Reasons against the Succession of the House of Hanover, With an Enquiry
How far the Abdication of King James, supposing it to be Legal, ought to affect the Person of the Pretender
A pamphlet produced by Daniel Defoe (published 1713)
Si Populus vult Decipi, Decipiatur
London: Printed for J. Baker, at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row, 1713 [Price 6d.]
What strife is here among you all? And what a noise about who shall or shall not be king, the Lord knows when? Is it not a strange thing we cannot be quiet with the queen we have, but we must all fall into confusion and combustions about who shall come after? Why, pray folks, how old is the queen, and when is she to die? that here is this pother made about it. I have heard wise people say the queen is not fifty years old, that she has no distemper but the gout, that that is a long-life disease, which generally holds people out twenty, or thirty, or forty years; and let it go how it will, the queen may well enough linger out twenty or thirty years, and not be a huge old wife neither. Now, what say the people, must we think of living twenty or thirty years in this wrangling condition we are now in? This would be a torment worse than some of the Egyptian plagues, and would be intolerable to bear, though for fewer years than that. The animosities of this nation, should they go on, as it seems they go on now, would by time become to such a height, that all charity, society, and mutual agreement among us, will be destroyed. Christians shall we be called! No; nothing of the people called Christians will be to be found among us. Nothing of Christianity, or the substance of Christianity, viz., charity, will be found among us! The name Christian may be assumed, but it will be all hypocrisy and delusion; the being of Christianity must be lost in the fog, and smoke, and stink, and noise, and rage, and cruelty, of our quarrel about a king. Is this rational? Is it agreeable to the true interest of the nation? What must become of trade, of religion, of society, of relation, of families, of people? Why, hark ye, you folk that call yourselves rational, and talk of having souls, is this a token of your having such things about you, or of thinking rationally; if you have, pray what is it likely will become of you all? Why, the strife is gotten into your kitchens, your parlours, your shops, your counting-houses, nay, into your very beds. You gentlefolks, if you please to listen to your cookmaids and footmen in your kitchens, you shall hear them scolding, and swearing, and scratching, and fighting among themselves; and when you think the noise is about the beef and the pudding, the dishwater, or the kitchen-stuff, alas, you are mistaken; the feud is about the more mighty affairs of the government, and who is for the protestant succession, and who for the pretender. Here the poor despicable scullions learn to cry, High Church, No Dutch Kings, No Hanover, that they may do it dexterously when they come into the next mob. Here their antagonists of the dripping-pan practise the other side clamour, No French Peace, No Pretender, No Popery. The thing is the very same up one pair of stairs: in the shops and warehouses the apprentices stand some on one side of the shop, and some on the other, (having trade little enough), and there they throw high church and low church at one another's heads like battledore and shuttlecock; instead of posting their books, they are fighting and railing at the pretender and the house of Hanover; it were better for us certainly that these things had never been heard of. If we go from the shop one story higher into our family, the ladies, instead of their innocent sports and diversions, they are all falling out one among another; the daughters and the mother, the mothers and the daughters; the children and the servants; nay, the very little sisters one among another. If the chambermaid is a slattern, and does not please, Hang her, she is a jade; or, I warrant she is a highflier; or, on the other side, I warrant she is a whig; I never knew one of that sort good for anything in my life. Nay, go to your very bed-chambers, and even in bed the man and wife shall quarrel about it. People! people! what will become of you at this rate? If ye cannot set man and wife together, nor your sons and daughters together, nay, nor your servants together, how will ye set your horses together, think ye? And how shall they stand together twenty or thirty years, think ye, if the queen should live so long? Before that time comes, if you are not reduced to your wits, you will be stark mad; so that unless you can find in your hearts to agree about this matter beforehand, the condition you are in, and by that time will in all likelihood be in, will ruin us all; and this is one sufficient reason why we should say nothing, and do nothing about the succession, but just let it rest where it is, and endeavour to be quiet; for it is impossible to live thus. Further, if Hanover should come while we are in such a condition, we shall ruin him, or he us, that is most certain. It remains to inquire what will be the issue of things. Why, first, if ye will preserve the succession, and keep it right, you must settle the peace of the nation: we are not in a condition to stand by the succession now, and if we go on we shall be worse able to do so; in his own strength Hanover does not pretend to come, and if he did he must miscarry: if not in his own, in whose then but the people of Britain? And if the people be a weakened, divided, and deluded people, and see not your own safety to lie in your agreement among yourselves, how shall such weak folk assist him, especially against a strong enemy; so that it will be your destruction to attempt to bring in the house of Hanover, unless you can stand by and defend him when he is come; this will make you all like Monmouth's men in the west, and you will find yourselves lifted up to halters and gibbets, not to places and preferments. Unless you reconcile yourselves to one another, and bring things to some better pass among the common people, it will be but to banter yourselves to talk of the protestant succession; for you neither will be in a condition to bring over your protestant successor, or to support him on the throne when you have brought him; and it will not be denied, but to make the attempt, and not succeed in it, is to ruin yourselves; and this I think a very good reason against the succession of the house of Hanover.
Another argument relates something to the family of Hanover itself. Here the folk are continually fighting and quarrelling with one another to such a degree as must infallibly weaken and disable the whole body of the nation, and expose them to any enemy, foreign or domestic. What prince, think you, will venture his person with a party or a faction, and that a party crushed, and under the power of their enemy; a party who have not been able to support themselves or their cause, how shall they support and defend him when he comes? And if they cannot be in a posture to defend and maintain him when they have him, how shall he be encouraged to venture himself among them? To come over and make the attempt here according to his just claim and the laws of the land, would be indeed his advantage, if there was a probability that he should succeed; otherwise the example of the king of Poland is sufficient to warn him against venturing while the nation is divided, and together by the ears, as they are here. The whole kingdom of Poland, we see, could not defend King Augustus against the Swedes and their pretender; but though he had the majority, and was received as king over the whole kingdom, yet it being a kingdom divided into factions and parties, and those parties raging with bitter envy and fury one against another, even just as ours do here, what came of it but the ruin of King Augustus, who was as it were a prisoner in his own court, and was brought to the necessity of abdicating the crown of Poland, and of acknowledging the title of the pretender to that crown. Now, what can the elector of Hanover expect, if he should make the attempt here while we are in this divided factious condition,--while the pretender, backed by his party at home, shall also have the whole power of France to support him, and place him upon the throne?
Let us but look back to a time when the very same case almost fell out in this nation; the same many ways it was, that is, in the case of Queen Mary I, your bloody papist persecuting Queen Mary and the Lady Jane Dudley, or Grey. The late King Edward VI had settled the protestant succession upon the Lady Jane; it was received universally as the protestant succession is now. The reasons which moved the people to receive it were the same, i.e., the safety of the protestant religion, and the liberties and properties of the people; all the great men of King Edward's court and council came readily into this succession, and gave their oaths, or what was in those days (whatsoever it may be now) thought equal to an oath, viz., their honour, for the standing by the successor in her taking possession of her said just right. Mary, daughter of Catherine of Spain, was the pretender; her mother was abdicated (so we call it in this age), repudiated, they called it, or divorced. Her daughter was adjudged illegitimate or spurious, because the marriage of her mother was esteemed unlawful; just as our pretender is by this nation suggested spurious, by reason of the yet unfolded mysteries of his birth. Again, that pretender had the whole power of Spain, which was then the most dreaded of any in the world, and was just what the French are now, viz., the terror of Europe. If Queen Mary was to have the crown, it was allowed by all that England was to be governed by Spanish councils, and Spanish maxims, Spanish money, and Spanish cruelty. Just as we say now of the pretender, that if he was to come in we shall be all governed by French maxims, French councils, French money, and French tyranny. In these things the pretender (Mary) at that time was the parallel to our pretender now, and that with but very little difference. Besides all this, she was a papist, which was directly contrary to the pious design of King Edward in propagating the reformation. Exactly agreeing these things were with our succession, our pretender, our King William, and his design, by settling the succession for the propagating the revolution, which is the reformation of this day, as the reformation was the revolution of that day. After this formal settling of the succession the king (as kings and queens must) dies, and the lords of the council, as our law calls them, they were the same thing, suppose lords justices, they meet and proclaim their protestant successor, as they were obliged to do; and what followed? Had they been unanimous, had they stuck to one another, had they not divided into parties, high and low, they had kept their protestant successor in spite of all the power of Spain, but they fell out with one another; high protestants against low protestants! And what was the consequence? One side to ruin the other brought in the pretender upon them, and so Spanish power, as it was predicted, came in upon them, and devoured them all. Popery came in, as they feared, and all went to ruin; and what came of the protestant successor? Truly they brought her to ruin. For first bringing her in, and then, by reason of their own strife and divisions, not being able to maintain her in the possession of that crown, which at their request she had taken, she fell into her enemies' hand, was made a sacrifice to their fury, and brought to the block. What can be a more lively representation of our case now before us? He must have small sense of the state of our case, I think, who in our present circumstances can desire the Hanover succession should take place. What! would you bring over the family of Hanover to have them murdered? No, no, those that have a true value for the house of Hanover, would by no means desire them to come hither, or desire you to bring them on such terms; first let the world see you are in a condition to support and defend them, that the pretender, and his power and alliances of any kind, shall not disperse and ruin him and you together; first unite and put yourselves into a posture that you may defend the succession, and then you may have it; but as it stands now, good folks, consider with yourselves what prince in Europe will venture among us, and who that has any respect or value for the house of Hanover can desire them to come hither.
These are some good reasons why the succession of the house of Hanover should not be our present view. Another reason may be taken from the example of the good people in the days of King Edward VI. They were very good, religious people, that must be allowed by all sides, and who had very great zeal for the protestant religion and the reformation, as it was then newly established among them; and this zeal of theirs appeared plainly in a degree we can scarce hope for among the protestants of this age, viz., in their burning for it afterwards; yet such was their zeal for the hereditary right of their royal family, that they chose to fall into the hands of Spanish tyranny, and of Spanish popery, and let the protestant religion and the hopes of its establishment go to the d----l, rather than not have the right line of their princes kept up, and the eldest daughter of their late King Henry come to the crown. Upon this principle they forsook their good reforming King Edward's scheme, rejected the protestant succession, and they themselves, protestants, sincere protestants, such as afterwards died at a stake for their religion, the protestant religion; yet they brought in the pretender according to their principles, and run the risk of what could follow thereupon. Why should we think it strange, then, that protestants now in this age, and Church of England protestants too, should be for a popish pretender? No doubt but they may be as good protestants as the Suffolk men in Queen Mary's time were, and if they are brought to it, will go as far, and die at a stake for the protestant religion, and in doing this, no doubt, but it is their real prospect to die at a stake, or they would not do it to be sure. Now the protestant religion, the whole work of reformation, the safety of the nation, both as to their liberties and religion, the keeping out French or Spanish popery, the dying at a stake, and the like, being always esteemed things of much less value than the faithful adhering to the divine rule of keeping the crown in the right line, let any true protestant tell me, how can we pretend to be for the Hanover succession? It is evident that the divine hereditary right of our crown is the main great article now in debate. You call such a man the pretender, but is he not the son of our king? And if so, what is the protestant religion to us? Had we not much better be papists than traitors? Had we not much better deny our God, our baptism, our religion, and our lives, than deny our lawful prince, our next male in a right line? If popery comes, passive obedience is still our friend; we are protestants; we can die, we can burn, we can do anything but rebel; and this being our first duty, viz., to recognise our rightful sovereign, are we not to do that first? And if popery or slavery follow, we must act as becomes us. This being then orthodox doctrine, is equally a substantial reason why we should be against the Hanover succession.
There may be sundry other reasons given why we should not be for this new establishment of the succession, which, though perhaps they may not seem so cogent in themselves, have yet a due force, as they stand related to other circumstances, which this nation is at present involved in, and therefore are only left to the consideration of the people of these times. No question but every honest Briton is for a peaceable succession; now, if the pretender comes, and is quietly established on the throne, why then you know there is an end of all our fears of the great and formidable power of France; we have no more need to fear an invasion, or the effects of leaving France in a condition by the peace to act against us; and put the pretender upon us; and therefore, peace being of so much consequence to this nation, after so long and so cruel a war, none can think of entering upon a new war for the succession without great regret and horror. Now, it cannot be doubted but the succession of Hanover would necessarily involve us again in a war against France, and that perhaps when we may be in no good case to undertake it, for these reasons:--1. Perhaps some princes and states in the world by that time, seeing the great increase and growth of French power, may think fit to change their sentiments, and rather come over to that interest for want of being supported before, than be willing to embark against France, and so it may not be possible to obtain a new confederacy in the degree and extent of it, which we have seen it in, or in any degree suitable to the power of France; and if so, there may be but small hopes of success in case of a new rupture; and any war had better be let alone than be carried on to loss, which often ends in the overthrow of the party or nation who undertake it, and fails in the carrying it on. 2. France itself, as well by the acquisition of those princes who may have changed sides, as above, as by a time for taking breath after the losses they have received, may be raised to a condition of superior strength, and may be too much an overmatch for us to venture upon; and if he thinks fit to send us the person we call the pretender, and order us to take him for our king, and this when we are in no condition to withstand him, prudence will guide us to accept of him; for all people comply with what they cannot avoid; and if we are not in a condition to keep him out, there wants very little consultation upon the question, whether we shall take him in, or no? Like this is a man, who being condemned to be hanged, and is in irons in the dungeon at Newgate, when he sees no possibility either of pardon from the queen, or escape out of prison, what does he resolve upon next? What! why he resolves to die. What should he resolve on? Everybody submits to what they cannot escape. People! people! if ye cannot resist the French king, ye must submit to a French pretender. There is no more to be said about that. 3. Then some allies, who it might be thought would be able to lend you some help in such a case as this is, may pretend to be disgusted at former usage, and say they were abandoned and forsaken in their occasion by us, and they will not hazard for a nation who disobliged them so much before, and from whom they have not received suitable returns for the debt of the revolution. And if these nations should take things so ill as to refuse their aid and assistance in a case of so much necessity as that of the succession, how shall we be able to maintain that attempt? And, as before, an attempt of that, or any other kind like that, is better unmade than ineffectually made. 4. Others add a yet farther reason of our probable inability in such a case, viz., that the enemies of Britain have so misrepresented things to some of the neighbouring nations, our good friends and allies, as if we Britons had betrayed the protestant interest, and not acted faithfully to our confederacies and alliances, in which our reputation, it is pretended, has suffered so much, as not to merit to be trusted again in like cases, or that it should be safe to depend upon our most solemn engagements. This, though it is invidious and harsh, yet if there may be any truth in it, as we hope there is not, may be added as a very good reason, why, after this war is over, we may be in no good case at all to undertake or to carry on a new war in defence of the new protestant succession, when it may come to be necessary so to do. Since, then, the succession of Hanover will necessarily involve us in a new war against France, and for the reasons above, if they are allowed to be good reasons, we may not be in a condition to carry on that war, is not this a good reason why we should not in our present circumstances be for that succession? Other reasons may be taken from the present occasion the nation may lie under of preserving and securing the best administration of things that ever this nation was under in many ages; and if this be found to be inconsistent with the succession of Hanover, as some feign, it is hoped none will say but we ought to consider what we do; if the succession of Hanover is not consistent with these things, what reason have we to be for the said succession, till that posture of things be arrived when that inconsistency may be removed? And now, people of Britain! be your own judges upon what terms you can think it reasonable to insist any longer upon this succession. I do not contend that it is not a lawful succession, a reasonable succession, an established succession, nay, a sworn succession; but if it be not a practicable succession, and cannot be a peaceable succession; if peace will not bring him in, and war cannot, what must we do? It were much better not to have it at all, than to have it and ruin the kingdom, and ruin those that claim it at the same time.
But yet I have other reasons than these, and more cogent ones; learned men say, some diseases in nature are cured by antipathies, and some by sympathies; that the enemies of nature are the best preservatives of nature; that bodies are brought down by the skill of the physician that they may the better be brought up, made sick to be made well, and carried to the brink of the grave in order to be kept from the grave; for these reasons, and in order to these things, poisons are administered for physic; or amputations in surgery, the flesh is cut that it may heal; an arm laid open that it may close with safety; and these methods of cure are said to be the most certain as well as most necessary in those particular cases, from whence it is become a proverbial saying in physic, desperate diseases must have desperate remedies. Now it is very proper to inquire in this case whether the nation is not in such a state of health at this time, that the coming of the pretender may not be of absolute necessity, by way of cure of such national distempers which now afflict us, and that an effectual cure can be wrought no other way? If upon due inquiry it should appear that we are not fit to receive such a prince as the successor of the house of Hanover is, that we should maltreat and abuse him if he were here, and that there is no way for us to learn the true value of a protestant successor so well as by tasting a little what a popish pretender is, and feeling something of the great advantages that may accrue to us by the superiority of a Jacobite party; if the disease of stupidity has so far seized us that we are to be cured only by poisons and fermentations; if the wound is mortified, and nothing but deep incisions, amputations, and desperate remedies must be used; if it should be necessary thus to teach us the worth of things by the want of them; and there is no other way to bring the nation to its senses; why, what can be then said against the pretender? Even let him come that we may see what slavery means, and may inquire how the chains of French galleys hang about us, and how easy wooden shoes are to walk in; for no experience teaches so well as that we buy dearest, and pay for with the most smart.
I think this may pass for a very good reason against the protestant succession; nothing is surer than that the management of King Charles II and his late brother, were the best ways the nation could ever have taken to bring to pass the happy revolution; yet these afflictions to the island were not joyous, but grievous, for the time they remained, and the poor kingdoms suffered great convulsions; but what weighs that if these convulsions are found to be necessary to a cure? If the physicians prescribe a vomit for the cure of any particular distemper, will the patient complain of being made sick? No, no; when you begin to be sick, then we say, Oh, that is right, and then the vomit begins to work; and how shall the island of Britain spew out all the dregs and filth the public digesture has contracted, if it be not made sick with some French physic? If you give good nourishing food upon a foul stomach, you cause that wholesome food to turn into filth, and instead of nourishing the man, it nourishes diseases in the man, till those diseases prove his destruction, and bring him to the grave. In like manner, if you will bring the protestant successor into the government before that government have taken some physic to cleanse it from the ill digesture it may have been under, how do we know but the diseases which are already begun in the constitution may not be nourished and kept up, till they may hereafter break out in the days of our posterity, and prove mortal to the nation. Wherefore should we desire the protestant successor to come in upon a foot of high-flying menage, and be beholden for their establishment to those who are the enemies of the constitution? Would not this be to have in time to come the successors of that house be the same thing as the ages passed have already been made sick of, and made to spew out of the government? Are not any of these considerations enough to make any of us averse to the protestant succession? No, no; let us take a French vomit first, and make us sick, that we may be well, and may afterwards more effectually have our health established.
The pretender will no doubt bring us good medicines, and cure us of all our hypochondriac vapours that now make us so giddy. But, say some, he will bring popery in upon us; popery, say you! alas! it is true, popery is a sad thing, and that, say some folk, ought to have been thought on before now; but suppose then this thing called popery! How will it come in? Why, say the honest folk, the pretender is a papist, and if a popish prince come upon the throne we shall have popery come in upon us without fail. Well, well, and what hurt will this be to you? May not popery be very good in its kind? What if this popery, like the vomit made of poison, be the only physic that can cure you? If this vomit make you spew out your filth, your tory filth, your idolatrous filth, your tyrannic filth, and restore you to your health, shall it not be good for you? Where pray observe in the allegory of physic; you heard before when you take a vomit, the physic given you to vomit is always something contrary to nature, something that if taken in quantity would destroy; but how does it operate? It attacks nature, and puts her upon a ferment to cast out what offends her; but remark it, I pray, when the patient vomits, he always vomits up the physic and the filth together; so, if the nation should take a vomit of popery, as when the pretender comes most certain it is that this will be the consequence, they will vomit up the physic and the filth together; the popery and the pretender will come all up again, and all the popish, arbitrary, tyrannical filth, which has offended the stomach of the nation so long, and ruined its digesture, it will all come up together; one vomit of popery will do us all a great deal of good, for the stomach of the constitution is marvellous foul. Observe, people! this is no new application; the nation has taken a vomit of this kind before now, as in Queen Mary I's time; the reformation was not well chewed, and being taken down whole, did not rightly digest, but left too much crudity in the stomach, from whence proceeded ill nourishment, bad blood, and a very ill habit of body in the constitution; witness the distemper which seized the Gospellers in Suffolk, who being struck with an epilepsy or dead palsy in the better half of their understanding, to wit, the religious and zealous part, took up arms for a popish pretender, against the protestant successor, upon the wild-headed whimsey of the right line being jure divino. Well, what followed, I pray? Why, they took a vomit of popery; the potion indeed was given in a double vehicle, viz., of fagots a little inflamed, and this worked so effectually, that the nation having vomited, brought up all the filth of the stomach, and the foolish notion of hereditary right, spewed out popery also along with it. Thus was popery, and fire and fagot, the most effectual remedy to cure the nation of all its simple diseases, and to settle and establish the protestant reformation; and why then should we be so terrified with the apprehensions of popery? Nay, why should we not open our eyes and see how much to our advantage it may be in the next reign to have popery brought in, and to that end the pretender set up, that he may help us to this most useful dose of physic? These are some other of my reasons against the protestant succession; I think they cannot be mended; it may perhaps be thought hard of that we should thus seem to make light of so terrible a thing as popery, and should jest with the affair of the protestants; no, people! no; this is no jest,--taking physic is no jest at all; for it is useful many ways, and there is no keeping the body in health without it; for the corruption of politic constitutions are as gross and as fatal as those of human bodies, and require as immediate application of medicines. And why should you people of this country be so alarmed, and seem so afraid of this thing called popery, when it is spoken of in intelligible terms, since you are not afraid alternately to put your hands to those things which as naturally tend in themselves to bring it upon you, as clouds tend to rain, or smoke to fire; what does all your scandalous divisions, your unchristian quarrellings, your heaping up reproaches, and loading each other with infamy, and with abominable forgeries, what do these tend to but to popery? If it should be asked how have these any such reference? the question is most natural from the premises. If divisions weaken the nation; if whig and tory, even united, are, and have been, weak enough to keep out popery, surely then widening the unnatural breaches, and inflaming things between them to implacable and irreconcileable breaches, must tend to overthrow the protestant kingdom, which, as our ever blessed Saviour said, when divided against itself cannot stand. Besides, are not your breaches come up to that height already as to let any impartial bystander see that popery must be the consequences? Do not one party say openly, they had rather be papists than presbyterians; that they would rather go to mass than to a meeting-house; and are they not to that purpose, all of them who are of that height, openly joined with the jacobites in the cause of popery? On the other hand, are not the presbyterians in Scotland so exasperated at having the abjuration oath imposed upon them, contrary, as they tell us, to their principles, that they care not if he, or any else, would come now and free them from that yoke? What is all this but telling us plainly that the whole nation is running into popery and the pretender? Why then, while you are obliquely, and by consequences, joining your hands to bring in popery, why, O distracted folk! should you think it amiss to have me talk of doing it openly and avowedly? Better is open enmity than secret guile; better is it to talk openly, and profess openly, for popery, that you may see the shape and real picture of it, than pretend strong opposition of it, and be all at the same time putting your hands to the work, and pulling it down upon yourselves with all your might.
But here comes an objection in our way, which, however weighty, we must endeavour to get over, and this is, what becomes of the abjuration? If the pretender comes in we are all perjured, and we ought to be all unanimous for the house of Hanover, because we are all perjured if we are for the pretender. Perjured, say ye! Ha! why, do all these people say we are perjured already? Nay, one, two, three, or four times? What signify oaths and abjurations in a nation where the parliament can make an oath to-day, and punish a man for keeping it to-morrow! Besides, taking oaths without examination, and breaking them without consideration, hath been so much a practice, and the date of its original is so far back, that none, or but very few, know where to look for it; nay, have we not been called in the vulgar dialect of foreign countries "the swearing nation"? Note, we do not say the forsworn nation; for whatever other countries say of us, it is not meet we should say so of ourselves; but as to swearing and forswearing, associating and abjuring, there are very few without sin to throw the first stone, and therefore we may be the less careful to answer in this matter: it is evident that the friends of the pretender cannot blame us; for have not the most professed jacobites all over the nation taken this abjuration? Nay, when even in their hearts they have all the while resolved to be for the pretender? Not to instance in the swearing in all ages to and against governments, just as they were or were not, in condition to protect us, or keep others out of possession; but we have a much better way to come off this than that, and we doubt not to clear the nation of perjury, by declaring the design, true intent, and meaning of the thing itself; for the good or evil of every action is said to lie in the intention; if then we can prove the bringing in the pretender to be done with a real intention and sincere desire to keep him out, or, as before, to spew him out; if we bring in popery with an intention and a sincere design to establish the protestant religion; if we bring in a popish prince with a single design the firmer and better to fix and introduce the protestant Hanover succession; if, I say, these things are the true intent and meaning, and are at the bottom of all our actions in this matter, pray how shall we be said to be perjured, or to break in upon the abjuration, whose meaning we keep, whatever becomes of the literal part of it. Thus we are abundantly defended from the guilt of perjury, because we preserve the design and intention upright and entire for the house of Hanover; though as the best means to bring it to pass we think fit to bring in popery and the pretender: but yet farther, to justify the lawfulness and usefulness of such kind of methods, we may go back to former experiments of the same case, or like cases, for nothing can illustrate such a thing so aptly, as the example of eminent men who have practised the very same things in the same or like cases, and more especially when that practice has been made use of by honest men in an honest cause, and the end been crowned with success. This eminent example was first put in practice by the late famous Earl of Sunderland, in the time of King James II, and that too in the case of bringing popery into England, which is the very individual article before us. This famous politician, if fame lies not, turned papist himself, went publicly to mass, advised and directed all the forward rash steps that King James afterwards took towards the introducing of popery into the nation; if he is not slandered, it was he advised the setting up of popish chapels and mass-houses in the city of London, and in the several principal towns of this nation; the invading the right of corporations, courts of justice, universities, and, at last, the erecting the high commission court, to sap the foundations of the church; and many more of the arbitrary steps which that monarch took for the ruin of the protestant religion, as he thought, were brought about by this politic earl, purely with design, and as the only effectual means to ruin the popish schemes, and bring about the establishment of the protestant religion by the revolution; and, as experience after made it good, he alone was in the right, and it was the only way left, the only step that could be taken, though at first it made us all of the opinion the man was going the ready way to ruin his country, and that he was selling us to popery and Rome. This was exactly our case; the nation being sick of a deadly, and otherwise incurable disease, this wise physician knew that nothing but a medicine made up of deadly poison, that should put the whole body into convulsions, and make it cast up the dregs of the malady, would have any effect; and so he applied himself accordingly to such a cure; he brought on popery to the very door; he caused the nation to swallow as much of it as he thought was enough to make her as sick as a horse, and then he foresaw she would spew up the disease and the medicine together; the potion of popery he saw would come up with it, and so it did. If this be our case now, then it may be true that bringing the pretender is the only way to establish the protestant succession; and upon such terms, and such only, I declare myself for the pretender. If any sort of people are against the succession of the house of Hanover on any other accounts, and for other reasons, it may not be amiss to know some of them, and a little to recommend them to those who have a mind to be for him, but well know not wherefore or why they are so inclined. 1. Some being instructed to have an aversion to all foreign princes or families, are against the succession of the princes of Hanover, because, as they are taught to say, they are Dutchmen; now, though it might as well be said of the pretender that he is a Frenchman, yet that having upon many accounts been made more familiar to them of late, and the name of a Dutch king having a peculiar odium left upon it, by the grievances of the late King William's reign, they can by no means think of another Dutch succession without abhorrence; nay, the aversion is so much greater than their aversions to popery, that they can with much more satisfaction entertain the notion of a popish French pretender than of the best protestant in the world, if he hath anything belonging to him that sounds like a Dutchman; and this is some people's reason against the Hanover succession; a reason which has produced various effects in the world since the death of that prince, even to creating national antipathies in some people to the whole people of Holland, and to wish us involved in a war with the Dutch without any foundation of a quarrel with them, or any reason for those aversions; but these things opening a scene which relates to things farther back than the subject we are now upon, we omit them here for brevity sake, and to keep more closely to the thing in hand at this time. Others have aversions to the Hanover succession as it is the effect of the revolution, and as it may reasonably be supposed to favour such principles as the revolution was brought about by, and has been the support of, viz., principles of liberty, justice, rights of parliaments, the people's liberties, free possession of property, and such like; these doctrines, a certain party in this nation have always to their utmost opposed, and have given us reason to believe they hate and abhor them, and for this reason they cannot be supposed to appear forward for the Hanover succession; to these principles have been opposed the more famous doctrines of passive obedience, absolute will, indefeasible right, the jus divinum of the line of princes, hereditary right, and such like; these, as preached up by that eminent divine, Dr. Henry Sacheverell, are so much preferable to the pretences of liberty and constitution, the old republican notions of the whigs, that they cannot but fill these people with hatred against all those that would pretend to maintain the foundation we now stand upon, viz., the revolution; and this is their reason against the Hanover succession, which they know would endeavour to do so.
Come we in the conclusion of this great matter to one great and main reason, which they say prevails with a great part of the nation at this time to be for the pretender, and which many subtle heads and industrious hands are now busily employed all over the kingdom to improve in the minds of the common people, this is the opinion of the legitimacy of the birth of the pretender; it seems, say these men, that the poor commons of Britain have been all along imposed upon to believe that the person called the pretender was a spurious birth, a child fostered upon the nation by the late king and queen; this delusion was carried on, say they, by the whigs in King William's time, and a mighty stir was made of it to possess the rabbles in favour of the revolution, but nothing was ever made of it; King William, say they, promised in his declaration to have it referred to the decision of the English parliament, but when he obtained the crown he never did anything that way more than encourage the people to spread the delusion by scurrilous pamphlets to amuse the poor commons; have them take a thing for granted which could have no other thing made of it; and so the judging of it in parliament was made a sham only; and the people drinking in the delusion, as they who were in the plot desired, it has passed ever since as if the thing had been sufficiently proved. Now upon a more sedate considering the matter, say they, the case is clear that this person is the real son of King James, and the favourers of the revolution go now upon another foundation, viz., the powers of parliaments to limit the succession; and that succession being limited upon King James's abdication, which they call voluntary; so that now, say they, the question about the legitimacy of the person called the pretender is over, and nothing now is to be said of it; that he is the son of King James, there is, say they, no more room to doubt, and therefore the doctrine of hereditary right taking place, as the ancient professed doctrine of the Church of England, there can be no objection against his being our lawful king; and it is contrary to the said Church of England doctrine to deny it. This, then, is the present reason which the poor ignorant people are taught to give why they are against the protestant succession, and why they are easily persuaded to come into the new scheme of a popish pretender, though at the same time they are all heartily against popery as much as ever.
It becomes necessary now to explain this case a little to the understanding of the common people, and let them know upon what foundation the right of these two parties is founded, and if this be done with plainness and clearness, as by the rights and laws of Englishmen and Britons appertaineth, the said commons of Britain may soon discover whether the succession of the house of Hanover, or the claim of the person called the pretender, is founded best, and which they ought to adhere unto. The first thing it seems to be made clear to the common people is, whether the pretender was the lawful son of King James, yea, or no? And why the contrary to this was not made appear, according to the promises which, they say, though falsely, were made by the late King William? In the first place is to be considered, that the declaration of the said king, when P. of O. putting the said case in the modestest manner possible, had this expression, That there were violent suspicions that the said person was not born of the queen's body, and that the prince resolved to leave the same to the free parliament, to which throughout the said declaration the said prince declared himself ready to refer all the grievances which he came over to redress. I shall give you this in the words of a late learned author upon that head.
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, viz., the French, there to be educated in the principles of 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.
The proof of the legitimacy being thus stated, and all the violent suspicions of his not being born of the queen being thus confirmed by the abdication of King James, come we next to examine how far this abdication could forfeit for this pretender, supposing him to be the real son of King James; this returns upon the right of the parliament to limit the succession, supposing King James had had no son at all; if the abdication be granted a lawfully making the throne vacant, it will be very hard to assign a cause why the parliament might not name a successor while the father was alive, whose right had no violent suspicions attending it, and not why they might not name a successor though the son was living; that the father's abdication forfeited for the son is no part of the question before us; for the father is not said to forfeit his right at all; no one ever questioned his right to reign, nor, had he thought fit to have stayed, could the parliament have named a successor, unless, as in the case of Richard II, he had made a voluntary resignation or renunciation of the crown, and of his people's allegiance; but the king having voluntarily abdicated the throne, this was as effectual a releasing his subjects from their allegiance to him, as if he had read an instrument of resignation, just as King Richard did; all the articles of such a resignation were naturally contained in the said abdication, except the naming the successor, as effectually as if they had been at large repeated; and since the resigning the crown has been formerly practised in England, and there is so eminent an example in our English history of the same, it will questionless be of use to the reader of these sheets to have the particulars of it before his eyes, which for that purpose is here set down at large, as it was done in the presence of a great number of English peers, who attended the king for that purpose, and is as follows:--
In the name of God, Amen. I Richard, by the grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, do hereby acquit and discharge all Archbishops, Bishops, Dukes, Marquisses, and Earls, Barons, Lords, and all other my subjects, both spiritual and secular, of what degree soever, from their oath of fealty and homage, and all other bonds of allegiance, to me due from them and their heirs, and do hereby release them from the said oath and allegiance, so far as they concern my person, for ever.
I also resign all my kingly majesty and dignity, with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging, and do renounce all the title and claim which I ever had, or have, to them. I also renounce the government of the said kingdom, and the name and royal highness thereunto belonging, freely and wholly, and swearing upon the Evangelists that I will never oppose this my voluntary resignation, nor suffer it to be opposed, as judging myself not unworthily deposed from my regal dignity for my deserts.
This resignation being read again in parliament, they grounded the deposing King Richard upon it, and declared him accordingly deposed, that is, declared the throne vacant; and immediately, by virtue of their own undoubted right of limiting the succession, named the successor. See the form in the history of that time, thus:--
That the throne was vacant by the voluntary cession and just deposition of King Richard II, and that therefore, according to their undoubted power and right so to do, they ought forthwith to the naming a successor to fill the said throne, which they forthwith did, by naming and proclaiming Henry, Duke of Lancaster, to be king, &c.
See the history of the kings of England, vol. fol. 287.
This was the same thing with King James's abdication, and King James's abdication was no less or more than an effectual resignation in form; now the parliament, upon the resignation of the crown by the king, having a manifold and manifest right to supply the throne so become vacant, had no obligation to regard the posterity of the abdicated prince, so far as any of them are concerned in, or involved by, the said abdication, and therefore considered of establishing and limiting the succession, without mentioning the reasons of the descent, having the reasons in themselves; but suppose the son of King James had been allowed legitimate, yet as the father had involved him in the same circumstances with himself, by first carrying him out of the kingdom, and afterwards educating him in the popish religion, he became abdicated also with his father; neither doth the being voluntary or not voluntary alter the case in the least, since in the laws of England a father is allowed to be able to forfeit for himself and for his children, and much more may he make a resignation for himself and his children, as is daily practised and allowed in law in the cutting off entails and remainders, even when the heir entail is in being, and under age. The people of Britain ought not then to suffer themselves to be imposed upon in such a case; for though the pretender were to be owned for the lawful son of King James, yet the abdication of King James his father, and especially his own passive abdication, was as effectual an abdication in him as if he had been of age, and done it voluntarily himself, and shall be allowed to be as binding in all respects in law as an heir in possession cutting off an heir entail. If this is not so, then was the settlement of the crown upon King William and Queen Mary unrighteous, and those two famous princes must be recorded in history for parricides and usurpers; nor will it end there, for the black charge must reach our most gracious sovereign, who must be charged with the horrible crimes of robbery and usurpation; and not the parliament or convention of the estates at the revolution only shall be charged as rebels and traitors to their sovereign, and breakers of the great command of rendering to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, but even every parliament since, especially those who have had any hand in placing the entail of the crown upon the person of the queen, and in confirming her majesty's possession thereof since her happy accession; and every act of parliament settling the succession on the house of Hanover must have likewise been guilty of treason and rebellion in a most unnatural manner. This is a heavy charge upon her majesty, and very inconsistent with the great zeal and affection with which all the people of Britain at this time pay their duty and allegiance to her majesty's person, and acknowledge her happy government; this may indeed be thought hard, but it is evident nothing less can be the case, and therefore those people who are so forward to plead the pretender's cause, on account of his being King James's lawful son, can do it upon no other terms than these, viz., to declare that the queen is herself an illegal governor, an usurper of another's right, and therefore ought to be deposed; or, that the hereditary right of princes is no indefeasible thing, but is subjected to the power of limitations by parliament. Thus I think the great difficulty of the pretender's being the rightful son of the late King James is over, and at an end; that it is no part of the needful inquiry relating to the succession, since his father involved him in the fate of his abdication, and many ways rendered him incapable to reign, and out of condition to have any claim; since the power of limiting the succession to the crown is an undoubted right of the parliaments of England and of Scotland respectively. Moreover, his being educated a papist in France, and continuing so, was a just reason why the people of England rejected him, and why they ought to reject him, since, according to that famous vote of the commons in the convention parliament, so often printed, and so often on many accounts quoted, it is declared, That it is inconsistent with the constitution of this protestant kingdom to be governed by a popish prince. Vid. Votes of the Convention, Feb. 2nd, 1688. This vote was carried up by Mr. Hampden to the house of lords the same day as the resolution of all the commons of England. Now, this prince being popish, not only so in his infancy, but continuing so even now, when all the acts of Parliament in Britain have been made to exclude him, his turning protestant now, which his emissaries promise for him, though perhaps without his consent, will not answer at all; for the acts of parliament, or some of them, having been past while he, though of age, remained a papist, and gave no room to expect any other, his turning protestant cannot alter those laws, suppose he should do so; nor is it reasonable that a nation should alter an established succession to their crown whenever he shall think fit to alter or change his religion; if to engage the people of Britain to settle the succession upon him, and receive him as heir, he had thought fit to turn protestant, why did he not declare himself ready to do so before the said succession was settled by so many laws, especially by that irrevocable law of the union of the two kingdoms, and that engagement of the abjuration, of which no human power can absolve us, no act of parliament can repeal it, nor no man break it without wilful perjury.
What, then, is the signification to the people of Britain whether the person called the pretender be legitimate, or no? The son of King James, or the son of a cinder-woman? The case is settled by the queen, by the legislative authority, and we cannot go back from it; and those who go about as emissaries to persuade the commons of Great Britain of the pretender having a right, go about at the same time traitorously to tell the queen's good subjects that her majesty is not our rightful queen, but an usurper.
Note that the copyright on this eBook has expired and it is free to copy.