorry sometimes to find one's self in a position to make slights repented of." "Marlborough displayed courtesy, insisting upon seeing in the affairs of the coalition the finger of God, who had permitted eight nations to think and act like one man." The concessions extorted from France were no longer sufficient: M. de Torcy gave up Sicily, and then Naples; a demand was made for Elsass, and certain places in Dauphiny and Provence; lastly, the allies required that the conditions of peace should be carried out at short notice, during the two months' truce it was agreed to grant, and that Louis XIV. should forthwith put into the hands of the Hollanders three places by way of guarantee, in case Philip V. should refuse to abdicate. This was to despoil himself prematurely and gratuitously, for it was impossible to execute the definitive treaty of peace at the time fixed. "The king did not hesitate about the only course there was for him to take, not only for his own glory, but for the welfare of his kingdom," says Torcy; he recalled his envoys, and wrote to the governors of the provinces and towns,—

"Sir: The hope of an imminent peace was so generally diffused throughout my kingdom, that I consider it due to the fidelity which my people have shown during the course of my reign to give them the consolation of informing them of the reasons which still prevent them from enjoying the repose I had intended to procure for them. I would, to restore it, have accepted conditions much opposed to the security of my frontier provinces; but the more readiness and desire I displayed to dissipate the suspicions which my enemies affect to retain of my power and my designs, the more did they multiply their pretensions, refusing to enter into any undertaking beyond putting a stop to all acts of hostility until the first of the month of August, reserving to themselves the liberty of then acting by way of arms if the King of Spain, my grandson, persisted in his resolution to defend the crown which God has given him; such a suspension was more dangerous than war for my people, for it secured to the enemy more important advantages than they could hope for from their troops. As I place my trust in the protection of God, and hope that the purity of my intentions will bring down His blessing on my arms, I wish my people to know that they would enjoy peace if it had depended only on my will to procure them a boon which they reasonably, desire, but which must be won by fresh efforts, since the immense conditions I would have granted are useless for the restoration of the public peace.

"Signed: Louis."

In spite of all the mistakes due to his past arrogance, the king had a right to make use of such language. In their short-sighted resentment the allies had overstepped reason. The young King of Spain felt this when he wrote to his grandfather, "I am transfixed at the chimerical and insolent pretensions of the English and Dutch regarding the preliminaries of peace; never were seen the like. I am beside myself at the idea that anybody could have so much as supposed that I should be forced to leave Spain as long as I have a drop of blood in my veins. I will use all my efforts to maintain myself upon a throne on which God has placed me, and on which you, after Him, have set me, and nothing but death shall wrench me from it or make me yield it." War re-commenced on all sides. The king had just consented at last to give Chamillard his discharge. "Sir, I shall die over the job," had for a long time been the complaint of the minister worn out with fatigue. "Ah! well, we will die together," had been the king's rejoinder.

France was dying, and Chamillard was by no means a stranger to the cause. Louis XIV. put in his place Voysin, former superintendent of Hainault, entirely devoted to Madame de Maintenon. He loaded with benefits the minister from whom he was parting, the only one whom he had really loved. The troops were destitute of everything. On assuming the command of the army of the Low Countries, Villars wrote in despair, "Imagine the horror of seeing an army without bread! There was none delivered to-day until the evening, and very late. Yesterday, to have bread to serve out to the brigades I had ordered to march, I made those fast that remained behind. On these occasions I pass along the ranks, I coax the soldier, I speak to him in such a way as to make him have patience, and I have had the consolation of hearing several of them say, 'The marshal is quite right; we must suffer sometimes.' 'Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie' (give us this day our daily bread), the men say to me as I go through the ranks; it is a miracle how we subsist, and it is a marvel to see the steadiness and fortitude of the soldier in enduring hunger; habit is everything; I fancy, however, that the habit of not eating is not easy to acquire."

In spite of such privations and sufferings, Villars found the army in excellent spirits, and urged the king to permit him to give battle. "M. de Turenne used to say that he who means to altogether avoid battle gives up his country to him who appears to seek it," the marshal assured him; the king was afraid of losing his last army; the Dukes of Harcourt and Berwick were covering the Rhine and the Alps; Marlborough and Prince Eugene, who had just made themselves masters of Tournay, marched against Villars, whom they encountered on the 11th of September, 1709, near the hamlet of Malplaquet. Marshal Boufflers had just reached the army to serve as a volunteer. Villars had intrenched himself in front of the woods; his men were so anxious to get under fire, that they threw away the rations of bread just served out; the allies looked sulkily at the works. "We are going to fight moles again," they said.

There was a thick fog, as at Lutzen; the fighting went on from seven in the morning till midday. Villars had yielded the right wing, by way of respect, to Bouffiers as his senior, says the allies' account, but the general command nevertheless devolved entirely upon him. "At the hottest of the engagement, the marshal galloped furiously to the centre attacked by Prince Eugene. It was a sort of jaws of hell, a pit of fire, sulphur, and saltpetre, which it seemed impossible to approach and live. One shot and my horse fell," says Villars. "I jumped up, and a second broke my knee; I had it bandaged on the spot, and myself placed in a chair to continue giving my orders, but the pain caused a fainting-fit which lasted long enough for me to be carried off without consciousness to Quesnoy." The Prince of Hesse, with the imperial cavalry, had just turned the intrenchments, which the Dutch infantry had attacked to no purpose; Marshal Boufflers was obliged to order a retreat, which was executed as on parade. "The allies had lost more than twenty thousand men," according to their official account. "It was too much for this victory, which did not entail the advantage of entirely defeating the enemy, and the whole fruits of which were to end with the taking of Mons." Always a braggart, in spite of his real courage and indisputable military talent, Villars wrote from his bed to the king, on sending him the flags taken from the enemy, "If God give us grace to lose such another battle, your Majesty may reckon that your enemies are annihilated." Boufflers was more proud, and at the same time more modest, when he said, "The series of disasters that have for some years past befallen your Majesty's arms, had so humiliated the French nation that one scarcer dared avow one's self a Frenchman. I dare assure you, sir, that the French name was never in so great esteem, and was never perhaps more feared, than it is at present in the army of the allies."

Louis XIV. was no longer in a position to delude himself, and to celebrate a defeat, even a glorious one, as a victory. Negotiations recommenced. Heinsius had held to his last proposals. It was on this sorry basis that Marshal d'Huxelles and Abbe de Polignac began the parleys, at Gertruydenberg, a small fortress of Mardyk. They lasted from March 9 to July 25, 1710; the king consented to give some fortresses as guarantee, and promised to recommend his grandson to abdicate; in case of refusal, he engaged not only to support him no longer, but to furnish the allies, into the bargain, with a monthly subsidy of a million, whilst granting a passage through French territory; he accepted the cession of Elsass to Lothringen, the return of the three bishoprics to the empire; the, Hollanders, commissioned to negotiate in the name of the coalition, were not yet satisfied. "The desire of the allies," they said, "is, that the king should undertake, himself alone and by his own forces, either to persuade or to oblige the King of Spain to give up all his monarchy. Neither money nor the co-operation of the French troops suit their purpose; if the preliminary articles be not complied with in the space of two months, the truce is broken off, war will recommence, even though on the part of the king the other conditions should have been wholly fulfilled. The sole means of obtaining peace is to receive from the king's hands Spain and the Indies."

The French plenipotentiaries had been recommended to have patience. Marshal d'Huxelles was a courtier as smooth as he was clever; Abbe de Polignac was shrewd and supple, yet he could not contain his indignation. "It is evident that you have not been accustomed to conquer!" said he haughtily to the Dutch delegates. When the allies' ultimatum reached the king, the pride of the sovereign and the affection of the father rose up at last in revolt. "Since war there must be," said he, "I would rather wage it against my enemies than against my grandson;" and he withdrew all the concessions which had reduced Philip V. to despair. The allies had already invaded Artois; at the end of the campaign they were masters of Douai, St. Venant, Bethune, and Aire; France was threatened everywhere, the king could no longer protect the King of Spain; he confined himself to sending him Vendome. Philip V., sustained by the indomitable courage of his young wife, refused absolutely to abdicate. "Whatever misfortunes may await me," he wrote to the king, "I still prefer the course of submission to whatever it may please God to decide for me by fighting to that of deciding for myself by consenting to an arrangement which would force me to abandon the people on whom my reverses have hitherto produced no other effect than to increase their zeal and affection for me."

It was, therefore, with none but the forces of Spain that Philip V., at the outset of the campaign of 1710, found himself confronting the English and Portuguese armies. The Emperor Joseph, brother of Archduke Charles, had sent him a body of troops commanded by a distinguished general, Count von Stahrenberg. Going from defeat to defeat, the young king found himself forced, as in 1706, to abandon his capital; he removed the seat of government to Valladolid, and departed, accompanied by more than thirty thousand persons of every rank, resolved to share his fortunes. The archduke entered Madrid. "I have orders from Queen Anne and the allies to escort King Charles to Madrid," said the English general, Lord Stanhope; "when he is once there, God or the devil keep him in or turn him out; it matters little to me; that is no affair of mine."

Stanhope was in the right not to pledge himself; the hostility of the population of Madrid did not permit the archduke to reside there long; after running the risk of being carried off in his palace on the Prado, he removed to Toledo; Vendome blocked the road against the Portuguese; the archduke left the town, and withdrew into Catalonia; Stahrenberg followed him on the 22d of November, harassed on his march by the Spanish guerrillas rising everywhere upon his route; every straggler, every wounded man, was infallibly murdered by the peasants; Stanhope, who commanded the rearguard, found himself invested by Vendome in the town of Brihuega; the Spaniards scarcely gave the artillery time to open a breach, the town was taken by assault, and the English made prisoners. Stahrenberg retraced his steps; on the 10th of December fighting began near Villaviciosa; the advantage was for a long time undecided and disputed; night came; the Austrian general spiked his guns and retreated by forced marches; the Spaniards bivouacked on the battle-field, the king slept on a bed made of the enemy's flags; the allies had taken refuge in Catalonia; Spain had won back her independence and her king. There was great joy at Versailles, greater than in the kingdom; the sole aspiration was for peace.

An unexpected assistance was at hand. Queen Anne, wearied with the cupidity and haughtiness of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, had given them notice to quit; the friends of the duke had shared his fall, and the Tories succeeded the Whigs in power. The chancellor of the exchequer, Harley, soon afterwards Earl of Oxford, and the secretary of state, St. John, who became Lord Bolingbroke, were inclined to peace. Advances were made to France. A French priest, Abbe Gautier, living in obscurity in England, arrived in Paris during January, 1711; he went to see M. de Torcy at Versailles. "Do you want peace?" said he. "I have come to bring you the means of treating for it, and concluding independently of the Hollanders, unworthy of the king's kindnesses and of the honor he has so often done them of applying to them to pacificate Europe." "To ask just then one of his Majesty's ministers if he desired peace," says Torcy, "was to ask a sick man suffering from a long and dangerous disease if he wants to be cured." Negotiations were secretly opened with the English cabinet. The Emperor Joseph had just died (April 17, 1711). He left none but daughters. From that moment Archduke Charles inherited the domains of the house of Austria, and aspired to the imperial crown; by giving him Spain, Europe re-established the monarchy of Charles V.; she saw the dangers into which she was being drawn by the resentments or short-sighted ambition of the triumvirate; she fell back upon the wise projects of William III. Holland had abandoned them; to England fell the honor of making them triumphant. She has often made war upon the Continent with indomitable obstinacy and perseverance; but at bottom and by the very force of circumstances England remains, as regards the affairs of Europe, an essentially pacific power. War brings her no advantage; she cannot pretend to any territorial aggrandizement in Europe; it is the equilibrium between the continental powers that makes her strength, and her first interest was always to maintain it.

The campaign of 1711 was everywhere insignificant. Negotiations were still going on with England, secretly and through subordinate agents: Manager, member of the Board of Trade, for France; and, for England, the poet Prior, strongly attached to Harley. On the 29th of January, 1712, the general conferences were opened at Utrecht. The French had been anxious to avoid the Hague, dreading the obstinacy of Heinsius in favor of his former proposals. Preliminary points were already settled with England; enormous advantages were secured in America to English commerce, to which was ceded Newfoundland and all that France still possessed in Acadia; the general proposals had been accepted by Queen Anne and her ministers. In vain had the Hollanders and Prince Eugene made great efforts to modify them; St. John had dryly remarked that England had borne the greatest part in the burden of the war, and it was but just that she should direct the negotiations for peace. For five years past the United Provinces, exhausted by the length of hostilities, had constantly been defaulters in their engagements; it was proved to Prince Eugene that the imperial army had not been increased by two regiments in consequence of the war the emperor's ambassador, M. de Galas, displayed impertinence: he was forbidden to come to the court; in spite of the reserve imposed upon the English ministers by the strife of parties in a free country, their desire for peace was evident. The queen had just ordered the creation of new peers in order to secure a majority of the upper house in favor of a pacific policy.

The bolts of Heaven were falling one after another upon the royal family of France. On the 14th of April, 1711, Louis XIV. had lost by small-pox his son, the grand dauphin, a mediocre and submissive creature, ever the most humble subject of the king, at just fifty years of age. His eldest son, the Duke of Burgundy, devout, austere, and capable, the hope of good men and the terror of intriguers, had taken the rank of dauphin, and was seriously commencing his apprenticeship in government, when he was carried off on the 18th of February, 1712, by spotted fever (rougeole pourpree), six days after his wife, the charming Mary Adelaide of Savoy, the idol of the whole court, supremely beloved by the king, and by Madame de Maintenon, who had brought her up; their son, the Duke of Brittany, four years old, died on the 8th of March; a child in the cradle, weakly and ill, the little Duke of Anjou, remained the only shoot of the elder branch of the Bourbons. Dismay seized upon all France; poison was spoken of; the Duke of Orleans was accused; it was necessary to have a post mortem examination; only the hand of God had left its traces. Europe in its turn was excited. If the little Duke of Anjou were to die, the crown of France reverted to Philip V. The Hollanders and the ambassadors of the Emperor Charles VI. recently crowned at Frankfurt, insisted on the necessity of a formal renunciation. In accord with the English ministers, Louis XIV. wrote to his grandson,—

"You will be told what England proposes, that you should renounce your birthright, retaining the monarchy of Spain and the Indies, or renounce the monarchy of Spain, retaining your rights to the succession in France, and receiving in exchange for the crown of Spain the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, the states of the Duke of Savoy, Montferrat, and the Mantuan, the said Duke of Savoy succeeding you in Spain; I confess to you that, notwithstanding the disproportion in the dominions, I have been sensibly affected by the thought that you would continue to reign, that I might still regard you as my successor, sure, if the dauphin lives, of a regent accustomed to command, capable of maintaining order in my kingdom and stifling its cabals. If this child were to die, as his weakly complexion gives too much reason to suppose, you would enjoy the succession to me following the order of your birth, and I should have the consolation of leaving to my people a virtuous king, capable of commanding them, and one who, on succeeding me, would unite to the crown states so considerable as Naples, Savoy, Piedmont, and Montferrat. If gratitude and affection towards your subjects are to you pressing reasons for remaining with them, I may say that you owe me the same sentiments; you owe them to your own house, to your own country, before Spain. All that I can do for you is to leave you once more the choice, the necessity for concluding peace becoming every day more urgent."

The choice of Philip V. was made; he had already written to his grandfather to say that he would renounce all his rights of succession to the throne of France rather than give up the crown of Spain. This decision was solemnly enregistered by the Cortes. The English required that the Dukes of Berry and Orleans should, likewise make renunciation of their rights to the crown of Spain. Negotiations began again, but war began again at the same time as the negotiations.

The king had given Villars the command of the army of Flanders. The marshal went to Marly to receive his last orders. "You see my plight, marshal," said Louis XIV. "There are few examples of what is my fate—to lose in the same week a grandson, a grandson's wife and their son, all of very great promise and very tenderly beloved. God is punishing me; I have well deserved it. But suspend we my griefs at my own domestic woes, and look we to what may be done to prevent those of the kingdom. If anything were to happen to the army you command, what would be your idea of the course I should adopt as regards my person?" The marshal hesitated. The king resumed: "This is what I think; you shall tell me your opinion afterwards. I know the courtiers' line of argument; they nearly all wish me to retire to Blois, and not wait for the enemy's army to approach Paris, as it might do if mine were beaten. For my part, I am aware that armies so considerable are never defeated to such an extent as to prevent the greater part of mine from retiring upon the Somme. I know that river; it is very difficult to cross; there are forts, too, which could be made strong. I should count upon getting to Peronne or St. Quentin, and there massing all the troops I had, making a last effort with you, and falling together or saving the kingdom; I will never consent to let the enemy approach my capital. [Memoires de Villars, t. ii. p. 362.]"

God was to spare Louis XIV. that crowning disaster reserved for other times; in spite of all his defaults and the culpable errors of his life and reign, Providence had given this old man, overwhelmed by so many reverses and sorrows, a truly royal soul, and that regard for his own greatness which set him higher as a king than he would have been as a man. "He had too proud a soul to descend lower than his misfortunes had brought him," says Montesquieu, "and he well knew that courage may right a crown and that infamy never does." On the 25th of May, the king secretly informed his plenipotentiaries as well as his generals that the English were proposing to him a suspension of hostilities; and he added, "It is no longer a time for flattering the pride of the Hollanders, but, whilst we treat with them in good faith, it must be with the dignity that becomes me." "A style different from that of the conferences at the Hague and Gertruydenberg," is the remark made by M. de Torcy. That which the king's pride refused to the ill will of the Hollanders he granted to the good will of England. The day of the commencement of the armistice Dunkerque was put as guarantee into the hands of the English, who recalled their native regiments from the army of Prince Eugene; the king complained that they left him the auxiliary troops; the English ministers proposed to prolong the truce, promising to treat separately with France if the allies refused assent to the peace. The news received by Louis XIV. gave him assurance of better conditions than any one had dared to hope for.

Villars had not been able to prevent Prince Eugene from becoming master of Quesnoy on the 3d of July; the imperialists were already making preparations to invade France; in their army the causeway which connected Marchiennes with Landrecies was called the Paris road. The marshal resolved to relieve Landrecies, and, having had bridges thrown over the Scheldt, he, on the 23d of July, 1712, crossed the river between Bouchain and Denain; the latter little place was defended by the Duke of Albemarle, son of General Monk, with seventeen battalions of auxiliary troops in the pay of the allies; Lieutenant General Albergotti, an experienced soldier, considered the undertaking perilous. "Go and lie down for an hour or two, M. d'Albergotti," said Villars; "to-morrow by three in the morning you shall know whether the enemy's intrenchments are as strong as you suppose." Prince Eugene was coming up by forced marches to relieve Denain, by falling on the rearguard of the French army. It was proposed to Villars to make fascines to fill up the fosses of Denain. "Do you suppose," said he, pointing to the enemy's army in the distance, "that those gentry will give us the time? Our fascines shall be the bodies of the first of our men who fall in the fosse."

"There was not an instant, not a minute to lose," says the marshal in his Memoires. "I made my infantry march on four lines in the most beautiful order; as I entered the intrenchment at the head of the troops, I had not gone twenty paces when the Duke of Albemarle and six or seven of the emperor's lieutenant generals were at my horse's feet. I begged them to excuse me if present matters did not permit me to show them all the politeness I ought, but that the first of all was to provide for the safety of their persons." The enemy thought of nothing but flight; the bridges over the Scheldt broke down under the multitude of vehicles and horses; nearly all the defenders of Denain were taken or killed. Prince Eugene could not cross the river, watched as it was by French troops; he did not succeed in saving Marchiennes, which the Count of Broglie, had been ordered to invest in the very middle of the action in front of Denain; the imperialists raised the siege of Landrecies, but without daring to attack Villars, re-enforced by a few garrisons; the marshal immediately invested Douai; on the 27th of August, the emperor's troops who were defending one of the forts demanded a capitulation; the officers who went out asked for a delay of four days, so as to receive orders from Prince Eugene; the marshal, who was in the trenches, called his grenadiers. "This is my council on such occasions," said he to the astonished imperialists. "My friends, these captains demand four days' time to receive orders from their general; what do you think?" "Leave it to us, marshal," replied the grenadiers; "in a quarter of an hour we will slit their windpipes." "Gentlemen," said I to the officers, "they will do as they have said; so take your own course." The garrison surrendered at discretion. Douai capitulated on the 8th of September; Le Quesnoy was taken on the 4th of October, and Bouchain on the 18th; Prince Eugene had not been able to attempt anything; he fell back under the walls of Brussels. On the Rhine, on the Alps, in Spain, the French and Spanish armies had held the enemy in check. The French plenipotentiaries at Utrecht had recovered their courage. "We put on the face the Hollanders had at Gertruydenberg, and they put on ours," wrote Cardinal de Polignac from Utrecht: "it is a complete turning of the tables." "Gentlemen, peace will be treated for amongst you, for you and without you," was the remark made to the Hollanders. Hereditary adversary of the Van Witts and their party, Heinsius had pursued the policy of William III. without the foresight and lofty views of William Ill.; he had not seen his way in 1709 to shaking off the yoke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene in order to take the initiative in a peace necessary for Europe; in 1712 he submitted to the will of Harley and St. John, thus losing the advantages of the powerful mediatorial position which the United Provinces had owed to the eminent men successively intrusted with their government. Henceforth Holland remained a free and prosperous country, respected and worthy of her independence, but her political influence and importance in Europe were at an end. Under God's hand great men make great destinies and great positions for their country as well as for themselves.

The battle of Denain and its happy consequences hastened the conclusion of the negotiations; the German princes themselves began to split up; the King of Prussia, Frederic William I., who had recently succeeded his father, was the first to escape from the emperor's yoke. Lord Bolingbroke put the finishing stroke at Versailles to the conditions of a general peace; the month of April was the extreme limit fixed by England for her allies; on the 11th peace was signed between France, England, the United Provinces, Portugal, the King of Prussia, and the Duke of Savoy. Louis XIV. recovered Lijle, Aire, Bethune, and St. Venant; he strengthened with a few places the barrier of the Hollanders; he likewise granted to the Duke of Savoy a barrier on the Italian slope of the Alps; he recognized Queen Anne, at the same time exiling from France the Pretender James III., whom he had but lately proclaimed with so much flourish of trumpets, and he razed the fortifications of Dunkerque. England kept Gibraltar and Minorca; Sicily was assigned to the Duke of Savoy. France recognized the King of Prussia. The peace was an honorable and an unexpected one, after so many disasters the King of Spain held out for some time; he wanted to set up an independent principality for the Princess des Ursins, camerera mayor to the queen his wife, an able, courageous, and clever intriguer, all-powerful at court, who had done good service to the interests of France; he could not obtain any dismemberment of the United Provinces; and at last Philip V. in his turn signed. The emperor and the empire alone remained aloof from the general peace. War recommenced in Germany and on the Rhine. Villars carried Spires and Kaiserlautern. He laid siege to Landau. His lieutenants were uneasy. "Gentlemen," said Villars, "I have heard the Prince of Conde say that the enemy should be feared at a distance and despised at close quarters." Landau capitulated on the 20th of August; on the 30th of September Villars entered Friburg; the citadel surrendered on the 13th of November; the imperialists began to make pacific overtures; the two generals, Villars and Prince Eugene, were charged with the negotiations.

"I arrived at Rastadt on the 26th of November in the afternoon," writes Villars in his Memoires, "and the Prince of Savoy half an hour after me. The moment I knew he was in the court-yard, I went to the top of the steps to meet him, apologizing to him on the ground that a lame man could not go down; we embraced with the feelings of an old and true friendship which long wars and various engagements had not altered." The two plenipotentiaries were headstrong in their discussions. "If we begin war again," said Villars, "where will you find money?" "It is true that we haven't any," rejoined the prince; "but there is still some in the empire." "Poor states of the empire!" I exclaimed; "your advice is not asked about beginning the dance; yet you must of course follow the leaders." Peace was at last signed on the 6th of March, 1714: France kept Landau and Fort Louis; she restored Spires, Brisach, and Friburg. The emperor refused to recognize Philip V., but he accepted the status quo; the crown of Spain remained definitively with the house of Bourbon; it had cost men and millions enough; for an instant the very foundations of order in Europe had seemed to be upset; the old French monarchy had been threatened; it had recovered of itself and by its own resources, sustaining single-handed the struggle which was pulling down all Europe in coalition against it; it had obtained conditions which restored its frontiers to the limits of the peace of Ryswick; but it was exhausted, gasping, at wits' end for men and money; absolute power had obtained from national pride the last possible efforts, but it had played itself out in the struggle; the confidence of the country was shaken; it had been seen what dangers the will of a single man had made the nation incur; the tempest was already gathering within men's souls. The habit of respect, the memory of past glories, the personal majesty of Louis XIV. still kept up about the aged king the deceitful appearances of uncontested power and sovereign authority; the long decadence of his great-grandson's reign was destined to complete its ruin.

"I loved war too much," was Louis XIV.'s confession on his death bed. He had loved it madly and exclusively; but this fatal passion, which had ruined and corrupted France, had not at any rate remained infructuous. Louis XIV. had the good fortune to profit by the efforts of his predecessors as well as of his own servants: Richelieu and Mazarin, Conde and Turenne, Luxembourg, Catinat, Vauban, Villars, and Louvois, all toiled at the same work; under his reign France was intoxicated with excess of the pride of conquest, but she did not lose all its fruits; she witnessed the conclusion of five peaces, mostly glorious, the last sadly honorable; all tended to consolidate the unity and power of the kingdom; it is to the treaties of the Pyrenees, of Westphalia, of Nimeguen, of Ryswick, and of Utrecht, all signed with the name of Louis XIV., that France owed Roussillon, Artois, Alsace, Flanders, and Franche-Comte. Her glory has more than once cost her dear; it has never been worth so much and such solid increment to her territory.

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