The resolution, in the existing condition of European affairs, was a piece of malignant folly; but the accounts submitted two days later by the Paymaster-General probably did much to confirm it. The arrears of pay due to the Army since April 1692 amounted to twelve hundred thousand pounds, and the arrears of subsistence to a million more, while yet another hundred thousand was due to regiments on their transfer from the Irish to the English establishment. To meet this debt there was eighty thousand pounds in tallies which no one would discount at any price, while to make matters worse, taxation voted by the House to produce three millions and a half had brought no more than two millions into the treasury. Attempts were made in January 1698 to rescind the resolution, but in vain. The Government yielded, and after struggling hard to obtain four hundred thousand pounds, was fain to accept fifty thousand pounds less than that sum for the service of the Army in the ensuing year.
The effect of the vote was immediate. The enemies of the Army were exultant, and heaped abuse and insult on the soldiers who for five years had spent their blood and their strength for a people that had not paid them so much as their just wages. All William’s firmness was needed to restrain the exasperated officers from wreaking summary vengeance on the most malignant of these slanderers. It was the old story. Men who had grown fat on the “tally-traffic” could find nothing better than bad words for the poor broken lieutenant who borrowed eighteenpence from a comrade to buy a new scabbard for his sword, being ashamed to own that he wanted a dinner. The distress in the Army soon became acute. Petitions poured in from the disbanded men for arrears, arrears, arrears. Bad soldiers tried to wreak a grudge against good officers, good soldiers to obtain justice from bad officers; all military men of whatever rank complained loudly of the agents. Then came unpleasant reminders that the expenses of the Irish war were not yet paid. Colonel Mitchelburne, the heroic defender of Londonderry, claimed, and justly claimed, fifteen hundred pounds which had been owing to him since 1690. The House strove vainly to stem the torrent by voting a gratuity of a fortnight’s subsistence to every man, and half-pay as a retaining fee to every officer, until he should be paid in full. The claims of men and officers continued to flow in, and at last the Commons addressed the King to appoint persons unconnected with the Army to examine and redress just grievances, and to punish men who complained without cause.
On the 7th of July the House was delivered from further importunities by a dissolution; and William returned to his native Holland. Before his departure he left certain instructions with his ministers concerning the Army. The actual number of soldiers to be maintained was not mentioned in the Act of Parliament, but was assumed, from the proportion of money granted, to be ten thousand men. William’s orders were to keep sixteen thousand men, for he still had hopes that Parliament might reconsider the hasty votes of the previous session. These expectations were not realised. The clamour against the Army had been strengthened by a revival of the old outcry against the Dutch, and against the grant of crown-lands in general, and to Dutchmen in particular. Moreover, the House had no longer the pressure of the war to unite it in useful and patriotic work. The inevitable reaction of peace after long hostilities was in full vigour. All the selfishness, the prejudice, and the conceit that had been restrained in the face of great national peril was now let loose; and the House, with a vague idea that there were many things to be done, but with no clear perception what these things might be, was ripe for any description of mischief.
William’s speech was tactful enough. Expressing it as his opinion that, if England was to hold her place in Europe, she must be secure from attack, he left the House to decide what land-force should be maintained, and only begged that, for its own honour, it would provide for payment of the debts incurred during the war. The speech was not ill-received; and William, despite the warnings of his ministers, was sanguine that all was well. Five days later a return of the troops was presented to the House, showing thirty thousand men divided equally between the English and Irish establishments. Then Harley, the mover of the foolish resolution of the previous year, proposed that the English establishment should be fixed at seven thousand men, all of them to be British subjects. This was confirmed by the House on the following day, together with an Irish establishment of twelve thousand men to be maintained at the expense of the sister island. The words of the Act that embodied this decision were peremptory; it declared that on the 26th March 1699 all regiments, saving certain to be excepted by proclamation, were actually disbanded. Finally, the Mutiny Act, which had expired in April 1698, was not renewed by the House, so that even in this pittance of an Army the officers had no powers of enforcing discipline.
There is no need to dilate further on this resolution, which for three years placed England practically at the mercy of France. It was an act of criminal imbecility, the most mischievous work of the most mischievous Parliament that has ever sat at Westminster. William was so deeply chagrined that he was only with difficulty dissuaded from abdication of the throne. Apart from the madness of such wholesale reduction of the Army, the clause restricting the nationality of the seven thousand was directly aimed at the King’s favourite regiment, the Dutch Blue Guards. He submitted, however, with dignity enough, merely warning the House that he disclaimed all responsibility for any disaster that might follow. Just at that moment came a rare opportunity for undoing in part the evil work of the Commons. The death of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria brought the question of the succession to the Spanish throne to an acute stage; and the occasion was utilised to ask Parliament for the grant of a larger force. William, however, with an unwisdom which even his loyalty to his faithful troops cannot excuse, pleaded as a personal favour for the retention of his Dutch Guards. The request preferred on such grounds was refused, and a
great opportunity was lost.
Nothing, therefore, remained but to make the most of the slender force that was authorised by the Act of Disbandment. The ministers with great adroitness contrived to extort from the Commons an additional three thousand men under the name of marines, for the collective wisdom of the nation will often give under one name what it refuses under another; but as regards the Army proper, the only expedient was to preserve the skeleton of a larger force. Thus finally was established the wasteful and extravagant system which has been followed even to the present day. The seven thousand troops for England were distributed into nineteen, and the twelve thousand for Ireland into twenty-six, distinct corps, with an average proportion of one officer to ten men. In addition to these, three corps of cavalry and seven of infantry were maintained in Scotland,
while the Seventh Fusiliers were retained apparently in the Dutch service, or at any rate in Holland. The Artillery was 杭州足浴价格 specially reserved on a new footing by the name of the regimental train, first germ of the Royal Regiment that was to come, and contained four companies, each of thirty men, with the usual proportion of an officer to every ten men. To these were added ten officers of engineers. Within the next two years the principle of a skeleton army was pushed still further, and in each of the regiments of dragoons thirty-three officers and thirty sergeants and corporals looked minutely to the training of two hundred and sixteen men. Large numbers of officers, who were retained for emergencies by the allowance of half-pay, also drew heavily on the niggardly funds granted by the Commons; and it was a current jest of the time that the English Army was an army of officers.
The sins of Parliament soon found it out. 杭州洗浴会所特色服务 Before it had sat a month petitions from officers and men began to pour in, as during the previous sessions, with claims for arrears and with complaints of all kinds. As the Commons were the fountain of pay, it was natural and right that the clamour for wages should be directed at them; but the fashion had been set for soldiers to resort to them for redress of all grievances, and it would seem that men used the petition to Parliament as a means of openly threatening their officers. Moreover, by some extraordinary blunder the grant of half-pay had been limited to such officers only as at the time of disbandment were serving in English regiments. This regulation naturally caused loud outcry from officers who, after long service in English regiments, had been transferred to Scottish corps on promotion. A prorogation at the 杭州按摩 end of April brought relief to the Commons for a time; but no sooner was it reassembled than the petitions streamed in with redoubled volume. The House thus found itself converted almost into a military tribunal. Appeal was made to it on sundry points that were purely of military discipline, and private soldiers sought to further their complaints by alleging that their officers had spoken disrespectfully and disdainfully of the House itself.
To do them justice, the Commons were woefully embarrassed by these multitudinous petitions. Once they interfered actively by taking up the cause of an officer, whom they knew, or should have known, to be a bad character, and threatened his colonel with their vengeance unless the wrongs of the supposed sufferer were redressed. The reply of the colonel was so disconcerting 杭州桑拿地图 as effectually to discourage further meddling of this kind. Nevertheless the grievances urged by the men must many of them have been just, while some of the allegations brought forward were most scandalous. In one of the disbanded regiments, Colonel Leigh’s, it was roundly asserted that the officers had made all the men drunk, and then caused them to sign receipts in full for pay which had not been delivered to them. Finally, in despair, a bill was introduced to erect a Court of Judicature to decide between officers and men. This measure, however, was speedily dropped, and the more prudent course was adopted of appointing Commissioners to inquire into the debt due to the Army.
But meanwhile another question had been raised, which brought matters into still greater confusion. A parliamentary inquiry as to the 杭州男士spa disposition of the Irish forfeited estates had revealed the fact that William had granted large shares of the same, not only in reward and compensation to deserving officers, which was just and right, but also to his discarded mistress, Elizabeth Villiers, and to his Dutch favourites, Portland and Albemarle. The King’s conduct herein was the less defensible, inasmuch as the Irish government had counted upon these estates to defray the expenses, still unpaid, of the Irish war, and had thrown up its hands in despair when it found that this resource was to be withheld. The House of Commons took up the question viciously, passed a sweeping and shameful bill resuming all property that had belonged to the Crown at the accession of James the Second, tacked it to a money-bill, and sent it up to the Lords. The Upper House, 杭州江干区有特殊洗浴 to save a revolution, yielded, after much protest, and passed the bill; and then none too soon William sent this most mischievous House of Commons about its business.
It was not until early in the following year that the King met the Parliament, more distinctly even than the last a Tory Parliament, which had been elected in the autumn. Once more he was obliged to remind it that, amid the all-important questions of the English succession and the Spanish succession, provision should be made for paying the debts incurred through the war. There could be no doubt about these debts, for the petitions which had formerly dropped in by scores, now, in consequence of the interference with the Irish grants, flowed in by hundreds. The Commons had flattered themselves that they had disposed of this disagreeable business 杭州夜生活论坛419 by their appointment of commissioners, but they found that, owing to their own faulty instructions, the commissioners were powerless to deal with many of the cases presented to them. The complaints of officers against the Government became almost as numerous as those of men against officers, and every day came fresh evidence of confusion of military business worse confounded by the imbecility and mismanagement of the House.
Where the matter would have ended, and whether it might not have led ultimately to a dangerous military riot, it is difficult to say. All, however, was cut short by the despatch of English troops to the Low Countries, and the evident approach of war; for the prospect of employment for every disbanded soldier and reduced officer sufficed in itself to quiet a movement which might easily have become 杭州油压按摩 formidable. Two more sessions such as those of 1698 and 1699 might have brought about a repetition of Cromwell’s famous scene with the Long Parliament.
It is, however, impossible to leave these few stormy years of peace without taking notice of the apparent helplessness of the military administration. The War Office was in truth in a state of transition. The Secretary-at-War was still so exclusively the secretary to the Commander-in-Chief that he accompanied him on his campaigns; and it is difficult to say with whom, except with the Commander-in-Chief, rested the responsibility for the government of the Army. No ordinary standard should be used in judging of a man who was confronted with so many difficulties as King William the Third. His weak frame, the vast burden of his work in the department of foreign affairs, his failure to understand and his inability to sympathise with the English character, all these causes conspired to make the task of governing England and of commanding her Army too heavy for him. Still, making all possible allowance, and accepting as true Sterne’s pictures of his popularity among the soldiers, it is difficult wholly to acquit him of blame for the misconduct of the military administration. His mind in truth was hardly well-suited for administrative detail. He could handle a great diplomatic combination with consummate skill and address, even as he could sketch the broad features of a movement or of a campaign; but he was a statesman rather than an administrator, a strategist rather than a general. In war his impatience guided him to a succession of crushing defeats, in peace his contempt for detail made his period of the command-in-chief one of the worst in our history. That, amid the corruption which he found in England, he should have despaired of finding an honest man is pardonable enough, but he took no pains to cure that corruption, preferring rather to conduct his business through his Dutch favourites than through the English official channels. Finally, his behaviour in the matter of the Irish forfeitures suggests that he was not averse to jobbery himself, nor over-severe towards the same weakness in others; and in truth the Dutch have no good reputation in the matter of corruption. Stern, hard, and cold, he had little feeling for England and Englishmen except as ministers to that hostility for France which was his ruling passion. Probably he felt more kindly towards the English soldier than towards any other Englishman; the iron nature melted at the sight of the shattered battalions at Steenkirk, and, if we are to believe Burnet, the cold heart warmed sufficiently towards the red-coat to prompt him to relieve the starving men, so shamefully neglected by Parliament, out of his own pocket. On the whole, it may be said that no commander was ever so well served by British troops, nor requited that service, whatever his good intent, so unworthily and so ill.
BOOK VI CHAPTER I
A European quarrel over the succession to the Spanish throne, on the death of the imbecile King Charles the Second, had long been foreseen by William, and had been provided against, as he hoped, by a Partition Treaty in the year 1698. The arrangement then made had been upset by the death of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria, and had been superseded by a second Partition Treaty in March 1700. In November of the same year King Charles the Second died, leaving a will wherein Philip, Duke of Anjou, and second son of the Dauphin, was named heir to the whole Empire of Spain. At this the second Partition Treaty went for naught. Lewis the Fourteenth, after a becoming interval of hesitation, accepted the Spanish crown for the Duke of Anjou under the title of King Philip the Fifth.
The Emperor at once entered a protest against the will, and Lewis prepared without delay for a campaign in Italy. William, however, for the present merely postponed his recognition of Philip the Fifth; and his example was followed by the United Provinces. Lewis, ever ready and prompt, at once took measures to quicken the States to a decision. Several towns in Spanish Flanders were garrisoned, under previous treaties, by Dutch troops. Lewis by a swift movement surrounded the whole of them, and having thus secured fifteen thousand of the best men in the Dutch army, could dictate what terms he pleased. William expected that the House of Commons would be roused to indignation by this aggressive step, but the House was far too busy with its own factious quarrels. When, however, the States appealed to England for the ten thousand men, which under the treaty of 1677 she was bound to furnish, both Houses prepared faithfully to fulfil the obligation.
Then, as invariably happens in England, the work which Parliament had undone required to be done again. Twelve battalions were ordered to the Low Countries from Ireland, and directions were issued for the levying of ten thousand recruits in England to take their place. But, immediately after, came bad news from the West Indies, and it was thought necessary to despatch thither four more battalions from Ireland. Three regiments were hastily brought up to a joint strength of two thousand men, and shipped off. Thus, within fifteen months of the disbandment of 1699, the garrison of Ireland had been depleted by fifteen battalions out of twenty-one; and four new battalions required to be raised immediately. Of these, two, namely Brudenell’s and Mountjoy’s, were afterwards disbanded, but two more, Lord Charlemont’s and Lord Donegal’s, are still with us as the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth of the Line.