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LIVES OF EMINENT
BORN A. D. 1665 DIED A. D. 1714.
"The act of Settlement," says Hallam, "was the seal of our constitutional laws,—the complement of the revolution itself, and the bill of rights,—the last great statute which restrains the power of the crown, and manifests, in any conspicuous degree, a jealousy of parliament in behalf of its own and the subjects' privileges. The battle had been fought and gained; the statute-book, as it becomes more voluminous, less interesting in the history of our constitution; the voice of petin, complaint, or remonstrance is seldom to be traced in the journals; crown, in return, desists altogether, not merely from the threatenor objurgatory tone of the Stuarts, but from that disaffection someapparent in the language of William; and the vessel seems riding smooth water, moved by other impulses, and liable, perhaps, to r dangers, than those of the ocean-wave and the tempest." The s accordingly of Anne, George I., and George II., present a er approximation of parties to each other, with none of those bursts treme violence which so often shook nearly to upsetting the whole fabric in preceding reigns. It will be necessary, however, to a r understanding of the state and the movements of parties in these ns, to distinguish accurately betwixt whig and tory principles, so much indeed with relation to the crown itself, as to other parts the national polity; for, as Mr Hallam observes, the peculiar cirstances of the four reigns immediately succeeding the Revolution, the spirit of faction which prevailed, "threw both parties very en into a false position, and gave to each the language and sentiments the other." The tory, then, was ardently loud as the supporter of church, to which he was often ready to sacrifice even his loyalty telf, and always prepared to sacrifice the great principles of toleration, e whig, on the contrary, opposed the high pretensions of the church, d evinced a favourable leaning towards dissenters. "In the reigns William and Anne, the whigs, speaking of them generally as a great ~'y, preserved their original character unimpaired far more than ir opponents. All that had passed in the former reign served to
humble the tories, and to enfeeble their principle." With these brief explanations of the distinctive features of the two great political parties, which we have given nearly in the words of Mr Hallam, the reader will be prepared for perusing the sketches which follow of the leading political characters of that period of English history on which we have now entered.
Anne Stuart, queen of Great Britain, the second daughter of James II. then duke of York, by his marriage with Anne, daughter to the earl of Clarendon, was born on the 6th day of February, 1665. A circumstance is connected with the early habits and feelings of this princess, which might have passed unnoticed with the other events of a retired childhood, had not the powerful influence it afterwards assumed over the state of Britain and the policy of Europe, made it a subject of political investigation, and of interest to historians. The early attachment entertained by the princess for Sarah Jennings, afterwards dutchess of Marlborough, was probably the effect of arbitrary circumstances. Friendship, so dependent as that exhibited by Anne, seldom exerts itself in making choice, but readily fixes itself on the nearest object; and later events in the life of this princess show that her affections could be fixed on less worthy objects. Educated apart from a court with which any connection was contamination, and committed by a Roman Catholic father, and an uncle not zealous for any religion whatever, to be taught a rigid adherence to the forms and doctrines of the church of England, she was, to a certain extent, set apart from the rest of the world, and being of a disposition which inclined her to depend on the sympathy and protection of a friend, Sarah Jennings, her playfellow from the earliest childhood, three years her elder, and a girl of insinuating address and high feelings, became her bosom-friend, the superintendent of all her actions, and, it may be said, the object of all her affections.1 Overpowered by her feelings of fondness, the princess appeared to look forward with dread to a momentary separation from her favourite; they appointed a method of supporting a continual correspondence. The princess, who felt that the incumbrances of rank interfered with the cordiality of friendship, choosing for the purpose two feigned names, for herself that of Mrs Morley, and for her friend that of Mrs Freeman;! and according to the plan framed by the two girls in a fit of juvenile affection, the queen of Britain carried on an intercourse, with the wife of the greatest general of the age.
The cautious vigilance with which the young princess was guarded from any circumstances which might admit a suspicion that she was not educated to a full reverence for the church of England, was one of the most prudent acts of Charles; and, in submitting to the measures for that end, James scarcely displayed his usual obstinacy. On the retirement of the latter to Brussels in 1679, he moderately intimated a wish that his daughter might accompany him,—a request to which the king at first consented, but which both the brothers saw the impropriety of urging, in opposition to opinions expressed in disapprobation of such a measure. In 1681, when the duke commenced his administration in Scotland, a similar proceeding was sanctioned by similar reasons; but party opinion in England rendering it dangerous that the
1 Coxe's Marlborough, vol. i. p. SO.—Dutch. of Marlb. Account, p. 11, &c, 'Account, p. 14.
immediate return of the duke should be expected, or even suspected, the princess Anne was sent to attend him, that the English might feel convinced of his permanent absence.3
The policy pursued regarding the princess induced Charles to propose, and James, with some reluctance, to consent, that his daughter should be bestowed in marriage on Prince George of Denmark.4 The marriage was celebrated on the 28th of July, 1683,5 and the prince, thus allied to the royal family of England, and afterwards thrown on the most alluring and easy paths to greatness which ambition could suggest, distinguished himself for nothing but the obtuseness of his faculties, and the inoffensiveness of his' disposition, passing to his grave as noiselessly and unobserved as he had entered the world. During the short period when James held uncertain rule, it cannot be said that he made any serious attempt to convert his daughter to the Catholic faith; his attempts in this respect were limited to the unsacerdotal extent of requesting her to read a few books on the Romish faith, and to form her own conclusions on their justness.6 Indeed, the princess seems, by that time, to have clung with a true paternal obstinacy to the opinions of the church of England, which the king probably knew would bid defiance to any attempt at conversion. "I am," she says, writing to her sister the princess of Orange, "resolved to undergo any thing rather than change my religion. Nay, if it should come to such extremities, I will choose to live on alms rather than change." 7
At the birth of the prince of Wales, on the 10th of June, 1688, the conduct of the Princess Anne was more conspicuous than her unobtrusive indolence generally permitted it to be. She was absent at the period of the birth, having gone on the plea of bad health to the waters of Bath, and on her return she took no care to conceal her conviction, that the birth was spurious, and intended for the establishment of a Roman Catholic successor to that throne which must have otherwise devolved on a line of Protestants. Her father did not hesitate to affirm that her absence was a concerted plan, for the purpose of removing a witness, whose conscience would allow her to be wilfully blind to the truth, while she would not dare to contradict it;8 but justice to the motives of the princess demand the acknowledgment, that her correspondence, previously to the period of the birth,9 and her conference 'with a venerable statesman and relative,10 sufficiently prove that she acted from a full conviction, seemingly more dependent on a zeal for the church of England—which she appears to have conceived, could not be permitted to suffer so severe a misfortune as the birth of a male heir to the crown—than on prospects of future aggrandizement; while it may be observed, that should any one now maintain the prince of Wales
* Life of James 1I. vol. i. p. 542, 682, from the memoirs written by himself, edited by J. S. Clarke. We need scarcely remind our reader, that this mutilated abstract of original documents—now, it is to be feared, irrecoverable—cannot be much depended on in the colour it gives to the intrigues of th« period. The passages, however, from which the above facts are taken, bear to have been copied verbatim from the original.
* Life of James, vol. i. p. 745.—Hume, &c. * Somerville. ■ Conduct of the Dutchess of Marlborough, p. 15.
'Dalrjmp. Mem. Ap. to Book v. p. 170.
* Life of James II. vol. ii. p. 161. From the same quarter it is maintained that the bishops procured themselves to be imprisoned from similar motives.
* Vide A p. No. 7, to the 5lh Book of Dalrymp. Mem. containing a series of interesting Letters from the princess Anne to her sister.
'not to have been the child of James the Second and his queen, the sincerity of this conviction on the part of the princess would certainly be the best argument for the support of such a position. During the unfortunate reign of her father, the princess with her husband lived retired from court, and took no interference in measures contrary to the principles of their religion. On the approach of the prince of Orange, the latter, by a sort of instinctive docility, joined the standard of the falling monarch. On the king's retreat to London, Prince George, seeing others gradually desert his master, judged it no longer prudent to abide by such a cause, and quietly left the camp at midnight, leaving behind him a letter of apology. On perusing which, James remarked that "the loss of a good trooper had been of greater consequence."" But when the unfortunate monarch heard that his daughter had preferred following the footsteps of her husband to remaining with a father, whom the world was gradually deserting, he exclaimed, with a bitter feeling, that he was the object of the ingratitude both of adherents and of children;—" God help me, my own children have deserted me I" It appeared to be the general feeling with those who deserted James that some apology was necessary, or at least decorous; and the princess, in a letter to the queen, portrayed her feelings with no little energy,—" never was any one,'' she says, "in such an unhappy condition, so divided between duty and affection to a father and a husband, and, therefore, I know not what I must do, but to follow one to preserve the other."" A writer who was present on the occasion mentions, that on the princess approaching Nottingham, through which she directed her flight, her friends were alarmed by the intelligence, that 2000 dragoons were in full pursuit, with the intention of forcing her back to London, and that an indefinite number of Irish savages were let loose for the destruction of the Protestant population;" and whether from design or accident, various quarters of the country were disturbed by the circulation of similar rumours." The princess was received with acclamation by the people of Nottingham. She met the nobility and more distinguished gentry of the neighbourhood at a public banquet, and while her father's fate was uncertain, his situation dangerous, and all around him his enemies, she made a public entry with considerable magnificence at Oxford, where she met her husband.15 . While the conduct of the princess cannot meet with the reverence due to a dereliction of filial affection, in favour of principle and the common good, those who have characterized it as perfidious and ungrateful, appear to adopt an erroneous view of her character. Her stubborn reverence for the church of England, joined to the conviction that an imposture of great moment to her future views had been practised against her, seem to have been quite sufficient to balance a filial affection which, like that of her sister, was peculiarly lukewarmand the decision of the stronger aud more designing intellect of the woman who held so firm a mastery over her mind, was quite sufficient to sway her to the step she followed. Lady Churchill planned the method of escape, and was the companion of the princess in her flight; and the intrigues of her, and of her celebrated husband at that period, although intricate and obscure, show the proceedings of this celebrated woman to be the effect of a designing mind, and that her purpose, at that period at least, was to raise her husband in the estimation of William; she acknowledges that she advised the princess to accede to the act of settlement, which admitted the right of William to retain the throne during his life, while she adds a qualification to which few will give credit, that she did so without ambitious views.17 A little ingenuity might trace the hand of this talented woman through proceedings of deeper duplicity, but our path is not clear, and to avoid injustice we must be content with stating the facts which are authenticated. Soon after the accession of the Prince of Orange, a decided coolness commenced betwixt the two royal sisters, which increased to an almost open rupture, on the friends of the Princess Anne having urged with considerable vehemence the revenue of £50,000, which was assigned to her from the civil list, in 1689. William added indignity to coolness, in his conduct towards Prince George, who made an offer of his services on board the fleet, which was coldly rejected.18 These circumstances created heartburnings in the breast of Anne, which, with the petty acrimony of a weak mind, she was in the habit of venting in unhandsome epithets, and captious remarks ;w but when Churchill, then earl of Marlborough, who had performed for William many services, was dismissed from his command, and the countess was ordered no longer to remain at court, the princess Anne preferring friendship to a concurrence with the will of a sister, followed her favourite.20 The coolness, and the final separation, are founded by the dutchess of Marlborough in her account of her conduct, on some idle disputes about the disposal of the Cockpit. William was not a man to quarrel with a princess about her method of occupying her lodgings, and causes must be found of a nature sufficiently strong to work on the mind of so great a man. The dutchess has very naturally omitted the facts, which documents lately discovered have proved beyond all question, that Marlborough, with Godolphin, his relative by marriage, and his companion in the favour of the princess, conducted during their services to William, a secret correspondence with the court of St Germains.'1 The stigma, if such it may be called, cannot be
"Life of James II. p. 261. The prince, as each instance of defection reached his ear, was in the habit of exclaiming to his father-in-law,—" est il possible?" On the first rumour of his desertion James observed, " so,—est il possible is gone too." Id. Dalrymp. Book vi. p. 202.
'* Ellis's original Letters, vol. iv. p. 166.
"Colly Cibber's Apology, (1828) p. 47. Itwillnotadd much to our conriction of i tie real danger, that the author is pathetic on the subject of the alarm as affecting himself "Our troops," he says, however, €< scrambled to arms in as much order as their consternation would admit of." His account of the Sight is amusing.
"For an interesting sketch of the characters of the sisters, see a view of social life in England and France, by the translator of Mad. D. "Account, p. 19.
"Coxe's Marlborough, vol. i. p. 48. Account of the Dutchess of Marl. p. SS ■ She called him, " The monster, caliban, Dutch aborrion." Coxe, vol. L p. 48. "In some of the Princess Anne's letters, King William is called Dutch monster: Prince George was much neglected by King William while in Ireland with him; was not taken into the king's coach with him, though others were, and never mentioned when there: was not taken to Flanders; nor allowed to go a volunteer to sea." Note in the handwriting of the earl of Marchmont, March, 1732. Marchmont papers, vol. II. p. 418. m Account.
"Macpherson's Original Papers, vol. i. p. 156. vide also the correspondence commencing at p. 588, where Marlborough is mentioned under the feigned names of 'Oourney,' and ' Amsworth.' See also the authorities referred to by Hallam, vol. HL p. 168.