Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/379

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375
WILLIAM AND MARY.

equal to the conduct of an army. Nothing but experience will form great commanders: very few of our countrymen have that experience; and therefore we must for the present employ strangers." Lowther followed on the same side. "We have had a long peace; and the consequence is that we have not a sufficient supply of officers fit for high commands. The parks and the camp at Hounslow were very poor military schools, when compared with the fields of battle and the lines of contravallation in which the great commanders of the continental nations have learned their art." In reply to these arguments an orator on the other side was so absurd as to declare that he could point out ten Englishmen who, if they were in the French service, would be made Marshals. Four or five colonels who had been at Steinkirk took part in the debate. It was said of them that they showed as much modesty in speech as they had shown courage in action; and, from the very imperfect report which has come down to us, the compliment seems to have been not undeserved. They did not join in the vulgar cry against the Dutch. They spoke well of the foreign officers generally, and did full justice to the valour and conduct with which Auverquerque had rescued the shattered remains of Mackay's division from what seemed certain destruction. But in defence of Solmes not a word was said. His severity, his haughty manners, and, above all, the indifference with which he had looked on while the English, borne down by overwhelming numbers, were fighting hand to hand with the French household troops, had made him so odious that many members were prepared to vote for an address requesting that he might be removed, and that his place might be filled by Talmash, who, since the disgrace of Marlborough, was universally allowed to be the best officer in the army. But Talmash's friends judiciously interfered. "I have," said one of them, "a true regard for that gentleman; and I implore you not to do him an injury under the notion of doing him a kindness. Consider that you are usurping what is peculiarly the King's prerogative. You are turning officers out and putting officers in." The debate ended without any vote of censure on Solmes. But a hope was expressed, in language not very