صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

powerful aid of Great Britain, given to the house of Austria, was likely to thwart those measures, which, to gratify her ambition, the government of France had resolved to pursue, when it occurred to that sagacious old veteran, as it had often done to his predecessors, that he might be relieved from a principal portion of the pressure, by reviving the pretensions of the Stuart family to the throne of Britain.

In pursuance of this plan, Fleury, in the month of February, 1742, despatched Drummond of Bochaldy back to Edinburgh, where he found most of the conspirators who had signed the association, which had by him been carried to the pretender at Rome, and who, with the addition of some others, “ had formed themselves into a society, which they called the concert of gentlemen for managing the king's affairs in Scotland." To these gentlemen Drummond communicated the friendly intentions of the cardinal, who was so well pleased with the intelligence from Scotland, and had the interests of the pretender so much at heart, that, provided he had the same assurances froin the friends of the Stuart family in England, he would instantly send over thirteen thousand men, three thousand of which he would land upon the east and west coasts of Scotland, and ten thousand as near London as possible. After having thus made the conspirators fully acquainted with the cardinal's plan of invasion, Drummond returned to Paris, and had an audience of the French minister, who, as he wrote back to his employers, was exceedingly pleased with the account given him of the state of affairs in Scotland, and designed to put his scheme of invasion to the proof without a moments delay. Nothing, however, was either done or attempted during all that year, and the Scotish conspirators began to be apprehensive that the cardinal had no intention to assist them by an invasion, but that Drummond, to keep up the spirit of the party in Scotland, and to make himself considerable as the agent of the cardinal, had exceeded his instructions, and laid before them a plan such as he thought would please. To ascertain the real state of the case, Murray of Broughton, who had now joined himself to the party, was prevailed on to go upon a mission to Paris, in the month of January, 1743, where, when he arrived, he found that cardinal Fleury was dead, and was succeeded in his office of

premier by the cardinal de Tencin, to whom he had recommended the execution of his design to restore the family of Stuart.

Nothing could be more cheering to the party than this intelligence. Tencin had been elevated to the purple through the interest of the Chevalier de St. George, and was strongly attached to the Stuart family. His temper was violent and enterprising, and his ambition was flattered with the prospect of giving a king to Great Britain, while his better feelings must have been gratified with the prospect of performing such an important service to his benefactor. Long had the Stuart family, with all their adherents, been dependant on the French court, often had their highest hopes been excited by fair promises, or by partial movements, on the part of that court, and as often had they been miserably disappointed. Now, however, the star of their good fortune seemed to shine in carnest, and all their friends to be seriously disposed to assist them. Fifteen thousand men were assembled on the coast of Picardy, and transports were provided at Dunkirk, Calais, and Boulogne, for their embarkation. The celebrated marshal Saxe was appointed their commander, and it was determined that they should be landed on the coast of Kent, under convoy of a strong squadron equipped at Brest, and placed under the orders of Monsieur Roquefeuille, an officer of great capacity and experience. The chevalier de St. George was himself too old, and had too little reputation to add any thing by his personal presence to such an expedition, but it was stipulated that he should delegate his authority to his son Charles, of whom many wonderful tales had been industriously propagated, and in whose future life the most illustrious deeds were confidently anticipated. The duke of Ormond was also particularly requested by the chevalier to assist on this important occasion, but he excused himself on account of his great age. · On the ninth of January, 1744, Charles Edward, eldest son of the chevalier de St. George, set out from Rome in the disguise of a Spanish courier, and accompanied only by one servant. Furnished with passports by the Spanish minister, cardinal Aquaviva, he travelled through Tuscany to Genoa, whence he proceeded to Savena, where he embarked for Antibes, and pro

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

secuting his journey to Paris, was indulged with a private audience of the French king, after which he set out to join the army that was assembling in Picardy.

The British ministry had not been inattentive to this armament, and once apprized of the presence of the pretender's son along with it, were at no loss to comprehend its destination. Mr. Thompson, the English resident at Paris, was ordered to remonstrate with the French government on the violation of those treaties by which the pretender to the crown of Great Britain was excluded from the territories of France, but was only answered by complaints of manifold infractions by his Britannic majesty of these very treaties.* The British government lost no time in making preparations to meet the threatened danger, and the states-general were instantly applied to for the six thousand men stipulated by former treaties in case of an invasion on the part of the pretender. This application their high mightinesses complied with in the most cordial manner, and sent instantly to their admiralties to accelerate the manning of such ships as were in a condition for being the soonest put to sea," adding the strongest and most cordial professions of their high mightinesses' unalterable attachment to his majesty's person and government.” Several regiments were at the same time marched to the coast, and all commanders were ordered to their respective posts. The forts at the mouths of the Thames and Medway were put in a posture of defence, orders were issued to assemble the Kentish militia, and Sir John Norris was forthwith ordered to take the command of the fleet at Spithead, with which he sailed round to the Downs, where he was joined by seven ships of the line from Chatham, when he found himself at the head of a squadron considerably stronger than that of the enemy.

On the fifteenth day of February the king sent a message to both houses of parliament, intimating the arrival of the pretender's son in France, the preparations at Dunkirk, and the appearance of a French fleet in the English Channel. Both houses joined in an address, declaring their abhorrence of such a design, and assuring his majesty that “ they would with the

* History of England. Scots Magazine for February, 1744.

warmest zeal and unanimity take such measures as, by the blessing of God, would enable him to frustrate and defeat so desperate and insolent an attempt." The earl of Stair, who, on a former occasion, on account of great ingratitude on the part of the government, had resigned all his public employments, forgetting all his wrongs, came forward with an offer of his services, and was re-invested with the chief command of all the forces in Great Britain. His example was followed by several noblemen of the first rank. The duke of Montague was permitted to raise a regiment of horse, and orders were sent to bring over six thousand British troops from Flanders.

On the twenty-fourth of the month, colonel William Cecil was taken into custody, his papers seized, and a guard set over his house. He was examined by a committee of the privy council on the twenty-seventh, and committed to the Tower for high treason. The earl of Barrymore, member for Wigan in Lancashire, was likewise taken into custody on the twentyseventh, on a suspicion of high treason, and a guard set over his house. Next day the chancellor of the exchequer, by the king's command, acquainted the house therewith, who thereupon returned an address of thanks, requesting of his majesty that the said earl might be securely detained.* A bill for suspending the habeas corpus act was immediately brought in, read a first and second time, and committed for the twenty-ninth, on which day it was engrossed and sent to the lords, where it was gone through with such despatch as to be ready for the royal assent on the following day.

On the twenty-fifth a proclamation was issued for putting the laws in execution against papists and nonjurors, and against riots and rioters, commanding all papists and reputed papists to depart out of the cities of London and Westminster, and all places within ten miles of the same, on or before the second of March, ordering all popish recusants to repair to their respective places of abode, and not to remove from thence above five

These men were both of them implicated in the association that had been entered into on behalf of the pretender in Scotland, but fortunately for themselves, they refused to put their hands to any paper, till they should be certified of the auxiliary forces the pretender could bring along with him. -Trial of Lord Lovat, &c. &c.

miles, and requiring the justices, &c. “ to tender the oaths to all persons suspected to be papists; and in case of refusal, to seize their arms, ammunition, and such of their horses as are above five pounds value.” Loyal addresses were in the meantime poured in from all quarters, from the cities of London and Edinburgh, and from all the principal towns of Great Britain, from the universities, the clergy, the dissenting ministers, the quakers, &c. &c.

These loyal demonstrations, however, did not affect the preparations of the French court, which were going on at Boulogne and Dunkirk, under the eye of the young pretender, and seven thousand of the troops were actually embarked. M. de Roquefeuille, after having detached five ships to hasten the embarkation at Dunkirk, sailed up the Channel as far as Dungeness, a promontory on the coast of Kent, where he cast anchor; but on the twenty-fourth of February, perceiving the British fleet, under Sir John Norris, doubling the South Foreland from the Downs, and though the wind was against him, taking the advantage of the tide to commence an attack, Roquefeuille, who was not expecting such a visit, called a council of war, where it was determined to avoid an engagement, weigh anchor at sunset, and make the best of their way whence they had set sail. This determination they were enabled to carry into execution, in consequence of the failing of the tide, which obliged the English admiral to anchor two leagues short of them, and a hard gale of wind which carried them down the Channel with incredible expedition. The storm, however, though it saved their fleet, put an end, for the present, to the design of invading England, a great number of their transports being driven on shore by it, and totally lost, while the remainder were so damaged, as to be unable to put to sea without repairs. The English, at the same time, being masters at sea, and their coasts so well guarded, left the enterprise no chance of success; the French generals nominated to serve in the expedition, returned to Paris, and the young pretender was left again without much probability of external assistance. He, however, lingered in Paris and its neighbourhood incognito, waiting to see what chance or change of circumstances might do for him.*

• Scots Magazine for 1744.

« السابقةمتابعة »