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" Accession of James II.-His Declaration in Council: Acceptable
“ to the Nation.--Arbitrary Designs of his Reign.-—Former Minis-
Object of this Reign.-Transactions in Scotland.-Severe Perse-
English Parliament: Its Proceedings.--Revenue.- Votes con-
cerning Religion.-Bill for Preservation of the King's Person.-
Situation of the Whigs." E.
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
Charles the Second expired on the sixth of Feb- CHAPTER ruary 1684-5, and on the same day his successor was proclaimed King in London, with the usual accession of formalities, by the title of James the Second. The Feb. Gib. great influence which this Prince was supposed to have possessed in the government, during the latter years of his brother's reign, and the expectation which was entertained, in consequence, that his measures, when monarch, would be of the same character and complexion with those which he was known to have highly approved, and of which he was thought by many to have been the principal author, when a subject, left little room for that spirit of speculation, which generally attends a demise of the Crown. And thus an event, which, when apprehended a few years before, had, according to a strong expression of Sir William Temple, been
1685. First steps
of his reign.
Chapter looked upon as the end of the world, was now
deemed to be of small comparative importance.
Its tendency, indeed, was rather to ensure perseverance than to effect any change in the system which had been of late years pursued. As there are, however, some steps indispensably necessary on the accession of a new prince to the throne, to these the publick attention was directed, and, though the character of James had been long so generally understood, as to leave little doubt respecting the political maxims and principles by which his reign would be governed, there was probably much curiosity, as upon such occasions there always is, with regard to the conduct he would pursue in matters of less importance, and to the general language and behaviour which he would adopt in his new situation. His first step was, of course, to assemble the privy council, to whom he spoke as follows:
His declaration in council.
“ Before I enter upon any other business, I think fit to say something to you. Since it hath pleased Almighty God to place me in this station, and I am now to succeed so good and gracious a king, as well as so very kind a brother, I think it fit to
declare to you, that I will endeavour to follow “ his example, and most especially in that of his
great clemency and tenderness to his people. I CHAPTER “ have been reported to be a man for arbitrary power;
but that is not the only story that has been made " of me: and I shall make it my
endeavour to preserve this government, both in Church and State, as it is now by law established. I know the principles of the Church of England are for Mo
narchy, and the members of it have shewn them" selves good and loyal subjects; therefore I shall
always take care to defend and support it. I know
too, that the laws of England are sufficient to “ make the King as great a monarch as I can wish;
and as I shall never depart from the just rights
and prerogatives of the crown, so I shall never " invade any man's property. I have often hereos tofore ventured my life in defence of this nation ; " and I shall go as far as any man in preserving it “ in all its just rights and liberties."*
With this declaration the council were so highly acceptable satisfied, that they supplicated his Majesty to make it publick, which was accordingly done; and it is reported to have been received with unbounded applause by the greater part of the nation. Some, perhaps, there were, who did not think the boast
to the nation.
* Kennet. III. 420.