« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
part in the Assassination Plot, although he knew of it; but he had made large preparations for assisting in a foreign invasion. Si. Wiliiam Parkyns, as we have seen, was an active participator in the design to kill the king. Three other conspirators, Rookwood, Cranborne, and Lowick, were tried. They were all convicted, and all suffered the death of traitors.
The effect upon the temper of the nation of the discovery of this Jacobite Plot•is forcibly expressed in the “ Diary” of Evelyn: “ Though many did formerly pity King James' condition, this design of assassination, and bringing over a French army, alienated many of his friends, and was likely to produce a more perfect es, tablishment of king William.”
The complete discomfiture of the plans of St. Germains is thus mentioned by the compiler of the Life of James : “ This intended attempt being thus discovered, it raised such a ferment in the nation as put an end to the king's real design of landing, by making it impossible for his friends to assemble, they having enough to do to secure themselves from the strict and universal search which this discovery occasioned.” No one who looks carefully at the evidence in this affair can doubt that "the king's real design of landing" came to an end when he knew that Sir George Barclay had not been able to carry out his commission “to make war upon the prince of Orange,” by stopping that prince's coach as it was dragged through the miry and narrow lane at Turnham Green, and with his eight good men, armed with pistols and “strong pushing swords,” putting to death the hated usurper who was unlawfully called king of England.
WILLIAM IN THE NETHERLANDS.
William in the Netherlands.—His Financial Embarrassments-Great Crisis of Com
mercial Difficulty.-Revival of Credit.-—The New Currency established.-Attainder of Sir John Fenwick.–Negotiations for Peace.—The Peace of Ryswick.- Jpening of St. Paul's Cathedral.- Parliament. — Reduction of the Army.--Dangers of an insufficient Force. The East India Company.--Statute against Socinians.-Reformation of Manners.-Societies for Promoting Christian Knowledge and for the Propagation of the Gospel.—Licentiousness of the Stage.-Embassy to France.-French Embassy to England.-Czar of Muscovy in England.
After these harassing events had taken their course, William departed for the continent, to encounter dangers and difficulties far more oppressive than the risks of a battle-more insupportable to such a man than any dread of the assassin's knife. He left London in the very crisis of the monetary change, and was in Holland on the 7th of May. On the 22nd of May the king wrote to Shrews. bury from the Hague. He informed his Secretary of State that the French army had first taken the field; that the allied troops assemble as well as they can, but find it difficult to join, as the enemy had far advanced in great force. There was another reason, he said. The troops “in Flanders are so much in want of money, that they can scarcely move ; and if the Treasury do not find prompt means to furnish supplies, I know not how I can possibly act.”* On the 25th of May, Shrewsbury wrote to William in great alarm: “We discoursed this morning with several of the most eminent goldsmiths, and with some of the Bank, and had the dismallest accounts from them of the stats of credit in this town, and of the effect it would soon have upon all the traders in money: none of them being able to propose a remedy, cxcept letting the Parliament sit in June, and enacting the clipped money to go again, -the very hope of which locks up all the gold and good money, and would be to undo all that has been done." + The Lords Justices, who had the charge of affairs in William's absence, were to a great extent helpless. They saw clearly what locked up all the gold and good money; but to retrace their steps would have been fatal. Their position was one of extreme difficulty. Public clamour was loud in its demand “that clipped money should be cure • Shrewsbury Correspondence," p. 114
# Ibid., p. 116. VOL. V.-3
rent again ; that the standard should be advanced, and the price of guineas improved.” Temporary aid which they expected had failed the government. An Act had been passed in the previous session for establishing a national Land Bank-a bank which was to lend money on mortgages, and to lend also to the State. Land and Trade were two rival interests. Trade, or the moneyed interest, would not subscribe any portion of the two millions and a half that were required to establish the Land Bank; and Land was looking for aid to the new scheme, in the shape of loans, and had no cash to spare in the shape of subscriptions. The scheme utterly broke down ; and, at the same time, through the difficulties connected with the re-coinage, the Bank of England could not pay its notes in specie. There was one universal panic throughout the land. There was a bold issue of small exchequer-bills, of which there was considerable distrust. The Bank of England endorsed their notes with a promise to pay in the new money when it came forth, and meanwhile to pay interest at the rate of 15 per cent. Merchants and smaller traders exchanged their promissory notes. But in spite of every expedient the nation was quickly coming to the condition of semi-civilization-barter. Of all the sufferers in this crisis it is impossible to conceive a man placed in a more distressing condition than the sovereign who was to fight the battles of his country at the head of a great European confederation. “In the name of God, determine quickly to find some credit for the troops here, or we are ruined,” he writes on June 4th. “We are here reduced to greater extremities than ever, for want of money; and if we do not soon receive some remittances the army will be disbanded,” is his language on the 23rd of July. On the 30th, he says, “ The letter from the Lords Justices has quite overcome me ; and I know not where I am, since at present 1.see no resource which can prevent the army from mutiny or total desertion.” The king then adds a most remarkable sentence: "If you cannot devise expedients to send contributions, or procure credit, all is lost, and I must go to the Indies." From such a man these words cannot be regarded as the mere impatience of disappointment. The army, whose mutiny or total desertion was imminent, stood be. tween Louis of France and the subjugation of Holland. If Holland became a province of France, England would soon be in the same condition, with a Stuart viceroy under the conquering Bourbon. What then remained ? To found a great maritime and commercial empire in the Dutch settlements-to call up the spirit of colonial freedom to balance the despotism of the old world. On the 31st the king sends Portland to England to arrange about assem
GREAT CRISIS OF COMMERCIAL DIFFICULTIES.
bling Parliament: “ Rather than perish all must be risked." Shrewsbury wrote a desponding answer to Portland's communications; and then William in his reply expressed that noble sentiment which every Englishman ought to bear in mind in the day of public calamity and fear,--“ May God relieve us from our present embarrassment, for I cannot suppose that it is His will to suffer a nation to perish which he has so often almost miraculously saved, though we have too well deserved it." * The heroic confidence of William had revived. “He was a man that knew how to meet adversity. His life had been one continued struggle with difficulties; but it had been the fixed rule of that life to encounter them with an anshaken fortitude, and a rigid adherence to what he considered to be right.” † He would not "go to the Indies.” The nation that God had “so often almost miraculously saved" would be saved again, even in the dire extremity of this time. It has been said with great truth, “the vessel of our commonwealth has never been so close to shipwreck as in this period." I
On the 15th of August there was a great meeting of the General Court of the Bank of England to discuss an earnest appeal that had been made to them by the king's ministers, for an advance of two hundred thousand pounds. Very reluctantly had this application been made. Shrewsbury was in despair. He wrote to the king, “ a loan from the city is much doubted, by the incapacity which has appeared in many to discharge the bills which have been drawn upon them from all parts. If the application to the Bank should not succeed, God knows what can be done.” But he adds, " yet anything must be tried and ventured, rather than lie down and die." § The application to the Bank did succeed. Immediate relief to the necessities of William, however small, was obtained. But he was not in a condition to carry on the campaign with any vigour. His difficulties were set forth with considerable exaggeration by the French. The Jacobites were everywhere rejoicing. But time was working that change, from temporary financial distress to growing ease and eventual relief, which is almost certain when the resources of industry are not exhausted, and the great body of the people are not alienated from a government. The embarrassments of the English had induced the duke of Savoy to make a separate peace with France. Everywhere there were signs of a defection from the alliance of which William was the heart and soul. He came home at the beginning of October. He met the Parliament on the 25th of that month. In him the indomitable resolution with which he had encountered so many adverse contingencies spoke out, when he said, “ It is fit for me to acquaint you that some overtures have been made, in order to the entering upon à negotiation for a general Peace; but I am sure we shall agree in opinion, that the only way of treating with France is with our swords in our hands; and that we can have no reason to expect a safe and honourable peace, but by showing ourselves prepared to make a vigorous and effectual war.” This was not the language of a bankrupt king; it was not addressed to a bankrupt nation. There were evident symptoms that the great difficulty of the currency was in some degree passing away. Had the government evinced the slightest disposition to recede from the measure of re-coinage; to reduce the standard; to raise the denomination of the coin, the evil would never have been cured. The very first measure of the Commons was to pass this resolution-“ That they would not alter the standard of the gold and silver, in fineness, weight, or denomi. nation; and that they will make good all parliamentary funds since his majesty's accession to the Crown, that have been made credits for loans from the subject.” The effect of this true statesmanship for which the honour is mainly due to Montague, was instantaneous. The expectations of those who hoarded guineas in the belief that a guinea would pass for thirty shillings,-of those who hoarded crowns in the belief that what was worth five shillings would exchange for commodities at the value of seven shillings and sixpence,--were at an end. The true money flowed into circulation. Trade revived. The financial and commercial crisis was past. The nation was solvent. A hundred and twenty-six years afterwards, one of the ablest of English statesmen, in resisting a motion against the Resumption of Cash Payments on the ground of agricultural distress, rested his most powerful arguments on the great historical precedent of 1696, and concluded his convincing speech, by moving, in the very words of Montague's resolution, “That this House will not alter the standard of gold and silver, in fineness, weight, or denomination.”* England fought through the great currency change of 1822 as England had thrown off the far beavier weight, looking at the nation's comparative resources, of the change in 1696. The same spirit of the people was manifested at each crisis. A financier of the earlier period thus speaks of his contemporaries : “ While our neighbouring nations expected we should sink under this burden, and some were even prepared to receive us as a prov
* Shrewsbury Correspondence,” pp. 119, 127, 129, 130, 132. Mr. Huskisson's Speech, June 11, 1822.
* Hallam, chap. xv. " Shrewsbury Correspondence," p. 135.