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The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 4 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

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The History of England from the Accession of James the Second

Volume IV

(Chapters XVIII-XXII)

by Thomas Babington Macaulay


William's Voyage to Holland--William's Entrance into the Hague--
Congress at the Hague--William his own Minister for Foreign
Affairs--William obtains a Toleration for the Waldenses; Vices
inherent in the Nature of Coalitions--Siege and Fall of Mons--
William returns to England; Trials of Preston and Ashton--
Execution of Ashton--Preston's Irresolution and Confessions--
Lenity shown to the Conspirators--Dartmouth--Turner; Penn--Death
of George Fox; his Character--Interview between Penn and Sidney--
Preston pardoned--Joy of the Jacobites at the Fall of Mons--The
vacant Sees filled--Tillotson Archbishop of Canterbury--Conduct
of Sancroft--Difference between Sancroft and Ken--Hatred of
Sancroft to the Established Church; he provides for the episcopal
Succession among the Nonjurors--The new Bishops--Sherlock Dean of
Saint Paul's--Treachery of some of William's Servants--Russell--
Godolphin--Marlborough--William returns to the Continent--The
Campaign of 1691 in Flanders--The War in Ireland; State of the
English Part of Ireland--State of the Part of Ireland which was
subject to James--Dissensions among the Irish at Limerick--Return
of Tyrconnel to Ireland--Arrival of a French Fleet at Limerick;
Saint Ruth--The English take the Field--Fall of Ballymore; Siege
and Fall of Athlone--Retreat of the Irish Army--Saint Ruth
determines to fight--Battle of Aghrim--Fall of Galway--Death of
Tyrconnel--Second Siege of Limerick--The Irish desirous to
capitulate--Negotiations between the Irish Chiefs and the
Besiegers--The Capitulation of Limerick--The Irish Troops
required to make their Election between their Country and France-
-Most of the Irish Troops volunteer for France--Many of the Irish
who had volunteered for France desert--The last Division of the
Irish Army sails from Cork for France--State of Ireland after the

ON the eighteenth of January 1691, the King, having been detained
some days by adverse winds, went on board at Gravesend. Four
yachts had been fitted up for him and for his retinue. Among his
attendants were Norfolk, Ormond, Devonshire, Dorset, Portland,
Monmouth, Zulestein, and the Bishop of London. Two distinguished
admirals, Cloudesley Shovel and George Rooke, commanded the men
of war which formed the convoy. The passage was tedious and
disagreeable. During many hours the fleet was becalmed off the
Godwin Sands; and it was not till the fifth day that the
soundings proved the coast of Holland to be near. The sea fog was
so thick that no land could be seen; and it was not thought safe
for the ships to proceed further in the darkness. William, tired
out by the voyage, and impatient to be once more in his beloved
country, determined to land in an open boat. The noblemen who
were in his train tried to dissuade him from risking so valuable
a life; but, when they found that his mind was made up, they
insisted on sharing the danger. That danger proved more serious
than they had expected. It had been supposed that in an hour the
party would be on shore. But great masses of floating ice impeded
the progress of the skiff; the night came on; the fog grew
thicker; the waves broke over the King and the courtiers. Once
the keel struck on a sand bank, and was with great difficulty got
off. The hardiest mariners showed some signs of uneasiness. But
William, through the whole night, was as composed as if he had
been in the drawingroom at Kensington. "For shame," he said to
one of the dismayed sailors "are you afraid to die in my
company?" A bold Dutch seaman ventured to spring out, and, with
great difficulty, swam and scrambled through breakers, ice and
mud, to firm ground. Here he discharged a musket and lighted a
fire as a signal that he was safe. None of his fellow passengers,
however, thought it prudent to follow his example. They lay
tossing in sight of the flame which he had kindled, till the
first pale light of a January morning showed them that they were
close to the island of Goree. The King and his Lords, stiff with
cold and covered with icicles, gladly landed to warm and rest

After reposing some hours in the hut of a peasant, William
proceeded to the Hague. He was impatiently expected there for,
though the fleet which brought him was not visible from the
shore, the royal salutes had been heard through the mist, and had
apprised the whole coast of his arrival. Thousands had assembled
at Honslaerdyk to welcome him with applause which came from their
hearts and which went to his heart. That was one of the few white
days of a life, beneficent indeed and glorious, but far from
happy. After more than two years passed in a strange land, the
exile had again set foot on his native soil. He heard again the
language of his nursery. He saw again the scenery and the
architecture which were inseparably associated in his mind with
the recollections of childhood and the sacred feeling of home;
the dreary mounds of sand, shells and weeds, on which the waves
of the German Ocean broke; the interminable meadows intersected
by trenches; the straight canals; the villas bright with paint
and adorned with quaint images and inscriptions. He had lived
during many weary months among a people who did not love him, who
did not understand him, who could never forget that he was a
foreigner. Those Englishmen who served him most faithfully served
him without enthusiasm, without personal attachment, and merely
from a sense of public duty. In their hearts they were sorry that
they had no choice but between an English tyrant and a Dutch
deliverer. All was now changed. William was among a population by
which he was adored, as Elizabeth had been adored when she rode
through her army at Tilbury, as Charles the Second had been
adored when he landed at Dover. It is true that the old enemies
of the House of Orange had not been inactive during the absence
of the Stadtholder. There had been, not indeed clamours, but
mutterings against him. He had, it was said, neglected his native
land for his new kingdom. Whenever the dignity of the English
flag, whenever the prosperity of the English trade was concerned,
he forgot that he was a Hollander. But, as soon as his well
remembered face was again seen, all jealousy, all coldness, was
at an end. There was not a boor, not a fisherman, not an artisan,
in the crowds which lined the road from Honslaerdyk to the Hague,
whose heart did not swell with pride at the thought that the
first minister of Holland had become a great King, had freed the
English, and had conquered the Irish. It would have been madness
in William to travel from Hampton Court to Westminster without a
guard; but in his own land he needed no swords or carbines to
defend him. "Do not keep the people off;" he cried: "let them
come close to me; they are all my good friends." He soon learned
that sumptuous preparations were making for his entrance into the
Hague. At first he murmured and objected. He detested, he said,
noise and display. The necessary cost of the war was quite heavy
enough. He hoped that his kind fellow townsmen would consider him
as a neighbour, born and bred among them, and would not pay him
so bad a compliment as to treat him ceremoniously. But all his
expostulations were vain. The Hollanders, simple and parsimonious
as their ordinary habits were, had set their hearts on giving
their illustrious countryman a reception suited to his dignity
and to his merit; and he found it necessary to yield. On the day
of his triumph the concourse was immense. All the wheeled
carriages and horses of the province were too few for the
multitude of those who flocked to the show. Many thousands came
sliding or skating along the frozen canals from Amsterdam,
Rotterdam, Leyden, Haarlem, Delft. At ten in the morning of the
twenty-sixth of January, the great bell of the Town House gave
the signal. Sixteen hundred substantial burghers, well armed, and
clad in the finest dresses which were to be found in the recesses
of their wardrobes, kept order in the crowded streets. Balconies
and scaffolds, embowered in evergreens and hung with tapestry,
hid the windows. The royal coach, escorted by an army of
halberdiers and running footmen, and followed by a long train of
splendid equipages, passed under numerous arches rich with
carving and painting, amidst incessant shouts of "Long live the
King our Stadtholder." The front of the Town House and the whole
circuit of the marketplace were in a blaze with brilliant
colours. Civic crowns, trophies, emblems of arts, of sciences, of
commerce and of agriculture, appeared every where. In one place
William saw portrayed the glorious actions of his ancestors.
There was the silent prince, the founder of the Batavian
commonwealth, passing the Meuse with his warriors. There was the
more impetuous Maurice leading the charge at Nieuport. A little
further on, the hero might retrace the eventful story of his own
life. He was a child at his widowed mother's knee. He was at the
altar with Diary's hand in his. He was landing at Torbay. He was
swimming through the Boyne. There, too, was a boat amidst the ice
and the breakers; and above it was most appropriately inscribed,
in the majestic language of Rome, the saying of the great Roman,
"What dost thou fear? Thou hast Caesar on board." The task of
furnishing the Latin mottoes had been intrusted to two men, who,
till Bentley appeared, held the highest place among the classical
scholars of that age. Spanheim, whose knowledge of the Roman
medals was unrivalled, imitated, not unsuccessfully, the noble
conciseness of those ancient legends which he had assiduously
studied; and he was assisted by Graevius, who then filled a chair
at Utrecht, and whose just reputation had drawn to that
University multitudes of students from every part of Protestant
Europe.2 When the night came, fireworks were exhibited on the
great tank which washes the walls of the Palace of the
Federation. That tank was now as hard as marble; and the Dutch
boasted that nothing had ever been seen, even on the terrace of
Versailles, more brilliant than the effect produced by the
innumerable cascades of flame which were reflected in the smooth
mirror of ice.3 The English Lords congratulated their master on
his immense popularity. "Yes," said he; "but I am not the
favourite. The shouting was nothing to what it would have been if
Mary had been with me."

A few hours after the triumphal entry, the King attended a
sitting of the States General. His last appearance among them had
been on the day on which he embarked for England. He had then,
amidst the broken words and loud weeping of those grave Senators,
thanked them for the kindness with which they had watched over
his childhood, trained his young mind, and supported his
authority in his riper years; and he had solemnly commended his
beloved wife to their care. He now came back among them the King
of three kingdoms, the head of the greatest coalition that Europe
had seen during a hundred and eighty years; and nothing was heard
in the hall but applause and congratulations.4

But this time the streets of the Hague were overflowing with the
equipages and retinues of princes and ambassadors who came
flocking to the great Congress. First appeared the ambitious and
ostentatious Frederic, Elector of Brandenburg, who, a few years
later, took the title of King of Prussia. Then arrived the young
Elector of Bavaria, the Regent of Wirtemberg, the Landgraves of
Hesse Cassel and Hesse Darmstadt, and a long train of sovereign
princes, sprung from the illustrious houses of Brunswick, of
Saxony, of Holstein, and of Nassau. The Marquess of Gastanaga,
Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, repaired to the assembly
from the viceregal Court of Brussels. Extraordinary ministers had
been sent by the Emperor, by the Kings of Spain, Poland, Denmark,
and Sweden, and by the Duke of Savoy. There was scarcely room in
the town and the neighbourhood for the English Lords and
gentlemen and the German Counts and Barons whom curiosity or
official duty had brought to the place of meeting. The grave
capital of the most thrifty and industrious of nations was as gay
as Venice in the Carnival. The walks cut among those noble limes
and elms in which the villa of the Princes of Orange is embosomed
were gay with the plumes, the stars, the flowing wigs, the
embroidered coats and the gold hilted swords of gallants from
London, Berlin and Vienna. With the nobles were mingled sharpers
not less gorgeously attired than they. At night the hazard tables
were thronged; and the theatre was filled to the roof. Princely
banquets followed one another in rapid succession. The meats were
served in gold; and, according to that old Teutonic fashion with
which Shakspeare had made his countrymen familiar, as often as
any of the great princes proposed a health, the kettle drums and
trumpets sounded. Some English lords, particularly Devonshire,
gave entertainments which vied with those of Sovereigns. It was
remarked that the German potentates, though generally disposed to
be litigious and punctilious about etiquette, associated, on this
occasion, in an unceremonious manner, and seemed to have
forgotten their passion for genealogical and heraldic
controversy. The taste for wine, which was then characteristic of
their nation, they had not forgotten. At the table of the Elector
of Brandenburg much mirth was caused by the gravity of the
statesmen of Holland, who, sober themselves, confuted out of
Grotius and Puffendorf the nonsense stuttered by the tipsy nobles
of the Empire. One of those nobles swallowed so many bumpers that
he tumbled into the turf fire, and was not pulled out till his
fine velvet suit had been burned.5

In the midst of all this revelry, business was not neglected. A
formal meeting of the Congress was held at which William
presided. In a short and dignified speech, which was speedily
circulated throughout Europe, he set forth the necessity of firm
union and strenuous exertion. The profound respect with which he
was heard by that splendid assembly caused bitter mortification
to his enemies both in England and in France. The German
potentates were bitterly reviled for yielding precedence to an
upstart. Indeed the most illustrious among them paid to him such
marks of deference as they would scarcely have deigned to pay to
the Imperial Majesty, mingled with the crowd in his antechamber,
and at his table behaved as respectfully as any English lord in
waiting. In one caricature the allied princes were represented as
muzzled bears, some with crowns, some with caps of state. William
had them all in a chain, and was teaching them to dance. In
another caricature, he appeared taking his ease in an arm chair,
with his feet on a cushion, and his hat on his head, while the
Electors of Brandenburg and Bavaria, uncovered, occupied small
stools on the right and left; the crowd of Landgraves and
Sovereign dukes stood at humble distance; and Gastanaga, the
unworthy successor of Alva, awaited the orders of the heretic
tyrant on bended knee.6

It was soon announced by authority that, before the beginning of
summer, two hundred and twenty thousand men would be in the field
against France.7 The contingent which each of the allied powers
was to furnish was made known. Matters about which it would have
been inexpedient to put forth any declaration were privately
discussed by the King of England with his allies. On this
occasion, as on every other important occasion during his reign,
he was his own minister for foreign affairs. It was necessary for
the sake of form that he should be attended by a Secretary of
State; and Nottingham had therefore followed him to Holland. But
Nottingham, though, in matters concerning the internal government
of England, he enjoyed a large share of his master's confidence,
knew little more about the business of the Congress than what he
saw in the Gazettes.

This mode of transacting business would now be thought most
unconstitutional; and many writers, applying the standard of
their own age to the transactions of a former age, have severely
blamed William for acting without the advice of his ministers,
and his ministers for submitting to be kept in ignorance of
transactions which deeply concerned the honour of the Crown and
the welfare of the nation. Yet surely the presumption is that
what the most honest and honourable men of both parties,
Nottingham, for example, among the Tories, and Somers among the
Whigs, not only did, but avowed, cannot have been altogether
inexcusable; and a very sufficient excuse will without difficulty
be found.

The doctrine that the Sovereign is not responsible is doubtless
as old as any part of our constitution. The doctrine that his
ministers are responsible is also of immemorial antiquity. That
where there is no responsibility there can be no trustworthy
security against maladministration, is a doctrine which, in our
age and country, few people will be inclined to dispute. From
these three propositions it plainly follows that the
administration is likely to be best conducted when the Sovereign
performs no public act without the concurrence and
instrumentality of a minister. This argument is perfectly sound.
But we must remember that arguments are constructed in one way,
and governments in another. In logic, none but an idiot admits
the premises and denies the legitimate conclusion. But in
practice, we see that great and enlightened communities often
persist, generation after generation, in asserting principles,
and refusing to act upon those principles. It may be doubted
whether any real polity that ever existed has exactly
corresponded to the pure idea of that polity. According to the
pure idea of constitutional royalty, the prince reigns and does
not govern; and constitutional royalty, as it now exists in
England, comes nearer than in any other country to the pure idea.
Yet it would be a great error to imagine that our princes merely
reign and never govern. In the seventeenth century, both Whigs
and Tories thought it, not only the right, but the duty, of the
first magistrate to govern. All parties agreed in blaming Charles
the Second for not being his own Prime Minister; all parties
agreed in praising James for being his own Lord High Admiral; and
all parties thought it natural and reasonable that William should
be his own Foreign Secretary.

It may be observed that the ablest and best informed of those who
have censured the manner in which the negotiations of that time
were conducted are scarcely consistent with themselves. For, while
they blame William for being his own Ambassador Plenipotentiary at
the Hague, they praise him for being his own Commander in Chief in
Ireland. Yet where is the distinction in principle between the two
cases? Surely every reason which can be brought to prove that he
violated the constitution, when, by his own sole authority, he
made compacts with the Emperor and the Elector of Brandenburg,
will equally prove that he violated the constitution, when, by his
own sole authority, he ordered one column to plunge into the water
at Oldbridge and another to cross the bridge of Slane. If the
constitution gave him the command of the forces of the State, the
constitution gave him also the direction of the foreign relations
of the State. On what principle then can it be maintained that he
was at liberty to exercise the former power without consulting any
body, but that he was bound to exercise the latter power in
conformity with the advice of a minister? Will it be said that an
error in diplomacy is likely to be more injurious to the country
than an error in strategy? Surely not. It is hardly conceivable
that any blunder which William might have made at the Hague could
have been more injurious to the public interests than a defeat at
the Boyne. Or will it be said that there was greater reason for
placing confidence in his military than in his diplomatic skill?
Surely not. In war he showed some great moral and intellectual
qualities; but, as a tactician, he did not rank high; and of his
many campaigns only two were decidedly successful. In the talents
of a negotiator, on the other hand, he has never been surpassed.
Of the interests and the tempers of the continental courts he knew
more than all his Privy Council together. Some of his ministers
were doubtless men of great ability, excellent orators in the
House of Lords, and versed in our insular politics. But, in the
deliberations of the Congress, Caermarthen and Nottingham would
have been found as far inferior to him as he would have been found
inferior to them in a parliamentary debate on a question purely
English. The coalition against France was his work. He alone had
joined together the parts of that great whole; and he alone could
keep them together. If he had trusted that vast and complicated
machine in the hands of any of his subjects, it would instantly
have fallen to pieces.

Some things indeed were to be done which none of his subjects
would have ventured to do. Pope Alexander was really, though not
in name, one of the allies; it was of the highest importance to
have him for a friend; and yet such was the temper of the English
nation that an English minister might well shrink from having any
dealings, direct or indirect, with the Vatican. The Secretaries
of State were glad to leave a matter so delicate and so full of
risk to their master, and to be able to protest with truth that
not a line to which the most intolerant Protestant could object
had ever gone out of their offices.

It must not be supposed however that William ever forgot that his
especial, his hereditary, mission was to protect the Reformed
Faith. His influence with Roman Catholic princes was constantly
and strenuously exerted for the benefit of their Protestant
subjects. In the spring of 1691, the Waldensian shepherds, long
and cruelly persecuted, and weary of their lives, were surprised
by glad tidings. Those who had been in prison for heresy returned
to their homes. Children, who had been taken from their parents
to be educated by priests, were sent back. Congregations, which
had hitherto met only by stealth and with extreme peril, now
worshipped God without molestation in the face of day. Those
simple mountaineers probably never knew that their fate had been
a subject of discussion at the Hague, and that they owed the
happiness of their firesides, and the security of their humble
temples to the ascendency which William exercised over the Duke
of Savoy.8

No coalition of which history has preserved the memory has had an
abler chief than William. But even William often contended in
vain against those vices which are inherent in the nature of all
coalitions. No undertaking which requires the hearty and long
continued cooperation of many independent states is likely to
prosper. Jealousies inevitably spring up. Disputes engender
disputes. Every confederate is tempted to throw on others some
part of the burden which he ought himself to bear. Scarcely one
honestly furnishes the promised contingent. Scarcely one exactly
observes the appointed day. But perhaps no coalition that ever
existed was in such constant danger of dissolution as the
coalition which William had with infinite difficulty formed. The
long list of potentates, who met in person or by their
representatives at the Hague, looked well in the Gazettes. The
crowd of princely equipages, attended by manycoloured guards and
lacqueys, looked well among the lime trees of the Voorhout. But
the very circumstances which made the Congress more splendid than
other congresses made the league weaker than other leagues. The
more numerous the allies, the more numerous were the dangers
which threatened the alliance. It was impossible that twenty
governments, divided by quarrels about precedence, quarrels about
territory, quarrels about trade, quarrels about religion, could
long act together in perfect harmony. That they acted together
during several years in imperfect harmony is to be ascribed to
the wisdom, patience and firmness of William.

The situation of his great enemy was very different. The
resources of the French monarchy, though certainly not equal to
those of England, Holland, the House of Austria, and the Empire
of Germany united, were yet very formidable; they were all
collected in a central position; they were all under the absolute
direction of a single mind. Lewis could do with two words what
William could hardly bring about by two months of negotiation at
Berlin, Munich, Brussels, Turin and Vienna. Thus France was found
equal in effective strength to all the states which were combined
against her. For in the political, as in the natural world, there
may be an equality of momentum between unequal bodies, when the
body which is inferior in weight is superior in velocity.

This was soon signally proved. In March the princes and
ambassadors who had been assembled at the Hague separated and
scarcely had they separated when all their plans were
disconcerted by a bold and skilful move of the enemy.

Lewis was sensible that the meeting of the Congress was likely to
produce a great effect on the public mind of Europe. That effect
he determined to counteract by striking a sudden and terrible
blow. While his enemies were settling how many troops each of
them should furnish, he ordered numerous divisions of his army to
march from widely distant points towards Mons, one of the most
important, if not the most important, of the fortresses which
protected the Spanish Netherlands. His purpose was discovered
only when it was all but accomplished. William, who had retired
for a few days to Loo, learned, with surprise and extreme
vexation, that cavalry, infantry, artillery, bridges of boats,
were fast approaching the fated city by many converging routes. A
hundred thousand men had been brought together. All the
implements of war had been largely provided by Louvois, the first
of living administrators. The command was entrusted to Luxemburg,
the first of living generals. The scientific operations were
directed by Vauban, the first of living engineers. That nothing
might be wanting which could kindle emulation through all the
ranks of a gallant and loyal army, the magnificent King himself
had set out from Versailles for the camp. Yet William had still
some faint hope that it might be possible to raise the siege. He
flew to the Hague, put all the forces of the States General in
motion, and sent pressing messages to the German Princes. Within
three weeks after he had received the first hint of the danger,
he was in the neighbourhood of the besieged city, at the head of
near fifty thousand troops of different nations. To attack a
superior force commanded by such a captain as Luxemburg was a
bold, almost a desperate, enterprise. Yet William was so sensible
that the loss of Mons would be an almost irreparable disaster and
disgrace that he made up his mind to run the hazard. He was
convinced that the event of the siege would determine the policy
of the Courts of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Those Courts had
lately seemed inclined to join the coalition. If Mons fell, they
would certainly remain neutral; they might possibly become
hostile. "The risk," he wrote to Heinsius, "is great; yet I am
not without hope. I will do what can be done. The issue is in the
hands of God." On the very day on which this letter was written
Mons fell. The siege had been vigorously pressed. Lewis himself,
though suffering from the gout, had set the example of strenuous
exertion. His household troops, the finest body of soldiers in
Europe, had, under his eye, surpassed themselves. The young
nobles of his court had tried to attract his notice by exposing
themselves to the hottest fire with the same gay alacrity with
which they were wont to exhibit their graceful figures at his
balls. His wounded soldiers were charmed by the benignant
courtesy with which he walked among their pallets, assisted while
wounds were dressed by the hospital surgeons, and breakfasted on
a porringer of the hospital broth. While all was obedience and
enthusiasm among the besiegers, all was disunion and dismay among
the besieged. The duty of the French lines was so well performed
that no messenger sent by William was able to cross them. The
garrison did not know that relief was close at hand. The burghers
were appalled by the prospect of those horrible calamities which
befall cities taken by storm. Showers of shells and redhot
bullets were falling in the streets. The town was on fire in ten
places at once. The peaceful inhabitants derived an unwonted
courage from the excess of their fear, and rose on the soldiers.
Thenceforth resistance was impossible; and a capitulation was
concluded. The armies then retired into quarters. Military
operations were suspended during some weeks; Lewis returned in
triumph to Versailles; and William paid a short visit to England,
where his presence was much needed.9

He found the ministers still employed in tracing out the
ramifications of the plot which had been discovered just before
his departure. Early in January, Preston, Ashton and Elliot had
been arraigned at the Old Bailey. They claimed the right of
severing in their challenges. It was therefore necessary to try
them separately. The audience was numerous and splendid. Many
peers were present. The Lord President and the two Secretaries of
State attended in order to prove that the papers produced in
Court were the same which Billop had brought to Whitehall. A
considerable number of judges appeared on the bench; and Holt
presided. A full report of the proceedings has come down to us,
and well deserves to be attentively studied, and to be compared
with the reports of other trials which had not long before taken
place under the same roof. The whole spirit of the tribunal had
undergone in a few months a change so complete that it might seem
to have been the work of ages. Twelve years earlier, unhappy
Roman Catholics, accused of wickedness which had never entered
into their thoughts, had stood in that dock. The witnesses for
the Crown had repeated their hideous fictions amidst the
applauding hums of the audience. The judges had shared, or had
pretended to share, the stupid credulity and the savage passions
of the populace, had exchanged smiles and compliments with the
perjured informers, had roared down the arguments feebly
stammered forth by the prisoners, and had not been ashamed, in
passing the sentence of death, to make ribald jests on purgatory
and the mass. As soon as the butchery of Papists was over, the
butchery of Whigs had commenced; and the judges had applied
themselves to their new work with even more than their old
barbarity. To these scandals the Revolution had put an end.
Whoever, after perusing the trials of Ireland and Pickering, of
Grove and Berry, of Sidney, Cornish and Alice Lisle, turns to the
trials of Preston and Ashton, will be astonished by the contrast.
The Solicitor General, Somers, conducted the prosecutions with a
moderation and humanity of which his predecessors had left him no
example. "I did never think," he said, "that it was the part of
any who were of counsel for the King in cases of this nature to
aggravate the crime of the prisoners, or to put false colours on
the evidence."10 Holt's conduct was faultless. Pollexfen, an
older man than Holt or Somers, retained a little,--and a little
was too much,--of the tone of that bad school in which he had
been bred. But, though he once or twice forgot the austere
decorum of his place, he cannot be accused of any violation of
substantial justice. The prisoners themselves seem to have been
surprised by the fairness and gentleness with which they were
treated. "I would not mislead the jury, I'll assure you," said
Holt to Preston, "nor do Your Lordship any manner of injury in
the world." "No, my Lord;" said Preston; "I see it well enough
that Your Lordship would not." "Whatever my fate may be," said
Ashton, "I cannot but own that I have had a fair trial for my

The culprits gained nothing by the moderation of the Solicitor
General or by the impartiality of the Court; for the evidence was
irresistible. The meaning of the papers seized by Billop was so
plain that the dullest juryman could not misunderstand it. Of
those papers part was fully proved to be in Preston's
handwriting. Part was in Ashton's handwriting but this the
counsel for the prosecution had not the means of proving. They
therefore rested the case against Ashton on the indisputable
facts that the treasonable packet had been found in his bosom,
and that he had used language which was quite unintelligible
except on the supposition that he had a guilty knowledge of the

Both Preston and Ashton were convicted and sentenced to death.
Ashton was speedily executed. He might have saved his life by
making disclosures. But though he declared that, if he were
spared, he would always be a faithful subject of Their Majesties,
he was fully resolved not to give up the names of his
accomplices. In this resolution he was encouraged by the
nonjuring divines who attended him in his cell. It was probably
by their influence that he was induced to deliver to the Sheriffs
on the scaffold a declaration which he had transcribed and
signed, but had not, it is to be hoped, composed or attentively
considered. In this paper he was made to complain of the
unfairness of a trial which he had himself in public acknowledged
to have been eminently fair. He was also made to aver, on the
word of a dying man, that he knew nothing of the papers which had
been found upon him. Unfortunately his declaration, when
inspected, proved to be in the same handwriting with one of the
most important of those papers. He died with manly fortitude.12

Elliot was not brought to trial. The evidence against him was not
quite so clear as that on which his associates had been
convicted; and he was not worth the anger of the government. The
fate of Preston was long in suspense. The Jacobites affected to
be confident that the government would not dare to shed his
blood. He was, they said, a favourite at Versailles, and his
death would be followed by a terrible retaliation. They scattered
about the streets of London papers in which it was asserted that,
if any harm befell him, Mountjoy, and all the other Englishmen of
quality who were prisoners in France, would be broken on the
wheel.13 These absurd threats would not have deferred the
execution one day. But those who had Preston in their power were
not unwilling to spare him on certain conditions. He was privy to
all the counsels of the disaffected party, and could furnish
information of the highest value. He was informed that his fate
depended on himself. The struggle was long and severe. Pride,
conscience, party spirit, were on one side; the intense love of
life on the other. He went during a time irresolutely to and fro.
He listened to his brother Jacobites; and his courage rose. He
listened to the agents of the government; and his heart sank
within him. In an evening when he had dined and drunk his claret,
he feared nothing. He would die like a man, rather than save his
neck by an act of baseness. But his temper was very different
when he woke the next morning, when the courage which he had
drawn from wine and company had evaporated, when he was alone
with the iron grates and stone walls, and when the thought of the
block, the axe and the sawdust rose in his mind. During some time
he regularly wrote a confession every forenoon when he was sober,
and burned it every night when he was merry.14 His nonjuring
friends formed a plan for bringing Sancroft to visit the Tower,
in the hope, doubtless, that the exhortations of so great a
prelate and so great a saint would confirm the wavering virtue of
the prisoner.15 Whether this plan would have been successful may
be doubted; it was not carried into effect; the fatal hour drew
near; and the fortitude of Preston gave way. He confessed his
guilt, and named Clarendon, Dartmouth, the Bishop of Ely and
William Penn, as his accomplices. He added a long list of persons
against whom he could not himself give evidence, but who, if he
could trust to Penn's assurances, were friendly to King James.
Among these persons were Devonshire and Dorset.16 There is not
the slightest reason to believe that either of these great
noblemen ever had any dealings, direct or indirect, with Saint
Germains. It is not, however, necessary to accuse Penn of
deliberate falsehood. He was credulous and garrulous. The Lord
Steward and the Lord Chamberlain had shared in the vexation with
which their party had observed the leaning of William towards the
Tories; and they had probably expressed that vexation
unguardedly. So weak a man as Penn, wishing to find Jacobites
every where, and prone to believe whatever he wished, might
easily put an erroneous construction on invectives such as the
haughty and irritable Devonshire was but too ready to utter, and
on sarcasms such as, in moments of spleen, dropped but too easily
from the lips of the keenwitted Dorset. Caermarthen, a Tory, and
a Tory who had been mercilessly persecuted by the Whigs, was
disposed to make the most of this idle hearsay. But he received
no encouragement from his master, who, of all the great
politicians mentioned in history, was the least prone to
suspicion. When William returned to England, Preston was brought
before him, and was commanded to repeat the confession which had
already been made to the ministers. The King stood behind the
Lord President's chair and listened gravely while Clarendon,
Dartmouth, Turner and Penn were named. But as soon as the
prisoner, passing from what he could himself testify, began to
repeat the stories which Penn had told him, William touched
Caermarthen on the shoulder and said, "My Lord, we have had too
much of this."17 This judicious magnanimity had its proper
reward. Devonshire and Dorset became from that day more zealous
than ever in the cause of the master who, in spite of calumny for
which their own indiscretion had perhaps furnished some ground,
had continued to repose confidence in their loyalty.18

Even those who were undoubtedly criminal were generally treated
with great lenity. Clarendon lay in the Tower about six months.
His guilt was fully established; and a party among the Whigs
called loudly and importunately for his head. But he was saved by
the pathetic entreaties of his brother Rochester, by the good
offices of the humane and generous Burnet, and by Mary's respect
for the memory of her mother. The prisoner's confinement was not
strict. He was allowed to entertain his friends at dinner. When
at length his health began to suffer from restraint, he was
permitted to go into the country under the care of a warder; the
warder was soon removed; and Clarendon was informed that, while
he led a quiet rural life, he should not be molested.19

The treason of Dartmouth was of no common dye. He was an English
seaman; and he had laid a plan for betraying Portsmouth to the
French, and had offered to take the command of a French squadron
against his country. It was a serious aggravation of his guilt
that he had been one of the very first persons who took the oaths
to William and Mary. He was arrested and brought to the Council
Chamber. A narrative of what passed there, written by himself,
has been preserved. In that narrative he admits that he was
treated with great courtesy and delicacy. He vehemently asserted
his innocence. He declared that he had never corresponded with
Saint Germains, that he was no favourite there, and that Mary of
Modena in particular owed him a grudge. "My Lords," he said, "I
am an Englishman. I always, when the interest of the House of
Bourbon was strongest here, shunned the French, both men and
women. I would lose the last drop of my blood rather than see
Portsmouth in the power of foreigners. I am not such a fool as to
think that King Lewis will conquer us merely for the benefit of
King James. I am certain that nothing can be truly imputed to me
beyond some foolish talk over a bottle." His protestations seem
to have produced some effect; for he was at first permitted to
remain in the gentle custody of the Black Rod. On further
inquiry, however, it was determined to send him to the Tower.
After a confinement of a few weeks he died of apoplexy; but he
lived long enough to complete his disgrace by offering his sword
to the new government, and by expressing in fervent language his
hope that he might, by the goodness of God and of Their
Majesties, have an opportunity of showing how much he hated the

Turner ran no serious risk; for the government was most unwilling
to send to the scaffold one of the Seven who had signed the
memorable petition. A warrant was however issued for his
apprehension; and his friends had little hope that he would
escape; for his nose was such as none who had seen it could
forget; and it was to little purpose that he put on a flowing wig
and that he suffered his beard to grow. The pursuit was probably
not very hot; for, after skulking a few weeks in England, he
succeeded in crossing the Channel, and remained some time in

A warrant was issued against Penn; and he narrowly escaped the
messengers. It chanced that, on the day on which they were sent
in search of him, he was attending a remarkable ceremony at some
distance from his home. An event had taken place which a
historian, whose object is to record the real life of a nation,
ought not to pass unnoticed. While London was agitated by the
news that a plot had been discovered, George Fox, the founder of
the sect of Quakers, died.

More than forty years had elapsed since Fox had begun to see
visions and to cast out devils.22 He was then a youth of pure
morals and grave deportment, with a perverse temper, with the
education of a labouring man, and with an intellect in the most
unhappy of all states, that is to say, too much disordered for
liberty, and not sufficiently disordered for Bedlam. The
circumstances in which he was placed were such as could scarcely
fail to bring out in the strongest form the constitutional
diseases of his mind. At the time when his faculties were
ripening, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists,
were striving for mastery, and were, in every corner of the
realm, refuting and reviling each other. He wandered from
congregation to congregation; he heard priests harangue against
Puritans; he heard Puritans harangue against priests; and he in
vain applied for spiritual direction and consolation to doctors
of both parties. One jolly old clergyman of the Anglican
communion told him to smoke tobacco and sing psalms; another
advised him to go and lose some blood.23 The young inquirer
turned in disgust from these advisers to the Dissenters, and
found them also blind guides.24 After some time he came to the
conclusion that no human being was competent to instruct him in
divine things, and that the truth had been communicated to him by
direct inspiration from heaven. He argued that, as the division
of languages began at Babel, and as the persecutors of Christ put
on the cross an inscription in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the
knowledge of languages, and more especially of Latin, Greek and
Hebrew, must be useless to a Christian minister.25 Indeed, he was
so far from knowing many languages, that he knew none; nor can
the most corrupt passage in Hebrew be more unintelligible to the
unlearned than his English often is to the most acute and
attentive reader.26 One of the precious truths which were
divinely revealed to this new apostle was, that it was falsehood
and adulation to use the second person plural instead of the
second person singular. Another was, that to talk of the month of
March was to worship the bloodthirsty god Mars, and that to talk
of Monday was to pay idolatrous homage to the moon. To say Good
morning or Good evening was highly reprehensible, for those
phrases evidently imported that God had made bad days and bad
nights.27 A Christian was bound to face death itself rather than
touch his hat to the greatest of mankind. When Fox was challenged
to produce any Scriptural authority for this dogma, he cited the
passage in which it is written that Shadrach, Meshech and
Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace with their hats on;
and, if his own narrative may be trusted, the Chief Justice of
England was altogether unable to answer this argument except by
crying out, "Take him away, gaoler."28 Fox insisted much on the
not less weighty argument that the Turks never show their bare
heads to their superiors; and he asked, with great animation,
whether those who bore the noble name of Christians ought not to
surpass Turks in virtue.29 Bowing he strictly prohibited, and,
indeed, seemed to consider it as the effect of Satanical
influence; for, as he observed, the woman in the Gospel, while
she had a spirit of infirmity, was bowed together, and ceased to
bow as soon as Divine power had liberated her from the tyranny of
the Evil One.30 His expositions of the sacred writings were of a
very peculiar kind. Passages, which had been, in the apprehension
of all the readers of the Gospels during sixteen centuries,
figurative, he construed literally. Passages, which no human
being before him had ever understood in any other than a literal
sense, he construed figuratively. Thus, from those rhetorical
expressions in which the duty of patience under injuries is
enjoined he deduced the doctrine that selfdefence against pirates
and assassins is unlawful. On the other hand, the plain commands
to baptize with water, and to partake of bread and wine in
commemoration of the redemption of mankind, he pronounced to be
allegorical. He long wandered from place to place, teaching this
strange theology, shaking like an aspen leaf in his paroxysms of
fanatical excitement, forcing his way into churches, which he
nicknamed steeple houses interrupting prayers and sermons with
clamour and scurrility,31 and pestering rectors and justices with
epistles much resembling burlesques of those sublime odes in
which the Hebrew prophets foretold the calamities of Babylon and
Tyre.32 He soon acquired great notoriety by these feats. His
strange face, his strange chant, his immovable hat and his
leather breeches were known all over the country; and he boasts
that, as soon as the rumour was heard, "The Man in Leather
Breeches is coming," terror seized hypocritical professors, and
hireling priests made haste to get out of his way.33 He was
repeatedly imprisoned and set in the stocks, sometimes justly,
for disturbing the public worship of congregations, and sometimes
unjustly, for merely talking nonsense. He soon gathered round him
a body of disciples, some of whom went beyond himself in
absurdity. He has told us that one of his friends walked naked
through Skipton declaring the truth.34 and that another was
divinely moved to go naked during several years to marketplaces,
and to the houses of gentlemen and clergymen.35 Fox complains
bitterly that these pious acts, prompted by the Holy Spirit, were
requited by an untoward generation with hooting, pelting,
coachwhipping and horsewhipping. But, though he applauded the
zeal of the sufferers, he did not go quite to their lengths. He
sometimes, indeed, was impelled to strip himself partially. Thus
he pulled off his shoes and walked barefoot through Lichfield,
crying, "Woe to the bloody city."36 But it does not appear that
he ever thought it his duty to appear before the public without
that decent garment from which his popular appellation was

If we form our judgment of George Fox simply by looking at his
own actions and writings, we shall see no reason for placing him,
morally or intellectually, above Ludowick Muggleton or Joanna
Southcote. But it would be most unjust to rank the sect which
regards him as its founder with the Muggletonians or the
Southcotians. It chanced that among the thousands whom his
enthusiasm infected were a few persons whose abilities and
attainments were of a very different order from his own. Robert
Barclay was a man of considerable parts and learning. William
Penn, though inferior to Barclay in both natural and acquired
abilities, was a gentleman and a scholar. That such men should
have become the followers of George Fox ought not to astonish any
person who remembers what quick, vigorous and highly cultivated
intellects were in our own times duped by the unknown tongues.
The truth is that no powers of mind constitute a security against
errors of this description. Touching God and His ways with man,
the highest human faculties can discover little more than the
meanest. In theology the interval is small indeed between
Aristotle and a child, between Archimedes and a naked savage. It
is not strange, therefore, that wise men, weary of investigation,
tormented by uncertainty, longing to believe something, and yet
seeing objections to every thing, should submit themselves
absolutely to teachers who, with firm and undoubting faith, lay
claim to a supernatural commission. Thus we frequently see
inquisitive and restless spirits take refuge from their own
scepticism in the bosom of a church which pretends to
infallibility, and, after questioning the existence of a Deity,
bring themselves to worship a wafer. And thus it was that Fox
made some converts to whom he was immeasurably inferior in every
thing except the energy of his convictions. By these converts his
rude doctrines were polished into a form somewhat less shocking
to good sense and good taste. No proposition which he had laid
down was retracted. No indecent or ridiculous act which he had
done or approved was condemned; but what was most grossly absurd
in his theories and practices was softened down, or at least not
obtruded on the public; whatever could be made to appear specious
was set in the fairest light; his gibberish was translated into
English; meanings which he would have been quite unable to
comprehend were put on his phrases; and his system, so much
improved that he would not have known it again, was defended by
numerous citations from Pagan philosophers and Christian fathers
whose names he had never heard.37 Still, however, those who had
remodelled his theology continued to profess, and doubtless to
feel, profound reverence for him; and his crazy epistles were to
the last received and read with respect in Quaker meetings all
over the country. His death produced a sensation which was not
confined to his own disciples. On the morning of the funeral a
great multitude assembled round the meeting house in Gracechurch
Street. Thence the corpse was borne to the burial ground of the
sect near Bunhill Fields. Several orators addressed the crowd
which filled the cemetery. Penn was conspicuous among those
disciples who committed the venerable corpse to the earth. The
ceremony had scarcely been finished when he learned that warrants
were out against him. He instantly took flight, and remained many
months concealed from the public eye.38

A short time after his disappearance, Sidney received from him a
strange communication. Penn begged for an interview, but insisted
on a promise that he should be suffered to return unmolested to
his hiding place. Sidney obtained the royal permission to make an
appointment on these terms. Penn came to the rendezvous, and
spoke at length in his own defence. He declared that he was a
faithful subject of King William and Queen Mary, and that, if he
knew of any design against them, he would discover it. Departing
from his Yea and Nay, he protested, as in the presence of God,
that he knew of no plot, and that he did not believe that there
was any plot, unless the ambitious projects of the French
government might be called plots. Sidney, amazed probably by
hearing a person, who had such an abhorrence of lies that he
would not use the common forms of civility, and such an
abhorrence of oaths that he would not kiss the book in a court of
justice, tell something very like a lie, and confirm it by
something very like an oath, asked how, if there were really no
plot, the letters and minutes which had been found on Ashton were
to be explained. This question Penn evaded. "If," he said, "I
could only see the King, I would confess every thing to him
freely. I would tell him much that it would be important for him
to know. It is only in that way that I can be of service to him.
A witness for the Crown I cannot be for my conscience will not
suffer me to be sworn." He assured Sidney that the most
formidable enemies of the government were the discontented Whigs.
"The Jacobites are not dangerous. There is not a man among them
who has common understanding. Some persons who came over from
Holland with the King are much more to be dreaded." It does not
appear that Penn mentioned any names. He was suffered to depart
in safety. No active search was made for him. He lay hid in
London during some months, and then stole down to the coast of
Sussex and made his escape to France. After about three years of
wandering and lurking he, by the mediation of some eminent men,
who overlooked his faults for the sake of his good qualities,
made his peace with the government, and again ventured to resume
his ministrations. The return which he made for the lenity with
which he had been treated does not much raise his character.
Scarcely had he again begun to harangue in public about the
unlawfulness of war, when he sent a message earnestly exhorting
James to make an immediate descent on England with thirty
thousand men.39

Some months passed before the fate of Preston was decided. After
several respites, the government, convinced that, though he had
told much, he could tell more, fixed a day for his execution, and
ordered the sheriffs to have the machinery of death in
readiness.40 But he was again respited, and, after a delay of
some weeks, obtained a pardon, which, however, extended only to
his life, and left his property subject to all the consequences
of his attainder. As soon as he was set at liberty he gave new
cause of offence and suspicion, and was again arrested, examined
and sent to prison.41 At length he was permitted to retire,
pursued by the hisses and curses of both parties, to a lonely
manor house in the North Riding of Yorkshire. There, at least, he
had not to endure the scornful looks of old associates who had
once thought him a man of dauntless courage and spotless honour,
but who now pronounced that he was at best a meanspirited coward,
and hinted their suspicions that he had been from the beginning a
spy and a trepan.42 He employed the short and sad remains of his
life in turning the Consolation of Boethius into English. The
translation was published after the translator's death. It is
remarkable chiefly on account of some very unsuccessful attempts
to enrich our versification with new metres, and on account of
the allusions with which the preface is filled. Under a thin veil
of figurative language, Preston exhibited to the public
compassion or contempt his own blighted fame and broken heart. He
complained that the tribunal which had sentenced him to death had
dealt with him more leniently than his former friends, and that
many, who had never been tried by temptations like his, had very
cheaply earned a reputation for courage by sneering at his
poltroonery, and by bidding defiance at a distance to horrors
which, when brought near, subdue even a constant spirit.

The spirit of the Jacobites, which had been quelled for a time by
the detection of Preston's plot, was revived by the fall of Mons.
The joy of the whole party was boundless. The nonjuring priests
ran backwards and forwards between Sam's Coffee House and
Westminster Hall, spreading the praises of Lewis, and laughing at
the miserable issue of the deliberations of the great Congress.
In the Park the malecontents wore their biggest looks, and talked
sedition in their loudest tones. The most conspicuous among these
swaggerers was Sir John Fenwick, who had, in the late reign, been
high in favour and in military command, and was now an
indefatigable agitator and conspirator. In his exultation he
forgot the courtesy which man owes to woman. He had more than
once made himself conspicuous by his impertinence to the Queen.
He now ostentatiously put himself in her way when she took her
airing; and, while all around him uncovered and bowed low, gave
her a rude stare and cocked his hat in her face. The affront was
not only brutal, but cowardly. For the law had provided no
punishment for mere impertinence, however gross; and the King was
the only gentleman and soldier in the kingdom who could not
protect his wife from contumely with his sword. All that the
Queen could do was to order the parkkeepers not to admit Sir John
again within the gates. But, long after her death, a day came
when he had reason to wish that he had restrained his insolence.
He found, by terrible proof, that of all the Jacobites, the most
desperate assassins not excepted, he was the only one for whom
William felt an intense personal aversion.43

A few days after this event the rage of the malecontents began to
flame more fiercely than ever. The detection of the conspiracy of
which Preston was the chief had brought on a crisis in
ecclesiastical affairs. The nonjuring bishops had, during the
year which followed their deprivation, continued to reside in the
official mansions which had once been their own. Burnet had, at
Mary's request, laboured to effect a compromise. His direct
interference would probably have done more harm than good. He
therefore judiciously employed the agency of Rochester, who stood
higher in the estimation of the nonjurors than any statesman who
was not a nonjuror, and of Trevor, who, worthless as he was, had
considerable influence with the High Church party. Sancroft and
his brethren were informed that, if they would consent to perform
their spiritual duty, to ordain, to institute, to confirm, and to
watch over the faith and the morality of the priesthood, a bill
should be brought into Parliament to excuse them from taking the
oaths.44 This offer was imprudently liberal; but those to whom it
was made could not consistently accept it. For in the ordination
service, and indeed in almost every service of the Church,
William and Mary were designated as King and Queen. The only
promise that could be obtained from the deprived prelates was
that they would live quietly; and even this promise they had not
all kept. One of them at least had been guilty of treason
aggravated by impiety. He had, under the strong fear of being
butchered by the populace, declared that he abhorred the thought
of calling in the aid of France, and had invoked God to attest
the sincerity of this declaration. Yet, a short time after, he
bad been detected in plotting to bring a French army into
England; and he had written to assure the Court of Saint Germains
that he was acting in concert with his brethren, and especially
with Sancroft. The Whigs called loudly for severity. Even the
Tory counsellors of William owned that indulgence had been
carried to the extreme point. They made, however, a last attempt
to mediate. "Will you and your brethren," said Trevor to Lloyd,
the nonjuring Bishop of Norwich, "disown all connection with
Doctor Turner, and declare that what he has in his letters
imputed to you is false?" Lloyd evaded the question. It was now
evident that William's forbearance had only emboldened the
adversaries whom he had hoped to conciliate. Even Caermarthen,
even Nottingham, declared that it was high time to fill the
vacant sees.45

Tillotson was nominated to the Archbishopric, and was consecrated
on Whitsunday, in the church of St. Mary Le Bow. Compton, cruelly
mortified, refused to bear any part in the ceremony. His place
was supplied by Mew, Bishop of Winchester, who was assisted by
Burnet, Stillingfleet and Hough. The congregation was the most
splendid that had been seen in any place of worship since the
coronation. The Queen's drawingroom was, on that day, deserted.
Most of the peers who were in town met in the morning at Bedford
House, and went thence in procession to Cheapside. Norfolk,
Caermarthen and Dorset were conspicuous in the throng.
Devonshire, who was impatient to see his woods at Chatsworth in
their summer beauty, had deferred his departure in order to mark
his respect for Tillotson. The crowd which lined the streets
greeted the new Primate warmly. For he had, during many years,
preached in the City; and his eloquence, his probity and the
singular gentleness of his temper and manners, had made him the
favourite of the Londoners.46 But the congratulations and
applauses of his friends could not drown the roar of execration
which the Jacobites set up. According to them, he was a thief who
had not entered by the door, but had climbed over the fences. He
was a hireling whose own the sheep were not, who had usurped the
crook of the good shepherd, and who might well be expected to
leave the flock at the mercy of every wolf. He was an Arian, a
Socinian, a Deist, an Atheist. He had cozened the world by fine
phrases, and by a show of moral goodness: but he was in truth a
far more dangerous enemy of the Church than he could have been if
he had openly proclaimed himself a disciple of Hobbes, and had
lived as loosely as Wilmot. He had taught the fine gentlemen and
ladies who admired his style, and who were constantly seen round
his pulpit, that they might be very good Christians, and yet
might believe the account of the Fall in the book of Genesis to
be allegorical. Indeed they might easily be as good Christians as
he; for he had never been christened; his parents were
Anabaptists; he had lost their religion when he was a boy; and he
had never found another. In ribald lampoons he was nicknamed
Undipped John. The parish register of his baptism was produced in
vain. His enemies still continued to complain that they had lived
to see fathers of the Church who never were her children. They
made up a story that the Queen had felt bitter remorse for the
great crime by which she had obtained a throne, that in her agony
she had applied to Tillotson, and that he had comforted her by
assuring her that the punishment of the wicked in a future state
would not be eternal.47 The Archbishop's mind was naturally of
almost feminine delicacy, and had been rather softened than
braced by the habits of a long life, during which contending
sects and factions had agreed in speaking of his abilities with
admiration and of his character with esteem. The storm of obloquy
which he had to face for the first time at more than sixty years
of age was too much for him. His spirits declined; his health
gave way; yet he neither flinched from his duty nor attempted to
revenge himself on his persecutors. A few days after his
consecration, some persons were seized while dispersing libels in
which he was reviled. The law officers of the Crown proposed to
institute prosecutions; but he insisted that nobody should be
punished on his account.48 Once, when he had company with him, a
sealed packet was put into his hands; he opened it; and out fell
a mask. His friends were shocked and incensed by this cowardly
insult; but the Archbishop, trying to conceal his anguish by a
smile, pointed to the pamphlets which covered his table, and said
that the reproach which the emblem of the mask was intended to
convey might be called gentle when compared with other reproaches
which he daily had to endure. After his death a bundle of the
savage lampoons which the nonjurors had circulated against him
was found among his papers with this indorsement: "I pray God
forgive them; I do."49

The temper of the deposed primate was very different. He seems to
have been under a complete delusion as to his own importance. The
immense popularity which he had enjoyed three years before, the
prayers and tears of the multitudes who had plunged into the
Thames to implore his blessing, the enthusiasm with which the
sentinels of the Tower had drunk his health under the windows of
his prison, the mighty roar of joy which had risen from Palace
Yard on the morning of his acquittal, the triumphant night when
every window from Hyde Park to Mile End had exhibited seven
candles, the midmost and tallest emblematical of him, were still
fresh in his recollection; nor had he the wisdom to perceive that
all this homage had been paid, not to his person, but to that
religion and to those liberties of which he was, for a moment, the
representative. The extreme tenderness with which the new
government had long persisted in treating him seems to have
confirmed him in his error. That a succession of conciliatory
messages was sent to him from Kensington, that he was offered
terms so liberal as to be scarcely consistent with the dignity of
the Crown and the welfare of the State, that his cold and
uncourteous answers could not tire out the royal indulgence, that,
in spite of the loud clamours of the Whigs, and of the
provocations daily given by the Jacobites, he was residing,
fifteen months after deprivation, in the metropolitan palace,
these things seemed to him to indicate not the lenity but the
timidity of the ruling powers. He appears to have flattered
himself that they would not dare to eject him. The news,
therefore, that his see had been filled threw him into a passion
which lasted as long as his life, and which hurried him into many
foolish and unseemly actions. Tillotson, as soon as he was
appointed, went to Lambeth in the hope that he might be able, by
courtesy and kindness, to soothe the irritation of which he was
the innocent cause. He stayed long in the antechamber, and sent in
his name by several servants; but Sancroft would not even return
an answer.50 Three weeks passed; and still the deprived Archbishop
showed no disposition to move. At length he received an order
intimating to him the royal pleasure that he should quit the
dwelling which had long ceased to be his own, and in which he was
only a guest. He resented this order bitterly, and declared that
he would not obey it. He would stay till he was pulled out by the
Sheriff's officers. He would defend himself at law as long as he
could do so without putting in any plea acknowledging the
authority of the usurpers.51 The case was so clear that he could
not, by any artifice of chicanery, obtain more than a short delay.
When judgment had been given against him, he left the palace, but
directed his steward to retain possession. The consequence was
that the steward was taken into custody and heavily fined.
Tillotson sent a kind message to assure his predecessor that the
fine should not be exacted. But Sancroft was determined to have a
grievance, and would pay the money.52

From that time the great object of the narrowminded and peevish
old man was to tear in pieces the Church of which he had been the
chief minister. It was in vain that some of those nonjurors,
whose virtue, ability and learning were the glory of their party,
remonstrated against his design. "Our deprivation,"--such was the
reasoning of Ken,--"is, in the sight of God, a nullity. We are,
and shall be, till we die or resign, the true Bishops of our
sees. Those who assume our titles and functions will incur the
guilt of schism. But with us, if we act as becomes us, the schism
will die; and in the next generation the unity of the Church will
be restored. On the other hand, if we consecrate Bishops to
succeed us, the breach may last through ages, and we shall be
justly held accountable, not indeed for its origin, but for its
continuance." These considerations ought, on Sancroft's own
principles, to have had decisive weight with him; but his angry
passions prevailed. Ken quietly retired from the venerable palace
of Wells. He had done, he said, with strife, and should
henceforth vent his feelings not in disputes but in hymns. His
charities to the unhappy of all persuasions, especially to the
followers of Monmouth and to the persecuted Huguenots, had been
so large that his whole private fortune consisted of seven
hundred pounds, and of a library which he could not bear to sell.
But Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth, though not a nonjuror, did
himself honour by offering to the most virtuous of the nonjurors
a tranquil and dignified asylum in the princely mansion of
Longleat. There Ken passed a happy and honoured old age, during
which he never regretted the sacrifice which he had made to what
he thought his duty, and yet constantly became more and more
indulgent to those whose views of duty differed from his.53

Sancroft was of a very different temper. He had, indeed, as
little to complain of as any man whom a revolution has ever
hurled down from an exalted station. He had at Fressingfield, in
Suffolk, a patrimonial estate, which, together with what he had
saved during a primacy of twelve years, enabled him to live, not
indeed as he had lived when he was the first peer of Parliament,
but in the style of an opulent country gentleman. He retired to
his hereditary abode; and there he passed the rest of his life in
brooding over his wrongs. Aversion to the Established Church
became as strong a feeling in him as it had been in Martin
Marprelate. He considered all who remained in communion with her
as heathens and publicans. He nicknamed Tillotson the Mufti. In
the room which was used as a chapel at Fressingfield no person
who had taken the oaths, or who attended the ministry of any
divine who had taken the oaths, was suffered to partake of the
sacred bread and wine. A distinction, however, was made between
two classes of offenders. A layman who remained in communion with
the Church was permitted to be present while prayers were read,
and was excluded only from the highest of Christian mysteries.
But with clergymen who had sworn allegiance to the Sovereigns in
possession Sancroft would not even pray. He took care that the
rule which he had laid down should be widely known, and, both by
precept and by example, taught his followers to look on the most
orthodox, the most devout, the most virtuous of those who
acknowledged William's authority with a feeling similar to that
with which the Jew regarded the Samaritan.54 Such intolerance
would have been reprehensible, even in a man contending for a
great principle. But Sancroft was contending merely for a name.
He was the author of the scheme of Regency. He was perfectly
willing to transfer the whole kingly power from James to William.
The question which, to this smallest and sourest of minds, seemed
important enough to justify the excommunicating of ten thousand
priests and of five millions of laymen was, whether the
magistrate to whom the whole kingly power was transferred should
assume the kingly title. Nor could Sancroft bear to think that
the animosity which he had excited would die with himself. Having
done all that he could to make the feud bitter, he determined to
make it eternal. A list of the divines who had been ejected from
their benefices was sent by him to Saint Germains with a request
that James would nominate two who might keep up the episcopal
succession. James, well pleased, doubtless, to see another sect
added to that multitude of sects which he had been taught to
consider as the reproach of Protestantism, named two fierce and
uncompromising nonjurors, Hickes and Wagstaffe, the former
recommended by Sancroft, the latter recommended by Lloyd, the
ejected Bishop of Norwich.55 Such was the origin of a
schismatical hierarchy, which, having, during a short time,
excited alarm, soon sank into obscurity and contempt, but which,
in obscurity and contempt, continued to drag on a languid
existence during several generations. The little Church, without
temples, revenues or dignities, was even more distracted by
internal disputes than the great Church, which retained
possession of cathedrals, tithes and peerages. Some nonjurors
leaned towards the ceremonial of Rome; others would not tolerate
the slightest departure from the Book of Common Prayer. Altar was
set up against altar. One phantom prelate pronounced the
consecration of another phantom prelate uncanonical. At length
the pastors were left absolutely without flocks. One of these
Lords spiritual very wisely turned surgeon; another left what he
had called his see, and settled in Ireland; and at length, in
1805, the last Bishop of that society which had proudly claimed
to be the only true Church of England dropped unnoticed into the

The places of the bishops who had been ejected with Sancroft were
filled in a manner creditable to the government. Patrick
succeeded the traitor Turner. Fowler went to Gloucester. Richard
Cumberland, an aged divine, who had no interest at Court, and
whose only recommendations were his piety and erudition, was
astonished by learning from a newsletter which he found on the
table of a coffeehouse that he had been nominated to the See of
Peterborough.57 Beveridge was selected to succeed Ken; he
consented; and the appointment was actually announced in the
London Gazette. But Beveridge, though an honest, was not a
strongminded man. Some Jacobites expostulated with him; some
reviled him; his heart failed him; and he retracted. While the
nonjurors were rejoicing in this victory, he changed his mind
again; but too late. He had by his irresolution forfeited the
favour of William, and never obtained a mitre till Anne was on
the throne.58 The bishopric of Bath and Wells was bestowed on
Richard Kidder, a man of considerable attainments and blameless
character, but suspected of a leaning towards Presbyterianism.
About the same time Sharp, the highest churchman that had been
zealous for the Comprehension, and the lowest churchman that felt
a scruple about succeeding a deprived prelate, accepted the
Archbishopric of York, vacant by the death of Lamplugh.59

In consequence of the elevation of Tillotson to the See of
Canterbury, the Deanery of Saint Paul's became vacant. As soon as
the name of the new Dean was known, a clamour broke forth such as
perhaps no ecclesiastical appointment has ever produced, a
clamour made up of yells of hatred, of hisses of contempt, and of
shouts of triumphant and half insulting welcome; for the new Dean
was William Sherlock.

The story of his conversion deserves to be fully told; for it
throws great light on the character of the parties which then
divided the Church and the State. Sherlock was, in influence and
reputation, though not in rank, the foremost man among the
nonjurors. His authority and example had induced some of his
brethren, who had at first wavered, to resign their benefices.
The day of suspension came; the day of deprivation came; and
still he was firm. He seemed to have found, in the consciousness
of rectitude, and in meditation on the invisible world, ample
compensation for all his losses. While excluded from the pulpit
where his eloquence had once delighted the learned and polite
inmates of the Temple, he wrote that celebrated Treatise on Death
which, during many years, stood next to the Whole Duty of Man in
the bookcases of serious Arminians. Soon, however, it began to be
suspected that his resolution was giving way. He declared that he
would be no party to a schism; he advised those who sought his
counsel not to leave their parish churches; nay, finding that the
law which had ejected him from his cure did not interdict him
from performing divine service, he officiated at Saint Dunstan's,
and there prayed for King William and Queen Mary. The apostolical
injunction, he said, was that prayers should be made for all in
authority, and William and Mary were visibly in authority. His
Jacobite friends loudly blamed his inconsistency. How, they
asked, if you admit that the Apostle speaks in this passage of
actual authority, can you maintain that, in other passages of a
similar kind, he speaks only of legitimate authority? Or how can
you, without sin, designate as King, in a solemn address to God,
one whom you cannot, without sin, promise to obey as King? These
reasonings were unanswerable; and Sherlock soon began to think
them so; but the conclusion to which they led him was
diametrically opposed to the conclusion to which they were meant
to lead him. He hesitated, however, till a new light flashed on
his mind from a quarter from which there was little reason to
expect any thing but tenfold darkness. In the reign of James the
First, Doctor John Overall, Bishop of Exeter, had written an
elaborate treatise on the rights of civil and ecclesiastical
governors. This treatise had been solemnly approved by the
Convocations of Canterbury and York, and might therefore be
considered as an authoritative exposition of the doctrine of the
Church of England. A copy of the manuscript was in Sancroft's
possession; and he, soon after the Revolution, sent it to the
press. He hoped, doubtless, that the publication would injure the
new government; but he was lamentably disappointed. The book
indeed condemned all resistance in terms as strong as he could
himself have used; but one passage which had escaped his notice
was decisive against himself and his fellow schismatics. Overall,
and the two Convocations which had given their sanction to
Overall's teaching, pronounced that a government, which had
originated in rebellion, ought, when thoroughly settled, to be
considered as ordained by God and to be obeyed by Christian
men.60 Sherlock read, and was convinced. His venerable mother the
Church had spoken; and he, with the docility of a child, accepted
her decree. The government which had sprung from the Revolution
might, at least since the battle of the Boyne and the flight of
James from Ireland, be fairly called a settled government, and
ought therefore to be passively obeyed till it should be
subverted by another revolution and succeeded by another settled

Sherlock took the oaths, and speedily published, in justification
of his conduct, a pamphlet entitled The Case of Allegiance to
Sovereign Powers stated. The sensation produced by this work was
immense. Dryden's Hind and Panther had not raised so great an
uproar. Halifax's Letter to a Dissenter had not called forth so
many answers. The replies to the Doctor, the vindications of the
Doctor, the pasquinades on the Doctor, would fill a library. The
clamour redoubled when it was known that the convert had not only
been reappointed Master of the Temple, but had accepted the
Deanery of Saint Paul's, which had become vacant in consequence
of the deprivation of Sancroft and the promotion of Tillotson.
The rage of the nonjurors amounted almost to frenzy. Was it not
enough, they asked, to desert the true and pure Church, in this
her hour of sorrow and peril, without also slandering her? It was
easy to understand why a greedy, cowardly hypocrite should refuse
to take the oaths to the usurper as long as it seemed probable
that the rightful King would be restored, and should make haste
to swear after the battle of the Boyne. Such tergiversation in
times of civil discord was nothing new. What was new was that the
turncoat should try to throw his own guilt and shame on the
Church of England, and should proclaim that she had taught him to
turn against the weak who were in the right, and to cringe to the
powerful who were in the wrong. Had such indeed been her doctrine
or her practice in evil days? Had she abandoned her Royal Martyr
in the prison or on the scaffold? Had she enjoined her children
to pay obedience to the Rump or to the Protector? Yet was the
government of the Rump or of the Protector less entitled to be
called a settled government than the government of William and
Mary? Had not the battle of Worcester been as great a blow to the
hopes of the House of Stuart as the battle of the Boyne? Had not
the chances of a Restoration seemed as small in 1657 as they
could seem to any judicious man in 1691? In spite of invectives
and sarcasms, however, there was Overall's treatise; there were
the approving votes of the two Convocations; and it was much
easier to rail at Sherlock than to explain away either the
treatise or the votes. One writer maintained that by a thoroughly
settled government must have been meant a government of which the
title was uncontested. Thus, he said, the government of the
United Provinces became a settled government when it was
recognised by Spain, and, but for that recognition, would never
have been a settled government to the end of time. Another
casuist, somewhat less austere, pronounced that a government,
wrongful in its origin, might become a settled government after
the lapse of a century. On the thirteenth of February 1789,
therefore, and not a day earlier, Englishmen would be at liberty
to swear allegiance to a government sprung from the Revolution.
The history of the chosen people was ransacked for precedents.
Was Eglon's a settled government when Ehud stabbed him? Was
Joram's a settled government when Jehe shot him? But the leading
case was that of Athaliah. It was indeed a case which furnished
the malecontents with many happy and pungent allusions; a kingdom
treacherously seized by an usurper near in blood to the throne;
the rightful prince long dispossessed; a part of the sacerdotal
order true, through many disastrous years, to the Royal House; a
counterrevolution at length effected by the High Priest at the
head of the Levites. Who, it was asked, would dare to blame the
heroic pontiff who had restored the heir of David? Yet was not
the government of Athaliah as firmly settled as that of the
Prince of Orange?

Hundreds of pages written at this time about the rights of Joash
and the bold enterprise of Jehoiada are mouldering in the ancient
bookcases of Oxford and Cambridge. While Sherlock was thus
fiercely attacked by his old friends, he was not left unmolested
by his old enemies. Some vehement Whigs, among whom Julian
Johnson was conspicuous, declared that Jacobitism itself was
respectable when compared with the vile doctrine which had been
discovered in the Convocation Book. That passive obedience was
due to Kings was doubtless an absurd and pernicious notion. Yet
it was impossible not to respect the consistency and fortitude of
men who thought themselves bound to bear true allegiance, at all
hazards, to an unfortunate, a deposed, an exiled oppressor. But
the theory which Sherlock had learned from Overall was unmixed
baseness and wickedness. A cause was to be abandoned, not because
it was unjust, but because it was unprosperous. Whether James had
been a tyrant or had been the father of his people was quite
immaterial. If he had won the battle of the Boyne we should have
been bound as Christians to be his slaves. He had lost it; and
we were bound as Christians to be his foes. Other Whigs
congratulated the proselyte on having come, by whatever road, to
a right practical conclusion, but could not refrain from sneering
at the history which he gave of his conversion. He was, they
said, a man of eminent learning and abilities. He had studied the
question of allegiance long and deeply. He had written much about
it. Several months had been allowed him for reading, prayer and
reflection before he incurred suspension, several months more
before he incurred deprivation. He had formed an opinion for
which he had declared himself ready to suffer martyrdom; he had
taught that opinion to others; and he had then changed that
opinion solely because he had discovered that it had been, not
refuted, but dogmatically pronounced erroneous by the two
Convocations more than eighty years before. Surely, this was to
renounce all liberty of private judgment, and to ascribe to the
Synods of Canterbury and York an infallibility which the Church
of England had declared that even Oecumenical Councils could not
justly claim. If, it was sarcastically said, all our notions of
right and wrong, in matters of vital importance to the well being
of society, are to be suddenly altered by a few lines of
manuscript found in a corner of the library at Lambeth, it is
surely much to be wished, for the peace of mind of humble
Christians, that all the documents to which this sort of
authority belongs should be rummaged out and sent to the press as
soon as possible; for, unless this be done, we may all, like the
Doctor when he refused the oaths last year, be committing sins in
the full persuasion that we are discharging duties. In truth, it
is not easy to believe that the Convocation Book furnished
Sherlock with any thing more than a pretext for doing what he had
made up his mind to do. The united force of reason and interest
had doubtless convinced him that his passions and prejudices had
led him into a great error. That error he determined to recant;
and it cost him less to say that his opinion had been changed by
newly discovered evidence, than that he had formed a wrong
judgment with all the materials for the forming of a right
judgment before him. The popular belief was that his retractation
was the effect of the tears, expostulations and reproaches of his
wife. The lady's spirit was high; her authority in the family was
great; and she cared much more about her house and her carriage,
the plenty of her table and the prospects of her children, than
about the patriarchal origin of government or the meaning of the
word Abdication. She had, it was asserted, given her husband no
peace by day or by night till he had got over his scruples. In
letters, fables, songs, dialogues without number, her powers of
seduction and intimidation were malignantly extolled. She was
Xanthippe pouring water on the head of Socrates. She was Dalilah
shearing Samson. She was Eve forcing the forbidden fruit into
Adam's mouth. She was Job's wife, imploring her ruined lord, who
sate scraping himself among the ashes, not to curse and die, but
to swear and live. While the ballad makers celebrated the victory
of Mrs. Sherlock, another class of assailants fell on the
theological reputation of her spouse. Till he took the oaths, he
had always been considered as the most orthodox of divines. But
the captious and malignant criticism to which his writings were
now subjected would have found heresy in the Sermon on the Mount;
and he, unfortunately, was rash enough to publish, at the very
moment when the outcry against his political tergiversation was
loudest, his thoughts on the mystery of the Trinity. It is
probable that, at another time, his work would have been hailed
by good Churchmen as a triumphant answer to the Socinians and
Sabellians. But, unhappily, in his zeal against Socinians and
Sabellians, he used expressions which might be construed into
Tritheism. Candid judges would have remembered that the true path
was closely pressed on the right and on the left by error, and
that it was scarcely possible to keep far enough from danger on
one side without going very close to danger on the other. But
candid judges Sherlock was not likely to find among the
Jacobites. His old allies affirmed that he had incurred all the
fearful penalties denounced in the Athanasian Creed against those
who divide the substance. Bulky quartos were written to prove
that he held the existence of three distinct Deities; and some
facetious malecontents, who troubled themselves very little about
the Catholic verity, amused the town by lampoons in English and
Latin on his heterodoxy. "We," said one of these jesters, "plight
our faith to one King, and call one God to attest our promise. We
cannot think it strange that there should be more than one King
to whom the Doctor has sworn allegiance, when we consider that
the Doctor has more Gods than one to swear by."61

Sherlock would, perhaps, have doubted whether the government to
which he had submitted was entitled to be called a settled
government, if he had known all the dangers by which it was
threatened. Scarcely had Preston's plot been detected; when a new
plot of a very different kind was formed in the camp, in the
navy, in the treasury, in the very bedchamber of the King. This
mystery of iniquity has, through five generations, been gradually
unveiling, but is not yet entirely unveiled. Some parts which are
still obscure may possibly, by the discovery of letters or
diaries now reposing under the dust of a century and a half, be
made clear to our posterity. The materials, however, which are at
present accessible, are sufficient for the construction of a
narrative not to be read without shame and loathing.62

We have seen that, in the spring of 1690, Shrewsbury, irritated
by finding his counsels rejected, and those of his Tory rivals
followed, suffered himself, in a fatal hour, to be drawn into a
correspondence with the banished family. We have seen also by
what cruel sufferings of body and mind he expiated his fault.
Tortured by remorse, and by disease the effect of remorse, he had
quitted the Court; but he had left behind him men whose
principles were not less lax than his, and whose hearts were far
harder and colder.

Early in 1691, some of these men began to hold secret
communication with Saint Germains. Wicked and base as their
conduct was, there was in it nothing surprising. They did after
their kind. The times were troubled. A thick cloud was upon the
future. The most sagacious and experienced politician could not
see with any clearness three months before him. To a man of
virtue and honour, indeed, this mattered little. His uncertainty
as to what the morrow might bring forth might make him anxious,
but could not make him perfidious. Though left in utter darkness
as to what concerned his interests, he had the sure guidance of
his principles. But, unhappily, men of virtue and honour were not
numerous among the courtiers of that age. Whitehall had been,
during thirty years, a seminary of every public and private vice,
and swarmed with lowminded, doubledealing, selfseeking
politicians. These politicians now acted as it was natural that
men profoundly immoral should act at a crisis of which none could
predict the issue. Some of them might have a slight predilection
for William; others a slight predilection for James; but it was
not by any such predilection that the conduct of any of the breed
was guided. If it had seemed certain that William would stand,
they would all have been for William. If it had seemed certain
that James would be restored, they would all have been for James.
But what was to be done when the chances appeared to be almost
exactly balanced? There were honest men of one party who would
have answered, To stand by the true King and the true Church,
and, if necessary, to die for them like Laud. There were honest
men of the other party who would have answered, To stand by the
liberties of England and the Protestant religion, and, if
necessary, to die for them like Sidney. But such consistency was
unintelligible to many of the noble and the powerful. Their
object was to be safe in every event. They therefore openly took
the oath of allegiance to one King, and secretly plighted their
word to the other. They were indefatigable in obtaining
commissions, patents of peerage, pensions, grants of crown land,
under the great seal of William; and they had in their secret
drawers promises of pardon in the handwriting of James.

Among those who were guilty of this wickedness three men stand
preeminent, Russell, Godolphin and Marlborough. No three men
could be, in head and heart, more unlike to one another; and the
peculiar qualities of each gave a peculiar character to his
villany. The treason of Russell is to be attributed partly to
fractiousness; the treason of Godolphin is to be attributed
altogether to timidity; the treason of Marlborough was the
treason of a man of great genius and boundless ambition.

It may be thought strange that Russell should have been out of
humour. He had just accepted the command of the united naval
forces of England and Holland with the rank of Admiral of the
Fleet. He was Treasurer of the Navy. He had a pension of three
thousand pounds a year. Crown property near Charing Cross, to the
value of eighteen thousand pounds, had been bestowed on him. His
indirect gains must have been immense. But he was still
dissatisfed. In truth, with undaunted courage, with considerable
talents both for war and for administration, and with a certain
public spirit, which showed itself by glimpses even in the very
worst parts of his life, he was emphatically a bad man, insolent,
malignant, greedy, faithless. He conceived that the great
services which he had performed at the time of the Revolution had
not been adequately rewarded. Every thing that was given to
others seemed to him to be pillaged from himself. A letter is
still extant which he wrote to William about this time. It is
made up of boasts, reproaches and sneers. The Admiral, with
ironical professions of humility and loyalty, begins by asking
permission to put his wrongs on paper, because his bashfulness
would not suffer him to explain himself by word of mouth. His
grievances were intolerable. Other people got grants of royal
domains; but he could get scarcely any thing. Other people could
provide for their dependants; but his recommendations were
uniformly disregarded. The income which he derived from the
royal favour might seem large; but he had poor relations; and the
government, instead of doing its duty by them, had most
unhandsomely left them to his care. He had a sister who ought to
have a pension; for, without one, she could not give portions to
her daughters. He had a brother who, for want of a place, had
been reduced to the melancholy necessity of marrying an old woman
for her money. Russell proceeded to complain bitterly that the
Whigs were neglected, that the Revolution had aggrandised and
enriched men who had made the greatest efforts to avert it. And
there is reason to believe that this complaint came from his
heart. For, next to his own interests, those of his party were
dear to him; and, even when he was most inclined to become a
Jacobite, he never had the smallest disposition to become a Tory.
In the temper which this letter indicates, he readily listened to
the suggestions of David Lloyd, one of the ablest and most active
emissaries who at this time were constantly plying between France
and England. Lloyd conveyed to James assurances that Russell
would, when a favourable opportunity should present itself, try
to effect by means of the fleet what Monk had effected in the
preceding generation by means of the army.63 To what extent these
assurances were sincere was a question about which men who knew
Russell well, and who were minutely informed as to his conduct,
were in doubt. It seems probable that, during many months, he did
not know his own mind. His interest was to stand well, as long as
possible, with both Kings. His irritable and imperious nature was
constantly impelling him to quarrel with both. His spleen was
excited one week by a dry answer from William, and the next week
by an absurd proclamation from James. Fortunately the most
important day of his life, the day from which all his subsequent
years took their colour, found him out of temper with the
banished King.

Godolphin had not, and did not pretend to have, any cause of
complaint against the government which he served. He was First
Commissioner of the Treasury. He had been protected, trusted,
caressed. Indeed the favour shown to him had excited many
murmurs. Was it fitting, the Whigs had indignantly asked, that a
man who had been high in office through the whole of the late
reign, who had promised to vote for the Indulgence, who had sate
in the Privy Council with a Jesuit, who had sate at the Board of
Treasury with two Papists, who had attended an idolatress to her
altar, should be among the chief ministers of a Prince whose
title to the throne was derived from the Declaration of Rights?
But on William this clamour had produced no effect; and none of
his English servants seems to have had at this time a larger
share of his confidence than Godolphin.

Nevertheless, the Jacobites did not despair. One of the most
zealous among them, a gentleman named Bulkeley, who had formerly
been on terms of intimacy with Godolphin, undertook to see what
could be done. He called at the Treasury, and tried to draw the
First Lord into political talk. This was no easy matter; for
Godolphin was not a man to put himself lightly into the power of
others. His reserve was proverbial; and he was especially
renowned for the dexterity with which he, through life, turned
conversation away from matters of state to a main of cocks or the
pedigree of a racehorse. The visit ended without his uttering a
word indicating that he remembered the existence of King James.

Bulkeley, however, was not to be so repulsed. He came again, and
introduced the subject which was nearest his heart. Godolphin
then asked after his old master and mistress in the mournful tone
of a man who despaired of ever being reconciled to them. Bulkeley
assured him that King James was ready to forgive all the past.
"May I tell His Majesty that you will try to deserve his favour?"
At this Godolphin rose, said something about the trammels of
office and his wish to be released from them, and put an end to
the interview.

Bulkeley soon made a third attempt. By this time Godolphin had
learned some things which shook his confidence in the stability
of the government which he served. He began to think, as he would
himself have expressed it, that he had betted too deep on the
Revolution, and that it was time to hedge. Evasions would no
longer serve his turn. It was necessary to speak out. He spoke
out, and declared himself a devoted servant of King James. "I
shall take an early opportunity of resigning my place. But, till
then, I am under a tie. I must not betray my trust." To enhance
the value of the sacrifice which he proposed to make, he produced
a most friendly and confidential letter which he had lately
received from William. "You see how entirely the Prince of Orange
trusts me. He tells me that he cannot do without me, and that
there is no Englishman for whom he has so great a kindness; but
all this weighs nothing with me in comparison of my duty to my
lawful King."

If the First Lord of the Treasury really had scruples about
betraying his trust, those scruples were soon so effectually
removed that he very complacently continued, during six years, to
eat the bread of one master, while secretly sending professions
of attachment and promises of service to another.

The truth is that Godolphin was under the influence of a mind far
more powerful and far more depraved than his own. His
perplexities had been imparted to Marlborough, to whom he had
long been bound by such friendship as two very unprincipled men
are capable of feeling for each other, and to whom he was
afterwards bound by close domestic ties.

Marlborough was in a very different situation from that of
William's other servants. Lloyd might make overtures to Russell,
and Bulkeley to Godolphin. But all the agents of the banished
Court stood aloof from the traitor of Salisbury. That shameful
night seemed to have for ever separated the perjured deserter
from the Prince whom he had ruined. James had, even in the last
extremity, when his army was in full retreat, when his whole
kingdom had risen against him, declared that he would never
pardon Churchill, never, never. By all the Jacobites the name of
Churchill was held in peculiar abhorrence; and, in the prose and
verse which came forth daily from their secret presses, a
precedence in infamy, among all the many traitors of the age, was
assigned to him. In the order of things which had sprung from the
Revolution, he was one of the great men of England, high in the
state, high in the army. He had been created an Earl. He had a
large share in the military administration. The emoluments,
direct and indirect, of the places and commands which he held
under the Crown were believed at the Dutch Embassy to amount to
twelve thousand pounds a year. In the event of a
counterrevolution it seemed that he had nothing in prospect but a
garret in Holland, or a scaffold on Tower Hill. It might
therefore have been expected that he would serve his new master
with fidelity, not indeed with the fidelity of Nottingham, which
was the fidelity of conscientiousness, not with the fidelity of
Portland, which was the fidelity of affection, but with the not
less stubborn fidelity of despair.

Those who thought thus knew but little of Marlborough. Confident
in his own powers of deception, he resolved, since the Jacobite
agents would not seek him, to seek them. He therefore sent to beg
an interview with Colonel Edward Sackville.

Sackville was astonished and not much pleased by the message. He
was a sturdy Cavalier of the old school. He had been persecuted
in the days of the Popish plot for manfully saying what he
thought, and what every body now thinks, about Oates and
Bedloe.64 Since the Revolution he had put his neck in peril for
King James, had been chased by officers with warrants, and had
been designated as a traitor in a proclamation to which
Marlborough himself had been a party.65 It was not without
reluctance that the stanch royalist crossed the hated threshold
of the deserter. He was repaid for his effort by the edifying
spectacle of such an agony of repentance as he had never before
seen. "Will you," said Marlborough, "be my intercessor with the
King? Will you tell him what I suffer? My crimes now appear to me
in their true light; and I shrink with horror from the
contemplation. The thought of them is with me day and night. I
sit down to table; but I cannot eat. I throw myself on my bed;
but I cannot sleep. I am ready to sacrifice every thing, to brave
every thing, to bring utter ruin on my fortunes, if only I may be
free from the misery of a wounded spirit." If appearances could
be trusted, this great offender was as true a penitent as David
or as Peter. Sackville reported to his friends what had passed.
They could not but acknowledge that, if the arch traitor, who had
hitherto opposed to conscience and to public opinion the same
cool and placid hardihood which distinguished him on fields of
battle, had really begun to feel remorse, it would be absurd to
reject, on account of his unworthiness, the inestimable services
which it was in his power to render to the good cause. He sate in
the interior council; he held high command in the army; he had
been recently entrusted, and would doubtless again be entrusted,
with the direction of important military operations. It was true
that no man had incurred equal guilt; but it was true also that
no man had it in his power to make equal reparation. If he was
sincere, he might doubtless earn the pardon which he so much
desired. But was he sincere? Had he not been just as loud in
professions of loyalty on the very eve of his crime? It was
necessary to put him to the test. Several tests were applied by
Sackville and Lloyd. Marlborough was required to furnish full
information touching the strength and the distribution of all the
divisions of the English army; and he complied. He was required
to disclose the whole plan of the approaching campaign; and he
did so. The Jacobite leaders watched carefully for inaccuracies
in his reports, but could find none. It was thought a still
stronger proof of his fidelity that he gave valuable intelligence
about what was doing in the office of the Secretary of State. A
deposition had been sworn against one zealous royalist. A warrant
was preparing against another. These intimations saved several of
the malecontents from imprisonment, if not from the gallows; and
it was impossible for them not to feel some relenting towards the
awakened sinner to whom they owed so much.

He however, in his secret conversations with his new allies, laid
no claim to merit. He did not, he said, ask for confidence. How
could he, after the villanies which he had committed against the
best of Kings, hope ever to be trusted again? It was enough for a
wretch like him to be permitted to make, at the cost of his life,
some poor atonement to the gracious master, whom he had indeed
basely injured, but whom he had never ceased to love. It was not
improbable that, in the summer, he might command the English
forces in Flanders. Was it wished that he should bring them over
in a body to the French camp? If such were the royal pleasure, he
would undertake that the thing should be done. But on the whole
he thought that it would be better to wait till the next session
of Parliament. And then he hinted at a plan which he afterwards
more fully matured, for expelling the usurper by means of the
English legislature and the English army. In the meantime he
hoped that James would command Godolphin not to quit the
Treasury. A private man could do little for the good cause. One
who was the director of the national finances, and the depository
of the gravest secrets of state, might render inestimable

Marlborough's pretended repentance imposed so completely on those
who managed the affairs of James in London that they sent Lloyd
to France, with the cheering intelligence that the most depraved
of all rebels had been wonderfully transformed into a loyal
subject. The tidings filled James with delight and hope. Had he
been wise, they would have excited in him only aversion and
distrust. It was absurd to imagine that a man really heartbroken
by remorse and shame for one act of perfidy would determine to
lighten his conscience by committing a second act of perfidy as
odious and as disgraceful as the first. The promised atonement
was so wicked and base that it never could be made by any man
sincerely desirous to atone for past wickedness and baseness. The
truth was that, when Marlborough told the Jacobites that his
sense of guilt prevented him from swallowing his food by day and
taking his rest at night, he was laughing at them. The loss of
half a guinea would have done more to spoil his appetite and to
disturb his slumbers than all the terrors of an evil conscience.
What his offers really proved was that his former crime had
sprung, not from an ill regulated zeal for the interests of his
country and his religion, but from a deep and incurable moral
disease which had infected the whole man. James, however, partly
from dulness and partly from selfishness, could never see any
immorality in any action by which he was benefited. To conspire
against him, to betray him, to break an oath of allegiance sworn
to him, were crimes for which no punishment here or hereafter
could be too severe. But to murder his enemies, to break faith
with his enemies was not only innocent but laudable. The
desertion at Salisbury had been the worst of crimes; for it had
ruined him. A similar desertion in Flanders would be an
honourable exploit; for it might restore him.

The penitent was informed by his Jacobite friends that he was
forgiven. The news was most welcome; but something more was
necessary to restore his lost peace of mind. Might he hope to
have, in the royal handwriting, two lines containing a promise of
pardon? It was not, of course, for his own sake that he asked
this. But he was confident that, with such a document in his
hands, he could bring back to the right path some persons of
great note who adhered to the usurper, only because they imagined
that they had no mercy to expect from the legitimate King. They
would return to their duty as soon as they saw that even the
worst of all criminals had, on his repentance, been generously
forgiven. The promise was written, sent, and carefully treasured
up. Marlborough had now attained one object, an object which was
common to him with Russell and Godolphin. But he had other
objects which neither Russell nor Godolphin had ever
contemplated. There is, as we shall hereafter see, strong reason
to believe that this wise, brave, wicked man, was meditating a
plan worthy of his fertile intellect and daring spirit, and not
less worthy of his deeply corrupted heart, a plan which, if it
had not been frustrated by strange means, would have ruined
William without benefiting James, and would have made the
successful traitor master of England and arbiter of Europe.

Thus things stood, when, in May 1691, William, after a short and
busy sojourn in England, set out again for the Continent, where
the regular campaign was about to open. He took with him
Marlborough, whose abilities he justly appreciated, and of whose
recent negotiations with Saint Germains he had not the faintest
suspicion. At the Hague several important military and political
consultations were held; and, on every occasion, the superiority
of the accomplished Englishman was felt by the most distinguished
soldiers and statesmen of the United Provinces. Heinsius, long
after, used to relate a conversation which took place at this
time between William and the Prince of Vaudemont, one of the
ablest commanders in the Dutch service. Vaudemont spoke well of
several English officers, and among them of Talmash and Mackay,
but pronounced Marlborough superior beyond comparison to the
rest. "He has every quality of a general. His very look shows it.
He cannot fail to achieve something great." "I really believe,
cousin," answered the King, "that my Lord will make good every
thing that you have said of him."

There was still a short interval before the commencement of
military operations. William passed that interval in his beloved
park at Loo. Marlborough spent two or three days there, and was
then despatched to Flanders with orders to collect all the
English forces, to form a camp in the neighbourhood of Brussels,
and to have every thing in readiness for the King's arrival.

And now Marlborough had an opportunity of proving the sincerity
of those professions by which he had obtained from a heart, well
described by himself as harder than a marble chimneypiece, the
pardon of an offence such as might have moved even a gentle
nature to deadly resentment. He received from Saint Germains a
message claiming the instant performance of his promise to desert
at the head of his troops. He was told that this was the greatest
service which he could render to the Crown. His word was pledged;
and the gracious master who had forgiven all past errors
confidently expected that it would be redeemed. The hypocrite
evaded the demand with characteristic dexterity. In the most
respectful and affectionate language he excused himself for not
immediately obeying the royal commands. The promise which he was
required to fulfil had not been quite correctly understood. There
had been some misapprehension on the part of the messengers. To
carry over a regiment or two would do more harm than good. To
carry over a whole army was a business which would require much
time and management.66 While James was murmuring over these
apologies, and wishing that he had not been quite so placable,
William arrived at the head quarters of the allied forces, and
took the chief command.

The military operations in Flanders recommenced early in June and
terminated at the close of September. No important action took
place. The two armies marched and countermarched, drew near and
receded. During some time they confronted each other with less
than a league between them. But neither William nor Luxemburg
would fight except at an advantage; and neither gave the other
any advantage. Languid as the campaign was, it is on one account
remarkable. During more than a century our country had sent no
great force to make war by land out of the British isles. Our
aristocracy had therefore long ceased to be a military class. The
nobles of France, of Germany, of Holland, were generally
soldiers. It would probably have been difficult to find in the
brilliant circle which surrounded Lewis at Versailles a single
Marquess or Viscount of forty who had not been at some battle or
siege. But the immense majority of our peers, baronets and
opulent esquires had never served except in the trainbands, and
had never borne a part in any military exploit more serious than
that of putting down a riot or of keeping a street clear for a
procession. The generation which had fought at Edgehill and
Lansdowne had nearly passed away. The wars of Charles the Second
had been almost entirely maritime. During his reign therefore the
sea service had been decidedly more the mode than the land
service; and, repeatedly, when our fleet sailed to encounter the
Dutch, such multitudes of men of fashion had gone on board that
the parks and the theatres had been left desolate. In 1691 at
length, for the first time since Henry the Eighth laid siege to
Boulogne, an English army appeared on the Continent under the
command of an English king. A camp, which was also a court, was
irresistibly attractive to many young patricians full of natural
intrepidity, and ambitious of the favour which men of
distinguished bravery have always found in the eyes of women. To
volunteer for Flanders became the rage among the fine gentlemen
who combed their flowing wigs and exchanged their richly perfumed
snuffs at the Saint James's Coffeehouse. William's headquarters
were enlivened by a crowd of splendid equipages and by a rapid
succession of sumptuous banquets. For among the high born and
high spirited youths who repaired to his standard were some who,
though quite willing to face a battery, were not at all disposed
to deny themselves the luxuries with which they had been
surrounded in Soho Square. In a few months Shadwell brought these
valiant fops and epicures on the stage. The town was made merry
with the character of a courageous but prodigal and effeminate
coxcomb, who is impatient to cross swords with the best men in
the French household troops, but who is much dejected by learning
that he may find it difficult to have his champagne iced daily
during the summer. He carries with him cooks, confectioners and
laundresses, a waggonload of plate, a wardrobe of laced and
embroidered suits, and much rich tent furniture, of which the
patterns have been chosen by a committee of fine ladies.67

While the hostile armies watched each other in Flanders,
hostilities were carried on with somewhat more vigour in other
parts of Europe. The French gained some advantages in Catalonia
and in Piedmont. Their Turkish allies, who in the east menaced
the dominions of the Emperor, were defeated by Lewis of Baden in
a great battle. But nowhere were the events of the summer so
important as in Ireland.

From October 1690 till May 1691, no military operation on a large
scale was attempted in that kingdom. The area of the island was,
during the winter and spring, not unequally divided between the
contending races. The whole of Ulster, the greater part of
Leinster and about one third of Munster had submitted to the
English. The whole of Connaught, the greater part of Munster, and
two or three counties of Leinster were held by the Irish. The
tortuous boundary formed by William's garrisons ran in a north
eastern direction from the bay of Castlehaven to Mallow, and
then, inclining still further eastward, proceeded to Cashel. From
Cashel the line went to Mullingar, from Mullingar to Longford,
and from Longford to Cavan, skirted Lough Erne on the west, and
met the ocean again at Ballyshannon.68

On the English side of this pale there was a rude and imperfect
order. Two Lords Justices, Coningsby and Porter, assisted by a
Privy Council, represented King William at Dublin Castle. Judges,
Sheriffs and Justices of the Peace had been appointed; and
assizes were, after a long interval, held in several county
towns. The colonists had meanwhile been formed into a strong
militia, under the command of officers who had commissions from
the Crown. The trainbands of the capital consisted of two
thousand five hundred foot, two troops of horse and two troops of
dragoons, all Protestants and all well armed and clad.69 On the
fourth of November, the anniversary of William's birth, and on
the fifth, the anniversary of his landing at Torbay, the whole of
this force appeared in all the pomp of war. The vanquished and
disarmed natives assisted, with suppressed grief and anger, at
the triumph of the caste which they had, five months before,
oppressed and plundered with impunity. The Lords Justices went in
state to Saint Patrick's Cathedral; bells were rung; bonfires
were lighted; hogsheads of ale and claret were set abroach in the
streets; fireworks were exhibited on College Green; a great
company of nobles and public functionaries feasted at the Castle;
and, as the second course came up, the trumpets sounded, and
Ulster King at Arms proclaimed, in Latin, French and English,
William and Mary, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland.70

Within the territory where the Saxon race was dominant, trade and
industry had already begun to revive. The brazen counters which
bore the image and superscription of James gave place to silver.
The fugitives who had taken refuge in England came back in
multitudes; and, by their intelligence, diligence and thrift, the
devastation caused by two years of confusion and robbery was soon
in part repaired. Merchantmen heavily laden were constantly
passing and repassing Saint George's Channel. The receipts of the
custom houses on the eastern coast, from Cork to Londonderry,
amounted in six months to sixty-seven thousand five hundred
pounds, a sum such as would have been thought extraordinary even
in the most prosperous times.71

The Irish who remained within the English pale were, one and all,
hostile to the English domination. They were therefore subjected
to a rigorous system of police, the natural though lamentable
effect of extreme danger and extreme provocation. A Papist was
not permitted to have a sword or a gun. He was not permitted to
go more than three miles out of his parish except to the market
town on the market day. Lest he should give information or
assistance to his brethren who occupied the western half of the
island, he was forbidden to live within ten miles of the
frontier. Lest he should turn his house into a place of resort

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