Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

1

feelings of this nature seldom lasted longer than a few weeks. In fact, neither herself nor her husband despaired of becoming the parents of a numerous family. Either the “ Jacobite letters," as they are called, of the high-minded electress, or some opinion of hers that had transpired about the period of her visit to Loo, had inspired Anne with the greatest apprehension concerning her, and had exasperated lady Marlborough into excessive enmity, which exhaled in unlimited abuse. Sophia openly avowed that the young son of James II. had been atrociously injured by the calumnies on his birth, and that, deeming him, as she did, a true representative of the elder line of her illustrious ancestors, she nobly considered that he had a right, as a free agent, to renounce at once the crowns of his kingdoms and the liturgy of the church of England, as a Roman catholic, before he ought to be superseded by her son or grandson. Now, while young James was branded as a spurious child, he could not exercise that free will. It is probable that the electress knew that this stigma was thrown upon him by the instigation and connivance of the princess Anne and her favourite, Sarah of Marlborough, a fact that is undeniable from the letters of the princess Anne.

The renewal of William's offered adoption of the exiled prince, occurred directly after the visit of the electress to him, at Loo; but no little difficulty presented itself, as to how the English people were to be induced to forego the prejudices which had been so carefully inculcated concerning this prince? As the father had been driven out of the country partly by the agency of the ribald ballad of “ Lillabulero," so the people were to be reconciled to the son by similar means; the public pulse was felt, and preparation was made for the change, by songs written to the old English tunes prevalent from the days of the Plantagenets. The venal pen of the song-poet, D'Urfey, a very remarkable character, who had been an active writer of political ballads, during the regencies of Mary II., was put into requisition by the ministry of William Ill., in 1701.

Just at the period when the reports were popular and prevalent, that king William meant to adopt the son of his

? See many passages in the Correspondence of the duchess of Marlborough, published by Colburn, 1836, and many more yet in MS. in Coxe's Collection, Brit. Museum.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

uncle, the Whig songster favoured the public with the following lay of his own devising, adapted to the metre and tune of the popular old English melody of “ Gillian of Croydon,” the original of which, perhaps, dates as far back as the frolicsome days of prince Hal.

As many Jacobite lyrics have been quoted, it is but fair to give a specimen of the poetic powers of the opposite party.

Strange news, strange news! the Jacksl of the city
Have got," cried Joan, “but we mind not tales-

That our good king, through wonderful pity,
Will leave his crown to the prince of Wales,

That peace may be the stronger still,
And that they no longer may rebel.”
Pish, 'tis a jest !” cried Gillian of Croydon-
Gillian, fair Gillian, bright Gillian of Croydon,
Take off your glass !” cries Gillian of Croydon,

“ Here's a health to our master Will !" ? It appears that some hints had transpired among the people of the adoption offered by William III. at the

peace of Ryswick; that such proposal was made is equally mentioned by the royal historiographer of his own times, (James II.,) and the Whig writers. Tindal, who is rather an important authority, being a contemporary controversial author, much connected with the revolutionary government, thus marks the date of the last proposal : “ The earl of Jersey avowed to king William III. his attachment to James II., and on that account was sent ambassador to France, for the purpose of advancing a reconciliation with the exiled king, who was, by lord Jersey, entreated to listen to king William's overtures to make his son successor to the crown. This was after the death of the duke of Gloucester.” Tindal adds, that king William 66 renounced all these errors before he died.”

He did so; but not until king James had positively refused to confide his son to him, as he himself records, in his autobiography,' which is in complete coincidence with Tindal's printed history. It is likewise remarkable, that king James dwells as much on the impossibility of trusting the life of his child with William III., as his does on difference of religion.

1 The Jacobites are always called “ Jacks," in the political slang of that day.

* William III. Gillian was a fair hostess of Croydon in ancient times. D'Urfey has another of these Gillian parodies on Anne's accession : the refrain of which is, “ Here's a health to our mistress Nan." 3 Tindal's Continuation of Rapin, p. 510, date 1701-2.

3

The vengeance of William, for his uncle's contemptuous rejection of his offered adoption of young James, occupied his last hours; but in the intermediate time he was forced to be content with leaving his hated sister-in-law in possession of all the hopes which parliament had authorized. It has been strongly asserted that king William meant to supersede Anne, by using his influence to place Sophia or her son, George of Hanover, as his immediate successor to the throne. He might wish to do so, but all events prove that neither Sophia nor George considered the advantages offered worth engaging in a course of base intrigues. It is certain that neither the mother nor son liked Anne, although they never took any step against her prior claims to the succession.

The princess Anne had scarcely laid aside her mourning for her only child, when the death of her father caused her to resume it.

Mary Beatrice of Modena, the widow of her father wrote to her, in compliance with his death-bed injunction, communicating his paternal forgiveness to her for her conduct, and charging her, on his blessing, to make reparation to her brother for the injury she had done him. if Anne

If ever replied to this letter, her answer will be found

among the sealed documents of the royal Stuarts in her majesty's collection at Windsor. It was probably the letter of the royal widow of James II. which is mysteriously alluded to in the following passage:

“ It was commonly reported at this juncture,” says a contemporary, that on his death-bed, king James charged his daughter not to accept the crown at the death of William, but as she was childless, to make way for her brother ; and that king William demanded to see this letter, which Anne, refusing to show him, he vowed that he would do the utmost to exclude her from the succession. It was averred that papers to this effect were found in king William's closet. The house of lords thought proper to inquire into this report, and pronounced it unfounded, and that its repetition was scandalum magnatum. Nevertheless, such discovery was in the strongest coincidence with the foregoing passages; and with the course of events

1 Macpherson's Stuart Papers. Cunningham, the Whig historian, strongly authenticates the proposed adoption, but excuses it as done to deceive.

2 See Life of Mary Beatrice of Modena, vol. ix.

Roger Coke, vol. iii. p. 132.

3

during the decline of William, and the first two or three years of the reign of Anne; when it appears most apparent that a jealous rivalry had succeeded to the remorse that touched her mind at the death-bed of Gloucester. To her husband's powerful but quiet influence may be attributed her change. The demise of her father gave her no apparent sorrow, or her feelings would not have been made a question by a contemporary who narrowly watched her, and who had, at the same time, a relative domesticated near her person.

“ How far the death of her father, king James, affected the princess," says Roger Coke, “I never could tell." He thought it needful, however, in his history, to make an apology for her going in black for her unfortunate father, by saying " that decency and custom obliged her to do so, and adds, “that she was actually in mourning for him when she ascended the throne.”

As a preparation for that event, which the failing health of king William showed could not be very distant, the princess Anne commenced the study of history; a science inconsistent with a brain pre-occupied with cards, court gossip, and trifling particulars of etiquette. The princess soon became fatigued with her new studies, and reverted to her former occupations.

When the news of the death of James II. arrived in London, public curiosity was greatly excited regarding the cognizance which would be taken of it by his nephew and daughter. King William was absent at Loo, entertaining as his guests the duke of Zell and his young grandson,' (afterwards George II. Since the firm refusal of James II. to let him have the young prince of Wales for his heir, William had ostentatiously patronized the young German prince as the reversionary heir of Great Britain; being the son of the hereditary prince of Hanover, (George I.,) and the wretched daughter of the duke of Zell, Sophia Dorothea. They were present when the news was brought to William of the demise of his long suffering uncle, James II.

It seemed as if the message of forgiveness sent by James II. to “ his son,” William of Orange, had been one of

Thomas Coke, who had been in the household of the princess Anne; we shall afterwards find him in the important office of her vice-chamberlain.

Correspondence of Laurence, earl of Rochester. Letter dated Sept. 16, (O. S.) 1701.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

those awful summonses from the injured, of which such wondrous tales are told in the histories of the middle ages. William heard it at his dinner-table at Loo, with flushing cheek and down-cast eyes, then pulled his hat over his brows, and sat in moody silence the livelong day. If he were wrestling with a yearning heart, which told him that his earliest friend and nearest relative was gone where treachery could never find him more, he won the victory, as the subsequent attainder of his young cousin, a boy of twelve years old, fully proved. But from the afternoon when he heard of his uncle's death, William of Orange never looked like a man long for this world.

Yet he was full of schemes for new wars and slaughters, (luckless as he ever was in battle, whenever he was opposed by any species of equal force,) he only seemed to live when homicide was around him.

Among other struggles in the mind of William III. was whether he should go in mourning for his uncle. This was not decided when his minister, Auverquerque, wrote to England concerning the news, forbidding new clothes to the royal livery servants at Hampton Court, until the king's pleasure was known.' As James II. had worn no mourning for the death of his daughter Mary, and prevented a court-mourning for her in France, it was a matter of surprise when it was found that king William assumed sables for his uncle, not only on his own person, but his footmen and coaches were clad in the same hue. He intimated that he did not expect the nobles and court of England to do the same. Fashion, however, made his subjects imitate the proceedings of himself and his “ sister Anne,” therefore the outward token of respect was almost universally paid by all ranks of the people to the memory of king James.

The princess Anne went through all the pageantry of sable, as if she had meant to be considered as a modern Cordelia. Her intention of going into mourning was announced in the Gazette of September 13.

of September 13. St. James's was hung with black. She appeared in all the insignia of filial woe, at chapel, the Sunday after the news of her father's death reached London. The establishment of the queen

Correspondence of Laurence, earl of Rochester. Letter dated Sept. 16, (O.S.) 1701.

• Ibid. p. 288. Dangeau and the duke de St. Simon declare that William wore violet as mourning for his uncle.

1

« PredošláPokračovať »