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      [473]Alberoni despatched Don Joseph Pati?o to Barcelona to hasten the military preparations. Twelve ships of war and eight thousand six hundred men were speedily assembled there, and an instant alarm was excited throughout Europe as to the destination of this not very formidable force. The Emperor, whose treacherous conduct justly rendered him suspicious, imagined the blow destined for his Italian territories; the English anticipated a fresh movement in favour of the Pretender; but Alberoni, an astute Italian, who was on the point of receiving the cardinal's hat from the Pope led Charles (VI.) to believe that the armament was directed against the Infidels in the Levant. The Pope, therefore, hastened the favour of the Roman purple, and then Alberoni no longer concealed the real destination of his troops. The Marquis de Lede was ordered to set out with the squadron for the Italian shores; but when Naples was trembling in apprehension of a visit, the fleet drew up, on the 20th of August, in the bay of Cagliari, the capital of the island of Sardinia. That a force which might have taken Naples should content itself with an attack on the barren, rocky, and swampy Sardinia, surprised many; but Alberoni knew very well that, though he could take, he had not yet an army sufficient to hold Naples, and he was satisfied to strike a blow which should alarm Europe, whilst it gratified the impatience of the Spanish monarch for revenge. There was, moreover, an ulterior object. It had lately been proposed by England and Holland to the Emperor, in order to induce him[40] to come into the Triple Alliance and convert it into a quadruple one, to obtain an exchange of this island for Sicily with the Duke of Savoy. It was, therefore, an object to prevent this arrangement by first seizing Sardinia. The Spanish general summoned the governor of Cagliari to surrender; but he stood out, and the Spaniards had to wait for the complete arrival of their ships before they could land and invest the place. The governor was ere long compelled to capitulate; but the Aragonese and the Catalans, who had followed the Austrians from the embittered contest in their own country, defended the island with furious tenacity, and it was not till November, and after severe losses through fighting and malaria, that the Spaniards made themselves masters of the island. The Powers of the Triple Alliance then intervened with the proposal that Austria should renounce all claim on the Spanish monarchy, and Spain all claim on Italy. Enraged at this proposal, Alberoni embarked on extensive military preparations, and put in practice the most extensive diplomatic schemes to paralyse his enemies abroad. He won the goodwill of Victor Amadeus by holding out the promise of the Milanese in exchange for Sicily; he encouraged the Turks to continue the war against the Emperor, and entered into negotiations with Ragotsky to renew the insurrection in Hungary; he adopted the views of Gortz for uniting the Czar and Charles of Sweden in peace, so that he might be able to turn their united power against the Emperor, and still more against the Electorate of Hanover, thus diverting the attention and the energies of George of England. Still further to occupy England, which he dreaded more than all the rest, he opened a direct correspondence with the Pretender, who was now driven across the Alps by the Triple Alliance, and promised him aid in a new expedition against Britain under the direction of the Duke of Ormonde, or of James himself. In France the same skilful pressure was directed against all the tender places of the body politic. He endeavoured to rouse anew the insurrection of the Cevennes and the discontents of Brittany. The Jesuits, the Protestants, the Duke and Duchess of Maine, were all called into action, and the demands for the assembling of the States-General, for the instant reformation of abuses, for reduction of the national debts, and for other reforms, were the cries by which the Government was attempted to be embarrassed.

      The secession of the Duke of Savoy only the more roused the indignation of the Allies. The Dutch breathed a hotter spirit of war just as their power of carrying it on failed; and even the experienced Heinsius made an energetic oration in the States General, declaring that all the fruits of the war would be lost if they consented to the peace proposed. But to avoid it was no longer possible. The English plenipotentiaries pressed the Allies more and more zealously to come in, so much so that they were scarcely safe from the fury of the Dutch populace, who insulted the Earl of Strafford and the Marquis del Borgo, the Minister of the Duke of Savoy, when the news came that the duke had consented to the peace. Every endeavour was made to detach the different Allies one by one. Mr. Thomas Harley was sent to the Elector of Hanover to persuade him to co-operate with her Majesty; but, notwithstanding all risk of injuring his succession to the English Crown, he declined. Similar attempts were made[8] on the King of Prussia and other princes, and with similar results. The English Ministers now began to see the obstacles they had created to the conclusion of a general peace by their base desertion of the Allies. The French, rendered more than ever haughty in their demands by the successes of Villars, raised their terms as fast as any of the Allies appeared disposed to close with those already offered. The Dutch, convinced at length that England would make peace without them, and was bending every energy to draw away their confederates, in October expressed themselves ready to treat, and to yield all pretensions to Douay, Valenciennes, and Mauberg, on condition that Cond and Tournay were included in their barrier; that the commercial tariffs with France should be restored to what they were in 1664; that Sicily should be yielded to Austria, and Strasburg to the Empire. But the French treated these concessions with contempt, and Bolingbroke was forced to admit to Prior that they treated like pedlars, or, what was worse, like attorneys. He conjured Prior "to hide the nakedness of his country" in his intercourse with the French Ministers, and to make the best of the blunders of his countrymen, admitting that they were not much better politicians than the French were poets. But the fault of Bolingbroke and his colleagues was not want of talent, it was want of honesty; and, by their selfish desire to damage their political rivals, they had brought their country into this deplorable dilemma of sacrificing all faith with their allies, of encouraging the unprincipled disposition of the French, who were certain to profit by the division of the Allies, and of abandoning the glory and position of England, or confessing that the Whigs, however much they had erred in entering on such enormous wars, had in truth brought them to the near prospect of a far more satisfactory conclusion than what they were taking up with.

      "Now," said Taylor, distinctly, "oblige me with another lemon pop, mister." A cheer went up, and the minister standing above his fallen enemy raised the[Pg 45] third glass. "Here's to your better judgment next time, my friend. 'Tain't the sombrero makes the shot," he said. His seamed, small face was pale underneath its leathery skin, but by not so much as a quiver of an eyelid did he give any further sign of pain.

      "And now," said the Reverend Taylor, fingering the lock of hair over the little Reverend's right ear,[Pg 263] as that wise little owl considered with uncertain approval a whistle rattle Cairness had bought for him, "and now what are you going to do?"

      "Old Manuel he told me. You don't know him. It's an old Greaser, friend of mine. He don't want no one to tell he told, they'd get after him. But it's so, all right. There's three of them."[See larger version]


      The commercial treaty with France, Pitt's greatest achievement as a financier, was not signed until the recessnamely, in September. It was conceived entirely in the spirit of Free Trade, and was an honest attempt to establish a perpetual alliance between the two nations. Its terms were:That it was to continue in force for twelve years; with some few exceptions prohibitory duties between the two countries were repealed; the wines of France were admitted at the same rate as those of Portugal; privateers belonging to any nation at war with one of the contracting parties might no longer equip themselves in the ports of the other; and complete religious and civil liberty was granted to the inhabitants of each country while residing in the other. One result of the treaty was the revival of the taste for light French wines which had prevailed before the wars of the Revolution, and a decline in the sale of the fiery wines of the Peninsula. But the treaty was bitterly attacked by the Opposition. Flood reproduced the absurd argument that wealth consists of money, and that trade can only be beneficial to the country which obtains the largest return in gold. Fox and Burke, with singular lack of foresight, declaimed against Pitt for making a treaty with France, "the natural political enemy of Great Britain," and denounced the perfidy with which the French had fostered the American revolt. In spite of the illiberality of these arguments, Pitt, with the acquiescence of the commercial classes, carried the treaty through Parliament by majorities of more than two to one.


      Whilst the French had been thus beating the Austrians out of Italy, and thus rendering abortive our new and lavish subsidy to the Emperor, Ministers had been busy in the election of a new Parliament. This new Parliament assembled on the 6th of October, and was full of patriotism. As Hoche's army had not yet sailed, and as nobody seemed to know its destination, Pitt represented that it probably was for the coast of England, and called for the enrolment of fifteen thousand men from the parishes, half of whom were to be sent into the navy, and for sixty thousand militia and twenty thousand more yeomen cavalry, all which were carried. On the 26th of October Windham, as Secretary at War, announced the whole military force of the country at home and abroad, apart from the troops in the East Indies, which were raised and maintained by the Company, to be one hundred and ninety-six thousand men, and he demanded for their payment five million one hundred and ninety thousand pounds. On the 7th of November Pitt opened his Budget, requiring no less than twenty-seven million nine hundred and forty-five thousand pounds for the total expenditure of the year. There was another loan called for of eighteen million pounds, and though the terms were then considered low, such was the spirit of the nation that the amount was subscribed within two days. Meeting of ParliamentEugene's Visit to EnglandMinisterial Attacks on the DutchMeeting of the Negotiators at UtrechtThe Question of the Spanish ThroneSham Fighting against the FrenchDebates on the Peace in ParliamentWithdrawal of the English TroopsConsequent Triumph of the FrenchBolingbroke's Visit to ParisBreak-up of the Grand AllianceMore Negotiations with the PretenderDeath of GodolphinMarlborough retires to the ContinentSignature of the PeaceThe Treaty of CommerceIts Rejection by the CommonsThe Whereabouts of the PretenderDissolution of ParliamentThe General ElectionIntrigues with St. GermainsBolingbroke's ActivityHis Friends in OfficeThe Empire and Spain make PeaceThe Pretender declines Overtures to Change his ReligionIllness of the QueenTax on NewspapersAttack upon the "Public Spirit of the Whigs"Steele expelled the HouseProposals against the Pretender and for bringing over the Electoral PrinceCounter-scheme for bringing over the PretenderObstacles to the SchemeThe Queen's Letter to the ElectorDeath of the Electress SophiaThe Schism BillIts Progress through the HousesReward for the Apprehension of the PretenderFall of OxfordBolingbroke's Jacobite CabinetIllness of the QueenThe Whig Coup d'tatRuin and Desperation of the JacobitesDeath of AnneProclamation of George I.


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