Pretender in his own words

Extract from a letter from the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart explaining the principles he will abide by after his restoration. He promises in particular to keep the Church of England as the established church and will not overtax his people, 25 May 1741 (SP 36/59/2/257D).


My Return, no doubt, would be much more agreeable both to our Subjects and to ourselves, were it brought about without any Foreign Assistance. But should it happen that any Foreign Power contributed to place me on the Throne, it must be visible to all thinking men, that I can neither hope to keep it, nor enjoy Peace and Happiness upon it but by gaining the Love and Affections of my Subjects. I am far from approving the mistakes of former Reigns. I see, I feel the Effects of them, and should be void of all Reflection did I not propose to avoid them with the utmost Care. And therefore I do not entertain the least thoughts of assuming the Government on the footing my Family left it. I absolutely disdain [reject] any Pretensions to a dispensing Power. I am sensible that the Ruins and Oppressions with which our Country is distressed, may make the generality of the People desirous of a Change at any rate. But for my Part, as natural and Just as it is for me to desire, that I and my Family should be restored to our Just Rights, I am far (at my age especially) from desireing [desiring] that should happen but upon Honourable and Solid Foundations, cemented with a mutual Confidence between King and Parliament, by what the Welfares of both may be effectually secured.

It is manifest [clear] that not only Justice, but the Interest of the Nation require my Return because I never can have a Separate Interest from that of my Country, nor any hope of Peace and Tranquillity for myself, or My Family, but by cultivating the Affections of my People, and by having in View their Honour and Happiness. I am persuaded there are many Persons of great Talents and Merit who would be of this Opinion, if my true Sentiments were known to them, altho’ they are not at this time look’d upon as Welwishers [well-wishers] to my Cause, neither can I wonder they should have prejudices against it,. They have been bred up in them from their youth, and constantly confirmed in them by all the Artifices [lies] imaginable: But I hope the time is not very far distant in which they will see things in their true lights, and if they lay aside all unjust Prejudices against me, and lay as much to Heart as I do the Happiness and Prosperity of our own Country; I make no doubt, but we shall soon be intirely [entirely] satisfied with one another.

It is fit any Friend should know that I have by me a Draught [draft] of Declaration, which there has never been as yet an occasion to publish. This Declaration was written in Consequence of the sentiments and Reflections expressed in this Letter. It contains a General Indemnity [compensation] without Exceptions, for all that has passed against me and my Family. A Solemn Engagement to maintain the Church of England as by Law Established in all her Rights and Priviledges [Privileges], Possessions and immunities whatsoever. And as I am utterly averse [against] to all animosities and Persecutions on account of Religion it also contains a Promise to grant and allow a Toleration to all Protestant Dissenters. I also express in it an utter Aversion to the suspending the Habeas Corpus Act [imprisonment without trial], as well as the loading my Subjects with unnecessary Taxes, or the raising of any in a manner burthensome to them; and especially to the introducing a Foreign excises [import duties], and all other such Methods as may hitherto been devised, and pursued to acquire Arbitrary Power, at the Expense of the Liberty and Property of the Subjects. And besides there is a general Article of my readiness to settle all that may relate to the Welfare and Happiness of the Nation both in Civil and Ecclesiastical [church] matters, by the sincere advice and concurrence of a Free Parliament. In Time were I known, and were Justice done to my Sentiments it would I am convinced make many alter their present way of thinking, and induce them to concur [agree] heartily in Measures for my Return, as the only effectual means to Restore Peace and Happiness to our Country. I thank God I am without Resentment against any Body; I shall never Retain any memory of Past Mistakes. I shall never make any other Distinction among my Subjects [have favourites], but Such as true Merit and Faithful Services may authorize and require. I have ever the greatest abhorrence [hatred] of all dissimulation [deception], and will certainly never promise during my Exile but what I shall perform after my Restoration.

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