Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF

British empire; but, to complete the work, James publicly sent the earl of Castlemaiu amjassador extraordinary to Rome, in order to express his obedience to the pope, and reconcile his kingdoms to the holy see. This proceeding was too precipitate to be relished even by the pope himself; and the only return he made to this embassy was the sending a nuncio into England. This officer made a public and solemn entry into Windsor; which did not fail 'o add to the general discontent; and, because the duke of Somerset refused to attend the ceremony, he was dismissed from his employment of one of the lords of the bed-chamber. Soon after the Jesuits were permitted to erect colleges in different parts of the kingdom, and to exercise the Catholic worship publicly. Father Francis, a Benedictine monk, was recommended by the king to the university of Cambridge for the degree of M.A. The university rejected him on account of his religion; and presented a petition to the king, beseeching him to recall his mandate. James disregarded their petition, and denied their deputies a hearing; the vicechancellor himself was summoned to appear before the high-commission court, and deprived of his office; yet the university persisted, and father Francis was refused. With the university of Oxford he also now embroiled himself. The place of president of Magdalen College being vacant, the king sent a mandate in favor of one Farmer, a new convert, and a man of bad character in other respects. The fellows made very submissive applications for recalling his mandate; but, the election day coming on before they received an answer, they chose Dr. Hough, a man of learning, integrity, and resolution. The king was incensed at their presumption ; an inferior ecclesiastical court was sent down, who, finding Farmer a man of scandalous character, issued a mandate for a new election. The man now recommended by the king was Dr. Parker; also a man of loose character, but willing to embrace the Catholic religion. The fellows refused to comply with this injunction; which so irritated the king, that he went down to Oxford in person; ordered them to be brought before him; and reproached them with their insolence and disobedience; commanding them to choose Parker without delay. Another refusal on their part still more exasperated him; and, finding them resolute in the defence of their privileges, he ejected all of them, except two, from their benefices, and Parker was put in possession of the college. The college, upon this, was soon filled with Catholics; and Chamock, one of the two that remained, was made vice-president.

In 1688 a second declaration for liberty of conscience was published, almost in the same terms with the former; but with this injunction, that all divines should read it after service in their churches. The clergy resolved to disobey this order. Lloyd bishop of St. Asaph, Kenn of Bath and Wells, Turner of Ely, lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Trelawney of Bristol, together with Sancroft the primate, concerted an address, in form of a petition, to the king, which, with the warmest expressions of zeal and submission, stated that they could

not read his declaration consistently with their consciences, or the respect they owed the protestant religion. The king received this petition with great marks of surprise and displeasure. He said he did not expect such an address from the church of England, particularly from some amongst them; and persisted in his orders for their obeying his mandate. As the petition was delivered in private, the king summoned the bishops before the council, and there questioned them whether they would acknowledge it. They for some time declined giving an answer; but, being urged, they at last owned it. On their refusal to give bail, an order was immediately drawn up for their commitment to the Tower, and the crown lawyers received directions to prosecute them for a seditious libel. Being conveyed to the Tower by water, the whole city was in commotion in their favor, and the people ran to the river side in multitudes, craving their blessing; calling upon heaven to protect them, kc. The very soldiers, by whom they were guarded, kneeled down before them, and implored their forgiveness.

The 29th of June, 1688, was fixed for the trial of the bishops; and their return to Westminster was still more splendidly attended than their imprisonment. Twenty-nine peers, a great number of gentlemen, and an immense crowd of people, waited upon them to Westminster-hall. The dispute was learnedly managed by the lawyers on both sides. The jury withdrew into a chamber, where they passed the whole night; but next morning they returnea in court, and pronounced the bishops not guilty. Westminsterhall instantly rang with loud acclamations, which were communicated to the whole extent of the city. They even reached the camp at Hounslow, where the king was at dinner in lord Feversham's tent. James demanding the cause of those rejoicings, and being informed that it was nothing but the soldiers shouting for the delivery of the bishops; 'Call you that nothing?' cried he, 'but so much the worse for them.' Immediately after this the king dismissed two of the judges, Powel and Holloway, who had appeared to favor the bishops; and ■ issued orders to prosecute all those clergymen who had not read his declaration. It was found that all had refused it except 200. He aiso sent a mandate to the new fellows whom he had obtruded on Magdalen College, to elect for president, in the room of Parker, lately deceased, one Gifford, a doctor of the Sorbonne, and titular bishop of Madura. As the .king found the clergy every where averse to his measures, he tried next what he could do with the army. He thought if one regiment should promise implicit obedience, their example would soon induce others to comply. He therefore ordered one of the regiments to be drawn up in his presence, and desired that such as were against his late declaration of liberty of conscience should lay down their arms. He was surprised to see the whole battalion ground their arms, except two officers and a few Roman Catholic soldiers.—A circumstance occurred about this period, in his family, which would have served, if any thing could at that time, to establish him on the throne. A few days before the acquittal of the bishops, the queen was brought to bed of a son, who was baptized by the name of James: but so great was the animosity against him, that a story was propagated that the child was supposititious; and so great was the monarch's pride, that he scorned to take any precautions to refute the calumny. Though James's own enthusiasm bordered on madness, some of the most wild of his religious projects seem to have been suggested by others. The earl of Sunderland, whom he chiefly trusted, was a man of abandoned principles, and insatiable avarice. To such a degree was he mercenary, that he became at once the pensioner of the prince of Orange and of the king of France. The former, who had long fixed his eye on the English throne, watched James's motions, and took every advantage of his errors. He had laid his schemes so extensively, that nothing but the birth of a male heir to the crown of England could possibly prevent him from an almost immediate possession of the kingdom. He had the address to render two-thirds of the powers of Europe interested in his success. The treaty of Augsburg, formed to break the power of France, could not accomplish its object without the accession of England. The house of Austria, in both its branches, preferred their political views to their zeal for the Romish faith, and promoted the dethronement of James as- the only means to humble Louis XIV. Even the pope himself, Innocent XI., was gained over to the measures of the prince of Orange by other considerations, as well as through his fixed aversion to France. He explained to his holiness, that the Catholic princes were in the wrong to expect any advantage to their faith from James, as his being a declared papist rendered his people averse to all his measures. As for himself, should he have the good fortune to mount the throne of England, he might take any step in favor of the Roman Catholics without jealousy: and he promised to procure a toleration for the papists, should the pope, the emperor, and the king of Spain, favor his attempt. This negociation procured the deaired effect. The pope contributed, with the money of the church, it is said, to expel a Roman Catholic prince from his throne.

Though the contest with the bishops had completed the king's unpopularity, the crisis of his ruin was brought on by the birth of the prince of Wales. This circumstance increased the fears of his subjects in proportion as it raised his hopes and security. In the reign of a prince to be educated under the prejudices of such a father, nothing but a continuance of the same unconstitutional measures could be expected. The prince of Orange, seeing the national discontent now raised to the highest pitch, resolved to take advantage of it. He began by giving Dykevelt, his envoy, instructions to apply in his name to the different religious .sects. To the church party he sent assurances of favor and regard; and protested, that his education in Holland had no way prejudiced him against episcopacy. To the non-conformists he sent exhortations not to be deceived by the insidious caresses of their known enemy, but to wait for a real and sincere protector, &c. In conse

quence of these insinuations, the prince soon received invitations from the most considerabl persons in the kingdom. Admirals Herbert and Russel assured him in person of their own and the national attachment. Lord Dumblane, son to the earl of Danby, being master of a frigate, made several voyages to Holland, and carried from many of the nobility tenders of duty, and even considerable sums of money to the prince of Orange. Henry Sidney, brother to Algernon, and uncle to the earl of Sunderland, came over to him with assurances of a universal combination against the king. Soon after the bishop of London, the earls of Danby, Nottingham, Devonshire, Dorset, and several other lords, gentlemen, and principal citizens, united in their addresses to him, and intreated his speedy descent. The people, though long divided between whig and tory, now joined against their unhappy sovereign as a common enemy. William therefore determined to accept their invitations; and the more readily, as he perceived the malcontents had conducted themselves with prudence and secrecy. Having the principal servants of James in pay, he was minutely informed of the most secret actions and even designs of that prince. The prince had a fleet ready to sail, and troops provided for action, before the beginning of June, 1688. Louis XIV. was the first who gave James any warning of his danger, and offered to assist him in repelling it. But he declined this friendly offer, lest it should be said that he had entered into a private treaty with that monarch, to the prejudice of the protestant reli

fion. Being also deceived and betrayed by underland, he had the weakness to believe, that the reports of an invasion were invented to frighten him into a strict connexion with France. He gave credit to the repeated assurances of the States, that the armament prepared in their ports was not designed against England. Nay, he even believed the assertion of the prince himself, whose interest it was to deceive. Sunderland descanted against the possibility of an invasion, and turned to ridicule all who believed the report. Having by the prior consent of James taken possession of all the foreign correspondence, •he suppressed every species of intelligence that might alarm him. Louis, finding his first offers rejected, next proposed to march down his army to the frontiers of the Dutch provinces, and thus detain their forces at home for their own ^defence: this proposal, however, met with no better reception than the former. Louis still unwilling to abandon a friend and an ally, whose interest he regarded as closely connected with his own, ventured to remonstrate with the Dutch against the preparations they were making to invade England. But the republic treated this remonstrance as an officious interference, and James himself declined his mediation. Theking of England having thus rejected the assistance of his friends, and being left to face the danger alone, was astonished by advice from his minister in Holland, that an invasion was not only projected but avowed. When he first read the letter containing this information, he grew pale, and it dropped from his hand. He saw himself on the brink of destruction, and knew not to whom to apply for protection. In this emergency Loui» wrote, that, to divert the Dutch from the intended invasion of England, he would lay siege to Maestritcht with a French army of 30,000 men. James communicated this intelligence to Sunderland, and he to the prince of Orange. 6000 men were thrown into Maestricht; and the design of Louis, as being impracticable, was laid aside. On this the latter, disgusted with James, turned his arms towards Germany. James had now no resource but in attempting to retreat from his late precipitate measures. He paid court to the Dutch, and offered to enter into any alliance with them for their common security. He replaced in all the counties of England the deputy lieutenants and justices, who had been deprived of their commissions. He restored the charters of such corporations as he had withdrawn; annulled the high commission court; reinstated the expelled president and fellows of Magdalen College; and was even reduced to caress those bishops, whom he had so lately persecuted and insulted. All these concessions, however, were now too late; they were regarded as the effects of fear and not of repentance. Indeed, it is said, he very soon gave proofs of his insincerity: for, hearing that the Dutch fleet was dispersed, he recalled those he had made in favor of Magdalen College ; and, to show his attachment to the Romish church, he appointed the pope one of the sponsors at the baptism of the prince of Wales. In the mean time, William set sail from Helvoetsluys with a fleet of nearly 500 vessels, and an army of above 14,000 men. Fortune, however, seemed at first unfavorable to his enterprise. He was driven back by a dreadful storm; but soon refitted his fleet, and passed over again to England. It was given out that this invasion was designed for the coasts of France; and many of the English, who saw tne fleet pass along their shores, little suspected the place of its destination. The same wind which brought out the Dutch, detained the English fleet in their harbours, so that the Dutch passed the straits of Dover without molestation; and, after a voyage of two days, lauded at Broxholme in Torbay, on the 5th of November, the anniversary of the gun-powder treason. But, though the invitation from the English was very general, the prince for some time had the mortification to find himself joined by few. For ten days he continued in vain expectation of being joined by the malcontents; but at last, when deliberating about reimbarking his forces, he was joined by several persons of consequence; and the whole country soon after flocked to his standard. Among the first who joined the prince was major Burrington, and the gentry of the counties of Devon and Somerset. Sir Edward Seymour made proposals for an association, which was signed by great numbers; and every day produced instances of that universal combination into which the nation had entered against the measures to the king. This was followed by the defection of the army. Lord Colchester, son to the earl of Rivers, first deserted to the prince. Lord Cornbury, son of the earl of Clarendon, carried off the greatest part of three regiments of cavalry at once; and several officers

of distinction informed Feversham, their general, that they could not in honor fight against the prince of Orange. Soon after this, the unhappymonarch found himself deserted by his own immediate servants and dependents. Lord Churchill had been raised from the rank of a page, and had been invested with a high command in the army; he had been created a peer, and owed his whole fortune to the king's bounty: yet even he deserted among the rest; and carried with him the duke of Grafton, natural son to the late king, colonel Berkley, and some others. In this universal defection, James, not knowing where to turn, began to think, when it was too late, of requesting assistance from France. He wrote to Leopold emperor of Germany, but in vain ; that monarch only returning for answer, that what he had foreseen had happened. James had some dependence on his fleet, but they were entirely disaffected In a word, his interests were deserted by all, for he had long deserted them himself. He still found his army, however, to imount to 20,000 men; and, had he led them immediately to battle, it is possible they might then have fought in his favor; but James's misfortunes had deprived him of his natural firmness and resolution. In the extremity of bis distress, the prince of Denmark, and Anne bis favorite daughter, perceiving the desperation of his circumstances, cruelly resolved to take part with the prince of Orange. When the king was informed of this, he was stung with the most bitter anguish. 'God help me,' cried he,' my own children have forsaken me.' To add to his distress as a parent, he was accused of being accessary to the death of his own child. Her nurse, and her uncle the earl of Clarendon, affirmed that the papists had murdered the princess; and publicly asked the queen's servants whither they had conveyed her. It was, however, soon known that she had fled, under the conduct of the bishop of London, to Northampton. On the 30th James sent three noblemen to treat with the prince of Orange. But though the latter knew very well that the king's commissioners were in his interest, his behaviour showed plainly, that he now thought the time of treating was past. For some time he would not admit them to an audience; and, when he did, would give no satisfactory answer. James now began to be alarmed for his personal safety, and resolved to send the queen and her infant son abroad. On a stormy and rainy day they crossed the river in a boat; and were taken to Cravesend in a coach, under the conduct of the count de Lauzun. A yacht, commanded by captain Gray, which lay there ready for the purpose, soon transported them in safety to Calais. The king was now so dispirited and distracted, that he soon resolved to follow them. He threw the great seal into the Thames; left none with any authority to conduct affairs in his absence; vainly hoping to derive advantage to his affairs from anarchy. On the 10th of December, about twelve o'clock at night, he disguised himself, took a boat at Whitehall, and crossed the river. Sir Edward Hales, with another friend, met him atVauxhall with horses. He mounted, and, being conducted through by-ways by a guide, passed in the night-time to the Medway, which he crossed by Ailesford bridge. At Woolpeck he took fresh horses, sent thither before by Sheldon, one of his equerries, who was in the secret of his flight, and arrived at 10 o'clock at Eraby ferry near Feversham, where a custom-house hoy, hired by Sir Edward, lay ready to receive them. But the wind blew fresh, and the vessel had no ballast. The master, therefore, easily persuaded the king to permit him to wait for ballast. It being half ebb when they ran on shore, they designed to sail as soon as the vessel should be afloat. But she was now boarded by three fisher boats belonging to Feversham, containing fifty men. They seized the king and his two companions, under pretence of their being papists, that wanted to escape from the kingdom, and returned up Feversham water with the tide: but still the king remained unknown. Sir Edward Hales placed privately fifty guineas in the hands of the captain, as an earnest of more, should he permit them to escape. He promised; but was so far from keeping his word, that he took what money they had, under pretence of securing it from the seamen, and then left them to their fate. The unfortunate fugitives were at length taken in a coach to Feversham, amidst the insults, clamors, and shouts of the sailors. When the king was brought to the inn, a seaman who had served under him knew hiTh, and melted into tears. The other fishermen who had treated him with indignity also now relented ; and, as he gradually became known, the inhabitants of the whole village gathered round him, whilst those of higher rank fled from his presence.

On the flight of the king, the confusion he had anticipated ensued in London, and the prince of Orange exercised in his own person all the functions of royalty. He issued a declaration to the disbanded army to re-assemble themselves, lie ordered the secretary at war to bring him a list of the king's troops, and commanded lord Churchill to collect the horse guards. The duke of Grafton he sent to take possession, in his name, of Tilbury Fort. The assembly of peers adjourned to the council chamber at Whitehall; and, to give the appearance of legality to their meeting, chose the marquis of Halifax for their president. While this assembly was sitting, on the 13th December, a poor countryman, who had been engaged by James, brought an open letter from that unfortunate prince to London. It had no superscription, and it was addressed to no one. It described, in one sentence only, his deplorable condition in the hands of a desperate rabble. This messenger of their fallen sovereign had long waited at the council door, without being able to attract the notice of any who passed. The earl of Mulgrave at length, apprised of his business, had the courage to introduce him to the council. He delivered his open letter, and told the situation of the king with tears. The assembly were so much moved, that they sent the earl of Feversham with 200 of the guards to protect him. His instructions were to rescue him from danger, and afterwards to attend him to the sea coast, should he choose to retire abroad. He decided, however, to return to London; when the prince of Orange sent a messenger to

him, desiring him to advance no nearer the capital than Rochester. The message missed James by the way, and the king sent Feversham with a letter to the prince, requesting his presence in London to settle the nation. He himself proceeded to that place, and arrived on the 16th of December. Doubting the fdelity of the troops who were quartered at Westminster, he chose to pass through the city to Whitehall. Never prince returning with victory to his capital was received with louder acclamations. The streets were covered with bonfires. The bells were rung, and the air was rent with repeated shouts of gladness. All order3 of men crowded to his coach; and, when he arrived at Whitehall, his apartments were crowded with people who came to express their joy at his return. The prince of Orange received the news of that event with,a haughty air. His aim from the beginning was to induce him to relinquish the throne. The Dutch guards were ordered to take possession of Whitehall, and to displace the English; and the king was soon after desired, by a message which he received in bed at midnight, to leave bis palace next morning, and depart for Ham, a seat of the duchess of Lauderdale's. He desired, however, permission to retire to Rochester, a town near the sea coast, and opposite to France. This was readily granted, it being now perceived that the harsh measures of the prince had taken effect, and that the king meditated an escape to France. King James, surrounded by the Dutch guards, arrived at Rochester on the 19th of December. This restraint put upon his person, and the manner in which he had been forced from London, raised the indignation of some, and the compassion of many. The English army, both officers and soldiers, began to murmur; and,had it not been for the timidity of James himself, the nation would, perhaps, have returned to their allegiance. He remained three nights at Rochester in the midst of a few faithful friends. The earls of Arran, Dumbarton, Ailesbury, Litchfield., and Middleton were there; with the gallant lord Dundee, and other officers of merit. They argued against his flight with united efforts. Several bishops, some peers, and many officers, entreated his stay in some part of England. Message followed message from London. They represented that the opinions of men began tc change, and that events would daily arise in favor of his authority. Dundee added his native ardoi to his advice. « The question, Sir,' said he, ' is. Whether you shall stay in England or fly tt. France? Whether you shall trust the returning zeal of your native subjects, or rely on a foreign power? Here you ought to stand. Keep possession of a part, and the whole will submit by degrees. Resume the spirit of a king. Summon your subjects to their allegiance. Your army, though disbanded, is not dispersed. Give me your commission, and I will carry your standard through England, and drive before you the Dutch and their prince.' The king replied 'that he believed it might be done: but that it would raise a civil war, and he would not do so much mischief to a nation, that would so soon come to their senses again.' Middleton urged his stay, though in the remotest part of the kingdom. 'Your majesty,' said he, 'may throw things into confusion by your departure; but it will be but the anarchy of a month: a new government will soon be settled, and you and your family will be ruined.' These spirited remonstrances had no effect upon James, lie resolved to quit the kingdom; and,having communicated his design to a few of his friends, he passed, at midnight, through the back door of the house where he lodged, and with his son the duke of Berwick, and Biddulph one of his servants, went in a boat to a smack which lay waiting for him without the fort of Sheernes*. A hard gale compelled them to bear up toward Leigh, and to anchor on the Essex side of the coast, under the lee of the land. When the gale slackened, they passed through seven ships at anchor in the Downs; but, unable to fetch Calais, she bore away for Boulogne, and anchored before Ambleteuse. The king landed at three o'clock in the morning of Tuesday, December 25th; and, taking post, soon joined his queen at St. Germains.

James having thus abandoned his dominions, the prince of Orange, by the advice of the house of lords, the only remaining branch of the legislature, was desired to summon a parliament; but, unwilling to act upon so imperfect an authority, he convened all the members who had sat in the house of commons during any parliament of Charles II. To these were added the mayor, aldermen, and fifty of the common council of London. The prince, thus supported, wrote circular letters to the counties and corporations of England to call a new parliament. The house being met, which was mostly composed of the Whig party, thanks were given to the prince of Orange for the deliverance he had brought them; after which they proceeded to settle the kingdom. A vote soon passed both houses, that king James II, having endeavoured to subvert the constitution of the kingdom, by breaking the original contract between the king and his people, and having, by the advice of Jesuits, and other wicked persons, violated the fundamental laws, and withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, had abdicated the government, and that the throne was thereby vacant The king being thus deposed, William, after some discussion, was appointed his successor. Proposals were made for electing a regent. Others were for investing the princess of Orange with regal power, and declaring the young prince supposititious. To each of these propositions William, however, opposed a decided negative. 'He had been called over,' he said, 'to defend the liberties of the British nation, and had happily effected his purpose; he had heard of several schemes proposed for the establishment of their government: and, if they chose a regent, he thought it incumbent upon him to inform them, that he would not be that regent; also that he would not accept of the crown under the princess his wife, though he was convinced of her merits; that therefore, if either of these schemes was adopted, he could give them no assistance in the settlement of the nation ; but would return home to his own country, satisfied with his aims to secure the freedom of Vol. X.

theirs.' Upon this, after a long debate of both houses, a new sovereign was preferred to a regent, by a majority of two voices. It was agreed, that the prince and princess of Orange should reign jointly as king and queen of England; while the administration of government should be placed in the hauds.of the prince only. The marquis of Halifax, as speaker of the house of lords, made a solemn tender of the crown to their highnesses, in the name of the peers and commons of England. The prince accepted the offer; ami that very day, February 13th, 1689, William and Mary were proclaimed king and queen of England.

4. The history of Great Britain from the Revolution to the accession of the house of Brunswick.—Though Mary had a share of the royal title, and her name and effigy were impressed on the coin, she never possessed either the authority of a queen, or the influence of a wife. Her easy temper had long been subdued by the stern severity of a husband who had very few amiable qualities. Being brought up almost under his tuition, and confined in every thing to his orders, she was accustomed to adopt implicitly his political maxims and even his thoughts: she therefore soon ceased to be an object of consequence in the eyes of the nation. William HI. began his reign with issuing a proclamation for continuing all Protestants that had been in place on the first of the preceding December. On the 17th he formed his privy council, and, to gratify as many as possible of his friends, the several public boards, and even the chancery, were put into commission. The earl of Nottingham who had violently opposed the elevation of William, and the earl of Shrewsbury, who had adhered to his views, were made secretaries of state. The marquis of Halifax, and the earl of Danby, though rivals in policy, were admitted into the cabinet; the first as lord privy seal, the second as president of the council. His Dutch friends, in the mean time, were not forgotten by the king. Bentinck, his favorite, was made a privy counsellor, groom of the stole, and privy purse. Auvcrquerque was appointed master of the horse; Zuylstein received the office of master of the robes; and Schomberg was placed at the head of the ordnance. Though these instances of gratitude were, no doubt, necessary to William, the nation was displeased at them. The king, who had been bred a Calvinist, was also very strongly inclined to favor that sect. Finding, therefore, the clergy of the church of England little inclined to take the oaths to the new government, he began openly to indulge his prejudices in favor of the dissenters. Having come to the house of lords, to pass some bills, on the 16th March, he made a speech, urging the necessity of admitting all Protestants indiscriminately into the public service. He informed them, that he was employed in filling up the vacancies in offices of trust; and he hoped that they were sensible of the necessity of a law, to settle the oaths to be taken by such persons as should be admitted into place. As he doubted not, he said, that they would sufficiently provide against Papists, so he hoped that they would leave room for the admission of all Protestants that were able

2 F

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »