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Reign of Queen Anne page 5

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About this time also expired the wily old earl of Sunderland, and was succeeded by his son lord Spenser, son-in-law to the Marlboroughs, who ere long showed that he was equal to his father and father-in-law in love of money, and carelessness as to the means by which it was obtained.

Convocation during this session of parliament had been sitting and pursuing those interminable wranglings by which, in the end, they wore out the patience of our monarchs, who forbade their entering on any discussion. At this time the dispute raged betwixt the upper and lower house as violently as the upper and lower house of parliament were opposed to each other. It is singular that clerical parties, composed of the men whose peculiar vocation it is to preach peace and good will to all men, when brought together Uniformly display far more acrimony than laymen. The odium theologicum has become proverbial, and never flamed higher than at this period. The bishops had been chiefly appointed by king William, and laboured under a suspicion of being too liberally inclined. On the other hand, the ordinary clergy were struggling after an extension of their power. They claimed a right to sit at other times besides that at which the convocation was sitting as a synod. The bishops repulsed this assumption, but the archbishop of Canterbury promised so to arrange their meetings during convocation as to give them ample time for discussion. This did not satisfy them, and they appealed to the house of commons, but that body returned them only a general answer, that it would at any time support their just rights. They then had recourse to the queen, who promised to consider their petition, and there left it. Having, in consequence of these movements, got nothing but a character for being inclined to presbyterianism, they suddenly passed a resolution affirming the divine apostolical right of episcopacy, and desired the bishops to enter this into their books. This was considered a clever dilemma for the bishops. If they refused to enter the resolution, they would be accused themselves of presbyterianism; if they accepted it, it would be an acknowledgment that the lower house had led them right. The wary bishops steered a middle course; they expressed their approbation of the resolution, but informed the lower house that it was already in the preface to the book of ordinations. The unseemly quarrel continued as long as convocation remained sitting, and afterwards spread through the whole country amongst the clergy, who were rent into factions. One party, which stood up like Laud in his time for the high prerogative and all the ceremonies of the church, who were, in fact, ecclesiastical tories, were termed high church; the other, who were disposed to take a more moderate view of things, and to allow of toleration to the dissenters, were styled low church, and branded as presbyterians in disguise. The queen, as a great advocate of the church, was flattered as the possessor of the prerogatives of the ancient monarchy; the memory of the late king was vituperated, and at this time "The History of the Commonwealth," written by her grandfather Clarendon, was published to revive the notions of passive obedience. The queen's hereditary rights were traced up to Edward the Confessor, and she was encouraged to restore the practice of touching for the king's evil as a miraculous privilege of monarchy, and the more so, because William had refused to practise it. Anne was the more stimulated to practising the royal touch because her brother, the prince of Wales, actively pursued the practice at St. Germains as a proof that the true descent lay in him; and, as an angel in gold was bound by the queen round the arm or hung round the neck of every person touched, she had plenty of applicants, notwithstanding an apothecary's certificate was required of the patients being really affected by the disease.

The parliament of Scotland was more violently agitated by the fight of factions than that of England. There was a change of ministry which, from the queen's toryism, was favourable to the episcopalians and at the same time to the anti-revolutionists, the Jacobites of Scotland. The duke of Queensberry, besides being high commissioner, was with lord Tarbat made secretary of state. The earls of Marchmont, Melvil, Selkirk, Leven, and Hyndford were dismissed. The marquis of Annandale was made president of the council, and the earl of Tullibardine lord privy seal. The earl of Seafield, though dismissed from the ministry, succeeded in getting a great number of anti-revolutioners returned to parliament. The duke of Hamilton, who had created so much opposition in the last session, had now obtained from the queen a letter to the privy council of Scotland, desiring that the presbyterian clergy should live in brotherly love and unity with such of the reformed religion as were in possession of benefices, and at the same time lived decently and observed the laws. This, in plain terms, meant that they were expected to allow the government to encourage episcopacy. The episcopal clergy immediately lifted up their heads, and petitioned her majesty to protect them, and not only to allow such episcopalians as were in government pulpits to hold them, but for such parishes as had a majority of episcopalians to elect ministers of that persuasion. The queen returned an answer as favourable as could be ventured upon, advising the episcopalian clergy to live peaceably with their presbyterian brethren established by law. Here was fuel for a renewed fire of fierce warfare betwixt the churches. But still more fiery were the general elements. A proclamation of indemnity was made in March, which brought over from France and other countries a swarm of Jacobites, who, acting on the policy now adopted at St. Germains, pretended to have changed their sentiments, and were ready to take all oaths so as to get into parliament, and so influence the succession. They added their strength to the anti-revolutioners and the episcopalians, though these three parties had each its particular causes of dissent from the other. On the other hand, the presbyterians and revolutioners were strongly united under the leadership of the duke of Argyll. Then there were malcontents created by the government opposition to the Darien scheme, who were headed by the duke of Hamilton and the marquis of Tweeddale; the anti-revolutioners being led on by the earl of Hume. Here were elements of confusion enough to distract any ministry and paralyse any government, too ready to coalesce for that object and equally ready, that effected, to strive against each other. The Darien mal-contents were for the most part revolutioners; they only oppose government on the score of their own grievances; and the Jacobites, whilst they resolved to bring in the prince of Wales, were willing to regard the queen for the present as regent in his behalf.

The parliament opened with a bill for acknowledging her majesty's entire right and title to the throne, and denouncing the penalties of treason against any one calling her title in question. This was carried after some debate, the anti- revolutioners even acceding to it. But when the earl of Hume introduced a motion for the supply, the marquis of Tweeddale immediately moved that a bill, embodying securities for the liberties and religion of the nation after the decease of her majesty and the heirs of her body, should take precedence of all other questions. It was in vain that the duke of Queensberry promised that, the moment the supplies were granted, the question of the national securities should be gone into. The opposition knew that their strength lay in preventing the supplies, and persisted. The marquis of Athol introduced a bill for the security of the kingdom after her majesty's decease; the duke of Argyll introduced another to ratify the revolution and all its acts; and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun introduced a third to limit the succession after the queen's decease. The earl of Rothes went still further, and proposed a law forbidding any future king or queen of Scotland making war without consent of parliament. If no supplies were to be granted till half these measures were obtained, there was little hope of any subsidies from Scotland in this reign. All these bills were suffered to lie on the table, and the parliament proceeded to pass an act for the maintenance of the true protestant religion and the presbyterian church, as well as only introduced by the duke of Argyll, confirming the first parliament of king William and all its acts.

No sooner were these acts passed than the marquis of Athol again brought forward his bill for the security of the kingdom, transferring the appointment of a successor to parliament. The question was debated with furious vehemence, and the most unsparing abuse of each other by different parties; but it was at length carried by a majority of fifty-nine votes. The commissioner was called on to give it his assent; but, before he gave any answer, the earl of Marchmont, on the 6th of September, introduced a bill for settling the crown on the princess Sophia of Hanover and her issue. As this was utterly opposed to the security bill, it was received with a perfect howl of execration, even by those who were favourable to the Hanoverian succession. Fletcher of Saltoun proposed that no person whatever should be allowed to succeed till they had consented that all offices and places, civil and military, as well as pensions, should be granted, not by the crown, but by parliament; and that the successor should be nominated by a majority of parliament, and his council and administration be appointed by parliament too. This, it was truly observed, would reduce the monarchy to a republic. Cries of liberty or subsidies were raised. Fletcher pressed his motion, and other members declared that, rather than grant subsidies till their liberties were secured, they would fight out their rights with the sword. To such a pitch of excitement did the members proceed that the commissioner deemed it necessary to provide for his own safety. He ordered the foot-guard to be kept in readiness, and posted a guard at the eastern gate of the city. Still he was in great personal danger as he passed to and from the house; and, finding that no subsidy could be obtained, he prorogued parliament on the 12th of October. The duke had been deserted amid these contentions by most of his colleagues. The ministers and the queen, to strengthen his party, now proceeded to confer dignities on such as appeared inclined to support the government. The marquises of Athol and Douglas were created dukes; lord Tarbat was made earl of Cromarty; the viscounts Stair and Roseberry were also made earls. Lord Boyle became earl of Glasgow. James Stuart, of Bute, earl of Bute; Charles Hope, of Hopetoun, earl of Hopetoun; John Crawford, of Kilbirnie, viscount Garnock; and Sir James Primrose viscount Primrose.

In Ireland the duke of Ormonde had been received with great favour. He was regarded as the champion of protestantism, and it was, therefore, expected that he would screen the protestant assumptions, and encourage the appropriation of catholic estates. The commons appointed Allen Broderick speaker, and addressed the queen and the lord- lieutenant, complaining that they had been misrepresented as being desirous of becoming independent of England, which they denied, asserting that they held Ireland to be annexed to the crown of England for ever. But they expressed their resentment against the commissioners Trenchard, Langford, and Hamilton, who had exposed the lavish grants of the forfeited lands by the late king, as having misrepresented and traduced them. They accused them of having, at the same time that they objected to the proceedings of the former trustees, themselves sold the best of the forfeited estates to the Sword-blade Company of England, and they expelled from their house John Asgill, the agent of this company, who had offered to lend money to the public in Ireland, provided parliament passed an act confirming their purchase. The Sword-blade Company disclaimed having given Asgill any authority for such a proposal; and when the Irish parliament called him to account for his false statement, he pleaded his privilege as a member of the English parliament The parliament then proceeded to make known a list of numerous protestant grievances to her majesty, though the catholics, had they been allowed to speak, could have produced a still more formidable catalogue. To rid himself of the endless subject of complaint, the duke of Ormonde, having obtained the necessary supplies, with a hundred and fifty thousand pounds to make up former deficiencies, made haste to close the session. This was not effected, however, before a committee had been appointed to examine the state of the public accounts, which discovered one hundred thousand pounds falsely set down as a debt against the nation, and took measures to trace out the authors of the fraud, who proved to be dependents of the duke of Ormonde himself. They then passed an act abolishing pensions to the amount of seventeen thousand pounds a year, made provision for half pay, and enacted a severe law against the growth of popery, ordering that all estates of catholics should be equally divided amongst the children, notwithstanding any settlement to the contrary, unless they on whom they were settled came in, took the oaths, and communicated with the church of England. Whilst these things were acting, a member informed the house that the papists in the county of Limerick were forming themselves into bodies to maintain a correspondence with the disaffected in England and elsewhere. The house immediately resolved that the papists of Ireland were bent on bringing in the pretended prince of Wales under the name of James III.; and the anti-papal frenzy growing hourly more rampant, the lord-lieutenant suddenly prorogued parliament, to the great disgust of dominant protestantism.

It was proposed betwixt the emperor of Germany and the allies that the present campaign should be opened with a power and by measures which should go far to paralyse France. The archduke Charles, the emperor's second son, was to declare himself king of Spain, should propose for the hand of the infanta of Portugal, and should proceed to that country to prosecute his claims on Spain by the assistance of the English and Dutch fleets. Meantime the emperor promised to take the field with such a force as to drive the elector of Bavaria, the active and able ally of France, out of his dominions. But Louis, as usual, was too rapid in his movements for the slow Germans. He ordered marshal Villars, who lay with thirty thousand men at Strasburg, to pass the Rhine and advance into Bavaria to the support of the elector. Villars immediately crossed and reduced the fortress of Kehl, opposite to Strasburg, conducting the garrison to Philipsburg. The threatened danger roused the emperor, who ordered count Schlich to enter Bavaria by way of Saltzburg, and at the same time count Stirum to enter Bavaria by the way of Neumark. Schlich, in the execution of his orders, defeated the militia which protected the lines at Saltzburg, and took possession of Riedt and other places. Stirum also took Neumark and Amburg, routing the Bavarians at both places. The elector, however, assembling his forces near Brenau, deceived Schlich by feigning an intention to surprise Passau. Schlich advanced to defend Passau, and the elector, having thus accomplished his object, crossed the bridge of Scardingen and attacked Schlich, who had in his haste left his cavalry and artillery behind, and defeated him. He then marched against the Saxon troops which guarded the artillery, and put them to the rout. Following up his successes, he took Neuburg on the Inn, overthrew the imperialists under the prince of Brandenburg-Anspach, near Burgenfelt, and then advanced to Ratisbon, where the diet was sitting, and compelled them to open the city gates to him. There he engaged to leave the diet at their deliberations and quit the place, on condition of Ratisbon being declared neutral.

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