Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/193

This page needs to be proofread.


Hyde was sent to Edinburgh to declare that the king could no longer uphold his brother unless he conformed, at least so far as to attend church (ib. i. 699; cf. Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 129, and Ranke, vii. 149).

In Scotland, though James adhered in substance to the line pursued by Lauderdale, he adopted the conciliatory tone sanctioned by the king (Story, William Carstares, 1874, p. 50). His courtesy was valued by the nobility and gentry; while his attitude was conciliatory towards the presbyterians. He even discouraged a rigid enforcement of the laws against conventicles. But no actual change of system seems to have taken place, and in 1681 James's rule became more severe. The parliament, opened by him in July, passed an act completely securing the legitimate succession, any difference of religion notwithstanding, and another imposing a complicated test in favour of the royal prerogative (Dalrymple, i. 71). Argyll, after attempting to take it with a reservation, was prosecuted by the duke's orders, and sentenced to death, but escaped from prison (Burnet, ii. 300 seqq., 326–7; cf. Life, pp. 694 seqq., 702 seqq.). Great severity was shown in the application of the Test Act, though even Macaulay admits that the degree of James's personal responsibility is doubtful. Macaulay's general description (i. 270–1) is clearly overdone; the grotesque charge against him of having taken pleasure in the spectacle of the administration of torture appears to be founded solely on Burnet, ii. 426–8 (see Lockhart Papers, 1817, i. 600).

The duke's withdrawal from Scotland was the work of the Duchess of Portsmouth, who was intent upon a job for settling upon herself a portion of the post-office revenues enjoyed by him (Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 129, 132–4; Life, i. 722–7). He sailed from Leith on 4 March 1682 for Yarmouth, and on 11 March reached Newmarket, where he was very kindly received by the king (Reresby, p. 243; Pepys, vi. 138). Though the duchess's job could not be managed, the king was gratified by his brother's complacency. James sailed on 3 May to fetch home his duchess from Scotland in the Gloucester frigate (a ‘third rate’). The Gloucester [see under Berry, Sir John] was wrecked off the Yorkshire coast with great loss of life. James was afterwards accused of having taken particular care of his strong-box, his dogs, and his priests, while Legge with drawn sword kept off other passengers (Burnet, ii. 324–325; Clarendon Correspondence, i. 67–9, 71–4; Pepys, Diary and Correspondence, vi. 141–4; Ellis, Orig. Letters, 2nd ser. iv. 67 seqq.).

After his return to England (June), the political ascendency of James was fully established. Notwithstanding his pretence of impartiality (Reresby, p. 271), his influence was thrown altogether on the side of Rochester in the ensuing struggle for supremacy between him and Halifax; while, by making his peace with the duke, Sunderland contrived to be restored to his secretaryship (Burnet, ii. 338; Reresby, p. 269). The design of the Rye House plotters was directed against him equally with the king, and rumour connected him with the death of Essex (Secret Hist. of James II, p. 179; cf. Life, ii. 314). He had to consent to the restoration of Monmouth to the king's favour, which he persisted in attributing to Halifax (Reresby, pp. 286–90; cf. Burnet, ii. 411–12), and to the discharge of Danby (Reresby, p. 295). But his influence steadily rose. In May 1684 he regained the powers, if not the full dignity, of the admiralty (ib. p. 303; but see Life, ii. 81). (He had just before assented to the marriage of his daughter Anne with George of Denmark; Life, i. 745.) He was freely admitted to the deliberations of the cabinet (Lives of the Norths, i. 65). In accordance with his wishes greater severity was introduced by Perth in Scotland. James was present at the administration of the last sacrament to Charles II by John Huddleston [q. v.] , and after the death of Charles published, with an attestation from his own hand, the two papers found in his brother's strong-box (Kennett, iii. 429–30; cf. the Defence of the Papers written by the late King and the Duchess of York, &c., 1686).

In the reign of James II three periods are clearly distinguishable:

I. From his accession, 6 Feb. 1685, to the autumn of the same year. During this period James was supported by all moderate men, and the whigs remained mute. In the speech delivered by him to the privy council on quitting his brother's deathbed, he gave promise of support to the church of England (Clarendon Correspondence, i. 115; Life, ii. 4–5; cf. Evelyn, ii. 445 seqq.). At first he took no step to the contrary. From an early date, however, the doors of the queen's chapel at St. James's, where he heard mass, were thrown open, and on Easter Sunday he attended the catholic service in full official pomp. At his coronation on St. George's day James curtailed the anglican rites, but submitted to be crowned by the primate (see State Tracts under William III, 1706, ii. 94). No discontent was aroused by the proceedings against Oates and Dangerfield, or by the release of large numbers of quakers and Roman catholics. James's policy was still undecided, though Louis XIV urged upon him the im-