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The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 2 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

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The History of England from the Accession of James the Second

Volume II

(Chapters VI-X)

by Thomas Babington Macaulay


The Power of James at the Height--His Foreign Policy--His Plans
of Domestic Government; the Habeas Corpus Act--The Standing Army-
-Designs in favour of the Roman Catholic Religion--Violation of
the Test Act--Disgrace of Halifax; general Discontent--
Persecution of the French Huguenots--Effect of that Persecution
in England--Meeting of Parliament; Speech of the King; an
Opposition formed in the House of Commons--Sentiments of Foreign
Governments--Committee of the Commons on the King's Speech--
Defeat of the Government--Second Defeat of the Government; the
King reprimands the Commons--Coke committed by the Commons for
Disrespect to the King--Opposition to the Government in the
Lords; the Earl of Devonshire--The Bishop of London--Viscount
Mordaunt--Prorogation--Trials of Lord Gerard and of Hampden--
Trial of Delamere--Effect of his Acquittal--Parties in the Court;
Feeling of the Protestant Tories--Publication of Papers found in
the Strong Box of Charles II.--Feeling of the respectable Roman
Catholics--Cabal of violent Roman Catholics; Castlemaine--Jermyn;
White; Tyrconnel--Feeling of the Ministers of Foreign
Governments--The Pope and the Order of Jesus opposed to each
other--The Order of Jesus--Father Petre--The King's Temper and
Opinions--The King encouraged in his Errors by Sunderland--
Perfidy of Jeffreys--Godolphin; the Queen; Amours of the King--
Catharine Sedley--Intrigues of Rochester in favour of Catharine
Sedley--Decline of Rochester's Influence--Castelmaine sent to
Rome; the Huguenots illtreated by James--The Dispensing Power--
Dismission of Refractory Judges--Case of Sir Edward Hales--Roman
Catholics authorised to hold Ecclesiastical Benefices;--Sclater;
Walker--The Deanery of Christchurch given to a Roman Catholic--
Disposal of Bishoprics--Resolution of James to use his
Ecclesiastical Supremacy against the Church--His Difficulties--He
creates a new Court of High Commission--Proceedings against the
Bishop of London--Discontent excited by the Public Display of
Roman Catholic--Rites and Vestments--Riots--A Camp formed at
Hounslow--Samuel Johnson--Hugh Speke--Proceedings against
Johnson--Zeal of the Anglican Clergy against Popery--The Roman
Catholic Divines overmatched--State of Scotland--Queensberry--
Perth and Melfort--Favour shown to the Roman Catholic Religion in
Scotland--Riots at Edinburgh--Anger of the King; his Plans
concerning Scotland--Deputation of Scotch Privy Councillors sent
to London--Their Negotiations with the King --Meeting of the
Scotch Estates; they prove refractory--They are adjourned;
arbitrary System of Government in Scotland--Ireland--State of the
Law on the Subject of Religion--Hostility of Races--Aboriginal
Peasantry; aboriginal Aristocracy--State of the English Colony--
Course which James ought to have followed--His Errors--Clarendon
arrives in Ireland as Lord Lieutenant--His Mortifications; Panic
among the Colonists--Arrival of Tyrconnel at Dublin as General;
his Partiality and Violence--He is bent on the Repeal of the Act
of Settlement; he returns to England--The King displeased with
Clarendon--Rochester attacked by the Jesuitical Cabal--Attempts
of James to convert Rochester--Dismission of Rochester--
Dismission of Clarendon; Tyrconnel Lord Deputy--Dismay of the
English Colonists in Ireland--Effect of the Fall of the Hydes

JAMES was now at the height of power and prosperity. Both in
England and in Scotland he had vanquished his enemies, and had
punished them with a severity which had indeed excited their
bitterest hatred, but had, at the same time, effectually quelled
their courage. The Whig party seemed extinct. The name of Whig
was never used except as a term of reproach. The Parliament was
devoted to the King; and it was in his power to keep that
Parliament to the end of his reign. The Church was louder than
ever in professions of attachment to him, and had, during the
late insurrection, acted up to those professions. The Judges were
his tools; and if they ceased to be so, it was in his power to
remove them. The corporations were filled with his creatures. His
revenues far exceeded those of his predecessors. His pride rose
high. He was not the same man who, a few months before, in doubt
whether his throne might not be overturned in a hour, had
implored foreign help with unkingly supplications, and had
accepted it with tears of gratitude. Visions of dominion and
glory rose before him. He already saw himself, in imagination,
the umpire of Europe, the champion of many states oppressed by
one too powerful monarchy. So early as the month of June he had
assured the United Provinces that, as soon as the affairs of
England were settled, he would show the world how little he
feared France. In conformity with these assurances, he, within a
month after the battle of Sedgemoor, concluded with the States
General a defensive treaty, framed in the very spirit of the
Triple League. It was regarded, both at the Hague and at
Versailles, as a most significant circumstance that Halifax, who
was the constant and mortal enemy of French ascendency, and who
had scarcely ever before been consulted on any grave affair since
the beginning of the reign, took the lead on this occasion, and
seemed to have the royal ear. It was a circumstance not less
significant that no previous communication was made to Barillon.
Both he and his master were taken by surprise. Lewis was much
troubled, and expressed great, and not unreasonable, anxiety as
to the ulterior designs of the prince who had lately been his
pensioner and vassal. There were strong rumours that William of
Orange was busied in organizing a great confederacy, which was to
include both branches of the House of Austria, the United
Provinces, the kingdom of Sweden, and the electorate of
Brandenburg. It now seemed that this confederacy would have at
its head the King and Parliament of England.

In fact, negotiations tending to such a result were actually
opened. Spain proposed to form a close alliance with James; and
he listened to the proposition with favour, though it was evident
that such an alliance would be little less than a declaration of
war against France. But he postponed his final decision till
after the Parliament should have reassembled. The fate of
Christendom depended on the temper in which he might then find
the Commons. If they were disposed to acquiesce in his plans of
domestic government, there would be nothing to prevent him from
interfering with vigour and authority in the great dispute which
must soon be brought to an issue on the Continent. If they were
refractory, he must relinquish all thought of arbitrating between
contending nations, must again implore French assistance, must
again submit to French dictation, must sink into a potentate of
the third or fourth class, and must indemnify himself for the
contempt with which he would be regarded abroad by triumphs over
law and public opinion at home.1

It seemed, indeed, that it would not be easy for him to demand
more than the Commons were disposed to give. Already they had
abundantly proved that they were desirous to maintain his
prerogatives unimpaired, and that they were by no means extreme
to mark his encroachments on the rights of the people. Indeed,
eleven twelfths of the members were either dependents of the
court, or zealous Cavaliers from the country. There were few
things which such an assembly could pertinaciously refuse to the
Sovereign; and, happily for the nation, those few things were the
very things on which James had set his heart.

One of his objects was to obtain a repeal of the Habeas Corpus
Act, which he hated, as it was natural that a tyrant should hate
the most stringent curb that ever legislation imposed on tyranny.
This feeling remained deeply fixed in his mind to the last, and
appears in the instructions which he drew up, in exile, for the
guidance of his son.2 But the Habeas Corpus Act, though passed
during the ascendency of the Whigs, was not more dear to the
Whigs than to the Tories. It is indeed not wonderful that this
great law should be highly prized by all Englishmen without
distinction of party: for it is a law which, not by circuitous,
but by direct operation, adds to the security and happiness of
every inhabitant of the realm.3

James had yet another design, odious to the party which had set
him on the throne and which had upheld him there. He wished to
form a great standing army. He had taken advantage of the late
insurrection to make large additions to the military force which
his brother had left. The bodies now designated as the first six
regiments of dragoon guards, the third and fourth regiments of
dragoons, and the nine regiments of infantry of the line, from
the seventh to the fifteenth inclusive, had just been raised.4
The effect of these augmentations, and of the recall of the
garrison of Tangier, was that the number of regular troops in
England had, in a few months, been increased from six thousand to
near twenty thousand. No English King had ever, in time of peace,
had such a force at his command. Yet even with this force James
was not content. He often repeated that no confidence could be
placed in the fidelity of the train-bands, that they sympathized
with all the passions of the class to which they belonged, that,
at Sedgemoor, there had been more militia men in the rebel army
than in the royal encampment, and that, if the throne had been
defended only by the array of the counties, Monmouth would have
marched in triumph from Lyme to London.

The revenue, large as it was when compared with that of former
Kings, barely sufficed to meet this new charge. A great part of
the produce of the new taxes was absorbed by the naval
expenditure. At the close of the late reign the whole cost of the
army, the Tangier regiments included, had been under three
hundred thousand pounds a year. Six hundred thousand pounds a
year would not now suffice.5 If any further augmentation were
made, it would be necessary to demand a supply from Parliament;
and it was not likely that Parliament would be in a complying
mood. The very name of standing army was hateful to the whole
nation, and to no part of the nation more hateful than to the
Cavalier gentlemen who filled the Lower House. In their minds a
standing army was inseparably associated with the Rump, with the
Protector, with the spoliation of the Church, with the purgation
of the Universities, with the abolition of the peerage, with the
murder of the King, with the sullen reign of the Saints, with
cant and asceticism, with fines and sequestrations, with the
insults which Major Generals, sprung from the dregs of the
people, had offered to the oldest and most honourable families of
the kingdom. There was, moreover, scarcely a baronet or a squire
in the Parliament who did not owe part of his importance in his
own county to his rank in the militia. If that national force
were set aside, the gentry of England must lose much of their
dignity and influence. It was therefore probable that the King
would find it more difficult to obtain funds for the support of
his army than even to obtain the repeal of the Habeas Corpus Act.

But both the designs which have been mentioned were subordinate
to one great design on which the King's whole soul was bent, but
which was abhorred by those Tory gentlemen who were ready to shed
their blood for his rights, abhorred by that Church which had
never, during three generations of civil discord, wavered in
fidelity to his house, abhorred even by that army on which, in
the last extremity, he must rely.

His religion was still under proscription. Many rigorous laws
against Roman Catholics appeared on the Statute Book, and had,
within no long time, been rigorously executed. The Test Act
excluded from civil and military office all who dissented from
the Church of England; and, by a subsequent Act, passed when the
fictions of Oates had driven the nation wild, it had been
provided that no person should sit in either House of Parliament
without solemnly abjuring the doctrine of transubstantiation.
That the King should wish to obtain for the Church to which he
belonged a complete toleration was natural and right; nor is
there any reason to doubt that, by a little patience, prudence,
and justice, such a toleration might have been obtained.

The extreme antipathy and dread with which the English people
regarded his religion was not to be ascribed solely or chiefly to
theological animosity. That salvation might be found in the
Church of Rome, nay, that some members of that Church had been
among the brightest examples of Christian virtue, was admitted by
all divines of the Anglican communion and by the most illustrious
Nonconformists. It is notorious that the penal laws against
Popery were strenuously defended by many who thought Arianism,
Quakerism, and Judaism more dangerous, in a spiritual point of
view, than Popery, and who yet showed no disposition to enact
similar laws against Arians, Quakers, or Jews.

It is easy to explain why the Roman Catholic was treated with
less indulgence than was shown to men who renounced the doctrine
of the Nicene fathers, and even to men who had not been admitted
by baptism within the Christian pale. There was among the English
a strong conviction that the Roman Catholic, where the interests
of his religion were concerned, thought himself free from all the
ordinary rules of morality, nay, that he thought it meritorious
to violate those rules if, by so doing, he could avert injury or
reproach from the Church of which he was a member.

Nor was this opinion destitute of a show of reason. It was
impossible to deny that Roman Catholic casuists of great eminence
had written in defence of equivocation, of mental reservation, of
perjury, and even of assassination. Nor, it was said, had the
speculations of this odious school of sophists been barren of
results. The massacre of Saint Bartholomew, the murder of the
first William of Orange, the murder of Henry the Third of France,
the numerous conspiracies which had been formed against the life
of Elizabeth, and, above all, the gunpowder treason, were
constantly cited as instances of the close connection between
vicious theory and vicious practice. It was alleged that every
one of these crimes had been prompted or applauded by Roman
Catholic divines. The letters which Everard Digby wrote in lemon
juice from the Tower to his wife had recently been published, and
were often quoted. He was a scholar and a gentleman, upright in
all ordinary dealings, and strongly impressed with a sense of
duty to God. Yet he had been deeply concerned in the plot for
blowing up King, Lords, and Commons, and had, on the brink of
eternity, declared that it was incomprehensible to him how any
Roman Catholic should think such a design sinful. The inference
popularly drawn from these things was that, however fair the
general character of a Papist might be, there was no excess of
fraud or cruelty of which he was not capable when the safety and
honour of his Church were at stake.

The extraordinary success of the fables of Oates is to be chiefly
ascribed to the prevalence of this opinion. It was to no purpose
that the accused Roman Catholic appealed to the integrity,
humanity, and loyalty which he had shown through the whole course
of his life. It was to no purpose that he called crowds of
respectable witnesses, of his own persuasion, to contradict
monstrous romances invented by the most infamous of mankind. It
was to no purpose that, with the halter round his neck, he
invoked on himself the whole vengeance of the God before whom, in
a few moments, he must appear, if he had been guilty of
meditating any ill to his prince or to his Protestant fellow
countrymen. The evidence which he produced in his favour proved
only how little Popish oaths were worth. His very virtues raised
a presumption of his guilt. That he had before him death and
judgment in immediate prospect only made it more likely that he
would deny what, without injury to the holiest of causes, he
could not confess. Among the unhappy men who were convicted of
the murder of Godfrey was one Protestant of no high character,
Henry Berry. It is a remarkable and well attested circumstance,
that Berry's last words did more to shake the credit of the plot
than the dying declarations of all the pious and honourable Roman
Catholics who underwent the same fate.6

It was not only by the ignorant populace, it was not only by
zealots in whom fanaticism had extinguished all reason and
charity, that the Roman Catholic was regarded as a man the very
tenderness of whose conscience might make him a false witness, an
incendiary, or a murderer, as a man who, where his Church was
concerned, shrank from no atrocity and could be bound by no oath.
If there were in that age two persons inclined by their judgment
and by their temper to toleration, those persons were Tillotson
and Locke. Yet Tillotson, whose indulgence for various kinds of
schismatics and heretics brought on him the reproach of
heterodoxy, told the House of Commons from the pulpit that it was
their duty to make effectual provision against the propagation of
a religion more mischievous than irreligion itself, of a religion
which demanded from its followers services directly opposed to
the first principles of morality. His temper, he truly said, was
prone to lenity; but his duty to he community forced him to be,
in this one instance, severe. He declared that, in his judgment,
Pagans who had never heard the name of Christ, and who were
guided only by the light of nature, were more trustworthy members
of civil society than men who had been formed in the schools of
the Popish casuists.7 Locke, in the celebrated treatise in which
he laboured to show that even the grossest forms of idolatry
ought not to be prohibited under penal sanctions, contended that
the Church which taught men not to keep faith with heretics had
no claim to toleration.8

It is evident that, in such circumstances, the greatest service
which an English Roman Catholic could render to his brethren in
the faith was to convince the public that, whatever some rash men
might, in times of violent excitement, have written or done, his
Church did not hold that any end could sanctify means
inconsistent with morality. And this great service it was in the
power of James to render. He was King. He was more powerful than
any English King had been within the memory of the oldest man. It
depended on him whether the reproach which lay on his religion
should be taken away or should be made permanent.

Had he conformed to the laws, had be fulfilled his promises, had
he abstained from employing any unrighteous methods for the
propagation of his own theological tenets, had he suspended the
operation of the penal statutes by a large exercise of his
unquestionable prerogative of mercy, but, at the same time,
carefully abstained from violating the civil or ecclesiastical
constitution of the realm, the feeling of his people must have
undergone a rapid change. So conspicuous an example of good faith
punctiliously observed by a Popish prince towards a Protestant
nation would have quieted the public apprehensions. Men who saw
that a Roman Catholic might safely be suffered to direct the
whole executive administration, to command the army and navy, to
convoke and dissolve the legislature, to appoint the Bishops and
Deans of the Church of England, would soon have ceased to fear
that any great evil would arise from allowing a Roman Catholic to
be captain of a company or alderman of a borough. It is probable
that, in a few years, the sect so long detested by the nation
would, with general applause, have been admitted to office and to

If, on the other hand, James should attempt to promote the
interest of his Church by violating the fundamental laws of his
kingdom and the solemn promises which he had repeatedly made in
the face of the whole world, it could hardly be doubted that the
charges which it had been the fashion to bring against the Roman
Catholic religion would be considered by all Protestants as fully
established. For, if ever a Roman Catholic could be expected to
keep faith with heretics, James might have been expected to keep
faith with the Anglican clergy. To them he owed his crown. But
for their strenuous opposition to the Exclusion Bill he would
have been a banished man. He had repeatedly and emphatically
acknowledged his obligation to them, and had vowed to maintain
them in all their legal rights. If he could not be bound by ties
like these, it must be evident that, where his superstition was
concerned, no tie of gratitude or of honour could bind him. To
trust him would thenceforth be impossible; and, if his people
could not trust him, what member of his Church could they trust?
He was not supposed to be constitutionally or habitually
treacherous. To his blunt manner, and to his want of
consideration for the feelings of others, he owed a much higher
reputation for sincerity than he at all deserved. His eulogists
affected to call him James the Just. If then it should appear
that, in turning Papist, he had also turned dissembler and
promisebreaker, what conclusion was likely to be drawn by a
nation already disposed to believe that Popery had a pernicious
influence on the moral character?

On these grounds many of the most eminent Roman Catholics of that
age, and among them the Supreme Pontiff, were of opinion that the
interest of their Church in our island would be most effectually
promoted by a moderate and constitutional policy. But such
reasoning had no effect on the slow understanding and imperious
temper of James. In his eagerness to remove the disabilities
under which the professors of his religion lay, he took a course
which convinced the most enlightened and tolerant Protestants of
his time that those disabilities were essential to the safety of
the state. To his policy the English Roman Catholics owed three
years of lawless and insolent triumph, and a hundred and forty
years of subjection and degradation.

Many members of his Church held commissions in the newly raised
regiments. This breach of the law for a time passed uncensured:
for men were not disposed to note every irregularity which was
committed by a King suddenly called upon to defend his crown and
his life against rebels. But the danger was now over. The
insurgents had been vanquished and punished. Their unsuccessful
attempt had strengthened the government which they had hoped to
overthrow. Yet still James continued to grant commissions to
unqualified persons; and speedily it was announced that he was
determined to be no longer bound by the Test Act, that he hoped
to induce the Parliament to repeal that Act, but that, if the
Parliament proved refractory, he would not the less have his own

As soon as this was known, a deep murmur, the forerunner of a
tempest, gave him warning that the spirit before which his
grandfather, his father, and his brother had been compelled to
recede, though dormant, was not extinct. Opposition appeared
first in the cabinet. Halifax did not attempt to conceal his
disgust and alarm. At the Council board he courageously gave
utterance to those feelings which, as it soon appeared, pervaded
the whole nation. None of his colleagues seconded him; and the
subject dropped. He was summoned to the royal closet, and had two
long conferences with his master. James tried the effect of
compliments and blandishments, but to no purpose. Halifax
positively refused to promise that he would give his vote in the
House of Lords for the repeal either of the Test Act or of the
Habeas Corpus Act.

Some of those who were about the King advised him not, on the eve
of the meeting of Parliament, to drive the most eloquent and
accomplished statesman of the age into opposition. They
represented that Halifax loved the dignity and emoluments of
office, that, while he continued to be Lord President, it would
be hardly possible for him to put forth his whole strength
against the government, and that to dismiss him from his high
post was to emancipate him from all restraint. The King was
peremptory. Halifax was informed that his services were no longer
needed; and his name was struck out of the Council-Book.9

His dismission produced a great sensation not only in England,
but also at Paris, at Vienna, and at the Hague: for it was well
known, that he had always laboured to counteract the influence
exercised by the court of Versailles on English affairs. Lewis
expressed great pleasure at the news. The ministers of the United
Provinces and of the House of Austria, on the other hand,
extolled the wisdom and virtue of the discarded statesman in a
manner which gave great offence at Whitehall. James was
particularly angry with the secretary of the imperial legation,
who did not scruple to say that the eminent service which Halifax
had performed in the debate on the Exclusion Bill had been
requited with gross ingratitude.10

It soon became clear that Halifax would have many followers. A
portion of the Tories, with their old leader, Danby, at their
head, began to hold Whiggish language. Even the prelates hinted
that there was a point at which the loyalty due to the prince
must yield to higher considerations. The discontent of the chiefs
of the army was still more extraordinary and still more
formidable. Already began to appear the first symptoms of that
feeling which, three years later, impelled so many officers of
high rank to desert the royal standard. Men who had never before
had a scruple had on a sudden become strangely scrupulous.
Churchill gently whispered that the King was going too far.
Kirke, just returned from his western butchery, swore to stand by
the Protestant religion. Even if he abjured the faith in which he
had been bred, he would never, he said, become a Papist. He was
already bespoken. If ever he did apostatize, he was bound by a
solemn promise to the Emperor of Morocco to turn Mussulman.11

While the nation, agitated by many strong emotions, looked
anxiously forward to the reassembling of the Houses, tidings,
which increased the prevailing excitement, arrived from France.

The long and heroic struggle which the Huguenots had maintained
against the French government had been brought to a final close
by the ability and vigour of Richelieu. That great statesman
vanquished them; but he confirmed to them the liberty of
conscience which had been bestowed on them by the edict of
Nantes. They were suffered, under some restraints of no galling
kind, to worship God according to their own ritual, and to write
in defence of their own doctrine. They were admissible to
political and military employment; nor did their heresy, during a
considerable time, practically impede their rise in the world.
Some of them commanded the armies of the state; and others
presided over important departments of the civil administration.
At length a change took place. Lewis the Fourteenth had, from an
early age, regarded the Calvinists with an aversion at once
religious and political. As a zealous Roman Catholic, he detested
their theological dogmas. As a prince fond of arbitrary power, he
detested those republican theories which were intermingled with
the Genevese divinity. He gradually retrenched all the privileges
which the schismatics enjoyed. He interfered with the education
of Protestant children, confiscated property bequeathed to
Protestant consistories, and on frivolous pretexts shut up
Protestant churches. The Protestant ministers were harassed by
the tax gatherers. The Protestant magistrates were deprived of
the honour of nobility. The Protestant officers of the royal
household were informed that His Majesty dispensed with their
services. Orders were given that no Protestant should be admitted
into the legal profession. The oppressed sect showed some faint
signs of that spirit which in the preceding century had bidden
defiance to the whole power of the House of Valois. Massacres and
executions followed. Dragoons were quartered in the towns where
the heretics were numerous, and in the country seats of the
heretic gentry; and the cruelty and licentiousness of these rude
missionaries was sanctioned or leniently censured by the
government. Still, however, the edict of Nantes, though
practically violated in its most essential provisions, had not
been formally rescinded; and the King repeatedly declared in
solemn public acts that he was resolved to maintain it. But the
bigots and flatterers who had his ear gave him advice which he
was but too willing to take. They represented to him that his
rigorous policy had been eminently successful, that little or no
resistance had been made to his will, that thousands of Huguenots
had already been converted, that, if he would take the one
decisive step which yet remained, those who were still obstinate
would speedily submit, France would be purged from the taint of
heresy, and her prince would have earned a heavenly crown not
less glorious than that of Saint Lewis. These arguments
prevailed. The final blow was struck. The edict of Nantes was
revoked; and a crowd of decrees against the sectaries appeared in
rapid succession. Boys and girls were torn from their parents and
sent to be educated in convents. All Calvinistic ministers were
commanded either to abjure their religion or to quit their
country within a fortnight. The other professors of the reformed
faith were forbidden to leave the kingdom; and, in order to
prevent them from making their escape, the outports and frontiers
were strictly guarded. It was thought that the flocks, thus
separated from the evil shepherds, would soon return to the true
fold. But in spite of all the vigilance of the military police
there was a vast emigration. It was calculated that, in a few
months, fifty thousand families quitted France for ever. Nor were
the refugees such as a country can well spare. They were
generally persons of intelligent minds, of industrious habits,
and of austere morals. In the list are to be found names eminent
in war, in science, in literature, and in art. Some of the exiles
offered their swords to William of Orange, and distinguished
themselves by the fury with which they fought against their
persecutor. Others avenged themselves with weapons still more
formidable, and, by means of the presses of Holland, England, and
Germany, inflamed, during thirty years, the public mind of Europe
against the French government. A more peaceful class erected silk
manufactories in the eastern suburb of London. One detachment of
emigrants taught the Saxons to make the stuffs and hats of which
France had hitherto enjoyed a monopoly. Another planted the first
vines in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope.12

In ordinary circumstances the courts of Spain and of Rome would
have eagerly applauded a prince who had made vigorous war on
heresy. But such was the hatred inspired by the injustice and
haughtiness of Lewis that, when he became a persecutor, the
courts of Spain and Rome took the side of religious liberty, and
loudly reprobated the cruelty of turning a savage and licentious
soldiery loose on an unoffending people.13 One cry of grief and
rage rose from the whole of Protestant Europe. The tidings of the
revocation of the edict of Nantes reached England about a week
before the day to which the Parliament stood adjourned. It was
clear then that the spirit of Gardiner and of Alva was still the
spirit of the Roman Catholic Church. Lewis was not inferior to
James in generosity and humanity, and was certainly far superior
to James in all the abilities and acquirements of a statesman.
Lewis had, like James, repeatedly promised to respect the
privileges of his Protestant subjects. Yet Lewis was now avowedly
a persecutor of the reformed religion. What reason was there,
then, to doubt that James waited only for an opportunity to
follow the example? He was already forming, in defiance of the
law, a military force officered to a great extent by Roman
Catholics. Was there anything unreasonable in the apprehension
that this force might be employed to do what the French dragoons
had done?

James was almost as much disturbed as his subjects by the conduct
of the court of Versailles. In truth, that court had acted as if
it had meant to embarrass and annoy him. He was about to ask from
a Protestant legislature a full toleration for Roman Catholics.
Nothing, therefore, could be more unwelcome to him than the
intelligence that, in a neighbouring country, toleration had just
been withdrawn by a Roman Catholic government from Protestants.
His vexation was increased by a speech which the Bishop of
Valence, in the name of the Gallican clergy, addressed at this
time to Lewis, the Fourteenth. The pious Sovereign of England,
the orator said, looked to the most Christian King for support
against a heretical nation. It was remarked that the members of
the House of Commons showed particular anxiety to procure copies
of this harangue, and that it was read by all Englishmen with
indignation and alarm.14 James was desirous to counteract the
impression which these things had made, and was also at that
moment by no means unwilling to let all Europe see that he was
not the slave of France. He therefore declared publicly that he
disapproved of the manner in which the Huguenots had been
treated, granted to the exiles some relief from his privy purse,
and, by letters under his great seal, invited his subjects to
imitate his liberality. In a very few months it became clear that
all this compassion was feigned for the purpose of cajoling his
Parliament, that he regarded the refugees with mortal hatred, and
that he regretted nothing so much as his own inability to do what
Lewis had done.

On the ninth of November the Houses met. The Commons were
summoned to the bar of the Lords; and the King spoke from the
throne. His speech had been composed by himself. He congratulated
his loving subjects on the suppression of the rebellion in the
West: but he added that the speed with which that rebellion had
risen to a formidable height, and the length of time during which
it had continued to rage, must convince all men how little
dependence could be placed on the militia. He had, therefore,
made additions to the regular army. The charge of that army would
henceforth be more than double of what it had been; and he
trusted that the Commons would grant him the means of defraying
the increased expense. He then informed his hearers that he had
employed some officers who had not taken the test; but he knew
them to be fit for public trust. He feared that artful men might
avail themselves of this irregularity to disturb the harmony
which existed between himself and his Parliament. But he would
speak out. He was determined not to part with servants on whose
fidelity he could rely, and whose help he might perhaps soon

This explicit declaration that he had broken the laws which were
regarded by the nation as the chief safeguards of the established
religion, and that he was resolved to persist in breaking those
laws, was not likely to soothe the excited feelings of his
subjects. The Lords, seldom disposed to take the lead in
opposition to a government, consented to vote him formal thanks
for what he had said. But the Commons were in a less complying
mood. When they had returned to their own House there was a long
silence; and the faces of many of the most respectable members
expressed deep concern. At length Middleton rose and moved the
House to go instantly into committee on the King's speech: but
Sir Edmund Jennings, a zealous Tory from Yorkshire, who was
supposed to speak the sentiments of Danby, protested against this
course, and demanded time for consideration. Sir Thomas Clarges,
maternal uncle of the Duke of Albemarle, and long distinguished
in Parliament as a man of business and a viligant steward of the
public money, took the same side. The feeling of the House could
not be mistaken. Sir John Ernley, Chancellor of the Exchequer,
insisted that the delay should not exceed forty-eight hours; but
he was overruled; and it was resolved that the discussion should
be postponed for three days.16

The interval was well employed by those who took the lead against
the court. They had indeed no light work to perform. In three
days a country party was to be organized. The difficulty of the
task is in our age not easily to be appreciated; for in our age
all the nation may be said to assist at every
deliberation of the Lords and Commons. What is said by the
leaders of the ministry and of the opposition after midnight is
read by the whole metropolis at dawn, by the inhabitants of
Northumberland and Cornwall in the afternoon, and in Ireland and
the Highlands of Scotland on the morrow. In our age, therefore,
the stages of legislation, the rules of debate, the tactics of
faction, the opinions, temper, and style of every active member
of either House, are familiar to hundreds of thousands. Every man
who now enters Parliament possesses what, in the seventeenth
century, would have been called a great stock of parliamentary
knowledge. Such knowledge was then to be obtained only by actual
parliamentary service. The difference between an old and a new
member was as great as the difference between a veteran soldier
and a recruit just taken from the plough; and James's Parliament
contained a most unusual proportion of new members, who had
brought from their country seats to Westminster no political
knowledge and many violent prejudices. These gentlemen hated the
Papists, but hated the Whigs not less intensely, and regarded the
King with superstitious veneration. To form an opposition out of
such materials was a feat which required the most skilful and
delicate management. Some men of great weight, however, undertook
the work, and performed it with success. Several experienced Whig
politicians, who had not seats in that Parliament, gave useful
advice and information. On the day preceding that which had been
fixed for the debate, many meetings were held at which the
leaders instructed the novices; and it soon appeared that these
exertions had not been thrown away.17

The foreign embassies were all in a ferment. It was well
understood that a few days would now decide the great question,
whether the King of England was or was not to be the vassal of
the King of France. The ministers of the House of Austria were
most anxious that James should give satisfaction to his
Parliament. Innocent had sent to London two persons charged to
inculcate moderation, both by admonition and by example. One of
them was John Leyburn, an English Dominican, who had been
secretary to Cardinal Howard, and who, with some learning and a
rich vein of natural humour, was the most cautious, dexterous,
and taciturn of men. He had recently been consecrated Bishop of
Adrumetum, and named Vicar Apostolic in Great Britain. Ferdinand,
Count of Adda, an Italian of no eminent abilities, but of mild
temper and courtly manners, had been appointed Nuncio. These
functionaries were eagerly welcomed by James. No Roman Catholic
Bishop had exercised spiritual functions in the island during
more than half a century. No Nuncio had been received here during
the hundred and twenty-seven years which had elapsed since the
death of Mary. Leyburn was lodged in Whitehall, and received a
pension of a thousand pounds a year. Adda did not yet assume a
public character. He passed for a foreigner of rank whom
curiosity had brought to London, appeared daily at court, and was
treated with high consideration. Both the Papal emissaries did
their best to diminish, as much as possible, the odium
inseparable from the offices which they filled, and to restrain
the rash zeal of James. The Nuncio, in particular, declared that
nothing could be more injurious to the interests of the Church of
Rome than a rupture between the King and the Parliament.18

Barillon was active on the other side. The instructions which he
received from Versailles on this occasion well deserve to be
studied; for they furnish a key to the policy systematically
pursued by his master towards England during the twenty years
which preceded our revolution. The advices from Madrid, Lewis
wrote, were alarming. Strong hopes were entertained there that
James would ally himself closely with the House of Austria, as
soon as he should be assured that his Parliament would give him
no trouble. In these circumstances, it was evidently the interest
of France that the Parliament should prove refractory. Barillon
was therefore directed to act, with all possible precautions
against detection, the part of a makebate. At court he was to
omit no opportunity of stimulating the religious zeal and the
kingly pride of James; but at the same time it might be
desirable to have some secret communication with the
malecontents. Such communication would indeed be hazardous and
would require the utmost adroitness; yet it might perhaps be in
the power of the Ambassador, without committing himself or his
government, to animate the zeal of the opposition for the laws
and liberties of England, and to let it be understood that those
laws and liberties were not regarded by his master with an
unfriendly eye.19

Lewis, when he dictated these instructions, did not foresee how
speedily and how completely his uneasiness would be removed by
the obstinacy and stupidity of James. On the twelfth of November
the House of Commons, resolved itself into a committee on the
royal speech. The Solicitor General Heneage Finch, was in the
chair. The debate was conducted by the chiefs of the new country
party with rare tact and address. No expression indicating
disrespect to the Sovereign or sympathy for rebels was suffered
to escape. The western insurrection was always mentioned with
abhorrence. Nothing was said of the barbarities of Kirke and
Jeffreys. It was admitted that the heavy expenditure which had
been occasioned by the late troubles justified the King in asking
some further supply: but strong objections were made to the
augmentation of the army and to the infraction of the Test Act.

The subject of the Test Act the courtiers appear to have
carefully avoided. They harangued, however, with some force on
the great superiority of a regular army to a militia. One of them
tauntingly asked whether the defence of the kingdom was to be
entrusted to the beefeaters. Another said that he should be glad
to know how the Devonshire trainbands, who had fled in confusion
before Monmouth's scythemen, would have faced the household
troops of Lewis. But these arguments had little effect on
Cavaliers who still remembered with bitterness the stern rule of
the Protector. The general feeling was forcibly expressed by the
first of the Tory country gentlemen of England, Edward Seymour.
He admitted that the militia was not in a satisfactory state, but
maintained that it might be remodelled. The remodelling might
require money; but, for his own part, he would rather give a
million to keep up a force from which he had nothing to fear,
than half a million to keep up a force of which he must ever be
afraid. Let the trainbands be disciplined; let the navy be
strengthened; and the country would be secure. A standing army
was at best a mere drain on the public resources. The soldier was
withdrawn from all useful labour. He produced nothing: he
consumed the fruits of the industry of other men; and he
domineered over those by whom he was supported. But the nation
was now threatened, not only with a standing army, but with a
Popish standing army, with a standing army officered by men who
might be very amiable and honourable, but who were on principle
enemies to the constitution of the realm. Sir William Twisden,
member for the county of Kent, spoke on the same side with great
keenness and loud applause. Sir Richard Temple, one of the few
Whigs who had a seat in that Parliament, dexterously
accommodating his speech to the temper of his audience, reminded
the House that a standing army had been found, by experience, to
be as dangerous to the just authority of princes as to the
liberty of nations. Sir John Maynard, the most learned lawyer of
his time, took part in the debate. He was now more than eighty
years old, and could well remember the political contests of the
reign of James the First. He had sate in the Long Parliament, and
had taken part with the Roundheads, but had always been for
lenient counsels, and had laboured to bring about a general
reconciliation. His abilities, which age had not impaired, and
his professional knowledge, which had long overawed all
Westminster Hall, commanded the ear of the House of Commons. He,
too, declared himself against the augmentation of the regular

After much debate, it was resolved that a supply should be
granted to the crown; but it was also resolved that a bill should
be brought in for making the militia more efficient. This last
resolution was tantamount to a declaration against the standing
army. The King was greatly displeased; and it was whispered that,
if things went on thus, the session would not be of long

On the morrow the contention was renewed. The language of the
country party was perceptibly bolder and sharper than on the
preceding day. That paragraph of the King's speech which related
to supply preceded the paragraph which related to the test. On
this ground Middleton proposed that the paragraph relating to
supply should be first considered in committee. The opposition
moved the previous question. They contended that the reasonable
and constitutional practice was to grant no money till grievances
had been redressed, and that there would be an end of this
practice if the House thought itself bound servilely to follow
the order in which matters were mentioned by the King from the

The division was taken on the question whether Middletons motion
should be put. The Noes were ordered by the Speaker to go forth
into the lobby. They resented this much, and complained loudly of
his servility and partiality: for they conceived that, according
to the intricate and subtle rule which was then in force, and
which, in our time, was superseded by a more rational and
convenient practice, they were entitled to keep their seats; and
it was held by all the Parliamentary tacticians of that age that
the party which stayed in the House had an advantage over the
party which went out; for the accommodation on the benches was
then so deficient that no person who had been fortunate enough to
get a good seat was willing to lose it. Nevertheless, to the
dismay of the ministers, many persons on whose votes the court
had absolutely depended were seen moving towards the door. Among
them was Charles Fox, Paymaster of the Forces, and son of Sir
Stephen Fox, Clerk of the Green Cloth. The Paymaster had been
induced by his friends to absent himself during part of the
discussion. But his anxiety had become insupportable. He come
down to the Speaker's chamber, heard part of the debate,
withdrew, and, after hesitating for an hour or two between
conscience and five thousand pounds a year, took a manly
resolution and rushed into the House just in time to vote. Two
officers of the army, Colonel John Darcy, son of the Lord
Conyers, and Captain James Kendall, withdrew to the lobby.
Middleton went down to the bar and expostulated warmly with them.
He particularly addressed himself to Kendall, a needy retainer of
the court, who had, in obedience to the royal mandate, been sent
to Parliament by a packed corporation in Cornwall, and who had
recently obtained a grant of a hundred head of rebels sentenced
to transportation. "Sir," said Middleton, "have not you a troop
of horse in His Majesty's service?" "Yes, my Lord," answered
Kendall: "but my elder brother is just dead, and has left me
seven hundred a year."

When the tellers had done their office it appeared that the Ayes
were one hundred and eighty-two, and the Noes one and eighty-
three. In that House of Commons which had been brought together
by the unscrupulous use of chicanery, of corruption, and of
violence, in that House of Commons of which James had said that
more than eleven twelfths of the members were such as he would
himself have nominated, the court had sustained a defeat on a
vital question.21

In consequence of this vote the expressions which the King had
used respecting the test were, on the thirteenth of November,
taken into consideration. It was resolved, after much discussion,
that an address should be presented to him, reminding him that he
could not legally continue to employ officers who refused to
qualify, and pressing him to give such directions as might quiet
the apprehensions and jealousies of his people.22

A motion was then made that the Lords should be requested to join
in the address. Whether this motion was honestly made by the
opposition, in the hope that the concurrence of the peers would
add weight to the remonstrance, or artfully made by the
courtiers, in the hope that a breach between the Houses might be
the consequence, it is now impossible to discover. The
proposition was rejected.23

The House then resolved itself into a committee, for the purpose
of considering the amount of supply to be granted. The King
wanted fourteen hundred thousand pounds: but the ministers saw
that it would be vain to ask for so large a sum. The Chancellor
of the Exchequer mentioned twelve hundred thousand pounds. The
chiefs of the opposition replied that to vote for such a grant
would be to vote for the permanence of the present military
establishment: they were disposed to give only so much as might
suffice to keep the regular troops on foot till the militia could
be remodelled and they therefore proposed four hundred thousand
pounds. The courtiers exclaimed against this motion as unworthy
of the House and disrespectful to the King: but they were
manfully encountered. One of the western members, John Windham,
who sate for Salisbury, especially distinguished himself. He had
always, he said, looked with dread and aversion on standing
armies; and recent experience had strengthened those feelings. He
then ventured to touch on a theme which had hitherto been
studiously avoided. He described the desolation of the western
counties. The people, he said, were weary of the oppression of
the troops, weary of free quarters, of depredations, of still
fouler crimes which the law called felonies, but for which, when
perpetrated by this class of felons, no redress could be
obtained. The King's servants had indeed told the House that
excellent rules had been laid down for the government of the
army; but none could venture to say that these rules had been
observed. What, then, was the inevitable inference? Did not the
contrast between the paternal injunctions issued from the throne
and the insupportable tyranny of the soldiers prove that the army
was even now too strong for the prince as well as for the people?
The Commons might surely, with perfect consistency, while they
reposed entire confidence in the intentions of His Majesty,
refuse to make any addition to a force which it was clear that
His Majesty could not manage.

The motion that the sum to be granted should not exceed four
hundred thousand pounds, was lost by twelve votes. This victory
of the ministers was little better than a defeat. The leaders of
the country party, nothing disheartened, retreated a little, made
another stand, and proposed the sum of seven hundred thousand
pounds. The committee divided again, and the courtiers were
beaten by two hundred and twelve votes to one hundred and

On the following day the Commons went in procession to Whitehall
with their address on the subject of the test. The King received
them on his throne. The address was drawn up in respectful and
affectionate language; for the great majority of those who had
voted for it were zealously and even superstitiously loyal, and
had readily agreed to insert some complimentary phrases, and to
omit every word which the courtiers thought offensive. The answer
of James was a cold and sullen reprimand. He declared himself
greatly displeased and amazed that the Commons should have
profited so little by the admonition which he had given them.
"But," said he, "however you may proceed on your part, I will be
very steady in all the promises which I have made to you."25

The Commons reassembled in their chamber, discontented, yet
somewhat overawed. To most of them the King was still an object
of filial reverence. Three more years filled with injuries, and
with insults more galling than injuries, were scarcely sufficient
to dissolve the ties which bound the Cavalier gentry to the

The Speaker repeated the substance of the King's reply. There
was, for some time, a solemn stillness; then the order of the day
was read in regular course; and the House went into committee on
the bill for remodelling the militia.

In a few hours, however, the spirit of the opposition revived.
When, at the close of the day, the Speaker resumed the chair,
Wharton, the boldest and most active of the Whigs, proposed that
a time should be appointed for taking His Majesty's answer into
consideration. John Coke, member for Derby, though a noted Tory,
seconded Wharton. "I hope," he said, "that we are all Englishmen,
and that we shall not be frightened from our duty by a few high

It was manfully, but not wisely, spoken. The whole House was in a
tempest. "Take down his words," "To the bar," "To the Tower,"
resounded from every side. Those who were most lenient proposed
that the offender should be reprimanded: but the ministers
vehemently insisted that he should be sent to prison. The House
might pardon, they said, offences committed against itself, but
had no right to pardon an insult offered to the crown. Coke was
sent to the Tower. The indiscretion of one man had deranged the
whole system of tactics which had been so ably concerted by the
chiefs of the opposition. It was in vain that, at that moment,
Edward Seymour attempted to rally his followers, exhorted them to
fix a day for discussing the King's answer, and expressed his
confidence that the discussion would be conducted with the
respect due from subjects to the sovereign. The members were so
much cowed by the royal displeasure, and so much incensed by the
rudeness of Coke, that it would not have been safe to divide.26

The House adjourned; and the ministers flattered themselves that
the spirit of opposition was quelled. But on the morrow, the
nineteenth of November, new and alarming symptoms appeared. The
time had arrived for taking into consideration the petitions
which had been presented from all parts of England against the
late elections. When, on the first meeting of the Parliament,
Seymour had complained of the force and fraud by which the
government had prevented the sense of constituent bodies from
being fairly taken, he had found no seconder. But many who had
then flinched from his side had subsequently taken heart, and,
with Sir John Lowther, member for Cumberland, at their head, had,
before the recess, suggested that there ought to be an enquiry
into the abuses which had so much excited the public mind. The
House was now in a much more angry temper; and many voices were
boldly raised in menace and accusation. The ministers were told
that the nation expected, and should have, signal redress.
Meanwhile it was dexterously intimated that the best atonement
which a gentleman who had been brought into the House by
irregular means could make to the public was to use his ill
acquired power in defence of the religion and liberties of his
country. No member who, in that crisis, did his duty had anything
to fear. It might be necessary to unseat him; but the whole
influence of the opposition should be employed to procure his

On the same day it became clear that the spirit of opposition had
spread from the Commons to the Lords, and even to the episcopal
bench. William Cavendish, Earl of Devonshire, took the lead in
the Upper House; and he was well qualified to do so. In wealth
and influence he was second to none of the English nobles; and
the general voice designated him as the finest gentleman of his
time. His magnificence, his taste, his talents, his classical
learning, his high spirit, the grace and urbanity of his manners,
were admitted by his enemies. His eulogists, unhappily, could not
pretend that his morals had escaped untainted from the widespread
contagion of that age. Though an enemy of Popery and of arbitrary
power, he had been averse to extreme courses, had been willing,
when the Exclusion Bill was lost, to agree to a compromise, and
had never been concerned in the illegal and imprudent schemes
which had brought discredit on the Whig party. But, though
regretting part of the conduct of his friends, he had not, on
that account, failed to perform zealously the most arduous and
perilous duties of friendship. He had stood near Russell at the
bar, had parted from him on the sad morning of the execution with
close embraces and with many bitter tears, nay, had offered to
manage an escape at the hazard of his own life.28 This great
nobleman now proposed that a day should be fixed for considering
the royal speech. It was contended, on the other side, that the
Lords, by voting thanks for the speech, had precluded themselves
from complaining of it. But this objection was treated with
contempt by Halifax. "Such thanks," he said with the sarcastic
pleasantry in which he excelled, "imply no approbation. We are
thankful whenever our gracious Sovereign deigns to speak to us.
Especially thankful are we when, as on the present occasion, he
speaks out, and gives us fair warning of what we are to
suffer."29 Doctor Henry Compton, Bishop of London, spoke strongly
for the motion. Though not gifted with eminent abilities, nor
deeply versed in the learning of his profession, he was always
heard by the House with respect; for he was one of the few
clergymen who could, in that age, boast of noble blood. His own
loyalty, and the loyalty of his family, had been signally proved.
His father, the second Earl of Northampton, had fought bravely
for King Charles the First, and, surrounded by the parliamentary
soldiers, had fallen, sword in hand, refusing to give or take
quarter. The Bishop himself, before he was ordained, had borne
arms in the Guards; and, though he generally did his best to
preserve the gravity and sobriety befitting a prelate, some
flashes of his military spirit would, to the last, occasionally
break forth. He had been entrusted with the religious education
of the two Princesses, and had acquitted himself of that
important duty in a manner which had satisfied all good
Protestants, and had secured to him considerable influence over
the minds of his pupils, especially of the Lady Anne.30 He now
declared that he was empowered to speak the sense of his
brethren, and that, in their opinion and in his own, the whole
civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the realm was in danger.

One of the most remarkable speeches of that day was made by a
young man, whose eccentric career was destined to amaze Europe.
This was Charles Mordaunt, Viscount Mordaunt, widely renowned,
many years later, as Earl of Peterborough. Already he had given
abundant proofs of his courage, of his capacity, and of that
strange unsoundness of mind which made his courage and capacity
almost useless to his country. Already he had distinguished
himself as a wit and a scholar, as a soldier and a sailor. He had
even set his heart on rivalling Bourdaloue and Bossuet. Though an
avowed freethinker, he had sate up all night at sea to compose
sermons, and had with great difficulty been prevented from
edifying the crew of a man of war with his pious oratory.31 He
now addressed the House of Peers, for the first time, with
characteristic eloquence, sprightliness, and audacity. He blamed
the Commons for not having taken a bolder line. "They have been
afraid," he said, "to speak out. They have talked of
apprehensions and jealousies. What have apprehension and jealousy
to do here? Apprehension and jealousy are the feelings with which
we regard future and uncertain evils. The evil which we are
considering is neither future nor uncertain. A standing army
exists. It is officered by Papists. We have no foreign enemy.
There is no rebellion in the land. For what, then, is this force
maintained, except for the purpose of subverting our laws and
establishing that arbitrary power which is so justly abhorred by

Jeffreys spoke against the motion in the coarse and savage style
of which he was a master; but he soon found that it was not quite
so easy to browbeat the proud and powerful barons of England in
their own hall, as to intimidate advocates whose bread depended
on his favour or prisoners whose necks were at his mercy. A man
whose life has been passed in attacking and domineering, whatever
may be his talents and courage, generally makes a mean figure
when he is vigorously assailed,
for, being unaccustomed to stand on the defensive, he becomes
confused; and the knowledge that all those whom he has insulted
are enjoying his confusion confuses him still more. Jeffreys was
now, for the first time since he had become a great man,
encountered on equal terms by adversaries who did not fear him.
To the general delight, he passed at once from the extreme of
insolence to the extreme of meanness, and could not refrain from
weeping with rage and vexation.33 Nothing indeed was wanting to
his humiliation; for the House was crowded by about a hundred
peers, a larger number than had voted even on the great day of
the Exclusion Bill. The King, too, was present. His brother had
been in the habit of attending the sittings of the Lords for
amusement, and used often to say that a debate was as
entertaining as a comedy. James came, not to be diverted, but in
the hope that his presence might impose some restraint on the
discussion. He was disappointed. The sense of the House was so
strongly manifested that, after a closing speech, of great
keenness, from Halifax, the courtiers did not venture to divide.
An early day was fixed for taking the royal speech into
consideration; and it was ordered that every peer who was not at
a distance from Westminster should be in his place.34

On the following morning the King came down, in his robes, to the
House of Lords. The Usher of the Black Rod summoned the Commons
to the bar; and the Chancellor announced that the Parliament was
prorogued to the tenth of February.35 The members who had voted
against the court were dismissed from the public service. Charles
Fox quitted the Pay Office. The Bishop of London ceased to be
Dean of the Chapel Royal, and his name was struck out of the list
of Privy Councillors.

The effect of the prorogation was to put an end to a legal
proceeding of the highest importance. Thomas Grey, Earl of
Stamford, sprung from one of the most illustrious houses of
England, had been recently arrested and committed close prisoner
to the Tower on a charge of high treason. He was accused of
having been concerned in the Rye House Plot. A true bill had been
found against him by the grand jury of the City of London, and
had been removed into the House of Lords, the only court before
which a temporal peer can, during a session of Parliament, be
arraigned for any offence higher than a misdemeanour. The first
of December had been fixed for the trial; and orders had been
given that Westminster Hall should be fitted up with seats and
hangings. In consequence of the prorogation, the hearing of the
cause was postponed for an indefinite period; and Stamford soon
regained his liberty.36

Three other Whigs of great eminence were in confinement when the
session closed, Charles Gerard, Lord Gerard of Brandon, eldest
son of the Earl of Macclesfield, John Hampden, grandson of the
renowned leader of the Long Parliament, and Henry Booth, Lord
Delamere. Gerard and Hampden were accused of having taken part in
the Rye House Plot: Delamere of having abetted the Western

It was not the intention of the government to put either Gerard
or Hampden to death. Grey had stipulated for their lives before
he consented to become a witness against them.37 But there was a
still stronger reason for sparing them. They were heirs to large
property: but their fathers were still living. The court could
therefore get little in the way of forfeiture, and might get much
in the way of ransom. Gerard was tried, and, from the very scanty
accounts which have come down to us, seems to have defended
himself with great spirit and force. He boasted of the exertions
and sacrifices made by his family in the cause of Charles the
First, and proved Rumsey, the witness who had murdered Russell by
telling one story and Cornish by telling another, to be utterly
undeserving of credit. The jury, with some hesitation, found a
verdict of Guilty. After long imprisonment Gerard was suffered to
redeem himself.38 Hampden had inherited the political opinions
and a large share of the abilities of his grandfather, but had
degenerated from the uprightness and the courage by which his
grandfather had been distinguished. It appears that the prisoner
was, with cruel cunning, long kept in an agony of suspense, in
order that his family might be induced to pay largely for mercy.
His spirit sank under the terrors of death. When brought to the
bar of the Old Bailey he not only pleaded guilty, but disgraced
the illustrious name which he bore by abject submissions and
entreaties. He protested that he had not been privy to the design
of assassination; but he owned that he had meditated rebellion,
professed deep repentance for his offence, implored the
intercession of the Judges, and vowed that, if the royal clemency
were extended to him, his whole life should be passed in evincing
his gratitude for such goodness. The Whigs were furious at his
pusillanimity, and loudly declared him to be far more deserving
of blame than Grey, who, even in turning King's evidence, had
preserved a certain decorum. Hampden's life was spared; but his
family paid several thousand pounds to the Chancellor. Some
courtiers of less note succeeded in extorting smaller sums. The
unhappy man had spirit enough to feel keenly the degradation to
which he had stooped. He survived the day of his ignominy several
years. He lived to see his party triumphant, to be once more an
important member of it, to rise high in the state, and to make
his persecutors tremble in their turn. But his prosperity was
embittered by one insupportable recollection. He never regained
his cheerfulness, and at length died by his own hand.39

That Delamere, if he had needed the royal mercy, would have found
it is not very probable. It is certain that every advantage which
the letter of the law gave to the government was used against him
without scruple or shame. He was in a different situation from
that in which Stamford stood. The indictment against Stamford had
been removed into the House of Lords during the session of
Parliament, and therefore could not be prosecuted till the
Parliament should reassemble. All the peers would then have
voices, and would be judges as well of law as of fact. But the
bill against Delamere was not found till after the prorogation.40
He was therefore within the jurisdiction of the Court of the Lord High Steward.
This court, to which belongs, during a recess of
Parliament, the cognizance of treasons and felonies committed by
temporal peers, was then so constituted that no prisoner charged
with a political offence could expect an impartial trial. The
King named a Lord High Steward. The Lord High Steward named, at
his discretion, certain peers to sit on their accused brother.
The number to be summoned was indefinite. No challenge was
allowed. A simple majority, provided that it consisted of twelve,
was sufficient to convict. The High Steward was sole judge of the
law; and the Lords Triers formed merely a jury to pronounce on
the question of fact. Jeffreys was appointed High Steward. He
selected thirty Triers; and the selection was characteristic of
the man and of the times. All the thirty were in politics
vehemently opposed to the prisoner. Fifteen of them were colonels
of regiments, and might be removed from their lucrative commands
at the pleasure of the King. Among the remaining fifteen were the
Lord Treasurer, the principal Secretary of State, the Steward of
the Household, the Comptroller of the Household, the Captain of
the Band of Gentlemen Pensioners, the Queen's Chamberlain, and
other persons who were bound by strong ties of interest to the
court. Nevertheless, Delamere had some great advantages over the
humbler culprits who had been arraigned at the Old Bailey. There
the jurymen, violent partisans, taken for a single day by courtly
Sheriffs from the mass of society and speedily sent back to
mingle with that mass, were under no restraint of shame, and
being little accustomed to weigh evidence, followed without
scruple the directions of the bench. But in the High Steward's
Court every Trier was a man of some experience in grave affairs.
Every Trier filled a considerable space in the public eye. Every
Trier, beginning from the lowest, had to rise separately and to
give in his verdict, on his honour, before a great concourse.
That verdict, accompanied with his name, would go to every part
of the world, and would live in history. Moreover, though the
selected nobles were all Tories, and almost all placemen, many of
them had begun to look with uneasiness on the King's proceedings,
and to doubt whether the case of Delamere might not soon be their

Jeffreys conducted himself, as was his wont, insolently and
unjustly. He had indeed an old grudge to stimulate his zeal. He
had been Chief Justice of Chester when Delamere, then Mr. Booth,
represented that county in Parliament. Booth had bitterly
complained to the Commons that the dearest interests of his
constituents were intrusted to a drunken jackpudding.41 The
revengeful judge was now not ashamed to resort to artifices which
even in an advocate would have been culpable. He reminded the
Lords Triers, in very significant language, that Delamere had, in
Parliament, objected to the bill for attainting Monmouth, a fact
which was not, and could not be, in evidence. But it was not in
the power of Jeffreys to overawe a synod of peers as he had been
in the habit of overawing common juries. The evidence for the
crown would probably have been thought amply sufficient on the
Western Circuit or at the City Sessions, but could not for a
moment impose on such men as Rochester, Godolphin, and Churchill;
nor were they, with all their faults, depraved enough to condemn
a fellow creature to death against the plainest rules of justice.
Grey, Wade, and Goodenough were produced, but could only repeat
what they had heard said by Monmouth and by Wildman's emissaries.
The principal witness for the prosecution, a miscreant named
Saxton, who had been concerned in the rebellion, and was now
labouring to earn his pardon by swearing against all who were
obnoxious to the government, who proved by overwhelming evidence
to have told a series of falsehoods. All the Triers, from
Churchill who, as junior baron, spoke first, up to the Treasurer,
pronounced, on their honour, that Delamere was not guilty. The
gravity and pomp of the whole proceeding made a deep impression
even on the Nuncio, accustomed as he was to the ceremonies of
Rome, ceremonies which, in solemnity and splendour, exceed all
that the rest of the world can show.42 The King, who was present,
and was unable to complain of a decision evidently just, went
into a rage with Saxton, and vowed that the wretch should first
be pilloried before Westminster Hall for perjury, and then sent
down to the West to be hanged, drawn, and quartered for

The public joy at the acquittal of Delamere was great. The reign
of terror was over. The innocent began to breathe freely, and
false accusers to tremble. One letter written on this occasion is
scarcely to be read without tears. The widow of Russell, in her
retirement, learned the good news with mingled feelings. "I do
bless God," she wrote, "that he has caused some stop to be put to
the shedding of blood in this poor land. Yet when I should
rejoice with them that do rejoice, I seek a corner to weep in. I
find I am capable of no more gladness; but every new
circumstance, the very comparing my night of sorrow after such a
day, with theirs of joy, does, from a reflection of one kind or
another, rack my uneasy mind. Though I am far from wishing the
close of theirs like mine, yet I cannot refrain giving some time
to lament mine was not like theirs."44

And now the tide was on the turn. The death of Stafford,
witnessed with signs of tenderness and remorse by the populace to
whose rage he was sacrificed, marks the close of one
proscription. The acquittal of Delamere marks the close of
another. The crimes which had disgraced the stormy tribuneship of
Shaftesbury had been fearfully expiated. The blood of innocent
Papists had been avenged more than tenfold by the blood of
zealous Protestants. Another great reaction had commenced.
Factions were fast taking new forms. Old allies were separating.
Old enemies were uniting. Discontent was spreading fast through
all the ranks of the party lately dominant. A hope, still indeed
faint and indefinite, of victory and revenge, animated the party
which had lately seemed to be extinct. Amidst such circumstances
the eventful and troubled year 1685 terminated, and the year 1686

The prorogation had relieved the King from the gentle
remonstrances of the Houses: but he had still to listen to
remonstrances, similar in effect, though uttered in a tone even
more cautious and subdued. Some men who had hitherto served him
but too strenuously for their own fame and for the public welfare
had begun to feel painful misgivings, and occasionally ventured
to hint a small part of what they felt.

During many years the zeal of the English Tory for hereditary
monarchy and his zeal for the established religion had grown up
together and had strengthened each other. It had never occurred
to him that the two sentiments, which seemed inseparable and even
identical, might one day be found to be not only distinct but
incompatible. From the commencement of the strife between the
Stuarts and the Commons, the cause of the crown and the cause of
the hierarchy had, to all appearance, been one. Charles the First
was regarded by the Church as her martyr. If Charles the Second
had plotted against her, he had plotted in secret. In public he
had ever professed himself her grateful and devoted son, had
knelt at her altars, and, in spite of his loose morals, had
succeeded in persuading the great body of her adherents that he
felt a sincere preference for her. Whatever conflicts, therefore,
the honest Cavalier might have had to maintain against Whigs and
Roundheads he had at least been hitherto undisturbed by conflict
in his own mind. He had seen the path of duty plain before him.
Through good and evil he was to be true to Church and King. But,
if those two august and venerable powers, which had hitherto
seemed to be so closely connected that those who were true to one
could not be false to the other, should be divided by a deadly
enmity, what course was the orthodox Royalist to take? What
situation could be more trying than that in which he would be
placed, distracted between two duties equally sacred, between two
affections equally ardent? How was he to give to Caesar all that
was Caesar's, and yet to withhold from God no part of what was
God's? None who felt thus could have watched, without deep
concern and gloomy forebodings, the dispute between the King and
the Parliament on the subject of the test. If James could even
now be induced to reconsider his course, to let the Houses
reassemble, and to comply with their wishes, all might yet be

Such were the sentiments of the King's two kinsmen, the Earls of
Clarendon and Rochester. The power and favour of these noblemen
seemed to be great indeed. The younger brother was Lord Treasurer
and prime minister; and the elder, after holding the Privy Seal
during some months, had been appointed Lord Lieutenant of
Ireland. The venerable Ormond took the same side. Middleton and
Preston, who, as managers of the House of Commons, had recently
learned by proof how dear the established religion was to the
loyal gentry of England, were also for moderate counsels.

At the very beginning of the new year these statesmen and the
great party which they represented had to suffer a cruel
mortification. That the late King had been at heart a Roman
Catholic had been, during some months, suspected and whispered,
but not formally announced. The disclosure, indeed, could not be
made without great scandal. Charles had, times without number,
declared himself a Protestant, and had been in the habit of
receiving the Eucharist from the Bishops of the Established
Church. Those Protestants who had stood by him in his
difficulties, and who still cherished an affectionate remembrance
of him, must be filled with shame and indignation by learning
that his whole life had been a lie, that, while he professed to
belong to their communion, he had really regarded them as
heretics, and that the demagogues who had represented him as a
concealed Papist had been the only people who had formed a
correct judgment of his character. Even Lewis understood enough
of the state of public feeling in England to be aware that the
divulging of the truth might do harm, and had, of his own accord,
promised to keep the conversion of Charles strictly secret.45
James, while his power was still new, had thought that on this
point it was advisable to be cautious, and had not ventured to
inter his brother with the rites of the Church of Rome. For a
time, therefore, every man was at liberty to believe what he
wished. The Papists claimed the deceased prince as their
proselyte. The Whigs execrated him as a hypocrite and a renegade.
The Tories regarded the report of his apostasy as a calumny which
Papists and Whigs had, for very different reasons, a common
interest in circulating. James now took a step which greatly
disconcerted the whole Anglican party. Two papers, in which were
set forth very concisely the arguments ordinarily used by Roman
Catholics in controversy with Protestants, had been found in
Charles's strong box, and appeared to be in his handwriting.
These papers James showed triumphantly to several Protestants,
and declared that, to his knowledge, his brother had lived and
died a Roman Catholic.46 One of the persons to whom the
manuscripts were exhibited was Archbishop Sancroft. He read them
with much emotion, and remained silent. Such silence was only the
natural effect of a struggle between respect and vexation. But
James supposed that the Primate was struck dumb by the
irresistible force of reason, and eagerly challenged his Grace to
produce, with the help of the whole episcopal bench, a
satisfactory reply. "Let me have a solid answer, and in a
gentlemanlike style; and it may have the effect which you so much
desire of bringing me over to your Church." The Archbishop
mildly said that, in his opinion, such an answer might, without
much difficulty, be written, but declined the controversy on the
plea of reverence for the memory of his deceased master. This
plea the King considered as the subterfuge of a vanquished
disputant.47 Had he been well acquainted with the polemical
literature of the preceding century and a half, he would have
known that the documents to which he attached so much value might
have been composed by any lad of fifteen in the college of Douay,
and contained nothing which had not, in the opinion of all
Protestant divines, been ten thousand times refuted. In his
ignorant exultation he ordered these tracts to be printed with
the utmost pomp of typography, and appended to them a declaration
attested by his sign manual, and certifying that the originals
were in his brother's own hand. James himself distributed the
whole edition among his courtiers and among the people of humbler
rank who crowded round his coach. He gave one copy to a young
woman of mean condition whom he supposed to be of his own
religious persuasion, and assured her that she would be greatly
edified and comforted by the perusal. In requital of his kindness
she delivered to him, a few days later, an epistle adjuring him
to come out of the mystical Babylon and to dash from his lips the
cup of fornications.48

These things gave great uneasiness to Tory churchmen. Nor were
the most respectable Roman Catholic noblemen much better pleased.
They might indeed have been excused if passion had, at this
conjuncture, made them deaf to the voice of prudence and justice:
for they had suffered much. Protestant jealousy had degraded them
from the rank to which they were born, had closed the doors of
the Parliament House on the heirs of barons who had signed the
Charter, had pronounced the command of a company of foot too high
a trust for the descendants of the generals who had conquered at
Flodden and Saint Quentin. There was scarcely one eminent peer
attached to the old faith whose honour, whose estate, whose life
had not been in jeopardy, who had not passed months in the Tower,
who had not often anticipated for himself the fate of Stafford.
Men who had been so long and cruelly oppressed might have been
pardoned if they had eagerly seized the first opportunity of
obtaining at once greatness and revenge. But neither fanaticism
nor ambition, neither resentment for past wrongs nor the
intoxication produced by sudden good fortune, could prevent the
most eminent Roman Catholics from perceiving that the prosperity
which they at length enjoyed was only temporary, and, unless
wisely used, might be fatal to them. They had been taught, by a
cruel experience, that the antipathy of the nation to their
religion was not a fancy which would yield to the mandate of a
prince, but a profound sentiment, the growth of five generations,
diffused through all ranks and parties, and intertwined not less
closely with the principles of the Tory than with the principles
of the Whig. It was indeed in the power of the King, by the
exercise of his prerogative of mercy, to suspend the operation of
the penal laws. It might hereafter be in his power, by discreet
management, to obtain from the Parliament a repeal of the acts
which imposed civil disabilities on those who professed his
religion. But, if he attempted to subdue the Protestant feeling
of England by rude means, it was easy to see that the violent
compression of so powerful and elastic a spring would be followed
by as violent a recoil. The Roman Catholic peers, by prematurely
attempting to force their way into the Privy Council and the
House of Lords, might lose their mansions and their ample
estates, and might end their lives as traitors on Tower Hill, or
as beggars at the porches of Italian convents.

Such was the feeling of William Herbert, Earl of Powis, who was
generally regarded as the chief of the Roman Catholic
aristocracy, and who, according to Oates, was to have been prime
minister if the Popish plot had succeeded. John Lord Bellasyse
took the same view of the state of affairs. In his youth he had
fought gallantly for Charles the First, had been rewarded after
the Restoration with high honours and commands, and had quitted
them when the Test Act was passed. With these distinguished
leaders all the noblest and most opulent members of their church
concurred, except Lord Arundell of Wardour, an old man fast
sinking into second childhood.

But there was at the court a small knot of Roman Catholics whose
hearts had been ulcerated by old injuries, whose heads had been
turned by recent elevation, who were impatient to climb to the
highest honours of the state, and who, having little to lose,
were not troubled by thoughts of the day of reckoning. One of
these was Roger Palmer, Earl of Castelmaine in Ireland, and
husband of the Duchess of Cleveland. His title had notoriously
been purchased by his wife's dishonour and his own. His fortune
was small. His temper, naturally ungentle, had been exasperated
by his domestic vexations, by the public reproaches, and by what
he had undergone in the days of the Popish plot. He had been long
a prisoner, and had at length been tried for his life. Happily
for him, he was not put to the bar till the first burst of
popular rage had spent itself, and till the credit of the false
witnesses had been blown upon. He had therefore escaped, though
very narrowly.49 With Castelmaine was allied one of the most
favoured of his wife's hundred lovers, Henry Jermyn, whom James
had lately created a peer by the title of Lord Dover. Jermyn had
been distinguished more than twenty years before by his vagrant
amours and his desperate duels. He was now ruined by play, and
was eager to retrieve his fallen fortunes by means of lucrative
posts from which the laws excluded him.50 To the same party
belonged an intriguing pushing Irishman named White, who had been
much abroad, who had served the House of Austria as something
between an envoy and a spy, and who had been rewarded for his
services with the title of Marquess of Albeville.51

Soon after the prorogation this reckless faction was strengthened
by an important reinforcement. Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel,
the fiercest and most uncompromising of all those who hated the
liberties and religion of England, arrived at court from Dublin.

Talbot was descended from an old Norman family which had been
long settled in Leinster, which had there sunk into degeneracy,
which had adopted the manners of the Celts, which had, like the
Celts, adhered to the old religion, and which had taken part with
the Celts in the rebellion of 1641. In his youth he had been one
of the most noted sharpers and bullies of London. He had been
introduced to Charles and James when they were exiles in
Flanders, as a man fit and ready for the infamous service of
assassinating the Protector. Soon after the Restoration, Talbot
attempted to obtain the favour of the royal family by a service
more infamous still. A plea was wanted which might justify the
Duke of York in breaking that promise of marriage by which he had
obtained from Anne Hyde the last proof of female affection. Such
a plea Talbot, in concert with some of his dissolute companions,
undertook to furnish. They agreed to describe the poor young lady
as a creature without virtue, shame, or delicacy, and made up
long romances about tender interviews and stolen favours. Talbot
in particular related how, in one of his secret visits to her, he
had unluckily overturned the Chancellor's inkstand upon a pile of
papers, and how cleverly she had averted a discovery by laying
the blame of the accident on her monkey. These stories, which, if
they had been true, would never have passed the lips of any but
the basest of mankind, were pure inventions. Talbot was soon
forced to own that they were so; and he owned it without a blush.
The injured lady became Duchess of York. Had her husband been a
man really upright and honourable, he would have driven from his
presence with indignation and contempt the wretches who had
slandered her. But one of the peculiarities of James's character
was that no act, however wicked and shameful, which had been
prompted by a desire to gain his favour, ever seemed to him
deserving of disapprobation. Talbot continued to frequent the
court, appeared daily with brazen front before the princess whose
ruin he had plotted, and was installed into the lucrative post of
chief pandar to her husband. In no long time Whitehall was thrown
into confusion by the news that Dick Talbot, as he was commonly
called, had laid a plan to murder the Duke of Ormond. The bravo
was sent to the Tower: but in a few days he was again swaggering
about the galleries, and carrying billets backward and forward
between his patron and the ugliest maids of honour. It was in
vain that old and discreet counsellors implored the royal
brothers not to countenance this bad man, who had nothing to
recommend him except his fine person and his taste in dress.
Talbot was not only welcome at the palace when the bottle or the
dicebox was going round, but was heard with attention on matters
of business. He affected the character of an Irish patriot, and
pleaded, with great audacity, and sometimes with success, the
cause of his countrymen whose estates had been confiscated. He
took care, however, to be well paid for his services, and
succeeded in acquiring, partly by the sale of his influence,
partly by gambling, and partly by pimping, an estate of three
thousand pounds a year. For under an outward show of levity,
profusion, improvidence, and eccentric impudence, he was in truth
one of the most mercenary and crafty of mankind. He was now no
longer young, and was expiating by severe sufferings the
dissoluteness of his youth: but age and disease had made no
essential change in his character and manners. He still, whenever
he opened his mouth, ranted, cursed and swore with such frantic
violence that superficial observers set him down for the wildest
of libertines. The multitude was unable to conceive that a man
who, even when sober, was more furious and boastful than others
when they were drunk, and who seemed utterly incapable of
disguising any emotion or keeping any secret, could really be a
coldhearted, farsighted, scheming sycophant. Yet such a man was
Talbot. In truth his hypocrisy was of a far higher and rarer sort
than the hypocrisy which had flourished in Barebone's Parliament.
For the consummate hypocrite is not he who conceals vice behind
the semblance of virtue, but he who makes the vice which he has
no objection to show a stalking horse to cover darker and more
profitable vice which it is for his interest to hide.

Talbot, raised by James to the earldom of Tyrconnel, had
commanded the troops in Ireland during the nine months which
elapsed between the death of Charles and the commencement of the
viceroyalty of Clarendon. When the new Lord Lieutenant was about
to leave London for Dublin, the General was summoned from Dublin
to London. Dick Talbot had long been well known on the road which
he had now to travel. Between Chester and the capital there was
not an inn where he had not been in a brawl. Wherever he came he
pressed horses in defiance of law, swore at the cooks and
postilions, and almost raised mobs by his insolent rodomontades.
The Reformation, he told the people, had ruined everything. But
fine times were coming. The Catholics would soon be uppermost.
The heretics should pay for all. Raving and blaspheming
incessantly, like a demoniac, he came to the court.52 As soon as
he was there, he allied himself closely with Castelmaine, Dover,
and Albeville. These men called with one voice for war on the
constitution of the Church and the State. They told their master
that he owed it to his religion and to the dignity of his crown
to stand firm against the outcry of heretical demagogues, and to
let the Parliament see from the first that he would be master in
spite of opposition, and that the only effect of opposition would
be to make him a hard master.

Each of the two parties into which the court was divided had
zealous foreign allies. The ministers of Spain, of the Empire,
and of the States General were now as anxious to support
Rochester as they had formerly been to support Halifax. All the
influence of Barillon was employed on the other side; and
Barillon was assisted by another French agent, inferior to him in
station, but far superior in abilities, Bonrepaux. Barillon was
not without parts, and possessed in large measure the graces and
accomplishments which then distinguished the French gentry. But
his capacity was scarcely equal to what his great place required.
He had become sluggish and self indulgent, liked the pleasures of
society and of the table better than business, and on great
emergencies generally waited for admonitions and even for
reprimands from Versailles before he showed much activity.53
Bonrepaux had raised himself from obscurity by the intelligence
and industry which he had exhibited as a clerk in the department
of the marine, and was esteemed an adept in the mystery of
mercantile politics. At the close of the year 1685, he was sent
to London, charged with several special commissions of high
importance. He was to lay the ground for a treaty of commerce; he
was to ascertain and report the state of the English fleets and
dockyards; and he was to make some overtures to the Huguenot
refugees, who, it was supposed, had been so effectually tamed by
penury and exile, that they would thankfully accept almost any
terms of reconciliation. The new Envoy's origin was plebeian, his
stature was dwarfish, his countenance was ludicrously ugly, and
his accent was that of his native Gascony: but his strong sense,
his keen penetration, and his lively wit eminently qualified him
for his post. In spite of every disadvantage of birth and figure
he was soon known as a most pleasing companion and as a most
skilful diplomatist. He contrived, while flirting with the
Duchess of Mazarin, discussing literary questions with Waller and
Saint Evremond, and corresponding with La Fontaine, to acquire a
considerable knowledge of English politics. His skill in maritime
affairs recommended him to James, who had, during many years,
paid close attention to the business of the Admiralty, and
understood that business as well as he was capable of
understanding anything. They conversed every day long and freely
about the state of the shipping and the dock-yards. The result of
this intimacy was, as might have been expected, that the keen and
vigilant Frenchman conceived a great contempt for the King's
abilities and character. The world, he said, had much overrated
His Britannic Majesty, who had less capacity than Charles, and
not more virtues.54

The two envoys of Lewis, though pursuing one object, very
judiciously took different paths. They made a partition of the
court. Bonrepaux lived chiefly with Rochester and Rochester's
adherents. Barillon's connections were chiefly with the opposite
faction. The consequence was that they sometimes saw the same
event in different points of view. The best account now extant of
the contest which at this time agitated Whitehall is to be found
in their despatches.

As each of the two parties at the Court of James had the support
of foreign princes, so each had also the support of an
ecclesiastical authority to which the King paid great deference.
The Supreme Pontiff was for legal and moderate courses; and his
sentiments were expressed by the Nuncio and by the Vicar
Apostolic.55 On the other side was a body of which the weight
balanced even the weight of the Papacy, the mighty Order of

That at this conjuncture these two great spiritual powers, once,
as it seemed, inseparably allied, should have been opposed to
each other, is a most important and remarkable circumstance.
During a period of little less than a thousand years the regular
clergy had been the chief support of the Holy See. By that See
they had been protected from episcopal interference; and the
protection which they had received had been amply repaid. But for
their exertions it is probable that the Bishop of Rome would have
been merely the honorary president of a vast aristocracy of
prelates. It was by the aid of the Benedictines that Gregory the
Seventh was enabled to contend at once against the Franconian
Caesars and against the secular priesthood. It was by the aid of
the Dominicans and Franciscans that Innocent the Third crushed
the Albigensian sectaries. In the sixteenth century the
Pontificate exposed to new dangers more formidable than had ever
before threatened it, was saved by a new religious order, which
was animated by intense enthusiasm and organized with exquisite
skill. When the Jesuits came to the rescue of the Papacy, they
found it in extreme peril: but from that moment the tide of
battle turned. Protestantism, which had, during a whole
generation, carried all before it, was stopped in its progress,
and rapidly beaten back from the foot of the Alps to the shores
of the Baltic. Before the Order had existed a hundred years, it
had filled the whole world with memorials of great things done
and suffered for the faith. No religious community could produce
a list of men so variously distinguished: - none had extended its
operations over so vast a space; yet in none had there ever been
such perfect unity of feeling and action. There was no region of
the globe, no walk of speculative or of active life, in which
Jesuits were not to be found. They guided the counsels of Kings.
They deciphered Latin inscriptions. They observed the motions of
Jupiter's satellites. They published whole libraries,
controversy, casuistry, history, treatises on optics, Alcaic
odes, editions of the fathers, madrigals, catechisms, and
lampoons. The liberal education of youth passed almost entirely
into their hands, and was conducted by them with conspicuous
ability. They appear to have discovered the precise point to
which intellectual culture can be carried without risk of
intellectual emancipation. Enmity itself was compelled to own
that, in the art of managing and forming the tender mind, they
had no equals. Meanwhile they assiduously and successfully
cultivated the eloquence of the pulpit. With still greater
assiduity and still greater success they applied themselves to
the ministry of the confessional. Throughout Catholic Europe the
secrets of every government and of almost every family of note
were in their keeping. They glided from one Protestant country to
another under innumerable disguises, as gay Cavaliers, as simple
rustics, as Puritan preachers. They wandered to countries which
neither mercantile avidity nor liberal curiosity had ever
impelled any stranger to explore. They were to be found in the
garb of Mandarins, superintending the observatory at Pekin. They
were to be found, spade in hand, teaching the rudiments of
agriculture to the savages of Paraguay. Yet, whatever might be
their residence, whatever might be their employment, their spirit
was the same, entire devotion to the common cause, implicit
obedience to the central authority. None of them had chosen his
dwelling place or his vocation for himself. Whether the Jesuit
should live under the arctic circle or under the equator, whether
he should pass his life in arranging gems and collating
manuscripts at the Vatican or in persuading naked barbarians in
the southern hemisphere not to eat each other, were matters which
he left with profound submission to the decision of others. If he
was wanted at Lima, he was on the Atlantic in the next fleet. If
he was wanted at Bagdad, he was toiling through the desert with
the next caravan. If his ministry was needed in some country
where his life was more insecure than that of a wolf, where it
was a crime to harbour him, where the heads and quarters of his
brethren, fixed in the public places, showed him what he had to
expect, he went without remonstrance or hesitation to his doom.
Nor is this heroic spirit yet extinct. When, in our own time, a
new and terrible pestilence passed round the globe, when, in some
great cities, fear had dissolved all the ties which hold society
together, when the secular clergy had deserted their flocks, when
medical succour was not to he purchased by gold, when the
strongest natural affections had yielded to the love of life,
even then the Jesuit was found by the pallet which bishop and
curate, physician and nurse, father and mother, had deserted,
bending over infected lips to catch the faint accents of
confession, and holding up to the last, before the expiring
penitent, the image of the expiring Redeemer.

But with the admirable energy, disinterestedness, and self-
devotion which were characteristic of the Society, great vices
were mingled. It was alleged, and not without foundation, that
the ardent public spirit which made the Jesuit regardless of his
ease, of his liberty, and of his life, made him also regardless
of truth and of mercy; that no means which could promote the
interest of his religion seemed to him unlawful, and that by the
interest of his religion he too often meant the interest of his
Society. It was alleged that, in the most atrocious plots
recorded in history, his agency could be distinctly traced; that,
constant only in attachment to the fraternity to which he
belonged, he was in some countries the most dangerous enemy of
freedom, and in others the most dangerous enemy of order. The
mighty victories which he boasted that he had achieved in the
cause of the Church were, in the judgment of many illustrious
members of that Church, rather apparent than real. He had indeed
laboured with a wonderful show of success to reduce the world
under her laws; but he had done so by relaxing her laws to suit
the temper of the world. Instead of toiling to elevate human
nature to the noble standard fixed by divine precept and example,
he had lowered the standard till it was beneath the average level
of human nature. He gloried in multitudes of converts who had
been baptized in the remote regions of the East: but it was
reported that from some of those converts the facts on which the
whole theology of the Gospel depends had been cunningly
concealed, and that others were permitted to avoid persecution by
bowing down before the images of false gods, while internally
repeating Paters and Ayes. Nor was it only in heathen countries
that such arts were said to be practised. It was not strange that
people of alt ranks, and especially of the highest ranks, crowded
to the confessionals in the Jesuit temples; for from those
confessionals none went discontented away. There the priest was
all things to all men. He showed just so much rigour as might not
drive those who knelt at his spiritual tribunal to the Dominican
or the Franciscan church. If he had to deal with a mind truly
devout, he spoke in the saintly tones of the primitive fathers,
but with that very large part of mankind who have religion enough
to make them uneasy when they do wrong, and not religion enough
to keep them from doing wrong, he followed a very different
system. Since he could not reclaim them from guilt, it was his
business to save them from remorse. He had at his command an
immense dispensary of anodynes for wounded consciences. In the
books of casuistry which had been written by his brethren, and
printed with the approbation of his superiors, were to be found
doctrines consolatory to transgressors of every class. There the
bankrupt was taught how he might, without sin, secrete his goods
from his creditors. The servant was taught how he might, without
sin, run off with his master's plate. The pandar was assured that
a Christian man might innocently earn his living by carrying
letters and messages between married women and their gallants.
The high spirited and punctilious gentlemen of France were
gratified by a decision in favour of duelling. The Italians,
accustomed to darker and baser modes of vengeance, were glad to
learn that they might, without any crime, shoot at their enemies
from behind hedges. To deceit was given a license sufficient to
destroy the whole value of human contracts and of human
testimony. In truth, if society continued to hold together, if
life and property enjoyed any security, it was because common
sense and common humanity restrained men from doing what the
Society of Jesus assured them that they might with a safe
conscience do.

So strangely were good and evil intermixed in the character of
these celebrated brethren; and the intermixture was the secret of
their gigantic power. That power could never have belonged to
mere hypocrites. It could never have belonged to rigid moralists.
It was to be attained only by men sincerely enthusiastic in the
pursuit of a great end, and at the same time unscrupulous as to
the choice of means.

From the first the Jesuits had been bound by a peculiar
allegiance to the Pope. Their mission had been not less to quell
all mutiny within the Church than to repel the hostility of her
avowed enemies. Their doctrine was in the highest degree what has
been called on our side of the Alps Ultramontane, and differed
almost as much from the doctrine of Bossuet as from that of
Luther. They condemned the Gallican liberties, the claim of
oecumenical councils to control the Holy See, and the claim of
Bishops to an independent commission from heaven. Lainez, in the
name of the whole fraternity, proclaimed at Trent, amidst the
applause of the creatures of Pius the Fourth, and the murmurs of
French and Spanish prelates, that the government of the faithful
had been committed by Christ to the Pope alone, that in the Pope
alone all sacerdotal authority was concentrated, and that through
the Pope alone priests and bishops derived whatever divine
authority they possessed.56 During many years the union between
the Supreme Pontiffs and the Order had continued unbroken. Had
that union been still unbroken when James the Second ascended the
English throne, had the influence of the Jesuits as well as the
influence of the Pope been exerted in favour of a moderate and
constitutional policy, it is probable that the great revolution
which in a short time changed the whole state of European affairs
would never have taken place. But, even before the middle of the
seventeenth century, the Society, proud of its services and
confident in its strength, had become impatient of the yoke. A
generation of Jesuits sprang up, who looked for protection and
guidance rather to the court of France than to the court of Rome;
and this disposition was not a little strengthened when Innocent
the Eleventh was raised to the papal throne.

The Jesuits were, at that time, engaged in a war to the death
against an enemy whom they had at first disdained, but whom they
had at length been forced to regard with respect and fear. Just
when their prosperity was at the height, they were braved by a
handful of opponents, who had indeed no influence with the rulers
of this world, but who were strong in religious faith and
intellectual energy. Then followed a long, a strange, a glorious
conflict of genius against power. The Jesuit called cabinets,
tribunals, universities to his aid; and they responded to the
call. Port Royal appealed, not in vain, to the hearts and to the
understandings of millions. The dictators of Christendom found
themselves, on a sudden, in the position of culprits. They were
arraigned on the charge of having systematically debased the
standard of evangelical morality, for the purpose of increasing
their own influence; and the charge was enforced in a manner
which at once arrested the attention of the whole world: for the
chief accuser was Blaise Pascal. His intellectual powers were
such as have rarely been bestowed on any of the children of men;
and the vehemence of the zeal which animated him was but too well
proved by the cruel penances and vigils under which his macerated
frame sank into an early grave. His spirit was the spirit of
Saint Bernard: but the delicacy of his wit, the purity, the
energy, the simplicity of his rhetoric, had never been equalled,
except by the great masters of Attic eloquence. All Europe read
and admired, laughed and wept. The Jesuits attempted to reply:
but their feeble answers were received by the public with shouts
of mockery. They wanted, it is true, no talent or accomplishment
into which men can be drilled by elaborate discipline; but such
discipline, though it may bring out the powers of ordinary minds,
has a tendency to suffocate, rather than to develop, original
genius. It was universally acknowledged that, in the literary
contest, the Jansenists were completely victorious. To the
Jesuits nothing was left but to oppress the sect which they could
not confute. Lewis the Fourteenth was now their chief support.
His conscience had, from boyhood, been in their keeping; and he
had learned from them to abhor Jansenism quite as much as he
abhorred Protestantism, and very much more than he abhorred
Atheism. Innocent the Eleventh, on the other hand, leaned to the
Jansenist opinions. The consequence was, that the Society found
itself in a situation never contemplated by its founder. The
Jesuits were estranged from the Supreme Pontiff; and they were
closely allied with a prince who proclaimed himself the champion
of the Gallican liberties and the enemy of Ultramontane
pretensions. Thus the Order became in England an instrument of
the designs of Lewis, and laboured, with a success which the
Roman Catholics afterwards long and bitterly deplored, to widen
the breach between the King and the Parliament, to thwart the
Nuncio, to undermine the power of the Lord Treasurer, and to
support the most desperate schemes of Tyrconnel.

Thus on one side were the Hydes and the whole body of Tory
churchmen, Powis and all the most respectable noblemen and
gentlemen of the King's own faith, the States General, the House
of Austria, and the Pope. On the other side were a few Roman
Catholic adventurers, of broken fortune and tainted reputation,
backed by France and by the Jesuits.

The chief representative of the Jesuits at Whitehall was an
English brother of the Order, who had, during some time, acted as
Viceprovincial, who had been long regarded by James with peculiar
favour, and who had lately been made Clerk of the Closet. This
man, named Edward Petre, was descended from an honourable family.
His manners were courtly: his speech was flowing and plausible;
but he was weak and vain, covetous and ambitious. Of all the evil
counsellors who had access to the royal ear, he bore, perhaps,
the largest part in the ruin of the House of Stuart.

The obstinate and imperious nature of the King gave great
advantages to those who advised him to be firm, to yield nothing,
and to make himself feared. One state maxim had taken possession
of his small understanding, and was not to be dislodged by
reason. To reason, indeed, he was not in the habit of attending.
His mode of arguing, if it is to be so called, was one not
uncommon among dull and stubborn persons, who are accustomed to
be surrounded by their inferiors. He asserted a proposition; and,
as often as wiser people ventured respectfully to show that it
was erroneous, he asserted it again, in exactly the same words,
and conceived that, by doing so, he at once disposed of all
objections.57 "I will make no concession," he often repeated; "my
father made concessions, and he was beheaded."58 If it were true
that concession had been fatal to Charles the First, a man of
sense would have known that a single experiment is not sufficient
to establish a general rule even in sciences much less
complicated than the science of government; that, since the
beginning of the world, no two political experiments were ever
made of which all the conditions were exactly alike; and that the
only way to learn civil prudence from history is to examine and
compare an immense number of cases. But, if the single instance
on which the King relied proved anything, it proved that he was
in the wrong. There can be little doubt that, if Charles had
frankly made to the Short Parliament, which met in the spring of
1640, but one half of the concessions which he made, a few months
later, to the Long Parliament, he would have lived and died a
powerful King. On the other hand, there can be no doubt whatever
that, if he had refused to make any concession to the Long
Parliament, and had resorted to arms in defence of the ship money
and of the Star Chamber, he would have seen, in the hostile
ranks, Hyde and Falkland side by side with Hollis and Hampden.
But, in truth, he would not have been able to resort to arms; for
nor twenty Cavaliers would have joined his standard. It was to
his large concessions alone that he owed the support of that
great body of noblemen and gentlemen who fought so long and so
gallantly in his cause. But it would have been useless to
represent these things to James.

Another fatal delusion had taken possession of his mind, and was
never dispelled till it had ruined him. He firmly believed that,
do what he might, the members of the Church of England would act
up to their principles. It had, he knew, been proclaimed from ten
thousand pulpits, it had been solemnly declared by the University
of Oxford, that even tyranny as frightful as that of the most
depraved of the Caesars did not justify subjects in resisting the
royal authority; and hence he was weak enough to conclude that
the whole body of Tory gentlemen and clergymen would let him
plunder, oppress, and insult them without lifting an arm against
him. It seems strange that any man should have passed his
fiftieth year without discovering that people sometimes do what
they think wrong: and James had only to look into his own heart
for abundant proof that even a strong sense of religious duty
will not always prevent frail human beings from indulging their
passions in defiance of divine laws, and at the risk of awful
penalties. He must have been conscious that, though he thought
adultery sinful, he was an adulterer: but nothing could convince
him that any man who professed to think rebellion sinful would
ever, in any extremity, be a rebel. The Church of England was, in
his view, a passive victim, which he might, without danger,
outrage and torture at his pleasure; nor did he ever see his
error till the Universities were preparing to coin their plate
for the purpose of supplying the military chest of his enemies,
and till a Bishop, long renowned for loyalty, had thrown aside
his cassock, girt on a sword, and taken the command of a regiment
of insurgents.

In these fatal follies the King was artfully encouraged by a
minister who had been an Exclusionist, and who still called
himself a Protestant, the Earl of Sunderland. The motives and
conduct of this unprincipled politician have often been
misrepresented. He was, in his own lifetime, accused by the
Jacobites of having, even before the beginning of the reign of
James, determined to bring about a revolution in favour of the
Prince of Orange, and of having, with that view, recommended a
succession of outrages on the civil and ecclesiastical
constitution of the realm. This idle story has been repeated down
to our own days by ignorant writers. But no well informed
historian, whatever might be his prejudices, has condescended to
adopt it: for it rests on no evidence whatever; and scarcely any
evidence would convince reasonable men that Sunderland
deliberately incurred guilt and infamy in order to bring about a
change by which it was clear that he could not possibly be a
gainer, and by which, in fact, he lost immense wealth and
influence. Nor is there the smallest reason for resorting to so
strange a hypothesis. For the truth lies on the surface. Crooked
as this man's course was, the law which determined it was simple.
His conduct is to be ascribed to the alternate influence of
cupidity and fear on a mind highly susceptible of both those
passions, and quicksighted rather than farsighted. He wanted more
power and more money. More power he could obtain only at
Rochester's expense; and the obvious way to obtain power at
Rochester's expense was to encourage the dislike which the King
felt for Rochester's moderate counsels. Money could be most
easily and most largely obtained from the court of Versailles;
and Sunderland was eager to sell himself to that court. He had no
jovial generous vices. He cared little for wine or for beauty:
but he desired riches with an ungovernable and insatiable desire.
The passion for play raged in him without measure, and had not
been tamed by ruinous losses. His hereditary fortune was ample.
He had long filled lucrative posts, and had neglected no art
which could make them more lucrative: but his ill luck at the
hazard table was such that his estates were daily becoming more
and more encumbered. In the hope of extricating himself from his

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