Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/113

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

be brought to bear, and that the marriage portion would be well secured. "Your relations," he wrote, in allusion to his recent confinement, "have been very hard on me this last summer. Yet, as soon as I could go safely abroad, I pursued the business." Catharine Sedley entrusted Preston with a letter in which, without allegory or circumlocution, she complained that her lover had left her a daughter to support, and begged very hard for money. But the two most important despatches were from Bishop Turner. They were directed to Mr. and Mrs. Redding: but the language was such as it would be thought abject in any gentleman to hold except to royalty. The Bishop assured their Majesties that he was devoted to their cause, that he earnestly wished for a great occasion to prove his zeal, and that he would no more swerve from his duty to them than renounce his hope of heaven. He added, in phraseology metaphorical indeed, but perfectly intelligible, that he was the mouthpiece of several of the nonjuring prelates, and especially of Sancroft. "Sir, I speak in the plural," — these are the words of the letter to James, — "because I write my elder brother's sentiments as well as my own, and the rest of our family." The letter to Mary of Modena is to the same effect. "I say this in behalf of my elder brother, and the rest of my nearest relations, as well as from myself."[1]

All the letters with which Preston was charged referred the Court of Saint Germains to him for fuller information. He carried with him minutes in his own handwriting of the subjects on which he was to converse with his master and with the ministers of Lewis. These minutes, though concise and desultory, can for the most part be interpreted without difficulty. The vulnerable points of the coast are mentioned. Gosport is defended only by palisades. The garrison of Portsmouth is small. The French fleet ought to be out in April, and to fight before the Dutch are in the Channel. There is a memorandum

  1. The genuineness of these letters was once contested on very frivolous grounds. But the letter of Turner to Sancroft, which is among the Tanner papers in the Bodleian Library, and which will be found in the Life of Ken by a Layman, must convince the most incredulous.