Page images

of the Restoration to preach before the House of Commons, was rewarded for his services to the party by the valuable rectory of St. Andrew's, Holborn, and would have been made a bishop but for the refusal of the Queen.' In 1713 also, Atterbury, the ablest of the High Church Jacobites, was raised to the bench. The doctrine of the divine right of kings again assumed an alarming prominence in the pulpit, and there were many signs of the increasing confidence of the Jacobites. The birthday of the Pretender was celebrated in Edinburgh with bonfires and fireworks. In Ireland the Chancellor, Sir Constantine Phipps, was strongly suspected of Jacobite sentiments, and he was supported by the House of Lords, in which the bishops predominated, and by the Convocation. Men were openly enlisted for the service of the Pretender, and Shrewsbury, who had been sent over as Viceroy, found that the English Government paid much more attention to the recommendations of the Chancellor than to his own. Sir Patrick Lawless, an Irish Roman Catholic, well known to have been the envoy of the Pretender at Madrid, appeared in London with credentials from King Philip. It was reported that the health of the Stuart prince was constantly drunk at meetings and in clubs, and it was certain that Jacobite agents were constantly arriving from France. A metrical edition or adaptation of some of the Psalms, written in the highest strain of Tory loyalty, and entitled 'The Loyal Man's Psalter,' was widely circulated throughout England. Anonymous letters were sent to the mayors and magistrates, during the elections, urging them to promote the interests of the Pretender, and suggesting that such a course would be acceptable to the Queen and to her ministers. A book which had lately appeared, called 'The Hereditary Right of the Crown of England Asserted,' maintaining the absolute criminality of all departure from the strict order of succession, was distributed gratuitously far and wide; its title-page appeared on Sunday

See Lord Dartmouth's note to Burnet, ii. 630; Tindal. Swift is said to have induced Bolingbroke,

who had a great contempt for Sacheverell, to give him the living.Sheridan's Life of Swift, p. 116.

mornings on every prominent door or post to attract the attention of the congregations, and a copy of it is said to have been presented by Nelson, the Nonjuror, to the Queen. Violent remonstrances, however, having been made, the Government ordered a prosecution to be instituted, and a Nonjuror clergyman, named Bedford, who was found guilty of having brought the manuscript to the printer,' incurred a severe sentence, part of which was remitted by the Queen."

It was evident that the crisis was at hand. The Queen, in the beginning of 1714, had a very dangerous illness, and it was certain that her life could not be greatly prolonged. 'If in this life only they have hope,' said Wharton, with his usual profane wit, pointing in turn to the Queen and to the ministers, 'they are of all men the most wretched.' The reorganisation of the army in the Jacobite interest was rapidly proceeding. Considerable sums had been sent, in 1711, by the Treasurer to the chiefs of Scotch clans, who were notoriously Jacobite, with commissions empowering them to arm their followers for Her Majesty's service; and in January 1713-14 Marlborough wrote to Robethon, 'The ministers drive on matters so fast in favour of the Pretender that everybody must agree if something farther be not done in the next sessions of Parliament towards securing the succession, it is to be feared it may be irretrievably lost." In February, Gaultier wrote, at the dictation of Oxford, a letter to the Pretender, in emphatic terms, urging him, as the indispensable condition to obtaining the support of the Queen and ultimately the crown, to change, or at least to dissemble, his creed; but the answer was a refusal so clear and so decisive that it completely disconcerted the tactics of the party. Bolingbroke said, with perfect truth, to Iberville, the French secretary of legation, that if the Elector of Hanover ever mounted the English throne it would be entirely the fault of the Pretender, who thus refused to accept the one essential condition; and

Its author was a Nonjuror, named Harbin. See Lathbury's Hist. of the Nonjurors.

2 Boyer, Tindal, Somerville.


Life of Marlborough,

Lockhart Papers, i. p. 377.
4 Coxe's Marlborough, ch. cxi.

Iberville himself fully shared the opinion, and predicted that, without conformity to the Church of England, King James would never obtain the sincere support of the Tories.1 Argyle, whose enmity to Marlborough had been very useful to the ministry, but who was strongly attached to the Hanoverian succession, was removed from all his places; and Lord Stair, who was also Hanoverian, was obliged to dispose of his regiment. Oxford, however, hesitated more and more, kept up communications with the Jacobites, but threw obstacles in the path of every decisive measure in their favour, sent his cousin Harley to Hanover to express his sentiments of devotion to the Elector, tended slowly and irresolutely towards the Whigs, and was trusted by neither party, but courted by both. Bolingbroke now looked upon his colleague with a deadly aversion, and made it a main object of his policy to displace him, and though he may, perhaps, have had no very settled or irrevocable design of bringing in the Pretender, he felt that he had gone too far for safety, and was anxious at least to reorganise the party on a strong Church basis, so that at the death of the Queen he might be the master of the situation.3

The Parliament met on the 16th of February, and it soon appeared that the strength of the Government was much shaken. In the Lords the Whig majority was all but restored. In the Commons the Tories formed a large majority, but their discipline was broken, they were divided between the Hanoverian Tories and the Jacobites, between the followers of Bolingbroke and the followers of Oxford, and the jealousies, the

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vacillations, the conflicting counsels of their leaders in a great degree paralysed their strength. The Queen, in her opening speech, spoke severely of the excesses of the press, and of those who had arrived to that height of malice as to insinuate that the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover is in danger under my government;' but there is little doubt that at this very time her sympathies were with the Pretender. The House of Commons expelled Steele ostensibly for the publication of a pamphlet called The Crisis,' really on account of his decided Whig views. The House of Lords retaliated by offering a reward for the discovery of the author of The Public Spirit of the Whigs,' an anonymous pamphlet which Swift had written in reply to 'The Crisis,' and which had excited much indignation in the North by its bitter reflections upon the Scots. The Whigs in the House of Lords brought forward, with much effect, the case of the Catalans who had been so shamefully abandoned, and also the commercial treaty; and Wharton, supported by Cowper and Halifax, introduced a scandalous resolution urging the Queen to issue a proclamation offering a reward for anyone who should apprehend her brother alive or dead. Nothing was said about this reward being contingent upon acts of hostility against England, and it might have been claimed by anyone who murdered the Pretender while he was living peacefully in Lorraine. The address was carried without a division, but the better feeling of the House of Lords, after some reflection, revolted against it, and a clause was substituted merely asking the Queen to offer a reward for the apprehension of the Pretender in case he landed in the kingdom.' The Queen answered that she saw no present necessity for such a proclamation. Several other motions for the defence of the Hanoverian succession were carried through Parliament, and were accepted with apparent alacrity by the Government, but Bolingbroke, on at least one occasion, privately assured the French envoy that they would make no difference. Nor did they deceive the people.

1 Parl. Hist., vi. 1337 1338.

2 Stanhope's Hist. of England, i. p. 85.

An uneasy feeling was abroad. Men felt as if on the brink of a great convulsion. The stocks fell, and it was evident that the dread of a Popish sovereign was in the ascendant. Mutinous proceedings were reported among the soldiers at Gibraltar and some other quarters, and Bolingbroke wrote with much alarm about the necessity of changing garrisons, and about the dangerous spirit of faction which had arisen among the troops. The bishops also began to waver in their allegiance to the Government. A motion that the Protestant succession was in danger under the present administration,' moved by Wharton, in the House of Lords, was only defeated by a majority of twelve, and it was a very significant fact that the Archbishop of York and the majority of his brethren voted against the Government. In the House of Commons a similar motion was defeated by 256 to 208, and was supported by a considerable body of Tories under the leadership of Sir Thomas Hanmer who was Speaker of the House, and whose elevation to that position Oxford had warmly supported, in the vain hope of in this manner diverting him from opposition. In a confidential letter to Lord Strafford, dated March 23, Bolingbroke said: 'In both Houses there are the best dispositions I ever saw, but I am sorry to tell you that these dispositions are unimproved; the Whigs pursue their plans with good order and in concert. The Tories stand at gaze, expect the Court should regulate their conduct and lead them on, and the Court seems in a lethargy. Nothing, you see, can come of this, but what would be at once the greatest absurdity and the greatest misfortune. The minority, and that minority unpopular, easily get the better of the majority who have the Queen and the nation on their side.' Oxford still held the position of Prime Minister, and had the foremost place in the party and with the Queen, but his brilliant and impetuous colleague was in both quarters rapidly superseding him, and with him the star of Jacobitism. rose in the ascendant. The Jacobite appointments were more Bolingbroke's Letters, iv. 494.

'Bolingbroke's Letters, iv. 489. Bunbury's Life of Hanmer, p. 42.

« PreviousContinue »