G. A. (George Alfred) Henty.

The bravest of the brave : or, with Peterborough in Spain online

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grandson of his brother-in-law Louis XIV., sole heir of
the Spanish empire. The will was kept secret till the
death of the king, and was then publicly proclaimed.
Louis accepted the bequest in favor of his grandson, and
Philip was declared king in Spain and her dependencies.

Tke greatest indignation was caused in England, Hoi-


land, and the empire at this breach by the King of
France of the treaty of partition, of which he himself
had been the author. England and Holland were unpre-
pared for war, and therefore bided their time, but
Austria at once commenced hostilities by directing large
bodies of troops, under Prince Eugene, into the duchy
of Milan, and by inciting the Neapolitans to revolt.
The young king was at first popular in Spain, but Car-
dinal Portocarrero, who exercised the real power of the
state, by his overbearing temper, his avarice, and his
shameless corruption, speedily alienated the people from
their monarch. Above all, the cardinal was supposed to
be the tool of the French king, and to represent the
policy which had for its object the dismemberment of the
Spanish monarchy and the aggrandizement of France.

That liouis had such designs was undoubted, and if
properly managed and bribed, Portocarrero would have
been a pliant instrument in his hands; but the cardinal
was soon estranged by the constant interference by the
French agents in his own measures of government, and
therefore turned against France that power of intrigue
which he had recently used in her favor. He pretended
to be devoted to France, and referred even the most
minute details of government to Paris for approbation,
with the double view of disgusting Louis with the gov-
ernment of Spain and of enraging the Spanish people at
the constant interference of Louis.

Philip, however, found a new and powerful ally in the
hearts of the people by his marriage with Maria Louisa^
daughter of the Duke of Savoy — a beautiful girl of four-
teen years old, who rapidly developed into a graceful
and gifted woman, and became the darling of the Spanish
people, and whose intellect, firmness, and courage guided
and strengthened her weak but amiable husband. For a


time the power of Spain and France united overshadowed
Europe, the trading interests of England and Holland
were assailed, and a French army assembled close to the
Flemish frontier.

The indignation of the Dutch overcame their fears,
and they yielded to the quiet efforts which King William
was making, and combined with England and Austria in
a grand alliance against France, the object of the combi-
aation being to exclude Louis from the Netherlands and
West Indies, and to prevent the union of the crowns of
France and Spain upon the same head. King William
might not have obtained from the English parliament a
ratification of the alliance had not Louis just at this
moment acknowledged the son of the ex-king James as
King of England. This insult roused the spirit of the
English people, the House of Commons approved the
triple alliance, and voted large supplies.

King William died just after seeing his favorite pro-
ject successful, and was succeeded by Queen Anne, who
continued his policy. The Austrian Archduke Charles
was recognized by the allies as King of Spain, and prepa-
rations made for war.

An English army was landed near Cadiz; but the
Spaniards showed no signs of rising in favor of Charles,
and, after bringing great discredit on themselves and
exacting the animosity of the Spaniards by gross miscon-
duct, the English army embarked again. Some treasure
ships were captured, and others sunk in the harbor of
Vigo, but the fleet was no more effective than the army.
A.dmiral Sir John Munden was cashiered for treachery or
cowardice on the coast of Spain, and four captains of
vessels in the gallant Benbow's West India fleet were
either dismissed or shot for refusing to meet the enemy
and for abandoning their chief.


In 1703 little was done in the way of fighting, but the
allies received an important addition of strength by the
accession of Portugal to their ranks. In 1704 the allies
made an attempt upon the important city of Barcelona.
It was believed that the Catalans would have declared
for Charles ; but the plot by which the town was to be
given up to him was discovered on the eve of execution,
and the English force re-embarked on their ships. Their
success was still less on the side of Portugal, where the
Duke of Berwick, who was in command of the forces of
King Philip, defeated the English and Dutch under the
Duke of Schomberg and captured many towns.

The Portuguese rendered the allies but slight assist-
ance. These reverses were, however, balanced by the
capture of Gibraltar on the 21st of June by the fleet
under Sir George Eooke, and a small land force under
Prince George of Hesse. Schomberg was recalled and
Lord Gal way took the command; but he succeeded no
better than his predecessor, and affairs looked but badly
for the allies, when the Duke of Marlborough, with the
English and allied troops in Germany, inflicted the first
great check upon the power and ambition of Louis XIV.
by the splendid victory of Blenheim.

This defeat of the French had a disastrous effect upon
the fortunes of Philip. He could no longer hope for
help from his grandfather, for Louis was now called
upon to muster his whole strength on his eastern frontier
for the defense of his own dominion, and Philip was
forced to depend upon his partisans in Spain only. The
partisans of Charles at once took heart. The Catalans
had never been warm in the cause of Philip ; the crowns
of Castile, Arragon, and Catalonia had only recently
been united, and dangerous jealousy existed between
these provinces. The Castilians were devoted adherents


of Philip, and this in itself was sufficient to set Catalonia
and Arragon against him.

The English government had been informed of this
growing discontent in the north of Spain, and sent out
an emissary to inquire into the truth of the statement.
As his report confirmed all that they had heard, it was
decided in the spring of 1705 to send out an expedition
which was to effect a landing in Catalonia, and would,
it was hoped, be joined by all the people of that prov-
ince and Aragon. By the efforts and patronage of the
Duchess of Marlborough, who was all-powerful with
Queen Anne, the Earl of Peterborough was named to
the command of the expedition.

The choice certainly appeared a singular one, for
hitherto the earl had done nothing which would entitle
him to so distinguished a position. Charles Mordaunt
was the eldest son of John Lord Mordaunt, Viscount
Avalon, a brave and daring cavalier, who had fought
heart and soul for Charles, and had been tried by Crom-
well for treason, and narrowly escaped execution. On
the restoration, as a reward for his risk of life and for-
tune, and for his loyalty and ability, he wa^ raised to
the peerage.

His son Charles inherited none of his father's stead-
fastness. Brought up in the profligate court A Charlies
11. he became an atheist, a scoffer at morality, and a
republican. At the same time he had many redeeming
points. He was brilliant, witty, energetic, and brave.
He was generous and strictly honorable to his word. He
was filled with a burning desire for adventure, and, at
the close of 1674, when in his seventeenth year, he em-
barked in Admiral Torrington's ship, and proceeded to
join as a volunteer Sir John Narborough's fleet in the
Mediterranean, in order to take part in the expedition to


restrain and revenge the piratical depredations of tig-
barbarous states of Tripoli and Algiers.

He distinguished himself on the 14th of January, 1675,
in an attack by the boats of the fleet upon four corsair
men-of-war moored under the very guns of the castle and
fort of Tripoli. The exploit was a successful one, the
ships were all burned, and most of their crews slain.
Another encounter with the fleet of Tripoli took place in
February, when the pirates were again defeated, and the
dey forced to grant all the English demands.

In 1677 the fleet returned to England, and with it
Mordaunt, who had during his absence succeeded to his
father's title and estates, John Lord Mordaunt having died
on the 5th of June, 1675. Shortly after his return to
England, Lord Mordaunt, though still but twenty years
old, married a daughter of Sir Alexander Eraser. But
his spirit was altogether unsuited to the quiet enjoyment
of domestic life, and at the end of September, 1678, he
went out as a volunteer in his majesty's ship Bristol,
which was on the point of sailing for the Mediterranean
to take part in an expedition fitting out for the relief of
Tangier, then besieged by the Moors. Nothing, how-
ever, came of the expedition, and Mordaunt returned to
England in the autumn of 1679.

In June, 1680, he again sailed for Tangier with a small
expedition commanded by the Earl of Plymouth. The
expedition succeeded in throwing themselves into the
besieged town, and continued the defense with vigor,
and Mordaunt again distinguished himself; but he soon
wearied of the monotony of a long siege and before the
end of the year found opportunity to return to England,
where he plunged into politics and became one of the
leaders of the party formed to exclude the Duke of York
from the throne.


Although a close friend of Lord Russell and Algernon
Sidney lie had fortunately for himself not been admitted
to the fatal privilege of their private councils, and there-
fore escaped the fate which befell them. He continued
his friendship with them to the last, and accompanied
Algernon Sidney to the scaffold. But even while throw-
ing himself heart and soul into politics he was continu-
ally indulging in wild freaks which rendered him the
talk of the town.

On the accession of King James he made his first
speech in the House of Peers against a standing army,
and distinguished himself alike by the eloquence and
violence of his language. He was now under the dis-
pleasure of the court, and his profuse generosity had
brought him into pecuniary trouble. In 1686, therefore,
he quitted England with the professed intention of
accepting a command in the Dutch fleet then about to sail
for the West Indies. When he arrived in Holland, how-
ever, he presented himself immediately to the Prince of
Orange, and first among the British nobility boldly pro-
posed to William an immediate invasion of England.
He pushed his arguments with fiery zeal, urged the dis-
affection of all classes, the hatred of the Commons, the
defection of the liords, the alarm of the Church, and the
wavering loyalty of the army.

William, however, was already informed of these facts,
and was not to be hurried. Mordaunt remained with
him till, on the 20th of October, 1688, he sailed for Eng-
land. The first commission that King William signed
in England was the appointment of Lord Mordaunt as
lieutenant-colonel of horse, and raising a regiment he
rendered good service at Exeter. As soon as the revolu-
tion was completed, and William and Mary ascended the
throne, Mordaunt was made a privy-councilor and one of


the lords of the bed-chamber, and in April, 1689, he was
made first commissioner of the treasury, and advanced to
the dignity of Earl of Monmouth. In addition to the
other offices to which he was appointed he was given the
colonelcy of the regiment of horse-guards.

His conduct in office showed in brilliant contrast to
that of the men with whom he was placed. He alone
was free from the slightest suspicion of corruption and
venality, and he speedily made enemies among his col-
leagues by the open contempt which he manifested for
their gross corruption.

Although he had taken so prominent a part in bring-
ing King William to England, Monmouth soon became
mixed up in all sorts of intrigues and plots. He was
already tired of the reign of the Dutch king, and longed
for a commonwealth. He was constantly quarreling with
his colleagues, and whenever there was a debate in the
House of Lords Monmouth took a prominent part on the
side of the minority. In 1692 he went out with his
regiment of horse-guards to Holland, and fought bravely
at the battle of Steenkirk. The campaign was a failure,
and in October he returned to England with the king.

For two years after this he lived quietly, devoting his
principal attention to his garden and the society of wits
and men of letters. Then he again appeared in parlia-
ment, and took a leading part in the movement in oppo-
sition to the crown, and inveighed in bitter terms against
the bribery of persoQS in power by the East India Com-
pany, and the venality of many members of parliament
and even the ministry. His relations with the king
were now of the coldest kind, and he became mixed up
in a Jacobite plot. How far he was guilty in the matter
was never proved. Public opinion certainly condemned
him, and by a vote of the peers he was deprived of all


hie employments and sent to the Tower. The king,
however, stood his friend, and released him at the end
of the session.

In 1697, by the death of his uncle, Charles became
Earl of Peterborough, and passed the next four years in
private life, emerging only occasionally to go down to
the House of Peers and make fiery onslaughts upon abuses
and corruption. In the course of these years, both in
parliament and at court, he had been sometimes the
friend, sometimes the opponent of Marlborough ; but he
had the good fortune to be a favorite of the duchess, and
when the time came that a leader was required for the
proposed expedition to Spain, she exerted herself so
effectually that she procured his nomination.

Hitherto his life had been a strange one. Indolent and
energetic by turns, restless and intriguing, quarreling
with all with whom he came in contact, burning with
righteous indignation against corruption and misdoing,
generous to a point which crippled his finances seriously,
he was a puzzle to all who knew him, and had he died at
this time he would only have left behind him the repuia*
tion of being one of the most brilliant, gifted, ai»#
honest, but at the same time one of the most unstable
eccentric, and ill-regulated spirits of his time.




When tlie mayor of Southampton opened the official
document empowering and requesting him to obtain
recruits for the queen's service he was not greatly
pleased. This sort of thing would give a good deal of
trouble, and would assuredly not add to his popularity.
He saw at once that he would be able to oblige many of
his friends by getting rid of people troublesome to them,
but with this exception where was he to find the recruits
the queen required ? There were of course, a few never-
do-wells in the town who could be packed off, to [email protected]
general satisfaction of the inhabitants, but beyond this
every one taken would have friends and relations who
would cry out and protest.

It was likely to be a troublesome business, and the
mayor threw down the paper on the table before him.
Then suddenly his expression changed. He had been
thinking of obliging his friends by sending off persons
troublesome to them, but he had not thought of his own
case. Here was the very thing ; he would send off this
troublesome lad to fight for the queen; and whether he
went to the Low Countries under Marlborough, or to
Spain with this new expedition which was being pre-
pared, it was very unlikely that he would ever return to
trouble him.

He was only sixteen, indeed, but he was strong and
well grown, and much fitter for service than many of


those who would be sent. If the young fellow stopped
here he would always be a trouble, and a bone of conten-
tion between himself and his wife. Besides, for Alice's
sake it was clearly his duty to get the fellow out of the
way. Girls, Mr. Anthony considered, were always fall-
ing in love with the very last people in the world with
whom they should do so, and out of sheer contrariety it
was more than possible that Alice might take a fancy for
this penniless vagabond, and if she did Mrs. Anthony
was fool enough to support her in her folly.

Of course there would be trouble with his wife when
she found what had happened to the lad — for the mayor
did not deceive himself for a moment by the thought
that he would be able to conceal from his wife the cause
of Jack's absence ; he was too well aware of Mrs. An-
thony's power of investigation. Still, after it was done
it could not be undone, and it was better to have one
domestic storm than a continuation of foul weather.

Calling in his clerk the mayor read over to him the
order he had received, and bade him turn to the court
book and make out a list of the names of forty young
men who had been charged before him with offenses of
drunkenness, assault, battery, and rioting.

''When you have made up the list, Johnson, yon will
go round to the aldermen and inform them of the order
that I have received from the government, and you can
tell them that if there are any persons they know, of
whom they consider that Southampton would be well
rid, if they will send the names to me I will add them
to the list. Bid them not to choose married men, if it
can be avoided, for the town would be burdened with
the support of their wives and families. Another ten
names will do. The letter which accompanies the order
says that from my well-known zeal and loyalty it is


Soubted not that Southampton will furnish a hundred
men, but if I begin with fifty that will be well enough,
and we can pick out the others at our leisure. ' '

By the afternoon the list was filled up. One of the
aldermen had inserted the name of a troublesome
nephew, another that of a foreman with whom he had
had a dispute about wages, and who had threatened to
proceed against him in the court. Some of the names
were inserted from mere petty spite; but with scarce an
Bxception the aldermen responded to the invitation of
the mayor, and placed on the list the name of some one
whom they, or Southampton, would be the better with-

When the list was completed the mayor struck out one
of the first names inserted by his clerk and inserted that
of John Stilwell in its place. His instructions were that
he was to notify to an officer, who would arrive with a
company of soldiers on the following day, the names of
those whom he deemed suitable for the queen's service.
The officer, after taking them, was to embark them on
board one of the queen's cutters, which would come
round from Portsmouth for the purpose, and would con-
vey them to Dover, where a camp was being formed and
the troops assembling.

Upon the following day the company marched into the
town, and the officer in command, having seen his men
billeted among the citizens, called upon the mayor.

"Well, Mr. Mayor," he said, **I hope you have a good
list of recruits for me. I don't want to be waiting here,
for I have to go on a similar errand to other towns. It
is not a job I like, I can tell you, but it is not for me to
question orders.**

"I have a list of fifty men all active and hearty fellows
who will make good soldiers/* the mayor said


"And of whom, no doubt, Southampton will be well
rid,*' the officer said with a laugh. "Truly, I pity the
Earl of Peterborough, for he will have as rough a body
of soldiers as ever marched to war. However, it is
usually the case that the sort of men who give trouble at
home are just those who, when the time comes, make the
best fighters. I would rather have half a dozen of your
reckless blades, when the pinch comes, than a score of
honest plow boys. How do you propose that I shall
take them?"

''That I will leave entirely to you, " the mayor said ;
"here is a list of the houses where they lodge. I will
place the town watch at your disposal to show you the
way and to point out the men to you."

"That will be all I shall require," the officer said;
*'but you can give me a list of those who are most likely
to give trouble^ These I will pounce upon and get on
board ship first of all. "When they are secured I will tell
my men off in parties, each with one of your constables
to point out the men, and we will pick them up so many
every evening. It is better not to break into houses and
seize them; for, although we are acting legally and
under the authority of act of parliament it is always as
well to avoid giving cause of complaint, which might
tend to excite a feeling against the war and make the
government unpopular, and which, moreover, might do
i^ou harm with the good citizens, and do me harm with
pilose above me. I am sure you agree with me. "

"Quite so, quite so," the mayor said hastily; "you
ftpeak very prudently and well, sir. I hope you will
honor me by taking up your abode in my house during
your stay here; but may I ask you not to allow my wife,
who is inquisitive by nature, to see the list with which
I furnish you? "Women are ever meddling in matters
wiuch concern them not.''


"I understand," the officer said with a wink, ''there
are names on the list of which your wife would not
approve. I have known the same thing happen before.
But never fear, the list shall be kept safe ; and indeed, it
were better that nothing were said of my business in the
town, for if this gets abroad, some of those whose con-
science may tell them that they will be likely to be
chosen for service might very well slip off and be out of
the way until they hear that I and my men have left. '*

Two days later, when, as the evening was falling. Jack
Stilwell was walking up from the wharf, where he had
been watching the unlading of the vessel in which he
was to sail, he came upon a group of four or five soldiers
standing at a corner. Then a voice, which he recognized
ps that of the foreman, Eichard Carson, said :

''That is your man officer;" and the soldiers made a
Budden rush upon him.

Taken by surprise he nevertheless struggled 'desper-
ately, but a heavy blow with a staff fell on the back of
liis head, and for a time he knew nothing more. When
4e recovered his consciousness he was lying almost in
complete darkness, but by the faint gleam of the lantern
iie discovered that he was in the hold of a ship. Several
other men were sitting or laying near him. Some oi
them were cursing and swearing, others were stanching
the blood which flowed from various cuts and gashes.
*'"What does all this mean?" he asked as he somewhat
recovered himself.

"It means," said one, "that we are pressed to serve as
eJoldiers. I made a fight for it, and just as they had got
the handcuffs on some citizens came up and asked what
was doing, and the sergeant said, 'It is quite legal.
"We hold the mayor's warrant to impress this man for
Beryice in the army ; there is a constable here who will


tell you we are acting on authority, and if any interfere
it will be worse for them.* '*

Jack heard the news in silence. So he had been
pressed by a warrant of the mayor, he was the victim of
the spite of his late employer. But his thoughts soon
turned from this by the consciousness that his shirt and
clothes were soaked with blood, and putting his hand to
the back of his head he found a great lump from which
the blood was still slowly flowing. Taking off his neck-
handkerchief he bound it round his head and then lay
down again. He tried to think, but his brain was weak
and confused, and he presently fell into a sound sleep,
from which he was not aroused by the arrival of another
batch of prisoners.

It was morning when he awoke, and he found that he
had now nearly twenty companions in captivity. Some
were walking up and down like caged animals, others
were loudly bewailing their fate, some sat moody and
silent, while some bawled out threats of vengeance
against those they considered responsible for their cap-
tivity. A sentry with a shouldered musket was standing
at the foot of the steps, and from time to time some
sailors passed up and down. Jack went up to one of

*'Mate,** he said, "could you let us have a few buckets
of water down here ? In the first place we are parched
with thirst, and in the second we may as well try to get
off some of the blood which, from a good many of us,

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Online LibraryG. A. (George Alfred) HentyThe bravest of the brave : or, with Peterborough in Spain → online text (page 2 of 22)