[ocr errors]

regret. When the settlement of the crown was BOOK extended in England to the house of Hanover, u the people were too much exasperated in Scot- 1701. land for the same measure to be proposed with success; and to secure the protestant succession, an union of the two kingdoms was deemed indispensable. On the succession of the duke of Anjou Sept. 16. to the Spanish monarchy, the hopes of the Jacobites revived at the prospect of a war, which was accelerated, instead of being prevented by the death of James. His spirit, immersed in the most sordid superstition, had sunk under the weight of his misfortunes; and by the most ascetic mortifications among the monks of La Trappe, he seemed desirous to convince the world, that, when despoiled of a crown, he was unworthy to reign. Naturally intrepid, just, open, and indulgent at least in domestic life, his superstition chiefly contributed to render him tyrannical, relentless, pusillanimous, and frequently insincere. He declined a competition for the crown of Por land, and at the peace of Ryswick, would have refused his son as a successor to William, had the latter offered as he expected, to superintend his education, or even to provide for his succession to the throne 58. His last moments were consoled

58 Such expectations, it appears, were entertained by the Jacobites previous to the peace of Ryswick, but were discouraged by James. Macpherson's Orig. Pap. i. 551., But Dr. Somerville has sufficiently shewn that no such offer was

[ocr errors]


BOOK by the assurance of Louis to acknowledge the X. "w prince of Wales, who was proclaimed on his fa

ther's death, and received as king by the court of France. An event so grateful to his adherents, which alarmed and incensed the English at the indignity of accepting a monarch from the French, confirmed the grand alliance projected by William, to circumscribe the inordinate power of the house of Bourbon on the acquisition of Spain. But at home the protestant succession was still insecure.

In his last message to the house of commons, . William earnestly recommended an union of the

kingdoms, which, from his approaching dissolu

tion, he had no hopes to accomplish himself. Death and His constitution, feeble from his untimely birth, of William. and oppressed by the cares of government when

repose was necessary, sunk under a complication of disorders; but the immediate cause of his death was a fall from horseback, which his decayed and exhausted frame was unable to sustain. He

languished above a fortnight, under an aguish March 8: fever, and expired in the fifty-second year of his

age, of an inflammation in his lungs. His person was of the middle size, ill-shaped and ungraceful, except on horseback; his nose was aquiline; but the harsh features of his countenance, which was pale and solemn, were enlightened by the piercing


made by William, and that the secret conferences between the earl of Portland and Marshal Boufflers respected the jointure of James's queen. Hist. of Polit. Tran. 442.





[ocr errors]

lustre of an eagle-eye. From the constraint im- BOOK posed upon his early youth, his manners were con silent, cold, and so extremely reserved, that he dispensed rewards and refusals with almost equal indifference. Unfavourable impressions were sooner received than effaced from his mind; but his resentment never descended to the meanness of revenge. His habitual reserve and taciturnity

encreased with his declining health ; but his dispo- sition was not always averse from the enjoyment of social life, nor unsusceptible of the finer feelings of love and friendship. From the disadvantages of a neglected education, he was ignorant of the fine arts, and insensible to their charms ; incapable of a steady application to business, or impatient, perhaps, of the minute and official details of public affairs. But his virtues were of a severer and more exalted order. His mind was still intent on some great design, in which the various qualities of a sound and provident judgment were successively exerted; an invention ever fertile in resources ; á calm and serene magnanimity in battle and danger; fortitude during adversity ; nodera. tion in prosperity; fidelity to his allies; and above all, an invincible attachment to public liberty, to which his ambition was a secondary and subordinate passion. His life was spent in a con. stant struggle with France, at first to preserve the independence of his country, then the balance, or. the independence of Europe ; and as he refused the Vol. IV.



[ocr errors]


BOOK sovereignty of Holland, at the expence of its free

d om, he would have equally rejected the crown of England, had it been offered on terms inconsis. tent with those great designs. From the deliverer of England, he became the arbiter and protector of the liberties of Europe; and if not the most skilful and successful general, he was certainly the most enlightened and upright statesman of his age; inflexible in his pursuit of public utility; not incapable of yielding to exigences ; and im. proving dexterously every opportunity that occurred. Indifferent and impartial to the factions that divided and shook the nation, he trusted and employed them alternately, with a confidence that extended even to domestic treason; and from his intimate knowledge of the human character, he possessed the rare talent of adapting the services of his secret enemies to the prosecution of his designs. His character was chiefly distinguished by a steady integrity; by a dignified simplicity, and a patriotic regard for the rights of mankind. At the distance of a century, when the prejudices of faction are forgotten, and the benefits conferred by his government have partly ceased, religious toleration, which he was the first prince in Europe to introduce, constitutes the purest glory of his life, and of his reign. Like other benefactors of the human race, he experienced distrust and ingratitude from the nations which he redeemed; but the English ought to re


vere his memory, as the greatest monarch who BOOK

X. has succeeded to Elizabeth, and the last who as- m sumed the personal direction, and devoted himself to the service, of the state. Were an abatement to be made from this illus- Lenity of

his reiga in trious character, it is in the government of Scot- Scotland. land that the most exceptionable part of his conduct appears. There, however, it may be truly affirmed, that the statesmen in whom he was obliged to confide, trained under the former govern. ment, and tenacious of its abuses, betrayed him into arbitrary exertions of power; while the political situation of Europe, which engrossed his time and his presence, in the cabinet and in the : field, necessarily rendered him remiss and inattentive to domestic affairs. Let it be remembered also, that notwithstanding the incessant plots and conspiracies of the Jacobites, and the jealous fears that invariably render new governments rigid and cruel, not a single person perished on the scaffold, nor was there a noble family in Scotland ruined by forfeitures during his lenient reign.

« 前へ次へ »