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

Part 7 out of 12

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despatched from London to the Hague an instrument scarcely less
important to the liberties of England than the Great Charter.

The prosecution of the Bishops, and the birth of the Prince of
Wales, had produced a great revolution in the feelings of many
Tories. At the very moment at which their Church was suffering
the last excess of injury and insult, they were compelled to
renounce the hope of peaceful deliverance. Hitherto they had
flattered themselves that the trial to which their loyalty was
subjected would, though severe, be temporary, and that their
wrongs would shortly be redressed without any violation of the
ordinary rule of succession. A very different prospect was now
before them. As far as they could look forward they saw only
misgovernment, such as that of the last three years, extending
through ages. The cradle of the heir apparent of the crown was
surrounded by Jesuits. Deadly hatred of that Church of which he
would one day be the head would be studiously instilled into his
infant mind, would be the guiding principle of his life, and
would be bequeathed by him to his posterity. This vista of
calamities had no end. It stretched beyond the life of the
youngest man living, beyond the eighteenth century. None could
say how many generations of Protestant Englishmen might hive to
bear oppression, such as, even when it had been believed to be
short, had been found almost insupportable. Was there then no
remedy? One remedy there was, quick, sharp, and decisive, a
remedy which the Whigs had been but too ready to employ, but
which had always been regarded by the Tories as, in all cases,

The greatest Anglican doctors of that age had maintained that no
breach of law or contract, no excess of cruelty, rapacity, or
licentiousness, on the part of a rightful King, could justify his
people in withstanding him by force. Some of them had delighted
to exhibit the doctrine of nonresistance in a form so exaggerated
as to shock common sense and humanity. They frequently and
emphatically remarked that Nero was at the head of the Roman
government when Saint Paul inculcated the duty of obeying
magistrates. The inference which they drew was that, if an
English King should, without any law but his own pleasure,
persecute his subjects for not worshipping idols, should fling
them to the lions in the Tower, should wrap them up in pitched
cloth and set them on fire to light up Saint James's Park, and
should go on with these massacres till whole towns and shires
were left without one inhabitant, the survivors would still be
bound meekly to submit, and to be torn in pieces or roasted alive
without a struggle. The arguments in favour of this proposition
were futile indeed: but the place of sound argument was amply
supplied by the omnipotent sophistry of interest and of passion.
Many writers have expressed wonder that the high spirited
Cavaliers of England should have been zealous for the most
slavish theory that has ever been known among men. The truth is
that this theory at first presented itself to the Cavalier as the
very opposite of slavish. Its tendency was to make him not a
slave but a freeman and a master. It exalted him by exalting one
whom he regarded as his protector, as his friend, as the head of
his beloved party and of his more beloved Church. When
Republicans were dominant the Royalist had endured wrongs and
insults which the restoration of the legitimate government had
enabled him to retaliate. Rebellion was therefore associated in
his imagination with subjection and degradation, and monarchical
authority with liberty and ascendency. It had never crossed his
imagination that a time might come when a King, a Stuart, would
persecute the most loyal of the clergy and gentry with more than
the animosity of the Rump or the Protector. That time had however
arrived. It was now to be seen how the patience which Churchmen
professed to have learned from the writings of Paul would stand
the test of a persecution by no means so severe as that of Nero.
The event was such as everybody who knew anything of human nature
would have predicted. Oppression speedily did what philosophy and
eloquence would have failed to do. The system of Filmer might
have survived the attacks of Locke: but it never recovered from
the death blow given by James. That logic, which, while it was
used to prove that Presbyterians and Independents ought to bear
imprisonment and confiscation with meekness, had been pronounced
unanswerable, seemed to be of very little force when the question
was whether Anglican Bishops should be imprisoned, and the
revenues of Anglican colleges confiscated. It has been often
repeated, from the pulpits of all the Cathedrals in the land,
that the apostolical injunction to obey the civil magistrate was
absolute and universal, and that it was impious presumption in
man to limit a precept which had been promulgated without any
limitation in the word of God. Now, however, divines, whose
sagacity had been sharpened by the imminent danger in which they
stood of being turned out of their livings and prebends to make
room for Papists, discovered flaws in the reasoning which had
formerly seemed so convincing. The ethical parts of Scripture
were not to be construed like Acts of Parliament, or like the
casuistical treatises of the schoolmen. What Christian really
turned the left cheek to the ruffian who had smitten the right?
What Christian really gave his cloak to the thieves who had taken
his coat away? Both in the Old and in the New Testament general
rules were perpetually laid down unaccompanied by the exceptions.
Thus there was a general command not to kill, unaccompanied by
any reservation in favour of the warrior who kills in defence of
his king and country. There was a general command not to swear,
unaccompanied by any reservation in favour of the witness who
swears to speak the truth before a judge. Yet the lawfulness of
defensive war, and of judicial oaths, was disputed only by a few
obscure sectaries, and was positively affirmed in the articles of
the Church of England. All the arguments, which showed that the
Quaker, who refused to bear arms, or to kiss the Gospels, was
unreasonable and perverse, might be turned against those who
denied to subjects the right of resisting extreme tyranny by
force. If it was contended that the texts which prohibited
homicide, and the texts which prohibited swearing, though
generally expressed, must be construed in subordination to the
great commandment by which every man is enjoined to promote the
welfare of his neighbours, and would, when so construed, be found
not to apply to cases in which homicide or swearing might be
absolutely necessary to protect the dearest interests of society,
it was not easy to deny that the texts which prohibited
resistance ought to be construed in the same manner. If the
ancient people of God had been directed sometimes to destroy
human life, and sometimes to bind themselves by oaths, they had
also been directed sometimes to resist wicked princes. If early
fathers of the Church had occasionally used language which seemed
to imply that they disapproved of all resistance, they had also
occasionally used language which seemed to imply that they
disapproved of all war and of all oaths. In truth the doctrine of
passive obedience, as taught at Oxford in the reign of Charles
the Second, can be deduced from the Bible only by a mode of
interpretation which would irresistibly lead us to the
conclusions of Barclay and Penn.

It was not merely by arguments drawn from the letter of Scripture
that the Anglican theologians had, during the years which
immediately followed the Restoration, laboured to prove their
favourite tenet. They had attempted to show that, even if
revelation had been silent, reason would have taught wise men the
folly and wickedness of all resistance to established government.
It was universally admitted that such resistance was, except in
extreme cases, unjustifiable. And who would undertake to draw the
line between extreme cases and ordinary cases? Was there any
government in the world under which there were not to be found
some discontented and factious men who would say, and perhaps
think, that their grievances constituted an extreme case? If,
indeed, it were possible to lay down a clear and accurate rule
which might forbid men to rebel against Trajan, and yet leave
them at liberty to rebel against Caligula, such a rule might be
highly beneficial. But no such rule had even been, or ever would
be, framed. To say that rebellion was lawful under some
circumstances, without accurately defining those circumstances,
was to say that every man might rebel whenever he thought fit;
and a society in which every man rebelled whenever he thought fit
would be more miserable than a society governed by the most cruel
and licentious despot. It was therefore necessary to maintain the
great principle of nonresistance in all its integrity. Particular
cases might doubtless be put in which resistance would benefit a
community: but it was, on the whole, better that the people
should patiently endure a bad government than that they should
relieve themselves by violating a law on which the security of
all government depended.

Such reasoning easily convinced a dominant and prosperous party,
but could ill bear the scrutiny of minds strongly excited by
royal injustice and ingratitude. It is true that to trace the
exact boundary between rightful and wrongful resistance is
impossible: but this impossibility arises from the nature of
right and wrong, and is found in almost every part of ethical
science. A good action is not distinguished from a bad action by
marks so plain as those which distinguish a hexagon from a
square. There is a frontier where virtue and vice fade into each
other. Who has ever been able to define the exact boundary
between courage and rashness, between prudence and cowardice,
between frugality and avarice, between liberality and
prodigality? Who has ever been able to say how far mercy to
offenders ought to be carried, and where it ceases to deserve the
name of mercy and becomes a pernicious weakness? What casuist,
what lawyer, has ever been able nicely to mark the limits of
the right of selfdefence? All our jurists bold that a certain
quantity of risk to life or limb justifies a man in shooting or
stabbing an assailant: but they have long given up in despair the
attempt to describe, in precise words, that quantity of risk.
They only say that it must be, not a slight risk, but a risk such
as would cause serious apprehension to a man of firm mind; and
who will undertake to say what is the precise amount of
apprehension which deserves to be called serious, or what is the
precise texture of mind which deserves to be called firm. It is
doubtless to be regretted that the nature of words and the nature
of things do not admit of more accurate legislation: nor can it
be denied that wrong will often be done when men are judges in
their own cause, and proceed instantly to execute their own
judgment. Yet who would, on that account, interdict all
selfdefence? The right which a people has to resist a bad
government bears a close analogy to the right which an
individual, in the absence of legal protection, has to slay an
assailant. In both cases the evil must be grave. In both cases
all regular and peaceable modes of defence must be exhausted
before the aggrieved party resorts to extremities. In both cases
an awful responsibility is incurred. In both cases the burden of
the proof lies on him who has ventured on so desperate an
expedient; and, if he fails to vindicate himself, he is justly
liable to the severest penalties. But in neither case can we
absolutely deny the existence of the right. A man beset by
assassins is not bound to let himself be tortured and butchered
without using his weapons, because nobody has ever been able
precisely to define the amount of danger which justifies
homicide. Nor is a society bound to endure passively all that
tyranny can inflict, because nobody has ever been able precisely
to define the amount of misgovernment which justifies rebellion.

But could the resistance of Englishmen to such a prince as James
be properly called rebellion? The thoroughpaced disciples of
Filmer, indeed, maintained that there was no difference whatever
between the polity of our country and that of Turkey, and that,
if the King did not confiscate the contents of all the tills in
Lombard Street, and send mutes with bowstrings to Sancroft and
Halifax, this was only because His Majesty was too gracious to
use the whole power which he derived from heaven. But the great
body of Tories, though, in the heat of conflict, they might
occasionally use language which seemed to indicate that they
approved of these extravagant doctrines, heartily abhorred
despotism. The English government was, in their view, a limited
monarchy. Yet how can a monarchy be said to be limited if force
is never to be employed, even in the last resort, for the purpose
of maintaining the limitations? In Muscovy, where the sovereign
was, by the constitution of the state, absolute, it might perhaps
be, with some colour of truth, contended that, whatever excesses
he might commit, he was still entitled to demand, on Christian
principles, the obedience of his subjects. But here prince and
people were alike bound by the laws. It was therefore James who
incurred the woe denounced against those who insult the powers
that be. It was James who was resisting the ordinance of God, who
was mutinying against that legitimate authority to which he ought
to have been subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience
sake, and who was, in the true sense of the words of Jesus,
withholding from Caesar the things which were Caesar's.

Moved by such considerations as these, the ablest and most
enlightened Tories began to admit that they had overstrained the
doctrine of passive obedience. The difference between these men
and the Whigs as to the reciprocal obligations of Kings and
subjects was now no longer a difference of principle. There still
remained, it is true, many historical controversies between the
party which had always maintained the lawfulness of resistance
and the new converts. The memory of the blessed Martyr was still
as much revered as ever by those old Cavaliers who were ready to
take arms against his degenerate son. They still spoke with
abhorrence of the Long Parliament, of the Rye House Plot, and of
the Western insurrection. But, whatever they might think about
the past, the view which they took of the present was altogether
Whiggish: for they now held that extreme oppression might justify
resistance, and they held that the oppression which the nation
suffered was extreme.412

It must not, however, be supposed that all the Tories renounced,
even at that conjuncture, a tenet which they had from childhood
been taught to regard as an essential part of Christianity, which
they had professed during many years with ostentatious vehemence,
and which they had attempted to propagate by persecution. Many
were kept steady to their old creed by conscience, and many by
shame. But the greater part, even of those who still continued to
pronounce all resistance to the sovereign unlawful, were
disposed, in the event of a civil conflict, to remain neutral. No
provocation should drive them to rebel: but, if rebellion broke
forth, it did not appear that they were bound to fight for James
the Second as they would have fought for Charles the First. The
Christians of Rome had been forbidden by Saint Paul to resist the
government of Nero: but there was no reason to believe that the
Apostle, if he had been alive when the Legions and the Senate
rose up against that wicked Emperor, would have commanded the
brethren to fly to arms in support of tyranny. The duty of the
persecuted Church was clear: she must suffer patiently, and
commit her cause to God. But, if God, whose providence
perpetually educes good out of evil, should be pleased, as
oftentimes He bad been pleased, to redress her wrongs by the
instrumentality of men whose angry passions her lessons had not
been able to tame, she might gratefully accept from Him a
deliverance which her principles did not permit her to achieve
for herself. Most of those Tories, therefore, who still sincerely
disclaimed all thought of attacking the government, were yet by
no means inclined to defend it, and perhaps, while glorying in
their own scruples, secretly rejoiced that everybody was not so
scrupulous as themselves.

The Whigs saw that their time was come. Whether they should draw
the sword against the government had, during six or seven years,
been, in their view, merely a question of prudence; and prudence
itself now urged them to take a bold course.

In May, before the birth of the Prince of Wales, and while it was
still uncertain whether the Declaration would or would not be
read in the churches, Edward Russell had repaired to the Hague.
He had strongly represented to the Prince of Orange the state of
the public mind, and had advised his Highness to appear in
England at the head of a strong body of troops, and to call the
people to arms.

William had seen, at a glance, the whole importance of the
crisis. "Now or never," he exclaimed in Latin to Dykvelt.413 To
Russell he held more guarded language, admitted that the
distempers of the state were such as required an extraordinary
remedy, but spoke with earnestness of the chance of failure, and
of the calamities which failure might bring on Britain and on
Europe. He knew well that many who talked in high language about
sacrificing their lives and fortunes for their country would
hesitate when the prospect of another Bloody Circuit was brought
close to them. He wanted therefore to have, not vague professions
of good will, but distinct invitations and promises of support
subscribed by powerful and eminent men. Russell remarked that it
would be dangerous to entrust the design to a great number of
persons. William assented, and said that a few signatures would
be sufficient, if they were the signatures of statesmen who
represented great interests.414

With this answer Russell returned to London, where he found the
excitement greatly increased and daily increasing. The
imprisonment of the Bishops and the delivery of the Queen made
his task easier than he could have anticipated. He lost no time
in collecting the voices of the chiefs of the opposition. His
principal coadjutor in this work was Henry Sidney, brother of
Algernon. It is remarkable that both Edward Russell and Henry
Sidney had been in the household of James, that both had, partly
on public and partly on private grounds, become his enemies, and
that both had to avenge the blood of near kinsmen who had, in the
same year, fallen victims to his implacable severity. Here the
resemblance ends. Russell, with considerable abilities, was
proud, acrimonious, restless, and violent. Sidney, with a sweet
temper and winning manners, seemed to be deficient in capacity
and knowledge, and to be sunk in voluptuousness and indolence.
His face and form were eminently handsome. In his youth he had
been the terror of husbands; and even now, at near fifty, he was
the favourite of women and the envy of younger men. He had
formerly resided at the Hague in a public character, and had then
succeeded in obtaining a large share of William's confidence.
Many wondered at this: for it seemed that between the most
austere of statesmen and the most dissolute of idlers there could
be nothing in common. Swift, many years later, could not be
convinced that one whom he had known only as an illiterate and
frivolous old rake could really have played a great part in a
great revolution. Yet a less acute observer than Swift might have
been aware that there is a certain tact, resembling an instinct,
which is often wanting to great orators and philosophers, and
which is often found in persons who, if judged by their
conversation or by their writings, would be pronounced
simpletons. Indeed, when a man possesses this tact, it is in some
sense an advantage to him that he is destitute of those more
showy talents which would make him an object of admiration, of
envy, and of fear. Sidney was a remarkable instance of this
truth. Incapable, ignorant, and dissipated as he seemed to be, he
understood, or rather felt, with whom it was necessary to be
reserved, and with whom he might safely venture to be
communicative. The consequence was that he did what Mordaunt,
with all his vivacity and invention, or Burnet, with all his
multifarious knowledge and fluent elocution never could have

With the old Whigs there could be no difficulty. In their opinion
there had been scarcely a moment, during many years, at which the
public wrongs would not have justified resistance. Devonshire,
who might be regarded as their chief, had private as well as
public wrongs to revenge. He went into the scheme with his whole
heart, and answered for his party.416

Russell opened the design to Shrewsbury. Sidney sounded Halifax.
Shrewsbury took his part with a courage and decision which, at a
later period, seemed to be wanting to his character. He at once
agreed to set his estate, his honours, and his life, on the
stake. But Halifax received the first hint of the project in a
way which showed that it would be useless, and perhaps hazardous,
to be explicit. He was indeed not the man for such an enterprise.
His intellect was inexhaustibly fertile of distinctions and
objections; his temper calm and unadventurous. He was ready to
oppose the court to the utmost in the House of Lords and by means
of anonymous writings: but he was little disposed to exchange his
lordly repose for the insecure and agitated life of a
conspirator, to be in the power of accomplices, to live in
constant dread of warrants and King's messengers, nay, perhaps,
to end his days on a scaffold, or to live on alms in some back
street of the Hague. He therefore let fall some words which
plainly indicated that he did not wish to be privy to the
intentions of his more daring and impetuous friends. Sidney
understood him and said no more.417

The next application was made to Danby, and had far better
success. Indeed, for his bold and active spirit the danger and
the excitement, which were insupportable to the more delicately
organized mind of Halifax, had a strong fascination. The
different characters of the two statesmen were legible in their
faces. The brow, the eye, and the mouth of Halifax indicated a
powerful intellect and an exquisite sense of the ludicrous; but
the expression was that of a sceptic, of a voluptuary, of a man
not likely to venture his all on a single hazard, or to be a
martyr in any cause. To those who are acquainted with his
countenance it will not seem wonderful that the writer in whom he
most delighted was Montaigne.418 Danby was a skeleton; and his
meagre and wrinkled, though handsome and noble, face strongly
expressed both the keenness of his parts and the restlessness of
his ambition. Already he had once risen from obscurity to the
height of power. He had then fallen headlong from his elevation.
His life had been in danger. He had passed years in a prison. He
was now free: but this did not content him: he wished to be again
great. Attached as he was to the Anglican Church, hostile as he
was to the French ascendency, he could not hope to be great in a
court swarming with Jesuits and obsequious to the House of
Bourbon. But, if be bore a chief part in a revolution which
should confound all the schemes of the Papists, which should put
an end to the long vassalage of England, and which should
transfer the regal power to an illustrious pair whom he had
united, he might emerge from his eclipse with new splendour. The
Whigs, whose animosity had nine years before driven him from
office, would, on his auspicious reappearance, join their
acclamations to the acclamations of his old friends the
Cavaliers. Already there had been a complete reconciliation
between him and one of the most distinguished of those who had
formerly been managers of his impeachment, the Earl of
Devonshire. The two noblemen had met at a village in the Peak,
and had exchanged assurances of good will. Devonshire had frankly
owned that the Whigs had been guilty of a great injustice, and
had declared that they were now convinced of their error. Danby,
on his side, had also recantations to make. He had once held, or
pretended to hold, the doctrine of passive obedience in the
largest sense. Under his administration and with his sanction, a
law had been proposed which, if it had been passed, would have
excluded from Parliament and office all who refused to declare on
oath that they thought resistance in every case unlawful. But his
vigorous understanding, now thoroughly awakened by anxiety for
the public interests and for his own, was no longer to be duped,
if indeed it ever had been duped, by such childish fallacies. He
at once gave in his own adhesion to the conspiracy. He then
exerted himself to obtain the concurrence of Compton, the
suspended Bishop of London, and succeeded without difficulty. No
prelate had been so insolently and unjustly treated by the
government as Compton; nor had any prelate so much to expect from
a revolution: for he had directed the education of the Princess
of Orange, and was supposed to possess a large share of her
confidence. He had, like his brethren, strongly maintained, as
long as he was not oppressed, that it was a crime to resist
oppression; but, since he had stood before the High Commission, a
new light had broken in upon his mind.419

Both Danby and Compton were desirous to secure the assistance of
Nottingham. The whole plan was opened to him; and he approved of
it. But in a few days he began to be unquiet. His mind was not
sufficiently powerful to emancipate itself from the prejudices of
education. He went about from divine to divine proposing in
general terms hypothetical cases of tyranny, and inquiring
whether in such cases resistance would be lawful. The answers
which he obtained increased his distress. He at length told his
accomplices that he could go no further with them. If they
thought him capable of betraying them, they might stab him; and
he should hardly blame them; for, by drawing back after going so
far, he had given them a kind of right over his life. They had,
however, he assured them, nothing to fear from him: he would keep
their secret; he could not help wishing them success; but his
conscience would not suffer him to take an active part in a
rebellion. They heard his confession with suspicion and disdain.
Sidney, whose notions of a conscientious scruple were extremely
vague, informed the Prince that Nottingham had taken fright. It
is due to Nottingham, however, to say that the general tenor of
his life justifies us in believing his conduct on this occasion
to have been perfectly honest, though most unwise and

The agents of the Prince had more complete success with Lord
Lumley, who knew himself to be, in spite of the eminent service
which he had performed at the time of the Western insurrection,
abhorred at Whitehall, not only as a heretic but as a renegade,
and who was therefore more eager than most of those who had been
born Protestants to take arms in defence of Protestantism.421

During June the meetings of those who were in the secret were
frequent. At length, on the last day of the month, the day on
which the Bishops were pronounced not guilty, the decisive step
was taken. A formal invitation, transcribed by Sidney but drawn
up by some person more skilled than Sidney, in the art of
composition, was despatched to the Hague. In this paper William
was assured that nineteen twentieths of the English people were
desirous of a change, and would willingly join to effect it, if
only they could obtain the help of such a force from abroad as
might secure those who should rise in arms from the danger of
being dispersed and slaughtered before they could form themselves
into anything like military order. If his Highness would appear
in the island at the head of some troops, tens of thousands would
hasten to his standard. He would soon find himself at the head of
a force greatly superior to the whole regular army of England.
Nor could that army be implicitly depended on by the government.
The officers were discontented; and the common soldiers shared
that aversion to Popery which was general in the class from which
they were taken. In the navy Protestant feeling was still
stronger. It was important to take some decisive step while
things were in this state. The enterprise would be far more
arduous if it were deferred till the King, by remodelling
boroughs and regiments, had procured a Parliament and an army on
which he could rely. The conspirators, therefore, implored the
Prince to come among them with as little delay as possible. They
pledged their honour that they would join him; and they undertook
to secure the cooperation of as large a number of persons as
could safely be trusted with so momentous and perilous a secret.
On one point they thought it their duty to remonstrate with his
Highness. He had not taken advantage of the opinion which the
great body of the English people had formed respecting the late
birth. He had, on the contrary, sent congratulations to
Whitehall, and had thus seemed to acknowledge that the child who
was called Prince of Wales was rightful heir of the throne. This
was a grave error, and had damped the zeal of many. Not one
person in a thousand doubted that the boy was supposititious; and
the Prince would be wanting to his own interests if the
suspicious circumstances which had attended the Queen's
confinement were not put prominently forward among his reasons
for taking arms.422

This paper was signed in cipher by the seven chiefs of the
conspiracy, Shrewsbury, Devonshire, Danby, Lumley, Compton,
Russell and Sidney. Herbert undertook to be their messenger. His
errand was one of no ordinary peril. He assumed the garb of a
common sailor, and in this disguise reached the Dutch coast in
safety, on the Friday after the trial of the Bishops. He
instantly hastened to the Prince. Bentinck and Dykvelt were
summoned, and several days were passed in deliberation. The first
result of this deliberation was that the prayer for the Prince of
Wales ceased to be read in the Princess's chapel.423

From his wife William had no opposition to apprehend. Her
understanding had been completely subjugated by his; and, what is
more extraordinary, he had won her entire affection. He was to
her in the place of the parents whom she had lost by death and by
estrangement, of the children who had been denied to her prayers,
and of the country from which she was banished. His empire over
her heart was divided only with her God. To her father she had
probably never been attached: she had quitted him young: many
years had elapsed since she had seen him; and no part of his
conduct to her, since her marriage, had indicated tenderness on
his part, or had been calculated to call forth tenderness on
hers. He had done all in his power to disturb her domestic
happiness, and had established a system of spying, eavesdropping,
and talebearing under her roof. He had a far greater revenue than
any of his predecessors had ever possessed, and regularly allowed
to her younger sister forty thousand pounds a year424: but the
heiress presumptive of his throne had never received from him the
smallest pecuniary assistance, and was scarcely able to make that
appearance which became her high rank among European princesses.
She had ventured to intercede with him on behalf of her old
friend and preceptor Compton, who, for refusing to commit an act
of flagitious injustice, had been suspended from his episcopal
functions; but she had been ungraciously repulsed.425 From the
day on which it had become clear that she and her husband were
determined not to be parties to the subversion of the English
constitution, one chief object of the politics of James had been
to injure them both. He had recalled the British regiments from
Holland. He had conspired with Tyrconnel and with France against
Mary's rights, and had made arrangements for depriving her of one
at least of the three crowns to which, at his death, she would
have been entitled. It was now believed by the great body of his
people, and by many persons high in rank and distinguished by
abilities, that he had introduced a supposititious Prince of
Wales into the royal family, in order to deprive her of a
magnificent inheritance; and there is no reason to doubt that she
partook of the prevailing suspicion. That she should love such a
father was impossible. Her religious principles, indeed, were so
strict that she would probably have tried to perform what she
considered as her duty, even to a father whom she did not love.
On the present occasion, however, she judged that the claim of
James to her obedience ought to yield to a claim more sacred. And
indeed all divines and publicists agree in this, that, when the
daughter of a prince of one country is married to a prince of
another country, she is bound to forget her own people and her
father's house, and, in the event of a rupture between her
husband and her parents, to side with her husband. This is the
undoubted rule even when the husband is in the wrong; and to Mary
the enterprise which William meditated appeared not only just,
but holy.

But, though she carefully abstained from doing or saying anything
that could add to his difficulties, those difficulties were
serious indeed. They were in truth but imperfectly understood
even by some of those who invited him over, and have been but
imperfectly described by some of those who have written the
history of his expedition.

The obstacles which he might expect to encounter on English
ground, though the least formidable of the obstacles which stood
in the way of his design, were yet serious. He felt that it would
be madness in him to imitate the example of Monmouth, to cross
the sea with a few British adventurers, and to trust to a general
rising of the population. It was necessary, and it was pronounced
necessary by all those who invited him over, that he should carry
an army with him. Yet who could answer for the effect which the
appearance of such an army might produce? The government was
indeed justly odious. But would the English people, altogether
unaccustomed to the interference of continental powers in English
disputes, be inclined to look with favour on a deliverer who was
surrounded by foreign soldiers? If any part of the royal forces
resolutely withstood the invaders, would not that part soon have
on its side the patriotic sympathy of millions? A defeat would be
fatal to the whole undertaking. A bloody victory gained in the
heart of the island by the mercenaries of the States General over
the Coldstream Guards and the Buffs would be almost as great a
calamity as a defeat. Such a victory would be the most cruel
wound ever inflicted on the national pride of one of the proudest
of nations. The crown so won would never be worn in peace or
security: The hatred with which the High Commission and the
Jesuits were regarded would give place to the more intense hatred
which would be inspired by the alien conquerors; and many, who
had hitherto contemplated the power of France with dread and
loathing, would say that, if a foreign yoke must be borne, there
was less ignominy in submitting to France than in submitting to

These considerations might well have made William uneasy; even if
all the military means of the United Provinces had been at his
absolute disposal. But in truth it seemed very doubtful whether
he would be able to obtain the assistance of a single battalion.
Of all the difficulties with which he had to struggle, the
greatest, though little noticed by English historians, arose from
the constitution of the Batavian republic. No great society has
ever existed during a long course of years under a polity so
inconvenient. The States General could not make war or peace,
could not conclude any alliance or levy any tax, without the
consent of the States of every province. The States of a province
could not give such consent without the consent of every
municipality which had a share in the representation. Every
municipality was, in some sense, a sovereign state, and, as such,
claimed the right of communicating directly with foreign
ambassadors, and of concerting with them the means of defeating
schemes on which other municipalities were intent. In some town
councils the party which had, during several generations,
regarded the influence of the Stadtholders with jealousy had
great power. At the head of this party were the magistrates of
the noble city of Amsterdam, which was then at the height of
prosperity. They had, ever since the peace of Nimeguen, kept up a
friendly correspondence with Lewis through the instrumentality of
his able and active envoy the Count of Avaux. Propositions
brought forward by the Stadtholder as indispensable to the
security of the commonwealth, sanctioned by all the provinces
except Holland, and sanctioned by seventeen of the eighteen town
councils of Holland, had repeatedly been negatived by the single
voice of Amsterdam. The only constitutional remedy in such cases
was that deputies from the cities which were agreed should pay a
visit to the city which dissented, for the purpose of
expostulation. The number of deputies was unlimited: they might
continue to expostulate as long as they thought fit; and
meanwhile all their expenses were defrayed by the obstinate
community which refused to yield to their arguments. This absurd
mode of coercion had once been tried with success on the little
town of Gorkum, but was not likely to produce much effect on the
mighty and opulent Amsterdam, renowned throughout the world for
its haven bristling with innumerable masts, its canals bordered
by stately mansions, its gorgeous hall of state, walled, roofed,
and floored with polished marble, its warehouses filled with the
most costly productions of Ceylon and Surinam, and its Exchange
resounding with the endless hubbub of all the languages spoken by
civilised men.426

The disputes between the majority which supported the Stadtholder
and the minority headed by the magistrates of Amsterdam had
repeatedly run so high that bloodshed had seemed to be
inevitable. On one occasion the Prince had attempted to bring the
refractory deputies to punishment as traitors. On another
occasion the gates of Amsterdam had been barred against him, and
troops had been raised to defend the privileges of the municipal
council. That the rulers of this great city would ever consent to
an expedition offensive in the highest degree to Lewis whom they
courted, and likely to aggrandise the House of Orange which they
abhorred, was not likely. Yet, without their consent, such an
expedition could not legally be undertaken. To quell their
opposition by main force was a course from which, in different
circumstances, the resolute and daring Stadtholder would not have
shrunk. But at that moment it was most important that he should
carefully avoid every act which could be represented as
tyrannical. He could not venture to violate the fundamental laws
of Holland at the very moment at which he was drawing the sword
against his father in law for violating the fundamental laws of
England. The violent subversion of one free constitution would
have been a strange prelude to the violent restoration of

There was yet another difficulty which has been too little
noticed by English writers, but which was never for a moment
absent from William's mind. In the expedition which he meditated
he could succeed only by appealing to the Protestant feeling of
England, and by stimulating that feeling till it became, for a
time, the dominant and almost the exclusive sentiment of the
nation. This would indeed have been a very simple course, had the
end of all his politics been to effect a revolution in our island
and to reign there. But he had in view an ulterior end which
could be attained only by the help of princes sincerely attached
to the Church of Rome. He was desirous to unite the Empire, the
Catholic King, and the Holy See, with England and Holland, in a
league against the French ascendency. It was therefore necessary
that, while striking the greatest blow ever struck in defence of
Protestantism, he should yet contrive not to lose the goodwill of
governments which regarded Protestantism as a deadly heresy.

Such were the complicated difficulties of this great undertaking.
Continental statesmen saw a part of those difficulties; British
statesmen another part. One capacious and powerful mind alone
took them all in at one view, and determined to surmount them
all. It was no easy thing to subvert the English government by
means of a foreign army without galling the national pride of
Englishmen. It was no easy thing to obtain from that Batavian
faction which regarded France with partiality, and the House of
Orange with aversion, a decision in favour of an expedition which
would confound all the schemes of France, and raise the House of
Orange to the height of greatness. It was no easy thing to lead
enthusiastic Protestants on a crusade against Popery with the
good wishes of almost all Popish governments and of the Pope
himself. Yet all these things William effected. All his objects,
even those which appeared most incompatible with each other, he
attained completely and at once. The whole history of ancient and
of modern times records no other such triumph of statesmanship.

The task would indeed have been too arduous even for such a
statesman as the Prince of Orange, had not his chief adversaries
been at this time smitten with an infatuation such as by many men
not prone to superstition was ascribed to the special judgment of
God. Not only was the King of England, as he had ever been,
stupid and perverse: but even the counsel of the politic King of
France was turned into foolishness. Whatever wisdom and energy
could do William did. Those obstacles which no wisdom or energy
could have overcome his enemies themselves studiously removed.

On the great day on which the Bishops were acquitted, and on
which the invitation was despatched to the Hague, James returned
from Hounslow to Westminster in a gloomy and agitated mood. He
made an effort that afternoon to appear cheerful:428 but the
bonfires, the rockets, and above all the waxen Popes who were
blazing in every quarter of London, were not likely to soothe
him. Those who saw him on the morrow could easily read in his
face and demeanour the violent emotions which agitated his
mind.429 During some days he appeared so unwilling to talk about
the trial that even Barillon could not venture to introduce the

Soon it began to be clear that defeat and mortification had only
hardened the King's heart. The first words which he uttered when
he learned that the objects of his revenge had escaped him were,
"So much the worse for them." In a few days these words, which
he, according to his fashion, repeated many times, were fully
explained. He blamed himself; not for having prosecuted the
Bishops, but for having prosecuted them before a tribunal where
questions of fact were decided by juries, and where established
principles of law could not be utterly disregarded even by the
most servile Judges. This error he determined to repair. Not only
the seven prelates who had signed the petition, but the whole
Anglican clergy, should have reason to curse the day on which
they had triumphed over their Sovereign. Within a fortnight after
the trial an order was made, enjoining all Chancellors of
dioceses and all Archdeacons to make a strict inquisition
throughout their respective jurisdictions, and to report to the
High Commission, within five weeks, the names of all such
rectors, vicars, and curates as had omitted to read the
Declaration.431 The King anticipated with delight the terror with
which the offenders would learn that they were to be cited before
a court which would give them no quarter.432 The number of
culprits was little, if at all, short of ten thousand: and, after
what had passed at Magdalene College, every one of them might
reasonably expect to be interdicted from all his spiritual
functions, ejected from his benefice, declared incapable of
holding any other preferment, and charged with the costs of the
proceedings which had reduced him to beggary.

Such was the persecution with which James, smarting from his
great defeat in Westminster Hall, resolved to harass the clergy.
Meanwhile he tried to show the lawyers, by a prompt and large
distribution of rewards and punishments, that strenuous and
unblushing servility, even when least successful, was a sure
title to his favour, and that whoever, after years of
obsequiousness, ventured to deviate but for one moment into
courage and honesty was guilty of an unpardonable offence. The
violence and audacity which the apostate Williams had exhibited
throughout the trial of the Bishops had made him hateful to the
whole nation.433 He was recompensed with a baronetcy. Holloway
and Powell had raised their character by declaring that, in their
judgment, the petition was no libel. They were dismissed from
their situations.434 The fate of Wright seems to have been,
during some time, in suspense. He had indeed summed up against
the Bishops: but he had suffered their counsel to question the
dispensing power. He had pronounced the petition a libel: but he
had carefully abstained from pronouncing the Declaration legal;
and, through the whole proceeding, his tone had been that of a
man who remembered that a day of reckoning might come. He had
indeed strong claims to indulgence: for it was hardly to be
expected that any human impudence would hold out without flagging
through such a task in the presence of such a bar and of such an
auditory. The members of the Jesuitical cabal, however, blamed
his want of spirit; the Chancellor pronounced him a beast; and it
was generally believed that a new Chief Justice would be
appointed.435 But no change was made. It would indeed have been
no easy matter to supply Wright's place. The many lawyers who
were far superior to him in parts and learning were, with
scarcely an exception, hostile to the designs of the government;
and the very few lawyers who surpassed him in turpitude and
effrontery were, with scarcely an exception, to be found only in
the lowest ranks of the profession, and would have been
incompetent to conduct the ordinary business of the Court of
King's Bench. Williams, it is true, united all the qualities
which James required in a magistrate. But the services of
Williams were needed at the bar; and, had he been moved thence,
the crown would have been left without the help of any advocate
even of the third rate.

Nothing had amazed or mortified the King more than the enthusiasm
which the Dissenters had shown in the cause of the Bishops. Penn,
who, though he had himself sacrificed wealth and honours to his
conscientious scruples, seems to have imagined that nobody but
himself had a conscience, imputed the discontent of the Puritans
to envy and dissatisfied ambition. They had not had their share
of the benefits promised by the Declaration of Indulgence: none
of them had been admitted to any high and honourable post; and
therefore it was not strange that they were jealous of the Roman
Catholics. Accordingly, within a week after the great verdict had
been pronounced in Westminster Hall, Silas Titus, a noted
Presbyterian, a vehement Exclusionist, and a manager of
Stafford's impeachment, was invited to occupy a seat in the Privy
Council. He was one of the persons on whom the opposition had
most confidently reckoned. But the honour now offered to him, and
the hope of obtaining a large sum due to him from the crown,
overcame his virtue, and, to the great disgust of all classes of
Protestants, he was sworn in.436

The vindictive designs of the King against the Church were not
accomplished. Almost all the Archdeacons and diocesan Chancellors
refused to furnish the information which was required. The day on
which it had been intended that the whole body of the priesthood
should he summoned to answer for the crime of disobedience
arrived. The High Commission met. It appeared that scarcely one
ecclesiastical officer had sent up a return. At the same time a
paper of grave import was delivered to the board. It came from
Sprat, Bishop of Rochester. During two years, supported by the
hope of an Archbishopric, he had been content to bear the
reproach of persecuting that Church which he was bound by every
obligation of conscience and honour to defend. But his hope had
been disappointed. He saw that, unless he abjured his religion,
he had no chance of sitting on the metropolitan throne of York.
He was too goodnatured to find any pleasure in tyranny, and too
discerning not to see the signs of the coming retribution. He
therefore determined to resign his odious functions; and he
communicated his determination to his colleagues in a letter
written, like all his prose compositions, with great propriety
and dignity of style. It was impossible, he said, that he could
longer continue to be a member of the Commission. He had himself,
in obedience to the royal command, read the Declaration: but he
could not presume to condemn thousands of pious and loyal divines
who had taken a different view of their duty; and, since it was
resolved to punish them for acting according to their conscience,
he must declare that he would rather suffer with them than be
accessary to their sufferings.

The Commissioners read and stood aghast. The very faults of their
colleague, the known laxity of his principles, the known meanness
of his spirit, made his defection peculiarly alarming. A
government must be indeed in danger when men like Sprat address
it in the language of Hampden. The tribunal, lately so insolent,
became on a sudden strangely tame. The ecclesiastical
functionaries who had defied its authority were not even
reprimanded. It was not thought safe to hint any suspicion that
their disobedience had been intentional. They were merely
enjoined to have their reports ready in four months. The
Commission then broke up in confusion. It had received a death

While the High Commission shrank from a conflict with the Church, the Church,
conscious of its strength, and animated by a
new enthusiasm, invited, by a series of defiances, the attack of
the High Commission. Soon after the acquittal of the Bishops, the
venerable Ormond, the most illustrious of the Cavaliers of the
great civil war, sank under his infirmities. The intelligence of
his death was conveyed with speed to Oxford. Instantly the
University, of which he had long been Chancellor, met to name a
successor. One party was for the eloquent and accomplished
Halifax, another for the grave and orthodox Nottingham. Some
mentioned the Earl of Abingdon, who resided near them, and had
recently been turned out of the lieutenancy of the county for
refusing to join with the King against the established religion.
But the majority, consisting of a hundred and eighty graduates,
voted for the young Duke of Ormond, grandson of their late head,
and son of the gallant Ossory. The speed with which they came to
this resolution was caused by their apprehension that, if there
were a delay even of a day, the King would attempt to force on
them some chief who would betray their rights. The apprehension
was reasonable: for, only two hours after they had separated,
came a mandate from Whitehall requiring them to choose Jeffreys.
Happily the election of young Ormond was already complete and
irrevocable.438 A few weeks later the infamous Timothy Hall, who
had distinguished himself among the clergy of London by reading
the Declaration, was rewarded with the Bishopric of Oxford, which
had been vacant since the death of the not less infamous Parker.
Hall came down to his see: but the Canons of his Cathedral
refused to attend his installation: the University refused to
create him a Doctor: not a single one of the academic youth
applied to him for holy orders: no cap was touched to him and, in
his palace, he found himself alone.439

Soon afterwards a living which was in the gift of Magdalene
College, Oxford, became vacant. Hough and his ejected brethren
assembled and presented a clerk; and the Bishop of Gloucester, in
whose diocese the living lay, instituted their presentee without

The gentry were not less refractory than the clergy. The assizes
of that summer wore all over the country an aspect never before
known. The Judges, before they set out on their circuits, had
been summoned into the King's presence, and had been directed by
him to impress on the grand jurors and magistrates, throughout
the kingdom, the duty of electing such members of Parliament as
would support his policy. They obeyed his commands, harangued
vehemently against the clergy, reviled the seven Bishops, called
the memorable petition a factious libel, criticized with great
asperity Sancroft's style, which was indeed open to criticism,
and pronounced that his Grace ought to be whipped by Doctor Busby
for writing bad English. But the only effect of these indecent
declamations was to increase the public discontent. All the marks
of public respect which had usually been shown to the judicial
office and to the royal commission were withdrawn. The old custom
was that men of good birth and estate should ride in the train of
the Sheriff when he escorted the Judges to the county town: but
such a procession could now with difficulty be formed in any part
of the kingdom. The successors of Powell and Holloway, in
particular, were treated with marked indignity. The Oxford
circuit had been allotted to them; and they had expected to be
greeted in every shire by a cavalcade of the loyal gentry. But as
they approached Wallingford, where they were to open their
commission for Berkshire, the Sheriff alone came forth to meet
them. As they approached Oxford, the eminently loyal capital of
an eminently loyal province, they were again welcomed by the
Sheriff alone.441

The army was scarcely less disaffected than the clergy or the
gentry. The garrison of the Tower had drunk the health of the
imprisoned Bishops. The footguards stationed at Lambeth had, with
every mark of reverence, welcomed the Primate back to his palace.
Nowhere had the news of the acquittal been received with more
clamorous delight than at Hounslow Heath. In truth, the great
force which the King had assembled for the purpose of overawing
his mutinous capital had become more mutinous than the capital
itself; and was more dreaded by the court than by the citizens.
Early in August, therefore, the camp was broken up, and the
troops were sent to quarters in different parts of the

James flattered himself that it would he easier to deal with
separate battalions than with many thousands of men collected in
one mass. The first experiment was tried on Lord Lichfield's
regiment of infantry, now called the Twelfth of the Line. That
regiment was probably selected because it had been raised, at the
time of the Western insurrection, in Staffordshire, a province
where the Roman Catholics were more numerous and powerful than in
almost any other part of England. The men were drawn up in the
King s presence. Their major informed them that His Majesty
wished them to subscribe an engagement, binding them to assist in
carrying into effect his intentions concerning the test, and that
all who did not choose to comply must quit the service on the
spot. To the King's great astonishment, whole ranks instantly
laid down their pikes and muskets. Only two officers and a few
privates, all Roman Catholics, obeyed his command. He remained
silent for a short time. Then he bade the men take up their arms.
"Another time," he said, with a gloomy look, "I shall not do you
the honour to consult you."443

It was plain that, if he determined to persist in his designs, he
must remodel his army. Yet materials for that purpose he could
not find in our island. The members of his Church, even in the
districts where they were most numerous, were a small minority of
the people. Hatred of Popery had spread through all classes of
his Protestant subjects, and had become the ruling passion even
of ploughmen and artisans. But there was another part of his
dominions where a very different spirit animated the great body
of the population. There was no limit to the number of Roman
Catholic soldiers whom the good pay and quarters of England would
attract across St. George's Channel. Tyrconnel had been, during
some time, employed in forming out of the peasantry of his
country a military force on which his master might depend.
Already Papists, of Celtic blood and speech, composed almost the
whole army of Ireland. Barillon earnestly and repeatedly advised
James to bring over that army for the purpose of coercing the

James wavered. He wished to be surrounded by troops on whom he
could rely: but he dreaded the explosion of national feeling
which the appearance of a great Irish force on English ground
must produce. At last, as usually happens when a weak man tries
to avoid opposite inconveniences, he took a course which united
them all. He brought over Irishmen, not indeed enough to hold
down the single city of London, or the single county of York, but
more than enough to excite the alarm and rage of the whole
kingdom, from Northumberland to Cornwall. Battalion after
battalion, raised and trained by Tyrconnel, landed on the western
coast and moved towards the capital; and Irish recruits were
imported in considerable numbers, to fill up vacancies in the
English regiments.445

Of the many errors which James committed, none was more fatal
than this. Already he had alienated the hearts of his people by
violating their laws, confiscating their estates, and persecuting
their religion. Of those who had once been most zealous for
monarchy, he had already made many rebels in heart. Yet he might
still, with some chance of success, have appealed to the
patriotic spirit of his subjects against an invader. For they
were a race insular in temper as well as in geographical
position. Their national antipathies were, indeed, in that age,
unreasonably and unamiably strong. Never had the English been
accustomed to the control of interference of any stranger. The
appearance of a foreign army on their soil might impel them to
rally even round a King whom they had no reason to love. William
might perhaps have been unable to overcome this difficulty; but
James removed it. Not even the arrival of a brigade of Lewis's
musketeers would have excited such resentment and shame as our
ancestors felt when they saw armed columns of Papists, just
arrived from Dublin, moving in military pomp along the high
roads. No man of English blood then regarded the aboriginal Irish
as his countrymen. They did not belong to our branch of the great
human family. They were distinguished from us by more than one
moral and intellectual peculiarity, which the difference of
situation and of education, great as that difference was, did not
seem altogether to explain. They had an aspect of their own, a
mother tongue of their own. When they talked English their
pronunciation was ludicrous; their phraseology was grotesque, as
is always the phraseology of those who think in one language and
express their thoughts in another. They were therefore
foreigners; and of all foreigners they were the most hated and
despised: the most hated, for they had, during five centuries,
always been our enemies; the most despised, for they were our
vanquished, enslaved, and despoiled enemies. The Englishman
compared with pride his own fields with the desolate bogs whence
the Rapparees issued forth to rob and murder, and his own
dwelling with the hovels where the peasants and the hogs of the
Shannon wallowed in filth together. He was a member of a society
far inferior, indeed, in wealth and civilisation, to the society
in which we live, but still one of the wealthiest and most highly
civilised societies that the world had then seen: the Irish were
almost as rude as the savages of Labrador. He was a freeman: the
Irish were the hereditary serfs of his race. He worshipped God
after a pure and rational fashion: the Irish were sunk in
idolatry and superstition. He knew that great numbers of Irish
had repeatedly fled before a small English force, and that the
whole Irish population had been held down by a small English
colony; and he very complacently inferred that he was naturally a
being of a higher order than the Irishman: for it is thus that a
dominant race always explains its ascendency and excuses its
tyranny. That in vivacity, humour, and eloquence, the Irish stand
high among the nations of the world is now universally
acknowledged. That, when well disciplined, they are excellent
soldiers has been proved on a hundred fields of battle. Yet it is
certain that, a century and a half ago, they were generally
despised in our island as both a stupid and a cowardly people.
And these were the men who were to hold England down by main
force while her civil and ecclesiastical constitution was
destroyed. The blood of the whole nation boiled at the thought.
To be conquered by Frenchmen or by Spaniards would have seemed
comparatively a tolerable fate. With Frenchmen and Spaniards we
had been accustomed to treat on equal terms. We had sometimes
envied their prosperity, sometimes dreaded their power, sometimes
congratulated ourselves on their friendship. In spite of our
unsocial pride, we admitted that they were great nations, and
that they could boast of men eminent in the arts of war and
peace. But to be subjugated by an inferior caste was a
degradation beyond all other degradation. The English felt as the
white inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans would feel if
those towns were occupied by negro garrisons. The real facts
would have been sufficient to excite uneasiness and indignation:
but the real facts were lost amidst a crowd of wild rumours which
flew without ceasing from coffeehouse to coffeehouse and from
alebench to alebench, and became more wonderful and terrible at
every stage of the progress. The number of the Irish troops who
had landed on our shores might justly excite serious
apprehensions as to the King's ulterior designs; but it was
magnified tenfold by the public apprehensions. It may well be
supposed that the rude kerne of Connaught, placed, with arms in
his hands, among a foreign people whom he hated, and by whom he
was hated in turn, was guilty of some excesses. These excesses
were exaggerated by report; and, in addition to the outrages
which the stranger had really committed, all the offences of his
English comrades were set down to his account. From every corner
of the kingdom a cry arose against the foreign barbarians who
forced themselves into private houses, seized horses and waggons,
extorted money and insulted women. These men, it was said, were
the sons of those who, forty-seven years before, had massacred
Protestants by tens of thousands. The history of the rebellion of
1641, a history which, even when soberly related, might well move
pity and horror, and which had been frightfully distorted by
national and religious antipathies, was now the favourite topic
of conversation. Hideous stories of houses burned with all the
inmates, of women and young children butchered, of near relations
compelled by torture to be the murderers of each other, of
corpses outraged and mutilated, were told and heard with full
belief and intense interest. Then it was added that the dastardly
savages who had by surprise committed all these cruelties on an
unsuspecting and defenceless colony had, as soon as Oliver came
among them on his great mission of vengeance, flung down their
arms in panic terror, and had sunk, without trying the chances of
a single pitched field, into that slavery which was their fit
portion. Many signs indicated that another great spoliation and
slaughter of the Saxon settlers was meditated by the Lord
Lieutenant. Already thousands of Protestant colonists, flying
from the injustice and insolence of Tyrconnel, had raised the
indignation of the mother country by describing all that they had
suffered, and all that they had, with too much reason, feared.
How much the public mind had been excited by the complaints of
these fugitives had recently been shown in a manner not to be
mistaken. Tyrconnel had transmitted for the royal approbation the
heads of a bill repealing the law by which half the soil of
Ireland was held, and he had sent to Westminster, as his agents,
two of his Roman Catholic countrymen who had lately been raised
to high judicial office; Nugent, Chief Justice of the Irish Court
of King's Bench, a personification of all the vices and
weaknesses which the English then imagined to be characteristic
of the Popish Celt, and Rice, a Baron of the Irish Exchequer,
who, in abilities and attainments, was perhaps the foremost man
of his race and religion. The object of the mission was well
known; and the two Judges could not venture to show themselves in
the streets. If ever they were recognised, the rabble shouted,
"Room for the Irish Ambassadors;" and their coach was escorted
with mock solemnity by a train of ushers and harbingers bearing
sticks with potatoes stuck on the points.446

So strong and general, indeed, was at that time the aversion of
the English to the Irish that the most distinguished Roman
Catholics partook of it. Powis and Bellasyse expressed, in coarse
and acrimonious language, even at the Council board, their
antipathy to the aliens.447 Among English Protestants that
antipathy was still stronger and perhaps it was strongest in the
army. Neither officers nor soldiers were disposed to bear
patiently the preference shown by their master to a foreign and a
subject race. The Duke of Berwick, who was Colonel of the Eighth
Regiment of the Line, then quartered at Portsmouth, gave orders
that thirty men just arrived from Ireland should be enlisted. The
English soldiers declared that they would not serve with these
intruders. John Beaumont, the Lieutenant Colonel, in his own name
and in the name of five of the Captains, protested to the Duke's
face against this insult to the English army and nation. "We
raised the regiment," he said, "at our own charges to defend His
Majesty's crown in a time of danger. We had then no difficulty in
procuring hundreds of English recruits. We can easily keep every
company up to its full complement without admitting Irishmen. We
therefore do not think it consistent with our honour to have
these strangers forced on us; and we beg that we may either be
permitted to command men of our own nation or to lay down our
commissions." Berwick sent to Windsor for directions. The King,
greatly exasperated, instantly despatched a troop of horse to
Portsmouth with orders to bring the six refractory officers
before him. A council of war sate on them. They refused to make
any submission; and they were sentenced to be cashiered, the
highest punishment which a court martial was then competent to
inflict. The whole nation applauded the disgraced officers; and
the prevailing sentiment was stimulated by an unfounded rumour
that, while under arrest, they had been treated with cruelty.448

Public feeling did not then manifest itself by those signs with
which we are familiar, by large meetings, and by vehement
harangues. Nevertheless it found a vent. Thomas Wharton, who, in
the last Parliament, had represented Buckinghamshire, and who was
already conspicuous both as a libertine and as a Whig, had
written a satirical ballad on the administration of Tyrconnel. In
this little poem an Irishman congratulates a brother Irishman, in
a barbarous jargon, on the approaching triumph of Popery and of
the Milesian race. The Protestant heir will be excluded. The
Protestant officers will be broken. The Great Charter and the
praters who appeal to it will be hanged in one rope. The good
Talbot will shower commissions on his countrymen, and will cut
the throats of the English. These verses, which were in no
respect above the ordinary standard of street poetry, had for
burden some gibberish which was said to have been used as a
watchword by the insurgents of Ulster in 1641. The verses and the
tune caught the fancy of the nation. From one end of England to
the other all classes were constantly singing this idle rhyme. It
was especially the delight of the English army. More than seventy
years after the Revolution, a great writer delineated, with
exquisite skill, a veteran who had fought at the Boyne and at
Namur. One of the characteristics of the good old soldier is his
trick of whistling Lillibullero.449

Wharton afterwards boasted that he had sung a King out of three
kingdoms. But in truth the success of Lillibullero was the
effect, and not the cause, of that excited state of public
feeling which produced the Revolution.

While James was thus raising against himself all those national
feelings which, but for his own folly, might have saved his
throne, Lewis was in another way exerting himself not less
effectually to facilitate the enterprise which William meditated.

The party in Holland which was favourable to France was a
minority, but a minority strong enough, according to the
constitution of the Batavian federation, to prevent the
Stadtholder from striking any great blow. To keep that minority
steady was an object to which, if the Court of Versailles had
been wise, every other object would at that conjuncture have been
postponed. Lewis however had, during some time, laboured, as if
of set purpose, to estrange his Dutch friends; and he at length,
though not without difficulty, succeeded in forcing them to
become his enemies at the precise moment at which their help
would have been invaluable to him.

There were two subjects on which the people of the United
Provinces were peculiarly sensitive, religion and trade; and both
their religion and their trade the French King assailed. The
persecution of the Huguenots, and the revocation of the edict of
Nantes, had everywhere moved the grief and indignation of
Protestants. But in Holland these feelings were stronger than in
any other country; for many persons of Dutch birth, confiding in
the repeated and solemn declarations of Lewis that the toleration
granted by his grandfather should be maintained, had, for
commercial purposes, settled in France, and a large proportion of
the settlers had been naturalised there. Every post now brought
to Holland the tidings that these persons were treated with
extreme rigour on account of their religion. Dragoons, it was
reported, were quartered on one. Another had been held naked
before a fire till he was half roasted. All were forbidden, under
the severest penalties, to celebrate the rites of their religion,
or to quit the country into which they had, under false
pretences, been decoyed. The partisans of the House of Orange
exclaimed against the cruelty and perfidy of the tyrant. The
opposition was abashed and dispirited. Even the town council of
Amsterdam, though strongly attached to the French interest and to
the Arminian theology, and though little inclined to find fault
with Lewis or to sympathize with the Calvinists whom he
persecuted, could not venture to oppose itself to the general
sentiment; for in that great city there was scarcely one wealthy
merchant who had not some kinsman or friend among the sufferers.
Petitions numerously and respectably signed were presented to the
Burgomasters, imploring them to make strong representations to
Avaux. There were even suppliants who made their way into the
Stadthouse, flung themselves on their knees, described with tears
and sobs the lamentable condition of those whom they most loved,
and besought the intercession of the magistrates. The pulpits
resounded with invectives and lamentations. The press poured
forth heartrending narratives and stirring exhortations. Avaux
saw the whole danger. He reported to his court that even the well
intentioned--for so he always called the enemies of the House of
Orange--either partook of the public feeling or were overawed by
it; and he suggested the policy of making some concession to
their wishes. The answers which he received from Versailles were
cold and acrimonious. Some Dutch families, indeed, which had not
been naturalised in France, were permitted to return to their
country. But to those natives of Holland who had obtained letters
of naturalisation Lewis refused all indulgence. No power on
earth, he said, should interfere between him and his subjects.
These people had chosen to become his subjects; and how he
treated them was a matter with which no neighbouring state had
anything to do. The magistrates of Amsterdam naturally resented
the scornful ingratitude of the potentate whom they had
strenuously and unscrupulously served against the general sense
of their own countrymen. Soon followed another provocation which
they felt even more keenly. Lewis began to make war on their
trade. He first put forth an edict prohibiting the importation of
herrings into his dominions, Avaux hastened to inform his court
that this step had excited great alarm and indignation, that
sixty thousand persons in the United Provinces subsisted by the
herring fishery, and that some strong measure of retaliation
would probably be adopted by the States. The answer which he
received was that the King was determined, not only to persist,
but also to increase the duties on many of those articles in
which Holland carried on a lucrative trade with France. The
consequence of these errors, errors committed in defiance of
repeated warnings, and, as it should seem, in the mere wantonness
of selfwill, was that now, when the voice of a single powerful
member of the Batavian federation might have averted an event
fatal to all the politics of Lewis, no such voice was raised. The
Envoy, with all his skill, vainly endeavoured to rally the party
by the help of which he had, during several years, held the
Stadtholder in check. The arrogance and obstinacy of the master
counteracted all the efforts of the servant. At length Avaux was
compelled to send to Versailles the alarming tidings that no
reliance could be placed on Amsterdam, so long devoted to the
French cause, that some of the well intentioned were alarmed for
their religion, and that the few whose inclinations were
unchanged could not venture to utter what they thought. The
fervid eloquence of preachers who declaimed against the horrors
of the French persecution, and the lamentations of bankrupts who
ascribed their ruin to the French decrees, had wrought up the
people to such a temper, that no citizen could declare himself
favourable to France without imminent risk of being flung into
the nearest canal. Men remembered that, only fifteen years
before, the most illustrious chief of the party adverse to the
House of Orange had been torn to pieces by an infuriated mob in
the very precinct of the palace of the States General. A similar
fate might not improbably befall those who should, at this
crisis, be accused of serving the purposes of France against
their native land, and against the reformed religion.450

While Lewis was thus forcing his friends in Holland to become, or
to pretend to become, his enemies, he was labouring with not less
success to remove all the scruples which might have prevented the
Roman Catholic princes of the Continent from countenancing
William's designs. A new quarrel had arisen between the Court of
Versailles and the Vatican, a quarrel in which the injustice and
insolence of the French King were perhaps more offensively
displayed than in any other transaction of his reign.

It had long been the rule at Rome that no officer of justice or
finance could enter the dwelling inhabited by the minister who
represented a Catholic state. In process of time not only the
dwelling, but a large precinct round it, was held inviolable. It
was a point of honour with every Ambassador to extend as widely
as possible the limits of the region which was under his
protection. At length half the city consisted of privileged
districts, within which the Papal government had no more power
than within the Louvre or the Escurial. Every asylum was thronged
with contraband traders, fraudulent bankrupts, thieves and
assassins. In every asylum were collected magazines of stolen or
smuggled goods. From every asylum ruffians sallied forth nightly
to plunder and stab. In no town of Christendom, consequently, was
law so impotent and wickedness so audacious as in the ancient
capital of religion and civilisation. On this subject Innocent
felt as became a priest and a prince. He declared that he would
receive no Ambassador who insisted on a right so destructive of
order and morality. There was at first much murmuring; but his
resolution was so evidently just that all governments but one
speedily acquiesced. The Emperor, highest in rank among Christian
monarchs, the Spanish court, distinguished among all courts by
sensitiveness and pertinacity on points of etiquette, renounced
the odious privilege. Lewis alone was impracticable. What other
sovereigns might choose to do, he said, was nothing to him. He
therefore sent a mission to Rome, escorted by a great force of
cavalry and infantry. The Ambassador marched to his palace as a
general marches in triumph through a conquered town. The house
was strongly guarded. Round the limits of the protected district
sentinels paced the rounds day and night, as on the walls of a
fortress. The Pope was unmoved. "They trust," he cried, "in
chariots and in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord
our God." He betook him vigorously to his spiritual weapons, and
laid the region garrisoned by the French under an interdict.451

This dispute was at the height when another dispute arose, in
which the Germanic body was as deeply concerned as the Pope.

Cologne and the surrounding district were governed by an
Archbishop, who was an Elector of the Empire. The right of
choosing this great prelate belonged, under certain limitations,
to the Chapter of the Cathedral. The Archbishop was also Bishop
of Liege, of Munster, and of Hildesheim. His dominions were
extensive, and included several strong fortresses, which in the
event of a campaign on the Rhine would be of the highest
importance. In time of war he could bring twenty thousand men
into the field. Lewis had spared no effort to gain so valuable an
ally, and had succeeded so well that Cologne had been almost
separated from Germany, and had become an outwork of France. Many
ecclesiastics devoted to the court of Versailles had been brought
into the Chapter; and Cardinal Furstemburg, a mere creature of
that court, had been appointed Coadjutor.

In the summer of the year 1688 the archbishopric became vacant.
Furstemburg was the candidate of the House of Bourbon. The
enemies of that house proposed the young Prince Clement of
Bavaria. Furstemburg was already a Bishop, and therefore could
not be moved to another diocese except by a special dispensation
from the Pope, or by a postulation, in which it was necessary
that two thirds of the Chapter of Cologne should join. The Pope
would grant no dispensation to a creature of France. The Emperor
induced more than a third part of the Chapter to vote for the
Bavarian prince. Meanwhile, in the Chapters of Liege, Munster,
and Hildesheim, the majority was adverse to France. Lewis saw,
with indignation and alarm, that an extensive province which he
had begun to regard as a fief of his crown was about to become,
not merely independent of him, but hostile to him. In a paper
written with great acrimony he complained of the injustice with
which France was on all occasions treated by that See which ought
to extend a parental protection to every part of Christendom.
Many signs indicated his fixed resolution to support the
pretensions of his candidate by arms against the Pope and the
Pope's confederates.452

Thus Lewis, by two opposite errors, raised against himself at
once the resentment of both the religious parties between which
Western Europe was divided. Having alienated one great section of
Christendom by persecuting the Huguenots, he alienated another by
insulting the Holy See. These faults he committed at a
conjuncture at which no fault could be committed with impunity,
and under the eye of an opponent second in vigilance, sagacity,
and energy, to no statesman whose memory history has preserved.
William saw with stern delight his adversaries toiling to clear
away obstacle after obstacle from his path. While they raised
against themselves the enmity of all sects, he laboured to
conciliate all. The great design which he meditated, he with
exquisite skill presented to different governments in different
lights; and it must be added that, though those lights were
different, none of them was false. He called on the princes of
Northern Germany to rally round him in defence of the common
cause of all reformed Churches. He set before the two heads of
the House of Austria the danger with which they were threatened
by French ambition, and the necessity of rescuing England from
vassalage and of uniting her to the European confederacy.453 He
disclaimed, and with truth, all bigotry. The real enemy, he said,
of the British Roman Catholics was that shortsighted and
headstrong monarch who, when he might easily have obtained for
them a legal toleration, had trampled on law, liberty, property,
in order to raise them to an odious and precarious ascendency. If
the misgovernment of James were suffered to continue, it must
produce, at no remote time, a popular outbreak, which might be
followed by a barbarous persecution of the Papists. The Prince
declared that to avert the horrors of such a persecution was one
of his chief objects. If he succeeded in his design, he would use
the power which he must then possess, as head of the Protestant
interest, to protect the members of the Church of Rome. Perhaps
the passions excited by the tyranny of James might make it
impossible to efface the penal laws from the statute book but
those laws should be mitigated by a lenient administration. No
class would really gain more by the proposed expedition than
those peaceable and unambitious Roman Catholics who merely wished
to follow their callings and to worship their Maker without
molestation. The only losers would be the Tyrconnels, the Dovers,
the Albevilles, and the other political adventurers who, in
return for flattery and evil counsel, had obtained from their
credulous master governments, regiments, and embassies.

While William exerted himself to enlist on his side the
sympathies both of Protestants and of Roman Catholics, he exerted
himself with not less vigour and prudence to provide the military
means which his undertaking required. He could not make a descent
on England without the sanction of the United Provinces. If he
asked for that sanction before his design was ripe for execution,
his intentions might possibly be thwarted by the faction hostile
to his house, and would certainly be divulged to the whole world.
He therefore determined to make his preparations with all speed,
and, when they were complete, to seize some favourable moment for
requesting the consent of the federation. It was observed by the
agents of France that he was more busy than they had ever known
him. Not a day passed on which he was not seen spurring from his
villa to the Hague. He was perpetually closeted with his most
distinguished adherents. Twenty-four ships of war were fitted out
for sea in addition to the ordinary force which the commonwealth
maintained. There was, as it chanced, an excellent pretence for
making this addition to the marine: for some Algerine corsairs
had recently dared to show themselves in the German Ocean. A camp
was formed near Nimeguen. Many thousands of troops were assembled
there. In order to strengthen this army the garrisons were
withdrawn from the strongholds in Dutch Brabant. Even the
renowned fortress of Bergopzoom was left almost defenceless.
Field pieces, bombs, and tumbrels from all the magazines of the
United Provinces were collected at the head quarters. All the
bakers of Rotterdam toiled day and night to make biscuit. All the
gunmakers of Utrecht were found too few to execute the orders for
pistols and muskets. All the saddlers of Amsterdam were hard at
work on harness and bolsters. Six thousand sailors were added to
the naval establishment. Seven thousand new soldiers were raised.
They could not, indeed, be formally enlisted without the sanction
of the federation: but they were well drilled, and kept in such a
state of discipline that they might without difficulty be
distributed into regiments within twenty-four hours after that
sanction should be obtained. These preparations required ready
money: but William had, by strict economy, laid up against a
great emergency a treasure amounting to about two hundred and
fifty thousand pounds sterling. What more was wanting was
supplied by the zeal of his partisans. Great quantities of gold,
not less, it was said, than a hundred thousand guineas, came to
him from England. The Huguenots, who had carried with them into
exile large quantities of the precious metals, were eager to lend
him all that they possessed; for they fondly hoped that, if he
succeeded, they should be restored to the country of their birth;
and they feared that, if he failed, they should scarcely be safe
even in the country of their adoption.454

Through the latter part of July and the whole of August the
preparations went on rapidly, yet too slowly for the vehement
spirit of William. Meanwhile the intercourse between England and
Holland was active. The ordinary modes of conveying intelligence
and passengers were no longer thought safe. A light bark of
marvellous speed constantly ran backward and forward between
Schevening and the eastern coast of our island.455 By this vessel
William received a succession of letters from persons of high
note in the Church, the state, and the army. Two of the seven
prelates who had signed the memorable petition, Lloyd, Bishop of
St. Asaph, and Trelawney, Bishop of Bristol, had, during their
residence in the tower, reconsidered the doctrine of
nonresistance, and were ready to welcome an armed deliverer. A
brother of the Bishop of Bristol, Colonel Charles Trelawney, who
commanded one of the Tangier regiments, now known as the Fourth
of the Line, signified his readiness to draw his sword for the
Protestant religion. Similar assurances arrived from the savage
Kirke. Churchill, in a letter written with a certain elevation of
language, which was the sure mark that he was going to commit a
baseness, declared that he was determined to perform his duty to
heaven and to his country, and that he put his honour absolutely
into the hands of the Prince of Orange. William doubtless read
these words with one of those bitter and cynical smiles which
gave his face its least pleasing expression. It was not his
business to take care of the honour of other men; nor had the
most rigid casuists pronounced it unlawful in a general to
invite, to use, and to reward the services of deserters whom he
could not but despise.456

Churchill's letter was brought by Sidney, whose situation in
England had become hazardous, and who, having taken many
precautions to hide his track, had passed over to Holland about
the middle of August.457 About the same time Shrewsbury and
Edward Russell crossed the German Ocean in a boat which they had
hired with great secrecy, and appeared at the Hague. Shrewsbury
brought with him twelve thousand pounds, which he had raised by a
mortgage on his estates, and which he lodged in the bank of
Amsterdam.458 Devonshire, Danby, and Lumley remained in England,
where they undertook to rise in arms as soon as the Prince should
set foot on the island.

There is reason to believe that, at this conjuncture, William
first received assurances of support from a very different
quarter. The history of Sunderland's intrigues is covered with an
obscurity which it is not probable that any inquirer will ever
succeed in penetrating: but, though it is impossible to discover
the whole truth, it is easy to detect some palpable fictions. The
Jacobites, for obvious reasons, affirmed that the revolution of
1688 was the result of a plot concerted long before. Sunderland
they represented as the chief conspirator. He had, they averred,
in pursuance of his great design, incited his too confiding
master to dispense with statutes, to create an illegal tribunal,
to confiscate freehold property, and to send the fathers of the
Established Church to a prison. This romance rests on no
evidence, and, though it has been repeated down to our own time,
seems hardly to deserve confutation. No fact is more certain than
that Sunderland opposed some of the most imprudent steps which
James took, and in particular the prosecution of the Bishops,
which really brought on the decisive crisis. But, even if this
fact were not established, there would still remain one argument
sufficient to decide the controversy. What conceivable motive had
Sunderland to wish for a revolution? Under the existing system he
was at the height of dignity and prosperity. As President of the
Council he took precedence of the whole temporal peerage. As
Principal Secretary of State he was the most active and powerful
member of the cabinet. He might look forward to a dukedom. He had
obtained the garter lately worn by the brilliant and versatile
Buckingham, who, having squandered away a princely fortune and a
vigorous intellect, had sunk into the grave deserted, contemned,
and broken-hearted.459 Money, which Sunderland valued more than
honours, poured in upon him in such abundance that, with ordinary
management, he might hope to become, in a few years, one of the
wealthiest subjects in Europe. The direct emolument of his posts,
though considerable, was a very small part of what he received.
From France alone he drew a regular stipend of near six thousand
pounds a year, besides large occasional gratuities. He had
bargained with Tyrconnel for five thousand a year, or fifty
thousand pounds down, from Ireland. What sums he made by selling
places, titles, and pardons, can only be conjectured, but must
have been enormous. James seemed to take a pleasure in loading
with wealth one whom he regarded as his own convert. All fines,
all forfeitures went to Sunderland. On every grant toll was paid
to him. If any suitor ventured to ask any favour directly from
the King, the answer was, "Have you spoken to my Lord President?"
One bold man ventured to say that the Lord President got all the
money of the court. "Well," replied His Majesty "he deserves it
all."460 We shall scarcely overrate the amount of the minister's
gains, if we put them at thirty thousand pounds a year: and it
must be remembered that fortunes of thirty thousand pounds a year
were in his time rarer than fortunes of a hundred thousand pounds
a year now are. It is probable that there was then not one peer
of the realm whose private income equalled Sunderland's official

What chance was there that, in a new order of things, a man so
deeply implicated in illegal and unpopular acts, a member of the
High Commission, a renegade whom the multitude, in places of
general resort, pursued with the cry of Popish dog, would be
greater and richer? What chance that he would even be able to
escape condign punishment?

He had undoubtedly been long in the habit of looking forward to
the time when William and Mary might be, in the ordinary course
of nature and law, at the head of the English government, and had
probably attempted to make for himself an interest in their
favour, by promises and services which, if discovered, would not
have raised his credit at Whitehall. But it may with confidence
be affirmed that he had no wish to see them raised to power by a
revolution, and that he did not at all foresee such a revolution
when, towards the close of June 1688, he solemnly joined the
communion of the Church of Rome.

Scarcely however had he, by that inexpiable crime, made himself
an object of hatred and contempt to the whole nation, when he
learned that the civil and ecclesiastical polity of England would
shortly be vindicated by foreign and domestic arms. From that
moment all his plans seem to have undergone a change. Fear bowed
down his whole soul, and was so written in his face that all who
saw him could read.461 It could hardly be doubted that, if there
were a revolution, the evil counsellors who surrounded the throne
would be called to a strict account: and among those counsellors
he stood in the foremost rank. The loss of his places, his
salaries, his pensions, was the least that he had to dread. His
patrimonial mansion amid woods at Althorpe might be confiscated.
He might lie many years in a prison. He might end his days in a
foreign land a pensioner on the bounty of France. Even this was
not the worst. Visions of an innumerable crowd covering Tower
Hill and shouting with savage joy at the sight of the apostate,
of a scaffold hung with black, of Burnet reading the prayer for
the departing, and of Ketch leaning on the axe with which Russell
and Monmouth had been mangled in so butcherly a fashion, began to
haunt the unhappy statesman. There was yet one way in which he
might escape, a way more terrible to a noble spirit than a prison
or a scaffold. He might still, by a well timed and useful
treason, earn his pardon from the foes of the government. It was
in his power to render to them at this conjuncture services
beyond all price: for he had the royal ear; he had great
influence over the Jesuitical cabal; and he was blindly trusted
by the French Ambassador. A channel of communication was not
wanting, a channel worthy of the purpose which it was to serve.
The Countess of Sunderland was an artful woman, who, under a show
of devotion which imposed on some grave men, carried on, with
great activity, both amorous and political intrigues.462 The
handsome and dissolute Henry Sidney had long been her favourite
lover. Her husband was well pleased to see her thus connected
with the court of the Hague. Whenever he wished to transmit a
secret message to Holland, he spoke to his wife: she wrote to
Sidney; and Sidney communicated her letter to William. One of her
communications was intercepted and carried to James. She
vehemently protested that it was a forgery. Her husband, with
characteristic ingenuity, defended himself by representing that
it was quite impossible for any man to be so base as to do what
he was in the habit of doing. "Even if this is Lady Sunderland's
hand," he said, "that is no affair of mine. Your Majesty knows my
domestic misfortunes. The footing on which my wife and Mr. Sidney
are is but too public. Who can believe that I would make a
confidant of the man who has injured my honour in the tenderest
point, of the man whom, of all others, I ought most to hate?"463
This defence was thought satisfactory; and secret intelligence
was still transmitted from the wittol to the adulteress, from the
adulteress to the gallant, and from the gallant to the enemies of

It is highly probable that the first decisive assurances of
Sunderland's support were conveyed orally by Sidney to William
about the middle of August. It is certain that, from that time
till the expedition was ready to sail, a most significant
correspondence was kept up between the Countess and her lover. A
few of her letters, partly written in cipher, are still extant.
They contain professions of good will and promises of service
mingled with earnest intreaties for protection. The writer
intimates that her husband will do all that his friends at the
Hague can wish: she supposes that it will be necessary for him to
go into temporary exile: but she hopes that his banishment will
not be perpetual, and that his patrimonial estate will be spared;
and she earnestly begs to be informed in what place it will be
best for him to take refuge till the first fury of the storm is

The help of Sunderland was most welcome. For, as the time of
striking the great blow drew near, the anxiety of William became
intense. From common eyes his feelings were concealed by the icy
tranquillity of his demeanour: but his whole heart was open to
Bentinck. The preparations were not quite complete. The design
was already suspected, and could not be long concealed. The King
of France or the city of Amsterdam might still frustrate the
whole plan. If Lewis were to send a great force into Brabant, if
the faction which hated the Stadtholder were to raise its head,
all was over. "My sufferings, my disquiet," the Prince wrote,
"are dreadful. I hardly see my way. Never in my life did I so
much feel the need of God's guidance."465 Bentinck's wife was at
this time dangerously ill; and both the friends were painfully
anxious about her. "God support you," William wrote, "and enable
you to bear your part in a work on which, as far as human beings
can see, the welfare of his Church depends."466

It was indeed impossible that a design so vast as that which had
been formed against the King of England should remain during many
weeks a secret. No art could prevent intelligent men from
perceiving that William was making great military and naval
preparations, and from suspecting the object with which those
preparations were made. Early in August hints that some great
event was approaching were whispered up and down London. The weak
and corrupt Albeville was then on a visit to England, and was, or
affected to be, certain that the Dutch government entertained no
design unfriendly to James. But, during the absence of Albeville
from his post, Avaux performed, with eminent skill, the duties
both of French and English Ambassador to the States, and supplied
Barillon as well as Lewis with ample intelligence. Avaux was
satisfied that a descent on England was in contemplation, and
succeeded in convincing his master of the truth. Every courier
who arrived at Westminster, either from the Hague or from
Versailles, brought earnest warnings.467 But James was under a
delusion which appears to have been artfully encouraged by
Sunderland. The Prince of Orange, said the cunning minister,
would never dare to engage in an expedition beyond sea, leaving
Holland defenceless. The States, remembering what they had
suffered and what they had been in danger of suffering during the
great agony of 1672, would never incur the risk of again seeing
an invading army encamped on the plain between Utrecht and
Amsterdam. There was doubtless much discontent in England: but
the interval was immense between discontent and rebellion. Men of
rank and fortune were not disposed lightly to hazard their
honours, their estates, and their lives. How many eminent Whigs
had held high language when Monmouth was in the Netherlands! And
yet, when he set up his standard, what eminent Whig had joined
it? It was easy to understand why Lewis affected to give credit
to these idle rumours. He doubtless hoped to frighten the King of
England into taking the French side in the dispute about Cologne.
By such reasoning James was easily lulled into stupid
security.468 The alarm and indignation of Lewis increased daily.
The style of his letters became sharp and vehement.469 He could
not understand, he wrote, this lethargy on the eve of a terrible
crisis. Was the King bewitched? Were his ministers blind? Was it
possible that nobody at Whitehall was aware of what was passing
in England and on the Continent? Such foolhardy security could
scarcely be the effect of mere improvidence. There must be foul
play. James was evidently in bad hands. Barillon was earnestly
cautioned not to repose implicit confidence in the English
ministers: but he was cautioned in vain. On him, as on James,
Sunderland had cast a spell which no exhortation could break.

Lewis bestirred himself vigorously. Bonrepaux, who was far
superior to Barillon in shrewdness, and who had always disliked
and distrusted Sunderland, was despatched to London with an offer
of naval assistance. Avaux was at the same time ordered to
declare to the States General that France had taken James under
her protection. A large body of troops was held in readiness to
march towards the Dutch frontier. This bold attempt to save the
infatuated tyrant in his own despite was made with the full
concurrence of Skelton, who was now Envoy from England to the
court of Versailles.

Avaux, in conformity with his instructions, demanded an audience
of the States. It was readily granted. The assembly was unusually
large. The general belief was that some overture respecting
commerce was about to be made; and the President brought a
written answer framed on that supposition. As soon as Avaux began
to disclose his errand, signs of uneasiness were discernible.
Those who were believed to enjoy the confidence of the Prince of
Orange cast down their eyes. The agitation became great when the
Envoy announced that his master was strictly bound by the ties of
friendship and alliance to His Britannic Majesty, and that any
attack on England would be considered as a declaration of war
against France. The President, completely taken by surprise,
stammered out a few evasive phrases; and the conference
terminated. It was at the same time notified to the States that
Lewis had taken under his protection Cardinal Furstemburg and the
Chapter of Cologne.470

The Deputies were in great agitation. Some recommended caution
and delay. Others breathed nothing but war. Fagel spoke
vehemently of the French insolence, and implored his brethren not
to be daunted by threats. The proper answer to such a
communication, he said, was to levy more soldiers, and to equip
more ships. A courier was instantly despatched to recall William
from Minden, where he was holding a consultation of high moment
with the Elector of Brandenburg.

But there was no cause for alarm. James was bent on ruining
himself; and every attempt to stop him only made him rush more
eagerly to his doom. When his throne was secure, when his people
were submissive, when the most obsequious of Parliaments was
eager to anticipate all his reasonable wishes, when foreign
kingdoms and commonwealths paid emulous court to him, when it depended only on
whether he would be the arbiter of Christendom, he had stooped to
be the slave and the hireling of France. And now when, by a
series of crimes and follies, he had succeeded in alienating his
neighbours, his subjects, his soldiers, his sailors, his
children, and had left himself no refuge but the protection of
France, he was taken with a fit of pride, and determined to
assert his independence. That help which, when he did not want
it, he had accepted with ignominious tears, he now, when it was
indispensable to him, threw contemptuously away. Having been
abject when he might, with propriety, have been punctilious in
maintaining his dignity, he became ungratefully haughty at a
moment when haughtiness must bring on him at once derision and
ruin. He resented the friendly intervention which might have
saved him. Was ever King so used? Was he a child, or an idiot,
that others must think for him? Was he a petty prince, a Cardinal
Furstemburg, who must fall if not upheld by a powerful patron?
Was he to be degraded in the estimation of all Europe, by an
ostentatious patronage which he had never asked? Skelton was
recalled to answer for his conduct, and, as soon as he arrived,
was committed prisoner to the Tower. Citters was well received at
Whitehall, and had a long audience. He could, with more truth
than diplomatists on such occasions think at all necessary,
disclaim, on the part of the States General, any hostile project.
For the States General had, as yet, no official knowledge of the
design of William; nor was it by any means impossible that they
might, even now, refuse to sanction that design. James declared
that he gave not the least credit to the rumours of a Dutch
invasion, and that the conduct of the French government had
surprised and annoyed him. Middleton was directed to assure all
the foreign ministers that there existed no such alliance between
France and England as the Court of Versailles had, for its own
ends, pretended. To the Nuncio the King said that the designs of
Lewis were palpable and should be frustrated. This officious
protection was at once an insult and a snare. "My good brother,"
said James, "has excellent qualities; but flattery and vanity
have turned his head."471 Adda, who was much more anxious about
Cologne than about England, encouraged this strange delusion.
Albeville, who had now returned to his post, was commanded to
give friendly assurances to the States General, and to add some
high language, which might have been becoming in the mouth of
Elizabeth or Oliver. "My master," he said, "is raised, alike by
his power and by his spirit, above the position which France
affects to assign to him. There is some difference between a King
of England and an Archbishop of Cologne." The reception of
Bonrepaux at Whitehall was cold. The naval succours which he
offered were not absolutely declined; but he was forced to return
without having settled anything; and the Envoys, both of the
United Provinces and of the House of Austria, were informed that
his mission had been disagreeable to the King and had produced no
result. After the Revolution Sunderland boasted, and probably
with truth, that he had induced his master to reject the
proffered assistance of France.472

The perverse folly of James naturally excited the indignation of
his powerful neighbour. Lewis complained that, in return for the
greatest service which he could render to the English government,
that government had given him the lie in the face of all
Christendom. He justly remarked that what Avaux had said,
touching the alliance between France and Great Britain, was true
according to the spirit, though perhaps not according to the
letter. There was not indeed a treaty digested into articles,
signed, sealed, and ratified: but assurances equivalent in the
estimation of honourable men to such a treaty had, during some
years, been constantly exchanged between the two Courts. Lewis
added that, high as was his own place in Europe, he should never
be so absurdly jealous of his dignity as to see an insult in any
act prompted by friendship. But James was in a very different
situation, and would soon learn the value of that aid which he
had so ungraciously rejected.473

Yet, notwithstanding the stupidity and ingratitude of James, it
would have been wise in Lewis to persist in the resolution which
had been notified to the States General. Avaux, whose sagacity
and judgment made him an antagonist worthy of William, was
decidedly of this opinion. The first object of the French
government--so the skilful Envoy reasoned--ought to be to prevent
the intended descent on England. The way to prevent that descent
was to invade the Spanish Netherlands, and to menace the Batavian
frontier. The Prince of Orange, indeed, was so bent on his
darling enterprise that he would persist, even if the white flag
were flying on the walls of Brussels. He had actually said that,
if the Spaniards could only manage to keep Ostend, Mons, and
Namur till the next spring, he would then return from England
with a force which would soon recover all that had been lost.
But, though such was the Prince's opinion, it was not the opinion
of the States. They would not readily consent to send their
Captain General and the flower of their army across the German
Ocean, while a formidable enemy threatened their own

Lewis admitted the force of these reasonings: but he had already
resolved on a different line of action. Perhaps he had been
provoked by the discourtesy and wrongheadedness of the English
government, and indulged his temper at the expense of his
interest. Perhaps he was misled by the counsels of his minister
of war, Louvois, whose influence was great, and who regarded
Avaux with no friendly feeling. It was determined to strike in a
quarter remote from Holland a great and unexpected blow. Lewis
suddenly withdrew his troops from Flanders, and poured them into
Germany. One army, placed under the nominal command of the
Dauphin, but really directed by the Duke of Duras and by Vauban,
the father of the science of fortification, invested Philipsburg.
Another, led by the Marquess of Boufflers, seized Worms, Mentz,
and Treves. A third, commanded by the Marquess of Humieres,
entered Bonn. All down the Rhine, from Carlsruhe to Cologne, the
French arms were victorious. The news of the fall of Philipsburg
reached Versailles on All Saints day, while the Court was
listening to a sermon in the chapel. The King made a sign to the
preacher to stop, announced the good news to the congregation,
and, kneeling down, returned thanks to God for this great
success. The audience wept for joy.475 The tidings were eagerly
welcomed by the sanguine and susceptible people of France. Poets
celebrated the triumphs of their magnificent patron. Orators
extolled from the pulpit the wisdom and magnanimity of the eldest
son of the Church. The Te Deum was sung with unwonted pomp; and
the solemn notes of the organ were mingled with the clash of the
cymbal and the blast of the trumpet. But there was little cause
for rejoicing. The great statesman who was at the head of the
European coalition smiled inwardly at the misdirected energy of
his foe. Lewis had indeed, by his promptitude, gained some
advantages on the side of Germany: but those advantages would
avail little if England, inactive and inglorious under four
successive Kings, should suddenly resume her old rank in Europe.
A few weeks would suffice for the enterprise on which the fate of
the world depended; and for a few weeks the United Provinces were
in security.

William now urged on his preparations with indefatigable activity
and with less secrecy than he had hitherto thought necessary.
Assurances of support came pouring in daily from foreign courts.
Opposition had become extinct at the Hague. It was in vain that
Avaux, even at this last moment, exerted all his skill to
reanimate the faction which had contended against three
generations of the House of Orange. The chiefs of that faction,
indeed, still regarded the Stadtholder with no friendly feeling.
They had reason to fear that, if he prospered in England, he
would become absolute master of Holland. Nevertheless the errors
of the court of Versailles, and the dexterity with which he had
availed himself of those errors, made it impossible to continue
the struggle against him. He saw that the time had come for
demanding the sanction of the States. Amsterdam was the head
quarters of the party hostile to his line, his office, and his
person; and even from Amsterdam he had at this moment nothing to
apprehend. Some of the chief functionaries of that city had been
repeatedly closeted with him, with Dykvelt, and with Bentinck,
and had been induced to promise that they would promote, or at
least that they would not oppose, the great design: some were
exasperated by the commercial edicts of Lewis: some were in deep
distress for kinsmen and friends who were harassed by the French
dragoons: some shrank from the responsibility of causing a schism
which might be fatal to the Batavian federation; and some were
afraid of the common people, who, stimulated by the exhortations
of zealous preachers, were ready to execute summary justice on
any traitor to the Protestant cause. The majority, therefore, of
that town council which had long been devoted to France
pronounced in favour of William's undertaking. Thenceforth all
fear of opposition in any part of the United Provinces was at an
end; and the full sanction of the federation to his enterprise
was, in secret sittings, formally given.476

The Prince had already fixed upon a general well qualified to be
second in command. This was indeed no light matter. A random shot
or the dagger of an assassin might in a moment leave the
expedition without a head. It was necessary that a successor
should be ready to fill the vacant place. Yet it was impossible
to make choice of any Englishman without giving offence either to
the Whigs or to the Tories; nor had any Englishman then living
shown that he possessed the military skill necessary for the
conduct of a campaign. On the other band it was not easy to
assign preeminence to a foreigner without wounding the national
sensibility of the haughty islanders. One man there was, and only
one in Europe, to whom no objection could be found, Frederic,
Count of Schomberg, a German, sprung from a noble house of the
Palatinate. He was generally esteemed the greatest living master
of the art of war. His rectitude and piety, tried by strong
temptations and never found wanting, commanded general respect
and confidence. Though a Protestant, he had been, during many
years, in the service of Lewis, and had, in spite of the ill
offices of the Jesuits, extorted from his employer, by a series
of great actions, the staff of a Marshal of France. When
persecution began to rage, the brave veteran steadfastly refused
to purchase the royal favour by apostasy, resigned, without one
murmur, all his honours and commands, quitted his adopted country
for ever, and took refuge at the court of Berlin. He had passed
his seventieth year; but both his mind and his body were still in
full vigour. He had been in England, and was much loved and
honoured there. He had indeed a recommendation of which very few
foreigners could then boast; for he spoke our language, not only
intelligibly, but with grace and purity. He was, with the consent
of the Elector of Brandenburg, and with the warm approbation of
the chiefs of all English parties, appointed William's

And now the Hague was crowded with British adventurers of all the
various parties which the tyranny of James had united in a
strange coalition, old royalists who had shed their blood for the
throne, old agitators of the army of the Parliament, Tories who
had been persecuted in the days of the Exclusion Bill, Whigs who
had fled to the Continent for their share in the Rye House Plot.

Conspicuous in this great assemblage were Charles Gerard, Earl of
Macclesfield, an ancient Cavalier who had fought for Charles the
First and had shared the exile of Charles the Second; Archibald
Campbell, who was the eldest son of the unfortunate Argyle, but
had inherited nothing except an illustrious name and the
inalienable affection of a numerous clan; Charles Paulet, Earl of
Wiltshire, heir apparent of the Marquisate of Winchester; and
Peregrine Osborne, Lord Dumblame, heir apparent of the Earldom of
Danby. Mordaunt, exulting in the prospect of adventures
irresistibly attractive to his fiery nature, was among the
foremost volunteers. Fletcher of Saltoun had learned, while
guarding the frontier of Christendom against the infidels, that
there was once more a hope of deliverance for his country, and
had hastened to offer the help of his sword. Sir Patrick Hume,
who had, since his flight from Scotland, lived humbly at Utrecht,
now emerged from his obscurity: but, fortunately, his eloquence
could, on this occasion, do little mischief; for the Prince of
Orange was by no means disposed to be the lieutenant of a
debating society such as that which had ruined the enterprise of
Argyle. The subtle and restless Wildman, who had some time before
found England an unsafe residence, and had retired to Germany,
now repaired from Germany to the Prince's court. There too was
Carstairs, a presbyterian minister from Scotland, who in craft
and courage had no superior among the politicians of his age. He
had been entrusted some years before by Fagel with important
secrets, and had resolutely kept them in spite of the most
horrible torments which could be inflicted by boot and
thumbscrew. His rare fortitude had earned for him as large a
share of the Prince's confidence and esteem as was granted to any
man except Bentinck.478 Ferguson could not remain quiet when a
revolution was preparing. He secured for himself a passage in the
fleet, and made himself busy among his fellow emigrants: but he
found himself generally distrusted and despised. He had been a
great man in the knot of ignorant and hotheaded outlaws who had
urged the feeble Monmouth to destruction: but there was no place
for a lowminded agitator, half maniac and half knave, among the
grave statesmen and generals who partook the cares of the
resolute and sagacious William.

The difference between the expedition of 1685 and the expedition
of 1688 was sufficiently marked by the difference between the
manifestoes which the leaders of those expeditions published. For
Monmouth Ferguson had scribbled an absurd and brutal libel about
the burning of London, the strangling of Godfrey, the butchering
of Essex, and the poisoning of Charles. The Declaration of
William was drawn up by the Grand Pensionary Fagel, who was
highly renowned as a publicist. Though weighty and learned, it
was, in its original form, much too prolix: but it was abridged
and translated into English by Burnet, who well understood the
art of popular composition. It began by a solemn preamble,
setting forth that, in every community, the strict observance of
law was necessary alike to the happiness of nations and to the
security of governments. The Prince of Orange had therefore seen
with deep concern that the fundamental laws of a kingdom, with
which he was by blood and by marriage closely connected, had, by
the advice of evil counsellors, been grossly and systematically
violated. The power of dispensing with Acts of Parliament had
been strained to such a point that the whole legislative
authority had been transferred to the crown. Decisions at
variance with the spirit of the constitution had been obtained
from the tribunals by turning out Judge after Judge, till the
bench had been filled with men ready to obey implicitly the
directions of the government. Notwithstanding the King's repeated
assurances that he would maintain the established religion,
persons notoriously hostile to that religion had been promoted,
not only to civil offices, but also to ecclesiastical benefices.
The government of the Church had, in defiance of express
statutes, been entrusted to a new court of High Commission; and
in that court one avowed Papist had a seat. Good subjects, for
refusing to violate their duty and their oaths, had been ejected
from their property, in contempt of the Great Charter of the

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