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The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 3 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 7 out of 13

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guilt and infamy, and whom Whigs and Tories were equally willing
to leave to the extreme rigour of the law. On that terrible day
which was succeeded by the Irish Night, the roar of a great city
disappointed of its revenge had followed Jeffreys to the
drawbridge of the Tower. His imprisonment was not strictly legal:
but he at first accepted with thanks and blessings the protection
which those dark walls, made famous by so many crimes and
sorrows, afforded him against the fury of the multitude.409 Soon,
however, he became sensible that his life was still in imminent
peril. For a time he flattered himself with the hope that a writ
of Habeas Corpus would liberate him from his confinement, and
that he should be able to steal away to some foreign country, and
to hide himself with part of his ill gotten wealth from the
detestation of mankind: but, till the government was settled,
there was no Court competent to grant a writ of Habeas Corpus;
and, as soon as the government had been settled, the Habeas
Corpus Act was suspended.410 Whether the legal guilt of murder
could be brought home to Jeffreys may be doubted. But he was
morally guilty of so many murders that, if there had been no
other way of reaching his life, a retrospective Act of Attainder
would have been clamorously demanded by the whole nation. A
disposition to triumph over the fallen has never been one of the
besetting sins of Englishmen: but the hatred of which Jeffreys
was the object was without a parallel in our history, and partook
but too largely of the savageness of his own nature. The people,
where he was concerned, were as cruel as himself, and exulted in
his misery as he had been accustomed to exult in the misery of
convicts listening to the sentence of death, and of families clad
in mourning. The rabble congregated before his deserted mansion
in Duke Street, and read on the door, with shouts of laughter,
the bills which announced the sale of his property. Even delicate
women, who had tears for highwaymen and housebreakers, breathed
nothing but vengeance against him. The lampoons on him which were
hawked about the town were distinguished by an atrocity rare even
in those days. Hanging would be too mild a death for him: a grave
under the gibbet too respectable a resting place: he ought to be
whipped to death at the cart's tail: he ought to be tortured like
an Indian: he ought to be devoured alive. The street poets
portioned out all his joints with cannibal ferocity, and computed
how many pounds of steaks might be cut from his well fattened
carcass. Nay, the rage of his enemies was such that, in language
seldom heard in England, they proclaimed their wish that he might
go to the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, to the worm
that never dies, to the fire that is never quenched. They
exhorted him to hang himself in his garters, and to cut his
throat with his razor. They put up horrible prayers that he might
not be able to repent, that he might die the same hardhearted,
wicked Jeffreys that he had lived.411 His spirit, as mean in
adversity as insolent and inhuman in prosperity, sank down under
the load of public abhorrence. His constitution, originally bad,
and much impaired by intemperance, was completely broken by
distress and anxiety. He was tormented by a cruel internal
disease, which the most skilful surgeons of that age were seldom
able to relieve. One solace was left to him, brandy. Even when he
had causes to try and councils to attend, he had seldom gone to
bed sober. Now, when he had nothing to occupy his mind save
terrible recollections and terrible forebodings, he abandoned
himself without reserve to his favourite vice. Many believed him
to be bent on shortening his life by excess. He thought it
better, they said, to go off in a drunken fit than to be hacked
by Ketch, or torn limb from limb by the populace.

Once he was roused from a state of abject despondency by an
agreeable sensation, speedily followed by a mortifying
disappointment. A parcel had been left for him at the Tower. It
appeared to be a barrel of Colchester oysters, his favourite
dainties. He was greatly moved: for there are moments when those
who least deserve affection are pleased to think that they
inspire it. "Thank God," he exclaimed, "I have still some friends
left." He opened the barrel; and from among a heap of shells out
tumbled a stout halter.412

It does not appear that one of the flatterers or buffoons whom he
had enriched out of the plunder of his victims came to comfort
him in the day of trouble. But he was not left in utter solitude.
John Tutchin, whom he had sentenced to be flogged every fortnight
for seven years, made his way into the Tower, and presented
himself before the fallen oppressor. Poor Jeffreys, humbled to
the dust, behaved with abject civility, and called for wine. "I
am glad, sir," he said, "to see you." "And I am glad," answered
the resentful Whig, "to see Your Lordship in this place." "I
served my master," said Jeffreys: "I was bound in conscience to
do so." "Where was your conscience," said Tutchin, "when you
passed that sentence on me at Dorchester?" "It was set down in my
instructions," answered Jeffreys, fawningly, "that I was to show
no mercy to men like you, men of parts and courage. When I went
back to court I was reprimanded for my lenity."413 Even Tutchin,
acrimonious as was his nature, and great as were his wrongs,
seems to have been a little mollified by the pitiable spectacle
which he had at first contemplated with vindictive pleasure. He
always denied the truth of the report that he was the person who
sent the Colchester barrel to the Tower.

A more benevolent man, John Sharp, the excellent Dean of Norwich,
forced himself to visit the prisoner. It was a painful task: but
Sharp had been treated by Jeffreys, in old times, as kindly as it
was in the nature of Jeffreys to treat any body, and had once or
twice been able, by patiently waiting till the storm of curses
and invectives had spent itself, and by dexterously seizing the
moment of good humour, to obtain for unhappy families some
mitigation of their sufferings. The prisoner was surprised and
pleased. "What," he said, "dare you own me now? "It was in vain,
however, that the amiable divine tried to give salutary pain to
that seared conscience. Jeffreys, instead of acknowledging his
guilt, exclaimed vehemently against the injustice of mankind.
"People call me a murderer for doing what at the time was
applauded by some who are now high in public favour. They call me
a drunkard because I take punch to relieve me in my agony." He
would not admit that, as President of the High Commission, he had
done any thing that deserved reproach. His colleagues, he said,
were the real criminals; and now they threw all the blame on him.
He spoke with peculiar asperity of Sprat, who had undoubtedly
been the most humane and moderate member of the board.

It soon became clear that the wicked judge was fast sinking under
the weight of bodily and mental suffering. Doctor John Scott,
prebendary of Saint Paul's, a clergyman of great sanctity, and
author of the Christian Life, a treatise once widely renowned,
was summoned, probably on the recommendation of his intimate
friend Sharp, to the bedside of the dying man. It was in vain,
however, that Scott spoke, as Sharp had already spoken, of the
hideous butcheries of Dorchester and Taunton. To the last
Jeffreys continued to repeat that those who thought him cruel did
not know what his orders were, that he deserved praise instead of
blame, and that his clemency had drawn on him the extreme
displeasure of his master.414

Disease, assisted by strong drink and by misery, did its work
fast. The patient's stomach rejected all nourishment. He dwindled
in a few weeks from a portly and even corpulent man to a
skeleton. On the eighteenth of April he died, in the forty-first
year of his age. He had been Chief Justice of the King's Bench at
thirty-five, and Lord Chancellor at thirty-seven. In the whole
history of the English bar there is no other instance of so rapid
an elevation, or of so terrible a fall. The emaciated corpse was
laid, with all privacy, next to the corpse of Monmouth in the
chapel of the Tower.415

The fall of this man, once so great and so much dreaded, the
horror with which he was regarded by all the respectable members
of his own party, the manner in which the least respectable
members of that party renounced fellowship with him in his
distress, and threw on him the whole blame of crimes which they
had encouraged him to commit, ought to have been a lesson to
those intemperate friends of liberty who were clamouring for a
new proscription. But it was a lesson which too many of them
disregarded. The King had, at the very commencement of his reign,
displeased them by appointing a few Tories and Trimmers to high
offices; and the discontent excited by these appointments had
been inflamed by his attempt to obtain a general amnesty for the
vanquished. He was in truth not a man to be popular with the
vindictive zealots of any faction. For among his peculiarities
was a certain ungracious humanity which rarely conciliated his
foes, which often provoked his adherents, but in which he doggedly
persisted, without troubling himself either about the
thanklessness of those whom he had saved from destruction, or
about the rage of those whom he had disappointed of their
revenge. Some of the Whigs now spoke of him as bitterly as they
had ever spoken of either of his uncles. He was a Stuart after
all, and was not a Stuart for nothing. Like the rest of the race,
he loved arbitrary power. In Holland, he had succeeded in making
himself, under the forms of a republican polity, scarcely less
absolute than the old hereditary Counts had been. In consequence
of a strange combination of circumstances, his interest had,
during a short time, coincided with the interest of the English
people: but though he had been a deliverer by accident, he was a
despot by nature. He had no sympathy with the just resentments of
the Whigs. He had objects in view which the Whigs would not
willingly suffer any Sovereign to attain. He knew that the Tories
were the only tools for his purpose. He had therefore, from the
moment at which he took his seat on the throne, favoured them
unduly. He was now trying to procure an indemnity for those very
delinquents whom he had, a few months before, described in his
Declaration as deserving of exemplary punishment. In November he
had told the world that the crimes in which these men had borne a
part had made it the duty of subjects to violate their oath of
allegiance, of soldiers to desert their standards, of children to
make war on their parents. With what consistency then could he
recommend that such crimes should be covered by a general
oblivion? And was there not too much reason to fear that he
wished to save the agents of tyranny from the fate which they
merited, in the hope that, at some future time, they might serve
him as unscrupulously as they had served his father in law?416

Of the members of the House of Commons who were animated by these
feelings, the fiercest and most audacious was Howe. He went so
far on one occasion as to move that an inquiry should be
instituted into the proceedings of the Parliament of 1685, and
that some note of infamy should be put on all who, in that
Parliament, had voted with the Court. This absurd and mischievous
motion was discountenanced by all the most respectable Whigs, and
strongly opposed by Birch and Maynard.417 Howe was forced to give
way: but he was a man whom no check could abash; and he was
encouraged by the applause of many hotheaded members of his
party, who were far from foreseeing that he would, after having
been the most rancorous and unprincipled of Whigs, become, at no
distant time, the most rancorous and unprincipled of Tories.

This quickwitted, restless and malignant politician, though
himself occupying a lucrative place in the royal household,
declaimed, day after day, against the manner in which the great
offices of state were filled; and his declamations were echoed,
in tones somewhat less sharp and vehement, by other orators. No
man, they said, who had been a minister of Charles or of James
ought to be a minister of William. The first attack was directed
against the Lord President Caermarthen. Howe moved that an
address should be presented to the King, requesting that all
persons who had ever been impeached by the Commons might be
dismissed from His Majesty's counsels and presence. The debate on
this motion was repeatedly adjourned. While the event was
doubtful, William sent Dykvelt to expostulate with Howe. Howe was
obdurate. He was what is vulgarly called a disinterested man;
that is to say, he valued money less than the pleasure of venting
his spleen and of making a sensation. "I am doing the King a
service," he said: "I am rescuing him from false friends: and, as
to my place, that shall never be a gag to prevent me from
speaking my mind." The motion was made, but completely failed. In
truth the proposition, that mere accusation, never prosecuted to
conviction, ought to be considered as a decisive proof of guilt,
was shocking to natural justice. The faults of Caermarthen had
doubtless been great; but they had been exaggerated by party
spirit, had been expiated by severe suffering, and had been
redeemed by recent and eminent services. At the time when he
raised the great county of York in arms against Popery and
tyranny, he had been assured by some of the most eminent Whigs
that all old quarrels were forgotten. Howe indeed maintained that
the civilities which had passed in the moment of peril signified
nothing. "When a viper is on my hand," he said, "I am very tender
of him; but, as soon as I have him on the ground, I set my foot
on him and crush him." The Lord President, however, was so
strongly supported that, after a discussion which lasted three
days, his enemies did not venture to take the sense of the House
on the motion against him. In the course of the debate a grave
constitutional question was incidentally raised. This question
was whether a pardon could be pleaded in bar of a parliamentary
impeachment. The Commons resolved, without a division, that a
pardon could not be so pleaded.418

The next attack was made on Halifax. He was in a much more
invidious position than Caermarthen, who had, under pretence of
ill health, withdrawn himself almost entirely from business.
Halifax was generally regarded as the chief adviser of the Crown,
and was in an especial manner held responsible for all the faults
which had been committed with respect to Ireland. The evils which
had brought that kingdom to ruin might, it was said, have been
averted by timely precaution, or remedied by vigorous exertion.
But the government had foreseen nothing: it had done little; and
that little had been done neither at the right time nor in the
right way. Negotiation had been employed instead of troops, when
a few troops might have sufficed. A few troops had been sent when
many were needed. The troops that had been sent had been ill
equipped and ill commanded. Such, the vehement Whigs exclaimed,
were the natural fruits of that great error which King William
had committed on the first day of his reign. He had placed in
Tories and Trimmers a confidence which they did not deserve. He
had, in a peculiar manner, entrusted the direction of Irish
affairs to the Trimmer of Trimmers, to a man whose ability nobody
disputed, but who was not firmly attached to the new government,
who, indeed, was incapable of being firmly attached to any
government, who had always halted between two opinions, and who,
till the moment of the flight of James, had not given up the hope
that the discontents of the nation might be quieted without a
change of dynasty. Howe, on twenty occasions, designated Halifax
as the cause of all the calamities of the country. Monmouth held
similar language in the House of Lords. Though First Lord of the
Treasury, he paid no attention to financial business, for which
he was altogether unfit, and of which he had very soon become
weary. His whole heart was in the work of persecuting the Tories.
He plainly told the King that nobody who was not a Whig ought to
be employed in the public service. William's answer was cool and
determined. "I have done as much for your friends as I can do
without danger to the state; and I will do no more,"419 The only
effect of this reprimand was to make Monmouth more factious than
ever. Against Halifax especially he intrigued and harangued with
indefatigable animosity. The other Whig Lords of the Treasury,
Delamere and Capel, were scarcely less eager to drive the Lord
Privy Seal from office; and personal jealousy and antipathy
impelled the Lord President to conspire with his own accusers
against his rival.

What foundation there may have been for the imputations thrown at
this time on Halifax cannot now be fully ascertained. His
enemies, though they interrogated numerous witnesses, and though
they obtained William's reluctant permission to inspect the
minutes of the Privy Council, could find no evidence which would
support a definite charge.420 But it was undeniable that the Lord
Privy Seal had acted as minister for Ireland, and that Ireland
was all but lost. It is unnecessary, and indeed absurd, to
suppose, as many Whigs supposed, that his administration was
unsuccessful because he did not wish it to be successful. The
truth seems to be that the difficulties of the situation were
great, and that he, with all his ingenuity and eloquence, was ill
qualified to cope with those difficulties. The whole machinery of
government was out of joint; and he was not the man to set it
right. What was wanted was not what he had in large measure, wit,
taste, amplitude of comprehension, subtlety in drawing
distinctions; but what he had not, prompt decision, indefatigable
energy, and stubborn resolution. His mind was at best of too soft
a temper for such work as he had now to do, and had been recently
made softer by severe affliction. He had lost two sons in less
than twelve months. A letter is still extant, in which he at this
time complained to his honoured friend Lady Russell of the
desolation of his hearth and of the cruel ingratitude of the
Whigs. We possess, also, the answer, in which she gently exhorted
him to seek for consolation where she had found it under trials
not less severe than his.421

The first attack on him was made in the Upper House. Some Whig
Lords, among whom the wayward and petulant First Lord of the
Treasury was conspicuous, proposed that the King should be
requested to appoint a new Speaker. The friends of Halifax moved
and carried the previous question.422 About three weeks later his
persecutors moved, in a Committee of the whole House of Commons,
a resolution which imputed to him no particular crime either of
omission or of commission, but simply declared it to be advisable
that he should be dismissed from the service of the Crown. The
debate was warm. Moderate politicians of both parties were
unwilling to put a stigma on a man, not indeed faultless, but
distinguished both by his abilities and by his amiable qualities.
His accusers saw that they could not carry their point, and tried
to escape from a decision which was certain to be adverse to
them, by proposing that the Chairman should report progress. But
their tactics were disconcerted by the judicious and spirited
conduct of Lord Eland, now the Marquess's only son. "My father
has not deserved," said the young nobleman, "to be thus trifled
with. If you think him culpable, say so. He will at once submit
to your verdict. Dismission from Court has no terrors for him. He
is raised, by the goodness of God, above the necessity of looking
to office for the means of supporting his rank." The Committee
divided, and Halifax was absolved by a majority of fourteen.423

Had the division been postponed a few hours, the majority would
probably have been much greater. The Commons voted under the
impression that Londonderry had fallen, and that all Ireland was
lost. Scarcely had the House risen when a courier arrived with
news that the boom on the Foyle had been broken. He was speedily
followed by a second, who announced the raising of the siege, and
by a third who brought the tidings of the battle of Newton
Butler. Hope and exultation succeeded to discontent and
dismay.424 Ulster was safe; and it was confidently expected that
Schomberg would speedily reconquer Leinster, Connaught, and
Munster. He was now ready to set out. The port of Chester was the
place from which he was to take his departure. The army which he
was to command had assembled there; and the Dee was crowded with
men of war and transports. Unfortunately almost all those English
soldiers who had seen war had been sent to Flanders. The bulk of
the force destined for Ireland consisted of men just taken from
the plough and the threshing floor. There was, however, an
excellent brigade of Dutch troops under the command of an
experienced officer, the Count of Solmes. Four regiments, one of
cavalry and three of infantry, had been formed out of the French
refugees, many of whom had borne arms with credit. No person did
more to promote the raising of these regiments than the Marquess
of Ruvigny. He had been during many years an eminently faithful
and useful servant of the French government. So highly was his
merit appreciated at Versailles that he had been solicited to
accept indulgences which scarcely any other heretic could by any
solicitation obtain. Had he chosen to remain in his native
country, he and his household would have been permitted to
worship God privately according to their own forms. But Ruvigny
rejected all offers, cast in his lot with his brethren, and, at
upwards of eighty years of age, quitted Versailles, where he
might still have been a favourite, for a modest dwelling at
Greenwich. That dwelling was, during the last months of his life,
the resort of all that was most distinguished among his fellow
exiles. His abilities, his experience and his munificent
kindness, made him the undisputed chief of the refugees. He was
at the same time half an Englishman: for his sister had been
Countess of Southampton, and he was uncle of Lady Russell. He was
long past the time of action. But his two sons, both men of
eminent courage, devoted their swords to the service of William.
The younger son, who bore the name of Caillemote, was appointed
colonel of one of the Huguenot regiments of foot. The two other
regiments of foot were commanded by La Melloniere and Cambon,
officers of high reputation. The regiment of horse was raised by
Schomberg himself, and bore his name. Ruvigny lived just long
enough to see these arrangements complete.425

The general to whom the direction of the expedition against
Ireland was confided had wonderfully succeeded in obtaining the
affection and esteem of the English nation. He had been made a
Duke, a Knight of the Garter, and Master of the Ordnance: he was
now placed at the head of an army: and yet his elevation excited
none of that jealousy which showed itself as often as any mark of
royal favour was bestowed on Bentinck, on Zulestein, or on
Auverquerque. Schomberg's military skill was universally
acknowledged. He was regarded by all Protestants as a confessor
who had endured every thing short of martyrdom for the truth. For
his religion he had resigned a splendid income, had laid down the
truncheon of a Marshal of France, and had, at near eighty years
of age, begun the world again as a needy soldier of fortune. As
he had no connection with the United Provinces, and had never
belonged to the little Court of the Hague, the preference given
to him over English captains was justly ascribed, not to national
or personal partiality, but to his virtues and his abilities.
His deportment differed widely from that of the other foreigners
who had just been created English peers. They, with many
respectable qualities, were, in tastes, manners, and
predilections, Dutchmen, and could not catch the tone of the
society to which they had been transferred. He was a citizen of
the world, had travelled over all Europe, had commanded armies on
the Meuse, on the Ebro, and on the Tagus, had shone in the
splendid circle of Versailles, and had been in high favour at the
court of Berlin. He had often been taken by French noblemen for a
French nobleman. He had passed some time in England, spoke
English remarkably well, accommodated himself easily to English
manners, and was often seen walking in the park with English
companions. In youth his habits had been temperate; and his
temperance had its proper reward, a singularly green and vigorous
old age. At fourscore he retained a strong relish for innocent
pleasures: he conversed with great courtesy and sprightliness:
nothing could be in better taste than his equipages and his
table; and every cornet of cavalry envied the grace and dignity
with which the veteran appeared in Hyde Park on his charger at
the head of his regiment.426 The House of Commons had, with
general approbation, compensated his losses and rewarded his
services by a grant of a hundred thousand pounds. Before he set
out for Ireland, he requested permission to express his gratitude
for this magnificent present. A chair was set for him within the
bar. He took his seat there with the mace at his right hand,
rose, and in a few graceful words returned his thanks and took
his leave. The Speaker replied that the Commons could never
forget the obligation under which they already lay to His Grace,
that they saw him with pleasure at the head of an English army,
that they felt entire confidence in his zeal and ability, and
that, at whatever distance he might be, he would always be in a
peculiar manner an object of their care. The precedent set on
this interesting occasion was followed with the utmost
minuteness, a hundred and twenty-five years later, on an occasion
more interesting still. Exactly on the same spot on which, in
July 1689, Schomberg had acknowledged the liberality of the
nation, a chair was set, in July 1814, for a still more
illustrious warrior, who came to return thanks for a still more
splendid mark of public gratitude. Few things illustrate more
strikingly the peculiar character of the English government and
people than the circumstance that the House of Commons, a popular
assembly, should, even in a moment of joyous enthusiasm, have
adhered to ancient forms with the punctilious accuracy of a
College of Heralds; that the sitting and rising, the covering
and the uncovering, should have been regulated by exactly the
same etiquette in the nineteenth century as in the seventeenth;
and that the same mace which had been held at the right hand of
Schomberg should have been held in the same position at the right
hand of Wellington.427

On the twentieth of August the Parliament, having been constantly
engaged in business during seven months, broke up, by the royal
command, for a short recess. The same Gazette which announced
that the Houses had ceased to sit announced that Schomberg had
landed in Ireland.428

During the three weeks which preceded his landing, the dismay and
confusion at Dublin Castle had been extreme. Disaster had
followed disaster so fast that the mind of James, never very
firm, had been completely prostrated. He had learned first that
Londonderry had been relieved; then that one of his armies had
been beaten by the Enniskilleners; then that another of his
armies was retreating, or rather flying, from Ulster, reduced in
numbers and broken in spirit; then that Sligo, the key of
Connaught, had been abandoned to the Englishry. He had found it
impossible to subdue the colonists, even when they were left
almost unaided. He might therefore well doubt whether it would be
possible for him to contend against them when they were backed by
an English army, under the command of the greatest general
living. The unhappy prince seemed, during some days, to be sunk
in despondency. On Avaux the danger produced a very different
effect. Now, he thought, was the time to turn the war between the
English and the Irish into a war of extirpation, and to make it
impossible that the two nations could ever be united under one
government. With this view, he coolly submitted to the King a
proposition of almost incredible atrocity. There must be a Saint
Bartholomew. A pretext would easily be found. No doubt, when
Schomberg was known to be in Ireland, there would be some
excitement in those southern towns of which the population was
chiefly English. Any disturbance, wherever it might take place,
would furnish an excuse for a general massacre of the Protestants
of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught.429 As the King did not at
first express any horror at this suggestion,430 the Envoy, a few
days later, renewed the subject, and pressed His Majesty to give
the necessary orders. Then James, with a warmth which did him
honour, declared that nothing should induce him to commit such a
crime. "These people are my subjects; and I cannot be so cruel as
to cut their throats while they live peaceably under my
government." "There is nothing cruel," answered the callous
diplomatist, "in what I recommend. Your Majesty ought to consider
that mercy to Protestants is cruelty to Catholics." James,
however, was not to be moved; and Avaux retired in very bad
humour. His belief was that the King's professions of humanity
were hypocritical, and that, if the orders for the butchery were
not given, they were not given only because His Majesty was
confident that the Catholics all over the country would fall on
the Protestants without waiting for orders.431 But Avaux was
entirely mistaken. That he should have supposed James to be as
profoundly immoral as himself is not strange. But it is strange
that so able a man should have forgotten that James and himself
had quite different objects in view. The object of the
Ambassador's politics was to make the separation between England
and Ireland eternal. The object of the King's politics was to
unite England and Ireland under his own sceptre; and he could not
but be aware that, if there should be a general massacre of the
Protestants of three provinces, and he should be suspected of
having authorised it or of having connived at it, there would in
a fortnight be not a Jacobite left even at Oxford.432

Just at this time the prospects of James, which had seemed
hopelessly dark, began to brighten. The danger which had unnerved
him had roused the Irish people. They had, six months before,
risen up as one man against the Saxons. The army which Tyrconnel
had formed was, in proportion to the population from which it was
taken, the largest that Europe had ever seen. But that army had
sustained a long succession of defeats and disgraces, unredeemed
by a single brilliant achievement. It was the fashion, both in
England and on the Continent, to ascribe those defeats and
disgraces to the pusillanimity of the Irish race.433 That this
was a great error is sufficiently proved by the history of every
war which has been carried on in any part of Christendom during
five generations. The raw material out of which a good army may
be formed existed in great abundance among the Irish. Avaux
informed his government that they were a remarkably handsome,
tall, and well made race; that they were personally brave; that
they were sincerely attached to the cause for which they were in
arms; that they were violently exasperated against the colonists.
After extolling their strength and spirit, he proceeded to
explain why it was that, with all their strength and spirit, they
were constantly beaten. It was vain, he said, to imagine that
bodily prowess, animal courage, or patriotic enthusiasm would, in
the day of battle, supply the place of discipline. The infantry
were ill armed and ill trained. They were suffered to pillage
wherever they went. They had contracted all the habits of
banditti. There was among them scarcely one officer capable of showing them
duty. Their colonels were generally men of good family, but men
who had never seen service. The captains were butchers, tailors,
shoemakers. Hardly one of them troubled himself about the
comforts, the accoutrements, or the drilling of those over whom
he was placed. The dragoons were little better than the infantry.
But the horse were, with some exceptions, excellent. Almost all
the Irish gentlemen who had any military experience held
commissions in the cavalry; and, by the exertions of these
officers, some regiments had been raised and disciplined which
Avaux pronounced equal to any that he had ever seen. It was
therefore evident that the inefficiency of the foot and of the
dragoons was to he ascribed to the vices, not of the Irish
character, but of the Irish administration.434

The events which took place in the autumn of 1689 sufficiently
proved that the ill fated race, which enemies and allies
generally agreed in regarding with unjust contempt, had, together
with the faults inseparable from poverty, ignorance, and
superstition, some fine qualities which have not always been
found in more prosperous and more enlightened communities. The
evil tidings which terrified and bewildered James stirred the
whole population of the southern provinces like the peal of a
trumpet sounding to battle. That Ulster was lost, that the
English were coming, that the death grapple between the two
hostile nations was at hand, was proclaimed from all the altars
of three and twenty counties. One last chance was left; and, if
that chance failed, nothing remained but the despotic, the
merciless, rule of the Saxon colony and of the heretical church.
The Roman Catholic priest who had just taken possession of the
glebe house and the chancel, the Roman Catholic squire who had
just been carried back on the shoulders of the shouting tenantry
into the hall of his fathers, would be driven forth to live on
such alms as peasants, themselves oppressed and miserable, could
spare. A new confiscation would complete the work of the Act of
Settlement; and the followers of William would seize whatever the
followers of Cromwell had spared. These apprehensions produced
such an outbreak of patriotic and religious enthusiasm as
deferred for a time the inevitable day of subjugation. Avaux was
amazed by the energy which, in circumstances so trying, the Irish
displayed. It was indeed the wild and unsteady energy of a half
barbarous people: it was transient: it was often misdirected:
but, though transient and misdirected, it did wonders. The French
Ambassador was forced to own that those officers of whose
incompetency and inactivity he had so often complained had
suddenly shaken off their lethargy. Recruits came in by
thousands. The ranks which had been thinned under the walls of
Londonderry were soon again full to overflowing. Great efforts
were made to arm and clothe the troops; and, in the short space
of a fortnight, every thing presented a new and cheering

The Irish required of the King, in return for their strenuous
exertions in his cause, one concession which was by no means
agreeable to him. The unpopularity of Melfort had become such,
that his person was scarcely safe. He had no friend to speak a
word in his favour. The French hated him. In every letter which
arrived at Dublin from England or from Scotland, he was described
as the evil genius of the House of Stuart. It was necessary for
his own sake to dismiss him. An honourable pretext was found. He
was ordered to repair to Versailles, to represent there the state
of affairs in Ireland, and to implore the French government to
send over without delay six or seven thousand veteran infantry.
He laid down the seals; and they were, to the great delight of
the Irish, put into the hands of an Irishman, Sir Richard Nagle,
who had made himself conspicuous as Attorney General and Speaker
of the House of Commons. Melfort took his departure under cover
of the night: for the rage of the populace against him was such
that he could not without danger show himself in the streets of
Dublin by day. On the following morning James left his capital in
the opposite direction to encounter Schomberg.436

Schomberg had landed in Antrim. The force which he had brought
with him did not exceed ten thousand men. But he expected to be
joined by the armed colonists and by the regiments which were
under Kirke's command. The coffeehouse politicians of London
fully expected that such a general with such an army would
speedily reconquer the island. Unhappily it soon appeared that
the means which had been furnished to him were altogether
inadequate to the work which he had to perform: of the greater
part of these means he was speedily deprived by a succession of
unforeseen calamities; and the whole campaign was merely a long
struggle maintained by his prudence and resolution against the
utmost spite of fortune.

He marched first to Carrickfergus. That town was held for James
by two regiments of infantry. Schomberg battered the walls; and
the Irish, after holding out a week, capitulated. He promised
that they should depart unharmed; but he found it no easy matter
to keep his word. The people of the town and neighbourhood were
generally Protestants of Scottish extraction. They had suffered
much during the short ascendency of the native race; and what
they had suffered they were now eager to retaliate. They
assembled in great multitudes, exclaiming that the capitulation
was nothing to them, and that they would be revenged. They soon
proceeded from words to blows. The Irish, disarmed, stripped, and
hustled, clung for protection to the English officers and
soldiers. Schomberg with difficulty prevented a massacre by
spurring, pistol in hand, through the throng of the enraged

From Carrickfergus Schomberg proceeded to Lisburn, and thence,
through towns left without an inhabitant, and over plains on
which not a cow, nor a sheep, nor a stack of corn was to be seen,
to Loughbrickland. Here he was joined by three regiments of
Enniskilleners, whose dress, horses, and arms locked strange to
eyes accustomed to the pomp of reviews, but who in natural
courage were inferior to no troops in the world, and who had,
during months of constant watching and skirmishing, acquired many
of the essential qualities of soldiers. 438

Schomberg continued to advance towards Dublin through a desert.
The few Irish troops which remained in the south of Ulster
retreated before him, destroying as they retreated. Newry, once a
well built and thriving Protestant borough, he found a heap of
smoking ashes. Carlingford too had perished. The spot where the
town had once stood was marked only by the massy remains of the
old Norman castle. Those who ventured to wander from the camp
reported that the country, as far as they could explore it, was a
wilderness. There were cabins, but no inmates: there was rich
pasture, but neither flock nor herd: there were cornfields; but
the harvest lay on the ground soaked with rain.439

While Schomberg was advancing through a vast solitude, the Irish
forces were rapidly assembling from every quarter. On the tenth
of September the royal standard of James was unfurled on the
tower of Drogheda; and beneath it were soon collected twenty
thousand fighting men, the infantry generally bad, the cavalry
generally good, but both infantry and cavalry full of zeal for
their country and their religion.440 The troops were attended as
usual by a great multitude of camp followers, armed with scythes,
half pikes, and skeans. By this time Schomberg had reached
Dundalk. The distance between the two armies was not more than a
long day's march. It was therefore generally expected that the
fate of the island would speedily be decided by a pitched battle.

In both camps, all who did not understand war were eager to
fight; and, in both camps; the few who head a high reputation for
military science were against fighting. Neither Rosen nor
Schomberg wished to put every thing on a cast. Each of them knew
intimately the defects of his own army, and neither of them was
fully aware of the defects of the other's army. Rosen was certain
that the Irish infantry were "worse equipped, worse officered,
and worse drilled, than any infantry that he had ever seen from
the Gulf of Bothnia to the Atlantic; and he supposed that the
English troops were well trained, and were, as they doubtless
ought to have been, amply provided with every thing necessary to
their efficiency. Numbers, he rightly judged, would avail little
against a great superiority of arms and discipline. He therefore
advised James to fall back, and even to abandon Dublin to the
enemy, rather than hazard a battle the loss of which would be the
loss of all. Athlone was the best place in the kingdom for a
determined stand. The passage of the Shannon might be defended
till the succours which Melfort had been charged to solicit came
from France; and those succours would change the whole character
of the war. But the Irish, with Tyrconnel at their head, were
unanimous against retreating. The blood of the whole nation was
up. James was pleased with the enthusiasm of his subjects, and
positively declared that he would not disgrace himself by leaving
his capital to the invaders without a blow.441

In a few days it became clear that Schomberg had determined not
to fight. His reasons were weighty. He had some good Dutch and
French troops. The Enniskilleners who had joined him had served
a military apprenticeship, though not in a very regular manner.
But the bulk of his army consisted of English peasants who had
just left their cottages. His musketeers had still to learn how
to load their pieces: his dragoons had still to learn how to
manage their horses; and these inexperienced recruits were for
the most part commanded by officers as inexperienced as
themselves. His troops were therefore not generally superior in
discipline to the Irish, and were in number far inferior. Nay, he
found that his men were almost as ill armed, as ill lodged, as
ill clad, as the Celts to whom they were opposed. The wealth of
the English nation and the liberal votes of the English
parliament had entitled him to expect that he should be
abundantly supplied with all the munitions of war. But he was
cruelly disappointed. The administration had, ever since the
death of Oliver, been constantly becoming more and more imbecile,
more and more corrupt; and now the Revolution reaped what the
Restoration had sown. A crowd of negligent or ravenous
functionaries, formed under Charles and James, plundered,
starved, and poisoned the armies and fleets of William. Of these
men the most important was Henry Shales, who, in the late reign,
had been Commissary General to the camp at Hounslow. It is
difficult to blame the new government for continuing to employ
him: for, in his own department, his experience far surpassed
that of any other Englishman. Unfortunately, in the same school
in which he had acquired his experience, he had learned the whole
art of peculation. The beef and brandy which he furnished were so
bad that the soldiers turned from them with loathing: the tents
were rotten: the clothing was scanty: the muskets broke in the
handling. Great numbers of shoes were set down to the account of
the government: but, two months after the Treasury had paid the
bill, the shoes had not arrived in Ireland. The means of
transporting baggage and artillery were almost entirely wanting.
An ample number of horses had been purchased in England with the
public money, and had been sent to the banks of the Dee. But
Shales had let them out for harvest work to the farmers of
Cheshire, had pocketed the hire, and had left the troops in
Ulster to get on as they best might.442 Schomberg thought that,
if he should, with an ill trained and ill appointed army, risk a
battle against a superior force, he might not improbably be
defeated; and he knew that a defeat might be followed by the loss
of one kingdom, perhaps by the loss of three kingdoms. He
therefore made up his mind to stand on the defensive till his men
had been disciplined, and till reinforcements and supplies should

He entrenched himself near Dundalk in such a manner that he could
not be forced to fight against his will. James, emboldened by the
caution of his adversary, and disregarding the advice of Rosen,
advanced to Ardee, appeared at the head of the whole Irish army
before the English lines, drew up horse, foot and artillery, in
order of battle, and displayed his banner. The English were
impatient to fall on. But their general had made up his mind, and
was not to be moved by the bravadoes of the enemy or by the
murmurs of his own soldiers. During some weeks he remained secure
within his defences, while the Irish lay a few miles off. He set
himself assiduously to drill those new levies which formed the
greater part of his army. He ordered the musketeers to be
constantly exercised in firing, sometimes at marks and sometimes
by platoons; and, from the way in which they at first acquitted
themselves, it plainly appeared that he had judged wisely in not
leading them out to battle. It was found that not one in four of
the English soldiers could manage his piece at all; and whoever
succeeded in discharging it, no matter in what direction,
thought that he had performed a great feat.

While the Duke was thus employed, the Irish eyed his camp without
daring to attack it. But within that camp soon appeared two evils
more terrible than the foe, treason and pestilence. Among the
best troops under his command were the French exiles. And now a
grave doubt arose touching their fidelity. The real Huguenot
refugee indeed might safely be trusted. The dislike with which
the most zealous English Protestant regarded the House of Bourbon
and the Church of Rome was a lukewarm feeling when compared with
that inextinguishable hatred which glowed in the bosom of the
persecuted, dragooned, expatriated Calvinist of Languedoc. The
Irish had already remarked that the French heretic neither gave
nor took quarter.443 Now, however, it was found that with those
emigrants who had sacrificed every thing for the reformed
religion were intermingled emigrants of a very different sort,
deserters who had run away from their standards in the Low
Countries, and had coloured their crime by pretending that they
were Protestants, and that their conscience would not suffer them
to fight for the persecutor of their Church. Some of these men,
hoping that by a second treason they might obtain both pardon and
reward, opened a correspondence with Avaux. The letters were
intercepted; and a formidable plot was brought to light. It
appeared that, if Schomberg had been weak enough to yield to the
importunity of those who wished him to give battle, several
French companies would, in the heat of the action, have fired on
the English, and gone over to the enemy. Such a defection might
well have produced a general panic in a better army than that
which was encamped under Dundalk. It was necessary to be severe.
Six of the conspirators were hanged. Two hundred of their
accomplices were sent in irons to England. Even after this
winnowing, the refugees were long regarded by the rest of the
army with unjust but not unnatural suspicion. During some days
indeed there was great reason to fear that the enemy would be
entertained with a bloody fight between the English soldiers and
their French allies.444

A few hours before the execution of the chief conspirators, a
general muster of the army was held; and it was observed that the
ranks of the English battalions looked thin. From the first day
of the campaign, there had been much sickness among the recruits:
but it was not till the time of the equinox that the mortality
became alarming. The autumnal rains of Ireland are usually heavy;
and this year they were heavier than usual. The whole country was
deluged; and the Duke's camp became a marsh. The Enniskillen men
were seasoned to the climate. The Dutch were accustomed to live
in a country which, as a wit of that age said, draws fifty feet
of water. They kept their huts dry and clean; and they had
experienced and careful officers who did not suffer them to omit
any precaution. But the peasants of Yorkshire and Derbyshire had
neither constitutions prepared to resist the pernicious
influence, nor skill to protect themselves against it. The bad
provisions furnished by the Commissariat aggravated the maladies
generated by the air. Remedies were almost entirely wanting. The
surgeons were few. The medicine chests contained little more than
lint and plaisters for wounds. The English sickened and died by
hundreds. Even those who were not smitten by the pestilence were
unnerved and dejected, and, instead of putting forth the energy
which is the heritage of our race, awaited their fate with the
helpless apathy of Asiatics. It was in vain that Schomberg tried
to teach them to improve their habitations, and to cover the wet
earth on which they lay with a thick carpet of fern. Exertion had
become more dreadful to them than death. It was not to be
expected that men who would not help themselves should help each
other. Nobody asked and nobody showed compassion. Familiarity
with ghastly spectacles produced a hardheartedness and a
desperate impiety, of which an example will not easily be found
even in the history of infectious diseases. The moans of the sick
were drowned by the blasphemy and ribaldry of their comrades.
Sometimes, seated on the body of a wretch who had died in the
morning, might be seen a wretch destined to die before night,
cursing, singing loose songs, and swallowing usquebaugh to the
health of the devil. When the corpses were taken away to be
buried the survivors grumbled. A dead man, they said, was a good
screen and a good stool. Why, when there was so abundant a supply
of such useful articles of furniture, were people to he exposed
to the cold air and forced to crouch on the moist ground?445

Many of the sick were sent by the English vessels which lay off
the coast to Belfast, where a great hospital had been prepared.
But scarce half of them lived to the end of the voyage. More than
one ship lay long in the bay of Carrickfergus heaped with
carcasses, and exhaling the stench of death, without a living man
on board.446

The Irish army suffered much less. The kerne of Munster or
Connaught was dune as well off in the camp as if he had been in
his own mud cabin inhaling the vapours of his own quagmire. He
naturally exulted in the distress of the Saxon heretics, and
flattered himself that they would be destroyed without a blow. He
heard with delight the guns pealing all day over the graves of
the English officers, till at length the funerals became too
numerous to be celebrated with military pomp, and the mournful
sounds were succeeded by a silence more mournful still.

The superiority of force was now so decidedly on the side of
James that he could safely venture to detach five regiments from
his army, and to send them into Connaught. Sarsfield commanded
them. He did not, indeed, stand so high as he deserved in the
royal estimation. The King, with an air of intellectual
superiority which must have made Avaux and Rosen bite their lips,
pronounced him a brave fellow, but very scantily supplied with
brains. It was not without great difficulty that the Ambassador
prevailed on His Majesty to raise the best officer in the Irish
army to the rank of Brigadier. Sarsfield now fully vindicated the
favourable opinion which his French patrons had formed of him. He
dislodged the English from Sligo; and he effectually secured
Galway, which had been in considerable danger.447

No attack, however, was made on the English entrenchments before
Dundalk. In the midst of difficulties and disasters hourly
multiplying, the great qualities of Schomberg appeared hourly
more and more conspicuous. Not in the full tide of success, not
on the field of Montes Claros, not under the walls of Maestricht,
had he so well deserved the admiration of mankind. His resolution
never gave way. His prudence never slept. His temper, in spite of
manifold vexations and provocations, was always cheerful and
serene. The effective men under his command, even if all were
reckoned as effective who were not stretched on the earth by
fever, did not now exceed five thousand. These were hardly equal
to their ordinary duty; and yet it was necessary to harass them
with double duty. Nevertheless so masterly were the old man's
dispositions that with this small force he faced during several
weeks twenty thousand troops who were accompanied by a multitude
of armed banditti. At length early in November the Irish
dispersed, and went to winter quarters. The Duke then broke up
his camp and retired into Ulster. Just as the remains of his army
were about to move, a rumour spread that the enemy was
approaching in great force. Had this rumour been true, the danger
would have been extreme. But the English regiments, though they
had been reduced to a third part of their complement, and though
the men who were in best health were hardly able to shoulder
arms, showed a strange joy and alacrity at the prospect of
battle, and swore that the Papists should pay for all the misery
of the last month. "We English," Schomberg said, identifying
himself good humouredly with the people of the country which had
adopted him, "we English have stomach enough for fighting. It is
a pity that we are not as fond of some other parts of a soldier's

The alarm proved false: the Duke's army departed unmolested: but
the highway along which he retired presented a piteous and
hideous spectacle. A long train of waggons laden with the sick
jolted over the rugged pavement. At every jolt some wretched man
gave up the ghost. The corpse was flung out and left unburied to
the foxes and crows. The whole number of those who died, in the
camp at Dundalk, in the hospital at Belfast, on the road, and on
the sea, amounted to above six thousand. The survivors were
quartered for the winter in the towns and villages of Ulster. The
general fixed his head quarters at Lisburn.448

His conduct was variously judged. Wise and candid men said that
he had surpassed himself, and that there was no other captain in
Europe who, with raw troops, with ignorant officers, with scanty
stores, having to contend at once against a hostile army of
greatly superior force, against a villanous commissariat, against
a nest of traitors in his own camp, and against a disease more
murderous than the sword, would have brought the campaign to a
close without the loss of a flag or a gun. On the other hand,
many of those newly commissioned majors and captains, whose
helplessness had increased all his perplexities, and who had not
one qualification for their posts except personal courage,
grumbled at the skill and patience which had saved them from
destruction. Their complaints were echoed on the other side of
Saint George's Channel. Some of the murmuring, though unjust, was
excusable. The parents, who had sent a gallant lad, in his first
uniform, to fight his way to glory, might be pardoned if, when
they learned that he had died on a wisp of straw without medical
attendance, and had been buried in a swamp without any Christian
or military ceremony, their affliction made them hasty and
unreasonable. But with the cry of bereaved families was mingled
another cry much less respectable. All the hearers and tellers of
news abused the general who furnished them with so little news to
hear and to tell. For men of that sort are so greedy after
excitement that they far more readily forgive a commander who
loses a battle than a commander who declines one. The
politicians, who delivered their oracles from the thickest cloud
of tobacco smoke at Garroway's, confidently asked, without
knowing any thing, either of war in general, or of Irish war in
particular, why Schomberg did not fight. They could not venture
to say that he did not understand his calling. No doubt he had
been an excellent officer: but he was very old. He seemed to bear
his years well: but his faculties were not what they had been:
his memory was failing; and it was well known that he sometimes
forgot in the afternoon what he had done in the morning. It may
be doubted whether there ever existed a human being whose mind
was quite as firmly toned at eighty as at forty. But that
Schomberg's intellectual powers had been little impaired by years
is sufficiently proved by his despatches, which are still extant,
and which are models of official writing, terse, perspicuous,
full of important facts and weighty reasons, compressed into the
smallest possible number of words. In those despatches he
sometimes alluded, not angrily, but with calm disdain, to the
censures thrown upon his conduct by shallow babblers, who, never
having seen any military operation more important than the
relieving of the guard at Whitehall, imagined that the easiest
thing in the world was to gain great victories in any situation
and against any odds, and by sturdy patriots who were convinced
that one English tarter or thresher, who had not yet learned how
to load a gun or port a pike, was a match for any five musketeers
of King Lewis's household.449

Unsatisfactory as had been the results of the campaign in
Ireland, the results of the maritime operations of the year were
more unsatisfactory still. It had been confidently expected that,
on the sea, England, allied with Holland, would have been far
more than a match for the power of Lewis: but everything went
wrong. Herbert had, after the unimportant skirmish of Bantry Bay,
returned with his squadron to Portsmouth. There he found that he
had not lost the good opinion either of the public or of the
government. The House of Commons thanked him for his services;
and he received signal marks of the favour of the Crown. He had
not been at the coronation, and had therefore missed his share of
the rewards which, at the time of that solemnity, had been
distributed among the chief agents in the Revolution. The
omission was now repaired; and he was created Earl of Torrington.
The King went down to Portsmouth, dined on board of the
Admiral's flag ship, expressed the fullest confidence in the
valour and loyalty of the navy, knighted two gallant captains,
Cloudesley Shovel and John Ashby, and ordered a donative to be
divided among the seamen.450

We cannot justly blame William for having a high opinion of
Torrington. For Torrington was generally regarded as one of the
bravest and most skilful officers in the navy. He had been
promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral of England by James, who, if
he understood any thing, understood maritime affairs. That place
and other lucrative places Torrington had relinquished when he
found that he could retain them only by submitting to be a tool
of the Jesuitical cabal. No man had taken a more active, a more
hazardous, or a more useful part in effecting the Revolution. It
seemed, therefore, that no man had fairer pretensions to be put
at the head of the naval administration. Yet no man could be more
unfit for such a post. His morals had always been loose, so loose
indeed that the firmness with which in the late reign he had
adhered to his religion had excited much surprise. His glorious
disgrace indeed seemed to have produced a salutary effect on his
character. In poverty and exile he rose from a voluptuary into a
hero. But, as soon as prosperity returned, the hero sank again
into a voluptuary; and the lapse was deep and hopeless. The
nerves of his mind, which had been during a short time braced to
a firm tone, were now so much relaxed by vice that he was utterly
incapable of selfdenial or of strenuous exertion. The vulgar
courage of a foremast man he still retained. But both as Admiral
and as First Lord of the Admiralty he was utterly inefficient.
Month after month the fleet which should have been the terror of
the seas lay in harbour while he was diverting himself in London.
The sailors, punning upon his new title, gave him the name of
Lord Tarry-in-town. When he came on shipboard he was accompanied
by a bevy of courtesans. There was scarcely an hour of the day or
of the night when he was not under the influence of claret. Being
insatiable of pleasure, he necessarily became insatiable of
wealth. Yet he loved flattery almost as much as either wealth or
pleasure. He had long been in the habit of exacting the most
abject homage from those who were under his command. His flagship
was a little Versailles. He expected his captains to attend him
to his cabin when he went to bed, and to assemble every morning
at his levee. He even suffered them to dress him. One of them
combed his flowing wig; another stood ready with the embroidered
coat. Under such a chief there could be no discipline. His tars
passed their time in rioting among the rabble of Portsmouth.
Those officers who won his favour by servility and adulation
easily obtained leave of absence, and spent weeks in London,
revelling in taverns, scouring the streets, or making love to the
masked ladies in the pit of the theatre. The victuallers soon
found out with whom they had to deal, and sent down to the fleet
casks of meat which dogs would not touch, and barrels of beer
which smelt worse than bilge water. Meanwhile the British Channel
seemed to be abandoned to French rovers. Our merchantmen were
boarded in sight of the ramparts of Plymouth. The sugar fleet
from the West Indies lost seven ships. The whole value of the
prizes taken by the cruisers of the enemy in the immediate
neighbourhood of our island, while Torrington was engaged with
his bottle and his harem, was estimated at six hundred thousand
pounds. So difficult was it to obtain the convoy of a man of war,
except by giving immense bribes, that our traders were forced to
hire the services of Dutch privateers, and found these foreign
mercenaries much more useful and much less greedy than the
officers of our own royal navy.451

The only department with which no fault could be found was the
department of Foreign Affairs. There William was his own
minister; and, where he was his own minister, there were no
delays, no blunders, no jobs, no treasons. The difficulties with
which he had to contend were indeed great. Even at the Hague he
had to encounter an opposition which all his wisdom and firmness
could, with the strenuous support of Heinsius, scarcely overcome.
The English were not aware that, while they were murmuring at
their Sovereign's partiality for the land of his birth, a strong
party in Holland was murmuring at his partiality for the land of
his adoption. The Dutch ambassadors at Westminster complained
that the terms of alliance which he proposed were derogatory to
the dignity and prejudicial to the interests of the republic;
that wherever the honour of the English flag was concerned, he
was punctilious and obstinate; that he peremptorily insisted on
an article which interdicted all trade with France, and which
could not but be grievously felt on the Exchange of Amsterdam;
that, when they expressed a hope that the Navigation Act would be
repealed, he burst out a laughing, and told them that the thing
was not to be thought of. He carried all his points; and a solemn
contract was made by which England and the Batavian federation
bound themselves to stand firmly by each other against France,
and not to make peace except by mutual consent. But one of the
Dutch plenipotentiaries declared that he was afraid of being one
day held up to obloquy as a traitor for conceding so much; and
the signature of another plainly appeared to have been traced by
a hand shaking with emotion.452

Meanwhile under William's skilful management a treaty of alliance
had been concluded between the States General and the Emperor. To
that treaty Spain and England gave in their adhesion; and thus
the four great powers which had long been bound together by a
friendly understanding were bound together by a formal

But before that formal contract had been signed and sealed, all
the contracting parties were in arms. Early in the year 1689 war
was raging all over the Continent from the Humus to the Pyrenees.
France, attacked at once on every side, made on every side a
vigorous defence; and her Turkish allies kept a great German
force fully employed in Servia and Bulgaria. On the whole, the
results of the military operations of the summer were not
unfavourable to the confederates. Beyond the Danube, the
Christians, under Prince Lewis of Baden, gained a succession of
victories over the Mussulmans. In the passes of Roussillon, the
French troops contended without any decisive advantage against
the martial peasantry of Catalonia. One German army, led by the
Elector of Bavaria, occupied the Archbishopric of Cologne.
Another was commanded by Charles, Duke of Lorraine, a sovereign
who, driven from his own dominions by the arms of France, had
turned soldier of fortune, and had, as such, obtained both
distinction and revenge. He marched against the devastators of
the Palatinate, forced them to retire behind the Rhine, and,
after a long siege, took the important and strongly fortified
city of Mentz.

Between the Sambre and the Meuse the French, commanded by Marshal
Humieres, were opposed to the Dutch, commanded by the Prince of
Waldeck, an officer who had long served the States General with
fidelity and ability, though not always with good fortune, and
who stood high in the estimation of William. Under Waldeck's
orders was Marlborough, to whom William had confided an English
brigade consisting of the best regiments of the old army of
James. Second to Marlborough in command, and second also in
professional skill, was Thomas Talmash, a brave soldier, destined
to a fate never to be mentioned without shame and indignation.
Between the army of Waldeck and the army of Humieres no general
action took place: but in a succession of combats the advantage
was on the side of the confederates. Of these combats the most
important took place at Walcourt on the fifth of August. The
French attacked an outpost defended by the English brigade, were
vigorously repulsed, and were forced to retreat in confusion,
abandoning a few field pieces to the conquerors and leaving more
than six hundred corpses on the ground. Marlborough, on this as
on every similar occasion, acquitted himself like a valiant and
skilful captain. The Coldstream Guards commanded by Talmash, and
the regiment which is now called the sixteenth of the line,
commanded by Colonel Robert Hodges, distinguished themselves
highly. The Royal regiment too, which had a few months before set
up the standard of rebellion at Ipswich, proved on this day that
William, in freely pardoning that great fault, had acted not less
wisely than generously. The testimony which Waldeck in his
despatch bore to the gallant conduct of the islanders was read
with delight by their countrymen. The fight indeed was no more
than a skirmish: but it was a sharp and bloody skirmish. There
had within living memory been no equally serious encounter
between the English and French; and our ancestors were naturally
elated by finding that many years of inaction and vassalage did
not appear to have enervated the courage of the nation.454

The Jacobites however discovered in the events of the campaign
abundant matter for invective. Marlborough was, not without
reason, the object of their bitterest hatred. In his behaviour on
a field of battle malice itself could find little to censure: but
there were other parts of his conduct which presented a fair mark
for obloquy. Avarice is rarely the vice of a young man: it is
rarely the vice of a great man: but Marlborough was one of the
few who have, in the bloom of youth, loved lucre more than wine or
women, and who have, at the height of greatness, loved lucre more
than power or fame. All the precious gifts which nature had
lavished on him he valued chiefly for what they would fetch. At
twenty he made money of his beauty and his vigour. At sixty he
made money of his genius and his glory. The applauses which were
justly due to his conduct at Walcourt could not altogether drown
the voices of those who muttered that, wherever a broad piece was
to be saved or got, this hero was a mere Euclio, a mere Harpagon;
that, though he drew a large allowance under pretence of keeping
a public table, he never asked an officer to dinner; that his
muster rolls were fraudulently made up; that he pocketed pay in
the names of men who had long been dead, of men who had been
killed in his own sight four years before at Sedgemoor; that
there were twenty such names in one troop; that there were
thirty-six in another. Nothing but the union of dauntless courage
and commanding powers of mind with a bland temper and winning
manners could have enabled him to gain and keep, in spite of
faults eminently unsoldierlike, the good will of his soldiers.455

About the time at which the contending armies in every part of
Europe were going into winter quarters, a new Pontiff ascended
the chair of Saint Peter. Innocent the Eleventh was no more. His
fate had been strange indeed. His conscientious and fervent
attachment to the Church of which he was the head had induced
him, at one of the most critical conjunctures in her history, to
ally herself with her mortal enemies. The news of his decease was
received with concern and alarm by Protestant princes and
commonwealths, and with joy and hope at Versailles and Dublin. An
extraordinary ambassador of high rank was instantly despatched by
Lewis to Rome. The French garrison which had been placed in
Avignon was withdrawn. When the votes of the Conclave had been
united in favour of Peter Ottobuoni, an ancient Cardinal who
assumed the appellation of Alexander the Eighth, the
representative of France assisted at the installation, bore up
the cope of the new Pontiff, and put into the hands of His
Holiness a letter in which the most Christian King declared that
he renounced the odious privilege of protecting robbers and
assassins. Alexander pressed the letter to his lips, embraced the
bearer, and talked with rapture of the near prospect of
reconciliation. Lewis began to entertain a hope that the
influence of the Vatican might be exerted to dissolve the
alliance between the House of Austria and the heretical usurper
of the English throne. James was even more sanguine. He was
foolish enough to expect that the new Pope would give him money,
and ordered Melfort, who had now acquitted himself of his mission
at Versailles, to hasten to Rome, and beg His Holiness to
contribute something towards the good work of upholding pure
religion in the British islands. But it soon appeared that
Alexander, though he might hold language different from that of
his predecessor, was determined to follow in essentials his
predecessor's policy. The original cause of the quarrel between
the Holy See and Lewis was not removed. The King continued to
appoint prelates: the Pope continued to refuse their institution:
and the consequence was that a fourth part of the dioceses of
France had bishops who were incapable of performing any episcopal

The Anglican Church was, at this time, not less distracted than
the Gallican Church. The first of August had been fixed by Act of
Parliament as the day before the close of which all beneficed
clergymen and all persons holding academical offices must, on
pain of suspension, swear allegiance to William and Mary. During
the earlier part of the summer, the Jacobites hoped that the
number of nonjurors would be so considerable as seriously to
alarm and embarrass the Government. But this hope was
disappointed. Few indeed of the clergy were Whigs. Few were
Tories of that moderate school which acknowledged, reluctantly
and with reserve, that extreme abuses might sometimes justify a
nation in resorting to extreme remedies. The great majority of
the profession still held the doctrine of passive obedience: but
that majority was now divided into two sections. A question,
which, before the Revolution, had been mere matter of
speculation, and had therefore, though sometimes incidentally
raised, been, by most persons, very superficially considered, had
now become practically most important. The doctrine of passive
obedience being taken for granted, to whom was that obedience
due? While the hereditary right and the possession were
conjoined, there was no room for doubt: but the hereditary right
and the possession were now separated. One prince, raised by the
Revolution, was reigning at Westminster, passing laws, appointing
magistrates and prelates, sending forth armies and fleets. His
judges decided causes. His Sheriffs arrested debtors and executed
criminals. Justice, order, property, would cease to exist, and
society would be resolved into chaos, but for his Great Seal.
Another prince, deposed by the Revolution, was living abroad. He
could exercise none of the powers and perform none of the duties
of a ruler, and could, as it seemed, be restored only by means as
violent as those by which he had been displaced, to which of
these two princes did Christian men owe allegiance?

To a large part of the clergy it appeared that the plain letter
of Scripture required them to submit to the Sovereign who was in
possession, without troubling themselves about his title. The
powers which the Apostle, in the text most familiar to the
Anglican divines of that age, pronounces to be ordained of God,
are not the powers that can be traced back to a legitimate
origin, but the powers that be. When Jesus was asked whether the
chosen people might lawfully give tribute to Caesar, he replied
by asking the questioners, not whether Caesar could make out a
pedigree derived from the old royal house of Judah, but whether
the coin which they scrupled to pay into Caesar's treasury came
from Caesar's mint, in other words, whether Caesar actually
possessed the authority and performed the functions of a ruler.

It is generally held, with much appearance of reason, that the
most trustworthy comment on the text of the Gospels and Epistles
is to be found in the practice of the primitive Christians, when
that practice can be satisfactorily ascertained; and it so
happened that the times during which the Church is universally
acknowledged to have been in the highest state of purity were
times of frequent and violent political change. One at least of
the Apostles appears to have lived to see four Emperors pulled
down in little more than a year. Of the martyrs of the third
century a great proportion must have been able to remember ten or
twelve revolutions. Those martyrs must have had occasion often to
consider what was their duty towards a prince just raised to
power by a successful insurrection. That they were, one and all,
deterred by the fear of punishment from doing what they thought
right, is an imputation which no candid infidel would throw on
them. Yet, if there be any proposition which can with perfect
confidence be affirmed touching the early Christians, it is this,
that they never once refused obedience to any actual ruler on
account of the illegitimacy of his title. At one time, indeed,
the supreme power was claimed by twenty or thirty competitors.
Every province from Britain to Egypt had its own Augustus. All
these pretenders could not be rightful Emperors. Yet it does not
appear that, in any place, the faithful had any scruple about
submitting to the person who, in that place, exercised the
imperial functions. While the Christian of Rome obeyed Aurelian,
the Christian of Lyons obeyed Tetricus, and the Christian of
Palmyra obeyed Zenobia. "Day and night," such were the words
which the great Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, addressed to the
representative of Valerian and Gallienus,--"day and night do we
Christians pray to the one true God for the safety of our
Emperors." Yet those Emperors had a few months before pulled down
their predecessor Aemilianus, who had pulled down his predecessor
Gallus, who had climbed to power on the ruins of the house of his
predecessor Decius, who had slain his predecessor Philip, who had
slain his predecessor Gordian. Was it possible to believe that a
saint, who had, in the short space of thirteen or fourteen years,
borne true allegiance to this series of rebels and regicides,
would have made a schism in the Christian body rather than
acknowledge King William and Queen Mary? A hundred times those
Anglican divines who had taken the oaths challenged their more
scrupulous brethren to cite a single instance in which the
primitive Church had refused obedience to a successful usurper;
and a hundred times the challenge was evaded. The nonjurors had
little to say on this head, except that precedents were of no
force when opposed to principles, a proposition which came with
but a bad grace from a school which had always professed an
almost superstitious reverence for the authority of the

To precedents drawn from later and more corrupt times little
respect was due. But, even in the history of later and more
corrupt times, the nonjurors could not easily find any precedent
that would serve their purpose. In our own country many Kings,
who had not the hereditary right, had filled the throne but it
had never been thought inconsistent with the duty of a Christian
to be a true liegeman to such Kings. The usurpation of Henry the
Fourth, the more odious usurpation of Richard the Third, had
produced no schism in the Church. As soon as the usurper was firm
in his seat, Bishops had done homage to him for their domains:
Convocations had presented addresses to him, and granted him
supplies; nor had any casuist ever pronounced that such
submission to a prince in possession was deadly sin.458

With the practice of the whole Christian world the authoritative
teaching of the Church of England appeared to be in strict
harmony. The Homily on Wilful Rebellion, a discourse which
inculcates, in unmeasured terms, the duty of obeying rulers,
speaks of none but actual rulers. Nay, the people are distinctly
told in that Homily that they are bound to obey, not only their
legitimate prince, but any usurper whom God shall in anger set
over them for their sins. And surely it would be the height of
absurdity to say that we must accept submissively such usurpers
as God sends in anger, but must pertinaciously withhold our
obedience from usurpers whom He sends in mercy. Grant that it was
a crime to invite the Prince of Orange over, a crime to join him,
a crime to make him King; yet what was the whole history of the
Jewish nation and of the Christian Church but a record of cases
in which Providence had brought good out of evil? And what
theologian would assert that, in such cases, we ought, from
abhorrence of the evil, to reject the good?

On these grounds a large body of divines, still asserting the
doctrine that to resist the Sovereign must always be sinful,
conceived that William was now the Sovereign whom it would be
sinful to resist.

To these arguments the nonjurors replied that Saint Paul must
have meant by the powers that be the rightful powers that be; and
that to put any other interpretation on his words would be to
outrage common sense, to dishonour religion, to give scandal to
weak believers, to give an occasion of triumph to scoffers. The
feelings of all mankind must be shocked by the proposition that,
as soon as a King, however clear his title, however wise and good
his administration, is expelled by traitors, all his servants are
bound to abandon him, and to range themselves on the side of his
enemies. In all ages and nations, fidelity to a good cause in
adversity had been regarded as a virtue. In all ages and nations,
the politician whose practice was always to be on the side which
was uppermost had been despised. This new Toryism was worse than
Whiggism. To break through the ties of allegiance because the
Sovereign was a tyrant was doubtless a very great sin: but it was
a sin for which specious names and pretexts might be found, and
into which a brave and generous man, not instructed in divine
truth and guarded by divine grace, might easily fall. But to
break through the ties of allegiance, merely because the
Sovereign was unfortunate, was not only wicked, but dirty. Could
any unbeliever offer a greater insult to the Scriptures than by
asserting that the Scriptures had enjoined on Christians as a
sacred duty what the light of nature had taught heathens to
regard as the last excess of baseness? In the Scriptures was to
be found the history of a King of Israel, driven from his palace
by an unnatural son, and compelled to fly beyond Jordan. David,
like James, had the right: Absalom, like William, had the
possession. Would any student of the sacred writings dare to
affirm that the conduct of Shimei on that occasion was proposed
as a pattern to be imitated, and that Barzillai, who loyally
adhered to his fugitive master, was resisting the ordinance of
God, and receiving to himself damnation? Would any true son of
the Church of England seriously affirm that a man who was a
strenuous royalist till after the battle of Naseby, who then went
over to the Parliament, who, as soon as the Parliament had been
purged, became an obsequious servant of the Rump, and who, as
soon as the Rump had been ejected, professed himself a faithful
subject of the Protector, was more deserving of the respect of
Christian men than the stout old Cavalier who bore true fealty to
Charles the First in prison and to Charles the Second in exile,
and who was ready to put lands, liberty, life, in peril, rather
than acknowledge, by word or act, the authority of any of the
upstart governments which, during that evil time, obtained
possession of a power not legitimately theirs? And what
distinction was there between that case and the case which had
now arisen? That Cromwell had actually enjoyed as much power as
William, nay much more power than William, was quite certain.
That the power of William, as well as the power of Cromwell, had
an illegitimate origin, no divine who held the doctrine of
nonresistance would dispute. How then was it possible for such a
divine to deny that obedience had been due to Cromwell, and yet
to affirm that it was due to William? To suppose that there could
be such inconsistency without dishonesty would be not charity but
weakness. Those who were determined to comply with the Act of
Parliament would do better to speak out, and to say, what every
body knew, that they complied simply to save their benefices. The
motive was no doubt strong. That a clergyman who was a husband
and a father should look forward with dread to the first of
August and the first of February was natural. But he would do
well to remember that, however terrible might be the day of
suspension and the day of deprivation, there would assuredly come
two other days more terrible still, the day of death and the day
of judgment.459

The swearing clergy, as they were called, were not a little
perplexed by this reasoning. Nothing embarrassed them more than
the analogy which the nonjurors were never weary of pointing out
between the usurpation of Cromwell and the usurpation of William.
For there was in that age no High Churchman who would not have
thought himself reduced to an absurdity if he had been reduced to
the necessity of saying that the Church had commanded her sons to
obey Cromwell. And yet it was impossible to prove that William
was more fully in possession of supreme power than Cromwell had
been. The swearers therefore avoided coming to close quarters
with the nonjurors on this point as carefully as the nonjurors
avoided coming to close quarters with the swearers on the
question touching the practice of the primitive Church.

The truth is that the theory of government which had long been
taught by the clergy was so absurd that it could lead to nothing
but absurdity. Whether the priest who adhered to that theory
swore or refused to swear, he was alike unable to give a rational
explanation of his conduct. If he swore, he could vindicate his
swearing only by laying down propositions against which every
honest heart instinctively revolts, only by proclaiming that
Christ had commanded the Church to desert the righteous cause as
soon as that cause ceased to prosper, and to strengthen the hands
of successful villany against afflicted virtue. And yet, strong
as were the objections to this doctrine, the objections to the
doctrine of the nonjuror were, if possible, stronger still.
According to him, a Christian nation ought always to be in a
state of slavery or in a state of anarchy. Something is to be
said for the man who sacrifices liberty to preserve order.
Something is to be said for the man who sacrifices order to
preserve liberty. For liberty and order are two of the greatest
blessings which a society can enjoy: and, when unfortunately they
appear to be incompatible, much indulgence is due to those who
take either side. But the nonjuror sacrificed, not liberty to
order, not order to liberty, but both liberty and order to a
superstition as stupid and degrading as the Egyptian worship of
cats and onions. While a particular person, differing from other
persons by the mere accident of birth, was on the throne, though
he might be a Nero, there was to be no insubordination. When any
other person was on the throne, though he might be an Alfred,
there was to be no obedience. It mattered not how frantic and
wicked might be the administration of the dynasty which had the
hereditary title, or how wise and virtuous might be the
administration of a government sprung from a revolution. Nor
could any time of limitation be pleaded against the claim of the
expelled family. The lapse of years, the lapse of ages, made no
change. To the end of the world, Christians were to regulate
their political conduct simply according to the genealogy of
their ruler. The year 1800, the year 1900, might find princes who
derived their title from the votes of the Convention reigning in
peace and prosperity. No matter: they would still be usurpers;
and, if, in the twentieth or twenty-first century, any person who
could make out a better right by blood to the crown should call
on a late posterity to acknowledge him as King, the call must be
obeyed on peril of eternal perdition.

A Whig might well enjoy the thought that the controversies which
had arisen among his adversaries had established the soundness of
his own political creed. The disputants who had long agreed in
accusing him of an impious error had now effectually vindicated
him, and refuted one another. The High Churchman who took the
oaths had shown by irrefragable arguments from the Gospels and
the Epistles, from the uniform practice of the primitive Church,
and from the explicit declarations of the Anglican Church, that
Christians were not in all cases bound to pay obedience to the
prince who had the hereditary title. The High Churchman who would
not take the oaths had shown as satisfactorily that Christians
were not in all cases bound to pay obedience to the prince who
was actually reigning. It followed that, to entitle a government
to the allegiance of subjects, something was necessary different
from mere legitimacy, and different also from mere possession.
What that something was the Whigs had no difficulty in
pronouncing. In their view, the end for which all governments had
been instituted was the happiness of society. While the
magistrate was, on the whole, notwithstanding some faults, a
minister for good, Reason taught mankind to obey him; and
Religion, giving her solemn sanction to the teaching of Reason,
commanded mankind to revere him as divinely commissioned. But if
he proved to be a minister for evil, on what grounds was he to be
considered as divinely commissioned? The Tories who swore had
proved that he ought not to be so considered on account of the
origin of his power: the Tories who would not swear had proved as
clearly that he ought not to be so considered on account of the
existence of his power.

Some violent and acrimonious Whigs triumphed ostentatiously and
with merciless insolence over the perplexed and divided
priesthood. The nonjuror they generally affected to regard with
contemptuous pity as a dull and perverse, but sincere, bigot,
whose absurd practice was in harmony with his absurd theory, and
who might plead, in excuse for the infatuation which impelled him
to ruin his country, that the same infatuation had impelled him
to ruin himself. They reserved their sharpest taunts for those
divines who, having, in the days of the Exclusion Bill and the
Rye House Plot, been distinguished by zeal for the divine and
indefeasible right of the hereditary Sovereign, were now ready to
swear fealty to an usurper. Was this then the real sense of all
those sublime phrases which had resounded during twenty-nine
years from innumerable pulpits? Had the thousands of clergymen,
who had so loudly boasted of the unchangeable loyalty of their
order, really meant only that their loyalty would remain
unchangeable till the next change of fortune? It was idle, it was
impudent in them to pretend that their present conduct was
consistent with their former language. If any Reverend Doctor had
at length been convinced that he had been in the wrong, he surely
ought, by an open recantation, to make all the amends now
possible to the persecuted, the calumniated, the murdered
defenders of liberty. If he was still convinced that his old
opinions were sound, he ought manfully to cast in his lot with
the nonjurors. Respect, it was said, is due to him who
ingenuously confesses an error; respect is due to him who
courageously suffers for an error; but it is difficult to respect
a minister of religion who, while asserting that he still adheres
to the principles of the Tories, saves his benefice by taking an
oath which can be honestly taken only on the principles of the

These reproaches, though perhaps not altogether unjust, were
unseasonable. The wiser and more moderate Whigs, sensible that
the throne of William could not stand firm if it had not a wider
basis than their own party, abstained at this conjuncture from
sneers and invectives, and exerted themselves to remove the
scruples and to soothe the irritated feelings of the clergy. The
collective power of the rectors and vicars of England was
immense: and it was much better that they should swear for the
most flimsy reason that could be devised by a sophist than they
should not swear at all.

It soon became clear that the arguments for swearing, backed as
they were by some of the strongest motives which can influence
the human mind, had prevailed. Above twenty-nine thirtieths of
the profession submitted to the law. Most of the divines of the
capital, who then formed a separate class, and who were as much
distinguished from the rural clergy by liberality of sentiment as
by eloquence and learning, gave in their adhesion to the
government early, and with every sign of cordial attachment.
Eighty of them repaired together, in full term, to Westminster
Hall, and were there sworn. The ceremony occupied so long a time
that little else was done that day in the Courts of Chancery and
King's Bench.460 But in general the compliance was tardy, sad and
sullen. Many, no doubt, deliberately sacrificed principle to
interest. Conscience told them that they were committing a sin.
But they had not fortitude to resign the parsonage, the garden,
the glebe, and to go forth without knowing where to find a meal
or a roof for themselves and their little ones. Many swore with
doubts and misgivings.461 Some declared, at the moment of taking
the oath, that they did not mean to promise that they would not
submit to James, if he should ever be in a condition to demand
their allegiance.462 Some clergymen in the north were, on the
first of August, going in a company to swear, when they were met
on the road by the news of the battle which had been fought, four
days before, in the pass of Killiecrankie. They immediately
turned back, and did not again leave their homes on the same
errand till it was clear that Dundee's victory had made no change
in the state of public affairs.463 Even of those whose
understandings were fully convinced that obedience was due to the
existing government, very few kissed the book with the heartiness
with which they had formerly plighted their faith to Charles and
James. Still the thing was done. Ten thousand clergymen had
solemnly called heaven to attest their promise that they would be
true liegemen to William; and this promise, though it by no means
warranted him in expecting that they would strenuously support
him, had at least deprived them of a great part of their power to
injure him. They could not, without entirely forfeiting that
public respect on which their influence depended, attack, except
in an indirect and timidly cautious manner, the throne of one
whom they had, in the presence of God, vowed to obey as their
King. Some of them, it is true, affected to read the prayers for
the new Sovereigns in a peculiar tone which could not be
misunderstood.464 Others were guilty of still grosser indecency.
Thus, one wretch, just after praying for William and Mary in the
most solemn office of religion, took off a glass to their
damnation. Another, after performing divine service on a fast day
appointed by their authority, dined on a pigeon pie, and while he
cut it up, uttered a wish that it was the usurper's heart. But
such audacious wickedness was doubtless rare and was rather
injurious to the Church than to the government.465

Those clergymen and members of the Universities who incurred the
penalties of the law were about four hundred in number. Foremost
in rank stood the Primate and six of his suffragans, Turner of
Ely, Lloyd of Norwich, Frampton of Gloucester, Lake of
Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Ken of Bath and Wells.
Thomas of Worcester would have made a seventh: but he died three
weeks before the day of suspension. On his deathbed he adjured
his clergy to be true to the cause of hereditary right, and
declared that those divines who tried to make out that the oaths
might be taken without any departure from the loyal doctrines of
the Church of England seemed to him to reason more jesuitically
than the Jesuits themselves.466

Ken, who, both in intellectual and in moral qualities, ranked
highest among the nonjuring prelates, hesitated long. There were
few clergymen who could have submitted to the new government with
a better grace. For, in the times when nonresistance and passive
obedience were the favourite themes of his brethren, he had
scarcely ever alluded to politics in the pulpit. He owned that
the arguments in favour of swearing were very strong. He went
indeed so far as to say that his scruples would be completely
removed if he could be convinced that James had entered into
engagements for ceding Ireland to the French King. It is evident
therefore that the difference between Ken and the Whigs was not a
difference of principle. He thought, with them, that
misgovernment, carried to a certain point, justified a transfer
of allegiance, and doubted only whether the misgovernment of
James had been carried quite to that point. Nay, the good Bishop
actually began to prepare a pastoral letter explaining his
reasons for taking the oaths. But, before it was finished, he
received information which convinced him that Ireland had not
been made over to France: doubts came thick upon him: he threw
his unfinished letter into the fire, and implored his less
scrupulous friends not to urge him further. He was sure, he said,
that they had acted uprightly: he was glad that they could do
with a clear conscience what he shrank from doing: he felt the
force of their reasoning: he was all but persuaded; and he was
afraid to listen longer lest he should be quite persuaded: for,
if he should comply, and his misgivings should afterwards return,
he should be the most miserable of men. Not for wealth, not for a
palace, not for a peerage, would he run the smallest risk of ever
feeling the torments of remorse. It is a curious fact that, of
the seven nonjuring prelates, the only one whose name carries
with it much weight was on the point of swearing, and was
prevented from doing so, as he himself acknowledged, not by the
force of reason, but by a morbid scrupulosity which he did not
advise others to imitate.467

Among the priests who refused the oaths were some men eminent in
the learned world, as grammarians, chronologists, canonists, and
antiquaries, and a very few who were distinguished by wit and
eloquence: but scarcely one can be named who was qualified to
discuss any large question of morals or politics, scarcely one
whose writings do not indicate either extreme feebleness or
extreme flightiness of mind. Those who distrust the judgment of a
Whig on this point will probably allow some weight to the opinion
which was expressed, many years after the Revolution, by a
philosopher of whom the Tories are justly proud. Johnson, after
passing in review the celebrated divines who had thought it
sinful to swear allegiance to William the Third and George the
First, pronounced that, in the whole body of nonjurors, there was
one, and one only, who could reason.468

The nonjuror in whose favour Johnson made this exception was
Charles Leslie. Leslie had, before the Revolution, been
Chancellor of the diocese of Connor in Ireland. He had been
forward in opposition to Tyrconnel; had, as a justice of the
peace for Monaghan, refused to acknowledge a papist as Sheriff of
that county; and had been so courageous as to send some officers
of the Irish army to prison for marauding. But the doctrine of
nonresistance, such as it had been taught by Anglican divines in
the days of the Rye House Plot, was immovably fixed in his mind.
When the state of Ulster became such that a Protestant who
remained there could hardly avoid being either a rebel or a
martyr, Leslie fled to London. His abilities and his connections
were such that he might easily have obtained high preferment in
the Church of England. But he took his place in the front rank of
the Jacobite body, and remained there stedfastly, through all the
dangers and vicissitudes of three and thirty troubled years.
Though constantly engaged in theological controversy with Deists,
Jews, Socinians, Presbyterians, Papists, and Quakers, he found
time to be one of the most voluminous political writers of his
age. Of all the nonjuring clergy he was the best qualified to
discuss constitutional questions. For, before he had taken
orders, he had resided long in the Temple, and had been studying
English history and law, while most of the other chiefs of the
schism had been poring over the Acts of Chalcedon, or seeking for
wisdom in the Targurn of Onkelos.469 In 1689, however, Leslie was
almost unknown in England. Among the divines who incurred
suspension on the first of August in that year, the highest in
popular estimation was without dispute Doctor William Sherlock.
Perhaps no simple presbyter of the Church of England has ever
possessed a greater authority over his brethren than belonged to
Sherlock at the time of the Revolution. He was not of the first
rank among his contemporaries as a scholar, as a preacher, as a
writer on theology, or as a writer on politics: but in all the
four characters he had distinguished himself. The perspicuity and
liveliness of his style have been praised by Prior and Addison.
The facility and assiduity with which he wrote are sufficiently
proved by the bulk and the dates of his works. There were indeed
among the clergy men of brighter genius and men of wider
attainments: but during a long period there was none who more
completely represented the order, none who, on all subjects,
spoke more precisely the sense of the Anglican priesthood,
without any taint of Latitudinarianism, of Puritanism, or of
Popery. He had, in the days of the Exclusion Bill, when the power
of the dissenters was very great in Parliament and in the country, written
strongly against the sin
of nonconformity. When the Rye House Plot was detected, he had
zealously defended by tongue and pen the doctrine of
nonresistance. His services to the cause of episcopacy and
monarchy were so highly valued that he was made master of the
Temple. A pension was also bestowed on him by Charles: but that
pension James soon took away; for Sherlock, though he held
himself bound to pay passive obedience to the civil power, held
himself equally bound to combat religious errors, and was the
keenest and most laborious of that host of controversialists who,
in the day of peril, manfully defended the Protestant faith. In
little more than two years he published sixteen treatises, some
of them large books, against the high pretensions of Rome. Not
content with the easy victories which he gained over such feeble
antagonists as those who were quartered at Clerkenwell and the
Savoy, he had the courage to measure his strength with no less a
champion than Bossuet, and came out of the conflict without
discredit. Nevertheless Sherlock still continued to maintain that
no oppression could justify Christians in resisting the kingly
authority. When the Convention was about to meet, he strongly
recommended, in a tract which was considered as the manifesto of
a large part of the clergy, that James should be invited to
return on such conditions as might secure the laws and religion
of the nation.470 The vote which placed William and Mary on the
throne filled Sherlock with sorrow and anger. He is said to have
exclaimed that if the Convention was determined on a revolution,
the clergy would find forty thousand good Churchmen to effect a
restoration.471 Against the new oaths he gave his opinion plainly
and warmly. He declared himself at a loss to understand how any
honest man could doubt that, by the powers that be, Saint Paul
meant legitimate powers and no others. No name was in 1689 cited
by the Jacobites so proudly and fondly as that of Sherlock.
Before the end of 1690 that name excited very different feelings.

A few other nonjurors ought to be particularly noticed. High
among them in rank was George Hickes, Dean of Worcester. Of all
the Englishmen of his time he was the most versed in the old
Teutonic languages; and his knowledge of the early Christian
literature was extensive. As to his capacity for political
discussions, it may be sufficient to say that his favourite
argument for passive obedience was drawn from the story of the
Theban legion. He was the younger brother of that unfortunate
John Hickes who had been found hidden in the malthouse of Alice
Lisle. James had, in spite of all solicitation, put both John
Hickes and Alice Lisle to death. Persons who did not know the
strength of the Dean's principles thought that he might possibly
feel some resentment on this account: for he was of no gentle or
forgiving temper, and could retain during many years a bitter
remembrance of small injuries. But he was strong in his religious
and political faith: he reflected that the sufferers were
dissenters; and he submitted to the will of the Lord's Anointed
not only with patience but with complacency. He became indeed a
more loving subject than ever from the time when his brother was
hanged and his brother's benefactress beheaded. While almost all
other clergymen, appalled by the Declaration of Indulgence and by
the proceedings of the High Commission, were beginning to think
that they had pushed the doctrine of nonresistance a little too
far, he was writing a vindication of his darling legend, and
trying to convince the troops at Hounslow that, if James should
be pleased to massacre them all, as Maximian had massacred the
Theban legion, for refusing to commit idolatry, it would be their
duty to pile their arms, and meekly to receive the crown of
martyrdom. To do Hickes justice, his whole conduct after the
Revolution proved that his servility had sprung neither from fear
nor from cupidity, but from mere bigotry.472

Jeremy Collier, who was turned out of the preachership of the
Rolls, was a man of a much higher order. He is well entitled to
grateful and respectful mention: for to his eloquence and courage
is to be chiefly ascribed the purification of our lighter
literature from that foul taint which had been contracted during
the Antipuritan reaction. He was, in the full force of the words,
a good man. He was also a man of eminent abilities, a great
master of sarcasm, a great master of rhetoric.473 His reading,
too, though undigested, was of immense extent. But his mind was
narrow: his reasoning, even when he was so fortunate as to have a
good cause to defend, was singularly futile and inconclusive; and
his brain was almost turned by pride, not personal, but
professional. In his view, a priest was the highest of human
beings, except a bishop. Reverence and submission were due from
the best and greatest of the laity to the least respectable of
the clergy. However ridiculous a man in holy orders might make
himself, it was impiety to laugh at him. So nervously sensitive
indeed was Collier on this point that he thought it profane to
throw any reflection even on the ministers of false religions. He
laid it down as a rule that Muftis and Augurs ought always to be
mentioned with respect. He blamed Dryden for sneering at the
Hierophants of Apis. He praised Racine for giving dignity to the
character of a priest of Baal. He praised Corneille for not
bringing that learned and reverend divine Tiresias on the stage
in the tragedy of Oedipus. The omission, Collier owned, spoiled
the dramatic effect of the piece: but the holy function was much
too solemn to be played with. Nay, incredible as it may seem, he
thought it improper in the laity to sneer at Presbyterian
preachers. Indeed his Jacobitism was little more than one of the
forms in which his zeal for the dignity of his profession
manifested itself. He abhorred the Revolution less as a rising up
of subjects against their King than as a rising up of the laity
against the sacerdotal caste. The doctrines which had been
proclaimed from the pulpit during thirty years had been treated
with contempt by the Convention. A new government had been set up
in opposition to the wishes of the spiritual peers in the House
of Lords and of the priesthood throughout the country. A secular
assembly had taken upon itself to pass a law requiring
archbishops and bishops, rectors and vicars, to abjure; on pain
of deprivation, what they had been teaching all their lives.
Whatever meaner spirits might do, Collier was determined not to
be led in triumph by the victorious enemies of his order. To the
last he would confront, with the authoritative port of an
ambassador of heaven, the anger of the powers and principalities
of the earth.

In parts Collier was the first man among the nonjurors. In
erudition the first place must be assigned to Henry Dodwell, who,
for the unpardonable crime of having a small estate in Mayo, had
been attainted by the Popish Parliament at Dublin. He was
Camdenian Professor of Ancient History in the University of
Oxford, and had already acquired considerable celebrity by
chronological and geographical researches: but, though he never
could be persuaded to take orders, theology was his favourite
study. He was doubtless a pious and sincere man. He had perused
innumerable volumes in various languages, and had indeed acquired
more learning than his slender faculties were able to bear. The
small intellectual spark which he possessed was put out by the
fuel. Some of his books seem to have been written in a madhouse,
and, though filled with proofs of his immense reading, degrade
him to the level of James Naylor and Ludowick Muggleton. He began
a dissertation intended to prove that the law of nations was a
divine revelation made to the family which was preserved in the
ark. He published a treatise in which he maintained that a
marriage between a member of the Church of England and a
dissenter was a nullity, and that the couple were, in the sight
of heaven, guilty of adultery. He defended the use of
instrumental music in public worship on the ground that the notes
of the organ had a power to counteract the influence of devils on
the spinal marrow of human beings. In his treatise on this
subject, he remarked that there was high authority for the
opinion that the spinal marrow, when decomposed, became a
serpent. Whether this opinion were or were not correct, he
thought it unnecessary to decide. Perhaps, he said, the eminent
men in whose works it was found had meant only to express
figuratively the great truth, that the Old Serpent operates on us
chiefly through the spinal marrow.474 Dodwell's speculations on
the state of human beings after death are, if possible, more
extraordinary still. He tells us that our souls are naturally
mortal. Annihilation is the fate of the greater part of mankind,
of heathens, of Mahometans, of unchristened babes. The gift of
immortality is conveyed in the sacrament of baptism: but to the
efficacy of the sacrament it is absolutely necessary that the
water be poured and the words pronounced by a priest who has been
ordained by a bishop. In the natural course of things, therefore,
all Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers would,
like the inferior animals, cease to exist. But Dodwell was far
too good a churchman to let off dissenters so easily. He informs
them that, as they have had an opportunity of hearing the gospel
preached, and might, but for their own perverseness, have
received episcopalian baptism, God will, by an extraordinary act
of power, bestow immortality on them in order that they may be
tormented for ever and ever.475

No man abhorred the growing latitudinarianism of those times more
than Dodwell. Yet no man had more reason to rejoice in it. For,
in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, a speculator who
had dared to affirm that the human soul is by its nature mortal,
and does, in the great majority of cases, actually die with the
body, would have been burned alive in Smithfield. Even in days
which Dodwell could well remember, such heretics as himself would
have been thought fortunate if they escaped with life, their
backs flayed, their ears clipped, their noses slit, their tongues
bored through with red hot iron, and their eyes knocked out with
brickbats. With the nonjurors, however, the author of this theory
was still the great Mr. Dodwell; and some, who thought it
culpable lenity to tolerate a Presbyterian meeting, thought it at
the same time gross illiberality to blame a learned and pious
Jacobite for denying a doctrine so utterly unimportant in a
religious point of view as that of the immortality of the

Two other nonjurors deserve special mention, less on account of
their abilities and learning, than on account of their rare
integrity, and of their not less rare candour. These were John
Kettlewell, Rector of Coleshill, and John Fitzwilliam, Canon of
Windsor. It is remarkable that both these men had seen much of
Lord Russell, and that both, though differing from him in
political opinions, and strongly disapproving the part which he
had taken in the Whig plot, had thought highly of his character,
and had been sincere mourners for his death. He had sent to
Kettlewell an affectionate message from the scaffold in Lincoln's
Inn Fields. Lady Russell, to her latest day, loved, trusted, and
revered Fitzwilliam, who, when she was a girl, had been the
friend of her father, the virtuous Southampton. The two clergymen
agreed in refusing to swear: but they, from that moment, took
different paths. Kettlewell was one of the most active members of
his party: he declined no drudgery in the common cause, provided
only that it were such drudgery as did not misbecome an honest
man; and he defended his opinions in several tracts, which give a
much higher notion of his sincerity than of his judgment or
acuteness.477 Fitzwilliam thought that he had done enough in
quitting his pleasant dwelling and garden under the shadow of
Saint George's Chapel, and in betaking himself with his books to
a small lodging in an attic. He could not with a safe conscience
acknowledge William and Mary: but he did not conceive that he was
bound to be always stirring up sedition against them; and he
passed the last years of his life, under the powerful protection
of the House of Bedford, in innocent and studious repose.478

Among the less distinguished divines who forfeited their
benefices, were doubtless many good men: but it is certain that
the moral character of the nonjurors, as a class, did not stand
high. It seems hard to impute laxity of principle to persons who
undoubtedly made a great sacrifice to principle. And yet
experience abundantly proves that many who are capable of making
a great sacrifice, when their blood is heated by conflict, and
when the public eye is fixed upon them, are not capable of
persevering long in the daily practice of obscure virtues. It is
by no means improbable that zealots may have given their lives
for a religion which had never effectually restrained their
vindictive or their licentious passions. We learn indeed from
fathers of the highest authority that, even in the purest ages of
the Church, some confessors, who had manfully refused to save
themselves from torments and death by throwing frankincense on
the altar of Jupiter, afterwards brought scandal on the Christian
name by gross fraud and debauchery.479 For the nonjuring divines
great allowance must in fairness be made. They were doubtless in
a most trying situation. In general, a schism, which divides a
religious community, divides the laity as well as the clergy. The
seceding pastors therefore carry with them a large part of their
flocks, and are consequently assured of a maintenance. But the
schism of 1689 scarcely extended beyond the clergy. The law
required the rector to take the oaths, or to quit his living: but
no oath, no acknowledgment of the title of the new King and
Queen, was required from the parishioner as a qualification for
attending divine service, or for receiving the Eucharist. Not one
in fifty, therefore, of those laymen who disapproved of the
Revolution thought himself bound to quit his pew in the old
church, where the old liturgy was still read, and where the old
vestments were still worn, and to follow the ejected priest to a
conventicle, a conventicle, too, which was not protected by the
Toleration Act. Thus the new sect was a sect of preachers without
hearers; and such preachers could not make a livelihood by
preaching. In London, indeed, and in some other large towns,
those vehement Jacobites, whom nothing would satisfy but to hear
King James and the Prince of Wales prayed for by name, were
sufficiently numerous to make up a few small congregations, which
met secretly, and under constant fear of the constables, in rooms
so mean that the meeting houses of the Puritan dissenters might
by comparison be called palaces. Even Collier, who had all the
qualities which attract large audiences, was reduced to be the
minister of a little knot of malecontents, whose oratory was on a
second floor in the city. But the nonjuring clergymen who were
able to obtain even a pittance by officiating at such places were
very few. Of the rest some had independent means: some lived by
literature: one or two practised physic. Thomas Wagstaffe, for
example, who had been Chancellor of Lichfield, had many patients,
and made himself conspicuous by always visiting them in full
canonicals.480 But these were exceptions. Industrious poverty is
a state by no means unfavourable to virtue: but it is dangerous
to be at once poor and idle; and most of the clergymen who had
refused to swear found themselves thrown on the world with
nothing to eat and with nothing to do. They naturally became
beggars and loungers. Considering themselves as martyrs suffering
in a public cause, they were not ashamed to ask any good
churchman for a guinea. Most of them passed their lives in
running about from one Tory coffeehouse to another, abusing the
Dutch, hearing and spreading reports that within a month His
Majesty would certainly be on English ground, and wondering who
would have Salisbury when Burnet was hanged. During the session
of Parliament the lobbies and the Court of Requests were crowded
with deprived parsons, asking who was up, and what the numbers
were on the last division. Many of the ejected divines became
domesticated, as chaplains, tutors and spiritual directors, in
the houses of opulent Jacobites. In a situation of this kind, a
man of pure and exalted character, such a man as Ken was among
the nonjurors, and Watts among the nonconformists, may preserve
his dignity, and may much more than repay by his example and his
instructions the benefits which he receives. But to a person
whose virtue is not high toned this way of life is full of peril.
If he is of a quiet disposition, he is in danger of sinking into
a servile, sensual, drowsy parasite. If he is of an active and
aspiring nature, it may be feared that he will become expert in
those bad arts by which, more easily than by faithful service,
retainers make themselves agreeable or formidable. To discover
the weak side of every character, to flatter every passion and
prejudice, to sow discord and jealousy where love and confidence
ought to exist, to watch the moment of indiscreet openness for
the purpose of extracting secrets important to the prosperity and
honour of families, such are the practices by which keen and
restless spirits have too often avenged themselves for the
humiliation of dependence. The public voice loudly accused many
nonjurors of requiting the hospitality of their benefactors with
villany as black as that of the hypocrite depicted in the
masterpiece of Moliere. Indeed, when Cibber undertook to adapt
that noble comedy to the English stage, he made his Tartuffe a
nonjuror: and Johnson, who cannot be supposed to have been
prejudiced against the nonjurors, frankly owned that Cibber had
done them no wrong.481

There can be no doubt that the schism caused by the oaths would
have been far more formidable, if, at this crisis, any extensive
change had been made in the government or in the ceremonial of
the Established Church. It is a highly instructive fact that
those enlightened and tolerant divines who most ardently desired
such a change afterwards saw reason to be thankful that their
favourite project had failed.

Whigs and Tories had in the late Session combined to get rid of
Nottingham's Comprehension Bill by voting an address which
requested the King to refer the whole subject to the Convocation.
Burnet foresaw the effect of this vote. The whole scheme, he
said, was utterly ruined.482 Many of his friends, however,
thought differently; and among these was Tillotson. Of all the
members of the Low Church party Tillotson stood highest in
general estimation. As a preacher, he was thought by his
contemporaries to have surpassed all rivals living or dead.
Posterity has reversed this judgment. Yet Tillotson still keeps
his place as a legitimate English classic. His highest flights
were indeed far below those of Taylor, of Barrow, and of South;
but his oratory was more correct and equable than theirs. No
quaint conceits, no pedantic quotations from Talmudists and
scholiasts, no mean images, buffoon stories, scurrilous
invectives, ever marred the effect of his grave and temperate
discourses. His reasoning was just sufficiently profound and
sufficiently refined to be followed by a popular audience with
that slight degree of intellectual exertion which is a pleasure.
His style is not brilliant; but it is pure, transparently clear,
and equally free from the levity and from the stiffness which

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