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modities to bear a proportion with the clipped shilling. The labourer who was paid his weekly wages in the depreciated coin could only obtain a small loaf instead of a large one. The dealer who had to make remittances in guineas, or in bills which represented guineas, was obliged to give at least thirty shillings to obtain the guinea. The money-changers and bankers were making large fortunes out of the perplexities of all those who had to sell or to buy. Evelyn grumbles that “ Duncombe, not long since à mean goldsmith, had made a purchase of the late duke of Buckingham's estate at near 90,000l., and reputed to have near as much in cash :"
"And Helmsley, once proud Buckingham's delight,
Slides to a scrivener or a city knight." . The new Parliament was opened on the 22nd of November. The most important part of the king's speech was that in which he said, “ I must take notice of a great difficulty we lie under at this time, by reason of the ill state of the coin, the redress of which may perhaps prove a further charge to the nation. How were these words to be interpreted? Was the nation to bear the great loss of converting four millions of money intrinsically worth only two millions, into money of the true standard? Was the public to sustain a loss of two millions ? The subject had been widely agitated. It had been proposed to issue money of less than the intrinsic value to replace the old—to make a ninepenny shilling that would pass for twelvepence. Though the great merchant, Dudley North, who was also a great political economist, opposed the plan that was . ultimately carried, he saw that a coin could not be treated as if it were only a counter: “What is true may be remembered, which is, that money went to foreign markets, and would not, as at home, pass by a stamp or denomination, but must be weighty” |-must pass at its real weight. He had proclaimed the sound doctrine, " that debasing the coin is defrauding one another.” Locke demolished the theory of the little shilling in a masterly tract. His opinion was, that after a certain time the old money should only pass by weight, and that upon this principle it should be exchanged for silver coinage of which a shilling should be worth twelvepence, By this plan the State would have effected the restoration of the currency without a national cost.—but at the price of what individuil misery! When the House of Commons came to debate this important question, the resolutions proposed by Montague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were finally agreed to. A new coinage of intrinsic value was to be issued; the loss of the clipped
Popo. “Initations of Horace," Sat. ii. + “ Life of Dudley North," p. 172.
MEASURES FOR A NEW COINAGE.
money was to be borne by the public, for which a special fund was to be provided by a house-tax and a window-tax. This was something like a revival of the hearth-money, but cottages were exempt. Up to the 4th of May the clipped money would be received in payment of taxes. The old money had then mostly disappeared; but the mechanical resources of that time were not sufficient to produce the new money in sufficient quantity to carry on the exchanges of the people. The difficulty was in some measure relieved by the issue of Exchequer-bills, The difficulty was conquered when Newton was appointed Master of the Mint, and by vast exertions, connected with the establishment of provincial mints, gradually sent forth a supply of circulating medium equal to the demand. The distress and confusion had been enormous"; but those who had thought the great change was ill-managed, at last said, “ better and worse in the means is not to be reflected upon, when a great good is obtained in the end. ” *
On the day on which the Royal Assent was given to the Recoinage Bill, the Bill “for regulating trials in cases of Treason and Misprision of Treason " also became law. This salutary measure. had been repeatedly lost by the opposition of the Commons to a clause introduced by the Peers, with reference to trials of members of their own order. The Commons no longer opposed . the wishes of the Upper House. One of the most important of the clauses of this Statute, by which some of the injustice of the old modes of trial was obviated was, that prisoners should be admitted to make their defence by counsel learned in the law. History has properly recorded the effect produced by Anthony Ashley Cooper, lord Ashley, the author of the “Characteristics," in his maiden speech in the Commons. When he rose to speak, he hesitated, looked bewildered, was still silent amidst the encouraging cheers of the House, and at last said, “If I, sir, who rise only to give my opinion on the Bill now depending, am so confounded that I am unable to express the least of what I proposed to say, what must the condition of that man be, who, without any assistance, is pleading for his life, and under apprehensions of being deprived of it?" We need not ask whether this stroke of genius was premeditated. Very soon after the meeting of Parliament, an unpleasant question arose which affected the popularity of the king. The Commons, though the factious hostility to William had greatly abated, came to a Resolution to mark their dislike of some token of lavish favour which he had shown to bis Dutch friends. He had ordered a grant to the earl of Portland of a mag• “Life of Dudley North," p. 172.
+ See vol. iv. p. 553.
nificent estate in Denbighshire, being a part of the hereditary do main of the Crown. A sensible Address was carried unanimously, in whicle William was told, that the manors now intended to be granted had been usually annexed to the principality of Wales, and settled on the princes of Wales for their support; and that such grant was in diminution of the honour and interest of the Crown. The king answered the Commons who went up with the Address, “Gentlemen, I have a kindness for my lord Portland, which he has deserved of me by loving and faithful services, but I should not have given him the lands, if I had imagined the House of Commons could have been concerned. I will therefore recall the grant, and find some other way of showing my favour to him.” It was well that a constitutional king should learn a lesson which had never been taught to the Stuarts, when they alienated the doo mains of the Crown for the endowment of their minions and of their illegitimate children. :
On the 24th of February the king went to the House of Peers, and told the assembled Lords and Commons, that he was come that day upon an extraordinary occasion : “ i have received several concurring informations of a design to assassinate me; and that our enemies at the same time are very forward in their preparation for a sudden invasion of this kingdom.” He had given orders, he said, regarding the fleet; he had sent for troops home; some of the conspirators were already in custody, and measures were taken for the apprehension of the rest. The Houses immediately determined upon a joint Address to the king ; carried a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and passed another Bill that the Parliament should not be dissolved by the death of William. It was then resolved in the Commons that the members should enter into an Association, testifying and declaring “ that his present majesty king William is rightful and lawful king of these realms," and pledging themselves in the following words: “We do mutually promise to engage to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our power, in the support and defence of his majesty's most sacred person and government, against the late king James and all his adherents. And in case his majesty come to any violent or untimely death, which God forbid, we do hereby further freely and unanimously oblige ourselves to unite, associate, and stand by each other, in revenging the same upon his enemies and their adherents, and in supporting and defending the succession of the Crown, according to an Act made in the first year of tlie reign of king William and queen Mary, entitled • An Act declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and settling the succession of the THE ASSASSINATION PLOT.
Crown.'" A similar Association was formed by the Peers. But the words “rightful and lawful king of these realms” were changed to these—“That king William hath the right by law to the Crown of these realms; and that neither king James nor the pretended prince of Wales, nor any other person, hath any right whatsoever to the same.” Some members of each House hesitated to sign ; but they formed a small minority; and the nation generally entered with unwonted cordiality into a similar engagement. The project of the invasion of the kingdom and the concurrent assassination of the king, which thus roused the nation to rally round the throne, was a plot of no ordinary magnitude. There are ample materials for 'a connected narrative of this event, the most important in some respects of the reign of William; and those documents which recent years have brought to light render some aid in the solution of an interesting historical problem-Whether the atrocious scheme of assassinating his rival was suggested, or adopted, or encouraged directly or indirectly, by James himself.
The original auto-biographical Memoirs of James that touch upon this interesting period have been preserved.* He tells us that having been informed at the beginning of 1696 that the affairs of the prince of Orange did not wear so favourable an aspect as formerly—that the country party gave him trouble and vexationhis own friends, called Jacobites, thought it “a good occasion to blow the coals." These friends proposed that he should land in England with ten or twelve thousand men, when they were sure “the greatest part of the nation would rise and restore him." James communicated this “to His Most Christian Majesty," who promised the troops, but thought it would be best that these ardent Jacobites “should rise first.” The narrative thus continues : “ Upon this, the duke of Berwick was sent over to head them in case they could be persuaded to rise first; and about the same time several officers, and other persons who had served, desired leave to go over into England and Scotland upon their private concerns.” These “gentlemen of the guard” and others, who went over to England upon their private concerns,“ had directions to join themselves with any that should rise and declare for the king, being most of them men of experience.” The duke of Berwick was the illegitimate son of James.
On the 27th of December, sir George Barclay, a Scot who had served under Dundee, received a Commission from James, which, he says, in his narrative published in the Life of James, “was exactly as follows: "James R. Our will and pleasure is and we do
* * Life of James," vol. ii., p. 538.
hereby fully authorize, strictly require, and expressly command our loving subjects to rise in arms and make war upon the Prince of Orange the usurper of our throne and all his adherents, and to seize for our use all such forts, towns, strongholds within oui dominion of Engl ind, as may serve to further our interest, and to do from time to time such other acts of hostility against the Prince of Orange and his adherents as may conduce most to our service, We judging this the properest, justest, and most effectual means of procuring our restoration and their deliverance; and we do hereby indemnify them for what they shall act in pursuance of this our Royal command. Given at our Court of St. Germans en Laye, the 27th of December, 1695.” On the 27th of December, Barclay says: “I parted from St. Germains, having none with me but major Holmes, and about the 27th old style [January 6j arrived in London.” The narrative of Barclay, in some respects very important, in others very meagre, is to be satisfactorily pieced out by various evidence collected by the ministers of William. In Romney Marsh lived one Robert Hunt, who describes himself as yeoman. He had for some years “been employed by the party in all their correspondence with France.” He deposed tbat Barclay and Holmes came over together some time in January, and about the same time sixteen or eighteen persons came over. At the beginning of February, "a tall young gentleman,” who was particularly recommended by one Mr. Pigaut, at Calais, came over alone; and Hunt had heard since, and believed, this person was the duke of Berwick. After Barclay had received the hospitalities of the smuggler's cottage in Romney Marsh, came two men in company, Harris and Hare. Harris deposed that he had served king James in Ireland as an ensign of foot, and since in France. On the 4th of January (new style) king James sent for him, and Hare his comrade; said he should send them to England; he had ordered money for that journey, and they were to follow Barclay's orders. The king then went on to say they would find Barclay every Monday and Thursday evening, between six and seven o'clock, in Covent Garden Square, and might know him by a white handkerchief hanging out of his coat pocket. Looking over a list, James added that they were to go by the names of Jenkins and Guinneys while in England. Harris and Hare met Barclay in London. They were ordered to keep close till there was an occasion for their service, and were put on a sort of establishment at five shillings a day.
We have now traced Barclay to his great scene of action, and may revert to his own official narrative. He became acquainted,