Sunday, April 25, 2010

War of the Spanish Succession

April 25, 1707 saw the Battle of Almanza, which was a victory for Bourbon French forces over the Hapsburg Spanish army.  In his "Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott", Lockhart records Scott's preparing a preface for a publication of Carleton's "Memoirs of the War of the Spanish Succession":

"The publisher of this work was John Murray, of London. It was immediately preceded by a reprint of Captain Carleton's Memoirs of the War of the Spanish Succession, to which he gave a lively preface and various notes ; and followed by a similar edition of the Memoirs of Robert Gary Earl of Monmouth, —each of these being a single octavo, printed by Ballantyne and published by Constable.

The republication of Carleton, Johnson's eulogy of which fills a pleasant page in Boswell, had probably been suggested by the lively interest which Scott took in the first outburst of Spanish patriotism consequent on Napoleon's transactions at Bayonne. There is one passage in the preface which I must indulge myself by transcribing. Speaking of the absurd recall of Peterborough, from the command in which he had exhibited such a wonderful combination of patience and prudence with military daring, he says — " One ostensible reason was, that Peterborough's parts were of too lively and mercurial a quality, and that his letters showed more wit than became a General;—a commonplace objection, raked by the dull malignity of commonplace minds, against those whom they see discharging with ease and indifference the tasks which they themselves execute (if at all) with the sweat of their brow and in the heaviness of their hearts..."

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