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fering under a complication of severe and incurable diseases" There was every reason to believe that a few months would dissolve the fragile tie, which bound up that feeble body with that ardent and unconquerable soul. If Louis could succeed in preserving peace for a short time, it was probable that all his vast designs would be securely accomplished. Just at this crisis, the most important crisis of his life, his pride and his passions hurried him into an error, which undid all that forty years of victory and intrigue had done; which produced the dismemberment of the kingdom of his grandson, and brought invasion, bankruptcy, and famine on his own. James the Second died at St. Germains. Louis paid him a farewell visit, and was so much moved by the solemn parting, and by the grief of the exiled queen, that, losing sight of all considerations of policy, and actuated, as it should seem, merely by compassion, and by a not ungenerous vanity, he acknowledged the Prince of Wales as King of England.
The indignation which the Castilians had felt when they heard that three foreign powers had undertaken to regulate the Spanish succession, was nothing to the rage with which the English learned that their good neighbour had taken the trouble to provide them with a king. Whigs and Tories joined in condemning the proceedings of the French court. The cry for war was raised by the city of London, and echoed and re-echoed from every corner of the realm. William saw that his time was come. Though his wasted and suffering body could hardly move without support, his spirit was as energetic and resolute as when, at twenty-three, he bade defiance to the combined force of England and France. He left the Hague, where he had been engaged in negotiating with the states and the emperor a defensive treaty against the ambitious designs of the Bourbons. He flew to London. He remodelled the ministry. He dissolved the Parliament. The majority of the new House of Commons was with the king, and the most vigorous preparations were made for war.
Before the commencement of active hostilities, William was no more But the Grand Alliance of the European Princes against the Bourbons was already constructed. "The master workman died," says Mr. Burke, "but the work was formed on true mechanical principles, and it was
as truly wrought." On the 15th of May, 1702, war was proclaimed by concert at Vienna, at London, and at the Hague.
Thus commenced that great struggle by which Europe, from the Vistula to the Atlantic Ocean, was agitated during twelve years. The two hostile coalitions were, in respect of territory, wealth, and population, not unequally matched. On the one side were France, Spain, and Bavaria; on the other, England, Holland, the Empire, and a crowd of inferior
That part of the war which Lord Mahon has undertaken to relate, though not the least important, is certainly the least attractive. In Italy, in Germany, and in the Netherlands, great means were at the disposal of great generals. Mighty battles were fought. Fortress after fortress was subdued. The iron chain of the Belgian strongholds was broken. By a regular and connected series of operations extending through several years, the French were driven back from the Danube and the Po into their own provinces. The war in Spain, on the contrary, is made of events which seem to have no dependence on each other. The turns of fortune resemble those which take place in a dream. Victory and defeat are not followed by their usual consequences. Armies spring out of nothing, and melt into nothing. Yet, to judicious readers of history, the Spanish conflict is perhaps more interesting than the campaigns of Marlborough and Eugene. The fate of the Milanese, and of the Low Countries, was decided by military skill. The fate of Spain was decided by the peculiarities of the national character.
When the war commenced, the young king was in a most deplorable situation. On his arrival at Madrid, he found Porto Carrero at the head of affairs, and he did not think it fit to displace the man to whom he owed his crown. The cardinal was a mere intriguer, and in no sense a statesman. He had acquired in the court and in the confessional, a rare degree of skill in all the tricks by which weak minds are managed. But of the noble science of government, of the sources of national prosperity, of the causes of national decay, he knew no more than his master. It is curious to observe the contrast between the dexterity with which he ruled the conscience of a foolish valetudinarian, and the imbecility which he showed when placed at the head of an empire. On what
grounds Lord Mahon represents the cardinal as a man "of splendid genius," ,""of vast abilities," we are unable to discover. Louis was of a very different opinion, and Louis was very seldom mistaken in his judgment of character. "Everybody," says he, in a letter to his ambassador, "knows how incapable the cardinal is. He is an object of contempt to his countrymen."
A few miserable savings were made, which ruined individuals, without producing any perceptible benefit to the state. The police became more and more inefficient. The disorders of the capital were increased by the arrival of French adventurers—the refuse of Parisian brothels and gaming-houses. These wretches considered the Spaniards as a subjugated race, whom the countrymen of the new sovereign might cheat and insult with impunity. The king sate eating and drinking all night, and lay in bed all day; yawned at the council table, and suffered the most important papers to lie unopened for weeks. At length he was roused by the only excitement of which his sluggish nature was susceptible. His grandfather consented to let him have a wife. The choice was fortunate. Maria Louisa, Princess of Savoy, a beautiful and graceful girl of thirteen, already a woman in person and mind, at an age when the females of colder climates are stil children, was the person selected. The king resolved to give her the meeting in Catalonia. He left his capital, of which he was already thoroughly tired. At setting out, he was mobbed by a gang of beggars. He, however, made his way through them, and repaired to Barcelona.
Louis was perfectly aware that the queen would govern Philip. He, accordingly, looked about for somebody to govern the queen. He selected the Princess Orsini to be first lady of the bedchamber-no insignificant post in the household of a very young wife and a very uxorious husband. This lady was the daughter of a French peer, and the widow of a Spanish grandee. She was, therefore, admirably fitted by her position to be the instrument of the court of Versailles at the court of Madrid. The Duke of Orleans called her, in words too coarse for translation, the Lieutenant of Captain Maintenon; and the appellation was well deserved. She aspired to play in Spain the part which Madame de Maintenon had played in France. But, though at least equal to her model in wit, information, and talents for intrigue, she had not that self-command, that patience, that
imperturbable evenness of temper, which had raised the widow of a buffoon to be the consort of the proudest of kings. The princess was more than fifty years old; but was still vain of her fine eyes and her fine shape; she still dressed in the style of a girl; and she still carried her flirtations so far as to give occasion for scandal. She was, however, polite, eloquent, and not deficient in strength of mind. The bitter Saint Simon owns that no person whom she wished to attach, could long resist the graces of her manners and of her conversation.
We have not time to relate how she obtained, and how she preserved her empire over the young couple in whose household she was placed; how she became so powerful, that neither minister of Spain nor ambassador from France could stand against her; how Louis himself was compelled to court her; how she received orders from Versailles to retire; how the queen took part with the favourite attendant; how the king took part with the queen; and how, after much squabbling, lying, shuffling, bullying, and coaxing, the dispute was adjusted. We turn to the events of the war.
When hostilities were proclaimed at London, Vienna, and the Hague, Philip was at Naples. He had been with great difficulty prevailed upon, by the most urgent representations from Versailles, to separate himself from his wife, and to repair without her to his Italian dominions, which were then menaced by the emperor. The queen acted as regent, and, child as she was, seems to have been quite as competent to govern the kingdom as her husband, or any of his ministers. In August, 1702, an armament, under the command of the Duke of Ormond, appeared off Calais. The Spanish authorities had no guards and no regular troops. tional spirit, however, supplied in some degree what was wanting. The nobles and peasantry advanced money. The peasantry were formed into what the Spanish writers call bands of heroic patriots, and what General Stanhope calls a "rascally foot militia." If the invaders had acted with vigour and judgment, Cadiz would probably have fallen. But the chiefs of the expedition were divided by national and professional feelings-Dutch against English, and land against sea. Sparre, the Dutch general, was sulky and perverse; according to Lord Mahon, because he was a citizen of a republic. Bellasys, the English general, en bezzled the
stores; we suppose, because he was the subject of a mon archy. The Duke of Ormond, who had the command of the whole expedition, proved on this occasion, as on every other, destitute of the qualities which great emergencies require. No discipline was kept; the soldiers were suffered to rob and insult those whom it was most desirable to conciliate. Churches were robbed, images were pulled down, nuns were violated. The officers shared the spoil, instead of punishing the spoilers; and at last the armament, loaded, to use the words of Stanhope, "with a great deal of plunder and infamy," quitted the scene of Essex's glory, leaving the only Spaniard of note who had declared for them to be hanged by his countrymen.
The fleet was off the coast of Portugal, on the way back to England, when the Duke of Ormond received intelligence that the treasure-ships from America had just arrived in Europe, and had, in order to avoid his armament, repaired to the harbour of Vigo. The cargo consisted, it was said, of more than three millions sterling in gold and silver, besides much valuable merchandise. The prospect of plunder reconciled all disputes. Dutch and English, admirals and generals, were equally eager for action. The Spaniards might, with the greatest ease, have secured the treasure, by simply landing it; but it was a fundamental law of Spanish trade that the galleons should unload at Cadiz, and at Cadiz only. The Chamber of Commerce at Cadiz, in the true spirit of monopoly, refused, even at this conjuncture, to bate one jot of its privilege. The matter was referred to the Council of the Indies: that body deliberated and hesitated just a day too long. Some feeble preparations for defence were made. Two ruined towers at the mouth of the bay were garrisoned by a few ill-armed and untrained rustics; a boom was thrown across the entrance of the bay; and some French ships of war, which had convoyed the galleons from America, were moored in the basin within. But all was to no purpose. The English ships broke the boom; Ormond and his soldiers scaled the forts; the French burned their ships, and escaped to the shore. The conquerors shared some millions of dollars; some millions more were sunk. When all the galleons had been captured or destroyed, there came an order in due form allowing them to unload.
When Philip returned to Madrid in the beginning of