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THE CURRENCY ESTABLISHED.
ince, the strength of mind, constancy, and magnanimity of our people overcame it all.”
The two houses of Parliament were occupied, during this session, with the extraordinary proceedings under a Bill of Attainder against sir John Fenwick. The historical narratives of this event are, for the most part, as lengthy as the parliamentary debates. A very slight summary is all that we can attempt to give of an affair which has far more to do with the history of party than with the history of the nation ; and of which the only thing of any real importance, after an interval of more than a century and a half, is the constitutional question of procedure by attainder.
In the deposition of Goodman, one of the witnesses for the Crown in the Assassination Plot, he implicated sir John Fenwick, as being, in conjunction with Friend, Parkyns, and others, in correspondence with James upon a projected invasion, and that Fenwick used to send over a list of the forces in England, and of their disposition. Porter, another of the conspirators, gave his testimony to a similar effect. Fenwick attempted to fly into France, under the assumed name of Thomas Ward ; but in June he was apprehended at New Romney, in Kent. Fenwick was highly connected; he was a baronet of an ancient family. A letter which he had addressed to his wife, upon his apprehension, was in. tercepted. He exhorted her to make all friends. “I know nothing," he said, “can save my life, but my lord Carlisle's going over to him, [king William), backed by the rest of the family of the Howards, to beg it.” In another passage, he says, “ I cannot think what else to say, but the great care must be the jury. If two or three could be got that would starve the rest, that, or nothing can save me.” Fenwick, being ordered for trial, offered to give evidence of great importance ; and was visited in prison by the duke of Devonshire, at the king's desire. In a written paper he implicated Shrewsbury and Godolphin, Marlborough and Russell, as having been in communication with James at various times. The paper was transmitted to William , who probably knew as much of these general treacheries as Fenwick could tell him. He transmitted the paper to Shrewsbury, saying, “ You may judge of my astonishment at his effrontery in accusing you.
You will observe the sincerity of this honest man who only accuses those in my service, and not one of his own party.” † William was desirous that Fenwick should be brought to trial before the public affairs demanded his own return to England. There was a diffic
"Wednesday Club," quoted in " Life of Paterson," p. 108.
culty. Goodman had been tampered with, and could nowhere be discovered. Fenwick, in his letter to his wife, had said, “ Money, I know, would do it; but alas, that is not to be had.” The indefatigable aunt of the earl of Carlisle did accomplish the means of preventing the evidence of Goodman before a jury. Two witnesses were required by law in cases of treason; one only was forthcoming. It was resolved to proceed against Fenwick by Bill of Attainder, in which the deficient legal evidence could be supplied by the previous deposition of Goodman before the Privy Council, and. by the evidence of two grand jurymen as to what he had sworn when the Bill of Indictment was found by them. This proceeding was altogether irregular, although the crime of Fenwick was conclusively established. The most prolonged and violent discussions therefore ensued, both in the Lords and Commons, as to the passing of this Bill. In the Commons the majority for the Bill was only thirty-three; in the Lords only seven. “The debates," says Burnet, “ were the hottest, and held the longest, of any that I ever knew.” Fenwick, previous to the Bill being moved in the Commons, had been brought to the bar, and persisted in refusing to make any further confession. Lord Hardwicke, in a note on Bur
“ The king, before the session, had sir J. Fenwick brought to the Cabinet Council, where he was present himself. But sir John would not explain his paper."
In another note he says: “My father was told by the duke of Newcastle, that his father, the first lord Pelham, then a lord of the Treasury, and a staunch Whig, voted against the Bill, because he thought it hard to put a man to death, who, on compulsion, that is, to save his life, had told disagreeable truths. And the management of party was such, that sir J. Fenwick was prevented from speaking out, lest he should exasperate the great men on both sides, who knew he could tell tales. The consequence was, that he was afraid to affirm his own tale, and lost his life.” | He suffered death on the 28th of January. The proceeding by Attainder is a blot upon the reputation of the Whigs, as defenders of public liberty. The conversion of such a solemn act into a revengeful party proceeding, is disgraceful to many of the statesmen of that time. “ It is now well known that Fenwick's discoveries went not a step beyond the truth.” I
The king closed the Session of Parliament on the 16th of April, 1697, and on the 26th embarked for Holland. He had promoted Somers to be Lord Chancellor instead of Keeper of the Great Seal, and had created him a Peer. Russell was created earl of Oxford. Montague obtained the higher office of First Lord of the Treasury. * Oxford edit. vol. iv. p. 323.
t Ibid., p. 324.
1 Hallam, chap, xv.
NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE.
The campaign in the Netherlands was distinguished only by one considerable event-William rescued Brussels from a second bombardment. He outmarched the French generals by a rapid nigh: movement over the plain of Waterloo, and through the forest of Soignies, and encamping near Brussels, entrenched himself and saved the city.
In his speech at the close of the Session of Parliament, the king had alluded, though not in very decided terms, to the possibility that an honourable peace might be agreed to. The difficulty of concluding a general pacification was less on the part of France than on the part of some of the allies. Spain was haughty and intractable, though she had rendered little assistance in the war. The emperor of Germany wanted the war prolonged, with a view to his own interest in the succession to the crown of Spain. Plenipotentiaries were appointed by the several powers to discuss the terms of a treaty with the ministers of France. They disputed long as to the place of meeting. At last it was agreed that their conferences should be held at Newburg House, a palace belonging to William in the village of Ryswick, between the Hague and Delft. The earl of Pembroke, and others on the part of England ; Harlay as the representative of France; the accredited agents of Spain, of the Emperor, of Sweden and of other minor powers-these met twice a week with solemn hows and ceremonial speeches. At the end of June they had concluded nothing, with their infinitude of protocols. The French and English armies were facing each other in the neighbourhood of Brussels. This state neither of peace nor war was not suited to the decisive temper of William. In each of the armies there was a man who could interpret in a straightforward manner the wishes of their respective sovereigns. Portland was thoroughly in the confidence of William. He sent a message to Bouffiers, who had been his prisoner for a few days after the capture of Namur, when they formed that sort of intimacy that often springs up between generous enemies. Portland desired half an hour's private conversation with Boufflers, at some place between the two armies. Boufflers asked the consen: of his sovereign, and received it, with the condition that he should repair “ to this rendezvous with all the dignity becoming a marshal of France, who commands one of my armies." * He was to speak as little as possible, and to draw from Portland all he could--a very general rule in that mysterious science called diplomacy. They met on the 8th of July at the village of Brucom, a short distance from Halle ; standing apart from their attendants in an orchard. They had
Grimblot, vol. i. p. 5.
four subsequent discussions in open places, where walls could tell do secrets. Portland was authorized to say at the first interview, that William, on the part of England and of the States General was satisfied with the terms of territorial arrangement that Louis lead proposed, provided satisfaction should be given upon points which concerned himself personally. At the sixth and last interview they met in a small house, and the points of the negotiation were put into writing. William demanded that Louis should sanction no attempt to disturb the existing order of things in England, oy James and his friends; and that the Stuart exiles should remove from France. There is the show of magnanimity in the answer of Louis, that his honour was wounded—“wounded by the proposal Chat has been made to me to name expressly in the treaty, and to ngage to remove from my kingdom, a king who had found no 7 sylum except with me, and no alleviation of his misfortunes excapt in the manner in which I have received him." As to the objection that whilst James was in France, the secret practices of his party would be encouraged, even against the wishes of Louis, the great king answers in the tone that only absolute power can assuine : “ All Europe is sufficiently aware of the obedience and submission of my people; and when I shall please to hinder my subjects from assisting the king of England-as I engage to do, by promising not to assist, directly or indirectly, the enemies of the prince of Orange, without any exception—there is no reason to apprehend that he will find any assistance in my kingdom.” * Portland waived the point that James should be mentioned by name, provided that Louis agreed not to favour rebellions and intrigues in England, when William would give the like assurance with regard to any factions or rebellions in France. The high-blown pride of Louis was signally manifested at this presumption of William. He writes to Boufflers: "You shall answer to this proposal that this equality of condition cannot take place; and that the submission of my subjects, and the tranquillity of my kingdom, give me no reason to fear either faction or rebellion." | William, however, succeeded in carrying the reciprocal condition. He refused the demand of Louis that a general amnesty should be granted to all the adherents of James. He would pardon offences of men who would live quietly, but he would not consent to such a stipulation on the part of a foreign power. The treaty of Ryswick was concluded between France, England, the States General, and Spain, on the 22nd of September. An extended term was given to the Em peror of Germany to accede to the treaty. Grimblot, vol. i. p. 21.
Ibid., p. 36.
OPENING OF SAINT PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.
On the 26th of November (N.S.) William made his entry into London. Never was public joy more manifest. The evil times had passed away; there was now hope that the nation would go forward in a career of prosperity under a stable government. On that night of universal gratulation, whilst fireworks were displayed, and pitch barrels were blazing, in every open place of London, William wrote from Kensington to his friend Heinsius, “ I arrived here this evening, after having passed through the city amidst the lively acclamations of the people. I do not recollect having ever seen so great an assemblage of well-dressed people. It is impossible to conceive what joy the peace causes here.” Well might England rejoice. Her constitutional king was acknowledged by the proud monarch who had so long treated him only as the prince of Orange. He had vindicated the choice of the nation, by nine years of incessant struggle against difficulties which would have crushed any common man. He had established the freedom and independence of the country which had chosen him as its head. When the negotiations were going forward, James issued what he termed a solemn protestation against “all whatsoever that may be treated of, regulated, or stipulated, with the usurper of our kingdoms,” and "against all the proceedings of his pretended Parliament, and whatever tends to the subversion of the fundamental laws of our kingdom, particularly to those relating to the succession to our Crowns.” He urged upon all princes and potentates to consider how dangerous the precedent of peace with an usurper would prove to themselves; "and since ours is the common cause of all Sovereigns, we call for their assistance in the recovery of our kingdoms.” The unhappy man had not yet learnt that there is something higher than " the cause of all Sovereigns"—the cause of their People.
The 2nd of December, 1697, was a memorable day in England. It was the day of General Thanksgiving for the Peace.
It was especially memorable in London ; for on that day the new Cathedral of Saint Paul's, which, for twenty-two years, had been gradually rising out of the ashes of the old Cathedral, was opened for divine worship. The king was to have attended this opening ; but he heard Burnet preach at Whitehall, for he was told that if he went to Saint Paul's the streets would be so filled with spectators that all the parish churches would be forsaken. No crowd was assembled within the walls of the noble temple on that day of national thanksgiving; for the choir alone was constructed with a view to the performance of the ordinary ritual of Protestant worship.
"Life of James II.," vol. ii. p. 572.