Page images
PDF
EPUB

one of which he appointed his coronation to take place on the 23d of January, and called a grand council, to whom he delivered the following speech :-“ I am now, on your repeated invitation, come amongst you. No other argument need be used of the great confidence I place in your loyalty and fidelity to me, which I entirely rely on. I believe you are convinced of my intentions to restore the ancient laws and liberties of this kingdom; if not, I am still ready to confirm to you the assurance of doing all you can require therein. The great discouragements which presented were not sufficient to deter me from placing myself at the head of my faithful subjects, who were in arms for me; and whatever may ensue, I shall leave them no reason for complaint, that I have not done the utmost they could expect from me. Let those who forget their duty, and are negligent of their own good, be answerable for the worst that may happen. For me it will be no new thing if I am unfortunate. My whole life, even from my cradle, has shown a constant series of misfortunes; and I am prepared—if so it please God—to suffer the threats of my enemies and yours. The preparations against us will, I hope, quicken your resolutions, and convince others, from whom I have promises, that it is now no time to dispute what they have to do. But if they are mindful of their own safety, it will be my great comfort that I have done all that could be expected from me. I recommend to you what is necessary to be done in the present conjuncture, and, next to God, rely on your counsel and resolution.”

This address produced a flash of enthusiasm in the council, which, however, reflection speedily extinguished; and before the meeting broke up it was determined the enterprise should be abandoned, as being utterly hopeless. But it was necessary, for the chevalier's safety, that the people should not become acquainted with the results of their leaders' deliberations, until the chevalier had effected a retreat. Preparations for the defence of Perth, against the approaching royal army, were therefore made ; some villages in the outskirts were even burnt, on the ostensible motive that a besieging force might occupy them to the imminent danger of the town; and expresses were sent out to hurry in all the expected reinforcements. It appears, that although without money, food, or arms, the chevalier wished to maintain Perth, or even to hazard a battle. “ The enemy," says the earl of Mar,“ than eight thousand strong, and we had but two thousand five hundred that could be relied on; we were in the midst of a severe winter; were without fuel, and the town was utterly indefensible. We therefore retired to Montrose, where there is a good harbour. It was now represented to the chevalier, that as he had no immediate hope of success, he owed it to his people to provide for his safety, by retiring beyond sea. It was hard to bring him to think of this, though the enemy was in full march towards us, and our only chance was to retreat among the mountains; besides, that while he was with us, the danger to all parties was increased, owing to their eagerness to seize his person. At length he consented, though with great unwillingness, and I dare say no consent he ever gave was so uneasy to him.”

After having forwarded to the duke of Argyle, the king's general, a considerable sum for the relief of those whose property had been destroyed in the burnt villages near Perth, he directed that nearly all the remainder of his money should be distributed among his adherents,

was more

[ocr errors]

reserving little or nothing for himself. Fearing some obstruction to his departure, he ordered his horses and guard to be drawn up in front of the house where he lodged, as though he intended to proceed on the march with his forces. He then slipped out at the back door, and having reached the water-side undiscovered, embarked with those whomi he had selected as the coinpanions of his flight, on board a small vessel, which had been destined to carry a gentleman on an embassy to some foreign court. After a voyage of five days, although nine menof-war were cruizing off the coast to prevent his escape, he arrived, on the 8th of February, in safety at Gravelines.

“ The chevalier,” says Bolingbroke, was not above six weeks in his expedition. On his return to St Germains, the French government wished him to repair to his old asylum with the duke of Lorraine before he had time to refuse it. But nothing was meant by this but to get him out of France immediately. I found him in no disposition to make such haste, for he had a mind to stay in the neighbourhood of Paris, and wished to have a private meeting with the regent. This was refused; and the chevalier at length declared that he would instantly set out for Lorraine. His trunks were packed, his chaise was ordered to be ready at five that afternoon, and I sent word to Paris that he was gone.

At our interview he affected much cordiality towards me, and no Italian ever embraced the man he was going to stab with a greater show of affection and confidence. Instead of taking post for Lorraine, he went to the little house in the Bois de Boulogne, where his female ministers resided ; and there he continued lurking for several days, pleasing himself with the air of mystery and business, while the only real business which he should have had at that time lay neglected. The Thursday following, the duke of Ormond brought me a scrap of paper in the chevalier's handwriting, and dated on the Tuesday, to make me believe it was written on the road, and sent back to his grace. The kingly laconic style of the paper was, that he had no further occasion for my services, accompanied by an order to deliver up all the papers in my office to Ormond, all which might have been contained in a moderate sized letter-case. Had I literally complied with the order, the duke would have seen, from his private letters, how meanly the chevalier thought of his capacity ; but I returned these papers privately."

Notwithstanding the failure of his recent attempt in Scotland, the chevalier still possessed a great number of well-wishers on both sides of the Tweed. Oxford was still eminently disloyal, white roses, the avowed symptom of Jacobitism being openly worn there on James Frederick's birth-day. Having been compelled at the instance of George I. to retire from Avignon, which he had for some time made his place of residence, the chevalier crossed the Alps, and repaired to Rome, where he was received with great cordiality by the pope. In 1718–19, Cardinal Alberoni, prime minister of Spain, sent him a pressing invitation to visit the court of Madrid. The emissaries of the English government watched him so closely, that in order to effect a secret retreat from Italy, he was compelled to have recourse to stratagem. 'The Spanish court received him in a most gratifying manner, and a powerful armament was prepared at Cadiz for the invasion of England; but the expedition was as decidedly unsuccessful as that which had been got up for him by the French king in 1708.

Meanwhile a treaty of marriage had been concluded with Clementina Maria, a daughter of Prince Sobieski, eldest son of John, king of Poland. The princess, to the deep dishonour of all the parties concerned in the transaction, was scized while passing through Tyrol in her journey towards Rome, at the instigation, it is said, of the British minister at Vienna. After having been kept a close prisoner for some time at Inspruck, early in May, 1719, she escaped in the disguise of a page to Bologna, where she was married to James Frederick by proxy. So eager did she feel to behold her husband, who was still in Spain, that she was with difficulty prevented from proceeding at once to Madrid. The chevalier soon afterwards returned, and, in commemoration of her escape, caused a medal to be struck, bearing her portrait, and the legend, • Clementina, Queen of Great Britain, France, and Ireland,' on one side, and on the other a female figure in a triumphal car drawn by horses at full speed, with the words, 'Fortunam causamque sequor,' and underneath, Deceptis custodibus, 1719. The chevalier expected a vast fortune with his wife, but he only received a portion out of the Sobieski estate, which, on account of its previous encumbrances, was of very little value. He had two children by the princess—Charles Edward, and Henry Benedict.

In 1720, his avowed friend, the king of Sweden, entered into a solemn engagement with George I. to render the chevalier no assistance, and in the following year died Clement XI. whose favour and protection he had for a long time enjoyed. The expiring pontiff warmly recommended the exiled prince to the good offices of his successor in the pa

pal chair.

In 1722, the chevalier sent to this country a declaration of his rights, which was voted a scandalous libel by parliament, and ordered to be publicly burnt at the exchange. For several years afterwards James Frederick and his personal adherents amused themselves by forming visionary schemes for his restoration, but at length he became indolent, and apparently hopeless. He took no part in the romantic expedition of his son in 1745. “By the aid of God,” said the young pretender to his father, when preparing to depart for Scotland, “I trust I shall soon be able to lay three crowns at your feet." “ Be careful, my dear boy,” replied the chevalier, “ for I would not lose you for all the crowns in the world.”

During the remainder of his long life he resided at Rome, under the protection of the pope, but neither honoured nor beloved. He lived to be pitied by the house of Hanover, and almost forgotten by the children of those of his party who would willingly have died for his benefit. The following is an abridgment of Keysler's notice of James Frederick, published in 1756. “ The figure made by the pretender is in every way mean and unbecoming. The pope has issued an order that all his subjects should style him king of England; but the Italians make a jest of this, for they term him • The local king, or king here,' while the real possessor is styled • The king there,' that is, in England. He has an annual income of 12,000 scudi, or crowns, from the pope, and though he may receive as much from his adherents in England, it is far from enabling him to keep up the state of a sovereign prince. He is very fond of seeing his image struck in medals; and if kingdoms were to be obtained by tears—which he shed plentifully at the miscarriage of his attempts in Scotland—he would have found the medallists work enough. Not to mention the former medals, the one at present in hand shows that his life is not very thick set with great actions, for it relates to the birth of his eldest son, and represents the busts of the pretender and his lady, with this legend, 'Jacob. III. R. Clementina R.' On the reverse is a lady with a child on her left arm, leaning on a pillar as the emblem of constancy, and with her right hand pointing to a globe on which is seen England, Scotland, and Ireland, the legend Providentia obstetrix, and below, · Carlo Princ. Valliæ, nat. die ultimâ A. 1720.' The pretender generally appears abroad with three coaches, and his household consists of about forty persons. He lately assumed some authority at the opera by calling · Encore,' when a song that pleased him was performed, but it was not until after a long pause that his order was obey. ed. He never before affected the least power. At his coming into an assembly no English protestant rises up, and even the Roman catholics pay him the compliment in a very superficial manner. His pusillanimity, and the licentiousness of his amours, have lessened him in every body's esteem. His lady is too pale and thin to be thought handsome; her frequent miscarriages have brought her very low, so that she seldom stirs abroad unless to visit a convent. She allows her servants no gold or silver lace on their liveries, and this proceeds from what is called her piety ; but it is partly owing to her ill health, and partly to the jealousy, inconstancy, and other ill qualities of her husband; and one of these provocations affected her. so much, that she withdrew into a convent, whilst the pretender, to be more at liberty to pursue his amours, went to Bologna. But the pope disapproved of their separate households, and to induce him to return to Rome and be reconciled to his lady, discontinued his pension. Yet the reconciliation was merely forhe pursues

his vices as much as ever, and she can never entertain a cordial affection for him again. Mr S-, who affects to be an antiquary, narrowly watches the pretender and his adherents, being retained for that purpose by the British ministry. A few years since, Cardinal Alberoni, to save the pretender's charges, proposed that the palace Alla Langhara should be assigned for his residence. This house lies in the suburbs, and in a private place, and has a large garden with a passage to the city walls, so that the pretender's friends might have visited him with more privacy, and he himself be absent without its being known in Rome. This change was objected to on the part of England by Mr s, and did not take place; but a new wing was built to the pretender's old mansion, he having represented it as too small for him.”

For five years before his death, James Frederick was too infirm to leave his room. He lost his wife on the 18th of January, 1765, and his own death took place on the 12th day of the same month in the following year.

His remains were interred with extraordinary magnifi. Some interesting observations occur with regard to the chevalier's character in Bolingbroke's letter to Sir William Wyndham, from which the following are extracts. “ The chevalier's education renders him infinitely less fit than his uncle, and, at least, as unfit as his father, to be king of England ; add to this, that there is no resource in his under

mal;

cence.

standing. He is a slave to the weakest prejudices ; the rod hangs like the sword of Damocles over his head, and he humbles before his mother and the priest.”_" His religion is not founded on the love of virtue and the detestation of vice; the spring of his whole conduct is fear-fear of the horns of the devil and of the flames of hell. He has all the superstition of a Capuchin, but none of the religion of a prince.”—“When the draught of a declaration to be circulated in Great Britain—that dated at Commercy—was to be settled, his real character was fully developed. He took exception against the passages in which the security of the protestant church was promised. He said he could not in conscience make such a promise, and asked warmly why the tories were so anxious to have him if they expected those things from him which his religion did not allow. I left the draughts with him that he might amend them, and, though I cannot absolutely prove it, I firmly believe that he sent them to the queen to be corrected by her confessor. Queen Anne was called, in the original, "his sister, of blessed and glorious memory ;' in that which he published, · blessed' was left out. When her death was mentioned, the original said, “when it pleased Almighty God to take her to himself,' this was erased, and the following words inserted, 'when it pleased God to put a period to her life. He also refused to allow the term of blessed martyr' to be applied to Charles.”

Horace Walpole thus spoke of James Frederick in 1752: “ The Chevalier de St George is tall, meagre, and melancholy in his aspect : enthusiasm and disappointment have stamped a solemnity on his person, which rather creates pity than respect. He seems the phantom which good nature, divested of reflection, conjures up, when we think on the misfortunes, without the demerits of Charles I. Without the particular features of any Stuart, the chevalier has the strong lines and fatality of air peculiar to them all. He never gave the world very favourable impressions of him ; in Scotland his behaviour was far from heroic.

At Romewhere to be a good Roman catholic it is by no means necessary to be very religious—they have little esteem for him: but it was his ill treatment of the Princess Sobieski, his wife, that originally disgusted the papal court. She, who to zeal for popery had united all its policy,who was lively, insinuating, agreeable, and enterprising,—was fervently supported by that court when she could no longer endure the mortifications that were offered to her by Hay and his wife, the titular countess of Inverness, to whom the chevalier had entirely resigned himself. The pretender retired to Bologna, but was obliged to sacrifice his favourites before he could re-establish himself at Rome. The most apparent merit of the chevalier's court is the great regularity of his finances and the economy of his exchequer. His income, before the rebellion, was about £23,000 a year, arising chiefly from pensions from the pope and from Spain, from contributions from England, and some irregular donations from other courts; yet bis payments were not only most exact, but he had saved a large sum of money, which was squandered on the unfortunate attempt in Scotland. Besides the loss of a crown, to which he thought he had a just title; besides a series of disappointments from his birth; besides that mortifying rotation of friends to which his situation has constantly exposed him, he has, in the latter part of his life, seen his own little court and his parental affections torn to pieces, and tortured by the seeds of faction, sown by that master-hand of sedition, the

« PreviousContinue »