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above any extent in former ages. The sad tragical death of his father, his banishment and hardships, his miraculous restoration, conspiracies against him, parliaments, wars, plagues, fires, comets, revolutions abroad happening in his time, with a thousand other particulars. He was ever kind to me, and very gracious upon all occasions; and therefore I cannot, without ingratitude, but deplore his loss, which, for many respects, as well as duty, I do with all my soul.
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The person given to us by Monk was a man without any sense of his dutyas a prince, without any regard to the dignity of his crown, and without any love to his people; dissolute, false, venal, and destitute of any positive good quality whatsoever, except a pleasant temper, and the manners of a gentleman. Burke.
The opposition of James's religious principles to those of his subjects, his unpopular connexions with the court of France; but, above all, the permanent establishment of a rival family on the throne of England, has formed in his disfavour such a union of prejudice and interest, as to destroy in the minds of posterity all that sympathy which, on similar occasions, and in similar misfortunes, has so wonderfully operated in favour of other princes; and whilst we pay the tribute of unavailing tears over the memory of Charles the First; whilst, with the church of England, we venerate him as a martyr to the power and office of prelates; whilst we see, with regret, that he was stripped of his dignity and life at the very time when the chastening hand of affliction had, in a great measure, corrected the errors of a faulty education; the irresistible power of truth must oblige us to confess, that the adherence to religious principles, which cost the father his life, deprived the son of his dominions; that the enormous abuses of power with which both sovereigns are accused owed their origin to the same source; the errors arising from a bad education, aggravated and extended by the impious flattery of designing priests; we shall also be obliged to confess, that the parliament itself, by an unprecedented servility, helped to confirm James in the exalted idea he had entertained of the royal office, and that the doctrines of an absolute and unconditional submission on the part of subjects, which, in the reign of his father, was in a great measure confined to the precepts of a Laud, a Sibthorpe, and Maynwaring, were now taught as the avowed doctrines of the church of England, were acknowledged by the two Universities, and implicitly avowed by a large majority of the nation: so great, indeed, was the change in the temper, manners, and opinions of the people, from the commencement of the reign of his son James, that at this shameful period the people gloried in having laid all their privileges at the foot of the throne, and execrated every generous principle of freedom, as arising from a spirit totally incompatible with the peace of so
ciety, and altogether repugnant to the doctrines of Christianity.
This was the situation of affairs at the accession of the unfortunate James; and had he been equally unprincipled as his brother, the deceased king; had he professed himself a Protestant, whilst he was in his heart a Papist; had he not regarded it as his duty to use his omnipotent power for the restoring to some parts of its ancient dignity a church which he regarded as the only true church of Christ; or had he, instead of attacking the prerogative of the prelacy, suffered them to share the regal despotism which they had fixed on the basis of conscience, the most flagrant abuses of civil power would never have been called in judgment against him, and parliament themselves would have lent their constitutional authority to have riveted the chains of the empire in such a manner as should have put it out of the power of the most determined votaries of freedom to have reestablished the government on its ancient foundation. From this immediate evil England owes its deliverance to the bigoted sincerity of James; a circumstance which ought, in some measure, to conciliate our affection to the memory of the sufferer, and induce us to treat those errors with lenity, which have led to the enjoyment of privileges which can never be entirely lost, but by a general corruption of principle and depravity of manners.
It was said by the witty duke of Buckingham, "that Charles the Second might do well if he would, and that James would do well if he could," an observation which says little for the understanding of James, but a great deal for his heart; and, with all the blemishes with which his public character is stained, he was not deficient in several qualities necessary to compose a good sovereign. His industry and attention to business were exemplary; he was frugal of the public money; he cherished and extended the maritime power of the empire; and his encouragement of trade was attended with such success that, according to the observation of the impartial historian Ralph, as the frugality of his administration helped to increase the number of malcontents, so his extreme attention to trade was not less alarming to the whole body of the Dutch, than his resolution not to rush into a war with France was mortifying to their stadtholder.
In domestic life the character of James, though not irreproachable, was comparatively good. It is true, he was in a great measure tainted with that licentiousness of manners which at this time pervaded the whole society, and which reigned triumphant within the circle of the court; but he was never carried into any excesses which trenched deeply upon the duties of social life; and if the qualities of his heart were only to be judged by his different conduct in the different characters of husband, father, master, and friend, he might be pronounced a man of very amiable disposition. But those who know not how to forgive injuries, and can never pardon the errors, the infirmities, the vices, or even the virtues of their fellowcreatures, when in any respect they affect personal interest or inclination, will aim against them the sensibility of every humane mind, and can never expect from others that justice and commiseration which themselves have never exercised: but whilst we execrate that rancorous cruelty with which James, in the short hour of triumph, persecuted all those who endeavoured to thwart his ambitious hopes, it is but justice to observe that the rank vices of pride, malice, and revenge which blacken his conduct, whilst he figured in the station of presumptive heir to the crown, and afterwards in the character of sovereign, on the successful quelling of the Monmouth rebellion, were thoroughly corrected by the chastening hand of affliction: that the whole period of his life, from his return to Ireland to the day of his death, was spent in the exercise of the first Christian virtues, patience, fortitude, humility, and resignation. Bretonneau, his biographer, records that he always spoke with an extreme moderation of the individuals who had acted the most successfully in his disfavour; that he reproved those who mentioned their conduct with severity; that he read, even with a stoical apathy, the bitterest writings which were published against him; that he regarded the loss of empire as a necessary correction of the misdemeanours of his life, and even rebuked those who expressed any concern for the issue of events, which he respected as ordinations of the divine will.