A Seasonable Warning and Caution against the Insinuations of Papists and Jacobites in favour of the Pretender

Being a Letter from an Englishman at the Court of Hanover

A pamphlet produced by Daniel Defoe (published 1712)

And thou shalt teach these Words diligently unto thy Children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy House, and when thou walkest by the Way. Deut. vi. 7.

And what thou seest write in a Book. Rev. i. 11.

LONDON: Printed for J. Baker, at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row, 1712

Why how now, England! what ailest thee now? What evil spirit now possesseth thee! O thou nation famous for espousing religion, and defending liberty; eminent in all ages for pulling down tyrants, [Edward II, Richard II, Richard III, James II] and adhering steadily to the fundamentals of thy own constitution: 1 that has not only secured thy own rights, and handed them down unimpaired to every succeeding age, but has been the sanctuary of other oppressed nations; 2 the strong protector of injured subjects against the lawless invasion of oppressing tyrants.

To thee the oppressed protestants of France owed, for some ages ago, the comfort of being powerfully supported, while their own king,3 wheedled by the lustre of a crown, became apostate, and laid the foundation of their ruin among themselves; in thee their posterity4 find a refuge, and flourish in thy wealth and trade, when religion and liberty find no more place in their own country.

To thee the distressed Belgii5 owe the powerful assistance by which they took up arms in defence of liberty and religion, against Spanish cruelty, the perfidious tyranny of their kings, and the rage of the bloody Duke d'Alva.

From thee the confederate Hollanders6 received encouragement to join in that indissoluble union which has since reduced the invincible power of the Spaniards, and from whence has been raised the most flourishing commonwealth in the world.

By thy assistance they are become the bulwark of the protestant religion, and of the liberties of Europe; and have many times since gratefully employed that force in thy behalf; and, by their help, thou, who first gavest them liberty, hast more than once rescued and preserved thy own.

To thee the present protestant nations [the circles of Swabia and Franconia, the Palatinate, and the countries of Hessia, Wirtemberg, and others] of Europe owe their being at this day freed from the just apprehensions of the growing greatness of France; and to thy power, when acting by the glorious protector of thy liberty, King William, is the whole Christian world indebted for depriving the French tyrant of the hopes and prospect of universal monarchy.

To thy blood, thy treasure, the conduct of thy generals, and the vigour of thy councils, are due, the glory, the fame, the praises, and the advantages of twenty years' war, for the establishing and restoring the liberty and religion of Europe.

When posterity shall inquire into the particulars of this long and bloody war; the battles, sieges, and stupendous marches of armies, which, as well with loss as with victory, have been the subject of thy history; it will for ever be frequent in their mouths; HERE the British troops, fighting with dreadful fury, and their usual constancy, shed their blood in defence of the protestant cause, and left a bloody victory to God's enemies and their own; as at Steenkirk, Landen, Camaret, Almanza, Brihenga, and the like: or, HERE the British troops, with their usual valour, carried all before them, and conquered in behalf of the protestant interest, and Europe's liberties; as at Blenheim, Ramilies, Barcelona, Oudenard, Sarragossa, Blaregnies, &c. Here the British navies triumphed over French greatness; as at Cherburgh, La Hogue, Gibraltar, &c. There their land forces reduced the most impregnable fortresses; as at Namur, Lisle, Menin, Tournay, &c.

And wherefore has all this English and British blood been spilt? Wherefore thy nation exhausted; thy trade sunk and interrupted; thy veins opened? Why hast thou struggled thus long, and with so much vigour, as well with French tyranny abroad, as popish factions at home, but to preserve entire the religion and liberties of Europe, and particularly of this nation, and to preserve our posterity from slavery and idolatry? Principles truly noble, worthy a nation's blood to protect, and worthy a nation's treasure to save.

But what has all this been for? And to what intent and purpose was all this zeal, if you will sink under the ruin of the very fabric ye have pulled down? If ye will give up the cause after ye have gained the advantage, and yield yourselves up after you have been delivered; to what purpose then has all this been done? Why all the money expended? Why all this blood spilt? To what end is France said to be reduced, and peace now concluded, if the same popery, the same tyranny, the same arbitrary methods of government shall be received among you again? Sure your posterity will stand amazed to consider how lavish this age has been of their money, and their blood, and to how little purpose; since no age since the creation of the world can show us a time when ever any nation spent so much blood and treasure to end just where they begun: as, if the hearts of our enemies prevail, we are like to do.

Let us reason a little together on these things, and let us inquire a little, why, and for what reason Britain, so lately the glory of Europe; so lately the terror of France, the bulwark of religion, and the destroyer of popery, should be brought to be the gazing-stock of the world? And why is it that her neighbours expect every hour to hear that she is going back to Egypt, and having given up her liberty, has made it her own choice to submit to the stripes of her taskmasters, and make bricks without straw.

We that are Englishmen, and live from home among the protestants of other nations, cannot but be sensible of this alteration, and we bear the reproaches of those who speak freely of the unhappy change which appears in the temper of our countrymen at home. It is astonishing to all the world to hear that the common people of England should be turned from the most rivetted aversions, to a coldness and indifferency in matters of popery and the pretender: that they, who with so unanimous a resolution deposed the late King James, as well for his invasions of their liberty as of their religion; and who with such marks of contempt drove him and his pretended progeny out of the nation, should without any visible alteration of circumstances, be drawn in to favour the return of that race with all the certain additions of popish principles in religion; French principles in government; revenge for family injuries; restoration of abdicated and impoverished votaries; and the certain support of a party at home, whose fortunes and losses must be restored and repaired out of the ruins of their country's liberties.

To what purpose was the revolution? Why did you mock yourselves at so vast an expense? Why did you cry in your oppressions to God and the Prince of Orange to deliver you? Why did you rise as one man against King James and his popish adherents? Why was your fury so great, and your opposition so universal, that although he had a good army of veteran, disciplined troops, and a powerful assistance from France ready to fall in and join him, yet they durst not, when put all together, venture to look you in the face, but fled like darkness before the sun, like guilt before the sword of justice; or as a murderer from the avenger of blood? Was it all, that you might the better weaken yourselves by ages of war, and they might return again, and bind you like Samson, when your strength was departed?

When this was done, why did ye mock God with a thanksgiving, [the Thanksgiving for the Revolution] and banter the world with your pretended praises to heaven for your deliverance? Why, when you appeared by your representatives in convention and in parliament, did you make so many fast days,7 and days of prayer for the success of the arms you took up, and the war you carried on for the finishing and securing this great work, called the pulling down of popery? Was it all, that after having spent twenty years of war, and a sea of blood, ruined trade, exhausted your treasure, and entailed vast debts on your posterity; you should calmly open your doors to the fugitives you had found out, and let in again the popish tyranny you had driven away?

For what reason was it that you presented the crown to your benefactor, called him your deliverer, and made him your king; and having done so, maintained him upon the throne with so much vigour, fought under his banner in so many battles, and with so great animosity, and professed to stand by him against all his enemies at home and abroad? Why is he in so many addresses [vid. the Collection of Addresses in King William's reign] styled the rescuer of this nation from popery and slavery? Why in so many acts of parliament8 is he called the great deliverer of the nation? Why in so many sermons preached to men, and prayers put up to God, has he the title of "the instrument blessed by heaven to free these nations from popery and arbitrary government?" Was all this done, that your posterity being brought back into the bondage their fathers were delivered from, should with the same alacrity call him an invader, an usurper, a parricide, and their fathers, rebels and revolters?

Why was the crown entailed by so many provisoes, reserves, and limitations? Why the names of every person that should succeed, so expressly and particularly mentioned and set down? [Vid. The several Prayers ordered to be read in Churches upon the occasion of the Fasts in King William's time.] Why so many acts of parliament9 to secure that entail, and punish with death those who should reject or oppose it? Why was the settlement of the crown thought to be of so much consequence to the public good, that the two daughters of King James, the late blessed Queen Mary, and her present royal majesty, thought themselves bound to agree to the same for the safety and peace of their country, though it was in prejudice of the right and possession of their own father? Was it all, that the return of these things might be made upon the people with the greater weight, and that posterity might be prejudiced against the memory of the two royal sisters, as accessary to the ruin of their own father?

Why was King James and his popish posterity entirely excluded for ever from enjoying the imperial crown of these realms? [Vid. The Act of Parliament for settling the Succession of the Crown on the illustrious House of Hanover.] Why were so many acts of parliament made to extinguish the hopes of his race, and of their party, and for farther security of her majesty's person and government? Why was the settlement of the succession in a protestant line made the principal reason of uniting the two kingdoms together? And why was that union so vigorously opposed by all those that adhered to the jacobite interest? Was this to illustrate the return of the abdicated line, and by the greatness of the nation's endeavour for keeping out the pretender, to justify his using them accordingly when he comes in?

Why was the union declared to be unalterable, and, as some say, the power thereby taken out of the hands of the British parliament to change the settlement of the crown, or to name any other persons than those of the illustrious house of Hanover to succeed; and, above all, why was that severest of all oaths, the abjuration, contrived; by which it is rendered impossible for this nation, upon any pretence whatsoever, to receive the pretender but with the black stigma of an abominable perjury? Was this that, with the greater reverence to laws, and the greater regard to the solemnity of a national oath, we might all turn tail upon our principles, and in defiance of God and the laws, bow our knees to an abjured pretender?

For God's sake, Britons, what are you doing? And whither are you going? To what dreadful precipices are ye hurrying yourselves? What! are you selling yourselves for slaves to the French, who you have conquered; to popery, which you have reformed from; and to the pretender, whom you have forsworn? Is this acting like Britons; like protestants, like lovers of liberty? Nay, is it acting like men of reasonable souls, and men who have the light of common sense to act by?

That we may move you, then, to consider a little the grossness and absurdity of what you are doing, dear countrymen, be prevailed upon to debate a little with yourselves the state of your own case, which I shall briefly and plainly lay before you, thus:--

The government having thought fit, for reasons of state which I have no room to speak of in this place, to separate from the confederates, as well in the field as in treating with the French, and unhappily, I doubt, to make a separate peace; among the several improvements made of this by the enemies of Britain, this is one, viz., to encourage and increase the friends and interest of the pretender, and this they do upon several foundations. 1. Upon a supposition, or suggestion rather, that the ministry, because they have not thought fit to carry on the war, are therefore coming so entirely into the interest of France, that they must of necessity comply with the French king's demand of restoring the pretender. 2. Upon a like ill-grounded suggestion that the people of England and Scotland are more inclined to receive the pretender than they were formerly; in both which suppositions they grossly impose upon you, and yet by both they subtly carry on their crafty designs to delude the more ignorant part of the people of this nation, and to prepare them, as they think, for the coming of the pretender: as appears thus:--

1. By persuading the common people that the ministry are for the pretender, they, as far as in them lies, make a breach, a misunderstanding, and lay a foundation of jealousy and distrust between the people and the government, enraging all those who are zealous for the Hanover succession, against the ministers of state, and so increasing the dangerous divisions that are among us, the closing and healing whereof is so much the duty and interest of all faithful subjects, that they may the more unanimously and sincerely join together against the pretender and all his adherents.

2. They intimidate those great numbers of people who, not so much acting by principle as example, are unwilling to show themselves in any cause which they have reason to fear is declining, and therefore act with the less zeal for the true interest, by how much they see, or think they see, the great ones of the nation fall off from it.

3. By suggesting that the common people of Great Britain are more inclined to the pretender than they were formerly, they think they bring them really to be so, and encourage all the endeavours of those who labour indefatigably all over the nation to have it so.

To undeceive the good people of Britain, therefore, in these things, dear countrymen, I beseech you to consider,

1. That whatever we may dislike of the proceedings of the ministry, and of the government, of which this is not the place to speak, there is no greater cheat can be put upon you than this is; for, whatever the jacobite party may promise themselves from the ministry, the ministry do not yet own their measures to tend that way; they do not act avowedly for the pretender; they do all things yet upon the supposition of the protestant succession, and carry it as in the interest of the house of Hanover; and to say they are for the pretender, is to charge them with the greatest treachery and hypocrisy, and is such an insolence in the jacobites, as the ministry ought to show their resentment at them for, and we hope they will do so; besides, there is a manifest difference between the fears of honest men, as that the measures of the ministry may encourage the friends of the pretenders and on the other hand, the insolent way of the jacobites claiming the ministry to be acting in their behalf; while therefore the ministry appear to act under the scheme of the Hanover succession, whether they are sincere or no, it is a good answer to a jacobite, whatever it is to another, to say, it is an unjustifiable assurance, and an affront to the government, to boast of the ministry being in the interest of the pretender.

It is also well worthy the consideration of the good people of Britain, that at the same time these men would have you believe that the ministers of state are bringing in the pretender, they would also have the ministers of state made believe, that the generality of the people are inclined to receive the pretender; by which double-faced fraud they endeavour to restrain you, the people of Britain, from appearing against the pretender, for fear of offending the government; and to restrain the said government in the same case, for fear of the people.

As they go on in these things with too much success, it is a very sad consideration to all true British protestants to find that a party of men among us, who yet call themselves protestants, fall in with them in many things, fomenting the divisions and breaches that are among us, weakening the constitution, and pursuing such principles as tend to destroy our liberties; by whose arts, and by the subtle management of which party, the revolution wears every day more and more out of date; the principles of liberty decay; the memory of King William sinks in our esteem; the heroic actions of that prince, which were once the just admiration of all the honest people of Great Britain, begin to be lost upon us, and forgotten among us, and to become as a mark of infamy to the nation!

Every considering protestant cannot but observe with horror, what swarms of popish priests from abroad, and jacobite emissaries at home, are spread about among us, and busily employed to carry on these wicked designs; how in disguise they run up and down the countries, mingling themselves in all companies, and in coffee-houses, and private conversation, endeavouring to insinuate with all possible subtlety, favourable notions of the pretender into the minds of the people, thereby to pave the way, and to prepare you for receiving him; such as, that he is the lawful son of King James; that he is a protestant in his heart; that he will abjure the errors of popery as soon as he has an opportunity; that the late King William promised to prove him a bastard, but never could do it; that it is hard to reject him for what was none of his own fault, and the like.

Although thinking men can and do see through these things, yet, as they are calculated and prepared to deceive the ignorant people in the country, it is earnestly desired of those who have their eyes open to the said popish delusions, that they would endeavour to undeceive their brethren and neighbours, and earnestly persuade them not to be imposed upon by the jesuitical insinuations of the popish faction, furnishing the poor honest people with just reasons for their adhering to the protestant settlement, and full answers to those who go about to deceive them: which answers are such as follow:--

1. It seems absolutely necessary to remind them of the reason of the late revolution; how King James II, by his popish counsellors, priests, and jesuits, had laid the foundation of overwhelming all our liberties, in an arbitrary, tyrannical government, ruling us without a parliament to redress our grievances, and, by a standing army, to execute forcibly his absolute commands; how he had engaged in the overthrow of our religion, by undermining the constitution of the Church of England, erecting an arbitrary ecclesiastical commission to dispossess our universities, and displace our ministers in every parish, and then to establish popery throughout the whole nation.

2. That in this distress, the whole nation applied themselves to the Prince of Orange, whose right to the succession made him justly appear as the proper person to assist and relieve this oppressed people; which prince came over at our invitation, was blessed with success, and all the favourers of popery and tyranny sunk at once; King James fled with his queen, and that person whom he called his son, and whom we now call justly the pretender.

3. Concerning the birth of this person, the nobility and gentry of England who invited over the prince, as may be seen by the memorial they presented to his highness, alleged, that there were violent presumptions that he was not born of the queen's body, which, however, they desired to leave to examination in a free parliament; which also the said prince expressed in his declaration, and that he was willing to leave the same to a free parliament.

4. That before a free parliament could be obtained, King James withdrew himself, and carried away his pretended son into the hands of the ancient enemies of this nation, and of our religion, the French, there to be educated in the principles of popery and enmity to this his native country.

By which action he not only declined to refer the legitimacy of his said son to the examination of the parliament, as the Prince of Orange had offered in his said declaration, but made such examination altogether useless and impracticable, he himself (King James) not owning it to be a legal parliament, and therefore not consenting to stand by such examination.

By the said abdication, and carrying away his said pretended son into the hands of the French to be educated in popery, &c., he gave the parliament of England and Scotland abundant reason for ever to exclude the said King James and his said pretended son from the government of these realms, or from the succession to the same, and made it absolutely necessary for them to do so, if they would secure the protestant religion to themselves and their posterity; and this without any regard to the doubt whether he was the lawful son of King James or no, since it is inconsistent with the constitution of this protestant nation to be governed by a popish prince.

So that there is now no more room to examine whether the said pretender be the lawful son of King James, or whether he is, or will turn to be a protestant, the examination of the legitimacy by parliament which was offered by the Prince of Orange in his declaration, having been declined by his father, and himself having been delivered up into the hands of the sworn enemies both of our religion, constitution, and nation.

If King James would have expected he should be received as his son, and succeed to his crowns, he should have suffered his birth to have been legally determined by the English and Scotch parliament at that time, and have left him in good protestant hands to have been educated in the protestant religion, and in the knowledge of the laws and constitutions of his country; in which case it was more than probable, had his birth appeared clear, and his hereditary right just, the parliament might have set the crown upon his head, and declared him king under the protection of their deliverer, the Prince of Orange: but to talk of it now, when his birth has never been examined or cleared up, and while he has been bred up to man's estate in popery, and that the worst sort, viz., French popery; and after the parliament of the respective kingdoms uniting in one, have by an unalterable, indissolvable union, settled and entailed the crown upon another head, viz., the present queen, and entailed it after her majesty in the most illustrious house of Hanover, the next of blood in a protestant line: to talk now of proving the birth of the pretender, and of his abjuring his errors and turning protestant, this is a fraud so absurd and ridiculous, that we hope the people of Great Britain can never be blinded with it.

Especially considering the party who talk of these things to us: and this ought to move the good people of Britain to receive the proposals of the pretender with indignation; for who are they, dear fellow-protestants! that persuade you to these things? Are they not the friends of France and Rome? Do not all the papists join with them? Do not all those who hated the revolution, and who long to restore arbitrary government, join with them?

Why, if he will abjure the Romish errors and turn protestant, why, I say, do the papists speak in his favour? Do any sect of religion love apostates! Those who forsake them and abjure them as heretical and erroneous! If they were not well assured that whatever appearing change he may make, he will still retain a secret affection to popery, they could not be rationally supposed to speak in his behalf.

But if that is not sufficient, what do they say to you as to his love of the liberty of his country? Has he been bred up in a tyrannical absolute court for nothing? Can he have any notion of government there but what is cruel, oppressive, absolute, and despotic? What principles of government will he come over with? and as he has sucked in tyranny with his milk, and knows no government but that of the most absolute monarch in the world, is this the man they would bring in to preserve the liberties and constitution of Britain?

When set upon the British throne, who are his allies and confederates? Will he be so ungrateful as not to be always at the devotion and command of the French king? a prince that took his father in a fugitive, an abdicated and ruined prince, when his fortunes were overthrown, and his crown taken from him; that made so many efforts to restore him, and hazarded his whole kingdom for it: if he forgets the kindness shown to his father, can he be so ungenerous, so unthankful, as to forget how the king of France nourished him from a child; how, after his father's death, he hazarded a second war to proclaim him king of Great Britain, and what expense he has been at to put him in possession of it? Should he forget all these obligations, he must be unfit to be called a Christian, much less a prince.

If he can act so barbarously to the French king, his benefactor, what must you Britons expect from him, who have done nothing to oblige him, but have for twenty-four years kept him and his father in exile, and treated them both with unsufferable indignity? If he can be ungrateful to the king of France, who has done so much for him, what must he be to you, who have done so much against him?

Again: if gratitude and honour have any influence upon him, if he has any sense of his obligation to the French king, will he not for ever be his most hearty, obedient, humble servant? Will he not always be in his interest, nay, ought he not to be so? Is he not tied by the laws of friendship and gratitude to be so?

Think, then, dear Britons! what a king this pretender must be; a papist by inclination; a tyrant by education; a Frenchman by honour and obligation: and how long will your liberties last you in this condition? And when your liberties are gone, how long will your religion remain? When your hands are tied; when armies bind you; when power oppresses you; when a tyrant disarms you; when a popish French tyrant reigns over you; by what means or methods can you pretend to maintain your protestant religion?

How shall the Church of England stand, when in subjection to the Church of Rome? You are now mixed with dissenters, and some are uneasy enough with them too; but our church will then be but a dissenting church; popery will be the establishment; the mass will succeed our common prayer, and fire and fagot instead of toleration, as you know was our case before; for it is not the first time the papists have been tried.

Nor did Queen Mary promise, nay, swear less than is now promised for the pretender; for she swore to the Gospellers of Suffolk to make no alteration in religion; and they, like the blinded protestants of this age, brought her in, for which they were the first that felt the fury and rage of the popish party, and so we have great cause to believe it would be again.

The Conclusion

Consider, then, honest countrymen and protestants, what you are doing; look on your families; consider your innocent children, who you are going to give up to be bred in abominable superstition and idolatry; look on your dear country, which you are preparing to make the seat of war, blood, and confusion; look on your neighbours, who, while they are resisting this inundation, for you may be assured honest men will resist it to the last, you are to fight with, whose throats you must cut, and in whose blood you must dip your hands; and, lastly, consider yourselves; how free, how quiet, how in peace, plenty, and in protestant liberty you now live, but are with your own hands pulling down upon you, so far as you entertain thoughts of the pretender, the walls of your own security, viz., the constitution, and making way for your French popish enemies to enter; to whom your religion, your liberties, your estates, your families, and your posterity, shall be made a sacrifice, and this flourishing nation be entirely ruined.

In the last place, all that have any concern left for the good of their country, and for the preserving the protestant religion, will remember how much it is in the power of the people of Britain for ever to discourage all the attempts to be made in favour of these popish enemies, and to overthrow them in the execution; and it is on this foundation that this paper is made public. The late letter from Douay, written by some of that side, who very well understood the pretender's true interest, acknowledges this, and that if the people of England could not be wheedled and deluded into the design, it was never to be done by force.

And is this your case, Britons! Will you be ruined by a people whom you ought to despise? Have they not been twenty years trying your strength, till they find it impossible for them to master you? And are they brought to such a condition as to use all their arts and shifts to bring on a peace; and will you be brought now in cool thoughts, and after so long a struggle, to do that yourselves which you would never let them do; and which, without your most stupid negligence of yourselves, they could never do.

For this reason, I say, these lines are written, and this makes them just, and the argument rational. If I were to move you to what was not in your power, I should easily be answered, by being told, you could not do it; that you were not able, and the like; but is it not evident that the unanimous appearance of the people of Great Britain against the pretender would at once render all the party desperate, and make them look upon the design as utterly impracticable. As their only hope is in the breaches they are making in your resolutions, so if they should see they gain no ground there, they would despair, and give it over.

It would not be worth notice to inquire who are, and who are not for the pretender; the invidious search into the conduct of great men, ministers of state and government, would be labour lost: no ministry will ever be for the pretender, if they once may but be convinced that the people are steady; that he gets no ground in the country; that the aversions of the common people to his person and his government are not to be overcome: but if you, the good people of England, slacken your hands; if you give up the cause; if you abate your zeal for your own liberties, and for the protestant religion; if you fall in with popery and a French pretender; if you forget the revolution, and King William, what can you expect? who can stand by you then? Who can save them that will destroy themselves?

The work is before you; your deliverance, your safety is in your own hands, and therefore these things are now written: none can give you up; none can betray you but yourselves; none can bring in popery upon you but yourselves; and if you could see your own happiness, it is entirely in your power, by unanimous, steady adhering to your old principles, to secure your peace for ever. O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

1 In the several barons' wars in the reign of King Stephen, King John, &c.

2 Especially of the persecuted protestants in the Low Countries, in Queen Elizabeth.

3 Henry IV., who turned papist, and with much difficulty granted liberty to his protestant subjects by the edict of Nantes.

4 The French refugees, who being received here, are grown rich and wealthy by our trade.

5 The Flemings, when threatened with the inquisition from Spain, under the reign of Philip II.

6 Under William Henry, the first Prince of Orange, who formed the revolt of the Dutch provinces, and laid the foundation of the States General and their commonwealth.

7 Monthly fasts appointed the first Wednesday of every month during the war in King William's time.

8 Act for Offering the Crown; The Claim of Right; Act for Security of his Majesty's Person and Government, &c.

9 Vid. The Act of the Settlement, and the Act of the Union; the Act to extinguish the hopes of the Jacobites; and the Act for farther securing her Majesty's Person and Government.

An Answer to a Question that Nobody thinks of, viz., But what if the Queen should Die?

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