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Reign of William III. (Continued.) page 2


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Before closing the session, the house of commons received a petition from colonel Michelbourne, who, with Dr. Walker, had made the splendid defence of Londonderry, praying that the arrears due to himself and officers might be considered. It appeared that not only had these meritorious officers been left neglected and unpaid all this time, notwithstanding their extraordinary services, but the townspeople, in another petition, complained of the poverty and ruin they had been suffered to remain in from the destructive attack on their city, and they prayed the attention of the house to their sufferings. The house, on examination, found the representations wholly borne out, and prayed his majesty to take measures for doing justice to these most deserving citizens, that their case might not remain a reproach to the country and a discouragement to all good subjects. William promised that their demands should be granted; and certainly it was a disgrace to him that, whilst he had taken care to see his Dutch subjects amply remunerated for their share in his wars, and even for bringing him over, he should so long have left these brave men in utter neglect.

But though the Irish in this case obtained a degree of regard from the commons, they were more sharply and unjustly treated in other respects. One William Molyneux, a gentleman of Dublin, had written a book to prove the kingdom of Ireland independent of the parliament of England; in fact, he wanted to ignore Poyning's celebrated statute, which made it necessary that every measure submitted to the Irish parliament should first have the consent of the English privy council. The house appointed a committee to inquire into the circumstances connected with the publication of this book, and as it at that time was issued anonymously, to pray the king to take measures for discovering and punishing the author. They pointed out that an act of parliament had been passed during the last session in Dublin, pretending to be only a re-enactment of an English act, for the better security of his majesty's person and government, but, in reality, a new act, thus setting at defiance Poyning's statute. They attributed both to the book and to this act of parliament an attempt to render Ireland independent of England, and prayed his majesty to punish the authors of these measures, and to prevent such offences in future»

The narrow and tyrannical spirit exercised towards Ireland was strikingly manifested by another prayer of the commons to his majesty. It appeared that the Irish had introduced the woollen manufacture into their country, and that it was beginning to flourish. Instead of rejoicing that Ireland showed symptoms of rising from her destitution, and employing her people in useful labours instead of leaving them to idleness and sedition, the commons immediately prayed his majesty to put a stop to this manufacture. They looked on Ireland, not as an integral part of the realm, the prosperity of which must add to the general prosperity, but as a foreign country, and,, with a most pitiful jealousy, demanded that this woollen manufacture should be put an end to. It is curious to perceive in the commons' address the idea which it entertained of the utter subjection of Ireland to England, and that it was to be suffered to possess no mercantile enterprise except at the will of this country - not even to make coats for its own people's backs. It says, " Being very sensible that the wealth and power of this kingdom do, in a great measure, depend on the preserving the woollen manufacture as much as possible entire to this realm, they thought it became them, like their ancestors, to be jealous of the establishment and increase thereof elsewhere, and to use their utmost endeavours to prevent it; that they could not without trouble observe that Ireland, which is dependent on and protected by England in the enjoyment of all they have, and which is so proper for the linen manufacture, the establishment and growth of which would be so enriching to themselves; and as profitable to England, should of late apply itself to the woollen manufacture, to the great prejudice of the trade of this kingdom, and so unwillingly promote the linen trade, which would benefit both nations; that the consequence whereof would necessitate his majesty's parliament of England to interpose to prevent this mischief, unless his majesty, by his authority and great wisdom, should find means to secure the trade of England by making the subjects of Ireland procure the joint interests of both kingdoms. Wherefore, they implored his majesty's protection and favour in this matter, and that he would make it his royal care, and enjoin all those he employs in Ireland to use their utmost diligence to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland - except to be imported hither - and for discouraging the woollen manufactures, and encouraging the linen manufactures in Ireland; to which the commons of England should always be ready to give their utmost assistance."

William promised to do as they desired, and thus was Ireland, till a recent period, always repressed in every attempt to raise herself and extend her industry, lest it should interfere with the industry of England. Well might its parliament be anxious to get from under Poyning's statute.

Whilst William was oppressed with the difficulties growing up abroad, he had no great peace at home. Of late he had given much evidence of growing favour to Van Keppel, one of his countrymen, who had been originally one of Iiis pages, and since then his private secretary. The earl of Portland beheld this new attachment with uneasiness, as well as the renewed marks of favour which the king lavished on his mistress, Mrs. Villiers. To be rid of Portland's jealousy, he sent him to Paris as ambassador, but at the same time removed Sir William Trumball, Portland's friend and secretary, from his office, and gave it to Vernon, who had been under-secretary to Shrewsbury. Portland had set out for Paris in January, into which he made so magnificent an entrance as astonished the French. He was well received by Louis, but found himself wholly unable to effect any mitigation of the persecution of the protestants, or the removal of James and his court to Avignon, according to the private agreement attached to the treaty of Ryswick. On his return to England he found Keppel created earl of Albemarle, and retired from all his employments in the palace with disgust. He is supposed, however, to have received private overtures of great importance from Louis to convey to William, and we shall soon find him engaged to carry out these plans by what was called "the treaty of partition."

Whilst Portland was vainly endeavouring to carry his mission in Paris, the French ambassador in London was zealously labouring to restore those commercial connections betwixt the countries which the war had destroyed; but he, too, was disappointed in his object. Formerly England had taken from France large quantities of linen, silks, hats, paper, stuffs, wines, &c.; but all these commodities had, during the war, been obtained from other countries - wines from Spain and Portugal, linen from Holland, and many of the other articles were now manufactured by the French refugees whom the bigotry of Louis had driven out with their trades on account of their religion; and the English were not disposed to break with their new connections. On the contrary, parliament showed every disposition to maintain and protect these new connections. So far from admitting freely the French articles, they enforced the laws against smuggling them in. At the instance of the refugee manufacturers of lutestrings and alamodes, who complained of the illicit trade in them, and that this trade during the war had been made a cover for carrying secret intelligence betwixt the court of St. Germains and the malcontents here, they arrested a number of men whose names pointed them out to be French, or of French origin chiefly, for smuggling transactions, fined them heavily, and imprisoned them till the fines were paid. Because the French, too, had seduced some English manufacturers of woollen cloths, and set up a manufactory in Picardy, the commons brought in a bill rendering more rigorous the penalties on the exportation of wools, fullers'-earth, and scouring-clay.

William prorogued parliament on the 5th of July. He had no cause to be in very good humour with it; for besides insisting on the disbanding of the bulk of the army, it reminded him before the close of the session that it expected the dismissal of the troops to take place without delay. It sent to him requesting a list of all that were already disbanded, as well as of those that had to be disbanded, and also of all the officers who were, or were to be put, on half- pay. There was considerable murmuring even at the retention of officers on half-pay, as but another mode of keeping up the means of raising an army at a few days' notice; the officers, it was said, being the main requisite. William, however much chagrined, concealed his feelings. Only two days after the prorogation he dissolved the parliament, and summoned a new one for the 24th of August. He even made preparation for his summer visit to Holland, though there was no war, but before he went he was obliged to appoint proper persons to take charge of the heir apparent, the duke of Gloucester, the son of the princess Anne, who was now in his ninth year. Anne was extremely importunate that her great friend Marlborough should take the charge of him; and William, not being able to persuade Shrewsbury to accept that office, who was still sensitively suffering under the accusations of the late conspirators, gave way, and made Marlborough governor. He at the same time, to do the thing graciously, restored Marlborough to his rank and his place at the council board. This appointment relieved him from the necessity of placing the boy- prince in the hands of Anne's near relative, earl Rochester, who was a violent tory and leader of the high-church party. With Marlborough as governor of the young duke, he associated bishop Burnet as preceptor, confident that his education and morals would be in good keeping, and that no sentiments but those of high respect for his uncle the king would find a way into his mind from the bishop, who was a most faithful friend and servant of William. The commons, however, were highly indignant at the appointment of Burnet, and the tories in both houses, not forgetting that in his pastoral letter in the year 1691 he used the phrase of William and Mary being conquerors. On the present occasion Marlborough defended the choice of the bishop and carried him through, and from that moment the two keepers of the royal youth were great friends, and discharged their duties with much cordiality towards each other.

Towards the end of July William went to Holland, and having addressed the states-general and given audience to a number of ambassadors at the Hague, he betook himself to his favourite seat at Loo, where, in August, he was joined by Portland, the pensionary Heinsius, his great adviser, and the count Tallard, an emissary from Louis XIV. In this retirement they discussed one of the boldest and most un„ scrupulous projects which could possibly be entertained by statesmen of any claims to moral character. That the scheme was Louis XIV.'s there can be no question, and, daring as it was, served but as the blinding manoeuvre which covered still more daring ones. The ultimate object of Louis was the seizure of the crown and territories of Spain, to which we have already alluded, in preparing the way for which he made a most perfect dupe of William, and contrived to drag him through so much dirt as left him very little authority to denounce the audacious robbery at which his Machiavellian rival aimed.

This plan of dividing the empire of Spain amongst such parties as should suit the views of William and Louis had been suggested by France, apparently, very soon after the peace of Ryswick, and had been going on all the spring in England in profound secrecy. One of the motives for sending Portland to Paris in January had been, to learn the full particulars of this scheme, which had been somewhat mysteriously opened to William. In writing to Heinsius on the 3rd of January, when Portland was about to start for France, William expressed his surprise as to the real meaning of "something that was proposed to be done by the Republic, France, and England, towards the maintenance of the peace," and imagined it might relate to their position with the emperor. However, he added, "the earl of Portland will readily be able to get at the bottom of this affair in France, and that is another reason for hastening his departure as much as possible."

Portland was scarcely settled in his diplomatic position in Paris when the scheme was broached to him, but at first cautiously. On the 15th of March he wrote to William that the ministers, Pomponne and De Torcy, had communicated to him, but in the profoundest secresy, that the king their master desired to make him the medium of a most important negotiation with the king of England. That the impending death of the king of Spain was likely to throw the whole of Europe into war again, unless this was prevented by engagements entered into by the kings of France and England to prevent it. That if the emperor were allowed to succeed to Spain with all its dependencies, Flanders, Italy, and the colonies, he would become so powerful that he would be dangerous to all Europe. Portland declared that he could give no opinion, nor could the king his master give an answer, so far as he could see, until he had the full views of the king of France on the subject. That the naval and maritime interests of England and Holland might be greatly affected by any arrangement regarding the succession of the Spanish territories. The French ministers said it would be easy to order matters regarding the low countries to the satisfaction of England and Holland, and that France would guarantee that the crown of Spain should not be annexed to that of France; but as to the Indies, or the security of our trade in the Mediterranean, Portland could draw nothing from them. The views of France were so far not very clear; but Portland added the important piece of information that the count de Tallard was at that very moment setting out for London, ostensibly to congratulate William, but really to prosecute this negotiation.

Accordingly, Tallard arrived in London on the 19th of March; and he and William, in strict secresy, admitting no one else to their confidence, discussed this profoundly Machiavellian scheme of Louis. This was no other than that the crown of Spain, with the Spanish Netherlands and colonies, should not be allowed to pass to the emperor, but should be settled on the electoral prince of Bavaria; that Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, the province Guipuzcoa on the French side of the Pyrenees, Fontarabia, St. Sebastian, Ferrol, and other towns on the Tuscan coast, then owned by Spain, and called Presidii, should be settled by a mutual treaty betwixt them on the Dauphin, and that Milan should be settled on the archduke Charles, the second son of the emperor.

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Pictures for Reign of William III. (Continued.) page 2

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