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all to his, and if once he had entered into a new measure, and formed a project (though in doing thereof, he was too cautious) did then prosecute his designs with such courage, that nothing could daunt or divert his zeal and forwardness..
“ The cavaliers, and those of the country party, had a great opinion of and honour for him, and that deservedly; for 'tis well known he often refused great offers if he'd leave them, and was, by excellent qualifications, and eminent station and character, absolutely necessary both to advise and support them; he wanted not a share of that haughtiness, which is, in some measure, inherent to his family, though he was most affable and courteous to those he knew were honest men, and in whom he confided; he was extremely cautious and wary in engaging in any project that was dangerous; and 'twas thought, and perhaps not without too much ground, that his too great concern for his estate in England, occasioned a great deal of lukewarmness in his opposition to the Union, and unwillingness to enter into several measures that were proposed to prevent the same. But his greatest failing lay in his being somewhat too selfish and revengeful, which he carried alongst with him in all his designs, and did thereby several times prejudice the cause for which he contended, and to these two failings any wrong steps he shall be found to make are solely to be attributed. But since 'tis certain there's no mortal without some imperfection or other, and that his were so small and inconsiderable in respect of his great endowments and qualifications, we may well enough pass them over, and conclude him a great and extraordinary man, and whensoever a loyal and true Scotsman will reflect upon his actions, he cannot fail to admire and love him for the service he did his king and country, and number him amongst those worthies whose memories ought ever to be revered in Scotland.”*
Others of the Jacobite faction seem not to have had so high an opinion of his grace. Throughout the whole of Hooke's correspondence, during his mission to Scotland in the year 1707, as we have already seen, he is boldly charged with the meanest duplicity, in holding secret correspondence with Queensberry
• Lockhart Papers, vol. i. p. 54.
and Stair, the administrators of the government; with James and his followers, and, at the same time, tampering with the presbyterians in order to obtain the Scotish crown for himself; yea, as a desperate character loaded with debts, and, “ should a party take the field for the chevalier de St. George, as one who would certainly join them, from his being so circumstanced that he could not do otherwise.” Lovat, in his memoirs, also states, “ that he had been informed by all the faithful partizans of king James the third, and among others, by Mr. John Murray, that the duke of Hamilton intended no good to the royal party, but that, on the contrary, he was devoured with the absurd idea of becoming himself king of Scotland.”*
An impartial review of the character and conduct of the duke of Hamilton will not, perhaps, fix upon him the design of aspiring to the crown--though the strange and unaccountable nature of many of his actions might naturally enough excite suspicions of that sort among his contemporaries, especially, as the idea had been previously cherished in his family, particularly during the troubles in the reign of the unfortunate Mary—but it will certainly demonstrate, that if he ever formed such a design, it was foolish in the extreme, as he possessed not one talent necessary for putting it in execution. He was given to intrigue, but wanted sagacity and the command of his passions; ambitious, but wavering and indecisive; crafty, but the dupe of his own cunning; and, for hazarding present good in the hope of future advantage, far too careful of consequences. That he was an enemy to the revolution settlement, and a thorough paced Jacobite, there cannot be a doubt; but, from the unsteady, and, indeed, often inexplicable line of conduct which he adopted, the abettors of the revolution derived more real advantage than from any one of their professed friends, and the Jacobites more real injury than from the most forward of their enemies. Had there been any thing like consistency in his conduct; could he have been prevailed upon to suppress his mean jealousy of, and childish pique against the dukes of Athol and Queensberry; had he paid a little more
• Memoirs of the Life of Simon Lord Lovat, written by himself, &c. pp. 172, 186, 187.
respect to real dignity of character, and a little less to his estates, the Union might have been to this day among the events to come; and, had he not died as a fool dieth, in his quarrel, with lord Mohun, his name had been certainly execrated by all classes of his countrymen; but the circumstances of his death, enabling a faction to proclaim him a martyr for his country, inquiry was superseded, suspicion laid asleep, and vulgar fame, to this day, speaks of him with admiration, as the great duke of Hamilton,
The death of his grace, the duke of Hamilton, was severely felt by the Jacobites; and it gave the death blow to the scheme they had been so anxiously employed upon for several years, and which they supposed they were on the point of accomplishing. The difference between the noble lords, was evidently nothing more than a personal quarrel, arising out of avarice and pride, perhaps somewhat aggravated by the circumstance of lord Mohun's advocating certain political opinions, in that house, from which, as we have seen, duke Hamilton-by an unjust sentence, as he supposed—was excluded, and so had not the honour of judicially opposing; but it was boldly represented as a deliberate murder, implicating the whole body of the whigs, though their principal leaders had succeeded in accomplishing it by the sword of general Macartney, lord Mohun's second, who, it was asserted by colonel Hamilton, who seconded the duke, made a push at his grace, as the latter was lifting him off lord Mohun, upon whom he had fallen. A proclamation was immediately issued, offering, for general Macartney, £500 of reward by the government, and £300 by the dutchess of Hamilton; and the peers of Scotland united in an address to her majesty, that she would be pleased to write to all the kings and states in alliance with her, not to shelter general Macartney, but to cause him to be apprehended and sent back to England. Macartney, however, established himself at Antwerp, where he remained without molestation-except from the duke's natural son, Charles Hamilton, who sent him a challenge, which he declined—till the accession of George I. when he surrendered himself, was tried, and, by the direction of the court, acquitted of the charge of murder, but the jury found a verdict of manslaughter. Colonel Hamilton, his original accuser, upon this trial prevaricated so much, that he was obliged to sell his company in the guards, and, to escape a prosecution for perjury, flee the country. The pretender, was himself so deeply interested in this affair, that he wrote to the dutchess of Hamilton, a most gracious letter of condolence on the melancholy fate of her husband, which, he probably felt the more keenly, as it so seriously affected his own.
The intention of all this bustle and noise about an affair in which the public were not very intimately concerned, was intended to counterbalance the loss sustained by the death of the duke of Hamilton, by rendering the whigs odious; but, unfortunately for the cause, it rendered them at the same time terrible, and, from that day forth, Oxford seems to have resolved to solicit, by all means consistent with holding his place, the countenance of the family of Hanover, nor does the queen herself, though her good wishes were doubtless still with her brother, appear to have thought, after this, of making one consistently formed effort more for him during her life. The certain indications of a civil war being the unavoidable consequence of landing the pretender in any part of Great Britain, we think much more likely to have induced both Oxford and the queen to suspend, for a time, those arrangements by which they intended to serve him, than the difficulty, after losing the duke of Hamilton, of finding a person capable of carrying them forward, as has been broadly affirmed by Lockhart, * ang after him, repeated by various other writers. Oxford had long been regarded by the court of St. Germains with suspicion; this suspicion seems now, by rapid gradations, to have increased, till, at the earnestly repeated solicitations of that court, he was dismissed from his station ;t and though Bolingbroke entered heartily into the schemes of the pretender, the vacillating temper, and the timidity of the queen, together with the secretly, and artfully managed opposition of Oxford, and the determined obstinacy of the whigs, rendered all his efforts, in the end, perfectly nugatory.
The Jacobites, however, still suffered themselves to be so far imposed upon, as to indulge the most extravagant dreams of immediate success, “ turning,” as one bath well observed, “ their hands and eyes to a foolish expectation, in which, had they had the least foresight, they could not but see they were dropped in the beginning, and must effectually be disappointed in the end.* The duke of Shrewsbury was appointed ambassador to the court of France, in room of his grace the duke of Hamilton, but was not, as is generally stated, thought worthy of being intrusted with the more delicate and important matters, that were to have formed the most prominent of his predecessor's commission. The duke de Aumont was, at the same time, sent to London by the court of Versailles, and was believed, to have secret instructions to negotiate on the part of the pretender; it has even been stated, that the pretender was in his train, and had several interviews with the queen, his sister. Of this last circumstance we have not seen sufficient evidence. From the swarm of papists that attended him, and the ostentatious tenor of his behaviour, de Aumont created a violent prejudice against himself, and, instead of serving the cause of James, injured it most materially. He was at first a favourite with the mob, but latterly, could not appear without being insulted by it, and his house was at last maliciously set on fire and burned to the ground.t
* Lockhart Papers, vol. i. p. 410.
+ Stuart Papers, 1714.
The great object of the present ministers, and in which the Jacobites took such a deep interest, peace, being, after many delays, signed on the thirteenth of March, the parliament, which, in expectation of this event, had been from day to day prorogued, was opened on the ninth of April. The queen, in her speech to the two houses, told them that she had now concluded a peace in which she had obtained a further security for the protestant succession; and that she was in an entire union with the house of Hanover. Of the commons she asked the necessary supplies, and to both houses she recommended the cultivation of the arts of peace. She passed some severe reflections on faction, and complained of the liberty of the press, suggesting the propriety of some new law to check its progress. Trade and manufactures, she also recommended to their par
• Secret History of the White Staff.