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

Part 9 out of 13

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accompanied the white staff, William was still determined never
to entrust to any subject. Caermarthen therefore, continued to be
Lord President; but he took possession of a suite of apartments
in Saint James's Palace which was considered as peculiarly
belonging to the Prime Minister.579 He had, during the preceding
year, pleaded ill health as an excuse for seldom appearing at the
Council Board; and the plea was not without foundation, for his
digestive organs had some morbid peculiarities which puzzled the
whole College of Physicians; his complexion was livid; his frame
was meagre; and his face, handsome and intellectual as it was,
had a haggard look which indicated the restlessness of pain as
well as the restlessness of ambition.580 As soon, however, as he
was once more minister, he applied himself strenuously to
business, and toiled every day, and all day long, with an energy
which amazed every body who saw his ghastly countenance and
tottering gait.

Though he could not obtain for himself the office of Lord
Treasurer, his influence at the Treasury was great. Monmouth, the
First Commissioner, and Delamere, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, two of the most violent Whigs in England, quitted
their seats. On this, as on many other occasions, it appeared
that they had nothing but their Whiggism in common. The volatile
Monmouth, sensible that he had none of the qualities of a
financier, seems to have taken no personal offence at being
removed from a place which he never ought to have occupied. He
thankfully accepted a pension, which his profuse habits made
necessary to him, and still continued to attend councils, to
frequent the Court, and to discharge the duties of a Lord of the
Bedchamber.581 He also tried to make himself useful in military
business, which he understood, if not well, yet better than most
of his brother nobles; and he professed, during a few months, a
great regard for Caermarthen. Delamere was in a very different
mood. It was in vain that his services were overpaid with honours
and riches. He was created Earl of Warrington. He obtained a
grant of all the lands that could be discovered belonging to
Jesuits in five or six counties. A demand made by him on account
of expenses incurred at the time of the Revolution was allowed;
and he carried with him into retirement as the reward of his
patriotic exertions a large sum, which the State could ill spare.
But his anger was not to be so appeased; and to the end of his
life he continued to complain bitterly of the ingratitude with
which he and his party had been treated.582

Sir John Lowther became First Lord of the Treasury, and was the
person on whom Caermarthen chiefly relied for the conduct of the
ostensible business of the House of Commons. Lowther was a man of
ancient descent, ample estate, and great parliamentary interest.
Though not an old man, he was an old senator: for he had, before
he was of age, succeeded his father as knight of the shire for
Westmoreland. In truth the representation of Westmoreland was
almost as much one of the hereditaments of the Lowther family as
Lowther Hall. Sir John's abilities were respectable; his
manners, though sarcastically noticed in contemporary lampoons as
too formal, were eminently courteous; his personal courage he was
but too ready to prove; his morals were irreproachable; his time
was divided between respectable labours and respectable
pleasures; his chief business was to attend the House of Commons
and to preside on the Bench of justice; his favourite amusements
were reading and gardening. In opinions he was a very moderate
Tory. He was attached to hereditary monarchy and to the
Established Church; but he had concurred in the Revolution; he
had no misgivings touching the title of William and Mary; he had
sworn allegiance to them without any mental reservation; and he
appears to have strictly kept his oath. Between him and
Caermarthen there was a close connection. They had acted together
cordially in the Northern insurrection; and they agreed in their
political views, as nearly as a very cunning statesman and a very
honest country gentleman could be expected to agree.583 By
Caermarthen's influence Lowther was now raised to one of the most
important places in the kingdom. Unfortunately it was a place
requiring qualities very different from those which suffice to
make a valuable county member and chairman of quarter sessions.
The tongue of the new First Lord of the Treasury was not
sufficiently ready, nor was his temper sufficiently callous for
his post. He had neither adroitness to parry, nor fortitude to
endure, the gibes and reproaches to which, in his new character
of courtier and placeman, he was exposed. There was also
something to be done which he was too scrupulous to do; something
which had never been done by Wolsey or Burleigh; something which
has never been done by any English statesman of our generation;
but which, from the time of Charles the Second to the time of
George the Third, was one of the most important parts of the
business of a minister.

The history of the rise, progress, and decline of parliamentary
corruption in England still remains to be written. No subject has
called forth a greater quantity of eloquent vituperation and
stinging sarcasm. Three generations of serious and of sportive
writers wept and laughed over the venality of the senate. That
venality was denounced on the hustings, anathematized from the
pulpit, and burlesqued on the stage; was attacked by Pope in
brilliant verse, and by Bolingbroke in stately prose, by Swift
with savage hatred, and by Gay with festive malice. The voices of
Tories and Whigs, of Johnson and Akenside, of Smollett and
Fielding, contributed to swell the cry. But none of those who
railed or of those who jested took the trouble to verify the
phaenomena, or to trace them to the real causes.

Sometimes the evil was imputed to the depravity of a particular
minister: but, when he had been driven from power, and when those
who had most loudly accused him governed in his stead, it was
found that the change of men had produced no change of system.
Sometimes the evil was imputed to the degeneracy of the national
character. Luxury and cupidity, it was said, had produced in our
country the same effect which they had produced of old in the
Roman republic. The modern Englishman was to the Englishman of
the sixteenth century what Verres and Curio were to Dentatus and
Fabricius. Those who held this language were as ignorant and
shallow as people generally are who extol the past at the expense
of the present. A man of sense would have perceived that, if the
English of the time of George the Second had really been more
sordid and dishonest than their forefathers, the deterioration
would not have shown itself in one place alone. The progress of
judicial venality and of official venality would have kept pace
with the progress of parliamentary venality. But nothing is more
certain than that, while the legislature was becoming more and
more venal, the courts of law and the public offices were
becoming purer and purer. The representatives of the people were
undoubtedly more mercenary in the days of Hardwicke and Pelham
than in the days of the Tudors. But the Chancellors of the Tudors
took plate and jewels from suitors without scruple or shame; and
Hardwicke would have committed for contempt any suitor who had
dared to bring him a present. The Treasurers of the Tudors raised
princely fortunes by the sale of places, titles, and pardons; and
Pelham would have ordered his servants to turn out of his house
any man who had offered him money for a peerage or a
commissionership of customs. It is evident, therefore, that the
prevalence of corruption in the Parliament cannot be ascribed to
a general depravation of morals. The taint was local; we must
look for some local cause; and such a cause will without
difficulty be found.

Under our ancient sovereigns the House of Commons rarely
interfered with the executive administration. The Speaker was
charged not to let the members meddle with matters of State. If
any gentleman was very troublesome he was cited before the Privy
Council, interrogated, reprimanded, and sent to meditate on his
undutiful conduct in the Tower. The Commons did their best to
protect themselves by keeping their deliberations secret, by
excluding strangers, by making it a crime to repeat out of
doors what had passed within doors. But these precautions were of
small avail. In so large an assembly there were always
talebearers ready to carry the evil report of their brethren to
the palace. To oppose the Court was therefore a service of
serious danger. In those days of course, there was little or no
buying of votes. For an honest man was not to be bought; and it
was much cheaper to intimidate or to coerce a knave than to buy

For a very different reason there has been no direct buying of
votes within the memory of the present generation. The House of
Commons is now supreme in the State, but is accountable to the
nation. Even those members who are not chosen by large
constituent bodies are kept in awe by public opinion. Every thing
is printed; every thing is discussed; every material word uttered
in debate is read by a million of people on the morrow. Within a
few hours after an important division, the lists of the majority
and the minority are scanned and analysed in every town from
Plymouth to Inverness. If a name be found where it ought not to
be, the apostate is certain to be reminded in sharp language of
the promises which he has broken and of the professions which he
has belied. At present, therefore, the best way in which a
government can secure the support of a majority of the
representative body is by gaining the confidence of the nation.

But between the time when our Parliaments ceased to be controlled
by royal prerogative and the time when they began to be
constantly and effectually controlled by public opinion there was
a long interval. After the Restoration, no government ventured to
return to those methods by which, before the civil war, the
freedom of deliberation has been restrained. A member could no
longer be called to account for his harangues or his votes. He
might obstruct the passing of bills of supply; he might arraign
the whole foreign policy of the country; he might lay on the
table articles of impeachment against all the chief ministers;
and he ran not the smallest risk of being treated as Morrice had
been treated by Elizabeth, or Eliot by Charles the First. The
senator now stood in no awe of the Court. Nevertheless all the
defences behind which the feeble Parliaments of the sixteenth
century had entrenched themselves against the attacks of
prerogative were not only still kept up, but were extended and
strengthened. No politician seems to have been aware that these
defences were no longer needed for their original purpose, and
had begun to serve a purpose very different. The rules which had
been originally designed to secure faithful representatives
against the displeasure of the Sovereign, now operated to secure
unfaithful representatives against the displeasure of the people,
and proved much more effectual for the latter end than they had
ever been for the former. It was natural, it was inevitable,
that, in a legislative body emancipated from the restraints of
the sixteenth century, and not yet subjected to the restraints of
the nineteenth century, in a legislative body which feared
neither the King nor the public, there should be corruption.

The plague spot began to be visible and palpable in the days of
the Cabal. Clifford, the boldest and fiercest of the wicked Five,
had the merit of discovering that a noisy patriot, whom it was no
longer possible to send to prison, might be turned into a
courtier by a goldsmith's note. Clifford's example was followed
by his successors. It soon became a proverb that a Parliament
resembled a pump. Often, the wits said, when a pump appears to be
dry, if a very small quantity of water is poured in, a great
quantity of water gushes out: and so, when a Parliament appears
to be niggardly, ten thousand pounds judiciously given in bribes
will often produce a million in supplies. The evil was not
diminished, nay, it was aggravated, by that Revolution which
freed our country from so many other evils. The House of Commons
was now more powerful than ever as against the Crown, and yet was
not more strictly responsible than formerly to the nation. The
government had a new motive for buying the members; and the
members had no new motive for refusing to sell themselves.
William, indeed, had an aversion to bribery; he resolved to
abstain from it; and, during the first year of his reign, he kept
his resolution. Unhappily the events of that year did not
encourage him to persevere in his good intentions. As soon as
Caermarthen was placed at the head of the internal administration
of the realm, a complete change took place. He was in truth no
novice in the art of purchasing votes. He had, sixteen years
before, succeeded Clifford at the Treasury, had inherited
Clifford's tactics, had improved upon them, and had employed them
to an extent which would have amazed the inventor. From the day
on which Caermarthen was called a second time to the chief
direction of affairs, parliamentary corruption continued to be
practised, with scarcely any intermission, by a long succession
of statesmen, till the close of the American war. Neither of the
great English parties can justly charge the other with any
peculiar guilt on this account. The Tories were the first who
introduced the system and the last who clung to it; but it
attained its greatest vigour in the time of Whig ascendency. The
extent to which parliamentary support was bartered for money
cannot be with any precision ascertained. But it seems probable
that the number of hirelings was greatly exaggerated by vulgar
report, and was never large, though often sufficient to turn the
scale on important divisions. An unprincipled minister eagerly
accepted the services of these mercenaries. An honest minister
reluctantly submitted, for the sake of the commonwealth, to what
he considered as a shameful and odious extortion. But during many
years every minister, whatever his personal character might be,
consented, willingly or unwillingly, to manage the Parliament in
the only way in which the Parliament could then be managed. It at
length became as notorious that there was a market for votes at
the Treasury as that there was a market for cattle in Smithfield.
Numerous demagogues out of power declaimed against this vile
traffic; but every one of those demagogues, as soon as he was in
power, found himself driven by a kind of fatality to engage in
that traffic, or at least to connive at it. Now and then perhaps
a man who had romantic notions of public virtue refused to be
himself the paymaster of the corrupt crew, and averted his eyes
while his less scrupulous colleagues did that which he knew to be
indispensable, and yet felt to be degrading. But the instances of
this prudery were rare indeed. The doctrine generally received,
even among upright and honourable politicians, was that it was
shameful to receive bribes, but that it was necessary to
distribute them. It is a remarkable fact that the evil reached
the greatest height during the administration of Henry Pelham, a
statesman of good intentions, of spotless morals in private life,
and of exemplary disinterestedness. It is not difficult to guess
by what arguments he and other well meaning men, who, like him,
followed the fashion of their age, quieted their consciences. No
casuist, however severe, has denied that it may be a duty to give
what it is a crime to take. It was infamous in Jeffreys to demand
money for the lives of the unhappy prisoners whom he tried at
Dorchester and Taunton. But it was not infamous, nay, it was
laudable, in the kinsmen and friends of a prisoner to contribute
of their substance in order to make up a purse for Jeffreys. The
Sallee rover, who threatened to bastinado a Christian captive to
death unless a ransom was forthcoming, was an odious ruffian. But
to ransom a Christian captive from a Sallee rover was, not merely
an innocent, but a highly meritorious act. It would be improper
in such cases to use the word corruption. Those who receive the
filthy lucre are corrupt already. He who bribes them does not
make them wicked: he finds them so; and he merely prevents their
evil propensities from producing evil effects. And might not the
same plea be urged in defence of a minister who, when no other
expedient would avail, paid greedy and lowminded men not to ruin
their country?

It was by some such reasoning as this that the scruples of
William were overcome. Honest Burnet, with the uncourtly courage
which distinguished him, ventured to remonstrate with the King.
"Nobody," William answered, "hates bribery more, than I. But I
have to do with a set of men who must be managed in this vile way
or not at all. I must strain a point or the country is lost."584

It was necessary for the Lord President to have in the House of
Commons an agent for the purchase of members; and Lowther was
both too awkward and too scrupulous to be such an agent. But a
man in whom craft and profligacy were united in a high degree was
without difficulty found. This was the Master of the Rolls, Sir
John Trevor, who had been Speaker in the single Parliament held
by James. High as Trevor had risen in the world, there were
people who could still remember him a strange looking lawyer's
clerk in the Inner Temple. Indeed, nobody who had ever seen him
was likely to forget him. For his grotesque features and his
hideous squint were far beyond the reach of caricature. His
parts, which were quick and vigorous, had enabled him early to
master the science of chicane. Gambling and betting were his
amusements; and out of these amusements he contrived to extract
much business in the way of his profession. For his opinion on a
question arising out of a wager or a game at chance had as much
authority as a judgment of any court in Westminster Hall. He soon
rose to be one of the boon companions whom Jeffreys hugged in
fits of maudlin friendship over the bottle at night, and cursed
and reviled in court on the morrow. Under such a teacher, Trevor
rapidly became a proficient in that peculiar kind of rhetoric
which had enlivened the trials of Baxter and of Alice Lisle.
Report indeed spoke of some scolding matches between the
Chancellor and his friend, in which the disciple had been not
less voluble and scurrilous than the master. These contests,
however, did not take place till the younger adventurer had
attained riches and dignities such that he no longer stood in
need of the patronage which had raised him.585 Among High
Churchmen Trevor, in spite of his notorious want of principle,
had at this time a certain popularity, which he seems to have
owed chiefly to their conviction that, however insincere he might
be in general, his hatred of the dissenters was genuine and
hearty. There was little doubt that, in a House of Commons in
which the Tories had a majority, he might easily, with the
support of the Court, be chosen Speaker. He was impatient to be
again in his old post, which he well knew how to make one of the
most lucrative in the kingdom; and he willingly undertook that
secret and shameful office for which Lowther was altogether

Richard Hampden was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. This
appointment was probably intended as a mark of royal gratitude
for the moderation of his conduct, and for the attempts which he
had made to curb the violence of his Whig friends, and especially
of his son.

Godolphin voluntarily left the Treasury; why, we are not
informed. We can scarcely doubt that the dissolution and the
result of the general election must have given him pleasure. For
his political opinions leaned towards Toryism; and he had, in the
late reign, done some things which, though not very heinous,
stood in need of an indemnity. It is probable that he did not
think it compatible with his personal dignity to sit at the board
below Lowther, who was in rank his inferior.586

A new Commission of Admiralty was issued. At the head of the
naval administration was placed Thomas Herbert, Earl of Pembroke,
a high born and high bred man, who had ranked among the Tories,
who had voted for a Regency, and who had married the daughter of
Sawyer. That Pembroke's Toryism, however, was not of a narrow and
illiberal kind is sufficiently proved by the fact that,
immediately after the Revolution, the Essay on the Human
Understanding was dedicated to him by John Locke, in token of
gratitude for kind offices done in evil times.587

Nothing was omitted which could reconcile Torrington to this
change. For, though he had been found an incapable administrator,
he still stood so high in general estimation as a seaman that the
government was unwilling to lose his services. He was assured
that no slight was intended to him. He could not serve his
country at once on the ocean and at Westminster; and it had been
thought less difficult to supply his place in his office than on
the deck of his flagship. He was at first very angry, and
actually laid down his commission: but some concessions were made
to his pride: a pension of three thousand pounds a year and a
grant of ten thousand acres of crown land in the Peterborough
level were irresistible baits to his cupidity; and, in an evil
hour for England, he consented to remain at the head of the naval
force, on which the safety of her coasts depended.588

While these changes were making in the offices round Whitehall,
the Commissions of Lieutenancy all over the kingdom were revised.
The Tories had, during twelve months, been complaining that their
share in the government of the districts in which they lived bore
no proportion to their number, to their wealth, and to the
consideration which they enjoyed in society. They now regained
with great delight their former position in their shires. The
Whigs raised a cry that the King was foully betrayed, and that he
had been induced by evil counsellors to put the sword into the
hands of men who, as soon as a favourable opportunity offered,
would turn the edge against himself. In a dialogue which was
believed to have been written by the newly created Earl of
Warrington, and which had a wide circulation at the time, but has
long been forgotten, the Lord Lieutenant of a county was
introduced expressing his apprehensions that the majority of his
deputies were traitors at heart.589 But nowhere was the
excitement produced by the new distribution of power so great as
in the capital. By a Commission of Lieutenancy which had been
issued immediately after the Revolution, the train bands of the
City had been put under the command of staunch Whigs. Those
powerful and opulent citizens whose names were omitted complained
that the list was filled with elders of Puritan congregations,
with Shaftesbury's brisk boys, with Rye House plotters, and that
it was scarcely possible to find, mingled with that multitude of
fanatics and levellers, a single man sincerely attached to
monarchy and to the Church. A new Commission now appeared framed
by Caermarthen and Nottingham. They had taken counsel with
Compton, the Bishop of the diocese; and Compton was not a very
discreet adviser. He had originally been a High Churchman and a
Tory. The severity with which he had been treated in the late
reign had transformed him into a Latitudinarian and a rebel; and
he had now, from jealousy of Tillotson, turned High Churchman and
Tory again. The Whigs complained that they were ungratefully
proscribed by a government which owed its existence to them; that
some of the best friends of King William had been dismissed with
contumely to make room for some of his worst enemies, for men who
were as unworthy of trust as any Irish Rapparee, for men who had
delivered up to a tyrant the charter and the immemorial
privileges of the City, for men who had made themselves notorious
by the cruelty with which they had enforced the penal laws
against Protestant dissenters, nay, for men who had sate on those
juries which had found Russell and Cornish guilty.590 The
discontent was so great that it seemed, during a short time,
likely to cause pecuniary embarrassment to the State. The
supplies voted by the late Parliament came in slowly. The wants
of the public service were pressing. In such circumstances it was
to the citizens of London that the government always looked for
help; and the government of William had hitherto looked
especially to those citizens who professed Whig opinions. Things
were now changed. A few eminent Whigs, in their first anger,
sullenly refused to advance money. Nay, one or two unexpectedly
withdrew considerable sums from the Exchequer.591 The financial
difficulties might have been serious, had not some wealthy
Tories, who, if Sacheverell's clause had become law, would have
been excluded from all municipal honours, offered the Treasury a
hundred thousand pounds down, and promised to raise a still
larger sum.592

While the City was thus agitated, came a day appointed by royal
proclamation for a general fast. The reasons assigned for this
solemn act of devotion were the lamentable state of Ireland and
the approaching departure of the King. Prayers were offered up
for the safety of His Majesty's person and for the success of his
arms. The churches of London were crowded. The most eminent
preachers of the capital, who were, with scarcely an exception,
either moderate Tories or moderate Whigs, exerted themselves to
calm the public mind, and earnestly exhorted their flocks not to
withhold, at this great conjuncture, a hearty support from the
prince, with whose fate was bound up the fate of the whole
nation. Burnet told a large congregation from the pulpit how the
Greeks, when the Great Turk was preparing to besiege
Constantinople, could not be persuaded to contribute any part of
their wealth for the common defence, and how bitterly they
repented of their avarice when they were compelled to deliver up
to the victorious infidels the treasures which had been refused
to the supplications of the last Christian emperor.593

The Whigs, however, as a party, did not stand in need of such an
admonition. Grieved and angry as they were, they were perfectly
sensible that on the stability of the throne of William depended
all that they most highly prized. What some of them might, at
this conjuncture, have been tempted to do if they could have
found another leader, if, for example, their Protestant Duke,
their King Monmouth, had still been living, may be doubted. But
their only choice was between the Sovereign whom they had set up
and the Sovereign whom they had pulled down. It would have been
strange indeed if they had taken part with James in order to
punish William, when the worst fault which they imputed to
William was that he did not participate in the vindictive feeling
with which they remembered the tyranny of James. Much as they
disliked the Bill of Indemnity, they had not forgotten the Bloody
Circuit. They therefore, even in their ill humour, continued true
to their own King, and, while grumbling at him, were ready to
stand by him against his adversary with their lives and

There were indeed exceptions; but they were very few; and they
were to be found almost exclusively in two classes, which, though
widely differing from each other in social position, closely
resembled each other in laxity of principle. All the Whigs who
are known to have trafficked with Saint Germains belonged, not to
the main body of the party, but either to the head or to the
tail. They were either patricians high in rank and office, or
caitiffs who had long been employed in the foulest drudgery of
faction. To the former class belonged
Shrewsbury. Of the latter class the most remarkable specimen was
Robert Ferguson. From the day on which the Convention Parliament
was dissolved, Shrewsbury began to waver in his allegiance: but
that he had ever wavered was not, till long after, suspected by
the public. That Ferguson had, a few months after the Revolution,
become a furious Jacobite, was no secret to any body, and ought
not to have been matter of surprise to any body. For his apostasy
he could not plead even the miserable excuse that he had been
neglected. The ignominious services which he had formerly
rendered to his party as a spy, a raiser of riots, a dispenser of
bribes, a writer of libels, a prompter of false witnesses, had
been rewarded only too prodigally for the honour of the new
government. That he should hold any high office was of course
impossible. But a sinecure place of five hundred a year had been
created for him in the department of the Excise. He now had what
to him was opulence: but opulence did not satisfy him. For money
indeed he had never scrupled to be guilty of fraud aggravated by
hypocrisy; yet the love of money was not his strongest passion.
Long habits had developed in him a moral disease from, which
people who make political agitation their calling are seldom
wholly free. He could not be quiet. Sedition, from being his
business, had become his pleasure. It was as impossible for him
to live without doing mischief as for an old dram drinker or an
old opium eater to live without the daily dose of poison. The
very discomforts and hazards of a lawless life had a strange
attraction for him. He could no more be turned into a peaceable
and loyal subject than the fox can be turned into a shepherd's
dog, or than the kite can be taught the habits of the barn door
fowl. The Red Indian prefers his hunting ground to cultivated
fields and stately cities: the gipsy, sheltered by a commodious
roof, and provided with meat in due season, still pines for the
ragged tent on the moor and the meal of carrion, and even so
Ferguson became weary of plenty and security, of his salary, his
house, his table and his coach, and longed to be again the
president of societies where none could enter without a password,
the director of secret presses, the distributor of inflammatory
pamphlets; to see the walls placarded with descriptions of his
Person and offers of reward for his apprehension; to have six or
seven names, with a different wig and cloak for each, and to
change his lodgings thrice a week at dead of night. His hostility
was not to Popery or to Protestantism, to monarchical government
or to republican government, to the House of Stuart or to the
House of Nassau, but to whatever was at the time established.

By the Jacobites this new ally was eagerly welcomed. They were at
that moment busied with schemes in which the help of a veteran
plotter was much needed. There had been a great stir among them
from the day on which it had been announced that William had
determined to take the command in Ireland; and they were all
looking forward with impatient hope to his departure.--He was
not a prince against whom men lightly venture to set up a
standard of rebellion. His courage, his sagacity, the secrecy of
his counsels, the success which had generally crowned his
enterprises, overawed the vulgar. Even his most acrimonious
enemies feared him at least as much as they hated him. While he
was at Kensington, ready to take horse at a moment's notice,
malecontents who prized their heads and their estates were
generally content to vent their hatred by drinking confusion to
his hooked nose, and by squeezing with significant energy the
orange which was his emblem. But their courage rose when they
reflected that the sea would soon roll between him and our
island. In the military and political calculations of that age,
thirty leagues of water were as important as three hundred
leagues now are. The winds and waves frequently interrupted all
communication between England and Ireland. It sometimes happened
that, during a fortnight or three weeks, not a word of
intelligence from London reached Dublin. Twenty English counties
might be up in arms long before any rumour that an insurrection
was even apprehended could reach Ulster. Early in the spring,
therefore, the leading malecontents assembled in London for the
purpose of concerting an extensive plan of action, and
corresponded assiduously both with France and with Ireland.

Such was the temper of the English factions when, on the
twentieth of March, the new Parliament met. The first duty which
the Commons had to perform was that of choosing a Speaker. Trevor
was proposed by Lowther, was elected without opposition, and was
presented and approved with the ordinary ceremonial. The King
then made a speech in which he especially recommended to the
consideration of the Houses two important subjects, the settling
of the revenue and the granting of an amnesty. He represented
strongly the necessity of despatch. Every day was precious, the
season for action was approaching. "Let not us," he said, "be
engaged in debates while our enemies are in the field."595

The first subject which the Commons took into consideration was
the state of the revenue. A great part of the taxes had, since
the accession of William and Mary, been collected under the
authority of Acts passed for short terms, and it was now time to
determine on a permanent arrangement. A list of the salaries and
pensions for which provision was to be made was laid before the
House; and the amount of the sums thus expended called forth very
just complaints from the independent members, among whom Sir
Charles Sedley distinguished himself by his sarcastic pleasantry.
A clever speech which he made against the placemen stole into
print and was widely circulated: it has since been often
republished; and it proves, what his poems and plays might make
us doubt, that his contemporaries were not mistaken in
considering him as a man of parts and vivacity. Unfortunately the
ill humour which the sight of the Civil List caused evaporated in
jests and invectives without producing any reform.

The ordinary revenue by which the government had been supported
before the Revolution had been partly hereditary, and had been
partly drawn from taxes granted to each sovereign for life. The
hereditary revenue had passed, with the crown, to William and
Mary. It was derived from the rents of the royal domains, from
fees, from fines, from wine licenses, from the first fruits and
tenths of benefices, from the receipts of the Post Office, and
from that part of the excise which had, immediately after the
Restoration, been granted to Charles the Second and to his
successors for ever in lieu of the feudal services due to our
ancient kings. The income from all these sources was estimated at
between four and five hundred thousand pounds.596

Those duties of excise and customs which had been granted to
James for life had, at the close of his reign, yielded about nine
hundred thousand pounds annually. William naturally wished to
have this income on the same terms on which his uncle had enjoyed
it; and his ministers did their best to gratify his wishes.
Lowther moved that the grant should be to the King and Queen for
their joint and separate lives, and spoke repeatedly and
earnestly in defence of this motion. He set forth William's
claims to public gratitude and confidence; the nation rescued
from Popery and arbitrary power; the Church delivered from
persecution; the constitution established on a firm basis. Would
the Commons deal grudgingly with a prince who had done more for
England than had ever been done for her by any of his
predecessors in so short a time, with a prince who was now about
to expose himself to hostile weapons and pestilential air in
order to preserve the English colony in Ireland, with a prince
who was prayed for in every corner of the world where a
congregation of Protestants could meet for the worship of God?597
But on this subject Lowther harangued in vain. Whigs and Tories
were equally fixed in the opinion that the liberality of
Parliaments had been the chief cause of the disasters of the last
thirty years; that to the liberality of the Parliament of 1660
was to be ascribed the misgovernment of the Cabal; that to the
liberality of the Parliament of 1685 was to be ascribed the
Declaration of Indulgence, and that the Parliament of 1690 would
be inexcusable if it did not profit by a long, a painful, an
unvarying experience. After much dispute a compromise was made.
That portion of the excise which had been settled for life on
James, and which was estimated at three hundred thousand pounds a
year, was settled on William and Mary for their joint and
separate lives. It was supposed that, with the hereditary
revenue, and with three hundred thousand a year more from the
excise, their Majesties would have, independent of parliamentary
control, between seven and eight hundred thousand a year. Out of
this income was to be defrayed the charge both of the royal
household and of those civil offices of which a list had been
laid before the House. This income was therefore called the Civil
List. The expenses of the royal household are now entirely
separated from the expenses of the civil government; but, by a
whimsical perversion, the name of Civil List has remained
attached to that portion of the revenue which is appropriated to
the expenses of the royal household. It is still more strange
that several neighbouring nations should have thought this most
unmeaning of all names worth borrowing. Those duties of customs
which had been settled for life on Charles and James
successively, and which, in the year before the Revolution, had
yielded six hundred thousand pounds, were granted to the Crown
for a term of only four years.598

William was by no means well pleased with this arrangement. He
thought it unjust and ungrateful in a people whose liberties he
had saved to bind him over to his good behaviour. "The gentlemen
of England," he said to Burnet, "trusted King James who was an
enemy of their religion and of their laws; and they will not
trust me by whom their religion and their laws have been
preserved." Burnet answered very properly that there was no mark
of personal confidence which His Majesty was not entitled to
demand, but that this question was not a question of personal
confidence. The Estates of the Realm wished to establish a
general principle. They wished to set a precedent which might
secure a remote posterity against evils such as the indiscreet
liberality of former Parliaments had produced. "From those evils
Your Majesty has delivered this generation. By accepting the gift
of the Commons on the terms on which it is offered Your Majesty
will be also a deliverer of future generations." William was not
convinced; but he had too much wisdom and selfcommand to give way
to his ill humour; and he accepted graciously what he could not
but consider as ungraciously given.599

The Civil List was charged with an annuity of twenty thousand
pounds to the Princess of Denmark, in addition to an annuity of
thirty thousand pounds which had been settled on her at the time
of her marriage. This arrangement was the result of a compromise
which had been effected with much difficulty and after many
irritating disputes. The King and Queen had never, since the
commencement of their reign, been on very good terms with their
sister. That William should have been disliked by a woman who had
just sense enough to perceive that his temper was sour and his
manners repulsive, and who was utterly incapable of appreciating
his higher qualities, is not extraordinary. But Mary was made to
be loved. So lively and intelligent a woman could not indeed
derive much pleasure from the society of Anne, who, when in good
humour, was meekly stupid, and, when in bad humour, was sulkily
stupid. Yet the Queen, whose kindness had endeared her to her
humblest attendants, would hardly have made an enemy of one whom
it was her duty and her interest to make a friend, had not an
influence strangely potent and strangely malignant been
incessantly at work to divide the Royal House against itself. The
fondness of the Princess for Lady Marlborough was such as, in a
superstitious age, would have been ascribed to some talisman or
potion. Not only had the friends, in their confidential
intercourse with each other, dropped all ceremony and all titles,
and become plain Mrs. Morley and plain Mrs. Freeman; but even
Prince George, who cared as much for the dignity of his birth as
he was capable of caring for any thing but claret and calvered
salmon, submitted to be Mr. Morley. The Countess boasted that she
had selected the name of Freeman because it was peculiarly suited
to the frankness and boldness of her character; and, to do her
justice, it was not by the ordinary arts of courtiers that she
established and long maintained her despotic empire over the
feeblest of minds, She had little of that tact which is the
characteristic talent of her sex; she was far too violent to
flatter or to dissemble: but, by a rare chance, she had fallen in
with a nature on which dictation and contradiction acted as
philtres. In this grotesque friendship all the loyalty, the
patience, the selfdevotion, was on the side of the mistress. The
whims, the haughty airs, the fits of ill temper, were on the side
of the waiting woman.

Nothing is more curious than the relation in which the two ladies
stood to Mr. Freeman, as they called Marlborough. In foreign
countries people knew in general that Anne was governed by the
Churchills. They knew also that the man who appeared to enjoy so
large a share of her favour was not only a great soldier and
politician, but also one of the finest gentlemen of his time,
that his face and figure were eminently handsome, his temper at
once bland and resolute, his manners at once engaging and noble.
Nothing could be more natural than that graces and
accomplishments like his should win a female heart. On the
Continent therefore many persons imagined that he was Anne's
favoured lover; and he was so described in contemporary French
libels which have long been forgotten. In England this calumny
never found credit even with the vulgar, and is nowhere to be
found even in the most ribald doggrel that was sung about our
streets. In truth the Princess seems never to have been guilty of
a thought inconsistent with her conjugal vows. To her
Marlborough, with all his genius and his valour, his beauty and
his grace, was nothing but the husband of her friend. Direct
power over Her Royal Highness he had none. He could influence her
only by the instrumentality of his wife; and his wife was no
passive instrument. Though it is impossible to discover, in any
thing that she ever did, said or wrote, any indication of
superior understanding, her fierce passions and strong will
enabled her often to rule a husband who was born to rule grave
senates and mighty armies. His courage, that courage which the
most perilous emergencies of war only made cooler and more
steady, failed him when he had to encounter his Sarah's ready
tears and voluble reproaches, the poutings of her lip and the
tossings of her head. History exhibits to us few spectacles more
remarkable than that of a great and wise man, who, when he had
combined vast and profound schemes of policy, could carry them
into effect only by inducing one foolish woman, who was often
unmanageable, to manage another woman who was more foolish still.

In one point the Earl and the Countess were perfectly agreed.
They were equally bent on getting money; though, when it was got,
he loved to hoard it, and she was not unwilling to spend it.600
The favour of the Princess they both regarded as a valuable
estate. In her father's reign, they had begun to grow rich by
means of her bounty. She was naturally inclined to parsimony;
and, even when she was on the throne, her equipages and tables
were by no means sumptuous.601 It might have been thought,
therefore, that, while she was a subject, thirty thousand a year,
with a residence in the palace, would have been more than
sufficient for all her wants. There were probably not in the
kingdom two noblemen possessed of such an income. But no income
would satisfy the greediness of those who governed her. She
repeatedly contracted debts which James repeatedly discharged,
not without expressing much surprise and displeasure.

The Revolution opened to the Churchills a new and boundless
prospect of gain. The whole conduct of their mistress at the
great crisis had proved that she had no will, no judgment, no
conscience, but theirs. To them she had sacrificed affections,
prejudices, habits, interests. In obedience to them, she had
joined in the conspiracy against her father; she had fled from
Whitehall in the depth of winter, through ice and mire, to a
hackney coach; she had taken refuge in the rebel camp; she had
consented to yield her place in the order of succession to the
Prince of Orange. They saw with pleasure that she, over whom they
possessed such boundless influence, possessed no common influence
over others. Scarcely had the Revolution been accomplished when
many Tories, disliking both the King who had been driven out and
the King who had come in, and doubting whether their religion
had more to fear from Jesuits or from Latitudinarians, showed a
strong disposition to rally round Anne. Nature had made her a
bigot. Such was the constitution of her mind that to the religion
of her nursery she could not but adhere, without examination and
without doubt, till she was laid in her coffin. In the court of
her father she had been deaf to all that could be urged in favour
of transubstantiation and auricular confession. In the court of
her brother in law she was equally deaf to all that could be
urged in favour of a general union among Protestants. This
slowness and obstinacy made her important. It was a great thing
to be the only member of the Royal Family who regarded Papists
and Presbyterians with an impartial aversion. While a large party
was disposed to make her an idol, she was regarded by her two
artful servants merely as a puppet. They knew that she had it in
her power to give serious annoyance to the government; and they
determined to use this power in order to extort money, nominally
for her, but really for themselves. While Marlborough was
commanding the English forces in the Low Countries, the execution
of the plan was necessarily left to his wife; and she acted, not
as he would doubtless have acted, with prudence and temper, but,
as is plain even from her own narrative, with odious violence and
insolence. Indeed she had passions to gratify from which he was
altogether free. He, though one of the most covetous, was one of
the least acrimonious of mankind; but malignity was in her a
stronger passion than avarice. She hated easily; she hated
heartily; and she hated implacably. Among the objects of her
hatred were all who were related to her mistress either on the
paternal or on the maternal side. No person who had a natural
interest in the Princess could observe without uneasiness the
strange infatuation which made her the slave of an imperious and
reckless termagant. This the Countess well knew. In her view the
Royal Family and the family of Hyde, however they might differ as
to other matters, were leagued against her; and she detested them
all, James, William and Mary, Clarendon and Rochester. Now was
the time to wreak the accumulated spite of years. It was not
enough to obtain a great, a regal, revenue for Anne. That revenue
must be obtained by means which would wound and humble those whom
the favourite abhorred. It must not be asked, it must not be
accepted, as a mark of fraternal kindness, but demanded in
hostile tones, and wrung by force from reluctant hands. No
application was made to the King and Queen. But they learned with
astonishment that Lady Marlborough was indefatigable in
canvassing the Tory members of Parliament, that a Princess's
party was forming, that the House of Commons would be moved to
settle on Her Royal Highness a vast income independent of the
Crown. Mary asked her sister what these proceedings meant. "I
hear," said Anne, "that my friends have a mind to make me some
settlement." It is said that the Queen, greatly hurt by an
expression which seemed to imply that she and her husband were
not among her sister's friends, replied with unwonted sharpness,
"Of what friends do you speak? What friends have you except the
King and me?"602 The subject was never again mentioned between
the sisters. Mary was probably sensible that she had made a
mistake in addressing herself to one who was merely a passive
instrument in the hands of others. An attempt was made to open a
negotiation with the Countess. After some inferior agents had
expostulated with her in vain, Shrewsbury waited on her. It might
have been expected that his intervention would have been
successful; for, if the scandalous chronicle of those times could
be trusted, he had stood high, too high, in her favour.603 He was
authorised by the King to promise that, if the Princess would
desist from soliciting the members of the House of Commons to
support her cause, the income of Her Royal Highness should be
increased from thirty thousand pounds to fifty thousand. The
Countess flatly rejected this offer. The King's word, she had the
insolence to hint, was not a sufficient security. "I am
confident," said Shrewsbury, "that His Majesty will strictly
fulfil his engagements. If he breaks them I will not serve him an
hour longer." "That may be very honourable in you," answered the
pertinacious vixen, "but it will be very poor comfort to the
Princess." Shrewsbury, after vainly attempting to move the
servant, was at length admitted to an audience of the mistress.
Anne, in language doubtless dictated by her friend Sarah, told
him that the business had gone too far to be stopped, and must be
left to the decision of the Commons.604

The truth was that the Princess's prompters hoped to obtain from
Parliament a much larger sum than was offered by the King.
Nothing less than seventy thousand a year would content them. But
their cupidity overreached itself. The House of Commons showed a
great disposition to gratify Her Royal Highness. But, when at
length her too eager adherents ventured to name the sum which
they wished to grant, the murmurs were loud. Seventy thousand a
year at a time when the necessary expenses of the State were
daily increasing, when the receipt of the customs was daily
diminishing, when trade was low, when every gentleman, every
farmer, was retrenching something from the charge of his table
and his cellar! The general opinion was that the sum which the
King was understood to be willing to give would be amply
sufficient.605 At last something was conceded on both sides. The
Princess was forced to content herself with fifty thousand a
year; and William agreed that this sum should be settled on her
by Act of Parliament. She rewarded the services of Lady
Marlborough with a pension of a thousand a year606; but this was
in all probability a very small part of what the Churchills
gained by the arrangement.

After these transactions the two royal sisters continued during
many months to live on terms of civility and even of apparent
friendship. But Mary, though she seems to have borne no malice to
Anne, undoubtedly felt against Lady Marlborough as much
resentment as a very gentle heart is capable of feeling.
Marlborough had been out of England during a great part of the
time which his wife had spent in canvassing among the Tories,
and, though he had undoubtedly acted in concert with her, had
acted, as usual, with temper and decorum. He therefore continued
to receive from William many marks of favour which were
unaccompanied by any indication of displeasure.

In the debates on the settling of the revenue, the distinction
between Whigs and Tories does not appear to have been very
clearly marked. In truth, if there was any thing about which the
two parties were agreed, it was the expediency of granting the
customs to the Crown for a time not exceeding four years. But
there were other questions which called forth the old animosity
in all its strength. The Whigs were now in a minority, but a
minority formidable in numbers, and more formidable in ability.
They carried on the parliamentary war, not less acrimoniously
than when they were a majority, but somewhat more artfully. They
brought forward several motions, such as no High Churchman could
well support, yet such as no servant of William and Mary could
well oppose. The Tory who voted for these motions would run a
great risk of being pointed at as a turncoat by the sturdy
Cavaliers of his county. The Tory who voted against those motions
would run a great risk of being frowned upon at Kensington.

It was apparently in pursuance of this policy that the Whigs laid
on the table of the House of Lords a bill declaring all the laws
passed by the late Parliament to be valid laws. No sooner had
this bill been read than the controversy of the preceeding spring
was renewed. The Whigs were joined on this occasion by almost all
those noblemen who were connected with the government. The rigid
Tories, with Nottingham at their head, professed themselves
willing to enact that every statute passed in 1689 should have
the same force that it would have had if it had been passed by a
parliament convoked in a regular manner; but nothing would induce
them to acknowledge that an assembly of lords and gentlemen, who
had come together without authority from the Great Seal, was
constitutionally a Parliament. Few questions seem to have excited
stronger passions than the question, practically altogether
unimportant, whether the bill should or should not be
declaratory. Nottingham, always upright and honourable, but a
bigot and a formalist, was on this subject singularly obstinate
and unreasonable. In one debate he lost his temper, forgot the
decorum which in general he strictly observed, and narrowly
escaped being committed to the custody of the Black Rod.607 After
much wrangling, the Whigs carried their point by a majority of
seven.608 Many peers signed a strong protest written by
Nottingham. In this protest the bill, which was indeed open to
verbal criticism, was impolitely described as being neither good
English nor good sense. The majority passed a resolution that the
protest should be expunged; and against this resolution
Nottingham and his followers again protested.609 The King was
displeased by the pertinacity of his Secretary of State; so much
displeased indeed that Nottingham declared his intention of
resigning the Seals; but the dispute was soon accommodated.
William was too wise not to know the value of an honest man in a
dishonest age. The very scrupulosity which made Nottingham a
mutineer was a security that he would never be a traitor.610

The bill went down to the Lower House; and it was full expected
that the contest there would be long and fierce; but a single
speech settled the question. Somers, with a force and eloquence
which surprised even an audience accustomed to hear him with
pleasure, exposed the absurdity of the doctrine held by the high
Tories. "If the Convention,"--it was thus that he argued,--"was
not a Parliament, how can we be a Parliament? An Act of Elizabeth
provides that no person shall sit or vote in this House till he
has taken the old oath of supremacy. Not one of us has taken that
oath. Instead of it, we have all taken the new oath of supremacy
which the late Parliament substituted for the old oath. It is
therefore a contradiction to say that the Acts of the late
Parliament are not now valid, and yet to ask us to enact that
they shall henceforth be valid. For either they already are so,
or we never can make them so." This reasoning, which was in truth
as unanswerable as that of Euclid, brought the debate to a speedy
close. The bill passed the Commons within forty-eight hours after
it had been read the first time.611

This was the only victory won by the Whigs during the whole
session. They complained loudly in the Lower House of the change
which had been made in the military government of the city of
London. The Tories, conscious of their strength, and heated by
resentment, not only refused to censure what had been done, but
determined to express publicly and formally their gratitude to
the King for having brought in so many churchmen and turned out
so many schismatics. An address of thanks was moved by Clarges,
member for Westminster, who was known to be attached to
Caermarthen. "The alterations which have been made in the City,"
said Clarges, "show that His Majesty has a tender care of us. I
hope that he will make similar alterations in every county of the
realm." The minority struggled hard. "Will you thank the King,"
they said, "for putting the sword into the hands of his most
dangerous enemies? Some of those whom he has been advised to
entrust with military command have not yet been able to bring
themselves to take the oath of allegiance to him. Others were
well known, in the evil days, as stanch jurymen, who were sure to
find an Exclusionist guilty on any evidence or no evidence." Nor
did the Whig orators refrain from using those topics on which all
factions are eloquent in the hour of distress, and which all
factions are but too ready to treat lightly in the hour of
prosperity. "Let us not," they said, "pass a vote which conveys a
reflection on a large body of our countrymen, good subjects, good
Protestants. The King ought to be the head of his whole people.
Let us not make him the head of a party." This was excellent
doctrine; but it scarcely became the lips of men who, a few weeks
before, had opposed the Indemnity Bill and voted for the
Sacheverell Clause. The address was carried by a hundred and
eighty-five votes to a hundred and thirty-six.612

As soon as the numbers had been announced, the minority, smarting
from their defeat, brought forward a motion which caused no
little embarrassment to the Tory placemen. The oath of
allegiance, the Whigs said, was drawn in terms far too lax. It
might exclude from public employment a few honest Jacobites who
were generally too dull to be mischievous; but it was altogether
inefficient as a means of binding the supple and slippery
consciences of cunning priests, who, while affecting to hold the
Jesuits in abhorrence, were proficients in that immoral casuistry
which was the worst part of Jesuitism. Some grave divines had
openly said, others had even dared to write, that they had sworn
fealty to William in a sense altogether different from that in
which they had sworn fealty to James. To James they had plighted
the entire faith which a loyal subject owes to a rightful
sovereign; but, when they promised to bear true allegiance to
William, they meant only that they would not, whilst he was able
to hang them for rebelling or conspiring against him, run any
risk of being hanged. None could wonder that the precepts and
example of the malecontent clergy should have corrupted the
malecontent laity. When Prebendaries and Rectors were not ashamed
to avow that they had equivocated, in the very act of kissing the
New Testament, it was hardly to be expected that attorneys and
taxgatherers would be more scrupulous. The consequence was that
every department swarmed with traitors; that men who ate the
King's bread, men who were entrusted with the duty of collecting
and disbursing his revenues, of victualling his ships, of
clothing his soldiers, of making his artillery ready for the
field, were in the habit of calling him an usurper, and of
drinking to his speedy downfall. Could any government be safe
which was hated and betrayed by its own servants? And was not the
English government exposed to the dangers which, even if all its
servants were true, might well excite serious apprehensions? A
disputed succession, war with France, war in Scotland, war in
Ireland, was not all this enough without treachery in every
arsenal and in every custom house? There must be an oath drawn in
language too precise to be explained away, in language which no
Jacobite could repeat without the consciousness that he was
perjuring himself. Though the zealots of indefeasible hereditary
right had in general no objection to swear allegiance to William,
they would probably not choose to abjure James. On such grounds
as these, an Abjuration Bill of extreme severity was brought into
the House of Commons. It was proposed to enact that every person
who held any office, civil, military, or spiritual, should, on
pain of deprivation, solemnly abjure the exiled King; that the
oath of abjuration might be tendered by any justice of the peace
to any subject of their Majesties; and that, if it were refused,
the recusant should be sent to prison, and should lie there as
long as he continued obstinate.

The severity of this last provision was generally and most justly
blamed. To turn every ignorant meddling magistrate into a state
inquisitor, to insist that a plain man, who lived peaceably, who
obeyed the laws, who paid his taxes, who had never held and who
did not expect ever to hold any office, and who had never
troubled his head about problems of political philosophy, should
declare, under the sanction of an oath, a decided opinion on a
point about which the most learned Doctors of the age had written
whole libraries of controversial books, and to send him to rot in
a gaol if he could not bring himself to swear, would surely have
been the height of tyranny. The clause which required public
functionaries to abjure the deposed King was not open to the same
objections. Yet even against this clause some weighty arguments
were urged. A man, it was said, who has an honest heart and a
sound understanding is sufficiently bound by the present oath.
Every such man, when he swears to be faithful and to bear true
allegiance to King William, does, by necessary implication,
abjure King James. There may doubtless be among the servants of
the State, and even among the ministers of the Church, some
persons who have no sense of honour or religion, and who are
ready to forswear themselves for lucre. There may be others who
have contracted the pernicious habit of quibbling away the most
sacred obligations of morality, and who have convinced themselves
that they can innocently make, with a mental reservation, a
promise which it would be sinful to make without such a
reservation. Against these two classes of Jacobites it is true
that the present test affords no security. But will the new test,
will any test, be more efficacious? Will a person who has no
conscience, or a person whose conscience can be set at rest by
immoral sophistry, hesitate to repeat any phrase that you can
dictate? The former will kiss the book without any scruple at
all. The scruples of the latter will be very easily removed. He
now swears allegiance to one King with a mental reservation. He
will then abjure the other King with a mental reservation. Do not
flatter yourselves that the ingenuity of lawgivers will ever
devise an oath which the ingenuity of casuists will not evade.
What indeed is the value of any oath in such a matter? Among the
many lessons which the troubles of the last generation have left
us none is more plain than this, that no form of words, however
precise, no imprecation, however awful, ever saved, or ever will
save, a government from destruction, Was not the Solemn League
and Covenant burned by the common hangman amidst the huzzas of
tens of thousands who had themselves subscribed it? Among the
statesmen and warriors who bore the chief part in restoring
Charles the Second, how many were there who had not repeatedly
abjured him? Nay, is it not well known that some of those persons
boastfully affirmed that, if they had not abjured him, they never
could have restored him?

The debates were sharp; and the issue during a short time seemed
doubtful; for some of the Tories who were in office were
unwilling to give a vote which might be thought to indicate that
they were lukewarm in the cause of the King whom they served.
William, however, took care to let it be understood that he had
no wish to impose a new test on his subjects. A few words from
him decided the event of the conflict. The bill was rejected
thirty-six hours after it had been brought in by a hundred and
ninety-two votes to a hundred and sixty-five.613

Even after this defeat the Whigs pertinaciously returned to the attack. Having
failed in one House they renewed the battle in
the other. Five days after the Abjuration Bill had been thrown
out in the Commons, another Abjuration Bill, somewhat milder, but
still very severe, was laid on the table of the Lords.614 What
was now proposed was that no person should sit in either House of
Parliament or hold any office, civil, military, or judicial,
without making a declaration that he would stand by William and
Mary against James and James's adherents. Every male in the
kingdom who had attained the age of sixteen was to make the same
declaration before a certain day. If he failed to do so he was to
pay double taxes and to be incapable of exercising the elective

On the day fixed for the second reading, the King came down to
the House of Peers. He gave his assent in form to several laws,
unrobed, took his seat on a chair of state which had been placed
for him, and listened with much interest to the debate. To the
general surprise, two noblemen who had been eminently zealous for
the Revolution spoke against the proposed test. Lord Wharton, a
Puritan who had fought for the Long Parliament, said, with
amusing simplicity, that he was a very old man, that he had lived
through troubled times, that he had taken a great many oaths in
his day, and that he was afraid that he had not kept them all. He
prayed that the sin might not be laid to his charge; and he
declared that he could not consent to lay any more snares for his
own soul and for the souls of his neighbours. The Earl of
Macclesfield, the captain of the English volunteers who had
accompanied William from Helvoetsluys to Torbay, declared that he
was much in the same case with Lord Wharton. Marlborough
supported the bill. He wondered, he said, that it should be
opposed by Macclesfield, who had borne so preeminent a part in
the Revolution. Macclesfield, irritated by the charge of
inconsistency, retorted with terrible severity: "The noble Earl,"
he said, "exaggerates the share which I had in the deliverance of
our country. I was ready, indeed, and always shall be ready, to
venture my life in defence of her laws and liberties. But there
are lengths to which, even for the sake of her laws and
liberties, I could never go. I only rebelled against a bad King;
there were those who did much more."

Marlborough, though not easily discomposed, could not but feel
the edge of this sarcasm; William looked displeased; and the
aspect of the whole House was troubled and gloomy. It was
resolved by fifty-one votes to forty that the bill should be
committed; and it was committed, but never reported. After many
hard struggles between the Whigs headed by Shrewsbury and the
Tories headed by Caermarthen, it was so much mutilated that it
retained little more than its name, and did not seem to those who
had introduced it to be worth any further contest.615

The discomfiture of the Whigs was completed by a communication
from the King. Caermarthen appeared in the House of Lords bearing
in his hand a parchment signed by William. It was an Act of Grace
for political offences.

Between an Act of Grace originating with the Sovereign and an Act
of Indemnity originating with the Estates of the Realm there are
some remarkable distinctions. An Act of Indemnity passes through
all the stages through which other laws pass, and may, during its
progress, be amended by either House. An Act of Grace is received
with peculiar marks of respect, is read only once by the Lords
and once by the Commons, and must be either rejected altogether
or accepted as it stands.616 William had not ventured to submit
such an Act to the preceding Parliament. But in the new
Parliament he was certain of a majority. The minority gave no
trouble. The stubborn spirit which had, during two sessions,
obstructed the progress of the Bill of Indemnity had been at
length broken by defeats and humiliations. Both Houses stood up
uncovered while the Act of Grace was read, and gave their
sanction to it without one dissentient voice.

There would not have been this unanimity had not a few great
criminals been excluded from the benefits of the amnesty.
Foremost among them stood the surviving members of the High Court
of Justice which had sate on Charles the First. With these
ancient men were joined the two nameless executioners who had
done their office, with masked faces, on the scaffold before the
Banqueting House. None knew who they were, or of what rank. It
was probable that they had been long dead. Yet it was thought
necessary to declare that, if even now, after the lapse of forty-
one years, they should be discovered, they would still be liable
to the punishment of their great crime. Perhaps it would hardly
have been thought necessary to mention these men, if the
animosities of the preceding generation had not been rekindled by
the recent appearance of Ludlow in England. About thirty of the
agents of the tyranny of James were left to the law. With these
exceptions, all political offences, committed before the day on
which the royal signature was affixed to the Act, were covered
with a general oblivion.617 Even the criminals who were by name
excluded had little to fear. Many of them were in foreign
countries; and those who were in England were well assured that,
unless they committed some new fault, they would not be molested.

The Act of Grace the nation owed to William alone; and it is one
of his noblest and purest titles to renown. From the commencement
of the civil troubles of the seventeenth century down to the
Revolution, every victory gained by either party had been
followed by a sanguinary proscription. When the Roundheads
triumphed over the Cavaliers, when the Cavaliers triumphed over
the Roundheads, when the fable of the Popish plot gave the
ascendency to the Whigs, when the detection of the Rye House Plot
transferred the ascendency to the Tories, blood, and more blood,
and still more blood had flowed. Every great explosion and every
great recoil of public feeling had been accompanied by severities
which, at the time, the predominant faction loudly applauded, but
which, on a calm review, history and posterity have condemned. No
wise and humane man, whatever may be his political opinions, now
mentions without reprehension the death either of Laud or of
Vane, either of Stafford or of Russell. Of the alternate
butcheries the last and the worst is that which is inseparably
associated with the names of James and Jeffreys. But it assuredly
would not have been the last, perhaps it might not have been the
worst, if William had not had the virtue and the firmness
resolutely to withstand the importunity of his most zealous
adherents. These men were bent on exacting a terrible retribution
for all they had undergone during seven disastrous years. The
scaffold of Sidney, the gibbet of Cornish, the stake at which
Elizabeth Gaunt had perished in the flames for the crime of
harbouring a fugitive, the porches of the Somersetshire churches
surmounted by the skulls and quarters of murdered peasants, the
holds of those Jamaica ships from which every day the carcass of
some prisoner dead of thirst and foul air had been flung to the
sharks, all these things were fresh in the memory of the party
which the Revolution had made, for a time, dominant in the State.
Some chiefs of that party had redeemed their necks by paying
heavy ransom. Others had languished long in Newgate. Others had
starved and shivered, winter after winter, in the garrets of
Amsterdam. It was natural that in the day of their power and
prosperity they should wish to inflict some part of what they had
suffered. During a whole year they pursued their scheme of
revenge. They succeeded in defeating Indemnity Bill after
Indemnity Bill. Nothing stood between them and their victims, but
William's immutable resolution that the glory of the great
deliverance which he had wrought should not be sullied by
cruelty. His clemency was peculiar to himself. It was not the
clemency of an ostentatious man, or of a sentimental man, or of
an easy tempered man. It was cold, unconciliating, inflexible. It
produced no fine stage effects. It drew on him the savage
invectives of those whose malevolent passions he refused to
satisfy. It won for him no gratitude from those who owed to him
fortune, liberty and life. While the violent Whigs railed at his
lenity, the agents of the fallen government, as soon as they
found themselves safe, instead of acknowledging their obligations
to him, reproached him in insulting language with the mercy which
he had extended to them. His Act of Grace, they said, had
completely refuted his Declaration. Was it possible to believe
that, if there had been any truth in the charges which he had
brought against the late government, he would have granted
impunity to the guilty? It was now acknowledged by himself, under
his own hand, that the stories by which he and his friends had
deluded the nation and driven away the royal family were mere
calumnies devised to serve a turn. The turn had been served; and
the accusations by which he had inflamed the public mind to
madness were coolly withdrawn.618 But none of these things moved
him. He had done well. He had risked his popularity with men who
had been his warmest admirers, in order to give repose and
security to men by whom his name was never mentioned without a
curse. Nor had he conferred a less benefit on those whom he had
disappointed of their revenge than on those whom he had
protected. If he had saved one faction from a proscription, he
had saved the other from the reaction which such a proscription
would inevitably have produced. If his people did not justly
appreciate his policy, so much the worse for them. He had
discharged his duty by them. He feared no obloquy; and he wanted
no thanks.

On the twentieth of May the Act of Grace was passed. The King
then informed the Houses that his visit to Ireland could no
longer be delayed, that he had therefore determined to prorogue
them, and that, unless some unexpected emergency made their
advice and assistance necessary to him, he should not call them
again from their homes till the next winter. "Then," he said, "I
hope, by the blessing of God, we shall have a happy meeting."

The Parliament had passed an Act providing that, whenever he
should go out of England, it should be lawful for Mary to
administer the government of the kingdom in his name and her own.
It was added that he should nevertheless, during his absence,
retain all his authority. Some objections were made to this
arrangement. Here, it was said, were two supreme Powers in one
State. A public functionary might receive diametrically opposite
orders from the King and the Queen, and might not know which to
obey. The objection was, beyond all doubt, speculatively just;
but there was such perfect confidence and affection, between the
royal pair that no practical inconvenience was to be

As far as Ireland was concerned, the prospects of William were
much more cheering than they had been a few months earlier. The
activity with which he had personally urged forward the
preparations for the next campaign had produced an extraordinary
effect. The nerves of the government were new strung. In every
department of the military administration the influence of a
vigorous mind was perceptible. Abundant supplies of food,
clothing and medicine, very different in quality from those which
Shales had furnished, were sent across Saint George's Channel. A
thousand baggage waggons had been made or collected with great
expedition; and, during some weeks, the road between London and
Chester was covered with them. Great numbers of recruits were
sent to fill the chasms which pestilence had made in the English
ranks. Fresh regiments from Scotland, Cheshire, Lancashire, and
Cumberland had landed in the Bay of Belfast. The uniforms and
arms of the new corners clearly indicated the potent influence of
the master's eye. With the British battalions were interspersed
several hardy bands of German and Scandinavian mercenaries.
Before the end of May. the English force in Ulster amounted to
thirty thousand fighting men. A few more troops and an immense
quantity of military stores were on board of a fleet which lay in
the estuary of the Dee, and which was ready to weigh anchor as
soon as the King was on board.620

James ought to have made an equally good use of the time during
which his army had been in winter quarters. Strict discipline and
regular drilling might, in the interval between November and May,
have turned the athletic and enthusiastic peasants who were
assembled under his standard into good soldiers. But the
opportunity was lost. The Court of Dublin was, during that season
of inaction, busied with dice and claret, love letters and
challenges. The aspect of the capital was indeed not very
brilliant. The whole number of coaches which could be mustered
there, those of the King and of the French Legation included, did
not amount to forty.621 But though there was little splendour
there was much dissoluteness. Grave Roman Catholics shook their
heads and said that the Castle did not look like the palace of a
King who gloried in being the champion of the Church.622 The
military administration was as deplorable as ever. The cavalry
indeed was, by the exertions of some gallant officers, kept in a
high state of efficiency. But a regiment of infantry differed in
nothing but name from a large gang of Rapparees. Indeed a gang of
Rapparees gave less annoyance to peaceable citizens, and more
annoyance to the enemy, than a regiment of infantry. Avaux
strongly represented, in a memorial which he delivered to James,
the abuses which made the Irish foot a curse and a scandal to
Ireland. Whole companies, said the ambassador, quit their colours
on the line of march and wander to right and left pillaging and
destroying; the soldier takes no care of his arms; the officer
never troubles himself to ascertain whether the arms are in good
order; the consequence is that one man in every three has lost
his musket, and that another man in every three has a musket that
will not go off. Avaux adjured the King to prohibit marauding, to
give orders that the troops should be regularly exercised, and to
punish every officer who suffered his men to neglect their
weapons and accoutrements. If these things were done, His Majesty
might hope to have, in the approaching spring, an army with which
the enemy would be unable to contend. This was good advice; but
James was so far from taking it that he would hardly listen to it
with patience. Before he had heard eight lines read he flew into
a passion and accused the ambassador of exaggeration. "This
paper, Sir," said Avaux, "is not written to be published. It is
meant solely for Your Majesty's information; and, in a paper
meant solely for Your Majesty's information, flattery and
disguise would be out of place; but I will not persist in reading
what is so disagreeable." "Go on," said James very angrily; "I
will hear the whole." He gradually became calmer, took the
memorial, and promised to adopt some of the suggestions which it
contained. But his promise was soon forgotten.623

His financial administration was of a piece with his military
administration. His one fiscal resource was robbery, direct or
indirect. Every Protestant who had remained in any part of the
three southern provinces of Ireland was robbed directly, by the
simple process of taking money out of his strong box, drink out
of his cellars, fuel from his turf stack, and clothes from his
wardrobe. He was robbed indirectly by a new issue of counters,
smaller in size and baser in material than any which had yet
borne the image and superscription of James. Even brass had begun
to be scarce at Dublin; and it was necessary to ask assistance
from Lewis, who charitably bestowed on his ally an old cracked
piece of cannon to be coined into crowns and shillings.624

But the French king had determined to send over succours of a
very different kind. He proposed to take into his own service,
and to form by the best discipline then known in the world, four
Irish regiments. They were to be commanded by Macarthy, who had
been severely wounded and taken prisoner at Newton Butler. His
wounds had been healed; and he had regained his liberty by
violating his parole. This disgraceful breach of faith he had
made more disgraceful by paltry tricks and sophistical excuses
which would have become a Jesuit better than a gentleman and a
soldier. Lewis was willing that the Irish regiments should be
sent to him in rags and unarmed, and insisted only that the men
should be stout, and that the officers should not be bankrupt
traders and discarded lacqueys, but, if possible, men of good
family who had seen service. In return for these troops, who were
in number not quite four thousand, he undertook to send to
Ireland between seven and eight thousand excellent French
infantry, who were likely in a day of battle to be of more use
than all the kernes of Leinster, Munster and Connaught

One great error he committed. The army which he was sending to
assist James, though small indeed when compared with the army of
Flanders or with the army of the Rhine, was destined for a
service on which the fate of Europe might depend, and ought
therefore to have been commanded by a general of eminent
abilities. There was no want of such generals in the French
service. But James and his Queen begged hard for Lauzun, and
carried this point against the strong representations of Avaux,
against the advice of Louvois, and against the judgment of Lewis

When Lauzun went to the cabinet of Louvois to receive
instructions, the wise minister held language which showed how
little confidence he felt in the vain and eccentric knight
errant. "Do not, for God's sake, suffer yourself to be hurried
away by your desire of fighting. Put all your glory in tiring the
English out; and, above all things, maintain strict

Not only was the appointment of Lauzun in itself a bad
appointment: but, in order that one man might fill a post for
which he was unfit, it was necessary to remove two men from posts
for which they were eminently fit. Immoral and hardhearted as
Rosen and Avaux were, Rosen was a skilful captain, and Avaux was
a skilful politician. Though it is not probable that they would
have been able to avert the doom of Ireland, it is probable that
they might have been able to protract the contest; and it was
evidently for the interest of France that the contest should be
protracted. But it would have been an affront to the old general
to put him under the orders of Lauzun; and between the ambassador
and Lauzun there was such an enmity that they could not be
expected to act cordially together. Both Rosen and Avaux,
therefore, were, with many soothing assurances of royal
approbation and favour, recalled to France. They sailed from Cork
early in the spring by the fleet which had conveyed Lauzun
thither.627 Lauzun had no sooner landed than he found that,
though he had been long expected, nothing had been prepared for
his reception. No lodgings had been provided for his men, no
place of security for his stores, no horses, no carriages.628 His
troops had to undergo the hardships of a long march through a desert before they
arrived at Dublin. At Dublin, indeed, they found
tolerable accommodation. They were billeted on Protestants, lived
at free quarter, had plenty of bread, and threepence a day.
Lauzun was appointed Commander in Chief of the Irish army, and
took up his residence in the Castle.629 His salary was the same
with that of the Lord Lieutenant, eight thousand Jacobuses,
equivalent to ten thousand pounds sterling, a year. This sum
James offered to pay, not in the brass which bore his own effigy,
but in French gold. But Lauzun, among whose faults avarice had no
place, refused to fill his own coffers from an almost empty

On him and on the Frenchmen who accompanied him the misery of
the Irish people and the imbecility of the Irish government
produced an effect which they found it difficult to describe.
Lauzun wrote to Louvois that the Court and the whole kingdom were
in a state not to be imagined by a person who had always lived in
well governed countries. It was, he said, a chaos, such as he had
read of in the book of Genesis. The whole business of all the
public functionaries was to quarrel with each other, and to
plunder the government and the people. After he had been about a
month at the Castle, he declared that he would not go through
such another month for all the world. His ablest officers
confirmed his testimony.631 One of them, indeed, was so unjust as
to represent the people of Ireland not merely as ignorant and
idle, which they were, but as hopelessly stupid and unfeeling,
which they assuredly were not. The English policy, he said, had
so completely brutalised them, that they could hardly be called
human beings. They were insensible to praise and blame, to
promises and threats. And yet it was pity of them; for they were
physically the finest race of men in the world.632

By this time Schomberg had opened the campaign auspiciously. He
had with little difficulty taken Charlemont, the last important
fastness which the Irish occupied in Ulster. But the great work
of reconquering the three southern provinces of the island he
deferred till William should arrive. William meanwhile was busied
in making arrangements for the government and defence of England
during his absence. He well knew that the Jacobites were on the
alert. They had not till very lately been an united and organized
faction. There had been, to use Melfort's phrase, numerous gangs,
which were all in communication with James at Dublin Castle, or
with Mary of Modena at Saint Germains, but which had no
connection with each other and were unwilling to trust each
other.633 But since it had been known that the usurper was about
to cross the sea, and that his sceptre would be left in a female
hand, these gangs had been drawing close together, and had begun
to form one extensive confederacy. Clarendon, who had refused the
oaths, and, Aylesbury, who had dishonestly taken them, were among
the chief traitors. Dartmouth, though he had sworn allegiance to
the sovereigns who were in possession, was one of their most
active enemies, and undertook what may be called the maritime
department of the plot. His mind was constantly occupied by
schemes, disgraceful to an English seaman, for the destruction of
the English fleets and arsenals. He was in close communication
with some naval officers, who, though they served the new
government, served it sullenly and with half a heart; and he
flattered himself that by promising these men ample rewards, and
by artfully inflaming the jealous animosity with which they
regarded the Dutch flag, he should prevail on them to desert and
to carry their ships into some French or Irish port.634

The conduct of Penn was scarcely less scandalous. He was a
zealous and busy Jacobite; and his new way of life was even more
unfavourable than his late way of life had been to moral purity.
It was hardly possible to be at once a consistent Quaker and a
courtier: but it was utterly impossible to be at once a
consistent Quaker and a conspirator. It is melancholy to relate
that Penn, while professing to consider even defensive war as
sinful, did every thing in his power to bring a foreign army into
the heart of his own country. He wrote to inform James that the
adherents of the Prince of Orange dreaded nothing so much as an
appeal to the sword, and that, if England were now invaded from
France or from Ireland, the number of Royalists would appear to
be greater than ever. Avaux thought this letter so important,
that he sent a translation of it to Lewis.635 A good effect, the
shrewd ambassador wrote, had been produced, by this and similar
communications, on the mind of King James. His Majesty was at
last convinced that he could recover his dominions only sword in
hand. It is a curious fact that it should have been reserved for
the great preacher of peace to produce this conviction in the
mind of the old tyrant.636 Penn's proceedings had not escaped the
observation of the government. Warrants had been out against him;
and he had been taken into custody; but the evidence against him
had not been such as would support a charge of high treason: he
had, as with all his faults he deserved to have, many friends
in every party; he therefore soon regained his liberty, and
returned to his plots.637

But the chief conspirator was Richard Graham, Viscount Preston,
who had, in the late reign, been Secretary of State. Though a
peer in Scotland, he was only a baronet in England. He had,
indeed, received from Saint Germains an English patent of
nobility; but the patent bore a date posterior to that flight
which the Convention had pronounced an abdication. The Lords had,
therefore, not only refused to admit him to a share of their
privileges, but had sent him to prison for presuming to call
himself one of their order. He had, however, by humbling himself,
and by withdrawing his claim, obtained his liberty.638 Though the
submissive language which he had condescended to use on this
occasion did not indicate a spirit prepared for martyrdom, he was
regarded by his party, and by the world in general, as a man of
courage and honour. He still retained the seals of his office,
and was still considered by the adherents of indefeasible
hereditary right as the real Secretary of State. He was in high
favour with Lewis, at whose court he had formerly resided, and
had, since the Revolution, been intrusted by the French
government with considerable sums of money for political

While Preston was consulting in the capital with the other heads
of the faction, the rustic Jacobites were laying in arms, holding
musters, and forming themselves into companies, troops, and
regiments. There were alarming symptoms in Worcestershire. In
Lancashire many gentlemen had received commissions signed by
James, called themselves colonels and captains, and made out long
lists of noncommissioned officers and privates. Letters from
Yorkshire brought news that large bodies of men, who seemed to
have met for no good purpose, had been seen on the moors near
Knaresborough. Letters from Newcastle gave an account of a great
match at football which had been played in Northumberland, and
was suspected to have been a pretext for a gathering of the
disaffected. In the crowd, it was said, were a hundred and fifty
horsemen well mounted and armed, of whom many were Papists.640

Meantime packets of letters full of treason were constantly
passing and repassing between Kent and Picardy, and between Wales
and Ireland. Some of the messengers were honest fanatics; but
others were mere mercenaries, and trafficked in the secrets of
which they were the bearers.

Of these double traitors the most remarkable was William Fuller.
This man has himself told us that, when he was very young, he
fell in with a pamphlet which contained an account of the
flagitious life and horrible death of Dangerfield. The boy's
imagination was set on fire; he devoured the book; he almost got
it by heart; and he was soon seized, and ever after haunted, by a
strange presentiment that his fate would resemble that of the
wretched adventurer whose history he had so eagerly read.641 It
might have been supposed that the prospect of dying in Newgate,
with a back flayed and an eye knocked out, would not have seemed
very attractive. But experience proves that there are some
distempered minds for which notoriety, even when accompanied with
pain and shame, has an irresistible fascination. Animated by this
loathsome ambition, Fuller equalled, and perhaps surpassed, his
model. He was bred a Roman Catholic, and was page to Lady
Melfort, when Lady Melfort shone at Whitehall as one of the
loveliest women in the train of Mary of Modena. After the
Revolution, he followed his mistress to France, was repeatedly
employed in delicate and perilous commissions, and was thought at
Saint Germains to be a devoted servant of the House of Stuart. In
truth, however, he had, in one of his journeys to London, sold
himself to the new government, and had abjured the faith in which
he had been brought up. The honour, if it is to be so called, of
turning him from a worthless Papist into a worthless Protestant
he ascribed, with characteristic impudence, to the lucid
reasoning and blameless life of Tillotson.

In the spring of 1690, Mary of Modena wished to send to her
correspondents in London some highly important despatches. As
these despatches were too bulky to be concealed in the clothes of
a single messenger, it was necessary to employ two confidential
persons. Fuller was one. The other was a zealous young Jacobite
called Crone. Before they set out, they received full
instructions from the Queen herself. Not a scrap of paper was to
be detected about them by an ordinary search: but their buttons
contained letters written in invisible ink.

The pair proceeded to Calais. The governor of that town furnished
them with a boat, which, under cover of the night, set them on
the low marshy coast of Kent, near the lighthouse of Dungeness.
They walked to a farmhouse, procured horses, and took different
roads to London. Fuller hastened to the palace at Kensington, and
delivered the documents with which he was charged into the King's
hand. The first letter which William unrolled seemed to contain
only florid compliments: but a pan of charcoal was lighted: a
liquor well known to the diplomatists of that age was applied to
the paper: an unsavoury steam filled the closet; and lines full
of grave meaning began to appear.

The first thing to be done was to secure Crone. He had
unfortunately had time to deliver his letters before he was
caught: but a snare was laid for him into which he easily fell.
In truth the sincere Jacobites were generally wretched plotters.
There was among them an unusually large proportion of sots,
braggarts, and babblers; and Crone was one of these. Had he been
wise, he would have shunned places of public resort, kept strict
guard over his lips, and stinted himself to one bottle at a meal.
He was found by the messengers of the government at a tavern
table in Gracechurch Street, swallowing bumpers to the health of
King James, and ranting about the coming restoration, the French
fleet, and the thousands of honest Englishmen who were awaiting
the signal to rise in arms for their rightful Sovereign. He was
carried to the Secretary's office at Whitehall. He at first
seemed to be confident and at his ease: but when Fuller appeared
among the bystanders at liberty, and in a fashionable garb, with
a sword, the prisoner's courage fell; and he was scarcely able to

The news that Fuller had turned king's evidence, that Crone had
been arrested, and that important letters from Saint Germains
were in the hands of William, flew fast through London, and
spread dismay among all who were conscious of guilt.643 It was
true that the testimony of one witness, even if that witness had
been more respectable than Fuller, was not legally sufficient to
convict any person of high treason. But Fuller had so managed
matters that several witnesses could be produced to corroborate
his evidence against Crone; and, if Crone, under the strong
terror of death, should imitate Fuller's example, the heads of
all the chiefs of the conspiracy would be at the mercy of the
government. The spirits of the Jacobites rose, however, when it
was known that Crone, though repeatedly interrogated by those
who had him in their power, and though assured that nothing but a
frank confession could save his life, had resolutely continued
silent. What effect a verdict of Guilty and the near prospect of
the gallows might produce on him remained to be seen. His
accomplices were by no means willing that his fortitude should be
tried by so severe a test. They therefore employed numerous
artifices, legal and illegal, to avert a conviction. A woman
named Clifford, with whom he had lodged, and who was one of the
most active and cunning agents of the Jacobite faction, was
entrusted with the duty of keeping him steady to the cause, and
of rendering to him services from which scrupulous or timid
agents might have shrunk. When the dreaded day came, Fuller was
too ill to appear in the witness box, and the trial was
consequently postponed. He asserted that his malady was not
natural, that a noxious drug had been administered to him in a
dish of porridge, that his nails were discoloured, that his hair
came off, and that able physicians pronounced him poisoned. But
such stories, even when they rest on authority much better than
that of Fuller, ought to be received with great distrust.

While Crone was awaiting his trial, another agent of the Court of
Saint Germains, named Tempest, was seized on the road between
Dover and London, and was found to be the bearer of numerous
letters addressed to malecontents in England.644

Every day it became more plain that the State was surrounded by
dangers: and yet it was absolutely necessary that, at this
conjuncture, the able and resolute Chief of the State should quit
his post.

William, with painful anxiety, such as he alone was able to
conceal under an appearance of stoical serenity, prepared to take
his departure. Mary was in agonies of grief; and her distress
affected him more than was imagined by those who judged of his
heart by his demeanour.645 He knew too that he was about to leave
her surrounded by difficulties with which her habits had not
qualified her to contend. She would be in constant need of wise
and upright counsel; and where was such counsel to be found?
There were indeed among his servants many able men and a few
virtuous men. But, even when he was present, their political and
personal animosities had too often made both their abilities and
their virtues useless to him. What chance was there that the
gentle Mary would be able to restrain that party spirit and that
emulation which had been but very imperfectly kept in order by
her resolute and politic lord? If the interior cabinet which was
to assist the Queen were composed exclusively either of Whigs or
of Tories, half the nation would be disgusted. Yet, if Whigs and
Tories were mixed, it was certain that there would be constant
dissension. Such was William's situation that he had only a
choice of evils.

All these difficulties were increased by the conduct of
Shrewsbury. The character of this man is a curious study. He
seemed to be the petted favourite both of nature and of fortune.
Illustrious birth, exalted rank, ample possessions, fine parts,
extensive acquirements, an agreeable person, manners singularly
graceful and engaging, combined to make him an object of
admiration and envy. But, with all these advantages, he had some
moral and intellectual peculiarities which made him a torment to
himself and to all connected with him. His conduct at the time of
the Revolution had given the world a high opinion, not merely of
his patriotism, but of his courage, energy and decision. It
should seem, however, that youthful enthusiasm and the
exhilaration produced by public sympathy and applause had, on
that occasion, raised him above himself. Scarcely any other part
of his life was of a piece with that splendid commencement. He
had hardly become Secretary of State when it appeared that his
nerves were too weak for such a post. The daily toil, the heavy
responsibility, the failures, the mortifications, the obloquy,
which are inseparable from power, broke his spirit, soured his
temper, and impaired his health. To such natures as his the
sustaining power of high religious principle seems to be
peculiarly necessary; and unfortunately Shrewsbury had, in the
act of shaking off the yoke of that superstition in which he had
been brought up, liberated himself also from more salutary bands
which might perhaps have braced his too delicately constituted
mind into stedfastness and uprightness. Destitute of such
support, he was, with great abilities, a weak man, and, though
endowed with many amiable and attractive qualities, could not be
called an honest man. For his own happiness, he should either
have been much better or much worse. As it was, he never knew
either that noble peace of mind which is the reward of rectitude,
or that abject peace of mind which springs from impudence and
insensibility. Few people who have had so little power to resist
temptation have suffered so cruelly from remorse and shame.

To a man of this temper the situation of a minister of state
during the year which followed the Revolution must have been
constant torture. The difficulties by which the government was
beset on all sides, the malignity of its enemies, the
unreasonableness of its friends, the virulence with which the
hostile factions fell on each other and on every mediator who
attempted to part them, might indeed have discouraged a more
resolute spirit. Before Shrewsbury had been six months in office,
he had completely lost heart and head. He began to address to
William letters which it is difficult to imagine that a prince so
strongminded can have read without mingled compassion and
contempt. "I am sensible,"--such was the constant burden of these
epistles,--"that I am unfit for my place. I cannot exert
myself. I am not the same man that I was half a year ago. My
health is giving way. My mind is on the rack. My memory is
failing. Nothing but quiet and retirement can restore me."
William returned friendly and soothing answers; and, for a time,
these answers calmed the troubled mind of his minister.646 But at
length the dissolution, the general election, the change in the
Commissions of Peace and Lieutenancy, and finally the debates on
the two Abjuration Bills, threw Shrewsbury into a state
bordering on distraction. He was angry with the Whigs for using
the King ill, and yet was still more angry with the King for
showing favour to the Tories. At what moment and by what
influence, the unhappy man was induced to commit a treason, the
consciousness of which threw a dark shade over all his remaining
years, is not accurately known. But it is highly probable that
his mother, who, though the most abandoned of women, had great
power over him, took a fatal advantage of some unguarded hour
when he was irritated by finding his advice slighted, and that of
Danby and Nottingham preferred. She was still a member of that
Church which her son had quitted, and may have thought that, by
reclaiming him from rebellion, she might make some atonement for
the violation of her marriage vow and the murder of her lord.647
What is certain is that, before the end of the spring of 1690,
Shrewsbury had offered his services to James, and that James had
accepted them. One proof of the sincerity of the convert was
demanded. He must resign the seals which he had taken from the
hand of the usurper.648 It is probable that Shrewsbury had
scarcely committed his fault when he began to repent of it. But
he had not strength of mind to stop short in the path of evil.
Loathing his own baseness, dreading a detection which must be
fatal to his honour, afraid to go forward, afraid to go back, he
underwent tortures of which it is impossible to think without
commiseration. The true cause of his distress was as yet a
profound secret; but his mental struggles and changes of purpose
were generally known, and furnished the town, during some weeks,
with topics of conversation. One night, when he was actually
setting out in a state of great excitement for the palace, with
the seals in his hand, he was induced by Burnet to defer his
resignation for a few hours. Some days later, the eloquence of
Tillotson was employed for the same purpose.649 Three or four
times the Earl laid the ensigns of his office on the table of the
royal closet, and was three or four times induced, by the kind
expostulations of the master whom he was conscious of having
wronged, to take them up and carry them away. Thus the
resignation was deferred till the eve of the King's departure. By
that time agitation had thrown Shrewsbury into a low fever.
Bentinck, who made a last effort to persuade him to retain
office, found him in bed and too ill for conversation.650 The
resignation so often tendered was at length accepted; and during
some months Nottingham was the only Secretary of State.

It was no small addition to William's troubles that, at such a
moment, his government should be weakened by this defection. He
tried, however, to do his best with the materials which remained
to him, and finally selected nine privy councillors, by whose
advice he enjoined Mary to be guided. Four of these, Devonshire,
Dorset, Monmouth, and Edward Russell, were Whigs. The other five,
Caermarthen, Pembroke, Nottingham, Marlborough, and Lowther, were

William ordered the Nine to attend him at the office of the
Secretary of State. When they were assembled, he came leading in
the Queen, desired them to be seated, and addressed to them a few
earnest and weighty words. "She wants experience," he said; "but
I hope that, by choosing you to be her counsellors, I have
supplied that defect. I put my kingdom into your hands. Nothing
foreign or domestic shall be kept secret from you. I implore you
to be diligent and to be united."652 In private he told his wife
what he thought of the characters of the Nine; and it should
seem, from her letters to him, that there were few of the number
for whom he expressed any high esteem. Marlborough was to be her
guide in military affairs, and was to command the troops in
England. Russell, who was Admiral of the Blue, and had been
rewarded for the service which he had done at the time of the
Revolution with the lucrative place of Treasurer of the Navy, was
well fitted to be her adviser on all questions relating to the
fleet. But Caermarthen was designated as the person on whom, in
case of any difference of opinion in the council, she ought
chiefly to rely. Caermarthen's sagacity and experience were
unquestionable; his principles, indeed, were lax; but, if there
was any person in existence to whom he was likely to be true,
that person was Mary. He had long been in a peculiar manner her
friend and servant: he had gained a high place in her favour by
bringing about her marriage; and he had, in the Convention,
carried his zeal for her interests to a length which she had
herself blamed as excessive. There was, therefore, every reason
to hope that he would serve her at this critical conjuncture with
sincere good will.653

One of her nearest kinsmen, on the other hand, was one of her
bitterest enemies. The evidence which was in the possession of
the government proved beyond dispute that Clarendon was deeply
concerned in the Jacobite schemes of insurrection. But the Queen
was most unwilling that her kindred should be harshly treated;
and William, remembering through what ties she had broken, and
what reproaches she had incurred, for his sake, readily gave her
uncle's life and liberty to her intercession. But, before the
King set out for Ireland, he spoke seriously to Rochester. "Your
brother has been plotting against me. I am sure of it. I have the
proofs under his own hand. I was urged to leave him out of the
Act of Grace; but I would not do what would have given so much
pain to the Queen. For her sake I forgive the past; but my Lord
Clarendon will do well to be cautious for the future. If not, he
will find that these are no jesting matters." Rochester
communicated the admonition to Clarendon. Clarendon, who was in
constant correspondence with Dublin and Saint Germains, protested
that his only wish was to be quiet, and that, though he had a
scruple about the oaths, the existing government had not a more
obedient subject than he purposed to be.654

Among the letters which the government had intercepted was one
from James to Penn. That letter, indeed, was not legal evidence
to prove that the person to whom it was addressed had been guilty
of high treason; but it raised suspicions which are now known to
have been well founded. Penn was brought before the Privy
Council, and interrogated. He said very truly that he could not
prevent people from writing to him, and that he was not
accountable for what they might write to him. He acknowledged
that he was bound to the late King by ties of gratitude and
affection which no change of fortune could dissolve. "I should be
glad to do him any service in his private affairs: but I owe a
sacred duty to my country; and therefore I was never so wicked as
even to think of endeavouring to bring him back." This was a
falsehood; and William was probably aware that it was so. He was
unwilling however to deal harshly with a man who had many titles
to respect, and who was not likely to be a very formidable
plotter. He therefore declared himself satisfied, and proposed to
discharge the prisoner. Some of the Privy Councillors, however,
remonstrated; and Penn was required to give bail.655

On the day before William's departure, he called Burnet into his
closet, and, in firm but mournful language, spoke of the dangers
which on every side menaced the realm, of the fury or the
contending factions, and of the evil spirit which seemed to
possess too many of the clergy. "But my trust is in God. I will
go through with my work or perish in it. Only I cannot help
feeling for the poor Queen;" and twice he repeated with unwonted
tenderness, "the poor Queen." "If you love me," he added, "wait
on her often, and give her what help you can. As for me, but for
one thing, I should enjoy the prospect of being on horseback and
under canvass again. For I am sure I am fitter to direct a
campaign than to manage your House of Lords and Commons. But,
though I know that I am in the path of duty, it is hard on my
wife that her father and I must be opposed to each other in the
field. God send that no harm may happen to him. Let me have your
prayers, Doctor." Burnet retired greatly moved, and doubtless put
up, with no common fervour, those prayers for which his master
had asked.656

On the following day, the fourth of June, the King set out for
Ireland. Prince George had offered his services, had equipped
himself at great charge, and fully expected to be complimented
with a seat in the royal coach. But William, who promised himself
little pleasure or advantage from His Royal Highness's
conversation, and who seldom stood on ceremony, took Portland for
a travelling companion, and never once, during the whole of that
eventful campaign, seemed to be aware of the Prince's
existence.657 George, if left to himself, would hardly have
noticed the affront. But, though he was too dull to feel, his
wife felt for him; and her resentment was studiously kept alive
by mischiefmakers of no common dexterity. On this, as on many
other occasions, the infirmities of William's temper proved
seriously detrimental to the great interests of which he was the
guardian. His reign would have been far more prosperous if, with
his own courage, capacity and elevation of mind, he had had a
little of the easy good humour and politeness of his uncle

In four days the King arrived at Chester, where a fleet of
transports was awaiting the signal for sailing. He embarked on
the eleventh of June, and was convoyed across Saint George's
Channel by a squadron of men of war under the command of Sir
Cloudesley Shovel.658

The month which followed William's departure from London was one
of the most eventful and anxious months in the whole history of
England. A few hours after he had set out, Crone was brought to
the bar of the Old Bailey. A great array of judges was on the
Bench. Fuller had recovered sufficiently to make his appearance
in court; and the trial proceeded. The Jacobites had been
indefatigable in their efforts to ascertain the political
opinions of the persons whose names were on the jury list. So
many were challenged that there was some difficulty in making up
the number of twelve; and among the twelve was one on whom the
malecontents thought that they could depend. Nor were they
altogether mistaken; for this man held out against his eleven
companions all night and half the next day; and he would probably
have starved them into submission had not Mrs. Clifford, who was
in league with him, been caught throwing sweetmeats to him
through the window. His supplies having been cut off, he yielded;
and a verdict of Guilty, which, it was said, cost two of the
jurymen their lives, was returned. A motion in arrest of judgment
was instantly made, on the ground that a Latin word indorsed on
the back of the indictment was incorrectly spelt. The objection
was undoubtedly frivolous. Jeffreys would have at once overruled
it with a torrent of curses, and would have proceeded to the most
agreeable part of his duty, that of describing to the prisoner
the whole process of half hanging, disembowelling, mutilating,
and quartering. But Holt and his brethren remembered that they
were now for the first time since the Revolution trying a culprit
on a charge of high treason. It was therefore desirable to show,
in a manner not to be misunderstood, that a new era had
commenced, and that the tribunals would in future rather err on
the side of humanity than imitate the cruel haste and levity with
which Cornish had, when pleading for his life, been silenced by
servile judges. The passing of the sentence was therefore
deferred: a day was appointed for considering the point raised by
Crone; and counsel were assigned to argue in his behalf. "This
would not have been done, Mr. Crone," said the Lord Chief Justice
significantly, "in either of the last two reigns." After a full
hearing, the Bench unanimously pronounced the error to be
immaterial; and the prisoner was condemned to death. He owned
that his trial had been fair, thanked the judges for their
patience, and besought them to intercede for him with the

He was soon informed that his fate was in his own hands. The
government was willing to spare him if he would earn his pardon
by a full confession. The struggle in his mind was terrible and
doubtful. At one time Mrs. Clifford, who had access to his cell,
reported to the Jacobite chiefs that he was in a great agony. He
could not die, he said; he was too young to be a martyr.660 The
next morning she found him cheerful and resolute.661 He held out
till the eve of the day fixed for his execution. Then he sent to
ask for an interview with the Secretary of State. Nottingham went
to Newgate; but, before he arrived, Crone had changed his mind
and was determined to say nothing. "Then," said Nottingham, "I
shall see you no more--for tomorrow will assuredly be your last
day." But, after Nottingham had departed, Monmouth repaired to
the gaol, and flattered himself that he had shaken the prisoner's
resolution. At a very late hour that night came a respite for a
week.662 The week however passed away without any disclosure; the
gallows and quartering block were ready at Tyburn; the sledge and
axe were at the door of Newgate; the crowd was thick all up
Holborn Hill and along the Oxford Road; when a messenger brought
another respite, and Crone, instead of being dragged to the place
of execution, was conducted to the Council chamber at Whitehall.
His fortitude had been at last overcome by the near prospect of
death; and on this occasion he gave important information.663

Such information as he had it in his power to give was indeed at
that moment much needed. Both an invasion and an insurrection
were hourly expected.664 Scarcely had William set out from London
when a great French fleet commanded by the Count of Tourville
left the port of Brest and entered the British Channel. Tourville
was the ablest maritime commander that his country then
possessed. He had studied every part of his profession. It was
said of him that he was competent to fill any place on shipboard
from that of carpenter up to that of admiral. It was said of him,
also, that to the dauntless courage of a seaman he united the
suavity and urbanity of an accomplished gentleman.665 He now
stood over to the English shore, and approached it so near that
his ships could be plainly descried from the ramparts of
Plymouth. From Plymouth he proceeded slowly along the coast of
Devonshire and Dorsetshire. There was great reason to apprehend
that his movements had been concerted with the English

The Queen and her Council hastened to take measures for the
defence of the country against both foreign and domestic enemies.
Torrington took the command of the English fleet which lay in the
Downs, and sailed to Saint Helen's. He was there joined by a
Dutch squadron under the command of Evertsen. It seemed that the
cliffs of the Isle of Wight would witness one of the greatest
naval conflicts recorded in history. A hundred and fifty ships of
the line could be counted at once from the watchtower of Saint
Catharine's. On the cast of the huge precipice of Black Gang
Chine, and in full view of the richly wooded rocks of Saint
Lawrence and Ventnor, were mustered the maritime forces of
England and Holland. On the west, stretching to that white cape
where the waves roar among the Needles, lay the armament of

It was on the twenty-sixth of June, less than a fortnight after
William had sailed for Ireland, that the hostile fleets took up
these positions. A few hours earlier, there had been an important
and anxious sitting of the Privy Council at Whitehall. The
malecontents who were leagued with France were alert and full of
hope. Mary had remarked, while taking her airing, that Hyde Park
was swarming with them. The whole board was of opinion that it
was necessary to arrest some persons of whose guilt the
government had proofs. When Clarendon was named, something was

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