Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XVIII.: King James II. his disgraceful Reign. His Impotence and Cruelty. He exposes and deposes himself. - The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747)
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Number XVIII.: King James II. his disgraceful Reign. His Impotence and Cruelty. He exposes and deposes himself. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 4 (1747) 
The Independent Whig. Being a Collection of Papers All written, some of them published During the Late Rebellion (London: J. Peele, 1747). Vol. 4.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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King James II. his disgraceful Reign. His Impotence and Cruelty. He exposes and deposes himself.
AN hereditary Right to preserve the Laws, is inherent in all lawful Kings; an hereditary Claim to break the Laws, is a Forfeiture of all kingly Right. Indefeasible hereditary Right is Jargon, the Cant of Usurpers and Impostors, to cheat the Many, and to abuse all Men.
Blood is only one Qualification in a Prince, and not the highest; Justice and Capacity are the Greatest and the Best. As the Prince may be a Child, and yet must reign like a Man, because he reigns over Men, the Laws must govern those who govern the Prince; else the Will of his Ministers, or his Playfellows, must be the Law. If he prove a Lunatic, the next of Kin, or a Council, must rule in his stead. He who hath no Sense cannot exercise Government, which is the Direction of the public Sense. He who wants Justice and Integrity, and regards not Oaths and Laws, is at least under equal Disability. This is moral, as well as political Lunacy; therefore a moral and political Disqualification.
Whoever is intrusted with Government, having the Interests of all Men under his Direction, has the highest Occasion for a good Heart, as well as a sound Head: But where the Laws prevail, tho’ he be weak, yet by letting the Laws take place, his Government may be easy. If he be wilful, as well as weak, yet will needs be wiser than the Law, dispense with Law, and set up his own Humour, his Peevishness, or his Superstition, for Law, he becomes a public Enemy, a Tyrant, who deposes himself.
Such a public Enemy was King James, an obstinate Bigot, a perjured Oppressor, an open Foe to the Laws and to his People: He therefore regularly dethroned himself. He can scarce be said to have ever filled the Throne: He began to forfeit it e’er he was warm in it. The English Throne, established and limited by Laws, ceased to be his, when he became a Tyrant in it. Whilst he held it, he held it not for himself, but for miserable Monks and hot-headed Zealots, who set up a Government against Law, a Religion against Sense, and the Shadow of a King to support both. He never had much Understanding; what little he had he forfeited, and with it his Crown, to the Infatuation of Popery.
A weak Man makes a very good Papist, indeed the best; but a weak Papist makes a wretched King. I own, that a Man of Sense may be a Papist; but I deny, that he makes use of his Sense: The Grimace and Frauds of Priests blind him, and fairy Terrors awe him.
KingJames, the Weakest of his Race, (tho’ not the Worst nor the Falsest) yet strove for some Time to dissemble; but wanting Capacity even for that (which requires so little, and is often found in the silliest Women) soon exposed his Heart quite bare, contracted with Bigotry, panting for Tyranny, and cankered with Rage.
He had professed fairly, promised strongly, sworn solemnly, to maintain Religion and Law; because his Priests told him, that Falshood and Perjury were necessary to advance their Cause, and seasonable to lull their Enemies asleep: For what Falshood, what Villainy, what Cruelty, will not such Priests promote, to serve their pestilent Cause? When his Priests thought their Point sure, they taught him to throw off the Cloke of Deceit and Perjury, roundly to assert the determined Tyrant, and the implacable Bigot.
He thus called upon the Nation to turn him out of it, or rather fled from the Nation. He ran to the French King, the inveterate Enemy to his People, for Succour against his People. It was upon Promise of Assistance from that King, that both this Bigot, and the abandoned Voluptuary his Brother, had ventured to enslave this Free Nation.
lewis XIV. was as dark a Zealot as James II. with no exalted Genius; but judging the Ruin of England to be for the Glory of France, sent Forces to King James, then in Ireland, who put himself at the Head of these and his Irish Troops: He indeed continued at their Head, for he was the first that ran away.
Again he took Refuge in France, where he remained, despised, to the End of his Life; the more for his continual Solicitations to France, to force him and Slavery upon England: For, rather than England should remain free, he would have enslaved it as the Deputy of France.
Had he an hereditary Right to sacrifice England to France? Can the Heart of Man conceive, that any Man, with any Name, has a Right to violate any Trust? Hath Folly a Right to dictate to Wisdom; Perjury, Pride and Oppression, to abolish wholsome Laws; Fraud and Imposture to crush Truth and Religion?
InIreland his Government was as brutal as the Manners of the native Savages there: He set out with deceitful Promises, as he had done here; and continued repeating them all the while that he was breaking them. One constant Declaration of his was most ridiculous, especially as he imagined it to be deep and wise, and as his Flatterers applauded it for its Candor: “That he would make no Distinction between his Popish and his Protestant Subjects.” A Declaration (if not a Blunder) terrible to Protestants, who saw him thus, contrary to his Oath taken to maintain them in their Religion and Laws, declare equal Favour to their barbarous bloody Enemies, who in fact reaped all his Favours.
He was so notoriously shameless in his Breach of Faith to Protestants, and in his bigotted Partiality to the Irish, that, by a Set of infamous perjured Irish Judges, he discharged all the Charters of the Kingdom in a Term or Two. The Estates of the Protestants, Nobles and Commons, were by the same Judges surrendered as fast as claimed by any of the wild Irish, who had long forfeited them by Rebellion and Massacre. The Protestant Proprietors, who had earned them by their Blood and Money, improved them by their long Industry, and held them by Acts of Settlement, were thrust out of their Freeholds and Bread by the brutal Butchers of their Predecessors, of their Parents and Kindred.
But as Process at Law, however sudden and arbitrary, was too slow, an Irish Parliament of the furious Natives, chosen by the King’s new Charters, or rather by his Direction and Nomination, did, in a solemn Act, confiscate most of the Estates of the Protestants in the whole Kingdom, and condemned the Owners to die as Traitors. They were all thus charged with Treason, and all in a Lump condemned to Death and Forfeiture; for they were declared convicted of High Treason, tho’ never tried, nor even summoned. The frighten’d Victims had many of them recourse to England for Bread; and Families of fair Fortunes in Ireland saw themselves reduced, for Support, to Alms and parochial Collections in England.
This was adjudging awhole Protestant Kingdom, at once, to Execution and Destruction. It comprehended near Fifteen hundred of the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, and Men of Fortune, all said in the Act to have been attainted and convicted, and were therefore adjudged to Death and Confiscation. To render the deadly Snare the more fatal and secure, no Copy of the inhuman Act was suffered to be issued for four Months.
After this Flight of Tyranny (so wild and merciless!) no other Excess of it need be wondered at. Subjects were imprisoned; their Money, Horses, Houses, and Furniture seized, by a mere Order from the King; sometimes a mere verbal Order. And James, one of the weakest Men in the Kingdom, and as blind a Bigot as the blindest, acted like the confirmed Master of the Persons and Property of all Men in it; yet was himself all the while the wretched Property and tame Instrument of the Pope, and even of his own Priests. Whilst it was made Treason and Death for Five Protestants to be seen together, even in Churches, the King’s Chaplains, in their public Sermons, maintained to his Face the Pope’s absolute Sovereignty over Kings.
Strange Inconsistency! for a frail, vicious, silly Man to claim Godlike Power over God’s Creatures, made after God’s Image (many of them wiser and better, few worse or weaker than himself;) yet confess himself the implicit Vassal of an usurping Impostor at Rome, cheating the World with pious Cant and Mountebankry, impudently boasting lying Wonders, and subsisting by manifest Frauds!
Can there be a greater Demonstration, that Power without Controul belongs to no human Creature; than that such as have most loudly claimed it over all, were unblessed with any superior Capacity, or any better Morals than the rest? Is it conceivable, that the God of Wisdom should adjudge the Government of the World to such as have none; the Care of Men to such as oppress Men; should convey his own Power to those who abuse it, or invest with a sacred Character Men who swear falsly by his holy Name, or injure and cheat in it?
KingJames delighted in lawless Proceedings, merely because they were lawless. Even when the Law would have served him in some of his Measures, it was answered, That the King would be served his own Way; which was a Confession. That he would abolish Law.
james, when Duke of York, and High Commissioner in Scotland, had given a Specimen of his Spirit and Government sufficient to deter all Men from ever wishing him upon the Throne. He opposed and defeated, or cancelled, every good Law: He promoted all that were tyrannical and bad: He had the Earl of Argyll condemned to die, because he would not forswear himself. The Earl was a good Protestant, had a great Estate, great Interest and Abilities; all dreadful Eye-sores to the small Spirit and great Bigotry of the Duke of York. His Royal Highness besides, delighting in frequent Victims and Executions at Edinburgh, distinguished himself by a Symptom of Cruelty almost peculiar to himself, and almost always avoided by the most cruel Princes, by such as were proverbial for Cruelty, even by Nero. James, besides encouraging the Use of the Rack, to force Confessions from such who were obnoxious to the Tyranny of the Times, sat pleased with the shocking Spectacle of seeing Men racked, their Bones crushed, broken, and bursting with their Blood through the Flesh: A horrid Sight to Britons! A hopeful Successor to the British Crown! It was a Sight singular in Britain, and even at Rome, under the Tyranny of the Cæsars, for near a Century after the Usurpation of the First Cæsar. That Monster Domitian was the first of the Roman Imperial Tyrants that ventured upon it.
Neither did any of these Imperial Tyrants ever exercise such a Piece of Tyranny as was exercised in Scotland under Charles the Second. Besides all the daily Oppressions and Barbarities upon the Presbyterians there (forced out of their Establish’d Church, and fiercely persecuted) to oblige the Court, especially James the King’s Brother, there was an Order of Council for placing Soldiers on the public Roads, with Instructions to ask such as passed by, insnaring Questions, about the King and Religion; and if they appeared to be Presbyterians (People conscientiously tender in the Point of Religion and Oaths) and refused the Test offered them by the Soldiers, the Soldiers had express Orders to put them to present Death. ——A Stretch of Tyranny unmatched by the most decried Tyrants!
These were some of the Miscarriages, before the Revolution, such as the present Invader supposes to have happened, without owning any; and he claims the same Right and Power claimed by King James, nor offers one Limitation or Amendment. The Government ever since then, that Government, from which has been derived such a Series of Ease and Liberty, and such an utter Absence of all violent Measures, as are matchless in History from the Creation; has, he says, been all Usurpation. It has been indeed a total Deviation from the Government of his Ancestors, a Government which he comes to restore. To prove his Right and Descent, and to recommend his future Measures, he invades the Kingdom, defies the Laws, robs, ravages, and goes to Mass.
These are the Proofs which he gives of his Lineal Claim, and he is welcome to the Fame of them. He, and his barbarous Train, act as if they studied and were paid to make themselves odious to Heaven and Earth, and were industriously calling for quick and signal Vengeance from both. I bless God it hastens apace;—let us pray for its sudden Completion.