Honoured Sir,

I send You the particular Account which You desired from me, of that most dangerous Plot of Count Fenil, against either the Liberty or the Life of the Prince of Orange, afterward King of England; for whose Deliverance it pleased God to make use of me, as an unworthy Instrument. You will find here a singular Example of the Extraordnary {sic} Ways of God; how He chuses sometimes to work great Deliverances, by the most unlikely means. For my part, I cannot look back upon the whole Series of Circumstances that concurred, even from my Birth and before it, to bring about this great Event by my Interposition, without admiring the secret and unperceivable Ways of the Almighty, in that Providence that governs all Things.

When I was eighteen Years old, I went \from Geneva/ to Paris in the Spring 1682, furnished with an unlimited Letter of Credit, by the excessive Goodness of my Father. And there I did stay, till the Month of October 1683. There I saw at least one Military Commission signed by Monsieur de Louvois. I took a most particular notice of his Hand: And it made so lively an Impression in my Mind, that it is yet fresh to this very Day.

Being come back to Switzerland, I became particularly acquainted with Count Fenil, in the Years 1684 and 1685. This Gentleman was a Piemontese; who being fallen under the Duke of Savoy's displeasure, was obliged to go to France; and his Estate was given to his Eldest Son. The Count being a Man of merit, undaunted Courage and extraordnary {sic} Strength, became Captain of a Troop of Horse.

How long he served the French King in that Station, I cannot tell. But, as he told us, his Regiment being once drawn up, the Person that commanded it had some Words with him; and drawing his Pistol, and presenting it to the Count, said to him, Ie ne sçai à quoi il tient que je ne te tue; that is, I don't know why I shou'd not kill you. But immediately he wou'd have put up the Pistol in its place again. The Count provoked at it, said to him, No, no; since you have taken your Pistol, you shal use it: And at the same time he took and cocked his own Pistol. Then the Commanding Officer shot at him, and missed him. And, as they must be very near one another, one wou'd think he missed him designedly, to give his Enemy an Opportunity of making honourably an end of the Quarrel. But the revengeful Italian Count, thinking his Honour concerned, shot him dead; and, as he was well mounted, he escaped immediately, being perhaps favoured by the Regiment, or but faintly pursued.

In his flight, he took his way into the Southern parts of Alsatia, and went to my Grandfathers \by my Mothers side./ But the Country being in the French Kings hands, my Grandfather was glad to rid himself of his Guest; and gave him an earnest Letter of Recommendation to my Father and Mother, who lived for the most part at Duillier: Where, partly for our own Education sake, partly by our Parents Hospitality, Strangers were kindly received, and sometimes entertained for whole Years, as was particularly this Count; who seemed then to be about fifty Years of Age, or more.

The Count, who received no Supplys from his Eldest Son, bent his thoughts upon accommodating his matters in France. But thô I was very much acquainted with him, yet was I not a little surprised, when walking alone together in our Gardens, in a long and private Alley, he acquainted me, That he had written to Monsieur de Louvois, and proposed to him to seize the Prince of Orange, and deliver him into their hands: And that he had now received a most encouraging answer. He then shewd me and partly read with me the Letter which he had received, written with Monsieur de Louvois own hand; whose Name being subscribed, I presently knew it to be written like that which I had seen at Paris. In short, thô the Count was exceedingly reserved and severe, and much more feared than beloved in our Family; yet it pleased God so to dispose his Heart at that Time, that he opened to me the whole Design; wherein he did not at all doubt of Success. Nor did he so much as require from me either an Oath, or Promise, of keeping it secret. Yet I am fully perswaded that he opened himself to no body else in that Country; where this matter remained unknown to all, and even to my nearest Relations. Monsieur de Louvois assured him of the Kings Pardon, giving him the greatest Hopes and Promises, and directing him to come to Paris. At the same time he sent him an Order for a Sum of Money. And the Count soon went from the Country, declaring to no body else, as I verily believe, which way he wou'd go.

The Plan of Count Frenil against the Prince of Orange was this. He knew that Scheveling was a Village near the Sea, about three Miles distant from the Hague, whither all sorts of People, from the lowest to the <2> highest degree, do use to go in fair Weather, to take the Air along the Sea-Shore: Where, such Persons as come in Coaches \do/ form commonly two Lines of them, going and coming back again to take the Air, after the manner practised about the Ring in Hidepark: with this difference only, that the Coaches near Scheveling go in straight Lines: For they have but a narrow Space to walk in, especially at High-Water times. And, as the Sea lies on the North-West Side; so, the sandy Downs run parallel to it, and shut up that Space on the South-East Side. These Downs are high and steep; and between the Sea-Shore and the main Land; which, in these Parts, is sandy and wilde; and was then almost altogether without any House in it. These Downs are represented in some Maps of Holland or Flanders, as running up toward the North-East, not only to Catwick-op-Zee, where was in old Time the Mouth of the Rhine, but for many more Leagues; and running toward the South-West, as far as the Mouth of the Meuse. The Breadth of the Space between the Sea and the Downs depends upon the Tides, and may be sometimes scarce ten or twenty Yards, and sometimes, perhaps, about a hundred. The Ground is sandy, and very unfit for Horses to gallop in, but much more so for a Set of six Horses, encumbred with a Coach and harnessed together: But, closer to the Downs, is a deep, loose and stony Gravel, without mixture of Sand. There is at Scheveling no Harbour for Ships. The Fishers Boats lie there on the open Coast. And many of the Inhabitants, if not most of them, are Roman Catholicks.

The Prince of Orange wou'd often go, in the Evening, with a Chariot drawn by six Horses, to take the Air for one Hour or two along the Sea-Shore. He had generally with him but one Person in the Chariot, and a Page or two to attend him. And in order to be more private, and to avoid many troublesom Salutations, he went Northward a great way beyond the Place where the other Coaches did walk; and even almost out of sight; no body presuming to follow him.

By this Disposition of Things, the Count conceived that he cou'd easily, from a light Ship fitted for his purpose under Dutch Colours, come forth in a Boat to the Shore, with some few chosen and armed Men, and intercept the Prince; which might have been done from the same Ship with two Boats at once; So that in an instant the Prince wou'd have been shut up between the Sea, the Downs, and two small Parties of desperate and inexorable Men, in a place altogether remote from any human Help; from whence he cou'd not escape, without a manifest Miracle of Providence.

The Count had stipulated to have the chusing of the Men himself. He thought seven or eight or at most a few more not exceeding eleven or twelve, wou'd be sufficient. I do not remember that he spoke to me of landing more than one Party, and that, between the Prince and Scheveling: or else I might not understand him right. But undoubtedly either he himself, or Others in France, wou'd have perceived that it was a surer and quicker way by much, to land two Partys, if not three, at once, with as many Boats from the same or different Vessels; there being in this no more Difficulty, than in the landing of one.

He did not design to take away the Prince's Life, unless he cou'd not avoid it: But to kill one or two of the Horses and cut down the Harness; and so to take the Prince alive, and carry him with Oares, or otherwise, in all haste to Dunkerk; which Place they cou'd reach with the Tide in a few Hours; especially if some Vessels were disposed fitly to supply the Count now and then with a Fresh Set of Rowers.

This was ripe for Execution, even in the Year 1686; King Iames being then King of England. But from him the Prince had in effect much more to fear than to hope, whatever Resentment he might perhaps have thought fit to show, after the thing was done.

Thô I knew the Count's violent and revengeful Temper very well, he having often said that he cou'd not be satisfied, till he had himself taken away his Eldest Son's Life; yet I seriously considered what I cou'd do to secure the Prince's Life and Liberty. For thô probably the Count wou'd not have killed him; Yet he himself, or some of the Men ordered to go with him, might perhaps have secret Orders, not to spare the Prince. I thought it unsafe for me to write; and that a Letter from a Stranger unknown wou'd be disregarded, many people being apt to give Advises of that kind, without sufficient ground. So I resolved to go to Holland, and afterward to England; for which Places the excessive Goodness of my Father continued to furnish me with unlimited Letters of Credit which I made use of for the Space of four Years more.

I was become acquainted with Doctor Burnet at Geneva; and resolved to go to Holland with him, about the End of the Spring 1686. I do not remember where I begun to acquaint him with the Count's Design; But I did it under a strict Promise of his keeping it secret; and consequently desired the Doctor to acquaint the Prince with it; and to satisfy him concerning my own Person and Family; Which had so much the more Weight, because I asked for no other Recompense, but only that the Thing might be kept secret, lest I shou'd be exposed to the Resentment of the Count, or of the French Court.

The Doctor was soon admitted to Audience, and afterward into the particular Favour of the Prince and Princess; having discovered to them, as soon as he possibly cou'd, what I had declared to him. And, by Her Royal Highnesse's Dire- <3> ction, he acquainted Monsieur Fagel, and some others of the States, with the whole matter: who were convinced, as the Doctor says, (page 689 of the History of his own Time, Vol. I. printed at London 1724) That the Thing was practicable. I went with the Doctor, at an appointed Time, to the House of one of the States, where either two or three of them being present with the Doctor, I declared to them the whole Story, as in the Presence of God, thô no Oath was required from me. I expresly desired of them that all this shou'd be kept secret; trusting however chiefly to Providence: For I knew the Danger I exposed myself to. And indeed, as the Doctor sais, The States desired the Prince on this Occasion, to suffer himself to be constantly attended on by a Guard, when he went abroad; with which he was not without some difficulty brought to comply. Which sudden change, I think, cou'd not but lead the French Kings Embassador and Emissaries, into the Knowledge or Inquiry of the Cause from whence it did proceed.

I stay'd not long at the Hague, but took a Iourny thrô most of the United Provinces to see their Towns; and so went to Amsterdam and to Leiden, in which Places I continued for several Months. After which I returned to the Hague; where that Illustrious Mathematician Monsieur Hugens, with whom I was intimately acquainted, had taken care that my Proficiency in the several Parts of the Mathematicks shou'd be known.

The Prince being desirous to shew me his Gratitude, in a manner best fitted to my own Inclination; the Resolution was taken by the States, to create in my favour a Place of Professor of Mathematics, for the Nobility and Gentry of Holland. They were to give me a House at the Hague, with a Salary at first, I think, of twelve hundred Florins. I was to instruct, in French, in that House, my Scholars, in what related to Fortification, Astronomy, Navigation, Architecture, and other Parts of the Mathematics, at my own choice. I might give private Lessons also, to such as desired it; as is usual among Professors in that Country. The Prince said He wou'd add to that Salary a Pension of his own; and declared that he wou'd take care of my Advancement and Fortune. Monsieur Halluin, one of the States, was appointed to settle every Thing privately with myself, to my own Satisfaction, without my appearing at all, or any Sollicitation or further Trouble on my part. And I begun to see him for that purpose.

One day when I was with that Gentleman, he acquainted me that the States being to take under consideration their Military Affairs for that Year, their Time wou'd be so taken up, that they cou'd not go on for with Private Affairs, for about about six Weeks. I asked him Whether I might take that Time to go to England. He said I might. And accordingly I made haste to go to London, in the Spring 1687.

But being mightily pleased with this Nation, and with the English Language, and having been ill at Oxford, I did not care to return to the Hague; where, by the Imprudence of Others, I might have become too much exposed to the Resentment of two Kings and of the Count at once: But stayd in England, till the Prince of Orange was in full Possession of these Kingdoms.

As to the Count, I was informed in Switzerland, where I was in the Years 1699, 1700 and 1701; That he had indeed reconciled himself with the French Court: and that they had given him a Place at Pignerot, a fortified City not far from Turin. But that having been accused of conspiring to betray the Place into the hands of the Duke of Savoy, he was condemned to have his Head cut off.

I forbear to give here a larger Abstract of my Letter to Dr Worth. The Beginning of it contains several Domestick Memoirs of my own Family; whereby it appears what a Chain of Providential Circumstances did for many Years concur to make way for me to become acquainted with Count Fenil's Conspiracy. And the latter Part of that Letter contains an Account of the Use I made of all the Interest I cou'd have in England, either with the King himself, and the Dutch Embassador Dyckvelt; or with the Infortunate Iohn Hampden Esqr, and by his means with the Earls of Devonshire and Monmouth; and of the Effects of my Zeal for the Kings Service; which have been too great to appear credible, unless I shou'd transcribe here all the particulars. That not only I sought no Advantage to myself; but did often refuse what did offer. I was young yet; and wanted nothing but a greater degree of human Prudence, and less Indulgence from my Father; foreseeing little what future Contingencies, and at last the Charitable Corporation wou'd bring about. Whereby instead of being now worth five hundred Pounds a Year, as I reckon I cou'd easily have been, I am not \scarce/ worth fifty.

I am perswaded that I did not declare to Doctor Burnet the Conspiracy of Count Fenil, till we were in Holland; Not only because of my fixt Resolution to keep it as secret as ever I cou'd; which continued for near Forty Years, viz till the Publication of Bishop Burnet's History of his own Time in 1724, where he gives an Account of it: But also because in Switzerland he did not enquire into the Character of Count Fenil, which he cou'd have from none but our own Family. The Reader may rest satisfied that the Character I give of that Count will be confirmed by the surviving Relations of mine, that have been acquainted with him. And the Doctor having never had any Writings form me concerning this matter, his Memory, where we differ, may justly be mistrusted, rather than mine.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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Scott Mandelbrote,
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