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 9

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

Some apprehension of such a flight, it would seem, had been entertained, for, by orders of the queen, Anne's apartments had been closely guarded, but Sarah Churchill had been too adroit for them. From Copt Hall, in Epping Forest, it was deemed safest to go northward and join the insurgents at Nottingham. Bishop Compton mounted buff coat and jack boots, and rode all the way beside the princess's carriage. Volunteer gentlemen gathered round them on the road, and the bishop acted as their commander till they peached Nottingham. Anne left a letter addressed to the queen, saying that, finding her husband was gone, she could not bear to meet her father in the flush of his anger against him, and, therefore, thought it better to withdraw till a reconciliation could be effected. She declared that her husband was only gone to make terms for her father's safety, and that, for herself, she should be the most unhappy woman till all was made right betwixt her husband and her father.

It was towards evening of the same day that Anne fled that James arrived at Whitehall, agitated by the awful desertions of his highest officers and his nearest relatives. This announcement put the climax to his torture. He exclaimed, "God help me! my very children have forsaken me." Severe as the punishment of his desperate treason against his people deserved to be, this certainly was a cruel fate. For some days a lady near his person records that she thought she saw in him occasional aberrations of intellect. That night he sat late in council, and it was urged on him to call together such peers and prelates as were in London, to consult on the necessary steps in this crisis. The next day came together nearly fifty peers and bishops, and James asked their advice as to calling a parliament. On this head there appeared no difference of opinion; but Halifax, Nottingham, and others, urged with equal earnestness that all catholics should be dismissed from office, and a general amnesty published for all in arms against him. James assented to the calling a parliament, but his eyes were still not opened to the folly of his past conduct, and he would give no assurance of dismissing the papists, and broke out into Vehement language at the proposal to pardon his enemies. "My lords," he said, "you are wonderfully anxious for the safety of my enemies, but none of you troubles himself about my safety." And he vowed that he would yet take vengeance on those who had deserted him, and above all on Churchill. Clarendon, who was on the eve of running off to William, took the opportunity to utter the bitter feelings which his dismissal from the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland to make way for Tyrconnel had no doubt long left in his mind. He upbraided James with his dogged and incurable popery; with sacrificing everybody and everything, for it; declaring that, even at that moment, James was raising a regiment from which protestants were rigorously excluded. He taunted him with running away from the enemy, and asked him who was likely to fight for him when he himself was the first to flee.

After this severe treatment by his closest connections, James appeared to comply with the advice of the lords. He sent for Halifax, Nottingham, and Godolphin, and informed them that he had appointed them commissioners to treat with William. He dismissed Sir Edward Hales from the Tower, arid placed Bevil Skelton, a protestant, there. But the nature or the intention of this most obtuse of bigots was by no means changed; he was internally as determined as ever to reverse every concession on the first possible occasion. Barillon tells us that he assured him that all this was a mere feint; that he only sent the commissioners to William in order to gain time for sending his wife and child into France; that as to calling a parliament, that would only be to put himself into their power, and compel him to submit to their conditions; that he had no faith in his troops, except the Irish; none of the rest would fight for him; and, therefore, as soon as the queen and young prince were safe, he should get away to Ireland, Scotland, or France, and await the turn of events. Such was the utterly hopeless character of the Stuart race!

To clear the way for the escape of the royal infant, lord Dover was put in command at Portsmouth, and James sent orders to lord Dartmouth to see that the child was safely conveyed to the French coast. In anticipation of the accomplishment of this object, he made every preparation for his own flight. He sent to Jeffreys to bring the great seal, and take up his quarters with it in the palace, lest by any means it should fall into the hands of the invader, and thus give an air of authority to his proceedings. But his escape was delayed by unpleasant news from lord Dartmouth. The announcement of the calling of a parliament, and of attempted agreement with the prince of Orange, had spread exultation through the navy, and the officers had dispatched an address of fervent thanks to James, when the arrival of the infant prince awoke a general suspicion that all was still hollow, and that James meant nothing but escape. The officers were in great agitation, and plainly pointed out to Dartmouth his heavy responsibility if he allowed the prince to quit the kingdom. Dartmouth, therefore, wrote James,, declaring that he would risk his life for the support of the crown, but that he dared not undertake to facilitate the escape of the prince of Wales. This was confounding news, and James took instant measures for the return of his son to London, and for his escape by another means to France.

There was no time to be lost, as town and country were growing every day more violently disaffected. There was a furious cry against the papists; they were accused of all sorts of designs - of firing the city, blowing up the churches; the earl of Salisbury was indicted for becoming a catholic; father Petre was denounced and hunted after; and "Lillibullero" was sung' about the streets by excited mobs. In the midst of this ferment there appeared a proclamation, purporting to be from the prince of Orange, calling on the protestants of London to treat all papists having arms in their houses as robbers, freebooters, and banditti; ordering all magistrates to seek out, seize, and disarm them; for a certain king was in league with the king of France for the extirpation of the protestant religion, and London would soon be burned or its inhabitants massacred if the papists were not secured. William afterwards disowned this atrocious manifesto, which indeed bore no resemblance to his temperate and politic proclamations; and it was more than twenty years after claimed by one Hugh Speke, a violent incendiary. For the time, however, it had its effect. The fury of the populace was roused to delirium against the catholics and the king, and from the country still came news of defection on all sides. Lord Lumley had seized Newcastle; the people there had thrown down the king's statue and hurled it into the Tyne; the garrison at Hull had risen against its catholic commander, lord Langdale, and imprisoned him; Norfolk was up under its duke; Worcestershire under lord Herbert of Cherbury and Sir Edward Harley; Bristol received the prince's forces under the earl of Shrewsbury; Gloucester rose and liberated lord Lovelace; and even the most loyal of cities, Oxford, the seat of the non-resistance doctrine, declared for William, and the university offered him its plate to coin, if necessary.

Meantime William was gradually advancing towards the capital, and, on the 6th of December, the king's commissioners met him at Hungerford, where they found the earls of Clarendon and Oxford already swelling the court of the invader. They were received with much respect, and submitted their master's proposal that all matters in dispute should be referred to the parliament for which the writs were ordered, and that, in the meantime, the Dutch army should not advance nearer than forty miles from London. The whigs in William's court were decidedly averse to reconcilement with the king, whose, implacable nature they knew; but William insisted on acceding to the terms, on condition that the royal forces should remove the same distance from the capital, and that the Tower of, London and Tilbury Fort, should be put into the keeping of the city authorities. If it were necessary for the king and prince to proceed to Westminster during the negotiations, they should go attended only by a small and determinate guard. Nothing could be fairer; but William knew well the character of his father-in-law, and felt assured that he would by some means shuffle out of the agreement, and throw the odium of failure on himself; and he was not deceived. Never had James so fair an opportunity for recovering his position and securing his throne, under constitutional restraints, for his life; but he was totally incapable of such wisdom and honesty.

On the very day that the royal commissioners reached William's camp, James received the prince of Wales back from Portsmouth, and prepared to send him off to France by another route. On the night of the 10th of December he sent the queen across the Thames in darkness and tempest, disguised as an Italian lady and attended by two Italian women, one of whom was the child's nurse, and the other carried the boy in her arms. They were guarded by two French refugees of distinction - Antonine, count of Lauzun, and his friend Saint Victor. They arrived safely at Gravesend, where a yacht awaited them, on board of which were lord and lady Powis. Saint Victor returned to inform James that they had got clear off, and in a few hours they were safely in Calais. Scarcely did Saint Victor bring the cheering news of the auspicious sailing of the. yacht, when the commissioners arrived with the conditions agreed upon by William. Here was the guarantee for a speedy adjustment of all his difficulties; but the false and distorted-minded James only saw in the circumstance a wretched means of further deceit and contempt of his people and of all honourable negotiation. He pretended to be highly satisfied, summoned for the morrow a meeting of all the peers in town, and of the lord mayor and aldermen, and directed, that they should deliberate freely and decide firmly for the good of the country. This done, he retired to rest, ordered Jeffreys to be with him early in the morning, said to lord Mulgrave, as he bade him good night, that the news from William was most satisfactory, and, before morning, had secretly decamped, leaving his capital and kingdom to take care of themselves rather than condescend to a pacification with his son-in-law and his subjects, which should compel him to rule as a constitutional king.

But James was not satisfied with this contemptible conduct; he indulged himself before going with creating all the confusion to the nation that he could. Had the writs which were preparing been left for issue on the 15 th of January, a new parliament would be in existence, ready to settle the necessary measures for future government; he therefore collected the writs and threw them into the fire with his own hands, and annulled a number which were already gone out by an instrument for the purpose. He also left a letter for lord Feversham, announcing his departure from the kingdom, and desiring him no longer to expose the lives of himself and his soldiers "by resistance to a foreign army and a poisoned nation;" then, taking the great seal in his hand, he bade the earl of Northumberland, who was the lord of the bed-chamber on duty, and lay on a pallet bed in the king's room, not to unlock the door till the usual hour in the morning, and then, disguised as a country gentleman, disappeared down the back-stairs. He was waited for by Sir Edward Hales, whom he afterwards created earl of Tenterden, and they proceeded in a hackney- coach to Millbank, where they crossed the river in a boat to Vauxhall. When in mid-stream, he flung the great seal into the water, trusting that it would never be seen any more; but it was afterwards dragged up by a fishing-net. James, attended by Hales and Sheldon, one of the royal equerries, drove at a rapid pace for Emley Ferry, near the isle of Sheppey, having relays of horse ready engaged. They reached that place at ten in the morning, and got on board the custom-house hoy which was waiting for them, and dropped down the river.

In the morning, when the duke of Northumberland opened the king's chamber door, and it was discovered that James had fled, the consternation in the palace may be imagined. The courtiers and the numbers of persons who were waiting to fulfil their morning duties, and the lords who had been summoned to council, spread the exciting tidings, and the capital became a scene of the wildest and most alarming confusion. Feversham obeyed the orders of the king left in his letter, without pausing to ask any advice, or to calculate what might be the consequences. The symptoms of insubordination in London had been for some time growing even more menacing with the display of James's weakness; and the effect of a huge mob of Irish troops being let loose on the public was frightful in the extreme. This was a circumstance that William extremely resented, both because it endangered the public safety, and prevented that quiet transfer of the allegiance of the army to himself which would undoubtedly for the most part have taken place. He ordered Churchill and Grafton, in whom the English army had great reliance, to proceed to the head-quarters of the different regiments, and, by proclamation, to recall the soldiers to their standards. They were very successful; the majority of the men and officers re-assembled, and the Irish were ordered to deliver up their arms and disband, being offered their maintenance on their way to their own country. The bulk of them complied, but at Tilbury Fort they showed resistance, and a sentinel snapped his pistol at the duke of Grafton; it missed fire, and the man was instantly shot dead by an English soldier. About two hundred of the Irish garrison endeavoured to seize a vessel at Gravesend to make their escape in, but soon ran aground, and were secured.

In London the consequences of Feversham's act were as fearful as might have been expected. There was no government, no constituted authority to appeal to. Lord Rochester had continued loyal to the last; but the base desertion of James and the imminent danger at once decided him. He bade the duke of Northumberland muster the guards, and declare for William. The officers of the other regiments in London followed the advice, and endeavoured to keep together their men, declaring for the prince of Orange. The lords who had been summoned to council hastened into the city to concert measures with the lord mayor and aldermen for the public safety. A meeting was hastily called in Guildhall, where the peers, twenty-five in number, and five bishops, with Sancroft and the new archbishop of York at their head, formed themselves into a provisional council to exercise the functions of government till the prince of Orange should arrive, for whom they sent a pressing message, praying him to hasten and unite with them for the preservation of the constitution and the security of the church. The two secretaries of state were sent for, but Preston only came; Middleton denied the authority of the self-created council. The lieutenant of the Tower, Bevil Skelton, was ordered to give up the keys to lord Lucas, and an order was sent to lord Dartmouth, desiring him to dismiss all popish officers from the fleet, and attempt nothing against the Dutch fleet. But no measures could prevent the outbreak of the mob in London. The animus against the catholics displayed itself on all sides. Under pretence of searching for papists, the hordes of blackguards from every low purlieu of London swarmed forth and broke into houses and plundered them at their pleasure. The office of Hills, the king's printer, whence had issued a constant stream of popish tracts, in recommendation of confession, image worship, and the supremacy of the pope, was one of the first places ransacked and laid in ruins. Then the fury of the mob was turned against the catholic chapels in Lincoln's Inn Fields, Lime Street, St. John's, and Clerkenwell. They tore down the altars, shrines, pictures, confessionals, and benches, and made bonfires of them in the streets. Lime Street Chapel was pulled down stick and stone. The crucifixes, pixes, and relics were paraded along the streets by the light of the tapers from the altars, amid the obscenest mockery and ribaldry; whilst thousands of sticks, swords, and poles were pointed with oranges.

<<< 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 9

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