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Reign of James II. (Continued) page 7


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These sweeping concessions showed plainly that the tyrant knew very well how odious his incroachments had been, and that nothing but fear could force their abandonment from his ungenerous soul. They had, therefore, the less effect. There was public rejoicing, indeed, but it was for the victory over the mean despot, not for gratitude for concessions which it was felt would be resumed the moment danger should pass; and this feeling was deepened by an accident. The bishop of Winchester was sent down to Oxford to formally reinstate the principal and fellows of Magdalene, but was as suddenly recalled; and this event, coupled with a rumour that the Dutch fleet had put to sea, but was dispersed by a storm and put back, made the people more firmly conclude that no faith could be reposed in the words of James. The bishop, it was contended, had been temporarily recalled on urgent affairs; but the effect remained the same. Still the city of London celebrated the recovery of its charter with much rejoicing, and sent a deputation to express their gratitude to the king. The dukes of Somerset, Ormond, and Newcastle, the marquis of Winchester, the earls of Derby, Nottingham, and Danby, and the bishop of London, declared their fidelity, and the prelates issued a form of prayer for the safety and prosperity of the royal family.

Whilst James was exerting himself to conciliate his subjects, he was equally industrious in putting the kingdom into a posture of defence. He made lord Dartmouth commander of the fleet, which consisted of thirty-seven men-of-war, and seven fire-ships - a naval force inferior to that of the prince, and, still worse, weak in the principles of loyalty, though Dartmouth himself might be relied on. His army, including about six thousand Irish and Scotch, amounted to forty thousand men - more than enough to repel the force of the invaders, had the hearts of the men been in the cause.

William was compelled to delay his embarkation for more than a week by tempestuous weather. His fleet, under the command of Herbert, which was lying off Scheveling, on the 28th of September, was compelled to seek shelter in Helvoetsluys. The wind raged furiously till the 15th of October, and public prayers were offered in the churches for more favourable weather. All attempts to invade England had, since William of Normandy's enterprise, been notoriously defeated by storms; and the people became so superstitious on this head that it was found necessary, under severe penalties, to forbid foreboding language. On the 16th, the wind abating, William took a solemn leave of the states- general. He thanked them for their long and devoted support of him in his endeavours for the independence of Europe, and committed his wife to their protection whilst he was absent for the same great object, and the security of the protestant religion. He declared that if he died it would be as their servant; if he lived, it would be as their friend. The pensionary Fagel, now old and failing, replied with great emotion; and, amid the tears of most present, William stood like a stoic, without any visible agitation. The deputies of the principal towns accompanied him to the water-side, and that evening he went on board his frigate the Brill. The next day a public fast was held in the Hague, with sermons and prayers for the success of the expedition, and Mary continued to retain her place in the church in public during the long service from half-past ten in the morning till half-past seven in the afternoon. Though the success of her husband must be the dethronement of her father, she maintained an outward air of callousness.

On the afternoon of the 19th the fleet sailed from Helvoetsluys, the men-of-war, in three divisions, forming a long line out at sea, and the transports driving before the breeze nearer in land. The day was fine, the wind steady from the south-west; and as the eventful squadron passed the sandy downs of Scheveling, the inhabitants of the Hague crowded them in thousands, and raised acclamations of anticipated success. But the scene rapidly changed. By ten o'clock at night a furious tempest was again raging, which dispersed the fleet,-sunk one ship, damaged many others, compelled them to throw overboard great quantities of stores, and destroyed a thousand horses through being closed down under hatches. The fleet managed to regain Helvoetsluys, which William himself reached on the 21st. He refused to go on shore, but sent to the states for fresh supplies, and busied himself in pushing on his repairs.

The news of this disaster reached England with many aggravations, so that it was imagined that the expedition would be given up for that season; and James declared with much satisfaction that it was what he expected, the host having been exposed for several days. He seized, however, the time afforded by this delay to assemble an extraordinary body, the members of the privy council, the peers who were in or near London, the judges, the law officers of the crown, the lord mayor and aldermen, the queen-dowager, and two-and-twenty women - some ladies about the queen, some menials. The princess Anne was summoned, but excused herself on account of indisposition. "I have called you together," said James, "upon a very extraordinary occasion; but extraordinary diseases must have extraordinary remedies. The malicious endeavours of my enemies have so poisoned the minds of many of my subjects, that, by the reports I have from all hands, I have reason to believe that many do think this son which God has pleased to bless me with be none of mine, but a supposititious child." The witnesses were all examined on oath except the queen-dowager, and presented such a mass of evidence as was undoubtedly complete, and it was enrolled in chancery and published. But such was the intense prejudice of the age that it failed to convince the public at large. As Anne was not present, the council waited on her with a copy of the evidence, on which she observed, "My lords, this was not necessary; the king's word is more to me than all these depositions." Yet her uncle, Clarendon, assures us that she never mentioned the child but with ridicule, and only once was heard to call it the prince of Wales, and that was when she thought it was dying. Anne, in feet, was devoted to the cause of the prince of Orange; and Barillon says that she avoided every opportunity of convincing herself of what she did not wish to believe.

This singular act of verification of the child's identity was j the last act of the ministry of Sunderland. His treason had not escaped observation. A letter of his wife's had been intercepted and shown to him by the king, in which she was found in close correspondence with Sidney. He strictly denied all knowledge of it, and did not hesitate to advert to his wife's liaison with Sidney as sufficiently exculpatory of himself. For a time he lulled James's suspicions, but they again revived; and, on the very evening of this extraordinary council, James sent Middleton and demanded the seals. To the last Sunderland acted the part of injured innocence; but was not long in getting away to the Hague, not, however, in time to join William before his second embarkation. His office of secretary to the southern department was given to Middleton, and of secretary to the northern department to lord Preston, both protestants. Petre was dismissed from the council, but retained his post as clerk of the closet at Whitehall. But all this did not alter the tone of public feeling. The very day before the assembling of the extraordinary council, the London mob demolished a new catholic chapel; and on- the 14th of October, the king's birthday, there had been no sign of rejoicing, not even the firing of the Tower guns; but the people reminded one another that it was the anniversary of the landing of William the Conqueror. Their thoughts were running on the landing of another William.

On the 1st of November the prince of Orange again set sail, and this time with a favourable though strong gale from the east. Besides the English noblemen and gentlemen whom we have mentioned, including also Fletcher of Saltoun, William had with him marshal Schömberg, an able and experienced general, who was appointed second in command; Bentinck, Overkirk, and counts Solmes and Stourm. Herbert was the chief admiral, much to the chagrin of the Dutch admirals, but very wisely so determined by William, who well knew the hereditary jealousy of the Dutch fleet, and the remembered boast and besom of Van Tromp in England. He resolved that, if they came to conflict with lord Dartmouth, it should be English commander against English, or his cause might receive great prejudice. For twelve hours William drove before the breeze towards the coasts of Yorkshire, as if intending to land there; then, suddenly tacking, he stood down the Channel before the gale. Dartmouth attempted to issue from the mouth of the Thames to intercept him, but the violent wind which favoured William perfectly disabled him. His vessels as they came out to sea were driven back with much damage, compelled to strike yards and top-masts, and to lie abreast the Longsand; whilst William, leading the way in the Brill, sailed rapidly past with his whole fleet and a crowd of other vessels that had gathered in his rear, to the amount of nearly seven hundred. It was twenty-four hours before Dartmouth could give chase, and on the 5th of November, a fatal day for popery, William reached Torbay, his real destination.

James meantime had been in a state of dreadful agitation. The very day that William had set sail some of his declarations had been seized in circulation in London, and James ordered all but one copy to be destroyed, and suddenly summoned to his presence Halifax, Clarendon, and Nottingham. His eye had been arrested instantly by the paragraph which declared that William was earnestly invited to England by lords both temporal and spiritual. He demanded whether they had taken any part in any such invitation. They replied that they had not. He then sent for the bishop of London, who had many causes of discontent, and who was actually one of the seven who had signed the invitation. Compton replied with ready evasion that he was confident that there was not one of the bishops who were not as innocent as himself of any such matter. James, however, summoned all the bishops who were in town. They appeared on the morrow - Sancroft, the archbishop, Crewe of Durham, Cartwright of Chester, and the bishops of St. David's and London. James drew their attention to the assertion about the lords spiritual; declared that he did not believe a word of it, but still would like to have their explicit denial. Sancroft, Crewe, and Cartwright emphatically denied any participation in so treasonable an act - as they truly could, for Sancroft was not in the confidence of, the revolutionary party, and Cartwright and Crewe had been thorough-going High Commission men. When Compton was asked again, he replied, "I answered yesterday." But James was not satisfied; he ordered them to draw their denial in a written form which he might publish to the nation, and they withdrew in silence as if about to comply, though in no very zealous mood. James sent repeatedly to hasten their proceedings,, and at length they appeared and repeated their protestations of innocence. "But where," demanded James, "is the paper?" They replied that, on consultation, they did not feel that a written answer was requisite, as his majesty fully acquitted them. "But I expected a paper; I consider that you promised me one." "We assure your majesty," said the prelates, "that not one man in five hundred believes the declaration to be the prince's." "But five hundred," retorted James, angrily, "would bring in the prince of Orange upon my throat; "and he repeated that he must have their written answer. The bishops, however, now knew that the prince's fleet was sailing down the Channel, and they excused themselves from meddling in state affairs, having, as Sancroft remarked, so lately suffered imprisonment for a matter of state. At this hard hit James lost all patience, and he broke out in violent language. "If ever," says the bishop of Rochester, "in all my life I saw him more than ordinary vehement in speech and transported in his expressions, it was on this occasion." The primate alone returned a written answer, perfectly exonerating himself, and declaring his belief of the innocence of his brethren.

Scarcely had the bishops quitted the palace when the news arrived that the prince of Orange had landed at Torbay. James had a much superior army^ in point of numbers; he had forty thousand regular troops, besides seven regiments of militia - William only about fifteen thousand; and his unquestionable policy was to march rapidly down on the invader and crush him before he could be strengthened by any men of influence going over to him. If he succeeded in that, the disaffected would be careful to remain quiet, and, at the worst, he would have compelled the prince to fight, which would have injured his prestige as a peaceable deliverer from oppression, and converted him into a martial invader. This was the advice which Louis urgently gave him, and undoubtedly it was the best; but James was never wise in his decisions; his whole career had been one of the most flagrant absurdity, and he was now surrounded by traitors who, by giving him conflicting counsel, augmented his own indecision. James resolved to get the* main army at Salisbury ready to march against the enemy. Father Petre strongly dissuaded him from quitting the capital at all- advice of the very worst character, because it would allow the disaffected both north and south to gather under their heads unmolested. Lord Feversham and the count de Rove, two foreigners whom he had most unadvisedly, under the circumstances, placed at the head of the army, also protested against fixing his head-quarters so far from the capital. James, therefore, divided his forces, ordering twenty battalions of infantry and thirty squadrons of horse to march for Salisbury, and Marlborough and six battalions of infantry, and the same number of squadrons of horse, to protect London.

The prince of Orange during this time had landed at Torbay, the weather continuing rainy and bad, but so far favourable that it still defied all the efforts of lord Dartmouth to pursue him. The people declared that it was the evident will of Providence that the prince should deliver the country from popery; for just a century before, the Spanish Armada, coming to destroy protestantism, had been destroyed itself by tempests; and now the fleet which was intended to intercept the landing of William was not allowed to approach him. Most monarchs would have suspected the zeal of Dartmouth; but James, with all his follies and crimes, was only too unsuspicious, and he listened to his representations, and, as a naval man himself, fully excused him. Yet it is notorious that, whatever was the loyalty of Dartmouth, the greater part of his officers were in perfect understanding with admiral Herbert, who was even now at the head of William's fleet; and it is as doubtful whether the sailors themselves would have fought for the popish tyrant, numbers of them being also in the Dutch fleet.

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Pictures for Reign of James II. (Continued) page 7

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
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 >>>>

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