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BATTLE OF RAMILLIES.
attack Ramillies and the French right, he concentrated his force on this point. This maneuvre took a long time to execute, and yet Villeroy took no step to defeat it. When Marl. borough advanced, the French household cavalry charged him with such impetuosity and valor as to break the attacking battalions, and to endanger the duke himself; but the English, rallying in front, and allowing these rash enemies to pass to the rear, where there was force enough to deal with them, pushed on both upon Ramillies and upon the French line behind it. The English, being in much superior numbers on this point, owing to the inactivity of the French right, formed in one unbroken line, and charged, numbers breaking in between the intervals of the French, who were drawn up in separate battalions, and taking them in flank. Their rearguard failed to support those in front; the baggage, it was said, impeded them : at all events, the battle, though begun late, proyed ere sunset a decisive victory on one side and rout on the other. The pursuit lasted the whole night, the fugitives suffering greatly in their passage through the defile of Judoigne, which was blocked with cannon and wagons. Here the day of Blenheim was renewed, the loss of the French in killed and captive not being, however, so great. The consequences were not less important; being the loss to France of all the Spanish Netherlands, including Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Brussels, Mechlin, and Louvain. The fortresses of Menin and Dendermonde surrendered also. Namur and Mons remained the only towns unconquered.
The court was struck with consternation on learning this second defeat, of which the details were for a long time unknown. No courier arrived, so that Louis was obliged to dispatch Chamillart himself, his minister, to Flanders. Villeroy was distracted, and had lost all self-possession: every one condemned a general whose imprudence had placed the kingdom“ within two fingers of its ruin.” Still Louis was generous to his unfortunate general, and wrote him to give in his resignation, in order to avoid the harshness of deprival. The duke of Vendôme was recalled from Italy to take the command in Flanders; and the duke of Orleans, the king's nephew, succeeded Vendôme. This last appointment surprised the court, which was aware of the extreme repugnance felt by Louis to employ any of the princes of the blood ; but so unfortunate had proved his choice of late, that the monarch resolved at last to trust the defence of the kingdom to the zeal of his family. What La Fare observed as to the impossibility of talents of any kind being developed in an absolute monarchy, was here at length proved. Condé, Turenne, and Luxembourg, were formed when generals were independent, and when the power of the monarch was but conditional; Colbert and Louvois were scnooled in the license and difficulties of the Fronde. Compare with them the products of the reign of Louis, Barbesieux and Chamillart and Desmarest, as ministers; Tallard, Marsin, and Villeroy, as generals; and he difference will be found to correspond to the
cause. • Éven the courtly St. Simon himself admits this truth: he says, the quality sought in a general was not talents for commanding, but a character likely to prove submissive; that officers were no longer advanced by merit, but by routine; and generals were kept in leading-strings, more in fear of the court than the enemy. The absence of equality was productive of worse effects. The luxury that had inundated the camp prevented the generals from living with the officers, and consequently from knowing or judging of their several merits. There was no longer that general converse respecting war, its adventures, its science, triumphs and defeats, in which the
young were wont to glean experience from the mouths of the old. Now, the young could speak but of play and women, the old but of forage and equipments. The general officers 'lived together or alone; the commander-in-chief saw even them but in the crowd, whilst his privacy was consumed in writing and dispatching couriers, and the details of the war were left to three or four subalterns, who perhaps knew nothing about it.” It is singular, that these inconveniences of separating the ranks of an army, and forming its spirit after an exclusively aristocratic model, should be found thus strongly signalized by the duc de St. Simon, whose voluminous memoirs might not inaptly be termed the very breviary of aristocracy.
The year 1706 was disastrous to Louis. Barcelona had surrendered to lord Peterborough, who displayed there a chivalrous courage and conduct worthy of being recorded in Plutarch. The conquest of Catalonia by the archduke drew after it the submission of Madrid, from which Philip was driven. In Italy the same fortune ruled: prince Eugene forced the French lines near Turin, and defeated their troops; the mareschal Marsin was slain, and the duke of Orleans was wounded. Had the counsel of the latter pre
ailed over that of the mareschal, the disaster might have been avoided.
Louis now made overtures for peace; he was not listened to: the allies hoped to reduce him lower; and certainly the prospects of France were never more gloomy. The finances were in the greatest disorder, every part of the administra
tion in equal arrear, yet not onė capable person could the monarch procure. Chamillart had the management of both war and finance department: the exertion, united with il. success, was too much; it was killing him. He wrote a piteous letter to this effect, tendering his resignation to the king: Louis read it, and writing on the margin of the letter, *Well
, we will perish together," sent it back to the minister One active genius, nevertheless, was employed at this tim in the solitude of his cabinet to provide a remedy for the pov erty of the government, and a reform in the financial system this was Vauban, the once celebrated engineer. The product of his labors .was a plan for abolishing the numerous and intricate branches of taxation, and substituting in its place one uniform tax on property. He proposed to take a tenth of its yearly value, which he called a dixme royale. This simple mode would have proved the ruin of the financiers, the farmers of the revenue, and the pensioners, that were paid out of divers intricate receipts ere they reached the treasury. The scheme of Vauban was set aside; and paper money now made its appearance in France for the first time.
The allies had beaten Louis on the east and on the north. They now turned their attention towards the south. The capture of Barcelona, and the retention of it, through the aid of an English fleet, encouraged an attack on some of the French sea-ports. Prince Eugene, therefore, freed of his enemies by the victory of Turin, invaded Provence, and laid siege to Toulon. The attempt was not more successful than the similar one made by Charles V.; and Louis had the satisfaction of seeing this first plan of invasion fail
. The same year, 1707, 2 more signal advantage was gained by the victory of Almanza, won over the archduke's forces by the duke of Berwick. It replaced Philip on his throne.
Despite his distresses, Louis was not inactive. He fitted put an expedition for the pretender to Scotland, which failed. Funds were wanting to supply the armies. · Desmarest, who had succeeded Chamillart, told the monarch that it was impossible to obtain money, except from Samuel Bernard the banker, who was deaf to all a minister's solicitations. Louis saw Bernard, asked him to Marly, and showed him the wonders of the place with a condescension that made the courtiers stare. Bernard was so set beside himself by the honor, that ne declared he would rather see himself ruined than the empire of so gracious a monarch in want; and the loan was instantly effected.
Villars, commanded with his usual activity and success on the Rhine in 1708, whilst the duke of Burgundy, grandson to
Louis, aided by Vendôme, commanded against Marlborough in Flanders. The allies had not troops sufficient to garrison the numerous towns which they had taken in Flanders, and which were far more inclined to French rule than to the Dutch and English. Ghent and Bruges were, owing to these causes, surprised. Emboldened by success, the French pushed
cross the Scheldt towards Brussels with rather uncertain intentions. Hearing that Marlborough was approaching, they etired, and invested Oudenarde, which intercepted the passage on the Scheldt betwixt the French towns and Ghent. They hoped to take it ere Marlborough could arrive. But that general making forced marches, the French at his approach decamped from before Oudenarde to retire to Ghent. The duke reached them on their retreat, and a partial action took place, in which the French were routed, and driven, with great loss, back to Ghent. The dukes of Vendôme and Burgundy had a serious difference and quarrel on the field. Never was the known verse
Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi," inore fully exemplified; for whilst the commanders were squabbling, their army was beaten. The prince Eugene then invested Lille, a bulwark not yet reduced. The French of that day, and since, exclaim against the enterprise as contrary to all the rules of war. They cannot conceive it possible that Marlborough and Eugene counted upon the indolence of Vendôme, the inexperience of the young duke of Burgundy, and the little harmony betwixt them. Despite of military critics, Lille surrendered; with it fell Ghent and Bruges; and with the exception of one or two towns, the frontier of France lay completely open.
The year 1709 commenced by one of the most rigorous winters ever known. The strongest elixirs, Hungary water for example, the Eau de Cologne of that day, froze, and broke the bottles in which it was kept, though in the warmest rooms of the palace. From this a judgment may be formed of its effects on vegetation. All fruit trees perished, olives and vines. The sown corn was destroyed. The tokens were certain of a general famine. The populace began to clamor under present sufferings, and with the prospects of still greater. Seeing the disastrous and disturbed state of the population, the parliament thought proper to assemble in the great chamber, to consider of the state of things. It was proposed to appoint deputies to visit the provinces, buy corn, and watch over the public peace. It was a bold attempt under Louis XIV., whose choler was extreme on the occasion. He reprimanded the parliament, and told them that they had as little
to do with corn as with taxation. The magistrates obeyed, and were silent.
In such a state of threatened famine, aggravated by the oppression of war, commerce remained at a stand : money was no longer forthcoming. Bernard, the great banker, became a bankrupt. Even the insufficient revenue could not be collected; and an adulteration of the coin was had recourse to as the only expedient. Louis dispatched the president Rouillé to Holland to sue for peace; and soon after the marquis de Torcy, minister, he might be called, of foreign affairs, was sent on the same humiliating errand. The states of Holland, or their agents, here repaid the French king all his past insults and pride. His envoys and his offers were slighted. yet these last were sufficiently ample. Louis consented to ábandon his grandson the king of Spain, reserving for him merely Naples. The states refused even Naples. Torcy offered them towns to form a barrier in the Netherlands. In this nothing less than Lille and Tournay would content thém. They demanded Strasburg and Landau, tantamount to Alsace, and the demolition of Dunkirk. Louis consented to demolish the port of Dunkirk, as also the fortifications of Strasburg. In short, the demands of the allies went not only to reduce France to what it was at the accession of Louis, but prince Eugene pretended to keep possession of his conquests in Dauphiné. Moreover, the allies insisted not only upon the French king's abandoning his grandson, but upon his aiding to dethrone him. “If I am to continue warring,” replied Louis, “I had rather fight my enemies than my children.”
The negotiations were thus broken off. The monarch gained much by them. He showed his sincere desire for peace; and now making known, in a printed appeal to his subjects, the terms that he had offered, and that had been rejected, the national feeling was roused to indignation. The rich sent their plate to the mint, the king and royal family not excepted; the poor hurried to the armies; and Louis was in a condition to face his inveterate foes. The obduracy of Marlborough, of prince Eugene, and of the Dutch, was certainly impolitic; for Spain might in one campaign have been reduced, the French remaining neutral. France, herself, offered to make every fair concession; and the commanders, n refusing, might well incur the reproach of being actuated by selfish views, if the state of distress in France had not warranted any hopes or pretensions on their part. A greas portion of the court of Versailles itself were for abandoning Philip V., and withdrawing the troops from Spain; a measure which did take place in part, owing, however, to a quarrel