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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

James II.

  • [King of England; born in London, 1633; escaped from the Parliamentarians, 1648, and remained on the Continent until the Restoration; commanded the English fleet against the Dutch, 1664–72; declared himself a Roman Catholic; ascended the throne, 1685; endeavored to fasten the Catholic religion upon England, and persecuted Protestants, until, abandoned by the nobility and gentry, he left England on the approach of William of Orange; after an unsuccessful attempt in Ireland, lived in France until his death, September, 1701.]
  • I will lose all, or win all.

  • To the Spanish ambassador, who counselled moderation after the trial of the Seven Bishops, June, 1688. That he preferred to lose all, did not impress favorably even those among whom he spent the remainder of his life. Thus Le Tellier, the worldly and luxurious Archbishop of Rheims, who thought that “no man could be honest who had not ten thousand livres a year,” failed to find a martyr in James. “The simpleton,” he said, “has given up three kingdoms for a mass” (voilà un bonhomme qui a quitté trois royaumes pour une messe).
  • That James may have had some fear of his attempt to convict the bishops, would appear from his question, “Do you call that nothing?” when told that a noise in the streets was nothing but the people cheering the popular prelates on their acquittal. He was urged to this step by the mistaken idea that “indulgence ruined my father;” and the erroneous impression he entertained of his position is seen by his question to the Duke of Somerset, who said he could not obey him in introducing the Pope’s nuncio without breaking the law: “Do you not know that I am above the law?” It was as little true as that Sigismund was above grammar (See Frederick II.).
  • When the crisis came, he was not without coolness. He was sitting for his portrait as a present to Pepys, when word was brought of the landing of William of Orange. “Go on, Kneller,” he said to the artist, “and finish your work: I wish not to disappoint my friend Pepys.” A cry of nature escaped him, however, when told that his daughter Anne, as well as Mary, was on the side of William: “God help me, my very children have forsaken me!”
  • Years afterwards, when witnessing the battle of La Hogue, May 19, 1692, where his late subjects were arrayed against himself and France, he showed that “blood is thicker than water” by exclaiming, “How they fight, my brave Englishmen!”
  • The Earl of Rochester drew a happy distinction between the royal brothers: “Charles could see things if he would: the Duke [James] would see things if he could.”