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

Part 9 out of 12

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Orange. With him were joined Nottingham and Godolphin. The King
declared that he was prepared to make great sacrifices for the
sake of peace. Halifax answered that great sacrifices would
doubtless be required. "Your Majesty," he said, "must not expect
that those who have the power in their hands will consent to any
terms which would leave the laws at the mercy of the
prerogative." With this distinct explanation of his views, he
accepted the Commission which the King wished him to
undertake.548 The concessions which a few hours before had been
so obstinately refused were now made in the most liberal manner.
A proclamation was put forth by which the King not only granted a
free pardon to all who were in rebellion against him, but
declared them eligible to be members of the approaching
Parliament. It was not even required as a condition of
eligibility that they should lay down their arms. The same
Gazette which announced that the Houses were about to meet
contained a notification that Sir Edward Hales, who, as a Papist,
as a renegade, as the foremost champion of the dispensing power,
and as the harsh gaoler of the Bishops, was one of the most
unpopular men in the realm, had ceased to be Lieutenant of the
Tower, and had been succeeded by his late prisoner, Bevil
Skelton, who, though he held no high place in the esteem of his
countrymen, was at least not disqualified by law for public

But these concessions were meant only to blind the Lords and the
nation to the King's real designs. He had secretly determined
that, even in this extremity, he would yield nothing. On the very
day on which he issued the proclamation of amnesty, he fully
explained his intentions to Barillon. "This negotiation," said
James, "is a mere feint. I must send commissioners to my nephew,
that I may gain time to ship off my wife and the Prince of Wales.
You know the temper of my troops. None but the Irish will stand
by me; and the Irish are not in sufficient force to resist the
enemy. A Parliament would impose on me conditions which I could
not endure. I should be forced to undo all that I have done for
the Catholics, and to break with the King of France. As soon,
therefore, as the Queen and my child are safe, I will leave
England, and tale refuge in Ireland, in Scotland, or with your

Already James had made preparations for carrying this scheme into
effect. Dover had been sent to Portsmouth with instructions to
take charge of the Prince of Wales; and Dartmouth, who commanded
the fleet there, had been ordered to obey Dover's directions in
all things concerning the royal infant, and to have a yacht
manned by trusty sailors in readiness to sail for France at a
moment's notice.551 The King now sent positive orders that the
child should instantly be conveyed to the nearest continental
port.552 Next to the Prince of Wales the chief object of anxiety
was the Great Seal. To that symbol of kingly authority our
jurists have always ascribed a peculiar and almost mysterious
importance. It is held that, if the Keeper of the Seal should
affix it, without taking the royal pleasure, to a patent of
peerage or to a pardon, though he may be guilty of a high
offence, the instrument cannot be questioned by any court of law,
and can be annulled only by an Act of Parliament. James seems to
have been afraid that his enemies might get this organ of his
will into their hands, and might thus give a legal validity to
acts which might affect him injuriously. Nor will his
apprehensions be thought unreasonable when it is remembered that,
exactly a hundred years later, the Great Seal of a King was used,
with the assent of Lords and Commons, and with the approbation of
many great statesmen and lawyers, for the purpose of transferring
his prerogatives to his son. Lest the talisman which possessed
such formidable powers should be abused, James determined that it
should be kept within a few yards of his own closet. Jeffreys was
therefore ordered to quit the costly mansion which he had lately
built in Duke Street, and to take up his residence in a small
apartment at Whitehall.553

The King had made all his preparations for flight, when an
unexpected impediment compelled him to postpone the execution of
his design. His agents at Portsmouth began to entertain scruples.
Even Dover, though a member of the Jesuitical cabal, showed signs
of hesitation. Dartmouth was still less disposed to comply with
the royal wishes. He had hitherto been faithful to the throne,
and had done all that he could do, with a disaffected fleet, and
in the face of an adverse wind, to prevent the Dutch from landing
in England: but he was a zealous member of the Established
Church; and was by no means friendly to the policy of that
government which he thought himself bound in duty and honour to
defend. The mutinous tamper of the officers and men under his
command had caused him much anxiety; and he had been greatly
relieved by the news that a free Parliament had been convoked,
and that Commissioners had been named to treat with the Prince of
Orange. The joy was clamorous throughout the fleet. An address,
warmly thanking the King for these gracious concessions to public
feeling, was drawn up on board of the flag ship. The Admiral
signed first. Thirty-eight Captains wrote their names under his.
This paper on its way to Whitehall crossed the messenger who
brought to Portsmouth the order that the Prince of Wales should
instantly be conveyed to France. Dartmouth learned, with bitter
grief and resentment, that the free Parliament, the general
amnesty, the negotiation, were all parts of a great fraud on the
nation, and that in this fraud he was expected to be an
accomplice. In a pathetic and manly letter he declared that he
had already carried his obedience to the farthest point to which
a Protestant and an Englishman could go. To put the heir apparent
of the British crown into the hands of Lewis would be nothing
less than treason against the monarchy. The nation, already too
much alienated from the Sovereign, would be roused to madness.
The Prince of Wales would either not return at all, or would
return attended by a French army. If His Royal Highness remained
in the island, the worst that could be apprehended was that he
would be brought up a member of the national Church; and that he
might be so brought up ought to be the prayer of every loyal
subject. Dartmouth concluded by declaring that he would risk his
life in defence of the throne, but that he would be no party to
the transporting of the Prince into France.554

This letter deranged all the projects of James. He learned too
that he could not on this occasion expect from his Admiral even
passive obedience. For Dartmouth had gone so far as to station
several sloops at the mouth of the harbour of Portsmouth with
orders to suffer no vessel to pass out unexamined. A change of
plan was necessary. The child must be brought back to London, and
sent thence to France. An interval of some days must elapse
before this could be done. During that interval the public mind
must be amused by the hope of a Parliament and the semblance of a
negotiation. Writs were sent out for the elections. Trumpeters
went backward and forward between the capital and the Dutch
headquarters. At length passes for the king's Commissioners
arrived; and the three Lords set out on their embassy.

They left the capital in a state of fearful distraction. The
passions which, during three troubled years, had been gradually
gathering force, now, emancipated from the restraint of fear, and
stimulated by victory and sympathy, showed themselves without
disguise, even in the precincts of the royal dwelling. The grand
jury of Middlesex found a bill against the Earl of Salisbury for
turning Papist.555 The Lord Mayor ordered the houses of the Roman
Catholics of the City to be searched for arms. The mob broke into
the house of one respectable merchant who held the unpopular
faith, in order to ascertain whether he had not run a mine from
his cellars under the neighbouring parish church, for the purpose
of blowing up parson and congregation.556 The hawkers bawled
about the streets a hue and cry after Father Petre, who had
withdrawn himself, and not before it was time, from his
apartments in the palace.557 Wharton's celebrated song, with many
additional verses, was chaunted more loudly than ever in all the
streets of the capital. The very sentinels who guarded the palace
hummed, as they paced their rounds,

"The English confusion to Popery drink,
Lillibullero bullen a la."

The secret presses of London worked without ceasing. Many papers
daily came into circulation by means which the magistracy could
not discover, or would not check. One of these has been preserved
from oblivion by the skilful audacity with which it was written,
and by the immense effect which it produced. It purported to be a
supplemental declaration under the hand and seal of the Prince of
Orange: but it was written in a style very different from that of
his genuine manifesto. Vengeance alien from the usages of
Christian and civilised nations was denounced against all Papists
who should dare to espouse the royal cause. They should be
treated, not as soldiers or gentlemen, but as freebooters. The
ferocity and licentiousness of the invading army, which had
hitherto been restrained with a strong hand, should be let loose
on them. Good Protestants, and especially those who inhabited the
capital, were adjured, as they valued all that was dear to them,
and commanded, on peril of the Prince's highest displeasure, to
seize, disarm, and imprison their Roman Catholic neighbours. This
document, it is said, was found by a Whig bookseller one morning
under his shop door. He made haste to print it. Many copies were
dispersed by the post, and passed rapidly from hand to hand.
Discerning men had no difficulty in pronouncing it a forgery
devised by some unquiet and unprincipled adventurer, such as, in
troubled times, are always busy in the foulest and darkest
offices of faction. But the multitude was completely duped.
Indeed to such a height had national and religious feeling been
excited against the Irish Papists that most of those who believed
the spurious proclamation to be genuine were inclined to applaud
it as a seasonable exhibition of vigour. When it was known that
no such document had really proceeded from William, men asked
anxiously what impostor had so daringly and so successfully
personated his Highness. Some suspected Ferguson, others Johnson.
At length, after the lapse of twenty-seven years, Hugh Speke
avowed the forgery, and demanded from the House of Brunswick a
reward for so eminent a service rendered to the Protestant
religion. He asserted, in the tone of a man who conceives himself
to have done something eminently virtuous and honourable, that,
when the Dutch invasion had thrown Whitehall into consternation,
he had offered his services to the court, had pretended to be
estranged from the Whigs, and had promised to act as a spy upon
them; that he had thus obtained admittance to the royal closet,
had vowed fidelity, had been promised large pecuniary rewards,
and had procured blank passes which enabled him to travel
backwards and forwards across the hostile lines. All these things
he protested that he had done solely in order that he might,
unsuspected, aim a deadly blow at the government, and produce a
violent outbreak of popular feeling against the Roman Catholics.
The forged proclamation he claimed as one of his contrivances:
but whether his claim were well founded may be doubted. He
delayed to make it so long that we may reasonably suspect him of
having waited for the death of those who could confute him; and
he produced no evidence but his own.558

While these things happened in London, every post from every part
of the country brought tidings of some new insurrection. Lumley
had seized Newcastle. The inhabitants had welcomed him with
transport. The statue of the King, which stood on a lofty
pedestal of marble, had been pulled down and hurled into the
Tyne. The third of December was long remembered at Hull as the
town taking day. That place had a garrison commanded by Lord
Langdale, a Roman Catholic. The Protestant officers concerted
with the magistracy a plan of revolt: Langdale and his adherents
were arrested; and soldiers and citizens united in declaring for
the Protestant religion and a free Parliament.559

The Pastern Counties were up. The Duke of Norfolk, attended by
three hundred gentlemen armed and mounted, appeared in the
stately marketplace of Norwich. The Mayor and Aldermen met him
there, and engaged to stand by him against Popery and arbitrary
power.560 Lord Herbert of Cherbury and Sir Edward Harley took up
arms in Worcestershire.561 Bristol, the second city of the realm,
opened its gates to Shrewsbury. Trelawney, the Bishop, who had
entirely unlearned in the Tower the doctrine of nonresistance,
was the first to welcome the Prince's troops. Such was the temper
of the inhabitants that it was thought unnecessary to leave any
garrison among them.562 The people of Gloucester rose and
delivered Lovelace from confinement. An irregular army soon
gathered round him. Some of his horsemen had only halters for
bridles. Many of his infantry had only clubs for weapons. But
this force, such as it was, marched unopposed through counties
once devoted to the House of Stuart, and at length entered Oxford
in triumph. The magistrates came in state to welcome the
insurgents. The University itself, exasperated by recent
injuries, was little disposed to pass censures on rebellion.
Already some of the Heads of Houses had despatched one of their
number to assure the Prince of Orange that they were cordially
with him, and that they would gladly coin their plate for his
service. The Whig chief, therefore, rode through the capital of
Toryism amidst general acclamation. Before him the drums beat
Lillibullero. Behind him came a long stream of horse and foot.
The whole High Street was gay with orange ribands. For already
the orange riband had the double signification which, after the
lapse of one hundred and sixty years, it still retains. Already
it was the emblem to the Protestant Englishman of civil and
religious freedom, to the Roman Catholic Celt of subjugation and

While foes were thus rising up all round the King, friends were
fast shrinking from his side. The idea of resistance had become
familiar to every mind. Many who had been struck with horror when
they heard of the first defections now blamed themselves for
having been so slow to discern the signs of the times. There was
no longer any difficulty or danger in repairing to William. The
King, in calling on the nation to elect representatives, had, by
implication, authorised all men to repair to the places where
they had votes or interest; and many of those places were already
occupied by invaders or insurgents. Clarendon eagerly caught at
this opportunity of deserting the falling cause. He knew that his
speech in the Council of Peers had given deadly offence: and he
was mortified by finding that he was not to be one of the royal
Commissioners. He had estates in Wiltshire. He determined that
his son, the son of whom he had lately spoken with grief and
horror, should be a candidate for that county; and, under
pretence of looking after the election, he set out for the West.
He was speedily followed by the Earl of Oxford, and by others who
had hitherto disclaimed all connection with the Prince's

By this time the invaders, steadily though slowly advancing, were
within seventy miles of London. Though midwinter was approaching,
the weather was fine; the way was pleasant; and the turf of
Salisbury Plain seemed luxuriously smooth to men who had been
toiling through the miry ruts of the Devonshire and Somersetshire
highways. The route of the army lay close by Stonehenge; and
regiment after regiment halted to examine that mysterious ruin,
celebrated all over the Continent as the greatest wonder of our
island. William entered Salisbury with the same military pomp
which he had displayed at Exeter, and was lodged there in the
palace which the King had occupied a few days before.565

His train was now swelled by the Earls of Clarendon and Oxford,
and by other men of high rank, who had, till within a few days,
been considered as jealous Royalists. Van Citters also made his
appearance at the Dutch head quarters. He had been during some
weeks almost a prisoner in his house, near Whitehall, under the
constant observation of relays of spies. Yet, in spite of those
spies, or perhaps by their help, he had succeeded in obtaining
full and accurate intelligence of all that passed in the palace;
and now, full fraught wrath valuable information about men and
things, he came to assist the deliberations of William.566

Thus far the Prince's enterprise had prospered beyond the
anticipations of the most sanguine. And now, according to the
general law which governs human affairs, prosperity began to
produce disunion. The Englishmen assembled at Salisbury were
divided into two parties. One party consisted of Whigs who had
always regarded the doctrines of passive obedience and of
indefeasible hereditary right as slavish superstitions. Many of
them had passed years in exile. All had been long shut out from
participation to the favours of the crown. They now exulted in
the near prospect of greatness and of vengeance. Burning with
resentment, flushed with victory and hope, they would hear of no
compromise. Nothing less than the deposition of their enemy would
content them: nor can it be disputed that herein they were
perfectly consistent. They had exerted themselves, nine years
earlier, to exclude him from the throne, because they thought it
likely that he would be a bad King. It could therefore scarcely
be expected that they would willingly leave him on the throne,
now that he had turned out a far worse King than any reasonable
man could have anticipated.

On the other hand, not a few of William's followers were zealous
Tories, who had, till very recently, held the doctrine of
nonresistance in the most absolute form, but whose faith in that
doctrine had, for a moment, given way to the strong passions
excited by the ingratitude of the King and by the peril of the
Church. No situation could be more painful or perplexing than
that of the old Cavalier who found himself in arms against the
throne. The scruples which had not prevented him from repairing
to the Dutch camp began to torment him cruelly as soon as he was
there. His mind misgave him that he had committed a crime. At all
events he had exposed himself to reproach, by acting in
diametrical opposition to the professions of his whole life. He
felt insurmountable disgust for his new allies. They were people
whom, ever since he could remember, he had been reviling and
persecuting, Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, old
soldiers of Cromwell, brisk boys of Shaftesbury, accomplices in
the Rye House Plot, captains of the Western Insurrection. He
naturally wished to find out some salvo which might sooth his
conscience, which might vindicate his consistency, and which
might put a distinction between him and the crew of schismatical
rebels whom he had always despised and abhorred, but with whom he
was now in danger of being confounded. He therefore disclaimed
with vehemence all thought of taking the crown from that anointed
head which the ordinance of heaven and the fundamental laws of
the realm had made sacred. His dearest wish was to see a
reconciliation effected on terms which would not lower the royal
dignity. He was no traitor. He was not, in truth, resisting the
kingly authority. He was in arms only because he was convinced
that the best service which could be rendered to the throne was
to rescue His Majesty, by a little gentle coercion, from the
hands of wicked counsellors.

The evils which the mutual animosity of these factions tended to
produce were, to a great extent, averted by the ascendency and by
the wisdom of the Prince. Surrounded by eager disputants,
officious advisers, abject flatterers, vigilant spies, malicious
talebearers, he remained serene and inscrutable. He preserved
silence while silence was possible. When he was forced to speak,
the earnest and peremptory tone in which he uttered his well
weighed opinions soon silenced everybody else. Whatever some of
his too zealous adherents might say, he uttered not a word
indicating any design on the English crown. He was doubtless well
aware that between him and that crown were still interposed
obstacles which no prudence might be able to surmount, and which
a single false step would make insurmountable. His only chance of
obtaining the splendid prize was not to seize it rudely, but to
wait till, without any appearance of exertion or stratagem on his
part, his secret wish should be accomplished by the force of
circumstances, by the blunders of his opponents, and by the free
choice of the Estates of the Realm. Those who ventured to
interrogate him learned nothing, and yet could not accuse him of
shuffling. He quietly referred them to his Declaration, and
assured them that his views had undergone no change since that
instrument had been drawn up. So skilfully did he manage his
followers that their discord seems rather to have strengthened
than to have weakened his hands but it broke forth with violence
when his control was withdrawn, interrupted the harmony of
convivial meetings, and did not respect even the sanctity of the
house of God. Clarendon, who tried to hide from others and from
himself, by an ostentatious display of loyal sentiments, the
plain fact that he was a rebel, was shocked to hear some of his
new associates laughing over their wine at the royal amnesty
which had just been graciously offered to them. They wanted no
pardon, they said. They would make the King ask pardon before
they had done with him. Still more alarming and disgusting to
every good Tory was an incident which happened at Salisbury
Cathedral. As soon as the officiating minister began to read the
collect for the King, Barnet, among whose many good qualities
selfcommand and a fine sense of the becoming cannot be reckoned,
rose from his knees, sate down in his stall, and uttered some
contemptuous noises which disturbed the devotions of the

In a short time the factions which divided the Prince's camp had
an opportunity of measuring their strength. The royal
Commissioners were on their way to him. Several days had elapsed
since they had been appointed; and it was thought strange that,
in a case of such urgency, there should be such delay. But in
truth neither James nor William was desirous that negotiations
should speedily commence; for James wished only to gain time
sufficient for sending his wife and son into prance; and the
position of William became every day more commanding. At length
the Prince caused it to be notified to the Commissioners that he
would meet them at Hungerford. He probably selected this place
because, lying at an equal distance from Salisbury and from
Oxford, it was well situated for a rendezvous of his most
important adherents. At Salisbury were those noblemen and
gentlemen who had accompanied him from Holland or had joined him
in the West; and at Oxford were many chiefs of the Northern

Late on Thursday, the sixth of December, he reached Hungerford.
The little town was soon crowded with men of rank and note who
came thither from opposite quarters. The Prince was escorted by a
strong body of troops. The northern Lords brought with them
hundreds of irregular cavalry, whose accoutrements and
horsemanship moved the mirth of men accustomed to the splendid
aspect and exact movements of regular armies.568

While the Prince lay at Hungerford a sharp encounter took place
between two hundred and fifty of his troops and six hundred
Irish, who were posted at Reading. The superior discipline of the
invaders was signally proved on this occasion. Though greatly
outnumbered, they, at one onset, drove the King's forces in
confusion through the streets of the town into the market place.
There the Irish attempted to rally; but, being vigorously
attacked in front and fired upon at the same time by the
inhabitants from the windows of the neighbouring houses, they
soon lost hart, and fled with the loss of them colours and of
fifty men. Of the conquerors only five fell. The satisfaction
which this news gave to the Lords and gentlemen who had joined
William was unmixed. There was nothing in what had happened to
gall their national feelings. The Dutch had not beaten the
English, but had assisted an English town to free itself from the
insupportable dominion of the Irish.569

On the morning of Saturday, the eighth of December, the King's
Commissioners reached Hungerford. The Prince's body guard was
drawn up to receive them with military respect. Bentinck welcomed
them, and proposed to conduct them immediately to his master.
They expressed a hope that the Prince would favour them with a
private audience; but they were informed that he had resolved to
hear them and answer them in public. They were ushered into his
bedchamber, where they found him surrounded by a crowd of
noblemen and gentlemen. Halifax, whose rank, age, and abilities
entitled him to precedence, was spokesman. The proposition which
the Commissioners had been instructed to make was that the points
in dispute should be referred to the Parliament, for which the
writs were already sealing, and that in the mean time the
Prince's army would not come within thirty or forty miles of
London. Halifax, having explained that this was the basis on
which he and his colleagues were prepared to treat, put into
William's hands a letter from the King, and retired. William
opened the letter and seemed unusually moved. It was the first
letter which he had received from his father in law since they
had become avowed enemies. Once they had been on good terms and
had written to each other familiarly; nor had they, even when
they had begun to regard each other with suspicion and aversion,
banished from their correspondence those forms of kindness which
persons nearly related by blood and marriage commonly use. The
letter which the Commissioners had brought was drawn up by a
secretary in diplomatic form and in the French language. "I have
had many letters from the King," said William, "but they were all
in English, and in his own hand." He spoke with a sensibility
which he was little in the habit of displaying. Perhaps he
thought at that moment how much reproach his enterprise, just,
beneficent, and necessary as it was, must bring on him and on the
wife who was devoted to him. Perhaps he repined at the hard fate
which had placed him in such a situation that he could fulfil his
public duties only by breaking through domestic ties, and envied
the happier condition of those who are not responsible for the
welfare of nations and Churches. But such thoughts, if they rose
in his mind, were firmly suppressed. He requested the Lords and
gentlemen whom he had convoked on this occasion to consult
together, unrestrained by his presence, as to the answer which
ought to be returned. To himself, however, he reserved the power
of deciding in the last resort, after hearing their opinion. He
then left them, and retired to Littlecote Hall, a manor house
situated about two miles off, and renowned down to our own times,
not more on account of its venerable architecture and furniture
than an account of a horrible and mysterious crime which was
perpetrated there in the days of the Tudors.570

Before he left Hungerford, he was told that Halifax had expressed
a great desire to see Burnet. In this desire there was nothing
strange; for Halifax and Burnet had long been on terms of
friendship. No two men, indeed, could resemble each other less.
Burnet was utterly destitute of delicacy and tact. Halifax's
taste was fastidious, and his sense of the ludicrous morbidly
quick. Burnet viewed every act and every character through a
medium distorted and coloured by party spirit. The tendency of
Halifax's mind was always to see the faults of his allies more
strongly than the faults of his opponents. Burnet was, with all
his infirmities, and through all the vicissitudes of a life
passed in circumstances not very favourable to piety, a sincerely
pious man. The sceptical and sarcastic Halifax lay under the
imputation of infidelity. Halifax therefore often incurred
Burnet's indignant censure; and Burnet was often the butt of
Halifax's keen and polished pleasantry. Yet they were drawn to
each other by a mutual attraction, liked each other's
conversation, appreciated each other's abilities, interchanged
opinions freely, and interchanged also good offices in perilous
times. It was not, however, merely from personal regard that
Halifax now wished to see his old acquaintance. The Commissioners
must have been anxious to know what was the Prince's real aim. He
had refused to see them in private; and little could be learned
from what he might say in a formal and public interview. Almost
all those who were admitted to his confidence were men taciturn
and impenetrable as himself. Burnet was the only exception. He
was notoriously garrulous and indiscreet. Yet circumstances had
made it necessary to trust him; and he would doubtless, under the
dexterous management of Halifax, have poured out secrets as fast
as words. William knew this well, and, when he was informed that
Halifax was asking for the Doctor, could not refrain from
exclaiming, "If they get together there will be fine tattling."
Burnet was forbidden to see the Commissioners in private; but he
was assured in very courteous terms that his fidelity was
regarded by the Prince as above all suspicion; and, that there
might be no ground for complaint, the prohibition was made

That afternoon the noblemen and gentlemen whose advice William
had asked met in the great room of the principal inn at
Hungerford. Oxford was placed in the chair; and the King's
overtures were taken into consideration. It soon appeared that
the assembly was divided into two parties, a party anxious to
come to terms with the King, and a party bent on his destruction.
The latter party had the numerical superiority: but it was
observed that Shrewsbury, who of all the English nobles was
supposed to enjoy the largest share of William's confidence,
though a Whig, sided on this occasion with the Tories. After much
altercation the question was put. The majority was for rejecting
the proposition which the royal Commissioners had been instructed
to make. The resolution of the assembly was reported to the
Prince at Littlecote. On no occasion during the whole course of
his eventful life did he show more prudence and selfcommand. He
could not wish the negotiation to succeed. But he was far too
wise a man not to know that, if unreasonable demands made by him
should cause it to fail, public feeling would no longer be on his
side. He therefore overruled the opinion of his too eager
followers, and declared his determination to treat on the basis
proposed by the King. Many of the Lords and gentlemen assembled
at Hungerford remonstrated: a whole day was spent in bickering:
but William's purpose was immovable. He declared himself willing
to refer all the questions in dispute to the Parliament which had
just been summoned, and not to advance within forty miles of
London. On his side he made some demands which even those who
were least disposed to commend him allowed to be moderate. He
insisted that the existing statutes should be obeyed till they
should be altered by competent authority, and that all persons
who held offices without a legal qualification should be
forthwith dismissed. The deliberations of the Parliament, he
justly conceived, could not be free if it was to sit surrounded
by Irish regiments while he and his army lay at a distance of
several marches. He therefore thought it reasonable that, since
his troops were not to advance within forty miles of London on
the west, the King's troops should fall back as far to the east.
There would thus be, round the spot where the Houses were to
meet, a wide circle of neutral ground. Within that circle,
indeed, there were two fastnesses of great importance to the
people of the capital, the Tower, which commanded their
dwellings, and Tilbury Fort, which commanded their maritime
trade. It was impossible to leave these places ungarrisoned.
William therefore proposed that they should be temporarily
entrusted to the care of the City of London. It might possibly be
convenient that, when the Parliament assembled, the King should
repair to Westminster with a body guard. The Prince announced
that, in that case, he should claim the right of repairing
thither also with an equal number of soldiers. It seemed to him
just that, while military operations were suspended, both the
armies should be considered as alike engaged in the service of
the English nation, and should be alike maintained out of the
English revenue. Lastly, he required some guarantee that the King
would not take advantage of the armistice for the purpose of
introducing a French force into England. The point where there was most danger
was Portsmouth. The Prince did not however
insist that this important fortress should be delivered up to
him, but proposed that it should, during the truce, be under the
government of an officer in whom both himself and James could

The propositions of William were framed with a punctilious
fairness, such as might have been expected rather from a
disinterested umpire pronouncing an award than from a victorious
prince dictating to a helpless enemy. No fault could be found
with them by the partisans of the King. But among the Whigs there
was much murmuring. They wanted no reconciliation with their old
master. They thought themselves absolved from all allegiance to
him. They were not disposed to recognise the authority of a
Parliament convoked by his writ. They were averse to an
armistice; and they could not conceive why, if there was to be an
armistice, it should be an armistice on equal terms. By all the
laws of war the stronger party had a right to take advantage of
his strength; and what was there in the character of James to
justify any extraordinary indulgence? Those who reasoned thus
little knew from how elevated a point of view, and with how
discerning an eye, the leader whom they censured contemplated the
whole situation of England and Europe. They were eager to ruin
James, and would therefore either have refused to treat with him
on any conditions, or have imposed on him conditions
insupportably hard. To the success of William's vast and profound
scheme of policy it was necessary that James should ruin himself
by rejecting conditions ostentatiously liberal. The event proved
the wisdom of the course which the majority of the Englishmen at
Hungerford were inclined to condemn.

On Sunday, the ninth of December, the Prince's demands were put
in writing, and delivered to Halifax. The Commissioners dined at
Littlecote. A splendid assemblage had been invited to meat them.
The old hall, hung with coats of mail which had seen the wars of
the Roses, and with portraits of gallants who had adorned the
court of Philip and Nary, was now crowded with Peers and
Generals. In such a throng a short question and answer might be
exchanged without attracting notice. Halifax seized this
opportunity, the first which had presented itself, of extracting
all that Burnet knew or thought. "What is it that you want?" said
the dexterous diplomatist; "do you wish to get the King into your
power?" " Not at all," said Burnet; "we would not do the least
harm to his person." "And if he were to go away?" said Halifax.
"There is nothing," said Burnet, "so much to be wished." There
can be no doubt that Burnet expressed the general sentiment of
the Whigs in the Prince's camp. They were all desirous that James
should fly from the country: but only a few of the wisest among
them understood how important it was that his flight should be
ascribed by the nation to his own folly and perverseness, and not
to harsh usage and well grounded apprehension. It seems probable
that, even in the extremity to which he was now reduced, all his
enemies united would have been unable to effect his complete
overthrow had he not been his own worst enemy: but, while his
Commissioners were labouring to save him, he was labouring as
earnestly to make all their efforts useless.571

His plans were at length ripe for execution. The pretended
negotiation had answered its purpose. On the same day on which
the three Lords reached Hungerford the Prince of Wales arrived at
Westminster. It had been intended that he should come over London
Bridge; and some Irish troops were sent to Southwark to meet him.
But they were received by a great multitude with such hooting and
execration that they thought it advisable to retire with all
speed. The poor child crossed the Thames at Kingston, and was
brought into Whitehall so privately that many believed him to be
still at Portsmouth.572

To send him and the Queen out of the country without delay was
now the first object of James. But who could be trusted to manage
the escape? Dartmouth was the most loyal of Protestant Tories;
and Dartmouth had refused. Dover was a creature of the Jesuits;
and even Dover had hesitated. It was not very easy to find, an
Englishman of rank and honour who would undertake to place the
heir apparent of the English crown in the hands of the King of
France. In these circumstances, James bethought him of a French
nobleman who then resided in London, Antonine, Count of Lauzun.
Of this man it has been said that his life was stranger than the
dreams of other people. At an early age he had been the intimate
associate of Lewis, and had been encouraged to expect the highest
employments under the French crown. Then his fortunes had
undergone an eclipse. Lewis had driven from him the friend of his
youth with bitter reproaches, and had, it was said, scarcely
refrained from adding blows. The fallen favourite had been sent
prisoner to a fortress: but he had emerged from his confinement,
had again enjoyed the smiles of his master, and had gained the
heart of one of the greatest ladies in Europe, Anna Maria,
daughter of Gaston, Duke of Orleans, granddaughter of King Henry
the Fourth, and heiress of the immense domains of the house of
Montpensier. The lovers were bent on marriage. The royal consent
was obtained. During a few hours Lauzun was regarded by the
court as an adopted member of the house of Bourbon. The portion
which the princess brought with her might well have been an
object of competition to sovereigns; three great dukedoms, an
independent principality with its own mint and with its own
tribunals, and an income greatly exceeding the whole revenue of
the kingdom of Scotland. But this splendid prospect had been
overcast. The match had been broken off. The aspiring suitor had
been, during many years, shut up in an Alpine castle. At length
Lewis relented. Lauzun was forbidden to appear in the royal
presence, but was allowed to enjoy liberty at a distance from the
court. He visited England, and was well received at the palace of
James and in the fashionable circles of London; for in that age
the gentlemen of France were regarded throughout Europe as models
of grace; and many Chevaliers and Viscounts, who had never been
admitted to the interior circle at Versailles, found themselves
objects of general curiosity and admiration at Whitehall. Lauzun
was in every respect the man for the present emergency. He had
courage and a sense of honour, had been accustomed to eccentric
adventures, and, with the keen observation and ironical
pleasantry of a finished man of the world, had a strong
propensity to knight errantry. All his national feelings and all
his personal interests impelled him to undertake the adventure
from which the most devoted subjects of the English crown seemed
to shrink. As the guardian, at a perilous crisis, of the Queen of
Great Britain and of the Prince of Wales, he might return with
honour to his native land; he might once more be admitted to see
Lewis dress and dine, and might, after so many vicissitudes,
recommence, in the decline of life, the strangely fascinating
chase of royal favour.

Animated by such feelings, Lauzun eagerly accepted the high trust
which was offered to him. The arrangements for the flight were
promptly made: a vessel was ordered to be in readiness at
Gravesend: but to reach Gravesend was not easy. The City was in a
state of extreme agitation. The slightest cause sufficed to bring
a crowd together. No foreigner could appear in the streets
without risk of being stopped, questioned, and carried before a
magistrate as a Jesuit in disguise. It was, therefore, necessary
to take the road on the south of the Thames. No precaution which
could quiet suspicion was omitted. The King and Queen retired to
rest as usual. When the palace had been some time profoundly
quiet, James rose and called a servant who was in attendance.
"You will find," said the King, "a man at the door of the
antechamber; bring him hither." The servant obeyed, and Lauzun
was ushered into the royal bedchamber. "I confide to you," said
James, "my Queen and my son; everything must be risked to carry
them into France." Lauzun, with a truly chivalrous spirit,
returned thanks for the dangerous honour which had been conferred
on him, and begged permission to avail himself of the assistance
of his friend Saint Victor, a gentleman of Provence, whose
courage and faith had been often tried. The services of so
valuable an assistant were readily accepted. Lauzun gave his hand
to Mary; Saint Victor wrapped up in his warm cloak the ill fated
heir of so many Kings. The party stole down the back stairs, and
embarked in an open skiff. It was a miserable voyage. The night
was bleak: the rain fell: the wind roared: the waves were rough:
at length the boat reached Lambeth; and the fugitives landed near
an inn, where a coach and horses were in waiting. Some time
elapsed before the horses could be harnessed. Mary, afraid that
her face might be known, would not enter the house. She remained
with her child, cowering for shelter from the storm under the
tower of Lambeth Church, and distracted by terror whenever the
ostler approached her with his lantern. Two of her women attended
her, one who gave suck to the Prince, and one whose office was to
rock his cradle; but they could be of little use to their
mistress; for both were foreigners who could hardly speak the
English language, and who shuddered at the rigour of the English
climate. The only consolatory circumstance was that the little
boy was well, and uttered not a single cry. At length the coach
was ready. Saint Victor followed it on horseback. The fugitives
reached Gravesend safely, and embarked in the yacht which waited
for them. They found there Lord Powis and his wife. Three Irish
officers were also on board. These men had been sent thither in
order that they might assist Lauzun in any desperate emergency;
for it was thought not impossible that the captain of the ship
might prove false; and it was fully determined that, on the first
suspicion of treachery, he should be stabbed to the heart. There
was, however, no necessity for violence. The yacht proceeded down
the river with a fair wind; and Saint Victor, having seen her
under sail, spurred back with the good news to Whitehall.573

On the morning of Monday the tenth of December, the King learned
that his wife and son had begun their voyage with a fair prospect
of reaching their destination. About the same time a courier
arrived at the palace with despatches from Hungerford. Had James
been a little more discerning, or a little less obstinate, those
despatches would have induced him to reconsider all his plans.
The Commissioners wrote hopefully. The conditions proposed by the
conqueror were strangely liberal. The King himself could not
refrain from exclaiming that they were more favourable than he
could have expected. He might indeed not unreasonably suspect
that they had been framed with no friendly design: but this
mattered nothing; for, whether they were offered in the hope
that, by closing with them, he would lay the ground for a happy
reconciliation, or, as is more likely, in the hope that, by
rejecting them, he would exhibit himself to the whole nation as
utterly unreasonable and incorrigible, his course was equally
clear. In either case his policy was to accept them promptly and
to observe them faithfully.

But it soon appeared that William had perfectly understood the
character with which he had to deal, and, in offering those terms
which the Whigs at Hungerford had censured as too indulgent, had
risked nothing. The solemn farce by which the public had been
amused since the retreat of the royal army from Salisbury was
prolonged during a few hours. All the Lords who were still in the
capital were invited to the palace that they might be informed of
the progress of the negotiation which had been opened by their
advice. Another meeting of Peers was appointed for the following
day. The Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs of London were also summoned
to attend the King. He exhorted them to perform their duties
vigorously, and owned that he had thought it expedient to send
his wife and child out of the country, but assured them that he
would himself remain at his post. While he uttered this unkingly
and unmanly falsehood, his fixed purpose was to depart before
daybreak. Already he had entrusted his most valuable moveables to
the care of several foreign Ambassadors. His most important
papers had been deposited with the Tuscan minister. But before
the flight there was still something to be done. The tyrant
pleased himself with the thought that he might avenge himself on
a people who had been impatient of his despotism by inflicting on
them at parting all the evils of anarchy. He ordered the Great
Seal and the writs for the new Parliament to be brought to his
apartment. The writs which could be found he threw into the fire.
Those which had been already sent out he annulled by an
instrument drawn up in legal form. To Feversham he wrote a letter
which could be understood only as a command to disband the army.
Still, however, the King concealed his intention of absconding
even from his chief ministers. Just before he retired he directed
Jeffreys to be in the closet early on the morrow; and, while
stepping into bed, whispered to Mulgrave that the news from
Hungerford was highly satisfactory. Everybody withdrew except the
Duke of Northumberland. This young man, a natural son of Charles
the Second by the Duchess of Cleveland, commanded a troop of Life
Guards, and was a Lord of the Bedchamber. It seems to have been
then the custom of the court that, in the Queen's absence, a Lord
of the Bedchamber should sleep on a pallet in the King's room;
and it was Northumberland's turn to perform this duty.

At three in the morning of Tuesday the eleventh of December,
James rose, took the Great Seal in his hand, laid his commands on
Northumberland not to open the door of the bedchamber till the
usual hour, and disappeared through a secret passage; the same
passage probably through which Huddleston had been brought to the
bedside of the late king. Sir Edward Hales was in attendance with
a hackney coach. James was conveyed to Millbank, where he crossed
the Thames in a small wherry. As he passed Lambeth he flung the
Great Seal into the midst of the stream, where, after many
months, it was accidentally caught by a fishing net and dragged

At Vauxhall he landed. A carriage and horses had been stationed
there for him; and he immediately took the road towards
Sheerness, where a boy belonging to the Custom House had been
ordered to await his arrival.574


The Flight of James known; great Agitation--The Lords meet at
Guildhall--Riots in London--The Spanish Ambassador's House
sacked--Arrest of Jeffreys--The Irish Night--The King detained
near Sheerness--The Lords order him to be set at Liberty--
William's Embarrassment--Arrest of Feversham--Arrival of James in
London--Consultation at Windsor--The Dutch Troops occupy
Whitehall--Message from the Prince delivered to James--James sets
out for Rochester; Arrival of William at Saint James's--He is
advised to assume the Crown by Right of Conquest --He calls
together the Lords and the Members of the Parliaments of Charles
II.--Flight of James from Rochester--Debates and Resolutions of
the Lords--Debates and Resolutions of the Commoners summoned by
the Prince--Convention called; Exertions of the Prince to restore
Order--His tolerant Policy--Satisfaction of Roman Catholic
Powers; State of Feeling in France--Reception of the Queen of
England in France--Arrival of James at Saint Germains--State of
Feeling in the United Provinces--Election of Members to serve in
the Convention--Affairs of Scotland--State of Parties in England-
-Sherlock's Plan--Sancroft's Plan--Danby's Plan--The Whig Plan--
Meeting of the Convention; leading Members of the House of
Commons--Choice of a Speaker--Debate on the State of the Nation--
Resolution declaring the Throne vacant--It is sent up to the
Lords; Debate in the Lords on the Plan of Regency--Schism between
the Whigs and the Followers of Danby--Meeting at the Earl of
Devonshire's--Debate in the Lords on the Question whether the
Throne was vacant--Majority for the Negative; Agitation in
London--Letter of James to the Convention--Debates; Negotiations;
Letter of the Princess of Orange to Danby--The Princess Anne
acquiesces in the Whig Plan--William explains his views--The
Conference between the houses--The Lords yield--New Laws proposed
for the Security of Liberty--Disputes and Compromise--The
Declaration of Right--Arrival of Mary--Tender and Acceptance of
the Crown--William and Mary proclaimed; peculiar Character of the
English Revolution

NORTHUMBERLAND strictly obeyed the injunction which had been laid
on him, and did not open the door of the royal apartment till it
was broad day. The antechamber was filled with courtiers who came
to make their morning bow and with Lords who had been summoned to
Council. The news of James's flight passed in an instant from the
galleries to the streets; and the whole capital was in commotion.

It was a terrible moment. The King was gone. The Prince had not
arrived. No Regency had been appointed. The Great Seal, essential
to the administration of ordinary justice, had disappeared. It
was soon known that Feversham had, on the receipt of the royal
order, instantly disbanded his forces. What respect for law or
property was likely to be found among soldiers, armed and
congregated, emancipated from the restraints of discipline, and
destitute of the necessaries of life? On the other hand, the
populace of London had, during some weeks, shown a strong
disposition to turbulence and rapine. The urgency of the crisis
united for a short time all who had any interest in the peace of
society. Rochester had till that day adhered firmly to the royal
cause. He now saw that there was only one way of averting general
confusion. "Call your troop of Guards together," he said to
Northumberland, "and declare for the Prince of Orange." The
advice was promptly followed. The principal officers of the army
who were then in London held a meeting at Whitehall, and resolved
that they would submit to William's authority, and would, till
his pleasure should be known, keep their men together and assist
the civil power to preserve order.575 The Peers repaired to
Guildhall, and were received there with all honour by the
magistracy of the city. In strictness of law they were no better
entitled than any other set of persons to assume the executive
administration. But it was necessary to the public safety that
there should be a provisional government; and the eyes of men
naturally turned to the hereditary magnates of the realm. The
extremity of the danger drew Sancroft forth from his palace. He
took the chair; and, under his presidency, the new Archbishop of
York, five Bishops, and twenty-two temporal Lords, determined to
draw up, subscribe, and publish a Declaration.

By this instrument they declared that they were firmly attached
to the religion and constitution of their country, and that they
had cherished the hope of seeing grievances redressed and
tranquillity restored by the Parliament which the King had lately
summoned, but that this hope had been extinguished by his flight.
They had therefore determined to join with the Prince of Orange,
in order that the freedom of the nation might be vindicated, that
the rights of the Church might be secured, that a just liberty of
conscience might be given to Dissenters, and that the Protestant
interest throughout the world might be strengthened. Till His
Highness should arrive, they were prepared to take on themselves
the responsibility of giving such directions as might be
necessary for the preservation of order. A deputation was
instantly sent to lay this Declaration before the Prince, and to
inform him that he was impatiently expected in London.576

The Lords then proceeded to deliberate on the course which it was
necessary to take for the prevention of tumult. They sent for the
two Secretaries of State. Middleton refused to submit to what he
regarded as an usurped authority: but Preston, astounded by his
master's flight, and not knowing what to expect, or whither to
turn, obeyed the summons. A message was sent to Skelton, who was
Lieutenant of the Tower, requesting his attendance at Guildhall.
He came, and was told that his services were no longer wanted,
and that he must instantly deliver up his keys. He was succeeded
by Lord Lucas. At the same time the Peers ordered a letter to be
written to Dartmouth, enjoining him to refrain from all hostile
operations against the Dutch fleet, and to displace all the
Popish officers who held commands under him.577

The part taken in these proceedings by Sancroft, and by some
other persons who had, up to that day, been strictly faithful to
the principle of passive obedience, deserves especial notice. To
usurp the command of the military and naval forces of the state,
to remove the officers whom the King had set over his castles and
his ships, and to prohibit his Admiral from giving battle to his
enemies, was surely nothing less than rebellion. Yet several
honest and able Tories of the school of Filmer persuaded
themselves that they could do all these things without incurring
the guilt of resisting their Sovereign. The distinction which
they took was, at least, ingenious. Government, they said, is the
ordinance of God. Hereditary monarchical government is eminently
the ordinance of God. While the King commands what is lawful we
must obey him actively. When he commands what is unlawful we must
obey him passively. In no extremity are we justified in
withstanding him by force. But, if he chooses to resign his
office, his rights over us are at an end. While he governs us,
though he may govern us ill, we are bound to submit: but, if he
refuses to govern us at all, we are not bound to remain for ever
without a government. Anarchy is not the ordinance of God; nor
will he impute it to us as a sin that, when a prince, whom, in
spite of extreme provocations, we have never ceased to honour and
obey, has departed we know not whither, leaving no vicegerent, we
take the only course which can prevent the entire dissolution of
society. Had our Sovereign remained among us, we were ready,
little as he deserved our love, to die at his feet. Had he, when
he quitted us, appointed a regency to govern us with vicarious
authority during his absence, to that regency alone should we
have looked for direction. But he has disappeared, having made no
provision for the preservation of order or the administration of
justice. With him, and with his Great Seal, has vanished the
whole machinery by which a murderer can be punished, by which the
right to an estate can be decided, by which the effects of a
bankrupt can be distributed. His last act has been to free
thousands of armed men from the restraints of military
discipline, and to place them in such a situation that they must
plunder or starve. Yet a few hours, and every man's hand will be
against his neighbour. Life, property, female honour, will be at
the mercy of every lawless spirit. We are at this moment actually
in that state of nature about which theorists have written so
much; and in that state we have been placed, not by our fault,
but by the voluntary defection of him who ought to have been our
protector. His defection may be justly called voluntary: for
neither his life nor his liberty was in danger. His enemies had
just consented to treat with him on a basis proposed by himself,
and had offered immediately to suspend all hostile operations, on
conditions which he could not deny to be liberal. In such
circumstances it is that he has abandoned his trust. We retract
nothing. We are in nothing inconsistent. We still assert our old
doctrines without qualification. We still hold that it is in all
cases sinful to resist the magistrate: but we say that there is
no longer any magistrate to resist. He who was the magistrate,
after long abusing his powers, has at last abdicated them. The
abuse did not give us a right to depose him: but the abdication
gives us a right to consider how we may best supply his place.

It was on these grounds that the Prince's party was now swollen
by many adherents who had previously stood aloof from it. Never,
within the memory of man, had there been so near an approach to
entire concord among all intelligent Englishmen as at this
conjuncture: and never had concord been more needed. Legitimate
authority there was none. All those evil passions which it is the
office of government to restrain, and which the best governments
restrain but imperfectly, were on a sudden emancipated from
control; avarice, licentiousness, revenge, the hatred of sect to
sect, the hatred of nation to nation. On such occasions it will
ever be found that the human vermin which, neglected by ministers
of state and ministers of religion, barbarous in the midst of
civilisation, heathen in the midst of Christianity, burrows among
all physical and all moral pollution, in the cellars and garrets
of great cities, will at once rise into a terrible importance. So
it was now in London. When the night, the longest night, as it
chanced, of the year, approached, forth came from every den of
vice, from the bear garden at Hockley, and from the labyrinth of
tippling houses and brothels in the Friars, thousands of
housebreakers and highwaymen, cutpurses and ringdroppers. With
these were mingled thousands of idle apprentices, who wished
merely for the excitement of a riot. Even men of peaceable and
honest habits were impelled by religious animosity to join the
lawless part of the population. For the cry of No Popery, a cry
which has more than once endangered the existence of London, was
the signal for outrage and rapine. First the rabble fell on the
Roman Catholic places of worship. The buildings were demolished.
Benches, pulpits, confessionals, breviaries were heaped up and
set on fire. A great mountain of books and furniture blazed on
the site of the convent at Clerkenwell. Another pile was kindled
before the ruins of the Franciscan house in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The chapel in Lime Street, the chapel in Bucklersbury, were
pulled down. The pictures, images and crucifixes were carried
along the streets in triumph, amidst lighted tapers torn from the
altars. The procession bristled thick with swords and staves, and
on the point of every sword and of every staff was an orange. The
King's printing house, whence had issued, during the preceding
three years, innumerable tracts in defence of Papal supremacy,
image worship, and monastic vows, was, to use a coarse metaphor
which then, for the first time, came into use, completely gutted.
The vast stock of paper, much of which was still unpolluted by
types, furnished an immense bonfire. From monasteries, temples,
and public offices, the fury of the multitude turned to private
dwellings. Several houses were pillaged and destroyed: but the
smallness of the booty disappointed the plunderers; and soon a
rumour was spread that the most valuable effects of the Papists
had been placed under the care of the foreign Ambassadors. To the
savage and ignorant populace the law of nations and the risk of
bringing on their country the just vengeance of all Europe were
as nothing. The houses of the Ambassadors were besieged. A great
crowd assembled before Barillon's door in St. James's Square. He,
however, fared better than might have been expected. For, though
the government which he represented was held in abhorrence, his
liberal housekeeping and exact payments had made him personally
popular. Moreover he had taken the precaution of asking for a
guard of soldiers; and, as several men of rank, who hued near
him, had done the same, a considerable force was collected in the
Square. The rioters, therefore, when they were assured that no
arms or priests were concealed under his roof, left him
unmolested. The Venetian Envoy was protected by a detachment of
troops: but the mansions occupied by the ministers of the Elector
Palatine and of the Grand Duke of Tuscany were destroyed. One
precious box the Tuscan minister was able to save from the
marauders. It contained nine volumes of memoirs, written in the
hand of James himself. These volumes reached France in safety,
and, after the lapse of more than a century, perished there in
the havoc of a revolution far more terrible than that from which
they had escaped. But some fragments still remain, and, though
grievously mutilated, and imbedded in great masses of childish
fiction, well deserve to be attentively studied.

The rich plate of the Chapel Royal had been deposited at Wild
House, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, the residence of the Spanish
ambassador Ronquillo. Ronquillo, conscious that he and his court
had not deserved ill of the English nation, had thought it
unnecessary to ask for soldiers: but the mob was not in a mood to
make nice distinctions. The name of Spain had long been
associated in the public mind with the Inquisition and the
Armada, with the cruelties of Mary and the plots against
Elizabeth. Ronquillo had also made himself many enemies among the
common people by availing himself of his privilege to avoid the
necessity of paying his debts. His house was therefore sacked
without mercy; and a noble library, which he had collected,
perished in the flames. His only comfort was that the host in his
chapel was rescued from the same fate.578

The morning of the twelfth of December rose on a ghastly sight.
The capital in many places presented the aspect of a city taken
by storm. The Lords met at Whitehall, and exerted themselves to
restore tranquillity. The trainbands were ordered under arms. A
body of cavalry was kept in readiness to disperse tumultuous
assemblages. Such atonement as was at that moment possible was
made for the gross insults which had been offered to foreign
governments. A reward was promised for the discovery of the
property taken from Wild House; and Ronquillo, who had not a bed
or an ounce of plate left, was splendidly lodged in the deserted
palace of the Kings of England. A sumptuous table was kept for
him; and the yeomen of the guard were ordered to wait in his
antechamber with the same observance which they were in the habit
of paying to the Sovereign. These marks of respect soothed even
the punctilious pride of the Spanish court, and averted all
danger of a rupture.579

In spite, however, of the well meant efforts of the provisional
government, the agitation grew hourly more formidable. It was
heightened by an event which, even at this distance of time, can
hardly be related without a feeling of vindictive pleasure. A
scrivener who lived at Wapping, and whose trade was to furnish
the seafaring men there with money at high interest, had some
time before lent a sum on bottomry. The debtor applied to equity
for relief against his own bond; and the case came before
Jeffreys. The counsel for the borrower, having little else to
say, said that the lender was a Trimmer. The Chancellor instantly
fired. "A Trimmer! where is he? Let me see him. I have heard of
that kind of monster. What is it made like?" The unfortunate
creditor was forced to stand forth. The Chancellor glared
fiercely on him, stormed at him, and sent him away half dead with
fright. "While I live," the poor man said, as he tottered out of
the court, "I shall never forget that terrible countenance." And
now the day of retribution had arrived. The Trimmer was walking
through Wapping, when he saw a well known face looking out of the
window of an alehouse. He could not be deceived. The eyebrows,
indeed, had been shaved away. The dress was that of a common
sailor from Newcastle, and was black with coal dust: but there
was no mistaking the savage eye and mouth of Jeffreys. The alarm
was given. In a moment the house was surrounded by hundreds of
people shaking bludgeons and bellowing curses. The fugitive's
life was saved by a company of the trainbands; and he was carried
before the Lord Mayor. The Mayor was a simple man who had passed
his whole life in obscurity, and was bewildered by finding
himself an important actor in a mighty revolution. The events of
the last twenty-four hours, and the perilous state of the city
which was under his charge, had disordered his mind and his body.
When the great man, at whose frown, a few days before, the whole
kingdom had trembled, was, dragged into the justice room begrimed
with ashes, half dead with fright, and followed by a raging
multitude, the agitation of the unfortunate Mayor rose to the
height. He fell into fits, and was carried to his bed, whence he
never rose. Meanwhile the throng without was constantly becoming
more numerous and more savage. Jeffreys begged to be sent to
prison. An order to that effect was procured from the Lords who
were sitting at Whitehall; and he was conveyed in a carriage to
the Tower. Two regiments of militia were drawn out to escort him,
and found the duty a difficult one. It was repeatedly necessary
for them to form, as if for the purpose of repelling a charge of
cavalry, and to present a forest of pikes to the mob. The
thousands who were disappointed of their revenge pursued the
coach, with howls of rage, to the gate of the Tower, brandishing
cudgels, and holding up halters full in the prisoner's view. The
wretched man meantime was in convulsions of terror. He wrung his
hands; he looked wildly out, sometimes at one window, sometimes
at the other, and was heard even above the tumult, crying "Keep
them off, gentlemen! For God's sake keep them off!" At length,
having suffered far more than the bitterness of death, he was
safely lodged in the fortress where some of his most illustrious
victims had passed their last days, and where his own life was
destined to close in unspeakable ignominy and horror.580

All this time an active search was making after Roman Catholic
priests. Many were arrested. Two Bishops, Ellis and Leyburn, were
sent to Newgate. The Nuncio, who had little reason to expect that
either his spiritual or his political character would be
respected by the multitude, made his escape disguised as a
lacquey in the train of the minister of the Duke of Savoy.581

Another day of agitation and terror closed, and was followed by a
night the strangest and most terrible that England had ever seen.
Early in the evening an attack was made by the rabble on a
stately house which had been built a few months before for Lord
Powis, which in the reign of George the Second was the residence
of the Duke of Newcastle, and which is still conspicuous at the
northwestern angle of Lincoln's Inn Fields. Some troops were sent
thither: the mob was dispersed, tranquillity seemed to be
restored, and the citizens were retiring quietly to their beds.
Just at this time arose a whisper which swelled fast into a
fearful clamour, passed in an hour from Piccadilly to
Whitechapel, and spread into every street and alley of the
capital. It was' said that the Irish whom Feversham had let loose
were marching on London and massacring every man, woman, and
child on the road. At one in the morning the drums of the militia
beat to arms. Everywhere terrified women were weeping and
wringing their hands, while their fathers and husbands were
equipping themselves for fight. Before two the capital wore a
face of stern preparedness which might well have daunted a real
enemy, if such an enemy had been approaching. Candles were
blazing at all the windows. The public places were as bright as
at noonday. All the great avenues were barricaded. More than
twenty thousand pikes and muskets lined the streets. The late
daybreak of the winter solstice found the whole City still in
arms. During many years the Londoners retained a vivid
recollection of what they called the Irish Night. When it was
known that there had been no cause of alarm, attempts were made
to discover the origin of the rumour which had produced so much
agitation. It appeared that some persons who had the look and
dress of clowns just arrived from the country had first spread
the report in the suburbs a little before midnight: but whence
these men came, and by whom they were employed, remained a
mystery. And soon news arrived from many quarters which
bewildered the public mind still more. The panic had not been
confined to London. The cry that disbanded Irish soldiers were
coming to murder the Protestants had, with malignant ingenuity,
been raised at once in many places widely distant from each
other. Great numbers of letters, skilfully framed for the purpose
of frightening ignorant people, had been sent by stage coaches,
by waggons, and by the post, to various parts of England. All
these letters came to hand almost at the same time. In a hundred
towns at once the populace was possessed with the belief that
armed barbarians were at hand, bent on perpetrating crimes as
foul as those which had disgraced the rebellion of Ulster. No
Protestant would find mercy. Children would be compelled by
torture to murder their parents. Babes would be stuck on pikes,
or flung into the blazing ruins of what had lately been happy
dwellings. Great multitudes assembled with weapons: the people in
some places began to pull down bridges, and to throw up
barricades: but soon the excitement went down. In many districts
those who had been so foully imposed upon learned with delight,
alloyed by shame, that there was not a single Popish soldier
within a week's march. There were places, indeed, where some
straggling bands of Irish made their appearance and demanded
food: but it can scarcely be imputed to them as a crime that they
did not choose to die of hunger; and there is no evidence that
they committed any wanton outrage. In truth they were much less
numerous than was commonly supposed; and their spirit was cowed
by finding themselves left on a sudden without leaders or
provisions, in the midst of a mighty population which felt
towards them as men feel towards a drove of wolves. Of all the
subjects of James none had more reason to execrate him than these
unfortunate members of his church and defenders of his throne.582

It is honourable to the English character that, notwithstanding
the aversion with which the Roman Catholic religion and the Irish
race were then regarded, notwithstanding the anarchy which was
the effect of the flight of James, notwithstanding the artful
machinations which were employed to scare the multitude into
cruelty, no atrocious crime was perpetrated at this conjuncture.
Much property, indeed, was destroyed and carried away. The houses
of many Roman Catholic gentlemen were attacked. Parks were
ravaged. Deer were slain and stolen. Some venerable specimens of
the domestic architecture of the middle ages bear to this day the
marks of popular violence. The roads were in many places made
impassable by a selfappointed police, which stopped every
traveller till he proved that he was not a Papist. The Thames was
infested by a set of pirates who, under pretence of searching for
arms or delinquents, rummaged every boat that passed. Obnoxious
persons were insulted and hustled. Many persons who were not
obnoxious were glad to ransom their persons and effects by
bestowing some guineas on the zealous Protestants who had,
without any legal authority, assumed the office of inquisitors.
But in all this confusion, which lasted several days and extended
over many counties, not a single Roman Catholic lost his life.
The mob showed no inclination to blood, except in the case of
Jeffreys; and the hatred which that bad man inspired had more
affinity with humanity than with cruelty.583

Many years later Hugh Speke affirmed that the Irish Night was his
work, that he had prompted the rustics who raised London, and
that he was the author of the letters which had spread dismay
through the country. His assertion is not intrinsically
improbable: but it rests on no evidence except his own word. He
was a man quite capable of committing such a villany, and quite
capable also of falsely boasting that he had committed it.584

At London William was impatiently expected: for it was not
doubted that his vigour and ability would speedily restore order
and security. There was however some delay for which the Prince
cannot justly be blamed. His original intention had been to
proceed from Hungerford to Oxford, where he was assured of an
honourable and affectionate reception: but the arrival of the
deputation from Guildhall induced him to change his intention and
to hasten directly towards the capital. On the way he learned
that Feversham, in pursuance of the King's orders, had dismissed
the royal army, and that thousands of soldiers, freed from
restraint and destitute of necessaries, were scattered over the
counties through which the road to London lay. It was therefore
impossible for William to proceed slenderly attended without
great danger, not only to his own person, about which he was not
much in the habit of being solicitous, but also to the great
interests which were under his care. It was necessary that he
should regulate his own movements by the movements of his troops;
and troops could then move but slowly over the highways of
England in midwinter. He was, on this occasion, a little moved
from his ordinary composure. "I am not to be thus dealt with," he
exclaimed with bitterness; "and that my Lord Feversham shall
find." Prompt and judicious measures were taken to remedy the
evils which James had caused. Churchill and Grafton were
entrusted with the task of reassembling the dispersed army and
bringing it into order. The English soldiers were invited to
resume their military character. The Irish were commanded to
deliver up their arms on pain of being treated as banditti, but
were assured that, if they would submit quietly, they should be
supplied with necessaries.585

The Prince's orders were carried into effect with scarcely any
opposition, except from the Irish soldiers who had been in
garrison at Tilbury. One of these men snapped a pistol at
Grafton. It missed fire, and the assassin was instantly shot dead
by an Englishman. About two hundred of the unfortunate strangers
made a gallant attempt to return to their own country. They
seized a richly laden East Indiaman which had just arrived in the
Thames, and tried to procure pilots by force at Gravesend. No
pilot, however was to be found; and they were under the necessity
of trusting to their own skill in navigation. They soon ran their
ship aground, and, after some bloodshed, were compelled to lay
down their arms.586

William had now been five weeks on English ground; and during the
whole of that time his good fortune had been uninterrupted. His
own prudence and firmness had been conspicuously displayed, and
yet had done less for him than the folly and pusillanimity of
others. And now, at the moment when it seemed that his plans were
about to be crowned with entire success, they were disconcerted
by one of those strange incidents which so often confound the
most exquisite devices of human policy.

On the morning of the thirteenth of December the people of
London, not yet fully recovered from the agitation of the Irish
Night, were surprised by a rumour that the King had been
detained, and was still in the island. The report gathered
strength during the day, and was fully confirmed before the

James had travelled with relays of coach horses along the
southern shore of the Thames, and on the morning of the twelfth
had reached Emley Ferry near the island of Sheppey. There lay the
hoy in which he was to sail. He went on board: but the wind blew
fresh; and the master would not venture to put to sea without
more ballast. A tide was thus lost. Midnight was approaching
before the vessel began to float. By that time the news that the
King had disappeared, that the country was without a government,
and that London was in confusion, had travelled fast down the
Thames, and wherever it spread had produced outrage and misrule.
The rude fishermen of the Kentish coast eyed the hoy with
suspicion and with cupidity. It was whispered that some persons
in the garb of gentlemen had gone on board of her in great haste.
Perhaps they were Jesuits: perhaps they were rich. Fifty or sixty
boatmen, animated at once by hatred of Popery and by love of
plunder, boarded the hoy just as she was about to make sail. The
passengers were told that they must go on shore and be examined
by a magistrate. The King's appearance excited suspicion. "It is
Father Petre," cried one ruffian; "I know him by his lean jaws."
"Search the hatchet faced old Jesuit," became the general cry. He
was rudely pulled and pushed about. His money and watch were
taken from him. He had about him his coronation ring, and some
other trinkets of great value: but these escaped the search of
the robbers, who indeed were so ignorant of jewellery that they
took his diamond buckles for bits of glass.

At length the prisoners were put on shore and carried to an inn.
A crowd had assembled there to see them; and James, though
disguised by a wig of different shape and colour from that which
he usually wore, was at once recognised. For a moment the rabble
seemed to be overawed: but the exhortations of their chiefs
revived their courage; and the sight of Hales, whom they well
knew and bitterly hated, inflamed their fury. His park was in the
neighbourhood; and at that very moment a band of rioters was
employed in pillaging his house and shooting his deer. The
multitude assured the King that they would not hurt him: but they
refused to let him depart. It chanced that the Earl of
Winchelsea, a Protestant, but a zealous royalist, head of the
Finch family, and a near kinsman of Nottingham, was then at
Canterbury. As soon as he learned what had happened he hastened
to the coast, accompanied by some Kentish gentlemen. By their
intervention the King was removed to a more convenient lodging:
but he was still a prisoner. The mob kept constant watch round
the house to which he had been carried; and some of the
ringleaders lay at the door of his bedroom. His demeanour
meantime was that of a man, all the nerves of whose mind had been
broken by the load of misfortunes. Sometimes he spoke so
haughtily that the rustics who had charge of him were provoked
into making insolent replies. Then he betook himself to
supplication. "Let me go," he cried; "get me a boat. The Prince
of Orange is hunting for my life. If you do not let me fly now,
it will be too late. My blood will be on your heads. He that is
not with me is against me." On this last text he preached a
sermon half an hour long. He harangued on a strange variety of
subjects, on the disobedience of the fellows of Magdalene
College, on the miracles wrought by Saint Winifred's well, on the
disloyalty of the black coats, and on the virtues of a piece of
the true cross which he had unfortunately lost. "What have I
done?" he demanded of the Kentish squires who attended him. "Tell
me the truth. What error have I committed?" Those to whom he put
these questions were too humane to return the answer which must
have risen to their lips, and listened to his wild talk in
pitying silence.587

When the news that he had been stopped, insulted, roughly
handled, and plundered, and that he was still a prisoner in the
hands of rude churls, reached the capital, many passions were
roused. Rigid Churchmen, who had, a few hours before, begun to
think that they were freed from their allegiance to him, now felt
misgivings. He had not quitted his kingdom. He had not
consummated his abdication. If he should resume his regal office,
could they, on their principles, refuse to pay him obedience?
Enlightened statesmen foresaw with concern that all the disputes
which his flight had for a moment set at rest would be revived
and exasperated by his return. Some of the common people, though
still smarting from recent wrongs, were touched with compassion
for a great prince outraged by ruffians, and were willing to
entertain a hope, more honourable to their good nature than to
their discernment, that he might even now repent of the errors
which had brought on him so terrible a punishment.

From the moment when it was known that the King was still in
England, Sancroft, who had hitherto acted as chief of the
provisional government, absented himself from the sittings of the
Peers. Halifax, who had just returned from the Dutch head
quarters, was placed in the chair. His sentiments had undergone a
great change in a few hours. Both public and private feelings now
impelled him to join the Whigs. Those who candidly examine the
evidence which has come down to us will be of opinion that he
accepted the office of royal Commissioner in the sincere hope of
effecting an accommodation between the King and the Prince on
fair terms. The negotiation had commenced prosperously: the
Prince had offered terms which the King could not but acknowledge
to be fair: the eloquent and ingenious Trimmer might flatter
himself that he should be able to mediate between infuriated
factions, to dictate a compromise between extreme opinions, to
secure the liberties and religion of his country, without
exposing her to the risks inseparable from a change of dynasty
and a disputed succession. While he was pleasing himself with
thoughts so agreeable to his temper, he learned that he had been
deceived, and had been used as an instrument for deceiving the
nation. His mission to Hungerford had been a fool's errand. The
King had never meant to abide by the terms which he had
instructed his Commissioners to propose. He had charged them to
declare that he was willing to submit all the questions in
dispute to the Parliament which he had summoned; and, while they
were delivering his message, he had burned the writs, made away
with the seal, let loose the army, suspended the administration
of justice, dissolved the government, and fled from the capital.
Halifax saw that an amicable arrangement was no longer possible.
He also felt, it may be suspected, the vexation natural to a man
widely renowned for wisdom, who finds that he has been duped by
an understanding immeasurably inferior to his own, and the
vexation natural to a great master of ridicule, who finds himself
placed in a ridiculous situation. His judgment and his resentment
alike induced him to relinquish the schemes of reconciliation on
which he had hitherto been intent, and to place himself at the
head of those who were bent on raising William to the throne.588

A journal of what passed in the Council of Lords while Halifax
presided is still extant in his own handwriting.589 No
precaution, which seemed necessary for the prevention of outrage
and robbery, was omitted. The Peers took on themselves the
responsibility of giving orders that, if the rabble rose again,
the soldiers should fire with bullets. Jeffreys was brought to
Whitehall and interrogated as to what had become of the Great
Seal and the writs. At his own earnest request he was remanded to
the Tower, as the only place where his life could be safe; and he
retired thanking and blessing those who had given him the
protection of a prison. A Whig nobleman moved that Oates should
be set at liberty: but this motion was overruled.590

The business of the day was nearly over, and Halifax was about to
rise, when he was informed that a messenger from Sheerness was in
attendance. No occurrence could be more perplexing or annoying.
To do anything, to do nothing, was to incur a grave
responsibility. Halifax, wishing probably to obtain time for
communication with the Prince, would have adjourned the meeting;
but Mulgrave begged the Lords to keep their seats, and introduced
the messenger. The man told his story with many tears, and
produced a letter written in the King's hand, and addressed to no
particular person, but imploring the aid of all good

Such an appeal it was hardly possible to disregard. The Lords
ordered Feversham to hasten with a troop of the Life Guards to
the place where the King was detained, and to set his Majesty at

Already Middleton and a few other adherents of the royal cause
had set out to assist and comfort their unhappy master. They
found him strictly confined, and were not suffered to enter his
presence till they had delivered up their swords. The concourse
of people about him was by this time immense. Some Whig gentlemen
of the neighbourhood had brought a large body of militia to guard
him. They had imagined most erroneously that by detaining him
they were ingratiating themselves with his enemies, and were
greatly disturbed when they learned that the treatment which the
King had undergone was disapproved by the Provisional Government
in London, and that a body of cavalry was on the road to release
him. Feversham soon arrived. He had left his troop at
Sittingbourne; but there was no occasion to use force. The King
was suffered to depart without opposition, and was removed by his
friends to Rochester, where he took some rest, which he greatly
needed. He was in a pitiable state. Not only was his
understanding, which had never been very clear, altogether
bewildered: but the personal courage which, when a young man, he
had shown in several battles, both by sea and by land, had
forsaken him. The rough corporal usage which he had now, for the
first time, undergone, seems to have discomposed him more than
any other event of his chequered life. The desertion of his army,
of his favourites, of his family, affected him less than the
indignities which he suffered when his hoy was boarded. The
remembrance of those indignities continued long to rankle in his
heart, and on one occasion showed itself in a way which moved all
Europe to contemptuous mirth. In the fourth year of his exile he
attempted to lure back his subjects by offering them an amnesty.
The amnesty was accompanied by a long list of exceptions; and in
this list the poor fishermen who had searched his pockets rudely
appeared side by side with Churchill and Danby. From this
circumstance we may judge how keenly he must have felt the
outrage while it was still recent.592

Yet, had he possessed an ordinary measure of good sense, he would
have seen that those who had detained him had unintentionally
done him a great service. The events which had taken place during
his absence from his capital ought to have convinced him that, if
he had succeeded in escaping, he never would have returned. In
his own despite he had been saved from ruin. He had another
chance, a last chance. Great as his offences had been, to
dethrone him, while he remained in his kingdom and offered to
assent to such conditions as a free Parliament might impose,
would have been almost impossible.

During a short time he seemed disposed to remain. He sent
Feversham from Rochester with a letter to William. The substance
of the letter was that His Majesty was on his way back to
Whitehall, that he wished to have a personal conference with the
Prince, and that Saint James's Palace should be fitted up for his

William was now at Windsor. He had learned with deep
mortification the events which had taken place on the coast of
Kent. Just before the news arrived, those who approached him
observed that his spirits were unusually high. He had, indeed,
reason to rejoice. A vacant throne was before him. All parties,
it seemed, would, with one voice, invite him to mount it. On a
sudden his prospects were overcast. The abdication, it appeared,
had not been completed. A large proportion of his own followers
would have scruples about deposing a King who remained among
them, who invited them to represent their grievances in a
parliamentary way, and who promised full redress. It was
necessary that the Prince should examine his new position, and
determine on a new line of action. No course was open to him
which was altogether free from objections, no course which would
place him in a situation so advantageous as that which he had
occupied a few hours before. Yet something might be done. The
King's first attempt to escape had failed. What was now most to
be desired was that he should make a second attempt with better
success. He must be at once frightened and enticed. The
liberality with which he had been treated in the negotiation at
Hungerford, and which he had requited by a breach of faith, would
now be out of season. No terms of accommodation must be proposed
to him. If he should propose terms he must be coldly answered. No
violence must be used towards him, or even threatened. Yet it
might not be impossible, without either using or threatening
violence, to make so weak a man uneasy about his personal safety.
He would soon be eager to fly. All facilities for flight must
then be placed within his reach; and care must be taken that he
should not again be stopped by any officious blunderer.

Such was William's plan: and the ability and determination with
which he carried it into effect present a strange contrast to the
folly and cowardice with which he had to deal. He soon had an
excellent opportunity of commencing his system of intimidation.
Feversham arrived at Windsor with James's letter. The messenger
had not been very judiciously selected. It was he who had
disbanded the royal army. To him primarily were to be imputed the
confusion and terror of the Irish Night. His conduct was loudly
blamed by the public. William had been provoked into muttering a
few words of menace: and a few words of menace from William's
lips generally meant something. Feversham was asked for his safe
conduct. He had none. By coming without one into the midst of a
hostile camp, he had, according to the laws of war, made himself
liable to be treated with the utmost severity. William refused to
see him, and ordered him to be put under arrest.594 Zulestein was
instantly despatched to inform James that the Prince declined the
proposed conference, and desired that His Majesty would remain at

But it was too late. James was already in London. He had
hesitated about the journey, and had, at one time, determined to
make another attempt to reach the Continent. But at length he
yielded to the urgency of friends who were wiser than himself,
and set out for Whitehall. He arrived there on the afternoon of
Sunday, the sixteenth of December. He had been apprehensive that
the common people, who, during his absence, had given so many
proofs of their aversion to Popery, would offer him some affront.
But the very violence of the recent outbreak had produced a
remission. The storm had spent itself. Good humour and pity had
succeeded to fury. In no quarter was any disposition shown to
insult the King. Some cheers were raised as his coach passed
through the City. The bells of some churches were rung; and a few
bonfires were lighted in honour of his return.595 His feeble
mind, which had just before been sunk in despondency, was
extravagantly elated by these unexpected signs of popular
goodwill and compassion. He entered his dwelling in high spirits.
It speedily resumed its old aspect. Roman Catholic priests, who
had, during the preceding week, been glad to hide themselves from
the rage of the multitude in vaults and cocklofts, now came forth
from their lurking places, and demanded possession of their old
apartments in the palace. Grace was said at the royal table by a
Jesuit. The Irish brogue, then the most hateful of all sounds to
English ears, was heard everywhere in the courts and galleries.
The King himself had resumed all his old haughtiness. He held a
Council, his last Council, and, even in that extremity, summoned
to the board persons not legally qualified to sit there. He
expressed high displeasure at the conduct of those Lords who,
during his absence, had dared to take the administration on
themselves. It was their duty, he conceived, to let society be
dissolved, to let the houses of Ambassadors be pulled down, to
let London be set on fire, rather than assume the functions which
he had thought fit to abandon. Among those whom he thus censured
were some nobles and prelates who, in spite of all his errors,
had been constantly true to him, and who, even after this
provocation, never could be induced by hope or fear to transfer
their allegiance from him to any other sovereign.596

But his courage was soon cast down. Scarcely had he entered his
palace when Zulestein was announced. William's cold and stern
message was delivered. The King still pressed for a personal
conference with his nephew. "I would not have left Rochester," he
said, "if I had known that he wished me not to do so: but, since
I am here, I hope that he will come to Saint James's." "I must
plainly tell your Majesty," said Zulestein, "that His Highness
will not come to London while there are any troops here which are
not under his orders." The King, confounded by this answer,
remained silent. Zulestein retired; and soon a gentleman entered
the bedchamber with the news that Feversham had been put under
arrest.597 James was greatly disturbed. Yet the recollection of
the applause with which he had been greeted still buoyed up his
spirits. A wild hope rose in his mind. He fancied that London, so
long the stronghold of Protestantism and Whiggism, was ready to
take arms in his defence. He sent to ask the Common Council
whether, if he took up his residence in the City, they would
engage to defend him against the Prince. But the Common Council
had not forgotten the seizure of the charter and the judicial
murder of Cornish, and refused to give the pledge which was
demanded. Then the King's heart again sank within him. Where, he
asked, was he to look for protection? He might as well have Dutch
troops about him as his own Life Guards. As to the citizens, he
now understood what their huzzas and bonfires were worth. Nothing
remained but flight: and yet, he said, he knew that there was
nothing which his enemies so much desired as that he would

While be was in this state of trepidation, his fate was the
subject of a grave deliberation at Windsor. The court of William
was now crowded to overflowing with eminent men of all parties.
Most of the chiefs of the Northern insurrection had joined him.
Several of the Lords, who had, during the anarchy of the
preceding week, taken upon themselves to act as a provisional
government, had, as soon as the King returned, quitted London for
the Dutch head quarters. One of these was Halifax. William had
welcomed him with great satisfaction, but had not been able to
suppress a sarcastic smile at seeing the ingenious and
accomplished politician, who had aspired to be the umpire in that
great contention, forced to abandon the middle course and to take
a side. Among those who, at this conjuncture, repaired to Windsor
were some men who had purchased the favour of James by
ignominious services, and who were now impatient to atone, by
betraying their master, for the crime of having betrayed their
country. Such a man was Titus, who had sate at the Council board
in defiance of law, and who had laboured to unite the Puritans
with the Jesuits in a league against the constitution. Such a man
was Williams, who had been converted by interest from a demagogue
into a champion of prerogative, and who was now ready for a
second apostasy. These men the Prince, with just contempt,
suffered to wait at the door of his apartment in vain expectation
of an audience.599

On Monday, the seventeenth of December, all the Peers who were at
Windsor were summoned to a solemn consultation at the Castle. The
subject proposed for deliberation was what should be done with
the King. William did not think it advisable to be present during
the discussion. He retired; and Halifax was called to the chair.
On one point the Lords were agreed. The King could not be
suffered to remain where be was. That one prince should fortify
himself in Whitehall and the other in Saint James's, that there
should be two hostile garrisons within an area of a hundred
acres, was universally felt to be inexpedient. Such an
arrangement could scarcely fail to produce suspicions, insults,
and bickerings which might end in blood. The assembled Lords, therefore, thought
it advisable that
James should be sent out of London. Ham, which had been built and
decorated by Lauderdale, on the banks of the Thames, out of the
plunder of Scotland and the bribes of France, and which was
regarded as the most luxurious of villas, was proposed as a
convenient retreat. When the Lords had come to this conclusion,
they requested the Prince to join them. Their opinion was then
communicated to him, by Halifax. William listened and approved. A
short message to the King was drawn up. "Whom," said William,
"shall we send with it?" "Ought it not," said Halifax, "to be
conveyed by one of your Highness's officers?" "Nay, my Lord,"
answered the Prince; "by your favour, it is sent by the advice of
your Lordships, and some of you ought to carry it." Then, without
pausing to give time for remonstrance, he appointed Halifax,
Shrewsbury, and Delamere to be the messengers.600

The resolution of the Lords appeared to be unanimous. But there
were in the assembly those who by no means approved of the
decision in which they affected to concur, and who wished to see
the King treated with a severity which they did not venture
openly to recommend. It is a remarkable fact that the chief of
this party was a peer who had been a vehement Tory, and who
afterwards died a Nonjuror, Clarendon. The rapidity, with which,
at this crisis, he went backward and forward from extreme to
extreme, might seem incredible to people living in quiet times,
but will not surprise those who have had an opportunity of
watching the course of revolutions. He knew that the asperity,
with which he had, in the royal presence, censured the whole
system of government, had given mortal offence to his old master.
On the other hand he might, as the uncle of the Princesses, hope
to be great and rich in the new world which was about to
commence. The English colony in Ireland regarded him as a friend
and patron; and he felt that on the confidence and attachment of
that great interest much of his importance depended. To such
considerations as these the principles, which he had, during his
whole life, ostentatiously professed, now gave way. He repaired
to the Prince's closet, and represented the danger of leaving the
King at liberty. The Protestants of Ireland were in extreme
peril. There was only one way to secure their estates and their
lives; and that was to keep His Majesty close prisoner. It might
not be prudent to shut him up in an English castle. But he might
be sent across the sea and confined in the fortress of Breda till
the affairs of the British Islands were settled. If the Prince
were in possession of such a hostage, Tyrconnel would probably
lay down the sword of state; and the English ascendency would be
restored to Ireland without a blow. If, on the other hand, James
should escape to France and make his appearance at Dublin,
accompanied by a foreign army, the consequences must be
disastrous. William owned that there was great weight in these
reasons, but it could not be. He knew his wife's temper; and he
knew that she never would consent to such a step. Indeed it would
not be for his own honour to treat his vanquished kinsman so
ungraciously. Nor was it quite clear that generosity might not be
the best policy. Who could say what effect such severity as
Clarendon recommended might produce on the public mind of
England? Was it impossible that the loyal enthusiasm, which the
King's misconduct had extinguished, might revive as soon as it
was known that he was within the walls of a foreign fortress? On
these grounds William determined not to subject his father in law
to personal restraint; and there can be little doubt that the
determination was wise.601

James, while his fate was under discussion, remained at
Whitehall, fascinated, as it seemed, by the greatness and
nearness of the danger, and unequal to the exertion of either
struggling or flying. In the evening news came that the Dutch had
occupied Chelsea and Kensington. The King, however, prepared to
go to rest as usual. The Coldstream Guards were on duty at the
palace. They were commanded by William Earl of Craven, an aged
man who, more than fifty years before, had been distinguished in
war and love, who had led the forlorn hope at Creutznach with
such courage that he had been patted on the shoulder by the great
Gustavus, and who was believed to have won from a thousand rivals
the heart of the unfortunate Queen of Bohemia. Craven was now in
his eightieth year; but time had not tamed his spirit.602

It was past ten o'clock when he was informed that three
battalions of the Prince's foot, mingled with some troops of
horse, were pouring down the long avenue of St. James's Park,
with matches lighted, and in full readiness for action. Count
Solmes, who commanded the foreigners, said that his orders were
to take military possession of the posts round Whitehall, and
exhorted Craven to retire peaceably. Craven swore that he would
rather be cut in pieces: but, when the King, who was undressing
himself, learned what was passing, he forbade the stout old
soldier to attempt a resistance which must have been ineffectual.
By eleven the Coldstream Guards had withdrawn; and Dutch
sentinels were pacing the rounds on every side of the palace.
Some of the King's attendants asked whether he would venture to
lie down surrounded by enemies. He answered that they could
hardly use him worse than his own subjects had done, and, with
the apathy of a man stupified by disasters, went to bed and to

Scarcely was the palace again quiet when it was again roused. A
little after midnight the three Lords arrived from Windsor.
Middleton was called up to receive them. They informed him that
they were charged with an errand which did not admit of delay.
The King was awakened from his first slumber; and they were
ushered into his bedchamber. They delivered into his hand the
letter with which they had been entrusted, and informed him that
the Prince would be at Westminster in a few hours, and that His
Majesty would do well to set out for Ham before ten in the
morning. James made some difficulties. He did not like Ham. It
was a pleasant place in the summer, but cold and comfortless at
Christmas, and was moreover unfurnished. Halifax answered that
furniture should be instantly sent in. The three messengers
retired, but were speedily followed by Middleton, who told them
that the King would greatly prefer Rochester to Ham. They
answered that they had not authority to accede to His Majesty's
wish, but that they would instantly send off an express to the
Prince, who was to lodge that night at Sion House. A courier
started immediately, and returned before daybreak with William's

That consent, indeed, was most gladly given: for there could be
no doubt that Rochester had been named because it afforded
facilities for flight; and that James might fly was the first
wish of his nephew.604

On the morning of the eighteenth of December, a rainy and stormy
morning, the royal barge was early at Whitehall stairs; and round
it were eight or ten boats filled with Dutch soldiers. Several
noblemen and gentlemen attended the King to the waterside. It is
said, and may well be believed, that many tears were shed. For
even the most zealous friend of liberty could scarcely have seen,
unmoved, the sad and ignominious close of a dynasty which might
have been so great. Shrewsbury did all in his power to soothe the
fallen Sovereign. Even the bitter and vehement Delamere was
softened. But it was observed that Halifax, who was generally
distinguished by his tenderness to the vanquished, was, on this
occasion, less compassionate than his two colleagues. The mock
embassy to Hungerford was doubtless still rankling in his

While the King's barge was slowly working its way on rough
billows down the river, brigade after brigade of the Prince's
troops came pouring into London from the west. It had been wisely
determined that the duty of the capital should be chiefly done
by the British soldiers in the service of the States General. The
three English regiments were quartered in and round the Tower,
the three Scotch regiments in Southwark.606

In defiance of the weather a great multitude assembled between
Albemarle House and Saint James's Palace to greet the Prince.
Every hat, every cane, was adorned with an orange riband. The
bells were ringing all over London. Candles for an illumination
were disposed in the windows. Faggots for bonfires were heaped up
in the streets. William, however, who had no taste for crowds and
shouting, took the road through the Park. Before nightfall he
arrived at Saint James's in a light carriage, accompanied by
Schomberg. In a short time all the rooms and staircases in the
palace were thronged by those who came to pay their court. Such
was the press, that men of the highest rank were unable to elbow
their way into the presence chamber.607 While Westminster was in
this state of excitement, the Common Council was preparing at
Guildhall an address of thanks and congratulation. The Lord Major
was unable to preside. He had never held up his head since the
Chancellor had been dragged into the justice room in the garb of
a collier. But the Aldermen and the other officers of the
corporation were in their places. On the following day the
magistrates of the City went in state to pay their duty to their
deliverer. Their gratitude was eloquently expressed by their
Recorder, Sir George Treby. Some princes of the House of Nassau,
he said, had been the chief officers of a great republic. Others
had worn the imperial crown. But the peculiar title of that
illustrious line to the public veneration was this, that God had
set it apart and consecrated it to the high office of defending
truth and freedom against tyrants from generation to generation.
On the same day all the prelates who were in town, Sancroft
excepted, waited on the Prince in a body. Then came the clergy of
London, the foremost men of their profession in knowledge,
eloquence, and influence, with their bishop at their head. With
them were mingled some eminent dissenting ministers, whom
Compton, much to his honour, treated with marked courtesy. A few
months earlier, or a few months later, such courtesy would have
been considered by many Churchmen as treason to the Church. Even
then it was but too plain to a discerning eye that the armistice
to which the Protestant sects had been forced would not long
outlast the danger from which it had sprung. About a hundred
Nonconformist divines, resident in the capital, presented a
separate address. They were introduced by Devonshire, and were
received with every mark of respect and kindness. The lawyers
paid their homage, headed by Maynard, who, at ninety years of
age, was as alert and clearheaded as when he stood up in
Westminster Hall to accuse Strafford. "Mr. Serjeant," said the
Prince, "you must have survived all the lawyers of your
standing." "Yes, sir," said the old man, "and, but for your
Highness, I should have survived the laws too."608

But, though the addresses were numerous and full of eulogy,
though the acclamations were loud, though the illuminations were
splendid, though Saint James's Palace was too small for the crowd
of courtiers, though the theatres were every night, from the pit
to the ceiling, one blaze of orange ribands, William felt that
the difficulties of his enterprise were but beginning. He had
pulled a government down. The far harder task of reconstruction
was now to be performed. From the moment of his landing till he
reached London he had exercised the authority which, by the laws
of war, acknowledged throughout the civilised world, belongs to
the commander of an army in the field. It was now necessary that
he should exchange the character of a general for that of a
magistrate; and this was no easy task. A single false step might
be fatal; and it was impossible to take any step without
offending prejudices and rousing angry passions.

Some of the Prince's advisers pressed him to assume the crown at
once as his own by right of conquest, and then, as King, to send
out, under his Great Seal, writs calling a Parliament. This
course was strongly recommended by some eminent lawyers. It was,
they said, the shortest way to what could otherwise be attained
only through innumerable difficulties and disputes. It was in
strict conformity with the auspicious precedent set after the
battle of Bosworth by Henry the Seventh. It would also quiet the
scruples which many respectable people felt as to the lawfulness
of transferring allegiance from one ruler to another. Neither the
law of England nor the Church of England recognised any right in
subjects to depose a sovereign. But no jurist, no divine, had
ever denied that a nation, overcome in war, might, without sin,
submit to the decision of the God of battles. Thus, after the
Chaldean conquest, the most pious and patriotic Jews did not
think that they violated their duty to their native King by
serving with loyalty the new master whom Providence had set over
them. The three confessors, who had been marvellously preserved
in the furnace, held high office in the province of Babylon.
Daniel was minister successively of the Assyrian who subjugated
Judah, and of the Persian who subjugated Assyria. Nay, Jesus
himself, who was, according to the flesh, a prince of the house
of David, had, by commanding his countrymen to pay tribute to
Caesar, pronounced that foreign conquest annuls hereditary right
and is a legitimate title to dominion. It was therefore probable
that great numbers of Tories, though they could not, with a clear
conscience, choose a King for themselves, would accept, without
hesitation, a King given to them by the event of war.609

On the other side, however, there were reasons which greatly
preponderated. The Prince could not claim the crown as won by his
sword without a gross violation of faith. In his Declaration he
had protested that he had no design of conquering England; that
those who imputed to him such a design foully calumniated, not
only himself, but the patriotic noblemen and gentlemen who had
invited him over; that the force which he brought with him was
evidently inadequate to an enterprise so arduous; and that it was
his full resolution to refer all the public grievances, and all
his own pretensions, to a free Parliament. For no earthly object
could it be right or wise that he should forfeit his word so
solemnly pledged in the face of all Europe. Nor was it certain
that, by calling himself a conqueror, he would have removed the
scruples which made rigid Churchmen unwilling to acknowledge him
as King. For, call himself what he might, all the world knew that
he was not really a conqueror. It was notoriously a mere fiction
to say that this great kingdom, with a mighty fleet on the sea,
with a regular army of forty thousand men, and with a militia of
a hundred and thirty thousand men, had been, without one siege or
battle, reduced to the state of a province by fifteen thousand
invaders. Such a fiction was not likely to quiet consciences
really sensitive, but it could scarcely fail to gall the national
pride, already sore and irritable. The English soldiers were in a
temper which required the most delicate management. They were
conscious that, in the late campaign, their part had not been
brilliant. Captains and privates were alike impatient to prove
that they had not given way before an inferior force from want of
courage. Some Dutch officers had been indiscreet enough to boast,
at a tavern over their wine, that they had driven the King's army
before them. This insult had raised among the English troops a
ferment which, but for the Prince's prompt interference, would
probably have ended in a terrible slaughter.610 What, in such
circumstances, was likely to be the effect of a proclamation
announcing that the commander of the foreigners considered the
whole island as lawful prize of war?

It was also to be remembered that, by putting forth such a
proclamation, the Prince would at once abrogate all the rights of
which he had declared himself the champion. For the authority of
a foreign conqueror is not circumscribed by the customs and
statutes of the conquered nation, but is, by its own nature,
despotic. Either, therefore, it was not competent to William to
declare himself King, or it was competent to him to declare the
Great Charter and the Petition of Right nullifies, to abolish
trial by jury, and to raise taxes without the consent of
Parliament. He might, indeed, reestablish the ancient
constitution of the realm. But, if he did so, he did so in the
exercise of an arbitrary discretion. English liberty would
thenceforth be held by a base tenure. It would be, not, as
heretofore, an immemorial inheritance, but a recent gift which
the generous master who had bestowed it might, if such had been
his pleasure, have withheld.

William therefore righteously and prudently determined to observe
the promises contained in his Declaration, and to leave to the
legislature the office of settling the government. So carefully
did he avoid whatever looked like usurpation that he would not,
without some semblance of parliamentary authority, take upon
himself even to convoke the Estates of the Realm, or to direct
the executive administration during the elections. Authority
strictly parliamentary there was none in the state: but it was
possible to bring together, in a few hours, an assembly which
would be regarded by the nation with a large portion of the
respect due to a Parliament. One Chamber might be formed of the
numerous Lords Spiritual and Temporal who were then in London,
and another of old members of the House of Commons and of the
magistrates of the City. The scheme was ingenious, and was
promptly executed. The Peers were summoned to St. James's on the
twenty-first of December. About seventy attended. The Prince
requested them to consider the state of the country, and to lay
before him the result of their deliberations. Shortly after
appeared a notice inviting all gentlemen who had sate in the
House of Commons during the reign of Charles the Second to attend
His Highness on the morning of the twenty-sixth. The Aldermen of
London were also summoned; and the Common Council was requested
to send a deputation.611

It has often been asked, in a reproachful tone, why the
invitation was not extended to the members of the Parliament
which had been dissolved in the preceding year. The answer is
obvious. One of the chief grievances of which the nation
complained was the manner in which that Parliament had been
elected. The majority of the burgesses had been returned by
constituent bodies remodelled in a manner which was generally
regarded as illegal, and which the Prince had, in his
Declaration, condemned. James himself had, just before his
downfall, consented to restore the old municipal franchises. It
would surely have been the height of inconsistency in William,
after taking up arms for the purpose of vindicating the invaded
charters of corporations, to recognise persons chosen in defiance
of those charters as the legitimate representatives of the towns
of England.

On Saturday the twenty-second the Lords met in their own house.
That day was employed in settling the order of proceeding. A
clerk was appointed: and, as no confidence could be placed in any
of the twelve judges, some serjeants and barristers of great note
were requested to attend, for the purpose of giving advice on
legal points. It was resolved that on the Monday the state of the
kingdom should be taken into consideration.612

The interval between the sitting of Saturday and the sitting of
Monday was anxious and eventful. A strong party among the Peers
still cherished the hope that the constitution and religion of
England might be secured without the deposition of the King. This
party resolved to move a solemn address to him, imploring him to
consent to such terms as might remove the discontents and
apprehensions which his past conduct had excited. Sancroft, who,
since the return of James from Kent to Whitehall, had taken no
part in public affairs, determined to come forth from his retreat
on this occasion, and to put himself at the head of the
Royalists. Several messengers were sent to Rochester with letters
for the King. He was assured that his interests would be
strenuously defended, if only he could, at this last moment, make
up his mind to renounce designs abhorred by his people. Some
respectable Roman Catholics followed him, in order to implore
him, for the sake of their common faith, not to carry the vain
contest further.613

The advice was good; but James was in no condition to take it.
His understanding had always been dull and feeble; and, such as

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