England in the Mediterranean: A Study of the Rise and Influence of British Power within the Straits 1603-1713 - Vol. 2

By Julian S. Corbett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX
MARLBOROUGH AND THE NAVY

IT was not till the end of November that Marlborough was able to get back to London. In his last days at the Hague he had been urging the home Government, at the request of the Dutch, to send a squadron to secure the Portuguese and offer to co-operate with them in capturing Vigo or any other place they preferred. The news of Rooke's exploit was enough to modify the pressing necessity for such a move, and about a week after Marlborough came home the ' Secret Committee,' as it was called, which was the Supreme Council of War or Committee of Imperial Defence, had adopted a plan of action after his own heart.

The decision was taken early in December at a meeting at which both he and Rooke were present. It will be remembered that in the previous year the Emperor had been given to understand that in this campaign the fleet would co-operate with him in capturing Naples, the object on which his heart and policy were mainly set. Accordingly it was now arranged that by the beginning of February a squadron of thirty sail, to which the Dutch were to be asked to add twelve or fifteen more, was to be ready to sail for the Mediterranean, and the Emperor was to be informed that it could be at Naples by May and remain there till the middle of July. The advantages of this plan were obvious. While it would divert French attention from Toulon, it would afford an oppor-

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