Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

was hunting. For those who preferred hawking choice falcons had been brought from Holland. On rainy days the cockpit was encircled by stars and blue ribbons. On Sundays William went to church in state, and the most eminent divines of the neighboring University of Cambridge preached before him. He omitted no opportunity of showing marked civility to Tallard. The ambassador informed his court that his place at table was next to the royal arm-chair, and that his health had been most graciously drunk by the king. All this time, both at Kensington and Newmarket, the Spanish question was the subject of constant and earnest discussion. To trace all the windings of the negotiation would be tedious. The general course which it took may easily be described. The object of William was to place the Electoral Prince of Bavaria on the Spanish throne. To obtain the consent of Lewis to such an arrangement seemed all but impossible; but William manoeuvred with rare skill. Though he frankly acknowledged that he preferred the electoral prince to any other candidate, he professed himself desirous to meet, as far as he honorably or safely could, the wishes of the French king. There were conditions on which England and Holland might perhaps consent, though not without reluctance, that a son of the dauphin should reign at Madrid, and should be master of the treasures of the New World. Those conditions were that the Milanese and the Two Sicilies should belong to the Archduke Charles, that the Elector of Bavaria should have the Spanish Netherlands, that Lewis should give up some fortified towns in Artois for the purpose of strengthening the barrier which protected the United Provinces, and that some important places both in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Gulf of Mexico should be made over to the English and Dutch for the security of trade. Minorca and Havana were mentioned as what might satisfy England. Against these terms Lewis exclaimed loudly. Nobody, he said, who knew with how sensitive a jealousy the Spaniards watched every encroachment on their colonial empire would believe that they would ever consent to give up any part of that empire either to England or to Holland. The demand which was made upon himself was altogether inadmissible. A barrier was not less necessary to *

France than to Holland ; and he never would break the iron chain of frontier fastnesses which was the defence of his own kingdom, even in order to purchase another kingdom for his grandson. On that subject he begged that he might hear no more. The proposition was one which he would not discuss, one to which he would not listen. As William, however, resolutely maintained that the terms which he had offered, hard as they might seem, were the only terms on which England and Holland could suffer a Bourbon to reign at Madrid, Lewis began seriously to consider whether it might not be, on the whole, for his interest and that of his family rather to sell the Spanish crown dear than to buy it dear. He therefore now offered to withdraw his opposition to the Bavarian claim, provided a portion of the disputed inheritance were assigned to him in consideration of his disinterestedness and moderation. William was perfectly willing and even eager to treat on this basis. The first demands of Lewis were as might have been expected, exorbitantly high. He asked for the kingdom of Navarre, which would have made him little less than master of the whole Iberian peninsula, and for the duchy of Luxemburg, which would have made him more dangerous than ever to the United Provinces. On both points he encountered a steady resistance. The impression which, throughout these transactions, the firmness and good faith of William made on Tallard is remarkable. At first the dexterous and keen-witted Frenchman was all suspicion. He imagined that there was an evasion in every phrase, a hidden Snare in every offer. But after a time he began to discover that he had to do with a man far too wise to be false. “The King of England,” he wrote, and it is impossible to doubt that he wrote what he thought, “acts with good faith in everything. His way of dealing is upright and sincere.”” “The King of England,” he wrote a few days later, “has hitherto acted with great sincerity; and I venture to say that, if he once enters into a treaty, he will steadily adhere to it.” But in the same letter the ambassador thought it necessary to hint to his master that the diplomatic chicanery which might be useful in

* “Il est de bonne foi dans tout ce qu'il fait. Son procédé est droit et sincere *—Tallard to Lewis, July 3, 1698.

other negotiations would be all thrown away here. “I must venture to observe to your majesty that the king of England is very sharp-sighted, that his judgment is sound, and that if we try to spin the negotiation out, he will very soon perceive that we are trifling with him.” During some time projects and counter-projects continued to pass and repass between Kensington and Versailles. Something was conceded on both sides; and when the session of Parliament ended there seemed to be fair hopes of a settlement. And now the scene of the negotiation was again changed. Having been shifted from France to England, it was shifted from England to Holland. As soon as William had prorogued the houses, he was impatient to be again in his native land. He felt all the glee of a schoolboy who is leaving harsh masters and quarrelsome comrades to pass the Christmas holidays at a happy home. That stern and composed face which had been the same in the pursuit at the Boyne and in the rout at Landen, and of which the keenest politicians had in vain tried to read the secrets, now wore an expression but too intelligible. The English were not a little provoked by seeing their king so happy. Hitherto his annual visits to the Contiuent had been not only pardoned, but approved. It was necessary that he should be at the head of his army. If he had left his people, it had been in order to put his life in jeopardy for their independence, their liberty, and their religion. But they had hoped that, when peace had been restored, when no call of duty required him to cross the sea, he would generally, during the summer and autumn, reside in his fair palaces and parks on the banks of the Thames, or travel from countryseat to country-seat, and from cathedral town to cathedral town, making himself acquainted with every shire of his realm, and giving his hand to be kissed by multitudes of squires, clergymen, and aldermen, who were not likely ever to see him unless he came among them. It now appeared that he was sick of the noble residences which had descended to him from ancient princes; that he was sick even of those

[ocr errors]

mansions which the liberality of Parliament had enabled him to build and embellish according to his own taste; that he was sick of Windsor, of Richmond, and of Hampton ; that he promised himself no enjoyment from a progress through those flourishing and populous counties which he had never seen, Yorkshire and Norfolk, Cheshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire. While he was forced to be with us he was weary of us, pining for his home, counting the hours to the prorogation. As soon as the passing of the last bill of supply had set him at liberty, he turned his back on "his English subjects; he hastened to his seat in Guelders, where, during some months, be might be free from the annoyance of seeing English faces and hearing English words; and he would with difficulty tear himself away from his favorite spot when it became absolutely necessary that he should again ask for English money. Thus his subjects murmured; but, in spite of their murmurs, he set off in high spirits. It had been arranged that Tallard should speedily follow him, and that the discussion in which they had been engaged at Kensington should be resumed at Loo. Heinsius, whose coöperation was indispensable, would be there. Portland, too, would lend his assistance. He had just returned. He had always considered his mission as an extraordinary mission, of which the object was to put the relations between the two great Western powers on a proper footing after a long series of years during which England had been sometimes the enemy, but never the equal friend of France. His task had been well performed; and he now came back, leaving behind him the reputation of an excellent minister, firm yet cautious as to substance, dignified yet conciliating in manner. His last audience at Versailles was unusually long, and no third person was present. Nothing could be more gracious than the language and demeanor of Lewis. He condescended to trace a route for the embassy, and insisted that Portland should make a circuit for the purpose of inspecting some of the superb fortresses of the French Netherlands. At every one of those fortresses the governors and engineers had orders to pay every attention to the distinguished stranger. Salutes were everywhere fired to welcome him. A guard of honor was everywhere in attendance on him. He stopped during three days at Chantilly, and was entertained there by the Prince of Condé with all that taste and magnificence for which Chantilly had long been renowned. There were boar hunts in the morning and concerts in the evening. Every gentleman of the legation had a game-keeper specially assigned to him. The guests, who in their own island were accustomed to give extravagant vails at every country-house which they visited, learned with admiration that his highness's servants were strictly forbidden to receive presents. At his luxurious table, by a refinement of politeness, choice cider from the orchards round the Malvern Hills made its appearance in company with the Champagne and the Burgundy. Portland was welcomed by his master with all the kindness of old times. But that kindness availed nothing. For Albemarle was still in the royal household, and appeared to have been, during the last few months, making progress in the royal favor. Portland was angry, and the more angry because he could not but perceive that his enemies enjoyed his anger, and that even his friends generally thought it unreasonable; nor did he take any pains to conceal his vexation. But he was the very opposite of the vulgar crowd of courtiers who fawn on a master while they betray him. He neither disguised his ill-humor, nor suffered it to interfere with the discharge of his duties. He gave his prince sullen looks, short answers, and faithful and strenuous services. His first wish, he said, was to retire altogether from public life. But he was sensible that, having borne a chief part in the negotiation on which the fate of Europe depended, he might be of use at Loo; and, with devoted loyalty, though with a sore heart and a gloomy brow, he prepared to attend William thither. Before the king departed he delegated his power to nine lords-justices. The public was well pleased to find that Sunderland was not among them. Two new names appeared in the list. That of Montague could excite no surprise. But that of Marlborough awakened many recollections and gave occasion to many speculations. He had once enjoyed a large measure of royal favor. He had then been dismissed, disgraced, imprisoned. The Princess Anne, for refusing to discard his wife, had been turned out of the palace, and deprived of the honors which had often been enjoyed by persons less near to the throne. Ministers who were supposed to have great influence in the closet had vainly tried to overcome the dislike with which their mas

« EdellinenJatka »