Page images

bent upon the destru&tion of a fallen minister, how mean and dis. graceful does their conduct appear !

• The zeal of the commons to rescue Firzh asris from a prosecution, already commenced against him in the courts of law, is not only liable to the fame cenfore, as being a presumptuous interference with the established conftitutional forms of juftice, but also tending to firengthen the fuspicion of their having formed a design of emplaying him as the tool of corruption, bel adapted to disturb the tranquillity of government.

• If the conduct of the country party in the reign of Charles the second had appeared in every view unexceptionable, or even meritorious in the eye of an unprejudiced spectator, who lived at that period, and formed his opinion from such circumstances as fell under his own ini mediate observation, yet the most candid in our own time, who have had an opportunity of attending to the additional information, and the evidence fairly collected from records which have been lately inspected, cannot fail to submit, however reluctantly, to this conclusion, that base and mercenary motives swayed the conduâ of many who stood in opposition to the court, and were enrolled in the list of patriots. Candour may dispose us to suspend our decision with respect to the guilt of individuals; por is it confillent with its dictates, to blot, with the pen of a profligate ambassador, the names of illustrious persons, who were never even suspected of a base or an unworthy action. But still, neither the fact itself, nor the conclusion drawn from it, can be evaded. The money of France was profusely distributed among the members of the country party, and deep corruption must have somewhere existed, among those who derived aliistance from such base and such criminal means *.'

After tracing back to its cause the fact of the gradual decline of opposition, toward the close of the reign of Charles II. not. withitanding the flagrant instances in which the power of the crown was stretched beyond the limits of law, Dr. Somerville closes this reign with the following judicious observations:

• It is not to be denied, that nature had furnished the mind of this prioce with a more than common share of genius and taste. Affability, {prightliness, wit, and good breeding, conveyed an amiable view of his character to those who surrendered judge ment to the sudden and transient impressions of converfation and external manners.

• Tried by that system, which ascribes transcendent merit to the graces, few royal characters appear more deserving of applause and admiration : few will stand lower in the decition of those, who hold moral accomplishments to be the most essential ornaments of character, and the only genuine basis of esteem and praise.

• Without any sense of religious principle, ungrateful to his own friends, and the friends of his father ; timid and fluctuating in his

* See more on this very interesting subject, Review, vol. xlix. p. 1-10.

counsels; counsels; deftitute of all pretensions to patriotism ; ever ready to facrifice the interest and glory of his country to the gratification of his pleasures, and the supply of his wants; what remains to claim the approbation, or restrain the severelt reproach, of impartial posterity ?

• The satisfaction which Charles enjoyed in the later period of his reign, on account of his triumph over the whig party, must have been greatly diminished, by the personal mortifications he incurred, from the insolence and the treachery of France. How painful must it have been, to discover that Lewis had been intriguing with those very persons in England, whom he had considered as enemies to his own government, and to the interest of France ? Nay, so little respect did Lewis show, either to the honour or the domestic cran. quillity of Charles, that he was accessory to a design of exposing him to the contempt of his subjects, and of all Europe, by a publication of the secret treaties by which Charles, to his disgrace, had connected himself with the court of France. The encroachments which the French king made upon Flanders, were a mockery of the engagements into which he had entered with Charles by the last money treaty. His invasion of the principality of Orange, was an insult to the royal family of England. A circumstance which, we may believe, made a deeper impression upon the mind of Charles, was the with holding the pension promised to him, for remaining an indifferent spectator of such outrageous usurpation, at a time when he was reduced to the utmost distress, on account of his contracted and embarrassed revenue. Thus, like the unhappy female, who has fallen a prey to the snares of the licencious seducer, robbed of her innocence, and cheated of the reward of her prostitution, configned to infamy and to poverty, Charles, if any spark of fengibi. lity remained, must have been torn with all those pangs of remorse and of shame, which result from the consciousness of the baseft ini. quity and most egregious folly. No wonder, if, as atteited by cotemporary historians, he became penfive and melancholy, and entertained serious thoughts of changing the plan of his government. The arrangements he had made in the several corporations by the quo warranto prosecutions, and a considerable reinforcement added to his army by the garrison recalled from Tangiers, would probably encourage him to hope, that if he called another parliament, he would find is more obsequious to his desires.'

Of the short and disgraceful reign of James II, the author gives a brief but masterly sketch. He thews by what means it came to pass, that James's acceflion to the throne, (an event which, a few years before, had been anticipated with horror,) at last took place without opposition. He gives a lhocking, but not exaggerated, description, of the oppressions and cruel. ties of this reign, marks the sudden change of political sentiments which then took place; and exhibits an instructive picture

of a prince invested with extensive prerogative, and flattered with the most ardent expreffions of attachment, through the baneful influence of obstinate and infatuated bigotry, abdicating bis throne almost without a struggle, and compelled to linger out the remainder of his days in exile and disgrace,'

At this period of the history, Dr. S. introduces an inquiry whether the Prince of Orange was accessary to the Duke of Monmouth's invasion. Of this he stands accused by D'Avaux, the French resident in Holland, by King James, and by Father Orleans; and the accusation has been renewed and vehemently urged by Mr. M'Pherson.

D'Avaux * minutely describes the affiduous attentions thewn to the Duke of Monmouth during his residence in Holland; and asserts that, on the news of the death of Charles II. the Prince was shut up in close consultation with the Duke at midnight; that after his departure he corresponded with Bentinck, the Prince's greatest confident; that he afterward returned to Amsterdam, where he lived incognito, and made preparations for his expedition to England; and that the Prince favoured the escape of his vessels, though requested to stop them by James's ambaffador, and in other respects neglected to counteract the projects of the Duke's associates. The same historian also mentions letters of the Prince of Orange, found by the King of England, which discovered the intelligence that he held with the Duke of Monmouth, and the contract made between them. King James ascribed the invasion by the Duke to the assistance of his son-in-law; assigning, as the reason, that he was defirous of playing off the two persons who stood between him and the throne againft one another; and he supported this conjecture by the fact, that Bentinck was visibly alarmed when he found that James would admit the Duke into his presence, and was never at ease till his head was cut off. Father Orleans takes pains to remove an objection which might be made to the opinion, that the Prince of Orange favoured the expedition, from the Prince's conduct in fending Bentinck to offer the troops of Holland and his own personal service to James. This, the Father alleges, was occasioned by the imprudence of the Duke, who offended William by assuming the title of king.

To all this Dr. S. replies, that the civilities related by D’A. vaux happened before the death of Charles II, and therefore cannot fairly be imputed to any immediate view on the throne of England. From the intimacy that subsisted between the Duke of Monmouth and the Prince of Orange, it might naturally be expected that they would converle on business of such importance as the death of Charles. The story of the letters bears no marks of authenticity, and is only hearsay evidence; and they are not mentioned by James. The conduct

* See an account of his Negociations, Rev. vols. x. and xiii.

of William, with respect to the Duke, may be justified on the general ground of the protection due to strangers. The remarks contained in the life of James are merely conjectural, and are evidently dictated by suspicion and resentment. The offer which the Prince made to Bentinck, of serving in perfon at the head of the troops against the Duke of Monmouth, is a sufficient confutation of his being concerned in that expedie tion. The Duke wrote to James, not accusing, but in express terms acquitting, the Prince and Princess of Orange of all share and participation of his crimę; and he acknowleged that he gave his promise to them that he would never stir. The validity of the testimony of Orleans depends entirely on that of James, from whom he derived all his information. To all this our author adds :

• Many external circumstances, as well as the behaviour and true interest of the prince of Orange, fuggeft strong arguments for his acquittal of the charge of inftigating the rebellion of Monmouth. Impelled by every motive of prudence, the prince of Orange dircovered the most anxious solicitude to maintain a strict friend! hip with his father-in-law, after his accession to the throne of Englasad. Involved in domestic and foreign dangers, his authority as stridtholder, constantly opposed by the city of Amsterdam, which watched every opportunity to impair or overturn it, stood upon a cottering basis. The restless ambition and resentment of France had desti ned his destruction. The only probable means of securing his personal authority, and the peace and independence of the States, seemed to flow from the succour and the friendship of England. He wasi at this very time negociating an alliance against France, to which the accession of James was essential, and he entertained the most fanguane hopes of obtaining it. With regard to his views on the succeffon of the crown of England, they were more likely to be obttrucl sed, than promoted, by the expedition of Monmouth, whatever the event of it might be. The success of Monmouth, if it had ta ken place, would not have been easily overturned. His defeat could only tend to discourage the hopes and future attempts of the difaf. fected party in England, to increase the power and establish the throne of the reigning prince, and to remove, till the event of his death, all hopes of that elevation, at which the prince of Orang.e is represented to have precipisately grasped, by encouraging and iuid. ing rebellion.

• I have the more largely insisted on this subject, because a 100dern historian, Mr. MʻPherson, has not only decided perempto Tily concerning the prince of Orange's connexion with Monmouth, in his expedition against James, but, by an artful arrangement of his ftory, represents his conduct towards Monmouth, for many preced Gng years, as formed and directed with a view to that event. The following sentence, particularly deserves to be attended to, becaui e is seems to fuggeft matter for confutation of the opinion which it contains : “ The generosity of the prince,” says he, "equalled not his

profe fed profeffed zeal for the service of Moomooth. The unfortunate duke derived from his own plate and jewels, his whole treasure for prose. cuting the war.” Is it not unfair to affume as a fact, what is not proved; nay, what is so much against evidence ; namely, the zeal ef William for Monmouth's service? Is there not adduced by bimself, a strong presumption against what he asserts as a fact? He gave bim no money. Was that like zeal for his service ?

• After all, the arguments now adduced are to be considered as referring to this single question, “ Whether there is any reason to believe, that the prince of Orange advised, or abetred, the expe. dition of Monmouth? Whether he was a partner in his guilt?" The prince of Orange, we may naturally suppose, from the period of his marriage, had his thoughts much curned towards the throne of England. He cultivated an intimate connexion with many perfons obnoxious to the displeasure of his uncle and of his father-jalaw; his motives for to doing might be of a mixed nature. He was not insensible to the charms of ambition ; the throne of Eng. Jand might one day devolve upon him in the line of fair racceflion, and prudence suggested a watchful eye to the fate of parties, and to the use of all lawful means to increase his friends, and itrengthen his intereft. Nor would it be candid to withhold credit to him for more generous motives. He was a true friend to the protestant religion. Though enough anxious about maintaining his own authority at home, he willed also to secure the independence of his native country, and to save it from che invasion of an ambitious neigh.. bour, who had marked it for his prey. The political condud both of Charles and of James interfered with his private interest and most liberal purposes ; and we need not wonder, that, in his turn, he endeavoured to thwart their measures, and for this end embarked with those in England, who struggled for the depression of regal power, and the security of liberty and of the protestant religion *.'


• * We find in the Life of Principal Carstairs, by Dr. M.Cormick, an infinuation of the prince of Orange having been accessary to Argyle's rebellion ; an event generally understood to have been conDected with Monmouth's invasion." In a paper of accounts of money disbursed by him for the prince's service, I find a sum ftated to a Captain Withart, who was master of the vessel in which Lord Argyle went home ; of whose honesty and willingness to serve the prince, I am well afrered." Life of Carstairs, p. 35.

• Dr. M Cormick adds, “ This is the only evidence I have ever met with, that Monmouth and Argyle were countenanced in their undertaking by the prince of Orange. Here we have William giving money to the person who brought Argyle over, in order to aflitt the duke of Monmouth in his rebellion, at the very time when he is offering to James to come in person to extinguish that rebellion. The publisher leaves it to political caruilts to solve this phænome

• It does not appear, that Carstairs gave this money to Wishart as a reward for having carried Argyle to Scotland, or that it was


« PreviousContinue »