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Madame de Maintenon was just leaving Saint Germans when, on the brow of the hill which overlooks the valley of the Seine, she met her husband, who had come to ask after his guest. It was probably at this moment that he was persuaded to form a resolution, of which neither he nor she by whom he was governed foresaw the consequences. Before he announced that resolution, however, he observed all the decent forms of deliberation. A council was held that evening at Marli, and was attended by the princes of the blood and by the ministers of state. The question was propounded whether, when God should take James the Second of England to himself, France should recognize the Pretender as King James the Third *
The ministers were, one and all, against the recognition. Indeed, it seems difficult to understand how any person who had any pretensions to the name of statesman should have been of a different opinion. Torcy took his stand on the ground that to recognize the Prince of Wales would be to violate the treaty of Ryswick. This was indeed an impregnable position. By that treaty his most Christian majesty had bound himself to do nothing which could, directly or indirectly, disturb the existing order of things in England. And in what way, except by an actual invasion, could he do more to disturb the existing order of things in England than by solemnly declaring, in the face of the whole world, that he did not consider that order of things as legitimate, that he regarded the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement as nullities, and the king in possession as an usurper? The recognition would then be a breach of faith, and, even if all considerations of morality were set aside, it was plain that it would, at that moment, be wise in the French government to avoid everything which could with plausibility be represented as a breach of faith. The crisis was a very peculiar one. The great diplomatic victory won by France in the preceding year had excited the fear and hatred of her neighbors. Nevertheless, there was, as yet, no great coalition against her. The house of Austria, indeed, had appealed to arms. But with the house of Austria alone the house of Bourbon could easily deal. Other powers were still looking in doubt to England for the signal; and England, though her aspect was sullen and menacing, still preserved neutrality. That neutrality would not have tasted so long if William could have relied on the support of his Parliament and of his people. In his Parliament there were agents of France, who, though few, had obtained so much influence by clamoring against standing armies, profuse grants, and Dutch favorites, that they were often blindly followed by the majority, and his people, distracted by domestic factions, unaccustomed to busy themselves about Continental politics, and remembering with bitterness the disasters and burdens of the last war, the carnage of Landen, the loss of the Smyrna fleet, the land-tax at four shillings in the pound, hesitated about engaging in another contest, and would probably continue to hesitate while he continued to live. He could not live long. It had, indeed, often been prophesied that his death was at hand, and the prophets had hitherto been mistaken. But there was now no possibility of mistake. His cough was more violent than ever; his legs were swollen ; his eyes, once bright and clear as those of a falcon, had grown dim; he who, on the day of the Boyne, had been sixteen hours on the backs of different horses, could now with great difficulty creep into his state coach.” The vigorous intellect nd the intrepid spirit remained, but on the body fifty years had done the work of ninety. In a few months the vaults of Westminster would receive the emaciated and shattered frame which was animated by the most far-sighted, the most daring, the most commanding of souls. In a few months the British throne would be filled by a woman whose understanding was well known to be feeble, and who was believed to lean towards the party which was averse from war. To get over those few months without an open and violent rupture should have been the first object of the French government. Every engagement should have been punctually fulfilled ; every occasion of quarrel should have been studiously avoided. Nothing should have been spared which could quiet the alarms and soothe the wounded pride of neighboring nations. The house of Bourbon was so situated that one year of moderation might not improbably be rewarded by thirty years of undisputed ascendency. Was it possible the politic and experienced Lewis would at such a conjuncture offer a new and most galling provocation, not only to William, whose animosity was already as great as it could be, but to the
* Poussin to Torcy, §. 1701. “Le roi d'Angleterre tousse plus
Tu'il n'a jamais fait, et sesjambes sont fort enflés. Je le vis hier sortir du préche de Saint James. Jele trouve fort cassé, les yeux etents, et leut beaucoup de peine a monter en carrosse.”
people whom William had hitherto been vainly endeavoring to inspire with animosity resembling his own How often since the Revolution of 1688 had it seemed that the English were thoroughly weary of the new government. And how often had the detection of a Jacobite plot, or the approach of a French armament, changed the whole face of things. All at once the grumbling had ceased, the grumblers had crowded to sign loyal addresses to the usurper, had formed associations in support of his authority, had appeared in arms at the head of the militia, crying God save King William. So it would be now. Most of those who had taken a pleasure in crossing him on the question of his Dutch guards, on the question of his Irish grants, would be moved to vehement resentment when they learned that Lewis had, in direct violation of a treaty, determined to force on England a king of his own religion, a king bred in his own dominions, a king who would be at Westminster what Philip was at Madrid, a great feudatory of France. These arguments were concisely, but clearly and strongly, urged by Torcy in a paper which is still extant, and which it is difficult to believe that his master can have read without great misgivings.” On one side were the faith of treaties, the peace of Europe, the welfare of France, nay, the selfish interest of the house of Bourbon. On the other side were the influence of an artful woman, and the promptings of vanity which, we must in candor acknowledge, was ennobled by a mixture of compassion and chivalrous generosity. The king determined to act in direct opposition to the advice of all his ablest servants, and the princes of the blood applauded his decision, as they would have applauded any decision which he had announced. Nowhere was he regarded with a more timorous, a more slavish respect than in his own family. On the following day he went again to Saint Germains, and, attended by a splendid retinue, entered James's bedchamber. The dying man scarcely opened his heavy eyes, and then closed them again. “I have something,” said Lewis, “ of great moment to communicate to your majesty.” The courtiers who filled the room took this as a signal to retire, and were crowding towards the door, when they
* Mémoire sur la proposition de reconnoitre au prince des Galles le itre du Roi de la Grande Bretagne, Sept. o. 1701.
were stopped by that commanding voice: “Let nobody withdraw. I come to tell your majesty that, whenever it shall please God to take you from us, I will be to your son what I have been to you, and will acknowledge him as King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” The English exiles who were standing round the couch fell on their knees. Some burst into tears. Some poured forth praises and blessings with clamor such as was scarcely becoming in such a place and at such a time. Some indistinct murmurs which James uttered, and which were drowned by the noisy gratitude of his attendants, were interpreted to mean thanks. But from the most trustworthy accounts it appears that he was insonsible to all that was passing around him.* As soon as Lewis was again at Marli, he repeated to the court assembled there the announcement which he had made at Saint Germains. The whole circle broke forth into exclamations of delight and admiration. What piety | What humanity | What magnanimity! Nor was this enthusiasm altogether feigned; for, in the estimation of the greater part of that brilliant crowd, nations were nothing and princes everything. What could be more generous, more amiable, than to protect an innocent boy, who was kept out of his rightful inheritance by an ambitious kinsman P The fine gentlemen and fine ladies who talked thus forgot that, besides the innocent boy and that ambitious kinsman, five millions and a half of Englishmen were concerned, who were little disposed to consider themselves as the absolute property of any master, and who were still less disposed to accept a master chosen for them by the French king. James lingered three days longer. He was occasionally sensible during a few minutes, and, during one of these lucid intervals, faintly expressed his gratitude to Lewis. On the sixteenth he died. His queen retired that evening to the nunnery of Chaillot, where she could weep and pray undisturbed. She left Saint Germains in joyous agitation. A herald made his appearance before the palace gate, and, with sound of trumpet, proclaimed, in Latin, French, and English, King James the Third of England and Eighth of Scotland. The streets, in consequence doubtless of orders
* By the most trustworthy accounts I mean those of St. Simon and ou. The reader may compare their narratives with the Life of annes.
from the government, were illuminated, and the townsmen with loud shouts wished a long reign to their illustrious neighbor. The poor lad received from his ministers, and delivered back to them, the seals of their offices, and held out his hand to be kissed. One of the first acts of his mock reign was to bestow some mock peerages in conformity with directions which he found in his father’s will. Middleton, who had as yet no English title, was created Earl of Monmouth. Perth, who had stood high in the favor of his late master, both as an apostate from the Protestant religion and as the author of the last improvements on the thumb-screw, took the title of Duke. Meanwhile the remains of James were escorted, in the dusk of the evening, by a slender retinue to the chapel of the English Benedictines at Paris, and deposited there in the vain hope that, at some future time, they would be laid with kingly pomp at Westminster among the graves of the Plantagenets and Tudors. Three days after these humble obsequies Lewis visited Saint Germains in form. On the morrow the visit was returned. The French court was now at Versailles, and the Pretender was received there in all points as his father would have been, sat in his father's arm-chair, took, as his father had always done, the right hand of the great monarch, and wore the long violet-colored mantle, which was by ancient usage the mourning garb of the kings of France. There was on that day a great concourse of ambassadors and envoys; but one well-known figure was wanting. Manchester had sent off to Loo intelligence of the affront which had been offered to his country and his master, had solicited instructions, and had determined that, till these instructions should arrive, he would live in strict seclusion. He did not think that he should be justified in quitting his post without express orders; but his earnest hope was that he should be directed to turn his back in contemptuous defiance on the court which had dared to treat England as a subject province. As soon as the fault into which Lewis had been hurried by pity, by the desire of applause, and by female influence was complete and irreparable, he began to feel serious uneasiness. His ministers were directed to declare everywhere that their master had no intention of affronting the English government, that he had not violated the Treaty of Ryswick, that he had no intention of violating it, that he