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Reign of James II. (Continued) page 6


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These Circumstances, in which the pride and bigotry of Louis got the better of his worldly policy, completed the triumph of William of Orange. He seized on them to effect a removal of the long-continued jealousies of the council of Amsterdam against him. He entered into negotiations with the leading members of the council through his trusty friends Bentinck and Dykvelt, and as they were in the worst of humours with Louis, the old animosities against William were suffered to sleep, and he obtained the sanction of the States-general to his proposed expedition for the release of England from the French and catholic influences, and its reception into the confederation of protestant nations. Another circumstance just at this crisis occurred to strengthen all these feelings in Holland and Germany, and to account for any amount of troops collected at Nimeguen. The aggressions of Louis had roused and combined all Europe against him. Powers both catholic and protestant had felt themselves compelled to unite in order to repress his attempts at universal dominion. The king of Spain, the emperor of Germany, the king of Sweden had entered into the league of Augsburg to defend the empire; and to these were added various Italian princes, with the pope Innocent XL himself at their head. Louis had not hesitated to insult the pope on various occasions, and now he saw the pontiff in close coalition with heretic princes to repel his schemes

In May of this year died Ferdinand of Bavaria, the elector of Cologne. Besides Cologne, the elector possessed the bishoprics of Liege, Munster, and Hildesheim. In 1672 Louis had endeavoured to secure a successor to the elector in the French interest. He therefore proposed as his coadjutor the cardinal Furstemberg, bishop of Strasburg; and he would have succeeded, but it was necessary in order to his election of coadjutor, that Furstemberg should first resign his bishopric; to this the pope, in his hostility to Louis, would not consent; he refused his dispensation. But now, the elector dying, the contest was renewed. Louis again proposed the cardinal; the allies of the league of Augsburg nominated the prince Clement of Bavaria, who was elected and confirmed by the pope, though a youth of only seventeen years of age. The allies were equally successful in the bishoprics of Liege, Munster, and Hildesheim; but the principal fortresses, Bonn, Neutz, Keiserswertch, and Rhinsberg, were held by the troops of Furstemberg, and therefore were at the service of France. Louis was, however, exasperated at the partial defeat of his plans, and complained loudly of the partiality of the pope, and began to march troops to the support of Furstemberg.

But whilst Louis was actually planning a sweeping descent on the German empire, in which William of Orange lay preeminently in his way, he was at the same time in danger of a more momentous occurrence - that of William leaving the way open by sailing for England. If William should succeed in placing himself on the throne of England, he would be able to raise a far more formidable opposition to his plans of aggrandisement than he had yet ever done. Even with his small resources he had proved a terrible enemy, and had arrayed all Europe against him; what would he do if he could bring all the powers of England by land and sea to co-operate with Holland, Spain, Austria, Sweden, and the Netherlands? The stupidity of James and the offended pride of Louis saved William in this dilemma, and led Louis to commit on this occasion the cardinal blunder of his reign.

It was impossible that Louis could be ignorant of what William was doing. The preparations of ships and troops were indications of a contemplated attack somewhere. It might be directed to resist the French on the side of Germany; but other facts equally noticeable demonstrated that the object was England. Avaux, the French envoy at the Hague, in the absence of Abville, who was on a visit to England, noticed, in the months of April and May, a swift sailing boat, which made rapid and frequent passages betwixt England and Rotterdam; and he noticed that, after every arrival from England, there were closetings of William and the English whig leaders at the Hague, especially Russell. After the birth of the heir-apparent of England, William dispatched Zulestein to London with his professedly warm, though they could not be very sincere, congratulations On the event; but soon after, on the escape to the Hague of vice-admiral Herbert, who was supposed to carry the invitation of the leading whigs to William, the prince omitted the child's name in the prayers for the royal family of England, and openly expressed his doubts of his being the real child of the queen.

These circumstances, the continued activity of the military preparations, the constant sailings of this mysterious boat, and the subsequent closetings, with the continual growth of the number of distinguished English refugees at the Hague, satisfied the French envoy that a descent on England was certain and nigh at hand. Avaux not only warned Louis of the imminent danger, but he warned James by every successive mail from the Hague, through Barillon. Louis took the alarm. He dispatched Bonrepaux to London to arouse James to a due sense of his peril, and offered to join his fleet with an English one to prevent the passage of the Dutch armament. He held a powerful body of troops ready to march to the frontiers of Holland, and ordered Avaux to announce to the states-general that his master was fully cognisant of the warlike preparations of the stadtholder; that he was quite aware of their destination, and that, as the king of England was his ally, he should consider the first act of hostility against James as a declaration of war against himself. He at the same time declared the cardinal Furstemberg and the chapter of Cologne under his protection. Simultaneously the same message was delivered to the Spanish governor of Flanders, and marshal d'Humieres was dispatched to take the command of the French army in that quarter.

This plain declaration fell like a thunderbolt into the midst of the states-general. There was the utmost evident confusion. A poor and embarrassed excuse was made, and a courier sent post haste to fetch William from Minden, where he was in secret negotiation with the elector of Brandenburg. If James took the alarm, and Louis, as was his intent, went heartily into the coalition to defeat the enterprise, it must become a most hazardous undertaking, even if it were at all feasible. But the folly of that most wrong-headed of the Stuarts again saved the prince of Orange, and removed the last difficulty out of the way of his enterprise. James would not believe a word of the warning. He would not believe that his own daughter would sanction an attempt at his dethronement. He would not believe that William's armament had any other object than the king of France himself. He highly resented the declaration of Louis that there was an alliance betwixt them, as calculated to alarm his own subjects, especially his protestant ones. He received Bonrepaux with cold hauteur in return for his offers of assistance; and Van Citters, the Dutch ambassador, with proportionate cordiality, who hastened on the part of the states to assure- him that the French communications were sheer inventions. He gave orders that all the foreign ministers should be informed that there was no such league betwixt France and England as Louis pretended, for his own purposes.

In fact, James was living all this time in the midst of a set of traitors, who, even to his most confidential minister, Sunderland, had secretly gone over to William, and were putting him in possession of every daily thought, word, and intention of their master. Besides the seven that had signed, and of whom admiral Russell was already with William, the earl of Shrewsbury had fled to him, having mortgaged his estates and taken forty thousand pounds with him, and offered it to the prince. The two sons of the marquis of Winchester, lord Wiltshire, and a younger brother; Halifax's son, lord Eland; Danby's son, lord Dumblaine; lord Lorn, the son of the unfortunate earl of Argyll; lord Mordaunt, Gerard, earl of Macclesfield, and admiral Herbert were already with him. Herbert had been appointed admiral to the Dutch fleet, with a pension of six thousand pounds a year. Wildman, Carstairs, Ferguson, Hume, who had escaped from the Argyll and Monmouth expeditions, went there; and, whilst the sons of Halifax and Danby were with William, they themselves, though remaining in England with Devonshire, Lumley, and others, were sworn to rise in his favour the moment he landed. But the most unsuspected of the traitors at his own court were the lords Churchill and Sunderland. Churchill James had made almost everything that he was; on Sunderland he had heaped benefits without stint or measure. He had scraped money together by all possible means; and James did not merely connive at it, he favoured it. This meanest of creeping things was in the pay of France to the amount of six thousand pounds per annum; he had a pension from Ireland of five thousand pounds more; as president of the council he occupied the post of prime minister, and derived immense emoluments from fines, forfeitures, pardons, and the like. Rather than lose his place, he had openly professed Catholicism; but scarcely had he thus sold his soul for his beloved pelf and power, when he saw as plainly as any one else that the ground was sliding from under the feet of his foolish master, and was overwhelmed with consternation. He hastened again to sell himself to William, on condition that his honours and property should be secure; and thus had James his very prime minister, his most confidential and trusted servant, at every turn drawing out all his plans and thoughts, and sending them to his intended invader. Sunderland's wife was the mistress of Sidney,, who was at the Hague; and, through her, this most contemptible of men sent constantly his traitorous communications to her paramour, and so to William.

With such snakes in the grass about him, James was completely blinded to his danger. Churchill and Sunderland persuaded him that there was no danger from Holland, and inflamed his resentment at what they called the presumption of Louis. They were completely successful; and Sunderland, after the establishment of William in England, made a boast of this detestable conduct. Louis was so much disgusted by the haughty rejection of his warning, that he himself committed a gross political error. Instead of preventing the descent on England and the aggrandisement of h is great opponent William - by far the most important measure for him - by directly attacking the frontiers of Holland, and keeping William engaged, in his vexation he abandoned the besotted James, and made an attack on the German empire. Dividing his army, one portion of it, under the marquis of Bouffiers, seized Worms, Mentz, and Treves; a second, under Humieres, made itself master of Bonn; and a third, under the duke of Duras and marshal Vauban, took Philipsburg by storm. The greater part of the Rhine was at once in Louis's hands, and great was the triumph in Paris. But not the less was the exultation of William of Orange; for now, the French army removed, and the mind of Louis incensed against James, the way was wide open for him to England.

No time was now lost in preparing to depart. A memorial, professing to be addressed by the protestants of England to the states, but supposed to be drawn up by Burnet, was published, accompanied by two declarations in the name of William addressed to the people of England and Scotland.

These latter were the work of the grand pensionary Fagel, but condensed and adapted more to the English taste by Burnet. In the memorial the people of England were made to complain of the wholesale violation of the constitution and the liberties of his subjects by James, and of the attempt to fix a false and popish heir on the nation. They called on William to come over and vindicate the rights of his wife, and at the same time to rescue the country of her birth and her rightful claims from popery and arbitrary power.

The declarations to England and Scotland in reply were drawn with consummate art. William admitted that he had seen with deep concern the fundamental and continual violations of the laws of the kingdom. The contempt of acts of parliament; the expulsion of just judges from the bench to make room for the servile instruments of oppression; the introduction of prohibited persons into both the state and church, to the jeopardy of freedom and true religion; the arbitrary treatment of persons of high dignity by the illegal High Commission court; the forcible introduction of papists into the colleges; the removal of lords-lieutenants, and the destruction of corporations which stood firmly for the rights and religion of the nation; the attempt to impose a spurious and popish issue on the throne, and the equally atrocious attempt to tread down English liberties by an army of Irish papists: for these reasons William declared himself ready to comply with the prayers of the British people, and to come over with a sufficient force for his own protection, but with no intention or desire of conquest, but simply to restore freedom by an independent parliament, to inquire into the circumstances attending the birth- Of the pretended prince, and to leave everything else to the decision of parliament and the nation. He declared that he should endeavour to re-establish the church of England and the church of Scotland, and at the same time to protect the just rights of other professors of religion willing to live as good subjects -in obedience to the laws.

When copies of these papers were sent to James by his ambassador, Abville, from the Hague, the delusion of the affrighted monarch was suddenly and rudely dissipated. He gazed on the ominous documents - in which his subjects invited a foreign prince to take possession of his throne, and that prince, his son-in-law, accepted the proposal - with a face from which the colour fled, and with a violently trembling frame. Fear at once did that which no reason, no accumulation of the most visible signs 6f his vanishing popularity could ever effect He at once hastened to make every concession. He summoned his council, and hastened a dispatch to the Hague, declaring that he regarded the siege of Philipsburg by Louis as a breach of the treaty of Nimeguen, and that he was ready to take the field against him in conjunction with the forces of Spain and Holland. Before an answer could be received, James hurried forward the work of retractation. When he looked around him there was not a power; or party that he had not alienated - the cavaliers and tories who fought for his father, and supported his brother through a thousand arbitrary measures; the church, the dissenters, the army, the navy, the bench, the bar, the whole people, held in constant terror of being made the abject victims of popish domination, he had, in his insane rage for his religion, offended, injured, and alarmed beyond measure. He now sought to win back the able Halifax; he issued a proclamation, protesting that he would protect the church, and maintain the act of uniformity; that catholics should no longer be admitted to parliament or the council. He sent for the bishops, and asked for their earnest advice in the restoration of public affairs. He ordered the restoration of the deposed magistrates and lords-lieutenants; he reinstated Compton, bishop of London; he gave back the charter to the city, and, a few days after, the charter of the provincial corporations; he immediately abolished the court of High Commission; and finally replaced Dr. Hough and the ejected fellows of Magdalene college in full possession of their house and privileges.

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Pictures for Reign of James II. (Continued) page 6

The Earl of Shrewsbury
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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
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Attack on James II
Attack on James II >>>>
The Princess Anne
The Princess Anne >>>>
William of Orange
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