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

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have had a conspicuous place in that court which presents two
lofty domes and two graceful colonnades to the multitudes who are
perpetually passing up and down the imperial river. But that part
of the plan was never carried into effect; and few of those who
now gaze on the noblest of European hospitals are aware that it
is a memorial of the virtues of the good Queen Mary, of the love
and sorrow of William, and of the great victory of La Hogue.


Effect of Mary's Death on the Continent--Death of Luxemburg--
Distress of William--Parliamentary Proceedings; Emancipation of
the Press--Death of Halifax--Parliamentary Inquiries into the
Corruption of the Public Offices--Vote of Censure on the Speaker-
-Foley elected Speaker; Inquiry into the Accounts of the East
India Company--Suspicious Dealings of Seymour--Bill against Sir
Thomas Cook--Inquiry by a joint Committee of Lords and Commons--
Impeachment of Leeds--Disgrace of Leeds--Lords Justices
appointed; Reconciliation between William and the Princess Anne--
Jacobite Plots against William's Person--Charnock; Porter--
Goodman; Parkyns--Fenwick--Session of the Scottish Parliament;
Inquiry into the Slaughter of Glencoe--War in the Netherlands;
Marshal Villeroy--The Duke of Maine--Jacobite Plots against the
Government during William's Absence--Siege of Namur--Surrender of
the Town of Namur--Surrender of the Castle of Namur--Arrest of
Boufflers--Effect of the Emancipation of the English Press--
Return of William to England; Dissolution of the Parliament--
William makes a Progress through the Country--The Elections--
Alarming State of the Currency--Meeting of the Parliament;
Loyalty of the House of Commons--Controversy touching the
Currency--Parliamentary Proceedings touching the Currency--
Passing of the Act regulating Trials in Cases of High Treason--
Parliamentary Proceedings touching the Grant of Crown Lands in
Wales to Portland--Two Jacobite Plots formed--Berwick's Plot; the
Assassination Plot; Sir George Barclay--Failure of Berwick's
Plot--Detection of the Assassination Plot--Parliamentary
Proceedings touching the Assassination Plot--State of Public
Feeling--Trial of Charnock, King and Keyes--Execution of
Charnock, King and Keyes--Trial of Friend--Trial of Parkyns--
Execution of Friend and Parkyns--Trials of Rookwood, Cranburne
and Lowick--The Association--Bill for the Regulation of
Elections--Act establishing a Land Bank

ON the Continent the news of Mary's death excited various
emotions. The Huguenots, in every part of Europe to which they
had wandered, bewailed the Elect Lady, who had retrenched from
her own royal state in order to furnish bread and shelter to the
persecuted people of God.557 In the United Provinces, where she
was well known and had always been popular, she was tenderly
lamented. Matthew Prior, whose parts and accomplishments had
obtained for him the patronage of the magnificent Dorset, and who
was now attached to the Embassy at the Hague, wrote that the
coldest and most passionless of nations was touched. The very
marble, he said, wept.558 The lamentations of Cambridge and
Oxford were echoed by Leyden and Utrecht. The States General put
on mourning. The bells of all the steeples of Holland tolled
dolefully day after day.559 James, meanwhile, strictly prohibited
all mourning at Saint Germains, and prevailed on Lewis to issue a
similar prohibition at Versailles. Some of the most illustrious
nobles of France, and among them the Dukes of Bouillon and of
Duras, were related to the House of Nassau, and had always, when
death visited that House, punctiliously observed the decent
ceremonial of sorrow. They were now forbidden to wear black; and
they submitted; but it was beyond the power of the great King to
prevent his highbred and sharpwitted courtiers from whispering to
each other that there was something pitiful in this revenge taken
by the living on the dead, by a parent on a child.560

The hopes of James and of his companions in exile were now higher
than they had been since the day of La Hogue. Indeed the general
opinion of politicians, both here and on the Continent was that
William would find it impossible to sustain himself much longer
on the throne. He would not, it was said, have sustained himself
so long but for the help of his wife. Her affability had
conciliated many who had been repelled by his freezing looks and
short answers. Her English tones, sentiments and tastes had
charmed many who were disgusted by his Dutch accent and Dutch
habits. Though she did not belong to the High Church party, she
loved that ritual to which she had been accustomed from infancy,
and complied willingly and reverently with some ceremonies which
he considered, not indeed as sinful, but as childish, and in
which he could hardly bring himself to take part. While the war
lasted, it would be necessary that he should pass nearly half the
year out of England. Hitherto she had, when he was absent,
supplied his place, and had supplied it well. Who was to supply
it now? In what vicegerent could he place equal confidence? To
what vicegerent would the nation look up with equal respect? All
the statesmen of Europe therefore agreed in thinking that his
position, difficult and dangerous at best, had been made far more
difficult and more dangerous by the death of the Queen. But all
the statesmen of Europe were deceived; and, strange to say, his
reign was decidedly more prosperous and more tranquil after the
decease of Mary than during her life.

A few hours after he had lost the most tender and beloved of all
his friends, he was delivered from the most formidable of all his
enemies. Death had been busy at Paris as well as in London. While
Tenison was praying by the bed of Mary, Bourdaloue was
administering the last unction to Luxemburg. The great French
general had never been a favourite at the French Court; but when
it was known that his feeble frame, exhausted by war and
pleasure, was sinking under a dangerous disease, the value of his
services was, for the first time, fully appreciated; the royal
physicians were sent to prescribe for him; the sisters of Saint
Cyr were ordered to pray for him; but prayers and prescriptions
were vain. "How glad the Prince of Orange will be," said Lewis,
"when the news of our loss reaches him." He was mistaken. That
news found William unable to think of any loss but his own.561

During the month which followed the death of Mary the King was
incapable of exertion. Even to the addresses of the two Houses of
Parliament he replied only by a few inarticulate sounds. The
answers which appear in the journals were not uttered by him, but
were delivered in writing. Such business as could not be deferred
was transacted by the intervention of Portland, who was himself
oppressed with sorrow. During some weeks the important and
confidential correspondence between the King and Heinsius was
suspended. At length William forced himself to resume that
correspondence: but his first letter was the letter of a
heartbroken man. Even his martial ardour had been tamed by
misery. "I tell you in confidence," he wrote, "that I feel myself
to be no longer fit for military command. Yet I will try to do my
duty; and I hope that God will strengthen me." So despondingly
did he look forward to the most brilliant and successful of his
many campaigns.562

There was no interruption of parliamentary business. While the
Abbey was hanging with black for the funeral of the Queen, the
Commons came to a vote, which at the time attracted little
attention, which produced no excitement, which has been left
unnoticed by voluminous annalists, and of which the history can
be but imperfectly traced in the archives of Parliament, but
which has done more for liberty and for civilisation than the
Great Charter or the Bill of Rights. Early in the session a
select committee had been appointed to ascertain what temporary
statutes were about to expire, and to consider which of those
statutes it might be expedient to continue. The report was made;
and all the recommendations contained in that report were
adopted, with one exception. Among the laws which the committee
advised the House to renew was the law which subjected the press
to a censorship. The question was put, "that the House do agree
with the committee in the resolution that the Act entitled an Act
for preventing Abuses in printing seditious, treasonable and
unlicensed Pamphlets, and for regulating of Printing and Printing
Presses, be continued." The Speaker pronounced that the Noes had
it; and the Ayes did not think fit to divide.

A bill for continuing all the other temporary Acts, which, in the
opinion of the Committee, could not properly be suffered to
expire, was brought in, passed and sent to the Lords. In a short
time this bill came back with an important amendment. The Lords
had inserted in the list of Acts to be continued the Act which
placed the press under the control of licensers. The Commons
resolved not to agree to the amendment, demanded a conference,
and appointed a committee of managers. The leading manager was
Edward Clarke, a stanch Whig, who represented Taunton, the
stronghold, during fifty troubled years, of civil and religious

Clarke delivered to the Lords in the Painted Chamber a paper
containing the reasons which had determined the Lower House not
to renew the Licensing Act. This paper completely vindicates the
resolution to which the Commons had come. But it proves at the
same time that they knew not what they were doing, what a
revolution they were making, what a power they were calling into
existence. They pointed out concisely, clearly, forcibly, and
sometimes with a grave irony which is not unbecoming, the
absurdities and iniquities of the statute which was about to
expire. But all their objections will be found to relate to
matters of detail. On the great question of principle, on the
question whether the liberty of unlicensed printing be, on the
whole, a blessing or a curse to society, not a word is said. The
Licensing Act is condemned, not as a thing essentially evil, but
on account of the petty grievances, the exactions, the jobs, the
commercial restrictions, the domiciliary visits which were
incidental to it. It is pronounced mischievous because it enables
the Company of Stationers to extort money from publishers,
because it empowers the agents of the government to search houses
under the authority of general warrants, because it confines the
foreign book trade to the port of London; because it detains
valuable packages of books at the Custom House till the pages are
mildewed. The Commons complain that the amount of the fee which
the licenser may demand is not fixed. They complain that it is
made penal in an officer of the Customs to open a box of books
from abroad, except in the presence of one of the censors of the
press. How, it is very sensibly asked, is the officer to know
that there are books in the box till he has opened it? Such were
the arguments which did what Milton's Areopagitica had failed to

The Lords yielded without a contest. They probably expected that
some less objectionable bill for the regulation of the press
would soon be sent up to them; and in fact such a bill was
brought into the House of Commons, read twice, and referred to a
select committee. But the session closed before the committee had
reported; and English literature was emancipated, and emancipated
for ever, from the control of the government.563 This great event
passed almost unnoticed. Evelyn and Luttrell did not think it
worth mentioning in their diaries. The Dutch minister did not
think it worth mentioning in his despatches. No allusion to it is
to be found in the Monthly Mercuries. The public attention was
occupied by other and far more exciting subjects.

One of those subjects was the death of the most accomplished, the
most enlightened, and, in spite of great faults, the most
estimable of the statesmen who were formed in the corrupt and
licentious Whitehall of the Restoration. About a month after the
splendid obsequies of Mary, a funeral procession of almost
ostentatious simplicity passed round the shrine of Edward the
Confessor to the Chapel of Henry the Seventh. There, at the
distance of a few feet from her coffin, lies the coffin of George
Savile, Marquess of Halifax.

Halifax and Nottingham had long been friends; and Lord Eland, now
Halifax's only son, had been affianced to the Lady Mary Finch,
Nottingham's daughter. The day of the nuptials was fixed; a
joyous company assembled at Burley on the Hill, the mansion of
the bride's father, which, from one of the noblest terraces in
the island, looks down on magnificent woods of beech and oak, on
the rich valley of Catmos, and on the spire of Oakham. The father
of the bridegroom was detained to London by indisposition, which
was not supposed to be dangerous. On a sudden his malady took an
alarming form. He was told that he had but a few hours to live.
He received the intimation with tranquil fortitude. It was
proposed to send off an express to summon his son to town. But
Halifax, good natured to the last, would not disturb the felicity
of the wedding day. He gave strict orders that his interment
should be private, prepared himself for the great change by
devotions which astonished those who had called him an atheist,
and died with the serenity of a philosopher and of a Christian,
while his friends and kindred, not suspecting his danger, were
tasting the sack posset and drawing the curtain.564 His
legitimate male posterity and his titles soon became extinct. No
small portion, however, of his wit and eloquence descended to his
daughter's son, Philip Stanhope, fourth Earl of Chesterfield. But
it is perhaps not generally known that some adventurers, who,
without advantages of fortune or position, made themselves
conspicuous by the mere force of ability, inherited the blood of
Halifax. He left a natural son, Henry Carey, whose dramas once
drew crowded audiences to the theatres, and some of whose gay and
spirited verses still live in the memory of hundreds of
thousands. From Henry Carey descended that Edmund Kean, who, in
our time, transformed himself so marvellously into Shylock, Iago
and Othello.

More than one historian has been charged with partiality to
Halifax. The truth is that the memory of Halifax is entitled in
an especial manner to the protection of history. For what
distinguishes him from all other English statesmen is this, that,
through a long public life, and through frequent and violent
revolutions of public feeling, he almost invariably took that
view of the great questions of his time which history has finally
adopted. He was called inconstant, because the relative position
in which he stood to the contending factions was perpetually
varying. As well might the pole star be called inconstant because
it is sometimes to the east and sometimes to the west of the
pointers. To have defended the ancient and legal constitution of
the realm against a seditious populace at one conjuncture and
against a tyrannical government at another; to have been the
foremost defender of order in the turbulent Parliament of 1680
and the foremost defender of liberty in the servile Parliament of
1685; to have been just and merciful to Roman Catholics in the
days of the Popish plot and to Exclusionists in the days of the
Rye House Plot; to have done all in his power to save both the
head of Stafford and the head of Russell; this was a course which
contemporaries, heated by passion and deluded by names and
badges, might not unnaturally call fickle, but which deserves a
very different name from the late justice of posterity.

There is one and only one deep stain on the memory of this
eminent man. It is melancholy to think that he, who had acted so
great a part in the Convention, could have afterwards stooped to
hold communication with Saint Germains. The fact cannot be
disputed; yet for him there are excuses which cannot be pleaded
for others who were guilty of the same crime. He did not, like
Marlborough, Russell, Godolphin and Shrewsbury, betray a master
by whom he was trusted, and with whose benefits he was loaded. It
was by the ingratitude and malice of the Whigs that he was driven
to take shelter for a moment among the Jacobites. It may be added
that he soon repented of the error into which he had been hurried
by passion, that, though never reconciled to the Court, he
distinguished himself by his zeal for the vigorous prosecution of
the war, and that his last work was a tract in which he exhorted
his countrymen to remember that the public burdens, heavy as they
might seem, were light when compared with the yoke of France and
of Rome.565

About a fortnight after the death of Halifax, a fate far more
cruel than death befell his old rival and enemy, the Lord
President. That able, ambitious and daring statesman was again
hurled down from power. In his first fall, terrible as it was,
there had been something of dignity; and he had, by availing
himself with rare skill of an extraordinary crisis in public
affairs, risen once more to the most elevated position among
English subjects. The second ruin was indeed less violent than
the first; but it was ignominious and irretrievable.

The peculation and venality by which the official men of that age
were in the habit of enriching themselves had excited in the
public mind a feeling such as could not but vent itself, sooner
or later, in some formidable explosion. But the gains were
immediate; the day of retribution was uncertain; and the
plunderers of the public were as greedy and as audacious as ever,
when the vengeance, long threatened and long delayed, suddenly
overtook the proudest and most powerful among them.

The first mutterings of the coming storm did not at all indicate
the direction which it would take, or the fury with which it
would burst. An infantry regiment, which was quartered at
Royston, had levied contributions on the people of that town and
of the neighbourhood. The sum exacted was not large. In France or
Brabant the moderation of the demand would have been thought
wonderful. But to English shopkeepers and farmers military
extortion was happily quite new and quite insupportable. A
petition was sent up to the Commons. The Commons summoned the
accusers and the accused to the bar. It soon appeared that a
grave offence had been committed, but that the offenders were not
altogether without excuse. The public money which had been issued
from the Exchequer for their pay and subsistence had been
fraudulently detained by their colonel and by his agent. It was
not strange that men who had arms and who had not necessaries
should trouble themselves little about the Petition of Right and
the Declaration of Right. But it was monstrous that, while the
citizen was heavily taxed for the purpose of paying to the
soldier the largest military stipend known in Europe, the soldier
should be driven by absolute want to plunder the citizen. This
was strongly set forth in a representation which the Commons laid
before William. William, who had been long struggling against
abuses which grievously impaired the efficiency of his army, was
glad to have his hands thus strengthened. He promised ample
redress, cashiered the offending colonel, gave strict orders that
the troops should receive their due regularly, and established a
military board for the purpose of detecting and punishing such
malpractices as had taken place at Royston.566

But the whole administration was in such a state that it was
hardly possible to track one offender without discovering ten
others. In the course of the inquiry into the conduct of the
troops at Royston, it was discovered that a bribe of two hundred
guineas had been received by Henry Guy, member of Parliament for
Heydon and Secretary of the Treasury. Guy was instantly sent to
the Tower, not without much exultation on the part of the Whigs;
for he was one of those tools who had passed, together with the
buildings and furniture of the public offices, from James to
William; he affected the character of a High Churchman; and he
was known to be closely connected with some of the heads of the
Tory party, and especially with Trevor.567

Another name, which was afterwards but too widely celebrated,
first became known to the public at this time. James Craggs had
begun life as a barber. He had then been a footman of the Duchess
of Cleveland. His abilities, eminently vigorous though not
improved by education, had raised him in the world; and he was
now entering on a career which was destined to end, after a
quarter of a century of prosperity, in unutterable misery and
despair. He had become an army clothier. He was examined as to
his dealings with the colonels of regiments; and, as he
obstinately refused to produce his books, he was sent to keep Guy
company in the Tower.568

A few hours after Craggs had been thrown into prison, a
committee, which had been appointed to inquire into the truth of
a petition signed by some of the hackney coachmen of London, laid
on the table of the House a report which excited universal
disgust and indignation. It appeared that these poor hardworking
men had been cruelly wronged by the board under the authority of
which an Act of the preceding session had placed them. They had
been pillaged and insulted, not only by the commissioners, but by
one commissioner's lacquey and by another commissioner's harlot.
The Commons addressed the King; and the King turned the
delinquents out of their places.569

But by this time delinquents far higher in power and rank were
beginning to be uneasy. At every new detection, the excitement,
both within and without the walls of Parliament, became more
intense. The frightful prevalence of bribery, corruption and
extortion was every where the subject of conversation. A
contemporary pamphleteer compares the state of the political
world at this conjuncture to the state of a city in which the
plague has just been discovered, and in which the terrible words,
"Lord have mercy on us," are already seen on some doors.570
Whispers, which at another time would have speedily died away and
been forgotten, now swelled, first into murmurs, and then into
clamours. A rumour rose and spread that the funds of the two
wealthiest corporations in the kingdom, the City of London and
the East India Company, had been largely employed for the purpose
of corrupting great men; and the names of Trevor, Seymour and
Leeds were mentioned.

The mention of these names produced a stir in the Whig ranks.
Trevor, Seymour and Leeds were all three Tories, and had, in
different ways, greater influence than perhaps any other three
Tories in the kingdom. If they could all be driven at once from
public life with blasted characters, the Whigs would be
completely predominant both in the Parliament and in the Cabinet.

Wharton was not the man to let such an opportunity escape him. At
White's, no doubt, among those lads of quality who were his
pupils in politics and in debauchery, he would have laughed
heartily at the fury with which the nation had on a sudden begun
to persecute men for doing what every body had always done and
was always trying to do. But if people would be fools, it was the
business of a politician to make use of their folly. The cant of
political purity was not so familiar to the lips of Wharton as
blasphemy and ribaldry; but his abilities were so versatile, and
his impudence so consummate, that he ventured to appear before
the world as an austere patriot mourning over the venality and
perfidy of a degenerate age. While he, animated by that fierce
party spirit which in honest men would be thought a vice, but
which in him was almost a virtue, was eagerly stirring up his
friends to demand an inquiry into the truth of the evil reports
which were in circulation, the subject was suddenly and strangely
forced forward. It chanced that, while a bill of little interest
was under discussion in the Commons, the postman arrived with
numerous letters directed to members; and the distribution took
place at the bar with a buzz of conversation which drowned the
voices of the orators. Seymour, whose imperious temper always
prompted him to dictate and to chide, lectured the talkers on the
scandalous irregularity of their conduct, and called on the
Speaker to reprimand them. An angry discussion followed; and one
of the offenders was provoked into making an allusion to the
stories which were current about both Seymour and the Speaker.
"It is undoubtedly improper to talk while a bill is under
discussion; but it is much worse to take money for getting a bill
passed. If we are extreme to mark a slight breach of form, how
severely ought we to deal with that corruption which is eating
away the very substance of our institutions!" That was enough;
the spark had fallen; the train was ready; the explosion was
immediate and terrible. After a tumultuous debate in which the
cry of "the Tower" was repeatedly heard, Wharton managed to carry
his point. Before the House rose a committee was appointed to
examine the books of the City of London and of the East India

Foley was placed in the chair of the committee. Within a week he
reported that the Speaker, Sir John Trevor, had in the preceding
session received from the City a thousand guineas for expediting
a local bill. This discovery gave great satisfaction to the
Whigs, who had always hated Trevor, and was not unpleasing to
many of the Tories. During six busy sessions his sordid rapacity
had made him an object of general aversion. The legitimate
emoluments of his post amounted to about four thousand a year;
but it was believed that he had made at least ten thousand a
year.572 His profligacy and insolence united had been too much
even for the angelic temper of Tillotson. It was said that the
gentle Archbishop had been heard to mutter something about a
knave as the Speaker passed by him.573 Yet, great as were the
offences of this bad man, his punishment was fully proportioned
to them. As soon as the report of the committee had been read, it
was moved that he had been guilty of a high crime and
misdemeanour. He had to stand up and to put the question. There
was a loud cry of Aye. He called on the Noes; and scarcely a
voice was heard. He was forced to declare that the Ayes had it. A
man of spirit would have given up the ghost with remorse and
shame; and the unutterable ignominy of that moment left its mark
even on the callous heart and brazen forehead of Trevor. Had he
returned to the House on the following day, he would have had to
put the question on a motion for his own expulsion. He therefore
pleaded illness, and shut himself up in his bedroom. Wharton soon
brought down a royal message authorising the Commons to elect
another Speaker.

The Whig chiefs wished to place Littleton in the chair; but they
were unable to accomplish their object. Foley was chosen,
presented and approved. Though he had of late generally voted
with the Tories, he still called himself a Whig, and was not
unacceptable to many of the Whigs. He had both the abilities and
the knowledge which were necessary to enable him to preside over
the debates with dignity; but what, in the peculiar circumstances
in which the House then found itself placed, was not unnaturally
considered as his principal recommendation, was that implacable
hatred of jobbery and corruption which he somewhat ostentatiously
professed, and doubtless sincerely felt. On the day after he
entered on his functions, his predecessor was expelled.574

The indiscretion of Trevor had been equal to his baseness; and
his guilt had been apparent on the first inspection of the
accounts of the City. The accounts of the East India Company were
more obscure. The committee reported that they had sate in
Leadenhall Street, had examined documents, had interrogated
directors and clerks, but had been unable to arrive at the bottom
of the mystery of iniquity. Some most suspicious entries had been
discovered, under the head of special service. The expenditure on
this account had, in the year 1693, exceeded eighty thousand
pounds. It was proved that, as to the outlay of this money, the
directors had placed implicit confidence in the governor, Sir
Thomas Cook. He had merely told them in general terms that he had
been at a charge of twenty-three thousand, of twenty-five
thousand, of thirty thousand pounds, in the matter of the
Charter; and the Court had, without calling on him for any
detailed explanation, thanked him for his care, and ordered
warrants for these great sums to be instantly made out. It
appeared that a few mutinous directors had murmured at this
immense outlay, and had called for a detailed statement. But the
only answer which they had been able to extract from Cook was
that there were some great persons whom it was necessary to

The committee also reported that they had lighted on an agreement
by which the Company had covenanted to furnish a person named
Colston with two hundred tons of saltpetre. At the first glance,
this transaction seemed merchantlike and fair. But it was soon
discovered that Colston was merely an agent for Seymour.
Suspicion was excited. The complicated terms of the bargain were
severely examined, and were found to be framed in such a manner
that, in every possible event, Seymour must be a gainer and the
Company a loser to the extent of ten or twelve thousand pounds.
The opinion of all who understood the matter was that the compact
was merely a disguise intended to cover a bribe. But the disguise
was so skilfully managed that the country gentlemen were
perplexed, and that the lawyers doubted whether there were such
evidence of corruption as would be held sufficient by a court of
justice. Seymour escaped without even a vote of censure, and
still continued to take a leading part in the debates of the
Commons.575 But the authority which he had long exercised in the
House and in the western counties of England, though not
destroyed, was visibly diminished; and, to the end of his life,
his traffic in saltpetre was a favourite theme of Whig
pamphleteers and poets.576

The escape of Seymour only inflamed the ardour of Wharton and of
Wharton's confederates. They were determined to discover what had
been done with the eighty or ninety thousand pounds of secret
service money which had been entrusted to Cook by the East India
Company. Cook, who was member for Colchester, was questioned in
his place; he refused to answer; he was sent to the Tower; and a
bill was brought in providing that if, before a certain day, he
should not acknowledge the whole truth, he should be incapable of
ever holding any office, should refund to the Company the whole
of the immense sum which had been confided to him, and should pay
a fine of twenty thousand pounds to the Crown. Rich as he was,
these penalties would have reduced him to penury. The Commons
were in such a temper that they passed the bill without a single
division.577 Seymour, indeed, though his saltpetre contract was
the talk of the whole town, came forward with unabashed forehead
to plead for his accomplice; but his effrontery only injured the
cause which he defended.578 In the Upper House the bill was
condemned in the strongest terms by the Duke of Leeds. Pressing
his hand on his heart, he declared, on his faith, on his honour,
that he had no personal interest in the question, and that he was
actuated by no motive but a pure love of justice. His eloquence
was powerfully seconded by the tears and lamentations of Cook,
who, from the bar, implored the Peers not to subject him to a
species of torture unknown to the mild laws of England. "Instead
of this cruel bill," he said, "pass a bill of indemnity; and I
will tell you all." The Lords thought his request not altogether
unreasonable. After some communication with the Commons, it was
determined that a joint committee of the two Houses should be
appointed to inquire into the manner in which the secret service
money of the East India Company had been expended; and an Act was
rapidly passed providing that, if Cook would make to this
committee a true and full discovery, he should be indemnified for
the crimes which he might confess; and that, till he made such a
discovery, he should remain in the Tower. To this arrangement
Leeds gave in public all the opposition that he could with
decency give. In private those who were conscious of guilt
employed numerous artifices for the purpose of averting inquiry.
It was whispered that things might come out which every good
Englishman would wish to hide, and that the greater part of the
enormous sums which had passed through Cook's hands had been paid
to Portland for His Majesty's use. But the Parliament and the
nation were determined to know the truth, whoever might suffer by
the disclosure.579

As soon as the Bill of Indemnity had received the royal assent,
the joint committee, consisting of twelve lords and twenty-four
members of the House of Commons, met in the Exchequer Chamber.
Wharton was placed in the chair; and in a few hours great
discoveries were made.

The King and Portland came out of the inquiry with unblemished
honour. Not only had not the King taken any part of the secret
service money dispensed by Cook; but he had not, during some
years, received even the ordinary present which the Company had,
in former reigns, laid annually at the foot of the throne. It
appeared that not less than fifty thousand pounds had been
offered to Portland, and rejected. The money lay during a whole
year ready to be paid to him if he should change his mind. He at
length told those who pressed this immense bribe on him, that if
they persisted in insulting him by such an offer, they would make
him an enemy of their Company. Many people wondered at the
probity which he showed on this occasion, for he was generally
thought interested and grasping. The truth seems to be that he
loved money, but that he was a man of strict integrity and
honour. He took, without scruple, whatever he thought that he
could honestly take, but was incapable of stooping to an act of
baseness. Indeed, he resented as affronts the compliments which
were paid him on this occasion.580 The integrity of Nottingham
could excite no surprise. Ten thousand pounds had been offered to
him, and had been refused. The number of cases in which bribery
was fully made out was small. A large part of the sum which Cook
had drawn from the Company's treasury had probably been embezzled
by the brokers whom he had employed in the work of corruption;
and what had become of the rest it was not easy to learn from the
reluctant witnesses who were brought before the committee. One
glimpse of light however was caught; it was followed; and it led
to a discovery of the highest moment. A large sum was traced from
Cook to an agent named Firebrace, and from Firebrace to another
agent named Bates, who was well known to be closely connected
with the High Church party and especially with Leeds. Bates was
summoned, but absconded; messengers were sent in pursuit of him;
he was caught, brought into the Exchequer Chamber and sworn. The
story which he told showed that he was distracted between the
fear of losing his ears and the fear of injuring his patron. He
owned that he had undertaken to bribe Leeds, had been for that
purpose furnished with five thousand five hundred guineas, had
offered those guineas to His Grace, and had, by His Grace's
permission, left them at His Grace's house in the care of a Swiss
named Robart, who was His Grace's confidential man of business.
It should seem that these facts admitted of only one
interpretation. Bates however swore that the Duke had refused to
accept a farthing. "Why then," it was asked, "was the gold left,
by his consent, at his house and in the hands of his servant?"
"Because," answered Bates, "I am bad at telling coin. I therefore
begged His Grace to let me leave the pieces, in order that Robart
might count them for me; and His Grace was so good as to give
leave." It was evident that, if this strange story had been true,
the guineas would, in a few hours, have been taken-away. But
Bates was forced to confess that they had remained half a year
where he had left them. The money had indeed at last,--and this
was one of the most suspicious circumstances in the case,--been
paid back by Robart on the very morning on which the committee
first met in the Exchequer Chamber. Who could believe that, if
the transaction had been free from all taint of corruption, the
guineas would have been detained as long as Cook was able to
remain silent, and would have been refunded on the very first day
on which he was under the necessity of speaking out?581

A few hours after the examination of Bates, Wharton reported to
the Commons what had passed in the Exchequer Chamber. The
indignation was general and vehement. "You now understand," said
Wharton, "why obstructions have been thrown in our way at every
step, why we have had to wring out truth drop by drop, why His
Majesty's name has been artfully used to prevent us from going
into an inquiry which has brought nothing to light but what is to
His Majesty's honour. Can we think it strange that our
difficulties should have been great, when we consider the power,
the dexterity, the experience of him who was secretly thwarting
us? It is time for us to prove signally to the world that it is
impossible for any criminal to double so cunningly that we cannot
track him, or to climb so high that we cannot reach him. Never
was there a more flagitious instance of corruption. Never was
there an offender who had less claim to indulgence. The
obligations which the Duke of Leeds has to his country are of no
common kind. One great debt we generously cancelled; but the
manner in which our generosity has been requited forces us to
remember that he was long ago impeached for receiving money from
France. How can we be safe while a man proved to be venal has
access to the royal ear? Our best laid enterprises have been
defeated. Our inmost counsels have been betrayed. And what wonder
is it? Can we doubt that, together with this home trade in
charters, a profitable foreign trade in secrets is carried on?
Can we doubt that he who sells us to one another will, for a good
price, sell us all to the common enemy?" Wharton concluded by
moving that Leeds should be impeached of high crimes and

Leeds had many friends and dependents in the House of Commons;
but they could say little. Wharton's motion was carried without a
division; and he was ordered to go to the bar of the Lords, and
there, in the name of the Commons of England, to impeach the
Duke. But, before this order could be obeyed, it was announced
that His Grace was at the door and requested an audience.

While Wharton had been making his report to the Commons, Leeds
had been haranguing the Lords. He denied with the most solemn
asseverations that he had taken any money for himself. But he
acknowledged, and indeed almost boasted, that he had abetted
Bates in getting money from the Company, and seemed to think that
this was a service which any man in power might be reasonably
expected to render to a friend. Too many persons, indeed, in that
age made a most absurd and pernicious distinction between a
minister who used his influence to obtain presents for himself
and a minister who used his influence to obtain presents for his
dependents. The former was corrupt; the latter was merely
goodnatured. Leeds proceeded to tell with great complacency a
story about himself, which would, in our days, drive a public
man, not only out of office, but out of the society of gentlemen.
"When I was Treasurer, in King Charles's time, my Lords, the
excise was to be farmed. There were several bidders. Harry
Savile, for whom I had a great value, informed me that they had
asked for his interest with me, and begged me to tell them that
he had done his best for them. 'What!' said I; 'tell them all so,
when only one can have the farm?' 'No matter;' said Harry: 'tell
them all so; and the one who gets the farm will think that he
owes it to me.' The gentlemen came. I said to every one of them
separately, 'Sir, you are much obliged to Mr. Savile;' 'Sir, Mr.
Savile has been much your friend.' In the end Harry got a
handsome present; and I wished him good luck with it. I was his
shadow then. I am Mr. Bates's shadow now."

The Duke had hardly related this anecdote, so strikingly
illustrative of the state of political morality in that
generation, when it was whispered to him that a motion to impeach
him had been made in the House of Commons. He hastened thither;
but, before he arrived, the question had been put and carried.
Nevertheless he pressed for admittance; and he was admitted. A
chair, according to ancient usage, was placed for him within the
bar; and he was informed that the House was ready to hear him.

He spoke, but with less tact and judgment than usual. He
magnified his own public services. But for him, he said, there
would have been no House of Commons to impeach him; a boast so
extravagant that it naturally made his hearers unwilling to allow
him the praise which his conduct at the time of the Revolution
really deserved. As to the charge against him he said little more
than that he was innocent, that there had long been a malicious
design to ruin him, that he would not go into particulars, that
the facts which had been proved would bear two constructions, and
that of the two constructions the most favourable ought in
candour to be adopted. He withdrew, after praying the House to
reconsider the vote which had just been passed, or, if that could
not be, to let him have speedy justice.

His friends felt that his speech was no defence, and did not
attempt to rescind the resolution which had been carried just
before he was heard. Wharton, with a large following, went up to
the Lords, and informed them that the Commons had resolved to
impeach the Duke. A committee of managers was appointed to draw
up the articles and to prepare the evidence.583

The articles were speedily drawn; but to the chain of evidence
one link appeared to be wanting. That link Robart, if he had been
severely examined and confronted with other witnesses, would in
all probability have been forced to supply. He was summoned to
the bar of the Commons. A messenger went with the summons to the
house of the Duke of Leeds, and was there informed that the Swiss
was not within, that he had been three days absent, and that
where he was the porter could not tell. The Lords immediately
presented an address to the King, requesting him to give orders
that the ports might be stopped and the fugitive arrested. But
Robart was already in Holland on his way to his native mountains.

The flight of this man made it impossible for the Commons to
proceed. They vehemently accused Leeds of having sent away the
witness who alone could furnish legal proof of that which was
already established by moral proof. Leeds, now at ease as to the
event of the impeachment, gave himself the airs of an injured
man. "My Lords," he said, "the conduct of the Commons is without
precedent. They impeach me of a high crime; they promise to prove
it; then they find that they have not the means of proving it;
and they revile me for not supplying them with the means. Surely
they ought not to have brought a charge like this, without well
considering whether they had or had not evidence sufficient to
support it. If Robart's testimony be, as they now say,
indispensable, why did they not send for him and hear his story
before they made up their minds? They may thank their own
intemperance, their own precipitancy, for his disappearance. He
is a foreigner; he is timid; he hears that a transaction in which
he has been concerned has been pronounced by the House of Commons
to be highly criminal, that his master is impeached, that his
friend Bates is in prison, that his own turn is coming. He
naturally takes fright; he escapes to his own country; and, from
what I know of him, I will venture to predict that it will be
long before he trusts himself again within reach of the Speaker's
warrant. But what is that to me? Am I to lie all my life under
the stigma of an accusation like this, merely because the
violence of my accusers has scared their own witness out of
England? I demand an immediate trial. I move your Lordships to
resolve that, unless the Commons shall proceed before the end of
the session, the impeachment shall be dismissed." A few friendly
voices cried out "Well moved." But the Peers were generally
unwilling to take a step which would have been in the highest
degree offensive to the Lower House, and to the great body of
those whom that House represented. The Duke's motion fell to the
ground; and a few hours later the Parliament was prorogued.584

The impeachment was never revived. The evidence which would
warrant a formal verdict of guilty was not forthcoming; and a
formal verdict of guilty would hardly have answered Wharton's
purpose better than the informal verdict of guilty which the
whole nation had already pronounced. The work was done. The Whigs
were dominant. Leeds was no longer chief minister, was indeed no
longer a minister at all. William, from respect probably for the
memory of the beloved wife whom he had lately lost, and to whom
Leeds had shown peculiar attachment, avoided every thing that
could look like harshness. The fallen statesman was suffered to
retain during a considerable time the title of Lord President,
and to walk on public occasions between the Great Seal and the
Privy Seal. But he was told that he would do well not to show
himself at Council; the business and the patronage even of the
department of which he was the nominal head passed into other
hands; and the place which he ostensibly filled was considered in
political circles as really vacant.585

He hastened into the country, and hid himself there, during some
months, from the public eye. When the Parliament met again,
however, he emerged from his retreat. Though he was well stricken
in years and cruelly tortured by disease, his ambition was still
as ardent as ever. With indefatigable energy he began a third
time to climb, as he flattered himself, towards that dizzy
pinnacle which he had twice reached, and from which he had twice
fallen. He took a prominent part in debate; but, though his
eloquence and knowledge always secured to him the attention of
his hearers, he was never again, even when the Tory party was in
power, admitted to the smallest share in the direction of

There was one great humiliation which he could not be spared.
William was about to take the command of the army in the
Netherlands; and it was necessary that, before he sailed, he
should determine by whom the government should be administered
during his absence. Hitherto Mary had acted as his vicegerent
when he was out of England; but she was gone. He therefore
delegated his authority to seven Lords Justices, Tenison,
Archbishop of Canterbury, Somers, Keeper of the Great Seal,
Pembroke, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Devonshire, Lord Steward,
Dorset, Lord Chamberlain, Shrewsbury, Secretary of State, and
Godolphin, First Commissioner of the Treasury. It is easy to
judge from this list of names which way the balance of power was
now leaning. Godolphin alone of the seven was a Tory. The Lord
President, still second in rank, and a few days before first in
power, of the great lay dignitaries of the realm, was passed
over; and the omission was universally regarded as an official
announcement of his disgrace.586

There were some who wondered that the Princess of Denmark was not
appointed Regent. The reconciliation, which had been begun while
Mary was dying, had since her death been, in external show at
least, completed. This was one of those occasions on which
Sunderland was peculiarly qualified to be useful. He was
admirably fitted to manage a personal negotiation, to soften
resentment, to soothe wounded pride, to select, among all the
objects of human desire, the very bait which was most likely to
allure the mind with which he was dealing. On this occasion his
task was not difficult. He had two excellent assistants,
Marlborough in the household of Anne, and Somers in the cabinet
of William.

Marlborough was now as desirous to support the government as he
had once been to subvert it. The death of Mary had produced a
complete change in all his schemes. There was one event to which
he looked forward with the most intense longing, the accession of
the Princess to the English throne. It was certain that, on the
day on which she began to reign, he would be in her Court all
that Buckingham had been in the Court of James the First.
Marlborough too must have been conscious of powers of a very
different order from those which Buckingham had possessed, of a
genius for politics not inferior to that of Richelieu, of a
genius for war not inferior to that of Turenne. Perhaps the
disgraced General, in obscurity and inaction, anticipated the day
when his power to help and hurt in Europe would be equal to that
of her mightiest princes, when he would be servilely flattered
and courted by Caesar on one side and by Lewis the Great on the
other, and when every year would add another hundred thousand
pounds to the largest fortune that had ever been accumulated by
any English subject. All this might be if Mrs. Morley were Queen.
But that Mr. Freeman should ever see Mrs. Morley Queen had till
lately been not very probable. Mary's life was a much better life
than his, and quite as good a life as her sister's. That William
would have issue seemed unlikely. But it was generally expected
that he would soon die. His widow might marry again, and might
leave children who would succeed her. In these circumstances
Marlborough might well think that he had very little interest in
maintaining that settlement of the Crown which had been made by
the Convention. Nothing was so likely to serve his purpose as
confusion, civil war, another revolution, another abdication,
another vacancy of the throne. Perhaps the nation, incensed
against William, yet not reconciled to James, and distracted
between hatred of foreigners and hatred of Jesuits, might prefer
both to the Dutch King and to the Popish King one who was at once
a native of our country and a member of our Church. That this was
the real explanation of Marlborough's dark and complicated plots
was, as we have seen, firmly believed by some of the most zealous
Jacobites, and is in the highest degree probable. It is certain
that during several years he had spared no efforts to inflame the
army and the nation against the government. But all was now
changed. Mary was gone. By the Bill of Rights the Crown was
entailed on Anne after the death of William. The death of William
could not be far distant. Indeed all the physicians who attended
him wondered that he was still alive; and, when the risks of war
were added to the risks of disease, the probability seemed to be
that in a few months he would be in his grave. Marlborough saw
that it would now be madness to throw every thing into disorder
and to put every thing to hazard. He had done his best to shake
the throne while it seemed unlikely that Anne would ever mount it
except by violent means. But he did his best to fix it firmly, as
soon as it became highly probably that she would soon be called
to fill it in the regular course of nature and of law.

The Princess was easily induced by the Churchills to write to the
King a submissive and affectionate letter of condolence. The
King, who was never much inclined to engage in a commerce of
insincere compliments, and who was still in the first agonies of
his grief, showed little disposition to meet her advances. But
Somers, who felt that every thing was at stake, went to
Kensington, and made his way into the royal closet.

William was sitting there, so deeply sunk in melancholy that he
did not seem to perceive that any person had entered the room.
The Lord Keeper, after a respectful pause, broke silence, and,
doubtless with all that cautious delicacy which was
characteristic of him, and which eminently qualified him to touch
the sore places of the mind without hurting them, implored His
Majesty to be reconciled to the Princess. "Do what you will,"
said William; "I can think of no business." Thus authorised, the
mediators speedily concluded a treaty.587 Anne came to
Kensington, and was graciously received; she was lodged in Saint
James's Palace; a guard of honour was again placed at her door;
and the Gazettes again, after a long interval, announced that
foreign ministers had had the honour of being presented to
her.588 The Churchills were again permitted to dwell under the
royal roof. But William did not at first include them in the
peace which he had made with their mistress. Marlborough remained
excluded from military and political employment; and it was not
without much difficulty that he was admitted into the circle at
Kensington, and permitted to kiss the royal hand.589 The feeling
with which he was regarded by the King explains why Anne was not
appointed Regent. The Regency of Anne would have been the Regency
of Marlborough; and it is not strange that a man whom it was not
thought safe to entrust with any office in the State or the army
should not have been entrusted with the whole government of the

Had Marlborough been of a proud and vindictive nature he might
have been provoked into raising another quarrel in the royal
family, and into forming new cabals in the army. But all his
passions, except ambition and avarice, were under strict
regulation. He was destitute alike of the sentiment of gratitude
and of the sentiment of revenge. He had conspired against the
government while it was loading him with favours. He now
supported it, though it requited his support with contumely. He
perfectly understood his own interest; he had perfect command of
his temper; he endured decorously the hardships of his present
situation, and contented himself by looking forward to a
reversion which would amply repay him for a few years of
patience. He did not indeed cease to correspond with the Court of
Saint Germains; but the correspondence gradually became more and
more slack, and seems, on his part, to have been made up of vague
professions and trifling excuses.

The event which had changed all Marlborough's views had filled
the minds of fiercer and more pertinacious politicians with wild
hopes and atrocious projects.

During the two years and a half which followed the execution of
Grandval, no serious design had been formed against the life of
William. Some hotheaded malecontents had indeed laid schemes for
kidnapping or murdering him; but those schemes were not, while
his wife lived, countenanced by her father. James did not feel,
and, to do him justice, was not such a hypocrite as to pretend to
feel, any scruple about removing his enemies by those means which
he had justly thought base and wicked when employed by his
enemies against himself. If any such scruple had arisen in his
mind, there was no want, under his roof, of casuists willing and
competent to soothe his conscience with sophisms such as had
corrupted the far nobler natures of Anthony Babington and Everard
Digby. To question the lawfulness of assassination, in cases
where assassination might promote the interests of the Church,
was to question the authority of the most illustrious Jesuits, of
Bellarmine and Suarez, of Molina and Mariana; nay, it was to
rebel against the Chair of Saint Peter. One Pope had walked in
procession at the head of his cardinals, had proclaimed a
jubilee, had ordered the guns of Saint Angelo to be fired, in
honour of the perfidious butchery in which Coligni had perished.
Another Pope had in a solemn allocution hymned the murder of
Henry the Third of France in rapturous language borrowed from the
ode of the prophet Habakkuk, and had extolled the murderer above
Phinehas and Judith.590 William was regarded at Saint Germains as
a monster compared with whom Coligni and Henry the Third were
saints. Nevertheless James, during some years, refused to
sanction any attempt on his nephew's person. The reasons which he
assigned for his refusal have come down to us, as he wrote them
with his own hand. He did not affect to think that assassination
was a sin which ought to be held in horror by a Christian, or a
villany unworthy of a gentleman; he merely said that the
difficulties were great, and that he would not push his friends
on extreme danger when it would not be in his power to second
them effectually.591 In truth, while Mary lived, it might well be
doubted whether the murder of her husband would really be a
service to the Jacobite cause. By his death the government would
lose indeed the strength derived from his eminent personal
qualities, but would at the same time be relieved from the load
of his personal unpopularity. His whole power would at once
devolve on his widow; and the nation would probably rally round
her with enthusiasm. If her political abilities were not equal to
his, she had not his repulsive manners, his foreign
pronunciation, his partiality for every thing Dutch and for every
thing Calvinistic. Many, who had thought her culpably wanting in
filial piety, would be of opinion that now at least she was
absolved from all duty to a father stained with the blood of her
husband. The whole machinery of the administration would continue
to work without that interruption which ordinarily followed a
demise of the Crown. There would be no dissolution of the
Parliament, no suspension of the customs and excise; commissions
would retain their force; and all that James would have gained by
the fall of his enemy would have been a barren revenge.

The death of the Queen changed every thing. If a dagger or a
bullet should now reach the heart of William, it was probable
that there would instantly be general anarchy. The Parliament and
the Privy Council would cease to exist. The authority of
ministers and judges would expire with him from whom it was
derived. It might seem not improbable that at such a moment a
restoration might be effected without a blow.

Scarcely therefore had Mary been laid in the grave when restless
and unprincipled men began to plot in earnest against the life of
William. Foremost among these men in parts, in courage and in
energy was Robert Charnock. He had been liberally educated, and
had, in the late reign, been a fellow of Magdalene College,
Oxford. Alone in that great society he had betrayed the common
cause, had consented to be the tool of the High Commission, had
publicly apostatized from the Church of England, and, while his
college was a Popish seminary, had held the office of Vice
President. The Revolution came, and altered at once the whole
course of his life. Driven from the quiet cloister and the old
grove of oaks on the bank of the Cherwell, he sought haunts of a
very different kind. During several years he led the perilous and
agitated life of a conspirator, passed and repassed on secret
errands between England and France, changed his lodgings in
London often, and was known at different coffeehouses by
different names. His services had been requited with a captain's
commission signed by the banished King.

With Charnock was closely connected George Porter, an adventurer
who called himself a Roman Catholic and a Royalist, but who was
in truth destitute of all religious and of all political
principle. Porter's friends could not deny that he was a rake and
a coxcomb, that he drank, that he swore, that he told extravagant
lies about his amours, and that he had been convicted of
manslaughter for a stab given in a brawl at the playhouse. His
enemies affirmed that he was addicted to nauseous and horrible
kinds of debauchery, and that he procured the means of indulging
his infamous tastes by cheating and marauding; that he was one of
a gang of clippers; that he sometimes got on horseback late in
the evening and stole out in disguise, and that, when he returned
from these mysterious excursions, his appearance justified the
suspicion that he had been doing business on Hounslow Heath or
Finchley Common.592

Cardell Goodman, popularly called Scum Goodman, a knave more
abandoned, if possible, than Porter, was in the plot. Goodman had
been on the stage, had been kept, like some much greater men, by
the Duchess of Cleveland, had been taken into her house, had been
loaded by her with gifts, and had requited her by bribing an
Italian quack to poison two of her children. As the poison had
not been administered, Goodman could be prosecuted only for a
misdemeanour. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to a ruinous
fine. He had since distinguished himself as one of the first
forgers of bank notes.593

Sir William Parkyns, a wealthy knight bred to the law, who had
been conspicuous among the Tories in the days of the Exclusion
Bill, was one of the most important members of the confederacy.
He bore a much fairer character than most of his accomplices; but
in one respect he was more culpable than any of them. For he had,
in order to retain a lucrative office which he held in the Court
of Chancery, sworn allegiance to the Prince against whose life he
now conspired.

The design was imparted to Sir John Fenwick, celebrated on
account of the cowardly insult which he had offered to the
deceased Queen. Fenwick, if his own assertion is to be trusted,
was willing to join in an insurrection, but recoiled from the
thought of assassination, and showed so much of what was in his
mind as sufficed to make him an object of suspicion to his less
scrupulous associates. He kept their secret, however, as strictly
as if he had wished them success.

It should seem that, at first, a natural feeling restrained the
conspirators from calling their design by the proper name. Even
in their private consultations they did not as yet talk of
killing the Prince of Orange. They would try to seize him and to
carry him alive into France. If there were any resistance they
might be forced to use their swords and pistols, and nobody could
be answerable for what a thrust or a shot might do. In the spring
of 1695, the scheme of assassination, thus thinly veiled, was
communicated to James, and his sanction was earnestly requested.
But week followed week; and no answer arrived from him. He
doubtless remained silent in the hope that his adherents would,
after a short delay, venture to act on their own responsibility,
and that he might thus have the advantage without the scandal of
their crime. They seem indeed to have so understood him. He had
not, they said, authorised the attempt; but he had not prohibited
it; and, apprised as he was of their plan, the absence of
prohibition was a sufficient warrant. They therefore determined
to strike; but before they could make the necessary arrangements
William set out for Flanders; and the plot against his life was
necessarily suspended till his return.

It was on the twelfth of May that the King left Kensington for
Gravesend, where he proposed to embark for the Continent. Three
days before his departure the Parliament of Scotland had, after a
recess of about two years, met again at Edinburgh. Hamilton, who
had, in the preceding session, sate on the throne and held the
sceptre, was dead; and it was necessary to find a new Lord High
Commissioner. The person selected was John Hay, Marquess of
Tweedale, Chancellor of the Realm, a man grown old in business,
well informed, prudent, humane, blameless in private life, and,
on the whole, as respectable as any Scottish lord who had been
long and deeply concerned in the politics of those troubled

His task was not without difficulty. It was indeed well known
that the Estates were generally inclined to support the
government. But it was also well known that there was one subject
which would require the most dexterous and delicate management.
The cry of the blood shed more than three years before in Glencoe
had at length made itself heard. Towards the close of the year
1693, the reports, which had at first been contemptuously derided
as factious calumnies, began to be generally thought deserving of
serious attention. Many people little disposed to place
confidence in any thing that came forth from the secret presses
of the Jacobites owned that, for the honour of the government,
some inquiry ought to be instituted. The amiable Mary had been
much shocked by what she heard. William had, at her request,
empowered the Duke of Hamilton and several other Scotchmen of
note to investigate the whole matter. But the Duke died; his
colleagues were slack in the performance of their duty; and the
King, who knew little and cared little about Scotland, forgot to
urge them.594

It now appeared that the government would have done wisely as
well as rightly by anticipating the wishes of the country. The
horrible story repeated by the nonjurors pertinaciously,
confidently, and with so many circumstances as almost enforced
belief, had at length roused all Scotland. The sensibility of a
people eminently patriotic was galled by the taunts of southern
pamphleteers, who asked whether there was on the north of the
Tweed, no law, no justice, no humanity, no spirit to demand
redress even for the foulest wrongs. Each of the two extreme
parties, which were diametrically opposed to each other in
general politics, was impelled by a peculiar feeling to call for
inquiry. The Jacobites were delighted by the prospect of being
able to make out a case which would bring discredit on the
usurper, and which might be set off against the many offences
imputed by the Whigs to Claverhouse and Mackenzie. The zealous
Presbyterians were not less delighted at the prospect of being
able to ruin the Master of Stair. They had never forgotten or
forgiven the service which he had rendered to the House of Stuart
in the time of the persecution. They knew that, though he had
cordially concurred in the political revolution which had freed
them from the hated dynasty, he had seen with displeasure that
ecclesiastical revolution which was, in their view, even more
important. They knew that church government was with him merely
an affair of State, and that, looking at it as an affair of
State, he preferred the episcopal to the synodical model. They
could not without uneasiness see so adroit and eloquent an enemy
of pure religion constantly attending the royal steps and
constantly breathing counsel in the royal ear. They were
therefore impatient for an investigation, which, if one half of
what was rumoured were true, must produce revelations fatal to
the power and fame of the minister whom they distrusted. Nor
could that minister rely on the cordial support of all who held
office under the Crown. His genius and influence had excited the
jealousy of many less successful courtiers, and especially of his
fellow secretary, Johnstone.

Thus, on the eve of the meeting of the Scottish Parliament,
Glencoe was in the mouths of all Scotchmen of all factions and of
all sects. William, who was just about to start for the
Continent, learned that, on this subject, the Estates must have
their way, and that the best thing that he could do would be to
put himself at the head of a movement which it was impossible for
him to resist. A Commission authorising Tweedale and several
other privy councillors to examine fully into the matter about
which the public mind was so strongly excited was signed by the
King at Kensington, was sent down to Edinburgh, and was there
sealed with the Great Seal of the realm. This was accomplished
just in time.595 The Parliament had scarcely entered on business
when a member rose to move for an inquiry into the circumstances
of the slaughter of Glencoe. Tweedale was able to inform the
Estates that His Majesty's goodness had prevented their desires,
that a Commission of Precognition had, a few hours before, passed
in all the forms, and that the lords and gentlemen named in that
instrument would hold their first meeting before night.596 The
Parliament unanimously voted thanks to the King for this instance
of his paternal care; but some of those who joined in the vote of
thanks expressed a very natural apprehension that the second
investigation might end as unsatisfactorily as the first
investigation had ended. The honour of the country, they said,
was at stake; and the Commissioners were bound to proceed with
such diligence that the result of the inquest might be known
before the end of the session. Tweedale gave assurances which,
for a time, silenced the murmurers.597 But, when three weeks had
passed away, many members became mutinous and suspicious. On the
fourteenth of June it was moved that the Commissioners should be
ordered to report. The motion was not carried; but it was renewed
day after day. In three successive sittings Tweedale was able to
restrain the eagerness of the assembly. But, when he at length
announced that the report had been completed; and added that it
would not be laid before the Estates till it had been submitted
to the King, there was a violent outcry. The public curiosity was
intense; for the examination had been conducted with closed
doors; and both Commissioners and clerks had been sworn to
secrecy. The King was in the Netherlands. Weeks must elapse
before his pleasure could he taken; and the session could not
last much longer. In a fourth debate there were signs which
convinced the Lord High Commissioner that it was expedient to
yield; and the report was produced.598

It is a paper highly creditable to those who framed it, an
excellent digest of evidence, clear, passionless, and austerely
just. No source from which valuable information was likely to be
derived had been neglected. Glengarry and Keppoch, though
notoriously disaffected to the government, had been permitted to
conduct the case on behalf of their unhappy kinsmen. Several of
the Macdonalds who had escaped from the havoc of that night had
been examined, and among them the reigning Mac Ian, the eldest
son of the murdered Chief. The correspondence of the Master of
Stair with the military men who commanded in the Highlands had
been subjected to a strict but not unfair scrutiny. The
conclusion to which the Commissioners came, and in which every
intelligent and candid inquirer will concur, was that the
slaughter of Glencoe was a barbarous murder, and that of this
barbarous murder the letters of the Master of Stair were the sole
warrant and cause.

That Breadalbane was an accomplice in the crime was not proved;
but he did not come off quite clear. In the course of the
investigation it was incidentally discovered that he had, while
distributing the money of William among the Highland Chiefs,
professed to them the warmest zeal for the interest of James, and
advised them to take what they could get from the usurper, but to
be constantly on the watch for a favourable opportunity of
bringing back the rightful King. Breadalbane's defence was that
he was a greater villain than his accusers imagined, and that he
had pretended to be a Jacobite only in order to get at the bottom
of the Jacobite plans. In truth the depths of this man's knavery
were unfathomable. It was impossible to say which of his treasons
were, to borrow the Italian classification, single treasons, and
which double treasons. On this occasion the Parliament supposed
him to have been guilty only of a single treason, and sent him to
the Castle of Edinburgh. The government, on full consideration,
gave credit to his assertion that he had been guilty of a double
treason, and let him out again.599

The Report of the Commission was taken into immediate
consideration by the Estates. They resolved, without one
dissentient voice, that the order signed by William did not
authorise the slaughter of Glencoe. They next resolved, but, it
should seem, not unanimously, that the slaughter was a murder.600
They proceeded to pass several votes, the sense of which was
finally summed up in an address to the King. How that part of the
address which related to the Master of Stair should be
framed was a question about which there was much debate. Several
of his letters were called for and read; and several amendments
were put to the vote. It should seem that the Jacobites and the
extreme Presbyterians were, with but too good cause, on the side
of severity. The majority, under the skilful management of the
Lord High Commissioner, acquiesced in words which made it
impossible for the guilty minister to retain his office, but
which did not impute to him such criminality as would have
affected his life or his estate. They censured him, but censured
him in terms far too soft. They blamed his immoderate zeal
against the unfortunate clan, and his warm directions about
performing the execution by surprise. His excess in his letters
they pronounced to have been the original cause of the massacre;
but, instead of demanding that he should be brought to trial as a
murderer, they declared that, in consideration of his absence and
of his great place, they left it to the royal wisdom to deal with
him in such a manner as might vindicate the honour of the

The indulgence which was shown to the principal offender was not
extended to his subordinates. Hamilton, who had fled and had been
vainly cited by proclamation at the City Cross to appear before
the Estates, was pronounced not to be clear of the blood of the
Glencoe men. Glenlyon, Captain Drummond, Lieutenant Lindsey,
Ensign Lundie, and Serjeant Barbour, were still more distinctly
designated as murderers; and the King was requested to command
the Lord Advocate to prosecute them.

The Parliament of Scotland was undoubtedly, on this occasion,
severe in the wrong place and lenient in the wrong place. The
cruelty and baseness of Glenlyon and his comrades excite, even
after the lapse of a hundred and sixty years, emotions which make
it difficult to reason calmly. Yet whoever can bring himself to
look at the conduct of these men with judicial impartiality will
probably be of opinion that they could not, without great
detriment to the commonwealth, have been treated as assassins.
They had slain nobody whom they had not been positively directed
by their commanding officer to slay. That subordination without
which an army is the worst of all rabbles would be at an end, if
every soldier were to be held answerable for the justice of every
order in obedience to which he pulls his trigger. The case of
Glencoe was, doubtless, an extreme case; but it cannot easily be
distinguished in principle from cases which, in war, are of
ordinary occurrence. Very terrible military executions are
sometimes indispensable. Humanity itself may require them. Who
then is to decide whether there be an emergency such as makes
severity the truest mercy? Who is to determine whether it be or
be not necessary to lay a thriving town in ashes, to decimate a
large body of mutineers, to shoot a whole gang of banditti? Is
the responsibility with the commanding officer, or with the rank
and file whom he orders to make ready, present and fire? And if
the general rule be that the responsibility is with the
commanding officer, and not with those who obey him, is it
possible to find any reason for pronouncing the case of Glencoe
an exception to that rule? It is remarkable that no member of the
Scottish Parliament proposed that any of the private men of
Argyle's regiment should be prosecuted for murder. Absolute
impunity was granted to everybody below the rank of Serjeant. Yet
on what principle? Surely, if military obedience was not a valid
plea, every man who shot a Macdonald on that horrible night was a
murderer. And, if military obedience was a valid plea for the
musketeer who acted by order of Serjeant Barbour, why not for
Barbour who acted by order of Glenlyon? And why not for Glenlyon
who acted by order of Hamilton? It can scarcely be maintained
that more deference is due from a private to a noncommissioned
officer than from a noncommissioned officer to his captain, or
from a captain to his colonel.

It may be said that the orders given to Glenlyon were of so
peculiar a nature that, if he had been a man of virtue, he would
have thrown up his commission, would have braved the displeasure
of colonel, general, and Secretary of State, would have incurred
the heaviest penalty which a Court Martial could inflict, rather
than have performed the part assigned to him; and this is
perfectly true; but the question is not whether he acted like a
virtuous man, but whether he did that for which he could, without
infringing a rule essential to the discipline of camps and to the
security of nations, be hanged as a murderer. In this case,
disobedience was assuredly a moral duty; but it does not follow
that obedience was a legal crime.

It seems therefore that the guilt of Glenlyon and his fellows was
not within the scope of the penal law. The only punishment which
could properly be inflicted on them was that which made Cain cry
out that it was greater than he could bear; to be vagabonds on
the face of the earth, and to carry wherever they went a mark
from which even bad men should turn away sick with horror.

It was not so with the Master of Stair. He had been solemnly
pronounced, both by the Commission of Precognition and by the
Estates of the Realm in full Parliament, to be the original
author of the massacre. That it was not advisable to make
examples of his tools was the strongest reason for making an
example of him. Every argument which can be urged against
punishing the soldier who executes the unjust and inhuman orders
of his superior is an argument for punishing with the utmost
rigour of the law the superior who gives unjust and inhuman
orders. Where there can be no responsibility below, there should
be double responsibility above. What the Parliament of Scotland
ought with one voice to have demanded was, not that a poor
illiterate serjeant, who was hardly more accountable than his own
halbert for the bloody work which he had done, should be hanged
in the Grassmarket, but that the real murderer, the most politic,
the most eloquent, the most powerful, of Scottish statesmen,
should be brought to a public trial, and should, if found guilty,
die the death of a felon. Nothing less than such a sacrifice
could expiate such a crime. Unhappily the Estates, by extenuating
the guilt of the chief offender, and, at the same time,
demanding that his humble agents should be treated with a
severity beyond the law, made the stain which the massacre had
left on the honour of the nation broader and deeper than before.

Nor is it possible to acquit the King of a great breach of duty.
It is, indeed, highly probable that, till he received the report
of his Commissioners, he had been very imperfectly informed as to
the circumstances of the slaughter. We can hardly suppose that he
was much in the habit of reading Jacobite pamphlets; and, if he
did read them, he would have found in them such a quantity of
absurd and rancorous invective against himself that he would have
been very little inclined to credit any imputation which they
might throw on his servants. He would have seen himself accused,
in one tract, of being a concealed Papist, in another of having
poisoned Jeffreys in the Tower, in a third of having contrived to
have Talmash taken off at Brest. He would have seen it asserted
that, in Ireland, he once ordered fifty of his wounded English
soldiers to be burned alive. He would have seen that the
unalterable affection which he felt from his boyhood to his death
for three or four of the bravest and most trusty friends that
ever prince had the happiness to possess was made a ground for
imputing to him abominations as foul as those which are buried
under the waters of the Dead Sea. He might therefore naturally be
slow to believe frightful imputations thrown by writers whom he
knew to be habitual liars on a statesman whose abilities he
valued highly, and to whose exertions he had, on some great
occasions, owed much. But he could not, after he had read the
documents transmitted to him from Edinburgh by Tweedale,
entertain the slightest doubt of the guilt of the Master of
Stair. To visit that guilt with exemplary punishment was the
sacred duty of a Sovereign who had sworn, with his hand lifted up
towards heaven, that he would, in his kingdom of Scotland,
repress, in all estates and degrees, all oppression, and would do
justice, without acceptance of persons, as he hoped for mercy
from the Father of all mercies. William contented himself with
dismissing the Master from office. For this great fault, a fault
amounting to a crime, Burnet tried to frame, not a defence, but
an excuse. He would have us believe that the King, alarmed by
finding how many persons had borne a part in the slaughter of
Glencoe, thought it better to grant a general amnesty than to
punish one massacre by another. But this representation is the
very reverse of the truth. Numerous instruments had doubtless
been employed in the work of death; but they had all received
their impulse, directly or indirectly, from a single mind. High
above the crowd of offenders towered one offender, preeminent in
parts, knowledge, rank and power. In return for many victims
immolated by treachery, only one victim was demanded by justice;
and it must ever be considered as a blemish on the fame of
William that the demand was refused.

On the seventeenth of July the session of the Parliament of
Scotland closed. The Estates had liberally voted such a supply as
the poor country which they represented could afford. They had
indeed been put into high good humour by the notion that they had
found out a way of speedily making that poor country rich. Their
attention had been divided between the inquiry into the slaughter
of Glencoe and some specious commercial projects of which the
nature will be explained and the fate related in a future

Meanwhile all Europe was looking anxiously towards the Low
Countries. The great warrior who had been victorious at Fleurus,
at Steinkirk and at Landen had not left his equal behind him. But
France still possessed Marshals well qualified for high command.
Already Catinat and Boufflers had given proofs of skill, of
resolution, and of zeal for the interests of the state. Either of
those distinguished officers would have been a successor worthy
of Luxemburg and an antagonist worthy of William; but their
master, unfortunately for himself, preferred to both the Duke of
Villeroy. The new general had been Lewis's playmate when they
were both children, had then become a favourite, and had never
ceased to be so. In those superficial graces for which the French
aristocracy was then renowned throughout Europe, Villeroy was
preeminent among the French aristocracy. His stature was tall,
his countenance handsome, his manners nobly and somewhat
haughtily polite, his dress, his furniture, his equipages, his
table, magnificent. No man told a story with more vivacity; no
man sate his horse better in a hunting party; no man made love
with more success; no man staked and lost heaps of gold with more
agreeable unconcern; no man was more intimately acquainted with
the adventures, the attachments, the enmities of the lords and
ladies who daily filled the halls of Versailles. There were two
characters especially which this fine gentleman had studied
during many years, and of which he knew all the plaits and
windings, the character of the King, and the character of her who
was Queen in every thing but name. But there ended Villeroy's
acquirements. He was profoundly ignorant both of books and of
business. At the Council Board he never opened his mouth without
exposing himself. For war he had not a single qualification
except that personal courage which was common to him with the
whole class of which he was a member. At every great crisis of
his political and of his military life he was alternately drunk
with arrogance and sunk in dejection. Just before he took a
momentous step his selfconfidence was boundless; he would listen
to no suggestion; he would not admit into his mind the thought
that failure was possible. On the first check he gave up every
thing for lost, became incapable of directing, and ran up and
down in helpless despair. Lewis however loved him; and he, to do
him justice, loved Lewis. The kindness of the master was proof
against all the disasters which were brought on his kingdom by
the rashness and weakness of the servant; and the gratitude of
the servant was honourably, though not judiciously, manifested on
more than one occasion after the death of the master.601

Such was the general to whom the direction of the campaign in the
Netherlands was confided. The Duke of Maine was sent to learn the
art of war under this preceptor. Maine, the natural son of Lewis
by the Duchess of Montespan, had been brought up from childhood
by Madame de Maintenon, and was loved by Lewis with the love of a
father, by Madame de Maintenon with the not less tender love of a
foster mother.

Grave men were scandalized by the ostentatious manner in which
the King, while making a high profession of piety, exhibited his
partiality for this offspring of a double adultery. Kindness,
they said, was doubtless due from a parent to a child; but
decency was also due from a Sovereign to his people. In spite of
these murmurs the youth had been publicly acknowledged, loaded
with wealth and dignities, created a Duke and Peer, placed, by an
extraordinary act of royal power, above Dukes and Peers of older
creation, married to a Princess of the blood royal, and appointed
Grand Master of the Artillery of the Realm. With abilities and
courage he might have played a great part in the world. But his
intellect was small; his nerves were weak; and the women and
priests who had educated him had effectually assisted nature. He
was orthodox in belief, correct in morals, insinuating in
address, a hypocrite, a mischiefmaker and a coward.

It was expected at Versailles that Flanders would, during this
year, be the chief theatre of war. Here, therefore, a great army
was collected. Strong lines were formed from the Lys to the
Scheld, and Villeroy fixed his headquarters near Tournay.
Boufflers, with about twelve thousand men, guarded the banks of
the Sambre.

On the other side the British and Dutch troops, who were under `-
William's immediate command, mustered in the neighbourhood of
Ghent. The Elector of Bavaria, at the head of a great force, lay
near Brussels. A smaller army, consisting chiefly of
Brandenburghers was encamped not far from Huy.

Early in June military operations commenced. The first movements
of William were mere feints intended to prevent the French
generals from suspecting his real purpose. He had set his heart
on retaking Namur. The loss of Namur had been the most mortifying
of all the disasters of a disastrous war. The importance of Namur
in a military point of view had always been great, and had become
greater than ever during the three years which had elapsed since
the last siege. New works, the masterpieces of Vauban, had been
added to the old defences which had been constructed with the
utmost skill of Cohorn. So ably had the two illustrious engineers
vied with each other and cooperated with nature that the fortress
was esteemed the strongest in Europe. Over one gate had been
placed a vaunting inscription which defied the allies to wrench
the prize from the grasp of France.

William kept his own counsel so well that not a hint of his
intention got abroad. Some thought that Dunkirk, some that Ypres
was his object. The marches and skirmishes by which he disguised
his design were compared by Saint Simon to the moves of a skilful
chess player. Feuquieres, much more deeply versed in military
science than Saint Simon, informs us that some of these moves
were hazardous, and that such a game could not have been safely
played against Luxemburg; and this is probably true, but
Luxemburg was gone; and what Luxemburg had been to William,
William now was to Villeroy.

While the King was thus employed, the Jacobites at home, being
unable, in his absence, to prosecute their design against his
person, contented themselves with plotting against his
government. They were somewhat less closely watched than during
the preceding year; for the event of the trials at Manchester had
discouraged Aaron Smith and his agents. Trenchard, whose
vigilance and severity had made him an object of terror and
hatred, was no more, and had been succeeded, in what may be
called the subordinate Secretaryship of State, by Sir William
Trumball, a learned civilian and an experienced diplomatist, of
moderate opinions, and of temper cautious to timidity.602 The
malecontents were emboldened by the lenity of the administration.
William had scarcely sailed for the Continent when they held a
great meeting at one of their favourite haunts, the Old King's
Head in Leadenhall Street. Charnock, Porter, Goodman, Parkyns and
Fenwick were present. The Earl of Aylesbury was there, a man
whose attachment to the exiled house was notorious, but who
always denied that he had ever thought of effecting a restoration
by immoral means. His denial would be entitled to more credit if
he had not, by taking the oaths to the government against which
he was constantly intriguing, forfeited the right to be
considered as a man of conscience and honour. In the assembly was
Sir John Friend, a nonjuror who had indeed a very slender wit,
but who had made a very large fortune by brewing, and who spent
it freely in sedition. After dinner,--for the plans of the
Jacobites were generally laid over wine, and generally bore some
trace of the conviviality in which they had originated,--it was
resolved that the time was come for an insurrection and a French
invasion, and that a special messenger should carry the sense of
the meeting to Saint Germains. Charnock was selected. He
undertook the commission, crossed the Channel, saw James, and had
interviews with the ministers of Lewis, but could arrange
nothing. The English malecontents would not stir till ten
thousand French troops were in the island; and ten thousand
French troops could not, without great risk, be withdrawn from
the army which was contending against William in the Low
Countries. When Charnock returned to report that his embassy had
been unsuccessful, he found some of his confederates in gaol.
They had during his absence amused themselves, after their
fashion, by trying to raise a riot in London on the tenth of
June, the birthday of the unfortunate Prince of Wales. They met
at a tavern in Drury Lane, and, when hot with wine, sallied forth
sword in hand, headed by Porter and Goodman, beat kettledrums,
unfurled banners, and began to light bonfires. But the watch,
supported by the populace, was too strong for the revellers. They
were put to rout; the tavern where they had feasted was sacked by
the mob; the ringleaders were apprehended, tried, fined and
imprisoned, but regained their liberty in time to bear a part in
a far more criminal design.603

By this time all was ready for the execution of the plan which
William had formed. That plan had been communicated to the other
chiefs of the allied forces, and had been warmly approved.
Vaudemont was left in Flanders with a considerable force to watch
Villeroy. The King, with the rest of his army, marched straight
on Namur. At the same moment the Elector of Bavaria advanced
towards the same point on one side, and the Brandenburghers on
another. So well had these movements been concerted, and so
rapidly were they performed, that the skilful and energetic
Boufflers had but just time to throw himself into the fortress.
He was accompanied by seven regiments of dragoons, by a strong
body of gunners, sappers and miners, and by an officer named
Megrigny, who was esteemed the best engineer in the French
service with the exception of Vauban. A few hours after Boufflers
had entered the place the besieging forces closed round it on
every side; and the lines of circumvallation were rapidly formed.

The news excited no alarm at the French Court. There it was not
doubted that William would soon be compelled to abandon his
enterprise with grievous loss and ignominy. The town was strong;
the castle was believed to be impregnable; the magazines were
filled with provisions and ammunition sufficient to last till the
time at which the armies of that age were expected to retire into
winter quarters; the garrison consisted of sixteen thousand of
the best troops in the world; they were commanded by an excellent
general; he was assisted by an excellent engineer; nor was it
doubted that Villeroy would march with his great army to the
assistance of Boufflers, and that the besiegers would then be in
much more danger than the besieged.

These hopes were kept up by the despatches of Villeroy. He
proposed, he said, first to annihilate the army of Vaudemont, and
then to drive William from Namur. Vaudemont might try to avoid an
action; but he could not escape. The Marshal went so far as to
promise his master news of a complete victory within twenty-four
hours. Lewis passed a whole day in impatient expectation. At
last, instead of an officer of high rank loaded with English and
Dutch standards, arrived a courier bringing news that Vaudemont
had effected a retreat with scarcely any loss, and was safe under
the walls of Ghent. William extolled the generalship of his
lieutenant in the warmest terms. "My cousin," he wrote, "you have
shown yourself a greater master of your art than if you had won a
pitched battle."604 In the French camp, however, and at the
French Court it was universally held that Vaudemont had been
saved less by his own skill than by the misconduct of those to
whom he was opposed. Some threw the whole blame on Villeroy; and
Villeroy made no attempt to vindicate himself. But it was
generally believed that he might, at least to a great extent,
have vindicated himself, had he not preferred royal favour to
military renown. His plan, it was said, might have succeeded, had
not the execution been entrusted to the Duke of Maine. At the
first glimpse of danger the bastard's heart had died within him.
He had not been able to conceal his poltroonery. He had stood
trembling, stuttering, calling for his confessor, while the old
officers round him, with tears in their eyes, urged him to
advance. During a short time the disgrace of the son was
concealed from the father. But the silence of Villeroy showed
that there was a secret; the pleasantries of the Dutch gazettes
soon elucidated the mystery; and Lewis learned, if not the whole
truth, yet enough to make him miserable. Never during his long
reign had he been so moved. During some hours his gloomy
irritability kept his servants, his courtiers, even his priests,
in terror. He so far forgot the grace and dignity for which he
was renowned throughout the world that, in the sight of all the
splendid crowd of gentlemen and ladies who came to see him dine
at Marli, he broke a cane on the shoulders of a lacquey, and
pursued the poor man with the handle.605

The siege of Namur meanwhile was vigorously pressed by the
allies. The scientific part of their operations was under the
direction of Cohorn, who was spurred by emulation to exert his
utmost skill. He had suffered, three years before, the
mortification of seeing the town, as he had fortified it, taken
by his great master Vauban. To retake it, now that the
fortifications had received Vauban's last improvements, would be
a noble revenge.

On the second of July the trenches were opened. On the eighth a
gallant sally of French dragoons was gallantly beaten back; and,
late on the same evening, a strong body of infantry, the English
footguards leading the way, stormed, after a bloody conflict, the
outworks on the Brussels side. The King in person directed the
attack; and his subjects were delighted to learn that, when the
fight was hottest, he laid his hand on the shoulder of the
Elector of Bavaria, and exclaimed, "Look, look at my brave
English!" Conspicuous in bravery even among those brave English
was Cutts. In that bulldog courage which flinches from no danger,
however terrible, he was unrivalled. There was no difficulty in
finding hardy volunteers, German, Dutch and British, to go on a
forlorn hope; but Cutts was the only man who appeared to consider
such an expedition as a party of pleasure. He was so much at his
ease in the hottest fire of the French batteries that his
soldiers gave him the honourable nickname of the Salamander.606

On the seventeenth the first counterscarp of the town was
attacked. The English and Dutch were thrice repulsed with great
slaughter, and returned thrice to the charge. At length, in spite
of the exertions of the French officers, who fought valiantly
sword in hand on the glacis, the assailants remained in
possession of the disputed works. While the conflict was raging,
William, who was giving his orders under a shower of bullets, saw
with surprise and anger, among the officers of his staff, Michael
Godfrey the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. This
gentleman had come to the King's headquarters in order to make
some arrangements for the speedy and safe remittance of money
from England to the army in the Netherlands, and was curious to
see real war. Such curiosity William could not endure. "Mr.
Godfrey," he said, "you ought not to run these hazards; you are
not a soldier; you can be of no use to us here." "Sir," answered
Godfrey, "I run no more hazard than Your Majesty." "Not so," said
William; "I am where it is my duty to be; and I may without
presumption commit my life to God's keeping; but you--" While
they were talking a cannon ball from the ramparts laid Godfrey
dead at the King's feet. It was not found however that the fear
of being Godfreyed,--such was during some time the cant phrase,--
sufficed to prevent idle gazers from coming to the trenches.607
Though William forbade his coachmen, footmen and cooks to expose
themselves, he repeatedly saw them skulking near the most
dangerous spots and trying to get a peep at the fighting. He was
sometimes, it is said, provoked into horsewhipping them out of
the range of the French guns; and the story, whether true or
false, is very characteristic.

On the twentieth of July the Bavarians and Brandenburghers, under
the direction of Cohorn, made themselves masters, after a hard
fight, of a line of works which Vauban had cut in the solid rock
from the Sambre to the Meuse. Three days later, the English and
Dutch, Cutts, as usual, in the front, lodged themselves on the
second counterscarp. All was ready for a general assault, when a
white flag was hung out from the ramparts. The effective strength
of the garrison was now little more than one half of what it had
been when the trenches were opened. Boufflers apprehended that it
would be impossible for eight thousand men to defend the whole
circuit of the walls much longer; but he felt confident that such
a force would be sufficient to keep the stronghold on the summit
of the rock. Terms of capitulation were speedily adjusted. A gate
was delivered up to the allies. The French were allowed forty-
eight hours to retire into the castle, and were assured that the
wounded men whom they left below, about fifteen hundred in
number, should he well treated. On the sixth the allies marched
in. The contest for the possession of the town was over; and a
second and more terrible contest began for the possession of the

Villeroy had in the meantime made some petty conquests. Dixmuyde,
which might have offered some resistance, had opened its gates to
him, not without grave suspicion of treachery on the part of the
governor. Deynse, which was less able to make any defence, had
followed the example. The garrisons of both towns were, in
violation of a convention which had been made for the exchange of
prisoners, sent into France. The Marshal then advanced towards
Brussels in the hope, as it should seem, that, by menacing that
beautiful capital, he might induce the allies to raise the siege
of the castle of Namur. During thirty-six hours he rained shells
and redhot bullets on the city. The Electress of Bavaria, who was
within the walls, miscarried from terror. Six convents perished.
Fifteen hundred houses were at once in flames. The whole lower
town would have been burned to the ground, had not the
inhabitants stopped the conflagration by blowing up numerous
buildings. Immense quantities of the finest lace and tapestry
were destroyed; for the industry and trade which made Brussels
famous throughout the world had hitherto been little affected by
the war. Several of the stately piles which looked down on the
market place were laid in ruins. The Town Hall itself, the
noblest of the many noble senate houses reared by the burghers of
the Netherlands, was in imminent peril. All this devastation,
however, produced no effect except much private misery. William
was not to be intimidated or provoked into relaxing the firm
grasp with which he held Namur. The fire which his batteries kept
up round the castle was such as had never been known in war. The
French gunners were fairly driven from their pieces by the hail
of balls, and forced to take refuge in vaulted galleries under
the ground. Cohorn exultingly betted the Elector of Bavaria four
hundred pistoles that the place would fall by the thirty-first of
August, New Style. The great engineer lost his wager indeed, but
lost it only by a few hours.609

Boufflers now began to feel that his only hope was in Villeroy.
Villeroy had proceeded from Brussels to Enghien; he had there
collected all the French troops that could be spared from the
remotest fortresses of the Netherlands; and he now, at the head
of more than eighty thousand men, marched towards Namur.
Vaudemont meanwhile joined the besiegers. William therefore
thought himself strong enough to offer battle to Villeroy,
without intermitting for a moment the operations against
Boufflers. The Elector of Bavaria was entrusted with the
immediate direction of the siege. The King of England took up, on
the west of the town, a strong position strongly intrenched, and
there awaited the French, who were advancing from Enghien. Every
thing seemed to indicate that a great day was at hand. Two of the
most numerous and best ordered armies that Europe had ever seen
were brought face to face. On the fifteenth of August the
defenders of the castle saw from their watchtowers the mighty
host of their countrymen. But between that host and the citadel
was drawn up in battle order the not less mighty host of William.
Villeroy, by a salute of ninety guns, conveyed to Boufflers the
promise of a speedy rescue; and at night Boufflers, by fire
signals which were seen far over the vast plain of the Meuse and
Sambre, urged Villeroy to fulfil that promise without delay. In
the capitals both of France and England the anxiety was intense.
Lewis shut himself up in his oratory, confessed, received the
Eucharist, and gave orders that the host should be exposed in his
chapel. His wife ordered all her nuns to their knees.610 London
was kept in a state of distraction by a succession of rumours
fabricated some by Jacobites and some by stockjobbers. Early one
morning it was confidently averred that there had been a battle,
that the allies had been beaten, that the King had been killed,
that the siege had been raised. The Exchange, as soon as it was
opened, was filled to overflowing by people who came to learn
whether the bad news was true. The streets were stopped up all
day by groups of talkers and listeners. In the afternoon the
Gazette, which had been impatiently expected, and which was
eagerly read by thousands, calmed the excitement, but not
completely; for it was known that the Jacobites sometimes
received, by the agency of privateers and smugglers who put to
sea in all weathers, intelligence earlier than that which came
through regular channels to the Secretary of State at Whitehall.
Before night, however, the agitation had altogether subsided; but
it was suddenly revived by a bold imposture. A horseman in the
uniform of the Guards spurred through the City, announcing that
the King had been killed. He would probably have raised a serious
tumult, had not some apprentices, zealous for the Revolution and
the Protestant religion, knocked him down and carried him to
Newgate. The confidential correspondent of the States General
informed them that, in spite of all the stories which the
disaffected party invented and circulated, the general persuasion
was that the allies would be successful. The touchstone of
sincerity in England, he said, was the betting. The Jacobites
were ready enough to prove that William must be defeated, or to
assert that he had been defeated; but they would not give the
odds, and could hardly be induced to take any moderate odds. The
Whigs, on the other hand, were ready to stake thousands of
guineas on the conduct and good fortune of the King.611

The event justified the confidence of the Whigs and the
backwardness of the Jacobites. On the sixteenth, the seventeenth,
and the eighteenth of August the army of Villeroy and the army of
William confronted each other. It was fully expected that the
nineteenth would be the decisive day. The allies were under arms
before dawn. At four William mounted, and continued till eight at
night to ride from post to post, disposing his own troops and
watching the movements of the enemy. The enemy approached his
lines in several places, near enough to see that it would not be
easy to dislodge him; but there was no fighting. He lay down to
rest, expecting to be attacked when the sun rose. But when the
sun rose he found that the French had fallen back some miles. He
immediately sent to request that the Elector would storm the
castle without delay. While the preparations were making,
Portland was sent to summon the garrison for the last time. It
was plain, he said to Boufflers, that Villeroy had given up all
hope of being able to raise the siege. It would therefore be an
useless waste of life to prolong the contest. Boufflers however
thought that another day of slaughter was necessary to the honour
of the French arms; and Portland returned unsuccessful.612

Early in the afternoon the assault was made in four places at
once by four divisions of the confederate army. One point was
assigned to the Brandenburghers, another to the Dutch, a third to
the Bavarians, and a fourth to the English. The English were at
first less fortunate than they had hitherto been. The truth is
that most of the regiments which had seen service had marched
with William to encounter Villeroy. As soon as the signal was
given by the blowing up of two barrels of powder, Cutts, at the
head of a small body of grenadiers, marched first out of the
trenches with drums beating and colours flying. This gallant band
was to be supported by four battalions which had never been in
action, and which, though full of spirit, wanted the steadiness
which so terrible a service required. The officers fell fast.
Every Colonel, every Lieutenant Colonel, was killed or severely
wounded. Cutts received a shot in the head which for a time
disabled him. The raw recruits, left almost without direction,
rushed forward impetuously till they found themselves in disorder
and out of breath, with a precipice before them, under a terrible
fire, and under a shower, scarcely less terrible, of fragments of
rock and wall. They lost heart, and rolled back in confusion,
till Cutts, whose wound had by this time been dressed, succeeded
in rallying them. He then led them, not to the place from which
they had been driven back, but to another spot where a fearful
battle was raging. The Bavarians had made their onset gallantly
but unsuccessfully; their general had fallen; and they were
beginning to waver when the arrival of the Salamander and his men
changed the fate of the day. Two hundred English volunteers,
bent on retrieving at all hazards the disgrace of the recent
repulse, were the first to force a way, sword in hand, through
the palisades, to storm a battery which had made great havoc
among the Bavarians, and to turn the guns against the garrison.
Meanwhile the Brandenburghers, excellently disciplined and
excellently commanded, had performed, with no great loss, the
duty assigned to them. The Dutch had been equally successful.
When the evening closed in the allies had made a lodgment of a
mile in extent on the outworks of the castle. The advantage had
been purchased by the loss of two thousand men.613

And now Boufflers thought that he had done all that his duty
required. On the morrow he asked for a truce of forty-eight hours
in order that the hundreds of corpses which choked the ditches
and which would soon have spread pestilence among both the
besiegers and the besieged might be removed and interred. His
request was granted; and, before the time expired, he intimated
that he was disposed to capitulate. He would, he said, deliver up
the castle in ten days, if he were not relieved sooner. He was
informed that the allies would not treat with him on such terms,
and that he must either consent to an immediate surrender, or
prepare for an immediate assault. He yielded, and it was agreed
that he and his men should be suffered to depart, leaving the
citadel, the artillery, and the stores to the conquerors. Three
peals from all the guns of the confederate army notified to
Villeroy the fall of the stronghold which he had vainly attempted
to succour. He instantly retreated towards Mons, leaving William
to enjoy undisturbed a triumph which was made more delightful by
the recollection of many misfortunes.

The twenty-sixth of August was fixed for an exhibition such as
the oldest soldier in Europe had never seen, and such as, a few
weeks before, the youngest had scarcely hoped to see. From the
first battle of Conde to the last battle of Luxemburg, the tide
of military success had run, without any serious interruption, in
one direction. That tide had turned. For the first time, men
said, since France had Marshals, a Marshal of France was to
deliver up a fortress to a victorious enemy.

The allied forces, foot and horse, drawn up in two lines, formed
a magnificent avenue from the breach which had lately been so
desperately contested to the bank of the Meuse. The Elector of
Bavaria, the Landgrave of Hesse, and many distinguished officers
were on horseback in the vicinity of the castle. William was near
them in his coach. The garrison, reduced to about five thousand
men, came forth with drums beating and ensigns flying. Boufflers
and his staff closed the procession. There had been some
difficulty about the form of the greeting which was to be
exchanged between him and the allied Sovereigns. An Elector of
Bavaria was hardly entitled to be saluted by the Marshal with the
sword. A King of England was undoubtedly entitled to such a mark
of respect; but France did not recognise William as King of
England. At last Boufflers consented to perform the salute
without marking for which of the two princes it was intended. He
lowered his sword. William alone acknowledged the compliment. A
short conversation followed. The Marshal, in order to avoid the
use of the words Sire and Majesty, addressed himself only to the
Elector. The Elector, with every mark of deference, reported to
William what had been said; and William gravely touched his hat.
The officers of the garrison carried back to their country the
news that the upstart who at Paris was designated only as Prince
of Orange, was treated by the proudest potentates of the Germanic
body with a respect as profound as that which Lewis exacted from
the gentlemen of his bedchamber.614

The ceremonial was now over; and Boufflers passed on but he had
proceeded but a short way when he was stopped by Dykvelt who
accompanied the allied army as deputy from the States General.
"You must return to the town, Sir," said Dykvelt. "The King of
England has ordered me to inform you that you are his prisoner."
Boufflers was in transports of rage. His officers crowded round
him and vowed to die in his defence. But resistance was out of
the question; a strong body of Dutch cavalry came up; and the
Brigadier who commanded them demanded the Marshal's sword. The
Marshal uttered indignant exclamations: "This is an infamous
breach of faith. Look at the terms of the capitulation. What have
I done to deserve such an affront? Have I not behaved like a man
of honour? Ought I not to be treated as such? But beware what you
do, gentlemen. I serve a master who can and will avenge me." "I
am a soldier, Sir," answered the Brigadier, "and my business is
to obey orders without troubling myself about consequences."
Dykvelt calmly and courteously replied to the Marshal's indignant
exclamations. "The King of England has reluctantly followed the
example set by your master. The soldiers who garrisoned Dixmuyde
and Deynse have, in defiance of plighted faith, been sent
prisoners into France. The Prince whom they serve would be
wanting in his duty to them if he did not retaliate. His Majesty
might with perfect justice have detained all the French who were
in Namur. But he will not follow to such a length a precedent
which he disapproves. He has determined to arrest you and you
alone; and, Sir, you must not regard as an affront what is in
truth a mark of his very particular esteem. How can he pay you a
higher compliment than by showing that he considers you as fully
equivalent to the five or six thousand men whom your sovereign
wrongfully holds in captivity? Nay, you shall even now be
permitted to proceed if you will give me your word of honour to
return hither unless the garrisons of Dixmuyde and Deynse are
released within a fortnight." "I do not at all know," answered
Boufflers, "why the King my master detains those men; and
therefore I cannot hold out any hope that he will liberate them.
You have an army at your back; I am alone; and you must do your
pleasure." He gave up his sword, returned to Namur, and was sent
thence to Huy, where he passed a few days in luxurious repose,
was allowed to choose his own walks and rides, and was treated
with marked respect by those who guarded him. In the shortest
time in which it was possible to post from the place where he was
confined to the French Court and back again, he received full
powers to promise that the garrisons of Dixmuyde and Deynse
should be sent back. He was instantly liberated; and he set off
for Fontainebleau, where an honourable reception awaited him. He
was created a Duke and a Peer. That he might be able to support
his new dignities a considerable sum of money was bestowed on
him; and, in the presence of the whole aristocracy of France, he
was welcomed home by Lewis with an affectionate embrace.615

In all the countries which were united against France the news of
the fall of Namur was received with joy; but here the exultation
was greatest. During several generations our ancestors had
achieved nothing considerable by land against foreign enemies. We
had indeed occasionally furnished to our allies small bands of
auxiliaries who had well maintained the honour of the nation. But
from the day on which the two brave Talbots, father and son, had
perished in the vain attempt to reconquer Guienne, till the
Revolution, there had been on the Continent no campaign in which
Englishmen had borne a principal part. At length our ancestors
had again, after an interval of near two centuries and a half,
begun to dispute with the warriors of France the palm of military
prowess. The struggle had been hard. The genius of Luxemburg and
the consummate discipline of the household troops of Lewis had
pervailed in two great battles; but the event of those battles
had been long doubtful; the victory had been dearly purchased,
and the victor had gained little more than the honour of
remaining master of the field of slaughter. Meanwhile he was
himself training his adversaries. The recruits who survived his
severe tuition speedily became veterans. Steinkirk and Landen had
formed the volunteers who followed Cutts through the palisades of
Namur. The judgment of all the great warriors whom all the
nations of Western Europe had sent to the confluence of the
Sambre and the Meuse was that the English subaltern was inferior
to no subaltern and the English private soldier to no private
soldier in Christendom. The English officers of higher rank were
thought hardly worthy to command such an army. Cutts, indeed, had
distinguished himself by his intrepidity. But those who most
admired him acknowledged that he had neither the capacity nor the
science necessary to a general.

The joy of the conquerors was heightened by the recollection of
the discomfiture which they had suffered, three years before, on
the same spot, and of the insolence with which their enemy had
then triumphed over them. They now triumphed in their turn. The
Dutch struck medals. The Spaniards sang Te Deums. Many poems,
serious and sportive, appeared, of which one only has lived.
Prior burlesqued, with admirable spirit and pleasantry, the
bombastic verses in which Boileau had celebrated the first taking
of Namur. The two odes, printed side by side, were read with
delight in London; and the critics at Will's pronounced that, in
wit as in arms, England had been victorious.

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