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

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The History of England from the Accession of James the Second

Volume III

(Chapters XI-XVI)

by Thomas Babington Macaulay


William and Mary proclaimed in London--Rejoicings throughout
England; Rejoicings in Holland--Discontent of the Clergy and of
the Army--Reaction of Public Feeling--Temper of the Tories--
Temper of the Whigs--Ministerial Arrangements--William his own
Minister for Foreign Affairs--Danby--Halifax--Nottingham
Shrewsbury The Board of Admiralty; the Board of Treasury--The
Great Seal--The Judges--The Household--Subordinate Appointments--
The Convention turned into a Parliament--The Members of the two
Houses required to take the Oaths Questions relating to the
Revenue--Abolition of the Hearth Money--Repayment of the Expenses
of the United Provinces--Mutiny at Ipswich--The first Mutiny
Bill--Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act--Unpopularity of
William--Popularity of Mary--The Court removed from Whitehall to
Hampton Court--The Court at Kensington; William's foreign
Favourites--General Maladministration--Dissensions among Men in
Office--Department of Foreign Affairs--Religious Disputes--The
High Church Party--The Low Church Party--William's Views
concerning Ecclesiastical Polity--Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury--
Nottingham's Views concerning Ecclesiastical Polity--The
Toleration Bill--The Comprehension Bill--The Bill for settling
the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy--The Bill for settling the
Coronation Oath--The Coronation--Promotions--The Coalition
against France; the Devastation of the Palatinate--War declared
against France

THE Revolution had been accomplished. The decrees of the
Convention were everywhere received with submission. London, true
during fifty eventful years to the cause of civil freedom and of
the reformed religion, was foremost in professing loyalty to the
new Sovereigns. Garter King at arms, after making proclamation
under the windows of Whitehall, rode in state along the Strand to
Temple Bar. He was followed by the maces of the two Houses, by
the two Speakers, Halifax and Powle, and by a long train of
coaches filled with noblemen and gentlemen. The magistrates of
the City threw open their gates and joined the procession. Four
regiments of militia lined the way up Ludgate Hill, round Saint
Paul's Cathedral, and along Cheapside. The streets, the
balconies, and the very housetops were crowded with gazers. All
the steeples from the Abbey to the Tower sent forth a joyous din.
The proclamation was repeated, with sound of trumpet, in front of
the Royal Exchange, amidst the shouts of the citizens.

In the evening every window from Whitechapel to Piccadilly was
lighted up. The state rooms of the palace were thrown open, and
were filled by a gorgeous company of courtiers desirous to kiss
the hands of the King and Queen. The Whigs assembled there,
flushed with victory and prosperity. There were among them some
who might be pardoned if a vindictive feeling mingled with their
joy. The most deeply injured of all who had survived the evil
times was absent. Lady Russell, while her friends were crowding
the galleries of Whitehall, remained in her retreat, thinking of
one who, if he had been still living, would have held no
undistinguished place in the ceremonies of that great day. But
her daughter, who had a few months before become the wife of Lord
Cavendish, was presented to the royal pair by his mother the
Countess of Devonshire. A letter is still extant in which the
young lady described with great vivacity the roar of the
populace, the blaze in the streets, the throng in the presence
chamber, the beauty of Mary, and the expression which ennobled
and softened the harsh features of William. But the most
interesting passage is that in which the orphan girl avowed the
stern delight with which she had witnessed the tardy punishment
of her father's murderer.1

The example of London was followed by the provincial towns.
During three weeks the Gazettes were filled with accounts of the
solemnities by which the public joy manifested itself, cavalcades
of gentlemen and yeomen, processions of Sheriffs and Bailiffs in
scarlet gowns, musters of zealous Protestants with orange flags
and ribands, salutes, bonfires, illuminations, music, balls,
dinners, gutters running with ale and conduits spouting claret.2

Still more cordial was the rejoicing among the Dutch, when they
learned that the first minister of their Commonwealth had been
raised to a throne. On the very day of his accession he had
written to assure the States General that the change in his
situation had made no change in the affection which he bore to
his native land, and that his new dignity would, he hoped, enable
him to discharge his old duties more efficiently than ever. That
oligarchical party, which had always been hostile to the
doctrines of Calvin and to the House of Orange, muttered faintly
that His Majesty ought to resign the Stadtholdership. But all
such mutterings were drowned by the acclamations of a people
proud of the genius and success of their great countryman. A day
of thanksgiving was appointed. In all the cities of the Seven
Provinces the public joy manifested itself by festivities of
which the expense was chiefly defrayed by voluntary gifts. Every
class assisted. The poorest labourer could help to set up an arch
of triumph, or to bring sedge to a bonfire. Even the ruined
Huguenots of France could contribute the aid of their ingenuity.
One art which they had carried with them into banishment was the
art of making fireworks; and they now, in honour of the
victorious champion of their faith, lighted up the canals of
Amsterdam with showers of splendid constellations.3

To superficial observers it might well seem that William was, at
this time, one of the most enviable of human beings. He was in
truth one of the most anxious and unhappy. He well knew that the
difficulties of his task were only beginning. Already that dawn
which had lately been so bright was overcast; and many signs
portended a dark and stormy day.

It was observed that two important classes took little or no part
in the festivities by which, all over England, the inauguration
of the new government was celebrated. Very seldom could either a
priest or a soldier be seen in the assemblages which gathered
round the market crosses where the King and Queen were
proclaimed. The professional pride both of the clergy and of the
army had been deeply wounded. The doctrine of nonresistance had
been dear to the Anglican divines. It was their distinguishing
badge. It was their favourite theme. If we are to judge by that
portion of their oratory which has come down to us, they had
preached about the duty of passive obedience at least as often
and as zealously as about the Trinity or the Atonement.4 Their
attachment to their political creed had indeed been severely
tried, and had, during a short time, wavered. But with the
tyranny of James the bitter feeling which that tyranny had
excited among them had passed away. The parson of a parish was
naturally unwilling to join in what was really a triumph over
those principles which, during twenty-eight years, his flock had
heard him proclaim on every anniversary of the Martyrdom and on
every anniversary of the Restoration.

The soldiers, too, were discontented. They hated Popery indeed;
and they had not loved the banished King. But they keenly felt
that, in the short campaign which had decided the fate of their
country, theirs had been an inglorious part. Forty fine
regiments, a regular army such as had never before marched to
battle under the royal standard of England, had retreated
precipitately before an invader, and had then, without a
struggle, submitted to him. That great force had been absolutely
of no account in the late change, had done nothing towards
keeping William out, and had done nothing towards bringing him
in. The clowns, who, armed with pitchforks and mounted on
carthorses, had straggled in the train of Lovelace or Delamere,
had borne a greater part in the Revolution than those splendid
household troops, whose plumed hats, embroidered coats, and
curvetting chargers the Londoners had so often seen with
admiration in Hyde Park. The mortification of the army was
increased by the taunts of the foreigners, taunts which neither
orders nor punishments could entirely restrain.5 At several
places the anger which a brave and highspirited body of men
might, in such circumstances, be expected to feel, showed itself
in an alarming manner. A battalion which lay at Cirencester put
out the bonfires, huzzaed for King James, and drank confusion to
his daughter and his nephew. The garrison of Plymouth disturbed
the rejoicings of the County of Cornwall: blows were exchanged,
and a man was killed in the fray.6

The ill humour of the clergy and of the army could not but be
noticed by the most heedless; for the clergy and the army were
distinguished from other classes by obvious peculiarities of
garb. "Black coats and red coats," said a vehement Whig in the
House of Commons, "are the curses of the nation." 7 But the
discontent was not confined to the black coats and the red coats.
The enthusiasm with which men of all classes had welcomed William
to London at Christmas had greatly abated before the close of
February. The new king had, at the very moment at which his fame
and fortune reached the highest point, predicted the coming
reaction. That reaction might, indeed, have been predicted by a
less sagacious observer of human affairs. For it is to be chiefly
ascribed to a law as certain as the laws which regulate the
succession of the seasons and the course of the trade winds. It
is the nature of man to overrate present evil, and to underrate
present good; to long for what he has not, and to be dissatisfied
with what he has. This propensity, as it appears in individuals,
has often been noticed both by laughing and by weeping
philosophers. It was a favourite theme of Horace and of Pascal,
of Voltaire and of Johnson. To its influence on the fate of great
communities may be ascribed most of the revolutions and
counterrevolutions recorded in history. A hundred generations
have elapsed since the first great national emancipation, of
which an account has come down to us. We read in the most ancient
of books that a people bowed to the dust under a cruel yoke,
scourged to toil by hard taskmasters, not supplied with straw,
yet compelled to furnish the daily tale of bricks, became sick of
life, and raised such a cry of misery as pierced the heavens. The
slaves were wonderfully set free: at the moment of their
liberation they raised a song of gratitude and triumph: but, in a
few hours, they began to regret their slavery, and to murmur
against the leader who had decoyed them away from the savoury
fare of the house of bondage to the dreary waste which still
separated them from the land flowing with milk and honey. Since
that time the history of every great deliverer has been the
history of Moses retold. Down to the present hour rejoicings like
those on the shore of the Red Sea have ever been speedily
followed by murmurings like those at the Waters of Strife.8 The
most just and salutary revolution must produce much suffering.
The most just and salutary revolution cannot produce all the good
that had been expected from it by men of uninstructed minds and
sanguine tempers. Even the wisest cannot, while it is still
recent, weigh quite fairly the evils which it has caused against
the evils which it has removed. For the evils which it has caused
are felt; and the evils which it has removed are felt no longer.

Thus it was now in England. The public was, as it always is
during the cold fits which follow its hot fits, sullen, hard to
please, dissatisfied with itself, dissatisfied with those who had
lately been its favourites. The truce between the two great
parties was at an end. Separated by the memory of all that had
been done and suffered during a conflict of half a century, they
had been, during a few months, united by a common danger. But the
danger was over: the union was dissolved; and the old animosity
broke forth again in all its strength.

James had during the last year of his reign, been even more
hated by the Tories than by the Whigs; and not without cause for
the Whigs he was only an enemy; and to the Tories he had been
a faithless and thankless friend. But the old royalist feeling,
which had seemed to be extinct in the time of his lawless
domination, had been partially revived by his misfortunes. Many
lords and gentlemen, who had, in December, taken arms for the
Prince of Orange and a Free Parliament, muttered, two months
later, that they had been drawn in; that they had trusted too
much to His Highness's Declaration; that they had given him
credit for a disinterestedness which, it now appeared, was not in
his nature. They had meant to put on King James, for his own
good, some gentle force, to punish the Jesuits and renegades who
had misled him, to obtain from him some guarantee for the safety
of the civil and ecclesiastical institutions of the realm, but
not to uncrown and banish him. For his maladministration, gross
as it had been, excuses were found. Was it strange that, driven
from his native land, while still a boy, by rebels who were a
disgrace to the Protestant name, and forced to pass his youth in
countries where the Roman Catholic religion was established, he
should have been captivated by that most attractive of all
superstitions? Was it strange that, persecuted and calumniated as
he had been by an implacable faction, his disposition should have
become sterner and more severe than it had once been thought, and
that, when those who had tried to blast his honour and to rob him
of his birthright were at length in his power, he should not have
sufficiently tempered justice with mercy? As to the worst charge
which had been brought against him, the charge of trying to cheat
his daughters out of their inheritance by fathering a
supposititious child, on what grounds did it rest? Merely on
slight circumstances, such as might well be imputed to accident,
or to that imprudence which was but too much in harmony with his
character. Did ever the most stupid country justice put a boy in
the stocks without requiring stronger evidence than that on which
the English people had pronounced their King guilty of the basest
and most odious of all frauds? Some great faults he had doubtless
committed, nothing could be more just or constitutional than that
for those faults his advisers and tools should be called to a
severe reckoning; nor did any of those advisers and tools more
richly deserve punishment than the Roundhead sectaries whose
adulation had encouraged him to persist in the fatal exercise of
the dispensing power. It was a fundamental law of the land that
the King could do no wrong, and that, if wrong were done by his
authority, his counsellors and agents were responsible. That
great rule, essential to our polity, was now inverted. The
sycophants, who were legally punishable, enjoyed impunity: the
King, who was not legally punishable, was punished with merciless
severity. Was it possible for the Cavaliers of England, the sons
of the warriors who had fought under Rupert, not to feel bitter
sorrow and indignation when they reflected on the fate of their
rightful liege lord, the heir of a long line of princes, lately
enthroned in splendour at Whitehall, now an exile, a suppliant, a
mendicant? His calamities had been greater than even those of the
Blessed Martyr from whom he sprang. The father had been slain by
avowed and mortal foes: the ruin of the son had been the work of
his own children. Surely the punishment, even if deserved, should
have been inflicted by other hands. And was it altogether
deserved? Had not the unhappy man been rather weak and rash than
wicked? Had he not some of the qualities of an excellent prince?
His abilities were certainly not of a high order: but he was
diligent: he was thrifty: he had fought bravely: he had been his
own minister for maritime affairs, and had, in that capacity,
acquitted himself respectably: he had, till his spiritual guides
obtained a fatal ascendency over his mind, been regarded as a man
of strict justice; and, to the last, when he was not misled by
them, he generally spoke truth and dealt fairly. With so many
virtues he might, if he had been a Protestant, nay, if he had
been a moderate Roman Catholic, have had a prosperous and
glorious reign. Perhaps it might not be too late for him to
retrieve his errors. It was difficult to believe that he could be
so dull and perverse as not to have profited by the terrible
discipline which he had recently undergone; and, if that
discipline had produced the effects which might reasonably be
expected from it, England might still enjoy, under her legitimate
ruler, a larger measure of happiness and tranquillity than she
could expect from the administration of the best and ablest

We should do great injustice to those who held this language, if
we supposed that they had, as a body, ceased to regard Popery and
despotism with abhorrence. Some zealots might indeed be found who
could not bear the thought of imposing conditions on their King,
and who were ready to recall him without the smallest assurance
that the Declaration of Indulgence should not be instantly
republished, that the High Commission should not be instantly
revived, that Petre should not be again seated at the Council
Board, and that the fellows of Magdalene should not again be
ejected. But the number of these men was small. On the other
hand, the number of those Royalists, who, if James would have
acknowledged his mistakes and promised to observe the laws, were
ready to rally round him, was very large. It is a remarkable fact
that two able and experienced statesmen, who had borne a chief
part in the Revolution, frankly acknowledged, a few days after
the Revolution had been accomplished, their apprehension that a
Restoration was close at hand. "If King James were a Protestant,"
said Halifax to Reresby, "we could not keep him out four months."
"If King James," said Danby to the same person about the same
time, "would but give the country some satisfaction about
religion, which he might easily do, it would be very hard to make
head against him."9 Happily for England, James was, as usual, his
own worst enemy. No word indicating that he took blame to himself
on account of the past, or that he intended to govern
constitutionally for the future, could be extracted from him.
Every letter, every rumour, that found its way from Saint
Germains to England made men of sense fear that, if, in his
present temper, he should be restored to power, the second
tyranny would be worse than the first. Thus the Tories, as a
body, were forced to admit, very unwillingly, that there was, at
that moment, no choice but between William and public ruin. They
therefore, without altogether relinquishing the hope that he who
was King by right might at some future time be disposed to listen
to reason, and without feeling any thing like loyalty towards him
who was King in possession, discontentedly endured the new

It may be doubted whether that government was not, during the
first months of its existence, in more danger from the affection
of the Whigs than from the disaffection of the Tories. Enmity can
hardly be more annoying than querulous, jealous, exacting
fondness; and such was the fondness which the Whigs felt for the
Sovereign of their choice. They were loud in his praise. They
were ready to support him with purse and sword against foreign
and domestic foes. But their attachment to him was of a peculiar
kind. Loyalty such as had animated the gallant gentlemen who
fought for Charles the First, loyalty such as had rescued Charles
the Second from the fearful dangers and difficulties caused by
twenty years of maladministration, was not a sentiment to which
the doctrines of Milton and Sidney were favourable; nor was it a
sentiment which a prince, just raised to power by a rebellion,
could hope to inspire. The Whig theory of government is that
kings exist for the people, and not the people for the kings;
that the right of a king is divine in no other sense than that in
which the right of a member of parliament, of a judge, of a
juryman, of a mayor, of a headborough, is divine; that, while the
chief magistrate governs according to law, he ought to be obeyed
and reverenced; that, when he violates the law, he ought to be
withstood; and that, when he violates the law grossly,
systematically and pertinaciously, he ought to be deposed. On the
truth of these principles depended the justice of William's title
to the throne. It is obvious that the relation between subjects
who held these principles, and a ruler whose accession had been
the triumph of these principles, must have been altogether
different from the relation which had subsisted between the
Stuarts and the Cavaliers. The Whigs loved William indeed: but
they loved him not as a King, but as a party leader; and it was
not difficult to foresee that their enthusiasm would cool fast if
he should refuse to be the mere leader of their party, and should
attempt to be King of the whole nation. What they expected from
him in return for their devotion to his cause was that he should
be one of themselves, a stanch and ardent Whig; that he should
show favour to none but Whigs; that he should make all the old
grudges of the Whigs his own; and there was but too much reason
to apprehend that, if he disappointed this expectation, the only
section of the community which was zealous in his cause would be
estranged from him.10

Such were the difficulties by which, at the moment of his
elevation, he found himself beset. Where there was a good path he
had seldom failed to choose it. But now he had only a choice
among paths every one of which seemed likely to lead to
destruction. From one faction he could hope for no cordial
support. The cordial support of the other faction he could retain
only by becoming himself the most factious man in his kingdom, a
Shaftesbury on the throne. If he persecuted the Tories, their
sulkiness would infallibly be turned into fury. If he showed
favour to the Tories, it was by no means certain that he would
gain their goodwill; and it was but too probable that he might
lose his hold on the hearts of the Whigs. Something however he
must do: something he must risk: a Privy Council must be sworn
in: all the great offices, political and judicial, must be
filled. It was impossible to make an arrangement that would
please every body, and difficult to make an arrangement that
would please any body; but an arrangement must be made.

What is now called a ministry he did not think of forming. Indeed
what is now called a ministry was never known in England till he
had been some years on the throne. Under the Plantagenets, the
Tudors, and the Stuarts, there had been ministers; but there had
been no ministry. The servants of the Crown were not, as now,
bound in frankpledge for each other. They were not expected to be
of the same opinion even on questions of the gravest importance.
Often they were politically and personally hostile to each other,
and made no secret of their hostility. It was not yet felt to be
inconvenient or unseemly that they should accuse each other of
high crimes, and demand each other's heads. No man had been more
active in the impeachment of the Lord Chancellor Clarendon than
Coventry, who was a Commissioner of the Treasury. No man had been
more active in the impeachment of the Lord Treasurer Danby than
Winnington, who was Solicitor General. Among the members of the
Government there was only one point of union, their common head,
the Sovereign. The nation considered him as the proper chief of
the administration, and blamed him severely if he delegated his
high functions to any subject. Clarendon has told us that nothing
was so hateful to the Englishmen of his time as a Prime Minister.
They would rather, he said, be subject to an usurper like Oliver,
who was first magistrate in fact as well as in name, than to a
legitimate King who referred them to a Grand Vizier. One of the
chief accusations which the country party had brought against
Charles the Second was that he was too indolent and too fond of
pleasure to examine with care the balance sheets of public
accountants and the inventories of military stores. James, when
he came to the crown, had determined to appoint no Lord High
Admiral or Board of Admiralty, and to keep the entire direction
of maritime affairs in his own hands; and this arrangement, which
would now be thought by men of all parties unconstitutional and
pernicious in the highest degree, was then generally applauded
even by people who were not inclined to see his conduct in a
favourable light. How completely the relation in which the King
stood to his Parliament and to his ministers had been altered by
the Revolution was not at first understood even by the most
enlightened statesmen. It was universally supposed that the
government would, as in time past, be conducted by functionaries
independent of each other, and that William would exercise a
general superintendence over them all. It was also fully expected
that a prince of William's capacity and experience would transact
much important business without having recourse to any adviser.

There were therefore no complaints when it was understood that he
had reserved to himself the direction of foreign affairs. This
was indeed scarcely matter of choice: for, with the single
exception of Sir William Temple, whom nothing would induce to
quit his retreat for public life, there was no Englishman who had
proved himself capable of conducting an important negotiation
with foreign powers to a successful and honourable issue. Many
years had elapsed since England had interfered with weight and
dignity in the affairs of the great commonwealth of nations. The
attention of the ablest English politicians had long been almost
exclusively occupied by disputes concerning the civil and
ecclesiastical constitution of their own country. The contests
about the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Bill, the Habeas Corpus
Act and the Test Act, had produced an abundance, it might almost
be said a glut, of those talents which raise men to eminence in
societies torn by internal factions. All the Continent could not
show such skilful and wary leaders of parties, such dexterous
parliamentary tacticians, such ready and eloquent debaters, as
were assembled at Westminister. But a very different training was
necessary to form a great minister for foreign affairs; and the
Revolution had on a sudden placed England in a situation in which
the services of a great minister for foreign affairs were
indispensable to her.

William was admirably qualified to supply that in which the most
accomplished statesmen of his kingdom were deficient. He had long
been preeminently distinguished as a negotiator. He was the
author and the soul of the European coalition against the French
ascendency. The clue, without which it was perilous to enter the
vast and intricate maze of Continental politics, was in his
hands. His English counsellors, therefore, however able and
active, seldom, during his reign, ventured to meddle with that
part of the public business which he had taken as his peculiar

The internal government of England could be carried on only by
the advice and agency of English ministers. Those ministers
William selected in such a manner as showed that he was
determined not to proscribe any set of men who were willing to
support his throne. On the day after the crown had been presented
to him in the Banqueting House, the Privy Council was sworn in.
Most of the Councillors were Whigs; but the names of several
eminent Tories appeared in the list.12 The four highest offices
in the state were assigned to four noblemen, the representatives
of four classes of politicians.

In practical ability and official experience Danby had no
superior among his contemporaries. To the gratitude of the new
Sovereigns he had a strong claim; for it was by his dexterity
that their marriage had been brought about in spite of
difficulties which had seemed insuperable. The enmity which he
had always borne to France was a scarcely less powerful
recommendation. He had signed the invitation of the thirtieth of
June, had excited and directed the northern insurrection, and
had, in the Convention, exerted all his influence and eloquence
in opposition to the scheme of Regency. Yet the Whigs regarded
him with unconquerable distrust and aversion. They could not
forget that he had, in evil days, been the first minister of the
state, the head of the Cavaliers, the champion of prerogative,
the persecutor of dissenters. Even in becoming a rebel, he had
not ceased to be a Tory. If he had drawn the sword against the
Crown, he had drawn it only in defence of the Church. If he had,
in the Convention, done good by opposing the scheme of Regency,
he had done harm by obstinately maintaining that the throne was
not vacant, and that the Estates had no right to determine who
should fill it. The Whigs were therefore of opinion that he ought
to think himself amply rewarded for his recent merits by being
suffered to escape the punishment of those offences for which he
had been impeached ten years before. He, on the other hand,
estimated his own abilities and services, which were doubtless
considerable, at their full value, and thought himself entitled
to the great place of Lord High Treasurer, which he had formerly
held. But he was disappointed. William, on principle, thought it
desirable to divide the power and patronage of the Treasury among
several Commissioners. He was the first English King who never,
from the beginning to the end of his reign, trusted the white
staff in the hands of a single subject. Danby was offered his
choice between the Presidency of the Council and a Secretaryship
of State. He sullenly accepted the Presidency, and, while the
Whigs murmured at seeing him placed so high, hardly attempted to
conceal his anger at not having been placed higher.13

Halifax, the most illustrious man of that small party which
boasted that it kept the balance even between Whigs and Tories,
took charge of the Privy Seal, and continued to be Speaker of the
House of Lords.14 He had been foremost in strictly legal
opposition to the late Government, and had spoken and written
with great ability against the dispensing power: but he had
refused to know any thing about the design of invasion: he had
laboured, even when the Dutch were in full march towards London,
to effect a reconciliation; and he had never deserted James till
James had deserted the throne. But, from the moment of that
shameful flight, the sagacious Trimmer, convinced that compromise
was thenceforth impossible, had taken a decided part. He had
distinguished himself preeminently in the Convention: nor was it
without a peculiar propriety that he had been appointed to the
honourable office of tendering the crown, in the name of all the
Estates of England, to the Prince and Princess of Orange; for our
Revolution, as far as it can be said to bear the character of any
single mind, assuredly bears the character of the large yet
cautious mind of Halifax. The Whigs, however, were not in a
temper to accept a recent service as an atonement for an old
offence; and the offence of Halifax had been grave indeed. He had
long before been conspicuous in their front rank during a hard
fight for liberty. When they were at length victorious, when it
seemed that Whitehall was at their mercy, when they had a near
prospect of dominion and revenge, he had changed sides; and
fortune had changed sides with him. In the great debate on the
Exclusion Bill, his eloquence had struck them dumb, and had put
new life into the inert and desponding party of the Court. It was
true that, though he had left them in the day of their insolent
prosperity, he had returned to them in the day of their distress.
But, now that their distress was over, they forgot that he had
returned to them, and remembered only that he had left them.15

The vexation with which they saw Danby presiding in the Council,
and Halifax bearing the Privy Seal, was not diminished by the
news that Nottingham was appointed Secretary of State. Some of
those zealous churchmen who had never ceased to profess the
doctrine of nonresistance, who thought the Revolution
unjustifiable, who had voted for a Regency, and who had to the
last maintained that the English throne could never be one moment
vacant, yet conceived it to be their duty to submit to the
decision of the Convention. They had not, they said, rebelled
against James. They had not selected William. But, now that they
saw on the throne a Sovereign whom they never would have placed
there, they were of opinion that no law, divine or human, bound
them to carry the contest further. They thought that they found,
both in the Bible and in the Statute Book, directions which could
not be misunderstood. The Bible enjoins obedience to the powers
that be. The Statute Book contains an act providing that no
subject shall be deemed a wrongdoer for adhering to the King in
possession. On these grounds many, who had not concurred in
setting up the new government, believed that they might give it
their support without offence to God or man. One of the most
eminent politicians of this school was Nottingham. At his
instance the Convention had, before the throne was filled, made
such changes in the oath of allegiance as enabled him and those
who agreed with him to take that oath without scruple. "My
principles," he said, "do not permit me to bear any part in
making a King. But when a King has been made, my principles bind
me to pay him an obedience more strict than he can expect from
those who have made him." He now, to the surprise of some of
those who most esteemed him, consented to sit in the council, and
to accept the seals of Secretary. William doubtless hoped that
this appointment would be considered by the clergy and the Tory
country gentlemen as a sufficient guarantee that no evil was
meditated against the Church. Even Burnet, who at a later period
felt a strong antipathy to Nottingham, owned, in some memoirs
written soon after the Revolution, that the King had judged well,
and that the influence of the Tory Secretary, honestly exerted in
support of the new Sovereigns, had saved England from great

The other Secretary was Shrewsbury.17 No man so young had within
living memory occupied so high a post in the government. He had
but just completed his twenty-eighth year. Nobody, however,
except the solemn formalists at the Spanish embassy, thought his
youth an objection to his promotion.18 He had already secured for
himself a place in history by the conspicuous part which he had
taken in the deliverance of his country. His talents, his
accomplishments, his graceful manners, his bland temper, made him
generally popular. By the Whigs especially he was almost adored.
None suspected that, with many great and many amiable qualities,
he had such faults both of head and of heart as would make the
rest of a life which had opened under the fairest auspices
burdensome to himself and almost useless to his country.

The naval administration and the financial administration were
confided to Boards. Herbert was First Commissioner of the
Admiralty. He had in the late reign given up wealth and dignities
when he found that he could not retain them with honour and with
a good conscience. He had carried the memorable invitation to the
Hague. He had commanded the Dutch fleet during the voyage from
Helvoetsluys to Torbay. His character for courage and
professional skill stood high. That he had had his follies and
vices was well known. But his recent conduct in the time of
severe trial had atoned for all, and seemed to warrant the hope
that his future career would be glorious. Among the commissioners
who sate with him at the Admiralty were two distinguished members
of the House of Commons, William Sacheverell, a veteran Whig, who
had great authority in his party, and Sir John Lowther, an honest
and very moderate Tory, who in fortune and parliamentary interest
was among the first of the English gentry.19

Mordaunt, one of the most vehement of the Whigs, was placed at
the head of the Treasury; why, it is difficult to say. His
romantic courage, his flighty wit, his eccentric invention, his
love of desperate risks and startling effects, were not qualities
likely to be of much use to him in financial calculations and
negotiations. Delamere, a more vehement Whig, if possible, than
Mordaunt, sate second at the board, and was Chancellor of the
Exchequer. Two Whig members of the House of Commons were in the
Commission, Sir Henry Capel, brother of that Earl of Essex who
died by his own hand in the Tower, and Richard Hampden, son of
the great leader of the Long Parliament. But the Commissioner on
whom the chief weight of business lay was Godolphin. This man,
taciturn, clearminded, laborious, inoffensive, zealous for no
government and useful to every government, had gradually become
an almost indispensable part of the machinery of the state.
Though a churchman, he had prospered in a Court governed by
Jesuits. Though he had voted for a Regency, he was the real head
of a treasury filled with Whigs. His abilities and knowledge,
which had in the late reign supplied the deficiencies of
Bellasyse and Dover, were now needed to supply the deficiencies
of Mordaunt and Delamere.20

There were some difficulties in disposing of the Great Seal. The
King at first wished to confide it to Nottingham, whose father
had borne it during several years with high reputation.21
Nottingham, however, declined the trust; and it was offered to
Halifax, but was again declined. Both these Lords doubtless felt
that it was a trust which they could not discharge with honour to
themselves or with advantage to the public. In old times, indeed,
the Seal had been generally held by persons who were not lawyers.
Even in the seventeenth century it had been confided to two
eminent men, who had never studied at any Inn of Court. Dean
Williams had been Lord Keeper to James the First. Shaftesbury had
been Lord Chancellor to Charles the Second. But such appointments
could no longer be made without serious inconvenience. Equity had
been gradually shaping itself into a refined science, which no
human faculties could master without long and intense
application. Even Shaftesbury, vigorous as was his intellect, had
painfully felt his want of technical knowledge;22 and, during the
fifteen years which had elapsed since Shaftesbury had resigned
the Seal, technical knowledge had constantly been becoming more
and more necessary to his successors. Neither Nottingham
therefore, though he had a stock of legal learning such as is
rarely found in any person who has not received a legal
education, nor Halifax, though, in the judicial sittings of the
House of Lords, the quickness of his apprehension and the
subtlety of his reasoning had often astonished the bar, ventured
to accept the highest office which an English layman can fill.
After some delay the Seal was confided to a commission of eminent
lawyers, with Maynard at their head.23

The choice of judges did honour to the new government. Every
Privy Councillor was directed to bring a list. The lists were
compared; and twelve men of conspicuous merit were selected.24
The professional attainments and Whig principles of Pollexfen
gave him pretensions to the highest place. But it was remembered
that he had held briefs for the Crown, in the Western counties,
at the assizes which followed the battle of Sedgemoor. It seems
indeed from the reports of the trials that he did as little as he
could do if he held the briefs at all, and that he left to the
Judges the business of browbeating witnesses and prisoners.
Nevertheless his name was inseparably associated in the public
mind with the Bloody Circuit. He, therefore, could not with
propriety be put at the head of the first criminal court in the
realm.25 After acting during a few weeks as Attorney General, he
was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. Sir John Holt, a
young man, but distinguished by learning, integrity, and courage,
became Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Sir Robert Atkyns, an
eminent lawyer, who had passed some years in rural retirement,
but whose reputation was still great in Westminster Hall, was
appointed Chief Baron. Powell, who had been disgraced on account
of his honest declaration in favour of the Bishops, again took
his seat among the judges. Treby succeeded Pollexfen as Attorney
General; and Somers was made Solicitor.26

Two of the chief places in the Royal household were filled by two
English noblemen eminently qualified to adorn a court. The high
spirited and accomplished Devonshire was named Lord Steward. No
man had done more or risked more for England during the crisis of
her fate. In retrieving her liberties he had retrieved also the
fortunes of his own house. His bond for thirty thousand pounds
was found among the papers which James had left at Whitehall, and
was cancelled by William.27

Dorset became Lord Chamberlain, and employed the influence and
patronage annexed to his functions, as he had long employed his
private means, in encouraging genius and in alleviating
misfortune. One of the first acts which he was under the
necessity of performing must have been painful to a man of so
generous a nature, and of so keen a relish for whatever was
excellent in arts and letters. Dryden could no longer remain Poet
Laureate. The public would not have borne to see any Papist among
the servants of their Majesties; and Dryden was not only a
Papist, but an apostate. He had moreover aggravated the guilt of
his apostasy by calumniating and ridiculing the Church which he
had deserted. He had, it was facetiously said, treated her as the
Pagan persecutors of old treated her children. He had dressed her
up in the skin of a wild beast, and then baited her for the
public amusement.28 He was removed; but he received from the
private bounty of the magnificent Chamberlain a pension equal to
the salary which had been withdrawn. The deposed Laureate,
however, as poor of spirit as rich in intellectual gifts,
continued to complain piteously, year after year, of the losses
which he had not suffered, till at length his wailings drew forth
expressions of well merited contempt from brave and honest
Jacobites, who had sacrificed every thing to their principles
without deigning to utter one word of deprecation or

In the Royal household were placed some of those Dutch nobles who
stood highest in the favour of the King. Bentinck had the great
office of Groom of the Stole, with a salary of five thousand
pounds a year. Zulestein took charge of the robes. The Master of
the Horse was Auverquerque, a gallant soldier, who united the
blood of Nassau to the blood of Horn, and who wore with just
pride a costly sword presented to him by the States General in
acknowledgment of the courage with which he had, on the bloody
day of Saint Dennis, saved the life of William.

The place of Vice Chamberlain to the Queen was given to a man who
had just become conspicuous in public life, and whose name will
frequently recur in the history of this reign. John Howe, or, as
he was more commonly called, Jack Howe, had been sent up to the
Convention by the borough of Cirencester. His appearance was that
of a man whose body was worn by the constant workings of a
restless and acrid mind. He was tall, lean, pale, with a haggard
eager look, expressive at once of flightiness and of shrewdness.
He had been known, during several years, as a small poet; and
some of the most savage lampoons which were handed about the
coffeehouses were imputed to him. But it was in the House of
Commons that both his parts and his illnature were most signally
displayed. Before he had been a member three weeks, his
volubility, his asperity, and his pertinacity had made him
conspicuous. Quickness, energy, and audacity, united, soon raised
him to the rank of a privileged man. His enemies, and he had many
enemies, said that he consulted his personal safety even in his
most petulant moods, and that he treated soldiers with a civility
which he never showed to ladies or to Bishops. But no man had in
larger measure that evil courage which braves and even courts
disgust and hatred. No decencies restrained him: his spite was
implacable: his skill in finding out the vulnerable parts of
strong minds was consummate. All his great contemporaries felt
his sting in their turns. Once it inflicted a wound which
deranged even the stern composure of William, and constrained him
to utter a wish that he were a private gentleman, and could
invite Mr. Howe to a short interview behind Montague House. As
yet, however, Howe was reckoned among the most strenuous
supporters of the new government, and directed all his sarcasms
and invectives against the malcontents.30

The subordinate places in every public office were divided
between the two parties: but the Whigs had the larger share. Some
persons, indeed, who did little honour to the Whig name, were
largely recompensed for services which no good man would have
performed. Wildman was made Postmaster General. A lucrative
sinecure in the Excise was bestowed on Ferguson. The duties of
the Solicitor of the Treasury were both very important and very
invidious. It was the business of that officer to conduct
political prosecutions, to collect the evidence, to instruct the
counsel for the Crown, to see that the prisoners were not
liberated on insufficient bail, to see that the juries were not
composed of persons hostile to the government. In the days of
Charles and James, the Solicitors of the Treasury had been with
too much reason accused of employing all the vilest artifices of
chicanery against men obnoxious to the Court. The new government
ought to have made a choice which was above all suspicion.
Unfortunately Mordaunt and Delamere pitched upon Aaron Smith, an
acrimonious and unprincipled politician, who had been the legal
adviser of Titus Oates in the days of the Popish Plot, and who
had been deeply implicated in the Rye House Plot. Richard
Hampden, a man of decided opinions but of moderate temper,
objected to this appointment. His objections however were
overruled. The Jacobites, who hated Smith and had reason to hate
him, affirmed that he had obtained his place by bullying the
Lords of the Treasury, and particularly by threatening that, if
his just claims were disregarded, he would be the death of

Some weeks elapsed before all the arrangements which have been
mentioned were publicly announced: and meanwhile many important
events had taken place. As soon as the new Privy Councillors had
been sworn in, it was necessary to submit to them a grave and
pressing question. Could the Convention now assembled be turned
into a Parliament? The Whigs, who had a decided majority in the
Lower House, were all for the affirmative. The Tories, who knew
that, within the last month, the public feeling had undergone a
considerable change, and who hoped that a general election would
add to their strength, were for the negative. They maintained
that to the existence of a Parliament royal writs were
indispensably necessary. The Convention had not been summoned by
such writs: the original defect could not now be supplied: the
Houses were therefore mere clubs of private men, and ought
instantly to disperse.

It was answered that the royal writ was mere matter of form, and
that to expose the substance of our laws and liberties to serious
hazard for the sake of a form would be the most senseless
superstition. Wherever the Sovereign, the Peers spiritual and
temporal, and the Representatives freely chosen by the
constituent bodies of the realm were met together, there was the
essence of a Parliament. Such a Parliament was now in being; and
what could be more absurd than to dissolve it at a conjuncture
when every hour was precious, when numerous important subjects
required immediate legislation, and when dangers, only to be
averted by the combined efforts of King, Lords, and Commons,
menaced the State? A Jacobite indeed might consistently refuse to
recognise the Convention as a Parliament. For he held that it had
from the beginning been an unlawful assembly, that all its
resolutions were nullities, and that the Sovereigns whom it had
set up were usurpers. But with what consistency could any man,
who maintained that a new Parliament ought to be immediately
called by writs under the great seal of William and Mary,
question the authority which had placed William and Mary on the
throne? Those who held that William was rightful King must
necessarily hold that the body from which he derived his right
was itself a rightful Great Council of the Realm. Those who,
though not holding him to be rightful King, conceived that they
might lawfully swear allegiance to him as King in fact, might
surely, on the same principle, acknowledge the Convention as a
Parliament in fact. It was plain that the Convention was the
fountainhead from which the authority of all future Parliaments
must be derived, and that on the validity of the votes of the
Convention must depend the validity of every future statute. And
how could the stream rise higher than the source? Was it not
absurd to say that the Convention was supreme in the state, and
yet a nullity; a legislature for the highest of all purposes, and
yet no legislature for the humblest purposes; competent to
declare the throne vacant, to change the succession, to fix the
landmarks of the constitution, and yet not competent to pass the
most trivial Act for the repairing of a pier or the building of a
parish church?

These arguments would have had considerable weight, even if every
precedent had been on the other side. But in truth our history
afforded only one precedent which was at all in point; and that
precedent was decisive in favour of the doctrine that royal writs
are not indispensably necessary to the existence of a Parliament.
No royal writ had summoned the Convention which recalled Charles
the Second. Yet that Convention had, after his Restoration,
continued to sit and to legislate, had settled the revenue, had
passed an Act of amnesty, had abolished the feudal tenures. These
proceedings had been sanctioned by authority of which no party in
the state could speak without reverence. Hale had borne a
considerable share in them, and had always maintained that they
were strictly legal. Clarendon, little as he was inclined to
favour any doctrine derogatory to the rights of the Crown, or to
the dignity of that seal of which he was keeper, had declared
that, since God had, at a most critical conjuncture, given the
nation a good Parliament, it would be the height of folly to look
for technical flaws in the instrument by which that Parliament
was called together. Would it be pretended by any Tory that the
Convention of 1660 had a more respectable origin than the
Convention of 1689? Was not a letter written by the first Prince
of the Blood, at the request of the whole peerage, and of
hundreds of gentlemen who had represented counties and towns, at
least as good a warrant as a vote of the Rump?

Weaker reasons than these would have satisfied the Whigs who
formed the majority of the Privy Council. The King therefore, on
the fifth day after he had been proclaimed, went with royal state
to the House of Lords, and took his seat on the throne. The
Commons were called in; and he, with many gracious expressions,
reminded his hearers of the perilous situation of the country,
and exhorted them to take such steps as might prevent unnecessary
delay in the transaction of public business. His speech was
received by the gentlemen who crowded the bar with the deep hum
by which our ancestors were wont to indicate approbation, and
which was often heard in places more sacred than the Chamber of
the Peers.32 As soon as he had retired, a Bill declaring the
Convention a Parliament was laid on the table of the Lords, and
rapidly passed by them. In the Commons the debates were warm. The
House resolved itself into a Committee; and so great was the
excitement that, when the authority of the Speaker was withdrawn,
it was hardly possible to preserve order. Sharp personalities
were exchanged. The phrase, "hear him," a phrase which had
originally been used only to silence irregular noises, and to
remind members of the duty of attending to the discussion, had,
during some years, been gradually becoming what it now is; that
is to say, a cry indicative, according to the tone, of
admiration, acquiescence, indignation, or derision. On this
occasion, the Whigs vociferated "Hear, hear," so tumultuously
that the Tories complained of unfair usage. Seymour, the leader
of the minority, declared that there could be no freedom of
debate while such clamour was tolerated. Some old Whig members
were provoked into reminding him that the same clamour had
occasionally been heard when he presided, and had not then been
repressed. Yet, eager and angry as both sides were, the speeches
on both sides indicated that profound reverence for law and
prescription which has long been characteristic of Englishmen,
and which, though it runs sometimes into pedantry and sometimes
into superstition, is not without its advantages. Even at that
momentous crisis, when the nation was still in the ferment of a
revolution, our public men talked long and seriously about all
the circumstances of the deposition of Edward the Second and of
the deposition of Richard the Second, and anxiously inquired
whether the assembly which, with Archbishop Lanfranc at its head,
set aside Robert of Normandy, and put William Rufus on the
throne, did or did not afterwards continue to act as the
legislature of the realm. Much was said about the history of
writs; much about the etymology of the word Parliament. It is
remarkable, that the orator who took the most statesmanlike view
of the subject was old Maynard. In the civil conflicts of fifty
eventful years he had learned that questions affecting the
highest interests of the commonwealth were not to be decided by
verbal cavils and by scraps of Law French and Law Latin; and,
being by universal acknowledgment the most subtle and the most
learned of English jurists, he could express what he felt without
the risk of being accused of ignorance and presumption. He
scornfully thrust aside as frivolous and out of place all that
blackletter learning, which some men, far less versed in such
matters than himself, had introduced into the discussion. "We
are," he said, "at this moment out of the beaten path. If
therefore we are determined to move only in that path, we cannot
move at all. A man in a revolution resolving to do nothing which
is not strictly according to established form resembles a man who
has lost himself in the wilderness, and who stands crying 'Where
is the king's highway? I will walk nowhere but on the king's
highway.' In a wilderness a man should take the track which will
carry him home. In a revolution we must have recourse to the
highest law, the safety of the state." Another veteran Roundhead,
Colonel Birch, took the same side, and argued with great force
and keenness from the precedent of 1660. Seymour and his
supporters were beaten in the Committee, and did not venture to
divide the House on the Report. The Bill passed rapidly, and
received the royal assent on the tenth day after the accession of
William and Mary.33

The law which turned the Convention into a Parliament contained a
clause providing that no person should, after the first of March,
sit or vote in either House without taking the oaths to the new
King and Queen. This enactment produced great agitation
throughout society. The adherents of the exiled dynasty hoped and
confidently predicted that the recusants would be numerous. The
minority in both Houses, it was said, would be true to the cause
of hereditary monarchy. There might be here and there a traitor;
but the great body of those who had voted for a Regency would be
firm. Only two Bishops at most would recognise the usurpers.
Seymour would retire from public life rather than abjure his
principles. Grafton had determined to fly to France and to throw
himself at the feet of his uncle. With such rumours as these all
the coffeehouses of London were filled during the latter part of
February. So intense was the public anxiety that, if any man of
rank was missed, two days running, at his usual haunts, it was
immediately whispered that he had stolen away to Saint

The second of March arrived; and the event quieted the fears of
one party, and confounded the hopes of the other. The Primate
indeed and several of his suffragans stood obstinately aloof: but
three Bishops and seventy-three temporal peers took the oaths. At
the next meeting of the Upper House several more prelates came
in. Within a week about a hundred Lords had qualified themselves
to sit. Others, who were prevented by illness from appearing,
sent excuses and professions of attachment to their Majesties.
Grafton refuted all the stories which had been circulated about
him by coming to be sworn on the first day. Two members of the
Ecclesiastical Commission, Mulgrave and Sprat, hastened to make
atonement for their fault by plighting their faith to William.
Beaufort, who had long been considered as the type of a royalist
of the old school, submitted after a very short hesitation.
Aylesbury and Dartmouth, though vehement Jacobites, had as little
scruple about taking the oath of allegiance as they afterwards
had about breaking it.35 The Hydes took different paths.
Rochester complied with the law; but Clarendon proved refractory.
Many thought it strange that the brother who had adhered to James
till James absconded should be less sturdy than the brother who
had been in the Dutch camp. The explanation perhaps is that
Rochester would have sacrificed much more than Clarendon by
refusing to take the oaths. Clarendon's income did not depend on
the pleasure of the Government
but Rochester had a pension of four thousand a year, which he
could not hope to retain if he refused to acknowledge the new
Sovereigns. Indeed, he had so many enemies that, during some
months, it seemed doubtful whether he would, on any terms, be
suffered to retain the splendid reward which he had earned by
persecuting the Whigs and by sitting in the High Commission. He
was saved from what would have been a fatal blow to his fortunes
by the intercession of Burnet, who had been deeply injured by
him, and who revenged himself as became a Christian divine.36

In the Lower House four hundred members were sworn in on the
second of March; and among them was Seymour. The spirit of the
Jacobites was broken by his defection; and the minority with very
few exceptions followed his example.37

Before the day fixed for the taking of the oaths, the Commons had
begun to discuss a momentous question which admitted of no delay.
During the interregnum, William had, as provisional chief of the
administration, collected the taxes and applied them to the
public service; nor could the propriety of this course be
questioned by any person who approved of the Revolution. But the
Revolution was now over: the vacancy of the throne had been
supplied: the Houses were sitting: the law was in full force; and
it became necessary immediately to decide to what revenue the
Government was entitled.

Nobody denied that all the lands and hereditaments of the Crown
had passed with the Crown to the new Sovereigns. Nobody denied
that all duties which had been granted to the Crown for a fixed
term of years might be constitutionally exacted till that term
should expire. But large revenues had been settled by Parliament
on James for life; and whether what had been settled on James for
life could, while he lived, be claimed by William and Mary, was a
question about which opinions were divided.

Holt, Treby, Pollexfen, indeed all the eminent Whig lawyers,
Somers excepted, held that these revenues had been granted to the
late King, in his political capacity, but for his natural life,
and ought therefore, as long as he continued to drag on his
existence in a strange land, to be paid to William and Mary. It
appears from a very concise and unconnected report of the debate
that Somers dissented from this doctrine. His opinion was that,
if the Act of Parliament which had imposed the duties in question
was to be construed according to the spirit, the word life must
be understood to mean reign, and that therefore the term for
which the grant had been made had expired. This was surely the
sound opinion: for it was plainly irrational to treat the
interest of James in this grant as at once a thing annexed to his
person and a thing annexed to his office; to say in one breath
that the merchants of London and Bristol must pay money because
he was naturally alive, and that his successors must receive
that money because he was politically defunct. The House was
decidedly with Somers. The members generally were bent on
effecting a great reform, without which it was felt that the
Declaration of Rights would be but an imperfect guarantee for
public liberty. During the conflict which fifteen successive
Parliaments had maintained against four successive Kings, the
chief weapon of the Commons had been the power of the purse; and
never had the representatives of the people been induced to
surrender that weapon without having speedy cause to repent of
their too credulous loyalty. In that season of tumultuous joy
which followed the Restoration, a large revenue for life had been
almost by acclamation granted to Charles the Second. A few months
later there was scarcely a respectable Cavalier in the kingdom
who did not own that the stewards of the nation would have acted
more wisely if they had kept in their hands the means of checking
the abuses which disgraced every department of the government.
James the Second had obtained from his submissive Parliament,
without a dissentient voice, an income sufficient to defray the
ordinary expenses of the state during his life; and, before he
had enjoyed that income half a year, the great majority of those
who had dealt thus liberally with him blamed themselves severely
for their liberality. If experience was to be trusted, a long and
painful experience, there could be no effectual security against
maladministration, unless the Sovereign were under the necessity
of recurring frequently to his Great Council for pecuniary aid.
Almost all honest and enlightened men were therefore agreed in
thinking that a part at least of the supplies ought to be granted
only for short terms. And what time could be fitter for the
introduction of this new practice than the year 1689, the
commencement of a new reign, of a new dynasty, of a new era of
constitutional government? The feeling on this subject was so
strong and general that the dissentient minority gave way. No
formal resolution was passed; but the House proceeded to act on
the supposition that the grants which had been made to James for
life had been annulled by his abdication.38

It was impossible to make a new settlement of the revenue without
inquiry and deliberation. The Exchequer was ordered to furnish
such returns as might enable the House to form estimates of the
public expenditure and income. In the meantime, liberal provision
was made for the immediate exigencies of the state. An
extraordinary aid, to be raised by direct monthly assessment, was
voted to the King. An Act was passed indemnifying all who had,
since his landing, collected by his authority the duties settled
on James; and those duties which had expired were continued for
some months.

Along William's whole line of march, from Torbay to London, he
had been importuned by the common people to relieve them from the
intolerable burden of the hearth money. In truth, that tax seems
to have united all the worst evils which can be imputed to any
tax. It was unequal, and unequal in the most pernicious way: for
it pressed heavily on the poor, and lightly on the rich. A
peasant, all whose property was not worth twenty pounds, was
charged ten shillings. The Duke of Ormond, or the Duke of
Newcastle, whose estates were worth half a million, paid only
four or five pounds. The collectors were empowered to examine the
interior of every house in the realm, to disturb families at
meals, to force the doors of bedrooms, and, if the sum demanded
were not punctually paid, to sell the trencher on which the
barley loaf was divided among the poor children, and the pillow
from under the head of the lying-in woman. Nor could the Treasury
effectually restrain the chimneyman from using his powers with
harshness: for the tax was farmed; and the government was
consequently forced to connive at outrages and exactions such as
have, in every age made the name of publican a proverb for all
that is most hateful.

William had been so much moved by what he had heard of these
grievances that, at one of the earliest sittings of the Privy
Council, he introduced the subject. He sent a message requesting
the House of Commons to consider whether better regulations would
effectually prevent the abuses which had excited so much
discontent. He added that he would willingly consent to the
entire abolition of the tax if it should appear that the tax and
the abuses were inseparable.39 This communication was received
with loud applause. There were indeed some financiers of the old
school who muttered that tenderness for the poor was a fine
thing; but that no part of the revenue of the state came in so
exactly to the day as the hearth money; that the goldsmiths of
the City could not always be induced to lend on the security of
the next quarter's customs or excise, but that on an assignment
of hearth money there was no difficulty in obtaining advances. In
the House of Commons, those who thought thus did not venture to
raise their voices in opposition to the general feeling. But in
the Lords there was a conflict of which the event for a time
seemed doubtful. At length the influence of the Court,
strenuously exerted, carried an Act by which the chimney tax was
declared a badge of slavery, and was, with many expressions of
gratitude to the King, abolished for ever.40

The Commons granted, with little dispute, and without a division,
six hundred thousand pounds for the purpose of repaying to the
United Provinces the charges of the expedition which had
delivered England. The facility with which this large sum was
voted to a shrewd, diligent and thrifty people, our allies,
indeed, politically, but commercially our most formidable rivals,
excited some murmurs out of doors, and was, during many years, a
favourite subject of sarcasm with Tory pamphleteers.41 The
liberality of the House admits however of an easy explanation. On
the very day on which the subject was under consideration,
alarming news arrived at Westminster, and convinced many, who
would at another time have been disposed to scrutinise severely
any account sent in by the Dutch, that our country could not yet
dispense with the services of the foreign troops.

France had declared war against the States General; and the
States General had consequently demanded from the King of England
those succours which he was bound by the treaty of Nimeguen to
furnish.42 He had ordered some battalions to march to Harwich,
that they might be in readiness to cross to the Continent. The
old soldiers of James were generally in a very bad temper; and
this order did not produce a soothing effect. The discontent was
greatest in the regiment which now ranks as first of the line.
Though borne on the English establishment, that regiment, from
the time when it first fought under the great Gustavus, had been
almost exclusively composed of Scotchmen; and Scotchmen have
never, in any region to which their adventurous and aspiring
temper has led them, failed to note and to resent every slight
offered to Scotland. Officers and men muttered that a vote of a
foreign assembly was nothing to them. If they could be absolved
from their allegiance to King James the Seventh, it must be by
the Estates at Edinburgh, and not by the Convention at
Westminster. Their ill humour increased when they heard that
Schomberg had been appointed their colonel. They ought perhaps to
have thought it an honour to be called by the name of the
greatest soldier in Europe. But, brave and skilful as he was, he
was not their countryman: and their regiment, during the fifty-
six years which had elapsed since it gained its first honourable
distinctions in Germany, had never been commanded but by a
Hepburn or a Douglas. While they were in this angry and
punctilious mood, they were ordered to join the forces which were
assembling at Harwich. There was much murmuring; but there was no
outbreak till the regiment arrived at Ipswich. There the signal of revolt was
given by two
captains who were zealous for the exiled King. The market place
was soon filled with pikemen and musketeers running to and fro.
Gunshots were wildly fired in all directions. Those officers who
attempted to restrain the rioters were overpowered and disarmed.
At length the chiefs of the insurrection established some order,
and marched out of Ipswich at the head of their adherents. The
little army consisted of about eight hundred men. They had seized
four pieces of cannon, and had taken possession of the military
chest, which contained a considerable sum of money. At the
distance of half a mile from the town a halt was called: a
general consultation was held; and the mutineers resolved that
they would hasten back to their native country, and would live
and die with their rightful King. They instantly proceeded
northward by forced marches.43

When the news reached London the dismay was great. It was
rumoured that alarming symptoms had appeared in other regiments,
and particularly that a body of fusileers which lay at Harwich
was likely to imitate the example set at Ipswich. "If these
Scots," said Halifax to Reresby, "are unsupported, they are lost.
But if they have acted in concert with others, the danger is
serious indeed."44 The truth seems to be that there was a
conspiracy which had ramifications in many parts of the army, but
that the conspirators were awed by the firmness of the government
and of the Parliament. A committee of the Privy Council was
sitting when the tidings of the mutiny arrived in London. William
Harbord, who represented the borough of Launceston, was at the
board. His colleagues entreated him to go down instantly to the
House of Commons, and to relate what had happened. He went, rose
in his place, and told his story. The spirit of the assembly rose
to the occasion. Howe was the first to call for vigorous action.
"Address the King," he said, "to send his Dutch troops after
these men. I know not who else can be trusted." "This is no
jesting matter," said old Birch, who had been a colonel in the
service of the Parliament, and had seen the most powerful and
renowned House of Commons that ever sate twice purged and twice
expelled by its own soldiers; "if you let this evil spread, you
will have an army upon you in a few days. Address the King to
send horse and foot instantly, his own men, men whom he can
trust, and to put these people down at once." The men of the long
robe caught the flame. "It is not the learning of my profession
that is needed here," said Treby. "What is now to be done is to
meet force with force, and to maintain in the field what we have
done in the senate." "Write to the Sheriffs," said Colonel
Mildmay, member for Essex. "Raise the militia. There are a
hundred and fifty thousand of them: they are good Englishmen:
they will not fail you." It was resolved that all members of the
House who held commissions in the army should be dispensed from
parliamentary attendance, in order that they might repair
instantly to their military posts. An address was unanimously
voted requesting the King to take effectual steps for the
suppression of the rebellion, and to put forth a proclamation
denouncing public vengeance on the rebels. One gentleman hinted
that it might be well to advise his Majesty to offer a pardon to
those who should peaceably submit: but the House wisely rejected
the suggestion. "This is no time," it was well said, "for any
thing that looks like fear." The address was instantly sent up to
the Lords. The Lords concurred in it. Two peers, two knights of
shires, and two burgesses were sent with it to Court. William
received them graciously, and informed them that he had already
given the necessary orders. In fact, several regiments of horse
and dragoons had been sent northward under the command of
Ginkell, one of the bravest and ablest officers of the Dutch

Meanwhile the mutineers were hastening across the country which
lies between Cambridge and the Wash. Their road lay through a
vast and desolate fen, saturated with all the moisture of
thirteen counties, and overhung during the greater part of the
year by a low grey mist, high above which rose, visible many
miles, the magnificent tower of Ely. In that dreary region,
covered by vast flights of wild fowl, a half savage population,
known by the name of the Breedlings, then led an amphibious life,
sometimes wading, and sometimes rowing, from one islet of firm
ground to another.46 The roads were amongst the worst in the
island, and, as soon as rumour announced the approach of the
rebels, were studiously made worse by the country people. Bridges
were broken down. Trees were laid across the highways to obstruct
the progress of the cannon. Nevertheless the Scotch veterans not
only pushed forward with great speed, but succeeded in carrying
their artillery with them. They entered Lincolnshire, and were
not far from Sleaford, when they learned that Ginkell with an
irresistible force was close on their track. Victory and escape
were equally out of the question. The bravest warriors could not
contend against fourfold odds. The most active infantry could not
outrun horsemen. Yet the leaders, probably despairing of pardon,
urged the men to try the chance of battle. In that region, a spot
almost surrounded by swamps and pools was without difficulty
found. Here the insurgents were drawn up; and the cannon were
planted at the only point which was thought not to be
sufficiently protected by natural defences. Ginkell ordered the
attack to be made at a place which was out of the range of the
guns; and his dragoons dashed gallantly into the water, though it
was so deep that their horses were forced to swim. Then the
mutineers lost heart. They beat a parley, surrendered at
discretion, and were brought up to London under a strong guard.
Their lives were forfeit: for they had been guilty, not merely of
mutiny, which was then not a legal crime, but of levying war
against the King. William, however, with politic clemency,
abstained from shedding the blood even of the most culpable. A
few of the ringleaders were brought to trial at the next Bury
assizes, and were convicted of high treason; but their lives were
spared. The rest were merely ordered to return to their duty. The
regiment, lately so refractory, went submissively to the
Continent, and there, through many hard campaigns, distinguished
itself by fidelity, by discipline, and by valour.47

This event facilitated an important change in our polity, a
change which, it is true, could not have been long delayed, but
which would not have been easily accomplished except at a moment
of extreme danger. The time had at length arrived at which it was
necessary to make a legal distinction between the soldier and the
citizen. Under the Plantagenets and the Tudors there had been no
standing army. The standing army which had existed under the last
kings of the House of Stuart had been regarded by every party in
the state with strong and not unreasonable aversion. The common
law gave the Sovereign no power to control his troops. The
Parliament, regarding them as mere tools of tyranny, had not been
disposed to give such power by statute. James indeed had induced
his corrupt and servile judges to put on some obsolete laws a
construction which enabled him to punish desertion capitally. But
this construction was considered by all respectable jurists as
unsound, and, had it been sound, would have been far from
effecting all that was necessary for the purpose of maintaining
military discipline. Even James did not venture to inflict death
by sentence of a court martial. The deserter was treated as an
ordinary felon, was tried at the assizes by a petty jury on a
bill found by a grand jury, and was at liberty to avail himself
of any technical flaw which might be discovered in the

The Revolution, by altering the relative position of the prince
and the parliament, had altered also the relative position of the
army and the nation. The King and the Commons were now at unity;
and both were alike menaced by the greatest military power which
had existed in Europe since the downfall of the Roman empire. In
a few weeks thirty thousand veterans, accustomed to conquer, and
led by able and experienced captains, might cross from the ports
of Normandy and Brittany to our shores. That such a force would
with little difficulty scatter three times that number of
militia, no man well acquainted with war could doubt. There must
then be regular soldiers; and, if there were to be regular
soldiers, it must be indispensable, both to their efficiency, and
to the security of every other class, that they should be kept
under a strict discipline. An ill disciplined army has ever been
a more costly and a more licentious militia, impotent against a
foreign enemy, and formidable only to the country which it is
paid to defend. A strong line of demarcation must therefore be
drawn between the soldiers and the rest of the community. For the
sake of public freedom, they must, in the midst of freedom, be
placed under a despotic rule. They must be subject to a sharper
penal code, and to a more stringent code of procedure, than are
administered by the ordinary tribunals. Some acts which in the
citizen are innocent must in the soldier be crimes. Some acts
which in the citizen are punished with fine or imprisonment must
in the soldier be punished with death. The machinery by which
courts of law ascertain the guilt or innocence of an accused
citizen is too slow and too intricate to be applied to an accused
soldier. For, of all the maladies incident to the body politic,
military insubordination is that which requires the most prompt
and drastic remedies. If the evil be not stopped as soon as it
appears, it is certain to spread; and it cannot spread far
without danger to the very vitals of the commonwealth. For the
general safety, therefore, a summary jurisdiction of terrible
extent must, in camps, be entrusted to rude tribunals composed of
men of the sword.

But, though it was certain that the country could not at that
moment be secure without professional soldiers, and equally
certain that professional soldiers must be worse than useless
unless they were placed under a rule more arbitrary and severe
than that to which other men were subject, it was not without
great misgivings that a House of Commons could venture to
recognise the existence and to make provision for the government
of a standing army. There was scarcely a public man of note who
had not often avowed his conviction that our polity and a
standing army could not exist together. The Whigs had been in the
constant habit of repeating that standing armies had destroyed
the free institutions of the neighbouring nations. The Tories had
repeated as constantly that, in our own island, a standing army
had subverted the Church, oppressed the gentry, and murdered the
King. No leader of either party could, without laying himself
open to the charge of gross inconsistency, propose that such an
army should henceforth be one of the permanent establishments of
the realm. The mutiny at Ipswich, and the panic which that mutiny
produced, made it easy to effect what would otherwise have been
in the highest degree difficult. A short bill was brought in
which began by declaring, in explicit terms, that standing armies
and courts martial were unknown to the law of England. It was
then enacted that, on account of the extreme perils impending at
that moment over the state, no man mustered on pay in the service
of the crown should, on pain of death, or of such lighter
punishment as a court martial should deem sufficient, desert his
colours or mutiny against his commanding officers. This statute
was to be in force only six months; and many of those who voted
for it probably believed that it would, at the close of that
period, be suffered to expire. The bill passed rapidly and
easily. Not a single division was taken upon it in the House of
Commons. A mitigating clause indeed, which illustrates somewhat
curiously the manners of that age, was added by way of rider
after the third reading. This clause provided that no court
martial should pass sentence of death except between the hours of
six in the morning and one in the afternoon. The dinner hour was
then early; and it was but too probable that a gentleman who had
dined would be in a state in which he could not safely be trusted
with the lives of his fellow creatures. With this amendment, the
first and most concise of our many Mutiny Bills was sent up to
the Lords, and was, in a few hours, hurried by them through all
its stages and passed by the King.48

Thus was made, without one dissentient voice in Parliament,
without one murmur in the nation, the first step towards a change
which had become necessary to the safety of the state, yet which
every party in the state then regarded with extreme dread and
aversion. Six months passed; and still the public danger
continued. The power necessary to the maintenance of military
discipline was a second time entrusted to the crown for a short
term. The trust again expired, and was again renewed. By slow
degrees familiarity reconciled the public mind to the names, once
so odious, of standing army and court martial. It was proved by
experience that, in a well constituted society, professional
soldiers may be terrible to a foreign enemy, and yet submissive
to the civil power. What had been at first tolerated as the
exception began to be considered as the rule. Not a session
passed without a Mutiny Bill. When at length it became evident
that a political change of the highest importance was taking
place in such a manner as almost to escape notice, a clamour was
raised by some factious men desirous to weaken the hands of the
government, and by some respectable men who felt an honest but
injudicious reverence for every old constitutional tradition, and
who were unable to understand that what at one stage in the
progress of society is pernicious may at another stage be
indispensable. This clamour however, as years rolled on, became
fainter and fainter. The debate which recurred every spring on
the Mutiny Bill came to be regarded merely as an occasion on
which hopeful young orators fresh from Christchurch were to
deliver maiden speeches, setting forth how the guards of
Pisistratus seized the citadel of Athens, and how the Praetorian
cohorts sold the Roman empire to Didius. At length these
declamations became too ridiculous to be repeated. The most
oldfashioned, the most eccentric, politician could hardly, in the
reign of George the Third, contend that there ought to be no
regular soldiers, or that the ordinary law, administered by the
ordinary courts, would effectually maintain discipline among such
soldiers. All parties being agreed as to the general principle, a
long succession of Mutiny Bills passed without any discussion,
except when some particular article of the military code appeared
to require amendment. It is perhaps because the army became thus
gradually, and almost imperceptibly, one of the institutions of
England, that it has acted in such perfect harmony with all her
other institutions, has never once, during a hundred and sixty
years, been untrue to the throne or disobedient to the law, has
never once defied the tribunals or overawed the constituent
bodies. To this day, however, the Estates of the Realm continue
to set up periodically, with laudable jealousy, a landmark on the
frontier which was traced at the time of the Revolution. They
solemnly reassert every year the doctrine laid down in the
Declaration of Rights; and they then grant to the Sovereign an
extraordinary power to govern a certain number of soldiers
according to certain rules during twelve months more.

In the same week in which the first Mutiny Bill was laid on the
table of the Commons, another temporary law, made necessary by
the unsettled state of the kingdom, was passed. Since the flight
of James many persons who were believed to have been deeply
implicated in his unlawful acts, or to be engaged in plots for
his restoration, had been arrested and confined. During the
vacancy of the throne, these men could derive no benefit from the
Habeas Corpus Act. For the machinery by which alone that Act
could be carried into execution had ceased to exist; and, through
the whole of Hilary term, all the courts in Westminster Hall had
remained closed. Now that the ordinary tribunals were about to
resume their functions, it was apprehended that all those
prisoners whom it was not convenient to bring instantly to trial
would demand and obtain their liberty. A bill was therefore
brought in which empowered the King to detain in custody during a
few weeks such persons as he should suspect of evil designs
against his government. This bill passed the two Houses with
little or no opposition.49 But the malecontents out of doors did
not fail to remark that, in the late reign, the Habeas Corpus Act
had not been one day suspended. It was the fashion to call James
a tyrant, and William a deliverer. Yet, before the deliverer had
been a month on the throne, he had deprived Englishmen of a
precious right which the tyrant had respected.50 This is a kind
of reproach which a government sprung from a popular revolution
almost inevitably incurs. From such a government men naturally
think themselves entitled to demand a more gentle and liberal
administration than is expected from old and deeply rooted power.
Yet such a government, having, as it always has, many active
enemies, and not having the strength derived from legitimacy and
prescription, can at first maintain itself only by a vigilance
and a severity of which old and deeply rooted power stands in no
need. Extraordinary and irregular vindications of public liberty
are sometimes necessary: yet, however necessary, they are almost
always followed by some temporary abridgments of that very
liberty; and every such abridgment is a fertile and plausible
theme for sarcasm and invective.

Unhappily sarcasm and invective directed against William were but
too likely to find favourable audience. Each of the two great
parties had its own reasons for being dissatisfied with him; and
there were some complaints in which both parties joined. His
manners gave almost universal offence. He was in truth far better
qualified to save a nation than to adorn a court. In the highest
parts of statesmanship, he had no equal among his contemporaries.
He had formed plans not inferior in grandeur and boldness to
those of Richelieu, and had carried them into effect with a tact
and wariness worthy of Mazarin. Two countries, the seats of civil
liberty and of the Reformed Faith, had been preserved by his
wisdom and courage from extreme perils. Holland he had delivered
from foreign, and England from domestic foes. Obstacles
apparently insurmountable had been interposed between him and the
ends on which he was intent; and those obstacles his genius had
turned into stepping stones. Under his dexterous management the
hereditary enemies of his house had helped him to mount a throne;
and the persecutors of his religion had helped him to rescue his
religion from persecution. Fleets and armies, collected to
withstand him, had, without a struggle, submitted to his orders.
Factions and sects, divided by mortal antipathies, had recognised
him as their common head. Without carnage, without devastation, he
had won a victory compared with which all the victories of
Gustavus and Turenne were insignificant. In a few weeks he had
changed the relative position of all the states in Europe, and
had restored the equilibrium which the preponderance of one power
had destroyed. Foreign nations did ample justice to his great
qualities. In every Continental country where Protestant
congregations met, fervent thanks were offered to God, who, from
among the progeny of His servants, Maurice, the deliverer of
Germany, and William, the deliverer of Holland, had raised up a
third deliverer, the wisest and mightiest of all. At Vienna, at
Madrid, nay, at Rome, the valiant and sagacious heretic was held
in honour as the chief of the great confederacy against the House
of Bourbon; and even at Versailles the hatred which he inspired
was largely mingled with admiration.

Here he was less favourably judged. In truth, our ancestors saw
him in the worst of all lights. By the French, the Germans, and
the Italians, he was contemplated at such a distance that only
what was great could be discerned, and that small blemishes were
invisible. To the Dutch he was brought close: but he was himself
a Dutchman. In his intercourse with them he was seen to the best
advantage, he was perfectly at his ease with them; and from among them he had
chosen his earliest and dearest friends. But to the English he appeared in a
most unfortunate point of view. He was at once too near to them and too far from
them. He lived among them, so
that the smallest peculiarity of temper or manner could not
escape their notice. Yet he lived apart from them, and was to the
last a foreigner in speech, tastes, and habits.

One of the chief functions of our Sovereigns had long been to
preside over the society of the capital. That function Charles
the Second had performed with immense success. His easy bow, his
good stories, his style of dancing and playing tennis, the sound
of his cordial laugh, were familiar to all London. One day he was
seen among the elms of Saint James's Park chatting with Dryden
about poetry.51 Another day his arm was on Tom Durfey's shoulder;
and his Majesty was taking a second, while his companion sang
"Phillida, Phillida," or "To horse, brave boys, to Newmarket, to
horse."52 James, with much less vivacity and good nature, was
accessible, and, to people who did not cross him, civil. But of
this sociableness William was entirely destitute. He seldom came
forth from his closet; and, when he appeared in the public rooms,
he stood among the crowd of courtiers and ladies, stern and
abstracted, making no jest and smiling at none. His freezing
look, his silence, the dry and concise answers which he uttered
when he could keep silence no longer, disgusted noblemen and
gentlemen who had been accustomed to be slapped on the back by
their royal masters, called Jack or Harry, congratulated about
race cups or rallied about actresses. The women missed the homage
due to their sex. They observed that the King spoke in a somewhat
imperious tone even to the wife to whom he owed so much, and whom
he sincerely loved and esteemed.53 They were amused and shocked
to see him, when the Princess Anne dined with him, and when the
first green peas of the year were put on the table, devour the
whole dish without offering a spoonful to her Royal Highness; and
they pronounced that this great soldier and politician was no
better than a Low Dutch bear.54

One misfortune, which was imputed to him as a crime, was his bad
English. He spoke our language, but not well. His accent was
foreign: his diction was inelegant; and his vocabulary seems to
have been no larger than was necessary for the transaction of
business. To the difficulty which he felt in expressing himself,
and to his consciousness that his pronunciation was bad, must be
partly ascribed the taciturnity and the short answers which gave
so much offence. Our literature he was incapable of enjoying or
of understanding. He never once, during his whole reign, showed
himself at the theatre.55 The poets who wrote Pindaric verses in
his praise complained that their flights of sublimity were beyond
his comprehension.56 Those who are acquainted with the
panegyrical odes of that age will perhaps be of opinion that he
did not lose much by his ignorance.

It is true that his wife did her best to supply what was wanting,
and that she was excellently qualified to be the head of the
Court. She was English by birth, and English also in her tastes
and feelings. Her face was handsome, her port majestic, her
temper sweet and lively, her manners affable and graceful. Her
understanding, though very imperfectly cultivated, was quick.
There was no want of feminine wit and shrewdness in her
conversation; and her letters were so well expressed that they
deserved to be well spelt. She took much pleasure in the lighter
kinds of literature, and did something towards bringing books
into fashion among ladies of quality. The stainless purity of her
private life and the strict attention which she paid to her
religious duties were the more respectable, because she was
singularly free from censoriousness, and discouraged scandal as
much as vice. In dislike of backbiting indeed she and her husband
cordially agreed; but they showed their dislike in different and
in very characteristic ways. William preserved profound silence,
and gave the talebearer a look which, as was said by a person who
had once encountered it, and who took good care never to
encounter it again, made your story go back down your throat.57
Mary had a way of interrupting tattle about elopements, duels,
and playdebts by asking the tattlers, very quietly yet
significantly, whether they had ever read her favourite sermon,
Doctor Tillotson's on Evil Speaking. Her charities were
munificent and judicious; and, though she made no ostentatious
display of them, it was known that she retrenched from her own
state in order to relieve Protestants whom persecution had driven
from France and Ireland, and who were starving in the garrets of
London. So amiable was her conduct, that she was generally spoken
of with esteem and tenderness by the most respectable of those
who disapproved of the manner in which she had been raised to the
throne, and even of those who refused to acknowledge her as
Queen. In the Jacobite lampoons of that time, lampoons which, in
virulence and malignity, far exceed any thing that our age has
produced, she was not often mentioned with severity. Indeed she
sometimes expressed her surprise at finding that libellers who
respected nothing else respected her name. God, she said, knew
where her weakness lay. She was too sensitive to abuse and
calumny; He had mercifully spared her a trial which was beyond
her strength; and the best return which she could make to Him was
to discountenance all malicious reflections on the characters of
others. Assured that she possessed her husband's entire
confidence and affection, she turned the edge of his sharp
speeches sometimes by soft and sometimes by playful answers, and
employed all the influence which she derived from her many
pleasing qualities to gain the hearts of the people for him.58

If she had long continued to assemble round her the best society
of London, it is probable that her kindness and courtesy would
have done much to efface the unfavourable impression made by his
stern and frigid demeanour. Unhappily his physical infirmities
made it impossible for him to reside at Whitehall. The air of
Westminster, mingled with tile fog of the river which in spring
tides overflowed the courts of his palace, with the smoke of
seacoal from two hundred thousand chimneys, and with the fumes of
all the filth which was then suffered to accumulate in the
streets, was insupportable to him; for his lungs were weak, and
his sense of smell exquisitely keen. His constitutional asthma
made rapid progress. His physicians pronounced it impossible that
he could live to the end of the year. His face was so ghastly
that he could hardly be recognised. Those who had to transact
business with him were shocked to hear him gasping for breath,
and coughing till the tears ran down his cheeks.59 His mind,
strong as it was, sympathized with his body. His judgment was
indeed as clear as ever. But there was, during some months, a
perceptible relaxation of that energy by which he had been
distinguished. Even his Dutch friends whispered that he was not
the man that he had been at the Hague.60 It was absolutely
necessary that he should quit London. He accordingly took up his
residence in the purer air of Hampton Court. That mansion, begun
by the magnificent Wolsey, was a fine specimen of the
architecture which flourished in England under the first Tudors;
but the apartments were not, according to the notions of the
seventeenth century, well fitted for purposes of state. Our
princes therefore had, since the Restoration, repaired thither
seldom, and only when they wished to live for a time in
retirement. As William purposed to make the deserted edifice his
chief palace, it was necessary for him to build and to plant; nor
was the necessity disagreeable to him. For he had, like most of
his countrymen, a pleasure in decorating a country house; and
next to hunting, though at a great interval, his favourite
amusements were architecture and gardening. He had already
created on a sandy heath in Guelders a paradise, which attracted
multitudes of the curious from Holland and Westphalia. Mary had
laid the first stone of the house. Bentinck had superintended the
digging of the fishponds. There were cascades and grottoes, a
spacious orangery, and an aviary which furnished Hondekoeter with
numerous specimens of manycoloured plumage.61 The King, in his
splendid banishment, pined for this favourite seat, and found
some consolation in creating another Loo on the banks of the
Thames. Soon a wide extent of ground was laid out in formal walks
and parterres. Much idle ingenuity was employed in forming that
intricate labyrinth of verdure which has puzzled and amused five
generations of holiday visitors from London. Limes thirty years
old were transplanted from neighbouring woods to shade the
alleys. Artificial fountains spouted among the flower beds. A new
court, not designed with the purest taste, but stately, spacious,
and commodious, rose under the direction of Wren. The wainscots
were adorned with the rich and delicate carvings of Gibbons. The
staircases were in a blaze with the glaring frescoes of Verrio.
In every corner of the mansion appeared a profusion of gewgaws,
not yet familiar to English eyes. Mary had acquired at the Hague
a taste for the porcelain of China, and amused herself by forming
at Hampton a vast collection of hideous images, and of vases on
which houses, trees, bridges, and mandarins were depicted in
outrageous defiance of all the laws of perspective. The fashion,
a frivolous and inelegant fashion it must be owned, which was
thus set by the amiable Queen, spread fast and wide. In a few
years almost every great house in the kingdom contained a museum
of these grotesque baubles. Even statesmen and generals were not
ashamed to be renowned as judges of teapots and dragons; and
satirists long continued to repeat that a fine lady valued her
mottled green pottery quite as much as she valued her monkey, and
much more than she valued her husband.62 But the new palace was
embellished with works of art of a very different kind. A gallery
was erected for the cartoons of Raphael. Those great pictures,
then and still the finest on our side of the Alps, had been
preserved by Cromwell from the fate which befell most of the
other masterpieces in the collection of Charles the First, but
had been suffered to lie during many years nailed up in deal
boxes. They were now brought forth from obscurity to be
contemplated by artists with admiration and despair. The expense
of the works at Hampton was a subject of bitter complaint to many
Tories, who had very gently blamed the boundless profusion with
which Charles the Second had built and rebuilt, furnished and
refurnished, the dwelling of the Duchess of Portsmouth.63 The
expense, however, was not the chief cause of the discontent which
William's change of residence excited. There was no longer a
Court at Westminster. Whitehall, once the daily resort of the
noble and the powerful, the beautiful and the gay, the place to
which fops came to show their new peruques, men of gallantry to
exchange glances with fine ladies, politicians to push their
fortunes, loungers to hear the news, country gentlemen to see the
royal family, was now, in the busiest season of the year, when
London was full, when Parliament was sitting, left desolate. A
solitary sentinel paced the grassgrown pavement before that door
which had once been too narrow for the opposite streams of
entering and departing courtiers. The services which the
metropolis had rendered to the King were great and recent; and it
was thought that he might have requited those services better
than by treating it as Lewis had treated Paris. Halifax ventured
to hint this, but was silenced by a few words which admitted of
no reply. "Do you wish," said William peevishly, "to see me

In a short time it was found that Hampton Court was too far from
the Houses of Lords and Commons, and from the public offices, to
be the ordinary abode of the Sovereign. Instead, however, of
returning to Whitehall, William determined to have another
dwelling, near enough to his capital for the transaction of
business, but not near enough to be within that atmosphere in
which he could not pass a night without risk of suffocation. At
one time he thought of Holland House, the villa of the noble
family of Rich; and he actually resided there some weeks.65 But
he at length fixed his choice on Kensington House, the suburban
residence of the Earl of Nottingham. The purchase was made for
eighteen thousand guineas, and was followed by more building,
more planting, more expense, and more discontent.66 At present
Kensington House is considered as a part of London. It was then a
rural mansion, and could not, in those days of highwaymen and
scourers, of roads deep in mire and nights without lamps, be the
rallying point of fashionable society.

It was well known that the King, who treated the English nobility
and gentry so ungraciously, could, in a small circle of his own
countrymen, be easy, friendly, even jovial, could pour out his
feelings garrulously, could fill his glass, perhaps too often;
and this was, in the view of our forefathers, an aggravation of
his offences. Yet our forefathers should have had the sense and
the justice to acknowledge that the patriotism which they
considered as a virtue in themselves, could not be a fault in
him. It was unjust to blame him for not at once transferring to
our island the love which he bore to the country of his birth.
If, in essentials, he did his duty towards England, he might well
be suffered to feel at heart an affectionate preference for
Holland. Nor is it a reproach to him that he did not, in this
season of his greatness, discard companions who had played with
him in his childhood, who had stood by him firmly through all the
vicissitudes of his youth and manhood, who had, in defiance of
the most loathsome and deadly forms of infection, kept watch by
his sick-bed, who had, in the thickest of the battle, thrust
themselves between him and the French swords, and whose
attachment was, not to the Stadtholder or to the King, but to
plain William of Nassau. It may be added that his old friends
could not but rise in his estimation by comparison with his new
courtiers. To the end of his life all his Dutch comrades, without
exception, continued to deserve his confidence. They could be out
of humour with him, it is true; and, when out of humour, they
could be sullen and rude; but never did they, even when most
angry and unreasonable, fail to keep his secrets and to watch
over his interests with gentlemanlike and soldierlike fidelity.
Among his English councillors such fidelity was rare.67 It is
painful, but it is no more than just, to acknowledge that he had
but too good reason for thinking meanly of our national
character. That character was indeed, in essentials, what it has
always been. Veracity, uprightness, and manly boldness were then,
as now, qualities eminently English. But those qualities, though
widely diffused among the great body of the people, were seldom
to be found in the class with which William was best acquainted.
The standard of honour and virtue among our public men was,
during his reign, at the very lowest point. His predecessors had
bequeathed to him a court foul with all the vices of the
Restoration, a court swarming with sycophants, who were ready, on
the first turn of fortune, to abandon him as they had abandoned
his uncle. Here and there, lost in that ignoble crowd, was to be
found a man of true integrity and public spirit. Yet even such a
man could not long live in such society without much risk that
the strictness of his principles would be relaxed, and the
delicacy of his sense of right and wrong impaired. It was unjust
to blame a prince surrounded by flatterers and traitors for
wishing to keep near him four or five servants whom he knew by
proof to be faithful even to death.

Nor was this the only instance in which our ancestors were unjust
to him. They had expected that, as soon as so distinguished a
soldier and statesman was placed at the head of affairs, he would
give some signal proof, they scarcely knew what, of genius and
vigour. Unhappily, during the first months of his reign, almost
every thing went wrong. His subjects, bitterly disappointed,
threw the blame on him, and began to doubt whether he merited
that reputation which he had won at his first entrance into
public life, and which the splendid success of his last great
enterprise had raised to the highest point. Had they been in a
temper to judge fairly, they would have perceived that for the
maladministration of which they with good reason complained he
was not responsible. He could as yet work only with the machinery
which he had found; and the machinery which he had found was all
rust and rottenness. From the time of the Restoration to the time
of the Revolution, neglect and fraud had been almost constantly
impairing the efficiency of every department of the government.
Honours and public trusts, peerages, baronetcies, regiments,
frigates, embassies, governments, commissionerships, leases of
crown lands, contracts for clothing, for provisions, for
ammunition, pardons for murder, for robbery, for arson, were sold
at Whitehall scarcely less openly than asparagus at Covent Garden
or herrings at Billingsgate. Brokers had been incessantly plying
for custom in the purlieus of the court; and of these brokers the
most successful had been, in the days of Charles, the harlots,
and in the days of James, the priests. From the palace which was
the chief seat of this pestilence the taint had diffused itself
through every office and through every rank in every office, and
had every where produced feebleness and disorganization. So rapid
was the progress of the decay that, within eight years after the
time when Oliver had been the umpire of Europe, the roar of the
guns of De Ruyter was heard in the Tower of London. The vices
which had brought that great humiliation on the country had ever
since been rooting themselves deeper and spreading themselves
wider. James had, to do him justice, corrected a few of the gross
abuses which disgraced the naval administration. Yet the naval
administration, in spite of his attempts to reform it, moved the
contempt of men who were acquainted with the dockyards of France
and Holland. The military administration was still worse. The
courtiers took bribes from the colonels; the colonels cheated the
soldiers: the commissaries sent in long bills for what had never
been furnished: the keepers of the arsenals sold the public
stores and pocketed the price. But these evils, though they had
sprung into existence and grown to maturity under the government
of Charles and James, first made themselves severely felt under
the government of William. For Charles and James were content to
be the vassals and pensioners of a powerful and ambitious
neighbour: they submitted to his ascendency: they shunned with
pusillanimous caution whatever could give him offence; and thus,
at the cost of the independence and dignity of that ancient and
glorious crown which they unworthily wore, they avoided a
conflict which would instantly have shown how helpless, under
their misrule, their once formidable kingdom had become. Their
ignominious policy it was neither in William's power nor in his
nature to follow. It was only by arms that the liberty and
religion of England could be protected against the most
formidable enemy that had threatened our island since the
Hebrides were strown with the wrecks of the Armada. The body
politic, which, while it remained in repose, had presented a
superficial appearance of health and vigour, was now under the
necessity of straining every nerve in a wrestle for life or
death, and was immediately found to be unequal to the exertion.
The first efforts showed an utter relaxation of fibre, an utter
want of training. Those efforts were, with scarcely an exception,
failures; and every failure was popularly imputed, not to the
rulers whose mismanagement had produced the infirmities of the
state, but to the ruler in whose time the infirmities of the
state became visible.

William might indeed, if he had been as absolute as Lewis, have
used such sharp remedies as would speedily have restored to the
English administration that firm tone which had been wanting
since the death of Oliver. But the instantaneous reform of
inveterate abuses was a task far beyond the powers of a prince
strictly restrained by law, and restrained still more strictly by
the difficulties of his situation.68

Some of the most serious difficulties of his situation were
caused by the conduct of the ministers on whom, new as he was to
the details of English affairs, he was forced to rely for
information about men and things. There was indeed no want of
ability among his chief counsellors: but one half of their
ability was employed in counteracting the other half. Between the
Lord President and the Lord Privy Seal there was an inveterate
enmity.69 It had begun twelve years before when Danby was Lord
High Treasurer, a persecutor of nonconformists, an uncompromising
defender of prerogative, and when Halifax was rising to
distinction as one of the most eloquent leaders of the country
party. In the reign of James, the two statesmen had found
themselves in opposition together; and their common hostility to
France and to Rome, to the High Commission and to the dispensing
power, had produced an apparent reconciliation; but as soon as
they were in office together the old antipathy revived. The
hatred which the Whig party felt towards them both ought, it
should seem, to have produced a close alliance between them: but
in fact each of them saw with complacency the danger which
threatened the other. Danby exerted himself to rally round him a
strong phalanx of Tories. Under the plea of ill health, he
withdrew from court, seldom came to the Council over which it was
his duty to preside, passed much time in the country, and took
scarcely any part in public affairs except by grumbling and
sneering at all the acts of the government, and by doing jobs and
getting places for his personal retainers.70 In consequence of
this defection, Halifax became prime minister, as far any
minister could, in that reign, be called prime minister. An
immense load of business fell on him; and that load he was unable
to sustain. In wit and eloquence, in amplitude of comprehension
and subtlety of disquisition, he had no equal among the statesmen
of his time. But that very fertility, that very acuteness, which
gave a singular charm to his conversation, to his oratory and to
his writings, unfitted him for the work of promptly deciding
practical questions. He was slow from very quickness. For he saw
so many arguments for and against every possible course that he
was longer in making up his mind than a dull man would have been.
Instead of acquiescing in his first thoughts, he replied on
himself, rejoined on himself, and surrejoined on himself. Those
who heard him talk owned that he talked like an angel: but too
often, when he had exhausted all that could be said, and came to
act, the time for action was over.

Meanwhile the two Secretaries of State were constantly labouring
to draw their master in diametrically opposite directions. Every
scheme, every person, recommended by one of them was reprobated
by the other. Nottingham was never weary of repeating that the
old Roundhead party, the party which had taken the life of
Charles the First and had plotted against the life of Charles the
Second, was in principle republican, and that the Tories were the
only true friends of monarchy. Shrewsbury replied that the Tories
might be friends of monarchy, but that they regarded James as
their monarch. Nottingham was always bringing to the closet
intelligence of the wild daydreams in which a few old eaters of
calf's head, the remains of the once formidable party of Bradshaw
and Ireton, still indulged at taverns in the city. Shrewsbury
produced ferocious lampoons which the Jacobites dropped every day
in the coffeehouses. "Every Whig," said the Tory Secretary, "is
an enemy of your Majesty's prerogative." "Every Tory," said the
Whig Secretary, "is an enemy of your Majesty's title."71

At the treasury there was a complication of jealousies and
quarrels.72 Both the First Commissioner, Mordaunt, and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Delamere, were zealous Whigs but,
though they held the same political creed, their tempers differed
widely. Mordaunt was volatile, dissipated, and generous. The wits
of that time laughed at the way in which he flew about from
Hampton Court to the Royal Exchange, and from the Royal Exchange
back to Hampton Court. How he found time for dress, politics,
lovemaking and balladmaking was a wonder.73 Delamere was gloomy
and acrimonious, austere in his private morals, and punctual in
his devotions, but greedy of ignoble gain. The two principal
ministers of finance, therefore, became enemies, and agreed only
in hating their colleague Godolphin. What business had he at
Whitehall in these days of Protestant ascendency, he who had sate
at the same board with Papists, he who had never scrupled to
attend Mary of Modena to the idolatrous worship of the Mass? The
most provoking circumstance was that Godolphin, though his name
stood only third in the commission, was really first Lord. For in
financial knowledge and in habits of business Mordaunt and
Delamere were mere children when compared with him; and this
William soon discovered.74

Similar feuds raged at the other great boards and through all the
subordinate ranks of public functionaries. In every customhouse,
in every arsenal, were a Shrewsbury and a Nottingham, a Delamere
and a Godolphin. The Whigs complained that there was no
department in which creatures of the fallen tyranny were not to
be found. It was idle to allege that these men were versed in the
details of business, that they were the depositaries of official
traditions, and that the friends of liberty, having been, during
many years, excluded from public employment, must necessarily be
incompetent to take on themselves at once the whole management of
affairs. Experience doubtless had its value: but surely the first
of all the qualifications of a servant was fidelity; and no Tory
could be a really faithful servant of the new government. If King
William were wise, he would rather trust novices zealous for his
interest and honour than veterans who might indeed possess
ability and knowledge, but who would use that ability and that
knowledge to effect his ruin.

The Tories, on the other hand, complained that their share of
power bore no proportion to their number and their weight in the
country, and that every where old and useful public servants
were, for the crime of being friends to monarchy and to the
Church, turned out of their posts to make way for Rye House
plotters and haunters of conventicles. These upstarts, adepts in
the art of factious agitation, but ignorant of all that belonged
to their new calling, would be just beginning to learn their
business when they had undone the nation by their blunders. To be
a rebel and a schismatic was surely not all that ought to be
required of a man in high employment. What would become of the
finances, what of the marine, if Whigs who could not understand
the plainest balance sheet were to manage the revenue, and Whigs
who had never walked over a dockyard to fit out the fleet.75

The truth is that the charges which the two parties brought
against each other were, to a great extent, well founded, but
that the blame which both threw on William was unjust. Official
experience was to be found almost exclusively among the Tories,
hearty attachment to the new settlement almost exclusively among
the Whigs. It was not the fault of the King that the knowledge

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