This is the complete biography of the third James Stewart, who was unfortunate from his birth. The slander that he was not really the son of James II. and Mary of Modena persisted long after its absolute falsity had been proved. William of Orange, whose hopes of succeeding quietly to the throne for which he had long intrigued were blasted by the event, and all the enemies of the rightful king did their utmost for years to keep it alive. Sent with his mother to France before his father was forced to abdicate, the young prince was in perpetual peril; the usurper who sanctioned the Massacre of Glencoe would not have hesitated to connive at his assassination. He was a delicate boy, and, indeed, all through his life he suffered from ill-health. There were times when he wearied of the task to which he was in honour bound; but his strong sense of duty held him. We search the chronicles in vain for any justification of the accusations brought against him by Thackeray. He was sincerely religious, scrupulously moral in an immoral age, intelligent, conscientious and faithful to every obligation. He had, of course, the defects of his virtues. He sometimes hesitated where a bold course was essential; he shrank from bringing misfortune to his adherents or shedding the blood of his adversaries; he had not the buoyant temperament and the personal magnetism with which Bonnie Prince Charlie set the heather on fire. Yet he was loved by those who knew him best; and for years Scotland watched in vain for "Jamie" to "come hame." Probably he might have regained his lost throne had he consented to forswear his faith. There is nothing to indicate that he contemplated any subversive designs upon the Anglican Church. But hatred of Romanism was deep rooted among the English people; and however much they might despise the first two Georges they would not consent to be ruled over by a "Papist." James III.
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The King Over The Water
Alice Shields / Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
The King Over The Water
Chapter I - The Stuarts And England
Chapter Ii - The White Rose
Chapter Iii - Flight
Chapter Iv - The Boyhood Of James
Chapter V - King By Right Divine
Chapter Vi - Intrigue And The Union
Chapter Vii - A False Dawn
Chapter Viii - The Winning Of The Spurs
Chapter Ix - The Laurels Of Malplaquet
Chapter X - The Levée On The Canihe
Chapter Xi - "Cujus Est Reddite"
Chapter Xii - The Wings Of The Angel Of Death
Chapter Xiii - Jamie The Rover
Chapter Xiv - The Death Of Queen Anne
Chapter Xv - The Berwick And Bolingbroke Ministries
Chapter Xvi - The 'Fifteen
Chapter Xvii - The King Goes Home
Chapter Xviii - In His Ain Countrie
Chapter Xix - By The Waters Of Babylon
Chapter Xx - A Wander-Year
Chapter Xxi - The Distractions Of Urbino
Chapter Xxii - The Royal Betrothal
Chapter Xxiii - Spain And Glenshiel
Chapter Xxiv - The Rescue Of The Princess
Chapter Xxv - Matrimony And Mar
Chapter Xxvi - The New Sunrise
Chapter Xxvii - The Great Domestic War
Chapter Xxviii - Reconciliations
Chapter Xxix - Prince Charles At Gaeta
Chapter Xxx - A Great Adventure
Chapter Xxxi - The 'Forty-Five
Chapter Xxxii - The Princes In Paris
Chapter Xxxiii - The Defection Of The Duke
Chapter Xxxiv - The Revolt Of The Duke Of York
Chapter Xxxv - Shadows Closing In
Chapter Xxxvi - Conclusion
The King Over The Water, A. Shields, A. Lang
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
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Biographical Sketch from "Portraits And Sketches" by Edmund Gosse
INVITED to note down some of my recollections of Andrew Lang, I find myself suspended between the sudden blow of his death and the slow development of memory, now extending in unbroken friendship over thirty-five years. The magnitude and multitude of Lang's performances, public and private, during that considerable length of time almost paralyse expression; it is difficult to know where to begin or where to stop. Just as his written works are so extremely numerous as to make a pathway through them a formidable task in bibliography, no one book standing out predominant, so his character, intellectual and moral, was full of so many apparent inconsistencies, so many pitfalls for rash assertion, so many queer caprices of impulse, that in a whole volume of analysis, which would be tedious, one could scarcely do justice to them all. I will venture to put down, almost at haphazard, what I remember that seems to me to have been overlooked, or inexactly stated, by those who wrote, often very sympathetically, at the moment of his death, always premising that I speak rather of a Lang of from 1877 to 1890, when I saw him very frequently, than of a Lang whom younger people met chiefly in Scotland.
When he died, all the newspapers were loud in proclaiming his "versatility." But I am not sure that he was not the very opposite of versatile. I take "versatile" to mean changeable, fickle, constantly ready to alter direction with the weather-cock. The great instance of versatility in literature is Ruskin, who adopted diametrically different views of the same subject at different times of his life, and defended them with equal ardour. To be versatile seems to be unsteady, variable. But Lang was through his long career singularly unaltered; he never changed his point of view; what he liked and admired as a youth he liked and admired as an elderly man. It is true that his interests and knowledge were vividly drawn along a surprisingly large number of channels, but while there was abundance there does not seem to me to have been versatility. If a huge body of water boils up from a crater, it may pour down a dozen paths, but these will always be the same; unless there is an earthquake, new cascades will not form nor old rivulets run dry. In some authors earthquakes do take place as in Tolstoy, for instance, and in S. T. Coleridge but nothing of this kind was ever manifest in Lang, who was extraordinarily multiform, yet in his varieties strictly consistent from Oxford to the grave. As this is not generally perceived, I will take the liberty of expanding my view of his intellectual development.
To a superficial observer in late life the genius of Andrew Lang had the characteristics which we are in the habit of identifying with precocity. Yet he had not been, as a writer, precocious in his youth. One slender volume of verses represents all that he published in book-form before his thirty-fifth year. No doubt we shall learn in good time what he was doing before he flashed upon the world of journalism in all his panoply of graces, in 1876, at the close of his Merton fellowship. He was then, at all events, the finest finished product of his age, with the bright armour of Oxford burnished on his body to such a brilliance that humdrum eyes could hardly bear the radiance of it. Of the terms behind, of the fifteen years then dividing him from St. Andrews, we know as yet but little; they were years of insatiable acquirement, incessant reading, and talking, and observing gay preparation for a life to be devoted, as no other life in our time has been, to the stimulation of other people's observation and talk and reading. There was no cloistered virtue about the bright and petulant Merton don. He was already flouting and jesting, laughing with Ariosto in the sunshine, performing with a snap of his fingers tasks which might break the back of a pedant, and concealing under an affectation of carelessness a literary ambition which knew no definite bounds.
In those days, and when he appeared for the first time in London, the poet was paramount in him. Jowett is said to have predicted that he would be greatly famous in this line, but I know not what evidence Jowett had before him. Unless I am much mistaken, it was not until Lang left Balliol that his peculiar bent became obvious. Up to that time he had been a promiscuous browser upon books, much occupied, moreover, in the struggle with ancient Greek, and immersed in Aristotle and Homer. But in the early days of his settlement at Merton he began to concentrate his powers, and I think there were certain influences which were instant and far-reaching. Among them one was pre-eminent. When Andrew Lang came up from St. Andrews he had found Matthew Arnold occupying the ancient chair of poetry at Oxford. He was a listener at some at least of the famous lectures which, in 1865, were collected as "Essays in Criticism"; while one of his latest experiences as a Balliol undergraduate was hearing Matthew Arnold lecture on the study of Celtic literature. His conscience was profoundly stirred by "Culture and Anarchy" (1869); his sense of prose-form largely determined by "Friendship's Garland" (1871). I have no hesitation in saying that the teaching and example of Matthew Arnold prevailed over all other Oxford influences upon the intellectual nature of Lang, while, although I think that his personal acquaintance with Arnold was very slight, yet in his social manner there was, in early days, not a little imitation of Arnold's aloofness and superfine delicacy of address. It was unconscious, of course, and nothing would have enraged Lang more than to have been accused of "imitating Uncle Matt."
The structure which his own individuality now began to build on the basis supplied by the learning of Oxford, and in particular by the study of the Greeks, and "dressed" by courses of Matthew Arnold, was from the first eclectic. Lang eschewed as completely what was not sympathetic to him as he assimilated what was attractive to him. Those who speak of his "versatility" should recollect what large tracts of the literature of the world, and even of England, existed outside the dimmest apprehension of Andrew Lang. It is, however, more useful to consider what he did apprehend; and there were two English books, published in his Oxford days, which permanently impressed him: one of these was "The Earthly Paradise," the other D. G. Rossetti's " Poems." In after years he tried to divest himself of the traces of these volumes, but he had fed upon their honey-dew and it had permeated his veins.
Not less important an element in the garnishing of a mind already prepared for it by academic and aesthetic studies was the absorption of the romantic part of French literature. Andrew Lang in this, as in everything else, was selective. He dipped into the wonderful lucky-bag of France wherever he saw the glitter of romance. Hence his approach, in the early seventies, was threefold: towards the mediaeval lais and chansons, towards the sixteenth-century Pleiade, and towards the school of which Victor Hugo was the leader in the nineteenth century. For a long time Ronsard was Lang's poet of intensest predilection; and I think that his definite ambition was to be the Ronsard of modern England, introducing a new poetical dexterity founded on a revival of pure humanism. He had in those days what he lost, or at least dispersed, in the weariness and growing melancholia of later years a splendid belief in poetry as a part of the renown of England, as a heritage to be received in reverence from our fathers, and to be passed on, if possible, in a brighter flame. This honest and beautiful ambition to shine as one of the permanent benefactors to national verse, in the attitude so nobly sustained four hundred years ago by Du Bellay and Ronsard, was unquestionably felt by Andrew Lang through his bright intellectual April, and supported him from Oxford times until 1882, when he published " Helen of Troy." The cool reception of that epic by the principal judges of poetry caused him acute disappointment, and from that time forth he became less eager and less serious as a poet, more and more petulantly expending his wonderful technical gift on fugitive subjects. And here again, when one comes to think of it, the whole history repeated itself, since in " Helen of Troy " Lang simply suffered as Ronsard had done in the "Franciade." But the fact that 1882 was his year of crisis, and the tomb of his brightest ambition, must be recognised by every one who closely followed his fortunes at that time. Lang's habit of picking out of literature and of life the plums of romance, and these alone, comes to be, to the dazzled observer of his extraordinarily vivid intellectual career, the principal guiding line. This determination to dwell, to the exclusion of all other sides of any question, on its romantic side is alone enough to rebut the charge of versatility. Lang was in a sense encyclopaedic; but the vast dictionary of his knowledge had blank pages, or pages pasted down, on which he would not, or could not, read what experience had printed. Absurd as it sounds, there was always something maidenly about his mind, and he glossed over ugly matters, sordid and dull conditions, so that they made no impression whatever upon him. He had a trick, which often exasperated his acquaintances, of declaring that he had " never heard " of things that everybody else was very well aware of. He had " never heard the name " of people he disliked, of books that he thought tiresome, of events that bored him; but, more than this, he used the formula for things and persons whom he did not wish to discuss. I remember meeting in the street a famous professor, who advanced with uplifted hands, and greeted me with " What do you think Lang says now? That he has never heard of Pascal! " This merely signified that Lang, not interested (at all events for the moment) in Pascal nor in the professor, thus closed at once all possibility of discussion.
It must not be forgotten that we have lived to see him, always wonderful indeed, and always passionately devoted to perfection and purity, but worn, tired, harassed by the unceasing struggle, the lifelong slinging of sentences from that inexhaustible ink-pot. In one of the most perfect of his poems, " Natural Theology," Lang speaks of Cagn, the great hunter, who once was kind and good, but who was spoiled by fighting many things. Lang was never " spoiled," but he was injured; the surface of the radiant coin was rubbed by the vast and interminable handling of journalism. He was jaded by the toil of writing many things. Hence it is not possible but that those who knew him intimately in his later youth and early middle-age should prefer to look back at those years when he was the freshest, the most exhilarating figure in living literature, when a star seemed to dance upon the crest of his already silvering hair. Baudelaire exclaimed of Theophile Gautier: " Homme heureux! homme digne d'envie! il n'a jamais aimé que le Beau!" and of Andrew Lang in those brilliant days the same might have been said. As long as he had confidence in beauty he was safe and strong; and much that, with all affection and all respect, we must admit was rasping and disappointing in his attitude to literature in his later years, seems to have been due to a decreasing sense of confidence in the intellectual sources of beauty. It is dangerous, in the end it must be fatal, to sustain the entire structure of life and thought on the illusions of romance. But that was what Lang did he built his house upon the rainbow.
The charm of Andrew Lang's person and company was founded upon a certain lightness, an essential gentleness and elegance which were relieved by a sharp touch; just as a very dainty fruit may be preserved from mawkishness by something delicately acid in the rind of it. His nature was slightly inhuman; it was unwise to count upon its sympathy beyond a point which was very easily reached in social intercourse. If any simple soul showed an inclination, in eighteenth-century phrase, to " repose on the bosom " of Lang, that support was immediately withdrawn, and the confiding one fell among thorns. Lang was like an Angora cat, whose gentleness and soft fur, and general aspect of pure amenity, invite to caresses, which are suddenly met by the outspread paw with claws awake. This uncertain and freakish humour was the embarrassment of his friends, who, however, were preserved from despair by the fact that no malice was meant, and that the weapons were instantly sheathed again in velvet. Only, the instinct to give a sudden slap, half in play, half in fretful caprice, was incorrigible. No one among Lang's intimate friends but had suffered from this feline impulse, which did not spare even the serenity of Robert Louis Stevenson. But, tiresome as it sometimes was, this irritable humour seldom cost Lang a friend who was worth preserving. Those who really knew him recognised that he was always shy and usually tired.
His own swift spirit never brooded upon an offence, and could not conceive that any one else should mind what he himself minded so little and forgot so soon. Impressions swept over him very rapidly, and injuries passed completely out of his memory. Indeed, all his emotions were too fleeting, and in this there was something fairy-like; quick and keen and blithe as he was, he did not seem altogether like an ordinary mortal, nor could the appeal to gross human experience be made to him with much chance of success. This, doubtless, is why almost all imaginative literature which is founded upon the darker parts of life, all squalid and painful tragedy, all stories that " don't end well" all religious experiences, all that is not superficial and romantic, was irksome to him. He tried sometimes to reconcile his mind to the consideration of real life; he concentrated his matchless powers on it; but he always disliked it. He could persuade himself to be partly just to Ibsen or Hardy or Dostoieffsky, but what he really enjoyed was Dumas pêre, because that fertile romance-writer rose serene above the phenomena of actual human experience. We have seen more of this type in English literature than the Continental nations have in theirs, but even we have seen no instance of its strength and weakness so eminent as Andrew Lang. He was the fairy in our midst, the wonder-working, incorporeal, and tricksy fay of letters, who paid for all his wonderful gifts and charms by being not quite a man of like passions with the rest of us. In some verses which he scribbled to R.L.S. and threw away, twenty years ago, he acknowledged this unearthly character, and, speaking of the depredations of his kin, he said:
Faith, they might steal me, w? ma will,
And, ken'd I ony fairy hill
I#d lay me down there, snod and still,
Their land to win;
For, man, I maistly had my fill
O' this world's din
His wit had something disconcerting in its impishness. Its rapidity and sparkle were dazzling, but it was not quite human; that is to say, it conceded too little to the exigencies of flesh and blood. If we can conceive a seraph being fanny, it would be in the manner of Andrew Lang. Moreover, his wit usually danced over the surface of things, and rarely penetrated them. In verbal parry, in ironic misunderstanding, in breathless agility of topsy-turvy movement, Lang was like one of Milton's " yellow-skirted fays," sporting with the helpless, moon-bewildered traveller. His wit often had a depressing, a humiliating effect, against which one's mind presently revolted. I recollect an instance which may be thought to be apposite: I was passing through a phase of enthusiasm for Emerson, whom Lang very characteristically detested, and I was so ill-advised as to show him the famous epigram called " Brahma." Lang read it with a snort of derision (it appeared to be new to him), and immediately he improvised this parody:
If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They, too, shall perish unconsoled.
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch and stumps, and all
This would make a pavilion cat laugh, and I felt that Emerson was done for. But when Lang had left me, and I was once more master of my mind, I reflected that the parody was but a parody, wonderful for its neatness and quickness, and for its seizure of what was awkward in the roll of Emerson's diction, but essentially superficial. However, what would wit be if it were profound? I must leave it there, feeling that I have not explained why Lang's extraordinary drollery in conversation so often left on the memory a certain sensation of distress.
But this was not the characteristic of his humour at its best, as it was displayed throughout the happiest period of his work. If, as seems possible, it is as an essayist that he will ultimately take his place in English literature, this element will continue to delight fresh generations of enchanted readers. I cannot imagine that the preface to his translation of " Theocritus," "Letters to Dead Authors," "In the Wrong Paradise," " Old Friends," and " Essays in Little " will ever lose their charm; but future admirers will have to pick their way to them through a tangle of history and anthropology and mythology, where there may be left no perfume and no sweetness. I am impatient to see this vast mass of writing reduced to the limits of its author's delicate, true, but somewhat evasive and ephemeral. genius. However, as far as the circumstances of his temperament permitted, Andrew Lang has left with us the memory of one of our most surprising contemporaries, a man of letters who laboured without cessation from boyhood to the grave, who pursued his ideal with indomitable activity and perseverance, and who was never betrayed except by the loftiness of his own endeavour. Lang's only misfortune was not to be completely in contact with life, and his work will survive exactly where he was most faithful to his innermost illusions.
The subject of this Biography was unfortunate in his life, and perhaps even more unfortunate in the treatment which he has received at the hands of historians. The "weak," the " bigoted," " the obstinate old Pretender," are examples of the flowers which historians scatter on his grave. He is accused of the fatal preference for " favourites," which helped to ruin so many of the Stuart kings; and, in his quarrel with his wife. History has, as is natural, sided with the lady, and accepted the worst of the contemporary rumours against the character of her lord.
Histories succeed each other, and are superseded by fresh rivals, but when a genius like that of Thackeray presents an elaborate portrait of an historical personage in a work which, like Esmond, can never wax old, never cease to charm; then, if the portrait be unfavourable, the result is fatal. The King James drawn by Thackeray in Esmond is brilliant, is convincing, and leaves the subject with scarcely a shred of character. The courage displayed by James at Malplaquet is confessed, the frank loyalty of his proclamation of fidelity to his creed is applauded; but, for the rest, we are shown a wild, witty, heartless, and ingrate young profligate, seldom sober, and, when sober, running after every pretty face; destroying the plans, and striving to ruin the honor of his most devoted adherents. Colonel Henry Esmond finds the uncrowned king swearing like the meanest of his subjects, at tennis, or " in liquor," at cards with his mistress. Miss Oglethorpe. " He cared more for three honors than three kingdoms; and a half-dozen glasses of ratafia made him forget all his woes and his losses, his father's crown and his grandfather's head."
What Thackeray's sources for these censures were, we have been unable to discover. We never hear of James's profanity; never even of his tennis-playing. Not one of the fair adventurous Oglethorpe ladies is reported to have been his mistress, "though all, according to one lie of the Whigs, were his sisters! The friend of Fénélon (whose account of James we publish) was not apt to run after chambermaids, as Thackeray reports. We never hear that he cared for cards, while, except for a dubious hint in a confused letter concerning his behaviour in camp, when young, he is not charged with intemperance. Unlike his ancestors he is credited with no bastards; indeed his enemies deride him for his chastity during his stay in Scotland. Introduced to two Highland beauties, "to comfort him after the comfort of a man," he dismissed them with a question as to the probable strategy of the Duke of Argyll; so says a pamphleteer — Swift, or, more probably, one of the imitators of Swift.
After reading Esmond, Lockhart (the son-in-law of Scott) confided to his Diary that he was amazed by the author's ignorance. On the other hand a critic in one of the two great Quarterlies has praised Thackeray for his intimate knowledge of the Pretender's early life; while betraying his own belief that the prince who fought at Malplaquet was Prince Charles! Thackeray speaks of James's " reckless gaiety and lively youthful spirit," whereas James's melancholy did him much more harm among his adherents than any reckless gaiety would have, procured. That his brother, the Duke of Berwick, was not " indeed the sword and buckler of the Stuart cause," as Thackeray declares, becomes only too plain when we examine the facts of the case: the sword was never drawn, the buckler was never raised. Colonel Esmond admired " the manly and magnanimous reply " which James made to his English friends who wished him to give a Mass for three kingdoms. That reply is extant, is magnanimous and manly, and, in his king, Colonel Esmond would have found le grand sérieux, as, in the romance, the prince nicknamed the Colonel.
The famous scenes in which James runs after the sweetheart of the servant, Lockwood, and after Beatrix, the sister of his host, Frank Castlewood, the lady-love of his devoted Colonel Esmond; the noble picture in which he crosses swords with Castlewood; all his levity in the kind house that shelters him; are merely an unconscious reproduction by Thackeray, of Scott's chapters on Charles II., a fugitive sheltered at Woodstock after Worcester fight. Charles, as Louis Kerneguy, is James; Alice Lee is Beatrix Esmond; Phoebe is Lockwood's lass; Joceline is Lockwood; Albert Lee is Frank Castlewood; Colonel Everard is Colonel Esmond; and Charles accepts, while unknown to Everard in his true character, the challenge of that lover of Alice Lee. Charles could do such things, and, a Catholic at heart, would alternately sign the Covenant and accept the Anglican prayer-book; but James could no more run after the girls, reckless of safety. Cause, and honor, than he could forswear his faith.
If, for one reason or another, Thackeray chose to delight all his readers with a splendid misreading of the character of James; as concerns Bolingbroke he reached the conclusions at which we also arrive. " He betrayed the one Prince and the other; but exactly at the wrong time: when he should have struck for King James, he faltered and coquetted with the Whigs: and having committed himself by the most monstrous professions of devotion, which the Elector rightly scorned, he proved the justice of their contempt for him by flying and taking renegade service with St. Germain's, just when he should have kept aloof: and that Court despised him, as the manly and resolute men who established the Elector in England had before done."
The James whom we discover, as we think, in history, is all unlike the weak, wavering, heartless, deceitful bigot of a tradition fashioned out of the pamphlets of his enemies, and ignorance of authentic documents, and errors made in memoirs, the least trustworthy of testimony. As soon as Mr. Glover published the one volume drawn from the copious Stuart Papers in the Royal Library at Windsor (those containing Atterbury's correspondence), he could not but perceive and declare that James had been unjustly judged in the matter of his domestic misfortunes. His character as a loving father and an honorable man displayed itself in his letters of the period of 1744— 1760, these touching and mournful appeals to his wayward son, first published by Mr. Browne in his History of the Highlands (1838). The study of these documents and of others in the Royal Library, undertaken while I was at work on the biography of Prince Charles, led me first to conceive that, among his other misfortunes, James had been hardly dealt with by general historians; while he had no modern biographer. Acting on my expression of this opinion, Miss Alice Shield has for several years devoted much time and toil to research in many quarters: manuscript and printed. Her sources are given in her Bibliography; they do not include the whole mass of later Stuart Papers at Windsor, as far as they are still unpublished, for they are now in the very competent hands of Mr. Blackburne Daniel, who has produced three volumes for the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Among the later documents, however, much has been given to the world by Lord Mahon and Mr. Browne, something by myself. Many years must pass before all the documents are printed, but it is hoped that the accessible materials of all kinds are sufficient for biographical purposes. Indeed the purpose has been rather to Condénse information, when possible, and, as far as may be, to avoid incursions into general history, confining the work to biography. It has not been thought desirable to be diffuse on the years of James's senility; though up to 1759 his letters are entirely in his wonted style, courteous and considerate; one is full of regret for the death of an old friend, O'Brien. "At our age it is a wonder when we live, and none when we die; so that we are yet more obliged than younger people to be always prepared for that great and last hour; but still, as long as we are in this world, it is our duty to acquit ourselves of the obligations of the station in which Providence has placed us." (To Mr. John Graeme. Rome, November 4, 1759.)
But for this sense of duty, in which he had been educated, it is possible that James would long ago have ceased to trouble his country, for by nature and reflection he was almost a Quietist, and had much less of ambition than of attachment to duty, as he understood it. His was a religious nature; his heart was set on a crown not of this world; his birth and traditions were the worst of his misfortunes. Reasonableness, self-control, a " sad lucidity," and, in his own words, " a nice regard to truth and prudence," were his leading characteristics.
In this book most of the research, and almost all the writing, are Miss Shield's. My part has mainly been that of supervision and of Condénsation; for, in its original form, the volume contained much which had to be sacrificed to considerations of space.
For leave to reproduce the frontispiece we are indebted to the kindness of Mr. Maxtone-Graham of Cultoquhey, the owner of the portrait of James in youth.
Mr. Cheape of Strathtyrum was good enough to permit us to publish his four miniatures of James, Clementina, and the two princes, probably of about 1733.
"O what's the rhyme to porringer?
Ken ye the rhyme to porringer?
King James the Seventh had ae dochter,
And he ga'e her to an Granger.
Ken ye how he requited him?
Ken ye how he requited him?
The lad has into England come
And ta'en the crown in spite o' him."
On June 10 (20), 1688, the peal of bells and thunder of cannon proclaimed to London the birth of a Prince of Wales. The joy-bells rang the knell of a dynasty, and the last echoes of the cannon from the Tower and the Thames boomed through the mists of Culloden Moor.
Louder far than clangour of bells and cannon was the cry of rage with which the tidings were received, the tidings that a Catholic king of Protestant England had at last a son and heir to continue and protect his creed. To us, looking back down the last two crowded centuries of glorious history, of widening empire and envied prosperity, the long accomplished fact of the English Revolution appears a superficial and momentary disturbance; an inevitable consequence, long preparing; a spirited measure justified by success. James IL and VII., a Catholic king, had ascended a throne which for nearly a century and a half had been a citadel of Protestantism. Armed with its power and prestige, he prepared to set constitutional restraints at defiance in his zeal for the protection and propagation of Popery. He was therefore dethroned and banished, to be replaced by the nearest kinsfolk whose religion happened to be reconcilable with that of the country and its laws, and whose political principles were presumed to make for liberty.
In 1688, when the question had to be settled, it did not look so simple. Though the king's own father and great-grandmother had been deposed and executed, mainly through the operation of religious causes, the nation did not look lightly upon such measures. Only twenty-eight years before 1688, after a brief trial of " liberty," the exiled heir of the " man Charles Stuart " had been welcomed home with such rapture of relief and joy as never before nor after thrilled through England. He was of the blood of kings who had reigned in the British Isles since the beginning of their national histories. There had been much rebellion. In England there had been several violent departures from the line of lawful succession. But for all her treasons, warring Roses, stormy Reformers, and defiant Parliaments, England had clung proudly to her Plantagenets and their heirs. For all her turbulent nobles and divines, Scotland had loved her " auld Stuarts," whom she so scourged for their chastening. Loyalty to the dynasty, though it was apt to fail as a principle, as a sentiment was strong and warm in both countries. But England was prouder of her liberty than of all besides: deepest in the rugged heart of Scotland lay her determination to worship God as she chose; and those precious things stood in deadly peril when the Catholic Duke of York became King James II. and VII. The Revolution of 1688 began not with the Exclusion Bill of 1678, but with the divorce of Catherine of Aragon; with the murder of Cardinal Beaton; nay, farther back still — in the old struggles between sceptre and crozier over Investiture. The revolutions of other countries have been the nemesis of ill-government, cruel, careless, or disastrous; the English Revolution was the outcome of the undying English detestation of foreign interference and assumption of dominion, even in the name of Heaven.
Of all the royal houses who, by hereditary right, or by military might, or by trick of political machinery, have sat on thrones, none ever inspired such enthusiastic loyalty, such passionate love, as did the House of Stuart. For no other princes was blood so generously poured forth. Bourbons fell and passed away from throne after throne, and where in France, or Italy, or even Spain, is their name a name to conjure with? As the representatives of monarchical principle they have had their followers and sympathisers in plenty, but in the hearts of their people they seldom had place. The indignant pity bestowed upon Louis XVI. and his Queen is a poor, cold thing beside the deathless devotion to the Queen of Scots, the reverential loyalty to Charles I. These emotions surely spring not from mere ideas, they rise out of remarkable personalities, and '' the sense of tears in human things." Strong, brave nations like Scottish and English do not give their love, even if they give their lives, where it is not somehow deserved.
Kings by right given from God, the Stuarts, since James I. and VI., certainly claimed to be, and to God alone they chose to owe account of their stewardship. They sat on the throne to govern from it. Theirs was not the day of puppet-kings, though Queen Elizabeth foresaw that day. Yet a large proportion of the « oppressed " people who lived under them, and knew them, loved them well, and loved their memories. It is perplexing that a race of oppressors should have lived to inspire such enthusiastic love, such fire-tried loyalty; that their name should be sweetly enshrined in song — the songs, too, not of court poets but of the people. The Stuart name in Presbyterian Scotland had been a synonym for persecution, tyranny, and bigotry, yet Prince Charlie's shoes were wet with tears of joy when the people crowded round him as 'ne rode to the palace of his fathers, clamouring and crying to kiss his feet.
Nevertheless, a cheap theory of heredity is accepted to justify the Revolution. How hopeless must have been the people's patience under a Stuart king!
To examine the multitudinous and contradictory charges brought against the whole Stuart race would fill many volumes rather than serve to introduce that Stuart, James II. and VII., whose character and government immediately concerns us, as having precipitated the downfall of his house.
The charge of political tyranny against the whole line of Stuart, set forth to strengthen the case for the Revolution, was mainly a red herring dragged over the trail of religious intolerance. For the people against their oppressors, the great nobles, the Scottish kings, as a matter of fact, struggled and died. The charge of individual incapacity comes less of intolerance than ignorance. John Richard Green, an historian certainly not prejudiced in favour of absolute monarchy and Divine right, finds the Stuarts to have been a race of singularly able rulers, and declares that the English people never understood them, while the Stuarts did themselves much injustice by their inability to understand their English subjects. He sums up, in a few striking lines, the work they did in their native land — " the building up of the Scottish realm, its change from a medley of warring nobles to an ordered kingdom. . . . The wresting of Scotland from the grasp of its nobles was only wrought out in a struggle of life and death. Few figures are more picturesque than the figures of the young Scotch kings as they dash themselves against the iron circle which girds them round in their desperate efforts to rescue the crown from serfdom. They carry their doom in their hands; they die young, and by violent deaths . . . but hunted and slain as they were, the kings clung stubbornly to the task they had set themselves." They strengthened themselves by alliance with the Church, at her best the ally and protector of the people; " but a greater force than that of the Church lay in the dogged perseverance of the kings themselves. Little by little their work was done " — to be all undone by the storm of the Reformation — and "James VI. in his boyhood looked on the ruin of all that his fathers had wrought."
Hence came the Stuart faith that the paramount power and independence of the crown must be maintained for the sake of law and justice: hence the Stuart alliance with the Church. But in England the old nobility had been almost obliterated by the Wars of the Roses; the Commons had grown into power; a new nobility was backed by the wealth of the Church lands; and the very name of the Church, of priestly power, was odious to the proud island nation, flushed with still unforgotten victory over the great Catholic power of the Old and New Worlds. Hence with the English crown the last turn of ill-luck came to the Stuarts, who failed to see that the autocratic procedure necessary for the maintenance of an independent crown against a powerful and disloyal baronage in Scotland and for the ruling of a simple, loyal people, was a dangerous experiment in England, a nation of more complex character, instinct with the spirit of self-government, yet ever ready to spring forward, shoulder to shoulder, in the name of threatened freedom. England was accustomed to using sharp procedure with her sovereigns if they withstood her will. Since the Saxon dynasty was cut short by the sword of the illegitimate son of a foreign feudatory duke, the succession had been at least eight times turned out of the natural and legally ordained channel. Besides these violent disturbances of law and frequent violent deaths of inconvenient princes, the sacredness of sovereignty had not saved three queens from the indignity of trial and execution in the century preceding the Stuart accession. The death of Anne Boleyn, startling as an innovation, had made a still more startling precedent. Thus it behoved a new dynasty to bear itself very warily at the head of a nation which, despite the Tudor theory of regal rights, was accustomed to making short work of royal méchanceté; even to turning the law upon its sovereigns.
It is with amazed admiration that one contemplates the tact and skill by which Charles II. kept his jibbing, plunging people in hand. Profligate, careless, given up to amusement, he held not only his throne in the teeth of Puritan opposition, but the affection of his people in the teeth of their esteem for duty-doing, and their high moral standard. Beset by scared Protestants befooled by Titus Oates, all but losing his own popularity by standing for the right of his unpopular brother, he found popular affection rushing back, hot and strong, when serious illness threatened to deprive his people of the blessing of his rule. Charles II. was wept for at last with sorrow nearly as passionate as the joy with which, before her twenty-five years' experience of his methods, the nation welcomed him home.
He inherited his grandfather's shrewdness, with the graces of French ancestry and education. His ministries are a byword for tyranny and misgovernment, yet they have been compared favourably with those appointed after the Revolution, when " the most important posts were given to men in all respects unworthy: such as a Lord High Admiral who could not go to sea because the smell of pitch and tar made him sick, and a First Commissioner of the Treasury who could not ' tell ten.' "
For all the gay riot of Charles's life he was the most solitary of sovereigns, says Lord Ailesbury, who knew him so well. His keen eye took the measure of his councillors, and he found not one on whom he could rely for counsel in the difficult part he had to play, save the brother whose loyalty might so little serve him.
On February 6, 1685, James, Duke of York, succeeded to this king who had held his throne through such difficult days by the forces of a most popular personality, keen tact, and a knowledge of men " beyond any sovereign prince, though people imagined his pleasures his only thoughts." " He knew men to a hair; it had been wished his brother had enjoyed the same useful talent! " writes Ailesbury, Strongly attached as the brothers were to one another, so that the careless, self-indulgent Charles stoutly risked life and crown in his unflinching support of James's right, while James patiently and loyally submitted to being " sent like a vagabond about the world," that Charles might conciliate his angry ministers, their characters were as unlike as their complexions. Charles was winning, and gracious above all men, and " had words at will "; James was usually cold and reserved — though Pepys and others found him kind and accessible. Lord Ailesbury admits that he " had the misfortune, on occasions when he was angry, to be snappish for the moment, and wholly resembling his royal father."
In spite of these natural disadvantages, there was nothing in James's record that seemed incompatible with the making of a good king. As a sincere, conscientious man, exact and able in business, he shines beside his brilliant brother, though his capacity and plodding industry were in a manner counterbalanced by slow understanding. ''The most honest and sincere man I ever knew," says Lord Ailesbury. "A great and good Englishman. . . . There was no prince more punctual to his word." " Of the strictest truthfulness," says that most upright of witnesses, his natural son, the Duke of Berwick. " Had he been less devout it had been better for him," his friends agree. " A kind husband, the best father, and the most unfortunate in some of his children; the best master, and the worst served; the most constant friend, yet never prince found fewer in his need."
His courage had been proved both on land and sea. Turenne, under whom he served in his youth, had testified to his fearlessness. He had not only been a skilful and victorious naval commander, but an industrious and capable Admiralty chief. When the nation regained some sort of reasonableness after its Meal-tub scare and the failure of its insistence upon Exclusion, it settled to give James fair play, Catholic though he was. After all, he was the lawful heir of the ancient dynasty, son of the lamented Martyr, brother of the late most popular sovereign; and it was admitted that he had been shamefully used by the profligate politicians of the preceding reign. It was carrying Protestant preference too far when an attempt was made to set him aside for a Protestant bastard (Monmouth); and the nation's sympathy stood by the prince who during long persecution had remained a patient and loyal subject. He was an elderly man. After him stood his two Protestant daughters. Even some encroachment upon the national Protestantism might have been submitted to with patient tolerance while there was a prospect that it must end with his life. Such mischief as he might work could be undone before it had time to take root. And James himself had the less courage and confidence in planning and working, knowing it could be but for a time. However earnest he might be, however patient the nation in its loyalty to its lawful prince, what availed all devotion, all cautiously attained success, when it was but for a few years? The successful revolt against Charles I. had awakened the people to a sense of triumphant power, but the subsequent repentance, too, was within living memory.
At the beginning of James's reign he went warily, having had painful experience of the temper of the country in his regard. His confessor was a gentle Franciscan, who counselled prudence. There is no reason to doubt the intention of so honest a man when he declared his hatred of persecution, even of compulsion, in religious matters. As the Church did not pretend to be infallible, he said, it would be unreasonable to force her dogmas upon his subjects.
But the then powerful Society, which held the soul and policy of Louis XIV. in its hand, was not slow to possess itself of the policy of his cousin and ally. During his brother's reign James's house had been a refuge for the Jesuits. The famous Jesuit meeting of April 24, 1678, was held at his residence, St. James's Palace — James told the fact to Reresby, who records it. The Jesuits had received James into the Church, and they had continued, in spite of the law, to minister to and direct him and his Italian wife. And where could such a machine be found to the hand of a crowned Apostle, fighting for the Church against tremendous odds, as the mighty organisation, founded and formed by a master-mind for the express purpose of crushing the Reformation, and which had so far, certainly, succeeded in stopping its progress?
A change came over the royal policy. James, loyal to his engagements, was slow to violate the law, but soon it was startling to see how much he could do in contradiction to its spirit, while keeping strictly within its letter. He had, from his accession, attended Mass publicly, for he himself was constitutionally above the law. The dispensing power became, in his hands, arbitrary power, one-man power, absolute power — tyranny. The Court was filled with priests and friars in their long proscribed, and still proscribed, habits: a Jesuit, Father Edward Petre, was forced upon the Privy Council in the teeth not only of law and Protestant feeling, but of the advice of best friends; Catholics were thrust into public offices, universities, mayoralties, even the smallest menial posts, so that it seemed impossible that while James was on the throne any Protestant might hope for power or place. And as all power and place had been in Protestant hands for a century and a half, it was intolerable to see even a share of either pass to Catholics.
The Queen, Mary of Modena, was an Italian and a Catholic; quite enough to convince the people that she was her husband's evil genius, the confederate of the hated Jesuits. Yet she was no politician; had never been allowed even a voice in politics. She was only a simple woman, passionately devoted to her elderly husband, and deeply, unobtrusively, unaffectedly religious. Out of the wise instinct of love she disliked and distrusted Father Petre and warned the king against him. But the voices which three years ago had hailed her youth and beauty in the glory of her coronation robes, shouting, " Vivat Regina Maria," now reviled her as "Mother East" (Este), while her name was coarsely and absurdly coupled with Petre's in the songs and lampoons shouted all over London, and a contemporary political novel styled her " Messalina." Absurd as were the attacks on Mary of Modena, it was against the law to send a legate to Rome and to receive a papal nuncio in full state; and this, while incessantly harassing corporations and private persons, James persisted in doing, in the very teeth of papal opposition itself.
The last straw piled on the national patience was the Act of Indulgence. As for the promise of universal toleration, had they not all promised toleration who were themselves untolerated; even Mary Tudor; even Mary Stuart while she was promising, as a condition of dispensation for the Darnley marriage, that " she and her husband would defend the Catholic religion to the utmost of their power." Again, when she was imploring help from the King of Spain " to frustrate the establishment of the unhappy errors, she and her husband were resisting to the hazard of their crown." Freshest and most ominous remembrance of all, Louis XIV. had recently revoked the Edict of Nantes (October 22, 1685), in spite of his own solemn pledge to uphold it; and this at the difficult and critical moment when King James was most deeply concerned to persuade his people of his own good faith, and to engage their confidence in the naturally obnoxious French alliance on which he relied for financial power to resist parliamentary opposition. Who after the perjuries of Louis could trust the word of a Catholic king?
It is a nation of great patience, but of patience that needs hope for support. Elizabeth was waiting to deliver it when the childless Mary Tudor should have passed away, and this king was worse than childless. Child after child of his had died in infancy; mala stamina vitae, said the doctors. His young second wife was in wretched health, undermined by hereditary cancer and gout, and was constantly hovering between life and death. He himself had given up hope of ever again having a child that would live. His two daughters believed their position as his heirs to be impregnable. So, in spite of the conspicuous appearance of nuncio and priests at St. James's, and the wide stretching of the royal prerogative, the country remained quiet, and the people loyal. Hence the shock to Protestantism of the promise of a Catholic Prince of Wales — for neither party professed to doubt what the child's sex would be. " No one who did not see would believe the passions it excited," Terriesi, the Tuscan ambassador, wrote to his Grand Duke, when in January it was officially announced that the queen of James II. once more expected to have a child. " Even men of sense and candour seem to have lost their superiority of mind in the prejudice of the vulgar," wrote Barillon, the French ambassador. The Protestants, from the king's two daughters to the rabble in the streets, met the news with a storm of angry incredulity and ribald mockery. It was impossible that another child could be born to the king and queen, they cried; the affair was a planned imposture.
The king and the Catholics, with fatal exultation, hailed the coming prince — for it would certainly be a prince — as the child of miracle, the answer of St. Winefrid to her royal pilgrim's prayers. If St. Winefrid had a hand in the matter, she proved herself, indeed, a sair saint for the crown! The queen's mother had recently visited Loreto on his behalf. " Our Lady of Loreto and St. Winefrid would not throw a miracle away by sending another daughter to the king." The Jesuits would not take the trouble to foist a useless girl upon the succession, retorted the Protestants. Was not the provision of a prince absolutely necessary for the ultimate success of their schemes? Did not the Catholics themselves admit the birth to be against nature, by declaring it miraculous? The air was thick with the wildest fears and fancies: the coarsest squibs, lampoons, and pasquils were sown broadcast over the streets. There was afloat a mass of lies, all greedily devoured without any examination, and however inconsistent one might be with another. Every movement of the king and queen, every boast of the Catholics, was forced to give evidence for those who were determined that no child could or would be born.
It was an old story. In 1682, when the Orange party had had a four years' respite on that score, the announcement was made that the Duchess of York again expected to present the nation with a Catholic heir. The news then was met with the same loud assertions that such a birth was impossible; that a spurious child was to be imposed upon the nation. The baby itself did all it could for the prosecution, for it arrived so unpunctually and unexpectedly that there was no time to summon witnesses. But as it was a girl, it was nobody's interest to disbelieve in her, and the proofs of her impossibility were put by for the next occasion. She died eight days after her birth.
The circumstances were the occasion of a remarkable passage in the Observer (No. 194) of Wednesday, August 23, 1682, written, according to Mackintosh, by L'Estrange: "If it had pleased God to give His Royal Highness the blessing of a son as it proved a daughter, you were prepared to make a Perkin of him. To what end did you take so much pains, else by your instruments and intelligence to hammer it into the people's heads that the Duchess of York was not with child? And so, in case of a son, to represent him as an impostor: whereas you have now taken off the mask in confessing the daughter. I would have the impression of this cheat sink so far into the heads and hearts of all honest men, as never to be defaced or forgotten. For we must expect that the same Flam shall at any time hereafter be trumpt up again upon the like occasion."
It is difficult to realise the terror which possessed the nation at the prospect of indefinitely prolonged Catholic rule — a terror so wild as to persuade a people, particularly levelheaded yet susceptible to the charm of ancient and splendid tradition, and loyal in its heart of hearts to the native dynasty, that a British prince, known to be a brave, patriotic, and honorable gentleman, should attempt to foist a supposititious child upon the throne of his fathers by a vulgar and foolish trick. It is less difficult to understand how the fact of his being a Catholic was held to outweigh all natural qualifications for kingship and that claim of ancient hereditary right which has always been so close to the heart of England.
The Reformation was a century and a half old, but England was hardly yet settled into her new religious creed. Under the Tudors, she had tossed among many conflicting beliefs and preferences. Henry VIII. had defied the Pope and persecuted the remnant faithful to the Holy See, but had insisted upon the teaching of Catholic doctrine by an independent Church. Edward's regents based the State Church upon purely Calvinistic lines. After the fiery interlude of Mary came the politic temporising of Elizabeth and James; both sovereigns who loved far too dearly their own high rights to feel anything but fierce and unbending hostility towards a Church which claimed supremacy over princes. Charles I., insisting as strongly upon his Divine right and independence of any superior on earth, startled his people by his determination to use the State Church as the channel of authority over their consciences. Hence came trial of strength between traditional loyalty and newly awakened spiritual independence; next, the discovery of the old wolf of spiritual despotism disguised in Puritan clothing. Charles II. bowed his soul to the national will rather than be " sent on his travels " again; and finding the Established Church sufficient for " the religion of a gentleman," kept his Catholic preferences for death-bed confession. To James such double-dealing with both worlds was impossible, when once he was on the throne, a vessel divinely chosen for the bringing back of his kingdoms to the Church.
And to England this meant not only the putting on of chains she had burst with pain unspeakable, but the bowing of her proud soul to accept a rule which she had learnt to regard as a system of blasphemous lies and vulgar tricks. Here is the second motive, the secret of the horror of the British nations for the Church which had been the nursing-mother of their heroes and saints for so many centuries. If sham miracles might upon occasion be got up to advance the Church's interests — and such miracles had been proved false; if lies abounded, ostensibly told in her interests, in spite of her official and emphatic prohibition of lying under any circumstances, what trick and what lie might not be used, if it seemed impossible to attain the Church's end by honest means?
Behind James stood the Jesuits, the vanguard of the Church, against whom the national hatred and fear of Catholicism were centred as its most formidable agents, the chief representatives of the anti-Reformation spirit. It was death to them to come into England; death to hide them, death to accept their ministrations. Therefore they were constrained to visit the country in disguises many and various that they might minister to proscribed Catholics, secretly preach the faith, secretly strive for the overthrow of Protestantism and the advancement of their religion. Hence they were held for liars, traitors, subtle intriguers; men who stole into houses in borrowed coats, who bore many names — a necessary precaution against identification — who hid tonsures under plumed hats: above all, who stuck at nothing, neither trick, nor fraud, nor murder, whereby they might insinuate and establish the Catholic Church in a Protestant country.
And behind royal enthusiasm and Jesuit intrigues and all the seething frenzy of ignorant credulity and anxious fears for the safety of a menaced Church, there watched and worked a mind and a will, sternly calm, cold and strong as iron: persistent, ruthless. In 1677 William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, chief champion of continental Protestantism, who had already waded through the blood of the two valiant de Witts to the Stadtholdership of the Netherlands, insisted upon marrying his cousin Mary, eldest surviving child of James, Duke of York, and presumptive heiress of the English throne. He himself was the only child of Mary, eldest daughter of Charles I., and so stood next in the English succession after the Duke of York's children. Ambitious as he was unscrupulous, crippled by the smallness of his resources from successfully contesting the overwhelming power of his inveterate enemy, Louis XIV., it did not suit his schemes to wait on the chance of a man of fifty-five with a wife of twenty-nine having no more children. As consort of an English queen-regnant — if no more — his military power and prestige and his finances would be enormously increased.
The dark, strong, determined figure of William had stood behind all the troubles of Charles II.'s reign. He had had his secret agents in England; Frymens, a Dutchman, and William Howard, M.P. for Winchelsea, afterwards Lord Howard of Escrick. He had aided and abetted Monmouth, who served his purpose of stirring the national hostility to James, until the time came when Monmouth stood in his own way to the throne, and then he sent his poor tool to his doom. And it was his ambition that would be balked, his lifelong scheme that would be thwarted, should a Prince of Wales be born and live to reign.
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