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if possible, to place him in the primacy of England.” It is asserted that her majesty wished to be crowned by his hands. By some means her ministry had induced Kidder to accept the bishopric of Carlisle, then vacant, and to surrender Bath and Wells to its rightful occupant.
Surely the primitive Christian church never saw mitres and primacies, the consecration of crowns, and the benediction of sceptres placed at the disposal of a poorer man. The deprived bishop, being beloved by his people, had been required to perform all the spiritual duties of the see. Dr. Kidder, to whom the temporalities of bishop Ken had been given by William and Mary at the commencement of his career, having long officiated as a dissenting preacher, and being reported still to hold the Socinian doctrines fashionable at the Dutch court, was equally distasteful to the true church-of-England prelate and his diocese. At the earnest call of his clergy and people, Ken struggled with his poverty and infirmities to perform the office of bishop of Bath and Wells. Weil was his only coat, patched and thin as it was, known, when he went on his progresses from Salisbury, through Somersetshire, riding slowly on his old white horse, almost as poor and infirm as its master. Thus would the bishop go forth to the confirmations or ordinations where his presence was entreated by his loving flock.
Since his degradation by queen Mary, this inspired poet and blameless prelate of our church, when driven by her from the palace of Wells, had continued to live on the charity of his nephew, prebend Isaac Walton, in Salisbury Close. Such was his winter retreat; but part of the summer he usually spent at Longleat, with his friend, lord Weymouth, a nobleman who had always refused to visit the court of William and Mary, but, with the duke of Beaufort, and several other noblemen attached to James II., had hastened to London to greet the accession of queen Anne. It was through the agency of lord Weymouth that her majesty opened the negotiation for her recognition by bishop Ken.
It has been stated that Dr. Ken suffered this negotiation to go on until he came to take the oath to queen Anne, and then refused (having all along intended refusal) in order to
See biographies of Bishop Ken and Kidder, in the Biographia Brit.
Bowle's Life of Ken.
make his renunciation of the queen's authority more striking to the world. But the deliberate acting of such a farce was utterly inconsistent with the character and conduct of a man who lived meekly on charity, because he would not receive the rich revenues of Bath and Wells inconsistently with the oath he had taken on his induction to his dignity. His refusal would have created sufficient sensation at any period without having recourse to a theatrical renunciation. It is undeniable that he was willing, for the promotion of the peace and unity of his see, to take
the simple oath of allegiance to Anne as queen of Great Britain. The man who had resisted threats of personal violence from William III. when prince of Orange,—had endured incarceration in the Tower from James II. (because he would not fulfil his despotic commands regarding the illegal abolition of the test and penal laws), and was finally hurled from his bishopric by Mary II., because he would not falsify his oath to her father,—would doubtless have scrupulously fulfilled any oath he could have conscientiously taken to queen Anne. The present crisis permitted him to do so consistently, since his old master, James II., was just dead. The oath of allegiance to queen Anne, was, however, preceded by an oath of abjuration of her young brother, which, as it implied the shameless falsehood regarding his birth, bishop Ken refused to take.
Here is a strong instance of the folly and wickedness of oaths of test and abjuration; they form insurmountable barriers which keep conscientious persons from serving their country, at the same time they admit to office, with frightful facility, all those to whom every denomination of religion is equally indifferent.
When bishop Ken had refused this oath, he was by no means certain that he had not incurred the penalties of præmunire, for he wrote to bishop Lloyd' to ask him " Whether that oath was to be enforced ?" for, pursued the
1 Kennet's History charges bishop Ken, most unjustly, with this piece of political diplomacy. Bishop Ken likewise has the honour of Dr. Burnet's unqualified abuse.
Life and Letters of bishop Ken. Our authority does not explain whether he writes to Dr. Francis Loyd, bishop of Norwich, who, like himself, had forsaken all, rather than wound his conscience by a second oath of allegiance, or Dr. William Lloyd, the fanatical bishop of St. Asaph. It is possible the last; since William Lloyd had been his fellow-prisoner, incarcerated by James II. in the Tower, and was now in favour with the court.
venerable prelate, “I will rather leave the kingdom-old, sick, and infirm, as I am."
No evil consequences of the kind followed his refusal. About the same time, many of the clergy, who had disowned William III. as head of the church, from his known antipathy to its doctrines and practice, became willingly liegemen to queen Anne, and accepted ecclesiastical dignities from her. A bishop, appointed by the queen, early in her reign, wrote to Dr. Ken, telling him that his advice and presence were necessary to them all in London, at the delicate conjunction of affairs, which had taken place on the death of King William.” The answer of Ken was as follows:
“ A journey to London is neither consistent with my health, purse, nor inclination; I have often been offered money, but have refused equally that and the oaths required. There is a way to heal the unhappy schism in the church, but it is needless for me to mention it.”
Thus was queen Anne disappointed in her wish of being consecrated by Dr. Ken; it is singular, that neither he nor his supplanter in the bishopric of Bath and Wells, appeared at the coronation to perform the offices therein pertaining to that prelacy.
Dr. Ken was permitted by the queen to withdraw himself once more into his po rty, and pursue his usual routine of life, unscathed by any political persecution for refusing the oath of abjuration. Instead of prosecuting him, she had the generosity to offer him the sums he alluded to, which he pertinaciously refused, while the man whose religious principles he deprecated held his see ; and he persisted in signing himself as the bishop thereof.
The approaching coronation of the queen now absorbed every thought of the public; it was one of the most singular features of the times, that contrary to every precedent in British history, the consort of the queen was excluded from all participation in her dignities. Whether this exclusion emanated from the queen, from the parliament, or from the wishes of prince George of Denmark himself, has never been clearly analyzed; but popular opinion leads to the conclusion, that the prince himself declined sharing in the honours of regality.
1 Life and Letters of Bishop Ken.
It has been surmised, that England having suffered most severely under the sway of Philip II., who during the illness of his regnant partner introduced the Spanish inquisition, had determined the people never to admit the sway of any king-consort. There is semblance of historical truth in this suggestion, yet it is contradicted by the fact, that the immediate precedent of William and Mary presented an example of usurpation of the king-consort, not only on the lineal rights of ihe nearest protestant heir, his queen, but on those of her sister Anne. The fact is undeniable, that the English never for an instant contemplated that consorts of their queen-regnants should hold rank no higher than that of prince George of Denmark. It was considered that royal children would not pay their father the natural duty of a parent, unless he retained not only the name but the power of a king. Thus Henry VII. reigned peacefully, many years after the death of his wife, the heiress of the English throne, and William III., childless as he was, followed his example. The law by which prince George of Denmark was excluded from ascending the British throne, has hitherto eluded our search, and it seems passing strange that a lawless precedent should be followed. However this may be, prince George of Denmark was only reckoned among the first of British peers, as duke of Cumberland, and he actually did homage to his wife as such.
At the coronation of William and Mary, prince George had been naturalized, and created baron Wokingham, earl of Kendal, and duke of Cumberland, with precedence before all other peers. After the violent disputes between the princess Anne and queen Mary,.George of Denmark became a leader of opposition in the house of peers,
he advocated a bill brought into parliament to exclude all persons enjoying places of trust and profit, from being members of the senate ; for in 1692, such numbers of military and naval commanders were members of the house of commons, that it was called the Officers' Parliament; this bill was thrown out by a majority of only two, on the third reading ; but protests were entered on the journals of the house, headed by the name of prince George. He used to make speeches, but in the drollest English that it was possible to imagine. Being a Lutheran, he was generally on the side of the dissenters, in the reign of his con
sort, who is supposed to have been materially influenced by him.
Envoys, and ambassadors extraordinary, arrived daily at the court of queen Anne, in the months of March and April, to condole with her on the death of her brother-inlaw, and to congratulate her on her accession to the crown. They came from Zell and Hanover, from Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and most of the German states. The etiquette of their introductions was, first, a private audience of her majesty, then a private presentation to prince George, after which they had their public reception at court.' In this manner count Wratislaw, envoy-extraordinary from the emperor of Germany, delivered his imperial master's condolences on the death of William, and then, congratulations for queen Anne's happy accession. It has been explained, that war was ready to break out between Great Britain and France, for the ostensible motive of expelling Philip V., the young grandson of Louis XIV., from the throne of Spain, (of which he had actually taken peaceable possession,) and replacing_him by Charles of Austria, the son of the emperor. In fact, lord Marlborough, the commander-in-chief, commenced his Flemish campaign, April 16th, some days before her majesty's coronation.
The Polish ambassador, Niewscheritz, brought his congratulations in his monarch's name to the queen, the day before her coronation. He made her a very grand harangue in Latin, but he might as well have uttered it in his native Sarmatian tongue, it would have been equally intelligible to the newly ascended majesty of Great Britain.
Meantime, the public press disseminated the following reports concerning the preparations for the coronation :
“We hear that the queen had lately her picture drawn by sir Godfrey Kneller, in order to grave an impress by, for the coronation medals and coin. And ’tis said, on the reverse of the medals is to be represented the goddess Pallas destroying a giant, with this motto- Vicem gerit illa Tonantis ; but we are not sure that the same is actually agreed upon."
It was at this period that the queen sat to Kneller for a portrait, an engraving from which is appended to this volume; the total absence of all ornament, excepting the simple medallion of the order of St. George, suspended by a broad, light-blue ribbon round the neck, makes it re
1 Boyer's Annals of Queen Anne, 1702.
? Postman, April 4, 1702.