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The Prince, on his part, was not wanting to the CHAP. cide of success which flowed in upon him, nor back. LXXI. ward in assuming that authority which the present
1688, exigency had put into his hands. Besides the general popularity attending his cause, a new incident made his approach to London still more grateful. In the present trepidation of the people, a rumour arose, either from chance or design, that the dis. banded Irish had taken arms, and had commenced an universal massacre of the protestants. This ridicu. lous belief was spread all over the kingdom in one day; and begat every where the deepest consternation. The alarm bells were rung; the beacons fired; men fancied that they saw at a distance the smoke of the burning cities, and heard the groans of those who were slaughtered in their neighbourhood. It is surprising, that the catholics did not all perish, in the rage which naturally succeeds to such popular panics.
WHILE every one, from principle, interest, or animosity, turned his back on the unhappy King, who had abandoned his own cause, the unwelcome news, arrived, that he had been seized by the populace King, at Feversham, as he was making his escape in dis- seized at
Feverguise ; that he had been much abused, till he was
sham. known; but that the gentry had then interposed and protected him, though they still refused to consent to his escape. This intelligence threw all parties into confusion. The Prince sent Zuylestein with orders, that the King should approach no nearer than Rochester ; but the message came too late. He was already arrived in London, where the populace moved by compassion for his unhappy fate, and acluated by their own levity, had received him with shouts and acclamations.
DURING the King's abode at Whitehall, little attention was paid to him by the nobility or any persons of distinction. They had, all of them, been
CHAP. previously disgusted on account of his blind parLXXI. tiality to the catholics; and they knew that they
were now become criminal in his eyes, by their late 1688.
public applications to the Prince of Orange. He himself shewed not any symptom of spirit, nor discovered any intention of resuming the reins of
gos vernment which he had once thrown aside. His authority was now plainly expired ; and as he had exercised his power, while possessed of it, with very precipitate and haughty counsels, he relinquished it by a despair equally precipitate and pusillanimous.
NOTHING remained for the now ruling powers but to deliberate how they should dispose of his person. Besides that the Prince may justly be supa posed to have possessed more generosity than to think of offering violence to an unhappy monarch, 60 nearly related to him, he knew that nothing would so effectually promote his own views as the King's retiring into France, a country at all times obnoxious to the English. It was determined, therefore, to push him into that measure, which, of himself, he seemed sufficiently inclined to embrace. The King having sent Lord Feversham on a civil message to the Prince, desiring a conference for an accommodation in order to the public settlement, that nobleman was put in arrest, under pretence of his coming without a passport: The Dutch guards were ordered to take possession of Whitehall, where James then resided, and to displace the English: And Halifax, Shrewsbury, and Delamere, brought à message from the Prince, which they delivered to the King in bed after midnight, ordering him to leave his palace next morning, and to depart for Ham, a seat of the Dutchess of Lauderdale's. He desired permission, which was easily granted, of retiring to Rochester, a town near the sea-coast.
It was perceived, that the artifice had taken effect;
and that the King, terrified with this harsh treatment, CHAP. had renewed his former resolution of leaving the LXXI. kingdom.
1688. He lingered, however, some days at Rochester, under the protection of a Dutch guard, and seemed desirous of an invitation still to keep possession of the throne. He was undoubtedly sensible, that as he had at first trusted too much to his people's loyalty, and, in confidence of their submission, had offered the greatest violence to their principles and prejudices; so had he, at last, on finding his disappointment, gone too far in the other extreme, and had hastily supposed them destitute of all sense of duty or allegiance. But observing that the church, the nobility, the city, the country, all concurred in neglecting him and leaving him to his own counsels, he submitted to his melancholy fate ; and being urged by earnest letters from the Queen, he privately embarked on board a frigate which waited Second for him; and he arrived safely at Ambleteuse in escape.
23d Dec. Picardy, whence he hastened to St. Germains. Lewis received him with the highest generosity, sympathy, and regard; a conduct which, more than his most signal victories, contributes to the honour of that great monarch.
Thus ended the reign of a Prince, whom, if we King's consider his personal character rather than his public character. conduct, we may safely pronounce more unfortunate than criminal. He had many of those qualities which form a good citizen : Even some of those which, had they not been swallowed up in bigotry and arbitrary principles, serve to compose a good sovereign. In domestic life, his conduct was irreproachable, and is entitled to our approbation. Severe, but open in his enmities, steady in his counsels, diligent in his schemes, brave in his enterprises, faithful, sincere, and honourable in his dealings with all men: Such was the character with which the
CHAP. Duke of York mounted the throne of England. In LXXI. that high station, his frugality of public money was
remarkable, his industry exemplary, his application 1688.
to naval'affairs successful, his encouragement of trade judicious, his jealousy of national honour laudable: What then was wanting to make him an excellent sovereign ? A due regard and affection to the religion and constitution of his country. Had he been possessed of this essential quality, even his middling talents, aided by so many virtues, would have rendered his reign honourable and happy. When it was wanting, every excellency which he possessed became dangerous and pernicious to his kingdoms.
The sincerity of this Prince (a virtue on which he highly valued himself) has been much questioned in those reiterated promises which he had made of preserving the liberties and religion of the nation. It must be confessed, that his reign was almost one continued invasion of both; yet it is known, that, to his last breath, he persisted in asserting, that he never meant to subvert the laws, or procure more than a toleration and an equality of privileges to his catholic subjects. This question can only affect the personal character of the King, not our judgment of his public conduct. Though by a stretch of candour we should admit of his sincerity in these professions, the people were equally justifiable in their resistance of him. So lofty was the idea which he had entertained of his legal authority, that it left his subjects little or no right to liberty, but what was dependent on his sovereign will and pleasure. And such was his zeal for proselytism, that whatever he might at first have intended, he plainly stopped not at toleration and equality: He confined all power, encouragement, and favour, to the catholics : Converts from interest would soon have multiplied upon him: If not the greater, at least the better part of the people, he would have flattered himself, was
brought brought over to his religion; And he would in a CHAP. little time have thought it just, as well as pious, to LXXI. bestow on them all the public establishments. Ri
1688. gours and persecutions against heretics would speedily have followed ; and thus liberty and the protestant religion would in the issue have been totally subverted : though we should not suppose that James, in the commencement of his reign, had formally fixed a plan for that purpose. And, on the whole, allowing this King to have possessed good qualities and good intentions, his conduct serves only, on that very account, as a stronger proof, how dangerous it is to allow any Prince, infected with the catholic superstition, to wear the crown of these kingdoms.
AFTER this manner, the courage and abilities of the Prince of Orange, seconded by surprising fortune, had effected the deliverance of this island; and with very little effusion of blood (for only one officer of the Dutch army and a few private soldiers fell in an accidental skirinish) had dethroned a great Prince, supported by a formidable fleet and a numerous army. Still the more difficult task remained, and what perhaps the Prince regarded as not the least important: The obtaining for himself that crown which had fallen from the head of his fatherin-law. Some lawyers, entangled in the subtleties and forms of their profession, could think of no expedient, but that the Prince-should claim the crown by right of conquest; should immediately assume the title of sovereign; and should call a parliament, which, being thus legally summoned by a King in possession, could ratify whatever had been transacted before they assembled. But this measure, being destructive of the principles of liberty, the only principles on which his future throne could be established, was prudently rejected by the Prince, who, finding himself possessed of the good will of the nation, resolved to leave them entirely to their