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previous epoch. It was thought at one time that he would divorce his Catholic Queen; and at the height of the Anti-Popery mania no step would have been more popular. In spite of his interest, and even the safety of the throne, the King had the generosity to protect her. "They think," he said, "I have a mind to a new wife, but for all that I will not see an innocent woman abused."
Charles was noted for his quick wit. It was a current phrase that "the King never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one."* When this saying reached his ears, he retorted, "That is easily explained, for my discourse is my own, but my actions are my Ministry's." He remarked once of the Duke of Ormond, "I have done everything to disoblige that man, but it is not in my power to make him my enemy." A proof of his sensibility may be seen in the observation of the Duke of Buckingham one day when the Duke of Ormond came to Court. "Sir," said Buckingham, "I wish to know whether it be the Duke of Ormond that is out of favor with your Majesty, or your Majesty with the Duke of Ormond, for, of the two, you seem the most out of countenance."
In all his public conduct Charles always displayed great tact, as well as a lively recollection of his father's ill-advised struggles with Parliament; always shunning any conflict which might possibly end in his fall and exile. One day when his brother James was urging some inexpedient act upon him he sagely replied, "Brother, I am too old to go again to my travels; you may if you choose it."
*Attributed to the Earl of Rochester.
THE MONARCHY LIMITED.
JAMES II., second son of Charles I., succeeded his brother, February, 1685, and was then fifty-two years old. This Prince had some good traits of character. He displayed great courage in the Dutch war; but was suspected and feared by the Nation for his bigoted devotion to the Catholic religion. He called Parliament together in May; and his professions to respect the laws, and religion as then established, were so plausible that the Commons promptly voted him the revenue of the late King for life, in spite of the remonstrances of some of the Tory Members. He thus became independent of Parliament.
The first year of his reign was marked by a foolish attempt of the Duke of Monmouth to stir up a Rebellion. The Duke was popular with the masses, and a staunch Protestant; but the Nation dreaded another civil war, and James had a disciplined army of 30,000 Monmouth was easily routed, and, being taken prisoner, was beheaded in July, 1685.*
* This favorite of the people, a natural son of Charles II., was attended to the scaffold by crowds in tears. He warned the executioner not to fail, as he had done with Russell, and be obliged to repeat the blow. This suggestion only unmanned the executioner. He struck a feeble blow, and Monmouth was able to raise his head, and look him in the face, as if to reproach him for his failure. He gently laid his head a second time
Parliament met for a second Session in November after the Rebellion. James, elated by his fancied strength, ventured now to reveal his plans, and showed that he was clearly resolved on restoring the Catholic. religion, and on asserting his Absolute authority. Shallow and conceited, he seemed to forget altogether the past history of England and the tragic fate of his father. He began by calling on Parliament to vote supplies for a standing army, and to repeal the Test Acts, which excluded the Catholics from office. The House of Commons soon perceived the tendency of the King's proposals, and combining with the House of Lords, no less eager in defence of the Protestant religion and the rights of Parliament, set to work preparing resolutions condemning the conduct of James. Thus we see, as of old, the Nobles and the Middle Class again uniting to resist the encroachments of arbitrary power. James perceiving a storm in the horizon, prorogued this refractory Parliament, and never called another.
In the following year, 1686, James revived the Ecclesiastical Court created by Elizabeth, abolishedby the Long Parliament, and again prohibited in Charles II.'s reign. He next boldly annulled the Test Acts by a Declaration of Indulgence, 1687, and followed this up by a Declaration for Liberty of Conscience -April, 1688. These acts of Toleration, since carried out by law in England, were then utterly repugnant to the Nation; for in the minds of the people Catholicism, which James openly avowed his purpose of reviving,
on the block, and the executioner struck him several times ineffectually. He threw down the axe, and declared he could not finish the bloody work. The Sheriff obliged him to renew the attempt, and with two blows more the head was severed from the body,
was identified with Absolute Monarchy. The Bishops were particularly zealous in opposing the policy of James. Seven were sent to the Tower, and being afterwards tried for misdemeanor were acquitted amid the shouts of the people. These insane proceedings of the King aroused the deepest disgust, and a determination to get rid of him was adopted by the leaders of both parties.
In the previous reign the Tories had refused to exclude James from the throne, while the Whigs had organized a conspiracy to carry out this object, but in the present emergency these differences were forgotten; the leaders of both parties dismissing all factious considerations, and thinking only of the interests of the country. This spectacle of party patriotism was remarkable, but it would be an exaggeration to suppose that the Politicians of that day were less ambitious or more disinterested than those who have succeeded. The unanimity of the Tory and Whig chiefs was probably in great part produced by the fact that behind them stood the combination of Nobles and Middle Class, who dictated, as of old, the course to adopt.
In June, 1688, an invitation was sent to William Prince of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, to come to England and take the throne. The Prince of Orange was the grandson of Charles I., and had married his cousin Mary, the daughter of James II. He and his wife were both ardent Protestants. He was, besides, a man of distinguished ability, one of the first soldiers in Europe, and of unbending strength of character. All these qualities he had already shown, for he had contended successfully for years against all the power of Louis XIV. of France. William, though ambitious, was eminently
prudent, and, were it not that he plainly perceived that the English Nation would be satisfied with nothing less than the expulsion of his infatuated father-in-law, would probably have refused the offer of the English Crown. He sailed for England with 14,000 men; and had barely landed when James, to his amazement, found himself standing actually alone. His army, officers, the Lords and the Commons, the people, even his own family, abandoned him, and welcomed William. Not a blow was struck. The King, terror-stricken, flung the Great Seal into the river, and fled to France.
Upon this, the Lords assembled in their House for deliberation, and William invited all persons who had been Members of the Commons in Charles's reign, together with the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, to meet forthwith. One hundred and sixty Members met, and adopted unanimously an Address, already voted by the Lords, asking William to take charge of the Government temporarily, and to call by circular letters a new Parliament. The Prince consented to carry out these resolutions, and on January 23d, 1689, the Parliamentor, as it was then called, the Convention-met. The Whig party were in a majority, as their former opposition to James rendered them popular at this moment. The Convention first employed itself in debating whether William should be made Regent; or his wife, the daughter of James, be declared Queen Regnant; but the Prince declined both these suggestions. The Crown was then conferred by Vote of both Houses on William and Mary, but subject to the limitations contained in a Declaration of Rights which accompanied the gift. The King and Queen accepted the Crown on these conditions.