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By Justin McCarthy
side of his character is presented with disproportionate prominence.
James Stuart had stronger qualities for good or evil than Thackeray
seems to have found in him. Some of his contemporaries denied him the
credit of man’s ordinary courage; he has even been accused of positive
cowardice; but there does not seem to be the slightest ground for such
an accusation. Studied with the severest eye, his various enterprises,
and the manner in which he bore himself throughout them, would seem to
prove that he had courage enough for any undertaking. Princes seldom
show any want of physical courage. They are trained from their very
birth to regard themselves as always on parade; and even if they should
feel their hearts give way in presence of danger, they are not likely
to allow it to be seen. It was not lack of personal bravery that
marred the chances of James Stuart.
[Sidenote: 1714–Anne’s sympathies]
It is only doing bare justice to one whose character and career have
met with little favor from history, contemporary or recent, to say that
James might have made his way to the throne with comparative ease if he
would only consent to change his religion and become a Protestant. It
was again and again pressed upon him by English adherents, and even by
statesmen in power–by Oxford and by Bolingbroke–that if he could not
actually become a Protestant he should at least pretend to become one,
and give up all outward show of his devotion to the Catholic Church.
James steadily and decisively refused to be guilty of any meanness so
ignoble and detestable. His conduct in thus adhering to his
convictions, even at ‹13› the cost of a throne, has been contrasted
with that of Henry the Fourth, who declared Paris to be “well worth a
mass!“ But some injustice has been done to Henry the Fourth in regard
to his conversion. Henry’s great Protestant minister, Sully, urged him
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