Page images

authority,-asserts that the catholics, at this time, were scarcely the hundredth part of the people,

against Sorrell, in Vaughan's Reports, 330; sir Edward Hale's case, the case of the Seven Bishops, in the State Trials :and the treatises written on the subject by lord chief baron Atkins and Mr. Atwood.

In 1767, an important question on the dispensing power became a subject of parliamentary discussion. A scarcity of wheat in the preceding summer induced the late king, by the advice of the privy council, to issue a proclamation against the importation of corn till the advice of the ensuing parliament could be taken. The conduct of the ministers in advising this proclamation was severely arraigned in parliament. The necessity of the measure was allowed, and the minister justified its legality by the statute of the 15 Charles II, which permits a prohibition of the exportation of corn and grain, when they are under a certain specified price. But doubts being entertained on the construction of this act, it became necessary to justify the measure on the broad ground that, “ whenever the

public is in imminent danger, and the concurrence of parlia“ment cannot be obtained, the king has an inherent discre“tionary legal prerogative of suspending or dispensing with “ the law.” This doctrine, or something certainly which sounded very like it, was avowed by lord Chatham, and, which was thought more surprising, by lord Camden. It was opposed by lord Mansfield : he showed, with equal power of eloquence and argument, that according to the true principles of the constitution, the king has no power, absolutely discretionary, of suspending or dispensing with the laws of the country; that, in the supposed case of imminent danger, he ought to exert such a power, and the constitution authorizes him to exert it; but that he then exerts the power at the peril of the ministers, who advise the measure; and that it is for parliament afterwards to determine whether the danger existed, and the public safety rendered the exercise, which was made of the prerogative, a measure of necessity on their being satisfied of the necessity, they should indemnify both those

and that the protestant non-conformists were little more than the twentieth. If this calculation be even tolerably exact, it is evident, that, even though James had possessed every talent, which he wanted, his means for the accomplishment of his object would still have been very inadequate.

It should also be observed that none disapproved of the arbitrary measures of the monarch, more than the catholics themselves. “ All judicious per

sons of the catholic communion,” says Hume, “ were disgusted with those measures; and foresaw “their consequences. Lord Arundell, lord Powis, " and lord Bellasyse, remonstrated against them, “ and suggested more moderate councils.”—The Spanish ambassador, and even the pope himself, pointed out to James the indiscretion of his proceedings. When lord Tyrconnel disclosed his plans for catholicising Ireland, lord Bellasyse declared, “ he was fool and madman enough to ruin “ ten kingdoms."

by whom it was advised, and those by whom it was executed ; but still, that, until this indemnity is obtained, all concerned in the proceeding are legally punishable.

It was universally admitted, that lord Mansfield, who had often showed an unwillingness to combat with his noble adversaries singly, obtained on this occasion a complete triumph over their united powers. His lordship's speech was printed separately, and is inserted in Almon's Parliamentary Debates of the year 1767. The result was an act of indemnity: the preamble expressly recited, “ that the embargo could not be “justified in law." This was one of the most important constitutional adjudications that have occurred in our history.

Yet, with all his misconduct, James had an English heart :-his exclamation, at the sea-fight of La Hogue, will ever be remembered. -Seeing the seamen in swarms scrambling up the lofty sides of the French ships from the boats, he cried, “ Ah! none but my brave English could do so " brave an action!”

Who, therefore, that reflects on these, and on some other passages, in the monarch's life, does not sympathize in his agonizing woe, when he was told, that Churchill, whom he had raised from a page to a high rank in the army, and on whom he had conferred a peerage, had fled,-taking with him to the prince of Orange, the princess Anne, whom the monarch tenderly loved ?—“Oh my “ God !” exclaimed the afflicted father, “what will “ become of me! even my own children have for“ saken me!”-On one occasion, sir Charles Littleton observed before him, that “ he was ashamed “ to say, his son was with the prince of Orange.” -James gently interrupted him with these words: -“ Alas! sir Charles, why ashamed! are not my “ daughters with him too?

LXVI. 3.

The Visit of James to the Monastery of La Trappe.

The subsequent history of the exiled Stuarts, sir John Dalrymple has comprised in a few words.

Retiring from the view of the battle of La Hogue, “ the monarch said,--Heaven fought against him! “ Al his attempts, and those of his family afterwards, to recover the throne of their ancestors,

were either disappointed by the insincerity of “ French friendship, or were the mere efforts of despair.”

“ The attempt,” says Voltaire *, " to make, or “ to establish a state religion, is sometimes very

easy. By different methods, and without en“ countering any dangers, Constantine, Clovis, “Gustavus Vasa, and queen Elizabeth, established “ a new religion, in their several kingdoms : but, “ for such changes two things are absolutely neces

sary, great political talents, and favourable cir“ stances : James the second had neither."

The complete triumph of the British fleet at the sea-fight of La Hogue, was a death wound to the hopes of James: “Slowly and sadly,” says sir John Dalrymplet," he returned to bury the remem" brance of his former greatness in the monastery “ of La Trappe."

The following account of his visit to that celebrated monastery, is given by a contemporary French writer of eminence I.

“ James had heard of La Trappe, in the days of “his prosperity. After his misfortune, he resolved “ to visit a solitude, he had so long felt a curiosity

16 to see.

“ As soon as M. de Rancé heard of his arrival, " he advanced to meet him, at the door of the 66 monastery. The king was on horseback. As soon

* Siècle de Louis XIV. c. 15.
+ Memoirs of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 509.

Marsollier, « Vie de Jean Baptiste Armand de Rancé * abbé de la Trappe.”

as he alighted, the abbot prostrated himself be“ fore him. This is the custom with respect to “ all strangers. Nevertheless, it was in this in

stance, performed in a manner expressive of peculiar respect.

“ The king felt pain at seeing the abbot in this "humiliating posture before him. He raised him up,

and then entreated his benediction. This “ the abbot gave, accompanying it with a speech “ of some length. He assured his majesty, that he

thought it a great honour to see a monarch, who

was suffering for the sake of Christ; who had “ renounced three kingdoms, from conscientious " motives. He added, that the prayers of the “ whole community had been constantly offered up “ in his behalf.— They had continually implored “ Heaven, to afford him renewed strength, that he

might press on, in the power of God, till he should “ receive an eternal and immortal crown.

“ The king was then conducted to the chapel. They afterwards conversed together for an hour. “ James joined in the evening service, by which he appeared much edified and consoled.

“ The king's supper was served up by the monks, “s and consisted of roots, eggs, and vegetables. He * seemed much pleased with all he saw. After

supper, he went and looked at a collection of "maxims of christian conduct, which were framed “ and hung up against the wall.—He perused them “ several times; and, expressing how much he ad“mired them, requested a copy.

« PreviousContinue »