« PreviousContinue »
possess; or, if she did not immediately assume him into the government jointly with herself, that she would at least provide for his easy and direct succession on her demise, and, in the meantime, allow him a suitable settlement and a residence in Scotland, as the heir apparent of these kingdoms.* This favourable disposition of the queen seems to have been now the sole dependance of James, and he again wrote her, apparently in the fullest confidence. “ In the present situation of affairs,” says he, “ it is impossible for me, dear sister, to be any longer silent, and not to put you in mind of the honour and preservation of your family; and to assure you, at the same time, of my eternal gratitude, if you use your most efficacious endeavours towards both. Give me leave to say, that your own good nature makes me promise it to myself, and, with that persuasion, I shall always be ready to agree to whatever you shall think most convenient for my interest, which, after all, is inseparable from yours; being fully resolved to make use of no other means, but those you judge most conducing to our mutual happiness, and to the general welfare of our country.”+ In strict conformity to these sentiments, the Jacobites, many of whom, particularly of those belonging to Scotland, had obtained seats in parliament, were individually instructed to lay aside all their own projects, leaving it to the generosity of the queen, and the wisdom of her advisers, to make the necessary alterations upon the act of settlement, at their own time, and in their own way. I
The queen, through the influence of Mrs. Masham, had certainly become considerably cold towards the electoral family, and, in as far as she could overcome her natural timidity, anxious to promote the succession of her brother, though she
* Stuart Papers, 1712. f Ibid.
I "I did then cast about amongst the commons, and finding them well enouff disposed to enter into measures for obliging the ministry to do what was expected with respect to the king and other matters of moment, wee began to form a party for that purpose, and concert measures to be prosecuted; when, in a little time thereafter, Mr. John Menzies (who received the despatches commonly from St. Germains) came and showed me a letter to him from the earl of Midleton, signifying that it was the king's pleasure, that all his friends should join in supporting the ministry, and give them no uneasiness: requiring him to communicate the same to me and several vihers." -Lockhart Papers, vol. i. pp. 368, 369.
did not choose to express herself very distinctly upon the subject. It was, indeed, an experiment that might have affected stronger nerves than hers, and staggered wiser heads than were to be found among her counsellors, although neither the imminency nor the real magnitude of the danger seems to have been at all apprehended either hy her or them. The principal difficulties, in the outset at least, with the one and the others, seem to have arisen from little paltry personal considerations, unworthy of being entertained by either philosophers or politicians. Bigotry and superstition had led James VII. to desert a throne, and this bigotry and superstition, almost without diminution, he had bequeathed to his son, in consequence of which he was an object of terror or of hatred to the greater proportion of three nations, who would otherwise have been his loving and devoted subjects. Anne, indulging a feeling that was natural, and to a certain extent commendable, pitied her poor brother, the heir of so many errors and such complicated misfortunes ; but she, too, was a bigot for the church of England; and, till he should do something for himself, by at least seemingly adopting her belief, she scrupled, or, perhaps, did not well know how to help him.
Informed of this, as the sentiments of the queen, the most politic of his friends, particularly of those who were about him, and, for the sake of his father's favour had deserted the church of England, pressed him to gratify his sister and disarm his detractors, by a seeming compliance with her request, though it should be only till he was fairly seated on the throne, when he might avow his predilections more safely for himself and more profitably for his friends. * James, however, was inflexible, and the queen, at the same time that she was offended with his obstinacy, was at a loss how to act. Had he complied with her desire, from the love which she believed the nation bore to herself, aided by the church, of which she had always been the liberal patron, she most probably expected, that her simple recommendation would have removed the principal difficulties that stood in the way of his being amicably received as her successor; but, as he honestly avowed himself a papist,
7t, wat ecuted; ed the tter to
* Stuart Papers, 1712.
some other plan behoved to be fallen upon, or the design abandoned. What must have added in no small degree to her perplexity, she had no one about her in whom she could really confide. Oxford had, probably, more of her affection and confidence than any other, but he had conducted himself with so much caution as to have become disagreeable to the Jacobites, and an object of great suspicion at St. Germains, besides he was particularly odious to her favourite, Mrs. Masham, of course she could not lay her difficulties before him; Bolingbroke, by the sycophancy of his behaviour, and a liberal use of the public money, had become quite agreeable to the favourite, and there could be no doubt of his being willing to go every length to serve his own interests, but the queen, with all her weakness, was really serious, and hated him at bottom for the libertine tendency of his opinions, and the profligacy of his manners, and we cannot suppose, whatever she might from necessity be induced to disclose, that she would rest with much complacency upon a person so very low in her esteem; the probability, however, is, that he was trusted to a certain extent on this occasion. In common with all other Jacobites, her majesty seems to have secretly looked to the French government, in this dilemma, as the last resource of James, and felt an increasing desire to have all her differences in that quarter made up. Plenipotentiaries from all the different belligerents had been assembled at Utrecht, for some time, but, from the rash and impolitic procedure of the British ministry, the French had acquired such vantage ground, and were so certain of carrying all their own particular views into effect at last,* that they were in no haste to come to any conclusion, while the operations of jealousy, and the difficulty of reconciling conflicting interests, produced a similar effect among the allies.
To remonstrate with the French court upon the unexpected exorbitancy of some of its demands, and to look after the interests of the duke of Savoy, in whom, as the next lineal heir to the British throne after James, her majesty took a special interest, perhaps also secretly to look after the affairs
* Sommerville's History of Great Britain, &c.
of James himself, Bolingbroke was despatched to Paris, where he was received with every mark of attention, agreed to a suspension of hostilities, on the part of the British, and was thus supposed to have removed every obstruction in the way of concluding à separate peace, if the allies did not come into those terms which, from the defection of Britain, France had it now in her power to impose upon them. Bolingbroke very soon returned to England, highly gratified with the success of his mission, and the splendour of his entertainment, having received from Louis the present of a rich ring worth four thousand guineas.*
When Bolingbroke returned to his colleagues in England, Prior, the poet, who had accompanied him, was left, in an inferior capacity, to manage any lesser matters that might occur, or that had been left unsettled; but a more honourable person, James, duke of Hamilton, was immediately selected to fill that important station, and to negotiate a business that was too delicate to be intrusted to such a man as Prior, or even to lord Bolingbroke. His grace, the duke of Hamilton, was well known to be the leader of the Jacobites both in Scotland and in England, and, for some time past, had been in high favour with the queen, who, it is supposed, intended to intrust him, on this occasion, not only with her particular views, with regard to the succession, and the mode in which she intended to make it sure to her brother, but with power to negotiate with the court of France, the necessary means for carrying her kindly intentions towards him into effect. What these means were has never been explained, nor does it appear that his grace was ever made fully acquainted with them; but, from what we have already seen were his views on the subject, and from his declaration, that “ he never undertook any matter with so much pleasure as this journey” he was now going upon, we think we may warrantably conclude they were no other than the old expedient, of French money and French armies.t
* Political State, vol. iv. p. 103.
+ It has been stated that part of the plan was, to allow the pretender a settlement in Scotland; but we do not think there existed any authority for such a statement, but the fond wishes, and foolish anticipations of the pretender's friends!
This appointment, as it filled the friends of the protestant succession with jealousy and fear, inspired the Jacobites with the most extravagant joy, who expected from it nothing less than the immediate restoration of James. Lockhart of Carnwath was even bespoken to be ready at a day's warning to go over to his grace, to be employed as an assistant or special messenger, and was on his way from Scotland, to be in readiness for that purpose, when a melancholy occurrence put an end at once to the life of the duke of Hamilton, and the project that had been so carefully ripened for the pretender's restoration. A lawsuit of some importance being in dependance between the duke of Hamilton and lord Mohun, they had occasion to meet on the examination of some witnesses, when an altercation ensued, which provoked the latter of these noblemen to send the former a challenge, “ which,” says Burnet, “ he attempted to decline; but, both being hurried by these false points of honour, they fatally went out to Hyde Park, about the middle of November, and fought with so violent an animosity, that, neglecting the rules of art, they seemed to run on one another as if they tried who should kill first, in which they were both so unhappily successful, that the lord Mohun was killed outright, and duke Hamilton died in a few minutes after."
Of his grace, the duke of Hamilton, Burnet has declined to draw any character. “ I am sorry, “ says he, “ that I cannot say so much good of him as I could wish, and I had too much kindness for him, to say any evil without necessity.” Lockhart, who was undoubtedly admitted to his most fan.iliar intimacy, though he appears to have been somehow or other a little dependant upon him, says, “ he was of an heroic and undaunted courage, a clear, ready and penetrating conception, and knew not what it was to be surprised, having at all times, and on all occasions, his wits about him; and, though in parliament he did not express his thoughts in a style altogether eloquent, yet he had so nervous, majestic, and pathetic a method of speaking, and applying what he spoke, that it was always valued and regarded. Never was a man so well qualified to be the head of a party as himself; for he could, with the greatest dexterity, apply himself to, and sift through the inclinations of different parties, and so cunningly manage them, that he gained some of