Guest Posted June 5, 2010 Share Posted June 5, 2010 The first of July 1690 The Price of Fealty Charles Blount, the Marquiss Mountjoy and Lord Chancellor of England under Kings Charles II and James II sat on his horse looking down from a hillock at the river Boyne. The day was ending just as he knew it would. The Irish levies of James II had been pushed back after a spirited fight and the Dutch Guards of William II were streaming across the bridge in pursuit. He thought back to the events that had led him to take up arms against a King he respected and endorsed to support a King that he distrusted and scorned. Charles had prospered greatly in the service of Charles II, his competence and devotion being rewarded throughout the years with wealth and power. He rose from Solicitor General to Attorney General and then at the death of his great mentor the Chancellor Heneage Finch in 1782 to that of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. Ever the supporter of Crown authority, Charles spent his days in the service of the King expanding the Royal perogitives and ultimately defeating the Exclusion Bill and seeing his and the Kingâ€™s long time nemesis The Earl of Shaftsbury driven into exile in Holland. For years his personal and professional life were filled with success , satisfaction and joy but little did he know at the time but on the fateful day of February 3, 1685 just as he reached the pinnacle of power all that he had achieved began to slip away. The day previously he King had suffered a sudden apoplectic fit and lay gravely ill. On his deathbed he summoned Lord Mountjoy to a private audience wherein he appointed his faithful servant Lord Chancellor and obtained from him oaths and promises to serve his brother James as well and faithfully as he had served him. The King died the following day and in his will he enjoined his brother to 'Take heed of the sage and prudent advice of our Lord of Mountjoy, ever always our most devoted servant.' Mountjoy had been as fervent a supporter of York as had been the King eventhough Blount was a Protestant and had grave concerns about Jamesâ€™ suitability as King. "But Majesty, he will destroy everything that you have built." He argued to which the King tiredly replied â€˜I know, but by Godâ€™s Grace he is next in line and the Crown is greater than even a single King. I will not have the Crown of England cheapened by acknowledging parliament has a right over Divine Judgment to bestow the Crown. You believe in that as much as I. Jamie will need your expertise and prudence to succeedâ€¦ give that to himâ€¦ give to him the service and loyalty your family has always given the Crown." It was thus that Charles Blount devoted himself to a man that he could not believe in for a principle that he had always lived his life by. Now in his mid forties Lord Mountjoy was no longer the trim athletic man he used to be. He served James II with his customary zeal even when he began to have personal doubts about his actions. In Council he disagreed violently with the King's Secretary of State, the Earl of Sunderland when he began replacing office-holders at court with Catholic favorites and dismissed judges who disagreed with him. Even when his lifelong friend Heneage Finch II was removed as Solicitor General for opposing the Kingâ€™s actions and Sunderlandâ€™s attempt to reduce the Anglican monopoly on education by forcing the University of Oxford, to appoint Catholics to hold important positions in Christ Church collage, Mountjoy still publicly supported the Crownâ€™s right to use its dispensing power. These stresses began to take a toll on his personal life. In political opposition, many of his friends began to drift away. He had a hunting accident where a boar severely mangled his the tendons in his knee causing him constant pain and a limp for the rest of his days and preventing him from continuing to hunt which had been the passion of his life. Then in the winter of 87 he suffered a personal tragedy from which he would never recover. In December of 1687, after twelve years of blissful marriage, he lost the love of his life when his adored wife Ursula passed away. A shell of his former self, he had nothing left to live for but his honor and his good name to pass on to his son. He began to accept the constant pain in his leg and the emptiness in his heart as divine retribution. Was he a strong and principled man living up to what he believed in regardless of the personal cost? Or, unlike his friend Heneage, was he weak, not scrupulous enough to reconsider his beliefs in the face of the obvious impropriety of the man he had sworn to serve? All these thoughts went through his head as he looked down upon the River Boyne. At 45 he had gained immense riches and power but he had squandered them on the altar of pride and was now a hollow man broken down in service to his ungrateful Sovereign. Unable to admit that he was wrong and abandon the King that was fleeing behind him and unwilling to ask the forgiveness of the King who stood before him, he was a man tired of his life. He reached into his waistcoat and pulled out an old tattered red woolen cap. It was his lucky hat and had belonged to his grandfather who, in the service of Charles I during the Civil War found himself in a similar position. The Kings army was beaten and it was up to his grandfather and his cavalry to fight a desperate rearguard action to allow the beaten infantry enough time to escape. His grandfather led the charge, saved the army, but found himself cut off in the midst of the enemy forces. Discarding his cavalier hat he had donned a roundhead cap and made his escape in the darkness back to the Royal Army. This was the vary same cap that Charles now held in his hand. "Padeen!" Mountjoy bellowed as he took a letter and his watch and rolled them up in the cap. "Take this to my son in England and tell him that I love him very much. Go now my friend and do not look back." Turning back to the battle he noticed his counterpart the Duke of Schomberg riding up to rally his men for a final push against the Jacobites. Turning to his Regiment of Horse he yelled "Now is the time lads! We must hold them back! â€¦ CHARGE!" Waiving his riding crop, for although he was willing to command in armed rebellion he was not personally willing to raise arms against the men who on any other occasion he would consider his comrades, he led the Jacobite horse in a series of desperate counterattacks which delayed pursuit long enough for the foot to make good their escape. After the battle when the troops removed the body of the Duke of Schomberg who had been killed in the cavalry melee they came across another body. Due to the richness of its apparel and its red heeled French boots the troops originally thought they had discovered the body of the Pretender and had eagerly brought the remains back to their headquarters. Those about King William who had spent any time at Court were able to immediately recognize that the deceased was in fact not James II but the Lord Mountjoy who had been a fixture at Court and in Government for this decade past. A man whoâ€™s honor and commitment to a principle led him to forsake his family, friends and position for the bank of a muddy river in Ireland. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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