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KINGS OF GREAT BRITAIN
OF THE HOUSE OF
BY W. BELSHAM,
. VOL. I.
Ac mihi quidem videntur huc omnia efle referenda ab iis qui præsunt
A T the æra of the Revolution, the grand
1 fabric of liberty, which it had been the labour of ages to erect in this island, 'was at length completed ; and in one of the principal nations of the earth, a system of Government was by general affent established, which had for its basis the unalienable rights of man, and professing as its grand end and object, the happiness of the people. The design of the following Memoirs is to show, by an impartial delineation of the interest. ing events of the succeeding reigns, how far this end has been kept in view, how far it has been deviated from, and in what respects the general system of freedom is still susceptible of enlargement and security. In consequence of the happy emancipation of these realms, by the expulsion of a wretched and merciless bigot, we were necessarily involved in a war with France, then in the zenith of prosperity, and governed by a monarch of the most aspiring ambition, supported by a degree of power truly formidable. After a long and bloody conflict, however, France was compelled to relinVOL. I.
quish her projets in favor of the abdicated House of Stuart; and to acknowledge, by a formal and solemn treaty, WILLIAM Prince of Orange as King of Great Britain. From this period, a new scene opens to our view; and England, confirmed and established in the possession of her own liberty, appears in the high and exalted character of the Defender of the Liberties of Europe. And it is chiefly through the efforts of this country, in which the sacred flame of freedom was happily preserved, that Europe was able to withstand, and at length effe&ually to baffle and defeat, the vast hopes and projects of Louis XIV.; who seemed to extend his views to no less than universal dominion. Scarcely was the treaty of Ryswick figned", when intrigues and negotiations were revived and prosecuted by all the European Courts, with unintermitted and almost unprecedented ardour and activity. The declining health of the King of Spain, was the cause of this mighty internal agita. tion; at whose decease it became a matter of great and anxious doubt, upon whom the succession of that vaft Monarchy would devolve. The two most potent claimants were, the Emperor Leopold as head and heir-general of the House of Austria, and the Dauphin of France, who was descended from Isabella eldest daughter of Philip IV. whose marriage, however, was accompanied by a formal renunciation of her eventual pretensions to the