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Reign of George I page 9


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But whilst Bolingbroke imagined that he was on his journey to Lorraine, he had only removed to an obscure house in the Bois de Boulogne, amongst a set of intriguing women, where he received private visits from the ambassadors of Sweden and Spain. Three days after his farewell to Bolingbroke, Ormonde appeared with two orders from the chevalier; one dismissing him from his office of secretary of state, and the other ordering him to deliver to the duke all the papers in his office. These letters, Bolingbroke says, might all have been contained in a letter-case of moderate size, which he handed to Ormonde with the seals, except certain letters from the pretender, in which he had spoken most disparagingly of Ormonde himself. These, he says, he sent by a safe hand, when he might have let Ormonde see what an opinion the chevalier had of his capacity.

The folly of sending the man whom he had abused in them - as may yet be seen in the Stuart papers - for these letters was only equalled by that of quarrelling with Bolingbroke, the shrewdest head that he had, and the man who, more than any other, kept alive an influence for him in England. "One must have lost one's reason," says the duke of Berwick, "if one did not see the enormous blunder made by king James in dismissing the only Englishman he had able to manage his affairs." It is said that this was effected by the women alluded to, who reported some expressions made by Bolingbroke respecting the pretender when he was drunk; but Bolingbroke had no friends amongst the miserable people who surrounded the pretender. Ormonde himself was by no means his friend; neither was Mar, who now sought to be at the head of the chevalier's affairs. Bolingbroke professed to feel no resentment at his treatment, but this was merely an assumption of philosophy. When the queen-mother sent to say that the dismissal had taken place without her knowledge, and that she was anxious to adjust matters, he replied that he was now a free man, and that he wished his arm might rot off if ever he again drew his sword or his pen in her son's cause.

The pretender found Bolingbroke's apprehensions only too fully verified. The duke of Lorraine met him at Chalons, in Champagne, by a letter, requesting him to remove his residence to Deux-Ponts, or some place equally distant, as he could no longer brave the remonstrances of the English government. The unhappy fugitive was, therefore, compelled to proceed to Avignon, where he was soon afterwards joined by Ormonde, Mar, and others of the English and Scottish refugees.

Gloomy as was his fortune, it was, nevertheless, infinitely better than that of thousands who had ventured their lives and fortunes in his cause. There were not many prisoners in Scotland, but the clans which had sided with the English government were hounded on to hunt down those who had been out with the pretender amongst their hills, and they were hunted about by the English troops under the guidance of these hostile clans; and where they themselves were not to be found, their estates suffered by troops being quartered in their houses and on their estates. In England the prisons of Chester, Liverpool, and other northern towns were crowded by the inferior class of prisoners from the surrender of Preston. Some half-pay officers were singled out as deserters, and shot by order of a court-martial; whilst five hundred of the ordinary soldiers were left to perish of cold and starvation in their dungeons. The leaders were conducted to London, where they arrived on the 9th of December. On arriving at Highgate Hill they were made to dismount. Their arms were tied like ordinary malefactors behind their backs; their horses were led by foot soldiers; and, amid the noise of drums and all the signs of military triumph, they were led into the city, amid the scoffs and jeers of the populace. The noblemen were conducted to the Tower; the rest were divided into the four common gaols.

On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lech- mere in a bitter speech in the commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed in impeachments against the lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. No opposition was offered, not a single voice was raised to save the lives of these misguided men, though the insurrection had so strongly shown the little danger from it to the new dynasty, that mercy would have been far more noble, and probably more effectual than blood. But the tender-hearted Anne was no longer on the throne, and the house of Hanover showed itself possessed of little magnanimity. The impeachments were carried up to the house on the same day, and on the 19th the unfortunate noblemen were brought before the peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the lord chancellor, when, with the single exception of lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty, and orders were given for the trial of lord Wintoun.

Though there was a considerable number of Jacobites in both houses, no one dared to interpose a word for pardon or mitigation of punishment; but secretary Stanhope, who had been a schoolfellow of lord Nairn's at Eton, though they had not met since then, did entreat for his pardon, and, being opposed by the rest of the council, tendered his resignation, and, as his services could not be well spared, the life of Nairn was granted. Though noblemen and gentlemen were cowardly enough to remain silent, the ladies exerted themselves to save the others. The duchesses of Bolton and Cleveland, and other ladies of the first rank, accompanied the young countess of Derwentwater to an audience of the king to implore his clemency; but the dull German remained unmoved. The ladies Nithsdale and Nairn had before made an assault on the phlegmatic nerves of George, who had neither feeling enough to be touched with pity, nor imagination enough to conceive the glory of a generous forgiveness, by secreting themselves behind a curtain in an ante-room, and throwing themselves at his feet as he passed. As it was seen that no motives of compassion could avail, those of interest were tried, and the first lord of the treasury declared in the commons that sixty thousand pounds had been offered him to procure the pardon of Derwentwater. Some of the members of that house now took courage, and pleaded the nobler cause of mercy and forgiveness, and amongst these, to his honour, was Richard Steele; but Walpole cut them short by declaring that he was moved with indignation to see members of that house so unworthy as, without blushing, to open their mouths in favour of rebels and parricides. To prevent further efforts of this kind, he moved the adjournment of the house till the 1st of March, so that the condemned nobles should be executed in the interval; and he carried his motion by a majority of seven. In the lords also a strong effort was made now it was too late; and the earl of Nottingham, though in the ministry, suddenly arose and pleaded strongly in their favour, and carried an address to the king, praying that he would reprieve such of the condemned lords as should deserve his mercy. This demonstration in the behalf of leniency astonishing the cabinet, they advised his majesty to comply with the prayer; and though an answer was returned to the address, merely stating that the king, on this and all occasions, would do what he thought j consistent with the dignity of the crown and the safety of his people, yet it was concluded to reprieve the lords Carnwath and Widdrington in addition to Nairn. To prevent, however, any further appeals, an order was dispatched for the execution of the other three peers the next morning. To express a full sense of the conduct of the earl of Nottingham, he was dismissed from his office, as well as his son, lord Finch, and his brother, lord Aylesford. Yet one more victim was destined to be snatched from the clutches of this sanguinary whig ministry - for we must rather impute the severity to the ministry than to the king, who, being new to the country, was undoubtedly led principally by their decision. That night the countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire. There remained, therefore, only two to suffer, the lords Derwentwater and Kenmure.

Derwentwater, a young man, who had just built himself a noble house at Dilston, on the Tyne, where he principally resided, and who might now have been enjoying his unambitious life but for the instigations of his wife, suffered first He was observed to turn very pale as he ascended the scaffold, but he retained a firm voice and demeanour. He stood some time in prayer, and then read a paper drawn up by himself, declaring that he died a Roman catholic, and that he deeply repented his plea of guilty, and his expressions of contrition at the trial; that he acknowledged no king but James III. as his rightful sovereign, at the same time that he intended wrong to nobody; that he sought only to do his duty to his country, without any interested motives, that he died in charity with all the world, even those who had brought him to his death. On examining the block, and finding a rough place in it, he bade the executioner chip it off, lest it should hurt his neck - a singular care in the moment of death. His head was severed at a single blow. Lord Derwentwater was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and a pardon extended to him would have done far more for the house of Hanover than his death. His splendid estates in Cumberland and Northumberland were all confiscated and conferred on Greenwich Hospital, in possession of which institution they still remain, except a rent charge of two thousand five hundred pounds per annum, which was granted to the Newburgh family, the descendants of the earl's brother, in 1788, and a certain portion sold to Mr. Marshall, of Leeds, in 1832. The execution of lord Kenmure immediately followed that of lord Derwentwater.

Lord Wintoun, who had refused to plead guilty, was not brought to trial till the 15th of March. He was considered of unsound mind, and at times little better than idiotic; yet he certainly showed more address than any of his noble accomplices. He demanded time for collecting his evidence, and thus contrived to delay his trial. There was so clear a case against him that this, probably, made the government more tolerant of these delays. When called upon to plead, he still urged the absence of witnesses, and that it was very bad weather for travelling. The high steward, lord Cowper, at length would admit of no further demurs; on which Wintoun said, "I hope your lordships will do me justice, and not make use of Cowper-law, as we used to say in our country - hang a man first, and then judge him after." He entreated to be heard by counsel; and this being refused, he said, "Since your lordships will not allow me counsel, I don't know nothing!" He was found guilty; but he had gained more time than his accomplices, and finally managed to escape from the Tower.

In April the inferior prisoners were tried in the Common Pleas. Forster, brigadier Macintosh, and twenty of their accomplices were condemned; but both Forster and Macintosh, and some of the others, managed, like Wintoun, to escape; so that, of all the crowds of prisoners, only twenty- two in Lancashire and four in London were hanged. Bills of attainder were passed against the lords Tullibardine, Mar, and many others who were at large. Above a thousand submitted to the king's mercy, and petitioned to be transported to America. As the estate of Derwentwater devolved to a great charity, so did that of Forster. It was purchased of the crown by lord Crewe, bishop of Durham, who had married Forster's aunt, and who bequeathed the castle and manor of Bamborough to unrestricted charitable purposes - one of these being properly considered by the trustees the rescue and assistance of sufferers by wreck on that iron- bound and stormy coast.

But although, on the whole, the insurgents taken in the act had been dealt with more leniently than they had a right to expect, yet the ministers showed a strong spirit of resentment against them, especially as catholics. Lord chancellor Cowper, in passing sentence on those condemned, advised them to choose other spiritual guides in their last moments; and no sooner were these disposed of, than the ministers resorted to the old system of attacks and coercions of the catholics under the idea of strengthening the throne. The pretender being an unbendable catholic, his exclusion from the throne being on anticatholic grounds, and his late supporters in the Highlands and elsewhere being chiefly catholics, it was deemed necessary anew to protect the crown against catholic machinations. On the 1st of March Lech- mere moved to bring in a bill to strengthen the protestant interest by enforcing the laws already in existence against papists. The bill was passed without any opposition, and one of the clauses was to punish exemplarily any papists who should dare to enlist themselves in his majesty's service!

But it was not enough to secure the throne by rejecting the services of catholics; the whigs were anxious to add fresh security to their own lease of office. At the last election they had procured the return of a powerful majority; but two years out of the triennial term had expired, and they looked with apprehension to the end of the next year, when a dissolution must take place, They were aware that there were still strong plottings and secret agitations for the restoration of the banished dynasty. By both the king and his ministers all tories were regarded as Jacobites, and it was resolved to keep them out of office, and, as much as possible, out of parliament. They had the power in their own hands in this parliament, and, in order to keep it, they did not hesitate to destroy that triennial act for which their own party had claimed so much credit in 1694, and substitute a septennial act in its place. They would thereby give to their own party in parliament more than a double term of the present legal possession of their seats. Instead of one year they would be able to look forward four years without any fear of tory increase of power through a new election. It would be a singular spectacle now-a-days to see the whigs exerting themselves to lengthen the duration of parliament, and tories zealously arguing for a greater limitation, as necessary for the independence of the subject; such, however, are the anomalies produced by the possession or non-possession of power. Had the tories been in, they would undoubtedly have willingly resorted to the same measure for the same object; but the whigs being in, they were induced, for self-security, to become the suicides of one of their own most popular acts, the Triennial Bill of 1694.

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Pictures for Reign of George I page 9

Proclamation of George I.
Proclamation of George I. >>>>
George I.
George I. >>>>
Chevalier De St. George
Chevalier De St. George >>>>
Great seal of George I.
Great seal of George I. >>>>
Arrest of Sir William Wyndham
Arrest of Sir William Wyndham >>>>
Glengarrys charge.
Glengarrys charge. >>>>
The pretender entering Dundee
The pretender entering Dundee >>>>
Perth
Perth >>>>
The Countess of Derwentwater
The Countess of Derwentwater >>>>
The Chevalier De S. George and his council.
The Chevalier De S. George and his council. >>>>
Execution of Lord Derwentwater on Tower Hill
Execution of Lord Derwentwater on Tower Hill >>>>
Arrest of the Swedish ambassador
Arrest of the Swedish ambassador >>>>
Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison >>>>
The Earl of Oxford
The Earl of Oxford >>>>
Cardinal Alberoni and colonel Stanhope
Cardinal Alberoni and colonel Stanhope >>>>
Messina, in Sicily
Messina, in Sicily >>>>
Arrest of the princess Clementina
Arrest of the princess Clementina >>>>
Change alley
Change alley >>>>
South sea house
South sea house >>>>
Kelly, the non-juring clergyman, destroying the treasonable papers
Kelly, the non-juring clergyman, destroying the treasonable papers >>>>
Insurrection at Glasgow
Insurrection at Glasgow >>>>
Horace Walpole and George I
Horace Walpole and George I >>>>
King George attacked by a fit of apoplexy
King George attacked by a fit of apoplexy >>>>
George II
George II >>>>

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