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

Part 3 out of 12

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have continued to be a subject people. Whatever evils the Roman
Catholic suffered in England were the effects of harsh
legislation, and might have been remedied by a more liberal
legislation. But between the two populations which inhabited
Ireland there was an inequality which legislation had not caused
and could not remove. The dominion which one of those populations
exercised over the other was the dominion of wealth over poverty,
of knowledge over ignorance, of civilised over uncivilised man.

James himself seemed, at the commencement of his reign, to be
perfectly aware of these truths. The distractions of Ireland, he
said, arose, not from the differences between the Catholics and
the Protestants, but from the differences between the Irish and
the English.161 The consequences which he should have drawn from
this just proposition were sufficiently obvious; but unhappily
for himself and for Ireland he failed to perceive them.

If only national animosity could be allayed, there could be
little doubt that religious animosity, not being kept alive, as
in England, by cruel penal acts and stringent test acts, would of
itself fade away. To allay a national animosity such as that
which the two races inhabiting Ireland felt for each other could
not be the work of a few years. Yet it was a work to which a wise
and good prince might have contributed much; and James would have
undertaken that work with advantages such as none of his
predecessors or successors possessed. At once an Englishman and a
Roman Catholic, he belonged half to the ruling and half to the
subject caste, and was therefore peculiarly qualified to be a
mediator between them. Nor is it difficult to trace the course
which he ought to have pursued. He ought to have determined that
the existing settlement of landed property should be inviolable;
and he ought to have announced that determination in such a
manner as effectually to quiet the anxiety of the new
proprietors, and to extinguish any wild hopes which the old
proprietors might entertain. Whether, in the great transfer of
estates, injustice had or had not been committed, was immaterial.
That transfer, just or unjust, had taken place so long ago, that
to reverse it would be to unfix the foundations of society. There
must be a time of limitation to all rights. After thirty-five
years of actual possession, after twenty-five years of possession
solemnly guaranteed by statute, after innumerable leases and
releases, mortgages and devises, it was too late to search for
flaws in titles. Nevertheless something might have been done to
heal the lacerated feelings and to raise the fallen fortunes of
the Irish gentry. The colonists were in a thriving condition.
They had greatly improved their property by building, planting,
and fencing. The rents had almost doubled within a few years;
trade was brisk; and the revenue, amounting to about three
hundred thousand pounds a year, more than defrayed all the
charges of the local government, and afforded a surplus which was
remitted to England. There was no doubt that the next Parliament
which should meet at Dublin, though representing almost
exclusively the English interest, would, in return for the King's
promise to maintain that interest in all its legal rights,
willingly grant to him a very considerable sum for the purpose of
indemnifying, at least in part, such native families as had been
wrongfully despoiled. It was thus that in our own time the French
government put an end to the disputes engendered by the most
extensive confiscation that ever took place in Europe. And thus,
if James had been guided by the advice of his most loyal
Protestant counsellors, he would have at least greatly mitigated
one of the chief evils which afflicted Ireland.162

Having done this, he should have laboured to reconcile the
hostile races to each other by impartially protecting the rights
and restraining the excesses of both. He should have punished
with equal severity the native who indulged in the license of
barbarism, and the colonist who abused the strength of
civilisation. As far as the legitimate authority of the crown
extended,--and in Ireland it extended far,--no man who was
qualified for office by integrity and ability should have been
considered as disqualified by extraction or by creed for any
public trust. It is probable that a Roman Catholic King, with an
ample revenue absolutely at his disposal, would, without much
difficulty, have secured the cooperation of the Roman Catholic
prelates and priests in the great work of reconciliation. Much,
however, must still have been left to the healing influence of
time. The native race would still have had to learn from the
colonists industry and forethought, the arts of life, and the
language of England. There could not be equality between men who
lived in houses and men who lived in sties, between men who were
fed on bread and men who were fed on potatoes, between men who
spoke the noble tongue of great philosophers and poets and men
who, with a perverted pride, boasted that they could not writhe
their mouths into chattering such a jargon as that in which the
Advancement of Learning and the Paradise Lost were written.163
Yet it is not unreasonable to believe that, if the gentle policy
which has been described had been steadily followed by the
government, all distinctions would gradually have been effaced,
and that there would now have been no more trace of the hostility
which has been the curse of Ireland than there is of the equally
deadly hostility which once raged between the Saxons and the
Normans in England.

Unhappily James, instead of becoming a mediator became the
fiercest and most reckless of partisans. Instead of allaying the
animosity of the two populations, he inflamed it to a height
before unknown. He determined to reverse their relative position,
and to put the Protestant colonists under the feet of the Popish
Celts. To be of the established religion, to be of the English
blood, was, in his view, a disqualification for civil and
military employment. He meditated the design of again
confiscating and again portioning out the soil of half the
island, and showed his inclination so clearly that one class was
soon agitated by terrors which he afterwards vainly wished to
soothe, and the other by hopes which he afterwards vainly wished
to restrain. But this was the smallest part of his guilt and
madness. He deliberately resolved, not merely to give to the
aboriginal inhabitants of Ireland the entire possession of their
own country, but also to use them as his instruments for setting
up arbitrary government in England. The event was such as might
have been foreseen. The colonists turned to bay with the stubborn
hardihood of their race. The mother country justly regarded their
cause as her own. Then came a desperate struggle for a tremendous
stake. Everything dear to nations was wagered on both sides: nor
can we justly blame either the Irishman or the Englishman for
obeying, in that extremity, the law of self-preservation. The
contest was terrible, but short. The weaker went down. His fate
was cruel; and yet for the cruelty with which he was treated
there was, not indeed a defence, but an excuse: for, though he
suffered all that tyranny could inflict, he suffered nothing that
he would not himself have inflicted. The effect of the insane
attempt to subjugate England by means of Ireland was that the
Irish became hewers of wood and drawers of water to the English.
The old proprietors, by their effort to recover what they had
lost, lost the greater part of what they had retained. The
momentary ascendency of Popery produced such a series of
barbarous laws against Popery as made the statute book of Ireland
a proverb of infamy throughout Christendom. Such were the bitter
fruits of the policy of James.

We have seen that one of his first acts, after he became King,
was to recall Ormond from Ireland. Ormond was the head of the
English interest in that kingdom: he was firmly attached to the
Protestant religion; and his power far exceeded that of an
ordinary Lord Lieutenant, first, because he was in rank and
wealth the greatest of the colonists, and, secondly, because he
was not only the chief of the civil administration, but also
commander of the forces. The King was not at that time disposed
to commit the government wholly to Irish hands. He had indeed
been heard to say that a native viceroy would soon become an
independent sovereign.164 For the present, therefore, he
determined to divide the power which Ormond had possessed, to
entrust the civil administration to an English and Protestant
Lord Lieutenant, and to give the command of the army to an Irish
and Roman Catholic General. The Lord Lieutenant was Clarendon;
the General was Tyrconnel.

Tyrconnel sprang, as has already been said, from one of those
degenerate families of the Pale which were popularly classed with
the aboriginal population of Ireland. He sometimes, indeed, in
his rants, talked with Norman haughtiness of the Celtic
barbarians:165 but all his sympathies were really with the
natives. The Protestant colonists he hated; and they returned his
hatred. Clarendon's inclinations were very different: but he was,
from temper, interest, and principle, an obsequious courtier. His
spirit was mean; his circumstances were embarrassed; and his mind
had been deeply imbued with the political doctrines which the
Church of England had in that age too assiduously taught. His
abilities, however, were not contemptible; and, under a good
King, he would probably have been a respectable viceroy.

About three quarters of a year elapsed between the recall of
Ormond and the arrival of Clarendon at Dublin. During that
interval the King was represented by a board of Lords Justices:
but the military administration was in Tyrconnel's hands. Already
the designs of the court began gradually to unfold themselves. A
royal order came from Whitehall for disarming the population.
This order Tyrconnel strictly executed as respected the English.
Though the country was infested by predatory bands, a Protestant
gentleman could scarcely obtain permission to keep a brace of
pistols. The native peasantry, on the other hand, were suffered
to retain their weapons.166 The joy of the colonists was
therefore great, when at length, in December 1685, Tyrconnel was
summoned to London and Clarendon set out for Dublin. But it soon
appeared that the government was really directed, not at Dublin,
but in London. Every mail that crossed St. George's Channel
brought tidings of the boundless influence which Tyrconnel
exercised on Irish affairs. It was said that he was to be a
Marquess, that he was to be a Duke, that he was to have the
command of the forces, that he was to be entrusted with the task
of remodelling the army and the courts of justice.167 Clarendon
was bitterly mortified at finding himself a subordinate in
ember of that administration of which he had expected to be the
head. He complained that whatever he did was misrepresented by
his detractors, and that the gravest resolutions touching the
country which he governed were adopted at Westminster, made known
to the public, discussed at coffee houses, communicated in
hundreds of private letters, some weeks before one hint had been
given to the Lord Lieutenant. His own personal dignity, he said,
mattered little: but it was no light thing that the
representative of the majesty of the throne should be made an
object of contempt to the people.168 Panic spread fast among the
English when they found that the viceroy, their fellow countryman
and fellow Protestant, was unable to extend to them the
protection which they had expected from him. They began to know
by bitter experience what it is to be a subject caste. They were
harassed by the natives with accusations of treason and sedition.
This Protestant had corresponded with Monmouth: that Protestant
had said something disrespectful of the King four or five years
ago, when the Exclusion Bill was under discussion; and the
evidence of the most infamous of mankind was ready to
substantiate every charge. The Lord Lieutenant expressed his
apprehension that, if these practices were not stopped, there
would soon be at Dublin a reign of terror similar to that which
he had seen in London, when every man held his life and honour at
the mercy of Oates and Bedloe.169

Clarendon was soon informed, by a concise despatch from
Sunderland, that it had been resolved to make without delay a
complete change in both the civil and the military government of
Ireland, and to bring a large number of Roman Catholics instantly
into office. His Majesty, it was most ungraciously added, had
taken counsel on these matters with persons more competent to
advise him than his inexperienced Lord Lieutenant could possibly

Before this letter reached the viceroy the intelligence which it
contained had, through many channels, arrived in Ireland. The
terror of the colonists was extreme. Outnumbered as they were by
the native population, their condition would be pitiable indeed
if the native population were to be armed against them with the
whole power of the state; and nothing less than this was
threatened. The English inhabitants of Dublin passed each other
in the streets with dejected looks. On the Exchange business was
suspended. Landowners hastened to sell their estates for whatever
could be got, and to remit the purchase money to England. Traders
began to call in their debts and to make preparations for
retiring from business. The alarm soon affected the revenue.171
Clarendon attempted to inspire the dismayed settlers with a
confidence which he was himself far from feeling. He assured them
that their property would be held sacred, and that, to his
certain knowledge, the King was fully determined to maintain the
act of settlement which guaranteed their right to the soil. But
his letters to England were in a very different strain. He
ventured even to expostulate with the King, and, without blaming
His Majesty's intention of employing Roman Catholics, expressed a
strong opinion that the Roman Catholics who might be employed
should be Englishmen.172

The reply of James was dry and cold. He declared that he had no
intention of depriving the English colonists of their land, but
that he regarded a large portion of them as his enemies, and
that, since he consented to leave so much property in the hands
of his enemies, it was the more necessary that the civil and
military administration should be in the hands of his friends.173

Accordingly several Roman Catholics were sworn of the Privy
Council; and orders were sent to corporations to admit Roman
Catholics to municipal advantages.174 Many officers of the army
were arbitrarily deprived of their commissions and of their
bread. It was to no purpose that the Lord Lieutenant pleaded the
cause of some whom he knew to be good soldiers and loyal
subjects. Among them were old Cavaliers, who had fought bravely
for monarchy, and who bore the marks of honourable wounds. Their
places were supplied by men who had no recommendation but their
religion. Of the new Captains and Lieutenants, it was said, some
had been cow-herds, some footmen, some noted marauders; some had
been so used to wear brogues that they stumbled and shuffled
about strangely in their military jack boots. Not a few of the
officers who were discarded took refuge in the Dutch service, and
enjoyed, four years later, the pleasure of driving their
successors before them in ignominious rout through the waters of
the Boyne.175

The distress and alarm of Clarendon were increased by news which
reached him through private channels. Without his approbation,
without his knowledge, preparations were making for arming and
drilling the whole Celtic population of the country of which he
was the nominal governor. Tyrconnel from London directed the
design; and the prelates of his Church were his agents. Every
priest had been instructed to prepare an exact list of all his
male parishioners capable of bearing arms, and to forward it to
his Bishop.176

It had already been rumoured that Tyrconnel would soon return to
Dublin armed with extraordinary and independent powers; and the
rumour gathered strength daily. The Lord Lieutenant, whom no
insult could drive to resign the pomp and emoluments of his
place, declared that he should submit cheerfully to the royal
pleasure, and approve himself in all things a faithful and
obedient subject. He had never, he said, in his life, had any
difference with Tyrconnel, and he trusted that no difference
would now arise.177 Clarendon appears not to have recollected
that there had once been a plot to ruin the fame of his innocent
sister, and that in that plot Tyrconnel had borne a chief part.
This is not exactly one of the injuries which high spirited men
most readily pardon. But, in the wicked court where the Hydes had
long been pushing their fortunes, such injuries were easily
forgiven and forgotten, not from magnanimity or Christian
charity, but from mere baseness and want of moral sensibility. In
June 1686, Tyrconnel came. His commission authorised him only to
command the troops, but he brought with him royal instructions
touching all parts of
the administration, and at once took the real government of the
island into his own hands. On the day after his arrival he
explicitly said that commissions must be largely given to Roman
Catholic officers, and that room must be made for them by
dismissing more Protestants. He pushed on the remodelling of the
army eagerly and indefatigably. It was indeed the only part of
the functions of a Commander in Chief which he was competent to
perform; for, though courageous in brawls and duels, he knew
nothing of military duty. At the very first review which he held,
it was evident to all who were near to him that he did not know
how to draw up a regiment.178 To turn Englishmen out and to put
Irishmen in was, in his view, the beginning and the end of the
administration of war. He had the insolence to cashier the
Captain of the Lord Lieutenant's own Body Guard: nor was
Clarendon aware of what had happened till he saw a Roman
Catholic, whose face was quite unknown to him, escorting the
state coach.179 The change was not confined to the officers
alone. The ranks were completely broken up and recomposed. Four
or five hundred soldiers were turned out of a single regiment
chiefly on the ground that they were below the proper stature.
Yet the most unpractised eye at once perceived that they were
taller and better made men than their successors, whose wild and
squalid appearance disgusted the beholders.180 Orders were given
to the new officers that no man of the Protestant religion was to
be suffered to enlist. The recruiting parties, instead of beating
their drums for volunteers at fairs and markets, as had been the
old practice, repaired to places to which the Roman Catholics
were in the habit of making pilgrimages for purposes of devotion.
In a few weeks the General had introduced more than two thousand
natives into the ranks; and the people about him confidently
affirmed that by Christmas day not a man of English race would be
left in the whole army.181

On all questions which arose in the Privy Council, Tyrconnel
showed similar violence and partiality. John Keating, Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas, a man distinguished by ability,
integrity, and loyalty, represented with great mildness that
perfect equality was all that the General could reasonably ask
for his own Church. The King, he said, evidently meant that no
man fit for public trust should be excluded because he was a
Roman Catholic, and that no man unfit for public trust should be
admitted because he was a Protestant. Tyrconnel immediately began
to curse and swear. "I do not know what to say to that; I would
have all Catholics in."182 The most judicious Irishmen of his own
religious persuasion were dismayed at his rashness, and ventured
to remonstrate with him; but he drove them from him with
imprecations.183 His brutality was such that many thought him
mad. Yet it was less strange than the shameless volubility with
which he uttered falsehoods. He had long before earned the
nickname of Lying Dick Talbot; and, at Whitehall, any wild
fiction was commonly designated as one of Dick Talbot's truths.
He now daily proved that he was well entitled to this unenviable
reputation. Indeed in him mendacity was almost a disease. He
would, after giving orders for the dismission of English
officers, take them into his closet, assure them of his
confidence and friendship, and implore heaven to confound him, sink him,
blast him, if he did not take good care of their interests.
Sometimes those to whom he had thus perjured himself learned,
before the day closed, that he had cashiered them.184

On his arrival, though he swore savagely at the Act of
Settlement, and called the English interest a foul thing, a
roguish thing, and a damned thing, he yet intended to be
convinced that the distribution of property could not, after the
lapse of so many years, be altered.185 But, when he had been a
few weeks at Dublin, his language changed. He began to harangue
vehemently at the Council board on the necessity of giving back
the land to the old owners. He had not, however, as yet, obtained
his master's sanction to this fatal project. National feeling
still struggled feebly against superstition in the mind of James.
He was an Englishman: he was an English King; and he could not,
without some misgivings, consent to the destruction of the
greatest colony that England had ever planted. The English Roman
Catholics with whom he was in the habit of taking counsel were
almost unanimous in favour of the Act of Settlement. Not only the
honest and moderate Powis, but the dissolute and headstrong
Dover, gave judicious and patriotic advice. Tyrconnel could
hardly hope to counteract at a distance the effect which such
advice must produce on the royal mind. He determined to plead the
cause of his caste in person; and accordingly he set out, at the
end of August, for England.

His presence and his absence were equally dreaded by the Lord
Lieutenant. It was, indeed, painful to be daily browbeaten by an
enemy: but it was not less painful to know that an enemy was
daily breathing calumny and evil counsel in the royal ear.
Clarendon was overwhelmed by manifold vexations. He made a
progress through the country, and found that he was everywhere
treated by the Irish population with contempt. The Roman Catholic
priests exhorted their congregations to withhold from him all
marks of honour. The native gentry, instead of coming to pay
their respects to him, remained at their houses. The native
peasantry everywhere sang Erse songs in praise of Tyrconnel, who
would, they doubted not, soon reappear to complete the
humiliation of their oppressors.186 The viceroy had scarcely
returned to Dublin, from his unsatisfactory tour, when he
received letters which informed him that he had incurred the
King's serious displeasure. His Majesty--so these letters ran--
expected his servants not only to do what he commanded, but to do
it from the heart, and with a cheerful countenance. The Lord
Lieutenant had not, indeed, refused to cooperate in the reform of
the army and of the civil administration; but his cooperation had
been reluctant and perfunctory: his looks had betrayed his
feelings; and everybody saw that he disapproved of the policy
which he was employed to carry into effect.187 In great anguish
of mind he wrote to defend himself; but he was sternly told that
his defence was not satisfactory. He then, in the most abject
terms, declared that he would not attempt to justify himself,
that he acquiesced in the royal judgment, be it what it might,
that he prostrated himself in the dust, that he implored pardon,
that of all penitents he was the most sincere, that he should
think it glorious to die in his Sovereign's cause, but found it
impossible to live under his Sovereign's displeasure. Nor was
this mere interested hypocrisy, but, at least in part, unaffected
slavishness and poverty of spirit; for in confidential letters,
not meant for the royal eye, he bemoaned himself to his family in
the same strain. He was miserable; he was crushed; the wrath of
the King was insupportable; if that wrath could not be mitigated,
life would not be worth having.188 The poor man's terror
increased when he learned that it had been determined at
Whitehall to recall him, and to appoint, as his successor, his
rival and calumniator, Tyrconnel.189 Then for a time the prospect
seemed to clear; the King was in better humour; and during a few
days Clarendon flattered himself that his brother's intercession
had prevailed, and that the crisis was passed.190

In truth the crisis was only beginning. While Clarendon was
trying to lean on Rochester, Rochester was unable longer to
support himself. As in Ireland the elder brother, though
retaining the guard of honour, the sword of state, and the title
of Excellency, had really been superseded by the Commander of the
Forces, so in England, the younger brother, though holding the
white staff, and walking, by virtue of his high office, before
the greatest hereditary nobles, was fast sinking into a mere
financial clerk. The Parliament was again prorogued to a distant
day, in opposition to the Treasurer's known wishes. He was not
even told that there was to be another prorogation, but was left
to learn the news from the Gazette. The real direction of affairs
had passed to the cabal which dined with Sunderland on Fridays.
The cabinet met only to hear the despatches from foreign courts
read: nor did those despatches contain anything which was not
known on the Royal Exchange; for all the English Envoys had
received orders to put into the official letters only the common
talk of antechambers, and to reserve important secrets for
private communications which were addressed to James himself, to
Sunderland, or to Petre.191 Yet the victorious faction was not
content. The King was assured by those whom he most trusted that
the obstinacy with which the nation opposed his designs was
really to be imputed to Rochester. How could the people believe
that their Sovereign was unalterably resolved to persevere in the
course on which he had entered, when they saw at his right hand,
ostensibly first in power and trust among his counsellors, a man
who notoriously regarded that course with strong disapprobation?
Every step which had been taken with the object of humbling the
Church of England, and of elevating the Church of Rome, had been
opposed by the Treasurer. True it was that, when he had found
opposition vain, he had gloomily submitted, nay, that he had
sometimes even assisted in carrying into effect the very plans
against which he had most earnestly contended. True it was that,
though he disliked the Ecclesiastical Commission, he had
consented to be a Commissioner. True it was that he had, while
declaring that he could see nothing blamable in the conduct of
the Bishop of London, voted sullenly and reluctantly for the
sentence of deprivation. But this was not enough. A prince,
engaged in an enterprise so important and arduous as that on
which James was bent, had a right to expect from his first
minister, not unwilling and ungracious acquiescence, but zealous
and strenuous cooperation. While such advice was daily given to
James by those in whom he reposed confidence, he received, by the
penny post, many anonymous letters filled with calumnies against
the Lord Treasurer. This mode of attack had been contrived by
Tyrconnel, and was in perfect harmony with every part of his
infamous life.192

The King hesitated. He seems, indeed, to have really regarded his
brother in law with personal kindness, the effect of near
affinity, of long and familiar intercourse, and of many mutual
good offices. It seemed probable that, as long as Rochester
continued to submit himself, though tardily and with murmurs, to
the royal pleasure, he would continue to be in name prime
minister. Sunderland, therefore, with exquisite cunning,
suggested to his master the propriety of asking the only proof of
obedience which it was quite certain that Rochester never would
give. At present,--such was the language of the artful
Secretary,--it was impossible to consult with the first of the
King's servants respecting the object nearest to the King's
heart. It was lamentable to think that religious prejudices
should, at such a conjuncture, deprive the government of such
valuable assistance. Perhaps those prejudices might not prove
insurmountable. Then the deceiver whispered that, to his
knowledge, Rochester had of late had some misgivings about the
points in dispute between the Protestants and Catholics.193 This
was enough. The King eagerly caught at the hint. He began to
flatter himself that he might at once escape from the
disagreeable necessity of removing a friend, and secure an able
coadjutor for the great work which was in progress. He was also
elated by the hope that he might have the merit and the glory of
saving a fellow creature from perdition. He seems, indeed, about
this time, to have been seized with an unusually violent fit of
zeal for his religion; and this is the more remarkable, because
he had just relapsed, after a short interval of selfrestraint,
into debauchery which all Christian divines condemn as sinful,
and which, in an elderly man married to an agreeable young wife,
is regarded even by people of the world as disreputable. Lady
Dorchester had returned from Dublin, and was again the King's
mistress. Her return was politically of no importance. She had
learned by experience the folly of attempting to save her lover
from the destruction to which he was running headlong. She
therefore suffered the Jesuits to guide his political conduct and
they, in return, suffered her to wheedle him out of money; She
was, however, only one of several abandoned women who at this
time shared, with his beloved Church, the dominion over his
mind.194 He seems to have determined to make some amends for
neglecting the welfare of his own soul by taking care of the
souls of others. He set himself, therefore, to labour, with real
good will, but with the good will of a coarse, stern, and
arbitrary mind, for the conversion of his kinsman. Every audience
which the Treasurer obtained was spent in arguments about the
authority of the Church and the worship of images. Rochester was
firmly resolved not to abjure his religion; but he had no scruple
about employing in selfdefence artifices as discreditable as
those which had been used against him. He affected to speak like
a man whose mind was not made up, professed himself desirous to
be enlightened if he was in error, borrowed Popish books, and
listened with civility to Popish divines. He had several
interviews with Leyburn, the Vicar Apostolic, with Godden, the
chaplain and almoner of the Queen Dowager, and with Bonaventure
Giffard, a theologian trained to polemics in the schools of
Douay. It was agreed that there should be a formal disputation
between these doctors and some Protestant clergymen. The King
told Rochester to choose any ministers of the Established Church,
with two exceptions. The proscribed persons were Tillotson and
Stillingfleet. Tillotson, the most popular preacher of that age,
and in manners the most inoffensive of men, had been much
connected with some leading Whigs; and Stillingfleet, who was
renowned as a consummate master of all the weapons of
controversy, had given still deeper offence by publishing an
answer to the papers which had been found in the strong box of
Charles the Second. Rochester took the two royal chaplains who
happened to be in waiting. One of them was Simon Patrick, whose
commentaries on the Bible still form a part of theological
libraries; the other was Jane, a vehement Tory, who had assisted
in drawing up that decree by which the University of Oxford had
solemnly adopted the worst follies of Filmer. The conference took
place at Whitehall on the thirtieth of November. Rochester, who
did not wish it to be known that he had even consented to hear
the arguments of Popish priests, stipulated for secrecy. No
auditor was suffered to be present except the King. The subject
discussed was the real presence. The Roman Catholic divines took
on themselves the burden of the proof. Patrick and Jane said
little; nor was it necessary that they should say much; for the
Earl himself undertook to defend the doctrine of his Church, and,
as was his habit, soon warmed with conflict, lost his temper, and
asked with great vehemence whether it was expected that he should
change his religion on such frivolous grounds. Then he remembered
how much he was risking, began again to dissemble, complimented
the disputants on their skill and learning, and asked time to
consider what had been said.195

Slow as James was, he could not but see that this was mere
trifling. He told Barillon that Rochester's language was not that
of a man honestly desirous of arriving at the truth. Still the
King did not like to propose directly to his brother in law the
simple choice, apostasy or dismissal: but, three days after the
conference, Barillon waited on the Treasurer, and, with much
circumlocution and many expressions of friendly concern, broke
the unpleasant truth. "Do you mean," said Rochester, bewildered
by the involved and ceremonious phrases in which the intimation
was made, "that, if I do not turn Catholic, the consequence will
be that I shall lose my place?" "I say nothing about
consequences," answered the wary diplomatist. "I only come as a
friend to express a hope that you will take care to keep your
place." "But surely," said Rochester, "the plain meaning of all
this is that I must turn Catholic or go out." He put many
questions for the purpose of ascertaining whether the
communication was made by authority, but could extort only vague
and mysterious replies. At last, affecting a confidence which he
was far from feeling, he declared that Barillon must have been
imposed upon by idle or malicious reports. "I tell you," he said,
"that the King will not dismiss me, and I will not resign. I know
him: he knows me; and I fear nobody." The Frenchman answered that
he was charmed, that he was ravished to hear it, and that his
only motive for interfering was a sincere anxiety for the
prosperity and dignity of his excellent friend the Treasurer. And
thus the two statesmen parted, each flattering himself that he
had duped the other.196

Meanwhile, in spite of all injunctions of secrecy, the news that
the Lord Treasurer had consented to be instructed in the
doctrines of Popery had spread fast through London. Patrick and
Jane had been seen going in at that mysterious door which led to
Chiffinch's apartments. Some Roman Catholics about the court had,
indiscreetly or artfully, told all, and more than all, that they
knew. The Tory churchmen waited anxiously for fuller information.
They were mortified to think that their leader should even have
pretended to waver in his opinion; but they could not believe
that he would stoop to be a renegade. The unfortunate minister,
tortured at once by his fierce passions and his low desires,
annoyed by the censures of the public, annoyed by the hints which
he had received from Barillon, afraid of losing character, afraid
of losing office, repaired to the royal closet. He was determined
to keep his place, if it could be kept by any villany but one. He
would pretend to be shaken in his religious opinions, and to be
half a convert: he would promise to give strenuous support to
that policy which he had hitherto opposed: but, if he were driven
to extremity, he would refuse to change his religion. He began,
therefore, by telling the King that the business in which His
Majesty took so much interest was not sleeping, that Jane and
Giffard were engaged in consulting books on the points in dispute
between the Churches, and that, when these researches were over,
it would be desirable to have another conference. Then he
complained bitterly that all the town was apprised of what ought
to have been carefully concealed, and that some persons, who,
from their station, might be supposed to be well informed,
reported strange things as to the royal intentions. "It is
whispered," he said, "that, if I do not do as your Majesty would
have me, I shall not be suffered to continue in my present
station." The King said, with some general expressions of
kindness, that it was difficult to prevent people from talking,
and that loose reports were not to be regarded. These vague
phrases were not likely to quiet the perturbed mind of the
minister. His agitation became violent, and he began to plead for
his place as if he had been pleading for his life. "Your Majesty
sees that I do all in my power to obey you. Indeed I will do all
that I can to obey you in every thing. I will serve you in your
own way. Nay," he cried, in an agony of baseness, "I will do what
I can to believe as you would have me. But do not let me be told,
while I am trying to bring my mind to this, that, if I find it
impossible to comply, I must lose all. For I must needs tell your
Majesty that there are other considerations." "Oh, you must
needs," exclaimed the King, with an oath. For a single word of
honest and manly sound, escaping in the midst of all this abject
supplication, was sufficient to move his anger. "I hope, sir,"
said poor Rochester, "that I do not offend you. Surely your
Majesty could not think well of me if I did not say so." The King
recollected himself protested that he was not offended, and
advised the Treasurer to disregard idle rumours, and to confer
again with Jane and Giffard.197

After this conversation, a fortnight elapsed before the decisive
blow fell. That fortnight Rochester passed in intriguing and
imploring. He attempted to interest in his favour those Roman
Catholics who had the greatest influence at court. He could not,
he said, renounce his own religion: but, with that single
reservation, he would do all that they could desire. Indeed, if
he might only keep his place, they should find that he could be
more useful to them as a Protestant than as one of their own
communion.198 His wife, who was on a sick bed, had already, it
was said, solicited the honour of a visit from the much injured
Queen, and had attempted to work on Her Majesty's feelings of
compassion.199 But the Hydes abased themselves in vain. Petre
regarded them with peculiar malevolence, and was bent on their
ruin.200 On the evening of the seventeenth of December the Earl
was called into the royal closet. James was unusually
discomposed, and even shed tears. The occasion, indeed, could not
but call up some recollections which might well soften even a
hard heart. He expressed his regret that his duty made it
impossible for him to indulge his private partialities. It was
absolutely necessary, he said, that those who had the chief
direction of his affairs should partake his opinions and
feelings. He owned that he had very great personal obligations to
Rochester, and that no fault could be found with the way in which
the financial business had lately been done: but the office of
Lord Treasurer was of such high importance that, in general, it
ought not to be entrusted to a single person, and could not
safely be entrusted by a Roman Catholic King to a person zealous
for the Church of England. "Think better of it, my Lord," he
continued. "Read again the papers from my brother's box. I will
give you a little more time for consideration, if you desire it."
Rochester saw that all was over, and that the wisest course left
to him was to make his retreat with as much money and as much
credit as possible. He succeeded in both objects. He obtained a
pension of four thousand pounds a year for two lives on the post
office. He had made great sums out of the estates of traitors,
and carried with him in particular Grey's bond for forty thousand
pounds, and a grant of all the estate which the crown had in
Grey's extensive property.201 No person had ever quitted office
on terms so advantageous. To the applause of the sincere friends
of the Established Church Rochester had, indeed, very slender
claims. To save his place he had sate in that tribunal which had
been illegally created for the purpose of persecuting her. To
save his place he had given a dishonest vote for degrading one of
her most eminent ministers, had affected to doubt her orthodoxy,
had listened with the outward show of docility to teachers who
called her schismatical and heretical, and had offered to
cooperate strenuously with her deadliest enemies in their designs
against her. The highest praise to which he was entitled was
this, that he had shrunk from the exceeding wickedness and
baseness of publicly abjuring, for lucre, the religion in which
he had been brought up, which he believed to be true, and of
which he had long made an ostentatious profession. Yet he was
extolled by the great body of Churchmen as if he had been the
bravest and purest of martyrs. The Old and New Testaments, the
Martyrologies of Eusebius and of Fox, were ransacked to find
parallels for his heroic piety. He was Daniel in the den of
lions, Shadrach in the fiery furnace, Peter in the dungeon of
Herod, Paul at the bar of Nero, Ignatius in the amphitheatre,
Latimer at the stake. Among the many facts which prove that the
standard of honour and virtue among the public men of that age
was low, the admiration excited by Rochester's constancy is,
perhaps, the most decisive.

In his fall he dragged down Clarendon. On the seventh of January
1687, the Gazette announced to the people of London that the
Treasury was put into commission. On the eighth arrived at Dublin
a despatch formally signifying that in a month Tyrconnel would
assume the government of Ireland. It was not without great
difficulty that this man had surmounted the numerous impediments
which stood in the way of his ambition. It was well known that
the extermination of the English colony in Ireland was the object
on which his heart was set. He had, therefore, to overcome some
scruples in the royal mind. He had to surmount the opposition,
not merely of all the Protestant members of the government, not
merely of the moderate and respectable heads of the Roman
Catholic body, but even of several members of the jesuitical
cabal.202 Sunderland shrank from the thought of an Irish
revolution, religious, political, and social. To the Queen
Tyrconnel was personally an object of aversion. Powis was
therefore suggested as the man best qualified for the
viceroyalty. He was of illustrious birth: he was a sincere Roman
Catholic: and yet he was generally allowed by candid Protestants
to be an honest man and a good Englishman. All opposition,
however, yielded to Tyrconnel's energy and cunning. He fawned,
bullied, and bribed indefatigably. Petre's help was secured by
flattery. Sunderland was plied at once with promises and menaces.
An immense price was offered for his support, no less than an
annuity of five thousand pounds a year from Ireland, redeemable
by payment of fifty thousand pounds down. If this proposal were
rejected, Tyrconnel threatened to let the King know that the Lord
President had, at the Friday dinners, described His Majesty as a
fool who must be governed either by a woman or by a priest.
Sunderland, pale and trembling, offered to procure for Tyrconnel
supreme military command, enormous appointments, anything but the
viceroyalty: but all compromise was rejected; and it was
necessary to yield. Mary of Modena herself was not free from
suspicion of corruption. There was in London a renowned chain of
pearls which was valued at ten thousand pounds. It had belonged
to Prince Rupert; and by him it had been left to Margaret Hughes,
a courtesan who, towards the close of his life, had exercised a
boundless empire over him. Tyrconnel loudly boasted that with
this chain he had purchased the support of the Queen. There were
those, however, who suspected that this story was one of Dick
Talbot's truths, and that it had no more foundation than the
calumnies which, twenty-six years before, he had invented to
blacken the fame of Anne Hyde. To the Roman Catholic courtiers
generally he spoke of the uncertain tenure by which they held
offices, honours, and emoluments. The King might die tomorrow,
and might leave them at the mercy of a hostile government and a
hostile rabble. But, if the old faith could be made dominant in
Ireland, if the Protestant interest in that country could be
destroyed, there would still be, in the worst event, an asylum at
hand to which they might retreat, and where they might either
negotiate or defend themselves with advantage. A Popish priest
was hired with the promise of the mitre of Waterford to preach at
Saint James's against the Act of Settlement; and his sermon,
though heard with deep disgust by the English part of the
auditory, was not without its effect. The struggle which
patriotism had for a time maintained against bigotry in the royal
mind was at an end. "There is work to be done in Ireland," said
James, "which no Englishman will do."203

All obstacles were at length removed; and in February 1687,
Tyrconnel began to rule his native country with the power and
appointments of Lord Lieutenant, but with the humbler title of
Lord Deputy.

His arrival spread dismay through the whole English population.
Clarendon was accompanied, or speedily followed, across St.
George's Channel, by a large proportion of the most respectable
inhabitants of Dublin, gentlemen, tradesmen, and artificers. It
was said that fifteen hundred families emigrated in a few days.
The panic was not unreasonable. The work of putting the colonists
down under the feet of the natives went rapidly on. In a short
time almost every Privy Councillor, Judge, Sheriff, Mayor,
Alderman, and Justice of the Peace was a Celt and a Roman
Catholic. It seemed that things would soon be ripe for a general
election, and that a House of Commons bent on abrogating the Act
of Settlement would easily be assembled.204 Those who had lately
been the lords of the island now cried out, in the bitterness of
their souls, that they had become a prey and a laughingstock to
their own serfs and menials; that houses were burnt and cattle
stolen with impunity; that the new soldiers roamed the country,
pillaging, insulting, ravishing, maiming, tossing one Protestant
in a blanket, tying up another by the hair and scourging him;
that to appeal to the law was vain; that Irish Judges, Sheriffs,
juries, and witnesses were all in a league to save Irish
criminals; and that, even without an Act of Parliament, the whole
soil would soon change hands; for that, in every action of
ejectment tried under the administration of Tyrconnel, judgment
had been given for the native against the Englishman.205

While Clarendon was at Dublin the Privy Seal had been in the
hands of Commissioners. His friends hoped that it would, on his
return to London, be again delivered to him. But the King and the
Jesuitical cabal had determined that the disgrace of the Hydes
should be complete. Lord Arundell of Wardour, a Roman Catholic,
received the Privy Seal. Bellasyse, a Roman Catholic, was made
First Lord of the Treasury; and Dover, another Roman Catholic,
had a seat at the board. The appointment of a ruined gambler to
such a trust would alone have sufficed to disgust the public. The
dissolute Etherege, who then resided at Ratisbon as English
envoy, could not refrain from expressing, with a sneer, his hope
that his old boon companion, Dover, would keep the King's money
better than his own. In order that the finances might not be
ruined by incapable and inexperienced Papists, the obsequious,
diligent and silent Godolphin was named a Commissioner of the
Treasury, but continued to be Chamberlain to the Queen.206

The dismission of the two brothers is a great epoch in the reign
of James. From that time it was clear that what he really wanted
was not liberty of conscience for the members of his own church,
but liberty to persecute the members of other churches.
Pretending to abhor tests, he had himself imposed a test. He
thought it hard, he thought it monstrous, that able and loyal men
should be excluded from the public service solely for being Roman
Catholics. Yet he had himself turned out of office a Treasurer,
whom he admitted to be both loyal and able, solely for being a
Protestant. The cry was that a general proscription was at hand,
and that every public functionary must make up his mind to lose
his soul or to lose his place.207 Who indeed could hope to stand
where the Hydes had fallen? They were the brothers in law of the
King, the uncles and natural guardians of his children, his
friends from early youth, his steady adherents in adversity and
peril, his obsequious servants since he had been on the throne.
Their sole crime was their religion; and for this crime they had
been discarded. In great perturbation men began to look round for
help; and soon all eyes were fixed on one whom a rare concurrence
both of personal qualities and of fortuitous circumstances
pointed out as the deliverer.


William, Prince of Orange; his Appearance--His early Life and
Education--His Theological Opinions--His Military Qualifications-
-His Love of Danger; his bad Health--Coldness of his Manners and
Strength of his Emotions; his Friendship for Bentinck--Mary,
Princess of Orange--Gilbert Burnet--He brings about a good
Understanding between the Prince and Princess--Relations between
William and English Parties--His Feelings towards England--His
Feelings towards Holland and France--His Policy consistent
throughout--Treaty of Augsburg--William becomes the Head of the
English Opposition--Mordaunt proposes to William a Descent on
England--William rejects the Advice--Discontent in England after
the Fall of the Hydes--Conversions to Popery; Peterborough;
Salisbury--Wycherley; Tindal; Haines--Dryden--The Hind and
Panther--Change in the Policy of the Court towards the Puritans--
Partial Toleration granted in Scotland--Closeting--It is
unsuccessful--Admiral Herbert_--Declaration of Indulgence--
Feeling of the Protestant Dissenters--Feeling of the Church of
England--The Court and the Church--Letter to a Dissenter; Conduct
of the Dissenters--Some of the Dissenters side with the Court;
Care; Alsop--Rosewell; Lobb--Venn--The Majority of the Puritans
are against the Court; Baxter; Howe,--Banyan--Kiffin--The Prince
and Princess of Orange hostile to the Declaration of Indulgence--
Their Views respecting the English Roman Catholics vindicated--
Enmity of James to Burnet--Mission of Dykvelt to England;
Negotiations of Dykvelt with English Statesmen--Danby--
Nottingham--Halifax--Devonshire--Edward Russell; Compton;
Herbert--Churchill--Lady Churchill and the Princess Anne--Dykvelt
returns to the Hague with Letters from many eminent Englishmen--
Zulestein's Mission--Growing Enmity between James and William--
Influence of the Dutch Press--Correspondence of Stewart and
Fagel--Castelmaine's embassy to Rome

THE place which William Henry, Prince of Orange Nassau, occupies
in the history of England and of mankind is so great that it may
be desirable to portray with some minuteness the strong
lineaments of his character.208

He was now in his thirty-seventh year. But both in body and in
mind he was older than other men of the same age. Indeed it might
be said that he had never been young. His external appearance is
almost as well known to us as to his own captains and
counsellors. Sculptors, painters, and medallists exerted their
utmost skill in the work of transmitting his features to
posterity; and his features were such as no artist could fail to
seize, and such as, once seen, could never be forgotten. His name
at once calls up before us a slender and feeble frame, a lofty
and ample forehead, a nose curved like the beak of an eagle, an
eye rivalling that of an eagle in brightness and keenness, a
thoughtful and somewhat sullen brow, a firm and somewhat peevish
mouth, a cheek pale, thin, and deeply furrowed by sickness and by
care. That pensive, severe, and solemn aspect could scarcely have
belonged to a happy or a goodhumoured man. But it indicates in a
manner not to be mistaken capacity equal to the most arduous
enterprises, and fortitude not to be shaken by reverses or

Nature had largely endowed William with the qualities of a great
ruler; and education had developed those qualities in no common
degree. With strong natural sense, and rare force of will, he
found himself, when first his mind began to open, a fatherless
and motherless child, the chief of a great but depressed and
disheartened party, and the heir to vast and indefinite
pretensions, which excited the dread and aversion of the
oligarchy then supreme in the United Provinces. The common
people, fondly attached during a century to his house, indicated,
whenever they saw him, in a manner not to be mistaken, that they
regarded him as their rightful head. The able and experienced
ministers of the republic, mortal enemies of his name, came every
day to pay their feigned civilities to him, and to observe the
progress of his mind. The first movements of his ambition were
carefully watched: every unguarded word uttered by him was noted
down; nor had he near him any adviser on whose judgment reliance
could be placed. He was scarcely fifteen years old when all the
domestics who were attached to his interest, or who enjoyed any
share of his confidence, were removed from under his roof by the
jealous government. He remonstrated with energy beyond his years,
but in vain. Vigilant observers saw the tears more than once rise
in the eyes of the young state prisoner. His health, naturally
delicate, sank for a time under the emotions which his desolate
situation had produced. Such situations bewilder and unnerve the
weak, but call forth all the strength of the strong. Surrounded
by snares in which an ordinary youth would have perished, William
learned to tread at once warily and firmly. Long before he
reached manhood he knew how to keep secrets, how to baffle
curiosity by dry and guarded answers, how to conceal all passions
under the same show of grave tranquillity. Meanwhile he made
little proficiency in fashionable or literary accomplishments.
The manners of the Dutch nobility of that age wanted the grace
which was found in the highest perfection among the gentlemen of
France, and which, in an inferior degree, embellished the Court
of England; and his manners were altogether Dutch. Even his
countrymen thought him blunt. To foreigners he often seemed
churlish. In his intercourse with the world in general he
appeared ignorant or negligent of those arts which double the
value of a favour and take away the sting of a refusal. He was
little interested in letters or science. The discoveries of
Newton and Leibnitz, the poems of Dryden and Boileau, were
unknown to him. Dramatic performances tired him; and he was glad
to turn away from the stage and to talk about public affairs,
while Orestes was raving, or while Tartuffe was pressing Elmira's
hand. He had indeed some talent for sarcasm, and not seldom
employed, quite unconsciously, a natural rhetoric, quaint,
indeed, but vigorous and original. He did not, however, in the
least affect the character of a wit or of an orator. His
attention had been confined to those studies which form strenuous
and sagacious men of business. From a child he listened with
interest when high questions of alliance, finance, and war were
discussed. Of geometry he learned as much as was necessary for
the construction of a ravelin or a hornwork. Of languages, by the
help of a memory singularly powerful, he learned as much as was
necessary to enable him to comprehend and answer without
assistance everything that was said to him, and every letter
which he received. The Dutch was his own tongue. He understood
Latin, Italian, and Spanish. He spoke and wrote French, English,
and German, inelegantly, it is true, and inexactly, but fluently
and intelligibly. No qualification could be more important to a
man whose life was to be passed in organizing great alliances,
and in commanding armies assembled from different countries.

One class of philosophical questions had been forced on his
attention by circumstances, and seems to have interested him more
than might have been expected from his general character. Among
the Protestants of the United Provinces, as among the Protestants
of our island, there were two great religious parties which
almost exactly coincided with two great political parties. The
chiefs of the municipal oligarchy were Arminians, and were
commonly regarded by the multitude as little better than Papists.
The princes of Orange had generally been the patrons of the
Calvinistic divinity, and owed no small part of their popularity
to their zeal for the doctrines of election and final
perseverance, a zeal not always enlightened by knowledge or
tempered by humanity. William had been carefully instructed from
a child in the theological system to which his family was
attached, and regarded that system with even more than the
partiality which men generally feel for a hereditary faith. He
had ruminated on the great enigmas which had been discussed in
the Synod of Dort, and had found in the austere and inflexible
logic of the Genevese school something which suited his intellect
and his temper. That example of intolerance indeed which some of
his predecessors had set he never imitated. For all persecution
he felt a fixed aversion, which he avowed, not only where the
avowal was obviously politic, but on occasions where it seemed
that his interest would have been promoted by dissimulation or by
silence. His theological opinions, however, were even more
decided than those of his ancestors. The tenet of predestination
was the keystone of his religion. He often declared that, if he
were to abandon that tenet, he must abandon with it all belief in
a superintending Providence, and must become a mere Epicurean.
Except in this single instance, all the sap of his vigorous mind
was early drawn away from the speculative to the practical. The
faculties which are necessary for the conduct of important
business ripened in him at a time of life when they have scarcely
begun to blossom in ordinary men. Since Octavius the world had
seen no such instance of precocious statesmanship. Skilful
diplomatists were surprised to hear the weighty observations
which at seventeen the Prince made on public affairs, and still
more surprised to see a lad, in situations in which he might have
been expected to betray strong passion, preserve a composure as
imperturbable as their own. At eighteen he sate among the fathers
of the commonwealth, grave, discreet, and judicious as the oldest
among them. At twenty-one, in a day of gloom and terror, he was
placed at the head of the administration. At twenty-three be was
renowned throughout Europe as a soldier and a politician. He had
put domestic factions under his feet: he was the soul of a mighty
coalition; and he had contended with honour in the field against
some of the greatest generals of the age.

His personal tastes were those rather of a warrior than of a
statesman: but he, like his greatgrandfather, the silent prince
who founded the Batavian commonwealth, occupies a far higher
place among statesmen than among warriors. The event of battles,
indeed, is not an unfailing test of the abilities of a commander;
and it would be peculiarly unjust to apply this test to William:
for it was his fortune to be almost always opposed to captains
who were consummate masters of their art, and to troops far
superior in discipline to his own. Yet there is reason to believe
that he was by no means equal, as a general in the field, to some
who ranked far below him in intellectual powers. To those whom he
trusted he spoke on this subject with the magnanimous frankness
of a man who had done great things, and who could well afford to
acknowledge some deficiencies. He had never, he said, served an
apprenticeship to the military profession. He had been placed,
while still a boy, at the head of an army. Among his officers
there had been none competent to instruct him. His own blunders
and their consequences had been his only lessons. "I would give,"
he once exclaimed, "a good part of my estates to have served a
few campaigns under the Prince of Conde before I had to command
against him." It is not improbable that the circumstance which
prevented William from attaining any eminent dexterity in
strategy may have been favourable to the general vigour of his
intellect. If his battles were not those of a great tactician,
they entitled him to be called a great man. No disaster could for
one moment deprive him of his firmness or of the entire
possession of all his faculties. His defeats were repaired with
such marvellous celerity that, before his enemies had sung the Te
Deum, he was again ready for conflict; nor did his adverse
fortune ever deprive him of the respect and confidence of his
soldiers. That respect and confidence he owed in no small measure
to his personal courage. Courage, in the degree which is
necessary to carry a soldier without disgrace through a campaign,
is possessed, or might, under proper training, be acquired, by
the great majority of men. But courage like that of William is
rare indeed. He was proved by every test; by war, by wounds, by
painful and depressing maladies, by raging seas, by the imminent
and constant risk of assassination, a risk which has shaken very
strong nerves, a risk which severely tried even the adamantine
fortitude of Cromwell. Yet none could ever discover what that
thing was which the Prince of Orange feared. His advisers could
with difficulty induce him to take any precaution against the
pistols and daggers of conspirators.209 Old sailors were amazed
at the composure which he preserved amidst roaring breakers on a
perilous coast. In battle his bravery made him conspicuous even
among tens of thousands of brave warriors, drew forth the
generous applause of hostile armies, and was never questioned
even by the injustice of hostile factions. During his first
campaigns he exposed himself like a man who sought for death, was
always foremost in the charge and last in the retreat, fought,
sword in hand, in the thickest press, and, with a musket ball in
his arm and the blood streaming over his cuirass, still stood his
ground and waved his hat under the hottest fire. His friends
adjured him to take more care of a life invaluable to his
country; and his most illustrious antagonist, the great Conde,
remarked, after the bloody day of Seneff that the Prince of
Orange had in all things borne himself like an old general,
except in exposing himself like a young soldier. William denied
that he was guilty of temerity. It was, he said, from a sense of
duty and on a cool calculation of what the public interest
required that he was always at the post of danger. The troops
which he commanded had been little used to war, and shrank from a
close encounter with the veteran soldiery of France. It was
necessary that their leader should show them how battles were to
be won. And in truth more than one day which had seemed
hopelessly lost was retrieved by the hardihood with which he
rallied his broken battalions and cut down with his own hand the
cowards who set the example of flight. Sometimes, however, it
seemed that he had a strange pleasure in venturing his person. It
was remarked that his spirits were never so high and his manners
never so gracious and easy as amidst the tumult and carnage of a
battle. Even in his pastimes he liked the excitement of danger.
Cards, chess, and billiards gave him no pleasure. The chase was
his favourite recreation; and he loved it most when it was most
hazardous. His leaps were sometimes such that his boldest
companions did not like to follow him. He seems even to have
thought the most hardy field sports of England effeminate, and to
have pined in the Great Park of Windsor for the game which he had
been used to drive to bay in the forests of Guelders, wolves, and
wild boars, and huge stags with sixteen antlers.210

The audacity of his spirit was the more remarkable because his
physical organization was unusually delicate. From a child he had
been weak and sickly. In the prime of manhood his complaints had
been aggravated by a severe attack of small pox. He was asthmatic
and consumptive. His slender frame was shaken by a constant
hoarse cough. He could not sleep unless his head was propped by
several pillows, and could scarcely draw his breath in any but
the purest air. Cruel headaches frequently tortured him. Exertion
soon fatigued him. The physicians constantly kept up the hopes of
his enemies by fixing some date beyond which, if there were
anything certain in medical science, it was impossible that his
broken constitution could hold out. Yet, through a life which was
one long disease, the force of his mind never failed, on any
great occasion, to bear up his suffering and languid body.

He was born with violent passions and quick sensibilities: but
the strength of his emotions was not suspected by the world. From
the multitude his joy and his grief, his affection and his
resentment, were hidden by a phlegmatic serenity, which made him
pass for the most coldblooded of mankind. Those who brought him
good news could seldom detect any sign of pleasure. Those who saw
him after a defeat looked in vain for any trace of vexation. He
praised and reprimanded, rewarded and punished, with the stern
tranquillity of a Mohawk chief: but those who knew him well and
saw him near were aware that under all this ice a fierce fire was
constantly burning. It was seldom that anger deprived him of
power over himself. But when he was really enraged the first
outbreak of his passion was terrible. It was indeed scarcely safe
to approach him. On these rare occasions, however, as soon as he
regained his self command, he made such ample reparation to those
whom he had wronged as tempted them to wish that he would go into
a fury again. His affection was as impetuous as his wrath. Where
he loved, he loved with the whole energy of his strong mind. When
death separated him from what he loved, the few who witnessed his
agonies trembled for his reason and his life. To a very small
circle of intimate friends, on whose fidelity and secrecy he
could absolutely depend, he was a different man from the reserved
and stoical William whom the multitude supposed to be destitute
of human feelings. He was kind, cordial, open, even convivial and
jocose, would sit at table many hours, and would bear his full
share in festive conversation. Highest in his favour stood a
gentleman of his household named Bentinck, sprung from a noble
Batavian race, and destined to be the founder of one of the great
patrician houses of England. The fidelity of Bentinck had been
tried by no common test. It was while the United Provinces were
struggling for existence against the French power that the young
Prince on whom all their hopes were fixed was seized by the small
pox. That disease had been fatal to many members of his family,
and at first wore, in his case, a peculiarly malignant aspect.
The public consternation was great. The streets of the Hague were
crowded from daybreak to sunset by persons anxiously asking how
his Highness was. At length his complaint took a favourable turn.
His escape was attributed partly to his own singular equanimity,
and partly to the intrepid and indefatigable friendship of
Bentinck. From the hands of Bentinck alone William took food and
medicine. By Bentinck alone William was lifted from his bed and
laid down in it. "Whether Bentinck slept or not while I was ill,"
said William to Temple, with great tenderness, "I know not. But
this I know, that, through sixteen days and nights, I never once
called for anything but that Bentinck was instantly at my side."
Before the faithful servant had entirely performed his task, he
had himself caught the contagion. Still, however, he bore up
against drowsiness and fever till his master was pronounced
convalescent. Then, at length, Bentinck asked leave to go home.
It was time: for his limbs would no longer support him. He was in
great danger, but recovered, and, as soon as he left his bed,
hastened to the army, where, during many sharp campaigns, he was
ever found, as he had been in peril of a different kind, close to
William's side.

Such was the origin of a friendship as warm and pure as any that
ancient or modern history records. The descendants of Bentinck
still preserve many letters written by William to their ancestor:
and it is not too much to say that no person who has not studied
those letters can form a correct notion of the Prince's
character. He whom even his admirers generally accounted the most
distant and frigid of men here forgets all distinctions of rank,
and pours out all his thoughts with the ingenuousness of a
schoolboy. He imparts without reserve secrets of the highest
moment. He explains with perfect simplicity vast designs
affecting all the governments of Europe. Mingled with his
communications on such subjects are other communications of a
very different, but perhaps not of a less interesting kind. All
his adventures, all his personal feelings, his long runs after
enormous stags, his carousals on St. Hubert's day, the growth of
his plantations, the failure of his melons, the state of his
stud, his wish to procure an easy pad nag for his wife, his
vexation at learning that one of his household, after ruining a
girl of good family, refused to marry her, his fits of sea
sickness, his coughs, his headaches, his devotional moods, his
gratitude for the divine protection after a great escape, his
struggles to submit himself to the divine will after a disaster,
are described with an amiable garrulity hardly to have been
expected from the most discreet and sedate statesman of the age.
Still more remarkable is the careless effusion of his tenderness,
and the brotherly interest which he takes in his friend's
domestic felicity. When an heir is born to Bentinck, "he will
live, I hope," says William, "to be as good a fellow as you are;
and, if I should have a son, our children will love each other, I
hope, as we have done."211 Through life he continues to regard
the little Bentincks with paternal kindness. He calls them by
endearing diminutives: he takes charge of them in their father's
absence, and, though vexed at being forced to refuse them any
pleasure, will not suffer them to go on a hunting party, where
there would be risk of a push from a stag's horn, or to sit up
late at a riotous supper.212 When their mother is taken ill
during her husband's absence, William, in the midst of business
of the highest moment, finds time to send off several expresses
in one day with short notes containing intelligence of her
state.213 On one occasion, when she is pronounced out of danger
after a severe attack, the Prince breaks forth into fervent
expressions of gratitude to God. "I write," he says, "with tears
of joy in my eyes."214 There is a singular charm in such letters,
penned by a man whose irresistible energy and inflexible firmness
extorted the respect of his enemies, whose cold and ungracious
demeanour repelled the attachment of almost all his partisans,
and whose mind was occupied by gigantic schemes which have
changed the face of the world.

His kindness was not misplaced. Bentinck was early pronounced by
Temple to be the best and truest servant that ever prince had the
good fortune to possess, and continued through life to merit that
honourable character. The friends were indeed made for each
other. William wanted neither a guide nor a flatterer. Having a
firm and just reliance on his own judgment, he was not partial to
counsellors who dealt much in suggestions and objections. At the
same time he had too much discernment, and too much elevation of
mind, to be gratified by sycophancy. The confidant of such a
prince ought to be a man, not of inventive genius or commanding
spirit, but brave and faithful, capable of executing orders
punctually, of keeping secrets inviolably, of observing facts
vigilantly, and of reporting them truly; and such a man was

William was not less fortunate in marriage than in friendship.
Yet his marriage had not at first promised much domestic
happiness. His choice had been determined chiefly by political
considerations: nor did it seem likely that any strong affection
would grow up between a handsome girl of sixteen, well disposed
indeed, and naturally intelligent, but ignorant and simple, and a
bridegroom who, though he had not completed his twenty-eighth
year, was in constitution older than her father, whose manner was
chilling, and whose head was constantly occupied by public
business or by field sports. For a time William was a negligent
husband. He was indeed drawn away from his wife by other women,
particularly by one of her ladies, Elizabeth Villiers, who,
though destitute of personal attractions, and disfigured by a
hideous squint, possessed talents which well fitted her to
partake his cares.215 He was indeed ashamed of his errors, and
spared no pains to conceal them: but, in spite of all his
precautions, Mary well knew that he was not strictly faithful to
her. Spies and talebearers, encouraged by her father, did their
best to inflame her resentment. A man of a very different
character, the excellent Ken, who was her chaplain at the Hague
during some months, was so much incensed by her wrongs that he,
with more zeal than discretion, threatened to reprimand her
husband severely.216 She, however, bore her injuries with a
meekness and patience which deserved, and gradually obtained,
William's esteem and gratitude. Yet there still remained one
cause of estrangement. A time would probably come when the
Princess, who had been educated only to work embroidery, to play
on the spinet, and to read the Bible and the Whole Duty of Man,
would be the chief of a great monarchy, and would hold the
balance of Europe, while her lord, ambitious, versed in affairs,
and bent on great enterprises, would find in the British
government no place marked out for him, and would hold power only
from her bounty and during her pleasure. It is not strange that a
man so fond of authority as William, and so conscious of a genius
for command, should have strongly felt that jealousy which,
during a few hours of royalty, put dissension between Guildford
Dudley and the Lady Jane, and which produced a rupture still more
tragical between Darnley and the Queen of Scots. The Princess of
Orange had not the faintest suspicion of her husband's feelings.
Her preceptor, Bishop Compton, had instructed her carefully in
religion, and had especially guarded her mind against the arts of
Roman Catholic divines, but had left her profoundly ignorant of
the English constitution and of her own position. She knew that
her marriage vow bound her to obey her husband; and it had never
occurred to her that the relation in which they stood to each
other might one day be inverted. She had been nine years married
before she discovered the cause of William's discontent; nor
would she ever have learned it from himself. In general his
temper inclined him rather to brood over his griefs than to give
utterance to them; and in this particular case his lips were
sealed by a very natural delicacy. At length a complete
explanation and reconciliation were brought about by the agency
of Gilbert Burnet.

The fame of Burnet has been attacked with singular malice and
pertinacity. The attack began early in his life, and is still
carried on with undiminished vigour, though he has now been more
than a century and a quarter in his grave. He is indeed as fair a
mark as factious animosity and petulant wit could desire. The
faults of his understanding and temper lie on the surface, and
cannot be missed. They were not the faults which are ordinarily
considered as belonging to his country. Alone among the many
Scotchmen who have raised themselves to distinction and
prosperity in England, he had that character which satirists,
novelists, and dramatists have agreed to ascribe to Irish
adventurers. His high animal spirits, his boastfulness, his
undissembled vanity, his propensity to blunder, his provoking
indiscretion, his unabashed audacity, afforded inexhaustible
subjects of ridicule to the Tories. Nor did his enemies omit to
compliment him, sometimes with more pleasantry than delicacy, on
the breadth of his shoulders, the thickness of his calves, and
his success in matrimonial projects on amorous and opulent
widows. Yet Burnet, though open in many respects to ridicule, and
even to serious censure, was no contemptible man. His parts were
quick, his industry unwearied, his reading various and most
extensive. He was at once a historian, an antiquary, a
theologian, a preacher, a pamphleteer, a debater, and an active
political leader; and in every one of these characters made
himself conspicuous among able competitors. The many spirited
tracts which he wrote on passing events are now known only to the
curious: but his History of his own Times, his History of the
Reformation, his Exposition of the Articles, his Discourse of
Pastoral Care, his Life of Hale, his Life of Wilmot, are still
reprinted, nor is any good private library without them. Against
such a fact as this all the efforts of detractors are vain. A
writer, whose voluminous works, in several branches of
literature, find numerous readers a hundred and thirty years
after his death, may have had great faults, but must also have
had great merits: and Burnet had great merits, a fertile and
vigorous mind, and a style, far indeed removed from faultless
purity, but always clear, often lively, and sometimes rising to
solemn and fervid eloquence. In the pulpit the effect of his
discourses, which were delivered without any note, was heightened
by a noble figure and by pathetic action. He was often
interrupted by the deep hum of his audience; and when, after
preaching out the hour glass, which in those days was part of the
furniture of the pulpit, he held it up in his hand, the
congregation clamorously encouraged him to go on till the sand
had run off once more.217 In his moral character, as in his
intellect, great blemishes were more than compensated by great
excellence. Though often misled by prejudice and passion, he was
emphatically an honest man. Though he was not secure from the
seductions of vanity, his spirit was raised high above the
influence either of cupidity or of fear. His nature was kind,
generous, grateful, forgiving.218 His religious zeal, though
steady and ardent, was in general restrained by humanity, and by
a respect for the rights of conscience. Strongly attached to what
he regarded as the spirit of Christianity, he looked with
indifference on rites, names, and forms of ecclesiastical polity,
and was by no means disposed to be severe even on infidels and
heretics whose lives were pure, and whose errors appeared to be
the effect rather of some perversion of the understanding than of
the depravity of the heart. But, like many other good men of that
age, he regarded the case of the Church of Rome as an exception
to all ordinary rules.

Burnet had during some years had an European reputation. His
History of the Reformation had been received with loud applause
by all Protestants, and had been felt by the Roman Catholics as a
severe blow. The greatest Doctor that the Church of Rome has
produced since the schism of the sixteenth century, Bossuet,
Bishop of Meaux, was engaged in framing an elaborate reply.
Burnet had been honoured by a vote of thanks from one of the
zealous Parliaments which had sate during the excitement of the
Popish plot, and had been exhorted, in the name of the Commons of
England, to continue his historical researches. He had been
admitted to familiar conversation both with Charles and James,
had lived on terms of close intimacy with several distinguished
statesmen, particularly with Halifax, and had been the spiritual
guide of some persons of the highest note. He had reclaimed from
atheism and from licentiousness one of the most brilliant
libertines of the age, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. Lord
Stafford, the victim of Oates, had, though a Roman Catholic, been
edified in his last hours by Burnet's exhortations touching those
points on which all Christians agree. A few years later a more
illustrious sufferer, Lord Russell, had been accompanied by
Burnet from the Tower to the scaffold in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The court had neglected no means of gaining so active and able a
divine. Neither royal blandishments nor promises of valuable
preferment had been spared. But Burnet, though infected in early
youth by those servile doctrines which were commonly held by the
clergy of that age, had become on conviction a Whig; and he
firmly adhered through all vicissitudes to his principles. He
had, however, no part in that conspiracy which brought so much
disgrace and calamity on the Whig party, and not only abhorred
the murderous designs of Goodenough and Ferguson, but was of
opinion that even his beloved and honoured friend Russell, had
gone to unjustifiable lengths against the government. A time at
length arrived when innocence was not a sufficient protection.
Burnet, though not guilty of any legal offence, was pursued by
the vengeance of the court. He retired to the Continent, and,
after passing about a year in those wanderings through
Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, of which he has left us an
agreeable narrative, reached the Hague in the summer of 1686, and
was received there with kindness and respect. He had many free
conversations with the Princess on politics and religion, and
soon became her spiritual director and confidential adviser.
William proved a much more gracious host than could have been
expected. For of all faults officiousness and indiscretion were
the most offensive to him: and Burnet was allowed even by friends
and admirers to be the most officious and indiscreet of mankind.
But the sagacious Prince perceived that this pushing, talkative
divine, who was always blabbing secrets, asking impertinent
questions, obtruding unasked advice, was nevertheless an upright,
courageous and able man, well acquainted with the temper and the
views of British sects and factions. The fame of Burnet's
eloquence and erudition was also widely spread. William was not
himself a reading man. But he had now been many years at the head
of the Dutch administration, in an age when the Dutch press was
one of the most formidable engines by which the public mind of
Europe was moved, and, though he had no taste for literary
pleasures, was far too wise and too observant to be ignorant of
the value of literary assistance. He was aware that a popular
pamphlet might sometimes be of as much service as a victory in
the field. He also felt the importance of having always near him
some person well informed as to the civil and ecclesiastical
polity of our island: and Burnet was eminently qualified to be of
use as a living dictionary of British affairs. For his knowledge,
though not always accurate, was of immense extent and there were
in England and Scotland few eminent men of any political or
religious party with whom he had not conversed. He was therefore
admitted to as large a share of favour and confidence as was
granted to any but those who composed the very small inmost knot
of the Prince's private friends. When the Doctor took liberties,
which was not seldom the case, his patron became more than
usually cold and sullen, and sometimes uttered a short dry
sarcasm which would have struck dumb any person of ordinary
assurance. In spite of such occurrences, however, the amity
between this singular pair continued, with some temporary
interruptions, till it was dissolved by death. Indeed, it was not
easy to wound Burnet's feelings. His selfcomplacency, his animal
spirits, and his want of tact, were such that, though he
frequently gave offence, he never took it.

All the peculiarities of his character fitted him to be the
peacemaker between William and Mary. When persons who ought to
esteem and love each other are kept asunder, as often happens, by
some cause which three words of frank explanation would remove,
they are fortunate if they possess an indiscreet friend who
blurts out the whole truth. Burnet plainly told the Princess what
the feeling was which preyed upon her husband's mind. She learned
for the first time, with no small astonishment, that, when she
became Queen of England, William would not share her throne. She
warmly declared that there was no proof of conjugal submission
and affection which she was not ready to give. Burnet, with many
apologies and with solemn protestations that no human being had
put words into his mouth, informed her that the remedy was in her
own hands. She might easily, when the crown devolved on her,
induce her Parliament not only to give the regal title to her
husband, but even to transfer to him by a legislative act the
administration of the government. "But," he added, "your Royal
Highness ought to consider well before you announce any such
resolution. For it is a resolution which, having once been
announced, cannot safely or easily be retracted." "I want no time
for consideration," answered Mary. "It is enough that I have an
opportunity of showing my regard for the Prince. Tell him what I
say; and bring him to me that he may hear it from my own lips."
Burnet went in quest of William; but William was many miles off
after a stag. It was not till the next day that the decisive
interview took place. "I did not know till yesterday," said Mary,
"that there was such a difference between the laws of England and
the laws of God. But I now promise you that you shall always bear
rule: and, in return, I ask only this, that, as I shall observe
the precept which enjoins wives to obey their husbands, you will
observe that which enjoins husbands to love their wives." Her
generous affection completely gained the heart of William. From
that time till the sad day when he was carried away in fits from
her dying bed, there was entire friendship and confidence between
them. Many of her letters to him are extant; and they contain
abundant evidence that this man, unamiable as he was in the eyes
of the multitude, had succeeded in inspiring a beautiful and
virtuous woman, born his superior, with a passion fond even to

The service which Burnet had rendered to his country was of high
moment. A time had arrived at which it was important to the
public safety that there should be entire concord between the
Prince and Princess.

Till after the suppression of the Western insurrection grave
causes of dissension had separated William both from Whigs and
Tories. He had seen with displeasure the attempts of the Whigs to
strip the executive government of some powers which he thought
necessary to its efficiency and dignity. He had seen with still
deeper displeasure the countenance given by a large section of
that party to the pretensions of Monmouth. The opposition, it
seemed, wished first to make the crown of England not worth the
wearing, and then to place it on the head of a bastard and
impostor. At the same time the Prince's religious system differed
widely from that which was the badge of the Tories. They were
Arminians and Prelatists. They looked down on the Protestant
Churches of the Continent, and regarded every line of their own
liturgy and rubric as scarcely less sacred than the gospels. His
opinions touching the metaphysics of theology were Calvinistic.
His opinions respecting ecclesiastical polity and modes of
worship were latitudinarian. He owned that episcopacy was a
lawful and convenient form of church government; but he spoke
with sharpness and scorn of the bigotry of those who thought
episcopal ordination essential to a Christian society. He had no
scruple about the vestments and gestures prescribed by the Book
of Common Prayer. But he avowed that he should like the rites of
the Church of England better if they reminded him less of the
rites of the Church of Rome. He had been heard to utter an
ominous growl when first he saw, in his wife's private chapel, an
altar decked after the Anglican fashion, and had not seemed well
pleased at finding her with Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity in her

He therefore long observed the contest between the English
factions attentively, but without feeling a strong predilection
for either side. Nor in truth did he ever, to the end of his
life, become either a Whig or a Tory. He wanted that which is the
common groundwork of both characters; for he never became an
Englishman. He saved England, it is true; but he never loved her,
and he never obtained her love. To him she was always a land of
exile, visited with reluctance and quitted with delight. Even
when he rendered to her those services of which, at this day, we
feel the happy effects, her welfare was not his chief object.
Whatever patriotic feeling he had was for Holland. There was the
stately tomb where slept the great politician whose blood, whose
name, whose temperament, and whose genius he had inherited. There
the very sound of his title was a spell which had, through three
generations, called forth the affectionate enthusiasm of boors
and artisans. The Dutch language was the language of his nursery.
Among the Dutch gentry he had chosen his early friends. The
amusements, the architecture, the landscape of his native
country, had taken hold on his heart. To her he turned with
constant fondness from a prouder and fairer rival. In the gallery
of Whitehall he pined for the familiar House in the Wood at the
Hague, and never was so happy as when he could quit the
magnificence of Windsor for his far humbler seat at Loo. During
his splendid banishment it was his consolation to create round
him, by building, planting, and digging, a scene which might
remind him of the formal piles of red brick, of the long canals,
and of the symmetrical flower beds amidst which his early life
had been passed. Yet even his affection for the land of his birth
was subordinate to another feeling which early became supreme in
his soul, which mixed itself with all his passions, which
impelled him to marvellous enterprises, which supported him when
sinking under mortification, pain, sickness, and sorrow, which,
towards the close of his career, seemed during a short time to
languish, but which soon broke forth again fiercer than ever, and
continued to animate him even while the prayer for the departing
was read at his bedside. That feeling was enmity to France, and
to the magnificent King who, in more than one sense, represented
France, and who to virtues and accomplishments eminently French
joined in large measure that unquiet, unscrupulous, and
vainglorious ambition which has repeatedly drawn on France the
resentment of Europe.

It is not difficult to trace the progress of the sentiment which
gradually possessed itself of William's whole soul. When he was
little more than a boy his country had been attacked by Lewis in
ostentatious defiance of justice and public law, had been
overrun, had been desolated, had been given up to every excess of
rapacity, licentiousness, and cruelty. The Dutch had in dismay
humbled themselves before the conqueror, and had implored mercy.
They had been told in reply that, if they desired peace, they
must resign their independence and do annual homage to the House
of Bourbon. The injured nation, driven to despair, had opened its
dykes and had called in the sea as an ally against the French
tyranny. It was in the agony of that conflict, when peasants were
flying in terror before the invaders, when hundreds of fair
gardens and pleasure houses were buried beneath the waves, when
the deliberations of the States were interrupted by the fainting
and the loud weeping of ancient senators who could not bear the
thought of surviving the freedom and glory of their native land,
that William had been called to the head of affairs. For a time
it seemed to him that resistance was hopeless. He looked round
for succour, and looked in vain. Spain was unnerved, Germany
distracted, England corrupted. Nothing seemed left to the young
Stadtholder but to perish sword in hand, or to be the Aeneas of a
great emigration, and to create another Holland in countries
beyond the reach of the tyranny of France. No obstacle would then
remain to check the progress of the House of Bourbon. A few
years, and that House might add to its dominions Loraine and
Flanders, Castile and Aragon, Naples and Milan, Mexico and Peru.
Lewis might wear the imperial crown, might place a prince of his
family on the throne of Poland, might be sole master of Europe
from the Scythian deserts to the Atlantic Ocean, and of America
from regions north of the Tropic of Cancer to regions south of
the Tropic of Capricorn. Such was the prospect which lay before
William when first he entered on public life, and which never
ceased to haunt him till his latest day. The French monarchy was
to him what the Roman republic was to Hannibal, what the Ottoman
power was to Scanderbeg, what the southern domination was to
Wallace. Religion gave her sanction to that intense and
unquenchable animosity. Hundreds of Calvinistic preachers
proclaimed that the same power which had set apart Samson from
the womb to be the scourge of the Philistine, and which had
called Gideon from the threshing floor to smite the Midianite,
had raised up William of Orange to be the champion of all free
nations and of all pure Churches; nor was this notion without
influence on his own mind. To the confidence which the heroic
fatalist placed in his high destiny and in his sacred cause is to
be partly attributed his singular indifference to danger. He had
a great work to do; and till it was done nothing could harm him.
Therefore it was that, in spite of the prognostications of
physicians, he recovered from maladies which seemed hopeless,
that bands of assassins conspired in vain against his life, that
the open skiff to which he trusted himself on a starless night,
on a raging ocean, and near a treacherous shore, brought him safe
to land, and that, on twenty fields of battle, the cannon balls
passed him by to right and left. The ardour and perseverance with
which he devoted himself to his mission have scarcely any
parallel in history. In comparison with his great object he held
the lives of other men as cheap as his own. It was but too much
the habit, even of the most humane and generous soldiers of that
age, to think very lightly of the bloodshed and devastation
inseparable from great martial exploits; and the heart of William
was steeled, not only by professional insensibility, but by that
sterner insensibility which is the effect of a sense of duty.
Three great coalitions, three long and bloody wars in which all
Europe from the Vistula to the Western Ocean was in arms, are to
be ascribed to his unconquerable energy. When in 1678 the States
General, exhausted and disheartened, were desirious of repose,
his voice was still against sheathing the sword. If peace was
made, it was made only because he could not breathe into other
men a spirit as fierce and determined as his own. At the very
last moment, in the hope of breaking off the negotiation which he
knew to be all but concluded, he fought one of the most bloody
and obstinate battles of that age. From the day on which the
treaty of Nimeguen was signed, he began to meditate a second
coalition. His contest with Lewis, transferred from the field to
the cabinet, was soon exasperated by a private feud. In talents,
temper, manners and opinions, the rivals were diametrically
opposed to each other. Lewis, polite and dignified, profuse and
voluptuous, fond of display and averse from danger, a munificent
patron of arts and letters, and a cruel persecutor of Calvinists,
presented a remarkable contrast to William, simple in tastes,
ungracious in demeanour, indefatigable and intrepid in war,
regardless of all the ornamental branches of knowledge, and
firmly attached to the theology of Geneva. The enemies did not
long observe those courtesies which men of their rank, even when
opposed to each other at the head of armies, seldom neglect.
William, indeed, went through the form of tendering his best
services to Lewis. But this civility was rated at its true value,
and requited with a dry reprimand. The great King affected
contempt for the petty Prince who was the servant of a
confederacy of trading towns; and to every mark of contempt the
dauntless Stadtholder replied by a fresh defiance. William took
his title, a title which the events of the preceding century had
made one of the most illustrious in Europe, from a city which
lies on the banks of the Rhone not far from Avignon, and which,
like Avignon, though inclosed on every side by the French
territory, was properly a fief not of the French but of the
Imperial Crown. Lewis, with that ostentatious contempt of public
law which was characteristic of him, occupied Orange, dismantled
the fortifications, and confiscated the revenues. William
declared aloud at his table before many persons that he would
make the most Christian King repent the outrage, and, when
questioned about these words by the Count of Avaux, positively
refused either to retract them or to explain them away. The
quarrel was carried so far that the French minister could not
venture to present himself at the drawing room of the Princess
for fear of receiving some affront.220

The feeling with which William regarded France explains the whole
of his policy towards England. His public spirit was an European
public spirit. The chief object of his care was not our island,
not even his native Holland, but the great community of nations
threatened with subjugation by one too powerful member. Those who
commit the error of considering him as an English statesman must
necessarily see his whole life in a false light, and will be
unable to discover any principle, good or bad, Whig or Tory, to
which his most important acts can be referred. But, when we
consider him as a man whose especial task was to join a crowd of
feeble, divided and dispirited states in firm and energetic union
against a common enemy, when we consider him as a man in whose
eyes England was important chiefly because, without her, the
great coalition which he projected must be incomplete, we shall
be forced to admit that no long career recorded in history has
been more uniform from the beginning to the close than that of
this great Prince.221

The clue of which we are now possessed will enable us to track
without difficulty the course, in reality consistent, though in
appearance sometimes tortuous, which he pursued towards our
domestic factions. He clearly saw what had not escaped persons
far inferior to him in sagacity, that the enterprise on which his
whole soul was intent would probably be successful if England
were on his side, would be of uncertain issue if England were
neutral, and would be hopeless if England acted as she had acted
in the days of the Cabal. He saw not less clearly that between
the foreign policy and the domestic policy of the English
government there was a close connection; that the sovereign of
this country, acting in harmony with the legislature, must always
have a great sway in the affairs of Christendom, and must also
have an obvious interest in opposing the undue aggrandisement of
any continental potentate; that, on the other hand, the
sovereign, distrusted and thwarted by the legislature, could be
of little weight in European politics, and that the whole of that
little weight would be thrown into the wrong scale. The Prince's first wish
therefore was that there
should be concord between the throne and the Parliament. How that
concord should be established, and on which side concessions
should be made, were, in his view, questions of secondary
importance. He would have been best pleased, no doubt, to see a
complete reconciliation effected without the sacrifice of one
tittle of the prerogative. For in the integrity of that
prerogative he had a reversionary interest; and he was, by
nature, at least as covetous of power and as impatient of
restraint as any of the Stuarts. But there was no flower of the
crown which he was not prepared to sacrifice, even after the
crown had been placed on his own head, if he could only be
convinced that such a sacrifice was indispensably necessary to
his great design. In the days of the Popish plot, therefore,
though he disapproved of the violence with which the opposition
attacked the royal authority, he exhorted the government to give
way. The conduct of the Commons, he said, as respected domestic
affairs, was most unreasonable but while the Commons were
discontented the liberties of Europe could never be safe; and to
that paramount consideration every other consideration ought to
yield. On these principles he acted when the Exclusion Bill had
thrown the nation into convulsions. There is no reason to believe
that he encouraged the opposition to bring forward that bill or
to reject the offers of compromise which were repeatedly made
from the throne. But when it became clear that, unless that bill
were carried, there would be a serious breach between the Commons
and the court, he indicated very intelligibly, though with
decorous reserve, his opinion that the representatives of the
people ought to be conciliated at any price. When a violent and
rapid reflux of public feeling had left the Whig party for a time
utterly helpless, he attempted to attain his grand object by a
new road perhaps more agreeable to his temper than that which he
had previously tried. In the altered temper of the nation there
was little chance that any Parliament disposed to cross the
wishes of the sovereign would be elected. Charles was for a time
master. To gain Charles, therefore, was the Prince's first wish.
In the summer of 1683, almost at the moment at which the
detection of the Rye House Plot made the discomfiture of the
Whigs and the triumph of the King complete, events took place
elsewhere which William could not behold without extreme anxiety
and alarm. The Turkish armies advanced to the suburbs of Vienna.
The great Austrian monarchy, on the support of which the Prince
had reckoned, seemed to be on the point of destruction. Bentinck
was therefore sent in haste from the Hague to London, was charged
to omit nothing which might be necessary to conciliate the
English court, and was particularly instructed to express in the
strongest terms the horror with which his master regarded the
Whig conspiracy.

During the eighteen months which followed, there was some hope
that the influence of Halifax would prevail, and that the court
of Whitehall would return to the policy of the Triple Alliance.
To that hope William fondly clung. He spared no effort to
propitiate Charles. The hospitality which Monmouth found at the
Hague is chiefly to be ascribed to the Prince's anxiety to
gratify the real wishes of Monmouth's father. As soon as Charles
died, William, still adhering unchangeably to his object, again
changed his course. He had sheltered Monmouth to please the late
King. That the present King might have no reason to complain
Monmouth was dismissed. We have seen that, when the Western
insurrection broke out, the British regiments in the Dutch
service were, by the active exertions of the Prince, sent over to
their own country on the first requisition. Indeed William even
offered to command in person against the rebels; and that the
offer was made in perfect sincerity cannot be doubted by those
who have perused his confidential letters to Bentinck.222

The Prince was evidently at this time inclined to hope that the
great plan to which in his mind everything else was subordinate
might obtain the approbation and support of his father in law.
The high tone which James was then holding towards France, the
readiness with which he consented to a defensive alliance with
the United Provinces, the inclination which he showed to connect
himself with the House of Austria, encouraged this expectation.
But in a short time the prospect was darkened. The disgrace of
Halifax, the breach between James and the Parliament, the
prorogation: the announcement distinctly made by the King to the
foreign ministers that continental politics should no longer
divert his attention from internal measures tending to strengthen
his prerogative and to promote the interest of his Church, put an
end to the delusion. It was plain that, when the European crisis
came, England would, if James were her master, either remain
inactive or act in conjunction with France. And the European
crisis was drawing near. The House of Austria had, by a
succession of victories, been secured from danger on the side of
Turkey, and was no longer under the necessity of submitting
patiently to the encroachments and insults of Lewis. Accordingly,
in July 1686, a treaty was signed at Augsburg by which the
Princes of the Empire bound themselves closely together for the
purpose of mutual defence. The Kings of Spain and Sweden were
parties to this compact, the King of Spain as sovereign of the
provinces contained in the circle of Burgundy, and the King of
Sweden as Duke of Pomerania. The confederates declared that they
had no intention to attack and no wish to offend any power, but
that they were determined to tolerate no infraction of those
rights which the Germanic body held under the sanction of public
law and public faith. They pledged themselves to stand by each
other in case of need, and fixed the amount of force which each
member of the league was to furnish if it should be necessary to
repel aggression.223 The name of William did not appear in this
instrument: but all men knew that it was his work, and foresaw
that he would in no long time be again the captain of a coalition
against France. Between him and the vassal of France there could,
in such circumstances, be no cordial good will. There was no open
rupture, no interchange of menaces or reproaches. But the father
in law and the son in law were separated completely and for ever.

At the very time at which the Prince was thus estranged from the
English court, the causes which had hitherto produced a coolness
between him and the two great sections of the English people
disappeared. A large portion, perhaps a numerical majority, of
the Whigs had favoured the pretensions of Monmouth: but Monmouth
was now no more. The Tories, on the other hand, had entertained
apprehensions that the interests of the Anglican Church might not
be safe under the rule of a man bred among Dutch Presbyterians,
and well known to hold latitudinarian opinions about robes,
ceremonies, and Bishops: but, since that beloved Church had been
threatened by far more formidable dangers from a very different
quarter, these apprehensions had lost almost all their power.
Thus, at the same moment, both the great parties began to fix
their hopes and their affections on the same leader. Old
republicans could not refuse their confidence to one who had
worthily filled, during many years, the highest magistracy of a
republic. Old royalists conceived that they acted according to
their principles in paying profound respect to a prince so near
to the throne. At this conjuncture it was of the highest moment
that there should be entire union between William and Mary. A
misunderstanding between the presumptive heiress of the crown and
her husband must have produced a schism in that vast mass which
was from all quarters gathering round one common rallying point.
Happily all risk of such misunderstanding was averted in the
critical instant by the interposition of Burnet; and the Prince
became the unquestioned chief of the whole of that party which
was opposed to the government, a party almost coextensive with
the nation.

There is not the least reason to believe that he at this time
meditated the great enterprise to which a stern necessity
afterwards drove him. He was aware that the public mind of
England, though heated by grievances, was by no means ripe for
revolution. He would doubtless gladly have avoided the scandal
which must be the effect of a mortal quarrel between persons
bound together by the closest ties of consanguinity and affinity.
Even his ambition made him unwilling to owe to violence that
greatness which might be his in the ordinary course of nature and
of law. For he well knew that, if the crown descended to his wife
regularly, all its prerogatives would descend unimpaired with it,
and that, if it were obtained by election, it must be taken
subject to such conditions as the electors might think fit to
impose. He meant, therefore, as it appears, to wait with patience
for the day when he might govern by an undisputed title, and to
content himself in the meantime with exercising a great influence
on English affairs, as first Prince of the blood, and as head of
the party which was decidedly preponderant in the nation, and
which was certain whenever a Parliament should meet, to be
decidedly preponderant in both Houses.

Already, it is true, he had been urged by an adviser, less
sagacious and more impetuous than himself, to try a bolder
course. This adviser was the young Lord Mordaunt. That age had
produced no more inventive genius, and no more daring spirit.
But, if a design was splendid, Mordaunt seldom inquired whether
it were practicable. His life was a wild romance made up of
mysterious intrigues, both political and amorous, of violent and
rapid changes of scene and fortune, and of victories resembling
those of Amadis and Launcelot rather than those of Luxemburg and
Eugene. The episodes interspersed in this strange story were of a
piece with the main plot. Among them were midnight encounters
with generous robbers, and rescues of noble and beautiful ladies
from ravishers. Mordaunt, having distinguished himself by the
eloquence and audacity with which, in the House of Lords, he had
opposed the court, repaired, soon after the prorogation, to the
Hague, and strongly recommended an immediate descent on England.
He had persuaded himself that it would be as easy to surprise
three great kingdoms as he long afterwards found it to surprise
Barcelona. William listened, meditated, and replied, in general
terms, that he took a great interest in English affairs, and
would keep his attention fixed on them.224 Whatever his purpose
had been, it is not likely that he would have chosen a rash and
vainglorious knight errant for his confidant. Between the two men
there was nothing in common except personal courage, which rose
in both to the height of fabulous heroism. Mordaunt wanted merely
to enjoy the excitement of conflict, and to make men stare.
William had one great end ever before him. Towards that end he
was impelled by a strong passion which appeared to him under the
guise of a sacred duty. Towards that end he toiled with a
patience resembling, as he once said, the patience with which he
had seen a boatman on a canal, strain against an adverse eddy,
often swept back, but never ceasing to pull, and content if, by
the labour of hours, a few yards could be gained.225 Exploits
which brought the Prince no nearer to his object, however
glorious they might be in the estimation of the vulgar, were in
his judgment boyish vanities, and no part of the real business of

He determined to reject Mordaunt's advice; and there can be no
doubt that the determination was wise. Had William, in 1686, or
even in 1687, attempted to do what he did with such signal
success in 1688, it is probable that many Whigs would have risen
in arms at his call. But he would have found that the nation was
not yet prepared to welcome an armed deliverer from a foreign
country, and that the Church had not yet been provoked and
insulted into forgetfulness of the tenet which had long been her
peculiar boast. The old Cavaliers would have flocked to the royal
standard. There would probably have been in all the three
kingdoms a civil war as long and fierce as that of the preceding
generation. While that war was raging in the British Isles, what
might not Lewis attempt on the Continent? And what hope would
there be for Holland, drained of her troops and abandoned by her

William therefore contented himself for the present with taking
measures to unite and animate that mighty opposition of which he
had become the head. This was not difficult. The fall of the
Hydes had excited throughout England strange alarm and
indignation: Men felt that the question now was, not whether
Protestantism should be dominant, but whether it should be
tolerated. The Treasurer had been succeeded by a board, of which
a Papist was the head. The Privy Seal had been entrusted to a
Papist. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had been succeeded by a
man who had absolutely no claim to high place except that he was
a Papist. The last person whom a government having in view the
general interests of the empire would have sent to Dublin as
Deputy was Tyrconnel. His brutal manners made him unfit to
represent the majesty of the crown. The feebleness of his
understanding and the violence of his temper made him unfit to
conduct grave business of state. The deadly animosity which he
felt towards the possessors of the greater part of the soil of
Ireland made him especially unfit to rule that kingdom. But the
intemperance of his bigotry was thought amply to atone for the
intemperance of all his other passions; and, in consideration of
the hatred which he bore to the reformed faith, he was suffered
to indulge without restraint his hatred of the English name.
This, then, was the real meaning of his Majesty's respect for the
rights of conscience. He wished his Parliament to remove all the
disabilities which had been imposed on Papists, merely in order
that he might himself impose disabilities equally galling on
Protestants. It was plain that, under such a prince, apostasy was
the only road to greatness. It was a road, however, which few
ventured to take. For the spirit of the nation was thoroughly
roused; and every renegade had to endure such an amount of public
scorn and detestation, as cannot be altogether unfelt even by the
most callous natures.

It is true that several remarkable conversions had recently taken
place; but they were such as did little credit to the Church of
Rome. Two men of high rank had joined her communion; Henry
Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, and James Cecil, Earl of
Salisbury. But Peterborough, who had been an active soldier,
courtier, and negotiator, was now broken down by years and
infirmities; and those who saw him totter about the galleries of
Whitehall, leaning on a stick and swathed up in flannels and
plasters, comforted themselves for his defection by remarking
that he had not changed his religion till he had outlived his
faculties.226 Salisbury was foolish to a proverb. His figure was
so bloated by sensual indulgence as to be almost incapable of
moving, and this sluggish body was the abode of an equally
sluggish mind. He was represented in popular lampoons as a man
made to be duped, as a man who had hitherto been the prey of
gamesters, and who might as well be the prey of friars. A
pasquinade, which, about the time of Rochester's retirement, was
fixed on the door of Salisbury House in the Strand, described in
coarse terms the horror with which the wise Robert Cecil, if he
could rise from his grave, would see to what a creature his
honours had descended.227

These were the highest in station among the proselytes of James.
There were other renegades of a very different kind, needy men of
parts who were destitute of principle and of all sense of
personal dignity. There is reason to believe that among these was
William Wycherley, the most licentious and hardhearted writer of
a singularly licentious and hardhearted school.228 It is certain
that Matthew Tindal, who, at a later period, acquired great
notoriety by writing against Christianity, was at this time
received into the bosom of the infallible Church, a fact which,
as may easily be supposed, the divines with whom he was
subsequently engaged in controversy did not suffer to sink into
oblivion.229 A still more infamous apostate was Joseph Haines,
whose name is now almost forgotten, but who was well known in his
own time as an adventurer of versatile parts, sharper, coiner,
false witness, sham bail, dancing master, buffoon, poet,
comedian. Some of his prologues and epilogues were much admired
by his contemporaries; and his merit as an actor was universally
acknowledged. This man professed himself a Roman Catholic, and
went to Italy in the retinue of Castelmaine, but was soon
dismissed for misconduct. If any credit is due to a tradition
which was long preserved in the green room, Haines had the
impudence to affirm that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and
called him to repentance. After the Revolution, he attempted to
make his peace with the town by a penance more scandalous than
his offence. One night, before he acted in a farce, he appeared
on the stage in a white sheet with a torch in his hand, and
recited some profane and indecent doggerel, which he called his

With the name of Haines was joined, in many libels the name of a
more illustrious renegade, John Dryden. Dryden was now
approaching the decline of life. After many successes and many
failures, he had at length attained, by general consent, the
first place among living English poets. His claims on the
gratitude of James were superior to those of any man of letters
in the kingdom. But James cared little for verses and much for
money. From the day of his accession he set himself to make small
economical reforms, such as bring on a government the reproach of
meanness without producing any perceptible relief to the
finances. One of the victims of his injudicious parsimony was the
Poet Laureate. Orders were given that, in the new patent which
the demise of the crown made necessary, the annual butt of sack,
originally granted to Jonson, and continued to Jonson's
successors, should be omitted.231 This was the only notice which
the King, during the first year of his reign, deigned to bestow
on the mighty satirist who, in the very crisis of the great
struggle of the Exclusion Bill, had spread terror through the
Whig ranks. Dryden was poor and impatient of poverty. He knew
little and cared little about religion. If any sentiment was
deeply fixed in him, that sentiment was an aversion to priests of
all persuasions, Levites, Augurs, Muftis, Roman Catholic divines,
Presbyterian divines, divines of the Church of England. He was
not naturally a man of high spirit; and his pursuits had been by
no means such as were likely to give elevation or delicacy to
his mind. He had, during many years, earned his daily bread by
pandaring to the vicious taste of the pit, and by grossly
flattering rich and noble patrons. Selfrespect and a fine sense
of the becoming were not to be expected from one who had led a
life of mendicancy and adulation. Finding that, if he continued
to call himself a Protestant, his services would be overlooked,
he declared himself a Papist. The King's parsimony instantly
relaxed. Dryden was gratified with a pension of a hundred pounds
a year, and was employed to defend his new religion both in prose
and verse.

Two eminent men, Samuel Johnson and Walter Scott, have done their
best to persuade themselves and others that this memorable
conversion was sincere. It was natural that they should be
desirous to remove a disgraceful stain from the memory of one
whose genius they justly admired, and with whose political
feelings they strongly sympathized; but the impartial historian
must with regret pronounce a very different judgment. There will

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