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

Part 4 out of 15

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An order was laid before him for signature. He signed it, but, if
Burnet may be trusted, did not read it. Whoever has seen anything
of public business knows that princes and ministers daily sign,
and indeed must sign, documents which they have not read; and of
all documents a document relating to a small tribe of
mountaineers, living in a wilderness not set down in any map, was
least likely to interest a Sovereign whose mind was full of
schemes on which the fate of Europe might depend.229 But, even on
the supposition that he read the order to which he affixed his
name, there seems to be no reason for blaming him. That order,
directed to the Commander of the Forces in Scotland, runs thus:
"As for Mac Ian of Glencoe and that tribe, if they can be well
distinguished from the other Highlanders, it will be proper, for
the vindication of public justice, to extirpate that set of
thieves." These words naturally bear a sense perfectly innocent,
and would, but for the horrible event which followed, have been
universally understood in that sense. It is undoubtedly one of
the first duties of every government to extirpate gangs of
thieves. This does not mean that every thief ought to be
treacherously assassinated in his sleep, or even that every thief
ought to be publicly executed after a fair trial, but that every
gang, as a gang, ought to be completely broken up, and that
whatever severity is indispensably necessary for that end ought
to be used. If William had read and weighed the words which were
submitted to him by his Secretary, he would probably have
understood them to mean that Glencoe was to be occupied by
troops, that resistance, if resistance were attempted, was to be
put down with a strong hand, that severe punishment was to be
inflicted on those leading members of the clan who could be
proved to have been guilty of great crimes, that some active
young freebooters, who were more used to handle the broad sword
than the plough, and who did not seem likely to settle down into
quiet labourers, were to be sent to the army in the Low
Countries, that others were to be transported to the American
plantations, and that those Macdonalds who were suffered to
remain in their native valley were to be disarmed and required to
give hostages for good behaviour. A plan very nearly resembling
this had, we know, actually been the subject of much discussion
in the political circles of Edinburgh.230 There can be little
doubt that William would have deserved well of his people if he
had, in this manner, extirpated not only the tribe of Mac Ian,
but every Highland tribe whose calling was to steal cattle and
burn houses.

The extirpation planned by the Master of Stair was of a different
kind. His design was to butcher the whole race of thieves, the
whole damnable race. Such was the language in which his hatred
vented itself. He studied the geography of the wild country which
surrounded Glencoe, and made his arrangements with infernal
skill. If possible, the blow must be quick, and crushing, and
altogether unexpected. But if Mac Ian should apprehend danger and
should attempt to take refuge in the territories of his
neighbours, he must find every road barred. The pass of Rannoch
must be secured. The Laird of Weems, who was powerful in Strath
Tay, must be told that, if he harbours the outlaws, he does so at
his peril. Breadalbane promised to cut off the retreat of the
fugitives on one side, Mac Callum More on another. It was
fortunate, the Secretary wrote, that it was winter. This was the
time to maul the wretches. The nights were so long, the mountain
tops so cold and stormy, that even the hardiest men could not
long bear exposure to the open air without a roof or a spark of
fire. That the women and the children could find shelter in the
desert was quite impossible. While he wrote thus, no thought that
he was committing a great wickedness crossed his mind. He was
happy in the approbation of his own conscience. Duty, justice,
nay charity and mercy, were the names under which he disguised
his cruelty; nor is it by any means improbable that the disguise
imposed upon himself.231

Hill, who commanded the forces assembled at Fort William, was not
entrusted with the execution of the design. He seems to have been
a humane man; he was much distressed when he learned that the
government was determined on severity; and it was probably
thought that his heart might fail him in the most critical
moment. He was directed to put a strong detachment under the
orders of his second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton. To
Hamilton a significant hint was conveyed that he had now an
excellent opportunity of establishing his character in the
estimation of those who were at the head of affairs. Of the
troops entrusted to him a large proportion were Campbells, and
belonged to a regiment lately raised by Argyle, and called by
Argyle's name, It was probably thought that, on such an occasion,
humanity might prove too strong for the mere habit of military
obedience, and that little reliance could be placed on hearts
which had not been ulcerated by a feud such as had long raged
between the people of Mac Ian and the people of Mac Callum More.

Had Hamilton marched openly against the Glencoe men and put them
to the edge of the sword, the act would probably not have wanted
apologists, and most certainly would not have wanted precedents.
But the Master of Stair had strongly recommended a different mode
of proceeding. If the least alarm were given, the nest of robbers
would be found empty; and to hunt them down in so wild a region
would, even with all the help that Breadalbane and Argyle could
give, be a long and difficult business. "Better," he wrote, "not
meddle with them than meddle to no purpose. When the thing is
resolved, let it be secret and sudden."232 He was obeyed; and it
was determined that the Glencoe men should perish, not by
military execution, but by the most dastardly and perfidious form
of assassination.

On the first of February a hundred and twenty soldiers of
Argyle's regiment, commanded by a captain named Campbell and a
lieutenant named Lindsay, marched to Glencoe. Captain Campbell
was commonly called in Scotland Glenlyon, from the pass in which
his property lay. He had every qualification for the service on
which he was employed, an unblushing forehead, a smooth lying
tongue, and a heart of adamant. He was also one of the few
Campbells who were likely to be trusted and welcomed by the
Macdonalds; for his niece was married to Alexander, the second
son of Mac Ian.

The sight of the red coats approaching caused some anxiety among
the population of the valley. John, the eldest son of the Chief,
came, accompanied by twenty clansmen, to meet the strangers, and
asked what this visit meant. Lieutenant Lindsay answered that the
soldiers came as friends, and wanted nothing but quarters. They
were kindly received, and were lodged under the thatched roofs
of the little community. Glenlyon and several of his men were
taken into the house of a tacksman who was named, from the
cluster of cabins over which he exercised authority, Inverriggen.
Lindsay was accommodated nearer to the abode of the old chief.
Auchintriater, one of the principal men of the clan, who governed
the small hamlet of Auchnaion, found room there for a party
commanded by a serjeant named Barbour. Provisions were liberally
supplied. There was no want of beef, which had probably fattened
in distant pastures; nor was any payment demanded; for in
hospitality, as in thievery, the Gaelic marauders rivalled the
Bedouins. During twelve days the soldiers lived familiarly with
the people of the glen. Old Mac Ian, who had before felt many
misgivings as to the relation in which he stood to the
government, seems to have been pleased with the visit. The
officers passed much of their time with him and his family. The
long evenings were cheerfully spent by the peat fire with the
help of some packs of cards which had found their way to that
remote corner of the world, and of some French brandy which was
probably part of James's farewell gift to his Highland
supporters. Glenlyon appeared to be warmly attached to his niece
and her husband Alexander. Every day he came to their house to
take his morning draught. Meanwhile he observed with minute
attention all the avenues by which, when the signal for the
slaughter should be given, the Macdonalds might attempt to escape
to the hills; and he reported the result of his observations to

Hamilton fixed five o'clock in the morning of the thirteenth of
February for the deed. He hoped that, before that time, he should
reach Glencoe with four hundred men, and should have stopped all
the earths in which the old fox and his two cubs,-so Mac Ian and
his sons were nicknamed by the murderers,--could take refuge. But,
at five precisely, whether Hamilton had arrived or not, Glenlyon
was to fall on, and to slay every Macdonald under seventy.

The night was rough. Hamilton and his troops made slow progress,
and were long after their time. While they were contending with
the wind and snow, Glenlyon was supping and playing at cards with
those whom he meant to butcher before daybreak. He and Lieutenant
Lindsay had engaged themselves to dine with the old Chief on the

Late in the evening a vague suspicion that some evil was intended
crossed the mind of the Chief's eldest son. The soldiers were
evidently in a restless state; and some of them uttered strange
cries. Two men, it is said, were overheard whispering. "I do
not like this job;" one of them muttered, "I should be glad to
fight the Macdonalds. But to kill men in their beds--" "We must
do as we are bid," answered another voice. "If there is any thing
wrong, our officers must answer for it." John Macdonald was so
uneasy that, soon after midnight, he went to Glenlyon's quarters.
Glenlyon and his men were all up, and seemed to be getting their
arms ready for action. John, much alarmed, asked what these
preparations meant. Glenlyon was profuse of friendly assurances.
"Some of Glengarry's people have been harrying the country. We
are getting ready to march against them. You are quite safe. Do
you think that, if you were in any danger, I should not have
given a hint to your brother Sandy and his wife?" John's
suspicions were quieted. He returned to his house, and lay down
to rest.

It was five in the morning. Hamilton and his men were still some
miles off; and the avenues which they were to have secured were
open. But the orders which Glenlyon had received were precise;
and he began to execute them at the little village where he was
himself quartered. His host Inverriggen and nine other Macdonalds
were dragged out of their beds, bound hand and foot, and
murdered. A boy twelve years old clung round the Captain's legs,
and begged hard for life. He would do any thing; he would go any
where; he would follow Glenlyon round the world. Even Glenlyon,
it is said, showed signs of relenting; but a ruffian named
Drummond shot the child dead.

At Auchnaion the tacksman Auchintriater was up early that
morning, and was sitting with eight of his family round the fire,
when a volley of musketry laid him and seven of his companions
dead or dying on the floor. His brother, who alone had escaped
unhurt, called to Serjeant Barbour, who commanded the slayers,
and asked as a favour to be allowed to die in the open air.
"Well," said the Serjeant, "I will do you that favour for the
sake of your meat which I have eaten." The mountaineer, bold,
athletic, and favoured by the darkness, came forth, rushed on the
soldiers who were about to level their pieces at him, flung his
plaid over their faces, and was gone in a moment.

Meanwhile Lindsay had knocked at the door of the old Chief and
had asked for admission in friendly language. The door was
opened. Mac Ian, while putting on his clothes and calling to his
servants to bring some refreshment for his visitors, was shot
through the head. Two of his attendants were slain with him. His
wife was already up and dressed in such finery as the princesses
of the rude Highland glens were accustomed to wear. The assassins
pulled off her clothes and trinkets. The rings were not easily
taken from her fingers but a soldier tore them away with his
teeth. She died on the following day.

The statesman, to whom chiefly this great crime is to be
ascribed, had planned it with consummate ability: but the
execution was complete in nothing but in guilt and infamy. A
succession of blunders saved three fourths of the Glencoe men
from the fate of their chief. All the moral qualities which fit
men to bear a part in a massacre Hamilton and Glenlyon possessed
in perfection. But neither seems to have had much professional
skill; Hamilton had arranged his plan without making allowance
for bad weather, and this in a country and at a season when the
weather was very likely to be bad. The consequence was that the
fox earths, as he called them, were not stopped in time. Glenlyon
and his men committed the error of despatching their hosts with
firearms instead of using the cold steel. The peal and flash of
gun after gun gave notice, from three different parts of the
valley at once; that murder was doing. From fifty cottages the
half naked peasantry fled under cover of the night to the
recesses of their pathless glen. Even the sons of Mac Ian, who
had been especially marked out for destruction, contrived to
escape. They were roused from sleep by faithful servants. John,
who, by the death of his father, had become the patriarch of the
tribe, quitted his dwelling just as twenty soldiers with fixed
bayonets marched up to it. It was broad day long before Hamilton
arrived. He found the work not even half performed. About thirty
corpses lay wallowing in blood on the dunghills before the doors.
One or two women were seen among the number, and, a yet more
fearful and piteous sight, a little hand, which had been lopped
in the tumult of the butchery from some infant. One aged
Macdonald was found alive. He was probably too infirm to fly,
and, as he was above seventy, was not included in the orders
under which Glenlyon had acted. Hamilton murdered the old man in
cold blood. The deserted hamlets were then set on fire; and the
troops departed, driving away with them many sheep and goats,
nine hundred kine, and two hundred of the small shaggy ponies of
the Highlands.

It is said, and may but too easily be believed, that the
sufferings of the fugitives were terrible. How many old men, how
many women with babes in their arms, sank down and slept their
last sleep in the snow; how many, having crawled, spent with toil
and hunger, into nooks among the precipices, died in those dark
holes, and were picked to the bone by the mountain ravens, can
never be known. But it is probable that those who perished by
cold, weariness and want were not less numerous than those who
were slain by the assassins. When the troops had retired, the
Macdonalds crept out of the caverns of Glencoe, ventured back to
the spot where the huts had formerly stood, collected the
scorched corpses from among the smoking ruins, and performed some
rude rites of sepulture. The tradition runs that the hereditary
bard of the tribe took his seat on a rock which overhung the
place of slaughter, and poured forth a long lament over his
murdered brethren, and his desolate home. Eighty years later that
sad dirge was still repeated by the population of the valley.233

The survivors might well apprehend that they had escaped the shot
and the sword only to perish by famine. The whole domain was a
waste. Houses, barns, furniture, implements of husbandry, herds,
flocks, horses, were gone. Many months must elapse before the
clan would be able to raise on its own ground the means of
supporting even the most miserable existence.234

It may be thought strange that these events should not have been
instantly followed by a burst of execration from every part of
the civilised world. The fact, however, is that years elapsed
before the public indignation was thoroughly awakened, and that
months elapsed before the blackest part of the story found credit
even among the enemies of the government. That the massacre
should not have been mentioned in the London Gazettes, in the
Monthly Mercuries which were scarcely less courtly than the
Gazettes, or in pamphlets licensed by official censors, is
perfectly intelligible. But that no allusion to it should be
found in private journals and letters, written by persons free
from all restraint, may seem extraordinary. There is not a word
on the subject in Evelyn's Diary. In Narcissus Luttrell's Diary
is a remarkable entry made five weeks after the butchery. The
letters from Scotland, he says, described that kingdom as
perfectly tranquil, except that there was still some grumbling
about ecclesiastical questions. The Dutch ministers regularly
reported all the Scotch news to their government. They thought it
worth while, about this time, to mention that a collier had been
taken by a privateer near Berwick, that the Edinburgh mail had
been robbed, that a whale, with a tongue seventeen feet long and
seven feet broad, had been stranded near Aberdeen. But it is not
hinted in any of their despatches that there was any rumour of
any extraordinary occurrence in the Highlands. Reports that some
of the Macdonalds had been slain did indeed, in about three
weeks, travel through Edinburgh up to London. But these reports
were vague and contradictory; and the very worst of them was far
from coming up to the horrible truth. The Whig version of the
story was that the old robber Mac Ian had laid an ambuscade for
the soldiers, that he had been caught in his own snare, and that
he and some of his clan had fallen sword in hand. The Jacobite
version, written at Edinburgh on the twenty-third of March,
appeared in the Paris Gazette of the seventh of April. Glenlyon,
it was said, had been sent with a detachment from Argyle's
regiment, under cover of darkness, to surprise the inhabitants of
Glencoe, and had killed thirty-six men and boys and four
women.235 In this there was nothing very strange or shocking. A
night attack on a gang of freebooters occupying a strong natural
fortress may be a perfectly legitimate military operation; and,
in the obscurity and confusion of such an attack, the most humane
man may be so unfortunate as to shoot a woman or a child. The
circumstances which give a peculiar character to the slaughter of
Glencoe, the breach of faith, the breach of hospitality, the
twelve days of feigned friendship and conviviality, of morning
calls, of social meals, of healthdrinking, of cardplaying, were
not mentioned by the Edinburgh correspondent of the Paris
Gazette; and we may therefore confidently infer that those
circumstances were as yet unknown even to inquisitive and busy
malecontents residing in the Scottish capital within a hundred
miles of the spot where the deed had been done. In the south of
the island the matter produced, as far as can now be judged,
scarcely any sensation. To the Londoner of those days Appin was
what Caffraria or Borneo is to us. He was not more moved by
hearing that some Highland thieves had been surprised and killed
than we are by hearing that a band of Amakosah cattle stealers
has been cut off, or that a bark full of Malay pirates has been
sunk. He took it for granted that nothing had been done in
Glencoe beyond what was doing in many other glens. There had been
a night brawl, one of a hundred night brawls, between the
Macdonalds and the Campbells; and the Campbells had knocked the
Macdonalds on the head.

By slow degrees the whole truth came out. From a letter written
at Edinburgh about two months after the crime had been committed,
it appears that the horrible story was already current among the
Jacobites of that city. In the summer Argyle's regiment was
quartered in the south of England, and some of the men made
strange confessions, over their ale, about what they had been
forced to do in the preceding winter. The nonjurors soon got hold
of the clue, and followed it resolutely; their secret presses
went to work; and at length, near a year after the crime had been
committed, it was published to the world.236 But the world was
long incredulous. The habitual mendacity of the Jacobite
libellers had brought on them an appropriate punishment. Now,
when, for the first time, they told the truth, they were supposed
to be romancing. They complained bitterly that the story, though
perfectly authentic, was regarded by the public as a factious
lie.237 So late as the year 1695, Hickes, in a tract in which he
endeavoured to defend his darling tale of the Theban legion
against the unanswerable argument drawn from the silence of
historians, remarked that it might well be doubted whether any
historian would make mention of the massacre of Glencoe. There
were in England, he said, many thousands of well educated men who
had never heard of that massacre, or who regarded it as a mere

Nevertheless the punishment of some of the guilty began very
early. Hill, who indeed can hardly be called guilty, was much
disturbed. Breadalbane, hardened as he was, felt the stings of
conscience or the dread of retribution. A few days after the
Macdonalds had returned to their old dwellingplace, his steward
visited the ruins of the house of Glencoe, and endeavoured to
persuade the sons of the murdered chief to sign a paper declaring
that they held the Earl guiltless of the blood which had been
shed. They were assured that, if they would do this, all His
Lordship's great influence should be employed to obtain for them
from the Crown a free pardon and a remission of all
forfeitures.239 Glenlyon did his best to assume an air of
unconcern. He made his appearance in the most fashionable
coffeehouse at Edinburgh, and talked loudly and self-complacently
about the important service in which he had been engaged among
the mountains. Some of his soldiers, however, who observed him
closely, whispered that all this bravery was put on. He was not
the man that he had been before that night. The form of his
countenance was changed. In all places, at all hours, whether he
waked or slept, Glencoe was for ever before him.240

But, whatever apprehensions might disturb Breadalbane, whatever
spectres might haunt Glenlyon, the Master of Stair had neither
fear nor remorse. He was indeed mortified; but he was mortified
only by the blunders of Hamilton and by the escape of so many of
the damnable breed. "Do right, and fear nobody;" such is the
language of his letters. "Can there be a more sacred duty than to
rid the country of thieving? The only thing that I regret is that
any got away."241

On the sixth of March, William, entirely ignorant, in all
probability, of the details of the crime which has cast a dark
shade over his glory, had set out for the Continent, leaving the
Queen his viceregent in England.242

He would perhaps have postponed his departure if he had been
aware that the French Government had, during some time, been
making great preparations for a descent on our island.243 An
event had taken place which had changed the policy of the Court
of Versailles. Louvois was no more. He had been at the head of
the military administration of his country during a quarter of a
century; he had borne a chief part in the direction of two wars
which had enlarged the French territory, and had filled the world
with the renown of the French arms; and he had lived to see the
beginning of a third war which tasked his great powers to the
utmost. Between him and the celebrated captains who carried his
plans into execution there was little harmony. His imperious
temper and his confidence in himself impelled him to interfere
too much with the conduct of troops in the field, even when those
troops were commanded by Conde, by Turenne or by Luxemburg. But
he was the greatest Adjutant General, the greatest Quartermaster
General, the greatest Commissary General, that Europe had seen.
He may indeed be said to have made a revolution in the art of
disciplining, distributing, equipping and provisioning armies. In
spite, however, of his abilities and of his services, he had
become odious to Lewis and to her who governed Lewis. On the last
occasion on which the King and the minister transacted business
together, the ill humour on both sides broke violently forth. The
servant, in his vexation, dashed his portfolio on the ground. The
master, forgetting, what he seldom forgot, that a King should be
a gentleman, lifted his cane. Fortunately his wife was present.
She, with her usual prudence, caught his arm. She then got
Louvois out of the room, and exhorted him to come back the next
day as if nothing had happened. The next day he came; but with
death in his face. The King, though full of resentment, was
touched with pity, and advised Louvois to go home and take care
of himself. That evening the great minister died.244

Louvois had constantly opposed all plans for the invasion of
England. His death was therefore regarded at Saint Germains as a
fortunate event.245 It was however necessary to look sad, and to
send a gentleman to Versailles with some words of condolence. The
messenger found the gorgeous circle of courtiers assembled round
their master on the terrace above the orangery. "Sir," said
Lewis, in a tone so easy and cheerful that it filled all the
bystanders with amazement, "present my compliments and thanks to
the King and Queen of England, and tell them that neither my
affairs nor theirs will go on the worse by what has happened."
These words were doubtless meant to intimate that the influence
of Louvois had not been exerted in favour of the House of
Stuart.246 One compliment, however, a compliment which cost
France dear, Lewis thought it right to pay to the memory of his
ablest servant. The Marquess of Barbesieux, son of Louvois, was
placed, in his twenty-fifth year, at the head of the war
department. The young man was by no means deficient in abilities,
and had been, during some years, employed in business of grave
importance. But his passions were strong; his judgment was not
ripe; and his sudden elevation turned his head. His manners gave
general disgust. Old officers complained that he kept them long
in his antechamber while he was amusing himself with his spaniels
and his flatterers. Those who were admitted to his presence went
away disgusted by his rudeness and arrogance. As was natural at
his age, he valued power chiefly as the means of procuring
pleasure. Millions of crowns were expended on the luxurious villa
where he loved to forget the cares of office in gay conversation,
delicate cookery and foaming champagne. He often pleaded an
attack of fever as an excuse for not making his appearance at the
proper hour in the royal closet, when in truth he had been
playing truant among his boon companions and mistresses. "The
French King," said William, "has an odd taste. He chooses an old
woman for his mistress, and a young man for his minister."247

There can be little doubt that Louvois, by pursuing that course
which had made him odious to the inmates of Saint Germains, had
deserved well of his country. He was not maddened by Jacobite
enthusiasm. He well knew that exiles are the worst of all
advisers. He had excellent information; he had excellent judgment;
he calculated the chances; and he saw that a descent was likely to
fail, and to fail disastrously and disgracefully. James might well
be impatient to try the experiment, though the odds should be ten
to one against him. He might gain; and he could not lose. His
folly and obstinacy had left him nothing to risk. His food, his
drink, his lodging, his clothes, he owed to charity. Nothing could
be more natural than that, for the very smallest chance of
recovering the three kingdoms which he had thrown away, he should
be willing to stake what was not his own, the honour of the French
arms, the grandeur and the safety of the French monarchy. To a
French statesman such a wager might well appear in a different
light. But Louvois was gone. His master yielded to the importunity
of James, and determined to send an expedition against England.248

The scheme was, in some respects, well concerted. It was resolved
that a camp should be formed on the coast of Normandy, and that
in this camp all the Irish regiments which were in the French
service should be assembled under their countryman Sarsfield.
With them were to be joined about ten thousand French troops. The
whole army was to be commanded by Marshal Bellefonds.

A noble fleet of about eighty ships of the line was to convoy
this force to the shores of England. In the dockyards both of
Brittany and of Provence immense preparations were made. Four and
forty men of war, some of which were among the finest that had
ever been built, were assembled in the harbour of Brest under
Tourville. The Count of Estrees, with thirty-five more, was to
sail from Toulon. Ushant was fixed for the place of rendezvous.
The very day was named. In order that there might be no want
either of seamen or of vessels for the intended expedition, all
maritime trade, all privateering was, for a time, interdicted by
a royal mandate.249 Three hundred transports were collected near
the spot where the troops were to embark. It was hoped that all
would be ready early in the spring, before the English ships were
half rigged or half manned, and before a single Dutch man of war
was in the Channel.250

James had indeed persuaded himself that, even if the English
fleet should fall in with him, it would not oppose him. He
imagined that he was personally a favourite with the mariners of
all ranks. His emissaries had been busy among the naval officers,
and had found some who remembered him with kindness, and others
who were out of humour with the men now in power. All the wild
talk of a class of people not distinguished by taciturnity or
discretion was reported to him with exaggeration, till he was
deluded into a belief that he had more friends than enemies on
board of the vessels which guarded our coasts. Yet he should have
known that a rough sailor, who thought himself ill used by the
Admiralty, might, after the third bottle, when drawn on by artful
companions, express his regret for the good old times, curse the
new government, and curse himself for being such a fool as to
fight for that government, and yet might be by no means prepared
to go over to the French on the day of battle. Of the malecontent
officers, who, as James believed, were impatient to desert, the
great majority had probably given no pledge of their attachment
to him except an idle word hiccoughed out when they were drunk,
and forgotten when they were sober. One those from whom he
expected support, Rear Admiral Carter, had indeed heard and
perfectly understood what the Jacobite agents had to say, had
given them fair words, and had reported the whole to the Queen
and her ministers.251

But the chief dependence of James was on Russell. That false,
arrogant and wayward politician was to command the Channel Fleet.
He had never ceased to assure the Jacobite emissaries that he was
bent on effecting a Restoration. Those emissaries fully reckoned,
if not on his entire cooperation, yet at least on his connivance;
and there could be no doubt that, with his connivance, a French
fleet might easily convoy an army to our shores. James flattered
himself that, as soon as he had landed, he should be master of
the island. But in truth, when the voyage had ended, the
difficulties of his enterprise would have been only beginning.
Two years before he had received a lesson by which he should have
profited. He had then deceived himself and others into the belief
that the English were regretting him, were pining for him, were
eager to rise in arms by tens of thousands to welcome him.
William was then, as now, at a distance. Then, as now, the
administration was entrusted to a woman. Then, as now, there were
few regular troops in England. Torrington had then done as much
to injure the government which he served as Russell could now do.
The French fleet had then, after riding, during several weeks,
victorious and dominant in the Channel, landed some troops on the
southern coast. The immediate effect had been that whole
counties, without distinction of Tory or Whig, Churchman or
Dissenter, had risen up, as one man, to repel the foreigners, and
that the Jacobite party, which had, a few days before, seemed to
be half the nation, had crouched down in silent terror, and had
made itself so small that it had, during some time, been
invisible. What reason was there for believing that the multitude
who had, in 1690, at the first lighting of the beacons, snatched
up firelocks, pikes, scythes, to defend, their native soil
against the French, would now welcome the French as allies? And
of the army by which James was now to be accompanied the French
formed the least odious part. More than half of that army was to
consist of Irish Papists; and the feeling, compounded of hatred
and scorn, with which the Irish Papists had long been regarded by
the English Protestants, had by recent events been stimulated to
a vehemence before unknown. The hereditary slaves, it was said,
had been for a moment free; and that moment had sufficed to prove
that they knew neither how to use nor how to defend their
freedom. During their short ascendency they had done nothing but
slay, and burn, and pillage, and demolish, and attaint, and
confiscate. In three years they had committed such waste on their
native land as thirty years of English intelligence and industry
would scarcely repair. They would have maintained their
independence against the world, if they had been as ready to
fight as they were to steal. But they had retreated ignominiously
from the walls of Londonderry. They had fled like deer before the
yeomanry of Enniskillen. The Prince whom they now presumed to
think that they could place, by force of arms, on the English
throne, had himself, on the morning after the rout of the Boyne,
reproached them with their cowardice, and told them that he would
never again trust to their soldiership. On this subject
Englishmen were of one mind. Tories, Nonjurors, even Roman
Catholics, were as loud as Whigs in reviling the ill fated race.
It is, therefore, not difficult to guess what effect would have
been produced by the appearance on our soil of enemies whom, on
their own soil, we had vanquished and trampled down.

James, however, in spite of the recent and severe teaching of
experience, believed whatever his correspondents in England told
him; and they told him that the whole nation was impatiently
expecting him, that both the West and the North were ready to
rise, that he would proceed from the place of landing to
Whitehall with as little opposition as when, in old times, he
returned from a progress. Ferguson distinguished himself by the
confidence with which he predicted a complete and bloodless
victory. He and his printer, he was absurd enough to write, would
be the two first men in the realm to take horse for His Majesty.
Many other agents were busy up and down the country, during the
winter and the early part of the spring. It does not appear that
they had much success in the counties south of Trent. But in the
north, particularly in Lancashire, where the Roman Catholics were
more numerous and more powerful than in any other part of the
kingdom, and where there seems to have been, even among the
Protestant gentry, more than the ordinary proportion of bigoted
Jacobites, some preparations for an insurrection were made. Arms
were privately bought; officers were appointed; yeomen, small
farmers, grooms, huntsmen, were induced to enlist. Those who gave
in their names were distributed into eight regiments of cavalry
and dragoons, and were directed to hold themselves in readiness
to mount at the first signal.252

One of the circumstances which filled James, at this time, with
vain hopes, was that his wife was pregnant and near her delivery.
He flattered himself that malice itself would be ashamed to
repeat any longer the story of the warming pan, and that
multitudes whom that story had deceived would instantly return to
their allegiance. He took, on this occasion, all those
precautions which, four years before, he had foolishly and
perversely forborne to take. He contrived to transmit to England
letters summoning many Protestant women of quality to assist at
the expected birth; and he promised, in the name of his dear
brother the Most Christian King, that they should be free to come
and go in safety. Had some of these witnesses been invited to
Saint James's on the morning of the tenth of June 1688, the House
of Stuart might, perhaps, now be reigning in our island. But it
is easier to keep a crown than to regain one. It might be true
that a calumnious fable had done much to bring about the
Revolution. But it by no means followed that the most complete
refutation of that fable would bring about a Restoration. Not a
single lady crossed the sea in obedience to James's call. His
Queen was safely delivered of a daughter; but this event produced
no perceptible effect on the state of public feeling in

Meanwhile the preparations for his expedition were going on fast.
He was on the point of setting out for the place of embarkation
before the English government was at all aware of the danger
which was impending. It had been long known indeed that many
thousands of Irish were assembled in Normandy; but it was
supposed that they had been assembled merely that they might be
mustered and drilled before they were sent to Flanders, Piedmont,
and Catalonia.254 Now, however, intelligence, arriving from many
quarters, left no doubt that an invasion would be almost
immediately attempted. Vigorous preparations for defence were
made. The equipping and manning of the ships was urged forward
with vigour. The regular troops were drawn together between
London and the sea. A great camp was formed on the down which
overlooks Portsmouth. The militia all over the kingdom was called
out. Two Westminster regiments and six City regiments, making up
a force of thirteen thousand fighting men, were arrayed in Hyde
Park, and passed in review before the Queen. The trainbands of
Kent, Sussex, and Surrey marched down to the coast. Watchmen were
posted by the beacons. Some nonjurors were imprisoned, some
disarmed, some held to bail. The house of the Earl of Huntingdon,
a noted Jacobite, was searched. He had had time to burn his
papers and to hide his arms; but his stables presented a most
suspicious appearance. Horses enough to mount a whole troop of
cavalry were at the mangers; and this evidence, though not
legally sufficient to support a charge of treason, was thought
sufficient, at such a conjuncture, to justify the Privy Council
in sending him to the Tower.255 Meanwhile James had gone down to
his army, which was encamped round the basin of La Hogue, on the
northern coast of the peninsula known by the name of the
Cotentin. Before he quitted Saint Germains, he held a Chapter of
the Garter for the purpose of admitting his son into the order.
Two noblemen were honoured with the same distinction, Powis, who,
among his brother exiles, was now called a Duke, and Melfort, who
had returned from Rome, and was again James's Prime Minister.256
Even at this moment, when it was of the greatest importance to
conciliate the members of the Church of England, none but members
of the Church of Rome were thought worthy of any mark of royal
favour. Powis indeed was an eminent member of the English
aristocracy; and his countrymen disliked him as little as they
disliked any conspicuous Papist. But Melfort was not even an
Englishman; he had never held office in England; he had never
sate in the English Parliament; and he had therefore no
pretensions to a dignity peculiarly English. He was moreover
hated by all the contending factions of all the three kingdoms.
Royal letters countersigned by him had been sent both to the
Convention at Westminster and to the Convention at Edinburgh;
and, both at Westminster and at Edinburgh, the sight of his
odious name and handwriting had made the most zealous friends of
hereditary right hang down their heads in shame. It seems strange
that even James should have chosen, at such a conjuncture, to
proclaim to the world that the men whom his people most abhorred
were the men whom he most delighted to honour.

Still more injurious to his interests was the Declaration in
which he announced his intentions to his subjects. Of all the
State papers which were put forth even by him it was the most
elaborately and ostentatiously injudicious. When it had disgusted
and exasperated all good Englishmen of all parties, the Papists
at Saint Germains pretended that it had been drawn up by a stanch
Protestant, Edward Herbert, who had been Chief Justice of the
Common Pleas before the Revolution, and who now bore the empty
title of Chancellor.257 But it is certain that Herbert was never
consulted about any matter of importance, and that the
Declaration was the work of Melfort and of Melfort alone.258 In
truth, those qualities of head and heart which had made Melfort
the favourite of his master shone forth in every sentence. Not a
word was to be found indicating that three years of banishment
had made the King wiser, that he had repented of a single error,
that he took to himself even the smallest part of the blame of
that revolution which had dethroned him, or that he purposed to
follow a course in any respect differing from that which had
already been fatal to him. All the charges which had been brought
against him he pronounced to be utterly unfounded. Wicked men had
put forth calumnies. Weak men had believed those calumnies. He
alone had been faultless. He held out no hope that he would
consent to any restriction of that vast dispensing power to which
he had formerly laid claim, that he would not again, in defiance
of the plainest statutes, fill the Privy Council, the bench of
justice, the public offices, the army, the navy, with Papists,
that he would not reestablish the High Commission, that he would
not appoint a new set of regulators to remodel all the
constituent bodies of the kingdom. He did indeed condescend to
say that he would maintain the legal rights of the Church of
England; but he had said this before; and all men knew what those
words meant in his mouth. Instead of assuring his people of his
forgiveness, he menaced them with a proscription more terrible
than any which our island had ever seen. He published a list of
persons who had no mercy to expect. Among these were Ormond,
Caermarthen, Nottingham, Tillotson and Burnet. After the roll of
those who were doomed to death by name, came a series of
categories. First stood all the crowd of rustics who had been
rude to His Majesty when he was stopped at Sheerness in his
flight. These poor ignorant wretches, some hundreds in number,
were reserved for another bloody circuit. Then came all persons
who had in any manner borne a part in the punishment of any
Jacobite conspirator; judges, counsel, witnesses, grand jurymen,
petty jurymen, sheriffs and undersheriffs, constables and
turnkeys, in short, all the ministers of justice from Holt down
to Ketch. Then vengeance was denounced against all spies and all
informers who had divulged to the usurpers the designs of the
Court of Saint Germains. All justices of the peace who should not
declare for their rightful Sovereign the moment that they heard
of his landing, all gaolers who should not instantly set
political prisoners at liberty, were to be left to the extreme
rigour of the law. No exception was made in favour of a justice
or of a gaoler who might be within a hundred yards of one of
William's regiments, and a hundred miles from the nearest place
where there was a single Jacobite in arms.

It might have been expected that James, after thus denouncing
vengeance against large classes of his subjects, would at least
have offered a general amnesty to the rest. But of general
amnesty he said not a word. He did indeed promise that any
offender who was not in any of the categories of proscription,
and who should by any eminent service merit indulgence, should
receive a special pardon. But, with this exception, all the
offenders, hundreds of thousands in number, were merely informed
that their fate should be decided in Parliament.

The agents of James speedily dispersed his Declaration over every
part of the kingdom, and by doing so rendered a great service to
William. The general cry was that the banished oppressor had at
least given Englishmen fair warning, and that, if, after such a
warning, they welcomed him home, they would have no pretence for
complaining, though every county town should be polluted by an
assize resembling that which Jeffreys had held at Taunton. That
some hundreds of people,--the Jacobites put the number so low as
five hundred,--were to be hanged without mercy was certain; and
nobody who had concurred in the Revolution, nobody who had fought
for the new government by sea or land, no soldier who had borne a
part in the conquest of Ireland, no Devonshire ploughman or
Cornish miner who had taken arms to defend his wife and children
against Tourville, could be certain that he should not be hanged.
How abject too, how spiteful, must be the nature of a man who,
engaged in the most momentous of all undertakings, and aspiring
to the noblest of all prizes, could not refrain from proclaiming
that he thirsted for the blood of a multitude of poor fishermen,
because, more than three years before, they had pulled him about
and called him Hatchetface. If, at the very moment when he had
the strongest motives for trying to conciliate his people by the
show of clemency, he could not bring himself to hold towards them
any language but that of an implacable enemy, what was to be
expected from him when he should be again their master? So savage
was his nature that, in a situation in which all other tyrants
have resorted to blandishments and fair promises, he could utter
nothing but reproaches and threats. The only words in his
Declaration which had any show of graciousness were those in
which he promised to send away the foreign troops as soon as his
authority was reestablished; and many said that those words, when
examined, would be found full of sinister meaning. He held out no
hope that he would send away Popish troops who were his own
subjects. His intentions were manifest. The French might go; but
the Irish would remain. The people of England were to be kept
down by these thrice subjugated barbarians. No doubt a Rapparee
who had run away at Newton Butler and the Boyne might find
courage enough to guard the scaffolds on which his conquerors
were to die, and to lay waste our country as he had laid waste
his own.

The Queen and her ministers, instead of attempting to suppress
James's manifesto, very wisely reprinted it, and sent it forth
licensed by the Secretary of State, and interspersed with remarks
by a shrewd and severe commentator. It was refuted in many keen
pamphlets; it was turned into doggrel rhymes; and it was left
undefended even by the boldest and most acrimonious libellers
among the nonjurors.259

Indeed, some of the nonjurors were so much alarmed by observing
the effect which this manifesto produced, that they affected to
treat it as spurious, and published as their master's genuine
Declaration a paper full of gracious professions and promises.
They made him offer a free pardon to all his people with the
exception of four great criminals. They made him hold out hopes
of great remissions of taxation. They made him pledge his word
that he would entrust the whole ecclesiastical administration to
the nonjuring bishops. But this forgery imposed on nobody, and
was important only as showing that even the Jacobites were
ashamed of the prince whom they were labouring to restore.260

No man read the Declaration with more surprise and anger than
Russell. Bad as he was, he was much under the influence of two
feelings, which, though they cannot be called virtuous, have some
affinity to virtue, and are respectable when compared with mere
selfish cupidity. Professional spirit and party spirit were
strong in him. He might be false to his country, but not to his
flag; and, even in becoming a Jacobite, he had not ceased to be a
Whig. In truth, he was a Jacobite only because he was the most
intolerant and acrimonious of Whigs. He thought himself and his
faction ungratefully neglected by William, and was for a time too
much blinded by resentment to perceive that it would be mere
madness in the old Roundheads, the old Exclusionists, to punish
William by recalling James. The near prospect of an invasion, and
the Declaration in which Englishmen were plainly told what they
had to expect if that invasion should be successful, produced, it
should seem, a sudden and entire change in Russell's feelings;
and that change he distinctly avowed. "I wish," he said to Lloyd,
"to serve King James. The thing might be done, if it were not his
own fault. But he takes the wrong way with us. Let him forget all
the past; let him grant a general pardon; and then I will see
what I can do for him." Lloyd hinted something about the honours
and rewards designed for Russell himself. But the Admiral, with a
spirit worthy of a better man, cut him short. "I do not wish to
hear anything on that subject. My solicitude is for the public.
And do not think that I will let the French triumph over us in
our own sea. Understand this, that if I meet them I fight them,
ay, though His Majesty himself should be on board."

This conversation was truly reported to James; but it does not
appear to have alarmed him. He was, indeed, possessed with a
belief that Russell, even if willing, would not be able to induce
the officers and sailors of the English navy to fight against
their old King, who was also their old Admiral.

The hopes which James felt, he and his favourite Melfort
succeeded in imparting to Lewis and to Lewis's ministers.261 But
for those hopes, indeed, it is probable that all thoughts of
invading England in the course of that year would have been laid
aside. For the extensive plan which had been formed in the winter
had, in the course of the spring, been disconcerted by a
succession of accidents such as are beyond the control of human
wisdom. The time fixed for the assembling of all the maritime
forces of France at Ushant had long elapsed; and not a single
sail had appeared at the place of rendezvous. The Atlantic
squadron was still detained by bad weather in the port of Brest.
The Mediterranean squadron, opposed by a strong west wind, was
vainly struggling to pass the pillars of Hercules. Two fine
vessels had gone to pieces on the rocks of Ceuta.262 Meanwhile
the admiralties of the allied powers had been active. Before the
end of April the English fleet was ready to sail. Three noble
ships, just launched from our dockyards, appeared for the first
time on the water.263 William had been hastening the maritime
preparations of the United Provinces; and his exertions had been
successful. On the twenty-ninth of April a fine squadron from the
Texel appeared in the Downs. Soon came the North Holland
squadron, the Maes squadron, the Zealand squadron.264 The whole
force of the confederate powers was assembled at Saint Helen's in
the second week of May, more than ninety sail of the line, manned
by between thirty and forty thousand of the finest seamen of the
two great maritime nations. Russell had the chief command. He was
assisted by Sir Ralph Delaval, Sir John Ashley, Sir Cloudesley
Shovel, Rear Admiral Carter, and Rear Admiral Rooke. Of the Dutch
officers Van Almonde was highest in rank.

No mightier armament had ever appeared in the British Channel.
There was little reason for apprehending that such a force could
be defeated in a fair conflict. Nevertheless there was great
uneasiness in London. It was known that there was a Jacobite
party in the navy. Alarming rumours had worked their way round
from France. It was said that the enemy reckoned on the
cooperation of some of those officers on whose fidelity, in this
crisis, the safety of the State might depend. Russell, as far as
can now be discovered, was still unsuspected. But others, who
were probably less criminal, had been more indiscreet. At all the
coffee houses admirals and captains were mentioned by name as
traitors who ought to be instantly cashiered, if not shot. It was
even confidently affirmed that some of the guilty had been put
under arrest, and others turned out of the service. The Queen and
her counsellors were in a great strait. It was not easy to say
whether the danger of trusting the suspected persons or the
danger of removing them were the greater. Mary, with many painful
misgivings, resolved, and the event proved that she resolved
wisely, to treat the evil reports as calumnious, to make a solemn
appeal to the honour of the accused gentlemen, and then to trust
the safety of her kingdom to their national and professional

On the fifteenth of May a great assembly of officers was convoked
at Saint Helen's on board the Britannia, a fine three decker,
from which Russell's flag was flying. The Admiral told them that
he had received a despatch which he was charged to read to them.
It was from Nottingham. The Queen, the Secretary wrote, had been
informed that stories deeply affecting the character of the navy
were in circulation. It had even been affirmed that she had found
herself under the necessity of dismissing many officers. But Her
Majesty was determined to believe nothing against those brave
servants of the State. The gentlemen who had been so foully
slandered might be assured that she placed entire reliance on
them. This letter was admirably calculated to work on those to
whom it was addressed. Very few of them probably had been guilty
of any worse offence than rash and angry talk over their wine.
They were as yet only grumblers. If they had fancied that they
were marked men, they might in selfdefence have become traitors.
They became enthusiastically loyal as soon as they were assured
that the Queen reposed entire confidence in their loyalty. They
eagerly signed an address in which they entreated her to believe
that they would, with the utmost resolution and alacrity, venture
their lives in defence of her rights, of English freedom and of
the Protestant religion, against all foreign and Popish invaders.
"God," they added, "preserve your person, direct your counsels,
and prosper your arms; and let all your people say Amen."265

The sincerity of these professions was soon brought to the test.
A few hours after the meeting on board of the Britannia the masts
of Tourville's squadron were seen from the cliffs of Portland.
One messenger galloped with the news from Weymouth to London, and
roused Whitehall at three in the morning. Another took the coast
road, and carried the intelligence to Russell. All was ready; and
on the morning of the seventeenth of May the allied fleet stood
out to sea.266

Tourville had with him only his own squadron, consisting of
forty-four ships of the line. But he had received positive orders
to protect the descent on England, and not to decline a battle.
Though these orders had been given before it was known at
Versailles that the Dutch and English fleets had joined, he was
not disposed to take on himself the responsibility of
disobedience. He still remembered with bitterness the reprimand
which his extreme caution had drawn upon him after the fight of
Beachy Head. He would not again be told that he was a timid and
unenterprising commander, that he had no courage but the vulgar
courage of a common sailor. He was also persuaded that the odds
against him were rather apparent than real. He believed, on the
authority of James and Melfort, that the English seamen, from the
flag officers down to the cabin boys, were Jacobites. Those who
fought would fight with half a heart; and there would probably be
numerous desertions at the most critical moment. Animated by such
hopes he sailed from Brest, steered first towards the north east,
came in sight of the coast of Dorsetshire, and then struck across
the Channel towards La Hogue, where the army which he was to
convoy to England had already begun to embark on board of the
transports. He was within a few leagues of Barfleur when, before
daybreak, on the morning of the nineteenth of May, he saw the
great armament of the allies stretching along the eastern
horizon. He determined to bear down on them. By eight the two
lines of battle were formed; but it was eleven before the firing
began. It soon became plain that the English, from the Admiral
downward, were resolved to do their duty. Russell had visited all
his ships, and exhorted all his crews. "If your commanders play
false," he said, "overboard with them, and with myself the
first." There was no defection. There was no slackness. Carter
was the first who broke the French line. He was struck by a
splinter of one of his own yard arms, and fell dying on the deck.
He would not be carried below. He would not let go his sword.
"Fight the ship," were his last words: "fight the ship as long as
she can swim." The battle lasted till four in the afternoon. The
roar of the guns was distinctly heard more than twenty miles off
by the army which was encamped on the coast of Normandy. During
the earlier part of the day the wind was favourable to the
French; they were opposed to half of the allied fleet; and
against that half they maintained the conflict with their usual
courage and with more than their usual seamanship. After a hard
and doubtful fight of five hours, Tourville thought that enough
had been done to maintain the honour of the white flag, and began
to draw off. But by this time the wind had veered, and was with
the allies. They were now able to avail themselves of their great
superiority of force. They came on fast. The retreat of the
French became a flight. Tourville fought his own ship
desperately. She was named, in allusion to Lewis's favourite
emblem, the Royal Sun, and was widely renowned as the finest
vessel in the world. It was reported among the English sailors
that she was adorned with an image of the Great King, and that he
appeared there, as he appeared in the Place of Victories, with
vanquished nations in chains beneath his feet. The gallant ship,
surrounded by enemies, lay like a great fortress on the sea,
scattering death on every side from her hundred and four
portholes. She was so formidably manned that all attempts to
board her failed. Long after sunset, she got clear of her
assailants, and, with all her scuppers spouting blood, made for
the coast of Normandy. She had suffered so much that Tourville
hastily removed his flag to a ship of ninety guns which was named
the Ambitious. By this time his fleet was scattered far over the
sea. About twenty of his smallest ships made their escape by a
road which was too perilous for any courage but the courage of
despair. In the double darkness of night and of a thick sea fog,
they ran, with all their sails spread, through the boiling waves
and treacherous rocks of the Race of Alderney, and, by a strange
good fortune, arrived without a single disaster at Saint Maloes.
The pursuers did not venture to follow the fugitives into that
terrible strait, the place of innumerable shipwrecks.267

Those French vessels which were too bulky to venture into the
Race of Alderney fled to the havens of the Cotentin. The Royal
Sun and two other three deckers reached Cherburg in safety. The
Ambitious, with twelve other ships, all first rates or second
rates, took refuge in the Bay of La Hogue, close to the
headquarters of the army of James.

The three ships which had fled to Cherburg were closely chased by
an English squadron under the command of Delaval. He found them
hauled up into shoal water where no large man of war could get at
them. He therefore determined to attack them with his fireships
and boats. The service was gallantly and successfully performed.
In a short time the Royal Sun and her two consorts were burned to
ashes. Part of the crews escaped to the shore; and part fell into
the hands of the English.268

Meanwhile Russell with the greater part of his victorious fleet
had blockaded the Bay of La Hogue. Here, as at Cherburg, the
French men of war had been drawn up into shallow water. They lay
close to the camp of the army which was destined for the invasion
of England. Six of them were moored under a fort named Lisset.
The rest lay under the guns of another fort named Saint Vaast,
where James had fixed his headquarters, and where the Union flag,
variegated by the crosses of Saint George and Saint Andrew, hung
by the side of the white flag of France. Marshal Bellefonds had
planted several batteries which, it was thought, would deter the
boldest enemy from approaching either Fort Lisset or Fort Saint
Vaast. James, however, who knew something of English seamen, was
not perfectly at ease, and proposed to send strong bodies of
soldiers on board of the ships. But Tourville would not consent
to put such a slur on his profession.

Russell meanwhile was preparing for an attack. On the afternoon
of the twenty-third of May all was ready. A flotilla consisting
of sloops, of fireships, and of two hundred boats, was entrusted
to the command of Rooke. The whole armament was in the highest
spirits. The rowers, flushed by success, and animated by the
thought that they were going to fight under the eyes of the
French and Irish troops who had been assembled for the purpose of
subjugating England, pulled manfully and with loud huzzas towards
the six huge wooden castles which lay close to Fort Lisset. The
French, though an eminently brave people, have always been more
liable to sudden panics than their phlegmatic neighbours the
English and Germans. On this day there was a panic both in the
fleet and in the army. Tourville ordered his sailors to man their
boats, and would have led them to encounter the enemy in the bay.
But his example and his exhortations were vain. His boats turned
round and fled in confusion. The ships were abandoned. The
cannonade from Fort Lisset was so feeble and ill directed that it
did no execution. The regiments on the beach, after wasting a few
musket shots, drew off. The English boarded the men of war, set
them on fire, and having performed this great service without the
loss of a single life, retreated at a late hour with the
retreating tide. The bay was in a blaze during the night; and now
and then a loud explosion announced that the flames had reached a
powder room or a tier of loaded guns. At eight the next morning
the tide came back strong; and with the tide came back Rooke and
his two hundred boats. The enemy made a faint attempt to defend
the vessels which were near Fort Saint Vaast. During a few
minutes the batteries did some execution among the crews of our
skiffs; but the struggle was soon over. The French poured fast
out of their ships on one side; the English poured in as fast on
the other, and, with loud shouts, turned the captured guns
against the shore. The batteries were speedily silenced. James
and Melfort, Bellefonds and Tourville, looked on in helpless
despondency while the second conflagration proceeded. The
conquerors, leaving the ships of war in flames, made their way
into an inner basin where many transports lay. Eight of these
vessels were set on fire. Several were taken in tow. The rest
would have been either destroyed or carried off, had not the sea
again begun to ebb. It was impossible to do more, and the
victorious flotilla slowly retired, insulting the hostile camp
with a thundering chant of "God save the King."

Thus ended, at noon on the twenty-fourth of May, the great
conflict which had raged during five days over a wide extent of
sea and shore. One English fireship had perished in its calling.
Sixteen French men of war, all noble vessels, and eight of them
three-deckers, had been sunk or burned down to the keel. The
battle is called, from the place where it terminated, the battle
of La Hogue.269

The news was received in London with boundless exultation. In the
fight on the open sea, indeed, the numerical superiority of the
allies had been so great that they had little reason to boast of
their success. But the courage and skill with which the crews of
the English boats had, in a French harbour, in sight of a French
army, and under the fire of French batteries, destroyed a fine
French fleet, amply justified the pride with which our fathers
pronounced the name of La Hogue. That we may fully enter into
their feelings, we must remember that this was the first great
check that had ever been given to the arms of Lewis the
Fourteenth, and the first great victory that the English had
gained over the French since the day of Agincourt. The stain left
on our fame by the shameful defeat of Beachy Head was effaced.
This time the glory was all our own. The Dutch had indeed done
their duty, as they have always done it in maritime war, whether
fighting on our side or against us, whether victorious or
vanquished. But the English had borne the brunt of the fight.
Russell who commanded in chief was an Englishman. Delaval who
directed the attack on Cherburg was an Englishman. Rooke who led
the flotilla into the Bay of La Hogue was an Englishman. The only
two officers of note who had fallen, Admiral Carter and Captain
Hastings of the Sandwich, were Englishmen. Yet the pleasure with
which the good news was received here must not be ascribed solely
or chiefly to national pride. The island was safe. The pleasant
pastures, cornfields and commons of Hampshire and Surrey would
not be the seat of war. The houses and gardens, the kitchens and
dairies, the cellars and plate chests, the wives and daughters of
our gentry and clergy would not be at the mercy of Irish
Rapparees, who had sacked the dwellings and skinned the cattle of
the Englishry of Leinster, or of French dragoons accustomed to
live at free quarters on the Protestants of Auvergne. Whigs and
Tories joined in thanking God for this great deliverance; and the
most respectable nonjurors could not but be glad at heart that
the rightful King was not to be brought back by an army of

The public joy was therefore all but universal. During several
days the bells of London pealed without ceasing. Flags were
flying on all the steeples. Rows of candles were in all the
windows. Bonfires were at all the corners of the streets.270 The
sense which the government entertained of the services of the
navy was promptly, judiciously and gracefully manifested. Sidney
and Portland were sent to meet the fleet at Portsmouth, and were
accompanied by Rochester, as the representative of the Tories.
The three Lords took down with them thirty-seven thousand pounds
in coin, which they were to distribute as a donative among the
sailors.271 Gold medals were given to the officers.272 The
remains of Hastings and Carter were brought on shore with every
mark of honour. Carter was buried at Portsmouth, with a great
display of military pomp.273 The corpse of Hastings was brought
up to London, and laid, with unusual solemnity, under the
pavement of Saint James's Church. The footguards with reversed
arms escorted the hearse. Four royal state carriages, each drawn
by six horses, were in the procession; a crowd of men of quality
in mourning cloaks filled the pews; and the Bishop of Lincoln
preached the funeral sermon.274 While such marks of respect were
paid to the slain, the wounded were not neglected. Fifty
surgeons, plentifully supplied with instruments, bandages, and
drugs, were sent down in all haste from London to Portsmouth.275
It is not easy for us to form a notion of the difficulty which
there then was in providing at short notice commodious shelter
and skilful attendance for hundreds of maimed and lacerated men.
At present every county, every large town, can boast of some
spacious palace in which the poorest labourer who has fractured a
limb may find an excellent bed, an able medical attendant, a
careful nurse, medicines of the best quality, and nourishment
such as an invalid requires. But there was not then, in the whole
realm, a single infirmary supported by voluntary contribution.
Even in the capital the only edifices open to the wounded were
the two ancient hospitals of Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew.
The Queen gave orders that in both these hospitals arrangements
should be made at the public charge for the reception of patients
from the fleet.276 At the same time it was announced that a noble
and lasting memorial of the gratitude which England felt for the
courage and patriotism of her sailors would soon rise on a site
eminently appropriate. Among the suburban residences of our
kings, that which stood at Greenwich had long held a
distinguished place. Charles the Second liked the situation, and
determined to rebuild the house and to improve the gardens. Soon
after his Restoration, he began to erect, on a spot almost washed
by the Thames at high tide, a mansion of vast extent and cost.
Behind the palace were planted long avenues of trees which, when
William reigned, were scarcely more than saplings, but which have
now covered with their massy shade the summer rambles of several
generations. On the slope which has long been the scene of the
holiday sports of the Londoners, were constructed flights of
terraces, of which the vestiges may still be discerned. The Queen
now publicly declared, in her husband's name, that the building
commenced by Charles should be completed, and should be a retreat
for seamen disabled in the service of their country.277

One of the happiest effects produced by the good news was the
calming of the public mind. During about a month the nation had
been hourly expecting an invasion and a rising, and had
consequently been in an irritable and suspicious mood. In many
parts of England a nonjuror could not show himself without great
risk of being insulted. A report that arms were hidden in a house
sufficed to bring a furious mob to the door. The mansion of one
Jacobite gentleman in Kent had been attacked, and, after a fight
in which several shots were fired, had been stormed and pulled
down.278 Yet such riots were by no means the worst symptoms of
the fever which had inflamed the whole society. The exposure of
Fuller, in February, had, as it seemed, put an end to the
practices of that vile tribe of which Oates was the patriarch.
During some weeks, indeed, the world was disposed to be
unreasonably incredulous about plots. But in April there was a
reaction. The French and Irish were coming. There was but too
much reason to believe that there were traitors in the island.
Whoever pretended that he could point out those traitors was sure
to be heard with attention; and there was not wanting a false
witness to avail himself of the golden opportunity.

This false witness was named Robert Young. His history was in his
own lifetime so fully investigated, and so much of his
correspondence has been preserved, that the whole man is before
us. His character is indeed a curious study. His birthplace was a
subject of dispute among three nations. The English pronounced
him Irish. The Irish, not being ambitious of the honour of having
him for a countryman, affirmed that he was born in Scotland.
Wherever he may have been born, it is impossible to doubt where
he was bred; for his phraseology is precisely that of the Teagues
who were, in his time, favourite characters on our stage. He
called himself a priest of the Established Church; but he was in
truth only a deacon; and his deacon's orders he had obtained by
producing forged certificates of his learning and moral
character. Long before the Revolution he held curacies in various
parts of Ireland; but he did not remain many days in any spot. He
was driven from one place by the scandal which was the effect of
his lawless amours. He rode away from another place on a borrowed
horse, which he never returned. He settled in a third parish, and
was taken up for bigamy. Some letters which he wrote on this
occasion from the gaol of Cavan have been preserved. He assured
each of his wives, with the most frightful imprecations, that she
alone was the object of his love; and he thus succeeded in
inducing one of them to support him in prison, and the other to
save his life by forswearing herself at the assizes. The only
specimens which remain to us of his method of imparting religious
instruction are to be found in these epistles. He compares
himself to David, the man after God's own heart, who had been
guilty both of adultery and murder. He declares that he repents;
he prays for the forgiveness of the Almighty, and then intreats
his dear honey, for Christ's sake, to perjure herself. Having
narrowly escaped the gallows, he wandered during several years
about Ireland and England, begging, stealing, cheating,
personating, forging, and lay in many prisons under many names. In
1684 he was convicted at Bury of having fraudulently
counterfeited Sancroft's signature, and was sentenced to the
pillory and to imprisonment. From his dungeon he wrote to implore
the Primate's mercy. The letter may still be read with all the
original bad grammar and bad spelling.279 The writer acknowledged
his guilt, wished that his eyes were a fountain of water,
declared that he should never know peace till he had received
episcopal absolution, and professed a mortal hatred of
Dissenters. As all this contrition and all this orthodoxy
produced no effect, the penitent, after swearing bitterly to be
revenged on Sancroft, betook himself to another device. The
Western Insurrection had just broken out. The magistrates all
over the country were but too ready to listen to any accusation
that might be brought against Whigs and Nonconformists. Young
declared on oath that, to his knowledge, a design had been formed
in Suffolk against the life of King James, and named a peer,
several gentlemen, and ten Presbyterian ministers, as parties to
the plot. Some of the accused were brought to trial; and Young
appeared in the witness box; but the story which he told was
proved by overwhelming evidence to be false. Soon after the
Revolution he was again convicted of forgery, pilloried for the
fourth or fifth time, and sent to Newgate. While he lay there, he
determined to try whether he should be more fortunate as an
accuser of Jacobites than he had been as an accuser of Puritans.
He first addressed himself to Tillotson. There was a horrible
plot against their Majesties, a plot as deep as hell; and some of
the first men in England were concerned in it. Tillotson, though
he placed little confidence in information coming from such a
source, thought that the oath which he had taken as a Privy
Councillor made it his duty to mention the subject to William.
William, after his fashion, treated the matter very lightly. "I
am confident," he said, "that this is a villany; and I will have
nobody disturbed on such grounds." After this rebuff, Young
remained some time quiet. But when William was on the Continent,
and when the nation was agitated by the apprehension of a French
invasion and of a Jacobite insurrection, a false accuser might
hope to obtain a favourable audience. The mere oath of a man who
was well known to the turnkeys of twenty gaols was not likely to
injure any body. But Young was master of a weapon which is, of
all weapons, the most formidable to innocence. He had lived
during some years by counterfeiting hands, and had at length
attained such consummate skill in that bad art that even
experienced clerks who were conversant with manuscript could
scarcely, after the most minute comparison, discover any
difference between his imitations and the originals. He had
succeeded in making a collection of papers written by men of note
who were suspected of disaffection. Some autographs he had
stolen; and some he had obtained by writing in feigned names to
ask after the characters of servants or curates. He now drew up a
paper purporting to be an Association for the Restoration of the
banished King. This document set forth that the subscribers bound
themselves in the presence of God to take arms for His Majesty,
and to seize on the Prince of Orange, dead or alive. To the
Association Young appended the names of Marlborough, of Cornbury,
of Salisbury, of Sancroft, and of Sprat, Bishop of Rochester and
Dean of Westminster.

The next thing to be done was to put the paper into some hiding
place in the house of one of the persons whose signatures had
been counterfeited. As Young could not quit Newgate, he was
forced to employ a subordinate agent for this purpose. He
selected a wretch named Blackhead, who had formerly been
convicted of perjury and sentenced to have his ears clipped. The
selection was not happy; for Blackhead had none of the qualities
which the trade of a false witness requires except wickedness.
There was nothing plausible about him. His voice was harsh.
Treachery was written in all the lines of his yellow face. He had
no invention, no presence of mind, and could do little more than
repeat by rote the lies taught him by others.

This man, instructed by his accomplice, repaired to Sprat's
palace at Bromley, introduced himself there as the confidential
servant of an imaginary Doctor of Divinity, delivered to the
Bishop, on bended knee, a letter ingeniously manufactured by
Young, and received, with the semblance of profound reverence,
the episcopal benediction. The servants made the stranger
welcome. He was taken to the cellar, drank their master's health,
and entreated them to let him see the house. They could not
venture to show any of the private apartments. Blackhead,
therefore, after begging importunately, but in vain, to be
suffered to have one look at the study, was forced to content
himself with dropping the Association into a flowerpot which
stood in a parlour near the kitchen.

Every thing having been thus prepared, Young informed the
ministers that he could tell them something of the highest
importance to the welfare of the State, and earnestly begged to
be heard. His request reached them on perhaps the most anxious
day of an anxious month. Tourville had just stood out to sea. The
army of James was embarking. London was agitated by reports about
the disaffection of the naval officers. The Queen was
deliberating whether she should cashier those who were suspected,
or try the effect of an appeal to their honour and patriotism. At
such a moment the ministers could not refuse to listen to any
person who professed himself able to give them valuable
information. Young and his accomplice were brought before the
Privy Council. They there accused Marlborough, Cornbury,
Salisbury, Sancroft and Sprat of high treason. These great men,
Young said, had invited James to invade England, and had promised
to join him. The eloquent and ingenious Bishop of Rochester had
undertaken to draw up a Declaration which would inflame the
nation against the government of King William. The conspirators
were bound together by a written instrument. That instrument,
signed by their own hands, would be found at Bromley if careful
search was made. Young particularly requested that the messengers
might be ordered to examine the Bishop's flowerpots.

The ministers were seriously alarmed. The story was
circumstantial; and part of it was probable. Marlborough's
dealings with Saint Germains were well known to Caermarthen, to
Nottingham, and to Sidney. Cornbury was a tool of Marlborough,
and was the son of a nonjuror and of a notorious plotter.
Salisbury was a Papist. Sancroft had, not many months before,
been, with too much show of reason, suspected of inviting the
French to invade England. Of all the accused persons Sprat was
the most unlikely to be concerned in any hazardous design. He had
neither enthusiasm nor constancy. Both his ambition and his party
spirit had always been effectually kept in order by his love of
ease and his anxiety for his own safety. He had been guilty of
some criminal compliances in the hope of gaining the favour of
James, had sate in the High Commission, had concurred in several
iniquitous decrees pronounced by that court, and had, with
trembling hands and faltering voice, read the Declaration of
Indulgence in the choir of the Abbey. But there he had stopped.
As soon as it began to be whispered that the civil and religious
constitution of England would speedily be vindicated by
extraordinary means, he had resigned the powers which he had
during two years exercised in defiance of law, and had hastened
to make his peace with his clerical brethren. He had in the
Convention voted for a Regency; but he had taken the oaths
without hesitation; he had borne a conspicuous part in the
coronation of the new Sovereigns; and by his skilful hand had
been added to the Form of Prayer used on the fifth of November
those sentences in which the Church expresses her gratitude for
the second great deliverance wrought on that day.280 Such a man,
possessed of a plentiful income, of a seat in the House of Lords,
of one agreeable house among the elms of Bromley, and of another
in the cloisters of Westminster, was very unlikely to run the
risk of martyrdom. He was not, indeed, on perfectly good terms
with the government. For the feeling which, next to solicitude
for his own comfort and repose, seems to have had the greatest
influence on his public conduct, was his dislike of the Puritans;
a dislike which sprang, not from bigotry, but from Epicureanism.
Their austerity was a reproach to his slothful and luxurious
life; their phraseology shocked his fastidious taste; and, where
they were concerned, his ordinary good nature forsook him.
Loathing the nonconformists as he did, he was not likely to be
very zealous for a prince whom the nonconformists regarded as
their protector. But Sprat's faults afforded ample security that
he would never, from spleen against William, engage in any plot
to bring back James. Why Young should have assigned the most
perilous part in an enterprise full of peril to a man singularly
pliant, cautious and selfindulgent, it is difficult to say.

The first step which the ministers took was to send Marlborough
to the Tower. He was by far the most formidable of all the
accused persons; and that he had held a traitorous correspondence
with Saint Germains was a fact which, whether Young were perjured
or not, the Queen and her chief advisers knew to be true. One of
the Clerks of the Council and several messengers were sent down
to Bromley with a warrant from Nottingham. Sprat was taken into
custody. All the apartments in which it could reasonably be
supposed that he would have hidden an important document were
searched, the library, the diningroom, the drawingroom, the
bedchamber, and the adjacent closets. His papers were strictly
examined. Much food prose was found, and probably some bad verse,
but no treason. The messengers pried into every flowerpot that
they could find, but to no purpose. It never occurred to them to
look into the room in which Blackhead had hidden the Association:
for that room was near the offices occupied by the servants, and
was little used by the Bishop and his family. The officers
returned to London with their prisoner, but without the document
which, if it had been found, might have been fatal to him.

Late at night he was brought to Westminster, and was suffered to
sleep at his deanery. All his bookcases and drawers were
examined; and sentinels were posted at the door of his
bedchamber, but with strict orders to behave civilly and not to
disturb the family.

On the following day he was brought before the Council. The
examination was conducted by Nottingham with great humanity and
courtesy. The Bishop, conscious of entire innocence, behaved with
temper and firmness. He made no complaints. "I submit," he said,
"to the necessities of State in such a time of jealousy and
danger as this." He was asked whether he had drawn up a
Declaration for King James, whether he had held any
correspondence with France, whether he had signed any treasonable
association, and whether he knew of any such association. To all
these questions he, with perfect truth, answered in the negative,
on the word of a Christian and a Bishop. He was taken back to his
deanery. He remained there in easy confinement during ten days,
and then, as nothing tending to criminate him had been
discovered, was suffered to return to Bromley.

Meanwhile the false accusers had been devising a new scheme.
Blackhead paid another visit to Bromley, and contrived to take
the forged Association out of the place in which he had hid it,
and to bring it back to Young. One of Young's two wives then
carried it to the Secretary's Office, and told a lie, invented by
her husband, to explain how a paper of such importance had come
into her hands. But it was not now so easy to frighten the
ministers as it had been a few days before. The battle of La
Hogue had put an end to all apprehensions of invasion.
Nottingham, therefore, instead of sending down a warrant to
Bromley, merely wrote to beg that Sprat would call on him at
Whitehall. The summons was promptly obeyed, and the accused
prelate was brought face to face with Blackhead before the
Council. Then the truth came out fast. The Bishop remembered the
villanous look and voice of the man who had knelt to ask the
episcopal blessing. The Bishop's secretary confirmed his master's
assertions. The false witness soon lost his presence of mind. His
cheeks, always sallow, grew frightfully livid. His voice,
generally loud and coarse, sank into a whisper. The Privy
Councillors saw his confusion, and crossexamined him sharply. For
a time he answered their questions by repeatedly stammering out
his original lie in the original words. At last he found that he
had no way of extricating himself but by owning his guilt. He
acknowledged that he had given an untrue account of his visit to
Bromley; and, after much prevarication, he related how he had
hidden the Association, and how he had removed it from its hiding
place, and confessed that he had been set on by Young.

The two accomplices were then confronted. Young, with unabashed
forehead, denied every thing. He knew nothing about the
flowerpots. "If so," cried Nottingham and Sidney together, "why
did you give such particular directions that the flowerpots at
Bromley should be searched?" "I never gave any directions about
the flowerpots," said Young. Then the whole board broke forth.
"How dare you say so? We all remember it." Still the knave stood
up erect, and exclaimed, with an impudence which Oates might have
envied, "This hiding is all a trick got up between the Bishop and
Blackhead. The Bishop has taken Blackhead off; and they are both
trying to stifle the plot." This was too much. There was a smile
and a lifting up of hands all round the board. "Man," cried
Caermarthen, "wouldst thou have us believe that the Bishop
contrived to have this paper put where it was ten to one that our
messengers had found it, and where, if they had found it, it
might have hanged him?"

The false accusers were removed in custody. The Bishop, after
warmly thanking the ministers for their fair and honourable
conduct, took his leave of them. In the antechamber he found a
crowd of people staring at Young, while Young sate, enduring the
stare with the serene fortitude of a man who had looked down on
far greater multitudes from half the pillories in England.
"Young," said Sprat, "your conscience must tell you that you have
cruelly wronged me. For your own sake I am sorry that you persist
in denying what your associate has confessed." "Confessed!" cried
Young; "no, all is not confessed yet; and that you shall find to
your sorrow. There is such a thing as impeachment, my Lord. When
Parliament sits you shall hear more of me." "God give you
repentance," answered the Bishop. "For, depend upon it, you are
in much more danger of being damned than I of being

Forty-eight hours after the detection of this execrable fraud,
Marlborough was admitted to bail. Young and Blackhead had done
him an inestimable service. That he was concerned in a plot quite
as criminal as that which they had falsely imputed to him, and
that the government was to possession of moral proofs of his
guilt, is now certain. But his contemporaries had not, as we
have, the evidence of his perfidy before them. They knew that he
had been accused of an offence of which he was innocent, that
perjury and forgery had been employed to ruin him, and that, in
consequence of these machinations, he had passed some weeks in
the Tower. There was in the public mind a very natural confusion
between his disgrace and his imprisonment. He had been imprisoned
without sufficient cause. Might it not, in the absence of all
information, be reasonably presumed that he had been disgraced
without sufficient cause? It was certain that a vile calumny,
destitute of all foundation, had caused him to be treated as a
criminal in May. Was it not probable, then, that calumny might
have deprived him of his master's favour in January?

Young's resources were not yet exhausted. As soon as he had been
carried back from Whitehall to Newgate, he set himself to
construct a new plot, and to find a new accomplice. He addressed
himself to a man named Holland, who was in the lowest state of
poverty. Never, said Young, was there such a golden opportunity.
A bold, shrewd, fellow might easily earn five hundred pounds. To
Holland five hundred pounds seemed fabulous wealth. What, he
asked, was he to do for it? Nothing, he was told, but to speak
the truth, that was to say, substantial truth, a little disguised
and coloured. There really was a plot; and this would have been
proved if Blackhead had not been bought off. His desertion had
made it necessary to call in the help of fiction. "You must swear
that you and I were in a back room upstairs at the Lobster in
Southwark. Some men came to meet us there. They gave a password
before they were admitted. They were all in white camlet cloaks.
They signed the Association in our presence. Then they paid each
his shilling and went away. And you must be ready to identify my
Lord Marlborough and the Bishop of Rochester as two of these
men." "How can I identify them?" said Holland, "I never saw
them." "You must contrive to see them," answered the tempter, "as
soon as you can. The Bishop will be at the Abbey. Anybody about
the Court will point out my Lord Marlborough." Holland
immediately went to Whitehall, and repeated this conversation to
Nottingham. The unlucky imitator of Oates was prosecuted, by
order of the government, for perjury, subornation of perjury, and
forgery. He was convicted and imprisoned, was again set in the
pillory, and underwent, in addition to the exposure, about which
he cared little, such a pelting as had seldom been known.282
After his punishment, he was, during some years, lost in the
crowd of pilferers, ringdroppers and sharpers who infested the
capital. At length, in the year 1700, he emerged from his
obscurity, and excited a momentary interest. The newspapers
announced that Robert Young, Clerk, once so famous, had been
taken up for coining, then that he had been found guilty, then
that the dead warrant had come down, and finally that the
reverend gentleman had been hanged at Tyburn, and had greatly
edified a large assembly of spectators by his penitence.283


Foreign Policy of William--The Northern Powers--The Pope--Conduct
of the Allies--The Emperor--Spain--William succeeds in preventing
the Dissolution of the Coalition--New Arrangements for the
Government of the Spanish Netherlands--Lewis takes the Field--
Siege of Namur--Lewis returns to Versailles--Luxemburg--Battle of
Steinkirk--Conspiracy of Grandval--Return of William to England--
Naval Maladministration--Earthquake at Port Royal--Distress in
England; Increase of Crime--Meeting of Parliament; State of
Parties--The King's Speech; Question of Privilege raised by the
Lords--Debates on the State of the Nation--Bill for the
Regulation of Trials in Cases of Treason--Case of Lord Mohun--
Debates on the India Trade--Supply--Ways and Means; Land Tax--
Origin of the National Debt--Parliamentary Reform--The Place
Bill--The Triennial Bill--The First Parliamentary Discussion on
the Liberty of the Press--State of Ireland--The King refuses to
pass the Triennial Bill--Ministerial Arrangements--The King goes
to Holland; a Session of Parliament in Scotland

WHILE England was agitated, first by the dread of an invasion,
and then by joy at the deliverance wrought for her by the valour
of her seamen, important events were taking place on the
Continent. On the sixth of March the King had arrived at the
Hague, and had proceeded to make his arrangements for the
approaching campaign.284

The prospect which lay before him was gloomy. The coalition of
which he was the author and the chief had, during some months,
been in constant danger of dissolution. By what strenuous
exertions, by what ingenious expedients, by what blandishments,
by what bribes, he succeeded in preventing his allies from
throwing themselves, one by one, at the feet of France, can be
but imperfectly known. The fullest and most authentic record of
the labours and sacrifices by which he kept together, during
eight years, a crowd of fainthearted and treacherous potentates,
negligent of the common interest and jealous of each other, is to
be found in his correspondence with Heinsius. In that
correspondence William is all himself. He had, in the course of
his eventful life, to sustain some high parts for which he was
not eminently qualified; and, in those parts, his success was
imperfect. As Sovereign of England, he showed abilities and
virtues which entitle him to honourable mention in history; but
his deficiencies were great. He was to the last a stranger
amongst us, cold, reserved, never in good spirits, never at his
ease. His kingdom was a place of exile. His finest palaces were
prisons. He was always counting the days which must elapse before
he should again see the land of his birth, the clipped trees, the
wings of the innumerable windmills, the nests of the storks on
the tall gables, and the long lines of painted villas reflected
in the sleeping canals. He took no pains to hide the preference
which he felt for his native soil and for his early friends; and
therefore, though he rendered great services to our country, he
did not reign in our hearts. As a general in the field, again, he
showed rare courage and capacity; but, from whatever cause, he
was, as a tactician, inferior to some of his contemporaries, who,
in general powers of mind, were far inferior to him. The business
for which he was preeminently fitted was diplomacy, in the
highest sense of the word. It may be doubted whether he has ever
had a superior in the art of conducting those great negotiations
on which the welfare of the commonwealth of nations depends. His
skill in this department of politics was never more severely
tasked or more signally proved than during the latter part of
1691 and the earlier part of 1692.

One of his chief difficulties was caused by the sullen and
menacing demeanour of the Northern powers. Denmark and Sweden had
at one time seemed disposed to join the coalition; but they had
early become cold, and were fast becoming hostile. From France
they flattered themselves that they had little to fear. It was
not very probable that her armies would cross the Elbe, or that
her fleets would force a passage through the Sound. But the naval
strength of England and Holland united might well excite
apprehension at Stockholm and Copenhagen. Soon arose vexatious
questions of maritime right, questions such as, in almost every
extensive war of modern times, have arisen between belligerents
and neutrals. The Scandinavian princes complained that the
legitimate trade between the Baltic and France was tyrannically
interrupted. Though they had not in general been on very friendly
terms with each other, they began to draw close together,
intrigued at every petty German court, and tried to form what
William called a Third Party in Europe. The King of Sweden, who,
as Duke of Pomerania, was bound to send three thousand men for
the defence of the Empire, sent, instead of them, his advice that
the allies would make peace on the best terms which they could
get.285 The King of Denmark seized a great number of Dutch
merchantships, and collected in Holstein an army which caused no
small uneasiness to his neighbours. "I fear," William wrote, in
an hour of deep dejection, to Heinsius, "I fear that the object
of this Third Party is a peace which will bring in its train the
slavery of Europe. The day will come when Sweden and her
confederates will know too late how great an error they have
committed. They are farther, no doubt, than we from the danger;
and therefore it is that they are thus bent on working our ruin
and their own. That France will now consent to reasonable terms
is not to be expected; and it were better to fall sword in hand
than to submit to whatever she may dictate."286

While the King was thus disquieted by the conduct of the Northern
powers, ominous signs began to appear in a very different
quarter. It had, from the first, been no easy matter to induce
sovereigns who hated, and who, in their own dominions,
persecuted, the Protestant religion, to countenance the
revolution which had saved that religion from a great peril. But
happily the example and the authority of the Vatican had overcome
their scruples. Innocent the Eleventh and Alexander the Eighth
had regarded William with ill concealed partiality. He was not
indeed their friend; but he was their enemy's enemy; and James
had been, and, if restored, must again be, their enemy's vassal.
To the heretic nephew therefore they gave their effective
support, to the orthodox uncle only compliments and benedictions.
But Alexander the Eighth had occupied the papal throne little
more than fifteen months. His successor, Antonio Pignatelli, who
took the name of Innocent the Twelfth, was impatient to be
reconciled to Lewis. Lewis was now sensible that he had committed
a great error when he had roused against himself at once the
spirit of Protestantism and the spirit of Popery. He permitted
the French Bishops to submit themselves to the Holy See. The
dispute, which had, at one time, seemed likely to end in a great
Gallican schism, was accommodated; and there was reason to
believe that the influence of the head of the Church would be
exerted for the purpose of severing the ties which bound so many
Catholic princes to the Calvinist who had usurped the British

Meanwhile the coalition, which the Third Party on one side and
the Pope on the other were trying to dissolve, was in no small
danger of falling to pieces from mere rottenness. Two of the
allied powers, and two only, were hearty in the common cause;
England, drawing after her the other British kingdoms; and
Holland, drawing after her the other Batavian commonwealths.
England and Holland were indeed torn by internal factions, and
were separated from each other by mutual jealousies and
antipathies; but both were fully resolved not to submit to French
domination; and both were ready to bear their share, and more
than their share, of the charges of the contest. Most of the
members of the confederacy were not nations, but men, an Emperor,
a King, Electors, Dukes; and of these men there was scarcely one
whose whole soul was in the struggle, scarcely one who did not
hang back, who did not find some excuse for omitting to fulfil
his engagements, who did not expect to be hired to defend his own
rights and interests against the common enemy. But the war was
the war of the people of England and of the people of Holland.
Had it not been so, the burdens which it made necessary would not
have been borne by either England or Holland during a single
year. When William said that he would rather die sword in hand
than humble himself before France, he expressed what was felt,
not by himself alone, but by two great communities of which he
was the first magistrate. With those two communities, unhappily,
other states had little sympathy. Indeed those two communities
were regarded by other states as rich, plaindealing, generous
dupes are regarded by needy sharpers. England and Holland were
wealthy; and they were zealous. Their wealth excited the cupidity
of the whole alliance; and to that wealth their zeal was the key.
They were persecuted with sordid importunity by all their
confederates, from Caesar, who, in the pride of his solitary
dignity, would not honour King William with the title of Majesty,
down to the smallest Margrave who could see his whole
principality from the cracked windows of the mean and ruinous old
house which he called his palace. It was not enough that England
and Holland furnished much more than their contingents to the war
by land, and bore unassisted the whole charge of the war by sea.
They were beset by a crowd of illustrious mendicants, some rude,
some obsequious, but all indefatigable and insatiable. One prince
came mumping to them annually with a lamentable story about his
distresses. A more sturdy beggar threatened to join the Third
Party, and to make a separate peace with France, if his demands
were not granted. Every Sovereign too had his ministers and
favourites; and these ministers and favourites were perpetually
hinting that France was willing to pay them for detaching their
masters from the coalition, and that it would be prudent in
England and Holland to outbid France.

Yet the embarrassment caused by the rapacity of the allied courts
was scarcely greater than the embarrassment caused by their
ambition and their pride. This prince had set his heart on some
childish distinction, a title or a cross, and would do nothing
for the common cause till his wishes were accomplished. That
prince chose to fancy that he had been slighted, and would not
stir till reparation had been made to him. The Duke of Brunswick
Lunenburg would not furnish a battalion for the defence of
Germany unless he was made an Elector.287 The Elector of
Brandenburg declared that he was as hostile as he had ever been
to France; but he had been ill used by the Spanish government;
and he therefore would not suffer his soldiers to be employed in
the defence of the Spanish Netherlands. He was willing to bear
his share of the war; but it must be in his own way; he must have
the command of a distinct army; and he must be stationed between
the Rhine and the Meuse.288 The Elector of Saxony complained that
bad winter quarters had been assigned to his troops; he therefore
recalled them just when they should have been preparing to take
the field, but very coolly offered to send them back if England
and Holland would give him four hundred thousand rixdollars.289

It might have been expected that at least the two chiefs of the
House of Austria would have put forth, at this conjuncture, all
their strength against the rival House of Bourbon. Unfortunately
they could not be induced to exert themselves vigorously even for
their own preservation. They were deeply interested in keeping
the French out of Italy. Yet they could with difficulty be
prevailed upon to lend the smallest assistance to the Duke of
Savoy. They seemed to think it the business of England and
Holland to defend the passes of the Alps, and to prevent the
armies of Lewis from overflowing Lombardy. To the Emperor indeed
the war against France was a secondary object. His first object
was the war against Turkey. He was dull and bigoted. His mind
misgave him that the war against France was, in some sense, a war
against the Catholic religion; and the war against Turkey was a
crusade. His recent campaign on the Danube had been successful.
He might easily have concluded an honourable peace with the
Porte, and have turned his arms westward. But he had conceived
the hope that he might extend his hereditary dominions at the
expense of the Infidels. Visions of a triumphant entry into
Constantinople and of a Te Deum in Saint Sophia's had risen in
his brain. He not only employed in the East a force more than
sufficient to have defended Piedmont and reconquered Loraine; but
he seemed to think that England and Holland were bound to reward
him largely for neglecting their interests and pursuing his

Spain already was what she continued to be down to our own time.
Of the Spain which had domineered over the land and the ocean,
over the Old and the New World, of the Spain which had, in the
short space of twelve years, led captive a Pope and a King of
France, a Sovereign of Mexico and a Sovereign of Peru, of the
Spain which had sent an army to the walls of Paris and had
equipped a mighty fleet to invade England, nothing remained but
an arrogance which had once excited terror and hatred, but which
could now excite only derision. In extent, indeed, the dominions
of the Catholic King exceeded those of Rome when Rome was at the
zenith of power. But the huge mass lay torpid and helpless, and
could be insulted or despoiled with impunity. The whole
administration, military and naval, financial and colonial, was
utterly disorganized. Charles was a fit representative of his
kingdom, impotent physically, intellectually and morally, sunk in
ignorance, listlessness and superstition, yet swollen with a
notion of his own dignity, and quick to imagine and to resent
affronts. So wretched had his education been that, when he was
told of the fall of Mons, the most important fortress in his vast
empire, he asked whether Mons was in England.291 Among the
ministers who were raised up and pulled down by his sickly
caprice, was none capable of applying a remedy to the distempers
of the State. In truth to brace anew the nerves of that paralysed
body would have been a hard task even for Ximenes. No servant of
the Spanish Crown occupied a more important post, and none was
more unfit for an important post, than the Marquess of Gastanaga.
He was Governor of the Netherlands; and in the Netherlands it
seemed probable that the fate of Christendom would be decided. He
had discharged his trust as every public trust was then
discharged in every part of that vast monarchy on which it was
boastfully said that the sun never set. Fertile and rich as was
the country which he ruled, he threw on England and Holland the
whole charge of defending it. He expected that arms, ammunition,
waggons, provisions, every thing, would be furnished by the
heretics. It had never occurred to him that it was his business,
and not theirs, to put Mons in a condition to stand a siege. The
public voice loudly accused him of having sold that celebrated
stronghold to France. But it is probable that he was guilty of
nothing worse than the haughty apathy and sluggishness
characteristic of his nation.

Such was the state of the coalition of which William was the
head. There were moments when he felt himself overwhelmed, when
his spirits sank, when his patience was wearied out, and when his
constitutional irritability broke forth. "I cannot," he wrote,
"offer a suggestion without being met by a demand for a
subsidy."292 "I have refused point blank," he wrote on another
occasion, when he had been importuned for money, "it is impossible
that the States General and England can bear the charge of the
army on the Rhine, of the army in Piedmont, and of the whole
defence of Flanders, to say nothing of the immense cost of the
naval war. If our allies can do nothing for themselves, the
sooner the alliance goes to pieces the better."293 But, after
every short fit of despondency and ill humour, he called up all
the force of his mind, and put a strong curb on his temper. Weak,
mean, false, selfish, as too many of the confederates were, it
was only by their help that he could accomplish what he had from
his youth up considered as his mission. If they abandoned him,
France would be dominant without a rival in Europe. Well as they
deserved to be punished, he would not, to punish them, acquiesce
in the subjugation of the whole civilised world. He set himself
therefore to surmount some difficulties and to evade others. The
Scandinavian powers he conciliated by waiving, reluctantly
indeed, and not without a hard internal struggle, some of his
maritime rights.294 At Rome his influence, though indirectly
exercised, balanced that of the Pope himself. Lewis and James
found that they had not a friend at the Vatican except Innocent;
and Innocent, whose nature was gentle and irresolute, shrank from
taking a course directly opposed to the sentiments of all who
surrounded him. In private conversations with Jacobite agents he
declared himself devoted to the interests of the House of Stuart;
but in his public acts he observed a strict neutrality. He sent
twenty thousand crowns to Saint Germains; but he excused himself
to the enemies of France by protesting that this was not a
subsidy for any political purpose, but merely an alms to be
distributed among poor British Catholics. He permitted prayers
for the good cause to be read in the English College at Rome; but
he insisted that those prayers should be drawn up in general
terms, and that no name should be mentioned. It was in vain that
the ministers of the Houses of Stuart and Bourbon adjured him to
take a more decided course. "God knows," he exclaimed on one
occasion, "that I would gladly shed my blood to restore the King
of England. But what can I do? If I stir, I am told that I am
favouring the French, and helping them to set up an universal
monarchy. I am not like the old Popes. Kings will not listen to
me as they listened to my predecessors. There is no religion now,
nothing but wicked, worldly policy. The Prince of Orange is
master. He governs us all. He has got such a hold on the Emperor
and on the King of Spain that neither of them dares to displease
him. God help us! He alone can help us." And, as the old man
spoke, he beat the table with his hand in an agony of impotent
grief and indignation.295

To keep the German princes steady was no easy task; but it was
accomplished. Money was distributed among them, much less indeed
than they asked, but much more than they had any decent pretence
for asking. With the Elector of Saxony a composition was made. He
had, together with a strong appetite for subsidies, a great
desire to be a member of the most select and illustrious orders
of knighthood. It seems that, instead of the four hundred
thousand rixdollars which he had demanded, he consented to accept
one hundred thousand and the Garter.296 His prime minister
Schoening, the most covetous and perfidious of mankind, was
secured by a pension.297 For the Duke of Brunswick Lunenburg,
William, not without difficulty, procured the long desired title
of Elector of Hanover. By such means as these the breaches which
had divided the coalition were so skilfully repaired that it
appeared still to present a firm front to the enemy. William had
complained bitterly to the Spanish government of the incapacity
and inertness of Gastanaga. The Spanish government, helpless and
drowsy as it was, could not be altogether insensible to the
dangers which threatened Flanders and Brabant. Gastanaga was
recalled; and William was invited to take upon himself the
government of the Low Countries, with powers not less than regal.
Philip the Second would not easily have believed that, within a
century after his death, his greatgrandson would implore the
greatgrandson of William the Silent to exercise the authority of
a sovereign at Brussels.298

The offer was in one sense tempting; but William was too wise to
accept it. He knew that the population of the Spanish Netherlands
was firmly attached to the Church of Rome. Every act of a
Protestant ruler was certain to be regarded with suspicion by the
clergy and people of those countries. Already Gastanaga,
mortified by his disgrace, had written to inform the Court of
Rome that changes were in contemplation which would make Ghent
and Antwerp as heretical as Amsterdam and London.299 It had
doubtless also occurred to William that if, by governing mildly
and justly, and by showing a decent respect for the ceremonies
and the ministers of the Roman Catholic religion, he should
succeed in obtaining the confidence of the Belgians, he would
inevitably raise against himself a storm of obloquy in our
island. He knew by experience what it was to govern two nations
strongly attached to two different Churches. A large party among
the Episcopalians of England could not forgive him for having
consented to the establishment of the presbyterian polity in
Scotland. A large party among the Presbyterians of Scotland
blamed him for maintaining the episcopal polity in England. If he
now took under his protection masses, processions, graven images,
friaries, nunneries, and, worst of all, Jesuit pulpits, Jesuit
confessionals and Jesuit colleges, what could he expect but that
England and Scotland would join in one cry of reprobation? He
therefore refused to accept the government of the Low Countries,
and proposed that it should be entrusted to the Elector of
Bavaria. The Elector of Bavaria was, after the Emperor, the most
powerful of the Roman Catholic potentates of Germany. He was
young, brave, and ambitious of military distinction. The Spanish
Court was willing to appoint him, and he was desirous to be
appointed; but much delay was caused by an absurd difficulty. The
Elector thought it beneath him to ask for what he wished to have.
The formalists of the Cabinet of Madrid thought it beneath the
dignity of the Catholic King to give what had not been asked.
Mediation was necessary, and was at last successful. But much
time was lost; and the spring was far advanced before the new
Governor of the Netherlands entered on his functions.300

William had saved the coalition from the danger of perishing by
disunion. But by no remonstrance, by no entreaty, by no bribe,
could he prevail on his allies to be early in the field. They
ought to have profited by the severe lesson which had been given
them in the preceding year. But again every one of them lingered,
and wondered why the rest were lingering; and again he who singly
wielded the whole power of France was found, as his haughty motto
had long boasted, a match for a multitude of adversaries.301 His
enemies, while still unready, learned with dismay that he had
taken the field in person at the head of his nobility. On no
occasion had that gallant aristocracy appeared with more
splendour in his train. A single circumstance may suffice to give
a notion of the pomp and luxury of his camp. Among the musketeers
of his household rode, for the first time, a stripling of
seventeen, who soon afterwards succeeded to the title of Duke of
Saint Simon, and to whom we owe those inestimable memoirs which
have preserved, for the delight and instruction of many lands and
of many generations, the vivid picture of a France which has long
passed away. Though the boy's family was at that time very hard
pressed for money, he travelled with thirty-five horses and
sumpter mules. The princesses of the blood, each surrounded by a
group of highborn and graceful ladies, accompanied the King; and
the smiles of so many charming women inspired the throng of vain
and voluptuous but highspirited gentlemen with more than common
courage. In the brilliant crowd which surrounded the French
Augustus appeared the French Virgil, the graceful, the tender,
the melodious Racine. He had, in conformity with the prevailing
fashion, become devout, had given up writing for the theatre;
and, having determined to apply himself vigorously to the
discharge of the duties which belonged to him as historiographer
of France, he now came to see the great events which it was his
office to record.302 In the neighbourhood of Mons, Lewis
entertained the ladies with the most magnificent review that had
ever been seen in modern Europe. A hundred and twenty thousand of
the finest troops in the world were drawn up in a line eight
miles long. It may be doubted whether such an army had ever been
brought together under the Roman eagles. The show began early in
the morning, and was not over when the long summer day closed.
Racine left the ground, astonished, deafened, dazzled, and tired
to death. In a private letter he ventured to give utterance to an
amiable wish which he probably took good care not to whisper in
the courtly circle: "Would to heaven that all these poor fellows
were in their cottages again with their wives and their little

After this superb pageant Lewis announced his intention of
attacking Namur. In five days he was under the walls of that
city, at the head of more than thirty thousand men. Twenty
thousand peasants, pressed in those parts of the Netherlands
which the French occupied, were compelled to act as pioneers.
Luxemburg, with eighty thousand men, occupied a strong position
on the road between Namur and Brussels, and was prepared to give
battle to any force which might attempt to raise the siege.304
This partition of duties excited no surprise. It had long been
known that the great Monarch loved sieges, and that he did not
love battles. He professed to think that the real test of
military skill was a siege. The event of an encounter between two
armies on an open plain was, in his opinion, often determined by
chance; but only science could prevail against ravelins and
bastions which science had constructed. His detractors sneeringly
pronounced it fortunate that the department of the military art
which His Majesty considered as the noblest was one in which it
was seldom necessary for him to expose to serious risk a life
invaluable to his people.

Namur, situated at the confluence of the Sambre and the Meuse,
was one of the great fortresses of Europe. The town lay in the
plain, and had no strength except what was derived from art. But
art and nature had combined to fortify that renowned citadel
which, from the summit of a lofty rock, looks down on a boundless
expanse of cornfields, woods and meadows, watered by two fine
rivers. The people of the city and of the surrounding region were
proud of their impregnable castle. Their boast was that never, in
all the wars which had devastated the Netherlands, had skill or
valour been able to penetrate those walls. The neighbouring
fastnesses, famed throughout the world for their strength,
Antwerp and Ostend, Ypres, Lisle and Tournay, Mons and
Valenciennes, Cambray and Charleroi, Limburg and Luxemburg, had
opened their gates to conquerors; but never once had the flag
been pulled down from the battlements of Namur. That nothing
might be wanting to the interest of the siege, the two great

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