Reign of William and Mary. - (Continued.)
William sets cut for Holland - Preparation for Invasion of England - James's Declaration - The Queen's Measures for Defence - Capitulation of Limerick - Irish Troops volunteer for France - State of Ireland after the War - Marlborough's Plot - His Disgrace - Fuller's Plot - State of the Highlands - Massacre of Glencoe - The Battle of La Hogue - Siege of Namur - Battle of Steinkirk - Conspiracy of Grandval to assassinate William- Case of Lord Mohun - East India Bill - King refuses to ratify the Triennial Bill - New Declaration of James - Battle of Landen - New Charter to the East India Company - Distress in France - Lottery Loan - Establishment of Bank of England - Proposed Land-Bank - Naval Affairs on the Coast of France, and in the Mediterranean - The Lancashire Plot, and Trenchard's Prosecutions - Death of Archbishop Tillotson, and Appointment of Tennison - Triennial Bill passed - The Death of Queen Mary - Greenwich Hospital founded.Pages: <1> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
This great discovery, which fell like a thunderbolt on the Jacobites, was scarcely less disconcerting to the whigs. It was hopeless after this to attempt anything against so alert and trusty a minister. William, relieved from all apprehensions of danger by this timely discovery, left the three traitors in the custody of his government, and the leaders yet at large under their eye, and hastened to get over to Holland. On the 5th of January he prorogued parliament till the 31st of March; and in his farewell speech he said that he thought it proper to assure them that he should make no grants of the forfeited lands in England or Ireland; that those matters could be settled in parliament in such a manner as should be thought most expedient. Unfortunately, this was a promise which William failed to keep, and which brought upon him no lack of trouble in the future. Oji the 6th, whilst his English subjects were indulging in all the festivities of the season, William set out, attended by a splendid train of courtiers, for the Hague, where a great congress was appointed to consider the best means of resisting the aggressions of Louis of France.
But the weather intercepted his progress. A terrible frost set in, attended by fierce and contrary gales, and he was compelled to return from Canterbury to Kensington, where he remained till the 16th, when he again set out amid frost and snow. He knew that a great throng of the allies were assembling at the Hague to determine the plan of future action against the common enemy, and it was not in his nature to j be absent from his post, which was the great central one. On the 18th he embarked at Gravesend, with his train, on board seven yachts, attended by twelve men-of-war, commanded by Sir Cloudesley Shovel and admiral Rooke. Amongst his most distinguished attendants were the dukes of Ormond and Norfolk, the earls of Devonshire - now lord steward of the household - of Dorset, Monmouth, and Portland, as well as his two other Dutch followers, Zuleystein and Auverquerque. The weather was so bad that the fleet did not make the coast of Holland till the 23rd, and found it so ice-bound that the yachts could not approach it. William, who always suffered extremely from sea-sickness, and was most impatient to reach the congress, got into an open boat with some of his attendants. The ocean was at once so rough and winterly, that not only did his nobles endeavour to dissuade him from proceeding, but the sailors themselves pronounced the attempt impracticable. But nothing moved William. To a sailor who appeared particularly averse to put off, he said, "For shame! Are you afraid to die in my company?"
The boat left the side of the ship, the waves dashing over the king and his aristocratic companions. They came near a fisherman, who, in answer to their inquiries, told them they were about a league only from Goree. This was cheering; but thick fogs came down; they lost their course; and, instead of finding land, they were beating about all night on the open sea in that intense cold. As morning dawned they perceived the shore, and the little town of Honslaerdyk; and, half dead with cold, they made their way to land over the ice. There they discharged a gun, and made a fire to warm them, which soon brought crowds of people to the shore. On the discovery of the king of England, the populace broke into transports of enthusiasm. The firing of guns, and blazing of fires, and roar of acclamations, spread the news of the long-expected arrival of the stadtholder.
William and his lords were glad to warm and refresh themselves for some hours in the hut of a fisherman. From that place to the Hague the whole way was one living throng of shouting, exulting people. The Dutch, who had murmured at their stadtholder's long absence, and complained that he had forgot their interests in those of his new subjects, now forgot everything but that he was their own countryman, the man who had most successfully defended them from encroaching France, who had made himself master of England and Ireland, and was now only the more the grand pillar of their dependence for the defeat of the great continental enemy. On the 26th of January he made his triumphant entry into the Hague.
The immense popularity of William as manifested on this occasion was a lesson to the English nobles, who were sensible of the cold and grudging respect in which William was held in England as a foreigner, notwithstanding the vast service he had rendered the country in ridding it of the incorrigible dynasty of the Stuarts, and establishing its liberties on a new and solid basis. The enormous crowds who had flocked into the Hague from all the great towns, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Leyden, Delft, and other places, including all that was distinguished in the country; the dense masses deafening them with acclamations as the procession passed, attended by all the authorities in their robes, and by sixteen hundred armed burghers in their most costly dresses; the festal array of the city, gay with triumphal arches bearing significant mottoes; the most glowing tapestry suspended from windows and balconies, and endless wreaths and festoons of evergreens - bore enthusiastic testimony to the unbounded joy of the Dutch in seeing their great stadtholder once more among them. Large pictures represented the glorious actions of his ancestors and himself in defence of their country, and the increase of their renown; every window was crowded, and the fairest faces in Holland were flushed with the ardour of welcome. As the evening closed in, fireworks set the city aglow. The English nobles J remarked on his wonderful popularity, and William gave them another lesson: - "Yes," said he, "but I am not the favourite. The shouting was nothing to what it would have been had Mary been with me." The meaning must have been felt. Mary was a foreigner there, yet the hearts of the Dutch were not cold to her on that account, as the English ones were to him.
A splendid assembly of his princely allies or their ambassadors were waiting to welcome him home, and to proceed to the business of congress; among these were the electors of Bavaria and Brandenburg, the landgrave of Hesse- Cassel, the duke of Zell and Wolfenbuttel; prince Christian Louis of Brandenburg, prince Waldeck, the prince of Nassau, stadtholder of Friesland; the princes of Nassau-Sarbruck, Nassau-Dillenburg, and Nassau Idstein; the duke administrator of Wurtemberg; the prince of Wurtemberg; the two princes of Anspach; the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and his brother, the duke of Saxe-Eisenach; prince Philip, palatine; the duke of Zulsbach, the duke of Courland; the prince of Anhalt-Zeerborst, the landgrave of Homberg, three princes of Holstein-Beck; the duke of Holstein; the prince of Commerci; the prince palatine of Birkenfeldt; the princess of Nassau-Friesland, the princess of Radzevill, the countess of Soissons, and other ladies of princely families.
William, getting away from the noise and turbulence of mere congratulation, hastened to meet his allies, and take measures for future action. Though he had been achieving a great triumph, for which his people hailed him as "William the Conqueror," and winning great laurels in Ireland, all these princes, dukes, and electors of sounding title had done almost worse than nothing in the defence of Germany and Holland. Prince Waldeck had suffered a grave defeat at Fleurus, and Louis was still menacing with a large army not only Holland but Germany. William did not hesitate to tell the assembled princes plainly of their errors and defects. He asserted that their present difficulties were proof enough of them. Their failure, he assured them, arose from their party feuds and jealousies; that unless they could bring themselves to forget their particular interests in the general interest, and to combine heartily, promptly, and continuously, they must remain weak and at the mercy of France; that their general interest was the true interest of every individual; that whilst they were disunited, and consequently slow and uncertain in their movements, France had but one will, and struck blows rapid and decisive. Their frontier fortresses were nearly all in the hands of the French, who would very soon possess themselves of the remainder unless they combined as one man. For his own part, he pledged himself to come over at spring at the head of a powerful English army, and would spare neither money nor exertion to arrest the conquests of Louis, and pluck the liberties of Europe from his grasp.
William's spirit and sound sense seemed to reanimate the drooping energies of the allies. The quota of troops to be furnished by every prince was determined; it was agreed to bring two hundred and twenty thousand into the field in spring, and never to rest till they had not only driven Louis from the territories of his neighbours, but had compelled him to give toleration to his protestant subjects. These matters arranged, William made use of the influence which the new alliance with the duke of Savoy gave him, to procure a cessation of the persecutions of the duke's protestant subjects, the Waldenses. To him these simple mountain shepherds - Christians of a church remaining independent of Rome from the earliest times - owed it that they could once more live in peace; that numbers of them were released from dungeons, and their children, who had been torn from them to be educated in popery, were restored.
All being thus favourably settled, the princes dispersed to their several states, and William retired to obtain a short period of relaxation at Loo. But he was speedily roused from his repose. The proceedings of the congress had been closely and anxiously watched by Louis of France. He saw that its deliberations were certain to produce a profound impression on all Europe, and he resolved to neutralise this by one of his sudden and telling blows. At once all his available means and forces were put in motion. A hundred thousand soldiers were in rapid march on Mons, one of the most important fortresses of the Spanish Netherlands. Louis did not even trust the operations of this assault to his famous general, Luxembourg, and the greatest military genius of the age, Vauban; but he hurried to the scene of action himself, early as the season was - in March. Five days after the siege commenced Louis was there, accompanied by the dauphin, the dukes of Orleans and of Chartres. He pushed on the attack with all vigour, to have it over before any assistance could arrive. Though suffering from the gout, he went about amongst the soldiers, encouraging them by the blandest and most familiar addresses; helped personally to bind up their wounds in the hospitals, and partook of the broth prepared for them. With his quick perception of the dangers from his adversaries, he had noticed the diversion which it was intended that the duke of Savoy should make, by taking the field on that side; and he had suddenly thrown an army into Savoy, taken the city of Nice, and found the duke enough to do to hold his own. By this means he had been able to bring from the maritime Alps a large body of troops to this siege.
William was sensible of the disastrous effect which the fall of Mons would have on the spirits of his allies, and on those courfs of Sweden and Denmark which were brought to the very point of joining the confederation; he therefore rushed from his place of temporary retirement, mustered the forces of the states-general, sent dispatches with all haste after the German princes, urging them to bring up all the troops they could collect to the rescue of Mons, and to the generals of the Spanish troops to Flanders. By hasty marches he advanced towards the devoted city; but all the vices of confederations were now glaringly apparent in contrast to the single and prompt action of a despot. The German princes, naturally slow, were already far off; the Spanish generals were utterly unprepared for such an emergency; and William found it almost impossible to procure even horses to drag his artillery and stores. He sent on, however, hasty messengers to apprise the people of Mons of his approach; but the vigilance of the French prevented their reaching the city. An immense quantity of artillery was thundering against the walls of Mons; breaches were made in them; a redoubt was carried, sword in hand; shells fell in showers on the roofs and streets of the town, which was burning in ten places. The inhabitants, appalled by the terrible destruction apparently awaiting them, threatened to murder the garrison if they did not surrender; and the garrison, ignorant of the relief which William was bringing, surrendered on the 20th of April. William, deeply chagrined, returned to the Hague, and thence hastened back to London; whilst Louis, in proud triumph, returned to Versailles to receive the congratulations of his courtiers on his splendid coup-de-main.
On William's return to London he found his government had tried the traitors, Preston, Ashton, and Elliott. Preston and Ashton were found guilty, and sentenced to death; Elliott was not brought to trial. By some it has been asserted that the evidence of his being admitted into the real interior of the plot was not clear; by others, that he purchased his escape by disclosures. Ashton was hanged on the 18th of January - the very day on which William had embarked at Gravesend for Holland. Preston, after much vacillation betwixt the desire to accept a proffered pardon and repugnance to the conditions attached to it - that of making a full disclosure of his accomplices - at length chose life and dishonour, and made charges against Clarendon, Dartmouth, Turner, bishop of Ely, and William Penn. Clarendon was sent for a time to the Tower; Dartmouth, who was accused, as an admiral, of the heinous crime of intending to betray Portsmouth to the French, indignantly repelled the accusation, and died in the Tower without having been brought to trial. Turner escaped to France. Macaulay, in his recent history, only too much delighted to have a shadow of crimination of Penn, says that he was accused of writing to James to assure him that, with thirty thousand men, he might command England. But what are the facts? This message to James is on the evidence of the lying and
infamous Melfort, whom Macaulay himself has shown to be totally unworthy of all belief; and Penn, so far from shrinking from the charge, went straight to Sidney, the secretary of state, and denied the whole allegation. That he had a friendly feeling for and commiseration of James, he did not deny; but he declared himself a faithful subject of William and Mary, and, so far from being willing to aid any design against them, if he became aware of any such he would at once discover it. Instead of clapping Penn in the Tower - which the government would have done, had they any such letters, which Macaulay pretends, inviting James to come over with thirty thousand men - he was suffered to depart in full freedom. He afterwards made a religious journey on the continent as a minister of the Society of Friends, which Macaulay terms "wandering and lurking about," when he returned to England; but without any attempt on the part of government to molest him.
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