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But, unfortunately, the example of his father had barred the way to any such plea. No man was more positive in the adherence to his religion, or in his sacrifices on its account; but no man had at the same time so thoroughly demonstrated that he had no such honourable feeling as to breaking his word where any political matter was concerned. In the midst of these secret correspondences the queen was seized at Windsor with a serious illness, and, considering the general state of her health, it was most threatening.
The hopes of the Jacobites rose wonderfully; the Funds went rapidly down; there was a great run upon the Bank, and the Directors were filled with consternation by a report of an armament being ready in the ports of France to bring over the Pretender at the first news of Anne's decease.
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The whole of London was in excitement, from a report that the queen was actually dead. The Whigs did not conceal their joy, but were hurrying to and fro, and meeting in large numbers at the Earl of Wharton's. The Lord Treasurer, to keep down the public alarm, remained in town, and contented himself with sending expresses to obtain constant news of the queen's state, for his hurrying to Windsor would have had an inconceivable effect.
He, therefore, let himself be seen publicly where he could be questioned regarding the condition of the queen, and gave assurances that she was better. To allay the panic, Anne was induced to sign a letter prepared for her, announcing to Sir Samuel Stancer, the Lord Mayor, that she was now recovering, and would be in town and open Parliament on the 16th of February.
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This news being confirmed, those who had been too hasty in pulling off their masks found some awkwardness in fitting them on again. The Press was active. Steele published a pamphlet called "The Crisis," in advocacy of the Revolution, and on the danger of a Popish succession; whilst on the other hand came out a reply, supposed to be written by Swift, not without a few touches from Bolingbroke; it was styled "The Public Spirit of the Whigs," and was distinguished by all the sarcasm of the authors.
The queen's recovery, and the fact that the French armament was a fiction, quieted the storm and again restored the Funds.
The Parliament was punctually opened on the 16th of February, , by the queen, as she had promised at Windsor, though she was obliged to be carried there; for during last autumn she had been obliged, by her gout and obesity, to be raised into her chamber by pulleys, and so let down again, like Henry VIII. After congratulating the two Houses on the peace with Spain, she turned to the subject of the Press, and the rumours spread by it regarding the danger of the Protestant succession.
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Bolingbroke had been active enough in prosecuting the Press because it was dangerous to the designs which he was cherishing, notwithstanding the affected warmth which he and Oxford had put into the queen's mouth. They had taxed the penny sheets and pamphlets which agitated these questions; but this, according to Swift, had only done their own side mischief.
Bolingbroke had, further, arrested eleven printers and publishers in one day. But now the war was opened in Parliament, Lord Wharton, in the House of Peers, called for the prosecution of "The Public Spirit of the Whigs," and the printer and publisher were brought to the bar. These were John Morphew, the publisher, and one John Bache, the printer.
But Lord Wharton, who was aiming at higher quarry, said, "We have nothing to do with the printer and publisher, but it highly concerns the honour of this august assembly to find out the villain who is the author of that false and scandalous libel. Lord Wharton then turned upon the printer, whom he had first affected to disregard, and demanded that he should be closely examined; but the next day the Earl of Mar, one of the secretaries of State, declared that her Majesty had ordered his prosecution.
This was to shield him from the Parliamentary inquiry.
Here the matter dropped, for Swift was too well screened by his patrons, who had lately rewarded him by Church preferment, and shortly afterwards made him Dean of St. Patrick's, in Dublin. The attempt of the Whigs in the Lords to unearth the vituperative dean, though it had failed, stimulated the Tories in the Commons to retaliation. Richard Steele, author of "The Tatler," an eloquent and able writer, had not sought to screen himself from the responsibility of the honest truths in "The Crisis," as Swift had screened himself from the consequences of his untruths, and a whole host of Tories assailed him in the Commons, of which he was a member.
They flattered themselves with an easy triumph over him, for Steele, though popular as a writer, was new to the House of Commons, and had broken down in his first essay at speaking there; but he now astonished them by the vigour, wit, and sarcasm of his defence. He was ably supported, too, by Robert Walpole, who had obtained a seat in this new Parliament. Nothing, however, could shield Steele, as Swift's being anonymous had shielded him.
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Steele was pronounced by the votes of a majority of two hundred and forty-five to one hundred and fifty-two to be guilty of a scandalous libel, and was expelled the House. During the debate Addison had sat by the side of Steele, and, though he was no orator to champion him in person, had suggested continual telling arguments.
The war of faction still went on furiously. In the Lords there was a violent debate on an address, recommended by Wharton, Cowper, Halifax, and others, on the old subject of removing the Pretender from Lorraine; and they went so far as to recommend that a reward should be offered to any person who should bring the Pretender, dead or alive, to her Majesty. This was so atrocious, considering the relation of the Pretender to the queen, that it was negatived, and another clause, substituting a reward for bringing him to justice should he attempt to land in Great Britain or Ireland. Though in the Commons, as well as in the Lords, it was decided that the Protestant succession was in no danger, an address insisting on the removal of the Pretender from Lorraine was carried.
Anne received these addresses in anything but a gratified humour. She observed, in reply, that "it really would be a strengthening to the succession of the House of Hanover, if an end were put to these groundless fears and jealousies which had been so industriously promoted. I do not," she said, "at this time see any necessity for such a proclamation. Whenever I judge it necessary, I shall give my orders to have it issued. The Whigs were as active to bring over the Electoral Prince of Hanover as they were to drive the Pretender farther off.
With the Prince in England, a great party would be gathered about him; and all those who did not pay court to him and promote the interests of his House would be marked men in the next reign. Nothing could be more hateful than such a movement to both the queen and her ministers. Anne had a perfect horror of the House of Hanover; and of the Ministers, Bolingbroke, at least, was staking his whole future on paving the way of the Pretender to the throne.
When the Whigs, therefore, instigated Baron Schutz, the Hanoverian envoy, to apply to the Lord Chancellor Harcourt for a writ of summons for the Electoral Prince, who had been created a British peer by the title of the Duke of Cambridge, Harcourt was thrown into the utmost embarrassment.
He pleaded that he must first consult the queen, who, on her part, was seized with similar consternation. The Court was equally afraid of granting the writ and of refusing it. If it granted it, the prince would soon be in England, and the queen would see her courtiers running to salute the rising sun; the Jacobites, with Bolingbroke at their head, would commit suicide on their own plans now in active agitation for bringing in the Pretender.
If they refused it, it would rouse the whole Whig party, and the cry that the Protestant succession was betrayed would spread like lightning through the nation. He did so, and was answered that the writ was ready sealed, and was lying for him whenever he chose to call for it; but at the same time he was informed that her Majesty was greatly incensed at the manner in which the writ had been asked for; that she conceived that it should have first been mentioned to her, and that she would have given the necessary orders. But every one knew that it was not the manner, but the fact of desiring the delivery of the writ which was the offence.
Every engine of the English Court was put in motion to prevent the Electoral Prince from coming. Oxford had an interview with Schutz, in which he repeated that it was his applying for the writ to the Lord Chancellor instead of to the queen that had done all the mischief; that her Majesty, had it not been for this untoward incident, would have invited the Prince to come over and spend the summer in England—forgetting, as Schutz observed, that the minute before he had assured him that the queen was too much afraid of seeing any of that family here. He advised Schutz—who could not be convinced that he had done anything irregular in his application, quoting numerous proofs to show that it was the accustomed mode of applying for writs—to avoid appearing again at Court; but Schutz, not seeming disposed to follow that advice, immediately received a positive order to the same effect from the queen through another channel.
Schutz, therefore, lost no time in returning to Hanover to justify himself. At the same time, Lord Strafford was instructed to write from the Hague, blaming the conduct of Schutz in applying for the writ in the manner he did, as disrespectful to the queen; for, though strictly legal for an absent peer to make such application, the etiquette was that he should defer it till he could do it personally. Strafford ridiculed the idea of any movement being afoot in favour of the Pretender, and observed that, as to sending him out of the Duke of Lorraine's territory, it was not practicable, because the French king maintained that he had fulfilled the treaty, Lorraine not being any part of France.
On the other hand, there were striking signs that the cause  of Hanover was in the ascendant. Men who watched the course of events decided accordingly. Marlborough, who so lately had been making court to the Pretender, now wrote from Antwerp, urging the House of Hanover to send over the prince without delay to England; that the state of the queen's health made prompt action necessary; and that the presence of the prince in London would secure the succession without risk, without expense, and without war, and was the likeliest measure of inducing France to abandon its design of assisting the Pretender.
The real fact was, that exertions equally strenuous were all this time being made on the part of the Pretender. As the state of Anne's health became more and more precarious, both parties increased their efforts to secure their ground, and there was a most active and incessant struggle going on round the throne to enable the head of either party to step into it the moment it became vacant. It was considered essential for the claimant to be on the spot, and, therefore, every means was used to induce the queen to admit the Pretender as well as a member of the Electoral House to Court.
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But there was a circumstance taken for granted in such a scheme which would never have been realised—the consent of the queen. Anne, like most other sovereigns, abhorred the idea of a successor. She never liked the contemplation of the occupation of her throne after death, much less did she relish the presence of a competitor during her lifetime. Besides in her days of disease and weakness she had enough to do to manage her Ministry, without adding to her anxieties by a rival authority either from Hanover or St.
There was still another obstacle—the unsatisfactory conduct of Oxford, who had  professed great zeal for the Pretender till he got the Peace of Utrecht signed, because this secured him the vote of the Jacobites, but who since then had trifled with them, and never could be brought to any positive decision. Gualtier soon informed his employer that Oxford was actively corresponding with the House of Hanover and therefore Berwick and De Torcy wrote a joint letter to him, putting the plain question, what measures he had taken to secure the interests of the Pretender in case of the death of the queen, which no one could now suppose to be far off.
Oxford, with unwonted candour this time, replied that, if the queen died soon, the affairs of the Prince and of the Cabinet too were ruined without resource. This satisfied them that he had never really been in earnest in the Pretender's cause, or he would long ago have taken measures for his advantage, or would have told them that he found it impossible.
They determined, therefore, to throw the interests of the Jacobites into the party of Bolingbroke; and this was another step in Oxford's fall. They managed to set Lady Masham warmly against him, and this undermined him more than ever with the queen. The scene grew every day more busy as the queen became more obviously failing.
Harley, at Hanover, was plying the Elector and his family with reasons why the prince ought not to go to England.