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

Part 2 out of 12

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embarrassments, he betrayed to Barillon all the schemes adverse
to France which had been meditated in the English cabinet, and
hinted that a Secretary of State could in such times render
services for which it might be wise in Lewis to pay largely. The
Ambassador told his master that six thousand guineas was the
smallest gratification that could be offered to so important a
minister. Lewis consented to go as high as twenty-five thousand
crowns, equivalent to about five thousand six hundred pounds
sterling. It was agreed that Sunderland should receive this sum
yearly, and that he should, in return, exert all his influence to
prevent the reassembling of the Parliament.59 He joined himself
therefore to the Jesuitical cabal, and made so dexterous an use
of the influence of that cabal that he was appointed to succeed
Halifax in the high dignity of Lord President without being
required to resign the far more active and lucrative post of
Secretary.60 He felt, however, that he could never hope to obtain
paramount influence in the court while he was supposed to belong
to the Established Church. All religions were the same to him.
In private circles, indeed, he was in the habit of talking
with profane contempt of the most sacred things. He therefore
determined to let the King have the delight and glory
of effecting a conversion. Some management, however,
was necessary. No man is utterly without regard for the
opinion of his fellow creatures; and even Sunderland, though not
very sensible to shame, flinched from the infamy of public
apostasy. He played his part with rare adroitness. To the world
he showed himself as a Protestant. In the royal closet he assumed
the character of an earnest inquirer after truth, who was almost
persuaded to declare himself a Roman Catholic, and who, while
waiting for fuller illumination, was disposed to render every
service in his power to the professors of the old faith. James,
who was never very discerning, and who in religious matters was
absolutely blind, suffered himself, notwithstanding all that he
had seen of human knavery, of the knavery of courtiers as a
class, and of the knavery of Sunderland in particular, to be
duped into the belief that divine grace had touched the most
false and callous of human hearts. During many months the wily
minister continued to be regarded at court as a promising
catechumen, without exhibiting himself to the public in the
character of a renegade.61

He early suggested to the King the expediency of appointing a
secret committee of Roman Catholics to advise on all matters
affecting the interests of their religion. This committee met
sometimes at Chiffinch's lodgings, and sometimes at the official
apartments of Sunderland, who, though still nominally a
Protestant, was admitted to all its deliberations, and soon
obtained a decided ascendency over the other members. Every
Friday the Jesuitical cabal dined with the Secretary. The
conversation at table was free; and the weaknesses of the prince
whom the confederates hoped to manage were not spared. To Petre
Sunderland promised a Cardinal's hat; to Castelmaine a splendid
embassy to Rome; to Dover a lucrative command in the Guards; and
to Tyrconnel high employment in Ireland. Thus hound together by
the strongest ties of interest, these men addressed themselves to
the task of subverting the Treasurer's power.62

There were two Protestant members of the cabinet who took no
decided part in the struggle. Jeffreys was at this time tortured
by a cruel internal malady which had been aggravated by
intemperance. At a dinner which a wealthy Alderman gave to some
of the leading members of the government, the Lord Treasurer and
the Lord Chancellor were so drunk that they stripped themselves
almost stark naked, and were with difficulty prevented from
climbing up a signpost to drink His Majesty's health. The pious
Treasurer escaped with nothing but the scandal of the debauch:
but the Chancellor brought on a violent fit of his complaint. His
life was for some time thought to be in serious danger. James
expressed great uneasiness at the thought of losing a minister
who suited him so well, and said, with some truth, that the loss
of such a man could not be easily repaired. Jeffreys, when he
became convalescent, promised his support to both the contending
parties, and waited to see which of them would prove victorious.
Some curious proofs of his duplicity are still extant. It has
been already said that the two French agents who were then
resident in London had divided the English court between them.
Bonrepaux was constantly with Rochester; and Barillon lived with
Sunderland. Lewis was informed in the same week by Bonrepaux that
the Chancellor was entirely with the Treasurer, and by Barillon
that the Chancellor was in league with the Secretary.63

Godolphin, cautious and taciturn, did his best to preserve
neutrality. His opinions and wishes were undoubtedly with
Rochester; but his office made it necessary for him to be in
constant attendance on the Queen; and he was naturally unwilling
to be on bad terms with her. There is indeed reason to believe
that he regarded her with an attachment more romantic than often
finds place in the hearts of veteran statesmen; and
circumstances, which it is now necessary to relate, had thrown
her entirely into the hands of the Jesuitical cabal.64

The King, stern as was his temper and grave as was his
deportment, was scarcely less under the influence of female
attractions than his more lively and amiable brother had been.
The beauty, indeed, which distinguished the favourite ladies of
Charles was not necessary to James. Barbara Palmer, Eleanor
Gwynn, and Louisa de Querouaille were among the finest women of
their time. James, when young, had surrendered his liberty,
descended below his rank, and incurred the displeasure of his
family for the coarse features of Anne Hyde. He had soon, to the
great diversion of the whole court, been drawn away from his
plain consort by a plainer mistress, Arabella Churchill. His
second wife, though twenty years younger than himself, and of no
unpleasing face or figure, had frequent reason to complain of his
inconstancy. But of all his illicit attachments the strongest was
that which bound him to Catharine Sedley.

This woman was the daughter of Sir Charles Sedley, one of the
most brilliant and profligate wits of the Restoration. The
licentiousness of his writings is not redeemed by much grace or
vivacity; but the charms of his conversation were acknowledged
even by sober men who had no esteem for his character. To sit
near him at the theatre, and to hear his criticisms on a new
play, was regarded as a privilege.65 Dryden had done him the
honour to make him a principal interlocutor in the Dialogue on
Dramatic Poesy. The morals of Sedley were such as, even in that
age, gave great scandal. He on one occasion, after a wild revel,
exhibited himself without a shred of clothing in the balcony of a
tavern near Covent Garden, and harangued the people who were
passing in language so indecent and profane that he was driven in
by a shower of brickbats, was prosecuted for a misdemeanour, was
sentenced to a heavy fine, and was reprimanded by the Court of
King's Bench in the most cutting terms.66 His daughter had
inherited his abilities and his impudence. Personal charms she
had none, with the exception of two brilliant eyes, the lustre of
which, to men of delicate taste, seemed fierce and unfeminine.
Her form was lean, her countenance haggard. Charles, though he
liked her conversation, laughed at her ugliness, and said that
the priests must have recommended her to his brother by way of
penance. She well knew that she was not handsome, and jested
freely on her own homeliness. Yet, with strange inconsistency,
she loved to adorn herself magnificently, and drew on herself
much keen ridicule by appearing in the theatre and the ring
plastered, painted, clad in Brussels lace, glittering with
diamonds, and affecting all the graces of eighteen.67

The nature of her influence over James is not easily to be
explained. He was no longer young. He was a religious man; at
least he was willing to make for his religion exertions and
sacrifices from which the great majority of those who are called
religious men would shrink. It seems strange that any attractions
should have drawn him into a course of life which he must have
regarded as highly criminal; and in this case none could
understand where the attraction lay. Catharine herself was
astonished by the violence of his passion. "It cannot be my
beauty," she said; "for he must see that I have none; and it
cannot be my wit, for he has not enough to know that I have any."

At the moment of the King's accession a sense of the new
responsibility which lay on him made his mind for a time
peculiarly open to religious impressions. He formed and announced
many good resolutions, spoke in public with great severity of the
impious and licentious manners of the age, and in private assured
his Queen and his confessor that he would see Catharine Sedley no
more. He wrote to his mistress intreating her to quit the
apartments which she occupied at Whitehall, and to go to a house
in Saint James's Square which had been splendidly furnished for
her at his expense. He at the same time promised to allow her a
large pension from his privy purse. Catharine, clever,
strongminded, intrepid, and conscious of her power, refused to
stir. In a few months it began to be whispered that the services
of Chiffinch were again employed, and that the mistress
frequently passed and repassed through that private door through
which Father Huddleston had borne the host to the bedside of
Charles. The King's Protestant ministers had, it seems, conceived
a hope that their master's infatuation for this woman might cure
him of the more pernicious infatuation which impelled him to
attack their religion. She had all the talents which could
qualify her to play on his feelings, to make game of his
scruples, to set before him in a strong light the difficulties
and dangers into which he was running headlong. Rochester, the
champion of the Church, exerted himself to strengthen her
influence. Ormond, who is popularly regarded as the
personification of all that is pure and highminded in the English
Cavalier, encouraged the design. Even Lady Rochester was not
ashamed to cooperate, and that in the very worst way. Her office
was to direct the jealousy of the injured wife towards a young
lady who was perfectly innocent. The whole court took notice of
the coldness and rudeness with which the Queen treated the poor
girl on whom suspicion had been thrown: but the cause of Her
Majesty's ill humour was a mystery. For a time the intrigue went
on prosperously and secretly. Catharine often told the King
plainly what the Protestant Lords of the Council only dared to
hint in the most delicate phrases. His crown, she said, was at
stake: the old dotard Arundell and the blustering Tyrconnel would
lead him to his ruin. It is possible that her caresses might have
done what the united exhortations of the Lords and the Commons,
of the House of Austria and the Holy See, had failed to do, but
for a strange mishap which changed the whole face of affairs.
James, in a fit of fondness, determined to make his mistress
Countess of Dorchester in her own right. Catharine saw all the
peril of such a step, and declined the invidious honour. Her
lover was obstinate, and himself forced the patent into her
hands. She at last accepted it on one condition, which shows her
confidence in her own power and in his weakness. She made him
give her a solemn promise, not that he would never quit her, but
that, if he did so, he would himself announce his resolution to
her, and grant her one parting interview.

As soon as the news of her elevation got abroad, the whole palace
was in an uproar. The warm blood of Italy boiled in the veins of
the Queen. Proud of her youth and of her charms, of her high rank
and of her stainless chastity, she could not without agonies of
grief and rage see herself deserted and insulted for such a
rival. Rochester, perhaps remembering how patiently, after a
short struggle, Catharine of Braganza had consented to treat the
mistresses of Charles with politeness, had expected that, after a
little complaining and pouting, Mary of Modena would be equally
submissive. It was not so. She did not even attempt to conceal
from the eyes of the world the violence of her emotions. Day
after day the courtiers who came to see her dine observed that
the dishes were removed untasted from the table. She suffered the
tears to stream down her cheeks unconcealed in the presence of
the whole circle of ministers and envoys. To the King she spoke
with wild vehemence. "Let me go," she cried. "You have made your
woman a Countess: make her a Queen. Put my crown on her head.
Only let me hide myself in some convent, where I may never see
her more." Then, more soberly, she asked him how he reconciled
his conduct to his religious professions. "You are ready," she
said, "to put your kingdom to hazard for the sake of your soul;
and yet you are throwing away your soul for the sake of that
creature." Father Petre, on bended knees, seconded these
remonstrances. It was his duty to do so; and his duty was not the
less strenuously performed because it coincided with his
interest. The King went on for a time sinning and repenting. In
his hours of remorse his penances were severe. Mary treasured up
to the end of her life, and at her death bequeathed to the
convent of Chaillot, the scourge with which he had vigorously
avenged her wrongs upon his own shoulders. Nothing but
Catharine's absence could put an end to this struggle between an
ignoble love and an ignoble superstition. James wrote, imploring
and commanding her to depart. He owned that he had promised to
bid her farewell in person. "But I know too well," he added, "the
power which you have over me. I have not strength of mind enough
to keep my resolution if I see you." He offered her a yacht to
convey her with all dignity and comfort to Flanders, and
threatened that if she did not go quietly she should be sent away
by force. She at one time worked on his feelings by pretending to
be ill. Then she assumed the airs of a martyr, and impudently
proclaimed herself a sufferer for the Protestant religion. Then
again she adopted the style of John Hampden. She defied the King
to remove her. She would try the right with him. While the Great
Charter and the Habeas Corpus Act were the law of the land, she
would live where she pleased. "And Flanders," she cried; "never!
I have learned one thing from my friend the Duchess of Mazarin;
and that is never to trust myself in a country where there are
convents." At length she selected Ireland as the place of her
exile, probably because the brother of her patron Rochester was
viceroy there. After many delays she departed, leaving the
victory to the Queen.68

The history of this extraordinary intrigue would be imperfect, if
it were not added that there is still extant a religious
meditation, written by the Treasurer, with his own hand, on the
very same day on which the intelligence of his attempt to govern
his master by means of a concubine was despatched by Bonrepaux to
Versailles. No composition of Ken or Leighton breathes a spirit
of more fervent and exalted piety than this effusion. Hypocrisy
cannot be suspected: for the paper was evidently meant only for
the writer's own eye, and was not published till he had been more
than a century in his grave. So much is history stranger than
fiction; and so true is it that nature has caprices which art
dares not imitate. A dramatist would scarcely venture to bring on
the stage a grave prince, in the decline of life, ready to
sacrifice his crown in order to serve the interests of his
religion, indefatigable in making proselytes, and yet deserting
and insulting a wife who had youth and beauty for the sake of a
profligate paramour who had neither. Still less, if possible,
would a dramatist venture to introduce a statesman stooping to
the wicked and shameful part of a procurer, and calling in his
wife to aid him in that dishonourable office, yet, in his moments
of leisure, retiring to his closet, and there secretly pouring
out his soul to his God in penitent tears and devout

The Treasurer soon found that, in using scandalous means for the
purpose of obtaining a laudable end, he had committed, not only a
crime, but a folly. The Queen was now his enemy. She affected,
indeed, to listen with civility while the Hydes excused their
recent conduct as well as they could; and she occasionally
pretended to use her influence in their favour: but she must have
been more or less than woman if she had really forgiven the
conspiracy which had been formed against her dignity and her
domestic happiness by the family of her husband's first wife. The
Jesuits strongly represented to the King the danger which he had
so narrowly escaped. His reputation, they said, his peace, his
soul, had been put in peril by the machinations of his prime
minister. The Nuncio, who would gladly have counteracted the
influence of the violent party, and cooperated with the moderate
members of the cabinet, could not honestly or decently separate
himself on this occasion from Father Petre. James himself, when
parted by the sea from the charms which had so strongly
fascinated him, could not but regard with resentment and contempt
those who had sought to govern him by means of his vices. What
had passed must have had the effect of raising his own Church in
his esteem, and of lowering the Church of England. The Jesuits,
whom it was the fashion to represent as the most unsafe of
spiritual guides, as sophists who refined away the whole system
of evangelical morality, as sycophants who owed their influence
chiefly to the indulgence with which they treated the sins of the
great, had reclaimed him from a life of guilt by rebukes as sharp
and bold as those which David had heard from Nathan and Herod
from the Baptist. On the other hand, zealous Protestants, whose
favourite theme was the laxity of Popish casuists and the
wickedness of doing evil that good might come, had attempted to
obtain advantages for their own Church in a way which all
Christians regarded as highly criminal. The victory of the cabal
of evil counsellors was therefore complete. The King looked
coldly on Rochester. The courtiers and foreign ministers soon
perceived that the Lord Treasurer was prime minister only in
name. He continued to offer his advice daily, and had the
mortification to find it daily rejected. Yet he could not prevail
on himself to relinquish the outward show of power and the
emoluments which he directly and indirectly derived from his
great place. He did his best, therefore, to conceal his vexations
from the public eye. But his violent passions and his intemperate
habits disqualified him for the part of a dissembler. His gloomy
looks, when he came out of the council chamber, showed how little
he was pleased with what had passed at the board; and, when the
bottle had gone round freely, words escaped him which betrayed
his uneasiness.70

He might, indeed, well be uneasy. Indiscreet and unpopular
measures followed each other in rapid succession. All thought of
returning to the policy of the Triple Alliance was abandoned. The
King explicitly avowed to the ministers of those continental
powers with which he had lately intended to ally himself, that
all his views had undergone a change, and that England was still
to be, as she had been under his grandfather, his father, and his
brother, of no account in Europe. "I am in no condition," he said
to the Spanish Ambassador, "to trouble myself about what passes
abroad. It is my resolution to let foreign affairs take their
course, to establish my authority at home, and to do something
for my religion." A few days later he announced the same
intentions to the States General.71 From that time to the close
of his ignominious reign, he made no serious effort to escape
from vassalage, though, to the last, he could never hear, without
transports of rage, that men called him a vassal.

The two events which proved to the public that Sunderland and
Sunderland's party were victorious were the prorogation of the
Parliament from February to May, and the departure of Castelmaine
for Rome with the appointments of an Ambassador of the highest

Hitherto all the business of the English government at the papal
court had been transacted by John Caryl. This gentleman was known
to his contemporaries as a man of fortune and fashion, and as the
author of two successful plays, a tragedy in rhyme which had been
made popular by the action and recitation of Betterton, and a
comedy which owes all its value to scenes borrowed from Moliere.
These pieces have long been forgotten; but what Caryl could not
do for himself has been done for him by a more powerful genius.
Half a line in the Rape of the Lock has made his name immortal.

Caryl, who was, like all the other respectable Roman Catholics,
an enemy to violent courses, had acquitted himself of his
delicate errand at Rome with good sense and good feeling. The
business confided to him was well done; but he assumed no public
character, and carefully avoided all display. His mission,
therefore, put the government to scarcely any charge, and excited
scarcely any murmurs. His place was now most unwisely supplied by
a costly and ostentatious embassy, offensive in the highest
degree to the people of England, and by no means welcome to the
court of Rome. Castelmaine had it in charge to demand a
Cardinal's hat for his confederate Petre.

About the same time the King began to show, in an unequivocal
manner, the feeling which he really entertained towards the
banished Huguenots. While he had still hoped to cajole his
Parliament into submission and to become the head of an European
coalition against France, he had affected to blame the revocation
of the edict of Nantes, and to pity the unhappy men whom
persecution had driven from their country. He had caused it to be
announced that, at every church in the kingdom, a collection
would be made under his sanction for their benefit. A
proclamation on this subject had been drawn up in terms which
might have wounded the pride of a sovereign less sensitive and
vainglorious than Lewis. But all was now changed. The principles
of the treaty of Dover were again the principles of the foreign
policy of England. Ample apologies were therefore made for the
discourtesy with which the English government had acted towards
France in showing favour to exiled Frenchmen. The proclamation
which had displeased Lewis was recalled.73 The Huguenot ministers
were admonished to speak with reverence of their oppressor in
their public discourses, as they would answer it at their peril.
James not only ceased to express commiseration for the sufferers,
but declared that he believed them to harbour the worst designs,
and owned that he had been guilty of an error in countenancing
them. One of the most eminent of the refugees, John Claude, had
published on the Continent a small volume in which he described
with great force the sufferings of his brethren. Barillon
demanded that some opprobrious mark should be put on his book.
James complied, and in full council declared it to be his
pleasure that Claude's libel should be burned by the hangman
before the Royal Exchange. Even Jeffreys was startled, and
ventured to represent that such a proceeding was without example,
that the book was written in a foreign tongue, that it had been
printed at a foreign press, that it related entirely to
transactions which had taken place in a foreign country, and that
no English government had ever animadverted on such works. James
would not suffer the question to be discussed. "My resolution,"
he said, "is taken. It has become the fashion to treat Kings
disrespectfully; and they must stand by each other. One King
should always take another's part: and I have particular reasons
for showing this respect to the King of France." There was
silence at the board. The order was forthwith issued; and
Claude's pamphlet was committed to the flames, not without the
deep murmurs of many who had always been reputed steady

The promised collection was long put off under various pretexts.
The King would gladly have broken his word; but it was pledged so
solemnly that he could not for very shame retract.75 Nothing,
however, which could cool the zeal of congregations was omitted.
It had been expected that, according to the practice usual on
such occasions, the people would be exhorted to liberality from
the pulpits. But James was determined not to tolerate
declamations against his religion and his ally. The Archbishop of
Canterbury was therefore commanded to inform the clergy that they
must merely read the brief, and must not presume to preach on the
sufferings of the French Protestants.76 Nevertheless the
contributions were so large that, after all deductions, the sum
of forty thousand pounds was paid into the Chamber of London.
Perhaps none of the munificent subscriptions of our own age has
borne so great a proportion to the means of the nation.77

The King was bitterly mortified by the large amount of the
collection which had been made in obedience to his own call. He
knew, he said, what all this liberality meant. It was mere
Whiggish spite to himself and his religion.78 He had already
resolved that the money should be of no use to those whom the
donors wished to benefit. He had been, during some weeks, in
close communication with the French embassy on this subject, and
had, with the approbation of the court of Versailles, determined
on a course which it is not very easy to reconcile with those
principles of toleration to which he afterwards pretended to be
attached. The refugees were zealous for the Calvinistic
discipline and worship. James therefore gave orders that none
should receive a crust of bread or a basket of coals who did not
first take the sacrament according to the Anglican ritual.79 It
is strange that this inhospitable rule should have been devised
by a prince who affected to consider the Test Act as an outrage
on the rights of conscience: for, however unjustifiable it may be
to establish a sacramental test for the purpose of ascertaining
whether men are fit for civil and military office, it is surely
much more unjustifiable to establish a sacramental test for the
purpose of ascertaining whether, in their extreme distress, they
are fit objects of charity. Nor had James the plea which may be
urged in extenuation of the guilt of almost all other
persecutors: for the religion which he commanded the refugees to
profess, on pain of being left to starve, was not his own
religion. His conduct towards them was therefore less excusable
than that of Lewis: for Lewis oppressed them in the hope of
bringing them over from a damnable heresy to the true Church:
James oppressed them only for the purpose of forcing them to
apostatize from one damnable heresy to another.

Several Commissioners, of whom the Chancellor was one, had been
appointed to dispense the public alms. When they met for the
first time, Jeffreys announced the royal pleasure. The refugees,
he said, were too generally enemies of monarchy and episcopacy.
If they wished for relief, they must become members of the Church
of England, and must take the sacrament from the hands of his
chaplain. Many exiles, who had come full of gratitude and hope to
apply for succour, heard their sentence, and went brokenhearted

May was now approaching; and that month had been fixed for the
meeting of the Houses: but they were again prorogued to
November.81 It was not strange that the King did not wish to meet
them: for he had determined to adopt a policy which he knew to
be, in the highest degree, odious to them. From his predecessors
he had inherited two prerogatives, of which the limits had never
been defined with strict accuracy, and which, if exerted without
any limit, would of themselves have sufficed to overturn the
whole polity of the State and of the Church. These were the
dispensing power and the ecclesiastical supremacy. By means of
the dispensing power the King purposed to admit Roman Catholics,
not merely to civil and military, but to spiritual, offices. By
means of the ecclesiastical supremacy he hoped to make the
Anglican clergy his instruments for the destruction of their own

This scheme developed itself by degrees. It was not thought safe
to begin by granting to the whole Roman Catholic body a
dispensation from all statutes imposing penalties and tests. For
nothing was more fully established than that such a dispensation
was illegal. The Cabal had, in 1672, put forth a general
Declaration of Indulgence. The Commons, as soon as they met, had
protested against it. Charles the Second had ordered it to be
cancelled in his presence, and had, both by his own mouth and by
a written message, assured the Houses that the step which had
caused so much complaint should never be drawn into precedent. It
would have been difficult to find in all the Inns of Court a
barrister of reputation to argue in defence of a prerogative
which the Sovereign, seated on his throne in full Parliament, had
solemnly renounced a few years before. But it was not quite so
clear that the King might not, on special grounds, grant
exemptions to individuals by name. The first object of James,
therefore, was to obtain from the courts of common law an
acknowledgment that, to this extent at least, he possessed the
dispensing power.

But, though his pretensions were moderate when compared with
those which he put forth a few months later, he soon found that
he had against him almost the whole sense of Westminster Hall.
Four of the Judges gave him to understand that they could not, on
this occasion, serve his purpose; and it is remarkable that all
the four were violent Tories, and that among them were men who
had accompanied Jeffreys on the Bloody Circuit, and who had
consented to the death of Cornish and of Elizabeth Gaunt. Jones,
the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, a man who had never before
shrunk from any drudgery, however cruel or servile, now held in
the royal closet language which might have become the lips of the
purest magistrates in our history. He was plainly told that he
must either give up his opinion or his place. "For my place," he
answered, "I care little. I am old and worn out in the service of
the crown; but I am mortified to find that your Majesty thinks me
capable of giving a judgment which none but an ignorant or a
dishonest man could give." "I am determined," said the King, "to
have twelve Judges who will be all of my mind as to this matter."
"Your Majesty," answered Jones, "may find twelve Judges of your
mind, but hardly twelve lawyers."82 He was dismissed together
with Montague, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and two puisne
Judges, Neville and Charlton. One of the new Judges was
Christopher Milton, younger brother of the great poet. Of
Christopher little is known except that, in the time of the civil
war, he had been a Royalist, and that he now, in his old age,
leaned towards Popery. It does not appear that he was ever
formally reconciled to the Church of Rome: but he certainly had
scruples about communicating with the Church of England, and had
therefore a strong interest in supporting the dispensing power.83

The King found his counsel as refractory as his Judges. The first
barrister who learned that he was expected to defend the
dispensing power was the Solicitor General, Heneage Finch. He
peremptorily refused, and was turned out of office on the
following day.84 The Attorney General, Sawyer, was ordered to
draw warrants authorising members of the Church of Rome to hold
benefices belonging to the Church of England. Sawyer had been
deeply concerned in some of the harshest and most unjustifiable
prosecutions of that age; and the Whigs abhorred him as a man
stained with the blood of Russell and Sidney: but on this
occasion he showed no want of honesty or of resolution. "Sir,"
said he, "this is not merely to dispense with a statute; it is to
annul the whole statute law from the accession of Elizabeth to
this day. I dare not do it; and I implore your Majesty to
consider whether such an attack upon the rights of the Church be
in accordance with your late gracious promises."85 Sawyer would
have been instantly dismissed as Finch had been, if the
government could have found a successor: but this was no easy
matter. It was necessary for the protection of the rights of the
crown that one at least of the crown lawyers should be a man of
learning, ability, and experience; and no such man was willing to
defend the dispensing power. The Attorney General was therefore
permitted to retain his place during some months. Thomas Powis,
an insignificant man, who had no qualification for high
employment except servility, was appointed Solicitor.

The preliminary arrangements were now complete. There was a
Solicitor General to argue for the dispensing power, and twelve
Judges to decide in favour of it. The question was therefore
speedily brought to a hearing. Sir Edward Hales, a gentleman of
Kent, had been converted to Popery in days when it was not safe
for any man of note openly to declare himself a Papist. He had
kept his secret, and, when questioned, had affirmed that he was a
Protestant with a solemnity which did little credit to his
principles. When James had ascended the throne, disguise was no
longer necessary. Sir Edward publicly apostatized, and was
rewarded with the command of a regiment of foot. He had held his
commission more than three months without taking the sacrament.
He was therefore liable to a penalty of five hundred pounds,
which an informer might recover by action of debt. A menial
servant was employed to bring a suit for this sum in the Court of
King's Bench. Sir Edward did not dispute the facts alleged
against him, but pleaded that he had letters patent authorising
him to hold his commission notwithstanding the Test Act. The
plaintiff demurred, that is to say, admitted Sir Edward's plea to
be true in fact, but denied that it was a sufficient answer. Thus
was raised a simple issue of law to be decided by the court. A
barrister, who was notoriously a tool of the government, appeared
for the mock plaintiff, and made some feeble objections to the
defendant's plea. The new Solicitor General replied. The Attorney
General took no part in the proceedings. Judgment was given by
the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Edward Herbert. He announced that he
had submitted the question to all the twelve Judges, and that, in
the opinion of eleven of them, the King might lawfully dispense
with penal statutes in particular cases, and for special reasons
of grave importance. The single dissentient, Baron Street, was
not removed from his place. He was a man of morals so bad that
his own relations shrank from him, and that the Prince of Orange,
at the time of the Revolution, was advised not to see him. The
character of Street makes it impossible to believe that he would
have been more scrupulous than his brethren. The character of
James makes it impossible to believe that a refractory Baron of
the Exchequer would have been permitted to retain his post. There
can be no reasonable doubt that the dissenting Judge was, like
the plaintiff and the plaintiff's counsel, acting collusively. It
was important that there should be a great preponderance of
authority in favour of the dispensing power; yet it was important
that the bench, which had been carefully packed for the occasion,
should appear to be independent. One Judge, therefore, the least
respectable of the twelve, was permitted, or more probably
commanded, to give his voice against the prerogative.86

The power which the courts of law had thus recognised was not
suffered to lie idle. Within a month after the decision of the
King's Bench had been pronounced, four Roman Catholic Lords were
sworn of the Privy Council. Two of these, Powis and Bellasyse,
were of the moderate party, and probably took their seats with
reluctance and with many sad forebodings. The other two, Arundell
and Dover, had no such misgivings.87

The dispensing power was, at the same time, employed for the
purpose of enabling Roman Catholics to hold ecclesiastical
preferment. The new Solicitor readily drew the warrants in which
Sawyer had refused to be concerned. One of these warrants was in
favour of a wretch named Edward Sclater, who had two livings
which he was determined to keep at all costs and through all
changes. He administered the sacrament to his parishioners
according to the rites of the Church of England on Palm Sunday
1686. On Easter Sunday, only seven days later, he was at mass.
The royal dispensation authorised him to retain the emoluments of
his benefices. To the remonstrances of the patrons from whom he
had received his preferment he replied in terms of insolent
defiance, and, while the Roman Catholic cause prospered, put
forth an absurd treatise in defence of his apostasy. But, a very
few weeks after the Revolution, a great congregation assembled at
Saint Mary's in the Savoy, to see him received again into the
bosom of the Church which he had deserted. He read his
recantation with tears flowing from his eyes, and pronounced a
bitter invective against the Popish priests whose arts had
seduced him.88

Scarcely less infamous was the conduct of Obadiah Walker. He was
an aged priest of the Church of England, and was well known in
the University of Oxford as a man of learning. He had in the late
reign been suspected of leaning towards Popery, but had outwardly
conformed to the established religion, and had at length been
chosen Master of University College. Soon after the accession of
James, Walker determined to throw off the disguise which he had
hitherto worn. He absented himself from the public worship of the
Church of England, and, with some fellows and undergraduates whom
he had perverted, heard mass daily in his own apartments. One of
the first acts performed by the new Solicitor General was to draw
up an instrument which authorised Walker and his proselytes to
hold their benefices, notwithstanding their apostasy. Builders
were immediately employed to turn two sets of rooms into an
oratory. In a few weeks the Roman Catholic rites were publicly
performed in University College. A Jesuit was quartered there as
chaplain. A press was established there under royal license for
the printing of Roman Catholic tracts. During two years and a
half, Walker continued to make war on Protestantism with all the
rancour of a renegade: but when fortune turned he showed that he
wanted the courage of a martyr. He was brought to the bar of the
House of Commons to answer for his conduct, and was base enough
to protest that he had never changed his religion, that he had
never cordially approved of the doctrines of the Church of Rome,
and that he had never tried to bring any other person within the
pale of that Church. It was hardly worth while to violate the
most sacred obligations of law and of plighted faith, for the
purpose of making such converts as these.89

In a short time the King went a step further. Sclater and Walker
had only been permitted to keep, after they became Papists, the
preferment which had been bestowed on them while they passed for
Protestants. To confer a high office in the Established Church on
an avowed enemy of that Church was a far bolder violation of the
laws and of the royal word. But no course was too bold for James.
The Deanery of Christchurch became vacant. That office was, both
in dignity and in emolument, one of the highest in the University
of Oxford. The Dean was charged with the government of a greater
number of youths of high connections and of great hopes than
could then be found in any other college. He was also the head of
a Cathedral. In both characters it was necessary that he should
be a member of the Church of England. Nevertheless John Massey,
who was notoriously a member of the Church of Rome, and who had
not one single recommendation, except that he was a member of the
Church of Rome, was appointed by virtue of the dispensing power;
and soon within the walls of Christchurch an altar was decked, at
which mass was daily celebrated.90 To the Nuncio the King said
that what had been done at Oxford should very soon be done at

Yet even this was a small evil compared with that which
Protestants had good ground to apprehend. It seemed but too
probable that the whole government of the Anglican Church would
shortly pass into the hands of her deadly enemies. Three
important sees had lately become vacant, that of York, that of
Chester, and that of Oxford. The Bishopric of Oxford was given to
Samuel Parker, a parasite, whose religion, if he had any
religion, was that of Rome, and who called himself a Protestant
only because he was encumbered with a wife. "I wished," the King
said to Adda, "to appoint an avowed Catholic: but the time is not
come. Parker is well inclined to us; he is one of us in feeling;
and by degrees he will bring round his clergy."92 The Bishopric
of Chester, vacant by the death of John Pearson, a great name
both in philology and in divinity, was bestowed on Thomas
Cartwright, a still viler sycophant than Parker. The
Archbishopric of York remained several years vacant. As no good
reason could be found for leaving so important a place unfilled,
men suspected that the nomination was delayed only till the King
could venture to place the mitre on the head of an avowed Papist.
It is indeed highly probable that the Church of England was saved
from this outrage by the good sense and good feeling of the Pope.
Without a special dispensation from Rome no Jesuit could be a
Bishop; and Innocent could not be induced to grant such a
dispensation to Petre.

James did not even make any secret of his intention to exert
vigorously and systematically for the destruction of the
Established Church all the powers which he possessed as her head.
He plainly said that, by a wise dispensation of Providence, the
Act of Supremacy would be the means of healing the fatal breach
which it had caused. Henry and Elizabeth had usurped a dominion
which rightfully belonged to the Holy See. That dominion had, in
the course of succession, descended to an orthodox prince, and
would be held by him in trust for the Holy See. He was authorised
by law to repress spiritual abuses; and the first spiritual abuse
which he would repress should be the liberty which the Anglican
clergy assumed of defending their own religion and of attacking
the doctrines of Rome.93

But he was met by a great difficulty. The ecclesiastical
supremacy which had devolved on him, was by no means the same
great and terrible prerogative which Elizabeth, James the First,
and Charles the First had possessed. The enactment which annexed
to the crown an almost boundless visitatorial authority over the
Church, though it had never been formally repealed, had really
lost a great part of its force. The substantive law remained; but
it remained unaccompanied by any formidable sanction or by any
efficient system of procedure, and was therefore little more than
a dead letter.

The statute, which restored to Elizabeth the spiritual dominion
assumed by her father and resigned by her sister, contained a
clause authorising the sovereign to constitute a tribunal which
might investigate, reform, and punish all ecclesiastical
delinquencies. Under the authority given by this clause, the
Court of High Commission was created. That court was, during many
years, the terror of Nonconformists, and, under the harsh
administration of Laud, became an object of fear and hatred even
to those who most loved the Established Church. When the Long
Parliament met, the High Commission was generally regarded as the
most grievous of the many grievances under which the nation
laboured. An act was therefore somewhat hastily passed, which not
only took away from the Crown the power of appointing visitors to
superintend the Church, but abolished all ecclesiastical courts
without distinction.

After the Restoration, the Cavaliers who filled the House of
Commons, zealous as they were for the prerogative, still
remembered with bitterness the tyranny of the High Commission,
and were by no means disposed to revive an institution so odious.
They at the same time thought, and not without reason, that the
statute which had swept away all the courts Christian of the
realm, without providing any substitute, was open to grave
objection. They accordingly repealed that statute, with the
exception of the part which related to the High Commission. Thus,
the Archidiaconal Courts, the Consistory Courts, the Court of
Arches, the Court of Peculiars, and the Court of Delegates were
revived: but the enactment by which Elizabeth and her successors
had been empowered to appoint Commissioners with visitatorial
authority over the Church was not only not revived, but was
declared, with the utmost strength of language, to be completely
abrogated. It is therefore as clear as any point of
constitutional law can be that James the Second was not competent
to appoint a Commission with power to visit and govern the Church
of England.94 But, if this were so, it was to little purpose that
the Act of Supremacy, in high sounding words, empowered him to
amend what was amiss in that Church. Nothing but a machinery as
stringent as that which the Long Parliament had destroyed could
force the Anglican clergy to become his agents for the
destruction of the Anglican doctrine and discipline. He
therefore, as early as the month of April 1686, determined to
create a new Court of High Commission. This design was not
immediately executed. It encountered the opposition of every
minister who was not devoted to France and to the Jesuits. It was
regarded by lawyers as an outrageous violation of the law, and by
Churchmen as a direct attack upon the Church. Perhaps the contest
might have lasted longer, but for an event which wounded the
pride and inflamed the rage of the King. He had, as supreme
ordinary, put forth directions, charging the clergy of the
establishment to abstain from touching in their discourses on
controverted points of doctrine. Thus, while sermons in defence
of the Roman Catholic religion were preached on every Sunday and
holiday within the precincts of the royal palaces, the Church of
the state, the Church of the great majority of the nation, was
forbidden to explain and vindicate her own principles. The spirit
of the whole clerical order rose against this injustice. William
Sherlock, a divine of distinguished abilities, who had written
with sharpness against Whigs and Dissenters, and had been
rewarded by the government with the Mastership of the Temple and
with a pension, was one of the first who incurred the royal
displeasure. His pension was stopped, and he was severely reprimanded.95 John
Sharp, Dean of Norwich and Rector of St. Giles's in the Fields,
soon gave still greater offence. He was a man of learning and
fervent piety, a preacher of great fame, and an exemplary parish
priest. In politics he was, like most of his brethren, a Tory,
and had just been appointed one of the royal chaplains. He
received an anonymous letter which purported to come from one of
his parishioners who had been staggered by the arguments of Roman
Catholic theologians, and who was anxious to be satisfied that
the Church of England was a branch of the true Church of Christ.
No divine, not utterly lost to all sense of religious duty and of
professional honour, could refuse to answer such a call. On the
following Sunday Sharp delivered an animated discourse against
the high pretensions of the see of Rome. Some of his expressions
were exaggerated, distorted, and carried by talebearers to
Whitehall. It was falsely said that he had spoken with contumely
of the theological disquisitions which had been found in the
strong box of the late King, and which the present King had
published. Compton, the Bishop of London, received orders from
Sunderland to suspend Sharp till the royal pleasure should be
further known. The Bishop was in great perplexity. His recent
conduct in the House of Lords had given deep offence to the
court. Already his name had been struck out of the list of Privy
Councillors. Already he had been dismissed from his office in the
royal chapel. He was unwilling to give fresh provocation but the
act which he was directed to perform was a judicial act. He felt
that it was unjust, and he was assured by the best advisers that
it was also illegal, to inflict punishment without giving any
opportunity for defence. He accordingly, in the humblest terms,
represented his difficulties to the King, and privately requested
Sharp not to appear in the pulpit for the present. Reasonable as
were Compton's scruples, obsequious as were his apologies, James
was greatly incensed. What insolence to plead either natural
justice or positive law in opposition to an express command of
the Sovereign Sharp was forgotten. The Bishop became a mark for
the whole vengeance of the government.96 The King felt more
painfully than ever the want of that tremendous engine which had
once coerced refractory ecclesiastics. He probably knew that, for
a few angry words uttered against his father's government, Bishop
Williams had been suspended by the High Commission from all
ecclesiastical dignities and functions. The design of reviving
that formidable tribunal was pushed on more eagerly than ever. In
July London was alarmed by the news that the King had, in direct
defiance of two acts of Parliament drawn in the strongest terms,
entrusted the whole government of the Church to seven
Commissioners.97 The words in which the jurisdiction of these
officers was described were loose, and might be stretched to
almost any extent. All colleges and grammar schools, even those
founded by the liberality of private benefactors, were placed
under the authority of the new board. All who depended for bread
on situations in the Church or in academical institutions, from
the Primate down to the youngest curate, from the Vicechancellors
of Oxford and Cambridge down to the humblest pedagogue who taught
Corderius, were at the royal mercy. If any one of those many
thousands was suspected of doing or saying anything distasteful
to the government, the Commissioners might cite him before them.
In their mode of dealing with him they were fettered by no rules.
They were themselves at once prosecutors and judges. The accused
party was furnished with no copy of the charge. He was examined
and crossexamined. If his answers did not give satisfaction, he
was liable to be suspended from his office, to be ejected from
it, to be pronounced incapable of holding any preferment in
future. If he were contumacious, he might be excommunicated, or,
in other words, be deprived of all civil rights and imprisoned
for life. He might also, at the discretion of the court, be
loaded with all the costs of the proceeding by which he had been
reduced to beggary. No appeal was given. The Commissioners were
directed to execute their office notwithstanding any law which
might be, or might seem to be, inconsistent with these
regulations. Lastly, lest any person should doubt that it was
intended to revive that terrible court from which the Long
Parliament had freed the nation, the new tribunal was directed to
use a seal bearing exactly the same device and the same
superscription with the seal of the old High Commission.98

The chief Commissioner was the Chancellor. His presence and
assent were necessary to every proceeding. All men knew how
unjustly, insolently, and barbarously he had acted in courts
where he had been, to a certain extent, restrained by the known
laws of England. It was, therefore, not difficult to foresee how
he would conduct himself in a situation in which he was at entire
liberty to make forms of procedure and rules of evidence for

Of the other six Commissioners three were prelates and three
laymen. The name of Archbishop Sancroft stood first. But he was
fully convinced that the court was illegal, that all its
judgments would be null, and that by sitting in it he should
incur a serious responsibility. He therefore determined not to
comply with the royal mandate. He did not, however, act on this
occasion with that courage and sincerity which he showed when
driven to extremity two years later. He begged to be excused on
the plea of business and ill health. The other members of the
board, he added, were men of too much ability to need his
assistance. These disingenuous apologies ill became the Primate
of all England at such a crisis; nor did they avert the royal
displeasure. Sancroft's name was not indeed struck out of the
list of Privy Councillors: but, to the bitter mortification of
the friends of the Church, he was no longer summoned on Council
days. "If," said the King, "he is too sick or too busy to go to
the Commission, it is a kindness to relieve him from attendance
at Council."99

The government found no similar difficulty with Nathaniel Crewe,
Bishop of the great and opulent see of Durham, a man nobly born,
and raised so high in his profession that he could scarcely wish
to rise higher, but mean, vain, and cowardly. He had been made
Dean of the Chapel Royal when the Bishop of London was banished
from the palace. The honour of being an Ecclesiastical
Commissioner turned Crewe's head. It was to no purpose that some
of his friends represented to him the risk which he ran by
sitting in an illegal tribunal. He was not ashamed to answer that
he could not live out of the royal smile, and exultingly
expressed his hope that his name would appear in history, a hope
which has not been altogether disappointed.100

Thomas Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, was the third clerical
Commissioner. He was a man to whose talents posterity has
scarcely done justice. Unhappily for his fame, it has been usual
to print his verses in collections of the British poets; and
those who judge of him by his verses must consider him as a
servile imitator, who, without one spark of Cowley's admirable
genius, mimicked whatever was least commendable in Cowley's
manner: but those who are acquainted with Sprat's prose writings
will form a very different estimate of his powers. He was indeed
a great master of our language, and possessed at once the
eloquence of the orator, of the controversialist, and of the
historian. His moral character might have passed with little
censure had he belonged to a less sacred profession; for the
worst that can be said of him is that he was indolent, luxurious,
and worldly: but such failings, though not commonly regarded as
very heinous in men of secular callings, are scandalous in a
prelate. The Archbishopric of York was vacant; Sprat hoped to
obtain it, and therefore accepted a seat at the ecclesiastical
board: but he was too goodnatured a man to behave harshly; and he
was too sensible a man not to know that he might at some future
time be called to a serious account by a Parliament. He
therefore, though he consented to act, tried to do as little
mischief, and to make as few enemies, as possible.101

The three remaining Commissioners were the Lord Treasurer, the
Lord President, and the Chief Justice of the King's Bench.
Rochester, disapproving and murmuring, consented to serve. Much
as he had to endure at the court, he could not bear to quit it.
Much as he loved the Church, he could not bring himself to
sacrifice for her sake his white staff, his patronage, his salary
of eight thousand pounds a year, and the far larger indirect
emoluments of his office. He excused his conduct to others, and
perhaps to himself, by pleading that, as a Commissioner, he might
be able to prevent much evil, and that, if he refused to act,
some person less attached to the Protestant religion would be
found to replace him. Sunderland was the representative of the
Jesuitical cabal. Herbert's recent decision on the question of
the dispensing power seemed to prove that he would not flinch
from any service which the King might require.

As soon as the Commission had been opened, the Bishop of London
was cited before the new tribunal. He appeared. "I demand of
you," said Jeffreys, "a direct and positive answer. Why did not
you suspend Dr. Sharp?"

The Bishop requested a copy of the Commission in order that he
might know by what authority he was thus interrogated. "If you
mean," said Jeffreys, "to dispute our authority, I shall take
another course with you. As to the Commission, I do not doubt
that you have seen it. At all events you may see it in any
coffeehouse for a penny." The insolence of the Chancellor's reply
appears to have shocked the other Commissioners, and he was
forced to make some awkward apologies. He then returned to the
point from which he had started. "This," he said, "is not a court
in which written charges are exhibited. Our proceedings are
summary, and by word of mouth. The question is a plain one. Why
did you not obey the King?" With some difficulty Compton obtained
a brief delay, and the assistance of counsel. When the case had
been heard, it was evident to all men that the Bishop had done
only what he was bound to do. The Treasurer, the Chief Justice,
and Sprat were for acquittal. The King's wrath was moved. It
seemed that his Ecclesiastical Commission would fail him as his
Tory Parliament had failed him. He offered Rochester a simple
choice, to pronounce the Bishop guilty, or to quit the Treasury.
Rochester was base enough to yield. Compton was suspended from
all spiritual functions; and the charge of his great diocese was
committed to his judges, Sprat and Crewe. He continued, however,
to reside in his palace and to receive his revenues; for it was
known that, had any attempt been made to deprive him of his
temporalities, he would have put himself under the protection of
the common law; and Herbert himself declared that, at common law,
judgment must be given against the crown. This consideration
induced the King to pause. Only a few weeks had elapsed since he
had packed the courts of Westminster Hall in order to obtain a
decision in favour of his dispensing power. He now found that,
unless he packed them again, he should not be able to obtain a
decision in favour of the proceedings of his Ecclesiastical
Commission. He determined, therefore, to postpone for a short
time the confiscation of the freehold property of refractory

The temper of the nation was indeed such as might well make him
hesitate. During some months discontent had been steadily and
rapidly increasing. The celebration of the Roman Catholic worship
had long been prohibited by Act of Parliament. During several
generations no Roman Catholic clergyman had dared to exhibit
himself in any public place with the badges of his office.
Against the regular clergy, and against the restless and subtle
Jesuits by name, had been enacted a succession of rigorous
statutes. Every Jesuit who set foot in this country was liable to
be hanged, drawn, and quartered. A reward was offered for his
detection. He was not allowed to take advantage of the general
rule, that men are not bound to accuse themselves. Whoever was
suspected of being a Jesuit might be interrogated, and, if he
refused to answer, might be sent to prison for life.103 These
laws, though they had not, except when there was supposed to be
some peculiar danger, been strictly executed, and though they had
never prevented Jesuits from resorting to England, had made
disguise necessary. But all disguise was now thrown off.
Injudicious members of the King's Church, encouraged by him, took
a pride in defying statutes which were still of undoubted
validity, and feelings which had a stronger hold of the national
mind than at any former period. Roman Catholic chapels rose all
over the country. Cowls, girdles of ropes, and strings of beads
constantly appeared in the, streets, and astonished a population,
the oldest of whom had never seen a conventual garb except on the
stage. A convent rose at Clerkenwell on the site of the ancient
cloister of Saint John. The Franciscans occupied a mansion in
Lincoln's Inn Fields. The Carmelites were quartered in the City.
A society of Benedictine monks was lodged in Saint James's
Palace. In the Savoy a spacious house, including a church and a
school, was built for the Jesuits.104 The skill and care with
which those fathers had, during several generations, conducted
the education of youth, had drawn forth reluctant praises from
the wisest Protestants. Bacon had pronounced the mode of
instruction followed in the Jesuit colleges to be the best yet
known in the world, and had warmly expressed his regret that so
admirable a system of intellectual and moral discipline should be
subservient to the interests of a corrupt religion.105 It was not
improbable that the new academy in the Savoy might, under royal
patronage, prove a formidable rival to the great foundations of
Eton, Westminster, and Winchester. Indeed, soon after the school
was opened, the classes consisted of four hundred boys, about one
half of whom were Protestants. The Protestant pupils were not
required to attend mass: but there could be no doubt that the
influence of able preceptors, devoted to the Roman Catholic
Church, and versed in all the arts which win the confidence and
affection of youth, would make many converts.

These things produced great excitement among the populace, which
is always more moved by what impresses the senses than by what is
addressed to the reason. Thousands of rude and ignorant men, to
whom the dispensing power and the Ecclesiastical Commission were
words without a meaning, saw with dismay and indignation a Jesuit
college rising on the banks of the Thames, friars in hoods and
gowns walking in the Strand, and crowds of devotees pressing in
at the doors of temples where homage was paid to graven images.
Riots broke out in several parts of the country. At Coventry and
Worcester the Roman Catholic worship was violently
interrupted.106 At Bristol the rabble, countenanced, it was said,
by the magistrates, exhibited a profane and indecent pageant, in
which the Virgin Mary was represented by a buffoon, and in which
a mock host was carried in procession. The garrison was called
out to disperse the mob. The mob, then and ever since one of the
fiercest in the kingdom, resisted. Blows were exchanged, and
serious hurts inflicted.107 The agitation was great in the
capital, and greater in the City, properly so called, than at
Westminster. For the people of Westminster had been accustomed to
see among them the private chapels of Roman Catholic Ambassadors:
but the City had not, within living memory, been polluted by any
idolatrous exhibition. Now, however, the resident of the Elector
Palatine, encouraged by the King, fitted up a chapel in Lime
Street. The heads of the corporation, though men selected for
office on account of their known Toryism, protested against this
proceeding, which, as they said, the ablest gentlemen of the long
robe regarded as illegal. The Lord Mayor was ordered to appear
before the Privy Council. "Take heed what you do," said the King.
"Obey me; and do not trouble yourself either about gentlemen of
the long robe or gentlemen of the short robe." The Chancellor
took up the word, and reprimanded the unfortunate magistrate with
the genuine eloquence of the Old Bailey bar. The chapel was
opened. All the neighbourhood was soon in commotion. Great crowds
assembled in Cheapside to attack the new mass house. The priests
were insulted. A crucifix was taken out of the building and set
up on the parish pump. The Lord Mayor came to quell the tumult,
but was received with cries of "No wooden gods." The trainbands
were ordered to disperse the crowd: but they shared in the
popular feeling; and murmurs were heard from the ranks, "We
cannot in conscience fight for Popery."108

The Elector Palatine was, like James, a sincere and zealous
Catholic, and was, like James, the ruler of a Protestant people;
but the two princes resembled each other little in temper and
understanding. The Elector had promised to respect the rights of
the Church which he found established in his dominions. He had
strictly kept his word, and had not suffered himself to be
provoked to any violence by the indiscretion of preachers who, in
their antipathy to his faith, occasionally forgot the respect
which they owed to his person.109 He learned, with concern, that
great offence had been given to the people of London by the
injudicious act of his representative, and, much to his honour,
declared that he would forego the privilege to which, as a
sovereign prince, he was entitled, rather than endanger the peace
of a great city. "I, too," he wrote to James, "have Protestant
subjects; and I know with how much caution and delicacy it is
necessary that a Catholic prince so situated should act." James,
instead of expressing gratitude for this humane and considerate
conduct, turned the letter into ridicule before the foreign
ministers. It was determined that the Elector should have a
chapel in the City whether he would or not, and that, if the
trainbands refused to do their duty, their place should be
supplied by the Guards.110

The effect of these disturbances on trade was serious. The Dutch
minister informed the States General that the business of the
Exchange was at a stand. The Commissioners of the Customs
reported to the King that, during the month which followed the
opening of Lime Street Chapel, the receipt in the port of the
Thames had fallen off by some thousands of pounds.111 Several
Aldermen, who, though zealous royalists appointed under the new
charter, were deeply interested in the commercial prosperity of
their city, and loved neither Popery nor martial law, tendered
their resignations. But the King was resolved not to yield. He
formed a camp on Hounslow Heath, and collected there, within a
circumference of about two miles and a half, fourteen battalions
of foot and thirty-two squadrons of horse, amounting to thirteen
thousand fighting men. Twenty-six pieces of artillery, and many
wains laden with arms and ammunition, were dragged from the Tower
through the City to Hounslow.112 The Londoners saw this great
force assembled in their neighbourhood with a terror which
familiarity soon diminished. A visit to Hounslow became their
favourite amusement on holidays. The camp presented the
appearance of a vast fair. Mingled with the musketeers and
dragoons, a multitude of fine gentlemen and ladies from Soho
Square, sharpers and painted women from Whitefriars, invalids in
sedans, monks in hoods and gowns, lacqueys in rich liveries,
pedlars, orange girls, mischievous apprentices and gaping clowns,
was constantly passing and repassing through the long lanes of
tents. From some pavilions were heard the noises of drunken
revelry, from others the curses of gamblers. In truth the place
was merely a gay suburb of the capital. The King, as was amply
proved two years later, had greatly miscalculated. He had
forgotten that vicinity operates in more ways than one. He had
hoped that his army would overawe London: but the result of his
policy was that the feelings and opinions of London took complete
possession of his army.113

Scarcely indeed had the encampment been formed when there were
rumours of quarrels between the Protestant and Popish
soldiers.114 A little tract, entitled A humble and hearty Address
to all English Protestants in the Army, had been actively
circulated through the ranks. The writer vehemently exhorted the
troops to use their arms in defence, not of the mass book, but of
the Bible, of the Great Charter, and of the Petition of Right. He
was a man already under the frown of power. His character was
remarkable, and his history not uninstructive.

His name was Samuel Johnson. He was a priest of the Church of
England, and had been chaplain to Lord Russell. Johnson was one
of those persons who are mortally hated by their opponents, and
less loved than respected by their allies. His morals were pure,
his religious feelings ardent, his learning and abilities not
contemptible, his judgment weak, his temper acrimonious,
turbulent, and unconquerably stubborn. His profession made him
peculiarly odious to the zealous supporters of monarchy; for a
republican in holy orders was a strange and almost an unnatural
being. During the late reign Johnson had published a book
entitled Julian the Apostate. The object of this work was to show
that the Christians of the fourth century did not hold the
doctrine of nonresistance. It was easy to produce passages from
Chrysostom and Jerome written in a spirit very different from
that of the Anglican divines who preached against the Exclusion
Bill. Johnson, however, went further. He attempted to revive the
odious imputation which had, for very obvious reasons, been
thrown by Libanius on the Christian soldiers of Julian, and
insinuated that the dart which slew the imperial renegade came,
not from the enemy, but from some Rumbold or Ferguson in the
Roman ranks. A hot controversy followed. Whig and Tory disputants
wrangled fiercely about an obscure passage, in which Gregory of
Nazianzus praises a pious Bishop who was going to bastinado
somebody. The Whigs maintained that the holy man was going to
bastinado the Emperor; the Tories that, at the worst, he was only
going to bastinado a captain of the guard. Johnson prepared a
reply to his assailants, in which he drew an elaborate parallel
between Julian and James, then Duke of York, Julian had, during
many years, pretended to abhor idolatry, while in heart an
idolater. Julian had, to serve a turn, occasionally affected
respect for the rights of conscience. Julian had punished cities
which were zealous for the true religion, by taking away their
municipal privileges. Julian had, by his flatterers, been called
the Just. James was provoked beyond endurance. Johnson was
prosecuted for a libel, convicted, and condemned to a fine which
he had no means of paying. He was therefore kept in gaol; and it
seemed likely that his confinement would end only with his

Over the room which he occupied in the King's Bench prison lodged
another offender whose character well deserves to be studied.
This was Hugh Speke, a young man of good family, but of a
singularly base and depraved nature. His love of mischief and of
dark and crooked ways amounted almost to madness. To cause
confusion without being found out was his business and his
pastime; and he had a rare skill in using honest enthusiasts as
the instruments of his coldblooded malice. He had attempted, by
means of one of his puppets, to fasten on Charles and James the
crime of murdering Essex in the Tower. On this occasion the
agency of Speke had been traced and, though he succeeded in
throwing the greater part of the blame on his dupe, he had not
escaped with impunity. He was now a prisoner; but his fortune
enabled him to live with comfort; and he was under so little
restraint that he was able to keep up regular communication with
one of his confederates who managed a secret press.

Johnson was the very man for Speke's purposes, zealous and
intrepid, a scholar and a practised controversialist, yet as
simple as a child. A close intimacy sprang up between the two
fellow prisoners. Johnson wrote a succession of bitter and
vehement treatises which Speke conveyed to the printer. When the
camp was formed at Hounslow, Speke urged Johnson to compose an
address which might excite the troops to mutiny. The paper was
instantly drawn up. Many thousands of copies were struck off and
brought to Speke's room, whence they were distributed over the
whole country, and especially among the soldiers. A milder
government than that which then ruled England would have been
moved to high resentment by such a provocation. Strict search was
made. A subordinate agent who had been employed to circulate the
address saved himself by giving up Johnson; and Johnson was not
the man to save himself by giving up Speke. An information was
filed, and a conviction obtained without difficulty. Julian
Johnson, as he was popularly called, was sentenced to stand
thrice in the pillory, and to be whipped from Newgate to Tyburn.
The Judge, Sir Francis Withins, told the criminal to be thankful
for the great lenity of the Attorney General, who might have
treated the case as one of high treason. "I owe him no thanks,"
answered Johnson, dauntlessly. "Am I, whose only crime is that I
have defended the Church and the laws, to be grateful for being
scourged like a dog, while Popish scribblers are suffered daily
to insult the Church and to violate the laws with impunity?" The
energy with which he spoke was such that both the Judges and the
crown lawyers thought it necessary to vindicate themselves, and
protested that they knew of no Popish publications such as those
to which the prisoner alluded. He instantly drew from his pocket
some Roman Catholic books and trinkets which were then freely
exposed for sale under the royal patronage, read aloud the titles
of the books, and threw a rosary across the table to the King's
counsel. "And now," he cried with a loud voice, "I lay this
information before God, before this court, and before the English
people. We shall soon see whether Mr. Attorney will do his duty."

It was resolved that, before the punishment was inflicted,
Johnson should be degraded from the priesthood. The prelates who
had been charged by the Ecclesiastical Commission with the care
of the diocese of London cited him before them in the chapter
house of Saint Paul's Cathedral. The manner in which he went
through the ceremony made a deep impression on many minds. When
he was stripped of his sacred robe he exclaimed, "You are taking
away my gown because I have tried to keep your gowns on your
backs." The only part of the formalities which seemed to distress
him was the plucking of the Bible out of his hand. He made a
faint struggle to retain the sacred book, kissed it, and burst
into tears. "You cannot," he said, "deprive me of the hopes which
I owe to it." Some attempts were made to obtain a remission of
the flogging. A Roman Catholic priest offered to intercede in
consideration of a bribe of two hundred pounds. The money was
raised; and the priest did his best, but in vain.

"Mr. Johnson," said the King, "has the spirit of a martyr; and it
is fit that he should be one." William the Third said, a few
years later, of one of the most acrimonious and intrepid
Jacobites, "He has set his heart on being a martyr, and I have
set mine on disappointing him." These two speeches would alone
suffice to explain the widely different fates of the two princes.

The day appointed for the flogging came. A whip of nine lashes
was used. Three hundred and seventeen stripes were inflicted; but
the sufferer never winced. He afterwards said that the pain was
cruel, but that, as he was dragged at the tail of the cart, he
remembered how patiently the cross had been borne up Mount
Calvary, and was so much supported by the thought that, but for
the fear of incurring the suspicion of vain glory, he would have
sung a psalm with as firm and cheerful a voice as if he had been
worshipping God in the congregation. It is impossible not to wish
that so much heroism had been less alloyed by intemperance and

Among the clergy of the Church of England Johnson found no
sympathy. He had attempted to justify rebellion; he had even
hinted approbation of regicide; and they still, in spite of much
provocation, clung to the doctrine of nonresistance. But they saw
with alarm and concern the progress of what they considered as a
noxious superstition, and, while they abjured all thought of
defending their religion by the sword, betook themselves manfully
to weapons of a different kind. To preach against the errors of
Popery was now regarded by them as a point of duty and a point of
honour. The London clergy, who were then in abilities and
influence decidedly at the head of their profession, set an
example which was bravely followed by their ruder brethren all
over the country. Had only a few bold men taken this freedom,
they would probably have been at once cited before the
Ecclesiastical Commission; but it was hardly possible to punish
an offence which was committed every Sunday by thousands of
divines, from Berwick to Penzance. The presses of the capital, of
Oxford, and of Cambridge, never rested. The act which subjected
literature to a censorship did not seriously impede the exertions
of Protestant controversialists; for it contained a proviso in
favour of the two Universities, and authorised the publication of
theological works licensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It
was therefore out of the power of the government to silence the
defenders of the established religion. They were a numerous, an
intrepid, and a well appointed band of combatants. Among them
were eloquent declaimers, expert dialecticians, scholars deeply
read in the writings of the fathers and in all parts of
ecclesiastical history. Some of them, at a later period, turned
against one another the formidable arms which they had wielded
against the common enemy, and by their fierce contentions and
insolent triumphs brought reproach on the Church which they had
saved. But at present they formed an united phalanx. In the van
appeared a rank of steady and skilful veterans, Tillotson,
Stillingfleet, Sherlock, Prideaux, Whitby, Patrick, Tenison,
Wake. The rear was brought up by the most distinguished bachelors
of arts who were studying for deacon's orders. Conspicuous
amongst the recruits whom Cambridge sent to the field was a
distinguished pupil of the great Newton, Henry Wharton, who had,
a few months before, been senior wrangler of his year, and whose
early death was soon after deplored by men of all parties as an
irreparable loss to letters.117 Oxford was not less proud of a
youth, whose great powers, first essayed in this conflict,
afterwards troubled the Church and the State during forty
eventful years, Francis Atterbury. By such men as these every
question in issue between the Papists and the Protestants was
debated, sometimes in a popular style which boys and women could
comprehend, sometimes with the utmost subtlety of logic, and
sometimes with an immense display of learning. The pretensions of
the Holy See, the authority of tradition, purgatory,
transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, the adoration of
the host, the denial of the cup to the laity, confession,
penance, indulgences, extreme unction, the invocation of saints,
the adoration of images, the celibacy of the clergy, the monastic
vows, the practice of celebrating public worship in a tongue
unknown to the multitude, the corruptions of the court of Rome,
the history of the Reformation, the characters of the chief
reformers, were copiously discussed. Great numbers of absurd
legends about miracles wrought by saints and relics were
translated from the Italian and published as specimens of the
priestcraft by which the greater part of Christendom had been
fooled. Of the tracts put forth on these subjects by Anglican
divines during the short reign of James the Second many have
probably perished. Those which may still be found in our great
libraries make up a mass of near twenty thousand pages.118

The Roman Catholics did not yield the victory without a struggle.
One of them, named Henry Hills, had been appointed printer to the
royal household and chapel, and had been placed by the King at
the head of a great office in London from which theological
tracts came forth by hundreds. Obadiah Walker's press was not
less active at Oxford. But, with the exception of some bad
translations of Bossuet's admirable works, these establishments
put forth nothing of the smallest value. It was indeed impossible
for any intelligent and candid Roman Catholic to deny that the
champions of his Church were, in every talent and acquirement,
completely over-matched. The ablest of them would not, on the
other side, have been considered as of the third rate. Many of
them, even when they had something to say, knew not how to say
it. They had been excluded by their religion from English schools
and universities; nor had they ever, till the accession of James,
found England an agreeable, or even a safe, residence. They had
therefore passed the greater part of their lives on the
Continent, and had almost unlearned their mother tongue. When
they preached, their outlandish accent moved the derision of the
audience. They spelt like washerwomen. Their diction was
disfigured by foreign idioms; and, when they meant to be
eloquent, they imitated, as well as they could, what was
considered as fine writing in those Italian academies where
rhetoric had then reached the last stage of corruption.
Disputants labouring under these disadvantages would scarcely,
even with truth on their side, have been able to make head
against men whose style is eminently distinguished by simple
purity and grace.119

The situation of England in the year 1686 cannot be better
described than in the words of the French Ambassador. "The
discontent," he wrote, "is great and general: but the fear of
incurring still worse evils restrains all who have anything to
lose. The King openly expresses his joy at finding himself in a
situation to strike bold strokes. He likes to be complimented on
this subject. He has talked to me about it, and has assured me
that he will not flinch."120

Meanwhile in other parts of the empire events of grave importance
had taken place. The situation of the episcopalian Protestants of
Scotland differed widely from that in which their English
brethren stood. In the south of the island the religion of the
state was the religion of the people, and had a strength
altogether independent of the strength derived from the support
of the government. The sincere conformists were far more numerous
than the Papists and the Protestant Dissenters taken together.
The Established Church of Scotland was the Church of a small
minority. The majority of the lowland population was firmly
attached to the Presbyterian discipline. Prelacy was abhorred by
the great body of Scottish Protestants, both as an unscriptural
and as a foreign institution. It was regarded by the disciples of
Knox as a relic of the abominations of Babylon the Great. It
painfully reminded a people proud of the memory of Wallace and
Bruce that Scotland, since her sovereigns had succeeded to a
fairer inheritance, had been independent in name only. The
episcopal polity was also closely associated in the public mind
with all the evils produced by twenty-five years of corrupt and
cruel maladministration. Nevertheless this polity stood, though
on a narrow basis and amidst fearful storms, tottering indeed,
yet upheld by the civil magistrate, and leaning for support,
whenever danger became serious, on the power of England. The
records of the Scottish Parliament were thick set with laws
denouncing vengeance on those who in any direction strayed from
the prescribed pale. By an Act passed in the time of Knox, and
breathing his spirit, it was a high crime to hear mass, and the
third offence was capital.121 An Act recently passed, at the
instance of James, made it death to preach in any Presbyterian
conventicle whatever, and even to attend such a conventicle in
the open air.122 The Eucharist was not, as in England, degraded
into a civil test; but no person could hold any office, could sit
in Parliament, or could even vote for a member of Parliament,
without subscribing, under the sanction of an oath, a declaration
which condemned in the strongest terms the principles both of the
Papists and of the Covenanters.123

In the Privy Council of Scotland there were two parties
corresponding to the two parties which were contending against
each other at Whitehall. William Douglas, Duke of Queensberry,
was Lord Treasurer, and had, during some years, been considered
as first minister. He was nearly connected by affinity, by
similarity of opinions, and by similarity of temper, with the
Treasurer of England. Both were Tories: both were men of hot
temper and strong prejudices; both were ready to support their
master in any attack on the civil liberties of his people; but
both were sincerely attached to the Established Church.
Queensberry had early notified to the court that, if any
innovation affecting that Church were contemplated, to such
innovation he could be no party. But among his colleagues were
several men not less unprincipled than Sunderland. In truth the
Council chamber at Edinburgh had been, during a quarter of a
century, a seminary of all public and private vices; and some of
the politicians whose character had been formed there had a
peculiar hardness of heart and forehead to which Westminster,
even in that bad age, could hardly show anything quite equal. The
Chancellor, James Drummond, Earl of Perth, and his brother, the
Secretary of State, John Lord Melfort, were bent on supplanting
Queensberry. The Chancellor had already an unquestionable title
to the royal favour. He had brought into use a little steel
thumbscrew which gave such exquisite torment that it had wrung
confessions even out of men on whom His Majesty's favourite boot
had been tried in vain.124 But it was well known that even
barbarity was not so sure a way to the heart of James as
apostasy. To apostasy, therefore, Perth and Melfort resorted with
a certain audacious baseness which no English statesman could
hope to emulate. They declared that the papers found in the
strong box of Charles the Second had converted them both to the
true faith; and they began to confess and to hear mass.125 How
little conscience had to do with Perth's change of religion he
amply proved by taking to wife, a few weeks later, in direct
defiance of the laws of the Church which he had just joined, a
lady who was his cousin german, without waiting for a
dispensation. When the good Pope learned this, he said, with
scorn and indignation which well became him, that this was a
strange sort of conversion.126 But James was more easily
satisfied. The apostates presented themselves at Whitehall, and
there received such assurances of his favour, that they ventured
to bring direct charges against the Treasurer. Those charges,
however, were so evidently frivolous that James was forced to
acquit the accused minister; and many thought that the Chancellor
had ruined himself by his malignant eagerness to ruin his rival.
There were a few, however, who judged more correctly. Halifax, to
whom Perth expressed some apprehensions, answered with a sneer
that there was no danger. "Be of good cheer, my Lord; thy faith
hath made thee whole." The prediction was correct. Perth and
Melfort went back to Edinburgh, the real heads of the government
of their country.127 Another member of the Scottish Privy
Council, Alexander Stuart, Earl of Murray, the descendant and
heir of the Regent, abjured the religion of which his illustrious
ancestor had been the foremost champion, and declared himself a
member of the Church of Rome. Devoted as Queensberry had always
been to the cause of prerogative, he could not stand his ground
against competitors who were willing to pay such a price for the
favour of the court. He had to endure a succession of
mortifications and humiliations similar to those which, about the
same time, began to embitter the life of his friend Rochester.
Royal letters came down authorising Papists to hold offices
without taking the test. The clergy were strictly charged not to
reflect on the Roman Catholic religion in their discourses. The
Chancellor took on himself to send the macers of the Privy
Council round to the few printers and booksellers who could then
be found in Edinburgh, charging them not to publish any work
without his license. It was well understood that this order was
intended to prevent the circulation of Protestant treatises. One
honest stationer told the messengers that he had in his shop a
book which reflected in very coarse terms on Popery, and begged
to know whether he might sell it. They asked to see it; and he
showed them a copy of the Bible.128 A cargo of images, beads,
crosses and censers arrived at Leith directed to Lord Perth. The
importation of such articles had long been considered as illegal;
but now the officers of the customs allowed the superstitious
garments and trinkets to pass.129 In a short time it was known
that a Popish chapel had been fitted up in the Chancellor's
house, and that mass was regularly said there. The mob rose. The
mansion where the idolatrous rites were celebrated was fiercely
attacked. The iron bars which protected the windows were wrenched
off. Lady Perth and some of her female friends were pelted with
mud. One rioter was seized, and ordered by the Privy Council to
be whipped. His fellows rescued him and beat the hangman. The
city was all night in confusion. The students of the University
mingled with the crowd and animated the tumult. Zealous burghers
drank the health of the college lads and confusion to Papists,
and encouraged each other to face the troops. The troops were
already under arms. They were received with a shower of stones,
which wounded an officer. Orders were given to fire; and several
citizens were killed. The disturbance was serious; but the
Drummonds, inflamed by resentment and ambition, exaggerated it
strangely. Queensberry observed that their reports would lead any
person, who had not been a witness of the tumult, to believe that
a sedition as formidable as that of Masaniello had been raging at
Edinburgh. They in return accused the Treasurer, not only of
extenuating the crime of the insurgents, but of having himself
prompted it, and did all in their power to obtain evidence of his
guilt. One of the ringleaders, who had been taken, was offered a
pardon if he would own that Queensberry had set him on; but the
same religious enthusiasm, which had impelled the unhappy
prisoner to criminal violence, prevented him from purchasing his
life by a calumny. He and several of his accomplices were hanged.
A soldier, who was accused of exclaiming, during the affray, that
he should like to run his sword through a Papist, was shot; and
Edinburgh was again quiet: but the sufferers were regarded as
martyrs; and the Popish Chancellor became an object of mortal
hatred, which in no long time was largely gratified.130

The King was much incensed. The news of the tumult reached him
when the Queen, assisted by the Jesuits, had just triumphed over
Lady Dorchester and her Protestant allies. The malecontents
should find, he declared, that the only effect of the resistance
offered to his will was to make him more and more resolute.131 He
sent orders to the Scottish Council to punish the guilty with the
utmost severity, and to make unsparing use of the boot.132 He
pretended to be fully convinced of the Treasurer's innocence, and
wrote to that minister in gracious words; but the gracious words
were accompanied by ungracious acts. The Scottish Treasury was
put into commission in spite of the earnest remonstrances of
Rochester, who probably saw his own fate prefigured in that of
his kinsman.133 Queensberry was, indeed, named First
Commissioner, and was made President of the Privy Council: but
his fall, though thus broken, was still a fall. He was also
removed from the government of the castle of Edinburgh, and was
succeeded in that confidential post by the Duke of Gordon, a
Roman Catholic.134

And now a letter arrived from London, fully explaining to the
Scottish Privy Council the intentions of the King. What he wanted
was that the Roman Catholics should be exempted from all laws
imposing penalties and disabilities on account of nonconformity,
but that the persecution of the Covenanters should go on without
mitigation.135 This scheme encountered strenuous opposition in
the Council. Some members were unwilling to see the existing laws
relaxed. Others, who were by no means averse to some relaxation,
yet felt that it would he monstrous to admit Roman Catholics to
the highest honours of the state, and yet to leave unrepealed the
Act which made it death to attend a Presbyterian conventicle. The
answer of the board was, therefore, less obsequious than usual.
The King in reply sharply reprimanded his undutiful Councillors,
and ordered three of them, the Duke of Hamilton, Sir George
Lockhart, and General Drummond, to attend him at Westminster.
Hamilton's abilities and knowledge, though by no means such as
would have sufficed to raise an obscure man to eminence, appeared
highly respectable in one who was premier peer of Scotland.
Lockhart had long been regarded as one of the first jurists,
logicians, and orators that his country had produced, and enjoyed
also that sort of consideration which is derived from large
possessions; for his estate was such as at that time very few
Scottish nobles possessed.136 He had been lately appointed
President of the Court of Session. Drummond, a younger brother of
Perth and Melfort, was commander of the forces in Scotland. He
was a loose and profane man: but a sense of honour which his two
kinsmen wanted restrained him from a public apostasy. He lived
and died, in the significant phrase of one of his countrymen, a
bad Christian, but a good Protestant.137

James was pleased by the dutiful language which the three
Councillors used when first they appeared before him.
He spoke highly of them to Barillon, and particularly extolled
Lockhart as the ablest and most eloquent Scotchman living. They
soon proved, however, less tractable than had been expected; and
it was rumoured at court that they had been perverted by the
company which they had kept in London. Hamilton lived much with
zealous churchmen; and it might be feared that Lockhart, who was
related to the Wharton family, had fallen into still worse
society. In truth it was natural that statesmen fresh from a
country where opposition in any other form than that of
insurrection and assassination had long been almost unknown, and
where all that was not lawless fury was abject submission, should
have been struck by the earnest and stubborn, yet sober,
discontent which pervaded England, and should have been
emboldened to try the experiment of constitutional resistance to
the royal will. They indeed declared themselves willing to grant
large relief to the Roman Catholics; but on two conditions;
first, that similar indulgence should be extended to the
Calvinistic sectaries; and, secondly, that the King should bind
himself by a solemn promise not to attempt anything to the
prejudice of the Protestant religion.

Both conditions were highly distasteful to James. He reluctantly
agreed, however, after a dispute which lasted several days, that
some indulgence should be granted to the Presbyterians but he
would by no means consent to allow them the full liberty which he
demanded for members of his own communion.138 To the second
condition proposed by the three Scottish Councillors he
positively refused to listen. The Protestant religion, he said,
was false and he would not give any guarantee that he would not
use his power to the prejudice of a false religion. The
altercation was long, and was not brought to a conclusion
satisfactory to either party.139

The time fixed for the meeting of the Scottish Estates drew near;
and it was necessary that the three Councillors should leave
London to attend their parliamentary duty at Edinburgh. On this
occasion another affront was offered to Queensberry. In the late
session he had held the office of Lord High Commissioner, and had
in that capacity represented the majesty of the absent King. This
dignity, the greatest to which a Scottish noble could aspire, was
now transferred to the renegade Murray.

On the twenty-ninth of April the Parliament met at Edinburgh. A
letter from the King was read. He exhorted the Estates to give
relief to his Roman Catholic subjects, and offered in return a
free trade with England and an amnesty for political offences. A
committee was appointed to draw up an answer. That committee,
though named by Murray, and composed of Privy Councillors and
courtiers, framed a reply, full indeed of dutiful and respectful
expressions, yet clearly indicating a determination to refuse
what the King demanded. The Estates, it was said, would go as far
as their consciences would allow to meet His Majesty's wishes
respecting his subjects of the Roman Catholic religion. These
expressions were far from satisfying the Chancellor; yet, such as
they were, he was forced to content himself with them, and even
had some difficulty in persuading the Parliament to adopt them.
Objection was taken by some zealous Protestants to the mention
made of the Roman Catholic religion. There was no such religion.
There was an idolatrous apostasy, which the laws punished with
the halter, and to which it did not become Christian men to give
flattering titles. To call such a superstition Catholic was to
give up the whole question which was at issue between Rome and
the reformed Churches. The offer of a free trade with England was
treated as an insult. "Our fathers," said one orator, "sold their
King for southern gold; and we still lie under the reproach of
that foul bargain. Let it not be said of us that we have sold our
God!" Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, one of the Senators of the
College of Justice, suggested the words, "the persons commonly
called Roman Catholics." "Would you nickname His Majesty?"
exclaimed the Chancellor. The answer drawn by the committee was
carried; but a large and respectable minority voted against the
proposed words as too courtly.140 It was remarked that the
representatives of the towns were, almost to a man, against the
government. Hitherto those members had been of small account in
the Parliament, and had generally, been considered as the
retainers of powerful noblemen. They now showed, for the first
time, an independence, a resolution, and a spirit of combination
which alarmed the court.141

The answer was so unpleasing to James that he did not suffer it
to be printed in the Gazette. Soon he learned that a law, such as
he wished to see passed, would not even be brought in. The Lords
of Articles, whose business was to draw up the acts on which the
Estates were afterwards to deliberate, were virtually nominated
by himself. Yet even the Lords of Articles proved refractory.
When they met, the three Privy Councillors who had lately
returned from London took the lead in opposition to the royal
will. Hamilton declared plainly that he could not do what was
asked. He was a faithful and loyal subject; but there was a limit
imposed by conscience. "Conscience!" said the Chancellor:
"conscience is a vague word, which signifies any thing or
nothing." Lockhart, who sate in Parliament as representative of
the great county of Lanark, struck in. "If conscience," he said,
"be a word without meaning, we will change it for another phrase
which, I hope, means something. For conscience let us put the
fundamental laws of Scotland." These words raised a fierce
debate. General Drummond, who represented Perthshire, declared
that he agreed with Hamilton and Lockhart. Most of the Bishops
present took the same side.142

It was plain that, even in the Committee of Articles, James could
not command a majority. He was mortified and irritated by the
tidings. He held warm and menacing language, and punished some of
his mutinous servants, in the hope that the rest would take
warning. Several persons were dismissed from the Council board.
Several were deprived of pensions, which formed an important part
of their income. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh was the most
distinguished victim. He had long held the office of Lord
Advocate, and had taken such a part in the persecution of the
Covenanters that to this day he holds, in the estimation of the
austere and godly peasantry of Scotland, a place not far removed
from the unenviable eminence occupied by Claverhouse. The legal
attainments of Mackenzie were not of the highest order: but, as a
scholar, a wit, and an orator, he stood high in the opinion of
his countrymen; and his renown had spread even to the
coffeehouses of London and the cloisters of Oxford. The remains
of his forensic speeches prove him to have been a man of parts,
but are somewhat disfigured by what he doubtless considered as
Ciceronian graces, interjections which show more art than
passion, and elaborate amplifications, in which epithet rises
above epithet in wearisome climax. He had now, for the first
time, been found scrupulous. He was, therefore, in spite of all
his claims on the gratitude of the government, deprived of his
office. He retired into the country, and soon after went up to
London for the purpose of clearing himself, but was refused
admission to the royal presence.143 While the King was thus
trying to terrify the Lords of Articles into submission, the
popular voice encouraged them to persist. The utmost exertions of
the Chancellor could not prevent the national sentiment from
expressing itself through the pulpit and the press. One tract,
written with such boldness and acrimony that no printer dared to
put it in type, was widely circulated in manuscript. The papers
which appeared on the other side of the question had much less
effect, though they were disseminated at the public charge, and
though the Scottish defenders of the government were assisted by
an English auxiliary of great note, Lestrange, who had been sent
down to Edinburgh, and had apartments in Holyrood House.144

At length, after three weeks of debate, the Lords of Articles
came to a decision. They proposed merely that Roman Catholics
should be permitted to worship God in private houses without
incurring any penalty; and it soon appeared that, far as this
measure was from coming up to the King's demands and
expectations, the Estates either would not pass it at all, or
would pass it with great restrictions and modifications.

While the contest lasted the anxiety in London was intense. Every
report, every line, from Edinburgh was eagerly devoured. One day
the story ran that Hamilton had given way and that the government
would carry every point. Then came intelligence that the
opposition had rallied and was more obstinate than ever. At the
most critical moment orders were sent to the post-office that the
bags from Scotland should be transmitted to Whitehall. During a
whole week not a single private letter from beyond the Tweed was
delivered in London. In our age such an interruption of
communication would throw the whole island into confusion: but
there was then so little trade and correspondence between England
and Scotland that the inconvenience was probably much smaller
than has been often occasioned in our own time by a short delay
in the arrival of the Indian mail. While the ordinary channels of
information were thus closed, the crowd in the galleries of
Whitehall observed with attention the countenances of the King
and his ministers. It was noticed, with great satisfaction, that,
after every express from the North, the enemies of the Protestant
religion looked more and more gloomy. At length, to the general
joy, it was announced that the struggle was over, that the
government had been unable to carry its measures, and that the
Lord High Commissioner had adjourned the Parliament.145

If James had not been proof to all warning, these events would
have sufficed to warn him. A few months before this time the most
obsequious of English Parliaments had refused to submit to his
pleasure. But the most obsequious of English Parliaments might be
regarded as an independent and high spirited assembly when
compared with any Parliament that had ever sate in Scotland; and
the servile spirit of Scottish Parliaments was always to be found
in the highest perfection, extracted and condensed, among the
Lords of Articles. Yet even the Lords of Articles had been
refractory. It was plain that all those classes, all those
institutions, which, up to this year, had been considered as the
strongest supports of monarchical power, must, if the King
persisted in his insane policy, be reckoned as parts of the
strength of the opposition. All these signs, however, were lost
upon him. To every expostulation he had one answer: he would
never give way; for concession had ruined his father; and his
unconquerable firmness was loudly applauded by the French embassy
and by the Jesuitical cabal.

He now proclaimed that he had been only too gracious when he had
condescended to ask the assent of the Scottish Estates to his
wishes. His prerogative would enable him not only to protect
those whom he favoured, but to punish those who had crossed him.
He was confident that, in Scotland, his dispensing power would
not be questioned by any court of law. There was a Scottish Act
of Supremacy which gave to the sovereign such a control over the
Church as might have satisfied Henry the Eighth. Accordingly
Papists were admitted in crowds to offices and honours. The
Bishop of Dunkeld, who, as a Lord of Parliament, had opposed the
government, was arbitrarily ejected from his see, and a successor
was appointed. Queensberry was stripped of all his employments,
and was ordered to remain at Edinburgh till the accounts of the
Treasury during his administration had been examined and
approved.146 As the representatives of the towns had been found
the most unmanageable part of the Parliament, it was determined
to make a revolution in every burgh throughout the kingdom. A
similar change had recently been effected in England by judicial
sentences: but in Scotland a simple mandate of the prince was
thought sufficient. All elections of magistrates and of town
councils were prohibited; and the King assumed to himself the
right of filling up the chief municipal offices.147 In a formal
letter to the Privy Council he announced his intention to fit up
a Roman Catholic chapel in his palace of Holyrood; and he gave
orders that the Judges should be directed to treat all the laws
against Papists as null, on pain of his high displeasure. He
however comforted the Protestant Episcopalians by assuring them
that, though he was determined to protect the Roman Catholic
Church against them, he was equally determined to protect them
against any encroachment on the part of the fanatics. To this
communication Perth proposed an answer couched in the most
servile terms. The Council now contained many Papists; the
Protestant members who still had seats had been cowed by the
King's obstinacy and severity; and only a few faint murmurs were
heard. Hamilton threw out against the dispensing power some hints
which he made haste to explain away. Lockhart said that he would
lose his head rather than sign such a letter as the Chancellor
had drawn, but took care to say this in a whisper which was heard
only by friends. Perth's words were adopted with inconsiderable
modifications; and the royal commands were obeyed; but a sullen
discontent spread through that minority of the Scottish nation by
the aid of which the government had hitherto held the majority

When the historian of this troubled reign turns to Ireland, his
task becomes peculiarly difficult and delicate. His steps,--to
borrow the fine image used on a similar occasion by a Roman
poet,--are on the thin crust of ashes, beneath which the lava is
still glowing. The seventeenth century has, in that unhappy
country, left to the nineteenth a fatal heritage of malignant
passions. No amnesty for the mutual wrongs inflicted by the Saxon
defenders of Londonderry, and by the Celtic defenders of
Limerick, has ever been granted from the heart by either race. To
this day a more than Spartan haughtiness alloys the many noble
qualities which characterize the children of the victors, while a
Helot feeling, compounded of awe and hatred, is but too often
discernible in the children of the vanquished. Neither of the
hostile castes can justly be absolved from blame; but the chief
blame is due to that shortsighted and headstrong prince who,
placed in a situation in which he might have reconciled them,
employed all his power to inflame their animosity, and at length
forced them to close in a grapple for life and death.

The grievances under which the members of his Church laboured in
Ireland differed widely from those which he was attempting to
remove in England and Scotland. The Irish Statute Book,
afterwards polluted by intolerance as barbarous as that of the
dark ages, then contained scarce a single enactment, and not a
single stringent enactment, imposing any penalty on Papists as
such. On our side of Saint George's Channel every priest who
received a neophyte into the bosom of the Church of Rome was
liable to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. On the other side he
incurred no such danger. A Jesuit who landed at Dover took his
life in his hand; but he walked the streets of Dublin in
security. Here no man could hold office, or even earn his
livelihood as a barrister or a schoolmaster, without previously
taking the oath of supremacy, but in Ireland a public functionary
was not held to be under the
necessity of taking that oath unless it were formally tendered to
him.149 It therefore did not exclude from employment any person
whom the government wished to promote. The sacramental test and
the declaration against transubstantiation were unknown nor was
either House of Parliament closed against any religious sect.

It might seem, therefore, that the Irish Roman Catholic was in a
situation which his English and Scottish brethren in the faith
might well envy. In fact, however, his condition was more
pitiable and irritating than theirs. For, though not persecuted
as a Roman Catholic, he was oppressed as an Irishman. In his
country the same line of demarcation which separated religions
separated races; and he was of the conquered, the subjugated, the
degraded race. On the same soil dwelt two populations, locally
intermixed, morally and politically sundered. The difference of
religion was by no means the only difference, and was perhaps not
even the chief difference, which existed between them. They
sprang from different stocks. They spoke different languages.
They had different national characters as strongly opposed as any
two national characters in Europe. They were in widely different
stages of civilisation. Between two such populations there could
be little sympathy; and centuries of calamities and wrongs had
generated a strong antipathy. The relation in which the minority
stood to the majority resembled the relation in which the
followers of William the Conqueror stood to the Saxon churls, or
the relation in which the followers of Cortes stood to the
Indians of Mexico.

The appellation of Irish was then given exclusively to the Celts
and to those families which, though not of Celtic origin, had in
the course of ages degenerated into Celtic manners. These people,
probably somewhat under a million in number, had, with few
exceptions, adhered to the Church of Rome. Among them resided
about two hundred thousand colonists, proud of their Saxon blood
and of their Protestant faith.150

The great preponderance of numbers on one side was more than
compensated by a great superiority of intelligence, vigour, and
organization on the other. The English settlers seem to have
been, in knowledge, energy, and perseverance, rather above than
below the average level of the population of the mother country.
The aboriginal peasantry, on the contrary, were in an almost
savage state. They never worked till they felt the sting of
hunger. They were content with accommodation inferior to that
which, in happier countries, was provided for domestic cattle.
Already the potato, a root which can be cultivated with scarcely
any art, industry, or capital, and which cannot be long stored,
had become the food of the common people.151 From a people so fed
diligence and forethought were not to be expected. Even within a
few miles of Dublin, the traveller, on a soil the richest and
most verdant in the world, saw with disgust the miserable burrows
out of which squalid and half naked barbarians stared wildly at
him as he passed.152

The aboriginal aristocracy retained in no common measure the
pride of birth, but had lost the influence which is derived from
wealth and power. Their lands had been divided by Cromwell among
his followers. A portion, indeed, of the vast territory which he
had confiscated had, after the restoration of the House of
Stuart, been given back to the ancient proprietors. But much the
greater part was still held by English emigrants under the
guarantee of an Act of Parliament. This act had been in force a
quarter of a century; and under it mortgages, settlements, sales,
and leases without number had been made. The old Irish gentry
were scattered over the whole world. Descendants of Milesian
chieftains swarmed in all the courts and camps of the Continent.
Those despoiled proprietors who still remained in their native
land, brooded gloomily over their losses, pined for the opulence
and dignity of which they had been deprived, and cherished wild
hopes of another revolution. A person of this class was described
by his countrymen as a gentleman who would be rich if justice
were done, as a gentleman who had a fine estate if he could only
get it.153 He seldom betook himself to any peaceful calling.
Trade, indeed, he thought a far more disgraceful resource than
marauding. Sometimes he turned freebooter. Sometimes he
contrived, in defiance of the law, to live by coshering, that is
to say, by quartering himself on the old tenants of his family,
who, wretched as was their own condition, could not refuse a
portion of their pittance to one whom they still regarded as
their rightful lord.154 The native gentleman who had been so
fortunate as to keep or to regain some of his land too often
lived like the petty prince of a savage tribe, and indemnified
himself for the humiliations which the dominant race made him
suffer by governing his vassals despotically, by keeping a rude
haram, and by maddening or stupefying himself daily with strong
drink.155 Politically he was insignificant. No statute, indeed,
excluded him from the House of Commons: but he had almost as
little chance of obtaining a seat there as a man of colour has of
being chosen a Senator of the United States. In fact only one
Papist had been returned to the Irish Parliament since the
Restoration. The whole legislative and executive power was in the
hands of the colonists; and the ascendency of the ruling caste
was upheld by a standing army of seven thousand men, on whose
zeal for what was called the English interest full reliance could
be placed.156

On a close scrutiny it would have been found that neither the
Irishry nor the Englishry formed a perfectly homogeneous body.
The distinction between those Irish who were of Celtic blood, and
those Irish who sprang from the followers of Strong-bow and De
Burgh, was not altogether effaced. The Fitzes sometimes permitted
themselves to speak with scorn of the Os and Macs; and the Os and
Macs sometimes repaid that scorn with aversion. In the preceding
generation one of the most powerful of the O'Neills refused to
pay any mark of respect to a Roman Catholic gentleman of old
Norman descent. "They say that the family has been here four
hundred years. No matter. I hate the clown as if he had come
yesterday."157 It seems, however, that such feelings were rare,
and that the feud which had long raged between the aboriginal
Celts and the degenerate English had nearly given place to the
fiercer feud which separated both races from the modern and
Protestant colony.

The colony had its own internal disputes, both national and
religious. The majority was English; but a large minority came
from the south of Scotland. One half of the settlers belonged to
the Established Church; the other half were Dissenters. But in
Ireland Scot and Southron were strongly bound together by their
common Saxon origin. Churchman and Presbyterian were strongly
bound together by their common Protestantism. All the colonists
had a common language and a common pecuniary interest. They were
surrounded by common enemies, and could be safe only by means of
common precautions and exertions. The few penal laws, therefore,
which had been made in Ireland against Protestant Nonconformists,
were a dead letter.158 The bigotry of the most sturdy churchman
would not bear exportation across St. George's Channel. As soon
as the Cavalier arrived in Ireland, and found that, without the
hearty and courageous assistance of his Puritan neighbours, he
and all his family would run imminent risk of being murdered by
Popish marauders, his hatred of Puritanism, in spite of himself,
began to languish and die away. It was remarked by eminent men of
both parties that a Protestant who, in Ireland, was called a high
Tory would in England have been considered as a moderate Whig.159

The Protestant Nonconformists, on their side, endured, with more
patience than could have been expected, the sight of the most
absurd ecclesiastical establishment that the world has ever seen.
Four Archbishops and eighteen Bishops were employed in looking
after about a fifth part of the number of churchmen who inhabited
the single diocese of London. Of the parochial clergy a large
proportion were pluralists and resided at a distance from their
cures. There were some who drew from their benefices incomes of
little less than a thousand a year, without ever performing any
spiritual function. Yet this monstrous institution was much less
disliked by the Puritans settled in Ireland than the Church of
England by the English sectaries. For in Ireland religious
divisions were subordinate to national divisions; and the
Presbyterian, while, as a theologian, he could not but condemn
the established hierarchy, yet looked on that hierarchy with a
sort of complacency when he considered it as a sumptuous and
ostentatious trophy of the victory achieved by the great race
from which he sprang.160

Thus the grievances of the Irish Roman Catholic had hardly
anything in common with the grievances of the English Roman
Catholic. The Roman Catholic of Lancashire or Staffordshire had
only to turn Protestant; and he was at once, in all respects, on
a level with his neighbours: but, if the Roman Catholics of
Munster and Connaught had turned Protestants, they would still

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