OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of James II. (Continued) page 10

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 <10> 11 12

In this style the mob next marched to demolish the houses of the catholic ambassadors. Barillon, in St. James's Square, they found well guarded by troops, and so marched forward to the Venetian envoy's, but found it equally protected. The house of Ronquillo, however, the Spanish ambassador, was defenceless, and there they were fortunate enough to find the plate of the royal chapel,, which James had sent thither, as well as that of many catholic families. They carried off the whole, destroyed the interior of his chapel, and set fire to the house, consuming a splendid library and many valuable manuscripts. It weighed nothing with the marauding herd that Ronquillo was an advocate of the prince of Orange, and his master in strict alliance with him, nor that the elector palatine was a protestant prince - enough that he was a cousin of James's; they destroyed the house of his ambassador, and that of the grand duke of Tuscany.

All this took place on the night of the 11th and on the 12th of December. As the night of the 13th set in, there arose a cry that the Irish were Up, and were going to cut the throats of all the protestants. The disbanded Irish soldiers, it was said, were hastening towards the metropolis, tracking their way in carnage and robbery. The drums beat at one in the morning to collect the militia and train bands; lights were placed in all windows, and the streets bristled with pikes and bayonets. It was a night of unexampled horror. An attack was made on the house of lord Powis, in Lincoln's Inn Fields; and mobs and soldiers, to the number of a hundred thousand, kept the streets in a perpetual state of terror and anarchy. This acquired the name of the "Irish night," though no Irish made their appearance; and the same infamous Hugh Speke afterwards claimed the honour or the infamy of planning this attempt to procure a massacre of the catholics. To the honour of the English name, however, the fell purpose failed, and, in all this confusion, robbery, and spoliation, not a single catholic is said to have lost his life.

The mob, indeed, cried lustily for the Jesuit, father Petre, and, had he been found, he would probably have been pulled limb from limb; but, with Jesuit caution, he had taken care to get on the other side of the channel ten days before, as had also lord Melfort, the Scottish secretary. Thousands, in fact, were up and flying for their lives on the discovery of James's escape; and many of these were stopped and brought back, as Mr. justice Jenner; the king's solicitors, Barton and Graham; the two vicars-apostolic, Giffard and Leyburn; Obadiah Walker, of Oxford notoriety, and many others. The pope's nuncio was discovered mounted as a servant behind the carriage of the ambassador of Savoy, and was detained along with that minister and his whole suite till the will of the prince of Orange should be known, who granted them all passports.

But one trembling fugitive did not so easily evade his doom. The lord chancellor Jeffreys, baron of Wem, a man loaded with wealth, the wages of the most devilish wickedness, insolence, and cruelty, was now fleeing in mortal terror for his life. His conscience - no, conscience he had none - but his base, craven soul told him what he deserved at the hands of the people; and, disguised in the dress of a common sailor, his huge, lowering eyebrows shaven off, he was skulking in a low public-house in Wapping, watching an opportunity to make his escape, when his former villany sealed his doom. He was looking out of the window, when a scrivener of the place, who had once been before him on a charge of usury, and who was so terrified at his looks and language that he declared that face would haunt him to his dying day, was passing. One glance at the horrible countenance of Jeffreys was enough; the terrified man hastened away and roused the neighbourhood. In a few minutes the house was surrounded by a raging mob, who demanded that he should be given up to them. But Jeffreys had observed the recognition of the scrivener. The train bands were sent hastily for, and he was conveyed before the lord mayor amid the howls and execrations of the mob. The lord mayor himself was so terrified at the sight of the crouching chancellor and the raging sea of people around the mansion-house, that he was borne away in convulsions, and never again recovered. Meantime the concourse of infuriated people had been so immense and so terrible in its rage, that two regiments of militia were added to guard him to the Tower; and such was the howling fury of the mob, that Jeffreys, terrified almost to death kept constantly crying to the officers around him, "Reep them off, gentlemen! for God's sake keep them off!" No more fitting retribution could have reached this man-monster - who had so recklessly spilled the blood of -the subjects, violated all the laws at the will of a tyrant^ and terrified every one who came before him by the diabolical fury of his looks and language - than that he shoukgbperish in his cell, of terror and shame, which he did soon after.

James, his heartless master, was also seized. The customhouse hoy in which he embarked was found wanting of ballast, and the captain was obliged to run her ashore near Sheerness. About eleven at night of the 12th of December, before the hoy could be floated again by the tide, she was boarded by a number of fishermen who were on the look-out for fugitives, and the appearance of the king immediately attracted their notice. "That is father Petre," cried one fellow; "I know him by his hatchet face." He was immediately seized and searched; but, though he bad his coronation ring in his pocket, besides other jewels, they ^ missed them, and did not recognise him. But they carried him ashore at Feversham, where, at the inn, amid the insults of this rabble, he declared himself their king. The earl of Winchester, hearing of the king's detention, hastened to his assistance, had him removed to the house of the mayor, and sent word of his capture to London.

James exhibited the most miserable spectacle. It was clear that his mind, which had appeared going before, was now quite gone. He had all the symptoms of a maniac. The house was surrounded by a dense crowd of militia and fishermen, and he insisted notwithstanding that those who were about him should let him go. At one moment he assumed an air of haughty command, at another he had recourse to the most piteous entreaties, telling the people that the prince of Orange was seeking his life, and they must get him a boat to escape; at the same time he wept bitterly and was inconsolable, because, in the rude search of the rabble, he had lost a bit of the true cross, which had belonged to Edward the Confessor.

When the countryman who carried the messages from' lord Winchelsea arrived at Whitehall, the news of the king's detention occasioned the greatest embarrassment. The lords had sent for the prince, and hoped that they were well rid of the foolish old king. Nothing could be easier than their course if James had got over to the continent. The throne could be declared vacant, and the prince and princess of Orange invited to occupy it on giving the necessary guarantees for the maintenance of the constitution. But now the whole question was involved in difficulties. If James persisted in his right to the throne, in what capacity was William to be received? Could any safe measures be arranged with a man like James? Was he to be deposed, and his son-in-law and daughter forcibly placed on his throne? The dilemma was equally embarrassing to the lords and prelates, and to the prince himself. When the messenger was introduced, and delivered a letter from James, but without any address, Halifax moved that they should instantly adjourn, and thus leave the letter unnoticed. Halifax was deeply incensed at the trick which James had played off upon him in sending him to negotiate with William merely that he might get away, and was now resolved to adhere to the prince; but lord Mulgrave prevailed on the lords to retain their seats, and obtained from them an order that lord Feversham should take two hundred fife guards and protect the king from insult. Feversham demanded the precise powers of his order, and was told that he must defend the king from insult, but by no means impede the freest exercise of his personal freedom. That meant that they would be glad if he facilitated his escape. Halifax immediately left London and joined the prince of Orange, who was now at Henley-on-Thames. Sancroft and the clergy, as soon as they were aware that the king had not left the country, retired from any further participation in the council. William and his adherents were extremely chagrined at this untoward turn of affairs. When the messenger arrived at Henley he was referred to Burnet, who said, "Why did you not let the king go?"

But when Feversham arrived at the town whose name he bore, the king was no longer disposed to escape. His friends who had gathered about him, Middleton and lord Winchelsea especially, had endeavoured to show him that his strength lay in remaining. Had he vacated the throne by quitting the kingdom, it had been lost for ever; but now he was king, and might challenge his right; and the prince could not dispossess him without incurring the character of a usurper, and throwing a heavy odium of unnatural severity on himself and his wife. James had sufficient mind left to perceive the strength thus pointed out to him. He resolved to return to his capital, and from Rochester dispatched Feversham with a letter to William, whom he found advanced to Windsor, proposing a conference in London, where St. James's should be prepared for the prince. By this time William and his council had determined on the plan to be pursued in the great difficulty. He had calculated on James's being gone, and had issued orders to the king's army and to the lords at Whitehall in the style of a sovereign. His leading adherents had settled amongst themselves the different offices that they were to occupy as the reward of their adhesion. It was resolved, therefore, if possible, to frighten James into a second flight. No sooner had Feversham delivered his dispatch than he was arrested and thrown into the Round Tower on the charge of having disbanded the army without proper orders, to the danger of the capital, and of having entered the prince's camp without a passport. Zulestein was dispatched to inform James that William declined the proposed conference, and recommended him to remain at Rochester.

James, however, was now bent on returning to London. He had not waited for the prince's answer, but on Sunday, the 16th of December, he entered his capital in a sort of triumphal procession. He was preceded by a number of gentlemen, bareheaded. Immense crowds assembled as if to welcome him back again. They cheered him as he rode along. The bells were rung, and bonfires were lit in the streets. Elated by these signs, as he imagined them, of returning popularity, he no sooner reached Whitehall than he called around him the Jesuits who had hidden themselves, stationed Irish soldiers as guards around his palace, had grace said at his table by a Jesuit priest, and expressed his high indignation at the lords and prelates who had presumed to usurp his functions in his absence - who had, in fact, saved the capital from destruction when he had abandoned it.; His folly, however, received an abrupt check. Zulestein was announced, and delivered the stern message of William. James was confounded, but again repeated his invitation for his nephew to come to town, that they might settle all differences m a personal conference. Zulestein coldly assured him that William would not enter London whilst it contained^ troops not under his orders. "Then," said James, "let him bring his own guards, and I will dismiss mine, for I am as well without any as such that I dare not trust." Zulestein, however, retired without further discussion, and the moment he was gone, James was informed of the arrest of Feversham.

Alarmed at these proofs of the stern spirit of William, James sent in haste, to Stamps and Lewis, the leading members of the city council - the lord mayor had never recovered his terror of Jeffreys' presence - to offer to place himself under their protection till all necessary guarantees for the public liberties had been given and accepted. But the common council had not forgotten his seizure of their charter, and the execution of Cornish; and they declined to enter into an engagement which, they said, they might not "be able to fulfil. Whilst James was thus learning that though the city acclamations might be proofs of regret for Ms misfortunes, they were by no means proofs of a desire for his continuing to reign, William, on the same day, the 17th, bade all his leading adherents hold a solemn council, to consider what steps should be taken in this crisis. It was Understood that he would never consent to enter London whilst James was there, and it was resolved that he should be removed to Ham House, near Richmond, which the brutal Lauderdale had built out of the bribes of Louis XIV. and the money wrung from the ravaged people of Scotland. Halifax, Shrewsbury, and Delamere were dispatched to James with this intimation, though Clarendon had done all in his power to have James seized and confined in some foreign fortress till Tyrconnel surrendered Ireland to the prince's party.

Simultaneously with the three lords, William ordered his forces to advance towards London. In the evening of the 17th James heard that the Dutch soldiers had occupied Chelsea and Kennington. By ten o'clock at night Solmes, at the head of three battalions of infantry, was already making across St. James's Park, and sent word that his orders were to take possession of Whitehall, and advised the earl of Craven, who commanded the Coldstream guards, to retire. Craven, though now in his eightieth year, had lost none of the courage and chivalry which he had displayed in the wars of Germany, and which had won him the heart of Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was said to be married to him - declared that, so long as he retained life, no foreign prince should make a king of England a prisoner in his own palace. James, however, ordered him to retire. The Coldstream guards withdrew, and the Dutch guards surrounded the palace. James, as if there were no danger to his person, went composedly to bed, but only to be roused out of his first sleep to receive the deputation from the prince. On reading the letter proposing his removal to Ham, which Halifax informed him must be done before ten o'clock in the morning, James seems to have taken a final resolve to get away. He protested against going to Ham, as a low, damp place in winter, but offered to retire to Rochester. This was a pretty clear indication of his intention to flee - the very object desired. A messenger was dispatched in all speed to the prince, who returned with his full approbation before daybreak.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 <10> 11 12

Pictures for Reign of James II. (Continued) page 10

The Earl of Shrewsbury
The Earl of Shrewsbury >>>>
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange >>>>
The seven bishops
The seven bishops >>>>
William of orange entering Exeter
William of orange entering Exeter >>>>
Queen of James II
Queen of James II >>>>
The flight of the Queen of James II
The flight of the Queen of James II >>>>
Attack on James II
Attack on James II >>>>
The Princess Anne
The Princess Anne >>>>
William of Orange
William of Orange >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About