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Reign of James II. (Continued) page 2


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Dykvelt returned from England on the 9th of June; and, to continue the effect produced in that country, on the 8th of August another agent in the person of general Zulestein was dispatched thither. His ostensible mission' was to offer an address of condolence on the death of the queen's mother, the duchess of Modena; but his real one was to strengthen the connection with the malcontents, which he could the more unsuspectedly do from his military character, and from his having taken no particular part in diplomacy. Zulestein was completely successful; but all these proceedings could not entirely escape James or his envoy at the Hague, the catholic marquis o| Abbeville, who succeeded in getting Burnet, the active adviser of William, removed from open intercourse with the court. But Burnet was still not far off, and through his chief counsellors, Bentinck and Halweyn, William still consulted with him on every step of the plans regarding England. James also sought to reach William through Stewart, a Scottish lawyer, who had fled from his persecutions of the covenanters to the Hague, but who, on the appearance of the declaration of indulgence, most suddenly went to the king's side, in hopes of promotion. Stewart wrote a letter to Fagel, the grand pensionary, who had great influence with William, which he confessed was at the suggestion of the king, strongly urging him to use his power with William to persuade him to support James's act; but Fagel, with a dexterous policy, replied in another letter, stating that the prince and princess were advocates for the most ample toleration, but not for the abolition of the test, or of any other act having the inviolability of the Anglican church for its object. This was calculated to satisfy the catholics of every privilege which they could reasonably expect from the laws and the public opinion of England, whilst it fully assured the church of its safety under William and Mary.

Every fresh movement thus contributed to strengthen the position of William, and to show to James, had he had sufficient mind to comprehend it, how completely his conduct had deprived him of the confidence of his subjects. Even the pope took no pains to conceal how suicidal he deemed his policy. He would have sufficiently rejoiced in any rational prospect of the return of England to the church of Rome, but he was not dull enough to imagine the sentiment of the king the sentiment of the nation; on the contrary, he was persuaded that the rash cabals of the Jesuits were inevitably hastening a, crisis which must the more deeply root the Anglican antipathy to popery. James had dispatched Castlemaine as ambassador to Rome, with a splendid retinue. It was not enough that this open affront was done to his country by sending a catholic ambassador to the pope, and in the person, too, of a man who had no distinction except the disgraceful one of having purchased his title by the prostitution of his wife; but Castlemaine was deputed to solicit a dispensation from Innocent for father Petre to receive the episcopal dignity, which was forbidden to a Jesuit. James contemplated nothing less than making Petre archbishop of York, which see he kept vacant for the purpose; but the pope was too much at enmity with the Jesuits, as well as with James for his impolitic conduct, and his alliance with the great French aggressor, to concede any such favour. Castlemaine, who was living in great pomp at Rome, threatened to take his departure if this request was not granted, and Innocent only sarcastically replied by bidding him start in the cool of the morning, and take care of his health on the journey.

This discourtesy shown him by the head of that religion for which he was putting everything to the hazard, had, however, only the effect of further raising the pugnacity of James. He determined only the more to honour and exalt popery in England. The nuncio, Adda, had been made archbishop of Amasia - a mere title of honour, in consequence of James's desire that he should be publicly acknowledged at his court. Hitherto both he and the vicar-apostolic, Leyburn, had been instructed by the papal court to keep a careful incognito; but James would no longer consent to this; and, accordingly, on the 1st of May, 1686, Adda had been publicly consecrated at Whitehall, by the titular archbishop of Ireland, assisted by Leyburn, the vicar-apostolic. In the evening of that day the nuncio was received into the royal circle, in the queen's apartments; and James shocked and disgusted his courtiers by falling on his knees before him and imploring his blessing. It was the first time that an English court had seen their monarch, for a very long period, doing homage at the feet of a papal nuncio, and the effect was humiliating. On the 3rd of July the nuncio was favoured with a public reception at Windsor. He went thither attended by a numerous procession of the ministers and of officials of the court, and was conveyed in a royal coach, wearing a purple robe, and a brilliant cross upon his breast. In his train was seen with surprise and contempt the equipages of Crewe, bishop of Durham, and Cartwright, bishop of Chester. The duke of Somerset, as first lord of the bed-chamber, was expected to introduce him; but he declined, representing the penalties to which the act would expose him. This refusal was the less expected, because he had not objected to carry the sword of state before his majesty when the king had gone to the royal papal chapel. James was indignant. "I thought," he said, "that I was doing you a great honour by appointing you to escort the minister of the first of all crowned heads." Somerset, moved to a firmness of demeanour and language unusual even in him, declared that he dared not break the law. James replied, "I will make you fear mo as well as the law. Do you not know that I am above the law?" "Your majesty," replied Somerset, with commingled dignity and affected humility, "may be above the law, but I am not; and I am only safe while I obey the law." The king, not used to being thwarted, much less to language of so plain a sort, turned from him in a rage, and the next day issued a decree depriving him of his posts in the household and of his command in the guards.

This most impolitic conduct James followed, on the 1st of February of the present year, by a still more absurd and ludicrous, but equally mischievous reception. It was that of Cocker, an English Benedictine monk, who, being more deeply implicated in treason than his friends cared to confess, had narrowly escaped with his life in the trials of the popish plot. This man the elector of Cologne had appointed his resident at the English court – probably I at the suggestion of James, and in defiance of public opinion; and James now insisted that he should receive a public introduction to court, in the habit of his order, and attended by six other monks in a like costume. Thus James took a pleasure in violating the laws and insulting public opinion at every turn, to show that he was independent of both; and he now prepared to commence in earnest the destruction of the church.

Before advancing to this dangerous experiment, however, he deemed it necessary to tighten the discipline of the army, which had shown no little disgust of his proceedings, and left it doubtful whether it would stand by him in the momentous crisis.

Many of James's soldiers had deserted, and it was found that they were under no oath or obligation which rendered such desertion liable to serious punishment. But James determined to punish them, even condignly, in order to strike a sufficient terror into the whole army. He consulted the judges as to whether he did not possess this power; they said that he did not. Instead of accepting this answer, James dismissed Herbert, the chief justice of the Bang's Bench, Sir John Holt, another judge of the same bench and recorder of London, and put in their places Sir Robert Wright, a creature of Jeffreys', a man of ruined and base character, Richard Allifeone, and Sir Bartholomew Shower as recorder. With these infamous instruments he went to work; and, instead of trying the offenders by court-martial, he brought them before these men in the King's Bench and in the Old Bailey, and hanged them in sight of their regiments. By these outrages on every law and principle of constitutional safety James thought he had terrified the army into obedience; and he now attacked the very existence of the universities, in order to give the education of the country into the hands of popery.

James commenced his encroachments on the universities by ordering one Alban Francis, a Benedictine monk, to be admitted a master of arts in that of Cambridge. That many persons not strictly admissible by the rules of the university had received honorary degrees, including foreigners of different forms of faith, and even a Turk, was indisputable; but the object of these favours was so clear that no mischief could arise from the practice. But now the universities were but too well aware that James aimed at a thorough usurpation of these schools by the catholics, to lightly pass the matter by. The heads of colleges sent hastily to Albemarle, their chancellor, begging him to explain to the king that the person named could not be admitted according to the statutes; at the same time they conceded so far as to offer to admit Francis on his taking the oaths of supremacy and obedience. He refused. James menaced the authorities, but in vain, and he summoned them before the High Commission Court. John Pechell, the vice-chancellor of the university, attended by eight fellows, including the illustrious Isaac Newton - afterwards Sir Isaac-appeared, and were received by Jeffreys with all his devilish bluster. Pechell was soon terrified at this most brutal monster, whose employment alone would have sufficiently stamped the character of James; and, when any of the other fellows attempted to speak, Jeffreys roared out, "You are not vice- chancellor; when you are, you may talk; till then, hold your tongue." Finding, however, that, though he could embarrass, he could not bend the vice-chancellor, Jeffreys, by order of James, declared Pechell dismissed from the office of vice-chancellor, and all his emoluments suspended. This was a gross violation of the rights of the university, and Jeffreys added to the outrage a piece of his usually blasphemous advice to the fellows – "Go your way and sin no more, lest a worse thing befell you."

The decease of the president of Magdalene College, Oxford, enabled James to follow up his plans without loss of time. Magdalene was one of the very richest of the English foundations, and consisted of a president, forty fellows, and thirty scholars, called Demies. It was the law of the foundation that the president could only be elected from those who were or had been members of that college, or of New College. The president died in March, 1687, and the 13th of April was fixed for the election of the new one. A Dr. Smith, a learned orientalist, and an enthusiastically loyal man, applied for the royal consent, but was informed that the king was determined to give it only to one of his own religion; and, to the astonishment and disgust of the college, one Anthony Farmer was named as the royal nominee. The choice seemed made to insult the university in the highest degree possible, for not only was Farmer a popish convert, but a man of the most drunken, debauched, and infamous character who could have been picked from the vilest haunts of unnameable wickedness. The astounded fellows humbly but earnestly remonstrated, but in vain. On the appointed day, spite of the king's positive injunctions, and the presence of his agent, the choice fell on a distinguished and highly virtuous member of the college, John Hough.

The irate king summoned the fellows before the beastly Jeffreys and the High Commission, as he had summoned the heads of the university of Cambridge. There Jeffreys exhibited his constant display of insufferable Billingsgate; and when Dr. Fairfax, one of the fellows, had the boldness to call in question the legality of the High Commission, he lost all patience. "Who is this man? What commission has he to be impudent here? Seize him; put him into a dark room. What does he do without a keeper? He is under my care as a lunatic. I wonder nobody has applied to me for the custody of him." But, after all, the character of Farmer was shown to be so vilely reprobate, that he was dropped, and the college ordered to receive Dr. Parker, bishop of Oxford.

Parker Was not an openly acknowledged papist, but was understood to be really one; but he was neither a fellow of Magdalene nor New College, and the fellows were firm enough to stand by their own election of Dr. Hough. James determined to go in person to Oxford and overawe these obstinate men; and he was the more bent upon it, having in the meantime suffered a. similar defeat in endeavouring to force a catholic into the hospital connected with the Charterhouse school. The trustees refused, and were called before Jeffreys. There he began browbeating the master, Thomas Burnet, but was unexpectedly opposed by the venerable duke of Ormond. At this the bully swagger of this most hideous and contemptible judge that ever sat on a bench at once gave way, for he had no real courage. He stole from the court, and the scheme failed for the day. But the High Commission having sentenced Hough to be deposed from the presidentship of Magdalene, and Fairfax from his fellowship, again met, and summoned the trustees of the Charterhouse. Here again they were awed by a letter addressed to the king, signed by the trustees, including the names of Ormond, Halifax, Danby, and Nottingham, the chiefs of all the great parties who secured to James his crown, and still by their forbearance kept it on his head, so that they were compelled to pause before proceeding further.

On the 16th of August James set out on a progress, with every display of royal state which could impress on the minds of his subjects an idea of his kingly security. He proceeded to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bath; thence by Gloucester and Worcester to Ludlow, Shrewsbury, and Chester; whence he again turned south, and reached Oxford on the 3rd of September. Everywhere he had been attended by the high sheriffs of the counties with splendid retinues; and the clergy in the towns had flocked around him in great numbers, though he continued on his progress to neglect their preaching for mass. If outward circumstances could be relied on, it might have been supposed that the king had never been more popular; and, with all the prestige of this tour, he summoned the refractory fellows of Magdalene before him, and rated them soundly on their disobedience. They knelt and offered him a petition, but he haughtily refused to look at it, bidding them go that instant and elect the bishop of Oxford, or expect his high displeasure. But the fellows could not be thus brought to submission, and James quitted the town in high dudgeon.

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Pictures for Reign of James II. (Continued) page 2

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