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

Part 6 out of 15

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of a House of Commons to correct. What then had the existing
House of Commons done in the way of correction? Absolutely
nothing. In 1690, indeed, while the Civil List was settling, some
sharp speeches had been made. In 1691, when the Ways and Means
were under consideration, a resolution had been passed so
absurdly framed that it had proved utterly abortive. The nuisance
continued, and would continue while it was a source of profit to
those whose duty was to abate it. Who could expect faithful and
vigilant stewardship from stewards who had a direct interest in
encouraging the waste which they were employed to check? The
House swarmed with placemen of all kinds, Lords of the Treasury,
Lords of the Admiralty, Commissioners of Customs, Commissioners
of Excise, Commissioners of Prizes, Tellers, Auditors, Receivers,
Paymasters, Officers of the Mint, Officers of the household,
Colonels of regiments, Captains of men of war, Governors of
forts. We send up to Westminster, it was said, one of our
neighbours, an independent gentleman, in the full confidence that
his feelings and interests are in perfect accordance with ours.
We look to him to relieve us from every burden except those
burdens without which the public service cannot be carried on,
and which therefore, galling as they are, we patiently and
resolutely bear. But before he has been a session in Parliament
we learn that he is a Clerk of the Green Cloth or a Yeoman of the
Removing Wardrobe, with a comfortable salary. Nay, we sometimes
learn that he has obtained one of those places in the Exchequer
of which the emoluments rise and fall with the taxes which we
pay. It would be strange indeed if our interests were safe in the
keeping of a man whose gains consist in a percentage on our
losses. The evil would be greatly diminished if we had frequent
opportunities of considering whether the powers of our agent
ought to be renewed or revoked. But, as the law stands, it is not
impossible that he may hold those powers twenty or thirty years.
While he lives, and while either the King or the Queen lives, it
is not likely that we shall ever again exercise our elective
franchise, unless there should be a dispute between the Court and
the Parliament. The more profuse and obsequious a Parliament is,
the less likely it is to give offence to the Court. The worse our
representatives, therefore, the longer we are likely to be cursed
with them.

The outcry was loud. Odious nicknames were given to the
Parliament. Sometimes it was the Officers' Parliament; sometimes
it was the Standing Parliament, and was pronounced to be a
greater nuisance than even a standing army.

Two specifics for the distempers of the State were strongly
recommended, and divided the public favour. One was a law
excluding placemen from the House of Commons. The other was a law
limiting the duration of Parliaments to three years. In general
the Tory reformers preferred a Place Bill, and the Whig reformers
a Triennial Bill; but not a few zealous men of both parties were
for trying both remedies.

Before Christmas a Place Bill was laid on the table of the
Commons. That bill has been vehemently praised by writers who
never saw it, and who merely guessed at what it contained. But no
person who takes the trouble to study the original parchment,
which, embrowned with the dust of a hundred and sixty years,
reposes among the archives of the House of Lords, will find much
matter for eulogy.

About the manner in which such a bill should have been framed
there will, in our time, be little difference of opinion among
enlightened Englishmen. They will agree in thinking that it would
be most pernicious to open the House of Commons to all placemen,
and not less pernicious to close that House against all placemen.
To draw with precision the line between those who ought to be
admitted and those who ought to be excluded would be a task
requiring much time, thought and knowledge of details. But the
general principles which ought to guide us are obvious. The
multitude of subordinate functionaries ought to be excluded. A
few functionaries who are at the head or near the head of the
great departments of the administration ought to be admitted.

The subordinate functionaries ought to be excluded, because their
admission would at once lower the character of Parliament and
destroy the efficiency of every public office. They are now
excluded, and the consequence is that the State possesses a
valuable body of servants who remain unchanged while cabinet
after cabinet is formed and dissolved, who instruct every
successive minister in his duties, and with whom it is the most
sacred point of honour to give true information, sincere advise,
and strenuous assistance to their superior for the time being. To
the experience, the ability and the fidelity of this class of men
is to be attributed the ease and safety with which the direction
of affairs has been many times, within our own memory,
transferred from Tories to Whigs and from Whigs to Tories. But no
such class would have existed if persons who received salaries
from the Crown had been suffered to sit without restriction in
the House of Commons. Those commissionerships, assistant
secretaryships, chief clerkships, which are now held for life by
persons who stand aloof from the strife of parties, would have
been bestowed on members of Parliament who were serviceable to
the government as voluble speakers or steady voters. As often as
the ministry was changed, all this crowd of retainers would have
been ejected from office, and would have been succeeded by
another set of members of Parliament who would probably have been
ejected in their turn before they had half learned their
business. Servility and corruption in the legislature, ignorance
and incapacity in all the departments of the executive
administration, would have been the inevitable effects of such a

Still more noxious, if possible, would be the effects of a system
under which all the servants of the Crown, without exception,
should be excluded from the House of Commons. Aristotle has, in
that treatise on government which is perhaps the most judicious
and instructive of all his writings, left us a warning against a
class of laws artfully framed to delude the vulgar, democratic in
seeming, but oligarchic in effect.374 Had he had an opportunity
of studying the history of the English constitution, he might
easily have enlarged his list of such laws. That men who are in
the service and pay of the Crown ought not to sit in an assembly
specially charged with the duty of guarding the rights and
interests of the community against all aggression on the part of
the Crown is a plausible and a popular doctrine. Yet it is
certain that if those who, five generations ago, held that
doctrine, had been able to mould the constitution according to
their wishes, the effect
would have been the depression of that branch of the legislature
which springs from the people and is accountable to the people,
and the ascendency of the monarchical and aristocratical elements
of our polity. The government would have been entirely in
patrician hands. The House of Lords, constantly drawing to itself
the first abilities in the realm, would have become the most
august of senates, while the House of Commons would have sunk
almost to the rank of a vestry. From time to time undoubtedly men
of commanding genius and of aspiring temper would have made their
appearance among the representatives of the counties and
boroughs. But every such man would have considered the elective
chamber merely as a lobby through which he must pass to the
hereditary chamber. The first object of his ambition would have
been that coronet without which he could not be powerful in the
state. As soon as he had shown that he could be a formidable
enemy and a valuable friend to the government, he would have made
haste to quit what would then have been in every sense the Lower
House for what would then have been in every sense the Upper. The
conflict between Walpole and Pulteney, the conflict between Pitt
and Fox, would have been transferred from the popular to the
aristocratic part of the legislature. On every great question,
foreign, domestic or colonial, the debates of the nobles would
have been impatiently expected and eagerly devoured. The report
of the proceedings of an assembly containing no person empowered
to speak in the name of the government, no person who had ever
been in high political trust, would have been thrown aside with
contempt. Even the control of the purse of the nation must have
passed, not perhaps in form, but in substance, to that body in
which would have been found every man who was qualified to bring
forward a budget or explain an estimate. The country would have
been governed by Peers; and the chief business of the Commons
would have been to wrangle about bills for the inclosing of moors
and the lighting of towns.

These considerations were altogether overlooked in 1692. Nobody
thought of drawing a line between the few functionaries who ought
to be allowed to sit in the House of Commons and the crowd of
functionaries who ought to be shut out. The only line which the
legislators of that day took pains to draw was between themselves
and their successors. Their own interest they guarded with a care
of which it seems strange that they should not have been ashamed.
Every one of them was allowed to keep the places which he had got,
and to get as many more places as he could before the next
dissolution of Parliament, an event which might not happen for
many years. But a member who should be chosen after the first of
February 1693 was not to be permitted to accept any place

In the House of Commons the bill passed through all its stages
rapidly and without a single division. But in the Lords the
contest was sharp and obstinate. Several amendments were proposed
in committee; but all were rejected. The motion that the bill
should pass was supported by Mulgrave in a lively and poignant
speech, which has been preserved, and which proves that his
reputation for eloquence was not unmerited. The Lords who took
the other side did not, it should seem, venture to deny that
there was an evil which required a remedy; but they maintained
that the proposed remedy would only aggravate the evil. The
patriotic representatives of the people had devised a reform
which might perhaps benefit the next generation; but they had
carefully reserved to themselves the privilege of plundering the
present generation. If this bill passed, it was clear that, while
the existing Parliament lasted, the number of placemen in the
House of Commons would be little, if at all, diminished; and, if
this bill passed, it was highly probable that the existing
Parliament would last till both King William and Queen Mary were
dead. For as, under this bill, Their Majesties would be able to
exercise a much greater influence over the existing Parliament
than over any future Parliament, they would naturally wish to put
off a dissolution as long as possible. The complaint of the
electors of England was that now, in 1692, they were unfairly
represented. It was not redress, but mockery, to tell them that
their children should be fairly represented in 1710 or 1720. The
relief ought to be immediate; and the way to give immediate
relief was to limit the duration of Parliaments, and to begin
with that Parliament which, in the opinion of the country, had
already held power too long.

The forces were so evenly balanced that a very slight accident
might have turned the scale. When the question was put that the
bill do pass, eighty-two peers were present. Of these forty-two
were for the bill, and forty against it. Proxies were then
called. There were only two proxies for the bill; there were
seven against it; but of the seven three were questioned, and
were with difficulty admitted. The result was that the bill was
lost by three votes.

The majority appears to have been composed of moderate Whigs and
moderate Tories. Twenty of the minority protested, and among them
were the most violent and intolerant members of both parties,
such as Warrington, who had narrowly escaped the block for
conspiring against James, and Aylesbury, who afterwards narrowly
escaped the block for conspiring against William. Marlborough,
who, since his imprisonment, had gone all lengths in opposition
to the government, not only put his own name to the protest, but
made the Prince of Denmark sign what it was altogether beyond the
faculties of His Royal Highness to comprehend.376

It is a remarkable circumstance that neither Caermarthen, the
first in power as well as in abilities of the Tory ministers, nor
Shrewsbury, the most distinguished of those Whigs who were then
on bad terms with the Court, was present on this important
occasion. Their absence was in all probability the effect of
design; for both of them were in the House no long time before
and no long time after the division.

A few days later Shrewsbury laid on the table of the Lord a bill
for limiting the duration of Parliaments. By this bill it was
provided that the Parliament then sitting should cease to exist
on the first of January 1694, and that no future Parliament
should last longer than three years.

Among the Lords there seems to have been almost perfect unanimity
on this subject. William in vain endeavoured to induce those
peers in whom he placed the greatest confidence to support his
prerogative. Some of them thought the proposed change salutary;
others hoped to quiet the public mind by a liberal concession;
and others had held such language when they were opposing the
Place Bill that they could not, without gross inconsistency,
oppose the Triennial Bill. The whole House too bore a grudge to
the other House, and had a pleasure in putting the other House in
a most disagreeable dilemma. Burnet, Pembroke, nay, even
Caermarthen, who was very little in the habit of siding with the
people against the throne, supported Shrewsbury. "My Lord," said
the King to Caermarthen, with bitter displeasure, "you will live
to repent the part which you are taking in this matter."377 The
warning was disregarded; and the bill, having passed the Lords
smoothly and rapidly, was carried with great solemnity by two
judges to the Commons.

Of what took place in the Commons we have but very meagre
accounts; but from those accounts it is clear that the Whigs, as
a body, supported the bill, and that the opposition came chiefly
from Tories. Old Titus, who had been a politician in the days of
the Commonwealth, entertained the House with a speech in the
style which had been fashionable in those days. Parliaments, he
said, resembled the manna which God bestowed on the chosen
people. They were excellent while they were fresh; but if kept
too long they became noisome; and foul worms were engendered by
the corruption of that which had been sweeter than honey.
Littleton and other leading Whigs spoke on the same side.
Seymour, Finch, and Tredenham, all stanch Tories, were vehement
against the bill; and even Sir John Lowther on this point
dissented from his friend and patron Caermarthen. Several Tory
orators appealed to a feeling which was strong in the House, and
which had, since the Revolution, prevented many laws from
passing. Whatever, they said, comes from the Peers is to be
received with suspicion; and the present bill is of such a nature
that, even if it were in itself good, it ought to be at once
rejected merely because it has been brought down from them. If
their Lordships were to send us the most judicious of all money
bills, should we not kick it to the door? Yet to send us a money
bill would hardly be a grosser affront than to send us such a
bill as this. They have taken an initiative which, by every rule
of parliamentary courtesy, ought to have been left to us. They
have sate in judgment on us, convicted us, condemned us to
dissolution, and fixed the first of January for the execution.
Are we to submit patiently to so degrading a sentence, a sentence
too passed by men who have not so conducted themselves as to have
acquired any right to censure others? Have they ever made any
sacrifice of their own interest, of their own dignity, to the
general welfare? Have not excellent bills been lost because we
would not consent to insert in them clauses conferring new
privileges on the nobility? And now that their Lordships are bent
on obtaining popularity, do they propose to purchase it by
relinquishing even the smallest of their own oppressive
privileges? No; they offer to their country that which will cost
them nothing, but which will cost us and will cost the Crown
dear. In such circumstances it is our duty to repel the insult
which has been offered to us, and, by doing so, to vindicate the
lawful prerogative of the King.

Such topics as these were doubtless well qualified to inflame the
passions of the House of Commons. The near prospect of a
dissolution could not be very agreeable to a member whose
election was likely to be contested. He must go through all the
miseries of a canvass, must shake hands with crowds of
freeholders or freemen, must ask after their wives and children,
must hire conveyances for outvoters, must open alehouses, must
provide mountains of beef, must set rivers of ale running, and
might perhaps, after all the drudgery and all the expense, after
being lampooned, hustled, pelted, find himself at the bottom of
the poll, see his antagonists chaired, and sink half ruined into
obscurity. All this evil he was now invited to bring on himself,
and invited by men whose own seats in the legislature were
permanent, who gave up neither dignity nor quiet, neither power
nor money, but gained the praise of patriotism by forcing him to
abdicate a high station, to undergo harassing labour and anxiety,
to mortgage his cornfields and to hew down his woods. There was
naturally much irritation, more probably than is indicated by the
divisions. For the constituent bodies were generally delighted
with the bill; and many members who disliked it were afraid to
oppose it. The House yielded to the pressure of public opinion,
but not without a pang and a struggle. The discussions in the
committee seem to have been acrimonious. Such sharp words passed
between Seymour and one of the Whig members that it was necessary
to put the Speaker in the chair and the mace on the table for the
purpose of restoring order. One amendment was made. The respite
which the Lords had granted to the existing Parliament was
extended from the first of January to Lady Day, in order that
there might be full time for another session. The third reading
was carried by two hundred votes to a hundred and sixty-one. The
Lords agreed to the bill as amended; and nothing was wanting but
the royal assent. Whether that assent would or would not be given
was a question which remained in suspense till the last day of
the session.378

One strange inconsistency in the conduct of the reformers of that
generation deserves notice. It never occurred to any one of those
who were zealous for the Triennial Bill that every argument which
could be urged in favour of that bill was an argument against
the rules which had been framed in old times for the purpose of
keeping parliamentary deliberations and divisions strictly
secret. It is quite natural that a government which withholds
political privileges from the commonalty should withhold also
political information. But nothing can be more irrational than to
give power, and not to give the knowledge without which there is
the greatest risk that power will be abused. What could be more
absurd than to call constituent bodies frequently together that
they might decide whether their representative had done his duty
by them, and yet strictly to interdict them from learning, on
trustworthy authority, what he had said or how he had voted? The
absurdity however appears to have passed altogether unchallenged.
It is highly probable that among the two hundred members of the
House of Commons who voted for the third reading of the Triennial
Bill there was not one who would have hesitated about sending to
Newgate any person who had dared to publish a report of the
debate on that bill, or a list of the Ayes and the Noes. The
truth is that the secrecy of parliamentary debates, a secrecy
which would now be thought a grievance more intolerable than the
Shipmoney or the Star Chamber, was then inseparably associated,
even in the most honest and intelligent minds, with
constitutional freedom. A few old men still living could remember
times when a gentleman who was known at Whitehall to have let
fall a sharp word against a court favourite would have been
brought before the Privy Council and sent to the Tower. Those
times were gone, never to return. There was no longer any danger
that the King would oppress the members of the legislature; and
there was much danger that the members of the legislature might
oppress the people. Nevertheless the words Privilege of
Parliament, those words which the stern senators of the preceding
generation had murmured when a tyrant filled their chamber with
his guards, those words which a hundred thousand Londoners had
shouted in his ears when he ventured for the last time within the
walls of their city; still retained a magical influence over all
who loved liberty. It was long before even the most enlightened
men became sensible that the precautions which had been
originally devised for the purpose of protecting patriots against
the displeasure of the Court now served only to protect
sycophants against the displeasure of the nation.

It is also to be observed that few of those who showed at this
time the greatest desire to increase the political power of the
people were as yet prepared to emancipate the press from the
control of the government. The Licensing Act, which had passed,
as a matter of course, in 1685, expired in 1693, and was renewed,
not however without an opposition, which, though feeble when
compared with the magnitude of the object in dispute, proved that
the public mind was beginning dimly to perceive how closely civil
freedom and freedom of conscience are connected with freedom of

On the history of the Licensing Act no preceding writer has
thought it worth while to expend any care or labour. Yet surely
the events which led to the establishment of the liberty of the
press in England, and in all the countries peopled by the English
race, may be thought to have as much interest for the present
generation as any of those battles and sieges of which the most
minute details have been carefully recorded.

During the first three years of William's reign scarcely a voice
seems to have been raised against the restrictions which the law
imposed on literature. Those restrictions were in perfect
harmony with the theory of government held by the Tories, and
were not, in practice, galling to the Whigs. Roger Lestrange, who
had been licenser under the last two Kings of the House of
Stuart, and who had shown as little tenderness to Exclusionists
and Presbyterians in that character as in his other character of
Observator, was turned out of office at the Revolution, and was
succeeded by a Scotch gentleman, who, on account of his passion
for rare books, and his habit of attending all sales of
libraries, was known in the shops and coffeehouses near Saint
Paul's by the name of Catalogue Fraser. Fraser was a zealous
Whig. By Whig authors and publishers he was extolled as a most
impartial and humane man. But the conduct which obtained their
applause drew on him the abuse of the Tories, and was not
altogether pleasing to his official superior Nottingham.379 No
serious difference however seems to have arisen till the year
1692. In that year an honest old clergyman named Walker, who had,
in the time of the Commonwealth, been Gauden's curate, wrote a
book which convinced all sensible and dispassionate readers that
Gauden, and not Charles the First, was the author of the Icon
Basilike. This book Fraser suffered to be printed. If he had
authorised the publication of a work in which the Gospel of Saint
John or the Epistle to the Romans had been represented as
spurious, the indignation of the High Church party could hardly
have been greater. The question was not literary, but religious.
Doubt was impiety. In truth the Icon was to many fervent
Royalists a supplementary revelation. One of them indeed had gone
so far as to propose that lessons taken out of the inestimable
little volume should be read in the churches.380 Fraser found it
necessary to resign his place; and Nottingham appointed a
gentleman of good blood and scanty fortune named Edmund Bohun.
This change of men produced an immediate and total change of
system; for Bohun was as strong a Tory as a conscientious man who
had taken the oaths could possibly be. He had been conspicuous as
a persecutor of nonconformists and a champion of the doctrine of
passive obedience. He had edited Filmer's absurd treatise on the
origin of government, and had written an answer to the paper
which Algernon Sidney had delivered to the Sheriffs on Tower
Hill. Nor did Bohun admit that, in swearing allegiance to William
and Mary, he had done any thing inconsistent with his old creed.
For he had succeeded in convincing himself that they reigned by
right of conquest, and that it was the duty of an Englishman to
serve them as faithfully as Daniel had served Darius or as
Nehemiah had served Artaxerxes. This doctrine, whatever peace it
might bring to his own conscience, found little favour with any
party. The Whigs loathed it as servile; the Jacobites loathed it
as revolutionary. Great numbers of Tories had doubtless submitted
to William on the ground that he was, rightfully or wrongfully,
King in possession; but very few of them were disposed to allow
that his possession had originated in conquest. Indeed the plea
which had satisfied the weak and narrow mind of Bohun was a mere
fiction, and, had it been a truth, would have been a truth not to
be uttered by Englishmen without agonies of shame and
mortification.381 He however clung to his favourite whimsy with a
tenacity which the general disapprobation only made more intense.
His old friends, the stedfast adherents of indefeasible
hereditary right, grew cold and reserved. He asked Sancroft's
blessing, and got only a sharp word, and a black look. He asked
Ken's blessing; and Ken, though not much in the habit of
transgressing the rules of Christian charity and courtesy,
murmured something about a little scribbler. Thus cast out by one
faction, Bohun was not received by any other. He formed indeed a
class apart; for he was at once a zealous Filmerite and a zealous
Williamite. He held that pure monarchy, not limited by any law or
contract, was the form of government which had been divinely
ordained. But he held that William was now the absolute monarch,
who might annul the Great Charter, abolish trial by jury, or
impose taxes by royal proclamation, without forfeiting the right
to be implicitly obeyed by Christian men. As to the rest, Bohun
was a man of some learning, mean understanding and unpopular
manners. He had no sooner entered on his functions than all
Paternoster Row and Little Britain were in a ferment. The Whigs
had, under Fraser's administration, enjoyed almost as entire a
liberty as if there had been no censorship. But they were now as
severely treated as in the days of Lestrange. A History of the
Bloody Assizes was about to be published, and was expected to
have as great a run as the Pilgrim's Progress. But the new
licenser refused his Imprimatur. The book, he said, represented
rebels and schismatics as heroes and martyrs; and he would not
sanction it for its weight in gold. A charge delivered by Lord
Warrington to the grand jury of Cheshire was not permitted to
appear, because His Lordship had spoken contemptuously of divine
right and passive obedience. Julian Johnson found that, if he
wished to promulgate his notions of government, he must again
have recourse, as in the evil times of King James, to a secret
press.382 Such restraint as this, coming after several years of
unbounded freedom, naturally produced violent exasperation. Some
Whigs began to think that the censorship itself was a grievance;
all Whigs agreed in pronouncing the new censor unfit for his
post, and were prepared to join in an effort to get rid of him.

Of the transactions which terminated in Bohun's dismission, and
which produced the first parliamentary struggle for the liberty
of unlicensed printing, we have accounts written by Bohun himself
and by others; but there are strong reasons for believing that in
none of those accounts is the whole truth to be found. It may
perhaps not be impossible, even at this distance of time, to put
together dispersed fragments of evidence in such a manner as to
produce an authentic narrative which would have astonished the
unfortunate licenser himself.

There was then about town a man of good family, of some reading,
and of some small literary talent, named Charles Blount.383 In
politics he belonged to the extreme section of the Whig party. In
the days of the Exclusion Bill he had been one of Shaftesbury's
brisk boys, and had, under the signature of Junius Brutus,
magnified the virtues and public services of Titus Oates, and
exhorted the Protestants to take signal vengeance on the Papists
for the fire of London and for the murder of Godfrey.384 As to
the theological questions which were in issue between Protestants
and Papists, Blount was perfectly impartial. He was an infidel,
and the head of a small school of infidels who were troubled with
a morbid desire to make converts. He translated from the Latin
translation part of the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, and appended
to it notes of which the flippant profaneness called forth the
severe censure of an unbeliever of a very different order, the
illustrious Bayle.385 Blount also attacked Christianity in
several original treatises, or rather in several treatises
purporting to be original; for he was the most audacious of
literary thieves, and transcribed, without acknowledgment, whole
pages from authors who had preceded him. His delight was to worry
the priests by asking them how light existed before the sun was
made, how Paradise could be bounded by Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and
Euphrates, how serpents moved before they were condemned to
crawl, and where Eve found thread to stitch her figleaves. To his
speculations on these subjects he gave the lofty name of the
Oracles of Reason; and indeed whatever he said or wrote was
considered as oracular by his disciples. Of those disciples the
most noted was a bad writer named Gildon, who lived to pester
another generation with doggrel and slander, and whose memory is
still preserved, not by his own voluminous works, but by two or
three lines in which his stupidity and venality have been
contemptuously mentioned by Pope.386

Little as either the intellectual or the moral character of
Blount may seem to deserve respect, it is in a great measure to
him that we must attribute the emancipation of the English press.
Between him and the licensers there was a feud of long standing.
Before the Revolution one of his heterodox treatises had been
grievously mutilated by Lestrange, and at last suppressed by
orders from Lestrange's superior the Bishop of London.387 Bohun
was a scarcely less severe critic than Lestrange. Blount
therefore began to make war on the censorship and the censor. The
hostilities were commenced by a tract which came forth without
any license, and which is entitled A Just Vindication of Learning
and of the Liberty of the Press, by Philopatris.388 Whoever reads
this piece, and is not aware that Blount was one of the most
unscrupulous plagiaries that ever lived, will be surprised to
find, mingled with the poor thoughts and poor words of a
thirdrate pamphleteer, passages so elevated in sentiment and
style that they would be worthy of the greatest name in letters.
The truth is that the just Vindication consists chiefly of
garbled extracts from the Areopagitica of Milton. That noble
discourse had been neglected by the generation to which it was
addressed, had sunk into oblivion, and was at the mercy of every
pilferer. The literary workmanship of Blount resembled the
architectural workmanship of those barbarians who used the
Coliseum and the Theatre of Pompey as quarries, who built hovels
out of Ionian friezes and propped cowhouses on pillars of
lazulite. Blount concluded, as Milton had done, by recommending
that any book might be printed without a license, provided that
the name of the author or publisher were registered.389 The Just
Vindication was well received. The blow was speedily followed up.
There still remained in the Areopagitica many fine passages which
Blount had not used in his first pamphlet. Out of these passages
he constructed a second pamphlet entitled Reasons for the Liberty
of Unlicensed Printing.390 To these Reasons he appended a
postscript entitled A Just and True Character of Edmund Bohun.
This character was written with extreme bitterness. Passages were
quoted from the licenser's writings to prove that he held the
doctrines of passive obedience and nonresistance. He was accused
of using his power systematically for the purpose of favouring
the enemies and silencing the friends of the Sovereigns whose
bread he ate; and it was asserted that he was the friend and the
pupil of his predecessor Sir Roger.

Blount's Character of Bohun could not be publicly sold; but it
was widely circulated. While it was passing from hand to hand,
and while the Whigs were every where exclaiming against the new
censor as a second Lestrange, he was requested to authorise the
publication of an anonymous work entitled King William and Queen
Mary Conquerors.391 He readily and indeed eagerly complied. For
in truth there was between the doctrines which he had long
professed and the doctrines which were propounded in this
treatise a coincidence so exact that many suspected him of being
the author; nor was this suspicion weakened by a passage to which
a compliment was paid to his political writings. But the real
author was that very Blount who was, at that very time, labouring
to inflame the public both against the Licensing Act and the
licenser. Blount's motives may easily be divined. His own
opinions were diametrically opposed to those which, on this
occasion, he put forward in the most offensive manner. It is
therefore impossible to doubt that his object was to ensnare and
to ruin Bohun. It was a base and wicked scheme. But it cannot be
denied that the trap was laid and baited with much skill. The
republican succeeded in personating a high Tory. The atheist
succeeded in personating a high Churchman. The pamphlet concluded
with a devout prayer that the God of light and love would open
the understanding and govern the will of Englishmen, so that they
might see the things which belonged to their peace. The censor
was in raptures. In every page he found his own thoughts
expressed more plainly than he had ever expressed them. Never
before, in his opinion, had the true claim of their Majesties to
obedience been so clearly stated. Every Jacobite who read this
admirable tract must inevitably be converted. The nonjurors would
flock to take the oaths. The nation, so long divided, would at
length be united. From these pleasing dreams Bohun was awakened
by learning, a few hours after the appearance of the discourse
which had charmed him, that the titlepage had set all London in a
flame, and that the odious words, King William and Queen Mary
Conquerors, had moved the indignation of multitudes who had never
read further. Only four days after the publication he heard that
the House of Commons had taken the matter up, that the book had
been called by some members a rascally book, and that, as the
author was unknown, the Serjeant at Arms was in search of the
licenser.392 Bohun's mind had never been strong; and he was
entirely unnerved and bewildered by the fury and suddenness of
the storm which had burst upon him. He went to the House. Most of
the members whom he met in the passages and lobbies frowned on
him. When he was put to the bar, and, after three profound
obeisances, ventured to lift his head and look round him, he
could read his doom in the angry and contemptuous looks which
were cast on him from every side. He hesitated, blundered,
contradicted himself, called the Speaker My Lord, and, by his
confused way of speaking, raised a tempest of rude laughter which
confused him still more. As soon as he had withdrawn, it was
unanimously resolved that the obnoxious treatise should be burned
in Palace Yard by the common hangman. It was also resolved,
without a division, that the King should be requested to remove
Bohun from the office of licenser. The poor man, ready to faint
with grief and fear, was conducted by the officers of the House
to a place of confinement.393

But scarcely was he in his prison when a large body of members
clamorously demanded a more important victim. Burnet had, shortly
after he became Bishop of Salisbury, addressed to the clergy of
his diocese a Pastoral Letter, exhorting them to take the oaths.
In one paragraph of this letter he had held language bearing some
resemblance to that of the pamphlet which had just been sentenced
to the flames. There were indeed distinctions which a judicious
and impartial tribunal would not have failed to notice. But the
tribunal before which Burnet was arraigned was neither judicious
nor impartial. His faults had made him many enemies, and his
virtues many more. The discontented Whigs complained that he
leaned towards the Court, the High Churchmen that he leaned
towards the Dissenters; nor can it be supposed that a man of so
much boldness and so little tact, a man so indiscreetly frank and
so restlessly active, had passed through life without crossing
the schemes and wounding the feelings of some whose opinions
agreed with his. He was regarded with peculiar malevolence by
Howe. Howe had never, even while he was in office, been in the
habit of restraining his bitter and petulant tongue; and he had
recently been turned out of office in a way which had made him
ungovernably ferocious. The history of his dismission is not
accurately known, but it was certainly accompanied by some
circumstances which had cruelly galled his temper. If rumour
could be trusted, he had fancied that Mary was in love with him,
and had availed himself of an opportunity which offered itself
while he was in attendance on her as Vice Chamberlain to make
some advances which had justly moved her indignation. Soon after
he was discarded, he was prosecuted for having, in a fit of
passion, beaten one of his servants savagely within the verge of
the palace. He had pleaded guilty, and had been pardoned; but
from this time he showed, on every occasion, the most rancorous
personal hatred of his royal mistress, of her husband, and of all
who were favoured by either. It was known that the Queen
frequently consulted Burnet; and Howe was possessed with the
belief that her severity was to be imputed to Burnet's
influence.394 Now was the time to be revenged. In a long and
elaborate speech the spiteful Whig--for such he still affected to
be--represented Burnet as a Tory of the worst class. "There
should be a law," he said, "making it penal for the clergy to
introduce politics into their discourses. Formerly they sought to
enslave us by crying up the divine and indefeasible right of the
hereditary prince. Now they try to arrive at the same result by
telling us that we are a conquered people." It was moved that the
Bishop should be impeached. To this motion there was an
unanswerable objection, which the Speaker pointed out. The
Pastoral Letter had been written in 1689, and was therefore
covered by the Act of Grace which had been passed in 1690. Yet a
member was not ashamed to say, "No matter: impeach him; and force
him to plead the Act." Few, however, were disposed to take a
course so unworthy of a House of Commons. Some wag cried out,
"Burn it; burn it;" and this bad pun ran along the benches, and
was received with shouts of laughter. It was moved that the
Pastoral Letter should be burned by the common hangman. A long
and vehement debate followed. For Burnet was a man warmly loved
as well as warmly hated. The great majority of the Whigs stood
firmly by him; and his goodnature and generosity had made him
friends even among the Tories. The contest lasted two days.
Montague and Finch, men of widely different opinions, appear to
have been foremost among the Bishop's champions. An attempt to
get rid of the subject by moving the previous question failed. At
length the main question was put; and the Pastoral Letter was
condemned to the flames by a small majority in a full house. The
Ayes were a hundred and sixty-two; the Noes a hundred and fifty-
five.395 The general opinion, at least of the capital, seems to
have been that Burnet was cruelly treated.396

He was not naturally a man of fine feelings; and the life which
he had led had not tended to make them finer. He had been during
many years a mark for theological and political animosity. Grave
doctors had anathematized him; ribald poets had lampooned him;
princes and ministers had laid snares for his life; he had been
long a wanderer and an exile, in constant peril of being
kidnapped, struck in the boots, hanged and quartered. Yet none of
these things had ever seemed to move him. His selfconceit had
been proof against ridicule, and his dauntless temper against
danger. But on this occasion his fortitude seems to have failed
him. To be stigmatized by the popular branch of the legislature
as a teacher of doctrines so servile that they disgusted even
Tories, to be joined in one sentence of condemnation with the
editor of Filmer, was too much. How deeply Burnet was wounded
appeared many years later, when, after his death, his History of
his Life and Times was given to the world. In that work he is
ordinarily garrulous even to minuteness about all that concerns
himself, and sometimes relates with amusing ingenuousness his own
mistakes and the censures which those mistakes brought upon him.
But about the ignominious judgment passed by the House of Commons
on his Pastoral Letter he has preserved a most significant

The plot which ruined Bohun, though it did no honour to those who
contrived it, produced important and salutary effects. Before the
conduct of the unlucky licenser had been brought under the
consideration of Parliament, the Commons had resolved, without
any division, and, as far as appears, without any discussion,
that the Act which subjected literature to a censorship should be
continued. But the question had now assumed a new aspect; and the
continuation of the Act was no longer regarded as a matter of
course. A feeling in favour of the liberty of the press, a
feeling not yet, it is true, of wide extent or formidable
intensity, began to show itself. The existing system, it was
said, was prejudicial both to commerce and to learning. Could it
be expected that any capitalist would advance the funds necessary
for a great literary undertaking, or that any scholar would
expend years of toil and research on such an undertaking, while
it was possible that, at the last moment, the caprice, the
malice, the folly of one man might frustrate the whole design?
And was it certain that the law which so grievously restricted
both the freedom of trade and the freedom of thought had really
added to the security of the State? Had not recent experience
proved that the licenser might himself be an enemy of their
Majesties, or, worse still, an absurd and perverse friend; that
he might suppress a book of which it would be for their interest
that every house in the country should have a copy, and that he
might readily give his sanction to a libel which tended to make
them hateful to their people, and which deserved to be torn and
burned by the hand of Ketch? Had the government gained much by
establishing a literary police which prevented Englishmen from
having the History of the Bloody Circuit, and allowed them, by
way of compensation, to read tracts which represented King
William and Queen Mary as conquerors?

In that age persons who were not specially interested in a public
bill very seldom petitioned Parliament against it or for it. The
only petitions therefore which were at this conjuncture presented
to the two Houses against the censorship came from booksellers,
bookbinders and printers.398 But the opinion which these classes
expressed was certainly not confined to them.

The law which was about to expire had lasted eight years. It was
renewed for only two years. It appears, from an entry in the
journals of the Commons which unfortunately is defective, that a
division took place on an amendment about the nature of which we
are left entirely in the dark. The votes were ninety-nine to
eighty. In the Lords it was proposed, according to the suggestion
offered fifty years before by Milton and stolen from him by
Blount, to exempt from the authority of the licenser every book
which bore the name of an author or publisher. This amendment was
rejected; and the bill passed, but not without a protest signed
by eleven peers who declared that they could not think it for the
public interest to subject all learning and true information to
the arbitrary will and pleasure of a mercenary and perhaps
ignorant licenser. Among those who protested were Halifax,
Shrewsbury and Mulgrave, three noblemen belonging to different
political parties, but all distinguished by their literary
attainments. It is to be lamented that the signatures of
Tillotson and Burnet, who were both present on that day, should
be wanting. Dorset was absent.399

Blount, by whose exertions and machinations the opposition to the
censorship had been raised, did not live to see that opposition
successful. Though not a very young man, he was possessed by an
insane passion for the sister of his deceased wife. Having long
laboured in vain to convince the object of his love that she
might lawfully marry him, he at last, whether from weariness of
life, or in the hope of touching her heart, inflicted on himself
a wound of which, after languishing long, he died. He has often
been mentioned as a blasphemer and selfmurderer. But the
important service which, by means doubtless most immoral and
dishonourable, he rendered to his country, has passed almost

Late in this busy and eventful session the attention of the
Houses was called to the state of Ireland. The government of that
kingdom had, during the six months which followed the surrender
of Limerick, been in an unsettled state. It was not till the
Irish troops who adhered to Sarsfield had sailed for France, and
till the Irish troops who had made their election to remain at
home had been disbanded, that William at length put forth a
proclamation solemnly announcing the termination of the civil
war. From the hostility of the aboriginal inhabitants, destitute
as they now were of chiefs, of arms and of organization, nothing
was to be apprehended beyond occasional robberies and murders.
But the war cry of the Irishry had scarcely died away when the
first faint murmurs of the Englishry began to be heard. Coningsby
was during some months at the head of the administration. He soon
made himself in the highest degree odious to the dominant caste.
He was an unprincipled man; he was insatiable of riches; and he
was in a situation in which riches were easily to be obtained by
an unprincipled man. Immense sums of money, immense quantities of
military stores had been sent over from England. Immense
confiscations were taking place in Ireland. The rapacious
governor had daily opportunities of embezzling and extorting; and
of those opportunities he availed himself without scruple or
shame. This however was not, in the estimation of the colonists,
his greatest offence. They might have pardoned his covetousness;
but they could not pardon the clemency which he showed to their
vanquished and enslaved enemies. His clemency indeed amounted
merely to this, that he loved money more than he hated Papists,
and that he was not unwilling to sell for a high price a scanty
measure of justice to some of the oppressed class. Unhappily, to
the ruling minority, sore from recent conflict and drunk with
recent victory, the subjugated majority was as a drove of cattle,
or rather as a pack of wolves. Man acknowledges in the inferior
animals no rights inconsistent with his own convenience; and as
man deals with the inferior animals the Cromwellian thought
himself at liberty to deal with the Roman Catholic. Coningsby
therefore drew on himself a greater storm of obloquy by his few
good acts than by his many bad acts. The clamour against him was
so violent that he was removed; and Sidney went over, with the
full power and dignity of Lord Lieutenant, to hold a Parliament
at Dublin.401

But the easy temper and graceful manners of Sidney failed to
produce a conciliatory effect. He does not indeed appear to have
been greedy of unlawful gain. But he did not restrain with a
sufficiently firm hand the crowd of subordinate functionaries
whom Coningsby's example and protection had encouraged to plunder
the public and to sell their good offices to suitors. Nor was the
new Viceroy of a temper to bear hard on the feeble remains of the
native aristocracy. He therefore speedily became an object of
suspicion and aversion to the Anglosaxon settlers. His first act
was to send out the writs for a general election. The Roman
Catholics had been excluded from every municipal corporation; but
no law had yet deprived them of the county franchise. It is
probable however that not a single Roman Catholic freeholder
ventured to approach the hustings. The members chosen were, with
few exceptions, men animated by the spirit of Enniskillen and
Londonderry, a spirit eminently heroic in times of distress and
peril, but too often cruel and imperious in the season of
prosperity and power. They detested the civil treaty of Limerick,
and were indignant when they learned that the Lord Lieutenant
fully expected from them a parliamentary ratification of that
odious contract, a contract which gave a licence to the idolatry
of the mass, and which prevented good Protestants from ruining
their Popish neighbours by bringing civil actions for injuries
done during the war.402

On the fifth of October 1692 the Parliament met at Dublin in
Chichester House. It was very differently composed from the
assembly which had borne the same title in 1689. Scarcely one
peer, not one member of the House of Commons, who had sate at the
King's Inns, was to be seen. To the crowd of O's and Macs,
descendants of the old princes of the island, had succeeded men
whose names indicated a Saxon origin. A single O, an apostate
from the faith of his fathers, and three Macs, evidently
emigrants from Scotland, and probably Presbyterians, had seats in
the assembly.

The Parliament, thus composed, had then less than the powers of
the Assembly of Jamaica or of the Assembly of Virginia. Not
merely was the Legislature which sate at Dublin subject to the
absolute control of the Legislature which sate at Westminster:
but a law passed in the fifteenth century, during the
administration of the Lord Deputy Poynings, and called by his
name, had provided that no bill which had not been considered and
approved by the Privy Council of England should be brought into
either House in Ireland, and that every bill so considered and
approved should be either passed without amendment or

The session opened with a solemn recognition of the paramount
authority of the mother country. The Commons ordered their clerk
to read to them the English Act which required them to take the
Oath of Supremacy and to subscribe the Declaration against
Transubstantiation. Having heard the Act read, they immediately
proceeded to obey it. Addresses were then voted which expressed
the warmest gratitude and attachment to the King. Two members,
who had been untrue to the Protestant and English interest during
the troubles, were expelled. Supplies, liberal when compared with
the resources of a country devastated by years of predatory war,
were voted with eagerness. But the bill for confirming the Act of
Settlement was thought to be too favourable to the native gentry,
and, as it could not be amended, was with little ceremony
rejected. A committee of the whole House resolved that the
unjustifiable indulgence with which the Irish had been treated
since the battle of the Boyne was one of the chief causes of the
misery of the kingdom. A Committee of Grievances sate daily till
eleven in the evening; and the proceedings of this inquest
greatly alarmed the Castle. Many instances of gross venality and
knavery on the part of men high in office were brought to light,
and many instances also of what was then thought a criminal
lenity towards the subject nation. This Papist had been allowed
to enlist in the army; that Papist had been allowed to keep a
gun; a third had too good a horse; a fourth had been protected
against Protestants who wished to bring actions against him for
wrongs committed during the years of confusion. The Lord
Lieutenant, having obtained nearly as much money as he could
expect, determined to put an end to these unpleasant inquiries.
He knew, however, that if he quarrelled with the Parliament for
treating either peculators or Papists with severity, he should
have little support in England. He therefore looked out for a
pretext, and was fortunate enough to find one. The Commons had
passed a vote which might with some plausibility be represented
as inconsistent with the Poynings statute. Any thing which looked
like a violation of that great fundamental law was likely to
excite strong disapprobation on the other side of Saint George's
Channel. The Viceroy saw his advantage, and availed himself of
it. He went to the chamber of the Lords at Chichester House, sent
for the Commons, reprimanded them in strong language, charged
them with undutifully and ungratefully encroaching on the rights
of the mother country, and put an end to the session.404

Those whom he had lectured withdrew full of resentment. The
imputation which he had thrown on them was unjust. They had a
strong feeling of love and reverence for the land from which they
sprang, and looked with confidence for redress to the supreme
Parliament. Several of them went to London for the purpose of
vindicating themselves and of accusing the Lord Lieutenant. They
were favoured with a long and attentive audience, both by the
Lords and by the Commons, and were requested to put the substance
of what had been said into writing. The humble language of the
petitioners, and their protestations that they had never intended
to violate the Poynings statute, or to dispute the paramount
authority of England, effaced the impression which Sidney's
accusations had made. Both Houses addressed the King on the state
of Ireland. They censured no delinquent by name; but they
expressed an opinion that there had been gross maladministration,
that the public had been plundered, and that Roman Catholics had
been treated with unjustifiable tenderness. William in reply
promised that what was amiss should be corrected. His friend
Sidney was soon recalled, and consoled for the loss of the
viceregal dignity with the lucrative place of Master of the
Ordnance. The government of Ireland was for a time entrusted to
Lords justices, among whom Sir Henry Capel, a zealous Whig, very
little disposed to show indulgence to Papists, had the foremost

The prorogation drew nigh; and still the fate of the Triennial
Bill was uncertain. Some of the ablest ministers thought the bill
a good one; and, even had they thought it a bad one, they would
probably have tried to dissuade their master from rejecting it.
It was impossible, however, to remove from his mind the
impression that a concession on this point would seriously impair
his authority. Not relying on the judgment of his ordinary
advisers, he sent Portland to ask the opinion of Sir William
Temple. Temple had made a retreat for himself at a place called
Moor Park, in the neighbourhood of Farnham. The country round his
dwelling was almost a wilderness. His amusement during some years
had been to create in the waste what those Dutch burgomasters
among whom he had passed some of the best years of his life,
would have considered as a paradise. His hermitage had been
occasionally honoured by the presence of the King, who had from a
boy known and esteemed the author of the Triple Alliance, and who
was well pleased to find, among the heath and furze of the wilds
of Surrey, a spot which seemed to be part of Holland, a straight
canal, a terrace, rows of clipped trees, and rectangular beds of
flowers and potherbs.

Portland now repaired to this secluded abode and consulted the
oracle. Temple was decidedly of opinion that the bill ought to
pass. He was apprehensive that the reasons which led him to form
this opinion might not be fully and correctly reported to the
King by Portland, who was indeed as brave a soldier and as trusty
a friend as ever lived, whose natural abilities were not
inconsiderable, and who, in some departments of business, had
great experience, but who was very imperfectly acquainted with
the history and constitution of England. As the state of Sir
William's health made it impossible for him to go himself to
Kensington, he determined to send his secretary thither. The
secretary was a poor scholar of four or five and twenty, under
whose plain garb and ungainly deportment were concealed some of
the choicest gifts that have ever been bestowed on any of the
children of men; rare powers of observation, brilliant wit,
grotesque invention, humour of the most austere flavour, yet
exquisitely delicious, eloquence singularly pure, manly and
perspicuous. This young man was named Jonathan Swift. He was born
in Ireland, but would have thought himself insulted if he had
been called an Irishman. He was of unmixed English blood, and,
through life, regarded the aboriginal population of the island in
which he first drew breath as an alien and a servile caste. He
had in the late reign kept terms at the University of Dublin, but
had been distinguished there only by his irregularities, and had
with difficulty obtained his degree. At the time of the
Revolution, he had, with many thousands of his fellow colonists,
taken refuge in the mother country from the violence of
Tyrconnel, and had thought himself fortunate in being able to
obtain shelter at Moor Park.405 For that shelter, however, he had
to pay a heavy price. He was thought to be sufficiently
remunerated for his services with twenty pounds a year and his
board. He dined at the second table. Sometimes, indeed, when
better company was not to be had, he was honoured by being
invited to play at cards with his patron; and on such occasions
Sir William was so generous as to give his antagonist a little
silver to begin with.406 The humble student would not have dared
to raise his eyes to a lady of family; but, when he had become a
clergyman, he began, after the fashion of the clergymen of that
generation, to make love to a pretty waitingmaid who was the
chief ornament of the servants' hall, and whose name is
inseparably associated with his in a sad and mysterious history.

Swift many years later confessed some part of what he felt when
he found himself on his way to Court. His spirit had been bowed
down, and might seem to have been broken, by calamities and
humiliations. The language which he was in the habit of holding
to his patron, as far as we can judge from the specimens which
still remain, was that of a lacquey, or rather of a beggar.407 A
sharp word or a cold look of the master sufficed to make the
servant miserable during several days.408 But this tameness was
merely the tameness with which a tiger, caught, caged and
starved, submits to the keeper who brings him food. The humble
menial was at heart the haughtiest, the most aspiring, the most
vindictive, the most despotic of men. And now at length a great,
a boundless prospect was opening before him. To William he was
already slightly known. At Moor Park the King had sometimes, when
his host was confined by gout to an easy chair, been attended by
the secretary about the grounds. His Majesty had condescended to
teach his companion the Dutch way of cutting and eating
asparagus, and had graciously asked whether Mr. Swift would like
to have a captain's commission in a cavalry regiment. But now for
the first time the young man was to stand in the royal presence
as a counsellor. He was admitted into the closet, delivered a
letter from Temple, and explained and enforced the arguments
which that letter contained, concisely, but doubtless with
clearness and ability. There was, he said, no reason to think
that short Parliaments would be more disposed than long
Parliaments to encroach on the just prerogatives of the Crown. In
fact the Parliament which had, in the preceding generation, waged
war against a king, led him captive, sent him to the prison, to
the bar, to the scaffold, was known in our annals as emphatically
the Long Parliament. Never would such disasters have befallen the
monarchy but for the fatal law which secured that assembly from
dissolution.409 There was, it must be owned, a flaw in this
reasoning which a man less shrewd than William might easily
detect. That one restriction of the royal prerogative had been
mischievous did not prove that another restriction would be
salutary. It by no means followed because one sovereign had been
ruined by being unable to get rid of a hostile Parliament that
another sovereign might not be ruined by being forced to part
with a friendly Parliament. To the great mortification of the
ambassador, his arguments failed to shake the King's resolution.
On the fourteenth of March the Commons were summoned to the Upper
House; the title of the Triennial Bill was read; and it was
announced, after the ancient form, that the King and Queen would
take the matter into their consideration. The Parliament was then

Soon after the prorogation William set out for the Continent. It
was necessary that, before his departure, he should make some
important changes. He was resolved not to discard Nottingham, on
whose integrity, a virtue rare among English statesmen, he placed
a well founded reliance. Yet, if Nottingham remained Secretary of
State, it was impossible to employ Russell at sea. Russell, though
much mortified, was induced to accept a lucrative post in the
household; and two naval officers of great note in their
profession, Killegrew and Delaval, were placed at the Board of
Admiralty and entrusted with the command of the Channel Fleet.410
These arrangements caused much murmuring among the Whigs; for
Killegrew and Delaval were certainly Tories, and were by many
suspected of being Jacobites. But other promotions which took
place at the same time proved that the King wished to bear himself
evenly between the hostile factions. Nottingham had, during a
year, been the sole Secretary of State. He was now joined with a
colleague in whose society he must have felt himself very ill at
ease, John Trenchard. Trenchard belonged to the extreme section of
the Whig party. He was a Taunton man, animated by that spirit
which had, during two generations, peculiarly distinguished
Taunton. He had, in the days of Popeburnings and of Protestant
flails, been one of the renowned Green Riband Club; he had been an
active member of several stormy Parliaments; he had brought in the
first Exclusion Bill; he had been deeply concerned in the plots
formed by the chiefs of the opposition; he had fled to the
Continent; he had been long an exile; and he had been excepted by
name from the general pardon of 1686. Though his life had been
passed in turmoil, his temper was naturally calm; but he was
closely connected with a set of men whose passions were far
fiercer than his own. He had married the sister of Hugh Speke, one
of the falsest and most malignant of the libellers who brought
disgrace on the cause of constitutional freedom. Aaron Smith, the
solicitor of the Treasury, a man in whom the fanatic and the
pettifogger were strangely united, possessed too much influence
over the new Secretary, with whom he had, ten years before,
discussed plans of rebellion at the Rose. Why Trenchard was
selected in preference to many men of higher rank and greater
ability for a post of the first dignity and importance, it is
difficult to say. It seems however that, though he bore the title
and drew the salary of Secretary of State, he was not trusted with
any of the graver secrets of State, and that he was little more
than a superintendent of police, charged to look after the
printers of unlicensed books, the pastors of nonjuring
congregations, and the haunters of treason taverns.411

Another Whig of far higher character was called at the same time
to a far higher place in the administration. The Great Seal had
now been four years in commission. Since Maynard's retirement,
the constitution of the Court of Chancery had commanded little
respect. Trevor, who was the First Commissioner, wanted neither
parts nor learning; but his integrity was with good reason
suspected; and the duties which, as Speaker of the House of
Commons, he had to perform during four or five months in the
busiest part of every year, made it impossible for him to be an
efficient judge in equity. Every suitor complained that he had to
wait a most unreasonable time for a judgment, and that, when at
length a judgment had been pronounced, it was very likely to be
reversed on appeal. Meanwhile there was no efficient minister of
justice, no great functionary to whom it especially belonged to
advise the King touching the appointment of judges, of Counsel
for the Crown, of Justices of the Peace.412 It was known that
William was sensible of the inconvenience of this state of
things; and, during several months, there had been flying rumours
that a Lord Keeper or a Lord Chancellor would soon be
appointed.413 The name most frequently mentioned was that of
Nottingham. But the same reasons which had prevented him from
accepting the Great Seal in 1689 had, since that year, rather
gained than lost strength. William at length fixed his choice on

Somers was only in his forty-second year; and five years had not
elapsed since, on the great day of the trial of the Bishops, his
powers had first been made known to the world. From that time his
fame had been steadily and rapidly rising. Neither in forensic
nor in parliamentary eloquence had he any superior. The
consistency of his public conduct had gained for him the entire
confidence of the Whigs; and the urbanity of his manners had
conciliated the Tories. It was not without great reluctance that
he consented to quit an assembly over which he exercised an
immense influence for an assembly where it would be necessary for
him to sit in silence. He had been but a short time in great
practice. His savings were small. Not having the means of
supporting a hereditary title, he must, if he accepted the high
dignity which was offered to him, preside during some years in
the Upper House without taking part in the debates. The opinion
of others, however, was that he would be more useful as head of
the law than as head of the Whig party in the Commons. He was
sent for to Kensington, and called into the Council Chamber.
Caermarthen spoke in the name of the King. "Sir John," he said,
"it is necessary for the public service that you should take this
charge upon you; and I have it in command from His Majesty to say
that he can admit of no excuse." Somers submitted. The seal was
delivered to him, with a patent which entitled him to a pension
of two thousand a year from the day on which he should quit his
office; and he was immediately sworn in a Privy Councillor and
Lord Keeper.414

The Gazette which announced these changes in the administration,
announced also the King's departure. He set out for Holland on
the twenty-fourth of March.

He left orders that the Estates of Scotland should, after a
recess of more than two years and a half, be again called
together. Hamilton, who had lived many months in retirement, had,
since the fall of Melville, been reconciled to the Court, and now
consented to quit his retreat, and to occupy Holyrood House as
Lord High Commissioner. It was necessary that one of the
Secretaries of State for Scotland should be in attendance on the
King. The Master of Stair had therefore gone to the Continent.
His colleague, Johnstone, was chief manager for the Crown at
Edinburgh, and was charged to correspond regularly with
Carstairs, who never quitted William.415

It might naturally have been expected that the session would be
turbulent. The Parliament was that very Parliament which had in
1689 passed, by overwhelming majorities, all the most violent
resolutions which Montgomery and his club could frame, which had
refused supplies, which had proscribed the ministers of the
Crown, which had closed the Courts of justice, which had seemed
bent on turning Scotland into an oligarchical republic. In 1690
the Estates had been in a better temper. Yet, even in 1690, they
had, when the ecclesiastical polity of the realm was under
consideration, paid little deference to what was well known to be
the royal wish. They had abolished patronage; they had sanctioned
the rabbling of the episcopal clergy; they had refused to pass a
Toleration Act. It seemed likely that they would still be found
unmanageable when questions touching religion came before them;
and such questions it was unfortunately necessary to bring
forward. William had, during the recess, attempted to persuade
the General Assembly of the Church to receive into communion such
of the old curates as should subscribe the Confession of Faith
and should submit to the government of Synods. But the attempt
had failed; and the Assembly had consequently been dissolved by
the Lord Commissioner. Unhappily, the Act which established the
Presbyterian polity had not defined the extent of the power which
was to be exercised by the Sovereign over the Spiritual Courts.
No sooner therefore had the dissolution been announced than the
Moderator requested permission to speak. He was told that he was
now merely a private person. As a private person he requested a
hearing, and protested, in the name of his brethren, against the
royal mandate. The right, he said, of the office bearers of the
Church to meet and deliberate touching her interests was derived
from her Divine Head, and was not dependent on the pleasure of
the temporal magistrate. His brethren stood up, and by an
approving murmur signified their concurrence in what their
President had said. Before they retired they fixed a day for
their next meeting.416 It was indeed a very distant day; and when
it came neither minister nor elder attended;for even the boldest
members shrank from a complete rupture with the civil power. But,
though there was not open war between the Church and the
Government, they were estranged from each other, jealous of each
other, and afraid of each other. No progress had been made
towards a reconciliation when the Estates met; and which side the
Estates would take might well be doubted.

But the proceedings of this strange Parliament, in almost every
one of its sessions, falsified all the predictions of
politicians. It had once been the most unmanageable of senates.
It was now the most obsequious. Yet the old men had again met in
the old hall. There were all the most noisy agitators of the
club, with the exception of Montgomery, who was dying of want and
of a broken heart in a garret far from his native land. There was
the canting Ross and the perfidious Annandale. There was Sir
Patrick Hume, lately created a peer, and henceforth to be called
Lord Polwarth, but still as eloquent as when his interminable
declamations and dissertations ruined the expedition of Argyle.
But the whole spirit of the assembly had undergone a change. The
members listened with profound respect to the royal letter, and
returned an answer in reverential and affectionate language. An
extraordinary aid of a hundred and fourteen thousand pounds
sterling was granted to the Crown. Severe laws were enacted
against the Jacobites. The legislation on ecclesiastical matters
was as Erastian as William himself could have desired. An Act was
passed requiring all ministers of the Established Church to swear
fealty to their Majesties, and directing the General Assembly to
receive into communion those Episcopalian ministers, not yet
deprived, who should declare that they conformed to the
Presbyterian doctrine and discipline.417 Nay, the Estates carried
adulation so far as to make it their humble request to the King
that he would be pleased to confer a Scotch peerage on his
favourite Portland. This was indeed their chief petition. They
did not ask for redress of a single grievance. They contented
themselves with hinting in general terms that there were abuses
which required correction, and with referring the King for fuller
information to his own Ministers, the Lord High Commissioner and
the Secretary of State.418

There was one subject on which it may seem strange that even the
most servile of Scottish Parliaments should have kept silence.
More than a year had elapsed since the massacre of Glencoe; and
it might have been expected that the whole assembly, peers,
commissioners of shires, commissioners of burghs, would with one
voice have demanded a strict investigation into that great crime.
It is certain, however, that no motion for investigation was
made. The state of the Gaelic clans was indeed taken into
consideration. A law was passed for the more effectual
suppressing of depredations and outrages beyond the Highland
line; and in that law was inserted a special proviso reserving to
Mac Callum More his hereditary jurisdiction. But it does not
appear, either from the public records of the proceedings of the
Estates, or from those private letters in which Johnstone
regularly gave Carstairs an account of what had passed, that any
speaker made any allusion to the fate of Mac Ian and his
kinsmen.419 The only explanation of this extraordinary silence
seems to be that the public men who were assembled in the capital
of Scotland knew little and cared little about the fate of a
thieving tribe of Celts. The injured clan, bowed down by fear of
the allpowerful Campbells, and little accustomed to resort to the
constituted authorities of the kingdom for protection or redress,
presented no petition to the Estates. The story of the butchery
had been told at coffeehouses, but had been told in different
ways. Very recently, one or two books, in which the facts were
but too truly related, had come forth from the secret presses of
London. But those books were not publicly exposed to sale. They
bore the name of no responsible author. The Jacobite writers
were, as a class, savagely malignant and utterly regardless of
truth. Since the Macdonalds did not complain, a prudent man might
naturally be unwilling to incur the displeasure of the King, of
the ministers, and of the most powerful family in Scotland, by
bringing forward an accusation grounded on nothing but reports
wandering from mouth to mouth, or pamphlets which no licenser had
approved, to which no author had put his name, and which no
bookseller ventured to place in his shop-window. But whether this
be or be not the true solution, it is certain that the Estates
separated quietly after a session of two months, during which, as
far as can now be discovered, the name of Glencoe was not once
uttered in the Parliament House.


State of the Court of Saint Germains--Feeling of the Jacobites;
Compounders and Noncompounders--Change of Ministry at Saint
Germains; Middleton--New Declaration put forth by James--Effect
of the new Declaration--French Preparations for the Campaign;
Institution of the Order of Saint Lewis--Middleton's Account of
Versailles--William's Preparations for the Campaign--Lewis takes
the Field--Lewis returns to Versailles--Manoeuvres of Luxemburg--
Battle of Landen--Miscarriage of the Smyrna Fleet--Excitement in
London--Jacobite Libels; William Anderton--Writings and Artifices
of the Jacobites--Conduct of Caermarthen--Now Charter granted to
the East India Company--Return of William to England; Military
Successes of France--Distress of France--A Ministry necessary to
Parliamentary Government--The First Ministry gradually formed--
Sunderland--Sunderland advises the King to give the Preference to
the Whigs--Reasons for preferring the Whigs--Chiefs of the Whig
Party; Russell--Somers--Montague--Wharton--Chiefs of the Tory
Party; Harley--Foley--Howe--Meeting of Parliament--Debates about
the Naval Miscarriages--Russell First Lord of the Admiralty;
Retirement of Nottingham--Shrewsbury refuses Office--Debates
about the Trade with India--Bill for the Regulation of Trials in
Cases of Treason--Triennial Bill--Place Bill--Bill for the
Naturalisation of Foreign Protestants--Supply--Ways and Means;
Lottery Loan--The Bank of England--Prorogation of Parliament;
Ministerial Arrangements; Shrewsbury Secretary of State--New
Titles bestowed--French Plan of War; English Plan of War--
Expedition against Brest--Naval Operations in the Mediterranean--
War by Land--Complaints of Trenchard's Administration--The
Lancashire Prosecutions--Meeting of the Parliament; Death of
Tillotson--Tenison Archbishop of Canterbury; Debates on the
Lancashire Prosecutions--Place Bill--Bill for the Regulation of
Trials in Cases of Treason; the Triennial Bill passed--Death of
Mary--Funeral of Mary--Greenwich Hospital founded

IT is now time to relate the events which, since the battle of La
Hogue, had taken place at Saint Germains.

James, after seeing the fleet which was to have convoyed him back
to his kingdom burned down to the water edge, had returned in no
good humour to his abode near Paris. Misfortune generally made
him devout after his own fashion; and he now starved himself and
flogged himself till his spiritual guides were forced to

It is difficult to conceive a duller place than Saint Germains was
when he held his Court there; and yet there was scarcely in all
Europe a residence more enviably situated than that which the
generous Lewis had assigned to his suppliants. The woods were
magnificent, the air clear and salubrious, the prospects
extensive and cheerful. No charm of rural life was wanting; and
the towers of the most superb city of the Continent were visible
in the distance. The royal apartments were richly adorned with
tapestry and marquetry, vases of silver and mirrors in gilded
frames. A pension of more than forty thousand pounds sterling was
annually paid to James from the French Treasury. He had a guard
of honour composed of some of the finest soldiers in Europe. If
he wished to amuse himself with field sports, he had at his
command an establishment far more sumptuous than that which had
belonged to him when he was at the head of a great kingdom, an
army of huntsmen and fowlers, a vast arsenal of guns, spears,
buglehorns and tents, miles of network, staghounds, foxhounds,
harriers, packs for the boar and packs for the wolf, gerfalcons
for the heron and haggards for the wild duck. His presence
chamber and his antechamber were in outward show as splendid as
when he was at Whitehall. He was still surrounded by blue ribands
and white staves. But over the mansion and the domain brooded a
constant gloom, the effect, partly of bitter regrets and of
deferred hopes, but chiefly of the abject superstition which had
taken complete possession of his own mind, and which was affected
by almost all those who aspired to his favour. His palace wore
the aspect of a monastery. There were three places of worship
within the spacious pile. Thirty or forty ecclesiastics were
lodged in the building; and their apartments were eyed with envy
by noblemen and gentlemen who had followed the fortunes of their
Sovereign, and who thought it hard that, when there was so much
room under his roof, they should be forced to sleep in the
garrets of the neighbouring town. Among the murmurers was the
brilliant Anthony Hamilton. He has left us a sketch of the life
of Saint Germains, a slight sketch indeed, but not unworthy of
the artist to whom we owe the most highly finished and vividly
coloured picture of the English Court in the days when the
English Court was gayest. He complains that existence was one
round of religious exercises; that, in order to live in peace, it
was necessary to pass half the day in devotion or in the outward
show of devotion; that, if he tried to dissipate his melancholy
by breathing the fresh air of that noble terrace which looks down
on the valley of the Seine, he was driven away by the clamour of
a Jesuit who had got hold of some unfortunate Protestant
royalists from England, and was proving to them that no heretic
could go to heaven. In general, Hamilton said, men suffering
under a common calamity have a strong fellow feeling and are
disposed to render good offices to each other. But it was not so
at Saint Germains. There all was discord, jealousy, bitterness of
spirit. Malignity was concealed under the show of friendship and
of piety. All the saints of the royal household were praying for
each other and backbiting each other from morning, to night. Here
and there in the throng of hypocrites might be remarked a man too
highspirited to dissemble. But such a man, however advantageously
he might have made himself known elsewhere, was certain to be
treated with disdain by the inmates of that sullen abode.421

Such was the Court of James, as described by a Roman Catholic.
Yet, however disagreeable that Court may have been to a Roman
Catholic, it was infinitely more disagreeable to a Protestant.
For the Protestant had to endure, in addition to all the dulness
of which the Roman Catholic complained, a crowd of vexations from
which the Roman Catholic was free. In every competition between a
Protestant and a Roman Catholic the Roman Catholic was preferred.
In every quarrel between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic the
Roman Catholic was supposed to be in the right. While the
ambitious Protestant looked in vain for promotion, while the
dissipated Protestant looked in vain for amusement, the serious
Protestant looked in vain for spiritual instruction and
consolation. James might, no doubt, easily have obtained
permission for those members of the Church of England who had
sacrificed every thing in his cause to meet privately in some
modest oratory, and to receive the eucharistic bread and wine
from the hands of one of their own clergy; but he did not wish
his residence to be defiled by such impious rites. Doctor Dennis
Granville, who had quitted the richest deanery, the richest
archdeaconry and one of the richest livings in England, rather
than take the oaths, gave mortal offence by asking leave to read
prayers to the exiles of his own communion. His request was
refused; and he was so grossly insulted by his master's chaplains
and their retainers that he was forced to quit Saint Germains.
Lest some other Anglican doctor should be equally importunate,
James wrote to inform his agents in England that he wished no
Protestant divine to come out to him.422 Indeed the nonjuring
clergy were at least as much sneered at and as much railed at in
his palace as in his nephew's. If any man had a claim to be
mentioned with respect at Saint Germains, it was surely Sancroft.
Yet it was reported that the bigots who were assembled there
never spoke of him but with aversion and disgust. The sacrifice
of the first place in the Church, of the first place in the
peerage, of the mansion at Lambeth and the mansion at Croydon, of
immense patronage and of a revenue of more than five thousand a
year was thought but a poor atonement for the great crime of
having modestly remonstrated against the unconstitutional
Declaration of Indulgence. Sancroft was pronounced to be just
such a traitor and just such a penitent as Judas Iscariot. The
old hypocrite had, it was said, while affecting reverence and
love for his master, given the fatal signal to his master's
enemies. When the mischief had been done and could not be
repaired, the conscience of the sinner had begun to torture him.
He had, like his prototype, blamed himself and bemoaned himself.
He had, like his prototype, flung down his wealth at the feet of
those whose instrument he had been. The best thing that he could
now do was to make the parallel complete by hanging himself.423

James seems to have thought that the strongest proof of kindness
which he could give to heretics who had resigned wealth, country,
family, for his sake, was to suffer them to be beset, on their
dying beds, by his priests. If some sick man, helpless in body
and in mind, and deafened by the din of bad logic and bad
rhetoric, suffered a wafer to be thrust into his mouth, a great
work of grace was triumphantly announced to the Court; and the
neophyte was buried with all the pomp of religion. But if a
royalist, of the highest rank and most stainless character, died
professing firm attachment to the Church of England, a hole was
dug in the fields; and, at dead of night, he was flung into it
and covered up like a mass of carrion. Such were the obsequies of
the Earl of Dunfermline, who had served the House of Stuart with
the hazard of his life and to the utter ruin of his fortunes, who
had fought at Killiecrankie, and who had, after the victory,
lifted from the earth the still breathing remains of Dundee.
While living he had been treated with contumely. The Scottish
officers who had long served under him had in vain entreated
that, when they were formed into a company, he might still be
their commander. His religion had been thought a fatal
disqualification. A worthless adventurer, whose only
recommendation was that he was a Papist, was preferred.
Dunfermline continued, during a short time, to make his
appearance in the circle which surrounded the Prince whom he had
served too well; but it was to no purpose. The bigots who ruled
the Court refused to the ruined and expatriated Protestant Lord
the means of subsistence; he died of a broken heart; and they
refused him even a grave.424

The insults daily offered at Saint Germains to the Protestant
religion produced a great effect in England. The Whigs
triumphantly asked whether it were not clear that the old tyrant
was utterly incorrigible; and many even of the nonjurors observed
his proceedings with shame, disgust and alarm.425 The Jacobite
party had, from the first, been divided into two sections, which,
three or four years after the Revolution, began to be known as
the Compounders and the Noncompounders. The Compounders were
those who wished for a restoration, but for a restoration
accompanied by a general amnesty, and by guarantees for the
security of the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the
realm. The Noncompounders thought it downright Whiggery,
downright rebellion; to take advantage of His Majesty's
unfortunate situation for the purpose of imposing on him any
condition. The plain duty of his subjects was to bring him back.
What traitors he would punish and what traitors he would spare,
what laws he would observe and with what laws he would dispense,
were questions to be decided by himself alone. If he decided them
wrongly, he must answer for his fault to heaven and not to his

The great body of the English Jacobites were more or less
Compounders. The pure Noncompounders were chiefly to be found
among the Roman Catholics, who, very naturally, were not
solicitous to obtain any security for a religion which they
thought heretical, or for a polity from the benefits of which
they were excluded. There were also some Protestant nonjurors,
such as Kettlewell and Hickes, who resolutely followed the theory
of Filmer to all the extreme consequences to which it led. But,
though Kettlewell tried to convince his countrymen that
monarchical government had been ordained by God, not as a means
of making them happy here, but as a cross which it was their duty
to take up and bear in the hope of being recompensed for their
sufferings hereafter, and though Hickes assured them that there
was not a single Compounder in the whole Theban legion, very few
churchmen were inclined to run the risk of the gallows merely for
the purpose of reestablishing the High Commission and the
Dispensing Power.

The Compounders formed the main strength of the Jacobite party in
England; but the Noncompounders had hitherto had undivided sway
at Saint Germains. No Protestant, no moderate Roman Catholic, no
man who dared to hint that any law could bind the royal
prerogative, could hope for the smallest mark of favour from the
banished King. The priests and the apostate Melfort, the avowed
enemy of the Protestant religion and of civil liberty, of
Parliaments, of trial by jury and of the Habeas Corpus Act, were
in exclusive possession of the royal ear. Herbert was called
Chancellor, walked before the other officers of state, wore a
black robe embroidered with gold, and carried a seal; but he was
a member of the Church of England; and therefore he was not
suffered to sit at the Council Board.426

The truth is that the faults of James's head and heart were
incurable. In his view there could be between him and his
subjects no reciprocity of obligation. Their duty was to risk
property, liberty, life, in order to replace him on the throne,
and then to bear patiently whatever he chose to inflict upon
them. They could no more pretend to merit before him than before
God. When they had done all, they were still unprofitable
servants. The highest praise due to the royalist who shed his
blood on the field of battle or on the scaffold for hereditary
monarchy was simply that he was not a traitor. After all the
severe discipline which the deposed King had undergone, he was
still as much bent on plundering and abasing the Church of
England as on the day when he told the kneeling fellows of
Magdalene to get out of his sight, or on the day when he sent the
Bishops to the Tower. He was in the habit of declaring that he
would rather die without seeing England again than stoop to
capitulate with those whom he ought to command.427 In the
Declaration of April 1692 the whole man appears without disguise,
full of his own imaginary rights, unable to understand how any
body but himself can have any rights, dull, obstinate and cruel.
Another paper which he drew up about the same time shows, if
possible, still more clearly, how little he had profited by a
sharp experience. In that paper he set forth the plan according
to which he intended to govern when he should be restored. He
laid it down as a rule that one Commissioner of the Treasury, one
of the two Secretaries of State, the Secretary at War, the
majority of the Great Officers of the Household, the majority of
the Lords of the Bedchamber, the majority of the officers of the
army, should always be Roman Catholics.428

It was to no purpose that the most eminent Compounders sent from
London letter after letter filled with judicious counsel and
earnest supplication. It was to no purpose that they demonstrated
in the plainest manner the impossibility of establishing Popish
ascendancy in a country where at least forty-nine fiftieths of
the population and much more than forty-nine fiftieths of the
wealth and the intelligence were Protestant. It was to no purpose
that they informed their master that the Declaration of April
1692 had been read with exultation by his enemies and with deep
affliction by his friends, that it had been printed and
circulated by the usurpers, that it had done more than all the
libels of the Whigs to inflame the nation against him, and that
it had furnished those naval officers who had promised him
support with a plausible pretext for breaking faith with him, and
for destroying the fleet which was to have convoyed him back to
his kingdom. He continued to be deaf to the remonstrances of his
best friends in England till those remonstrances began to be
echoed at Versailles. All the information which Lewis and his
ministers were able to obtain touching the state of our island
satisfied them that James would never be restored unless he could
bring himself to make large concessions to his subjects. It was
therefore intimated to him, kindly and courteously, but
seriously, that he would do well to change his counsels and his
counsellors. France could not continue the war for the purpose of
forcing a Sovereign on an unwilling nation. She was crushed by
public burdens. Her trade and industry languished. Her harvest
and her vintage had failed. The peasantry were starving. The
faint murmurs of the provincial Estates began to be heard. There
was a limit to the amount of the sacrifices which the most
absolute prince could demand from those whom he ruled. However
desirous the Most Christian King might be to uphold the cause of
hereditary monarchy and of pure religion all over the world, his
first duty was to his own kingdom; and, unless a
counterrevolution speedily took place in England, his duty to his
own kingdom might impose on him the painful necessity of treating
with the Prince of Orange. It would therefore be wise in James to
do without delay whatever he could honourably and conscientiously
do to win back the hearts of his people.

Thus pressed, James unwillingly yielded. He consented to give a
share in the management of his affairs to one of the most
distinguished of the Compounders, Charles Earl of Middleton.

Middleton's family and his peerage were Scotch. But he was
closely connected with some of the noblest houses of England; he
had resided long in England; he had been appointed by Charles the
Second one of the English Secretaries of State, and had been
entrusted by James with the lead of the English House of Commons.
His abilities and acquirements were considerable; his temper was
easy and generous; his manners were popular; and his conduct had
generally been consistent and honourable. He had, when Popery was
in the ascendant, resolutely refused to purchase the royal favour
by apostasy. Roman Catholic ecclesiastics had been sent to
convert him; and the town had been much amused by the dexterity
with which the layman baffled the divines. A priest undertook to
demonstrate the doctrine of transubstantiation, and made the
approaches in the usual form. "Your Lordship believes in the
Trinity." "Who told you so?" said Middleton. "Not believe in the
Trinity!" cried the priest in amazement. "Nay," said Middleton;
"prove your religion to be true if you can; but do not catechize
me about mine." As it was plain that the Secretary was not a
disputant whom it was easy to take at an advantage, the
controversy ended almost as soon as it began.429 When fortune
changed, Middleton adhered to the cause of hereditary monarchy
with a stedfastness which was the more respectable because he
would have had no difficulty in making his peace with the new
government. His sentiments were so well known that, when the
kingdom was agitated by apprehensions of an invasion and an
insurrection, he was arrested and sent to the Tower; but no
evidence on which he could be convicted of treason was
discovered; and, when the dangerous crisis was past, he was set
at liberty. It should seem indeed that, during the three years
which followed the Revolution, he was by no means an active
plotter. He saw that a Restoration could be effected only with
the general assent of the nation, and that the nation would never
assent to a Restoration without securities against Popery and
arbitrary power. He therefore conceived that, while his banished
master obstinately refused to give such securities, it would be
worse than idle to conspire against the existing government.

Such was the man whom James, in consequence of strong
representations from Versailles, now invited to join him in
France. The great body of Compounders learned with delight that
they were at length to be represented in the Council at Saint
Germains by one of their favourite leaders. Some noblemen and
gentlemen, who, though they had not approved of the deposition of
James, had been so much disgusted by his perverse and absurd
conduct that they had long avoided all connection with him, now
began to hope that he had seen his error. They had refused to
have any thing to do with Melfort; but they communicated freely
with Middleton. The new minister conferred also with the four
traitors whose infamy has been made preeminently conspicuous by
their station, their abilities, and their great public services;
with Godolphin, the great object of whose life was to be in
favour with both the rival Kings at once, and to keep, through
all revolutions and counterrevolutions, his head, his estate and
a place at the Board of Treasury; with Shrewsbury, who, having
once in a fatal moment entangled himself in criminal and
dishonourable engagements, had not had the resolution to break
through them; with Marlborough, who continued to profess the
deepest repentance for the past and the best intentions for the
future; and with Russell, who declared that he was still what he
had been before the day of La Hogue, and renewed his promise to
do what Monk had done, on condition that a general pardon should
be granted to all political offenders, and that the royal power
should be placed under strong constitutional restraints.

Before Middleton left England he had collected the sense of all
the leading Compounders. They were of opinion that there was one
expedient which would reconcile contending factions at home, and
lead to the speedy pacification of Europe. This expedient was
that James should resign the Crown in favour of the Prince of
Wales, and that the Prince of Wales should be bred a Protestant.
If, as was but too probable, His Majesty should refuse to listen
to this suggestion, he must at least consent to put forth a
Declaration which might do away the unfavourable impression made
by his Declaration of the preceding spring. A paper such as it
was thought expedient that he should publish was carefully drawn
up, and, after much discussion, approved.

Early in the year 1693, Middleton, having been put in full
possession of the views of the principal English Jacobites, stole
across the Channel, and made his appearance at the Court of
James. There was at that Court no want of slanderers and sneerers
whose malignity was only the more dangerous because it wore a
meek and sanctimonious air. Middleton found, on his arrival, that
numerous lies, fabricated by the priests who feared and hated
him, were already in circulation. Some Noncompounders too had
written from London that he was at heart a Presbyterian and a
republican. He was however very graciously received, and was
appointed Secretary of State conjointly with Melfort.430

It very soon appeared that James was fully resolved never to
resign the Crown, or to suffer the Prince of Wales to be bred a
heretic; and it long seemed doubtful whether any arguments or
entreaties would induce him to sign the Declaration which his
friends in England had prepared. It was indeed a document very
different from any that had yet appeared under his Great Seal. He
was made to promise that he would grant a free pardon to all his
subjects who should not oppose him after he should land in the
island; that, as soon as he was restored, he would call a
Parliament; that he would confirm all such laws, passed during
the usurpation, as the Houses should tender to him for
confirmation; that he would waive his right to the chimney money;
that he would protect and defend the Established Church in the
enjoyment of all her possessions and privileges; that he would
not again violate the Test Act; that he would leave it to the
legislature to define the extent of his dispensing power; and
that he would maintain the Act of Settlement in Ireland.

He struggled long and hard. He pleaded his conscience. Could a
son of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church bind himself
to protect and defend heresy, and to enforce a law which excluded
true believers from office? Some of the ecclesiastics who swarmed
in his household told him that he could not without sin give any
such pledge as his undutiful subjects demanded. On this point the
opinion of Middleton, who was a Protestant, could be of no
weight. But Middleton found an ally in one whom he regarded as a
rival and an enemy. Melfort, scared by the universal hatred of
which he knew himself to be the object, and afraid that he should
be held accountable, both in England and in France, for his
master's wrongheadedness, submitted the case to several eminent
Doctors of the Sorbonne. These learned casuists pronounced the
Declaration unobjectionable in a religious point of view. The
great Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, who was regarded by the Gallican
Church as a father scarcely inferior in authority to Cyprian or
Augustin, showed, by powerful arguments, both theological and
political, that the scruple which tormented James was precisely
of that sort against which a much wiser King had given a caution
in the words, "Be not righteous overmuch."431 The authority of
the French divines was supported by the authority of the French
government. The language held at Versailles was so strong that
James began to be alarmed. What if Lewis should take serious
offence, should think his hospitality ungratefully requited,
should conclude a peace with the usurpers, and should request his
unfortunate guests to seek another asylum? It was necessary to
submit. On the seventeenth of April 1693 the Declaration was
signed and sealed. The concluding sentence was a prayer. "We come
to vindicate our own right and to establish the liberties of our
people; and may God give us success in the prosecution of the one
as we sincerely intend the confirmation of the other!"432 The
prayer was heard. The success of James was strictly proportioned
to his sincerity. What his sincerity was we know on the best
evidence. Scarcely had he called on heaven to witness the truth of
his professions, when he directed Melfort to send a copy of the
Declaration to Rome with such explanations as might satisfy the
Pope. Melfort's letter ends thus: "After all, the object of this
Declaration is only to get us back to England. We shall fight the
battle of the Catholics with much greater advantage at Whitehall
than at Saint Germains."433

Meanwhile the document from which so much was expected had been
despatched to London. There it was printed at a secret press in
the house of a Quaker; for there was among the Quakers a party,
small in number, but zealous and active, which had imbibed the
politics of William Penn.434 To circulate such a work was a
service of some danger; but agents were found. Several persons
were taken up while distributing copies in the streets of the
city. A hundred packets were stopped in one day at the Post
Office on their way to the fleet. But, after a short time, the
government wisely gave up the endeavour to suppress what could
not be suppressed, and published the Declaration at full length,
accompanied by a severe commentary.435

The commentary, however, was hardly needed. The Declaration
altogether failed to produce the effect which Middleton had
anticipated. The truth is that his advice had not been asked till
it mattered not what advice he gave. If James had put forth such
a manifesto in January 1689, the throne would probably not have
been declared vacant. If he had put forth such a manifesto when
he was on the coast of Normandy at the head of an army, he would
have conciliated a large part of the nation, and he might
possibly have been joined by a large part of the fleet. But both
in 1689 and in 1692 he had held the language of an implacable
tyrant; and it was now too late to affect tenderness of heart and
reverence for the constitution of the realm. The contrast between
the new Declaration and the preceding Declaration excited, not
without reason, general suspicion and contempt. What confidence
could be placed in the word of a Prince so unstable, of a Prince
who veered from extreme to extreme? In 1692 nothing would satisfy
him but the heads and quarters of hundreds of poor ploughmen and
boatmen who had, several years before, taken some rustic
liberties with him at which his grandfather Henry the Fourth
would have had a hearty laugh. In 1693 the foulest and most
ungrateful treasons were to be covered with oblivion. Caermarthen
expressed the general sentiment. "I do not," he said, "understand
all this. Last April I was to be hanged. This April I am to have
a free pardon. I cannot imagine what I have done during the past
year to deserve such goodness." The general opinion was that a
snare was hidden under this unwonted clemency, this unwonted
respect for law. The Declaration, it was said, was excellent; and
so was the Coronation oath. Every body knew how King James had
observed his Coronation oath; and every body might guess how he
would observe his Declaration. While grave men reasoned thus, the
Whig jesters were not sparing of their pasquinades. Some of the
Noncompounders, meantime, uttered indignant murmurs. The King was
in bad hands, in the hands of men who hated monarchy. His mercy
was cruelty of the worst sort. The general pardon which he had
granted to his enemies was in truth a general proscription of his
friends. Hitherto the judges appointed by the usurper had been
under a restraint, imperfect indeed, yet not absolutely nugatory.
They had known that a day of reckoning might come, and had
therefore in general dealt tenderly with the persecuted adherents
of the rightful King. That restraint His Majesty had now taken
away. He had told Holt and Treby that, till he should land in
England, they might hang royalists without the smallest fear of
being called to account.436

But by no class of people was the Declaration read with so much
disgust and indignation as by the native aristocracy of Ireland.
This then was the reward of their loyalty. This was the faith of
kings. When England had cast James out, when Scotland had
rejected him, the Irish had still been true to him; and he had,
in return, solemnly given his sanction to a law which restored to
them an immense domain of which they had been despoiled. Nothing
that had happened since that time had diminished their claim to
his favour. They had defended his cause to the last; they had
fought for him long after he had deserted them; many of them,
when unable to contend longer against superior force, had
followed him into banishment; and now it appeared that he was
desirous to make peace with his deadliest enemies at the expense
of his most faithful friends. There was much discontent in the
Irish regiments which were dispersed through the Netherlands and
along the frontiers of Germany and Italy. Even the Whigs allowed
that, for once, the O's and Macs were in the right, and asked
triumphantly whether a prince who had broken his word to his
devoted servants could be expected to keep it to his foes?437

While the Declaration was the subject of general conversation in
England, military operations recommenced on the Continent. The
preparations of France had been such as amazed even those who
estimated most highly her resources and the abilities of her
rulers. Both her agriculture and her commerce were suffering. The
vineyards of Burgundy, the interminable cornfields of the Beauce,
had failed to yield their increase; the looms of Lyons were
silent; and the merchant ships were rotting in the harbour of
Marseilles. Yet the monarchy presented to its numerous enemies a
front more haughty and more menacing than ever. Lewis had
determined not to make any advance towards a reconciliation with
the new government of England till the whole strength of his
realm had been put forth in one more effort. A mighty effort in
truth it was, but too exhausting to be repeated. He made an
immense display of force at once on the Pyrenees and on the Alps,
on the Rhine and on the Meuse, in the Atlantic and in the
Mediterranean. That nothing might be wanting which could excite
the martial ardour of a nation eminently highspirited, he
instituted, a few days before he left his palace for the camp, a
new military order of knighthood, and placed it under the
protection of his own sainted ancestor and patron. The new cross
of Saint Lewis shone on the breasts of the gentlemen who had been
conspicuous in the trenches before Mons and Namur, and on the
fields of Fleurus and Steinkirk; and the sight raised a generous
emulation among those who had still to win an honourable fame in

In the week in which this celebrated order began to exist
Middleton visited Versailles. A letter in which he gave his
friends in England an account of his visit has come down to
us.439 He was presented to Lewis, was most kindly received, and
was overpowered by gratitude and admiration. Of all the wonders
of the Court,--so Middleton wrote,--its master was the greatest.
The splendour of the great King's personal merit threw even the
splendour of his fortunes into the shade. The language which His
Most Christian Majesty held about English politics was, on the
whole, highly satisfactory. Yet in one thing this accomplished
prince and his able and experienced ministers were strangely
mistaken. They were all possessed with the absurd notion that the
Prince of Orange was a great man. No pains had been spared to
undeceive them; but they were under an incurable delusion. They
saw through a magnifying glass of such power that the leech
appeared to them a leviathan. It ought to have occurred to
Middleton that possibly the delusion might be in his own vision
and not in theirs. Lewis and the counsellors who surrounded him
were far indeed from loving William. But they did not hate him
with that mad hatred which raged in the breasts of his English
enemies. Middleton was one of the wisest and most moderate of the
Jacobites. Yet even Middleton's judgment was so much darkened by
malice that, on this subject, he talked nonsense unworthy of his
capacity. He, like the rest of his party, could see in the
usurper nothing but what was odious and contemptible, the heart
of a fiend, the understanding and manners of a stupid, brutal,
Dutch boor, who generally observed a sulky silence, and, when
forced to speak, gave short testy answers in bad English. The
French statesmen, on the other hand, judged of William's
faculties from an intimate knowledge of the way in which he had,
during twenty years, conducted affairs of the greatest moment and
of the greatest difficulty. He had, ever since 1673, been playing
against themselves a most complicated game of mixed chance and
skill for an immense stake; they were proud, and with reason, of
their own dexterity at that game; yet they were conscious that in
him they had found more than their match. At the commencement of
the long contest every advantage had been on their side. They had
at their absolute command all the resources of the greatest
kingdom in Europe; and he was merely the servant of a
commonwealth, of which the whole territory was inferior in extent
to Normandy or Guienne. A succession of generals and diplomatists
of eminent ability had been opposed to him. A powerful faction in
his native country had pertinaciously crossed his designs. He had
undergone defeats in the field and defeats in the senate; but his
wisdom and firmness had turned defeats into victories.
Notwithstanding all that could be done to keep him down, his
influence and fame had been almost constantly rising and
spreading. The most important and arduous enterprise in the
history of modern Europe had been planned and conducted to a
prosperous termination by him alone. The most extensive coalition
that the world had seen for ages had been formed by him, and
would be instantly dissolved if his superintending care were
withdrawn. He had gained two kingdoms by statecraft, and a third
by conquest; and he was still maintaining himself in the
possession of all three in spite of both foreign and domestic
foes. That these things had been effected by a poor creature, a
man of the most ordinary capacity, was an assertion which might
easily find credence among the nonjuring parsons who congregated
at Sam's Coffee-house, but which moved the laughter of the
veteran politicians of Versailles.

While Middleton was in vain trying to convince the French that
William was a greatly overrated man, William, who did full
justice to Middleton's merit, felt much uneasiness at learning
that the Court of Saint Germains had called in the help of so
able a counsellor.440 But this was only one of a thousand causes
of anxiety which during that spring pressed on the King's mind.
He was preparing for the opening of the campaign, imploring his
allies to be early in the field, rousing the sluggish, haggling
with the greedy, making up quarrels, adjusting points of
precedence. He had to prevail on the Cabinet of Vienna to send
timely succours into Piedmont. He had to keep a vigilant eye on
those Northern potentates who were trying to form a third party
in Europe. He had to act as tutor to the Elector of Bavaria in
the Netherlands. He had to provide for the defence of Liege, a
matter which the authorities of Liege coolly declared to be not
at all their business, but the business of England and Holland.
He had to prevent the House of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel from going
to blows with the House of Brunswick Lunenburg; he had to
accommodate a dispute between the Prince of Baden and the Elector
of Saxony, each of whom wished to be at the head of an army on
the Rhine; and he had to manage the Landgrave of Hesse, who
omitted to furnish his own contingent, and yet wanted to command
the contingents furnished by other princes.441

And now the time for action had arrived. On the eighteenth of May
Lewis left Versailles; early in June he was under the walls of
Namur. The Princesses, who had accompanied him, held their court
within the fortress. He took under his immediate command the army
of Boufflers, which was encamped at Gembloux. Little more than a
mile off lay the army of Luxemburg. The force collected in that
neighbourhood under the French lilies did not amount to less than
a hundred and twenty thousand men. Lewis had flattered himself
that he should be able to repeat in 1693 the stratagem by which
Mons had been taken in 1691 and Namur in 1692; and he had
determined that either Liege or Brussels should be his prey. But
William had this year been able to assemble in good time a force,
inferior indeed to that which was opposed to him, but still
formidable. With this force he took his post near Louvain, on the
road between the two threatened cities, and watched every
movement of the enemy.

Lewis was disappointed. He found that it would not be possible
for him to gratify his vanity so safely and so easily as in the
two preceding years, to sit down before a great town, to enter
the gates in triumph, and to receive the keys, without exposing
himself to any risk greater than that of a staghunt at
Fontainebleau. Before he could lay siege either to Liege or to
Brussels he must fight and win a battle. The chances were indeed
greatly in his favour; for his army was more numerous, better
officered and better disciplined than that of the allies.
Luxemburg strongly advised him to march against William. The
aristocracy of France anticipated with intrepid gaiety a bloody
but a glorious day, followed by a large distribution of the
crosses of the new order. William himself was perfectly aware of
his danger, and prepared to meet it with calm but mournful
fortitude.442 Just at this conjuncture Lewis announced his
intention to return instantly to Versailles, and to send the
Dauphin and Boufflers, with part of the army which was assembled
near Namur, to join Marshal Lorges who commanded in the
Palatinate. Luxemburg was thunderstruck. He expostulated boldly
and earnestly. Never, he said, was such an opportunity thrown
away. If His Majesty would march against the Prince of Orange,
victory was almost certain. Could any advantage which it was
possible to obtain on the Rhine be set against the advantage of a
victory gained in the heart of Brabant over the principal army
and the principal captain of the coalition? The Marshal reasoned;
he implored; he went on his knees; but in vain; and he quitted
the royal presence in the deepest dejection. Lewis left the camp
a week after he had joined it, and never afterwards made war in

The astonishment was great throughout his army. All the awe which
he inspired could not prevent his old generals from grumbling and
looking sullen, his young nobles from venting their spleen,
sometimes in curses and sometimes in sarcasms, and even his
common soldiers from holding irreverent language round their
watchfires. His enemies rejoiced with vindictive and insulting
joy. Was it not strange, they asked, that this great prince
should have gone in state to the theatre of war, and then in a
week have gone in the same state back again? Was it necessary
that all that vast retinue, princesses, dames of honour and
tirewomen, equerries and gentlemen of the bedchamber, cooks,
confectioners and musicians, long trains of waggons, droves of
led horses and sumpter mules, piles of plate, bales of tapestry,
should travel four hundred miles merely in order that the Most
Christian King might look at his soldiers and then return? The
ignominious truth was too evident to be concealed. He had gone to
the Netherlands in the hope that he might again be able to snatch
some military glory without any hazard to his person, and had
hastened back rather than expose himself to the chances of a
pitched field.443 This was not the first time that His Most
Christian Majesty had shown the same kind of prudence. Seventeen
years before he had been opposed under the wails of Bouchain to
the same antagonist. William, with the ardour of a very young
commander, had most imprudently offered battle. The opinion of
the ablest generals was that, if Lewis had seized the
opportunity, the war might have been ended in a day. The French
army had eagerly asked to be led to the onset. The King had
called his lieutenants round him and had collected their
opinions. Some courtly officers to whom a hint of his wishes had
been dexterously conveyed had, blushing and stammering with
shame, voted against fighting. It was to no purpose that bold and
honest men, who prized his honour more than his life, had proved

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