Imatges de pÓgina
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conclude that the riches of the kingdom were inexhaustible. It may not be amiss to observe, that the supplies of this year exceeded, by two millions and a half, the greatest annual sum that was raised during the reign of queen Anne, though she maintained as great a number of troops as was now in the

pay of Great Britain, and her armies and fleets acquired every year fresh harvests of glory and advantage : whereas this war had proved an almost uninterrupted series of events big with disaster and dishonour. During the last two years, the naval expense of England had exceeded that of France about five millions sterling: though her fleets had not obtained one signal advantage over the enemy at sea, nor been able to protect her commerce from their depredations. She was at once a prey to her declared adversaries and professed friends. Before the end of summer she numbered among her mercenaries two empresses, five German princes, and a powerful monarch, whom she hired to assist her in trimming the balance of Europe, in which they themselves were immediately interested, and she had no more than a secondary concern.

Had these fruitless subsidies been saved ; had the national revenue been applied with economy to national purposes; had it been employed in liquidating gradually the public incumbrances; in augmenting the navy, improving manufactures, encouraging and securing the colonies, and extending trade and navigation; corruption would have become altogether unnecessary, and disaffection would have vanished: the people would have been eased of their burdens, and ceased to complain : commerce would have flourished, and produced such affluence as must have raised Great Britain to the highest pinnacle of maritime power, above all rivalship or competition. She would have been dreaded by her enemies; revered by her neighbours : oppressed nations would have crept under her wings for protection ; contending potentates would have appealed to her decision ; and she would have shone the universal arbitress of Europe. How different is her present situation! her debts are enormous, her taxes intolerable, her people discontented, and the sinews of her government relaxed.

Without conduct, confidence, or concert, she engages in blundering negotiations : she involves herself rashly in foreign quarrels, VOL. III

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and lavishes her substance with the most dangerous precipitation : she is even deserted by her wonted vigour, steadi. ness, and intrepidity: she grows vain, fantastical, and pusillanimous : her arms are despised by her enemies; and her counsel ridiculed through all christendom.

♡ XVIII. The king, in order to exhibit a specimen of his desire to diminish the public expense, ordered the third and fourth troops of his lifeguards to be disbanded, and reduced three regiments of horse to the quality of dragoons. The house of commons presented an address of thanks for this instance of economy, by which the annual sum of seventy thousand pounds was saved to the nation. Notwithstanding this seeming harmony between the king and the great council of the nation, his majesty resolved, with the advice of his counsel, to dissolve the present parliament, though the term of seven years was not yet expired since its first meeting. The ministry affected to insinuate, that the states general were unwilling to concur with his majesty in vigourous measures against France, during the existence of a parliament which had undergone such a vicissitude of complexion. The allies of Great Britain, far from being suspicious of this assembly, which had supplied them so liberally, saw with concern, that, according to law, it would soon be dismissed; and they doubted whether another could be procured equally agreeable to their purposes.

In order to remove this doubt, the ministry resolved to surprise the kingdom with a new election, before the malcontents should be prepared to oppose the friends of the government. Accordingly, when the business of the session was despatched, the king having given the royal assent to the several acts they had prepared, dismissed them in the month of June,* with an affectionate speech, that breathed nothing but tenderness and gratitude. The parliament was immediately dissolved by proclamation, and new writs were issued for convoking another. Among the laws passed in this session, was an act abolishing the heritable jurisdictions, and taking away the tenure of wardholdings in Scotland, which were reckoned among the principal sources of those rebellions that had been excited since the revolution. In the High

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* An. 1747.

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lands they certainly kept the common people in subjection to their chiefs, whom they implicitly followed and obeyed in all their undertakings. By this act these mountaineers were legally emancipated from slavery: but as the tenants enjoyed no leases, and were at all times liable to be ejected from their farms, they still depended on the pleasure of their lords, notwithstanding this interposition of the legislature which granted a valuable consideration in money to every nobleman and petty baron, who was thus deprived of one part of his inheritance.

The forfeited estates indeed, were divided into small farms, and let by the government on leases at an under value ; so that those who had the good fortune to obtain such leases tasted the sweets of independence: but the Highlanders in general were left in their original indigence and incapacity, at the mercy of their superiors. Had manufactures and fisheries been established in different parts of their country, they would have seen and felt the happy consequences of industry, and in a little time been effectually detached from all their slavish connexions.

♡ XIX. The operations of the campaign had been concerted in the winter at the Hague, between the duke of Cumberland and the states general of the United Provinces, who were by this time generally convinced of France's design to encroach upon their territories. They, therefore, determined to take effectual measures against that restless and ambitious neighbour. The allied powers agreed to assemble a vast army in the Netherlands; and it was resolved that the Austrians and Piedmontese should once penetrate into Provence. The Dutch patriots, however, were not roused into this exertion, until all their remonstrances had failed at the court of Versailles; until they had been urged by repeated memorials of the English ambassador, and stimulated by the immediate danger to which their country was exposed : for France was by this time possessed of all the Austrian Netherlands, and seemed bent upon penetrating into the territories of the United Provinces. In February, the duke of Cumberland began to assemble the allied forces; and in the latter end of March they took the field in three separate bodies. His royal highness, with the English, Hanoverians, and Hessians, fixed his headquarters at the village of Tiberg: the prince of Waldeck was posted with the Dutch troops at Breda ; and mareschal Bathiani collected the Austrians and Bavarians in the neighbourhood of Venlo. The whole army amounted to one hundred and twenty thousand men, who lay inactive six weeks, exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and almost destitute of forage and provision. Count Saxe, by this time created mareschal general of France, continued his troops within their cantonment at Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels, declaring, that when the allied army should be weakened by sickness and mortality, he would convince the duke of Cumberland, that the first duty of a general is to provide for the health and preservation of his troops.

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In April this fortunate commander took the field, at the head of one hundred and forty thou, sand men; and the count de Clermont commanded a separate body of nineteen battalions and thirty squadrons. Count Lowendahl was detached on the sixteenth day of the month, with seven-and-twenty thousand men, to invade Dutch Flanders : at the saine time, the French minister at the Hague presented a memorial to the States, intimating, that his master was obliged to take this step by the necessity of war; but that his troops should observe the strictest discipline, without interfering with the religion, government, or comnierce of the republic: he likewise declared, that the countries and places of which he might be obliged to take possession should be detained no otherwise than as a pledge, to be restored as soon as the United Provinces should give convincing proofs that they would no longer furnish the enemies of France with succours.

XX. While the States deliberated upon this declaration, count Lowendahl entered Dutch Brabant, and invest. ed the town and fortress of Sluys, the garrison of which surrendered themselves prisoners of war on the nineteenth day of April. This was likewise the fate of Sas-van Ghent, while the marquis de Contades, with another detachment, reduced the forts Perle and Leif kenshoek, with the town of Philippine, even within hearing of the confederate army. The fort of Sanberg was vigorously defended by two English battalions : but they were overpowered, and obliged to retire to Welsthoorden; and count Lowendahl

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undertook the siege of Hulst, which was shamefully surrendered by La Roque, the Dutch governor, though he knew that a reinforcement of nine battalions was on the march to his relief. Then the French general took possession of Axel and Terneuse, and began to prepare flat bottomed boats for a descent on the island of Zealand. The Dutch people were now struck with consternation. They saw the enemy at their doors, and owed their immediate preservation to the British squadron stationed at the Swin, under the command of commodore Mitchel," who, by means of his sloops, tenders, and smallcraft, took such measures as defeated the intention of Lowendahl. The common people in Zealand being reduced to despair, began to clamour loudly against their governors, as if they had vot taken the proper measures for their security. The friends of the prince of Orange did not neglect this opportunity of promoting his interest. They encouraged their discontent, and exaggerated the danger: they reminded them of the year one thousand six hundred and seventytwo, when the French king was at the gates of Amsterdam, and the republic was saved by the choice of a stadtholder: they exhorted them to turn their eyes on the descendant of those heroes who had established the liberty and independence of the United Provinces; they extolied his virtue and ability ; his generosity, his justice, his unshaken love to his country. The people in several towns, inflamed by such representations to tumult and sedition, compelled their magistrates to declare the prince of Orange stadtholder. He himself, in a letter to the states of Zealand, offered his services for the defence of the province. On the twenty-eighth day of April he was nominated captain general and admiral of Zealand. Their example was followed by Rotterdam and the whole province of Holland; and on the second day of May, the prince of Orange was, in the assembly of the states general, invested with the power and dignity of stadtholder, captain general, and admiral of the United Provinces. The vigorous consequences of this resolution immediately appeared. All commerce and contracts with the French were prohibited: the peasants were

s Not the person who commanded in the West Indies.

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