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The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 2 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 8 out of 12

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liberties of England. Meanwhile persons who could not legally set
foot on the island had been placed at the head of seminaries for
the corruption of youth. Lieutenants, Deputy Lieutenants,
Justices of the Peace, had been dismissed in multitudes for
refusing to support a pernicious and unconstitutional policy. The
franchises of almost every borough in the realm bad been invaded.
The courts of justice were in such a state that their decisions,
even in civil matters, had ceased to inspire confidence, and that
their servility in criminal cases had brought on the kingdom the
stain of innocent blood. All these abuses, loathed by the English
nation, were to be defended, it seemed, by an army of Irish
Papists. Nor was this all. The most arbitrary princes had never
accounted it an offence in a subject modestly and peaceably to
represent his grievances and to ask for relief. But supplication
was now treated as a high misdemeanour in England. For no crime
but that of offering to the Sovereign a petition drawn up in the
most respectful terms, the fathers of the Church had been
imprisoned and prosecuted; and every Judge who gave his voice in
their favour had instantly been turned out. The calling of a free
and lawful Parliament might indeed be an effectual remedy for all
these evils: but such a Parliament, unless the whole spirit of
the administration were changed, the nation could not hope to
see. It was evidently the intention of the court to bring
together, by means of regulated corporations and of Popish
returning officers, a body which would be a House of Commons in
name alone. Lastly, there were circumstances which raised a grave
suspicion that the child who was called Prince of Wales was not
really born of the Queen. For these reasons the Prince, mindful
of his near relation to the royal house, and grateful for the
affection which the English people had ever shown to his beloved
wife and to himself, had resolved, in compliance with the request
of many Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and of many other persons
of all ranks, to go over at the head of a force sufficient to
repel violence. He abjured all thought of conquest. He protested
that, while his troops remained in the island, they should be
kept under the strictest restraints of discipline, and that, as
soon as the nation had been delivered from tyranny, they should
be sent back. His single object was to have a free and legal
Parliament assembled: and to the decision of such a Parliament he
solemnly pledged himself to leave all questions both public and

As soon as copies of this Declaration were banded about the
Hague, signs of dissension began to appear among the English.
Wildman, indefatigable in mischief, prevailed on some of his
countrymen, and, among others, on the headstrong and volatile
Mordaunt, to declare that they would not take up arms on such
grounds. The paper had been drawn up merely to please the
Cavaliers and the parsons. The injuries of the Church and the
trial of the Bishops had been put too prominently forward; and
nothing had been said of the tyrannical manner in which the
Tories, before their rupture with the court, had treated the
Whigs. Wildman then brought forward a counterproject, prepared by
himself, which, if it had been adopted, would have disgusted all
the Anglican clergy and four fifths of the landed aristocracy.
The leading Whigs strongly opposed him: Russell in particular
declared that, if such an insane course were taken, there would
be an end of the coalition from which alone the nation could
expect deliverance. The dispute was at length settled by the
authority of William, who, with his usual good sense, determined
that the manifesto should stand nearly as Fagel and Burnet had
framed it.479

While these things were passing in Holland, James had at length
become sensible of his danger. Intelligence which could not be
disregarded came pouring in from various quarters. At length a
despatch from Albeville removed all doubts. It is said that, when
the King had read it, the blood left his cheeks, and he remained
some time speechless.480 He might, indeed, well be appalled. The
first easterly wind would bring a hostile armament to the shores
of his realm. All Europe, one single power alone excepted, was
impatiently waiting for the news of his downfall. The help of
that single power he had madly rejected. Nay, he had requited
with insult the friendly intervention which might have saved him.
The French armies which, but for his own folly, might have been
employed in overawing the States General, were besieging
Philipsburg or garrisoning Mentz. In a few days he might have to
fight, on English ground, for his crown and for the birthright of
his infant son. His means were indeed in appearance great. The
navy was in a much more efficient state than at the time of his
accession: and the improvement is partly to be attributed to his
own exertions. He had appointed no Lord High Admiral or Board of
Admiralty, but had kept the chief direction of maritime affairs
in his own hands, and had been strenuously assisted by Pepys. It
is a proverb that the eye of a master is more to be trusted than
that of a deputy: and, in an age of corruption and peculation, a
department on which a sovereign, even of very slender capacity,
bestows close personal attention is likely to be comparatively
free from abuses. It would have been easy to find an abler
minister of marine than James; but it would not have been easy to
find, among the public men of that age, any minister of marine,
except James, who would not have embezzled stores, taken bribes
from contractors, and charged the crown with the cost of repairs
which had never been made. The King was, in truth, almost the
only person who could be trusted not to rob the King. There had
therefore been, during the last three years, much less waste and
pilfering in the dockyards than formerly. Ships had been built
which were fit to go to sea. An excellent order had been issued
increasing the allowances of Captains, and at the same time
strictly forbidding them to carry merchandise from port to port
without the royal permission. The effect of these reforms was
already perceptible; and James found no difficulty in fitting
out, at short notice, a considerable fleet. Thirty ships of the
line, all third rates and fourth rates, were collected in the
Thames, under the command of Lord Dartmouth. The loyalty of
Dartmouth was above suspicion; and he was thought to have as much
professional skill and knowledge as any of the patrician sailors
who, in that age, rose to the highest naval commands without a
regular naval training, and who were at once flag officers on the
sea and colonels of infantry on shore.481

The regular army was the largest that any King of England had
ever commanded, and was rapidly augmented. New companies were
incorporated with the existing regiments. Commissions for the
raising of fresh regiments were issued. Four thousand men were
added to the English establishment. Three thousand were sent for
with all speed from Ireland. As many more were ordered to march
southward from Scotland. James estimated the force with which he
should be able to meet the invaders at near forty thousand
troops, exclusive of the militia.482

The navy and army were therefore far more than sufficient to
repel a Dutch invasion. But could the navy, could the army, be
trusted? Would not the trainbands flock by thousands to the
standard of the deliverer? The party which had, a few years
before, drawn the sword for Monmouth would undoubtedly be eager
to welcome the Prince of Orange. And what had become of the party
which had, during seven and forty years, been the bulwark of
monarchy? Where were now those gallant gentlemen who had ever
been ready to shed their blood for the crown? Outraged and
insulted, driven from the bench of justice and deprived of all
military command, they saw the peril of their ungrateful
Sovereign with undisguised delight. Where were those priests and
prelates who had, from ten thousand pulpits, proclaimed the duty
of obeying the anointed delegate of God? Some of them had been
imprisoned: some had been plundered: all had been placed under
the iron rule of the High Commission, and had been in hourly fear
lest some new freak of tyranny should deprive them of their
freeholds and leave them without a morsel of bread. That
Churchmen would even now so completely forget the doctrine which
had been their peculiar boast as to join in active resistance
seemed incredible. But could their oppressor expect to find among
them the spirit which in the preceding generation had triumphed
over the armies of Essex and Waller, and had yielded only after a
desperate struggle to the genius and vigour of Cromwell? The
tyrant was overcome by fear. He ceased to repeat that concession
had always ruined princes, and sullenly owned that he must stoop
to court the Tories once more.483 There is reason to believe that
Halifax was, at this time, invited to return to office, and that
he was not unwilling to do so. The part of mediator between the
throne and the nation was, of all parts, that for which he was
best qualified, and of which he was most ambitious. How the
negotiation with him was broken off is not known: but it is not
improbable that the question of the dispensing power was the
insurmountable difficulty. His hostility to that power had caused
his disgrace three years before; and nothing that had since
happened had been of a nature to change his views. James, on the
other hand, was fully determined to make no concession on that
point.484 As to other matters he was less pertinacious. He put
forth a proclamation in which he solemnly promised to protect the
Church of England and to maintain the Act of Uniformity. He
declared himself willing to make great sacrifices for the sake of
concord. He would no longer insist that Roman Catholics should be
admitted into the House of Commons; and he trusted that his
people would justly appreciate such a proof of his disposition to
meet their wishes. Three days later he notified his intention to
replace all the magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants who had been
dismissed for refusing to support his policy. On the day after
the appearance of this notification Compton's suspension was
taken off.485

At the same time the King gave an audience to all the Bishops who
were then in London. They had requested admittance to his
presence for the purpose of tendering their counsel in this
emergency. The Primate was spokesman. He respectfully asked that
the administration might be put into the hands of persons duly
qualified, that all acts done under pretence of the dispensing
power might be revoked, that the Ecclesiastical Commission might
be annulled, that the wrongs of Magdalene College might be
redressed, and that the old franchises of the municipal
corporations might be restored. He hinted very intelligibly that
there was one most desirable event which would completely secure
the throne and quiet the distracted realm. If His Majesty would
reconsider the points in dispute between the Churches of Rome and
England, perhaps, by the divine blessing on the arguments which
the Bishops wished to lay before him, he might be convinced that
it was his duty to return to the religion of his father and of
his grandfather. Thus far, Sancroft said, he had spoken the sense
of his brethren. There remained a subject on which he had not
taken counsel with them, but to which he thought it his duty to
advert. He was indeed the only man of his profession who could
advert to that subject without being suspected of an interested
motive. The metropolitan see of York had been three years vacant.
The Archbishop implored the King to fill it speedily with a pious
and learned divine, and added that such a divine might without
difficulty be found among those who then stood in the royal
presence. The King commanded himself sufficiently to return
thanks for this unpalatable counsel, and promised to consider
what bad been said.486 Of the dispensing power he would not yield
one tittle. No unqualified person was removed from any civil or
military office. But some of Sancroft's suggestions were adopted.
Within forty-eight hours the Court of High Commission was
abolished.487 It was determined that the charter of the City of
London, which had been forfeited six years before, should be
restored; and the Chancellor was sent in state to carry back the
venerable parchment to Guildhall.488 A week later the public was
informed that the Bishop of Winchester, who was by virtue of his
office Visitor of Magdalene College, had it in charge from the
King to correct whatever was amiss in that society. It was not
without a long struggle and a bitter pang that James stooped to
this last humiliation. Indeed he did not yield till the Vicar
Apostolic Leyburn, who seems to have behaved on all occasions
like a wise and honest man, declared that in his judgment the
ejected President and Fellows had been wronged, and that, on
religious as well as on political grounds, restitution ought to
be made to them.489 In a few days appeared a proclamation
restoring the forfeited franchises of all the municipal

James flattered himself that concessions so great made in the
short space of a month would bring back to him the hearts of his
people. Nor can it be doubted that such concessions, made before
there was reason to expect an invasion from Holland, would have
done much to conciliate the Tories. But gratitude is not to be
expected by rulers who give to fear what they have refused to
justice. During three years the King had been proof to all
argument and to all entreaty. Every minister who had dared to
raise his voice in favour of the civil and ecclesiastical
constitution of the realm had been disgraced. A Parliament
eminently loyal had ventured to protest gently and respectfully
against a violation of the fundamental laws of England, and had
been sternly reprimanded, prorogued, and dissolved. Judge after
Judge had been stripped of the ermine for declining to give
decisions opposed to the whole common and statute law. The most
respectable Cavaliers had been excluded from all share in the
government of their counties for refusing to betray the public
liberties. Scores of clergymen had been deprived of their
livelihood for observing their oaths. Prelates, to whose
steadfast fidelity the King owed the crown which he wore, had on
their knees besought him not to command them to violate the laws
of God and of the land. Their modest petition had been treated as
a seditious libel. They had been browbeaten, threatened,
imprisoned, prosecuted, and had narrowly escaped utter ruin. Then
at length the nation, finding that right was borne down by might,
and that even supplication was regarded as a crime, began to
think of trying the chances of war. The oppressor learned that an
armed deliverer was at hand and would be eagerly welcomed by
Whigs and Tories, Dissenters and Churchmen. All was immediately
changed. That government which had requited constant and zealous
service with spoliation and persecution, that government which to
weighty reasons and pathetic intreaties had replied only by
injuries, and insults, became in a moment strangely gracious.
Every Gazette now announced the removal of some grievance. It was
then evident that on the equity, the humanity, the plighted word
of the King, no reliance could be placed, and that he would
govern well only so long as he was under the strong dread of
resistance. His subjects were therefore by no means disposed to
restore to him a confidence which he had justly forfeited, or to
relax the pressure which had wrung from him the only good acts of
his whole reign. The general impatience for the arrival of the
Dutch became every day stronger. The gales which at this time
blew obstinately from the west, and which at once prevented the
Prince's armament from sailing and brought fresh Irish regiments
from Dublin to Chester, were bitterly cursed and reviled by the
common people. The weather, it was said, was Popish. Crowds stood
in Cheapside gazing intently at the weathercock on the graceful
steeple of Bow Church, and praying for a Protestant wind.491

The general feeling was strengthened by an event which, though
merely accidental, was not unnaturally ascribed to the perfidy of
the King. The Bishop of Winchester announced that, in obedience
to the royal commands, he designed to restore the ejected members
of Magdalene College. He fixed the twenty-first of October for
this ceremony, and on the twentieth went down to Oxford. The
whole University was in expectation. The expelled Fellows had
arrived from all parts of the kingdom, eager to take possession
of their beloved home. Three hundred gentlemen on horseback
escorted the Visitor to his lodgings. As he passed, the bells
rang, and the High Street was crowded with shouting spectators.
He retired to rest. The next morning a joyous crowd assembled at
the gates of Magdalene: but the Bishop did not make his
appearance; and soon it was known that be had been roused from
his bed by a royal messenger, and had been directed to repair
immediately to Whitehall. This strange disappointment caused much
wonder and anxiety: but in a few hours came news which, to minds
disposed, not without reason, to think the worst, seemed
completely to explain the King's change of purpose. The Dutch
armament had put out to sea, and had been driven back by a storm.
The disaster was exaggerated by rumour. Many ships, it was said,
had been lost. Thousands of horses had perished. All thought of a
design on England must be relinquished, at least for the present
year. Here was a lesson for the nation. While James expected
immediate invasion and rebellion, he had given orders that
reparation should be made to those whom he had unlawfully
despoiled. As soon as he found himself safe, those orders had
been revoked. This imputation, though at that time generally
believed, and though, since that time, repeated by writers who
ought to have been well informed, was without foundation. It is
certain that the mishap of the Dutch fleet could not, by any mode
of communication, have been known at Westminster till some hours
after the Bishop of Winchester had received the summons which
called him away from Oxford. The King, however, had little right
to complain of the suspicions of his people. If they sometimes,
without severely examining evidence, ascribed to his dishonest
policy what was really the effect of accident or inadvertence,
the fault was his own. That men who are in the habit of breaking
faith should be distrusted when they mean to keep it is part of
their just and natural punishment.492

It is remarkable that James, on this occasion, incurred one
unmerited imputation solely in consequence of his eagerness to
clear himself from another imputation equally unmerited. The
Bishop of Winchester had been hastily summoned from Oxford to
attend an extraordinary meeting of the Privy Council, or rather
an assembly of Notables, which had been convoked at Whitehall.
With the Privy Councillors were joined, in this solemn sitting,
all the Peers Spiritual and Temporal who chanced to be in or near
the capital, the Judges, the crown lawyers, the Lord Mayor and
the Aldermen of the City of London. A hint had been given to
Petre that he would do well to absent himself. In truth few of
the Peers would have chosen to sit with him. Near the head of the
board a chair of state was placed for the Queen Dowager. The
Princess Anne had been requested to attend, but had excused
herself on the plea of delicate health.

James informed this great assembly that he thought it necessary
to produce proofs of the birth of his son. The arts of bad men
had poisoned the public mind to such an extent that very many
believed the Prince of Wales to be a supposititious child. But
Providence had graciously ordered things so that scarcely any
prince had ever come into the world in the presence of so many
witnesses. Those witnesses then appeared and gave their evidence.
After all the depositions had been taken, James with great
solemnity declared that the imputation thrown on him was utterly
false, and that he would rather die a thousand deaths than wrong
any of his children.

All who were present appeared to be satisfied. The evidence was
instantly published, and was allowed by judicious and impartial
persons to be decisive.493 But the judicious are always a
minority; and scarcely anybody was then impartial. The whole
nation was convinced that all sincere Papists thought it a duty
to perjure themselves whenever they could, by perjury, serve the
interests of their Church. Men who, having been bred Protestants,
had for the sake of lucre pretended to be converted to Popery,
were, if possible, less trustworthy than sincere Papists. The
depositions of all who belonged to these two classes were
therefore regarded as mere nullities. Thus the weight of the
testimony on which James had relied was greatly reduced. What
remained was malignantly scrutinised. To every one of the few
Protestant witnesses who had said anything material some
exception was taken. One was notoriously a greedy sycophant.
Another had not indeed yet apostatized, but was nearly related to
an apostate. The people asked, as they had asked from the first,
why, if all was right, the King, knowing, as he knew, that many
doubted the reality of his wife's pregnancy, had not taken care
that the birth should be more satisfactorily proved. Was there
nothing suspicious in the false reckoning, in the sudden change
of abode, in the absence of the Princess Anne and of the
Archbishop of Canterbury? Why was no prelate of the Established
Church in attendance? Why was not the Dutch Ambassador summoned?
Why, above all, were not the Hydes, loyal servants of the crown,
faithful sons of the Church, and natural guardians of the
interest of their nieces, suffered to mingle with the crowd of
Papists which was assembled in and near the royal bedchamber?
Why, in short, was there, in the long list of assistants, not a
single name which commanded public confidence and respect? The
true answer to these questions was that the King's understanding
was weak, that his temper was despotic, and that he had willingly
seized an opportunity of manifesting his contempt for the opinion
of his subjects. But the multitude, not contented with this
explanation, attributed to deep laid villany what was really the
effect of folly and perverseness. Nor was this opinion confined
to the multitude. The Lady Anne, at her toilette, on the morning
after the Council, spoke of the investigation with such scorn as
emboldened the very tirewomen who were dressing her to put in
their jests. Some of the Lords who had heard the examination, and
had appeared to be satisfied, were really unconvinced. Lloyd,
Bishop of St. Asaph, whose piety and learning commanded general
respect, continued to the end of his life to believe that a fraud
had been practised.

The depositions taken before the Council had not been many hours
in the hands of the public when it was noised abroad that
Sunderland had been dismissed from all his places. The news of
his disgrace seems to have taken the politicians of the
coffeehouses by surprise, but did not astonish those who had
observed what was passing in the palace. Treason had not been
brought home to him by legal, or even by tangible, evidence but
there was a strong suspicion among those who watched him closely
that, through some channel or other, he was in communication with
the enemies of that government in which he occupied so high a
place. He, with unabashed forehead, imprecated on his own head
all evil here and hereafter if he was guilty. His only fault, he
protested, was that he had served the crown too well. Had he not
given hostages to the royal cause? Had he not broken down every
bridge by which he could, in case of a disaster, effect his
retreat? Had he not gone all lengths in favour of the dispensing
power, sate in the High Commission, signed the warrant for the
commitment of the Bishops, appeared as a witness against them, at
the hazard of his life, amidst the hisses and curses of the
thousands who filled Westminster Hall? Had he not given the last
proof of fidelity by renouncing his religion, and publicly
joining a Church which the nation detested? What had he to hope
from a change? What had he not to dread? These arguments, though
plausible, and though set off by the most insinuating address,
could not remove the impression which whispers and reports
arriving at once from a hundred different quarters had produced.
The King became daily colder and colder. Sunderland attempted to
support himself by the Queen's help, obtained an audience of Her
Majesty, and was actually in her apartment when Middleton
entered, and, by the King's orders, demanded the seals. That
evening the fallen minister was for the last time closeted with
the Prince whom he had flattered and betrayed. The interview was
a strange one. Sunderland acted calumniated virtue to perfection.
He regretted not, he said, the Secretaryship of State or the
Presidency of the Council, if only he retained his sovereign's
esteem. "Do not, sir, do not make me the most unhappy gentleman
in your dominions, by refusing to declare that you acquit me of
disloyalty." The King hardly knew what to believe. There was no
positive proof of guilt; and the energy and pathos with which
Sunderland lied might have imposed on a keener understanding than
that with which he had to deal. At the French embassy his
professions still found credit. There he declared that he should
remain a few days in London, and show himself at court. He would
then retire to his country seat at Althorpe, and try to repair
his dilapidated fortunes by economy. If a revolution should take
place he must fly to France. His ill requited loyalty had left
him no other place of refuge.494

The seals which had been taken from Sunderland were delivered to
Preston. The same Gazette which announced this change contained
the official intelligence of the disaster which had befallen the
Dutch fleet.495 That disaster was serious, though far less
serious than the King and his few adherents, misled by their
wishes, were disposed to believe.

On the sixteenth of October, according to the English reckoning,
was held a solemn sitting of the States of Holland. The Prince
came to bid them farewell. He thanked them for the kindness with
which they had watched over him when he was left an orphan child,
for the confidence which they had reposed in him during his
administration, and for the assistance which they had granted to
him at this momentous crisis. He entreated them to believe that
he had always meant and endeavoured to promote the interest of
his country. He was now quitting them, perhaps never to return.
If he should fall in defence of the reformed religion and of the
independence of Europe, he commended his beloved wife to their
care. The Grand Pensionary answered in a faltering voice; and in
all that grave senate there was none who could refrain from
shedding tears. But the iron stoicism of William never gave way;
and he stood among his weeping friends calm and austere as if he
had been about to leave them only for a short visit to his
hunting grounds at Loo.496

The deputies of the principal towns accompanied him to his
yacht. Even the representatives of Amsterdam, so long the chief
seat of opposition to his administration, joined in paying him
this compliment. Public prayers were offered for him on that day
in all the churches of the Hague.

In the evening he arrived at Helvoetsluys and went on board of a
frigate called the Brill. His flag was immediately hoisted. It
displayed the arms of Nassau quartered with those of England. The
motto, embroidered in letters three feet long, was happily
chosen. The House of Orange had long used the elliptical device,
"I will maintain." The ellipsis was now filled up with words of
high import, "The liberties of England and the Protestant

The Prince had not been many hours on board when the wind became
fair. On the nineteenth the armament put to sea, and traversed,
before a strong breeze, about half the distance between the Dutch
and English coasts. Then the wind changed, blew hard from the
west, and swelled into a violent tempest. The ships, scattered
and in great distress, regained the shore of Holland as they best
might. The Brill reached Helvoetsluys on the twenty-first. The
Prince's fellow passengers had observed with admiration that
neither peril nor mortification had for one moment disturbed his
composure. He now, though suffering from sea sickness, refused to
go on shore: for he conceived that, by remaining on board, he
should in the most effectual manner notify to Europe that the
late misfortune had only delayed for a very short time the
execution of his purpose. In two or three days the fleet
reassembled. One vessel only had been cast away. Not a single
soldier or sailor was missing. Some horses had perished: but this
loss the Prince with great expedition repaired; and, before the
London Gazette had spread the news of his mishap, he was again
ready to sail.497

His Declaration preceded him only by a few hours. On the first of
November it began to be mentioned in mysterious whispers by the
politicians of London, was passed secretly from man to man, and
was slipped into the boxes of the post office. One of the agents
was arrested, and the packets of which he was in charge were
carried to Whitehall. The King read, and was greatly troubled.
His first impulse was to bide the paper from all human eyes. He
threw into the fire every copy which had been brought to him,
except one; and that one he would scarcely trust out of his own

The paragraph in the manifesto which disturbed him most was that
in which it was said that some of the Peers, Spiritual and
Temporal, had invited the Prince of Orange to invade England.
Halifax, Clarendon, and Nottingham were then in London. They were
immediately summoned to the palace and interrogated. Halifax,
though conscious of innocence, refused at first to make any
answer. "Your Majesty asks me," said he, "whether I have
committed high treason. If I am suspected, let me be brought
before my peers. And how can your Majesty place any dependence on
the answer of a culprit whose life is at stake? Even if I had
invited His Highness over, I should without scruple plead Not
Guilty." The King declared that he did not at all consider
Halifax as a culprit, and that he had asked the question as one
gentleman asks another who has been calumniated whether there be
the least foundation for the calumny. "In that case," said
Halifax, "I have no objection to aver, as a gentleman speaking to
a gentleman, on my honour, which is as sacred as my oath, that I
have not invited the Prince of Orange over."499 Clarendon and
Nottingham said the same. The King was still more anxious to
ascertain the temper of the Prelates. If they were hostile to
him, his throne was indeed in danger. But it could not be. There
was something monstrous in the supposition that any Bishop of the
Church of England could rebel against his Sovereign. Compton was
called into the royal closet, and was asked whether he believed
that there was the slightest ground for the Prince's assertion.
The Bishop was in a strait; for he was himself one of the seven
who had signed the invitation; and his conscience, not a very
enlightened conscience, would not suffer him, it seems, to utter
a direct falsehood. "Sir," he said, "I am quite confident that
there is not one of my brethren who is not as guiltless as myself
in this matter." The equivocation was ingenious: but whether the
difference between the sin of such an equivocation and the sin of
a lie be worth any expense of ingenuity may perhaps be doubted.
The King was satisfied. "I fully acquit you all," he said. "But I
think it necessary that you should publicly contradict the
slanderous charge brought against you in the Prince's
declaration." The Bishop very naturally begged that he might be
allowed to read the paper which he was required to contradict;
but the King would not suffer him to look at it.

On the following day appeared a proclamation threatening with the
severest punishment all who should circulate, or who should even
dare to read, William's manifesto.500 The Primate and the few
Spiritual Peers who happened to be then in London had orders to
wait upon the King. Preston was in attendance with the Prince's
Declaration in his hand. "My Lords," said James, "listen to this
passage. It concerns you." Preston then read the sentence in
which the Spiritual Peers were mentioned. The King proceeded: "I
do not believe one word of this: I am satisfied of your
innocence; but I think it fit to let you know of what you are

The Primate, with many dutiful expressions, protested that the
King did him no more than justice. "I was born in your Majesty's
allegiance. I have repeatedly confirmed that allegiance by my
oath. I can have but one King at one time. I have not invited the
Prince over; and I do not believe that a single one of my
brethren has done so." "I am sure I have not," said Crewe of
Durham. "Nor I," said Cartwright of Chester. Crewe and Cartwright
might well be believed; for both had sate in the Ecclesiastical
Commission. When Compton's turn came, he parried the question
with an adroitness which a Jesuit might have envied. "I gave your
Majesty my answer yesterday."

James repeated again and again that he fully acquitted them all.
Nevertheless it would, in his judgment, be for his service and
for their own honour that they should publicly vindicate
themselves. He therefore required them to draw up a paper setting
forth their abhorrence of the Prince's design. They remained
silent: their silence was supposed to imply consent; and they
were suffered to withdraw.501

Meanwhile the fleet of William was on the German Ocean. It was on
the evening of Thursday the first of November that he put to sea
the second time. The wind blew fresh from the east. The armament,
during twelve hours, held a course towards the north west. The
light vessels sent out by the English Admiral for the purpose of
obtaining intelligence brought back news which confirmed the
prevailing opinion that the enemy would try to land in Yorkshire.
All at once, on a signal from the Prince's ship, the whole fleet
tacked, and made sail for the British Channel. The same breeze
which favoured the voyage of the invaders prevented Dartmouth
from coming out of the Thames. His ships were forced to strike
yards and topmasts; and two of his frigates, which had gained the
open sea, were shattered by the violence of the weather and
driven back into the river.502

The Dutch fleet ran fast before the gale, and reached the Straits
at about ten in the morning of Saturday the third of November.
William himself, in the Brill, led the way. More than six hundred
vessels, with canvass spread to a favourable wind, followed in
his train. The transports were in the centre. The men of war,
more than fifty in number, formed an outer rampart. Herbert, with
the title of Lieutenant Admiral General, commanded the whole
fleet. His post was in the rear, and many English sailors,
inflamed against Popery, and attracted by high pay, served under
him. It was not without great difficulty that the Prince had
prevailed on some Dutch officers of high reputation to submit to
the authority of a stranger. But the arrangement was eminently
judicious. There was, in the King's fleet, much discontent and
an ardent zeal for the Protestant faith. But within the memory of
old mariners the Dutch and English navies had thrice, with heroic
spirit and various fortune, contended for the empire of the sea.
Our sailors had not forgotten the broom with which Tromp had
threatened to sweep the Channel, or the fire which De Ruyter had
lighted in the dockyards of the Medway. Had the rival nations
been once more brought face to face on the element of which both
claimed the sovereignty, all other thoughts might have given
place to mutual animosity. A bloody and obstinate battle might
have been fought. Defeat would have been fatal to William's
enterprise. Even victory would have deranged all his deeply
meditated schemes of policy. He therefore wisely determined that
the pursuers, if they overtook him, should be hailed in their own
mother tongue, and adjured, by an admiral under whom they had
served, and whom they esteemed, not to fight against old mess-
mates for Popish tyranny. Such an appeal might possibly avert a
conflict. If a conflict took place, one English commander would
be opposed to another; nor would the pride of the islanders be
wounded by learning that Dartmouth had been compelled to strike
to Herbert.503

Happily William's precautions were not necessary. Soon after
midday he passed the Straits. His fleet spread to within a league
of Dover on the north and of Calais on the south. The men of war
on the extreme right and left saluted both fortresses at once.
The troops appeared under arms on the decks. The flourish of
trumpets, the clash of cymbals, and the rolling of drums were
distinctly heard at once on the English and French shores. An
innumerable company of gazers blackened the white beach of Kent.
Another mighty multitude covered the coast of Picardy. Rapin de
Thoyras, who, driven by persecution from his country, had taken
service in the Dutch army and accompanied the Prince to England,
described the spectacle, many years later, as the most
magnificent and affecting that was ever seen by human eyes. At
sunset the armament was off Beachy Head. Then the lights were
kindled. The sea was in a blaze for many miles. But the eyes of
all the steersmen were fixed throughout the night on three huge
lanterns which flamed on the stern of the Brill.504

Meanwhile a courier bad been riding post from Dover Castle to
Whitehall with news that the Dutch had passed the Straits and
were steering westward. It was necessary to make an immediate
change in all the military arrangements. Messengers were
despatched in every direction. Officers were roused from their
beds at dead of night. At three on the Sunday morning there was a
great muster by torchlight in Hyde Park. The King had sent
several regiments northward in the expectation that William would
land in Yorkshire. Expresses were despatched to recall them. All
the forces except those which were necessary to keep the peace of
the capital were ordered to move to the west. Salisbury was
appointed as the place of rendezvous: but, as it was thought
possible that Portsmouth might be the first point of attack,
three battalions of guards and a strong body of cavalry set out
for that fortress. In a few hours it was known that Portsmouth
was safe; and these troops received orders to change their route
and to hasten to Salisbury.505

When Sunday the fourth of November dawned, the cliffs of the Isle
of Wight were full in view of the Dutch armament. That day was
the anniversary both of William's birth and of his marriage. Sail
was slackened during part of the morning; and divine service was
performed on board of the ships. In the afternoon and through the
night the fleet held on its course. Torbay was the place where
the Prince intended to land. But the morning of Monday the fifth
of November was hazy. The pilot of the Brill could not discern
the sea marks, and carried the fleet too far to the west. The
danger was great. To return in the face of the wind was
impossible. Plymouth was the next port. But at Plymouth a
garrison had been posted under the command of Lord Bath. The
landing might be opposed; and a check might produce serious
consequences. There could be little doubt, moreover, that by this
time the royal fleet had got out of the Thames and was hastening
full sail down the Channel. Russell saw the whole extent of the
peril, and exclaimed to Burnet, "You may go to prayers, Doctor.
All is over." At that moment the wind changed: a soft breeze
sprang up from the south: the mist dispersed; the sun shone forth
and, under the mild light of an autumnal noon, the fleet turned
back, passed round the lofty cape of Berry Head, and rode safe in
the harbour of Torbay.506

Since William looked on that harbour its aspect has greatly
changed. The amphitheatre which surrounds the spacious basin now
exhibits everywhere the signs of prosperity and civilisation. At
the northeastern extremity has sprung up a great watering place,
to which strangers are attracted from the most remote parts of
our island by the Italian softness of the air; for in that
climate the myrtle flourishes unsheltered; and even the winter is
milder than the Northumbrian April. The inhabitants are about ten
thousand in number. The newly built churches and chapels, the
baths and libraries, the hotels and public gardens, the infirmary
and the museum, the white streets, rising terrace above terrace,
the gay villas peeping from the midst of shrubberies and flower
beds, present a spectacle widely different from any that in the
seventeenth century England could show. At the opposite end of
the bay lies, sheltered by Berry head, the stirring market town
of Brixham, the wealthiest seat of our fishing trade. A pier and
a haven were formed there at the beginning of the present
century, but have been found insufficient for the increasing
traffic. The population is about six thousand souls. The shipping amounts to
more than two hundred sail. The tonnage exceeds many times the
tonnage of the port of Liverpool under the Kings of the House of
Stuart. But Torbay, when the Dutch fleet cast anchor there, was
known only as a haven where ships sometimes took refuge from the
tempests of the Atlantic. Its quiet shores were undisturbed by
the bustle either of commerce or of pleasure and the huts of
ploughmen and fishermen were thinly scattered over what is now
the site of crowded marts and of luxurious pavilions.

The peasantry of the coast of Devonshire remembered the name of
Monmouth with affection, and held Popery in detestation. They
therefore crowded down to the seaside with provisions and offers
of service. The disembarkation instantly commenced. Sixty boats
conveyed the troops to the coast. Mackay was sent on shore first
with the British regiments. The Prince soon followed. He landed
where the quay of Brixham now stands. The whole aspect of the
place has been altered. Where we now see a port crowded with
shipping, and a market place swarming with buyers and sellers,
the waves then broke on a desolate beach: but a fragment of the
rock on which the deliverer stepped from his boat has been
carefully preserved, and is set up as an object of public
veneration in the centre of that busy wharf.

As soon as the Prince had planted his foot on dry ground he
called for horses. Two beasts, such as the small yeomen of that
time were in the habit of riding, were procured from the
neighbouring village. William and Schomberg mounted and proceeded
to examine the country.

As soon as Burnet was on shore he hastened to the Prince. An
amusing dialogue took place between them. Burnet poured forth his
congratulations with genuine delight, and then eagerly asked what
were His Highness's plans. Military men are seldom disposed to
take counsel with gownsmen on military matters; and William
regarded the interference of unprofessional advisers, in
questions relating to war, with even more than the disgust
ordinarily felt by soldiers on such occasions. But he was at that
moment in an excellent humour, and, instead of signifying his
displeasure by a short and cutting reprimand, graciously extended
his hand, and answered his chaplain's question by another
question: "Well, Doctor, what do you think of predestination
now?" The reproof was so delicate that Burnet, whose perceptions
were not very fine, did not perceive it. He answered with great
fervour that he should never forget the signal manner in which
Providence had favoured their undertaking.507

During the first day the troops who had gone on shore had many
discomforts to endure. The earth was soaked with rain. The
baggage was still on board of the ships. Officers of high rank
were compelled to sleep in wet clothes on the wet ground: the
Prince himself had no better quarters than a hut afforded. His
banner was displayed on the thatched roof; and some bedding
brought from his ship was spread for him on the floor.508 There
was some difficulty about landing the horses; and it seemed
probable that this operation would occupy several days. But on
the following morning the prospect cleared. The wind was gentle.
The water in the bay was as even as glass. Some fishermen pointed
out a place where the ships could be brought within sixty feet of
the beach. This was done; and in three hours many hundreds of
horses swam safely to shore.

The disembarkation had hardly been effected when the wind rose
again, and swelled into a fierce gale from the west. The enemy
coming in pursuit down the Channel had been stopped by the same
change of weather which enabled William to land. During two days
the King's fleet lay on an unruffled sea in sight of Beachy Head.
At length Dartmouth was able to proceed. He passed the Isle of
Wight, and one of his ships came in sight of the Dutch topmasts
in Torbay. Just at this moment he was encountered by the tempest,
and compelled to take shelter in the harbour of Portsmouth.509 At
that time James, who was not incompetent to form a judgment on a
question of seamanship, declared himself perfectly satisfied that
his Admiral had done all that man could do, and had yielded only
to the irresistible hostility of the winds and waves. At a later
period the unfortunate prince began, with little reason, to
suspect Dartmouth of treachery, or at least of slackness.510

The weather had indeed served the Protestant cause so well that
some men of more piety than judgment fully believed the ordinary
laws of nature to have been suspended for the preservation of the
liberty and religion of England. Exactly a hundred years before,
they said, the Armada, invincible by man, had been scattered by
the wrath of God. Civil freedom and divine truth were again in
jeopardy; and again the obedient elements had fought for the good
cause. The wind had blown strong from the east while the Prince
wished to sail down the Channel, had turned to the south when he
wished to enter Torbay, had sunk to a calm during the
disembarkation, and, as soon as the disembarkation was completed,
had risen to a storm, and had met the pursuers in the face. Nor
did men omit to remark that, by an extraordinary coincidence, the
Prince had reached our shores on a day on which the Church of
England commemorated, by prayer and thanksgiving, the wonderful
escape of the royal House and of the three Estates from the
blackest plot ever devised by Papists. Carstairs, whose
suggestions were sure to meet with attention from the Prince,
recommended that, as soon as the landing had been effected,
public thanks should be offered to God for the protection so
conspicuously accorded to the great enterprise. This advice was
taken, and with excellent effect. The troops, taught to regard
themselves as favourites of heaven, were inspired with new
courage; and the English people formed the most favourable
opinion of a general and an army so attentive to the duties of

On Tuesday, the sixth of November, William's army began to march
up the country. Some regiments advanced as far as Newton Abbot. A
stone, set up in the midst of that little town, still marks the
spot where the Prince's Declaration was solemnly read to the
people. The movements of the troops were slow: for the rain fell
in torrents; and the roads of England were then in a state which
seemed frightful to persons accustomed to the excellent
communications of Holland. William took up his quarters, during
two days, at Ford, a seat of the ancient and illustrious family
of Courtenay, in the neighbourhood of Newton Abbot. He was
magnificently lodged and feasted there; but it is remarkable that
the owner of the house, though a strong Whig, did not choose to
be the first to put life and fortune in peril, and cautiously
abstained from doing anything which, if the King should prevail,
could be treated as a crime.

Exeter, in the meantime, was greatly agitated. Lamplugh, the
bishop, as soon as he heard that the Dutch were at Torbay, set
off in terror for London. The Dean fled from the deanery. The
magistrates were for the King, the body of the inhabitants for
the Prince. Every thing was in confusion when, on the morning of
Thursday, the eighth of November, a body of troops, under the
command of Mordaunt, appeared before the city. With Mordaunt came
Burnet, to whom William had entrusted the duty of protecting the
clergy of the Cathedral from injury and insult.511 The Mayor and
Aldermen had ordered the gates to be closed, but yielded on the
first summons. The deanery was prepared for the reception of the
Prince. On the following day, Friday the ninth, he arrived. The
magistrates had been pressed to receive him in state at the
entrance of the city, but had steadfastly refused. The pomp of
that day, however, could well spare them. Such a sight had never
been seen in Devonshire. Many went forth half a day's journey to
meet the champion of their religion. All the neighbouring
villages poured forth their inhabitants. A great crowd,
consisting chiefly of young peasants, brandishing their cudgels,
had assembled on the top of Haldon Hill, whence the army,
marching from Chudleigh, first descried the rich valley of the
Exe, and the two massive towers rising from the cloud of smoke
which overhung the capital of the West. The road, all down the
long descent, and through the plain to the banks of the river,
was lined, mile after mile, with spectators. From the West Gate
to the Cathedral Close, the pressing and shouting on each side
was such as reminded Londoners of the crowds on the Lord Mayor's
day. The houses were gaily decorated. Doors, windows, balconies,
and roofs were thronged with gazers. An eye accustomed to the
pomp of war would have found much to criticize in the spectacle.
For several toilsome marches in the rain, through roads where one
who travelled on foot sank at every step up to the ancles in
clay, had not improved the appearance either of the men or of
their accoutrements. But the people of Devonshire, altogether
unused to the splendour of well ordered camps, were overwhelmed
with delight and awe. Descriptions of the martial pageant were
circulated all over the kingdom. They contained much that was
well fitted to gratify the vulgar appetite for the marvellous.
For the Dutch army, composed of men who had been born in various
climates, and had served under various standards, presented an
aspect at once grotesque, gorgeous, and terrible to islanders who
had, in general, a very indistinct notion of foreign countries.
First rode Macclesfield at the head of two hundred gentlemen,
mostly of English blood, glittering in helmets and cuirasses, and
mounted on Flemish war horses. Each was attended by a negro,
brought from the sugar plantations on the coast of Guiana. The
citizens of Exeter, who had never seen so many specimens of the
African race, gazed with wonder on those black faces set off by
embroidered turbans and white feathers. Then with drawn broad
swords came a squadron of Swedish horsemen in black armour and
fur cloaks. They were regarded with a strange interest; for it
was rumoured that they were natives of a land where the ocean was
frozen and where the night lasted through half the year, and that
they had themselves slain the huge bears whose skins they wore.
Next, surrounded by a goodly company of gentlemen and pages, was
borne aloft the Prince's banner. On its broad folds the crowd
which covered the roofs and filled the windows read with delight
that memorable inscription, "The Protestant religion and the
liberties of England." But the acclamations redoubled when,
attended by forty running footmen, the Prince himself appeared,
armed on back and breast, wearing a white plume and mounted on a
white charger. With how martial an air he curbed his horse, how
thoughtful and commanding was the expression of his ample
forehead and falcon eye, may still be seen on the canvass of
Kneller. Once those grave features relaxed into a smile. It was
when an ancient woman, perhaps one of the zealous Puritans who
through twenty-eight years of persecution had waited with firm
faith for the consolation of Israel, perhaps the mother of some
rebel who had perished in the carnage of Sedgemoor, or in the
more fearful carnage of the Bloody Circuit, broke from the crowd,
rushed through the drawn swords and curvetting horses, touched
the hand of the deliverer, and cried out that now she was happy.
Near to the Prince was one who divided with him the gaze of the
multitude. That, men said, was the great Count Schomberg, the
first soldier in Europe, since Turenne and Conde were gone, the
man whose genius and valour had saved the Portuguese monarchy on
the field of Montes Claros, the man who had earned a still higher
glory by resigning the truncheon of a Marshal of France for the
sake of the true religion. It was not forgotten that the two
heroes who, indissolubly united by their common Protestantism,
were entering Exeter together, had twelve years before been
opposed to each other under the walls of Maestricht, and that the
energy of the young Prince had not then been found a match for
the cool science of the veteran who now rode in friendship by his
side. Then came a long column of the whiskered infantry of
Switzerland, distinguished in all the continental wars of two
centuries by preeminent valour and discipline, but never till
that week seen on English ground. And then marched a succession
of bands designated, as was the fashion of that age, after their
leaders, Bentinck, Solmes and Ginkell, Talmash and Mackay. With
peculiar pleasure Englishmen might look on one gallant regiment
which still bore the name of the honoured and lamented Ossory.
The effect of the spectacle was heightened by the recollection of
the renowned events in which many of the warriors now pouring
through the West Gate had borne a share. For they had seen
service very different from that of the Devonshire militia or of
the camp at Hounslow. Some of them had repelled the fiery onset
of the French on the field of Seneff; and others had crossed
swords with the infidels in the cause of Christendom on that
great day when the siege of Vienna was raised. The very senses of
the multitude were fooled by imagination. Newsletters conveyed to
every part of the kingdom fabulous accounts of the size and
strength of the invaders. It was affirmed that they were, with
scarcely an exception, above six feet high, and that they wielded
such huge pikes, swords, and muskets, as had never before been
seen in England. Nor did the wonder of the population diminish
when the artillery arrived, twenty-one huge pieces of brass
cannon, which were with difficulty tugged along by sixteen cart
horses to each. Much curiosity was excited by a strange structure
mounted on wheels. It proved to be a moveable smithy, furnished
with all tools and materials necessary for repairing arms and
carriages. But nothing raised so much admiration as the bridge of
boats, which was laid with great speed on the Exe for the
conveyance of waggons, and afterwards as speedily taken to pieces
and carried away. It was made, if report said true, after a
pattern contrived by the Christians who were warring against the
Great Turk on the Danube. The foreigners inspired as much good
will as admiration. Their politic leader took care to distribute
the quarters in such a manner as to cause the smallest possible
inconvenience to the inhabitants of Exeter and of the
neighbouring villages. The most rigid discipline was maintained.
Not only were pillage and outrage effectually prevented, but the
troops were required to demean themselves with civility towards
all classes. Those who had formed their notions of an army from
the conduct of Kirke and his Lambs were amazed to see soldiers
who never swore at a landlady or took an egg without paying for
it. In return for this moderation the people furnished the troops
with provisions in great abundance and at reasonable prices.512

Much depended on the course which, at this great crisis, the
clergy of the Church of England might take; and the members of
the Chapter of Exeter were the first who were called upon to
declare their sentiments. Burnet informed the Canons, now left
without a head by the flight of the Dean, that they could not be
permitted to use the prayer for the Prince of Wales, and that a
solemn service must be performed in honour of the safe arrival of
the Prince. The Canons did not choose to appear in their stalls;
but some of the choristers and prebendaries attended. William
repaired in military state to the Cathedral. As he passed under
the gorgeous screen, that renowned organ, scarcely surpassed by
any of those which are the boast of his native Holland, gave out
a peal of triumph. He mounted the Bishop's seat, a stately throne
rich with the carving of the fifteenth century. Burnet stood
below; and a crowd of warriors and nobles appeared on the right
hand and on the left. The singers, robed in white, sang the Te
Deum. When the chaunt was over, Burnet read the Prince's
Declaration: but as soon as the first words were uttered,
prebendaries and singers crowded in all haste out of the choir.
At the close Burnet cried in a loud voice, "God save the Prince
of Orange!" and many fervent voices answered, "Amen."513

On Sunday, the eleventh of November, Burnet preached before the
Prince in the Cathedral, and dilated on the signal mercy
vouchsafed by God to the English Church and nation. At the same
time a singular event happened in a humbler place of worship.
Ferguson resolved to preach at the Presbyterian meeting house.
The minister and elders would not consent but the turbulent and
halfwitted knave, fancying that the times of Fleetwood and
Harrison were come again, forced the door, went through the
congregation sword in hand, mounted the pulpit, and there poured
forth a fiery invective against the King. The time for such
follies had gone by; and this exhibition excited nothing but
derision and disgust.514

While these things were passing in Devonshire the ferment was
great in London. The Prince's Declaration, in spite of all
precautions, was now in every man's hands. On the sixth of
November James, still uncertain on what part of the coast the
invaders had landed, summoned the Primate and three other
Bishops, Compton of London, White of Peterborough, and Sprat of
Rochester, to a conference in the closet. The King listened
graciously while the prelates made warm professions of loyalty,
and assured them that he did not suspect them. "But where," said
he, "is the paper that you were to bring me?" "Sir," answered
Sancroft, "we have brought no paper. We are not solicitous to
clear our fame to the world. It is no new thing to us to be
reviled and falsely accused. Our consciences acquit us: your
Majesty acquits us: and we are satisfied." "Yes," said the King;
"but a declaration from you is necessary to my service." He then
produced a copy of the Prince's manifesto. "See," he said, "how
you are mentioned here." "Sir," answered one of the Bishops, "not
one person in five hundred believes this manifesto to be
genuine." "No!" cried the King fiercely; "then those five hundred
would bring the Prince of Orange to cut my throat." "God forbid,"
exclaimed the prelates in concert. But the King's understanding,
never very clear, was now quite bewildered. One of his
peculiarities was that, whenever his opinion was not adopted, he
fancied that his veracity was questioned. "This paper not
genuine!" he exclaimed, turning over the leaves with his hands.
"Am I not worthy to be believed? Is my word not to be taken?" "At
all events, sir," said one of the Bishops, "this is not an
ecclesiastical matter. It lies within the sphere of the civil
power. God has entrusted your Majesty with the sword: and it is
not for us to invade your functions." Then the Archbishop, with
that gentle and temperate malice which inflicts the deepest
wounds, declared that he must be excused from setting his hand to
any political document. "I and my brethren, sir," he said, "have
already smarted severely for meddling with affairs of state; and
we shall be very cautious how we do so again. We once subscribed
a petition of the most harmless kind: we presented it in the most
respectful manner; and we found that we had committed a high
offence. We were saved from ruin only by the merciful protection
of God. And, sir, the ground then taken by your Majesty's
Attorney and Solicitor was that, out of Parliament, we were
private men, and that it was criminal presumption in private men
to meddle with politics. They attacked us so fiercely that for my
part I gave myself over for lost." "I thank you for that, my Lord
of Canterbury," said the King; "I should have hoped that you
would not have thought yourself lost by falling into my hands."
Such a speech might have become the mouth of a merciful
sovereign, but it came with a bad grace from a prince who had
burned a woman alive for harbouring one of his flying enemies,
from a prince round whose knees his own nephew had clung in vain
agonies of supplication. The Archbishop was not to be so
silenced. He resumed his story, and recounted the insults which
the creatures of the court had offered to the Church of England,
among which some ridicule thrown on his own style occupied a
conspicuous place. The King had nothing to say but that there was
no use in repeating old grievances, and that he had hoped that
these things had been quite forgotten. He, who never forgot the
smallest injury that he had suffered, could not understand how
others should remember for a few weeks the most deadly injuries
that he had inflicted.

At length the conversation came back to the point from which it
had wandered. The King insisted on having from the Bishops a
paper declaring their abhorrence of the Prince's enterprise.
They, with many professions of the most submissive loyalty,
pertinaciously refused. The Prince, they said, asserted that he
had been invited by temporal as well as by spiritual peers. The
imputation was common. Why should not the purgation be common
also? "I see how it is," said the King. "Some of the temporal
peers have been with you, and have persuaded you to cross me in
this matter." The Bishops solemnly averred that it was not so.
But it would, they said, seem strange that, on a question
involving grave political and military considerations, the
temporal peers should be entirely passed over, and the prelates
alone should be required to take a prominent part. "But this,"
said James, "is my method. I am your King. It is for me to judge
what is best. I will go my own way; and I call on you to assist
me." The Bishops assured him that they would assist him in their
proper department, as Christian ministers with their prayers, and
as peers of the realm with their advice in his Parliament. James,
who wanted neither the prayers of heretics nor the advice of
Parliaments, was bitterly disappointed. After a long altercation,
"I have done," he said, "I will urge you no further. Since you
will not help me, I must trust to myself and to my own arms."515

The Bishops had hardly left the royal presence, when a courier
arrived with the news that on the preceding day the Prince of
Orange had landed in Devonshire. During the following week London
was violently agitated. On Sunday, the eleventh of November, a
rumour was circulated that knives, gridirons, and caldrons,
intended for the torturing of heretics, were concealed in the
monastery which had been established under the King's protection
at Clerkenwell. Great multitudes assembled round the building,
and were about to demolish it, when a military force arrived. The
crowd was dispersed, and several of the rioters were slain. An
inquest sate on the bodies, and came to a decision which strongly
indicated the temper of the public mind. The jury found that
certain loyal and well disposed persons, who had gone to put down
the meetings of traitors and public enemies at a mass house, had
been wilfully murdered by the soldiers; and this strange verdict
was signed by all the jurors. The ecclesiastics at Clerkenwell,
naturally alarmed by these symptoms of popular feeling, were
desirous to place their property in safety. They succeeded in
removing most of their furniture before any report of their
intentions got abroad. But at length the suspicions of the rabble
were excited. The two last carts were stopped in Holborn, and all
that they contained was publicly burned in the middle of the
street. So great was the alarm among the Catholics that all their
places of worship were closed, except those which belonged to the
royal family and to foreign Ambassadors.516

On the whole, however, things as yet looked not unfavourably for
James. The invaders had been more than a week on English ground.
Yet no man of note had joined them. No rebellion had broken out
in the north or the east. No servant of the crown appeared to
have betrayed his trust. The royal army was assembling fast at
Salisbury, and, though inferior in discipline to that of William,
was superior in numbers.

The Prince was undoubtedly surprised and mortified by the
slackness of those who had invited him to England. By the common
people of Devonshire, indeed, he had been received with every
sign of good will: but no nobleman, no gentleman of high
consideration, had yet repaired to his quarters. The explanation
of this singular fact is probably to be found in the circumstance
that he had landed in a part of the island where he had not been
expected. His friends in the north had made their arrangements
for a rising, on the supposition that he would be among them with
an army. His friends in the west had made no arrangements at all,
and were naturally disconcerted at finding themselves suddenly
called upon to take the lead in a movement so important and
perilous. They had also fresh in their recollection, and indeed
full in their sight, the disastrous consequences of rebellion,
gibbets, heads, mangled quarters, families still in deep mourning
for brave sufferers who had loved their country well but not
wisely. After a warning so terrible and so recent, some
hesitation was natural. It was equally natural, however, that
William, who, trusting to promises from England, had put to
hazard, not only his own fame and fortunes, but also the
prosperity and independence of his native land, should feel
deeply mortified. He was, indeed, so indignant, that he talked of
falling back to Torbay, reembarking his troops, returning to
Holland, and leaving those who had betrayed him to the fate which
they deserved. At length, on Monday, the twelfth of November, a
gentleman named Burrington, who resided in the neighbourhood of
Crediton, joined the Prince's standard, and his example was
followed by several of his neighbours.

Men of higher consequence had already set out from different
parts of the country for Exeter. The first of these was John Lord
Lovelace, distinguished by his taste, by his magnificence, and by
the audacious and intemperate vehemence of his Whiggism. He had
been five or six times arrested for political offences. The last
crime laid to his charge was, that he had contemptuously denied
the validity of a warrant, signed by a Roman Catholic Justice of
the Peace. He had been brought before the Privy Council and
strictly examined, but to little purpose. He resolutely refused
to criminate himself; and the evidence against him was
insufficient. He was dismissed; but, before he retired, James
exclaimed in great heat, "My Lord, this is not the first trick
that you have played me." "Sir," answered Lovelace, with
undaunted spirit, "I never played any trick to your Majesty, or
to any other person. Whoever has accused me to your Majesty of
playing tricks is a liar." Lovelace had subsequently been
admitted into the confidence of those who planned the
Revolution.517 His mansion, built by his ancestors out of the
spoils of Spanish galleons from the Indies, rose on the ruins of
a house of Our Lady in that beautiful valley through which the
Thames, not yet defiled by the precincts of a great capital, nor
rising and falling with the flow and ebb of the sea, rolls under
woods of beech round the gentle hills of Berkshire. Beneath the
stately saloon, adorned by Italian pencils, was a subterraneous
vault, in which the bones of ancient monks had sometimes been
found. In this dark chamber some zealous and daring opponents of
the government had held many midnight conferences during that
anxious time when England was impatiently expecting the
Protestant wind.518 The season for action had now arrived.
Lovelace, with seventy followers, well armed and mounted, quitted
his dwelling, and directed his course westward. He reached
Gloucestershire without difficulty. But Beaufort, who governed
that county, was exerting all his great authority and influence
in support of the crown. The militia had been called out. A
strong party had been posted at Cirencester. When Lovelace
arrived there he was informed that he could not be suffered to
pass. It was necessary for him either to relinquish his
undertaking or to fight his way through. He resolved to force a
passage; and his friends and tenants stood gallantly by him. A
sharp conflict took place. The militia lost an officer and six or
seven men; but at length the followers of Lovelace were
overpowered: he was made a prisoner, and sent to Gloucester

Others were more fortunate. On the day on which the skirmish took
place at Cirencester, Richard Savage, Lord Colchester, son and
heir of the Earl Rivers, and father, by a lawless amour, of that
unhappy poet whose misdeeds and misfortunes form one of the
darkest portions of literary history, came with between sixty and
seventy horse to Exeter. With him arrived the bold and turbulent
Thomas Wharton. A few hours later came Edward Russell, son of the
Earl of Bedford, and brother of the virtuous nobleman whose blood
had been shed on the scaffold. Another arrival still more
important was speedily announced. Colchester, Wharton, and
Russell belonged to that party which had been constantly opposed
to the court. James Bertie, Earl of Abingdon, had, on the
contrary, been regarded as a supporter of arbitrary government.
He had been true to James in the days of the Exclusion Bill. He
had, as Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, acted with vigour and
severity against the adherents of Monmouth, and had lighted
bonfires to celebrate the defeat of Argyle. But dread of Popery
had driven him into opposition and rebellion. He was the first
peer of the realm who made his appearance at the quarters of the
Prince of Orange.520

But the King had less to fear from those who openly arrayed
themselves against his authority, than from the dark conspiracy
which had spread its ramifications through his army and his
family. Of that conspiracy Churchill, unrivalled in sagacity and
address, endowed by nature with a certain cool intrepidity which
never failed him either in fighting or lying, high in military
rank, and high in the favour of the Princess Anne, must be
regarded as the soul. It was not yet time for him to strike the
decisive blow. But even thus early he inflicted, by the
instrumentality of a subordinate agent, a wound, serious if not
deadly, on the royal cause.

Edward, Viscount Cornbury, eldest son of the Earl of Clarendon,
was a young man of slender abilities, loose principles, and
violent temper. He had been early taught to consider his
relationship to the Princess Anne as the groundwork of his
fortunes, and had been exhorted to pay her assiduous court. It
had never occurred to his father that the hereditary loyalty of
the Hydes could run any risk of contamination in the household of
the King's favourite daughter: but in that household the
Churchills held absolute sway; and Cornbury became their tool. He
commanded one of the regiments of dragoons which had been sent
westward. Such dispositions had been made that, on the fourteenth
of November, he was, during a few hours, the senior officer at
Salisbury, and all the troops assembled there were subject to his
authority. It seems extraordinary that, at such a crisis, the
army on which every thing depended should have been left, even
for a moment, under the command of a young Colonel who had
neither abilities nor experience. There can be little doubt that
so strange an arrangement was the result of deep design, and as
little doubt to what head and to what heart the design is to be

Suddenly three of the regiments of cavalry which had assembled at
Salisbury were ordered to march westward. Cornbury put himself at
their head, and conducted them first to Blandford and thence to
Dorchester. From Dorchester, after a halt of an hour or two, they
set out for Axminster. Some of the officers began to be uneasy,
and demanded an explanation of these strange movements. Cornbury
replied that he had instructions to make a night attack on some
troops which the Prince of Orange had posted at Honiton. But
suspicion was awake. Searching questions were put, and were
evasively answered. At last Cornbury was pressed to produce his
orders. He perceived, not only that it would be impossible for
him to carry over all the three regiments, as he had hoped, but
that he was himself in a situation of considerable peril. He
accordingly stole away with a few followers to the Dutch
quarters. Most of his troops returned to Salisbury but some who
had been detached from the main body, and who had no suspicion of
the designs of their commander, proceeded to Honiton. There they
found themselves in the midst of a large force which was fully
prepared to receive them. Resistance was impossible. Their leader
pressed them to take service under William. A gratuity of a
month's pay was offered to them, and was by most of them

The news of these events reached London on the fifteenth. James
had been on the morning of that day in high good humour. Bishop
Lamplugh had just presented himself at court on his arrival from
Exeter, and had been most graciously received. "My Lord," said
the King, "you are a genuine old Cavalier." The archbishopric of
York, which had now been vacant more than two years and a half,
was immediately bestowed on Lamplugh as the reward of loyalty.
That afternoon, just as the King was sitting down to dinner,
arrived an express with the tidings of Cornbury's defection.
James turned away from his untasted meal, swallowed a crust of
bread and a glass of wine, and retired to his closet. He
afterwards learned that, as he was rising from table, several of
the Lords in whom he reposed the greatest confidence were shaking
hands and congratulating each other in the adjoining gallery.
When the news was carried to the Queen's apartments she and her
ladies broke out into tears and loud cries of sorrow.522

The blow was indeed a heavy one. It was true that the direct loss
to the crown and the direct gain to the invaders hardly amounted
to two hundred men and as many horses. But where could the King
henceforth expect to find those sentiments in which consists the
strength of states and of armies? Cornbury was the heir of a
house conspicuous for its attachment to monarchy. His father
Clarendon, his uncle Rochester, were men whose loyalty was
supposed to be proof to all temptation. What must be the strength
of that feeling against which the most deeply rooted hereditary
prejudices were of no avail, of that feeling which could
reconcile a young officer of high birth to desertion, aggravated
by breach of trust and by gross falsehood? That Cornbury was not
a man of brilliant parts or enterprising temper made the event
more alarming. It was impossible to doubt that he had in some
quarter a powerful and artful prompter. Who that prompter was
soon became evident. In the meantime no man in the royal camp
could feel assured that he was not surrounded by traitors.
Political rank, military rank, the honour of a nobleman, the
honour of a soldier, the strongest professions, the purest
Cavalier blood, could no longer afford security. Every man might
reasonably doubt whether every order which he received from his
superior was not meant to serve the purposes of the enemy. That
prompt obedience without which an army is merely a rabble was
necessarily at an end. What discipline could there be among
soldiers who had just been saved from a snare by refusing to
follow their commanding officer on a secret expedition, and by
insisting on a sight of his orders?

Cornbury was soon kept in countenance by a crowd of deserters
superior to him in rank and capacity: but during a few days he
stood alone in his shame, and was bitterly reviled by many who
afterwards imitated his example and envied his dishonourable
precedence. Among these was his own father. The first outbreak of
Clarendon's rage and sorrow was highly pathetic. "Oh God!" he
ejaculated, "that a son of mine should be a rebel!" A fortnight
later he made up his mind to be a rebel himself. Yet it would be
unjust to pronounce him a mere hypocrite. In revolutions men live
fast: the experience of years is crowded into hours: old habits
of thought and action are violently broken; novelties, which at
first sight inspire dread and disgust, become in a few days
familiar, endurable, attractive. Many men of far purer virtue and
higher spirit than Clarendon were prepared, before that memorable
year ended, to do what they would have pronounced wicked and
infamous when it began.

The unhappy father composed himself as well as he could, and sent
to ask a private audience of the King. It was granted. James
said, with more than his usual graciousness, that he from his
heart pitied Cornbury's relations, and should not hold them at
all accountable for the crime of their unworthy kinsman.
Clarendon went home, scarcely daring to look his friends in the
face. Soon, however, he learned with surprise that the act, which
had, as he at first thought, for ever dishonoured his family, was
applauded by some persons of high station. His niece, the
Princess of Denmark, asked him why he shut himself up. He
answered that he had been overwhelmed with confusion by his son's
villany. Anne seemed not at all to understand this feeling.
"People," she said, "are very uneasy about Popery. I believe that
many of the army will do the same."523

And now the King, greatly disturbed, called together the
principal officers who were still in London. Churchill, who was
about this time promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General, made
his appearance with that bland serenity which neither peril nor
infamy could ever disturb. The meeting was attended by Henry
Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, whose audacity and activity made him
conspicuous among the natural children of Charles the Second.
Grafton was colonel of the first regiment of Foot Guards. He
seems to have been at this time completely under Churchill's
influence, and was prepared to desert the royal standard as soon
as the favourable moment should arrive. Two other traitors were
in the circle, Kirke and Trelawney, who commanded those two
fierce and lawless bands then known as the Tangier regiments.
Both of them had, like the other Protestant officers of the army,
long seen with extreme displeasure the partiality which the King
had shown to members of his own Church; and Trelawney remembered
with bitter resentment the persecution of his brother the Bishop
of Bristol. James addressed the assembly in terms worthy of a
better man and of a better cause. It might be, he said, that some
of the officers had conscientious scruples about fighting for
him. If so he was willing to receive back their commissions. But
he adjured them as gentlemen and soldiers not to imitate the
shameful example of Cornbury. All seemed moved; and none more
than Churchill. He was the first to vow with well feigned
enthusiasm that he would shed the last drop of his blood in the
service of his gracious master: Grafton was loud and forward in
similar protestations; and the example was followed by Kirke and

Deceived by these professions, the King prepared to set out for
Salisbury. Before his departure he was informed that a
considerable number of peers, temporal and spiritual, desired to
be admitted to an audience. They came, with Sancroft at their
head, to present a petition, praying that a free and legal
Parliament might be called, and that a negotiation might be
opened with the Prince of Orange.

The history of this petition is curious. The thought seems to
have occurred at once to two great chiefs of parties who had long
been rivals and enemies, Rochester and Halifax. They both,
independently of one another, consulted the Bishops. The Bishops
warmly approved of the suggestion. It was then proposed that a
general meeting of peers should be called to deliberate on the
form of an address to the King. It was term time; and in term
time men of rank and fashion then lounged every day in
Westminster Hall as they now lounge in the clubs of Pall Mall and
Saint James's Street. Nothing could be easier than for the Lords
who assembled there to step aside into some adjoining room and to
hold a consultation. But unexpected difficulties arose. Halifax
became first cold and then adverse. It was his nature to discover
objections to everything; and on this occasion his sagacity was
quickened by rivalry. The scheme, which he had approved while he
regarded it as his own, began to displease him as soon as he
found that it was also the scheme of Rochester, by whom he had
been long thwarted and at length supplanted, and whom he disliked
as much as it was in his easy nature to dislike anybody.
Nottingham was at that time much under the influence of Halifax.
They both declared that they would not join in the address if
Rochester signed it. Clarendon expostulated in vain. "I mean no
disrespect," said Halifax, "to my Lord Rochester: but he has been
a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission: the proceedings of
that court must soon be the subject of a very serious inquiry;
and it is not fit that one who has sate there should take any
part in our petition." Nottingham, with strong expressions of
personal esteem for Rochester, avowed the same opinion. The
authority of the two dissentient Lords prevented several other
noblemen from subscribing the address but the Hydes and the
Bishops persisted. Nineteen signatures were procured; and the
petitioners waited in a body on the King.525

He received their address ungraciously. He assured them, indeed,
that he passionately desired the meeting of a free Parliament;
and he promised them, on the faith of a King, that he would call
one as soon as the Prince of Orange should have left the island.
"But how," said he, "can a Parliament be free when an enemy is
in the kingdom, and can return near a hundred votes?" To the
prelates he spoke with peculiar acrimony. "I could not," he said,
"prevail on you the other day to declare against this invasion:
but you are ready enough to declare against me. Then you would
not meddle with politics. You have no scruple about meddling now.
You have excited this rebellious temper among your flocks, and
now you foment it. You would be better employed in teaching them
how to obey than in teaching me how to govern." He was much
incensed against his nephew Grafton, whose signature stood next
to that of Sancroft, and said to the young man, with great
asperity, "You know nothing about religion; you care nothing
about it; and yet, forsooth, you must pretend to have a
conscience." "It is true, sir," answered Grafton, with impudent
frankness, "that I have very little conscience: but I belong to a
party which has a great deal."526

Bitter as was the King's language to the petitioners, it was far
less bitter that that which he held after they had withdrawn. He
had done, he said, far too much already in the hope of satisfying
an undutiful and ungrateful people. He had always hated the
thought of concession: but he had suffered himself to be talked
over; and now he, like his father before him, had found that
concession only made subjects more encroaching. He would yield
nothing more, not an atom, and, after his fashion, he vehemently
repeated many times, "Not an atom." Not only would he make no
overtures to the invaders, but he would receive none. If the
Dutch sent flags of truce, the first messenger should be
dismissed without an answer; the second should be hanged.527 In
such a mood James set out for Salisbury. His last act before his
departure was to appoint a Council of five Lords to represent him
in London during his absence. Of the five, two were Papists, and
by law incapable of office. Joined with them was Jeffreys, a
Protestant indeed, but more detested by the nation than any
Papist. To the other two members of this board, Preston and
Godolphin, no serious objection could be made. On the day on
which the King left London the Prince of Wales was sent to
Portsmouth. That fortress was strongly garrisoned, and was under
the government of Berwick. The fleet commanded by Dartmouth lay
close at hand: and it was supposed that, if things went ill, the
royal infant would, without difficulty, be conveyed from
Portsmouth to France.528

On the nineteenth James reached Salisbury, and took up his
quarters in the episcopal palace. Evil news was now fast pouring
in upon him from all sides. The western counties had at length
risen. As soon as the news of Cornbury's desertion was known,
many wealthy landowners took heart and hastened to Exeter. Among
them was Sir William Portman of Bryanstone, one of the greatest
men in Dorsetshire, and Sir Francis Warre of Hestercombe, whose
interest was great in Somersetshire.529 But the most important of
the new comets was Seymour, who had recently inherited a
baronetcy which added little to his dignity, and who, in birth,
in political influence, and in parliamentary abilities, was
beyond comparison the foremost among the Tory gentlemen of
England. At his first audience he is said to have exhibited his
characteristic pride in a way which surprised and amused the
Prince. "I think, Sir Edward," said William, meaning to be very
civil, "that you are of the family of the Duke of Somerset."
"Pardon me, sir," said Sir Edward, who never forgot that he was
the head of the elder branch of the Seymours, "the Duke of
Somerset is of my family."530

The quarters of William now began to present the appearance of a
court. More than sixty men of rank and fortune were lodged at
Exeter; and the daily display of rich liveries, and of coaches
drawn by six horses, in the Cathedral Close, gave to that quiet
precinct something of the splendour and gaiety of Whitehall. The
common people were eager to take arms; and it would have been
easy to form many battalions of infantry. But Schomberg, who
thought little of soldiers fresh from the plough, maintained
that, if the expedition could not succeed without such help, it
would not succeed at all: and William, who had as much
professional feeling as Schomberg, concurred in this opinion.
Commissions therefore for raising new regiments were very
sparingly given; and none but picked recruits were enlisted.

It was now thought desirable that the Prince should give a public
reception to the whole body of noblemen and gentlemen who had
assembled at Exeter. He addressed them in a short but dignified
and well considered speech. He was not, he said, acquainted with
the faces of all whom he saw. But he had a list of their names,
and knew how high they stood in the estimation of their country.
He gently chid their tardiness, but expressed a confident hope
that it was not yet too late to save the kingdom. "Therefore," he
said, "gentlemen, friends, and fellow Protestants, we bid you and
all your followers most heartily welcome to our court and

Seymour, a keen politician, long accustomed to the tactics of
faction, saw in a moment that the party which had begun to rally
round the Prince stood in need of organization. It was as yet, he
said, a mere rope of sand: no common object had been publicly and
formally avowed: nobody was pledged to anything. As soon as the
assembly at the Deanery broke up, he sent for Burnet, and
suggested that an association should be formed, and that all the
English adherents of the Prince should put their hands to an
instrument binding them to be true to their leader and to each
other. Burnet carried the suggestion to the Prince and to
Shrewsbury, by both of whom it was approved. A meeting was held
in the Cathedral. A short paper drawn up by Burnet was produced,
approved, and eagerly signed. The subscribers engaged to pursue
in concert the objects set forth in the Prince's declaration; to
stand by him and by each other; to take signal vengeance on all
who should make any attempt on his person; and, even if such an
attempt should unhappily succeed, to persist in their undertaking
till the liberties and the religion of the nation should be
effectually secured.532

About the same time a messenger arrived at Exeter from the Earl
of Bath, who commanded at Plymouth. Bath declared that he placed
himself, his troops, and the fortress which he governed at the
Prince's disposal. The invaders therefore had now not a single
enemy in their rear.533

While the West was thus rising to confront the King, the North
was all in a flame behind him. On the sixteenth Delamere took
arms in Cheshire. He convoked his tenants, called upon them to
stand by him, promised that, if they fell in the cause, their
leases should be renewed to their children, and exhorted every
one who had a good horse either to take the field or to provide a
substitute.534 He appeared at Manchester with fifty men armed and
mounted, and his force had trebled before he reached Boaden

The neighbouring counties were violently agitated. It had been
arranged that Danby should seize York, and that Devonshire should
appear at Nottingham. At Nottingham no resistance was
anticipated. But at York there was a small garrison under the
command of Sir John Reresby. Danby acted with rare dexterity. A
meeting of the gentry and freeholders of Yorkshire had been
summoned for the twenty-second of November to address the King on
the state of affairs. All the Deputy Lieutenants of the three
Ridings, several noblemen, and a multitude of opulent esquires
and substantial yeomen had been attracted to the provincial
capital. Four troops of militia had been drawn out under arms to
preserve the public peace. The Common Hall was crowded with
freeholders, and the discussion had begun, when a cry was
suddenly raised that the Papists were up, and were slaying the
Protestants. The Papists of York were much more likely to be
employed in seeking for hiding places than in attacking enemies
who outnumbered them in the proportion of a hundred to one. But
at that time no story of Popish atrocity could be so wild and
marvellous as not to find ready belief. The meeting separated in
dismay. The whole city was in confusion. At this moment Danby at
the head of about a hundred horsemen rode up to the militia, and
raised the cry "No Popery! A free Parliament! The Protestant
religion!" The militia echoed the shout. The garrison was
instantly surprised and disarmed. The governor was placed under
arrest. The gates were closed. Sentinels were posted everywhere.
The populace was suffered to pull down a Roman Catholic chapel;
but no other harm appears to have been done. On the following
morning the Guildhall was crowded with the first gentlemen of the
shire, and with the principal magistrates of the city. The Lord
Mayor was placed in the chair. Danby proposed a Declaration
setting forth the reasons which had induced the friends of the
constitution and of the Protestant religion to rise in arms. This
Declaration was eagerly adopted, and received in a few hours the
signatures of six peers, of five baronets, of six knights, and of
many gentlemen of high consideration.535

Devonshire meantime, at the head of a great body of friends and
dependents, quitted the palace which he was rearing at
Chatsworth, and appeared in arms at Derby. There he formally
delivered to the municipal authorities a paper setting forth the
reasons which had moved him to this enterprise. He then proceeded
to Nottingham, which soon became the head quarters of the
Northern insurrection. Here a proclamation was put forth couched
in bold and severe terms. The name of rebellion, it was said, was
a bugbear which could frighten no reasonable man. Was it
rebellion to defend those laws and that religion which every King
of England bound himself by oath to maintain? How that oath had
lately been observed was a question on which, it was to be hoped,
a free Parliament would soon pronounce. In the meantime, the
insurgents declared that they held it to be not rebellion, but
legitimate self defence, to resist a tyrant who knew no law but
his own will. The Northern rising became every day more
formidable. Four powerful and wealthy Earls, Manchester,
Stamford, Rutland, and Chesterfield, repaired to Nottingham, and
were joined there by Lord Cholmondley and by Lord Grey de

All this time the hostile armies in the south were approaching
each other. The Prince of Orange, when he learned that the King
had arrived at Salisbury, thought it time to leave Exeter. He
placed that city and the surrounding country under the government
of Sir Edward Seymour, and set out on Wednesday the twenty-first
of November, escorted by many of the most considerable gentlemen
of the western counties, for Axminster, where he remained several

The King was eager to fight; and it was obviously his interest to
do so. Every hour took away something from his own strength, and
added something to the strength of his enemies. It was most
important, too, that his troops should be blooded. A great
battle, however it might terminate, could not but injure the
Prince's popularity. All this William perfectly understood, and
determined to avoid an action as long as possible. It is said
that, when Schomberg was told that the enemy were advancing and
were determined to fight, he answered, with the composure of a
tactician confident in his skill, "That will be just as we may
choose." It was, however, impossible to prevent all skirmishing
between the advanced guards of the armies. William was desirous
that in such skirmishing nothing might happen which could wound
the pride or rouse the vindictive feelings of the nation which he
meant to deliver. He therefore, with admirable prudence, placed
his British regiments in the situations where there was most risk
of collision. The outposts of the royal army were Irish. The
consequence was that, in the little combats of this short
campaign, the invaders had on their side the hearty sympathy of
all Englishmen.

The first of these encounters took place at Wincanton. Mackay's
regiment, composed of British soldiers, lay near a body of the
King's Irish troops, commanded by their countryman, the gallant
Sarsfield. Mackay sent out a small party under a lieutenant named
Campbell, to procure horses for the baggage. Campbell found what
he wanted at Wincanton, and was just leaving that town on his
return, when a strong detachment of Sarsfield's troops
approached. The Irish were four to one: but Campbell resolved to
fight it out to the last. With a handful of resolute men he took
his stand in the road. The rest of his soldiers lined the hedges
which overhung the highway on the right and on the left. The
enemy came up. "Stand," cried Campbell: "for whom are you?" "I am
for King James," answered the leader of the other party. "And I
for the Prince of Orange," cried Campbell. "We will prince you,"
answered the Irishman with a curse. "Fire!" exclaimed Campbell;
and a sharp fire was instantly poured in from both the hedges.
The King's troops received three well aimed volleys before they
could make any return. At length they succeeded in carrying one
of the hedges; and would have overpowered the little band which
was opposed to them, had not the country people, who mortally
hated the Irish, given a false alarm that more of the Prince's
troops were coming up. Sarsfield recalled his men and fell back;
and Campbell proceeded on his march unmolested with the baggage

This affair, creditable undoubtedly to the valour and discipline
of the Prince's army was magnified by report into a victory won
against great odds by British Protestants over Popish barbarians
who had been brought from Connaught to oppress our island.537

A few hours after this skirmish an event took place which put an
end to all risk of a more serious struggle between the armies.
Churchill and some of his principal accomplices were assembled at
Salisbury. Two of the conspirators, Kirke and Trelawney, had
proceeded to Warminster, where their regiments were posted. All
was ripe for the execution of the long meditated treason.

Churchill advised the King to visit Warminster, and to inspect
the troops stationed there. James assented; and his coach was at
the door of the episcopal palace when his nose began to bleed
violently. He was forced to postpone his expedition and to put
himself under medical treatment. Three days elapsed before the
hemorrhage was entirely subdued; and during those three days
alarming rumours reached his ears.

It was impossible that a conspiracy so widely spread as that of
which Churchill was the head could be kept altogether secret.
There was no evidence which could be laid before a jury or a
court martial: but strange whispers wandered about the camp.
Feversham, who held the chief command, reported that there was a
bad spirit in the army. It was hinted to the King that some who
were near his person were not his friends, and that it would be a
wise precaution to send Churchill and Grafton under a guard to
Portsmouth. James rejected this counsel. A propensity to
suspicion was not among his vices. Indeed the confidence which he
reposed in professions of fidelity and attachment was such as
might rather have been expected from a goodhearted and
inexperienced stripling than from a politician who was far
advanced in life, who had seen much of the world, who had
suffered much from villanous arts, and whose own character was by
no means a favourable specimen of human nature. It would be
difficult to mention any other man who, having himself so little
scruple about breaking faith, was so slow to believe that his
neighbours could break faith with him. Nevertheless the reports
which he had received of the state of his army disturbed him
greatly. He was now no longer impatient for a battle. He even
began to think of retreating. On the evening of Saturday, the
twenty-fourth of November, he called a council of war. The
meeting was attended by those officers against whom he had been most earnestly
cautioned. Feversham expressed an opinion that it was desirable to fall back.
Churchill argued on the other side. The
consultation lasted till midnight. At length the King declared
that he had decided for a retreat. Churchill saw or imagined that
he was distrusted, and, though gifted with a rare self command,
could not conceal his uneasiness. Before the day broke he fled to
the Prince's quarters, accompanied by Grafton.538

Churchill left behind him a letter of explanation. It was written
with that decorum which he never failed to preserve in the midst
of guilt and dishonour. He acknowledged that he owed everything
to the royal favour. Interest, he said, and gratitude impelled
him in the same direction. Under no other government could he
hope to be so great and prosperous as he had been: but all such
considerations must yield to a paramount duty. He was a
Protestant; and he could not conscientiously draw his sword
against the Protestant cause. As to the rest he would ever be
ready to hazard life and fortune in defence of the sacred person
and of the lawful rights of his gracious master.539

Next morning all was confusion in the royal camp. The King's
friends were in dismay. His enemies could not conceal their
exultation. The consternation of James was increased by news
which arrived on the same day from Warminster. Kirke, who
commanded at that post, had refused to obey orders which he had
received from Salisbury. There could no longer be any doubt that
he too was in league with the Prince of Orange. It was rumoured
that he had actually gone over with all his troops to the enemy:
and the rumour, though false, was, during some hours, fully
believed.540 A new light flashed on the mind of the unhappy King.
He thought that he understood why he had been pressed, a few days
before, to visit Warminster. There he would have found himself
helpless, at the mercy of the conspirators, and in the vicinity
of the hostile outposts. Those who might have attempted to defend
him would have been easily overpowered. He would have been
carried a prisoner to the head quarters of the invading army.
Perhaps some still blacker treason might have been committed; for
men who have once engaged in a wicked and perilous enterprise are
no longer their own masters, and are often impelled, by a
fatality which is part of their just punishment, to crimes such
as they would at first have shuddered to contemplate. Surely it
was not without the special intervention of some guardian Saint
that a King devoted to the Catholic Church had, at the very
moment when he was blindly hastening to captivity, perhaps to
death, been suddenly arrested by what he had then thought a
disastrous malady.

All these things confirmed James in the resolution which he had
taken on the preceding evening. Orders were given for an
immediate retreat. Salisbury was in an uproar. The camp broke up
with the confusion of a flight. No man knew whom to trust or whom
to obey. The material strength of the army was little diminished:
but its moral strength had been destroyed. Many whom shame would
have restrained from leading the way to the Prince's quarters
were eager to imitate an example which they never would have set;
and many, who would have stood by their King while he appeared to
be resolutely advancing against the invaders, felt no inclination
to follow a receding standard.541

James went that day as far as Andover. He was attended by his son
in law Prince George, and by the Duke of Ormond. Both were among
the conspirators, and would probably have accompanied Churchill,
had he not, in consequence of what had passed at the council of
war, thought it expedient to take his departure suddenly. The
impenetrable stupidity of Prince George served his turn on this
occasion better than cunning would have done. It was his habit,
when any news was told him, to exclaim in French, "possible?" "Is
it possible?" This catchword was now of great use to him. "Est-
il-possible?" he cried, when he had been made to understand that
Churchill and Grafton were missing. And when the ill tidings came
from Warminster, he again ejaculated, "Est-il-possible?"

Prince George and Ormond were invited to sup with the King at
Andover. The meal must have been a sad one. The King was
overwhelmed by his misfortunes. His son in law was the dullest of
companions. "I have tried Prince George sober," said Charles the
Second; "and I have tried him drunk; and, drunk or sober, there
is nothing in him."542 Ormond, who was through life taciturn and
bashful, was not likely to be in high spirits at such a moment.
At length the repast terminated. The King retired to rest. Horses
were in waiting for the Prince and Ormond, who, as soon as they
left the table, mounted and rode off. They were accompanied by
the Earl of Drumlanrig, eldest son of the Duke of Queensberry.
The defection of this young nobleman was no insignificant event.
For Queensberry was the head of the Protestant Episcopalians of
Scotland, a class compared with whom the bitterest English Tories
might be called Whiggish; and Drumlanrig himself was Lieutenant
Colonel of Dundee's regiment, a band more detested by the Whigs
than even Kirke's lambs. This fresh calamity was announced to the
King on the following morning. He was less disturbed by the news
than might have been expected. The shock which he had undergone
twenty-four hours before had prepared him for almost any
disaster; and it was impossible to be seriously angry with Prince
George, who was hardly an accountable being, for having yielded
to the arts of such a tempter as Churchill. "What!" said James,
"is Est-il-possible gone too? After all, a good trooper would
have been a greater loss."543 In truth the King's whole anger
seems, at this time, to have been concentrated, and not without
cause, on one object. He set off for London, breathing vengeance
against Churchill, and learned, on arriving, a new crime of the
arch deceiver. The Princess Anne had been some hours missing.

Anne, who had no will but that of the Churchills, had been
induced by them to notify under her own hand to William, a week
before, her approbation of his enterprise. She assured him that
she was entirely in the hands of her friends, and that she would
remain in the palace, or take refuge in the City, as they might
determine.544 On Sunday the twenty-fifth of November, she, and
those who thought for her, were under the necessity of coming to
a sudden resolution. That afternoon a courier from Salisbury
brought tidings that Churchill had disappeared, that he had been
accompanied by Grafton, that Kirke had proved false, and that the
royal forces were in full retreat. There was, as usually happened
when great news, good or bad, arrived in town, an immense crowd
that evening in the galleries of Whitehall. Curiosity and anxiety
sate on every face. The Queen broke forth into natural
expressions of indignation against the chief traitor, and did not
altogether spare his too partial mistress. The sentinels were
doubled round that part of the palace which Anne occupied. The
Princess was in dismay. In a few hours her father would be at
Westminster. It was not likely that he would treat her personally
with severity; but that he would permit her any longer to enjoy
the society of her friend was not to be hoped. It could hardly be
doubted that Sarah would be placed under arrest and would be
subjected to a strict examination by shrewd and rigorous
inquisitors. Her papers would be seized. Perhaps evidence
affecting her life might be discovered. If so the worst might
well be dreaded. The vengeance of the implacable King knew no
distinction of sex. For offences much smaller than those which
might probably be brought home to Lady Churchill he had sent
women to the scaffold and the stake. Strong affection braced the
feeble mind of the Princess. There was no tie which she would not
break, no risk which she would not run, for the object of her
idolatrous affection. "I will jump out of the window," she cried,
"rather than be found here by my father." The favourite undertook
to manage an escape. She communicated in all haste with some of
the chiefs of the conspiracy. In a few hours every thing was
arranged. That evening Anne retired to her chamber as usual. At
dead of night she rose, and, accompanied by her friend Sarah and
two other female attendants, stole down the back stairs in a
dressing gown and slippers. The fugitives gained the open street
unchallenged. A hackney coach was in waiting for them there. Two
men guarded the humble vehicle. One of them was Compton, Bishop
of London, the Princess's old tutor: the other was the
magnificent and accomplished Dorset, whom the extremity of the
public danger had roused from his luxurious repose. The coach
drove instantly to Aldersgate Street, where the town residence of
the Bishops of London then stood, within the shadow of their
Cathedral. There the Princess passed the night. On the following
morning she set out for Epping Forest. In that wild tract Dorset
possessed a venerable mansion, which has long since been
destroyed. In his hospitable dwelling, the favourite resort,
during, many years, of wits and poets, the fugitives made a short
stay. They could not safely attempt to reach William's quarters;
for the road thither lay through a country occupied by the royal
forces. It was therefore determined that Anne should take refuge
with the northern insurgents. Compton wholly laid aside, for the
time, his sacerdotal character. Danger and conflict had rekindled
in him all the military ardour which he had felt twenty-eight
years before, when he rode in the Life Guards. He preceded the
Princess's carriage in a buff coat and jackboots, with a sword at
his side and pistols in his holsters. Long before she reached
Nottingham, she was surrounded by a body guard of gentlemen who
volunteered to escort her. They invited the Bishop to act as
their colonel; and he consented with an alacrity which gave great
scandal to rigid Churchmen, and did not much raise his character
even in the opinion of Whigs.545

When, on the morning of the twenty-sixth, Anne's apartment was
found empty, the consternation was great in Whitehall. While the
Ladies of her Bedchamber ran up and down the courts of the
palace, screaming and wringing their hands, while Lord Craven,
who commanded the Foot Guards, was questioning the sentinels in
the gallery, while the Chancellor was sealing up the papers of
the Churchills, the Princess's nurse broke into the royal
apartments crying out that the dear lady had been murdered by the
Papists. The news flew to Westminster Hall. There the story was
that Her Highness had been hurried away by force to a place of
confinement. When it could no longer be denied that her flight
had been voluntary, numerous fictions were invented to account
for it. She had been grossly insulted; she had been threatened;
nay, though she was in that situation in which woman is entitled
to peculiar tenderness, she had been beaten by her cruel
stepmother. The populace, which years of misrule had made
suspicious and irritable, was so much excited by these calumnies
that the Queen was scarcely safe. Many Roman Catholics, and some
Protestant Tories whose loyalty was proof to all trials, repaired
to the palace that they might be in readiness to defend her in
the event of an outbreak. In the midst of this distress and tenor
arrived the news of Prince George's flight. The courier who
brought these evil tidings was fast followed by the King himself.
The evening was closing in when James arrived, and was informed
that his daughter had disappeared. After all that he had
suffered, this affliction forced a cry of misery from his lips.
"God help me," he said; "my own children have forsaken me."546

That evening he sate in Council with his principal ministers,
till a late hour. It was determined that he should summon all the
Lords Spiritual and Temporal who were then in London to attend
him on the following day, and that he should solemnly ask their
advice. Accordingly, on the afternoon of Tuesday the twenty-
seventh, the Lords met in the dining room of the palace. The
assembly consisted of nine prelates and between thirty and forty
secular nobles, all Protestants. The two Secretaries of State,
Middleton and Preston, though not peers of England, were in
attendance. The King himself presided. The traces of severe
bodily and mental suffering were discernible in his countenance
and deportment. He opened the proceedings by referring to the
petition which had been put into his hands just before he set out
for Salisbury. The prayer of that petition was that he would
convoke a free Parliament. Situated as he then was, he had not,
he said, thought it right to comply. But, during his absence from
London, great changes had taken place. He had also observed that
his people everywhere seemed anxious that the Houses should meet.
He had therefore commanded the attendance of his faithful Peers,
in order to ask their counsel.

For a time there was silence. Then Oxford, whose pedigree,
unrivalled in antiquity and splendour, gave him a kind of primacy
in the meeting, said that in his opinion those Lords who had
signed the petition to which His Majesty had referred ought now
to explain their views.

These words called up Rochester. He defended the petition, and
declared that he still saw no hope for the throne or the country
but in a Parliament. He would not, he said, venture to affirm
that, in so disastrous an extremity, even that remedy would be
efficacious: but he had no other remedy to propose. He added that
it might be advisable to open a negotiation with the Prince of
Orange. Jeffreys and Godolphin followed; and both declared that
they agreed with Rochester.

Then Clarendon rose, and, to the astonishment of all who
remembered his loud professions of loyalty, and the agony of
shame and sorrow into which he had been thrown, only a few days
before, by the news of his son's defection, broke forth into a
vehement invective against tyranny and Popery. "Even now," he
said, "His Majesty is raising in London a regiment into which no
Protestant is admitted." "That is not true," cried James, in
great agitation, from the head of the board. Clarendon persisted,
and left this offensive topic only to pass to a topic still more
offensive. He accused the unfortunate King of pusillanimity. Why
retreat from Salisbury? Why not try the event of a battle? Could
people be blamed for submitting to the invader when they saw
their sovereign run away at the head of his army? James felt
these insults keenly, and remembered them long. Indeed even Whigs
thought the language of Clarendon indecent and ungenerous.
Halifax spoke in a very different tone. During several years of
peril he had defended with admirable ability the civil and
ecclesiastical constitution of his country against the
prerogative. But his serene intellect, singularly unsusceptible
of enthusiasm, and singularly averse to extremes, began to lean
towards the cause of royalty at the very moment at which those
noisy Royalists who had lately execrated the Trimmers as little
bettor than rebels were everywhere rising in rebellion. It was
his ambition to be, at this conjuncture, the peacemaker between
the throne and the nation. His talents and character fitted him
for that office; and, if he failed, the failure is to be ascribed
to causes against which no human skill could contend, and chiefly
to the folly, faithlessness, and obstinacy of the Prince whom he
tried to save.

Halifax now gave utterance to much unpalatable truth, but with a
delicacy which brought on him the reproach of flattery from
spirits too abject to understand that what would justly be called
flattery when offered to the powerful is a debt of humanity to
the fallen. With many expressions of sympathy and deference, he
declared it to be his opinion that the King must make up his mind
to great sacrifices. It was not enough to convoke a Parliament or
to open a negotiation with the Prince of Orange. Some at least of
the grievances of which the nation complained should be instantly
redressed without waiting till redress was demanded by the Houses
or by the captain of the hostile army. Nottingham, in language
equally respectful, declared that he agreed with Halifax. The
chief concessions which these Lords pressed the King to make were
three. He ought, they said, forthwith to dismiss all Roman
Catholics from office, to separate himself wholly from France,
and to grant an unlimited amnesty to those who were in arms
against him. The last of these propositions, it should seem,
admitted of no dispute. For, though some of those who were banded
together against the King had acted towards him in a manner which
might not unreasonably excite his bitter resentment, it was more
likely that he would soon be at their mercy than that they would
ever be at his. It would have been childish to open a negotiation
with William, and yet to denounce vengeance against men whom
William could not without infamy abandon. But the clouded
understanding and implacable temper of James held out long
against the arguments of those who laboured to convince him that
it would be wise to pardon offences which he could not punish. "I
cannot do it," he exclaimed. "I must make examples, Churchill
above all; Churchill whom I raised so high. He and he alone has
done all this. He has corrupted my army. He has corrupted my
child. He would have put me into the hands of the Prince of
Orange, but for God's special providence. My Lords, you are
strangely anxious for the safety of traitors. None of you
troubles himself about my safety." In answer to this burst of
impotent anger, those who had recommended the amnesty represented
with profound respect, but with firmness, that a prince attacked
by powerful enemies can be safe only by conquering or by
conciliating. "If your Majesty, after all that has happened, has
still any hope of safety in arms, we have done: but if not, you
can be safe only by regaining the affections of your people."
After long and animated debate the King broke up the meeting. "My
Lords," he said, "you have used great freedom: but I do not take
it ill of you. I have made up my mind on one point. I shall call
a Parliament. The other suggestions which have been offered are
of grave importance; and you will not be surprised that I take a
night to reflect on them before I decide."547

At first James seemed disposed to make excellent use of the time
which he had taken for consideration. The Chancellor was directed
to issue writs convoking a Parliament for the thirteenth of
January. Halifax was sent for to the closet, had a long audience,
and spoke with much more freedom than he had thought it decorous
to use in the presence of a large assembly. He was informed that
he had been appointed a Commissioner to treat with the Prince of

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