Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/100

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

ascendency. When the war broke out, he professed neutrality, but entered into private negotiations with the House of Austria. He would probably have continued to dissemble till he found some opportunity of striking an unexpected blow, had not his crafty schemes been disconcerted by the decision and vigour of Lewis. A French army commanded by Catinat, an officer of great skill and valour, marched into Piedmont. The Duke was informed that his conduct had excited suspicions which he could remove only by admitting foreign garrisons into Turin and Vercelli. He found that he must be either the slave or the open enemy of his powerful and imperious neighbour. His choice was soon made; and a war began which, during seven years, found employment for some of the best generals and best troops of Lewis. An Envoy Extraordinary from Savoy went to the Hague, proceeded thence to London, presented his credentials in the Banqueting House, and addressed to William a speech which was speedily translated into many languages and read in every part of Europe. The orator congratulated the King on the success of that great enterprise which had restored England to her ancient place among the nations, and had broken the chains of Europe. "That my master," he said, "can now at length venture to express feelings which have been long concealed in the recesses of his heart, is part of the debt which he owes to Your Majesty. You have inspired him with the hope of freedom after so many years of bondage."[1]

It had been determined that, during the approaching winter a Congress of all the powers hostile to France should be held at the Hague. William was impatient to proceed thither. But it was necessary that he should first hold a Session of Parliament. Early in October the Houses reassembled at Westminster. The members had generally come up in good humour. Those Tories whom it was possible to conciliate had been conciliated by the Act of Grace, and by the large share which they had obtained of the favours of the Crown. Those Whigs who were capable of learning had learned much from the lesson which William had given them, and had ceased to expect that he

  1. Monthly Mercuries; London Gazettes of November 3, and 6, 1690.