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The adventures of King James II. of England online

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make war on France, some years earlier, was known
and by no means forgotten.^ In a letter written on
5th December, 1680, by Barillon to Louis XIV.,
Barillon says that he had told Montague " that as
regards the Duke of \ork, his past conduct frees
your Majesty from all you might have done for him
if he had persisted in the first engagements which he
had formed ; that at present your Majesty had too
much prudence to charge yourself with the protection
of a Prince against whom all England seemed to be
united ".

Considering the confidence afterwards placed by
James in Sunderland, it is a curious fact that in the
year with which we have lately been dealing (1680)
James should have said in a letter to Hyde : "I am
very glad to find his Majesty continues to be ill with
Lord Sunderland and Lord Essex : I think he is in
the right and I know not why there should be any
time lost in putting both of them out of their places ".

Sunderland was then a man of about forty. He
had been Ambassador at Madrid and at Paris, and
he was a Privy Councillor. Even at this time he
was subsidised by Louis XIV., and was also acting
in the interests of the Prince of Orange.

In May, 1680, when Henry Sidney was return-
ing to Holland, his nephew, Sunderland, urged him
" to use his uttermost endeavours with the Prince
(of Orange) to come over," adding: "without him

^ See Dalrymple's Memoirs.


nothing can be done ; if he does come he will answer
for it he will have more credit with the King than
anybody ". And Sunderland's wife, in her letters to
Sidney, keeps harping upon the necessity of the
Prince of Orange putting in an appearance at the
English court, meaning pretty clearly as a pretender
to the Crown in case of the exclusion of the Duke of

English politics were at that time in a very
complicated condition; it was doubtful to whom
the Crown of England would go when Charles II.
died, and Sunderland, like many others, wished to
be in favour with the new King, Queen, or Power,
whoever or whatever he, she, or it might be. He
was a keen and able politician, and a clever and un-
scrupulous diplomatist. Among non-political vices,
his favourite was gambling.

" My Lord,'" ^ wrote his wife to Henry Sidney,
her husband's uncle, " has fallen again to play to a
more violent degree than ever, all day and night.
It makes the horridest noise in the world ; 'tis talked
of in all the coffee-houses, and 'tis for such vast
sums ... he plays for ^5,000 in a night at la
Basset. "

This future trusted servant of James II. voted
for his exclusion from the Throne in the year 1680.
In the following year the Parliament sat at Oxford,
and debated over another Exclusion Bill. Anti-

^ Diary of the Times of Charles II., vol. ii., p. ioq.


papal excitement was increased, in this debate, by
the readino- of some evidence, given by an Irish-
man named Fitz Harris, of a fresh Popish plot ; and
although Fitz Harris was afterwards hanged for his
perjury in this very evidence, it, for the moment,
sufficiently fanned the fire of Protestant zeal to
make the passing of the Exclusion Bill extremely

At this Kinof Charles became alarmed. It
was clear to his mind that the Parliament was
bent on passing an Exclusion Bill of some sort ;
and each new Exclusion Bill introduced was more
exclusive than the last ; so he determined on a des-
perate remedy. Without the slightest warning, he
dissolved Parliament. Shaftesbury was so enraged
that he completely lost his head and called upon his
friends to keep their seats and join with him in sign-
ing a protest against the dissolution : but his efforts
were in vain, and this exhibition of temper and dis-
loyalty confirmed his own ruin, if it did not bring it

On the other hand, this act of firmness on the
part of the King was, all things considered, wonder-
fully successful ; although it practically placed him
in open conflict with his Parliament. He now ap-
pealed to the nation against the factious conduct of
the Commons, and the response was an outburst of
loyalty which enabled him to overcome his enemies.
Shaftesbury was sent to the Tower on a charge of

suborning witnesses to give false evidence against



the Queen and the Duke of York ; but he was
afterwards allowed to fly the country, and he died

While all these affairs affecting his interests were
in progress in England, the Duke of York was not
idle in his place of exile. He gave much and care-
ful attention to the commercial and maritime interests
of Scotland ; he put an end to many of the nefarious
extortions of Lauderdale's officials, thereby incurring
the enmity of that corrupt Duke and his Duchess,
and he made several progresses to the principal
towns. On those progresses he received royal
honours and a hearty popular welcome wherever
he went. Even so hostile a historian as Burnet
says of his rule in Scotland : ^ "In matters of justice
he showed an impartial temper, and encouraged all
propositions relating to trade ".

Possibly his rule may have become rather more
stern during his second residence in Scotland than
it had been during the first ; but the horrible story
of his witnessing, and taking a pleasure in witnessing,
the infliction of torture, eagerly accepted by Macaulay,
who always wrote of James as if he were a prisoner
at the bar against whom he held a brief for the
prosecution, is unsupported by any evidence worth
having. Yet severe punishments were undoubtedly
inflicted, during his rule in Scotland, upon the
Presbyterians and Nonconformists, not because of

^History, vol. i., p. 570.


their religion, but on account of their disloyalty.
Against the moderate Presbyterians he entertained
no ill feeling ; but the extreme party, and that a
large one, disowned the King's authority as well as
that of everybody who would not subscribe to the
Solemn League and Covenant. The leaders of
these insurgents were two men, named Cargill and
Cameron ; and there was some fighting, followed
by very severe punishments, as was usual in those
times in cases of open rebellion.

There is no evidence, however, of personal
vindictiveness on the part of James. On the con-
trary his own leanings seem to have been quite in
the opposite direction.

While the English Parliament was discussing a
Bill to exclude the Duke of York from the succes-
sion, the Scotch Parliament was passing an Act
asserting his rights, and declaring that no difference
in religion could divert those rights.

Some pressure, however, must have been brought
to bear upon James, either by his Scottish Council
or by the King himself, to induce him to consent
to the passing of a Test Act, which practically ex-
cluded both Catholics and all Nonconformists from
holding office under the Crown. The first man
of importance to get into trouble through this
Test Act was the Earl of Argyle, the leader of
the extreme fanatics. When being sworn in as a
Commissioner of the Treasury, he only took the
Test oath with explanations. James was inclined


to accept those explanations ; but, until further orders
should come from the King, he thought it best to tell
Argyle to place himself voluntarily under arrest in
Edinburgh Castle. The King's Advocate, however,
took the matter very much more seriously and ac-
cused Argyle of high treason. To the surprise
of James, the court found him guilty, and King
Charles granted permission that judgment should
follow, ordering that the execution was not to take
place until he sent further commands. Probably
it would never have taken place ; but Argyle es-
caped from his prison in the disguise of a page
of his daughter-in-law. Lady Sophia Lindsay, and
fled to Holland.^ Some of the Council were for
having Lady Sophia (by whose strategy he escaped)
whipped through the streets of Edinburgh, but the
Duke prevented it by saying that " they were not
used to deal so with Ladys in his Country ".

The attention of James was presently turned to
another subject. Hyde, son of the late Chancellor,
Clarendon, was sent to Edinburgh by Charles,'"^ "to
tell the Duke in plain termes, that unless he would
conforme and go to Church, he must expect no
leave to return to Court, nor could his Majesty, he
sayd, support him any longer, but on that condition,
that he had struggled hard to defend him hithertoo,
but that now, without his complyance herein, not
only he but the King himself must be inevitably

^James's Memoirs, p. 710. ^ Ibid., p. 699.


ruined ". For two or three days, Hyde endea-
voured " to press his Royal Highness with all
manner of arguments to swallow if possible this
bitter pill " ; but without effect. At last he "pulled
a paper out of his poket writ by the King himself,
profering, that in case he would promis to go to
Church without doeing more, he should have libertie
to come to Court". Yet James stood steadfast.

In addition to his political anxieties, James had
the sorrow of losing his infant daughter, the little
Princess Isabella, who died in her fifth year, far
away from her father and mother, at St. James's
Palace. As James says, of himself and his wife, "it
was the more afflicting to both, because they had not
the satisfaction of seeing and assisting her in her
sickness ; but those hardships were the unavoidable
sequels of their uneasy banishment and cruel perse-
cution ".

The northern climate did not agree with the
Italian constitution of the Duchess of York, and
James ordered Churchill to ask the King's permis-
sion to send her to Tunbridge Wells or Bath ; but
Charles would not give his consent. Halifax feared
that it would be dangerous to the Crown of King
Charles himself to allow either the Duke or the
Duchess of York to return to England, so long
as James remained a Catholic. James's return to
England, however, was brought about from a very
unexpected and apparently unlikely quarter.


The Duchess of Portsmouth began to realise that
the King's life was not a very good one, and, owing
to her partisanship with the enemies of the Duke of
York, she feared that she would have little to hope
for in the next reign, if James ascended the throne.
Anxious to provide for her own future, she made the
modest suggestion to the King that he should invest
^100,000 in her name, in foreign securities. The
King refused, for the simple reason that he had
not got the money. Then the Duchess consulted
Sunderland, who proposed a way out of the difficulty.
Let her ask the King, said he, to grant an annuity
of ^5,000 a year, for fifty years, out of the income
received by the Duke of York from the Post Office,
and settle it upon herself, or to the person to whom
she might give it. Then let her sell the right to this
annuity, and she would probably obtain the desired
^100,000 as its purchase money.

The Duchess of Portsmouth unhesitatingly made
this proposition to the King and she took Sunder-
land with her to explain its details. Sunderland
had been for some little time out of favour and out

of office ; but his clever scheme for satisfying the





rapacious mistress, without completely clearing out
the King's privy purse, pleased Charles so much
that he received Sunderland into favour again, and
shortly afterwards replaced him as Secretary of
State. ^

To complete the proposed financial negotiation,
however, the Duke of York's presence was abso-
lutely necessary, as he would have to go through the
form of consenting to be relieved of the incubus of
;^5,ooo a year, and a message to that effect was
despatched to him in Scotland. He was delighted
at the opportunity thus afforded of coming to Eng-
land and to his brother;" and he was "too sencible
of the Duchess of Portsmouth's power to think he
could purchass her favour too dear ". Therefore he
hastened to England, although "all this while" he
" knew very well his revenue was so settled that
nothing but an Act of Parliament could alienate any
part of it, which he took care not to mention to any
living soul ". So far as this transaction is concerned,
we may dispose of it at once by saying that eventu-
ally the scheme failed, and that in its stead it was
arranged that Charles should pay to the Duchess
^10,000 out of each quarter's allowance that he
received from Louis XIV., until she had received in
all ^100,000.

The nation was greatly surprised to hear of the

^ Dalrymple's Alemoirs, part i., pp. 16 et seg. ; also Lingard's
History, vol. x., p. 27, and James's Memoirs, vol. i., p. 724.
2 James's Memoirs, p. 724.


arrival of the Duke of York at Newmarket. Andrew

Marvell wrote of his return : — ^

My insolent brother shall bear all the sway,
If Parliaments murmur, I'll send him away,
And call him again as soon as I may.

A reaction of popular feeling nevertheless set
in, in James's favour. On the loth of March, 1682,
he landed at Yarmouth " the seamen running up to
their necks in water to receive him. His arrival
at Newmarket put every one into an ecstasy."- His
brother seemed delighted to see him ; and he was
privately informed that he would be allowed to live
henceforth in England. As soon as the business
for which he had come had been disposed of, he
started for Scotland to fetch his Duchess.

Early in May, 1682, a time of year when a fine
and successful voyage might fairly be expected,
James sailed for Scotland on board a frigate called
The Gloucester. Through some misadventure, ac-
cording to one authority owing to James's insisting
on a course being taken in opposition to the advice
of the pilot ; but, according to others, owing to the
obstinacy of the pilot in not obeying the orders of
James, himself an experienced sailor and very familiar
with the coast of Suffolk, a serious catastrophe took
place in an early part of the voyage.^ When James

^ Poems on Affairs of State, vol. i., p. 251.

^"Sir N. W. Throckmorton's MSS., Hist. MSS. Comm., Tenth
Rep., Appendix, 176.

2 Letter of Lord Dartmouth to Erasmus Lewis, Dalrymple's
Memoirs, part i., p. 128 ; Life of James II., Knapton, pp. 68, 69 ;


was asleep in his berth at half-past five on a Sunday-
morning, he was awakened by the violent striking
of the ship's hull upon the dangerous sand called the
Lemon and Ore. When he got on deck he found
that the ship, after several severe concussions, had
sprung a leak, that her rudder was broken, and that
there were eight feet of water in her hold. Sir John
Berry, the captain of the ship, states that he urged
James to get into his barge and leave the ship at
once, but that James refused, hoping that the vessel
might yet be saved. In spite of pumping and
baling, it was soon clear that she must inevitably
go down, whereupon Captain Berry again pressed
James to leave her.

It was only, says Lord Dartmouth, when " my
father, finding she was ready to sink, told him that
if he stayed any longer, they should be obliged to
force him out," that James consented to leave the
sinking ship and to get into his boat. When he did
so, he insisted upon a heavy box being put into it.
Dartmouth asked James whether there was anything
in it worth a human life, to which James replied that
it contained papers of such importance to the King
and to himself, that he would rather lose his own
life than that they should be lost. Then he called

Letter of Sir John Berry, Commander of The Gloucester, in Cor-
respondence of Henry Hyde ^ vol. i., p. 71 ; Strickland's Queens, vol.
ix., pp. 137 et seq.; Burnet's History, vol. i., p. 523; Peterborough
in the Mor daunt Genealogies ; also Memorials of Mary of Modena;
and Ellis's Letters, second series, vol. iv., pp. 67 et seq.


upon several of his attendants to follow him into
the boat. Bishop Burnet mendaciously says: "The
Duke got into a boat and took care of his dogs
and some unknown persons, who were taken from
that earnest care of his to be priests. The long
boat went off with few, though she might have car-
ried above eighty more than she did."

The latter statement is in direct contradiction to
the evidence of the eye-witness. Sir Thomas Dick,
Lord Provost of Edinburgh,^ who was himself in
the boat in question. He says: "There leaped
from the shrouds about twenty or twenty-four sea-
men, which made all the spectators and ourselves to
think we would sink, and all having given us over
for lost, did hinder an hundred more from leaping
in upon us. With those that were left was Lord
Roxburgh," and several others whom he mentions.
" They all being at the place where I jumped would
not follow because it seems they concluded it more
safe to stay in the vessel than to expose themselves
to our hazard. . . . We were so thronged we had
no room to stand."

As to the priests, Mary of Modena, who heard
the whole story from James and would naturally be
interested in the priests on board, only mentions
one, her own almoner, as saved ; and he was not
taken into the boat, but saved himself by clinging
to a plank.

1 Letter of Dick to Ellis, 9th May, 1682, Ellis's Letters,
second series, vol. iv., pp. 67 ct seq.


Respecting Burnet's assertion that the Duke
saved his pet dogs, Lord Dartmouth writes : "I
believe the reflection upon the Duke for his care of
the dogs to be as ill-grounded ; for I remember a
story, which was in everybody's mouth at that time,
of a struggle that happened for a plank between Sir
■ Charles Scarboro and the Duke's dog Mumper,
which convinces me that the dogs were left to take
care of themselves, as he did, if there were any on
board ".

When the boat had gone a little distance from
the sinking ship, James saw the Marquess of Mon-
trose, who had thrown himself into the sea, strug-
gling against the waves. At once James ordered
the boat to be brought to, and that the Marquess
should be rescued. Those on board protested that
to do so would be to endanger all their lives ; but
James insisted and Montrose was saved.

Shortly afterwards, a man in the sea clung to
the side of the boat and begged to be taken in.
James recognised in the suppliant a very indifferent
musician. One of the rowers had raised his oar to
push the man away, when James peremptorily com-
manded that he should be taken on board. "He
is a poor fiddler enough," said James ; " but we will
save him ! "

Unfortunately the rescued violin-player over-
heard this remark disparaging his music, was deeply
offended, became a bitter enemy of the man who
saved his life, and was one of the first to offer his


services to the Prince of Orange after his landing
in England.

The loss of life through the sinking of The Glou-
cester was very large, probably between a hundred
and fifty and two hundred. To the widow of every
seaman who was drowned on the occasion James
gave eleven months' pay, as well as a sum of money
for every child of a sailor thereby made an orphan.^

Five or six days after reaching Edinburgh,
James re-embarked with his wife and sailed for
London, where he received an affectionate welcome
from his brother and an ovation from the public.
Dryden rejoiced over their return in rather too
optimistic a vein : —

No more shall faction civil discords move,
Or only discords of too tender love :
Discords that only this dispute shall bring —
Who best shall love the Duke or serve the King.

Meantime the party opposed to the Duke of
York were not idle. The Duchess was near her
confinement, and it was confidently put about that,
if the child should be a daughter, arrangements had
been made for substituting a boy in its stead. As
it happened a girl was born, but it lived only a few

The Duchess of Portsmouth now considered it
to her interest to seek the favour of the Duke of
York : but she was ready to act against his interests

^ Loyal Protestant, Nos. i8g, 193 ; Lingard's History, vol. x.,
p. 28, note.


at any moment, and she played fast and loose with
him to the end of the reign of Charles II.

Foe to England, Spy to France,
False and foolish, proud and bold.
Ugly, as you see, and old,

a contemporary ballad described her. Sunderland
was now acting in her interests, and she considered
it wise to reconcile him not only to the King- but
also to the Duke of York. With what momentous
consequences that reconciliation was fraught for
James is but too well known ! It was a reconcilia-
tion more ruinous to his career than perhaps any
other event in the course of his life.

But this reconciliation was not entirely the Duch-
ess of Portsmouth's doing. James's brother-in-law,
Hyde, also had a hand in it. Sir John Reresby
wrote that ^ Halifax had informed him how Hyde,
now Lord Rochester, "had lately brought my Lord
Sunderland to be Secretary by engaging the Duke
of York for him, who now seemed kinder to that
Lord (Sunderland), who had done all he could
against him in the late Parliament, than to his
Lordship (Halifax), who did all he could to serve
him, and had most considerably opposed the passing
of the Bill of P2xclusion". Historians have accused
James of being unforgiving. No charge could be
more unjust. As we have just seen, he forgave
Sunderland and received him into favour with im-

^ Memoirs.^ p. 269


prudent readiness. As we shall presently see, he
forgave Monmouth, he offered to hear all that could
be said in favour of Lord William Russell, and
he showed a very forgiving spirit to the Duchess
of Portsmouth. When even his arch-enemy Shaftes-
bury asked his pardon, and begged his friendship,
he replied : " that he knew him too well to trust
him in anything relating to himself, but if he would
make such submission to his Majesty as became him,
and give convincing proofs of a true conversion, he
would take him willingly by the hand ; for that if
the greatest enemie he had in the world (which he
tooke him to be) would become a dutifull subject to
the King, he could easily overlook the injuries done
to himself, and readily forgive them with all his
heart ".^

Now that James was established at St. James's
Palace, Monmouth thought it wiser to keep out of
London ; and he went into the country, making a
sort of royal progress, even touching for the evil at
Liverpool. Reports of his proceedings reached the
King. A semi- royal progress was bad enough : but
to touch for the evil ! — even the easy-going Charles
could not stand that. The impudence of his dearly
beloved bastard in assuming the most precious pre-
rogative of royalty touched him to the quick. He
sent orders that the perpetrator of this blasphemous
parody of what was then considered to be a holy rite

1 James's Memoirs, pp. 734, 735.





should be arrested and brought to London. When
he arrived in London, he was liberated on bail.

The discontents became desperate at seeing the
Duke of York again in high favour with the King,
and they began to make fresh plots against him. At
a farm called the Rye House, on the road from
London to Newmarket, meetings were held by those
prepared to take disloyal action. Lords Essex,
William Russell, Grey, and Howard of Escrick were,
or were reputed to have been, among the conspira-
tors. Monmouth and the self-exiled Earl of Argyle
were asked to join in a rising, and it is said to have
been proposed to assassinate the two royal brothers.
The plot was discovered, some of the minor conspira-
tors became King's evidence, and many arrests were
made, among them being those of Lord Essex, Lord
William Russell, and Lord Howard of Escrick who
at the trials betrayed his associates.

The evidence that Lord William Russell had been
present at meetings of the conspirators was clear ;
he even admitted it ; but he denied having; con-
sented to the plot to assassinate the King and the
Duke of York, and the evidence on this point was
very weak and doubtful.

Lord William was condemned to death. His
father, the Earl of Bedford, had been one of the
principal supporters of the ELxclusion Bills, he had
had almost as much to do with the fierce opposition
to the Duke of York as had Shaftesbury ; in short,
he had been one of James's most relentless enemies.


Yet now, in the hope of saving his son's life, he
appealed to the heir to the Crown, whose ruin he

Online LibraryThomas LonguevilleThe adventures of King James II. of England → online text (page 19 of 38)