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

Part 8 out of 13

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disfigure the sermons of some eminent divines of the seventeenth
century. He is always serious: yet there is about his manner a
certain graceful ease which marks him as a man who knows the
world, who has lived in populous cities and in splendid courts,
and who has conversed, not only with books, but with lawyers and
merchants, wits and beauties, statesmen and princes. The greatest
charm of his compositions, however, is deriven from the benignity
and candour which appear in every line, and which shone forth not
less conspicuously in his life than in his writings.

As a theologian, Tillotson was certainly not less latitudinarian
than Burnet. Yet many of those clergymen to whom Burnet was an
object of implacable aversion spoke of Tillotson with tenderness
and respect. It is therefore not strange that the two friends
should have formed different estimates of the temper of the
priesthood, and should have expected different results from the
meeting of the Convocation. Tillotson was not displeased with the
vote of the Commons. He conceived that changes made in religious
institutions by mere secular authority might disgust many
churchmen, who would yet be perfectly willing to vote, in an
ecclesiastical synod, for changes more extensive still; and his
opinion had great weight with the King.483 It was resolved that
the Convocation should meet at the beginning of the next session
of Parliament, and that in the meantime a commission should issue
empowering some eminent divines to examine the Liturgy, the
canons, and the whole system of jurisprudence administered by the
Courts Christian, and to report on the alterations which it might
be desirable to make.484

Most of the Bishops who had taken the oaths were in this
commission; and with them were joined twenty priests of great
note. Of the twenty Tillotson was the most important: for he was
known to speak the sense both of the King and of the Queen. Among
those Commissioners who looked up to Tillotson as their chief
were Stillingfleet, Dean of Saint Paul's, Sharp, Dean of Norwich,
Patrick, Dean of Peterborough, Tenison, Rector of Saint Martin's,
and Fowler, to whose judicious firmness was chiefly to be
ascribed the determination of the London clergy not to read the
Declaration of Indulgence.

With such men as those who have been named were mingled some
divines who belonged to the High Church party. Conspicuous among
these were two of the rulers of Oxford, Aldrich and Jane. Aldrich
had recently been appointed Dean of Christchurch, in the room of
the Papist Massey, whom James had, in direct violation of the
laws, placed at the head of that great college. The new Dean was
a polite, though not a profound, scholar, and a jovial,
hospitable gentleman. He was the author of some theological
tracts which have long been forgotten, and of a compendium of
logic which is still used: but the best works which he has
bequeathed to posterity are his catches. Jane, the King's
Professor of Divinity, was a graver but a less estimable man. He
had borne the chief part in framing that decree by which his
University ordered the works of Milton and Buchanan to be
publicly burned in the Schools. A few years later, irritated and
alarmed by the persecution of the Bishops and by the confiscation
of the revenues of Magdalene College, he had renounced the
doctrine of nonresistance, had repaired to the headquarters of
the Prince of Orange, and had assured His Highness that Oxford
would willingly coin her plate for the support of the war against
her oppressor. During a short time Jane was generally considered
as a Whig, and was sharply lampooned by some of his old allies.
He was so unfortunate as to have a name which was an excellent
mark for the learned punsters of his university. Several epigrams
were written on the doublefaced Janus, who, having got a
professorship by looking one way, now hoped to get a bishopric by
looking another. That he hoped to get a bishopric was perfectly
true. He demanded the see of Exeter as a reward due to his
services. He was refused. The refusal convinced him that the
Church had as much to apprehend from Latitudinarianism as from
Popery; and he speedily became a Tory again.485

Early in October the Commissioners assembled in the Jerusalem
Chamber. At their first meeting they determined to propose that,
in the public services of the Church, lessons taken from the
canonical books of Scripture should be substituted for the
lessons taken from the Apocrypha.486 At the second meeting a
strange question was raised by the very last person who ought to
have raised it. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, had, without any
scruple, sate, during two years, in the unconstitutional tribunal
which had, in the late reign, oppressed and pillaged the Church
of which he was a ruler. But he had now become scrupulous, and
expressed a doubt whether the commission were legal. To a plain
understanding his objections seem to be mere quibbles. The
commission gave power neither to make laws nor to administer
laws, but simply to inquire and to report. Even without a royal
commission Tillotson, Patrick, and Stillingfleet might, with
perfect propriety, have met to discuss the state and prospects of
the Church, and to consider whether it would or would not be
desirable to make some concession to the dissenters. And how
could it be a crime for subjects to do at the request of their
Sovereign that which it would have been innocent and laudable for
them to do without any such request? Sprat however was seconded
by Jane. There was a sharp altercation; and Lloyd, Bishop of
Saint Asaph, who, with many good qualities, had an irritable
temper, was provoked into saying something about spies. Sprat
withdrew and came no more. His example was soon followed by Jane
and Aldrich.487 The commissioners proceeded to take into
consideration the question of the posture at the Eucharist. It
was determined to recommend that a communicant, who, after
conference with his minister, should declare that he could not
conscientiously receive the bread and wine kneeling, might
receive them sitting. Mew, Bishop of Winchester, an honest man,
but illiterate, weak even in his best days, and now fast sinking
into dotage, protested against this concession, and withdrew from
the assembly. The other members continued to apply themselves
vigorously to their task: and no more secessions took place,
though there were great differences of opinion, and though the
debates were sometimes warm. The highest churchmen who still
remained were Doctor William Beveridge, Archdeacon of Colchester,
who many years later became Bishop of Saint Asaph, and Doctor
John Scott, the same who had prayed by the deathbed of Jeffreys.
The most active among the Latitudinarians appear to have been
Burnet, Fowler, and Tenison.

The baptismal service was repeatedly discussed. As to matter of
form the Commissioners were disposed to be indulgent. They were
generally willing to admit infants into the Church without
sponsors and without the sign of the cross. But the majority,
after much debate, steadily refused to soften down or explain
away those words which, to all minds not sophisticated, appear to
assert the regenerating virtue of the sacrament.488

As to the surplice, the Commissioners determined to recommend
that a large discretion should be left to the Bishops. Expedients
were devised by which a person who had received Presbyterian
ordination might, without admitting, either expressly or by
implication, the invalidity of that ordination, become a minister
of the Church of England.489

The ecclesiastical calendar was carefully revised. The great
festivals were retained. But it was not thought desirable that
Saint Valentine, Saint Chad, Saint Swithin, Saint Edward King of
the West Saxons, Saint Dunstan, and Saint Alphage, should share
the honours of Saint John and Saint Paul; or that the Church
should appear to class the ridiculous fable of the discovery of
the cross with facts so awfully important as the Nativity, the
Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of her Lord.490

The Athanasian Creed caused much perplexity. Most of the
Commissioners were equally unwilling to give up the doctrinal
clauses and to retain the damnatory clauses. Burnet, Fowler, and
Tillotson were desirous to strike this famous symbol out of the
liturgy altogether. Burnet brought forward one argument, which to
himself probably did not appear to have much weight, but which
was admirably calculated to perplex his opponents, Beveridge and
Scott. The Council of Ephesus had always been reverenced by
Anglican divines as a synod which had truly represented the whole
body of the faithful, and which had been divinely guided in the
way of truth. The voice of that Council was the voice of the Holy
Catholic and Apostolic Church, not yet corrupted by superstition,
or rent asunder by schism. During more than twelve centuries the
world had not seen an ecclesiastical assembly which had an equal
claim to the respect of believers. The Council of Ephesus had, in
the plainest terms, and under the most terrible penalties,
forbidden Christians to frame or to impose on their brethren any
creed other than the creed settled by the Nicene Fathers. It
should seem therefore that, if the Council of Ephesus was really
under the direction of the Holy Spirit, whoever uses the
Athanasian Creed must, in the very act of uttering an anathema
against his neighbours, bring down an anathema on his own
head.491 In spite of the authority of the Ephesian Fathers, the
majority of the Commissioners determined to leave the Athanasian
Creed in the Prayer Book; but they proposed to add a rubric drawn
up by Stillingfleet, which declared that the damnatory clauses
were to be understood to apply only to such as obstinately denied
the substance of the Christian Faith. Orthodox believers were
therefore permitted to hope that the heretic who had honestly and
humbly sought for truth would not be everlastingly punished for
having failed to find it.492

Tenison was intrusted with the business of examining the Liturgy
and of collecting all those expressions to which objections had
been made, either by theological or by literary critics. It was
determined to remove some obvious blemishes. And it would have
been wise in the Commissioners to stop here. Unfortunately they
determined to rewrite a great part of the Prayer Book. It was a
bold undertaking; for in general the style of that volume is such
as cannot be improved. The English Liturgy indeed gains by being
compared even with those fine ancient Liturgies from which it is
to a great extent taken. The essential qualities of devotional
eloquence, conciseness, majestic simplicity, pathetic earnestness
of supplication, sobered by a profound reverence, are common
between the translations and the originals. But in the
subordinate graces of diction the originals must be allowed to be
far inferior to the translations. And the reason is obvious. The
technical phraseology of Christianity did not become a part of
the Latin language till that language had passed the age of
maturity and was sinking into barbarism. But the technical
phraseology of Christianity was found in the Anglosaxon and in the
Norman French, long before the union of those two dialects had,
produced a third dialect superior to either. The Latin of the
Roman Catholic services, therefore, is Latin in the last stage of
decay. The English of our services is English in all the vigour
and suppleness of early youth. To the great Latin writers, to
Terence and Lucretius, to Cicero and Caesar, to Tacitus and
Quintilian, the noblest compositions of Ambrose and Gregory would
have seemed to be, not merely bad writing, but senseless
gibberish.493 The diction of our Book of Common Prayer, on the
other hand, has directly or indirectly contributed to form the
diction of almost every great English writer, and has extorted
the admiration of the most accomplished infidels and of the most
accomplished nonconformists, of such men as David Hume and Robert

The style of the Liturgy, however, did not satisfy the Doctors of
the Jerusalem Chamber. They voted the Collects too short and too
dry: and Patrick was intrusted with the duty of expanding and
ornamenting them. In one respect, at least, the choice seems to
have been unexceptionable; for, if we judge by the way in which
Patrick paraphrased the most sublime Hebrew poetry, we shall
probably be of opinion that, whether he was or was not qualified
to make the collects better, no man that ever lived was more
competent to make them longer.494

It mattered little, however, whether the recommendations of the
Commission were good or bad. They were all doomed before they
were known. The writs summoning the Convocation of the province
of Canterbury had been issued; and the clergy were every where in
a state of violent excitement. They had just taken the oaths, and
were smarting from the earnest reproofs of nonjurors, from the
insolent taunts of Whigs, and often undoubtedly from the stings
of remorse. The announcement that a Convocation was to sit for
the purpose of deliberating on a plan of comprehension roused
all the strongest passions of the priest who had just complied
with the law, and was ill satisfied or half satisfied with
himself for complying. He had an opportunity of contributing to
defeat a favourite scheme of that government which had exacted
from him, under severe penalties, a submission not easily to be
reconciled to his conscience or his pride. He had an opportunity
of signalising his zeal for that Church whose characteristic
doctrines he had been accused of deserting for lucre. She was
now, he conceived, threatened by a danger as great as that of the
preceding year. The Latitudinarians of 1689 were not less eager
to humble and to ruin her than the Jesuits of 1688. The
Toleration Act had done for the Dissenters quite as much as was
compatible with her dignity and security; and nothing more ought
to be conceded, not the hem of one of her vestments, not an
epithet from the beginning to the end of her Liturgy. All the
reproaches which had been thrown on the ecclesiastical commission
of James were transferred to the ecclesiastical commission of
William. The two commissions indeed had nothing but the name in
common. Put the name was associated with illegality and
oppression, with the violation of dwellings and the confiscation
of freeholds, and was therefore assiduously sounded with no
small effect by the tongues of the spiteful in the ears of the

The King too, it was said, was not sound. He conformed indeed to
the established worship; but his was a local and occasional
conformity. For some ceremonies to which High Churchmen were
attached he had a distaste which he was at no pains to conceal.
One of his first acts had been to give orders that in his private
chapel the service should be said instead of being sung; and this
arrangement, though warranted by the rubric, caused much
murmuring.495 It was known that he was so profane as to sneer at
a practice which had been sanctioned by high ecclesiastical
authority, the practice of touching for the scrofula. This
ceremony had come down almost unaltered from the darkest of the
dark ages to the time of Newton and Locke. The Stuarts frequently
dispensed the healing influences in the Banqueting House. The
days on which this miracle was to be wrought were fixed at
sittings of the Privy Council, and were solemnly notified by the
clergy in all the parish churches of the realm.496 When the
appointed time came, several divines in full canonicals stood
round the canopy of state. The surgeon of the royal household
introduced the sick. A passage from the sixteenth chapter of the
Gospel of Saint Mark was read. When the words, "They shall lay
their hands on the sick, and they shall recover," had been
pronounced, there was a pause, and one of the sick was brought up
to the King. His Majesty stroked the ulcers and swellings, and
hung round the patient's neck a white riband to which was
fastened a gold coin. The other sufferers were then led up in
succession; and, as each was touched, the chaplain repeated the
incantation, "they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they
shall recover." Then came the epistle, prayers, antiphonies and a
benediction. The service may still be found in the prayer books
of the reign of Anne. Indeed it was not till some time after the
accession of George the First that the University of Oxford
ceased to reprint the Office of Healing together with the
Liturgy. Theologians of eminent learning, ability, and virtue
gave the sanction of their authority to this mummery;497 and,
what is stranger still, medical men of high note believed, or
affected to believe, in the balsamic virtues of the royal hand.
We must suppose that every surgeon who attended Charles the
Second was a man of high repute for skill; and more than one of
the surgeons who attended Charles the Second has left us a solemn
profession of faith in the King's miraculous power. One of them
is not ashamed to tell us that the gift was communicated by the
unction administered at the coronation; that the cures were so
numerous and sometimes so rapid that they could not be attributed
to any natural cause; that the failures were to be ascribed to
want of faith on the part of the patients; that Charles once
handled a scrofulous Quaker and made him a healthy man and a
sound Churchman in a moment; that, if those who had been healed
lost or sold the piece of gold which had been hung round their
necks, the ulcers broke forth again, and could be removed only by
a second touch and a second talisman. We cannot wonder that, when
men of science gravely repeated such nonsense, the vulgar should
believe it. Still less can we wonder that wretches tortured by a
disease over which natural remedies had no power should eagerly
drink in tales of preternatural cures: for nothing is so
credulous as misery. The crowds which repaired to the palace on
the days of healing were immense. Charles the Second, in the
course of his reign, touched near a hundred thousand persons. The
number seems to have increased or diminished as the king's
popularity rose or fell. During that Tory reaction which followed
the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament, the press to get near
him was terrific. In 1682, he performed the rite eight thousand
five hundred times. In 1684, the throng was such that six or
seven of the sick were trampled to death. James, in one of his
progresses, touched eight hundred persons in the choir of the
Cathedral of Chester. The expense of the ceremony was little less
than ten thousand pounds a year, and would have been much greater
but for the vigilance of the royal surgeons, whose business it
was to examine the applicants, and to distinguish those who came
for the cure from those who came for the gold.498

William had too much sense to be duped, and too much honesty to
bear a part in what he knew to be an imposture. "It is a silly
superstition," he exclaimed, when he heard that, at the close of
Lent, his palace was besieged by a crowd of the sick: "Give the
poor creatures some money, and send them away."499 On one single
occasion he was importuned into laying his hand on a patient.
"God give you better health," he said, "and more sense." The
parents of scrofulous children cried out against his cruelty:
bigots lifted up their hands and eyes in horror at his impiety:
Jacobites sarcastically praised him for not presuming to arrogate
to himself a power which belonged only to legitimate sovereigns;
and even some Whigs thought that he acted unwisely in treating
with such marked contempt a superstition which had a strong hold
on the vulgar mind: but William was not to be moved, and was
accordingly set down by many High Churchmen as either an infidel
or a puritan.500

The chief cause, however, which at this time made even the most
moderate plan of comprehension hateful to the priesthood still
remains to be mentioned. What Burnet had foreseen and foretold
had come to pass. There was throughout the clerical profession a
strong disposition to retaliate on the Presbyterians of England
the wrongs of the Episcopalians of Scotland. It could not be
denied that even the highest churchmen had, in the summer of
1688, generally declared themselves willing to give up many
things for the sake of union. But it was said, and not without
plausibility, that what was passing on the other side of the
Border proved union on any reasonable terms to be impossible.
With what face, it was asked, can those who will make no
concession to us where we are weak, blame us for refusing to make
any concession to them where we are strong? We cannot judge
correctly of the principles and feelings of a sect from the
professions which it makes in a time of feebleness and suffering.
If we would know what the Puritan spirit really is, we must
observe the Puritan when he is dominant. He was dominant here in
the last generation; and his little finger was thicker than the
loins of the prelates. He drove hundreds of quiet students from
their cloisters, and thousands of respectable divines from their
parsonages, for the crime of refusing to sign his Covenant. No
tenderness was shown to learning, to genius or to sanctity. Such
men as Hall and Sanderson, Chillingworth and Hammond, were not
only plundered, but flung into prisons, and exposed to all the
rudeness of brutal gaolers. It was made a crime to read fine
psalms and prayers bequeathed to the faithful by Ambrose and
Chrysostom. At length the nation became weary of the reign of the
saints. The fallen dynasty and the fallen hierarchy were
restored. The Puritan was in his turn subjected to disabilities
and penalties; and he immediately found out that it was barbarous
to punish men for entertaining conscientious scruples about a
garb, about a ceremony, about the functions of ecclesiastical
officers. His piteous complaints and his arguments in favour of
toleration had at length imposed on many well meaning persons.
Even zealous churchmen had begun to entertain a hope that the
severe discipline which he had undergone had made him candid,
moderate, charitable. Had this been really so, it would doubtless
have been our duty to treat his scruples with extreme tenderness.
But, while we were considering what we could do to meet his
wishes in England, he had obtained ascendency in Scotland; and,
in an instant, he was all himself again, bigoted, insolent, and
cruel. Manses had been sacked; churches shut up; prayer books
burned; sacred garments torn; congregations dispersed by
violence; priests hustled, pelted, pilloried, driven forth, with
their wives and babes, to beg or die of hunger. That these
outrages were to be imputed, not to a few lawless marauders, but
to the great body of the Presbyterians of Scotland, was evident
from the fact that the government had not dared either to inflict
punishment on the offenders or to grant relief to the sufferers.
Was it not fit then that the Church of England should take
warning? Was it reasonable to ask her to mutilate her apostolical
polity and her beautiful ritual for the purpose of conciliating
those who wanted nothing but power to rabble her as they had
rabbled her sister? Already these men had obtained a boon which
they ill deserved, and which they never would have granted. They
worshipped God in perfect security. Their meeting houses were as
effectually protected as the choirs of our cathedrals. While no
episcopal minister could, without putting his life in jeopardy,
officiate in Ayrshire or Renfrewshire, a hundred Presbyterian
ministers preached unmolested every Sunday in Middlesex. The
legislature had, with a generosity perhaps imprudent, granted
toleration to the most intolerant of men; and with toleration it
behoved them to be content.

Thus several causes conspired to inflame the parochial clergy
against the scheme of comprehension. Their temper was such that,
if the plan framed in the Jerusalem Chamber had been directly
submitted to them, it would have been rejected by a majority of
twenty to one. But in the Convocation their weight bore no
proportion to their number. The Convocation has, happily for our
country, been so long utterly insignificant that, till a recent
period, none but curious students cared to inquire how it was
constituted; and even now many persons, not generally ill
informed, imagine it to have been a council representing the
Church of England. In truth the Convocation so often mentioned in
our ecclesiastical history is merely the synod of the Province of
Canterbury, and never had a right to speak in the name of the
whole clerical body. The Province of York had also its
convocation: but, till the eighteenth century was far advanced,
the Province of York was generally so poor, so rude, and so
thinly peopled, that, in political importance, it could hardly be
considered as more than a tenth part of the kingdom. The sense of
the Southern clergy was therefore popularly considered as the
sense of the whole profession. When the formal concurrence of the
Northern clergy was required, it seems to have been given as a
matter of course. Indeed the canons passed by the Convocation of
Canterbury in 1604 were ratified by James the First, and were
ordered to be strictly observed in every part of the kingdom, two
years before the Convocation of York went through the form of
approving them. Since these ecclesiastical councils became mere
names, a great change has taken place in the relative position of
the two Archbishoprics. In all the elements of power, the region
beyond Trent is now at least a third part of England. When in our
own time the representative system was adjusted to the altered
state of the country, almost all the small boroughs which it was
necessary to disfranchise were in the south. Two thirds of the
new members given to great provincial towns were given to the
north. If therefore any English government should suffer the
Convocations, as now constituted, to meet for the despatch of
business, two independent synods would be legislating at the same
time for one Church. It is by no means impossible that one
assembly might adopt canons which the other might reject, that
one assembly might condemn as heretical propositions which the
other might hold to be orthodox.501 In the seventeenth century no
such danger was apprehended. So little indeed was the Convocation
of York then considered, that the two Houses of Parliament had,
in their address to William, spoken only of one Convocation,
which they called the Convocation of the Clergy of the Kingdom.

The body which they thus not very accurately designated is
divided into two Houses. The Upper House is composed of the
Bishops of the Province of Canterbury. The Lower House consisted,
in 1689, of a hundred and forty-four members. Twenty-two Deans
and fifty-four Archdeacons sate there in virtue of their offices.
Twenty-four divines sate as proctors for twenty-four chapters.
Only forty-four proctors were elected by the eight thousand
parish priests of the twenty-two dioceses. These forty-four
proctors, however, were almost all of one mind. The elections had
in former times been conducted in the most quiet and decorous
manner. But on this occasion the canvassing was eager: the
contests were sharp: Rochester, the leader of the party which in
the House of Lords had opposed the Comprehension-Bill, and his
brother Clarendon, who had refused to take the oaths, had gone to
Oxford, the head quarters of that party, for the purpose of
animating and organizing the opposition.502 The representatives
of the parochial clergy must have been men whose chief
distinction was their zeal: for in the whole list can be found
not a single illustrious name, and very few names which are now
known even to curious students.503 The official members of the
Lower House, among whom were many distinguished scholars and
preachers, seem to have been not very unequally divided.

During the summer of 1689 several high ecclesiastical dignities
became vacant, and were bestowed on divines who were sitting in
the Jerusalem Chamber. It has already been mentioned that Thomas,
Bishop of Worcester, died just before the day fixed for taking
the oaths. Lake, Bishop of Chichester, lived just long enough to
refuse them, and with his last breath declared that he would
maintain even at the stake the doctrine of indefeasible
hereditary right. The see of Chichester was filled by Patrick,
that of Worcester by Stillingfleet; and the deanery of Saint
Paul's which Stillingfleet quitted was given to Tillotson. That
Tillotson was not raised to the episcopal bench excited some
surprise. But in truth it was because the government held his
services in the highest estimation that he was suffered to remain
a little longer a simple presbyter. The most important office in
the Convocation was that of Prolocutor of the Lower House. The
Prolocutor was to be chosen by the members: and the only moderate
man who had a chance of being chosen was Tillotson. It had in
fact been already determined that he should be the next
Archbishop of Canterbury. When he went to kiss hands for his new
deanery he warmly thanked the King. "Your Majesty has now set me
at ease for the remainder of my life." "No such thing, Doctor, I
assure you," said William. He then plainly intimated that,
whenever Sancroft should cease to fill the highest ecclesiastical
station, Tillotson would succeed to it. Tillotson stood aghast;
for his nature was quiet and unambitious: he was beginning to
feel the infirmities of old age: he cared little for money: of
worldly advantages those which he most valued were an honest fame
and the general good will of mankind: those advantages he already
possessed; and he could not but be aware that, if he became
primate, he should incur the bitterest hatred of a powerful
party, and should become a mark for obloquy, from which his
gentle and sensitive nature shrank as from the rack or the wheel.
William was earnest and resolute. "It is necessary," he said,
"for my service; and I must lay on your conscience the
responsibility of refusing me your help." Here the conversation
ended. It was, indeed, not necessary that the point should be
immediately decided; for several months were still to elapse
before the Archbishopric would be vacant.

Tillotson bemoaned himself with unfeigned anxiety and sorrow to
Lady Russell, whom, of all human beings, he most honoured and
trusted.504 He hoped, he said, that he was not inclined to shrink
from the service of the Church; but he was convinced that his
present line of service was that in which he could be most
useful. If he should be forced to accept so high and so invidious
a post as the primacy, he should soon sink under the load of
duties and anxieties too heavy for his strength. His spirits, and
with his spirits his abilities, would fail him. He gently
complained of Burnet, who loved and admired him with a truly
generous heartiness, and who had laboured to persuade both the
King and Queen that there was in England only one man fit for the
highest ecclesiastical dignity. "The Bishop of Salisbury," said
Tillotson, "is one of the best and worst friends that I know."

Nothing that was not a secret to Burnet was likely to be long a
secret to any body. It soon began to be whispered about that the
King had fixed on Tillotson to fill the place of Sancroft. The
news caused cruel mortification to Compton, who, not unnaturally,
conceived that his own claims were unrivalled. He had educated
the Queen and her sister; and to the instruction which they had
received from him might fairly be ascribed, at least in part, the
firmness with which, in spite of the influence of their father,
they had adhered to the established religion. Compton was,
moreover, the only prelate who, during the late reign, had raised
his voice in Parliament against the dispensing power, the only
prelate who had been suspended by the High Commission, the only
prelate who had signed the invitation to the Prince of Orange,
the only prelate who had actually taken arms against Popery and
arbitrary power, the only prelate, save one, who had voted
against a Regency. Among the ecclesiastics of the Province of
Canterbury who had taken the oaths, he was highest in rank. He
had therefore held, during some months, a vicarious primacy: he
had crowned the new Sovereigns: he had consecrated the new
Bishops: he was about to preside in the Convocation. It may be
added, that he was the son of an Earl; and that no person of
equally high birth then sate, or had ever sate, since the
Reformation, on the episcopal bench. That the government should
put over his head a priest of his own diocese, who was the son of
a Yorkshire clothier, and who was distinguished only by abilities
and virtues, was provoking; and Compton, though by no means a
badhearted man, was much provoked. Perhaps his vexation was
increased by the reflection that he had, for the sake of those by
whom he was thus slighted, done some things which had strained
his conscience and sullied his reputation, that he had at one
time practised the disingenuous arts of a diplomatist, and at
another time given scandal to his brethren by wearing the buff
coat and jackboots of a trooper. He could not accuse Tillotson of
inordinate ambition. But, though Tillotson was most unwilling to
accept the Archbishopric himself, he did not use his influence in
favour of Compton, but earnestly recommended Stillingfleet as the
man fittest to preside over the Church of England. The
consequence was that, on the eve of the meeting of Convocation,
the Bishop who was to be at the head of the Upper House became
the personal enemy of the presbyter whom the government wished
to see at the head of the Lower House. This quarrel added new
difficulties to difficulties which little needed any addition.505

It was not till the twentieth of November that the Convocation
met for the despatch of business. The place of meeting had
generally been Saint Paul's Cathedral. But Saint Paul's Cathedral
was slowly rising from its ruins; and, though the dome already
towered high above the hundred steeples of the City, the choir
had not yet been opened for public worship. The assembly
therefore sate at Westminster.506 A table was placed in the
beautiful chapel of Henry the Seventh. Compton was in the chair.
On his right and left those suffragans of Canterbury who had
taken the oaths were ranged in gorgeous vestments of scarlet and
miniver. Below the table was assembled the crowd of presbyters.
Beveridge preached a Latin sermon, in which he warmly eulogized
the existing system, and yet declared himself favourable to a
moderate reform. Ecclesiastical laws were, he said, of two kinds.
Some laws were fundamental and eternal: they derived their
authority from God; nor could any religious community repeal them
without ceasing to form a part of the universal Church. Other
laws were local and temporary. They had been framed by human
wisdom, and might be altered by human wisdom. They ought not
indeed to be altered without grave reasons. But surely, at that
moment, such reasons were not wanting. To unite a scattered flock
in one fold under one shepherd, to remove stumbling blocks from
the path of the weak, to reconcile hearts long estranged, to
restore spiritual discipline to its primitive vigour, to place
the best and purest of Christian societies on a base broad enough
to stand against all the attacks of earth and hell, these were
objects which might well justify some modification, not of
Catholic institutions, but of national or provincial usages.507

The Lower House, having heard this discourse, proceeded to
appoint a Prolocutor. Sharp, who was probably put forward by the
members favourable to a comprehension as one of the highest
churchmen among them, proposed Tillotson. Jane, who had refused
to act under the Royal Commission, was proposed on the other
side. After some animated discussion, Jane was elected by fifty-
five votes to twenty-eight.508

The Prolocutor was formally presented to the Bishop of London,
and made, according to ancient usage, a Latin oration. In this
oration the Anglican Church was extolled as the most perfect of
all institutions. There was a very intelligible intimation that
no change whatever in her doctrine, her discipline, or her ritual
was required; and the discourse concluded with a most significant
sentence. Compton, when a few months before he exhibited himself
in the somewhat unclerical character of a colonel of horse, had
ordered the colours of his regiment to be embroidered with the
well known words "Nolumus leges Angliae mutari"; and with these
words Jane closed his peroration.509

Still the Low Churchmen did not relinquish all hope. They very
wisely determined to begin by proposing to substitute lessons
taken from the canonical books for the lessons taken from the
Apocrypha. It should seem that this was a suggestion which, even
if there had not been a single dissenter in the kingdom, might
well have been received with favour. For the Church had, in her
sixth Article, declared that the canonical books were, and that
the Apocryphal books were not, entitled to be called Holy
Scriptures, and to be regarded as the rule of faith. Even this
reform, however, the High Churchmen were determined to oppose.
They asked, in pamphlets which covered the counters of
Paternoster Row and Little Britain, why country congregations
should be deprived of the pleasure of hearing about the ball of
pitch with which Daniel choked the dragon, and about the fish
whose liver gave forth such a fume as sent the devil flying from
Ecbatana to Egypt. And were there not chapters of the Wisdom of
the Son of Sirach far more interesting and edifying than the
genealogies and muster rolls which made up a large part of the
Chronicles of the Jewish Kings and of the narrative of Nehemiah?
No grave divine however would have liked to maintain, in Henry
the Seventh's Chapel, that it was impossible to find, in many
hundreds of pages dictated by the Holy Spirit, fifty or sixty
chapters more edifying than any thing which could be extracted
from the works of the most respectable uninspired moralist or
historian. The leaders of the majority therefore determined to
shun a debate in which they must have been reduced to a
disagreeable dilemma. Their plan was, not to reject the
recommendations of the Commissioners, but to prevent those
recommendations from being discussed; and with this view a system
of tactics was adopted which proved successful.

The law, as it had been interpreted during a long course of
years, prohibited the Convocation from even deliberating on any
ecclesiastical ordinance without a previous warrant from the
Crown. Such a warrant, sealed with the great seal, was brought in
form to Henry the Seventh's Chapel by Nottingham. He at the same
time delivered a message from the King. His Majesty exhorted the
assembly to consider calmly and without prejudice the
recommendations of the Commission, and declared that he had
nothing in view but the honour and advantage of the Protestant
religion in general, and of the Church of England in

The Bishops speedily agreed on an address of thanks for the royal
message, and requested the concurrence of the Lower House. Jane
and his adherents raised objection after objection. First they
claimed the privilege of presenting a separate address. When they
were forced to waive this claim, they refused to agree to any
expression which imported that the Church of England had any
fellowship with any other Protestant community. Amendments and
reasons were sent backward and forward. Conferences were held at
which Burnet on one side and Jane on the other were the chief
speakers. At last, with great difficulty, a compromise was made;
and an address, cold and ungracious compared with that which the
Bishops had framed, was presented to the King in the Banqueting
House. He dissembled his vexation, returned a kind answer, and
intimated a hope that the assembly would now at length proceed to
consider the great question of Comprehension.511

Such however was not the intention of the leaders of the Lower
House. As soon as they were again in Henry the Seventh's Chapel,
one of them raised a debate about the nonjuring bishops. In spite
of the unfortunate scruple which those prelates entertained, they
were learned and holy men. Their advice might, at this
conjuncture, be of the greatest service to the Church. The Upper
House was hardly an Upper House in the absence of the Primate and
of many of his most respectable suffragans. Could nothing be done
to remedy this evil?512 Another member complained of some
pamphlets which had lately appeared, and in which the Convocation
was not treated with proper deference. The assembly took fire.
Was it not monstrous that this heretical and schismatical trash
should be cried by the hawkers about the streets, and should be
exposed to sale in the booths of Westminster Hall, within a
hundred yards of the Prolocutor's chair? The work of mutilating
the Liturgy and of turning cathedrals into conventicles might
surely be postponed till the Synod had taken measures to protect
its own freedom and dignity. It was then debated how the printing
of such scandalous books should be prevented. Some were for
indictments, some for ecclesiastical censures.513 In such
deliberations as these week after week passed away. Not a single
proposition tending to a Comprehension had been even discussed.
Christmas was approaching. At Christmas there was to be a recess.
The Bishops were desirous that, during the recess, a committee
should sit to prepare business. The Lower House refused to
consent.514 That House, it was now evident, was fully determined
not even to enter on the consideration of any part of the plan
which had been framed by the Royal Commissioners. The proctors of
the dioceses were in a worse humour than when they first came up
to Westminster. Many of them had probably never before passed a
week in the capital, and had not been aware how great the
difference was between a town divine and a country divine. The
sight of the luxuries and comforts enjoyed by the popular
preachers of the city raised, not unnaturally, some sore feeling
in a Lincolnshire or Caernarvonshire vicar who was accustomed to
live as hardly as small farmer. The very circumstance that the
London clergy were generally for a comprehension made the
representatives of the rural clergy obstinate on the other
side.515 The prelates were, as a body, sincerely desirous that
some concession might be made to the nonconformists. But the
prelates were utterly unable to curb the mutinous democracy. They
were few in number. Some of them were objects of extreme dislike
to the parochial clergy. The President had not the full authority
of a primate; nor was he sorry to see those who had, as he
concerned, used him ill, thwarted and mortified. It was necessary
to yield. The Convocation was prorogued for six weeks. When those
six weeks had expired, it was prorogued again; and many years
elapsed before it was permitted to transact business.

So ended, and for ever, the hope that the Church of England might
be induced to make some concession to the scruples of the
nonconformists. A learned and respectable minority of the
clerical order relinquished that hope with deep regret. Yet in a
very short time even Barnet and Tillotson found reason to believe
that their defeat was really an escape, and that victory would
have been a disaster. A reform, such as, in the days of
Elizabeth, would have united the great body of English
Protestants, would, in the days of William, have alienated more
hearts than it would have conciliated. The schism which the oaths
had produced was, as yet, insignificant. Innovations such as
those proposed by the Royal Commissioners would have given it a
terrible importance. As yet a layman, though he might think the
proceedings of the Convention unjustifiable, and though he might
applaud the virtue of the nonjuring clergy, still continued to
sit under the accustomed pulpit, and to kneel at the accustomed
altar. But if, just at this conjuncture, while his mind was
irritated by what he thought the wrong done to his favourite
divines, and while he was perhaps doubting whether he ought not
to follow them, his ears and eyes had been shocked by changes in
the worship to which he was fondly attached, if the compositions
of the doctors of the Jerusalem Chamber had taken the place of
the old collects, if he had seen clergymen without surplices
carrying the chalice and the paten up and down the aisle to
seated communicants, the tie which bound him to the Established
Church would have been dissolved. He would have repaired to some
nonjuring assembly, where the service which he loved was
performed without mutilation. The new sect, which as yet
consisted almost exclusively of priests, would soon have been
swelled by numerous and large congregations; and in those
congregations would have been found a much greater proportion of
the opulent, of the highly descended, and of the highly educated,
than any other body of dissenters could show. The Episcopal
schismatics, thus reinforced, would probably have been as
formidable to the new King and his successors as ever the Puritan
schismatics had been to the princes of the House of Stuart. It is
an indisputable and a most instructive fact, that we are, in a
great measure, indebted for the civil and religious liberty which
we enjoy to the pertinacity with which the High Church party, in
the Convocation of 1689, refused even to deliberate on any plan
of Comprehension.516


The Parliament meets; Retirement of Halifax--Supplies voted--The
Bill of Rights passed--Inquiry into Naval Abuses--Inquiry into
the Conduct of the Irish War--Reception of Walker in England--
Edmund Ludlow--Violence of the Whigs--Impeachments--Committee of
Murder--Malevolence of John Hampden--The Corporation Bill--
Debates on the Indemnity Bill--Case of Sir Robert Sawyer--The
King purposes to retire to Holland--He is induced to change his
Intention; the Whigs oppose his going to Ireland--He prorogues
the Parliament--Joy of the Tories--Dissolution and General
Election--Changes in the Executive Departments--Caermarthen Chief
Minister--Sir John Lowther--Rise and Progress of Parliamentary
Corruption in England--Sir John Trevor--Godolphin retires;
Changes at the Admiralty--Changes in the Commissions of
Lieutenancy--Temper of the Whigs; Dealings of some Whigs with
Saint Germains; Shrewsbury; Ferguson--Hopes of the Jacobites--
Meeting of the new Parliament; Settlement of the Revenue--
Provision for the Princess of Denmark--Bill declaring the Acts of
the preceding Parliament valid--Debate on the Changes in the
Lieutenancy of London--Abjuration Bill--Act of Grace--The
Parliament prorogued; Preparations for the first War--
Administration of James at Dublin--An auxiliary Force sent from
France to Ireland--Plan of the English Jacobites; Clarendon,
Aylesbury, Dartmouth--Penn--Preston--The Jacobites betrayed by
Fuller--Crone arrested--Difficulties of William--Conduct of
Shrewsbury--The Council of Nine--Conduct of Clarendon--Penn held
to Bail--Interview between William and Burnet; William sets out
for Ireland--Trial of Crone--Danger of Invasion and Insurrection;
Tourville's Fleet in the--Channel--Arrests of suspected Persons--
Torrington ordered to give Battle to Tourville--Battle of Beachy
Head--Alarm in London; Battle of Fleurus--Spirit of the Nation--
Conduct of Shrewsbury

WHILE the Convocation was wrangling on one side of Old Palace
Yard, the Parliament was wrangling even more fiercely on the
other. The Houses, which had separated on the twentieth of
August, had met again on the nineteenth of October. On the day of
meeting an important change struck every eye. Halifax was no
longer on the woolsack. He had reason to expect that the
persecution, from which in the preceding session he had narrowly
escaped, would be renewed. The events which had taken place
during the recess, and especially the disasters of the campaign
in Ireland, had furnished his persecutors with fresh means of
annoyance. His administration had not been successful; and,
though his failure was partly to be ascribed to causes against
which no human wisdom could have contended, it was also partly to
be ascribed to the peculiarities of his temper and of his
intellect. It was certain that a large party in the Commons would
attempt to remove him; and he could no longer depend on the
protection of his master. It was natural that a prince who was
emphatically a man of action should become weary of a minister
who was a man of speculation. Charles, who went to Council as he
went to the play, solely to be amused, was delighted with an
adviser who had a hundred pleasant and ingenious things to say on
both sides of every question. But William had no taste for
disquisitions and disputations, however lively and subtle, which
occupied much time and led to no conclusion. It was reported, and
is not improbable, that on one occasion he could not refrain from
expressing in sharp terms at the council board his impatience at
what seemed to him a morbid habit of indecision.517 Halifax,
mortified by his mischances in public life, dejected by domestic
calamities, disturbed by apprehensions of an impeachment, and no
longer supported by royal favour, became sick of public life, and
began to pine for the silence and solitude of his seat in
Nottinghamshire, an old Cistercian Abbey buried deep among woods.
Early in October it was known that he would no longer preside in
the Upper House. It was at the same time whispered as a great
secret that he meant to retire altogether from business, and that
he retained the Privy Seal only till a successor should he named.
Chief Baron Atkyns was appointed Speaker of the Lords.518

On some important points there appeared to be no difference of
opinion in the legislature. The Commons unanimously resolved that
they would stand by the King in the work of reconquering Ireland,
and that they would enable him to prosecute with vigour the war
against France.519 With equal unanimity they voted an
extraordinary supply of two millions.520 It was determined that
the greater part of this sum should he levied by an assessment on
real property. The rest was to be raised partly by a poll tax,
and partly by new duties on tea, coffee and chocolate. It was
proposed that a hundred thousand pounds should be exacted from
the Jews; and this proposition was at first favourably received
by the House: but difficulties arose. The Jews presented a petition in which
they declared that they could not afford to pay such a sum, and that they would
rather leave the kingdom than stay there to be
ruined. Enlightened politicians could not but perceive that
special taxation, laid on a small class which happens to be rich,
unpopular and defenceless, is really confiscation, and must
ultimately improverish rather than enrich the State. After some
discussion, the Jew tax was abandoned.521

The Bill of Rights, which, in the last Session, had, after
causing much altercation between the Houses, been suffered to
drop, was again introduced, and was speedily passed. The peers no
longer insisted that any person should be designated by name as
successor to the crown, if Mary, Anne and William should all die
without posterity. During eleven years nothing more was heard of
the claims of the House of Brunswick.

The Bill of Rights contained some provisions which deserve
special mention. The Convention had resolved that it was contrary
to the interest of the kingdom to be governed by a Papist, but
had prescribed no test which could ascertain whether a prince was
or was not a Papist. The defect was now supplied. It was enacted
that every English sovereign should, in full Parliament, and at
the coronation, repeat and subscribe the Declaration against

It was also enacted that no person who should marry a Papist
should be capable of reigning in England, and that, if the
Sovereign should marry a Papist, the subject should be absolved
from allegiance. Burnet boasts that this part of the Bill of
Rights was his work. He had little reason to boast: for a more
wretched specimen of legislative workmanship will not easily be
found. In the first place, no test is prescribed. Whether the
consort of a Sovereign has taken the oath of supremacy, has
signed the declaration against transubstantiation, has
communicated according to the ritual of the Church of England,
are very simple issues of fact. But whether the consort of a
Sovereign is or is not a Papist is a question about which people
may argue for ever. What is a Papist? The word is not a word of
definite signification either in law or in theology. It is merely
a popular nickname, and means very different things in different
mouths. Is every person a Papist who is willing to concede to the
Bishop of Rome a primacy among Christian prelates? If so, James
the First, Charles the First, Laud, Heylyn, were Papists.522 Or
is the appellation to be confined to persons who hold the
ultramontane doctrines touching the authority of the Holy See? If
so, neither Bossuet nor Pascal was a Papist.

What again is the legal effect of the words which absolve the
subject from his allegiance? Is it meant that a person arraigned
for high treason may tender evidence to prove that the Sovereign
has married a Papist? Would Whistlewood, for example, have been
entitled to an acquittal, if he could have proved that King
George the Fourth had married Mrs. Fitzherbert, and that Mrs.
Fitzherbert was a Papist? It is not easy to believe that any
tribunal would have gone into such a question. Yet to what
purpose is it to enact that, in a certain case, the subject shall
be absolved from his allegiance, if the tribunal before which he
is tried for a violation of his allegiance is not to go into the
question whether that case has arisen?

The question of the dispensing power was treated in a very
different manner, was fully considered, and was finally settled
in the only way in which it could be settled. The Declaration of
Right had gone no further than to pronounce that the dispensing
power, as of late exercised, was illegal. That a certain
dispensing power belonged to the Crown was a proposition
sanctioned by authorities and precedents of which even Whig
lawyers could not speak without respect; but as to the precise
extent of this power hardly any two jurists were agreed; and
every attempt to frame a definition had failed. At length by the
Bill of Rights the anomalous prerogative which had caused so many
fierce disputes was absolutely and for ever taken away.523

In the House of Commons there was, as might have been expected, a
series of sharp debates on the misfortunes of the autumn. The
negligence or corruption of the Navy Board, the frauds of the
contractors, the rapacity of the captains of the King's ships,
the losses of the London merchants, were themes for many keen
speeches. There was indeed reason for anger. A severe inquiry,
conducted by William in person at the Treasury, had just elicited
the fact that much of the salt with which the meat furnished to
the fleet had been cured had been by accident mixed with galls
such as are used for the purpose of making ink. The victuallers
threw the blame on the rats, and maintained that the provisions
thus seasoned, though certainly disagreeable to the palate, were
not injurious to health.524 The Commons were in no temper to
listen to such excuses. Several persons who had been concerned in
cheating the government and poisoning the sailors were taken into
custody by the Serjeant.525 But no censure was passed on the
chief offender, Torrington, nor does it appear that a single voice
was raised against him. He had personal friends in both parties.
He had many popular qualities. Even his vices were not those
which excite public hatred. The people readily forgave a
courageous openhanded sailor for being too fond of his bottle,
his boon companions and his mistresses and did not sufficiently
consider how great must be the perils of a country of which the
safety depends on a man sunk in indolence, stupified by wine,
enervated by licentiousness, ruined by prodigality, and enslaved
by sycophants and harlots.

The sufferings of the army in Ireland called forth strong
expressions of sympathy and indignation. The Commons did justice
to the firmness and wisdom with which Schomberg had conducted the
most arduous of all campaigns. That he had not achieved more was
attributed chiefly to the villany of the Commissariat. The
pestilence itself it was said, would have been no serious
calamity if it had not been aggravated by the wickedness of man.
The disease had generally spared those who had warm garments and
bedding, and had swept away by thousands those who were thinly
clad and who slept on the wet ground. Immense sums had been drawn
out of the Treasury: yet the pay of the troops was in arrear.
Hundreds of horses, tens of thousands of shoes, had been paid for
by the public: yet the baggage was left behind for want of beasts
to draw it; and the soldiers were marching barefoot through the
mire. Seventeen hundred pounds had been charged to the government
for medicines: yet the common drugs with which every apothecary
in the smallest market town was provided were not to be found in
the plaguestricken camp. The cry against Shales was loud. An
address was carried to the throne, requesting that he might be
sent for to England, and that his accounts and papers might be
secured. With this request the King readily complied; but the
Whig majority was not satisfied. By whom had Shales been
recommended for so important a place as that of Commissary
General? He had been a favourite at Whitehall in the worst times.
He had been zealous for the Declaration of Indulgence. Why had
this creature of James been entrusted with the business of
catering for the army of William? It was proposed by some of
those who were bent on driving all Tories and Trimmers from
office to ask His Majesty by whose advice a man so undeserving of
the royal confidence had been employed. The most moderate and
judicious Whigs pointed out the indecency and impolicy of
interrogating the King, and of forcing him either to accuse his
ministers or to quarrel with the representatives of his people.
"Advise His Majesty, if you will," said Somers, "to withdraw his
confidence from the counsellors who recommended this unfortunate
appointment. Such advice, given, as we should probably give it,
unanimously, must have great weight with him. But do not put to
him a question such as no private gentleman would willingly
answer. Do not force him, in defence of his own personal dignity,
to protect the very men whom you wish him to discard." After a
hard fight of two days, and several divisions, the address was
carried by a hundred and ninety five votes to a hundred and forty
six.526 The King, as might have been foreseen, coldly refused to
turn informer; and the House did not press him further.527 To
another address, which requested that a Commission might be sent
to examine into the state of things in Ireland, William returned
a very gracious answer, and desired the Commons to name the
Commissioners. The Commons, not to be outdone in courtesy,
excused themselves, and left it to His Majesty's wisdom to select
the fittest persons.528

In the midst of the angry debates on the Irish war a pleasing
incident produced for a moment goodhumour and unanimity. Walker
had arrived in London, and had been received there with boundless
enthusiasm. His face was in every print shop. Newsletters
describing his person and his demeanour were sent to every corner
of the kingdom. Broadsides of prose and verse written in his
praise were cried in every street. The Companies of London
feasted him splendidly in their halls. The common people crowded
to gaze on him wherever he moved, and almost stifled him with
rough caresses. Both the Universities offered him the degree of
Doctor of Divinity. Some of his admirers advised him to present
himself at the palace in that military garb in which he had
repeatedly headed the sallies of his fellow townsmen. But, with a
better judgment than he sometimes showed, he made his appearance
at Hampton Court in the peaceful robe of his profession, was most
graciously received, and was presented with an order for five
thousand pounds. "And do not think, Doctor," William said, with
great benignity, "that I offer you this sum as payment for your
services. I assure you that I consider your claims on me as not
at all diminished."529

It is true that amidst the general applause the voice of
detraction made itself heard. The defenders of Londonderry were
men of two nations and of two religions. During the siege, hatred
of the Irishry had held together all Saxons; and hatred of Popery
had held together all Protestants. But, when the danger was over,
the Englishman and the Scotchman, the Episcopalian and the
Presbyterian, began to wrangle about the distribution of praises
and rewards. The dissenting preachers, who had zealously assisted
Walker in the hour of peril, complained that, in the account
which he published of the siege, he had, though acknowledging
that they had done good service, omitted to mention their names.
The complaint was just; and, had it been made in language
becoming Christians and gentlemen, would probably have produced
a considerable effect on the public mind. But Walker's accusers
in their resentment disregarded truth and decency, used
scurrilous language, brought calumnious accusations which were
triumphantly refuted, and thus threw away the advantage which
they had possessed. Walker defended himself with moderation and
candour. His friends fought his battle with vigour, and
retaliated keenly on his assailants. At Edinburgh perhaps the
public opinion might have been against him. But in London the
controversy seems only to have raised his character. He was
regarded as an Anglican divine of eminent merit, who, after
having heroically defended his religion against an army of Popish
Rapparees, was rabbled by a mob of Scotch Covenanters.530

He presented to the Commons a petition setting forth the
destitute condition to which the widows and orphans of some brave
men who had fallen during the siege were now reduced. The Commons
instantly passed a vote of thanks to him, and resolved to present
to the King an address requesting that ten thousand pounds might
be distributed among the families whose sufferings had been so
touchingly described. The next day it was rumoured about the
benches that Walker was in the lobby. He was called in. The
Speaker, with great dignity and grace, informed him that the
House had made haste to comply with his request, commended him in
high terms for having taken on himself to govern and defend a
city betrayed by its proper governors and defenders, and charged
him to tell those who had fought under him that their fidelity
and valour would always be held in grateful remembrance by the
Commons of England.531

About the same time the course of parliamentary business was
diversified by another curious and interesting episode, which,
like the former, sprang out of the events of the Irish war. In
the preceding spring, when every messenger from Ireland brought
evil tidings, and when the authority of James was acknowledged in
every part of that kingdom, except behind the ramparts of
Londonderry and on the banks of Lough Erne, it was natural that
Englishmen should remember with how terrible an energy the great
Puritan warriors of the preceding generation had crushed the
insurrection of the Celtic race. The names of Cromwell, of
Ireton, and of the other chiefs of the conquering army, were in
many mouths. One of those chiefs, Edmund Ludlow, was still
living. At twenty-two he had served as a volunteer in the
parliamentary army; at thirty he had risen to the rank of
Lieutenant General. He was now old; but the vigour of his mind
was unimpaired. His courage was of the truest temper; his
understanding strong, but narrow. What he saw he saw clearly: but
he saw not much at a glance. In an age of perfidy and levity, he
had, amidst manifold temptations and dangers, adhered firmly to
the principles of his youth. His enemies could not deny that his
life had been consistent, and that with the same spirit with
which he had stood up against the Stuarts he had stood up against
the Cromwells. There was but a single blemish on his fame: but
that blemish, in the opinion of the great majority of his
countrymen, was one for which no merit could compensate and which
no time could efface. His name and seal were on the death warrant
of Charles the First.

After the Restoration, Ludlow found a refuge on the shores of the
Lake of Geneva. He was accompanied thither by another member of
the High Court of Justice, John Lisle, the husband of that Alice
Lisle whose death has left a lasting stain on the memory of James
the Second. But even in Switzerland the regicides were not safe.
A large price was set on their heads; and a succession of Irish
adventurers, inflamed by national and religious animosity,
attempted to earn the bribe. Lisle fell by the hand of one of
these assassins. But Ludlow escaped unhurt from all the
machinations of his enemies. A small knot of vehement and
determined Whigs regarded him with a veneration, which increased
as years rolled away, and left him almost the only survivor,
certainly the most illustrious survivor, of a mighty race of men,
the conquerors in a terrible civil war, the judges of a king, the
founders of a republic. More than once he had been invited by the
enemies of the House of Stuart to leave his asylum, to become
their captain, and to give the signal for rebellion: but he had
wisely refused to take any part in the desperate enterprises
which the Wildmans and Fergusons were never weary of planning.532

The Revolution opened a new prospect to him. The right of the
people to resist oppression, a right which, during many years, no
man could assert without exposing himself to ecclesiastical
anathemas and to civil penalties, had been solemnly recognised by
the Estates of the realm, and had been proclaimed by Garter King
at Arms on the very spot where the memorable scaffold had been
set up forty years before. James had not, indeed, like Charles,
died the death of a traitor. Yet the punishment of the son might
seem to differ from the punishment of the father rather in degree
than in principle. Those who had recently waged war on a tyrant,
who had turned him out of his palace, who had frightened him out
of his country, who had deprived him of his crown, might perhaps
think that the crime of going one step further had been
sufficiently expiated by thirty years of banishment. Ludlow's
admirers, some of whom appear to have been in high public
situations, assured him that he might safely venture over, nay,
that he might expect to be sent in high command to Ireland, where
his name was still cherished by his old soldiers and by their
children.533 He came and early in September it was known that he
was in London.534 But it soon appeared that he and his friends
had misunderstood the temper of the English people. By all,
except a small extreme section of the Whig party, the act, in
which he had borne a part never to be forgotten, was regarded,
not merely with the disapprobation due to a great violation of
law and justice, but with horror such as even the Gunpowder Plot
had not excited. The absurd and almost impious service which is
still read in our churches on the thirtieth of January had
produced in the minds of the vulgar a strange association of
ideas. The sufferings of Charles were confounded with the
sufferings of the Redeemer of mankind; and every regicide was a
Judas, a Caiaphas or a Herod. It was true that, when Ludlow sate
on the tribunal in Westminster Hall, he was an ardent enthusiast
of twenty eight, and that he now returned from exile a greyheaded
and wrinkled man in his seventieth year. Perhaps, therefore, if
he had been content to live in close retirement, and to shun
places of public resort, even zealous Royalists might not have
grudged the old Republican a grave in his native soil. But he had
no thought of hiding himself. It was soon rumoured that one of
those murderers, who had brought on England guilt, for which she
annually, in sackcloth and ashes, implored God not to enter into
judgment with her, was strutting about the streets of her
capital, and boasting that he should ere long command her armies.
His lodgings, it was said, were the head quarters of the most
noted enemies of monarchy and episcopacy.535 The subject was
brought before the House of Commons. The Tory members called
loudly for justice on the traitor. None of the Whigs ventured to
say a word in his defence. One or two faintly expressed a doubt
whether the fact of his return had been proved by evidence such
as would warrant a parliamentary proceeding. The objection was
disregarded. It was resolved, without a division, that the King
should be requested to issue a proclamation for the apprehending
of Ludlow. Seymour presented the address; and the King promised
to do what was asked. Some days however elapsed before the
proclamation appeared.536 Ludlow had time to make his escape, and
again hid himself in his Alpine retreat, never again to emerge.
English travellers are still taken to see his house close to the
lake, and his tomb in a church among the vineyards which overlook
the little town of Vevay. On the house was formerly legible an
inscription purporting that to him to whom God is a father every
land is a fatherland537; and the epitaph on the tomb still
attests the feelings with which the stern old Puritan to the last
regarded the people of Ireland and the House of Stuart.

Tories and Whigs had concurred, or had affected to concur, in
paying honour to Walker and in putting a brand on Ludlow. But the
feud between the two parties was more bitter than ever. The King
had entertained a hope that, during the recess, the animosities
which had in the preceding session prevented an Act of Indemnity
from passing would have been mitigated. On the day on which the
Houses reassembled, he had pressed them earnestly to put an end
to the fear and discord which could never cease to exist, while
great numbers held their property and their liberty, and not a
few even their lives, by an uncertain tenure. His exhortation
proved of no effect. October, November, December passed away;
and nothing was done. An Indemnity Bill indeed had been brought
in, and read once; but it had ever since lain neglected on the
table of the House.538 Vindictive as had been the mood in which
the Whigs had left Westminster, the mood in which they returned
was more vindictive still. Smarting from old sufferings, drunk
with recent prosperity, burning with implacable resentment,
confident of irresistible strength, they were not less rash and
headstrong than in the days of the Exclusion Bill. Sixteen
hundred and eighty was come again. Again all compromise was
rejected. Again the voices of the wisest and most upright friends
of liberty were drowned by the clamour of hotheaded and designing
agitators. Again moderation was despised as cowardice, or
execrated as treachery. All the lessons taught by a cruel
experience were forgotten. The very same men who had expiated, by
years of humiliation, of imprisonment, of penury, of exile, the
folly with which they had misused the advantage given them by the
Popish plot, now misused with equal folly the advantage given
them by the Revolution. The second madness would, in all
probability, like the first, have ended in their proscription,
dispersion, decimation, but for the magnanimity and wisdom of
that great prince, who, bent on fulfilling his mission, and
insensible alike to flattery and to outrage, coldly and
inflexibly saved them in their own despite.

It seemed that nothing but blood would satisfy them. The aspect
and the temper of the House of Commons reminded men of the time
of the ascendency of Oates; and, that nothing might be wanting to
the resemblance, Oates himself was there. As a witness, indeed,
he could now render no service: but he had caught the scent of
carnage, and came to gloat on the butchery in which he could no
longer take an active part. His loathsome features were again
daily seen, and his well known "Ah Laard, ah Laard!" was again
daily heard in the lobbies and in the gallery.539 The House fell
first on the renegades of the late reign. Of those renegades the
Earls of Peterborough and Salisbury were the highest in rank, but
were also the lowest in intellect: for Salisbury had always been
an idiot; and Peterborough had long been a dotard. It was however
resolved by the Commons that both had, by joining the Church of
Rome, committed high treason, and that both should be
impeached.540 A message to that effect was sent to the Lords.
Poor old Peterborough was instantly taken into custody, and was
sent, tottering on a crutch, and wrapped up in woollen stuffs, to
the Tower. The next day Salisbury was brought to the bar of his
peers. He muttered something about his youth and his foreign
education, and was then sent to bear Peterborough company.541 The
Commons had meanwhile passed on to offenders of humbler station
and better understanding. Sir Edward Hales was brought before
them. He had doubtless, by holding office in defiance of the Test
Act, incurred heavy penalties. But these penalties fell far short
of what the revengeful spirit of the victorious party demanded;
and he was committed as a traitor.542 Then Obadiah Walker was led
in. He behaved with a pusillanimity and disingenuousness which
deprived him of all claim to respect or pity. He protested that
he had never changed his religion, that his opinions had always
been and still were those of some highly respectable divines of
the Church of England, and that there were points on which he
differed from the Papists. In spite of this quibbling, he was
pronounced guilty of high treason, and sent to prison.543
Castlemaine was put next to the bar, interrogated, and committed
under a warrant which charged him with the capital crime of
trying to reconcile the kingdom to the Church of Rome.544

In the meantime the Lords had appointed a Committee to Inquire
who were answerable for the deaths of Russell, of Sidney, and of
some other eminent Whigs. Of this Committee, which was popularly
called the Murder Committee, the Earl of Stamford, a Whig who had
been deeply concerned in the plots formed by his party against
the Stuarts, was chairman.545 The books of the Council were
inspected: the clerks of the Council were examined: some facts
disgraceful to the Judges, to the Solicitors of the Treasury, to
the witnesses for the Crown, and to the keepers of the state
prisons, were elicited: but about the packing of the juries no
evidence could be obtained. The Sheriffs kept their own counsel.
Sir Dudley North, in particular, underwent a most severe cross
examination with characteristic clearness of head and firmness of
temper, and steadily asserted that he had never troubled himself
about the political opinions of the persons whom he put on any
panel, but had merely inquired whether they were substantial
citizens. He was undoubtedly lying; and so some of the Whig peers
told him in very plain words and in very loud tones: but, though
they were morally certain of his guilt, they could find no proofs
which would support a criminal charge against him. The indelible
stain however remains on his memory, and is still a subject of
lamentation to those who, while loathing his dishonesty and
cruelty, cannot forget that he was one of the most original,
profound and accurate thinkers of his age.546

Halifax, more fortunate than Dudley North, was completely
cleared, not only from legal, but also from moral guilt. He was
the chief object of attack; and yet a severe examination brought
nothing to light that was not to his honour. Tillotson was called
as a witness. He swore that he had been the channel of
communication between Halifax and Russell when Russell was a
prisoner in the Tower. "My Lord Halifax," said the Doctor,
"showed a very compassionate concern for my Lord Russell; and my
Lord Russell charged me with his last thanks for my Lord
Halifax's humanity and kindness." It was proved that the
unfortunate Duke of Monmouth had borne similar testimony to
Halifax's good nature. One hostile witness indeed was produced,
John Hampden, whose mean supplications and enormous bribes had
saved his neck from the halter. He was now a powerful and
prosperous man: he was a leader of the dominant party in the
House of Commons; and yet he was one of the most unhappy beings
on the face of the earth. The recollection of the pitiable figure
which he had made at the bar of the Old Bailey embittered his
temper, and impelled him to avenge himself without mercy on those
who had directly or indirectly contributed to his humiliation. Of
all the Whigs he was the most intolerant and the most obstinately
hostile to all plans of amnesty. The consciousness that he had
disgraced himself made him jealous of his dignity and quick to
take offence. He constantly paraded his services and his
sufferings, as if he hoped that this ostentatious display would
hide from others the stain which nothing could hide from himself.
Having during many months harangued vehemently against Halifax in
the House of Commons, he now came to swear against Halifax before
the Lords. The scene was curious. The witness represented himself
as having saved his country, as having planned the Revolution, as
having placed their Majesties on the throne. He then gave
evidence intended to show that his life had been endangered by
the machinations of the Lord Privy Seal: but that evidence missed
the mark at which it was aimed, and recoiled on him from whom it
proceeded. Hampden was forced to acknowledge that he had sent his
wife to implore the intercession of the man whom he was now
persecuting. "Is it not strange," asked Halifax, "that you should
have requested the good offices of one whose arts had brought
your head into peril?" "Not at all," said Hampden; "to whom was I
to apply except to the men who were in power? I applied to Lord
Jeffreys: I applied to Father Petre; and I paid them six thousand
pounds for their services." "But did Lord Halifax take any
money?" "No, I cannot say that he did." "And, Mr. Hampden, did
not you afterwards send your wife to thank him for his kindness?"
"Yes, I believe I did," answered Hampden; "but I know of no solid
effects of that kindness. If there were any, I should be obliged
to my Lord to tell me what they were." Disgraceful as had been
the appearance which this degenerate heir of an illustrious name
had made at the Old Bailey, the appearance which he made before
the Committee of Murder was more disgraceful still.547 It is
pleasing to know that a person who had been far more cruelly
wronged than he, but whose nature differed widely from his, the
nobleminded Lady Russell, remonstrated against the injustice with
which the extreme Whigs treated Halifax.548

The malice of John Hampden, however, was unwearied and unabashed.
A few days later, in a committee of the whole House of Commons on
the state of the nation, he made a bitter speech, in which he
ascribed all the disasters of the year to the influence of the
men who had, in the days of the Exclusion Bill, been censured by
Parliaments, of the men who had attempted to mediate between
James and William. The King, he said, ought to dismiss from his
counsels and presence all the three noblemen who had been sent to
negotiate with him at Hungerford. He went on to speak of the
danger of employing men of republican principles. He doubtless
alluded to the chief object of his implacable malignity. For
Halifax, though from temper averse to violent changes, was well
known to be in speculation a republican, and often talked, with
much ingenuity and pleasantry, against hereditary monarchy. The
only effect, however, of the reflection now thrown on him was to
call forth a roar of derision. That a Hampden, that the grandson
of the great leader of the Long Parliament, that a man who
boasted of having conspired with Algernon Sidney against the
royal House, should use the word republican as a term of
reproach! When the storm of laughter had subsided, several
members stood up to vindicate the accused statesmen. Seymour
declared that, much as he disapproved of the manner in which the
administration had lately been conducted, he could not concur in
the vote which John Hampden had proposed. "Look where you will,"
he said, "to Ireland, to Scotland, to the navy, to the army, you
will find abundant proofs of mismanagement. If the war is still
to be conducted by the same hands, we can expect nothing but a
recurrence of the same disasters. But I am not prepared to
proscribe men for the best thing that they ever did in their
lives, to proscribe men for attempting to avert a revolution by
timely mediation." It was justly said by another speaker that
Halifax and Nottingham had been sent to the Dutch camp because
they possessed the confidence of the nation, because they were
universally known to be hostile to the dispensing power, to the
Popish religion, and to the French ascendency. It was at length
resolved that the King should be requested in general terms to
find out and to remove the authors of the late miscarriages.549 A
committee was appointed to prepare an Address. John Hampden was
chairman, and drew up a representation in terms so bitter that,
when it was reported to the House, his own father expressed
disapprobation, and one member exclaimed: "This an address! It is
a libel." After a sharp debate, the Address was recommitted, and
was not again mentioned.550

Indeed, the animosity which a large part of the House had felt
against Halifax was beginning to abate. It was known that, though
he had not yet formally delivered up the Privy Seal, he had
ceased to be a confidential adviser of the Crown. The power which
he had enjoyed during the first months of the reign of William
and Mary had passed to the more daring, more unscrupulous and
more practical Caermarthen, against whose influence Shrewsbury
contended in vain. Personally Shrewsbury stood high in the royal
favour: but he was a leader of the Whigs, and, like all leaders
of parties, was frequently pushed forward against his will by
those who seemed to follow him. He was himself inclined to a
mild and moderate policy: but he had not sufficient firmness to
withstand the clamorous importunity with which such politicians
as John Howe and John Hampden demanded vengeance on their
enemies. His advice had therefore, at this time, little weight
with his master, who neither loved the Tories nor trusted them,
but who was fully determined not to proscribe them.

Meanwhile the Whigs, conscious that they had lately sunk in the
opinion both of the King and of the nation, resolved on making a
bold and crafty attempt to become independent of both. A perfect
account of that attempt cannot be constructed out of the scanty
and widely dispersed materials which have come down to us. Yet
the story, as it has come down to us, is both interesting and

A bill for restoring the rights of those corporations which had
surrendered their charters to the Crown during the last two
reigns had been brought into the House of Commons, had been
received with general applause by men of all parties, had been
read twice, and had been referred to a select committee, of which
Somers was chairman. On the second of January Somers brought up
the report. The attendance of Tories was scanty: for, as no
important discussion was expected, many country gentlemen had
left town, and were keeping a merry Christmas by the chimney
fires of their manor houses. The muster of zealous Whigs was
strong. As soon as the bill had been reported, Sacheverell,
renowned in the stormy parliaments of the reign of Charles the
Second as one of the ablest and keenest of the Exclusionists,
stood up and moved to add a clause providing that every municipal
functionary who had in any manner been a party to the
surrendering of the franchises of a borough should be incapable
for seven years of holding any office in that borough. The
constitution of almost every corporate town in England had been
remodelled during that hot fit of loyalty which followed the
detection of the Rye House Plot; and, in almost every corporate
town, the voice of the Tories had been for delivering up the
charter, and for trusting every thing to the paternal care of the
Sovereign. The effect of Sacheverell's clause, therefore, was to
make some thousands of the most opulent and highly considered men
in the kingdom incapable, during seven years, of bearing any part
in the government of the places in which they resided, and to
secure to the Whig party, during seven years, an overwhelming
influence in borough elections.

The minority exclaimed against the gross injustice of passing,
rapidly and by surprise, at a season when London was empty, a law
of the highest importance, a law which retrospectively inflicted
a severe penalty on many hundreds of respectable gentlemen, a law
which would call forth the strongest passions in every town from
Berwick to St. Ives, a law which must have a serious effect on
the composition of the House itself. Common decency required at
least an adjournment. An adjournment was moved: but the motion
was rejected by a hundred and twenty-seven votes to eighty-nine.
The question was then put that Sacheverell's clause should stand
part of the bill, and was carried by a hundred and thirty-three
to sixty-eight. Sir Robert Howard immediately moved that every
person who, being under Sacheverell's clause disqualified for
municipal office, should presume to take any such office, should
forfeit five hundred pounds, and should be for life incapable of
holding any public employment whatever. The Tories did not
venture to divide.551 The rules of the House put it in the power
of a minority to obstruct the progress of a bill; and this was
assuredly one of the very rare occasions on which that power
would have been with great propriety exerted. It does not appear,
however, that the parliamentary tacticians of that age were aware
of the extent to which a small number of members can, without
violating any form, retard the course of business.

It was immediately resolved that the bill, enlarged by
Sacheverell's and Howard's clauses, should be ingrossed. The most
vehement Whigs were bent on finally passing it within forty-eight
hours. The Lords, indeed, were not likely to regard it very
favourably. But it should seem that some desperate men were
prepared to withhold the supplies till it should pass, nay, even
to tack it to the bill of supply, and thus to place the Upper
House under the necessity of either consenting to a vast
proscription of the Tories or refusing to the government the
means of carrying on the war.552 There were Whigs, however,
honest enough to wish that fair play should be given to the
hostile party, and prudent enough to know that an advantage
obtained by violence and cunning could not be permanent. These
men insisted that at least a week should be suffered to elapse
before the third reading, and carried their point. Their less
scrupulous associates complained bitterly that the good cause was
betrayed. What new laws of war were these? Why was chivalrous
courtesy to be shown to foes who thought no stratagem immoral,
and who had never given quarter? And what had been done that was
not in strict accordance with the law of Parliament? That law
knew nothing of short notices and long notices, of thin houses
and full houses. It was the business of a representative of the
people to be in his place. If he chose to shoot and guzzle at his
country seat when important business was under consideration at
Westminster, what right had he to murmur because more upright and
laborious servants of the public passed, in his absence, a bill
which appeared to them necessary to the public safety? As however
a postponement of a few days appeared to be inevitable, those who
had intended to gain the victory by stealing a march now
disclaimed that intention. They solemnly assured the King, who
could not help showing some displeasure at their conduct, and who
felt much more displeasure than he showed, that they had owed
nothing to surprise, and that they were quite certain of a
majority in the fullest house. Sacheverell is said to have
declared with great warmth that he would stake his seat on the
issue, and that if he found himself mistaken he would never show
his face in Parliament again. Indeed, the general opinion at
first was that the Whigs would win the day. But it soon became
clear that the fight would be a hard one. The mails had carried
out along all the high roads the tidings that, on the second of
January, the Commons had agreed to a retrospective penal law
against the whole Tory party, and that, on the tenth, that law
would be considered for the last time. The whole kingdom was
moved from Northumberland to Cornwall. A hundred knights and
squires left their halls hung with mistletoe and holly, and their
boards groaning with brawn and plum porridge, and rode up post to
town, cursing the short days, the cold weather, the miry roads
and the villanous Whigs. The Whigs, too, brought up
reinforcements, but not to the same extent; for the clauses were
generally unpopular, and not without good cause. Assuredly no
reasonable man of any party will deny that the Tories, in
surrendering to the Crown all the municipal franchises of the
realm, and, with those franchises, the power of altering the
constitution of the House of Commons, committed a great fault.
But in that fault the nation itself had been an accomplice. If
the Mayors and Aldermen whom it was now proposed to punish had,
when the tide of loyal enthusiasm ran high, sturdily refused to
comply with the wish of their Sovereign, they would have been
pointed at in the street as Roundhead knaves, preached at by the
Rector, lampooned in ballads, and probably burned in effigy
before their own doors. That a community should be hurried into
errors alternately by fear of tyranny and by fear of anarchy is
doubtless a great evil. But the remedy for that evil is not to
punish for such errors some persons who have merely erred with
the rest, and who have since repented with the rest. Nor ought it
to have been forgotten that the offenders against whom
Sacheverell's clause was directed had, in 1688, made large
atonement for the misconduct of which they had been guilty in
1683. They had, as a class, stood up firmly against the
dispensing power; and most of them had actually been turned out
of their municipal offices by James for refusing to support his
policy. It is not strange therefore that the attempt to inflict
on all these men without exception a degrading punishment should
have raised such a storm of public indignation as many Whig
members of parliament were unwilling to face.

As the decisive conflict drew near, and as the muster of the
Tories became hourly stronger and stronger, the uneasiness of
Sacheverell and of his confederates increased. They found that
they could hardly hope for a complete victory. They must make
some concession. They must propose to recommit the bill. They
must declare themselves willing to consider whether any
distinction could be made between the chief offenders and the
multitudes who had been misled by evil example. But as the spirit
of one party fell the spirit of the other rose. The Tories,
glowing with resentment which was but too just, were resolved to
listen to no terms of compromise.

The tenth of January came; and, before the late daybreak of that
season, the House was crowded. More than a hundred and sixty
members had come up to town within a week. From dawn till the
candles had burned down to their sockets the ranks kept unbroken
order; and few members left their seats except for a minute to
take a crust of bread or a glass of claret. Messengers were in
waiting to carry the result to Kensington, where William, though
shaken by a violent cough, sate up till midnight, anxiously
expecting the news, and writing to Portland, whom he had sent on
an important mission to the Hague.

The only remaining account of the debate is defective and
confused. But from that account it appears that the excitement
was great. Sharp things were said. One young Whig member used
language so hot that he was in danger of being called to the bar.
Some reflections were thrown on the Speaker for allowing too much
licence to his own friends. But in truth it mattered little
whether he called transgressors to order or not. The House had
long been quite unmanageable; and veteran members bitterly
regretted the old gravity of debate and the old authority of the
chair.553 That Somers disapproved of the violence of the party to
which he belonged may be inferred, both from the whole course of
his public life, and from the very significant fact that, though
he had charge of the Corporation Bill, he did not move the penal
clauses, but left that ungracious office to men more impetuous
and less sagacious than himself. He did not however abandon his
allies in this emergency, but spoke for them, and tried to make
the best of a very bad case. The House divided several times. On
the first division a hundred and seventy-four voted with
Sacheverell, a hundred and seventy-nine against him. Still the
battle was stubbornly kept up; but the majority increased from
five to ten, from ten to twelve, and from twelve to eighteen.
Then at length, after a stormy sitting of fourteen hours, the
Whigs yielded. It was near midnight when, to the unspeakable joy
and triumph of the Tories, the clerk tore away from the parchment
on which the bill had been engrossed the odious clauses of
Sacheverell and Howard.554

Emboldened by this great victory, the Tories made an attempt to
push forward the Indemnity Bill which had lain many weeks
neglected on the table.555 But the Whigs, notwithstanding their
recent defeat, were still the majority of the House; and many
members, who had shrunk from the unpopularity which they would
have incurred by supporting the Sacheverell clause and the Howard
clause, were perfectly willing to assist in retarding the general
pardon. They still propounded their favourite dilemma. How, they
asked, was it possible to defend this project of amnesty without
condemning the Revolution? Could it be contended that crimes
which had been grave enough to justify resistance had not been
grave enough to deserve punishment? And, if those crimes were of
such magnitude that they could justly be visited on the Sovereign
whom the Constitution had exempted from responsibility, on what
principle was immunity to be granted to his advisers and tools,
who were beyond all doubt responsible? One facetious member put
this argument in a singular form. He contrived to place in the
Speaker's chair a paper which, when examined, appeared to be a
Bill of Indemnity for King James, with a sneering preamble about
the mercy which had, since the Revolution, been extended to more
heinous offenders, and about the indulgence due to a King, who,
in oppressing his people, had only acted after the fashion of all

On the same day on which this mock Bill of Indemnity disturbed
the gravity of the Commons, it was moved that the House should go
into Committee on the real Bill. The Whigs threw the motion out
by a hundred and ninety-three votes to a hundred and fifty-six.
They then proceeded to resolve that a bill of pains and penalties
against delinquents should be forthwith brought in, and engrafted
on the Bill of Indemnity.557

A few hours later a vote passed that showed more clearly than any
thing that had yet taken place how little chance there was that
the public mind would be speedily quieted by an amnesty. Few
persons stood higher in the estimation of the Tory party than Sir
Robert Sawyer. He was a man of ample fortune and aristocratical
connections, of orthodox opinions and regular life, an able and
experienced lawyer, a well read scholar, and, in spite of a
little pomposity, a good speaker. He had been Attorney General at
the time of the detection of the Rye House Plot; he had been
employed for the Crown in the prosecutions which followed; and he
had conducted those prosecutions with an eagerness which would,
in our time, be called cruelty by all parties, but which, in his
own time, and to his own party, seemed to be merely laudable
zeal. His friends indeed asserted that he was conscientious even
to scrupulosity in matters of life and death;558 but this is an
eulogy which persons who bring the feelings of the nineteenth
century to the study of the State Trials of the seventeenth
century will have some difficulty in understanding. The best
excuse which can be made for this part of his life is that the
stain of innocent blood was common to him with almost all the
eminent public men of those evil days. When we blame him for
prosecuting Russell, we must not forget that Russell had
prosecuted Stafford.

Great as Sawyer's offences were, he had made great atonement for
them. He had stood up manfully against Popery and despotism; he
had, in the very presence chamber, positively refused to draw
warrants in contravention of Acts of Parliament; he had resigned
his lucrative office rather than appear in Westminster Hall as
the champion of the dispensing power; he had been the leading
counsel for the seven Bishops; and he had, on the day of their
trial, done his duty ably, honestly, and fearlessly. He was
therefore a favourite with High Churchmen, and might be thought
to have fairly earned his pardon from the Whigs. But the Whigs
were not in a pardoning mood; and Sawyer was now called to
account for his conduct in the case of Sir Thomas Armstrong.

If Armstrong was not belied, he was deep in the worst secrets of
the Rye House Plot, and was one of those who undertook to slay
the two royal brothers. When the conspiracy was discovered, he
fled to the Continent and was outlawed. The magistrates of Leyden
were induced by a bribe to deliver him up. He was hurried on
board of an English ship, carried to London, and brought before
the King's Bench. Sawyer moved the Court to award execution on
the outlawry. Armstrong represented that a year had not yet
elapsed since he had been outlawed, and that, by an Act passed in
the reign of Edward the Sixth, an outlaw who yielded himself
within the year was entitled to plead Not Guilty, and to put
himself on his country. To this it was answered that Armstrong
had not yielded himself, that he had been dragged to the bar a
prisoner, and that he had no right to claim a privilege which was
evidently meant to be given only to persons who voluntarily
rendered themselves up to public justice. Jeffreys and the other
judges unanimously overruled Armstrong's objection, and granted
the award of execution. Then followed one of the most terrible of
the many terrible scenes which, in those times, disgraced our
Courts. The daughter of the unhappy man was at his side. "My
Lord," she cried out, "you will not murder my father. This is
murdering a man." "How now?" roared the Chief Justice. "Who is
this woman? Take her, Marshal. Take her away." She was forced
out, crying as she went, "God Almighty's judgments light on you!"
"God Almighty's judgment," said Jeffreys, "will light on
traitors. Thank God, I am clamour proof." When she was gone, her
father again insisted on what he conceived to be his right. "I
ask" he said, "only the benefit of the law." "And, by the grace
of God, you shall have it," said the judge. "Mr. Sheriff, see
that execution be done on Friday next. There is the benefit of
the law for you." On the following Friday, Armstrong was hanged,
drawn and quartered; and his head was placed over Westminster

The insolence and cruelty of Jeffreys excite, even at the
distance of so many years, an indignation which makes it
difficult to be just to him. Yet a perfectly dispassionate
inquirer may perhaps think it by no means clear that the award of
execution was illegal. There was no precedent; and the words of
the Act of Edward the Sixth may, without any straining, be
construed as the Court construed them. Indeed, had the penalty
been only fine or imprisonment, nobody would have seen any thing
reprehensible in the proceeding. But to send a man to the gallows
as a traitor, without confronting him with his accusers, without
hearing his defence, solely because a timidity which is perfectly
compatible with innocence has impelled him to hide himself, is
surely a violation, if not of any written law, yet of those great
principles to which all laws ought to conform. The case was
brought before the House of Commons. The orphan daughter of
Armstrong came to the bar to demand vengeance; and a warm debate
followed. Sawyer was fiercely attacked and strenuously defended.
The Tories declared that he appeared to them to have done only
what, as counsel for the Crown, he was bound to do, and to have
discharged his duty to God, to the King, and to the prisoner. If
the award was legal, nobody was to blame; and, if the award was
illegal, the blame lay, not with the Attorney General, but with
the Judges. There would be an end of all liberty of speech at the
bar, if an advocate was to be punished for making a strictly
regular application to a Court, and for arguing that certain
words in a statute were to be understood in a certain sense. The
Whigs called Sawyer murderer, bloodhound, hangman. If the liberty
of speech claimed by advocates meant the liberty of haranguing
men to death, it was high time that the nation should rise up and
exterminate the whole race of lawyers. "Things will never be well
done," said one orator, "till some of that profession be made
examples." "No crime to demand execution!" exclaimed John
Hampden. "We shall be told next that it was no crime in the Jews
to cry out 'Crucify him.'" A wise and just man would probably
have been of opinion that this was not a case for severity.
Sawyer's conduct might have been, to a certain extent, culpable:
but, if an Act of Indemnity was to be passed at all, it was to be
passed for the benefit of persons whose conduct had been
culpable. The question was not whether he was guiltless, but
whether his guilt was of so peculiarly black a dye that he ought,
notwithstanding all his sacrifices and services, to be excluded
by name from the mercy which was to be granted to many thousands
of offenders. This question calm and impartial judges would
probably have decided in his favour. It was, however, resolved
that he should be excepted from the Indemnity, and expelled from
the House.560

On the morrow the Bill of Indemnity, now transformed into a Bill
of Pains and Penalties, was again discussed. The Whigs consented
to refer it to a Committee of the whole House, but proposed to
instruct the Committee to begin its labours by making out a list
of the offenders who were to be proscribed. The Tories moved the
previous question. The House divided; and the Whigs carried their
point by a hundred and ninety votes to a hundred and seventy-

The King watched these events with painful anxiety. He was weary
of his crown. He had tried to do justice to both the contending
parties; but justice would satisfy neither. The Tories hated him
for protecting the Dissenters. The Whigs hated him for protecting
the Tories. The amnesty seemed to be more remote than when, ten
months before, he first recommended it from the throne. The last
campaign in Ireland had been disastrous. It might well be that
the next campaign would be more disastrous still. The
malpractices, which had done more than the exhalations of the
marshes of Dundalk to destroy the efficiency of the English
troops, were likely to be as monstrous as ever. Every part of the
administration was thoroughly disorganized; and the people were
surprised and angry because a foreigner, newly come among them,
imperfectly acquainted with them, and constantly thwarted by
them, had not, in a year, put the whole machine of government to
rights. Most of his ministers, instead of assisting him, were
trying to get up addresses and impeachments against each other.
Yet if he employed his own countrymen, on whose fidelity and
attachment he could rely, a general cry of rage was set up by all
the English factions. The knavery of the English Commissariat had
destroyed an army: yet a rumour that he intended to employ an
able, experienced, and trusty Commissary from Holland had excited
general discontent. The King felt that he could not, while thus
situated, render any service to that great cause to which his
whole soul was devoted. Already the glory which he had won by
conducting to a successful issue the most important enterprise of
that age was becoming dim. Even his friends had begun to doubt
whether he really possessed all that sagacity and energy which
had a few months before extorted the unwilling admiration of his
enemies. But he would endure his splendid slavery no longer. He
would return to his native country. He would content himself with
being the first citizen of a commonwealth to which the name of
Orange was dear. As such, he might still be foremost among those
who were banded together in defence of the liberties of Europe.
As for the turbulent and ungrateful islanders, who detested him
because he would not let them tear each other in pieces, Mary
must try what she could do with them. She was born on their soil.
She spoke their language. She did not dislike some parts of their
Liturgy, which they fancied to be essential, and which to him
seemed at best harmless. If she had little knowledge of politics
and war, she had what might be more useful, feminine grace and
tact, a sweet temper, a smile and a kind word for every body. She
might be able to compose the disputes which distracted the State
and the Church. Holland, under his government, and England under
hers, might act cordially together against the common enemy.

He secretly ordered preparations to be made for his voyage.
Having done this, he called together a few of his chief
counsellors, and told them his purpose. A squadron, he said, was
ready to convey him to his country. He had done with them. He
hoped that the Queen would be more successful. The ministers were
thunderstruck. For once all quarrels were suspended. The Tory
Caermarthen on one side, the Whig Shrewsbury on the other,
expostulated and implored with a pathetic vehemence rare in the
conferences of statesmen. Many tears were shed. At length the
King was induced to give up, at least for the present, his design
of abdicating the government. But he announced another design
which he was fully determined not to give up. Since he was still
to remain at the head of the English administration, he would go
himself to Ireland. He would try whether the whole royal
authority strenuously exerted on the spot where the fate of the
empire was to be decided, would suffice to prevent peculation and
to maintain discipline.562

That he had seriously meditated a retreat to Holland long
continued to be a secret, not only to the multitude, but even to
the Queen.563 That he had resolved to take the command of his
army in Ireland was soon rumoured all over London. It was known
that his camp furniture was making, and that Sir Christopher Wren
was busied in constructing a house of wood which was to travel
about, packed in two waggons, and to be set up wherever His
Majesty might fix his quarters.564 The Whigs raised a violent
outcry against the whole scheme. Not knowing, or affecting not to
know, that it had been formed by William and by William alone,
and that none of his ministers had dared to advise him to
encounter the Irish swords and the Irish atmosphere, the whole
party confidently affirmed that it had been suggested by some
traitor in the cabinet, by some Tory who hated the Revolution and
all that had sprung from the Revolution. Would any true friend
have advised His Majesty, infirm in health as he was, to expose
himself, not only to the dangers of war, but to the malignity of
a climate which had recently been fatal to thousands of men much
stronger than himself? In private the King sneered bitterly at
this anxiety for his safety. It was merely, in his judgment, the
anxiety which a hard master feels lest his slaves should become
unfit for their drudgery. The Whigs, he wrote to Portland, were
afraid to lose their tool before they had done their work. "As to
their friendship," he added, "you know what it is worth." His
resolution, he told his friend, was unalterably fixed. Every
thing was at stake; and go he must, even though the Parliament
should present an address imploring him to stay.565

He soon learned that such an address would be immediately moved
in both Houses and supported by the whole strength of the Whig
party. This intelligence satisfied him that it was time to take a
decisive step. He would not discard the Whigs but he would give
them a lesson of which they stood much in need. He would break
the chain in which they imagined that they had him fast. He would
not let them have the exclusive possession of power. He would not
let them persecute the vanquished party. In their despite, he
would grant an amnesty to his people. In their despite, he would
take the command of his army in Ireland. He arranged his plan
with characteristic prudence, firmness, and secrecy. A single
Englishman it was necessary to trust: for William was not
sufficiently master of our language to address the Houses from
the throne in his own words; and, on very important occasions,
his practice was to write his speech in French, and to employ a
translator. It is certain that to one person, and to one only,
the King confided the momentous resolution which he had taken;
and it can hardly be doubted that this person was Caermarthen.

On the twenty-seventh of January, Black Rod knocked at the door
of the Commons. The Speaker and the members repaired to the House
of Lords. The King was on the throne. He gave his assent to the
Supply Bill, thanked the Houses for it, announced his intention
of going to Ireland, and prorogued the Parliament. None could
doubt that a dissolution would speedily follow. As the concluding
words, "I have thought it convenient now to put an end to this
session," were uttered, the Tories, both above and below the bar,
broke forth into a shout of joy. The King meanwhile surveyed his
audience from the throne with that bright eagle eye which nothing
escaped. He might be pardoned if he felt some little vindictive
pleasure in annoying those who had cruelly annoyed him. "I saw,"
he wrote to Portland the next day, "faces an ell long. I saw some
of those men change colour with vexation twenty times while I was

A few hours after the prorogation, a hundred and fifty Tory
members of Parliament had a parting dinner together at the Apollo
Tavern in Fleet Street, before they set out for their counties.
They were in better temper with William than they had been since
his father in law had been turned out of Whitehall. They had
scarcely recovered from the joyful surprise with which they had
heard it announced from the throne that the session was at an
end. The recollection of their danger and the sense of their
deliverance were still fresh. They talked of repairing to Court
in a body to testify their gratitude: but they were induced to
forego their intention; and not without cause: for a great crowd
of squires after a revel, at which doubtless neither October nor
claret had been spared, might have caused some inconvenience in
the presence chamber. Sir John Lowther, who in wealth and
influence was inferior to no country gentleman of that age, was
deputed to carry the thanks of the assembly to the palace. He
spoke, he told the King, the sense of a great body of honest
gentlemen. They begged His Majesty to be assured that they would
in their counties do their best to serve him; and they cordially
wished him a safe voyage to Ireland, a complete victory, a speedy
return, and a long and happy reign. During the following week,
many, who had never shown their faces in the circle at Saint
James's since the Revolution, went to kiss the King's hand. So
warmly indeed did those who had hitherto been regarded as half
Jacobites express their approbation of the policy of the
government that the thoroughgoing Jacobites were much disgusted,
and complained bitterly of the strange blindness which seemed to
have come on the sons of the Church of England.567

All the acts of William, at this time, indicated his
determination to restrain, steadily though gently, the violence
of the Whigs, and to conciliate, if possible, the good will of
the Tories. Several persons whom the Commons had thrown into
prison for treason were set at liberty on bail.568 The prelates
who held that their allegiance was still due to James were
treated with a tenderness rare in the history of revolutions. Within a week
after the prorogation, the first of February came, the day on
which those ecclesiastics who refused to take the oath were to be
finally deprived. Several of the suspended clergy, after holding
out till the last moment, swore just in time to save themselves
from beggary. But the Primate and five of his suffragans were
still inflexible. They consequently forfeited their bishoprics;
but Sancroft was informed that the King had not yet relinquished
the hope of being able to make some arrangement which might avert
the necessity of appointing successors, and that the nonjuring
prelates might continue for the present to reside in their
palaces. Their receivers were appointed receivers for the Crown,
and continued to collect the revenues of the vacant sees.569
Similar indulgence was shown to some divines of lower rank.
Sherlock, in particular, continued, after his deprivation, to
live unmolested in his official mansion close to the Temple

And now appeared a proclamation dissolving the Parliament. The
writs for a general election went out; and soon every part of the
kingdom was in a ferment. Van Citters, who had resided in England
during many eventful years, declared that he had never seen
London more violently agitated.570 The excitement was kept up by
compositions of all sorts, from sermons with sixteen heads down
to jingling street ballads. Lists of divisions were, for the
first time in our history, printed and dispersed for the
information of constituent bodies. Two of these lists may still
be seen in old libraries. One of the two, circulated by the
Whigs, contained the names of those Tories who had voted against
declaring the throne vacant. The other, circulated by the Tories,
contained the names of those Whigs who had supported the
Sacheverell clause.

It soon became clear that public feeling had undergone a great
change during the year which had elapsed since the Convention had
met; and it is impossible to deny that this change was, at least
in part, the natural consequence and the just punishment of the
intemperate and vindictive conduct of the Whigs. Of the city of
London they thought themselves sure. The Livery had in the
preceding year returned four zealous Whigs without a contest. But
all the four had voted for the Sacheverell clause; and by that
clause many of the merchant princes of Lombard Street and
Cornhill, men powerful in the twelve great companies, men whom
the goldsmiths followed humbly, hat in hand, up and down the
arcades of the Royal Exchange, would have been turned with all
indignity out of the Court of Aldermen and out of the Common
Council. The struggle was for life or death. No exertions, no
artifices, were spared. William wrote to Portland that the Whigs
of the City, in their despair, stuck at nothing, and that, as
they went on, they would soon stand as much in need of an Act of
Indemnity as the Tories. Four Tories however were returned, and
that by so decisive a majority, that the Tory who stood lowest
polled four hundred votes more than the Whig who stood
highest.571 The Sheriffs, desiring to defer as long as possible
the triumph of their enemies, granted a scrutiny. But, though the
majority was diminished, the result was not affected.572 At
Westminster, two opponents of the Sacheverell clause were elected
without a contest.573 But nothing indicated more strongly the
disgust excited by the proceedings of the late House of Commons
than what passed in the University of Cambridge. Newton retired
to his quiet observatory over the gate of Trinity College. Two
Tories were returned by an overwhelming majority. At the head of
the poll was Sawyer, who had, but a few days before, been
excepted from the Indemnity Bill and expelled from the House of
Commons. The records of the University contain curious proofs
that the unwise severity with which he had been treated had
raised an enthusiastic feeling in his favour. Newton voted for
Sawyer; and this remarkable fact justifies us in believing that
the great philosopher, in whose genius and virtue the Whig party
justly glories, had seen the headstrong and revengeful conduct of
that party with concern and disapprobation.574

It was soon plain that the Tories would have a majority in the
new House of Commons.575 All the leading Whigs however obtained
seats, with one exception. John Hampden was excluded, and was
regretted only by the most intolerant and unreasonable members of
his party.576

The King meanwhile was making, in almost every department of the
executive government, a change corresponding to the change which
the general election was making in the composition of the
legislature. Still, however, he did not think of forming what is
now called a ministry. He still reserved to himself more
especially the direction of foreign affairs; and he superintended
with minute attention all the preparations for the approaching
campaign in Ireland. In his confidential letters he complained
that he had to perform, with little or no assistance, the task of
organizing the disorganized military establishments of the
kingdom. The work, he said, was heavy; but it must be done; for
everything depended on it.577 In general, the government was
still a government by independent departments; and in almost
every department Whigs and Tories were still mingled, though not
exactly in the old proportions. The Whig element had decidedly
predominated, in 1689. The Tory element predominated, though not
very decidedly, in 1690.

Halifax had laid down the Privy Seal. It was offered to
Chesterfield, a Tory who had voted in the Convention for a
Regency. But Chesterfield refused to quit his country house and
gardens in Derbyshire for the Court and the Council Chamber; and
the Privy Seal was put into Commission.578 Caermarthen was now
the chief adviser of the Crown on all matters relating to the
internal administration and to the management of the two Houses
of Parliament. The white staff, and the immense power which

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