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Reign of Queen Anne (Continued) page 6

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On the earliest? intimation of these designs the suspected Scottish nobles, including the duke of Hamilton and twenty- one others, lords or gentlemen, were secured. The habeas corpus act was suspended; the pretender and his abettors were declared traitors; and all popish recusants were ordered to remove ten miles from the cities of London and Westminster. The alarm was not an empty one. The pretender, who had now assumed the name of "the chevalier de St. George," was furnished with a fleet and army, which assembled at Dunkirk. The fleet was under the command of admiral Forbin, consisting of five ships of the line and twenty frigates. It was to carry over five thousand troops under the command of general de Gace, afterwards known as marshal de Matignon. The pretender was supplied by Louis with all the requisites of a king; services of gold and silver plate, magnificent tents, splendid liveries, and superb clothes for his life-guards; and, notwithstanding the poverty of the French court, the supplies of everything were abundant. Louis, on taking leave, presented the young adventurer with a sword richly studded with diamonds, and repeated what he had said to his father - that he wished as his best wish that he might never see him again. The pope had given his blessing to the expedition, and had sent a number of pious inscriptions to be fixed upon the banners.

Before the expedition, however, could sail, the queen dispatched troops to the north, and a fleet under admiral Baker to bring over ten battalions from the Netherlands. A powerful fleet, under the command of admiral Sir George Byng, with squadrons under Sir John Leake and lord Dursley, was sent to blockade the port of Dunkirk and prevent the sailing of the French expedition. The French were astonished at the appearance of so large a fleet, imagining that Leake had gone to Lisbon with his squadron; and count de Forbin represented to the French court the improbability of their being able to sail. A storm, however, drove the English ships from their station. The French fleet then ventured out on the 17th of March, but was soon driven back by the same tempest. On the 19th, however, it again put out, and made for the coast of Scotland. But Sir George Byng had stretched his ships along the whole coast to the very Frith of Forth, and on the French squadron approaching the Forth it perceived the English ships there before it, and stood off again. Byng gave chase and took the Salisbury, a ship of the line, having on board old lord Griffin, two sons of lord Middleton, a French lieutenant-general, various other French and Irish officers, and five companies of French soldiers.

In the night Forbin altered his course, and thus in the morning was out of the reach of the English. The chevalier was impatient that Forbin should proceed to Inverness, and there land him and the troops; but the wind was so violent and dead against them that Forbin contended that they would all be lost if they continued the attempt, and the chevalier reluctantly gave consent for them to tack about and return to Dunkirk. They had been out a month, and had endured the fate of nearly all the invading squadrons - the most inimical and miserable weather. The deliverance was nothing short of providential, for, had they landed, although they could have no chance of succeeding against England, in Scotland they would have occasioned much mischief and loss of fife. The country was in a state of great disaffection; besides the lords and gentlemen arrested, there were still numbers ready to rush into the conspiracy. The earl of Leven had only about two thousand five hundred troops, and the fidelity of many of them was very questionable. The castle of Edinburgh was destitute of ammunition, and must soon have surrendered with all the equivalent money. A Dutch squadron, loaded with arms and ammunition, and having on board a large sum of money, was driven on shore in Angus, and would have been seized had the French succeeded in landing.

Such was the alarm in London owing to these circumstances, that there was a heavy run on the bank, increased to the utmost by all those who were disaffected to the government. The lord treasurer announced to the directors of the bank that the government would for six months allow an interest of six per cent, on their bills, being double the usual rate; and Marlborough, Newcastle, Somerset, as well as the lord treasurer, offered them large sums of money. They were also well supported by the foreign and Jewish merchants, who had an interest in maintaining the credit of the bank, and the directors also made a call of twenty per cent, on the holders of stock, and were thus enabled to weather the storm.

To abate the panic, the queen, immediately on the news of the sailing of the French fleet, went to the house of lords, and informed the two houses that Sir George Byng was in pursuit of the enemy, that troops were on their way from Ostend, and that there was no real cause of alarm. Both houses replied by the most patriotic addresses, vowing to stand by her majesty with all their power, praying her not to permit these circumstances to divert her from a vigorous prosecution of the war on the continent, intimating that the insignificance of the invading armament argued that the enemy calculated on the assistance of traitors at home, and entreating her to take care that no such person should in future have access to her counsels. This was aimed at Harley and his colleagues.

Louis, on his part, did his best to excite suspicion and uneasiness in the English court. He sent word to his ambassadors at Rome, Yenice, and in Switzerland that the subjects of James III. in England had invited him, especially those of Scotland, to come and take possession of the throne of his ancestors; that he (Louis) had sent over with him a strong fleet and army, and that the young king was resolved to pardon all who came in to him. This news was diffused by the ambassadors as far and wide as they could send it. All this, however, did not excite the English court to any severe or sanguinary measures. The old lord Griffin, who was taken in the Salisbury, and who was quite superannuated, was sent to the Tower; and as he was already an outlaw, sentence of death as a traitor was pronounced against him. But the queen continued to reprieve him from time to time, so that he at length died of old age in his prison, where the kind-hearted Anne took care that so long as he lived he should be made comfortable. The two sons of lord Middleton, to every one's astonishment, were set at liberty by the queen's own order - a circumstance attributed to their father being in the secret of all the treasonable correspondence of Marlborough, Godolphin, and others, the revelation of which might have sown strange confusions in and around the court. There were many rumours afloat in consequence, and the most groundless one of all - that the pretender himself had been taken in the Salisbury and quietly liberated. What was remarkable, however, was the extreme lenity with which all the suspected persons in custody were treated. Not a single drop of blood was shed, and the whigs did not fail to glorify themselves on that score. But there were other motives than mercy which undoubtedly operated to produce this leniency. In the first place, Anne was naturally lenient and strongly averse to harsh measures, and, above all, to bloodshed. In the second place, notwithstanding she had been one of the very first to repudiate her brother the pretender as being the child of the king at all, it was well known that she still was quite satisfied in her own mind that he was her own brother - a fact which not long after received a very strong confirmation. And beyond this, many of the leading men about the court, as well as amongst the tories, still regarded it as by no means impossible that at the death of the queen the house of Stuart might yet succeed. These were reasons unquestionably which operated to prevent that bloody retaliation which followed the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. Another reason of equal obviousness was that the opposing parties did not come to actual conflict, nor was the kingdom alarmed to the sanguinary pitch by the insurgents being in the very heart of the kingdom. On the other hand, it was contended that the expedition altogether was a mere feint on the part of Louis; that it never was intended to land, but only to alarm the government, and thus paralyse the preparations for the continental campaign. But both the memoirs of the duke of Berwick and the report of M. Andrezel, who accompanied the fleet, prove that the endeavour was earnest enough, but that Sir George Byng was too close on their heels, and the weather too inauspicious. So far from not wishing to land, Louis, immediately after the return of the fleet, dispatched an emissary to Ireland to ascertain the condition of that island, and discover whether a descent might not be made there. This emissary was father Ambrose O'Connor, provincial of the Irish Dominicans. He arrived in Ireland early in the month of May, and was very near being taken immediately on landing; but, having managed to escape, he went through the length and breadth of Ireland, and found the people all ready enough for insurrection, but without any means of effecting it. They were miserably poor, and, in the alarm of the descent of the French on Scotland, all the chief catholic landholders and clergy had been put under arrest, and all the horses taken away. He found the presbyterians in the north devoted to the house of Hanover, but the episcopalians were generally for the king, and both more bitter against each other than ever was known in England; that the country was wholly defenceless, the garrisons in the most wretched and neglected condition, and not above six thousand regular troops in all Ireland. On the other hand, the catholics assured him that they could muster twenty thousand in five counties alone, but then the universal cry was Money, money, money! O'Connor was bold enough to return through England, even penetrating to the Scottish lords in the Tower. There, again, the cry was not only Money, but Troops. Five thousand soldiers landed in Ireland, ten thousand in Scotland; and these, well provided and well paid, would, they assured him, certainly re-establish the king. In fact, if Louis had been in a condition to clothe, and feed, and arm all Ireland and a good part of Scotland, he might for a time have made a fine diversion in the dominions of queen Anne; but, fortunately for England, he had neither the money nor the men, the arms nor the ammunition necessary. All the means in his power were insufficient to enable his armies to face his foes in the Netherlands, in Provence, and in Spain.

At this time a few of the Camisards, or protestants of the Cevennes, who had given so much trouble to Louis in the south of France, had made their way, after many adventures, into England. The Cevennois, as well as the protestants of Dauphine and the neighbouring mountain districts, had been so horribly persecuted by Louis XIV. and the Jesuits since the revocation of the edict of Nantes, that they had been roused to a pitch of desperate resistance. With only about two thousand men, wretchedly armed with pikes, scythes, and a few muskets, they had encountered successive armies sent against them, sometimes to the amount of sixty thousand men. They had so often defeated them that Louis was at length compelled to come to a compromise with them, which, however, was very badly observed. The poor, persecuted, but undaunted people exhibited a high tone of religious enthusiasm, claimed to be influenced by the Divine Spirit like the ancient church, and were thence called "the prophets of the Cevennes." They united the spiritual belief of the quakers in immediate inspiration with the spirit of the Scotch covenanters, who defended their hearths, and homes, and religion with "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." The English sent to them some assistance in arms, money, and ammunition; but the French, getting aware of this, interposed troops betwixt the mountains and the sea coast, and when Sir Cloudesley Shovel, in 170G, endeavoured to convey aid to them, he found that he could not communicate with them. The few of these brave men who reached London met, however, with a very unworthy reception. Their peculiar views of religion excited the sectarian spirit against them. Dr. Edmund Calamy, the nonconformist, who appears to have been of a most hard, bigoted temper, preached against them and wrote against them, presenting his book, or "Caveat," as he called it, to the queen and prince of Denmark. The French in London, who had other views, also denounced them. They were condemned as fanatics, and set in the pillory. The worst and most groundless calumnies were propagated against them, which have been regularly taken up without further inquiry by our historians. But the accounts given of them by Sir Richard Bulkeley in an admirably-reasoned tract, and by others, sufficiently refute these calumnies. Di Josiah Woodward, a clergyman of the church of England, though differing in opinion from these unfortunate Cevennois, thought them truly pious and honest, bore testimony to the high characters of the gentlemen who espoused their cause, and thought it would much more become us as a Christian people to restore them to their native mountains than to persecute them here.

On the 1st of April, 1708, the queen prorogued the parliament, and then dissolved it by proclamation. Writs were issued for new elections, and a proclamation commanding the peers of Scotland to assemble at Holyrood on the 17th of June, to elect the sixteen peers to represent them in the British parliament. The duke of Queensberry was created a British peer by the titles of baron Ripon, marquis of Beverley, and duke of Dover.

The allies and France prepared for a vigorous campaign in the Netherlands. Notwithstanding the low state of Louis XIV.'s funds and a series of severe disasters which had attended his arms, he put forth wonderful energies for the maintenance of his designs. He assembled at least one hundred thousand men in the Netherlands under the command of the duke of Burgundy, the duke of Yendome, the duke of Berwick - who had been so suddenly called from Spain - marshal Bouffiers, and the young pretender, who sought here to learn martial skill, which he might employ in attempting to regain his crown. On the other hand, Marlborough went to the Hague towards the end of March, where he was met by prince Eugene, and the plan of the campaign was concerted betwixt them, the pensionary Heinsius, and the States-General. Eugene then returned to Vienna to bring up reinforcements, and Marlborough proceeded to Flanders to assemble the army, and be in readiness for the junction of Eugene. Before Eugene and Marlborough parted, however, they had gone together to Hanover, and persuaded the elector to be contented with merely acting on the defensive, so that he might spare a part of his forces for the projected operations in Flanders. His son, the electoral prince - afterwards George II. of England - took a command of cavalry in the imperial army under Marlborough.

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