Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/99

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The Assembly therefore returned a grateful and respectful answer to the royal letter, and assured His Majesty that they had suffered too much from oppression ever to be oppressors.[1]

Meanwhile the troops all over the Continent were going into winter quarters. The campaign had everywhere been indecisive. The victory gained by Luxemburg at Fleurus had produced no important effect. On the Upper Rhine great armies had eyed each other, month after month, without exchanging a blow. In Catalonia a few small forts had been taken. In the east of Europe the Turks had been successful on some points, the Christians on other points; and the termination of the contest seemed to be as remote as ever. The coalition had in the course of the year lost one valuable member and gained another. The Duke of Lorraine, the ablest captain in the Imperial service, was no more. He had died, as he had lived, an exile and a wanderer, and had bequeathed to his children nothing but his name and his rights. It was popularly said that the confederacy could better have spared thirty thousand soldiers than such a general. But scarcely had the allied Courts gone into mourning for him when they were consoled by learning that another prince, superior to him in power, and not inferior to him in capacity or courage, had joined the league against France.

This was Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy. He was a young man; but he was already versed in those arts for which the statesmen of Italy had, ever since the thirteenth century, been celebrated, those arts by which Castruccio Castracani and Francis Sforza rose to greatness, and which Machiavel reduced to a system. No sovereign in modern Europe has, with so small a principality, exercised so great an influence during so long a period. He had for a time submitted, with a show of cheerfulness, but with secret reluctance and resentment, to the French

  1. Principal Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland held in and begun at Edinburgh the 16th day of October, 1690; Edinburgh, 1691.