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guished every part of his political conduct. He procured a parliamentary settlement of the Crown on himself and his heirs male, which amounted to a virtual adoption of the Salique law, in a mode least obnoxious to the public censure, and which bade fairest eventually to extinguish the claims of the rival family; but this very artful, or to give it a more suitable appellation, this very wise measure, did not prove successful, for the Parliament which had enacted this important law, foon found the necessity of accommodating their own ideas, if indeed their ideas ever really coincided with those of the King, to the unconquerable force of popular prejudice, and of repealing an act which was highly beneficial to the public in its tendency, and which laid the best foundation for a permament and durable settlement,
In the succeeding reign, the ridiculous pretenfions of Edward III. which were abfolutely relinquished at the Peace of Bretigny, were unfortu. nately revived by Henry V. who, in consequence of a remarkable concurrence of favourable circum. stances, united to his own great talents, had nearly effected the final conquest of the French monarchy; but his death unexpectedly taking place in the midst of his triumphs, the fortune of the war was fatally reversed, and the English were at length dispossessed of all their transmarine territories, Calais alone excepted. Soon after the termination of this second violent and iniquitous attempt to doprive the House of Valois of its just rights, that fierce and implacable contest between the two rival houses commenced, which did not cease till the Earl of Warwick, last of the name of Plantagenet, had fallen a victim to the jealous and cruel policy of Henry VII. and till, by a final union of claims in the person of Henry VIII. there no longer subsisted any ground of competition. Since the accession of that monarch three centuries have nearly elapsed, and throughout that long period it must be acknowledged that no fensible inconvenience has arisen from adhering to the established order of fucceffion, but this certainly is not to be ascribed to any extraordinary degree of political wisdom or forefight, but to a certain happy influence, whether natural or providential, which seems, with few intervals or exceptions, from that time to have diffused itself over almost all the public and national concerns of this country; and a very slight survey of modern English history will suffice to prove the truth of this assertion. Previous to the divorce of Henry VIII. from Catharine of Arragon, the Princess Mary, afterwards Queen, was the undisputed presumptive heiress of the English Crown, in consequence of which the disposal of her in marriage became a matter of the utmost importance to the nation. Overtures on this subject were at different times made, both by France and Spain, which were happily rejected, and though, on her accession to the throne, the liberties of the kingdom were ex. posed to the most imminent danger by the matrimonial connection the then formed with Phi. lip II. as fhe fortunately died in a few years without issue, the evils which threatened the nation were for this time averted. The reign of Elizabeth was distinguished by an almost uninterrupted folicitude in the parliament and people, with regard to this subject; a solicitude which dif. played itself in applications to the Queen, continually repeated, to form such a matrimonial union as would most effectually secure the public happiness; and though the Queen firmly and magnanimously resisted these solicitations, with a view no doubt, in the first place, to maintain her own authority and independency entire, and in the next, eventually to effect an union of the two British Crowns, which was apparently a favourite if not a primary object with that great Princess, yet in fome critical moments of her life, reasons of state feemed to influence her conduct less than motives of a very different nature; and it is certain that the Duke of Anjou's accomplishments made fo deep an impression on the Queen's heart, that the resisted with difficulty the importunity with which he urged his suit. The violence of the Duke's subsequent conduct plainly evinces the risque which must have been incurred had he met with fuccefs, of which indeed the nation at the time was fully sensible. To pass over some of the fucceeding reigns, it is obvious to remark, that if the King and Parliament had not interfered as to the disposal of the two daughters of the Dukę
of York, afterwards King James II. the most fatal consequences might have ensued. . Even posterior to the Act of Settlement, it is worthy of obfervation, that had our late venerable monarch died before marriage, the Crown of England would have devolved upon Sophia Dorothea, Queen of Prussia, mother of the illustrious Frederic, and how the English nation would have relished such a plan of government as those great political reformers the Pruffian Hussars might have established amongst us by this time, it is scarcely worth while to examine.
What I mean upon
the whole to infer from this slight review of facts is this, that it is a most dangerous error in politics for a country, which like England boasts of a constitution founded upon the basis of liberty, in any circumstances to admit the right of females to succeed to the Crown. It is a matter of small moment indeed to the inhabitants of France or Spain, whether the sceptre remains in the hands of a Prince of the House of Bourbon, or whether it is suffered to pass into another and a foreign family; as political happiness amongst them depends almost entirely upon the personal difpofition and genius of the Monarch, they feem to stand a nearly equal chance of attaining it, whatever family may happen to acquire possession of the throne; but in this kingdom, whose maxims of policy differ so widely from all others, it is of the utmost importance that the House of Brunswick should continue to sway the British sceptre. The title of the Princes of that House to the Crown, rests en. tirely upon parliamentary authority. They owe a debt of gratitude to the nation at large, which can never be obliterated. The ancient royal House of Stuart was deposed and banished, and a very confiderable number of Princes, who stood prior in the order of succession, were excluded, in order to clear the path to the throne for them. They have not fcrupled frequently to express the sense they
ntertain of these obligations in their public declarations, and to acknowledge that it is incumbent upon them in return, to maintain the free and happy constitution of this government sacred and inviolate; and it must be allowed, that though in the course of an administration of near eighty years, their conduct in some instances has justly been thought liable to exception, yet upon the whole, and to speak in general terms, they have acted in a manner worthy of their pro. fessions, and of the distinguished stations they have filled, as placed at the head of the most powerful community of free citizens which, since the fall of the Roman Republic, the world has ever known. It would be a dangerous experiment, and fuch as I believe the heart of every Englishman would revolt against, to permit the Crown to be transferred to another family, deeply tinctured perhaps with foreign prejudices and arbitrary principles, whilst there may be numerous branches