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MAY 19.

was ordered out with the English fleet; and having formed a junction with the Dutch squadron, he directed his course for La Hogue. Off that place, about four o'clock in the morning, he discovered Tourville; who, though sensible of the superiority of the enemy, resolved to hazard an engagement, in order to vindicate himself from an aspersion that had been thrown on his courage by M. de Seignelay, minister for the Marine. He accordingly bore down in the Royal Sun, of one hundred and four guns, upon Russell, in the Britannia, of one hundred guns. The rest of the French fleet fell in with the English line, and a hot engagement ensued, in which the Dutch had little share. The two admirals plied their guns very warmly from eleven till one; when Tourville, being disabled, was towed off by his boats, and five fresh ships, with a furious fire, covered his retreat31.

A fog, which fell about four in the afternoon, preserved the French fleet from instant and inevitable ruin. But they were not suffered to escape without loss. Four of Tour

and to debase the crown in the person of fallen majesty. James II. 1692. See also Dalrymple's Append. and Macpherson's Original Papers.

But whatever opinion Russell might hold, or whatever views he might secretly entertain, his conduct proves him to have been an able and faithful servant to his country. Nor does any one feature in his character or circumstance in his life, afford us the smallest room to believe, whatever we may be told by the assassins of public virtue, that he could ever seriously intend to betray that country, and his trust as an English admiral, by carrying over the fleet under his command to the dethroned monarch, while a papist and pensioner of Lewis XIV. The ambitious and intriguing genius of Marlborough, his original treachery to James, and his long and intimate correspondence with his former master and benefactor whom he had betrayed, leave us more in the dark with respect to his ultimate designs. He appears to have had neither moral nor political principles, when they interfered with his avarice or ambition; and it seems certain that, from zeal for the service of James, or an aversion against William, he defeated, by his secret intelligence, an expedition against Brest, under admiral Russell, in 1694, Stuart Papers, May 1694. James II. 1694. 31. Russell's Letter to Nottingham, June 2, 1692.

ville's

ville's ships, which had been set on fire during the engagement, blew up during the night. Next morning the chace. was renewed; and the Royal Sun, the Admiral, another first rate, and the Conqueror, an eighty gun ship, were destroyed near Cherburg. The day following, thirteen line of battle ships, which had sought safety by running ashore at La Hogue, were burnt, together with twenty transports, laden with military stores 32. James, to the utter confusion of his hopes, beheld from the shore this destruction, which it was not in his power to prevent, and which totally broke the force of the French navy 33.

A. D. 1693.

The adherents of James in England, however, were not discouraged. They considered the failure of the invasion as an accident, which might soon be repaired, and continued to disturb the government with their intrigues. These intrigues, the perpetual opposition between the whigs and tories, and the necessity of large supplies to support the war on the continent, gave rise to two great and growing evils, intimately connected with each other; the national debt, and the corruption of the house of commons. At the same time that William, by a pernicious funding system, was loading the state with immense sums, borrowed to maintain his continental connections, he was liberal of the public money to his servants at home; and employed it with little ceremony, to bring over his enemies, or to procure a majority in parliament.

A. D. 1694.

In order to put a stop to this corruption, so far as it affected the representatives of the people, a bill was brought in for triennial parliaments; and William found himself under the necessity of passing it, or

32. Ibid.

33. "Ah!"-exclaimed the unfortunate monarch, with a mixture of admiration and regret, at seeing the French fleet, set on fire-" none but "my brave English tars could have performed so gallant an action!" Dalrymple's Mem.

of

of losing the vote of supply, with which it was made to go hand in hand. He was beside afraid to exert the influence of the crown, in defeating a bill of so much consequence to the nation; more especially as the queen, whose death he was sensible would weaken his authority, was then indisposed34. A similar bill, as we have already seen, was extorted from Charles I. but repealed, soon after the restoration, in compliment to Charles II. To this imprudent compliance may be ascribed the principal disorders during that and the subsequent reign. A house of commons, elected every three years, would have formed such a strong bulwark to liberty, as must have baffled and discouraged all the attacks of arbitrary power. The more honest and independent part of the community, therefore, zealously promoted the present law; which, while it continued in force, certainly contributed to stem the tide of corruption, and to produce a more fair representation of the people. How it came to be repealed, I shall afterward have occasion to notice.

The queen, as William had apprehended, died soon after the passing of this important bill. Mary was a woman of great equality of temper, and of no small share of understanding. She was a sincere protestant; and by her exemplary piety, the purity of her manners, and even by her notable industry, she contributed much to form the court, which had been extremely licentious during the two former reigns. Nor was she destitute of political address; which, in the absence of her husband, she employed in such a manner as to conciliate the affections of all parties. But here her praise must cease. She possessed few shining virtues, or elegant accomplishments. And the character of an obedient wife, so justly her due, is shaded by the reproach of being a cruel sister, and an unfeeling daughter; who entered the palace of her father, soon after he had been forced to leave it,

34. Burnet. book iv.

and

and ascended his throne with as much gaiety as if he had been an enemy to her existence, instead of an indulgent parent, and the fountain of her blood35.

William appeared to be very much afflicted at the death of the queen; and, however little regard he might have for her engaging person, from the coldness of his own disposi tion, his grief was possibly sincere. Her open and agreeable deportment, and her natural alliance to the throne, had chiefly contributed to reconcile the minds of men to his government. The whigs could forgive her every breach of filial duty, on account of her adherence to the protestant religion, and the principles of liberty; and even the tories were ready to ascribe her seeming want of sympathy with her father's misfortunes, to an obsequious submission to the will of her husband. With her, all natural title to the English crown expired, on the part of William ; and although his authority, supported by the act of settlement, was too firmly established to be immediately shaken, the hopes of the jacobites began daily to rise, and conspiracies were formed against his life, as the only bar to the restoration A. D. 1695. of James, and the succession of his son, the titular prince of Wales, whose legitimacy seemed now to be put beyond all question, by the queen's undisputed delivery of a daughter36.

The most dangerous of these conspiracies, conducted by sir George Barclay and other violent jacobites, was intimately connected with a plan for an insurrection in England, and an invasion from France. The duke of Berwick was sent over to forward the insur. rection. But the English nobility and gentry in the interest of James, though warmly disposed to serve him, very

A. D. 1696.

35. Burnet, book iv. v.

36. As the princess of Denmark had long held a secret correspondence with her father, and obtained his pardon for her undutiful conduct, it was presumed she would not oppose his restoration, by pleading her parlia mentary title to the succession.

prudently

prudently refused to take arms until a body of troops should be landed to support them. Finding them obstinate in this -resolution, and being informed of the conspiracy against the life of William, the duke immediately returned to France, that he might not be confounded with men, whose atrocious purpose had no connection with his commission; though he thought himself bound in honour, he tells us, not to dissuade them from it37.

In the meantime, the troops intended for the invasion, were assembled at Dunkirk and Calais. Four hundred transports were collected, and eighteen men of war were ready to escort them. James himself was on his way to join the army, when he was met by the duke of Berwick, after his return from England. Though he could not blame the cau tion of his friends, he was not a little mortified at it, as Lewis XIV. had positively declared, that he would not allow his troops to embark before an insurrection had actually taken place. The disconsolate prince, however, proceeded to Calais, in anxious expectation of the issue of the assassination plot: from which, though undertaken without his authority, he hoped to derive advantage from his present distressing circumstances. Like a drowning mariner, he caught at a slippery rope, and rested his desperate fortune on the point of a ruffian's sword. But his suspence and embarrasment were soon removed.

The plot was discovered; seve

ral of the conspirators were seized and executed, and all England was thrown into a ferment. The current of public opinion was suddenly changed. Even many of those, who hated the person, and disliked the government of William, were shocked at the idea of a barbarous attempt upon his life; and his throne, which seemed lately to shake to its base, was now more firmly established than ever38.

37. Mem. vol. i.

Admiral

38. Burnet, book v. Duke of Berwick's Mem. vcl. i. James II. 1696. Amid all these conspiracies against his person and government, William dis

covered

VOL. IV.

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