« PreviousContinue »
modesty might probably induce him to form a less favourable opinion of his proficiency in learning, than it deserved.
He had frequent occasions of regretting how very defective this nation was in the education of gentlemen. He remarked, that there was sufficient provision for those who devoted themselves to the study of divinity, physic, and the civil law at the universities; but, that the education of gentlemen was a thing so foreign to the notions, birth, and pursuits of those men, and the discipline with regard to them so loose, that for a very long time it has very manifestly been the ruin of all those young persons, who are easily susceptible of bad impressions; while the naturally good and virtuous are instructed in nothing but a little useless sophistry, an awkward garb and habit which requires a long time to unlearn, and which nothing less than two or three years' travel is able to remove. He adds : that negligence are we grown, that it is not so much as thought of to educate any in qualifications for foreign ministry or embassy, so that in reality we are the scorn and contempt of all the courts of Europe; having scarcely any body that understands any thing relating to our own, or the common interest of princes : insomuch, that at this time the King is obliged to employ the Chaplain of the late Envoy in Sweden, and one taken for charity from a tavern-bar in Germany. In
Denmark, I think he hath none, nor in Italy, nor Switzerland, unless a French refugee *."
On the demise of his grandfather, in 1675, Mr. Lowther was elected one of the knights for the county of Westmoreland, and continued it's representative in parliament as long as he remained a commoner. The distinguished loyalty of his ancestors, and their constant affection toward the Protestant religion, operated on his virtuous mind as powerful incentives to emulate their examples. He uniformly declared himself an advocate for the test and corporation-acts. He was convinced, that an abrogation of those laws would effectually produce all the horrors of anarchy and confusion. Hence we find him opposing, from the best motives, the designs of James Duke of York. When the heir apparent of the crown of England openly avowed himself a Papist, and had given the most unequivocal marks of his detestation of the established religion of his country, nothing could be more gloomy than the prospect of his ensuing reign. Hence the plan for excluding him from the throne commenced so early as in the year 1668. It was revived in 1073; but the bill for his total exclusion was not brought into the House of Commons until the fifteenth day of May, 1679. When it was read the second time, it passed the
In 1696. (MS. in possession of the present Earl of Lonsdale.) house, by a majority of two hundred and seven to one hundred and twenty-eight. It was not finally agreed to, until the eleventh day of November, 1680, when it was carried into the house of Peers by Lord Russel.
It was no sooner received by the Lords, than the members, who attended Lord Russel, expressed their joy by loud shouts. The Lords rejected the bill by a majority of thirty.
On this occasion, and indeed on every occasion that required his attention to the public good, Sir Jol Lowther distinguished himself by his superior abilities and disinterested integrity. He never desisted from exerting his best endeavours to ward off the imminent and alarming dangers, which arose from the influence of popish counsels.
As long as his health allowed him, he constantly attended his duty in parliament; and his name frequently occurs in the different committees, to which matters of great public and private concern were referred. He is represented as a person particularly eminent for the excellence of his understanding, and the soundness of his judgement; of inimitable grace in speaking, and of great weight and authority with all those who heard him.
During the reign of James II., his mind was azitated with perpetual anxiety and terror at the precipitate measures which were then adopted. In this emergency, he rigidly adhered to a maxim, which he had laid down to himself as sacred and inviolable: that “he, who builds his greatness and his fortune by flattering and serving a prince in his vices or designs of tyranny, is a traitor to God, to his prince, and to his country, and ought to be treated as such.” Though, at the commencement of this reign, he was strongly inclined to place an almost unlimited confidence in the promises of the King, the conduct of that infatuated monarch became every day more offensive to his Protestant subjects. To an ingenuous mind, no sensation of grief can be equally poignant with that, which results from the necessity of resisting the authority of the supreme magistrate. But when that authority prescribes to itself no limits, when it attempts to subvert the laws and destroy the constitution of the state, the relation betwixt the prince and the subject is obviously dissolved : and this was now the case. In vain did James assure his Parliament, that he would always defend and support the Church of England; and that he would preserve the government, both in church and state, as it was by law established. This promise, solemnly made, was almost immediately broken. So loose were the maxims of morality, which directed the conduct of this unhappy prince !
acknowledge his violation of the laws of the land : an offence, which he dared to vindicate under the specious pretext of exercising a dispensing power.
* Let no man,” said he, in his speech to both Houses of Parliament, “ take exception, that there are some officers in the army not qualified, according to the late tests, for their employments. The gentlemen, I must tell you, are most of them well known to me; and, having formerly served with me on several occasions, and always approved the loyalty of their principles by their practice, I thirk fit to be employed under
And I will deal plainly with you, that having had the benefit of their service in such time of need and danger, I will neither expose them to disgrace, nor myself to want of them, if there should be another rebellion to make them necessary for me *.”
When no hopes remained of a change of behaviour in the King and his Council, in the midst of the fears which arose from the united efforts of popery and tyranny, Sir John Lowther was one of those great and good men, to whom we owe the preservation of our religion, and of every thing dear and valuable to us. He joined with them in soliciting the assistance of William, and inviting him into England; and was a member of that Convention, in which the crown was settled
* Journals of the House of Commons, IX. 756.