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

Part 8 out of 15

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Tories did their best to make out that the fault lay with the
Victualling Department, which was under the direction of Whigs.
But the House of Commons has always been much more ready to pass
votes of censure drawn in general terms than to brand individuals
by name. A resolution clearing the Victualling Office was proposed
by Montague, and carried, after a debate of two days, by a hundred
and eighty-eight votes to a hundred and fifty-two.491 But when the
victorious party brought forward a motion inculpating the
admirals, the Tories came up in great numbers from the country,
and, after a debate which lasted from nine in the morning till
near eleven at night, succeeded in saving their friends. The Noes
were a hundred and seventy, and the Ayes only a hundred and
sixty-one. Another attack was made a few days later with no better
success. The Noes were a hundred and eighty-five, the Ayes only a
hundred and seventy-five. The indefatigable and implacable Wharton
was on both occasions tellers for the minority.492

In spite of this check the advantage was decidedly with the
Whigs; The Tories who were at the head of the naval
administration had indeed escaped impeachment; but the escape had
been so narrow that it was impossible for the King to employ them
any longer. The advice of Sunderland prevailed. A new Commission
of Admiralty was prepared; and Russell was named First Lord. He
had already been appointed to the command of the Channel fleet.

His elevation made it necessary that Nottingham should retire.
For, though it was not then unusual to see men who were
personally and politically hostile to each other holding high
offices at the same time, the relation between the First Lord of
the Admiralty and the Secretary of State, who had charge of what
would now be called the War Department, was of so peculiar a
nature that the public service could not be well conducted
without cordial cooperation between them; and between Nottingham
and Russell such cooperation was not to be expected. "I thank
you," William said to Nottingham, "for your services. I have
nothing to complain of in your conduct. It is only from necessity
that I part with you." Nottingham retired with dignity. Though a
very honest man, he went out of office much richer than he had
come in five years before. What were then considered as the
legitimate emoluments of his place were great; he had sold
Kensington House to the Crown for a large sum; and he had
probably, after the fashion of that time, obtained for himself
some lucrative grants. He laid out all his gains in purchasing
land. He heard, he said, that his enemies meant to accuse him of
having acquired wealth by illicit means. He was perfectly ready
to abide the issue of an inquiry. He would not, as some ministers
had done, place his fortune beyond the reach of the justice of
his country. He would have no secret hoard. He would invest
nothing in foreign funds. His property should all be such as
could be readily discovered and seized.493

During some weeks the seals which Nottingham had delivered up
remained in the royal closet. To dispose of them proved no easy
matter. They were offered to Shrewsbury, who of all the Whig
leaders stood highest in the King's favour; but Shrewsbury
excused himself, and, in order to avoid further importunity,
retired into the country. There he soon received a pressing
letter from Elizabeth Villiers. This lady had, when a girl,
inspired William with a passion which had caused much scandal and
much unhappiness in the little Court of the Hague. Her influence
over him she owed not to her personal charms,--for it tasked all
the art of Kneller to make her look tolerably on canvass,--not to
those talents which peculiarly belong to her sex,--for she did
not excel in playful talk, and her letters are remarkably
deficient in feminine ease and grace--, but to powers of mind which
qualified her to partake the cares and guide the counsels of
statesmen. To the end of her life great politicians sought her
advice. Even Swift, the shrewdest and most cynical of her
contemporaries, pronounced her the wisest of women, and more than
once sate, fascinated by her conversation, from two in the
afternoon till near midnight.494 By degrees the virtues and
charms of Mary conquered the first place in her husband's
affection. But he still, in difficult conjunctures, frequently
applied to Elizabeth Villiers for advice and assistance. She now
implored Shrewsbury to reconsider his determination, and not to
throw away the opportunity of uniting the Whig party for ever.
Wharton and Russell wrote to the same effect. In reply came
flimsy and unmeaning excuses: "I am not qualified for a court
life; I am unequal to a place which requires much exertion; I do
not quite agree with any party in the State; in short, I am unfit
for the world; I want to travel; I want to see Spain." These were
mere pretences. Had Shrewsbury spoken the whole truth, he would
have said that he had, in an evil hour, been false to the cause
of that Revolution in which he had borne so great a part, that he
had entered into engagements of which he repented, but from which
he knew not how to extricate himself, and that, while he remained
under those engagements, he was unwilling to enter into the
service of the existing government. Marlborough, Godolphin and
Russell, indeed, had no scruple about corresponding with one King
while holding office under the other. But Shrewsbury had, what
was wanting to Marlborough, Godolphin and Russell, a conscience,
a conscience which indeed too often failed to restrain him from
doing wrong, but which never failed to punish him.495

In consequence of his refusal to accept the Seals, the
ministerial arrangements which the King had planned were not
carried into entire effect till the end of the session. Meanwhile
the proceedings of the two Houses had been highly interesting and

Soon after the Parliament met, the attention of the Commons was
again called to the state of the trade with India; and the
charter which had just been granted to the Old Company was laid
before them. They would probably have been disposed to sanction
the new arrangement, which, in truth, differed little from that
which they had themselves suggested not many months before, if
the Directors had acted with prudence. But the Directors, from
the day on which they had obtained their charter, had persecuted
the interlopers without mercy, and had quite forgotten that it
was one thing to persecute interlopers in the Eastern Seas, and
another to persecute them in the port of London. Hitherto the war
of the monopolists against the private trade had been generally
carried on at the distance of fifteen thousand miles from
England. If harsh things were done, the English did not see them
done, and did not hear of them till long after they had been
done; nor was it by any means easy to ascertain at Westminster
who had been right and who had been wrong in a dispute which had
arisen three or four years before at Moorshedabad or Canton. With
incredible rashness the Directors determined, at the very moment
when the fate of their company was in the balance, to give the
people of this country a near view of the most odious features of
the monopoly. Some wealthy merchants of London had equipped a
fine ship named the Redbridge. Her crew was numerous, her cargo
of immense value. Her papers had been made out for Alicant: but
there was some reason to suspect that she was really bound for
the countries lying beyond the Cape of Good Hope. She was stopped
by the Admiralty, in obedience to an order which the Company
obtained from the Privy Council, doubtless by the help of the
Lord President. Every day that she lay in the Thames caused a
heavy expense to the owners. The indignation in the City was
great and general. The Company maintained that from the legality
of the monopoly the legality of the detention necessarily
followed. The public turned the argument round, and, being firmly
convinced that the detention was illegal, drew the inference that
the monopoly must be illegal too. The dispute was at the height
when the Parliament met. Petitions on both sides were speedily
laid on the table of the Commons; and it was resolved that these
petitions should be taken into consideration by a Committee of
the whole House. The first question on which the conflicting
parties tried their strength was the choice of a chairman. The
enemies of the Old Company proposed Papillon, once the closest
ally and subsequently the keenest opponent of Child, and carried
their point by a hundred and thirty-eight votes to a hundred and
six. The Committee proceeded to inquire by what authority the
Redbridge had been stopped. One of her owners, Gilbert Heathcote,
a rich merchant and a stanch Whig, appeared at the bar as a
witness. He was asked whether he would venture to deny that the
ship had really been fitted out for the Indian trade. "It is no
sin that I know of," he answered, "to trade with India; and I
shall trade with India till I am restrained by Act of
Parliament." Papillon reported that in the opinion of the
Committee, the detention of the Redbridge was illegal. The
question was then put, that the House would agree with the
Committee. The friends of the Old Company ventured on a second
division, and were defeated by a hundred and seventy-one votes to
a hundred and twenty-five.496

The blow was quickly followed up. A few days later it was moved
that all subjects of England had equal right to trade to the East
Indies unless prohibited by Act of Parliament; and the supporters
of the Old Company, sensible that they were in a minority,
suffered the motion to pass without a division.497

This memorable vote settled the most important of the
constitutional questions which had been left unsettled by the
Bill of Rights. It has ever since been held to be the sound
doctrine that no power but that of the whole legislature can give
to any person or to any society an exclusive privilege of trading
to any part of the world.

The opinion of the great majority of the House of Commons was
that the Indian trade could be advantageously carried on only by
means of a joint stock and a monopoly. It might therefore have
been expected that the resolution which destroyed the monopoly of
the Old Company would have been immediately followed by a law
granting a monopoly to the New Company. No such law, however, was
passed. The Old Company, though not strong enough to defend its
own privileges, was able, with the help of its Tory friends, to
prevent the rival association from obtaining similar privileges.
The consequence was that, during some years, there was nominally
a free trade with India. In fact, the trade still lay under
severe restrictions. The private adventurer found indeed no
difficulty in sailing from England; but his situation was as
perilous as ever when he had turned the Cape of Good Hope.
Whatever respect might be paid to a vote of the House of Commons
by public functionaries in London, such a vote was, at Bombay or
Calcutta, much less regarded than a private letter from Child;
and Child still continued to fight the battle with unbroken
spirit. He sent out to the factories of the Company orders that
no indulgence should be shown to the intruders. For the House of
Commons and for its resolutions he expressed the bitterest
contempt. "Be guided by my instructions," he wrote," and not by
the nonsense of a few ignorant country gentlemen who have hardly
wit enough to manage their own private affairs, and who know
nothing at all about questions of trade." It appears that his
directions were obeyed.

Every where in the East, during this period of anarchy, servant
of the Company and the independent merchant waged war on each
other, accused each other of piracy, and tried by every artifice
to exasperate the Mogul government against each other.498

The three great constitutional questions of the preceding year
were, in this year, again brought under the consideration of
Parliament. In the first week of the session, a Bill for the
Regulation of Trials in cases of High Treason, a Triennial Bill,
and a Place Bill were laid on the table of the House of Commons.

None of these bills became a law. The first passed the Commons,
but was unfavourably received by the Peers. William took so much
interest in the question that he came down to the House of Lords,
not in his crown and robes, but in the ordinary dress of a
gentleman, and sate through the whole debate on the second
reading. Caermarthen spoke of the dangers to which the State was
at that time exposed, and entreated his brethren not to give, at
such a moment, impunity to traitors. He was powerfully supported
by two eminent orators, who had, during some years, been on the
uncourtly side of every question, but who, in this session,
showed a disposition to strengthen the hands of the government,
Halifax and Mulgrave. Marlborough, Rochester and Nottingham spoke
for the bill; but the general feeling was so clearly against them
that they did not venture to divide. It is probable, however,
that the reasons urged by Caermarthen were not the reasons which
chiefly swayed his hearers. The Peers were fully determined that
the bill should not pass without a clause altering the
constitution of the Court of the Lord High Steward: they knew
that the Lower House was as fully determined not to pass such a
clause; and they thought it better that what must happen at last
should happen speedily, and without a quarrel.499

The fate of the Triennial Bill confounded all the calculations of
the best informed politicians of that time, and may therefore
well seem extraordinary to us. During the recess, that bill had
been described in numerous pamphlets, written for the most part
by persons zealous for the Revolution and for popular principles
of government, as the one thing needful, as the universal cure
for the distempers of the State. On the first, second and third
readings in the House of Commons no division took place. The
Whigs were enthusiastic. The Tories seemed to be acquiescent. It
was understood that the King, though he had used his Veto for the
purpose of giving the Houses an opportunity of reconsidering the
subject, had no intention of offering a pertinacious opposition
to their wishes. But Seymour, with a cunning which long
experience had matured, after deferring the conflict to the last
moment, snatched the victory from his adversaries, when they were
most secure. When the Speaker held up the bill in his hands, and
put the question whether it should pass, the Noes were a hundred
and forty-six, the Ayes only a hundred and thirty-six.500 Some
eager Whigs flattered themselves that their defeat was the effect
of a surprise, and might be retrieved. Within three days,
therefore, Monmouth, the most ardent and restless man in the
whole party, brought into the Upper House a bill substantially
the same with that which had so strangely miscarried in the
Lower. The Peers passed this bill very expeditiously, and sent it
down to the Commons. But in the Commons it found no favour. Many
members, who professed to wish that the duration of parliaments
should be limited, resented the interference of the hereditary
branch of the legislature in a matter which peculiarly concerned
the elective branch. The subject, they said, is one which
especially belongs to us; we have considered it; we have come to
a decision; and it is scarcely parliamentary, it is certainly
most indelicate, in their Lordships, to call upon us to reverse
that decision. The question now is, not whether the duration of
parliaments ought to be limited, but whether we ought to submit
our judgment to the authority of the Peers, and to rescind, at
their bidding, what we did only a fortnight ago. The animosity
with which the patrician order was regarded was inflamed by the
arts and the eloquence of Seymour. The bill contained a
definition of the words, "to hold a Parliament." This definition
was scrutinised with extreme jealousy, and was thought by many,
with very little reason, to have been framed for the purpose of
extending the privileges, already invidiously great, of the
nobility. It appears, from the scanty and obscure fragments of
the debates which have come down to us, that bitter reflections
were thrown on the general conduct, both political and judicial,
of the Peers. Old Titus, though zealous for triennial
parliaments, owned that he was not surprised at the ill humour
which many gentlemen showed. "It is true," he said, "that we
ought to be dissolved; but it is rather hard, I must own, that
the Lords are to prescribe the time of our dissolution. The
Apostle Paul wished to be dissolved; but, I doubt, if his friends
had set him a day, he would not have taken it kindly of them."
The bill was rejected by a hundred and ninety-seven votes to a
hundred and twenty-seven.501

The Place Bill, differing very little from the Place Bill which
had been brought in twelve months before, passed easily through
the Commons. Most of the Tories supported it warmly; and the
Whigs did not venture to oppose it. It went up to the Lords, and
soon came back completely changed. As it had been originally
drawn, it provided that no member of the House of Commons,
elected after the first of January, 1694, should accept any place
of profit under the Crown, on pain of forfeiting his seat, and of
being incapable of sitting again in the same Parliament. The
Lords had added the words, "unless he be afterwards again chosen
to serve in the same Parliament." These words, few as they were,
sufficed to deprive the bill of nine tenths of its efficacy, both
for good and for evil. It was most desirable that the crowd of
subordinate public functionaries should be kept out of the House
of Commons. It was most undesirable that the heads of the great
executive departments should be kept out of that House. The bill,
as altered, left that House open both to those who ought and to
those who ought not to have been admitted. It very properly let
in the Secretaries of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer;
but it let in with them Commissioners of Wine Licenses and
Commissioners of the Navy, Receivers, Surveyors, Storekeepers,
Clerks of the Acts and Clerks of the Cheque, Clerks of the Green
Cloth and Clerks of the Great Wardrobe. So little did the Commons
understand what they were about that, after framing a law, in one
view most mischievous, and in another view most beneficial, they
were perfectly willing that it should be transformed into a law
quite harmless and almost useless. They agreed to the amendment;
and nothing was now wanting but the royal sanction.

That sanction certainly ought not to have been withheld, and
probably would not have been withheld, if William had known how
unimportant the bill now was. But he understood the question as
little as the Commons themselves. He knew that they imagined that
they had devised a most stringent limitation of the royal power;
and he was determined not to submit, without a struggle, to any
such limitation. He was encouraged by the success with which he
had hitherto resisted the attempts of the two Houses to encroach
on his prerogative. He had refused to pass the bill which
quartered the judges on his hereditary revenue; and the
Parliament had silently acquiesced in the justice of the refusal.
He had refused to pass the Triennial Bill; and the Commons had
since, by rejecting two Triennial Bills, acknowledged that he had
done well. He ought, however, to have considered that, on both
these occasions, the announcement of his refusal was immediately
followed by the announcement that the Parliament was prorogued.
On both these occasions, therefore, the members had half a year
to think and to grow cool before the next sitting. The case was
now very different. The principal business of the session was
hardly begun: estimates were still under consideration: bills of
supply were still depending; and, if the Houses should take a fit
of ill humour, the consequences might be serious indeed.

He resolved, however, to run the risk. Whether he had any adviser
is not known. His determination seems to have taken both the
leading Whigs and the leading Tories by surprise. When the Clerk
had proclaimed that the King and Queen would consider of the bill
touching free and impartial proceedings in Parliament, the
Commons retired from the bar of the Lords in a resentful and
ungovernable mood. As soon as the Speaker was again in his chair
there was a long and tempestuous debate. All other business was
postponed. All committees were adjourned. It was resolved that
the House would, early the next morning, take into consideration
the state of the nation. When the morning came, the excitement
did not appear to have abated. The mace was sent into Westminster
Hall and into the Court of Requests. All members who could be
found were brought into the House. That none might be able to
steal away unnoticed, the back door was locked, and the key laid
on the table. All strangers were ordered to retire. With these
solemn preparations began a sitting which reminded a few old men
of some of the first sittings of the Kong Parliament. High words
were uttered by the enemies of the government. Its friends,
afraid of being accused of abandoning the cause of the Commons of
England for the sake of royal favour, hardly ventured to raise
their voices. Montague alone seems to have defended the King.
Lowther, though high in office and a member of the cabinet, owned
that there were evil influences at work, and expressed a wish to
see the Sovereign surrounded by counsellors in whom the
representatives of the people could confide. Harley, Foley and
Howe carried every thing before them. A resolution, affirming
that those who had advised the Crown on this occasion were public
enemies, was carried with only two or three Noes. Harley, after
reminding his hearers that they had their negative voice as the
King had his, and that, if His Majesty refused then redress, they
could refuse him money, moved that they should go up to the
Throne, not, as usual, with a Humble Address, but with a
Representation. Some members proposed to substitute the more
respectful word Address: but they were overruled; and a committee
was appointed to draw up the Representation.

Another night passed; and, when the House met again, it appeared
that the storm had greatly subsided. The malignant joy and the
wild hopes which the Jacobites had, during the last forty-eight
hours, expressed with their usual imprudence, had incensed and
alarmed the Whigs and the moderate Tories. Many members too were
frightened by hearing that William was fully determined not to
yield without an appeal to the nation. Such an appeal might have
been successful: for a dissolution, on any ground whatever,
would, at that moment, have been a highly popular exercise of the
prerogative. The constituent bodies, it was well known, were
generally zealous for the Triennial Bill, and cared comparatively
little about the Place Bill. Many Tory members, therefore, who
had recently voted against the Triennial Bill, were by no means
desirous to run the risks of a general election. When the
Representation which Harley and his friends had prepared was
read, it was thought offensively strong. After being recommitted,
shortened and softened, it was presented by the whole House.
William's answer was kind and gentle; but he conceded nothing. He
assured the Commons that he remembered with gratitude the support
which he had on many occasions received from them, that he should
always consider their advice as most valuable, and that he should
look on counsellors who might attempt to raise dissension between
him and his Parliament as his enemies but he uttered not a word
which could be construed into an acknowledgment that he had used
his Veto ill, or into a promise that he would not use it again.

The Commons on the morrow took his speech into consideration.
Harley and his allies complained that the King's answer was no
answer at all, threatened to tack the Place Bill to a money bill,
and proposed to make a second representation pressing His Majesty
to explain himself more distinctly. But by this time there was a
strong reflux of feeling in the assembly. The Whigs had not only
recovered from their dismay, but were in high spirits and eager
for conflict. Wharton, Russell and Littleton maintained that the
House ought to be satisfied with what the King had said. "Do you
wish," said Littleton, "to make sport for your enemies? There is
no want of them. They besiege our very doors. We read, as we come
through the lobby, in the face and gestures of every nonjuror
whom we pass, delight at the momentary coolness which has arisen
between us and the King. That should be enough for us. We may be
sure that we are voting rightly when we give a vote which tends
to confound the hopes of traitors." The House divided. Harley was
a teller on one side, Wharton on the other. Only eighty-eight
voted with Harley, two hundred and twenty-nine with Wharton. The
Whigs were so much elated by their victory that some of them
wished to move a vote of thanks to William for his gracious
answer; but they were restrained by wiser men. "We have lost time
enough already in these unhappy debates," said a leader of the
party. "Let us get to Ways and Means as fast as we can. The best
form which our thanks can take is that of a money bill."

Thus ended, more happily than William had a right to expect, one
of the most dangerous contests in which he ever engaged with his
Parliament. At the Dutch Embassy the rising and going down of
this tempest had been watched with intense interest; and the
opinion there seems to have been that the King had on the whole
lost neither power nor popularity by his conduct.502

Another question, which excited scarcely less angry feeling in
Parliament and in the country, was, about the same time, under
consideration. On the sixth of December, a Whig member of the
House of Commons obtained leave to bring in a bill for the
Naturalisation of Foreign Protestants. Plausible arguments in
favour of such a bill were not wanting. Great numbers of people,
eminently industrious and intelligent, firmly attached to our
faith, and deadly enemies of our deadly enemies, were at that
time without a country. Among the Huguenots who had fled from the
tyranny of the French King were many persons of great fame in
war, in letters, in arts and in sciences; and even the humblest
refugees were intellectually and morally above the average of the
common people of any kingdom in Europe. With French Protestants
who had been driven into exile by the edicts of Lewis were now
mingled German Protestants who had been driven into exile by his
arms. Vienna, Berlin, Basle, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London, swarmed
with honest laborious men who had once been thriving burghers of
Heidelberg or Mannheim, or who had cultivated vineyards along the
banks of the Neckar and the Rhine. A statesman might well think
that it would be at once generous and politic to invite to the
English shores and to incorporate with the English people
emigrants so unfortunate and so respectable. Their ingenuity and
their diligence could not fail to enrich any land which should
afford them an asylum; nor could it be doubted that they would
manfully defend the country of their adoption against him whose
cruelty had driven them from the country of their birth.

The first two readings passed without a division. But, on the
motion that the bill should be committed, there was a debate in
which the right of free speech was most liberally used by the
opponents of the government. It was idle, they said, to talk
about the poor Huguenots or the poor Palatines. The bill was
evidently meant for the benefit, not of French Protestants or
German Protestants, but of Dutchmen, who would be Protestants,
Papists or Pagans for a guilder a head, and who would, no doubt,
be as ready to sign the Declaration against Transubstantiation in
England as to trample on the Cross in Japan. They would come over
in multitudes. They would swarm in every public office. They
would collect the customs, and gauge the beer barrels. Our
Navigation Laws would be virtually repealed. Every merchant ship
that cleared out from the Thames or the Severn would be manned by
Zealanders and Hollanders and Frieslanders. To our own sailors
would be left the hard and perilous service of the royal navy.
For Hans, after filling the pockets of his huge trunk hose with
our money by assuming the character of a native, would, as soon
as a pressgang appeared, lay claim to the privileges of an alien.
The intruders would soon rule every corporation. They would elbow
our own Aldermen off the Royal Exchange. They would buy the
hereditary woods and halls of our country gentlemen. Already one
of the most noisome of the plagues of Egypt was among us. Frogs
had made their appearance even in the royal chambers. Nobody
could go to Saint James's without being disgusted by hearing the
reptiles of the Batavian marshes croaking all round him; and if
this bill should pass, the whole country would be as much
infested by the loathsome brood as the palace already was.

The orator who indulged himself most freely in this sort of
rhetoric was Sir John Knight, member for Bristol, a coarseminded
and spiteful Jacobite, who, if he had been an honest man, would
have been a nonjuror. Two years before, when Mayor of Bristol, he
had acquired a discreditable notoriety by treating with gross
disrespect a commission sealed with the great seal of the
Sovereigns to whom he had repeatedly sworn allegiance, and by
setting on the rabble of his city to hoot and pelt the Judges.503
He now concluded a savage invective by desiring that the Serjeant
at Arms would open the doors, in order that the odious roll of
parchment, which was nothing less than a surrender of the
birthright of the English people, might be treated with proper
contumely. "Let us first," he said, "kick the bill out of the
House; and then let us kick the foreigners out of the kingdom."

On a division the motion for committing the bill was carried by a
hundred and sixty-three votes to a hundred and twenty-eight.504
But the minority was zealous and pertinacious; and the majority
speedily began to waver. Knight's speech, retouched and made more
offensive, soon appeared in print without a license. Tens of
thousands of copies were circulated by the post, or dropped in
the streets; and such was the strength of national prejudice that
too many persons read this ribaldry with assent and admiration.
But, when a copy was produced in the House, there was such an
outbreak of indignation and disgust, as cowed even the impudent
and savage nature of the orator. Finding himself in imminent
danger of being expelled and sent to prison, he apologized, and
disclaimed all knowledge of the paper which purported to be a
report of what he had said. He escaped with impunity; but his
speech was voted false, scandalous and seditious, and was burned
by the hangman in Palace Yard. The bill which had caused all this
ferment was prudently suffered to drop.505

Meanwhile the Commons were busied with financial questions of
grave importance. The estimates for the year 1694 were enormous.
The King proposed to add to the regular army, already the
greatest regular army that England had ever supported, four
regiments of dragoons, eight of horse, and twenty-five of
infantry. The whole number of men, officers included, would thus
be increased to about ninety-four thousand.506 Cromwell, while
holding down three reluctant kingdoms, and making vigorous war on
Spain in Europe and America, had never had two thirds of the
military force which William now thought necessary. The great
body of the Tories, headed by three Whig chiefs, Harley, Foley
and Howe, opposed any augmentation. The great body of the Whigs,
headed by Montague and Wharton, would have granted all that was
asked. After many long discussions, and probably many close
divisions, in the Committee of Supply, the King obtained the
greater part of what he demanded. The House allowed him four new
regiments of dragoons, six of horse, and fifteen of infantry. The
whole number of troops voted for the year amounted to eighty-
three thousand, the charge to more than two millions and a half,
including about two hundred thousand pounds for the ordnance.507

The naval estimates passed much more rapidly; for Whigs and
Tories agreed in thinking that the maritime ascendency of England
ought to be maintained at any cost. Five hundred thousand pounds
were voted for paying the arrears due to seamen, and two millions
for the expenses of the year 1694.508

The Commons then proceeded to consider the Ways and Means. The
land tax was renewed at four shillings in the pound; and by this
simple but powerful machinery about two millions were raised with
certainty and despatch.509 A poll tax was imposed.510 Stamp
duties had long been among the fiscal resources of Holland and
France, and had existed here during part of the reign of Charles
the Second, but had been suffered to expire. They were now
revived; and they have ever since formed an important part of the
revenue of the State.511 The hackney coaches of the capital were
taxed, and were placed under the government of commissioners, in
spite of the resistance of the wives of the coachmen, who
assembled round Westminster Hall and mobbed the members.512 But,
notwithstanding all these expedients, there was still a large
deficiency; and it was again necessary to borrow. A new duty on
salt and some other imposts of less importance were set apart to
form a fund for a loan. On the security of this fund a million
was to be raised by a lottery, but a lottery which had scarcely
any thing but the name in common with the lotteries of a later
period. The sum to be contributed was divided into a hundred
thousand shares of ten pounds each. The interest on each share
was to be twenty shillings annually, or, in other words, ten per
cent., during sixteen years. But ten per cent. for sixteen years
was not a bait which was likely to attract lenders. An additional
lure was therefore held out to capitalists. On one fortieth of
the shares much higher interest was to be paid than on the other
thirty-nine fortieths. Which of the shares should be prizes was
to be determined by lot. The arrangements for the drawing of the
tickets were made by an adventurer of the name of Neale, who,
after squandering away two fortunes, had been glad to become
groom porter at the palace. His duties were to call the odds when
the Court played at hazard, to provide cards and dice, and to
decide any dispute which might arise on the bowling green or at
the gaming table. He was eminently skilled in the business of
this not very exalted post, and had made such sums by raffles
that he was able to engage in very costly speculations, and was
then covering the ground round the Seven Dials with buildings. He
was probably the best adviser that could have been consulted
about the details of a lottery. Yet there were not wanting
persons who thought it hardly decent in the Treasury to call in
the aid of a gambler by profession.513

By the lottery loan, as it was called, one million was obtained.
But another million was wanted to bring the estimated revenue for
the year 1694 up to a level with the estimated expenditure. The
ingenious and enterprising Montague had a plan ready, a plan to
which, except under the pressure of extreme pecuniary
difficulties, he might not easily have induced the Commons to
assent, but which, to his large and vigorous mind, appeared to
have advantages, both commercial and political, more important
than the immediate relief to the finances. He succeeded, not only
in supplying the wants of the State for twelve months, but in
creating a great institution, which, after the lapse of more than
a century and a half, continues to flourish, and which he lived
to see the stronghold, through all vicissitudes, of the Whig
party, and the bulwark, in dangerous times, of the Protestant

In the reign of William old men were still living who could
remember the days when there was not a single banking house in
the city of London. So late as the time of the Restoration every
trader had his own strong box in his own house, and, when an
acceptance was presented to him, told down the crowns and
Caroluses on his own counter. But the increase of wealth had
produced its natural effect, the subdivision of labour. Before
the end of the reign of Charles the Second, a new mode of paying
and receiving money had come into fashion among the merchants of
the capital. A class of agents arose, whose office was to keep
the cash of the commercial houses. This new branch of business
naturally fell into the hands of the goldsmiths, who were
accustomed to traffic largely in the precious metals, and who had
vaults in which great masses of bullion could lie secure from
fire and from robbers. It was at the shops of the goldsmiths of
Lombard Street that all the payments in coin were made. Other
traders gave and received nothing but paper.

This great change did not take place without much opposition and
clamour. Oldfashioned merchants complained bitterly that a class
of men who, thirty years before, had confined themselves to their
proper functions, and had made a fair profit by embossing silver
bowls and chargers, by setting jewels for fine ladies, and by
selling pistoles and dollars to gentlemen setting out for the
Continent, had become the treasurers, and were fast becoming the
masters, of the whole City. These usurers, it was said, played at
hazard with what had been earned by the industry and hoarded by
the thrift of other men. If the dice turned up well, the knave
who kept the cash became an alderman; if they turned up ill, the
dupe who furnished the cash became a bankrupt. On the other side
the conveniences of the modern practice were set forth in
animated language. The new system, it was said, saved both labour
and money. Two clerks, seated in one counting house, did what,
under the old system, must have been done by twenty clerks in
twenty different establishments. A goldsmith's note might be
transferred ten times in a morning; and thus a hundred guineas,
locked in his safe close to the Exchange, did what would formerly
have required a thousand guineas, dispersed through many tills,
some on Ludgate Hill, some in Austin Friars, and some in Tower

Gradually even those who had been loudest in murmuring against
the innovation gave way and conformed to the prevailing usage.
The last person who held out, strange to say, was Sir Dudley
North. When, in 1680, after residing many years abroad, he
returned to London, nothing astonished or displeased him more
than the practice of making payments by drawing bills on bankers.
He found that he could not go on Change without being followed
round the piazza by goldsmiths, who, with low bows, begged to
have the honour of serving him. He lost his temper when his
friends asked where he kept his cash. "Where should I keep it,"
he asked, "but in my own house?" With difficulty he was induced
to put his money into the hands of one of the Lombard Street men,
as they were called. Unhappily, the Lombard Street man broke, and
some of his customers suffered severely. Dudley North lost only
fifty pounds; but this loss confirmed him in his dislike of the
whole mystery of banking. It was in vain, however, that he
exhorted his fellow citizens to return to the good old practice,
and not to expose themselves to utter ruin in order to spare
themselves a little trouble. He stood alone against the whole
community. The advantages of the modern system were felt every
hour of every day in every part of London; and people were no
more disposed to relinquish those advantages for fear of
calamities which occurred at long intervals than to refrain from
building houses for fear of fires, or from building ships for
fear of hurricanes. It is a curious circumstance that a man who,
as a theorist, was distinguished from all the merchants of his
time by the largeness of his views and by his superiority to
vulgar prejudices, should, in practice, have been distinguished
from all the merchants of his time by the obstinacy with which he
adhered to an ancient mode of doing business, long after the
dullest and most ignorant plodders had abandoned that mode for
one better suited to a great commercial society.515

No sooner had banking become a separate and important trade, than
men began to discuss with earnestness the question whether it
would be expedient to erect a national bank. The general opinion
seems to have been decidedly in favour of a national bank; nor
can we wonder at this; for few were then aware that trade is in
general carried on to much more advantage by individuals than by
great societies; and banking really is one of those few trades
which can be carried on to as much advantage by a great society
as by an individual. Two public banks had long been renowned
throughout Europe, the Bank of Saint George at Genoa, and the
Bank of Amsterdam. The immense wealth which was in the keeping of
those establishments, the confidence which they inspired, the
prosperity which they had created, their stability, tried by
panics, by wars, by revolutions, and found proof against all,
were favourite topics. The bank of Saint George had nearly
completed its third century. It had begun to receive deposits and
to make loans before Columbus had crossed the Atlantic, before
Gama had turned the Cape, when a Christian Emperor was reigning
at Constantinople, when a Mahomedan Sultan was reigning at
Granada, when Florence was a Republic, when Holland obeyed a
hereditary Prince. All these things had been changed. New
continents and new oceans had been discovered. The Turk was at
Constantinople; the Castilian was at Granada; Florence had its
hereditary Prince; Holland was a Republic; but the Bank of Saint
George was still receiving deposits and making loans. The Bank of
Amsterdam was little more than eighty years old; but its solvency
had stood severe tests. Even in the terrible crisis of 1672, when
the whole Delta of the Rhine was overrun by the French armies,
when the white flags were seen from the top of the Stadthouse,
there was one place where, amidst the general consternation and
confusion, tranquillity and order were still to be found; and
that place was the Bank. Why should not the Bank of London be as
great and as durable as the Banks of Genoa and of Amsterdam?
Before the end of the reign of Charles the Second several plans
were proposed, examined, attacked and defended. Some pamphleteers
maintained that a national bank ought to be under the direction
of the King. Others thought that the management ought to be
entrusted to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the
capital.516 After the Revolution the subject was discussed with
an animation before unknown. For, under the influence of liberty,
the breed of political projectors multiplied exceedingly. A crowd
of plans, some of which resemble the fancies of a child or the
dreams of a man in a fever, were pressed on the government.
Preeminently conspicuous among the political mountebanks, whose
busy faces were seen every day in the lobby of the House of
Commons, were John Briscoe and Hugh Chamberlayne, two projectors
worthy to have been members of that Academy which Gulliver found
at Lagado. These men affirmed that the one cure for every
distemper of the State was a Land Bank. A Land Bank would work
for England miracles such as had never been wrought for Israel,
miracles exceeding the heaps of quails and the daily shower of
manna. There would be no taxes; and yet the Exchequer would be
full to overflowing. There would be no poor rates; for there
would be no poor. The income of every landowner would be doubled.
The profits of every merchant would be increased. In short, the
island would, to use Briscoe's words, be the paradise of the
world. The only losers would be the moneyed men, those worst
enemies of the nation, who had done more injury to the gentry and
yeomanry than an invading army from France would have had the
heart to do.517

These blessed effects the Land Bank was to produce simply by
issuing enormous quantities of notes on landed security. The
doctrine of the projectors was that every person who had real
property ought to have, besides that property, paper money to the
full value of that property. Thus, if his estate was worth two
thousand pounds, he ought to have his estate and two thousand
pounds in paper money.518 Both Briscoe and Chamberlayne treated
with the greatest contempt the notion that there could be an
overissue of paper as long as there was, for every ten pound
note, a piece of land in the country worth ten pounds. Nobody,
they said, would accuse a goldsmith of overissuing as long as his
vaults contained guineas and crowns to the full value of all the
notes which bore his signature. Indeed no goldsmith had in his
vaults guineas and crowns to the full value of all his paper. And
was not a square mile of rich land in Taunton Dean at least as
well entitled to be called wealth as a bag of gold or silver? The
projectors could not deny that many people had a prejudice in
favour of the precious metals, and that therefore, if the Land
Bank were bound to cash its notes, it would very soon stop
payment. This difficulty they got over by proposing that the
notes should be inconvertible, and that every body should be
forced to take them.

The speculations of Chamberlayne on the subject of the currency
may possibly find admirers even in our own time. But to his other
errors he added an error which began and ended with him. He was
fool enough to take it for granted, in all his reasonings, that
the value of an estate varied directly as the duration. He
maintained that if the annual income derived from a manor were a
thousand pounds, a grant of that manor for twenty years must be
worth twenty thousand pounds, and a grant for a hundred years
worth a hundred thousand pounds. If, therefore, the lord of such
a manor would pledge it for a hundred years to the Land Bank, the
Land Bank might, on that security, instantly issue notes for a
hundred thousand pounds. On this subject Chamberlayne was proof
to ridicule, to argument, even to arithmetical demonstration. He
was reminded that the fee simple of land would not sell for more
than twenty years' purchase. To say, therefore, that a term of a
hundred years was worth five times as much as a term of twenty
years, was to say that a term of a hundred years was worth five
times the fee simple; in other words, that a hundred was five
times infinity. Those who reasoned thus were refuted by being
told that they were usurers; and it should seem that a large
number of country gentlemen thought the refutation complete.519

In December 1693 Chamberlayne laid his plan, in all its naked
absurdity, before the Commons, and petitioned to be heard. He
confidently undertook to raise eight thousand pounds on every
freehold estate of a hundred and fifty pounds a year which should
be brought, as he expressed it, into his Land Bank, and this
without dispossessing the freeholder.520 All the squires in the
House must have known that the fee simple of such an estate would
hardly fetch three thousand pounds in the market. That less than
the fee simple of such an estate could, by any device, be made to
produce eight thousand pounds, would, it might have been thought,
have seemed incredible to the most illiterate foxhunter that
could be found on the benches. Distress, however, and animosity
had made the landed gentlemen credulous. They insisted on
referring Chamberlayne's plan to a committee; and the committee
reported that the plan was practicable, and would tend to the
benefit of the nation.521 But by this time the united force of
demonstration and derision had begun to produce an effect even on
the most ignorant rustics in the House. The report lay unnoticed
on the table; and the country was saved from a calamity compared
with which the defeat of Landen and the loss of the Smyrna fleet
would have been blessings.

All the projectors of this busy time, however, were not so
absurd as Chamberlayne. One among them, William Paterson, was an
ingenious, though not always a judicious, speculator. Of his early
life little is known except that he was a native of Scotland, and
that he had been in the West Indies. In what character he had
visited the West Indies was a matter about which his
contemporaries differed. His friends said that he had been a
missionary; his enemies that he had been a buccaneer. He seems to
have been gifted by nature with fertile invention, an ardent
temperament and great powers of persuasion, and to have acquired
somewhere in the course of his vagrant life a perfect knowledge
of accounts.

This man submitted to the government, in 1691, a plan of a
national bank; and his plan was favourably received both by
statesmen and by merchants. But years passed away; and nothing
was done, till, in the spring of 1694, it became absolutely
necessary to find some new mode of defraying the charges of the
war. Then at length the scheme devised by the poor and obscure
Scottish adventurer was taken up in earnest by Montague. With
Montague was closely allied Michael Godfrey, the brother of that
Sir Edmondsbury Godfrey whose sad and mysterious death had,
fifteen years before, produced a terrible outbreak of popular
feeling. Michael was one of the ablest, most upright and most
opulent of the merchant princes of London. He was, as might have
been expected from his near connection with the martyr of the
Protestant faith, a zealous Whig. Some of his writings are still
extant, and prove him to have had a strong and clear mind.

By these two distinguished men Paterson's scheme was fathered.
Montague undertook to manage the House of Commons, Godfrey to
manage the City. An approving vote was obtained from the
Committee of Ways and Means; and a bill, the title of which gave
occasion to many sarcasms, was laid on the table. It was indeed
not easy to guess that a bill, which purported only to impose a
new duty on tonnage for the benefit of such persons as should
advance money towards carrying on the war, was really a bill
creating the greatest commercial institution that the world had
ever seen.

The plan was that twelve hundred thousand pounds should be
borrowed by the government on what was then considered as the
moderate interest of eight per cent. In order to induce
capitalists to advance the money promptly on terms so favourable
to the public, the subscribers were to be incorporated by the
name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. The
corporation was to have no exclusive privilege, and was to be
restricted from trading in any thing but bills of exchange,
bullion and forfeited pledges.

As soon as the plan became generally known, a paper war broke out
as furious as that between the swearers and the nonswearers, or
as that between the Old East India Company and the New East India
Company. The projectors who had failed to gain the ear of the
government fell like madmen on their more fortunate brother. All
the goldsmiths and pawnbrokers set up a howl of rage. Some
discontented Tories predicted ruin to the monarchy. It was
remarkable, they said, that Banks and Kings had never existed
together. Banks were republican institutions. There were
flourishing banks at Venice, at Genoa, at Amsterdam and at
Hamburg. But who had ever heard of a Bank of France or a Bank of
Spain?522 Some discontented Whigs, on the other hand, predicted
ruin to our liberties. Here, they said, is an instrument of
tyranny more formidable than the High Commission, than the Star
Chamber, than even the fifty thousand soldiers of Oliver. The
whole wealth of the nation will be in the hands of the Tonnage
Bank,--such was the nickname then in use;--and the Tonnage Bank
will be in the hands of the Sovereign. The power of the purse,
the one great security for all the rights of Englishmen, will be
transferred from the House of Commons to the Governor and
Directors of the new Company. This last consideration was really
of some weight, and was allowed to be so by the authors of the
bill. A clause was therefore most properly inserted which
inhibited the Bank from advancing money to the Crown without
authority from Parliament. Every infraction of this salutary rule
was to be punished by forfeiture of three times the sum advanced;
and it was provided that the King should not have power to remit
any part of the penalty.

The plan, thus amended, received the sanction of the Commons more
easily than might have been expected from the violence of the
adverse clamour. In truth, the Parliament was under duress. Money
must be had, and could in no other way be had so easily. What
took place when the House had resolved itself into a committee
cannot be discovered; but, while the Speaker was in the chair, no
division took place. The bill, however, was not safe when it had
reached the Upper House. Some Lords suspected that the plan of a
national bank had been devised for the purpose of exalting the
moneyed interest at the expense of the landed interest. Others
thought that this plan, whether good or bad, ought not to have
been submitted to them in such a form. Whether it would be safe
to call into existence a body which might one day rule the whole
commercial world, and how such a body should be constituted, were
questions which ought not to be decided by one branch of the
Legislature. The Peers ought to be at perfect liberty to examine
all the details of the proposed scheme, to suggest amendments, to
ask for conferences. It was therefore most unfair that the law
establishing the Bank should be sent up as part of a law granting
supplies to the Crown. The Jacobites entertained some hope that
the session would end with a quarrel between the Houses, that the
Tonnage Bill would be lost, and that William would enter on the
campaign without money. It was already May, according to the New
Style. The London season was over; and many noble families had
left Covent Garden and Soho Square for their woods and hayfields.
But summonses were sent out. There was a violent rush back to
town. The benches which had lately been deserted were crowded.
The sittings began at an hour unusually early, and were prolonged
to an hour unusually late. On the day on which the bill was
committed the contest lasted without intermission from nine in
the morning till six in the evening. Godolphin was in the chair.
Nottingham and Rochester proposed to strike out all the clauses
which related to the Bank. Something was said about the danger of
setting up a gigantic corporation which might soon give law to
the King and the three Estates of the Realm. But the Peers seemed
to be most moved by the appeal which was made to them as
landlords. The whole scheme, it was asserted, was intended to
enrich usurers at the expense of the nobility and gentry. Persons
who had laid by money would rather put it into the Bank than lend
it on mortgage at moderate interest. Caermarthen said little or
nothing in defence of what was, in truth, the work of his rivals
and enemies. He owned that there were grave objections to the
mode in which the Commons had provided for the public service of
the year. But would their Lordships amend a money bill? Would
they engage in a contest of which the end must be that they must
either yield, or incur the grave responsibility of leaving the
Channel without a fleet during the summer? This argument
prevailed; and, on a division, the amendment was rejected by
forty-three votes to thirty-one. A few hours later the bill
received the royal assent, and the Parliament was prorogued.523
In the City the success of Montague's plan was complete. It was
then at least as difficult to raise a million at eight per cent.
as it would now be to raise thirty millions at four per cent. It
had been supposed that contributions would drop in very slowly;
and a considerable time had therefore been allowed by the Act.
This indulgence was not needed. So popular was the new investment
that on the day on which the books were opened three hundred
thousand pounds were subscribed; three hundred thousand more were
subscribed during the next forty-eight hours; and, in ten days,
to the delight of all the friends of the government, it was
announced that the list was full. The whole sum which the
Corporation was bound to lend to the State was paid into the
Exchequer before the first instalment was due.524 Somers gladly
put the Great Seal to a charter framed in conformity with the
terms prescribed by Parliament; and the Bank of England commenced
its operations in the house of the Company of Grocers. There,
during many years, directors, secretaries and clerks might be
seen labouring in different parts of one spacious hall. The
persons employed by the bank were originally only fifty-four.
They are now nine hundred. The sum paid yearly in salaries
amounted at first to only four thousand three hundred and fifty
pounds. It now exceeds two hundred and ten thousand pounds. We
may therefore fairly infer that the incomes of commercial clerks
are, on an average, about three times as large in the reign of
Victoria as they were in the reign of William the Third.525

It soon appeared that Montague had, by skilfully availing himself
of the financial difficulties of the country, rendered an
inestimable service to his party. During several generations the
Bank of England was emphatically a Whig body. It was Whig, not
accidentally, but necessarily. It must have instantly stopped
payment if it had ceased to receive the interest on the sum which
it had advanced to the government; and of that interest James
would not have paid one farthing. Seventeen years after the
passing of the Tonnage Bill, Addison, in one of his most
ingenious and graceful little allegories, described the situation
of the great Company through which the immense wealth of London
was constantly circulating. He saw Public Credit on her throne in
Grocers' Hall, the Great Charter over her head, the Act of
Settlement full in her view. Her touch turned every thing to
gold. Behind her seat, bags filled with coin were piled up to the
ceiling. On her right and on her left the floor was hidden by
pyramids of guineas. On a sudden the door flies open. The
Pretender rushes in, a sponge in one hand, in the other a sword
which he shakes at the Act of Settlement. The beautiful Queen
sinks down fainting. The spell by which she has turned all things
around her into treasure is broken. The money bags shrink like
pricked bladders. The piles of gold pieces are turned into
bundles of rags or faggots of wooden tallies.526 The truth which
this parable was meant to convey was constantly present to the
minds of the rulers of the Bank. So closely was their interest
bound up with the interest of the government that the greater the
public danger the more ready were they to come to the rescue. In
old times, when the Treasury was empty, when the taxes came in
slowly, and when the pay of the soldiers and sailors was in
arrear, it had been necessary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer
to go, hat in hand, up and down Cheapside and Cornhill, attended
by the Lord Mayor and by the Aldermen, and to make up a sum by
borrowing a hundred pounds from this hosier, and two hundred
pounds from that ironmonger.527 Those times were over. The
government, instead of laboriously scooping up supplies from
numerous petty sources, could now draw whatever it required from
an immense reservoir, which all those petty sources kept
constantly replenished. It is hardly too much to say that, during
many years, the weight of the Bank, which was constantly in the
scale of the Whigs, almost counterbalanced the weight of the
Church, which was as constantly in the scale of the Tories.

A few minutes after the bill which established the Bank of
England had received the royal assent, the Parliament was
prorogued by the King with a speech in which he warmly thanked
the Commons for their liberality. Montague was immediately
rewarded for his services with the place of Chancellor of the

Shrewsbury had a few weeks before consented to accept the seals.
He had held out resolutely from November to March. While he was
trying to find excuses which might satisfy his political friends,
Sir James Montgomery visited him. Montgomery was now the most
miserable of human beings. Having borne a great part in a great
Revolution, having been charged with the august office of
presenting the Crown of Scotland to the Sovereigns whom the
Estates had chosen, having domineered without a rival, during
several months, in the Parliament at Edinburgh, having seen
before him in near prospect the seals of Secretary, the coronet
of an Earl, ample wealth, supreme power, he had on a sudden sunk
into obscurity and abject penury. His fine parts still remained;
and he was therefore used by the Jacobites; but, though used, he
was despised, distrusted and starved. He passed his life in
wandering from England to France and from France back to England,
without finding a resting place in either country. Sometimes he
waited in the antechamber at Saint Germains, where the priests
scowled at him as a Calvinist, and where even the Protestant
Jacobites cautioned one another in whispers against the old
Republican. Sometimes he lay hid in the garrets of London,
imagining that every footstep which he heard on the stairs was
that of a bailiff with a writ, or that of a King's messenger with
a warrant. He now obtained access to Shrewsbury, and ventured to
talk as a Jacobite to a brother Jacobite. Shrewsbury, who was not
at all inclined to put his estate and his neck in the power of a
man whom he knew to be both rash and perfidious, returned very
guarded answers. Through some channel which is not known to us,
William obtained full intelligence of what had passed on this
occasion. He sent for Shrewsbury, and again spoke earnestly about
the secretaryship. Shrewsbury again excused himself. His health,
he said, was bad. "That," said William, "is not your only
reason." "No, Sir," said Shrewsbury, "it is not." And he began to
speak of public grievances, and alluded to the fate of the
Triennial Bill, which he had himself introduced. But William cut
him short. "There is another reason behind. When did you see
Montgomery last?" Shrewsbury was thunderstruck. The King
proceeded to repeat some things which Montgomery had said. By
this time Shrewsbury had recovered from his dismay, and had
recollected that, in the conversation which had been so
accurately reported to the government, he had fortunately uttered
no treason, though he had heard much. "Sir," said he, "since Your
Majesty has been so correctly informed, you must be aware that I
gave no encouragement to that man's attempts to seduce me from my
allegiance." William did not deny this, but intimated that such
secret dealings with noted Jacobites raised suspicions which
Shrewsbury could remove only by accepting the seals. "That," he
said, "will put me quite at ease. I know that you are a man of
honour, and that, if you undertake to serve me, you will serve me
faithfully." So pressed, Shrewsbury complied, to the great joy of
his whole party; and was immediately rewarded for his compliance
with a dukedom and a garter.529

Thus a Whig ministry was gradually forming. There were now two
Whig Secretaries of State, a Whig Keeper of the Great Seal, a
Whig First Lord of the Admiralty, a Whig Chancellor of the
Exchequer. The Lord Privy Seal, Pembroke, might also be called a
Whig; for his mind was one which readily took the impress of any
stronger mind with which it was brought into contact. Seymour,
having been long enough a Commissioner of the Treasury to lose
much of his influence with the Tory country gentlemen who had
once listened to him as to an oracle, was dismissed, and his
place was filled by John Smith, a zealous and able Whig, who had
taken an active part in the debates of the late session.530 The
only Tories who still held great offices in the executive
government were the Lord President, Caermarthen, who, though he
began to feel that power was slipping from his grasp, still
clutched it desperately, and the first Lord of the Treasury,
Godolphin, who meddled little out of his own department, and
performed the duties of that department with skill and assiduity.

William, however, still tried to divide his favours between the
two parties. Though the Whigs were fast drawing to themselves the
substance of power, the Tories obtained their share of honorary
distinctions. Mulgrave, who had, during the late session, exerted
his great parliamentary talents in favour of the King's policy,
was created Marquess of Normanby, and named a Cabinet Councillor,
but was never consulted. He obtained at the same time a pension
of three thousand pounds a year. Caermarthen, whom the late
changes had deeply mortified, was in some degree consoled by a
signal mark of royal approbation. He became Duke of Leeds. It had
taken him little more than twenty years to climb from the station
of a Yorkshire country gentleman to the highest rank in the
peerage. Two great Whig Earls were at the same time created
Dukes, Bedford and Devonshire. It ought to be mentioned that
Bedford had repeatedly refused the dignity which he now somewhat
reluctantly accepted. He declared that he preferred his Earldom
to a Dukedom, and gave a very sensible reason for the preference.
An Earl who had a numerous family might send one son to the
Temple and another to a counting house in the city. But the sons
of a Duke were all lords; and a lord could not make his bread
either at the bar or on Change. The old man's objections,
however, were overcome; and the two great houses of Russell and
Cavendish, which had long been closely connected by friendship
and by marriage, by common opinions, common sufferings and common
triumphs, received on the same day the greatest honour which it
is in the power of the Crown to confer.531

The Gazette which announced these creations announced also that
the King had set out for the Continent. He had, before his
departure, consulted with his ministers about the means of
counteracting a plan of naval operations which had been formed by
the French government. Hitherto the maritime war had been carried
on chiefly in the Channel and the Atlantic. But Lewis had now
determined to concentrate his maritime forces in the
Mediterranean. He hoped that, with their help, the army of
Marshal Noailles would be able to take Barcelona, to subdue the
whole of Catalonia, and to compel Spain to sue for peace.
Accordingly, Tourville's squadron, consisting of fifty three men
of war, set sail from Brest on the twenty-fifth of April and
passed the Straits of Gibraltar on the fourth of May.

William, in order to cross the designs of the enemy, determined
to send Russell to the Mediterranean with the greater part of the
combined fleet of England and Holland. A squadron was to remain
in the British seas under the command of the Earl of Berkeley.
Talmash was to embark on board of this squadron with a large body
of troops, and was to attack Brest, which would, it was supposed,
in the absence of Tourville and his fifty-three vessels, be an
easy conquest.

That preparations were making at Portsmouth for an expedition, in
which the land forces were to bear a part, could not be kept a
secret. There was much speculation at the Rose and at Garraway's
touching the destination of the armament. Some talked of Rhe,
some of Oleron, some of Rochelle, some of Rochefort. Many, till
the fleet actually began to move westward, believed that it was
bound for Dunkirk. Many guessed that Brest would be the point of
attack; but they only guessed this; for the secret was much
better kept than most of the secrets of that age.532 Russell,
till he was ready to weigh anchor, persisted in assuring his
Jacobite friends that he knew nothing. His discretion was proof
even against all the arts of Marlborough. Marlborough, however,
had other sources of intelligence. To those sources he applied
himself; and he at length succeeded in discovering the whole plan
of the government. He instantly wrote to James. He had, he said,
but that moment ascertained that twelve regiments of infantry and
two regiments of marines were about to embark, under the command
of Talmash, for the purpose of destroying the harbour of Brest
and the shipping which lay there. "This," he added, "would be a
great advantage to England. But no consideration can, or ever
shall, hinder me from letting you know what I think may be for
your service." He then proceeded to caution James against
Russell. "I endeavoured to learn this some time ago from him; but
he always denied it to me, though I am very sure that he knew the
design for more than six weeks. This gives me a bad sign of this
man's intentions."

The intelligence sent by Marlborough to James was communicated by
James to the French government. That government took its measures
with characteristic promptitude. Promptitude was indeed
necessary; for, when Marlborough's letter was written, the
preparations at Portsmouth were all but complete; and, if the
wind had been favourable to the English, the objects of the
expedition might have been attained without a struggle. But
adverse gales detained our fleet in the Channel during another
month. Meanwhile a large body of troops was collected at Brest.
Vauban was charged with the duty of putting the defences in
order; and, under his skilful direction, batteries were planted
which commanded every spot where it seemed likely that an invader
would attempt to land. Eight large rafts, each carrying many
mortars, were moored in the harbour, and, some days before the
English arrived, all was ready for their reception.

On the sixth of June the whole allied fleet was on the Atlantic
about fifteen leagues west of Cape Finisterre. There Russell and
Berkeley parted company. Russell proceeded towards the
Mediterranean. Berkeley's squadron, with the troops on board,
steered for the coast of Brittany, and anchored just without
Camaret Bay, close to the mouth of the harbour of Brest. Talmash
proposed to land in Camaret Bay. It was therefore desirable to
ascertain with accuracy the state of the coast. The eldest son of
the Duke of Leeds, now called Marquess of Caermarthen, undertook
to enter the basin and to obtain the necessary information. The
passion of this brave and eccentric young man for maritime
adventure was unconquerable. He had solicited and obtained the
rank of Rear Admiral, and had accompanied the expedition in his
own yacht, the Peregrine, renowned as the masterpiece of
shipbuilding, and more than once already mentioned in this
history. Cutts, who had distinguished himself by his intrepidity
in the Irish war, and had been rewarded with an Irish peerage,
offered to accompany Caermarthen, Lord Mohun, who, desirous, it
may be hoped, to efface by honourable exploits the stain which a
shameful and disastrous brawl had left on his name, was serving
with the troops as a volunteer, insisted on being of the party.
The Peregrine went into the bay with its gallant crew, and came
out safe, but not without having run great risks. Caermarthen
reported that the defences, of which however he had seen only a
small part, were formidable. But Berkeley and Talmash suspected
that he overrated the danger. They were not aware that their
design had long been known at Versailles, that an army had been
collected to oppose them, and that the greatest engineer in the
world had been employed to fortify the coast against them. They
therefore did not doubt that their troops might easily be put on
shore under the protection of a fire from the ships. On the
following morning Caermarthen was ordered to enter the bay with
eight vessels and to batter the French works. Talmash was to
follow with about a hundred boats full of soldiers. It soon
appeared that the enterprise was even more perilous than it had
on the preceding day appeared to be. Batteries which had then
escaped notice opened on the ships a fire so murderous that
several decks were soon cleared. Great bodies of foot and horse
were discernible; and, by their uniforms, they appeared to be
regular troops. The young Rear Admiral sent an officer in all
haste to warn Talmash. But Talmash was so completely possessed by
the notion that the French were not prepared to repel an attack
that he disregarded all cautions and would not even trust his own
eyes. He felt sure that the force which he saw assembled on the
shore was a mere rabble of peasants, who had been brought
together in haste from the surrounding country. Confident that
these mock soldiers would run like sheep before real soldiers, he
ordered his men to pull for the beach. He was soon undeceived. A
terrible fire mowed down his troops faster than they could get on
shore. He had himself scarcely sprung on dry ground when he
received a wound in the thigh from a cannon ball, and was carried
back to his skiff. His men reembarked in confusion. Ships and
boats made haste to get out of the bay, but did not succeed till
four hundred seamen and seven hundred soldiers had fallen. During
many days the waves continued to throw up pierced and shattered
corpses on the beach of Brittany. The battery from which Talmash
received his wound is called, to this day, the Englishman's

The unhappy general was laid on his couch; and a council of war
was held in his cabin. He was for going straight into the harbour
of Brest and bombarding the town. But this suggestion, which
indicated but too clearly that his judgment had been affected by
the irritation of a wounded body and a wounded mind, was wisely
rejected by the naval officers. The armament returned to
Portsmouth. There Talmash died, exclaiming with his last breath
that he had been lured into a snare by treachery. The public
grief and indignation were loudly expressed. The nation
remembered the services of the unfortunate general, forgave his
rashness, pitied his sufferings, and execrated the unknown
traitors whose machinations had been fatal to him. There were
many conjectures and many rumours. Some sturdy Englishmen, misled
by national prejudice, swore that none of our plans would ever be
kept a secret from the enemy while French refugees were in high
military command. Some zealous Whigs, misled by party sprit,
muttered that the Court of Saint Germains would never want good
intelligence while a single Tory remained in the Cabinet Council.
The real criminal was not named; nor, till the archives of the
House of Stuart were explored, was it known to the world that
Talmash had perished by the basest of all the hundred villanies
of Marlborough.533

Yet never had Marlborough been less a Jacobite than at the moment
when he rendered this wicked and shameful service to the Jacobite
cause. It may be confidently affirmed that to serve the banished
family was not his object, and that to ingratiate himself with
the banished family was only his secondary object. His primary
object was to force himself into the service of the existing
government, and to regain possession of those important and
lucrative places from which he had been dismissed more than two
years before. He knew that the country and the Parliament would
not patiently bear to see the English army commanded by foreign
generals. Two Englishmen only had shown themselves fit for high
military posts, himself and Talmash. If Talmash were defeated and
disgraced, William would scarcely have a choice. In fact, as soon
as it was known that the expedition had failed, and that Talmash
was no more, the general cry was that the King ought to receive
into his favour the accomplished Captain who had done such good
service at Walcourt, at Cork and at Kinsale. Nor can we blame the
multitude for raising this cry. For every body knew that
Marlborough was an eminently brave, skilful and successful
officer; but very few persons knew that he had, while commanding
William's troops, while sitting in William's council, while
waiting in William's bedchamber, formed a most artful and
dangerous plot for the subversion of William's throne; and still
fewer suspected the real author of the recent calamity, of the
slaughter in the Bay of Camaret, of the melancholy fate of
Talmash. The effect therefore of the foulest of all treasons was
to raise the traitor in public estimation. Nor was he wanting to
himself at this conjuncture. While the Royal Exchange was in
consternation at this disaster of which he was the cause, while
many families were clothing themselves in mourning for the brave
men of whom he was the murderer, he repaired to Whitehall; and
there, doubtless with all that grace, that nobleness, that
suavity, under which lay, hidden from all common observers, a
seared conscience and a remorseless heart, he professed himself
the most devoted, the most loyal, of all the subjects of William
and Mary, and expressed a hope that he might, in this emergency,
be permitted to offer his sword to their Majesties. Shrewsbury
was very desirous that the offer should be accepted; but a short
and dry answer from William, who was then in the Netherlands, put
an end for the present to all negotiation. About Talmash the King
expressed himself with generous tenderness. "The poor fellow's
fate," he wrote, "has affected me much. I do not indeed think
that he managed well; but it was his ardent desire to distinguish
himself that impelled him to attempt impossibilities."534

The armament which had returned to Portsmouth soon sailed again
for the coast of France, but achieved only exploits worse than
inglorious. An attempt was made to blow up the pier at Dunkirk.
Some towns inhabited by quiet tradesmen and fishermen were
bombarded. In Dieppe scarcely a house was left standing; a third
part of Havre was laid in ashes; and shells were thrown into
Calais which destroyed thirty private dwellings. The French and
the Jacobites loudly exclaimed against the cowardice and
barbarity of making war on an unwarlike population. The English
government vindicated itself by reminding the world of the
sufferings of the thrice wasted Palatinate; and, as against Lewis
and the flatterers of Lewis, the vindication was complete. But
whether it were consistent with humanity and with sound policy to
visit the crimes which an absolute Prince and a ferocious
soldiery had committed in the Palatinate on shopkeepers and
labourers, on women and children, who did not know that the
Palatinate existed, may perhaps be doubted.

Meanwhile Russell's fleet was rendering good service to the
common cause. Adverse winds had impeded his progress through the
Straits so long that he did not reach Carthagena till the middle
of July. By that time the progress of the French arms had spread
terror even to the Escurial. Noailles had, on the banks of the
Tar, routed an army commanded by the Viceroy of Catalonia; and,
on the day on which this victory was won, the Brest squadron had
joined the Toulon squadron in the Bay of Rosas. Palamos, attacked
at once by land and sea, was taken by storm. Gerona capitulated
after a faint show of resistance. Ostalric surrendered at the
first summons. Barcelona would in all probability have fallen,
had not the French Admirals learned that the conquerors of La
Hogue was approaching. They instantly quitted the coast of
Catalonia, and never thought themselves safe till they had taken
shelter under the batteries of Toulon.

The Spanish government expressed warm gratitude for this
seasonable assistance, and presented to the English Admiral a
jewel which was popularly said to be worth near twenty thousand
pounds sterling. There was no difficulty in finding such a jewel
among the hoards of gorgeous trinkets which had been left by
Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second to a degenerate race.
But, in all that constitutes the true wealth of states, Spain was
poor indeed. Her treasury was empty; her arsenals were
unfurnished; her ships were so rotten that they seemed likely to
fly asunder at the discharge of their own guns. Her ragged and
starving soldiers often mingled with the crowd of beggars at the
doors of convents, and battled there for a mess of pottage and a
crust of bread. Russell underwent those trials which no English
commander whose hard fate it has been to cooperate with Spaniards
has escaped. The Viceroy of Catalonia promised much, did nothing,
and expected every thing. He declared that three hundred and
fifty thousand rations were ready to be served out to the fleet
at Carthagena. It turned out that there were not in all the
stores of that port provisions sufficient to victual a single
frigate for a single week. Yet His Excellency thought himself
entitled to complain because England had not sent an army as well
as a fleet, and because the heretic Admiral did not choose to
expose the fleet to utter destruction by attacking the French
under the guns of Toulon. Russell implored the Spanish
authorities to look well to their dockyards, and to try to have,
by the next spring, a small squadron which might at least be able
to float; but he could not prevail on them to careen a single
ship. He could with difficulty obtain, on hard conditions,
permission to send a few of his sick men to marine hospitals on
shore. Yet, in spite of all the trouble given him by the
imbecility and ingratitude of a government which has generally
caused more annoyance to its allies than to its enemies, he
acquitted himself well. It is but just to him to say that, from
the time at which he became First Lord of the Admiralty, there
was a decided improvement in the naval administration. Though he
lay with his fleet many months near an inhospitable shore, and at
a great distance from England, there were no complaints about the
quality or the quantity of provisions. The crews had better food
and drink than they had ever had before; comforts which Spain did
not afford were supplied from home; and yet the charge was not
greater than when, in Torrington's time, the sailor was poisoned
with mouldy biscuit and nauseous beer.

As almost the whole maritime force of France was in the
Mediterranean, and as it seemed likely that an attempt would be
made on Barcelona in the following year, Russell received orders
to winter at Cadiz. In October he sailed to that port; and there
he employed himself in refitting his ships with an activity
unintelligible to the Spanish functionaries, who calmly suffered
the miserable remains of what had once been the greatest navy in
the world to rot under their eyes.535

Along the eastern frontier of France the war during this year
seemed to languish. In Piedmont and on the Rhine the most
important events of the campaign were petty skirmishes and
predatory incursions. Lewis remained at Versailles, and sent his
son, the Dauphin, to represent him in the Netherlands; but the
Dauphin was placed under the tutelage of Luxemburg, and proved a
most submissive pupil. During several months the hostile armies
observed each other. The allies made one bold push with the
intention of carrying the war into the French territory; but
Luxemburg, by a forced march, which excited the admiration of
persons versed in the military art, frustrated the design.
William on the other hand succeeded in taking Huy, then a
fortress of the third rank. No battle was fought; no important
town was besieged; but the confederates were satisfied with their
campaign. Of the four previous years every one had been marked by
some great disaster. In 1690 Waldeck had been defeated at
Fleurus. In 1691 Mons had fallen. In 1692 Namur had been taken in
sight of the allied army; and this calamity had been speedily
followed by the defeat of Steinkirk. In 1693 the battle of Landen
had been lost; and Charleroy had submitted to the conqueror. At
length in 1694 the tide had begun to turn. The French arms had
made no progress. What had been gained by the allies was indeed
not much; but the smallest gain was welcome to those whom a long
run of evil fortune had discouraged.

In England, the general opinion was that, notwithstanding the
disaster in Camaret Bay, the war was on the whole proceeding
satisfactorily both by land and by sea. But some parts of the
internal administration excited, during this autumn, much

Since Trenchard had been appointed Secretary of State, the
Jacobite agitators had found their situation much more unpleasant
than before. Sidney had been too indulgent and too fond of
pleasure to give them much trouble. Nottingham was a diligent and
honest minister; but he was as high a Tory as a faithful subject
of William and Mary could be; he loved and esteemed many of the
nonjurors; and, though he might force himself to be severe when
nothing but severity could save the State, he was not extreme to
mark the transgressions of his old friends; nor did he encourage
talebearers to come to Whitehall with reports of conspiracies.
But Trenchard was both an active public servant and an earnest
Whig. Even if he had himself been inclined to lenity, he would
have been urged to severity by those who surrounded him. He had
constantly at his side Hugh Speke and Aaron Smith, men to whom a
hunt after a Jacobite was the most exciting of all sports. The
cry of the malecontents was that Nottingham had kept his
bloodhounds in the leash, but that Trenchard had let them slip.
Every honest gentleman who loved the Church and hated the Dutch
went in danger of his life. There was a constant bustle at the
Secretary's Office, a constant stream of informers coming in, and
of messengers with warrants going out. It was said too, that the
warrants were often irregularly drawn, that they did not specify
the person, that they did not specify the crime, and yet that,
under the authority of such instruments as these, houses were
entered, desks and cabinets searched, valuable papers carried
away, and men of good birth and breeding flung into gaol among
felons.536 The minister and his agents answered that Westminster
Hall was open; that, if any man had been illegally imprisoned, he
had only to bring his action; that juries were quite sufficiently
disposed to listen to any person who pretended to have been
oppressed by cruel and griping men in power, and that, as none of
the prisoners whose wrongs were so pathetically described had
ventured to resort to this obvious and easy mode of obtaining
redress, it might fairly be inferred that nothing had been done
which could not be justified. The clamour of the malecontents
however made a considerable impression on the public mind; and at
length, a transaction in which Trenchard was more unlucky than
culpable, brought on him and on the government with which he was
connected much temporary obloquy.

Among the informers who haunted his office was an Irish vagabond
who had borne more than one name and had professed more than one
religion. He now called himself Taaffe. He had been a priest of
the Roman Catholic Church, and secretary to Adda the Papal
Nuncio, but had since the Revolution turned Protestant, had taken
a wife, and had distinguished himself by his activity in
discovering the concealed property of those Jesuits and
Benedictines who, during the late reign, had been quartered in
London. The ministers despised him; but they trusted him. They
thought that he had, by his apostasy, and by the part which he
had borne in the spoliation of the religious orders, cut himself
off from all retreat, and that, having nothing but a halter to
expect from King James, he must be true to King William.537

This man fell in with a Jacobite agent named Lunt, who had, since
the Revolution, been repeatedly employed among the discontented
gentry of Cheshire and Lancashire, and who had been privy to
those plans of insurrection which had been disconcerted by the
battle of the Boyne in 1690, and by the battle of La Hogue in
1692. Lunt had once been arrested on suspicion of treason, but
had been discharged for want of legal proof of his guilt. He was
a mere hireling, and was, without much difficulty, induced by
Taaffe to turn approver. The pair went to Trenchard. Lunt told
his story, mentioned the names of some Cheshire and Lancashire
squires to whom he had, as he affirmed, carried commissions from
Saint Germains, and of others, who had, to his knowledge, formed
secret hoards of arms and ammunition. His simple oath would not
have been sufficient to support a charge of high treason; but he
produced another witness whose evidence seemed to make the case
complete. The narrative was plausible and coherent; and indeed,
though it may have been embellished by fictions, there can be
little doubt that it was in substance true.538 Messengers and
search warrants were sent down to Lancashire. Aaron Smith himself
went thither; and Taaffe went with him. The alarm had been given
by some of the numerous traitors who ate the bread of William.
Some of the accused persons had fled; and others had buried their
sabres and muskets and burned their papers. Nevertheless,
discoveries were made which confirmed Lunt's depositions. Behind
the wainscot of the old mansion of one Roman Catholic family was
discovered a commission signed by James. Another house, of which
the master had absconded, was strictly searched, in spite of the
solemn asseverations of his wife and his servants that no arms
were concealed there. While the lady, with her hand on her heart,
was protesting on her honour that her husband was falsely
accused, the messengers observed that the back of the chimney did
not seem to be firmly fixed. It was removed, and a heap of blades
such as were used by horse soldiers tumbled out. In one of the
garrets were found, carefully bricked up, thirty saddles for
troopers, as many breastplates, and sixty cavalry swords.
Trenchard and Aaron Smith thought the case complete; and it was
determined that those culprits who had been apprehended should be
tried by a special commission.539

Taaffe now confidently expected to be recompensed for his
services; but he found a cold reception at the Treasury. He had
gone down to Lancashire chiefly in order that he might, under the
protection of a search warrant, pilfer trinkets and broad pieces
from secret drawers. His sleight of hand however had not
altogether escaped the observation of his companions. They
discovered that he had made free with the communion plate of the
Popish families, whose private hoards he had assisted in
ransacking. When therefore he applied for reward, he was
dismissed, not merely with a refusal, but with a stern reprimand.
He went away mad with greediness and spite. There was yet one way
in which he might obtain both money and revenge; and that way he
took. He made overtures to the friends of the prisoners. He and
he alone could undo what he had done, could save the accused from
the gallows, could cover the accusers with infamy, could drive
from office the Secretary and the Solicitor who were the dread of
all the friends of King James. Loathsome as Taaffe was to the
Jacobites, his offer was not to be slighted. He received a sum in
hand; he was assured that a comfortable annuity for life should
be settled on him when the business was done; and he was sent
down into the country, and kept in strict seclusion against the
day of trial.540

Meanwhile unlicensed pamphlets, in which the Lancashire plot was
classed with Oates's plot, with Dangerfield's plot, with Fuller's
plot, with Young's plot, with Whitney's plot, were circulated all
over the kingdom, and especially in the county which was to
furnish the jury. Of these pamphlets the longest, the ablest, and
the bitterest, entitled a Letter to Secretary Trenchard, was
commonly ascribed to Ferguson. It is not improbable that Ferguson
may have furnished some of the materials, and may have conveyed
the manuscript to the press. But many passages are written with
an art and a vigour which assuredly did not belong to him. Those
who judge by internal evidence may perhaps think that, in some
parts of this remarkable tract, they can discern the last gleam
of the malignant genius of Montgomery. A few weeks after the
appearance of the Letter he sank, unhonoured and unlamented, into
the grave.541

There were then no printed newspapers except the London Gazette.
But since the Revolution the newsletter had become a more
important political engine than it had previously been. The
newsletters of one writer named Dyer were widely circulated in
manuscript. He affected to be a Tory and a High Churchman, and
was consequently regarded by the foxhunting lords of manors, all
over the kingdom, as an oracle. He had already been twice in
prison; but his gains had more than compensated for his
sufferings, and he still persisted in seasoning his intelligence
to suit the taste of the country gentlemen. He now turned the
Lancashire plot into ridicule, declared that the guns which had
been found were old fowling pieces, that the saddles were meant
only for hunting, and that the swords were rusty reliques of Edge
Hill and Marston Moor.542 The effect produced by all this
invective and sarcasm on the public mind seems to have been
great. Even at the Dutch Embassy, where assuredly there was no
leaning towards Jacobitism, there was a strong impression that it
would be unwise to bring the prisoners to trial. In Lancashire
and Cheshire the prevailing sentiments were pity for the accused
and hatred of the prosecutors. The government however persevered.
In October four Judges went down to Manchester. At present the
population of that town is made up of persons born in every part
of the British Isles, and consequently has no especial sympathy
with the landowners, the farmers and the agricultural labourers
of the neighbouring districts. But in the seventeenth century the
Manchester man was a Lancashire man. His politics were those of
his county. For the old Cavalier families of his county he felt a
great respect; and he was furious when he thought that some of
the best blood of his county was about to be shed by a knot of
Roundhead pettifoggers from London. Multitudes of people from the
neighbouring villages filled the streets of the town, and saw
with grief and indignation the array of drawn swords and loaded
carbines which surrounded the culprits. Aaron Smith's
arrangements do not seem to have been skilful. The chief counsel
for the Crown was Sir William Williams, who, though now well
stricken in years and possessed of a great estate, still
continued to practise. One fault had thrown a dark shade over the
latter part of his life. The recollection of that day on which he
had stood up in Westminster Hall, amidst laughter and hooting, to
defend the dispensing power and to attack the right of petition,
had, ever since the Revolution, kept him back from honour. He was
an angry and disappointed man, and was by no means disposed to
incur unpopularity in the cause of a government to which he owed
nothing, and from which he hoped nothing.

Of the trial no detailed report has come down to us; but we have
both a Whig narrative and a Jacobite narrative.543 It seems that
the prisoners who were first arraigned did not sever in their
challenges, and were consequently tried together. Williams
examined or rather crossexamined his own witnesses with a
severity which confused them. The crowd which filled the court
laughed and clamoured. Lunt in particular became completely
bewildered, mistook one person for another, and did not recover
himself till the judges took him out of the hands of the counsel
for the Crown. For some of the prisoners an alibi was set up.
Evidence was also produced to show, what was undoubtedly quite
true, that Lunt was a man of abandoned character. The result
however seemed doubtful till, to the dismay of the prosecutors,
Taaffe entered the box. He swore with unblushing forehead that
the whole story of the plot was a circumstantial lie devised by
himself and Lunt. Williams threw down his brief; and, in truth, a
more honest advocate might well have done the same. The prisoners
who were at the bar were instantly acquitted; those who had not
yet been tried were set at liberty; the witnesses for the
prosecution were pelted out of Manchester; the Clerk of the Crown
narrowly escaped with life; and the judges took their departure
amidst hisses and execrations.

A few days after the close of the trials at Manchester William
returned to England. On the twelfth of November, only forty-eight
hours after his arrival at Kensington, the Houses met. He
congratulated them on the improved aspect of affairs. Both by
land and by sea the events of the year which was about to close
had been, on the whole, favourable to the allies; the French
armies had made no progress; the French fleets had not ventured
to show themselves; nevertheless, a safe and honourable peace
could be obtained only by a vigorous prosecution of the war; and
the war could not be vigorously prosecuted without large
supplies. William then reminded the Commons that the Act by which
they had settled the tonnage and poundage on the Crown for four
years was about to expire, and expressed his hope that it would
be renewed.

After the King had spoken, the Commons, for some reason which no
writer has explained, adjourned for a week. Before they met
again, an event took place which caused great sorrow at the
palace, and through all the ranks of the Low Church party.
Tillotson was taken suddenly ill while attending public worship
in the chapel of Whitehall. Prompt remedies might perhaps have
saved him; but he would not interrupt the prayers; and, before
the service was over, his malady was beyond the reach of
medicine. He was almost speechless; but his friends long
remembered with pleasure a few broken ejaculations which showed
that he enjoyed peace of mind to the last. He was buried in the
church of Saint Lawrence Jewry, near Guildhall. It was there that
he had won his immense oratorical reputation. He had preached
there during the thirty years which preceded his elevation to the
throne of Canterbury. His eloquence had attracted to the heart of
the City crowds of the learned and polite, from the Inns of Court
and from the lordly mansions of Saint James's and Soho. A
considerable part of his congregation had generally consisted of
young clergymen, who came to learn the art of preaching at the
feet of him who was universally considered as the first of
preachers. To this church his remains were now carried through a
mourning population. The hearse was followed by an endless train
of splendid equipages from Lambeth through Southwark and over
London Bridge. Burnet preached the funeral sermon. His kind and
honest heart was overcome by so many tender recollections that,
in the midst of his discourse, he paused and burst into tears,
while a loud moan of sorrow rose from the whole auditory. The
Queen could not speak of her favourite instructor without
weeping. Even William was visibly moved. "I have lost," he said,
"the best friend that I ever had, and the best man that I ever
knew." The only Englishman who is mentioned with tenderness in
any part of the great mass of letters which the King wrote to
Heinsius is Tillotson. The Archbishop had left a widow. To her
William granted a pension of four hundred a year, which he
afterwards increased to six hundred. His anxiety that she should
receive her income regularly and without stoppages was honourable
to him. Every quarterday he ordered the money, without any
deduction, to be brought to himself, and immediately sent it to
her. Tillotson had bequeathed to her no property, except a great
number of manuscript sermons. Such was his fame among his
contemporaries that those sermons were purchased by the
booksellers for the almost incredible sum of two thousand five
hundred guineas, equivalent, in the wretched state in which the
silver coin then was, to at least three thousand six hundred
pounds. Such a price had never before been given in England for
any copyright. About the same time Dryden, whose reputation was
then in the zenith, received thirteen hundred pounds for his
translation of all the works of Virgil, and was thought to have
been splendidly remunerated.544

It was not easy to fill satisfactorily the high place which
Tillotson had left vacant. Mary gave her voice for Stillingfleet,
and pressed his claims as earnestly as she ever ventured to press
any thing. In abilities and attainments he had few superiors
among the clergy. But, though he would probably have been
considered as a Low Churchman by Jane and South, he was too high
a Churchman for William; and Tenison was appointed. The new
primate was not eminently distinguished by eloquence or learning:
but he was honest, prudent, laborious and benevolent; he had been
a good rector of a large parish and a good bishop of a large
diocese; detraction had not yet been busy with his name; and it
might well be thought that a man of plain sense, moderation and
integrity, was more likely than a man of brilliant genius and
lofty spirit to succeed in the arduous task of quieting a
discontented and distracted Church.

Meanwhile the Commons had entered upon business. They cheerfully
voted about two million four hundred thousand pounds for the
army, and as much for the navy. The land tax for the year was
again fixed at four shillings in the pound; the Tonnage Act was
renewed for a term of five years; and a fund was established on
which the government was authorised to borrow two millions and a

Some time was spent by both Houses in discussing the Manchester
trials. If the malecontents had been wise, they would have been
satisfied with the advantage which they had already gained. Their
friends had been set free. The prosecutors had with difficulty
escaped from the hands of an enraged multitude. The character of
the government had been seriously damaged. The ministers were
accused, in prose and in verse, sometimes in earnest and
sometimes in jest, of having hired a gang of ruffians to swear
away the lives of honest gentlemen. Even moderate politicians,
who gave no credit to these foul imputations, owned that
Trenchard ought to have remembered the villanies of Fuller and
Young, and to have been on his guard against such wretches as
Taaffe and Lunt. The unfortunate Secretary's health and spirits
had given way. It was said that he was dying; and it was certain
that he would not long continue to hold the seals. The Tories had
won a great victory; but, in their eagerness to improve it, they
turned it into a defeat.

Early in the session Howe complained, with his usual vehemence
and asperity, of the indignities to which innocent and honourable
men, highly descended and highly esteemed, had been subjected by
Aaron Smith and the wretches who were in his pay. The leading
Whigs, with great judgment, demanded an inquiry. Then the Tories
began to flinch. They well knew that an inquiry could not
strengthen their case, and might weaken it. The issue, they said,
had been tried; a jury had pronounced; the verdict was
definitive; and it would be monstrous to give the false witnesses
who had been stoned out of Manchester an opportunity of repeating
their lesson. To this argument the answer was obvious. The
verdict was definitive as respected the defendants, but not as
respected the prosecutors. The prosecutors were now in their turn
defendants, and were entitled to all the privileges of
defendants. It did not follow, because the Lancashire gentlemen
had been found, and very properly found, not guilty of treason,
that the Secretary of State or the Solicitor of the Treasury had
been guilty of unfairness or even of rashness. The House, by one
hundred and nineteen votes to one hundred and two resolved that
Aaron Smith and the witnesses on both sides should be ordered to
attend. Several days were passed in examination and
crossexamination; and sometimes the sittings extended far into
the night. It soon became clear that the prosecution had not been
lightly instituted, and that some of the persons who had been
acquitted had been concerned in treasonable schemes. The Tories
would now have been content with a drawn battle; but the Whigs
were not disposed to forego their advantage. It was moved that
there had been a sufficient ground for the proceedings before the
Special Commission; and this motion was carried without a
division. The opposition proposed to add some words implying that
the witnesses for the Crown had forsworn themselves; but these
words were rejected by one hundred and thirty-six votes to one
hundred and nine, and it was resolved by one hundred and thirty-
three votes to ninety-seven that there had been a dangerous
conspiracy. The Lords had meanwhile been deliberating on the same
subject, and had come to the same conclusion. They sent Taaffe to
prison for prevarication; and they passed resolutions acquitting
both the government and the judges of all blame. The public
however continued to think that the gentlemen who had been tried
at Manchester had been unjustifiably persecuted, till a Jacobite
plot of singular atrocity, brought home to the plotters by
decisive evidence, produced a violent revulsion of feeling.545

Meanwhile three bills, which had been repeatedly discussed in
preceding years, and two of which had been carried in vain to the
foot of the throne, had been again brought in; the Place Bill,
the Bill for the Regulation of Trials in cases of Treason, and
the Triennial Bill.

The Place Bill did not reach the Lords. It was thrice read in the
Lower House, but was not passed. At the very last moment it was
rejected by a hundred and seventy-five votes to a hundred and
forty-two. Howe and Barley were the tellers for the minority.546

The Bill for the Regulation of Trials in cases of Treason went up
again to the Peers. Their Lordships again added to it the clause
which had formerly been fatal to it. The Commons again refused to
grant any new privilege to the hereditary aristocracy.
Conferences were again held; reasons were again exchanged; both
Houses were again obstinate; and the bill was again lost.547

The Triennial Bill was more fortunate. It was brought in on the
first day of the session, and went easily and rapidly through
both Houses. The only question about which there was any serious
contention was, how long the existing Parliament should be
suffered to continue. After several sharp debates November in the
year 1696 was fixed as the extreme term. The Tonnage Bill and the
Triennial Bill proceeded almost side by side. Both were, on the
twenty-second of December, ready for the royal assent. William
came in state on that day to Westminster. The attendance of
members of both Houses was large. When the Clerk of the Crown
read the words, "A Bill for the frequent Calling and Meeting of
Parliaments," the anxiety was great. When the Clerk of the
Parliament made answer, "Le roy et la royne le veulent," a loud
and long hum of delight and exultation rose from the benches and
the bar.548 William had resolved many months before not to refuse
his assent a second time to so popular a law.549 There was some
however who thought that he would not have made so great a
concession if he had on that day been quite himself. It was plain
indeed that he was strangely agitated and unnerved. It had been
announced that he would dine in public at Whitehall. But he
disappointed the curiosity of the multitude which on such
occasions flocked to the Court, and hurried back to

He had but too good reason to be uneasy. His wife had, during two
or three days, been poorly; and on the preceding evening grave
symptoms had appeared. Sir Thomas Millington, who was physician
in ordinary to the King, thought that she had the measles. But
Radcliffe, who, with coarse manners and little book learning, had
raised himself to the first practice in London chiefly by his
rare skill in diagnostics, uttered the more alarming words, small
pox. That disease, over which science has since achieved a
succession of glorious and beneficient victories, was then the
most terrible of all the ministers of death. The havoc of the
plague had been far more rapid; but the plague had visited our
shores only once or twice within living memory; and the small pox
was always present, filling the churchyards with corpses,
tormenting with constant fears all whom it had not yet stricken,
leaving on those whose lives it spared the hideous traces of its
power, turning the babe into a changeling at which the mother
shuddered, and making the eyes and cheeks of the betrothed maiden
objects of horror to the lover. Towards the end of the year 1694,
this pestilence was more than usually severe. At length the
infection spread to the palace, and reached the young and
blooming Queen. She received the intimation of her danger with
true greatness of soul. She gave orders that every lady of her
bedchamber, every maid of honour, nay, every menial servant, who
had not had the small pox, should instantly leave Kensington
House. She locked herself up during a short time in her closet,
burned some papers, arranged others, and then calmly awaited her

During two or three days there were many alternations of hope and
fear. The physicians contradicted each other and themselves in a
way which sufficiently indicates the state of medical science in
that age. The disease was measles; it was scarlet fever; it was
spotted fever; it was erysipelas. At one moment some symptoms,
which in truth showed that the case was almost hopeless, were
hailed as indications of returning health. At length all doubt was
over. Radcliffe's opinion proved to be right. It was plain that
the Queen was sinking under small pox of the most malignant type.

All this time William remained night and day near her bedside.
The little couch on which he slept when he was in camp was spread
for him in the antechamber; but he scarcely lay down on it. The
sight of his misery, the Dutch Envoy wrote, was enough to melt
the hardest heart. Nothing seemed to be left of the man whose
serene fortitude had been the wonder of old soldiers on the
disastrous day of Landen, and of old sailors on that fearful
night among the sheets of ice and banks of sand on the coast of
Goree. The very domestics saw the tears running unchecked down
that face, of which the stern composure had seldom been disturbed
by any triumph or by any defeat. Several of the prelates were in
attendance. The King drew Burnet aside, and gave way to an agony
of grief. "There is no hope," he cried. "I was the happiest man
on earth; and I am the most miserable. She had no fault; none;
you knew her well; but you could not know, nobody but myself
could know, her goodness." Tenison undertook to tell her that she
was dying. He was afraid that such a communication, abruptly
made, might agitate her violently, and began with much
management. But she soon caught his meaning, and, with that
gentle womanly courage which so often puts our bravery to shame,
submitted herself to the will of God. She called for a small
cabinet in which her most important papers were locked up, gave
orders that, as soon as she was no more, it should be delivered
to the King, and then dismissed worldly cares from her mind. She
received the Eucharist, and repeated her part of the office with
unimpaired memory and intelligence, though in a feeble voice. She
observed that Tenison had been long standing at her bedside, and,
with that sweet courtesy which was habitual to her, faltered out
her commands that he would sit down, and repeated them till he
obeyed. After she had received the sacrament she sank rapidly,
and uttered only a few broken words. Twice she tried to take a
last farewell of him whom she had loved so truly and entirely;
but she was unable to speak. He had a succession of fits so
alarming that his Privy Councillors, who were assembled in a
neighbouring room, were apprehensive for his reason and his life.
The Duke of Leeds, at the request of his colleagues, ventured to
assume the friendly guardianship of which minds deranged by
sorrow stand in need. A few minutes before the Queen expired,
William was removed, almost insensible, from the sick room.

Mary died in peace with Anne. Before the physicians had
pronounced the case hopeless, the Princess, who was then in very
delicate health, had sent a kind message; and Mary had returned a
kind answer. The Princess had then proposed to come herself; but
William had, in very gracious terms, declined the offer. The
excitement of an interview, he said, would be too much for both
sisters. If a favourable turn took place, Her Royal Highness
should be most welcome to Kensington. A few hours later all was

The public sorrow was great and general. For Mary's blameless
life, her large charities and her winning manners had conquered
the hearts of her people. When the Commons next met they sate for
a time in profound silence. At length it was moved and resolved
that an Address of Condolence should be presented to the King;
and then the House broke up without proceeding to other business.
The Dutch envoy informed the States General that many of the
members had handkerchiefs at their eyes. The number of sad faces
in the street struck every observer. The mourning was more
general than even the mourning for Charles the Second had been.
On the Sunday which followed the Queen's death her virtues were
celebrated in almost every parish church of the Capital, and in
almost every great meeting of nonconformists.552

The most estimable Jacobites respected the sorrow of William and
the memory of Mary. But to the fiercer zealots of the party
neither the house of mourning nor the grave was sacred. At
Bristol the adherents of Sir John Knight rang the bells as if for
a victory.553 It has often been repeated, and is not at all
improbable, that a nonjuring divine, in the midst of the general
lamentation, preached on the text, "Go; see now this cursed woman
and bury her; for she is a King's daughter." It is certain that
some of the ejected priests pursued her to the grave with
invectives. Her death, they said, was evidently a judgment for
her crime. God had, from the top of Sinai, in thunder and
lightning, promised length of days to children who should honour
their parents; and in this promise was plainly implied a menace.
What father had ever been worse treated by his daughters than
James by Mary and Anne? Mary was gone, cut off in the prime of
life, in the glow of beauty, in the height of prosperity; and
Anne would do well to profit by the warning. Wagstaffe went
further, and dwelt much on certain wonderful coincidences of
time. James had been driven from his palace and country in
Christmas week. Mary had died in Christmas week. There could be
no doubt that, if the secrets of Providence were disclosed to us,
we should find that the turns of the daughter's complaint in
December 1694 bore an exact analogy to the turns of the father's
fortune in December 1688. It was at midnight that the father ran
away from Rochester; it was at midnight that the daughter
expired. Such was the profundity and such the ingenuity of a
writer whom the Jacobite schismatics justly regarded as one of
their ablest chiefs.554

The Whigs soon had an opportunity of retaliating. They
triumphantly related that a scrivener in the Borough, a stanch
friend of hereditary right, while exulting in the judgment which
had overtaken the Queen, had himself fallen down dead in a

The funeral was long remembered as the saddest and most august
that Westminster had ever seen. While the Queen's remains lay in
state at Whitehall, the neighbouring streets were filled every
day, from sunrise to sunset, by crowds which made all traffic
impossible. The two Houses with their maces followed the hearse,
the Lords robed in scarlet and ermine, the Commons in long black
mantles. No preceding Sovereign had ever been attended to the
grave by a Parliament; for, till then, the Parliament had always
expired with the Sovereign. A paper had indeed been circulated,
in which the logic of a small sharp pettifogger was employed to
prove that writs, issued in the joint names of William and Mary,
ceased to be of force as soon as William reigned alone. But this
paltry cavil had completely failed. It had not even been
mentioned in the Lower House, and had been mentioned in the Upper
only to be contemptuously overruled. The whole Magistracy of the
City swelled the procession. The banners of England and France,
Scotland and Ireland, were carried by great nobles before the
corpse. The pall was borne by the chiefs of the illustrious
houses of Howard, Seymour, Grey, and Stanley. On the gorgeous
coffin of purple and gold were laid the crown and sceptre of the
realm. The day was well suited to such a ceremony. The sky was
dark and troubled; and a few ghastly flakes of snow fell on the
black plumes of the funeral car. Within the Abbey, nave, choir
and transept were in a blaze with innumerable waxlights. The body
was deposited under a magnificent canopy in the centre of the
church while the Primate preached. The earlier part of his
discourse was deformed by pedantic divisions and subdivisions;
but towards the close he told what he had himself seen and heard
with a simplicity and earnestness more affecting than the most
skilful rhetoric. Through the whole ceremony the distant booming
of cannon was heard every minute from the batteries of the Tower.
The gentle Queen sleeps among her illustrious kindred in the
southern aisle of the Chapel of Henry the Seventh.556

The affection with which her husband cherished her memory was
soon attested by a monument the most superb that was ever erected
to any sovereign. No scheme had been so much her own, none had
been so near her heart, as that of converting the palace at
Greenwich into a retreat for seamen. It had occurred to her when
she had found it difficult to provide good shelter and good
attendance for the thousands of brave men who had come back to
England wounded after the battle of La Hogue. While she lived
scarcely any step was taken towards the accomplishing of her
favourite design. But it should seem that, as soon as her husband
had lost her, he began to reproach himself for having neglected
her wishes. No time was lost. A plan was furnished by Wren; and
soon an edifice, surpassing that asylum which the magnificent
Lewis had provided for his soldiers, rose on the margin of the
Thames. Whoever reads the inscription which runs round the frieze
of the hall will observe that William claims no part of the merit
of the design, and that the praise is ascribed to Mary alone. Had
the King's life been prolonged till the works were completed, a
statue of her who was the real foundress of the institution would

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