Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon, was alarmed. The views of the court

mon interest. Notwithstanding all this, France did not neglect, at the same time, to give good words to the Dutch, and even to feed them with hopes of supporting them against us; when, on a sudden, that never-to-be-forgotten declaration of war against them comes out, only to vindicate his own glory, and to revenge the injuries done to his brother in England; by which he became our second in this duel. So humble can this prince be; when at the same he does us more honour than we deserve, he lays a greater share of the blame upon our shoulders than did naturally belong to us?.”—All this, for aught appears to the contrary, is truth: but as it was written and published in the time of Charles, it does not contain the whole truth. We will, therefore, supply its defects from Voltaire; who speaks very openly of the views and designs of his .hero.--->“ The king (Lewis)” says he, “ matured his .great design of a conquest of the Low Countries, which he intended to commence by that of Holland. --The first thing necessary to be done, was to detach England from its alliance with Holland. The United Provinces being once deprived of this support, their destruction appeared inevitable. Lewis XIV. did not , find it difficult to engage Charles II. in his designs. The English king had not, indeed, shewn himself very sensible of the dishonour which his reign and nation had received in the burning of his ships, even in the Thames, by the Dutch fleet. He breathed neither revenge nor conquests. His passion was rather to enjoy his pleasures, and reign with a power less con

a Miscellanies, p. 142. See also Ramsay's Life of Turenne, vol. I. p. 360. 8vo. Lond. 1735.

were penetrated : and the king, sorely

strained: and to flatter this disposition, therefore, was the most effectual way to seduce him. Lewis, who to have money then needed only to speak, promised a great sum to king Charles, who could never get any without the sense of his parliament. The secret treaty concluded between the two kings was imparted, in France, only to Madame, the sister of Charles II. and wife of Monsieur, the kings brother; to Turenne; and to Louvois.--The princess Henrietta embarked at Calais to see her brother, who was at Canterbury to receive her: and Charles, being seduced by his friendship for his sister, and the money of France, signed every thing Lewis desired; and prepared the destruction of Holland in the midst of pleasures and diversions. The loss of Madame, who died suddenly, and in an extraordinary manner, soon after her return, raised some suspicions prejudicial to Monsieur; but they caused no change in the resolutions of the two kings. The spoils of the republic, which was to be destroyed, were already divided, by the secret treaty between the courts of France and England, in the same manner as Flanders had been divided with the Dutch in 1635.It is singular, and deserves to be remarked, that

among all the enemies, which were going to fall upon this little state, there was not one who had any pretence for a war.—The States General, in a great consternation, wrote to the king, humbly in treating his majesty to tell them, whether the great preparations he was

making were really destined against them, his antient - and faithful allies ? wherein they had offended ? and - what reparation he expected ? He replied, that he should employ his troops in such a manner as his dignity might demand, which did not require him to

against his inclinations, was obliged to

give an account of it to any one. All the reason given by his ministers was, that the Dutch Gazette had been too insolent; and because Van Beuning was said to have struck a medal injurious to Lewis XIV.--The king of England, on his side, reproached them with disrespect in not directing their feet to lower their flag before an English ship: and they were also accused in regard to a certain picture, wherein Cornelius de Witt, brother of the pensionary, was painted with the attributes of a conqueror. Ships were represented, in the background of the piece, either taken or burnt. Cornelius De Witt, who had really a great share in the maritime exploits against England, had permitted this trifling memorial of his glory; but the picture, which was in a manner unknown, was deposited in a chamber wherein scarce any body ever entered. The English ministers, who presented the complaints of their king against Holland in writing, therein mentioned certain abusive pictures. The States, who always translated the inemorials of ambassadors into French, having rendered abusive, by the words fautifs, trompeurs; replied, that they did not know what these roguish pictures (ces tableaux trompeures) were. In reality, it never in the least entered into their thoughts, that it concerned this portrait of one of their citizens; nor did they ever conceive this could be a pretence for declaring wara,"

-All this would seem very incredible, if we had not Lewis's letter to the States General, and the declarations of the two kings against them to authenticate it. In the first of these pieces the haughty monarch says, “We shall tell you, that we shall augment our

[blocks in formation]

make a separate peace with the States of

preparations by sea and land: and when they shall be in the posture we have designed them, we shall make such use of them as we shall conceive suitable to our dignity, whereof we are not obliged to give any man an accounta."This letter is dated from St. Germain en Laye, Jan. 6, 1672; a day remarkable in England for the order made in council for shutting up the exchequer, under pretence of the necessity of providing for the safety of the government! The war now was determined; and the Dutch Smyrna fleet was attacked, though unsuccessfully, before any declaration of war. The declaration, however, soon followed. Charles in it reproached the Dutch with the wrongs done by them to his subjects in the East and West Indies; and then proceeds to say, “ It is no wonder that they venture at these outrages upon our subjects in remote parts, when they dare be so bold with our royal person, and the honour of this nation, so near us as in their own country, there being scarce a town within their territories that is not filled with abusive pictures, and false historical medals and pillars, some of which have been exposed to the publick view by command of the States themselves, and in the very time when we were joined with them in united counsels for the support of the Triple League, and the peace of Christendom.” But that the people might be amused, it was declared, that his majesty was forced to have recourse to arms, by considerations nearer to him than what only related to himself: the safety of trade; the preservation of his people abroad; and the insolence of the Hollanders in refusing to strike their flag to him; and the affronts

* Fol. Lond. 1672.

Holland. The war, however, between them

offered by them in his very ports. This was published March 17, 1672, N.S.- On the 6th of April following was emitted the most Christian king's declaration : in which he says, “ The dissatisfaction he hath in the carriage of the States General towards him, for some years past, being come to that point that he cannot longer, without diminution to his own glory, dissemble the indignation raised in him, by a treatment so unsuitable to the great obligations which himself, and the kings his predecessors, had so liberally heaped upon them; he hath declared, and doth declare, that he is determined to make war against the said States.” No remarks need be made on this conduct of Lewis : it was suitable to his whole life; which was one continued scene of tyranny at home, and oppression and insolence abroad, as long as he had it in his power. Such a prince may be flattered and extolled by men destitute of virtue, to serve the purposes of their own passions: but the wise, the humane, and the benevolent, of whatever nation under heaven, will execrate his memory, and rank him with the most odious of monsters.As to Charles, who had so wantonly, unjustly, and impoliticly begun the war, he did every thing in his power to convince the nation of its justice and necessity. In his speech to both houses of parliament, Feb. 5, 1673, N. S. he said, “Since you were last here, I have been forced to a most important, necessary, and expensive war; and I make no doubt, but you will give me suitable and effectual assistance to go through with it. I refer you to niy declaration for the causes, and, indeed, the necessity of this war; and shall now only tell you, that I might have digested the indignities to my own person, rather than have,

« PreviousContinue »