Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

THE

MILITARY LIFE

OF

JOAN, DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH

BY

ARCHIBALD ALISON, F.R.S.,

AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF EUROPE."

NEW YORK:

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

FRANKLIN SQUARE.

[blocks in formation]

PREFACE.

CONSUMMATE as were the abilities, unbroken the success, immense the services of the Duke of Marlborough, the details of his campaigns can scarcely be said to be known to the vast majority of his countrymen. They have heard the distant echo of his fame, as they have that of the exploits of Timour, of Bajazet, and of Genghis Khan; the names of Blenheim and Ramillies, of Malplaquet and Oudenarde awaken a transient feeling of exultation in their bosoms; but as to the particulars of these events, the difficulties with which their general had to struggle, the objects for which he contended, even the places where they occurred, they are, for the most part, as ignorant as they are of similar details in the campaigns of Baber or Aurengzebe. What they do know is derived chiefly, if not entirely, from the histories of their enemies. Malice and party spirit have done much to dim the reputation of the illustrious general in his own country, but these disturbing passions have not been felt in other states; and, strange to say, no adequate opinion of his merits can be formed by his countrymen but by viewing the impression he has made on her enemies, or studying the history of his victories by them.

Marlborough's exploits have made a prodigious impression on the Continent. The French, who felt the edge of his flaming sword, and saw the glories of the Grande Monarque torn from the long triumphant brow of Louis XIV.; the Dutch, who found in his conquer

[ocr errors]

ing arm the stay of their sinking Republic, and their salvation from slavery and persecution; the Germans, who beheld the flames of the Palatinate avenged by his resistless power, and the ravages of war rolled back from the Rhine into the territory of the state which had provoked them; the Lutherans, who regarded him as the appointed instrument of Divine vengeance to punish the abominable perfidy and cruelty of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, have concurred in celebrating his exploits. The French nurses frightened their children with stories of “ Marlbrook ;" as the Orientals say, when their horses start, they see the shadow of Richard Caur-de-Lion crossing their path. Napoleon hummed the well-known air, “ Marlbrook s'en va à la guerre,” when he crossed the Niemen to commence the Moscow campaign.

The fortunate accident is generally known by which the great collection of papers lately published in London has been brought to light. That this collection should at length have become known is less surprising than that it should so long have remained forgotten, and have eluded the researches of so many persons interested in the subject. It embraces, as Sir George Murray's lucid preface explains, a complete series of the correspondence of the great duke from 1702 to 1712, the ten years of his most important public servi

In addition to the Dispatches of the duke himself, the letters, in some places very numerous, of his private secretary, M. Cardonnell, and a journal written by his grace's chaplain, Dr. Hare, afterward Bishop of Chichester, are contained in the eighteen manuscript volumes which were discovered in the record-room of Hensington, near Woodstock, in October, 1842, and which have now been given to the public. They are

ces.

of essential service, especially in rendering intelligible the details of the correspondence, otherwise in great part uninteresting, and scarcely intelligible, at least by the ordinary reader. Some of the most valuable parts of the work, particularly a full detail of the battle of Blenheim, have been drawn from Dr. Hare's journal. In addition to this, the bulletins of some of the events, issued by government at the time, are to be found in notes at the proper places; and in the text are occasionally contained short, but correct and luminous, notices of the preceding or cotemporaneous political and military events which are alluded to, but not described, in the Dispatches, and which are necessary for the proper understanding of many of their particulars. Nothing, in a word, has been omitted by the accomplished editor which could illustrate or render intelligible the valuable collection of materials placed at his disposal. Yet, with all his pains and ability, it is often very difficult to follow the detail of events, or understand the matter alluded to in the Dispatches; so great is the lack of information regarding the eventful War of the Succession, from the want of a popular historian to record it, even among well-informed persons in this country; and so true was the observation of Alexander the Great, that but for the genius of Homer, the exploits of Achilles would have been buried under the tumulus which covered his remains! And what should we have known of Alexander himself more than of Attila or Genghis Khan, but for the fascinating pages of Quintus Curtius and Arrian?

To the historian who is to go minutely into the details of Marlborough's campaigns and negotiations, and to whom accurate and authentic information is of inestimable importance, it need hardly be said that these

a

« ElőzőTovább »