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when they have got a copy of his last will and testament, they fancy themselves furnished with sufficient materials for his history. This might, indeed, enable them in some measure to write the history of his death; but what can we expect from an author that undertakes to write the life of a great man, who is furnished with no other matters of fact, besides legacies; and instead of being able to tell us what he did, can only tell us what he bequeathed ? This manner of exposing the private concerns of families, and sacrificing the secrets of the dead to the curiosity of the living, is one of those licentious practices which might well deserve the animadversion of our government, when it has time to contrive expedients for remedying the many crying abuses of the press. In the mean while, what a poor idea must strangers conceive of those persons, who have been famous among us in their generation, should they form their notions of them from the writings of these our historiographers! What would our posterity think of their illustrious forefathers, should they only see them in such weak and disadvantageous lights! But, to our comfort, works of this nature are so short-lived, that they cannot possibly diminish the memory of those patriots which they are not able to preserve.
The truth of it is, as the lives of great men cannot be written with any tolerable degree of elegance or exactness, within a short space after their decease; so neither is it fit that the history of a person, who has acted among us in a public character, should appear, till envy and friendship are laid asleep, and the prejudice both of his antagonists and adherents be, in some degree, softened and subdued. There is no question but there are several eminent persons in each party, however they may represent one another at present, who will have the same admirers among posterity, and be equally celebrated by those, whose minds will not be distempered by interest, passion, or partiality. It were happy for us, could we prevail upon ourselves to imagine, that one, who
differs from us in opinion, may possibly be an honest man; and that we might do the same justice to one another, which will be done us hereafter by those who shall make their appearance in the world, when this generation is no more. But in our present miserable and divided condition, how just soever a man's pretensions may be to a great or blameless reputation, he must expect his share of obloquy and reproach; and, even with regard to his posthumous character, content himself with such a kind of consideration, as induced the famous Sir Francis Bacon, after having bequeathed his soul to God, and his body to the earth, to leave his fame to foreign nations; and after some years, to his own country.
No. 36. MONDAY, APRIL 23.
- Illa se jactet in aula, - Virg. AMONG all the paradoxes in politics which have been advanced by some among us, there is none so absurd and shocking to the most ordinary understanding, as that it is possible for Great Britain to be quietly governed by a Popish sovereign. King Henry the fourth found it impracticable for a Protestant to reign even in France, notwithstanding the reformed religion does not engage a prince to the persecution of any other; and notwithstanding the authority of the sovereign in that country is more able to support itself, and command the obedience of the people, than in any other European monarchy. We are convinced by the experience of our own times, that our constitution is not able to bear a Popish prince at the head of it. King James the second was endowed with many royal virtues, and might have made a nation of Roman Catholics happy under his administration. The
grievances we suffered in his reign proceeded purely from his religion : but they were such as made the whole body of the nobility, clergy, and commonalty, rise up as one man against him, and oblige him to quit the throne of his ancestors. The truth of it is, we have only the vices of a Protestant prince to fear, and may be made happy by his virtues: but in a Popish prince we have no chance for our prosperity; his very piety obliges him to our destruction; and in proportion as he is more religious, he becomes more insupportable. One would wonder, therefore, to find many who call themselves Protestants, favouring the pretensions of a person who has been bred up in the utmost bitterness and bigotry of the church of Rome; and who, in all probability, within less than a twelvemonth, would be opposed by those very men that are industrious to set him upon the throne, were it possible for so wicked and unnatural an attempt to succeed.
I was some months ago in a company, that diverted themselves with the Declaration which he had then published, and particularly with the date of it, “In the fourteenth year of our reign. The company was surprised to find there was a king in Europe who had reigned so long and made such a secret of it. This gave occasion to one of them, who is now in France, to inquire into the history of this remarkable reign, which he has digested into annals, and lately transmitted hither for the perusal of his friends. I have suppressed such personal reflections as are mixed in this short chronicle, as not being to the purpose; and find that the whole history of his regal conduct and exploits may be comprised in the remaining part of this half-sheet.
The history of the Pretender's fourteen years reign digested
into annals. Anno Regni 1o. He made choice of his ministry, the first of whom was his confessor. This was a person recommended by the society of Jesuits, who represented him as one very proper to guide the conscience of a king, that hoped to rule over an island which is not within the pale of the church. He then proceeded to name the president of his council, his secretaries of state, and gave away a very honourable sinecure to his principal favourite, by constituting him his lord-high-treasurer. He likewise signed a dormant commission for another to be his highadmiral, with orders to produce it whenever he had sea-room for his employment.
Anno Regni 2°. He perfected himself in the minuet step.
Anno Regni 4o. He wrote a letter to the Pope, desiring him to be as kind to him as his predecessor had been, who was his godfather. In the same year he ordered the lord high-treasurer to pay off the debts of the crown, which had been contracted since his accession to the throne; particularly, a milk-score of three Fears standing.
Anno Regni 5o. He very much improved himself in all princely learning, having read over the legends of the saints, with the history of those several martyrs in England, who had attempted to blow up a whole parliament of heretics.
Anno Regni 6°. He applied himself to the arts of government with more than ordinary diligence; took a plan of the Bastile with his own hand; visited the galleys; and studied the edicts of his great patron Louis XIV.
Anno Regni 70. Being now grown up to years of maturity, he resolved to seek adventures; but was very much divided in his mind, whether he should make an expedition to Scotland, or a pilgrimage to Loretto: being taught to look upon the latter in a religious sense, as the place of his nativity. At length he resolved upon his Scotch expedition ; and, as the first exertion of that royal authority, which he was going to assume, he knighted
himself.' After a short piece of errantry, upon the seas, he got safe to Dunkirk, where he paid his devotions to St. Anthony, for having delivered him from the dangers of the seas, and Sir George Byng.
Anno Regni 8°. He made a campaign in Flanders, where: by the help of a telescope, he saw the battle of Oudenarde, and the prince of Hanover's horse shot under him: being posted on a high tower with two French princes of the blood.
Anno Regni 90. He made a second campaign in Flanders ; and upon his return to the French court, gained a great reputation, by his performance in a rigadoon.
Anno Regni 10°. The Pope having heard the fame of these his military achievements, made him the offer of a cardinal's cap; which he was advised not to accept by some of his friends 'in England.
Anno Regni 11°. He retired to Lorrain, where every morning he made great havoc among the wild-fowl, by the advice, and with the assistance of his privy-council. He is said, this summer, to have shot with his own hands fifty brace of pheasants, and one wild pig; to have set thirty coveys of partridges; and to have hunted down forty brace of hares; to which he might have added as many foxes, had not most of them made their escape, by running out of his friend's dominions, before his dogs could finish the chase. He was particularly animated to these diversions by his ministry, who thought they would not a little recommend him to the good opinion and kind offices of several British foxhunters.
Anno Regni 12°. He made a visit to the Duke d’Aumont, and passed for a French marquis in a masquerade.
Anno Regni 13o. He visited several convents, and gathered subscriptions from all the well-disposed monks and nuns, to