Declaration of King James III, September 10, 1722
The following declaration was published as a four-page pamphlet with the title Declaration of James the Third, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, &c., to all his Subjects of the three Nations and to all foreign Princes and States to serve as a foundation for a lasting peace in Europe (Eighteenth Century Short-Title Catalogue T109959).
It was published by King James III in anticipation of the Congress of Cambrai, a meeting of the major European powers to resolve the conflict between the Emperor and Spain. In the previous month James had joined his wife Queen Clementina at Bagni di Lucca.
Although the published title of the declaration suggests that James was herein addressing "all his subjects of the three nations", the language of this document differs significantly from James' other declarations. Standard phrases such as "the rights and liberties of the people" are not used, and there is absolutely no mention of a future settlement of religion. It seems clear that this declaration was primarily intended for an audience of European princes.
In England James' declaration "was burned by the common hangman" on December 7th (Martin Haile, James Francis Edward, the Old Chevalier (London: J.M. Dent, 1907): 291.)
The obligations which we owe to our own honour and to the safety and tranquility of our native country, which above all ties is the dearest to us and the tenderest; the steps which are so apparently taken to enslave our people; the late un-exampled violation of the freedom of elections by which the British constitution is entirely subverted; and a new sort of tyranny introduced unknown to any other nation - conspiracies invented on purpose to give pretence for new oppressions, and to arm the nation against itself, at a time when it was well known all attempts were imaginary and impracticable; the lives, liberties, and fortunes of our subjects at the mercy of infamous informers, cruelly exposed every day to subornation and perjury; and every honest well-meaning man in a state of proscription: these and many other considerations of the highest importance to the repose and security of our people, exciting our compassion, have engaged us to enter seriously into ourself, to examine and consult our heart what sacrifice to make on our part for the public peace, and to consider earnestly of some method of restoring tranquility, especially to those kingdoms of which we are the natural and undoubted father.
To express, therefore, and signify in the most public manner our ardent desire to compose all present differences, and to avert all future evils that no blame may be now or hereafter imputed to us, but that whatever calamities shall happen may be only and solely chargeable upon the obstinacy or ambition of others, we declare that, provided the Elector of Hanover will deliver quietly to us the possession of our kingdoms, we will make no inquisition for anything that is past. We will acknowledge him in the same dignity of king in his native dominions, inviting all other princes and states to do the same. We will live in brotherly amity with him, and contribute all our endeavours to establish him and his family in prosperity and royal grandeur, where an uncontested right will free him from the crime and reproach of tyranny and usurpation, and a quiet conscience make a crown sit easy upon his head, leaving at the same time his succession to our dominions secure, whenever in due course his natural right shall take place.
Let him compare a calm undisturbed reign over a willing and obedient people, his natural born subjects, with the restless unquiet possession of an usurper in a strange land, where authority, forcing the inclinations of the people, can only be supported by blood, violence, and rapine, eternally subject to fears and alarms, even when no danger appears, for guilt can never rest. Let him consider a fixed and solid establishment of regal power in himself and his posterity,exposed to no chance, with the frail and uncertain settlement of an usurped title, which must and shall, whilst we have breath or any descendants in being, be forever disputed. Let him reflect that the divine justice never fails sooner or later to chastise the oppressor and to redress the innocent and injured. Instead of advising with an imperious ministry, as much his tyrant's as the nation's, let him consult his reason, let him ask his conscience, let him examine his interest and his glory, nay his very ambition will advise him to descend from a throne which must be always shaking to mount another where his feet will be firm and secure.
We conjure all Christian princes and states to be aiding and assisting to us in this our just and amicable proposal, whereby without effusion of blood, or any national or public disturbance, justice may be done to an injured prince, and an equivalent provided sufficient to content an aspiring one. As a farther inducement to all Christian powers to enter most seriously and deliberately into this important proposition, we offer ourself to make good on our part all such alliances as have been already contracted with our kingdoms conducive to the peace and tranquility of Europe, and to enter into any new ones that may be judged necessary for the further strengthening and securing thereof.
That there may likewise remain no objection from the fears and apprehensions of any one man in our own dominions, conscious of having offended against us, we promise a full, free, and universal pardon to all persons of whatever degree or condition within our realms, without any exception, who shall in any reasonable time return to their allegiance, or by any act and deed, advice or otherwise effectually contribute to such a happy accommodation as may put a period to all our private and public misfortunes, that every Englishman may hereafter live quietly under his own shade, enjoy his conscience undisturbed, and rest upon his pillow in peace.
We protest solemnly before God and man that nothing can be proposed to us to make our kingdoms happy and flourishing, and to quiet the minds of all men, but we will strive with the most zealous to promote. Our desire is to embrace the whole body of our people without any distinction or reserve, to root up the very seeds of prejudice and division, that all notes of discord, separation, or difference of parties, and all reproachful denominations may be forever extinguished, and that the King and his people may have but one mind, one heart, and one interest. That humanity, that love of our country, and that goodwill to all men which we make the rule of our actions, prompt and incline us in first place to the ways of mercy and peace.
It is therefore that waving all present application to foreign powers, who considering how much in reality our cause is their own, might reasonably be induced to aid us in vindicating that majesty which they behold oppressed and affronted in our person, and sacrificing all resentment, passion, or desire of revenge, to the public good, we now seek and condescend to shake hands, even with those who have most injured us.
Given at our court at Lucca this present tenth of September, 1722, and in the twenty first year of our reign.
Since we first proposed to publish this our declaration to the world, it is come to our knowledge that divers of our subjects continue daily to be questioned and imprisoned upon pretence of intelligence with us; that informers, spies, and false witnesses are become so numerous and are so openly caressed and encouraged that no innocence is safe; that the terror of these arbitrary and violent proceedings is become dreadful to all men, not excepting the very army, where without any regard to past services the poor soldier is exposed to cruel and unmerciful punishments upon the testimony of secret informers without any other crime pretended but bare suspicion of affection to us and our cause.
We think it therefore a further duty incumbent upon us, as a Christian king and the common father of our people, to interpose on behalf of the innocent, and to forewarn all judges, justices, privy counsellors, or counsellors, officers, and commanders-in-chief, magistrates of all degrees, sheriffs, and persons sworn upon juries to take especial heed how they rashly involve themselves in the crime of persecuting the innocent, or dip their hands in the blood of the guiltless; for we are resolved to keep a strict and exact account of the sufferings of the very meanest of our people.
And because amongst other poor, unmanly, and ungenerous practices, nothing has been so much encouraged as slander and malicious aspersions upon our own person, we declare that we would disdain even to recover our throne by such vile arts as are practised to keep us out of it, that we are incapable of using any methods even for our restoration, but what are consistent with our honour and the dignity of our birth, despising all those unmannerly calumnies, which we scorn to retort even with truths unbecoming the countenance of one prince to another.
There is one above us who can silence the Father of falsehood when He pleases, and upon Him we rely.
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© Noel S. McFerran 2003.