Henry J. (Henry John) Van-Lennep.

The American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 10 of 18)
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ling. James appears old and worn out ; the
queen is thin, and distress is painted on her coun-
tenance 3 but she has fine black eyes, beautiful


teeth, an elegant shape ; and is possessed of a su-
perior understanding. On seeing Louis caress
the prince of Wales, who is a lovely child, she
said to him, ' I have often envied the happiness
of my son, because he cannot feel the weight of
his misfortunes, but now I pity him because he is
insensible to the value of the caresses and the kind-
ness of your majesty."

" Her husband forms a total contrast to her
character ; he has great personal courage, but an
inferior understanding, and relates, with an aston-
ishing degree of insensibility, the unparalleled
adventures which have befallen him in England."

Many eifForts were made by Louis to restore
James to the throne, but they all proved ineffec-
tual. The queen entered into correspondence
with several of the English nobility, w^ho were
favourable to her cause ,* but all her attempts to
procure a revolution were fruitless. She had
much more spirit and far greater ambition than
James, who was satisfied with the empty title of
king, which he enjoyed in France, and what he
valued still more highly, the appellation of Saint;
for which he relinquished a crown, and even pri-
ded himself on the loss. His principles of reli-
gion were sincere, and he frequently was heard to
declare, that he owed more to the prince of
Orange than to all the world besides, as, by seiz-
ing- his crown, he had proved to him the nothing-
ness of all human grandeur, and rendered him
fitter for the kingdom of Heaven.

On his death bed, almost his last words w^ere,
that he entreated God to pardon all his enemies,
and particularly the prince of Orange ; and he
said to his son with a mixture of philosophy and
religion, ' Whatever may be the charms of a
crown, the time must come when it is of no va-


lue ; respect your mother, love the king of France,
and prefer your religion to all earthly grandeur.'

Louis the Fourteenth had long hesitated whe-
ther he should acknowledge the son of James the
Second, after the death of his father.

On the day previous to that on which James
died, Maria, introduced by Madame de Mainte-
non into the presence of Louis the Fourteenth,
conjured him not to affront the memory of a king,
whom he had so warmly protected, and who was
soon to be no more, by withholding from his son
a simple title, the sole remains of all his grandeur,
nor to heap such disgrace on her innocent son,
whom he had already treated as prince of Wales,
and whom he ought therefore to acknowledge as
king after the death of his father. His glory, by
such a conduct, she added, would be sullied, and
his interests w ould not be advanced : for whether
he acknowledged, or refused to acknowledge, the
son of the unfortunate king, England would
equally arm against France, and he would only
experience the regret of having sacrificed the
feelings of humanity and dignity of sentiment,
to useless precautions. Louis, affected by her
tears, which were ably seconded by the represen-
tations of Madame de Maintenon, immediately
repaired to the apartment of the dying king :
* I am come, sir,' he said, ' to acquaint your ma-
jesty, that whenever it pleases God to remove you
from this world into a better, I will take your fa-
mily under my protection ; that I will treat your
son, the prince of Wales, in the same manner as
I have treated you, and will acknowledge him as
king of England, as will be his undoubted right.'

All who were present, shed tears at this speech,
some threw themselves at his feet and embraced
his knees ; some uttered incoherent expressions ;


Others testified, by gestures, more expressive than
words, their sensibility at so generous an action.
Louis himself was so affected at this touching
scene, that he wept ; and the dying monarch was
seen struggling, almost in the agonies of death,
to signify his gratitude and joy.

Not long before the death of Anne, Maria in-
dulged the fond hope that her son would be called
to the succession ; but saw that hope frustrated
almost as soon as it was conceived. She heard
that, on the accession of George, the English na-
tion was filled with discontents, and that a large
party was ready to declare in favour of her son.
She embraced him at his departure, in order to
put himself at the head of the mal-contents, and
said, ' My son, return king, or do not return at
all ;' yet in a few months she had the mortification
to see him return without a crown, and the still
greater mortification to behold the regent-duke of
Orleans in close alliance with George the first,
and the court of France, which had hitherto pro-
tected her son, compel him to retire in disgrace
from that kirigdom in which he had taken an

S'le lived, however, to hear, that he was re-
ceived at Madrid with royal honours, and that
great preparations were making to restore him to
the throne ; but death saved her from the chagrin
of finding her sanguine expectations again frus-
trated, and of beholding him a fugitive, wander-
ing without any settled abode, and avoided by the
principal powers of Europe.

Maria died at St. Germain, on the 7th of May,
1718, in the sixty-first year of her age ; a prin-
cess whose meekness in prosperous, and dignity
in adverse circumstances, attracted the esteem


of her own age, and desen^e the admiration of




MARY, eldest daughter of James, duke of
York, by Anne Hyde, daughter of the earl of
Clarendon, was born in May, 1662, and by the
command of Charles the second, was educated m
the Protestant religion, in direct opposition to her
father, who professed the doctrines of the Roman
Catholic church. _ ir i i

Charles, though without religion himselt, had
sense sufficient to perceive and calculate its ef-
fects and influence over the public mmd ; and m
order to quiet the suspicions of the people, and to
stem the torrent of popular discontents, offered
the lady Mary in marriage to his nephew, Wil-
liam, prince of Orange. ^ ^

During the course of the negociation tor the
marriage, Mary experienced a satisfaction which
few princesses ever enjt^y, that of being convinc-
ed that her person and dispositions, no less than
her rank and situation, were the motives which
influenced the choice of William.

On his arrival in England he declined acceding
to the offer of the prince .s's hand, until he had
seen and conversed with her. H:- declared that,
contrary to the usual sentiments of persons of his
rank, he placed a great part of his happiness m
domestic satisfaction ; and v.^ciud not, upon any
consideration of interest or policy, unite himselt
w^ith a person who was not perfectly agreeable tO;


him. Being introduced, he found the princess in
the bloom of youth and beauty, pleasing in her
manners, graceful in her person, and meek in her
disposition ; and became no less eager from incli-
nation than prompted by interest to conclude the
match. Mary had penetration sufficient to distin-
guish the great and noble mind of the prince of
Orange, through his cold and reserved beha-

The marriage was solemnized on the 10th of
May, 1677 » Mary accompanied her husband
abroad, and resided in Holland. The court of
the Hague became the centre of the intrigues and
cabals of the popular party in England, who
looked up to the prince of Orange as their support
and protection ag^ainst the profligate Charles, the
pensioner of the French court, and the attempts
of James, to subvert the constitution of church
and state. At length the spirit of the English
nation, and the prudence and valour of WiUianx
effected the revolution of 1688, and placed Wil-
liam and Mary on the throne. During the dis-
putes which accompanied the act of settlement,
Mary preserved herself free from all interference,
and co-operated with the wishes of her husband,
and the sentiments o£ the nation. Both houses
of parliament were desirous of proclaiming Mary
queen and the prince of Orange regent. When
William had expressed his resolution not to ac-
cept the crown, which must depend on the life
and will of another, Mary seconded his views,
and preferred her duty to her husband and the
interest of her country, to every motive of am-
bition and interest. VVhen lord Daiiby also oiTer-
ed the princess, that if she would join his party
he would place her alone upon the throne, Mary
replied, that she was the prince's wife, and that



her only desire was to act in conjunction with him,
and that she should be extremely displeased with
all those, who, under a pretence of promoting her
particular welfare, should presume to set up a
divided interest between her and the prince ; and
she instantly sent lord Danby's letter and the an-
swer to the prince, and thus broke all the mea-
sures of those who wished to create a misunder-
standing between them.

Accordingly the crown was settled on William
and Mary, the sole administration vested in Wil-
liam; and Mary did not again appear in a public
and political character till 1690, when James
landed in Ireland at the head of a French army,
and was joined by a large concourse of the na-
tives : William repaired instantly to the scene of
danger ; and Mary was appointed regent during
his absence. She had lived so abstracted from
business, and so totally absorbed in domestic oc-
cupations, that it was generally concluded she had
no talents for government; but William knew
and appreciated her capacity for business.

While the English were intent upon the fate of
the Irish war, they were alarmed with the disco-
very of a conspiracy at home, in which several
Scottish and English noblemen were engaged,
and were to be assisted by the navy of France,
which soon arrived upon the coast of England,
The queen exerted herself v/ith great vigour in
causing the principal conspirators to be arrested,
and exemplified a wonderful magnanimity in this
time of trial and danger, as appears by the fol-
lowing expressions in her letter to king Wil-
liam :

" The news w^hich has come to-night, of the
French fleet being upon the coast, makes it be
thought necessary to write to you both ways ; and


I, that you may see how matters stand in my
heart, prepare a letter for each. I think lord
Torrmgton has made no haste : and I cannot tell
whether his being sick, and staying for lord Pem-
broke's regiment, will be a sufficient excuse. But
I will not take up your time with my reasonings,
I shall only tell you, that I am so little afraid,
tlrat I begin to fear I have not sense enough to
apprehend the danger : for whether it threatens
Ireland or this place, to me it is much as one as
to the fear ; for as much a coward as you think
me, I fear more for your dear person than for
myself. I know which is most necessary in the
world. What I fear most at present is not hear-
ing from you. Love me, whatever happens, and
be assured 1 am ever entirely your's till death."

When the French squadron arrived upon the
coast of England, lord Torrington, who com-
manded the English and Dutch fleets engaged
with the French off Beachy-head ; the Dutch
lost several vessels, and the next day the combin-
ed fleets declined a second battle, and retired to
the Thames, to defend the metropolis ; the Dtitch,
in their retreat, burning some of their own ships,
to prevent their falling into the hands of the

When this defeat was known in London, a sud-
den despondency seized all the people, and it was
believed that England and Holland v.^ould fall
victims to the fatal friendship of Louis and James.
Yet Mary, even then, by her actions and in her
letters, shewed great fortitude, and expressed ex-
treme confidence in the goodness of her cause :

" As for the ill-success at sea, I am more con-
cerned for the honour of the nation than any
thing else ; but I think it has pleased God to pu-
nish them justly, for they really talked as if it


were impossible they should be beaten. I pray
God we may no more deserve the punishment.
I fear this news may give courage to those who
retired before ; but God can disappoint them all,
and I hope will take care of his cause. I long to
hear again from you, which is my only comfort,
loving you more than my life."

Again—" Monmouth endeavours to fright me,
by telling me the danger we are in, and indeed
things have but a melancholy prospect ; but I am
fully persuaded God will do some great thing or
other, it may be when human means fail, he will
shew his power*"

Having heard that William was v/ounded, in
the midst of her anxiety for the fate of Great
Britain, she writes — " For God's sake, let me
beg you to take more care for the time to come ;
consider what depends upon your safety ; there
are so many more important things than myself,
that I am not worthy of naming them."

William immediately after gained the raemo-
rable battle of the Boyne, which entirely gave his
party the ascendancy in that kingdom, and James's
cause seemed hopeless. On receiving the news
of this victory, in which William totally routed
James's army, Mary thus represented the feelings
of her heart :

" How to begin this letter I do not know, or
how ever to render God thanks enough for his
mercy ; my heart is so full of joy and acknow-
ledgment to that great God who has preserved
you, and given you such a victory, that I am
unable to explain it. I was yesterday out of my
senses with trouble — I am now almost so with


" When lord Nottingham brought me your
letter yesterday, I could not hold, so he saw me


ciy,* which I have hindered myself from before
every body till then, that it was impossible ; and
this morning, when I heard the joyful news from
Mr. Butler, I was in pain to know what was be-
come of the late king, and durst not ask him ; but
when lord Nottingham came, I did venture to do
it, and I had the satisfaction to know he was safe.
I know I need not beg you to let him be taken
care of, for I am confident you will for your own
sake ,* yet add that to all your kindness, and, for
my sake, let people know you would have no hurt
come to his person— forgive me this."

The news of William's success no sooner ar-
rived in England than the people's spirits, which
were before so much depressed, were immedi-
ately raised. William became extremely popu-
lar. The queen took advantage of the favour-
able current, and in order to save the honour of
national courage, w^hich had suffered by the late
engagement at sea, committed lord Torrington to
the tower. She ordered the Dutch ships to be
repaired at the expense of the English ; their
wounded seamen were taken care of in the hospi-
tals ; pensions were given to the widows and chil-
dren of those who died in the battle ; and conduct-
money to the seamen whose ships had been burn-
ed, which led them to carry accounts to their
countrymen of the noble disposition of that nation,
for which they had suffered.

Mary continued to act with vigour for the sup*
port of the nation till William's return. The
following letter to him shews her humble opinion
of herself, and her attachment to her husband :

" You may believe I shall do as much as lies
in my power to follow your directions in all things

* When king William was woundedo



whatever, and am never so easy as when I have
them. Judge, then, what a joy it was to me to
have your approbation of my behaviour ; and
the kind way you expressed it in, is the only
comfort I can possibly have in your absence;
what other people say I ever suspect, but when
you tell me I have done well, I could be almost
vain upon it."

Her anxiety to promote the cause of religion
appears by the following letter to William ;

" I have been desired also to beg you not to
be too quick in parting with confiscated estates,
but consider whether you will not keep some for
public schools, to instruct the poor Irish. For
my part, I must needs say, that I think you would
do very well, if you would consider what care
can be taken of the poor souls there ; and indeed,
if you give me leave, I must tell you, I think the
wonderful deliverance and success you have had
should oblige you to think upon doing what you
can for the advancement of true religion and pro-
moting the gospel."

William, upon his return from Ireland, was re-
ceived with joy by the people, and Mary retired
from the management of public affairs to the
milder enjoyments of domestic happiness ; in
which retirement she still continued to set as
bright an example to the nation as she had before
done in public life. She endeavoured to reform
the manners of the ladies about the court, for
great irregularities had been committed during
the two preceding reigns. Her eleportment was
perfectly prudent, yet unrestrained ; and she was
so animated with a natural cheerfulness of dispo-
sition, and she set religion and virtue in so amia-
ble a light, that she freed the court from those


intrigues and immoralities which had so long been
a scandal to the nation.

But the adored queen of the English nation had
but a very short time allotted her to influence the
world by her example. She was seized with the
small-pox. Her illness was soon judged to be
fatal : the king, on hearing that the queen was
past all hope of recovery, called bishop Burnet
into his closet, burst into tears and exclaimed,
" From the happiest, I am now going to be the
most miserable creature upon earth. During the
whole course of my life I have never known one
single fault in her ; there is a worth in her which
nobody knows besides myself." While she re-
mained alive he was in great agonies, fainting and
bursting into loud lamentations.

She expired in the thirty -third year of her age,
and the sixth of her reign. After her death, the
king's spirits were so depressed, that it was appre-
hended he would not long survive her.

Mary was a rare instance of a person, who was
the next heir to a crown, who had abilities re-
quisite to fill that exalted station, and yet was so
entirely devoid of ambition, as not to appear even
desirous of being the first person in the kingdom.
Conjugal affection seems to have been the ruling
principle of her life. The only part of her cha-
racter which can be called in question, is the tak-
ing part against her father. But it may surely
be allowed, as her justification, that her regard
for her religion, and for the liberties of the nation,
might make her think this step necessary and
lawful. And it is to be lamented, that she was
placed in so critical a situation, that she must
either have joined her father against her husband,
her religion, and the liberty of her native country
—or have joined her husband, her religion, and
liberty, against her father.


The character of this great and amiable queen
has been often drawn, but by none more ably than
by Mr. Boyer.*

" Her person was tall and well proportioned;
her shape, while princess of Orange, easy and
genteel ; her visage oval, her eyes quick and lively,
and the rest of her features regular. Her stately
port and native air of greatness, commanded res-
pect from the most confident ; but her sweet and
graceful countenance tempered the awfulness of
majesty, and her affable temper encouraged the
most timorous to approach her.

" Her apprehension was clear and ready, her
memory exact, and her judgment steady and
solid ,* her soul free from all the weaknesses of
her own sex, and endowed with the courage and
strength that seemed peculiar to ours. She was
neither elated with prosperity, nor dejected by
adversity ; and it remains undecided, whether
she bore with more temper the smiles or the
frowns of fortune !

" When the necessity of affairs called the king
out of his dominions, she alone was sensible of
his absence, which she fully supplied to these
three kingdoms, by her wise and prudent admi-
nistration. While he went abroad as the arbiter
of Europe, to wage a just war, she staid at home,
to maintain peace and administer justice. He
was to oppose and conquer enemies ; she to main-
tain and gain friends. In all this there was an
union of their thoughts, and a concurrence in the
same ends, the safety of Europe, the support of
the protestant religion, and the honour and pros-
perity of England. An eagerness of command
was so far below her, that never was so grear a

* See Rapin's History of England, vol. xiv. p. 146:v



capacity for government joined with so little ap-
petite to it ; or an authority so unwillingly assum-
ed, so modestly managed, and so cheerfully laid
down. It was easy for her to reward, for all
sorts of bounty flowed readily from her ; but it was
much harder for her to punish, except when the
nature of the crime made mercy become a cruelty,
for then she was inexorable.

" She had the most active zeal for the public,
and the most constant desire of doing good,
joined with such unaffected humility, that the se-
cret flatteries of vanity or self-love had no power
over her ; for, when due acknowledgments were
made, or decent things said upon occasions that
well deserved them, these seemed scarce to be
heard, and she presently turned off" the discourse
to other subjects.

" Her piety and virtue were real and unaffect-
ed ; and the vivacity and sweetness of her tem-
per and conversation softened all those disagree-
able ideas, which the world is too willing to en-
tertain of the severities of virtue, and of the
strictness of true religion.

" She was not content with being devout her-
self, but she infused piety into all who came near
her ; especially those whom she took into her
more immediate care, and whom she studied to
form with the tenderness and watchfulness of a
mother. She charmed them with her instructions,
as she overcame them with her kindne«s. Never
was mistress both feared and loved so entirely as
she was. She scattered books of instruction round
about her, that such as waited might not be con-
demned to idleness, but mighi entertain them-
selves usefully, when they were in their turns of



" She had a sublime idea of the Christian re-
ligion in general, and a particular aftection to the
church oi England, but an affection that was nei-
ther blind nor partial. She had a true regard to
piety wherever she saw it^ in whatever form or
party soever. Her education and judgment led
her to the national communion ; but her charity
was extended to all. She longed to see all pro-
testants, both at home and abroad, in a close and
brotherly conjunction ; and few things ever griev-
ed her more than the prospect of so desired an
union vanished out of sight.

" Access to her w^as never obstructed by self-
interested supercilious domestics. She made those
her favourites, who made the distressed theirs.
She w^ondered that the true pleasure which accom-
panied doing good, did not engage princes to pur-
sue it more effectually. Without this she thought
that a private life was the happier, as Well as the
safer state. When reflections were once made
before her of the sharpness of some historians,
who had left heavy imputations on the memory
of some princes, she answered, " That if those
princes were such as the historians represented
them, they had well deserved that treatment ;
and others, who tread their steps, might look for
the same, for truth would be told at last." Her
charity was not confined to her own subjects, but
extended in a most particular manner to multi-
tudes of French exiles, whom persecution sent
hither. The scattered Vaudois had a share in
her bounty ; and when, by the king's intercession,
restored to their vallies, they were enabled by the
quetn to transmit their faith to posterity. And
the last great project, that her thoughts were
working on, v/ith a relation to a noble and royal
provision for disabled seamen at Greenwich, was


particularly designed to be so constituted, as to
put them in a probable way of ending their days
in the fear of God.

" She was a perfect example of conjugal love,
chastity and obedience. She set her husband's
will before her as the rule of her life. Her admi-
ration of him made her submission not only easy,

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 10 of 18)