Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

sent majesty cannot better shew his paternal regard and his real wisfcw to support the true liberties of his free people, than by increasing the militia, at the present moment, as well as cavalry and infantry; and taking the utmost pains to have them well disciplined, either to repel an invading foe, or to crush all democratic insurrections. For when,l,y this means, he instructs the people in the use of arms, and intrusts them with command, for the protection of all that they hold dear on earth; it is the surest proof of a patriot king, who confides the security of theircommon rights to a corps that can never act but in defence of the liberties of the British empire.

Dutch Invasion.—it was thought necessary, in this place, to give a slight sketch of the history of the navy and themilitia? for while we have a disciplined and numerous militia, and a superior navy, no enemy can invade us with the least prospect of success. Had this been the case in the commencement ofllie reign of Charles II. during the Dutch and French wars; had he not been a niggard then about the expences of his navy; had his militia,- which was deemed formidable, been properly stationed along that part of the coast most likely to have been invaded; he would not have exposed England to one of the greatest affronts which it has ever received.

Relying too securely on the certainty of an approaching peace, Charles laid up all his great ships of war, except two small squadrons, and left the kingdom almost in the same situation as in times of the most profound tranquillity. De Wit, that sagacious and enterprizing minister of the States, having the best intelligence from England, he determined to take advantage of the negligence of the British monarch. He ordered the Dutch admiral De Ruyter, to sail to the mouth of the Thames. There he dispatched Van G-hent, his vice-admiral, with seventeen of his light ships of war, and a few fire ships; who, sailing up the Medway, soon made himself master of Sheerness, notwithstanding it was bravely defended by Sir Edward Spragge. After Van Ghent had burnt the magazines full of stores, to the amount of 40,000I. he blew up the fortifications.

The City of London was in the utmost consternation. Some ships were sunk, and a large chain thrown across the narrow part of the Medway. • But the Dutch, having the advantage of a spring tide, and an easterly wind-, pressed on, and broke it, and sailed between the sunk vessels. They burnt three large men of war that had been lately taken, from them; and were placed to guard the chain, the Matthias, the Unity, and the Charles the Fifth; besides burning and damaging several others, and carrying off the hull of the Royal Charles. They advanced as far as Chatham and Upnor Castle, with six men of war and five fire ships; where they burnt the Royal Oak, the Royal London, and the Great James, all ships of importance. The brave Capt. Douglas, the commander of the Royal Oak, perished on board of her, in the flames, though he had an easy opportunity of escaping. To those who pressed him to-come ashore, he exclaimed, "Never was it known that a Douglas had left his post without orders."

After this the Dutch fell dowft"the Medway; and it was apprehe"" that they might next tide sail up the Thames, and destroy all tb in the river, as for up as London Bridge. The capital was i

confusion. Nine ships were sunk at Woolwich, and four at Blackwull. Platforms were raised in several places, and furnished with artillery. The trained bands were called out, and every precaution was now taken to render the attempt of the enemy abortive. Hut De Ruyter did not think proper to proceed. The danger, he thought, was too great, and the liopes of success too precarious, He left the mouth of the Thames, stood to the westward, and made an attempt to destroy the shipping at Portsmouth; but was repulsed with considerable loss. He met with no belter success at Plymouth, although he took some ships in Torbay. He was not, however, intimidated. He returned again to the mouth of the Thames, and advanced as far as Tilbury Fort; but found the English so well prepared for his reception, that there was no hopes of success. He next insulted Harwich, and gave chace to a squadron, commanded by Sir Edward Spragge, who was obliged to retire up the Thames. The whole coast was in alarm, till the conclusion of the peace, .which soon happened , and De Ruyter had the satisfaction, for near two months, to ride the undisputed master of the ocean ^ to burn the English ships in their very harbours; to fill every place with confusion, and strike a terror into the capital itself..

If the French had thought proper, at this tiipe, to have- joined the Dutch fleet, and invaded England, consequences the most fatal might justly have been apprehended, from the want of all requisite defence, notwithstanding what Lewis said, when urged by De Wit, then to invade this country; and at which want of foresight, he inust have afterwards been very much chagrined, when he had serious thoughts of invading Great Britain.

Duke Of Monmouth's Invasion.—England regained free from all hostile attacks from abroad, that can be termed invasions, from that of De Ruyter's, in the year Ititn, to the Duke of Monmouth's unsuccessful attempt in 1685, to obtain the crown, by dethroning his uncle, James If. Although we have passed over the invasions of candidates for the crown, in former ages, by not giving them in detail; yet, as Monmouth's invasion happened of a later date, and preceded that of the Prince of Orange, who completed the glorious Revolution, it may not be amiss to dwell with some minuteness on the rash and premature attempt of that unfortunate nobleman.

The Duke of Monmouth was a natural son of Charles II. and possessed all the qualities which could engage the affections of the public; a distinguished valour, a thoughtless generosity, and a graceful person; but his capacity was mean, and his temper pliant. It is needless here to recapitulate the anecdotes of his life, farther than to remark, that he had always entertained hopes of succeeding to the crown on the death of his father; and that when the king once fell siek, he en* gaged in aconspiracy with Lord Russel, Lord Grey, Lord Shaftesbury, Algernon Sydney, and others, that if the sickness proved. mortal, to .rise in arms, and oppose the Duke of York's succession. But, the plot being detected, Russel, Sydney, and others, .were executed, and Monmouth pardoned.

A mortal antipathy subsisted betwosii him and his uncle* by whose advice he was banished the kingdom, two years before the death of the king. During that period, he remained at Ihe court of the Prince of Orahge, who shewed him all marks of honour and distinction. But when James ascended the throne, the prince thought it politic to dismiss Monmouth and all his followers. He was then induced to make a landing in England, though the nation was not then ripe for a revolt. For the grievances of that reign were hitherto of siriall importance; and the people were not as yet in a disposition to remark them with great severity. The duke sailed from the Texel in a ship of thirty guns, accompanied with two other vessels. There were on board several English exiles from Flanders, men of desperate fortunes, and who had no means of retrieving their affairs but by a change of government at home. They met with such contrary winds, that they were nineteen days at sea, and landed on the 8th of June, at; Lime, in Dorsetshire. Though he had scarcely a hundred followers at landing, so popular was his name, that in four days he had assembled above 2,000 horse and foot. They were, indeed, almost all of them the lowest of the people; and the declaration which he published, was chiefly calculated to suit the prejudices of the vulgar, or the most bigotted of the whig party.

Monmouth, though he had formerly given many proofs of personal courage, had not tlie vigour of mind requisite for such a great undertaking. After marching through many towns in the west. and proclaiming himself in all these 'places, he attacked the king's army at Sedgemoor, near Bridgewater; where, after a desperate combat of three hours, he was totally vanquished. He fled from the field of battle, above twenty miles- till his hone suuk under him. He then changed clothes with a peasant, in order to. conceal himself. : The peasant was discovered by the pursuers, who now redoubled the dill-' gence of their search; at last he was found in a ditch, covered with fern, quite spent with fatigue, and some green pease in his pocket, the only food he had eaten since his defeat.

When he arrived in London, after he had a fruitless interview withi the king, he was ordered for immediate execution. He was brought to the scaffold on the 15th of J-uIy, and met his death in a manner that became his rank and character. He warned the executioner not to fall into the error which he had committed in beheading Lord Russel; where he was obliged to redouble the blow. But this precaution had not the desired effect, for it so intimidated the man, that he could strike only a feeble blow on the neck of Monmouth; who raised his head from the block, and looked him in the face, as if reproaching him for his failure. He again laid down his head, and the executioner struck him twice, but without effect; on which he threw aside the axe, and declared himself incapable of fimshing the bloody office. The sheriff, however, obliged him to renew the attempt, and at two blows more the head was severed from the body. Thus died, in the thirtysixth year of his age, James, Duke of Monmouth, whose character, m many respects, was truly amiable. He was the darling of the people; the consciousness of which, and the allurement of ambition, had engaged him in enterprizes far beyond his capacity; and which, in the end, cost him his lite.

Invasion Of The Prince Of Orange, And The EstablishMent Of The Revolution.—The victory of King James over' formidable rival, in die commencement of his reign, had it been managed with prudence, would naturally have tended much to increase his power and authority. But, by reason of the cruelty with which it was prosecuted in the west, by Lord Chief Justice Jefferies and Colonel . Kirke, with the connivance of the king, and of the temerity with which it afterwards inspired him, was a principal cause of his sudden ruin and downfall. When the nation, by repeated flagrant acts of the sovereign, were fully convinced that he was absolutely determined to subvert the constitution, both in church and state, they thought it full time to form a scheme for preventing the destruction of their laws, religion, and liberties.

The Prince of Orange, nephew to the king by birth, and his son-inlaw by marrying Lady Mary, his daughter, was fixe.d upon for their deliverer. All persons, though of opposite parties, whigs, tories, churchmen, and non-conformists, formed an union, and concurred in their applications to that prince. And thus all faction was, for a time, laid asleep in England; and rival parties, forgetting their animosity, had secretly concurred in a design of resisting their rash, inflexible, and misguided monarch. Their solicitations to the prince were nut in vain. He was easily engaged to yield to them, and to embrace the defence of a nation which, during fts present fears and distresses, regarded him as his sole protector. He was peculiarly happv, throughout his whole life, in the situations in which he was placed. Silent. and thoughtful •> given to hear and to inquire; of a sound-and steady understanding, lirm in what he once resolved or once denied; strongly intent on business, little on pleasure: by these virtues he engaged the attention of all men. He saved his own country from ruin; he restored the liberties of Britain; he supported the general independency of Europe. And thus, though his virtue, it is confessed, is not the purest which we meet with in history, it will be difficult to find any person whose actions and conduct have contributed more eminently to the general interests of society and uf mankind. When the prince had determined to put himself at the head of the protestant party in* England, he desired several of the nobility, who waited on him at the Hague, to demand the assistance of the States, in the name of the •whole kingdom, which they easily obtained.

When King James heard of the Prince of Orange's designs and preparations for an invasion, he became distracted with fears and apprehensions. Having received certain advice, that he might soon expect to see the Dutch fleet upon the coast, with a land-army on board, accompanied with many English noblemen and persons of distinction, who had, for some time, concealed themselves in Holland, he was so terrified, that neither he nor his council could form any plausible scheme for opposing their invasion. In this alarming exigency, he adopted some popular measures, which failed of produciog the desired effect: they came too late, and were generally considered as the result of fear, rather than that of inclination, or a real change of sentiment. During these transactions, the prince applied himself, with the greatest assiduity, to complete his armament; and, as soon'as every thing was fioished, he published a manifesto, explaining the true motives for his expedition. He solemnly disclaimed in it all thoughts of conquest, declaring that his sole intention was that of maintaining the protestant religion, ami the laws and liberties of these kingdoms, which had been so openly violated; and the procuring a free parliament, which might at once settle all the rights of the subject, and .the prerogatives of the crown, on a firm basis; and that ho had no idea of disturbing his father-in-law in the enjoyment of the sovereignty. He added, that he had undertaken this necessary and difficult task, at the invitation of many lords, both ecclesiastical and civil; by numbers of gentlemen, and other subjects in these realms, of all ranks.

The prince's measures were all so well concerted, that, in three days, above 400 transports were hired; and the army being cmbarked', quickly fell down the rivers and canals from Nimeguen. The artillery, arms, stores, and horses were embarked, and the prince sailed from'Helvoet Sluys, with a lleet of near 500 vessels, and an army of 14,000 men. After sailing about fourteen leagues, the wind shifted to the west, and blew so violent a storm, that in a very few hours, scarce three ships were to be seen together. But this loss beingsoon repaired, the fleet put again to sea, under the command of Admiral Herbert, and stood away, with a fair wind, towards the west of England. The same wind which favoured the Dutch, detained the king's fleet in the river, and gave the prince an opportunity of passing tne Streights of Dover without molestation. Both shores were covered with multitudes of people, who, besides admiring the grandeur of the spectacle, were Jield in anxious suspence at the prospect of an enterprize the most important that had for some years been undertaken in this part of the world.

After a prosperous voyage, the prince landed his army safely in Torbay, on the 5th of November, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Treason. The Dutch army marched immediately, to Exeter, and there the prince's declaration was published. But the whole country was so terrified at the dreadful executions that had ensued oh Monmouth's invasion, that nobody, for several days, joined the- prince. The Bishop of Exctvr fled with the utmost precipitation to London, and carried to court the first intelligence of this mvasion. The king was pleased with this instance of zeal, that he rewarded the" prelate'with the archbishopric of York, which bad been long kept vacant, with an intention of bestowing it on some catholic. Major Barrington was the first person who joined the prince, and his example was soon followed by the gentry of the counties of Devon and Somerset. By degrees, the whole kingdom was in commotion. But the most alarming symptom was the disaffection,-which, from the general spirit ofthe people, not from any particular reason, had crept into th« army. The officers all seemed to prefer the interest of their country and of their religion, before those principles of honour and fidelity which are esteemed the most sacred ties bv men of that profession. Several ofticers of distinction informed tcversham, their general, that they could not, in conscience, fight against the Prince of Orange, who-came to defend the protestant cause; ami many deserted th« King; among the rest, Lord Churchill, afterwards Duke of Marlborough. • ••''

Distracted and perplexed at such alarming circumstances,- Jarr suddenly toojc the resolution of returning to London, from Salisr

« EdellinenJatka »