The History of England from the Accession of James II. - Volume 3 (of 5)
by Thomas Babington Macaulay
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A few other nonjurors ought to be particularly noticed. High among them in rank was George Hickes, Dean of Worcester. Of all the Englishmen of his time he was the most versed in the old Teutonic languages; and his knowledge of the early Christian literature was extensive. As to his capacity for political discussions, it may be sufficient to say that his favourite argument for passive obedience was drawn from the story of the Theban legion. He was the younger brother of that unfortunate John Hickes who had been found hidden in the malthouse of Alice Lisle. James had, in spite of all solicitation, put both John Hickes and Alice Lisle to death. Persons who did not know the strength of the Dean's principles thought that he might possibly feel some resentment on this account: for he was of no gentle or forgiving temper, and could retain during many years a bitter remembrance of small injuries. But he was strong in his religious and political faith: he reflected that the sufferers were dissenters; and he submitted to the will of the Lord's Anointed not only with patience but with complacency. He became indeed a more loving subject than ever from the time when his brother was hanged and his brother's benefactress beheaded. While almost all other clergymen, appalled by the Declaration of Indulgence and by the proceedings of the High Commission, were beginning to think that they had pushed the doctrine of nonresistance a little too far, he was writing a vindication of his darling legend, and trying to convince the troops at Hounslow that, if James should be pleased to massacre them all, as Maximian had massacred the Theban legion, for refusing to commit idolatry, it would be their duty to pile their arms, and meekly to receive the crown of martyrdom. To do Hickes justice, his whole conduct after the Revolution proved that his servility had sprung neither from fear nor from cupidity, but from mere bigotry, [472]

Jeremy Collier, who was turned out of the preachership of the Rolls, was a man of a much higher order. He is well entitled to grateful and respectful mention: for to his eloquence and courage is to be chiefly ascribed the purification of our lighter literature from that foul taint which had been contracted during the Antipuritan reaction. He was, in the full force of the words, a good man. He was also a man of eminent abilities, a great master of sarcasm, a great master of rhetoric, [473] His reading, too, though undigested, was of immense extent. But his mind was narrow: his reasoning, even when he was so fortunate as to have a good cause to defend, was singularly futile and inconclusive; and his brain was almost turned by pride, not personal, but professional. In his view, a priest was the highest of human beings, except a bishop. Reverence and submission were due from the best and greatest of the laity to the least respectable of the clergy. However ridiculous a man in holy orders might make himself, it was impiety to laugh at him. So nervously sensitive indeed was Collier on this point that he thought it profane to throw any reflection even on the ministers of false religions. He laid it down as a rule that Muftis and Augurs ought always to be mentioned with respect. He blamed Dryden for sneering at the Hierophants of Apis. He praised Racine for giving dignity to the character of a priest of Baal. He praised Corneille for not bringing that learned and reverend divine Tiresias on the stage in the tragedy of Oedipus. The omission, Collier owned, spoiled the dramatic effect of the piece: but the holy function was much too solemn to be played with. Nay, incredible as it may seem, he thought it improper in the laity to sneer at Presbyterian preachers. Indeed his Jacobitism was little more than one of the forms in which his zeal for the dignity of his profession manifested itself. He abhorred the Revolution less as a rising up of subjects against their King than as a rising up of the laity against the sacerdotal caste. The doctrines which had been proclaimed from the pulpit during thirty years had been treated with contempt by the Convention. A new government had been set up in opposition to the wishes of the spiritual peers in the House of Lords and of the priesthood throughout the country. A secular assembly had taken upon itself to pass a law requiring archbishops and bishops, rectors and vicars, to abjure; on pain of deprivation, what they had been teaching all their lives. Whatever meaner spirits might do, Collier was determined not to be led in triumph by the victorious enemies of his order. To the last he would confront, with the authoritative port of an ambassador of heaven, the anger of the powers and principalities of the earth.

In parts Collier was the first man among the nonjurors. In erudition the first place must be assigned to Henry Dodwell, who, for the unpardonable crime of having a small estate in Mayo, had been attainted by the Popish Parliament at Dublin. He was Camdenian Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford, and had already acquired considerable celebrity by chronological and geographical researches: but, though he never could be persuaded to take orders, theology was his favourite study. He was doubtless a pious and sincere man. He had perused innumerable volumes in various languages, and had indeed acquired more learning than his slender faculties were able to bear. The small intellectual spark which he possessed was put out by the fuel. Some of his books seem to have been written in a madhouse, and, though filled with proofs of his immense reading, degrade him to the level of James Naylor and Ludowick Muggleton. He began a dissertation intended to prove that the law of nations was a divine revelation made to the family which was preserved in the ark. He published a treatise in which he maintained that a marriage between a member of the Church of England and a dissenter was a nullity, and that the couple were, in the sight of heaven, guilty of adultery. He defended the use of instrumental music in public worship on the ground that the notes of the organ had a power to counteract the influence of devils on the spinal marrow of human beings. In his treatise on this subject, he remarked that there was high authority for the opinion that the spinal marrow, when decomposed, became a serpent. Whether this opinion were or were not correct, he thought it unnecessary to decide. Perhaps, he said, the eminent men in whose works it was found had meant only to express figuratively the great truth, that the Old Serpent operates on us chiefly through the spinal marrow, [474] Dodwell's speculations on the state of human beings after death are, if possible, more extraordinary still. He tells us that our souls are naturally mortal. Annihilation is the fate of the greater part of mankind, of heathens, of Mahometans, of unchristened babes. The gift of immortality is conveyed in the sacrament of baptism: but to the efficacy of the sacrament it is absolutely necessary that the water be poured and the words pronounced by a priest who has been ordained by a bishop. In the natural course of things, therefore, all Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers would, like the inferior animals, cease to exist. But Dodwell was far too good a churchman to let off dissenters so easily. He informs them that, as they have had an opportunity of hearing the gospel preached, and might, but for their own perverseness, have received episcopalian baptism, God will, by an extraordinary act of power, bestow immortality on them in order that they may be tormented for ever and ever, [475]

No man abhorred the growing latitudinarianism of those times more than Dodwell. Yet no man had more reason to rejoice in it. For, in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, a speculator who had dared to affirm that the human soul is by its nature mortal, and does, in the great majority of cases, actually die with the body, would have been burned alive in Smithfield. Even in days which Dodwell could well remember, such heretics as himself would have been thought fortunate if they escaped with life, their backs flayed, their ears clipped, their noses slit, their tongues bored through with red hot iron, and their eyes knocked out with brickbats. With the nonjurors, however, the author of this theory was still the great Mr. Dodwell; and some, who thought it culpable lenity to tolerate a Presbyterian meeting, thought it at the same time gross illiberality to blame a learned and pious Jacobite for denying a doctrine so utterly unimportant in a religious point of view as that of the immortality of the soul, [476]

Two other nonjurors deserve special mention, less on account of their abilities and learning, than on account of their rare integrity, and of their not less rare candour. These were John Kettlewell, Rector of Coleshill, and John Fitzwilliam, Canon of Windsor. It is remarkable that both these men had seen much of Lord Russell, and that both, though differing from him in political opinions, and strongly disapproving the part which he had taken in the Whig plot, had thought highly of his character, and had been sincere mourners for his death. He had sent to Kettlewell an affectionate message from the scaffold in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Lady Russell, to her latest day, loved, trusted, and revered Fitzwilliam, who, when she was a girl, had been the friend of her father, the virtuous Southampton. The two clergymen agreed in refusing to swear: but they, from that moment, took different paths. Kettlewell was one of the most active members of his party: he declined no drudgery in the common cause, provided only that it were such drudgery as did not misbecome an honest man; and he defended his opinions in several tracts, which give a much higher notion of his sincerity than of his judgment or acuteness, [477] Fitzwilliam thought that he had done enough in quitting his pleasant dwelling and garden under the shadow of Saint George's Chapel, and in betaking himself with his books to a small lodging in an attic. He could not with a safe conscience acknowledge William and Mary: but he did not conceive that he was bound to be always stirring up sedition against them; and he passed the last years of his life, under the powerful protection of the House of Bedford, in innocent and studious repose, [478]

Among the less distinguished divines who forfeited their benefices, were doubtless many good men: but it is certain that the moral character of the nonjurors, as a class, did not stand high. It seems hard to impute laxity of principle to persons who undoubtedly made a great sacrifice to principle. And yet experience abundantly proves that many who are capable of making a great sacrifice, when their blood is heated by conflict, and when the public eye is fixed upon them, are not capable of persevering long in the daily practice of obscure virtues. It is by no means improbable that zealots may have given their lives for a religion which had never effectually restrained their vindictive or their licentious passions. We learn indeed from fathers of the highest authority that, even in the purest ages of the Church, some confessors, who had manfully refused to save themselves from torments and death by throwing frankincense on the altar of Jupiter, afterwards brought scandal on the Christian name by gross fraud and debauchery, [479] For the nonjuring divines great allowance must in fairness be made. They were doubtless in a most trying situation. In general, a schism, which divides a religious community, divides the laity as well as the clergy. The seceding pastors therefore carry with them a large part of their flocks, and are consequently assured of a maintenance. But the schism of 1689 scarcely extended beyond the clergy. The law required the rector to take the oaths, or to quit his living: but no oath, no acknowledgment of the title of the new King and Queen, was required from the parishioner as a qualification for attending divine service, or for receiving the Eucharist. Not one in fifty, therefore, of those laymen who disapproved of the Revolution thought himself bound to quit his pew in the old church, where the old liturgy was still read, and where the old vestments were still worn, and to follow the ejected priest to a conventicle, a conventicle, too, which was not protected by the Toleration Act. Thus the new sect was a sect of preachers without hearers; and such preachers could not make a livelihood by preaching. In London, indeed, and in some other large towns, those vehement Jacobites, whom nothing would satisfy but to hear King James and the Prince of Wales prayed for by name, were sufficiently numerous to make up a few small congregations, which met secretly, and under constant fear of the constables, in rooms so mean that the meeting houses of the Puritan dissenters might by comparison be called palaces. Even Collier, who had all the qualities which attract large audiences, was reduced to be the minister of a little knot of malecontents, whose oratory was on a second floor in the city. But the nonjuring clergymen who were able to obtain even a pittance by officiating at such places were very few. Of the rest some had independent means: some lived by literature: one or two practised physic. Thomas Wagstaffe, for example, who had been Chancellor of Lichfield, had many patients, and made himself conspicuous by always visiting them in full canonicals, [480] But these were exceptions. Industrious poverty is a state by no means unfavourable to virtue: but it is dangerous to be at once poor and idle; and most of the clergymen who had refused to swear found themselves thrown on the world with nothing to eat and with nothing to do. They naturally became beggars and loungers. Considering themselves as martyrs suffering in a public cause, they were not ashamed to ask any good churchman for a guinea. Most of them passed their lives in running about from one Tory coffeehouse to another, abusing the Dutch, hearing and spreading reports that within a month His Majesty would certainly be on English ground, and wondering who would have Salisbury when Burnet was hanged. During the session of Parliament the lobbies and the Court of Requests were crowded with deprived parsons, asking who was up, and what the numbers were on the last division. Many of the ejected divines became domesticated, as chaplains, tutors and spiritual directors, in the houses of opulent Jacobites. In a situation of this kind, a man of pure and exalted character, such a man as Ken was among the nonjurors, and Watts among the nonconformists, may preserve his dignity, and may much more than repay by his example and his instructions the benefits which he receives. But to a person whose virtue is not high toned this way of life is full of peril. If he is of a quiet disposition, he is in danger of sinking into a servile, sensual, drowsy parasite. If he is of an active and aspiring nature, it may be feared that he will become expert in those bad arts by which, more easily than by faithful service, retainers make themselves agreeable or formidable. To discover the weak side of every character, to flatter every passion and prejudice, to sow discord and jealousy where love and confidence ought to exist, to watch the moment of indiscreet openness for the purpose of extracting secrets important to the prosperity and honour of families, such are the practices by which keen and restless spirits have too often avenged themselves for the humiliation of dependence. The public voice loudly accused many nonjurors of requiting the hospitality of their benefactors with villany as black as that of the hypocrite depicted in the masterpiece of Moliere. Indeed, when Cibber undertook to adapt that noble comedy to the English stage, he made his Tartuffe a nonjuror: and Johnson, who cannot be supposed to have been prejudiced against the nonjurors, frankly owned that Cibber had done them no wrong, [481]

There can be no doubt that the schism caused by the oaths would have been far more formidable, if, at this crisis, any extensive change had been made in the government or in the ceremonial of the Established Church. It is a highly instructive fact that those enlightened and tolerant divines who most ardently desired such a change afterwards saw reason to be thankful that their favourite project had failed.

Whigs and Tories had in the late Session combined to get rid of Nottingham's Comprehension Bill by voting an address which requested the King to refer the whole subject to the Convocation. Burnet foresaw the effect of this vote. The whole scheme, he said, was utterly ruined, [482] Many of his friends, however, thought differently; and among these was Tillotson. Of all the members of the Low Church party Tillotson stood highest in general estimation. As a preacher, he was thought by his contemporaries to have surpassed all rivals living or dead. Posterity has reversed this judgment. Yet Tillotson still keeps his place as a legitimate English classic. His highest flights were indeed far below those of Taylor, of Barrow, and of South; but his oratory was more correct and equable than theirs. No quaint conceits, no pedantic quotations from Talmudists and scholiasts, no mean images, buffoon stories, scurrilous invectives, ever marred the effect of his grave and temperate discourses. His reasoning was just sufficiently profound and sufficiently refined to be followed by a popular audience with that slight degree of intellectual exertion which is a pleasure. His style is not brilliant; but it is pure, transparently clear, and equally free from the levity and from the stiffness which disfigure the sermons of some eminent divines of the seventeenth century. He is always serious: yet there is about his manner a certain graceful ease which marks him as a man who knows the world, who has lived in populous cities and in splendid courts, and who has conversed, not only with books, but with lawyers and merchants, wits and beauties, statesmen and princes. The greatest charm of his compositions, however, is deriven from the benignity and candour which appear in every line, and which shone forth not less conspicuously in his life than in his writings.

As a theologian, Tillotson was certainly not less latitudinarian than Burnet. Yet many of those clergymen to whom Burnet was an object of implacable aversion spoke of Tillotson with tenderness and respect. It is therefore not strange that the two friends should have formed different estimates of the temper of the priesthood, and should have expected different results from the meeting of the Convocation. Tillotson was not displeased with the vote of the Commons. He conceived that changes made in religious institutions by mere secular authority might disgust many churchmen, who would yet be perfectly willing to vote, in an ecclesiastical synod, for changes more extensive still; and his opinion had great weight with the King, [483] It was resolved that the Convocation should meet at the beginning of the next session of Parliament, and that in the meantime a commission should issue empowering some eminent divines to examine the Liturgy, the canons, and the whole system of jurisprudence administered by the Courts Christian, and to report on the alterations which it might be desirable to make, [484]

Most of the Bishops who had taken the oaths were in this commission; and with them were joined twenty priests of great note. Of the twenty Tillotson was the most important: for he was known to speak the sense both of the King and of the Queen. Among those Commissioners who looked up to Tillotson as their chief were Stillingfleet, Dean of Saint Paul's, Sharp, Dean of Norwich, Patrick, Dean of Peterborough, Tenison, Rector of Saint Martin's, and Fowler, to whose judicious firmness was chiefly to be ascribed the determination of the London clergy not to read the Declaration of Indulgence.

With such men as those who have been named were mingled some divines who belonged to the High Church party. Conspicuous among these were two of the rulers of Oxford, Aldrich and Jane. Aldrich had recently been appointed Dean of Christchurch, in the room of the Papist Massey, whom James had, in direct violation of the laws, placed at the head of that great college. The new Dean was a polite, though not a profound, scholar, and a jovial, hospitable gentleman. He was the author of some theological tracts which have long been forgotten, and of a compendium of logic which is still used: but the best works which he has bequeathed to posterity are his catches. Jane, the King's Professor of Divinity, was a graver but a less estimable man. He had borne the chief part in framing that decree by which his University ordered the works of Milton and Buchanan to be publicly burned in the Schools. A few years later, irritated and alarmed by the persecution of the Bishops and by the confiscation of the revenues of Magdalene College, he had renounced the doctrine of nonresistance, had repaired to the headquarters of the Prince of Orange, and had assured His Highness that Oxford would willingly coin her plate for the support of the war against her oppressor. During a short time Jane was generally considered as a Whig, and was sharply lampooned by some of his old allies. He was so unfortunate as to have a name which was an excellent mark for the learned punsters of his university. Several epigrams were written on the doublefaced Janus, who, having got a professorship by looking one way, now hoped to get a bishopric by looking another. That he hoped to get a bishopric was perfectly true. He demanded the see of Exeter as a reward due to his services. He was refused. The refusal convinced him that the Church had as much to apprehend from Latitudinarianism as from Popery; and he speedily became a Tory again, [485]

Early in October the Commissioners assembled in the Jerusalem Chamber. At their first meeting they determined to propose that, in the public services of the Church, lessons taken from the canonical books of Scripture should be substituted for the lessons taken from the Apocrypha, [486] At the second meeting a strange question was raised by the very last person who ought to have raised it. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, had, without any scruple, sate, during two years, in the unconstitutional tribunal which had, in the late reign, oppressed and pillaged the Church of which he was a ruler. But he had now become scrupulous, and expressed a doubt whether the commission were legal. To a plain understanding his objections seem to be mere quibbles. The commission gave power neither to make laws nor to administer laws, but simply to inquire and to report. Even without a royal commission Tillotson, Patrick, and Stillingfleet might, with perfect propriety, have met to discuss the state and prospects of the Church, and to consider whether it would or would not be desirable to make some concession to the dissenters. And how could it be a crime for subjects to do at the request of their Sovereign that which it would have been innocent and laudable for them to do without any such request? Sprat however was seconded by Jane. There was a sharp altercation; and Lloyd, Bishop of Saint Asaph, who, with many good qualities, had an irritable temper, was provoked into saying something about spies. Sprat withdrew and came no more. His example was soon followed by Jane and Aldrich, [487] The commissioners proceeded to take into consideration the question of the posture at the Eucharist. It was determined to recommend that a communicant, who, after conference with his minister, should declare that he could not conscientiously receive the bread and wine kneeling, might receive them sitting. Mew, Bishop of Winchester, an honest man, but illiterate, weak even in his best days, and now fast sinking into dotage, protested against this concession, and withdrew from the assembly. The other members continued to apply themselves vigorously to their task: and no more secessions took place, though there were great differences of opinion, and though the debates were sometimes warm. The highest churchmen who still remained were Doctor William Beveridge, Archdeacon of Colchester, who many years later became Bishop of Saint Asaph, and Doctor John Scott, the same who had prayed by the deathbed of Jeffreys. The most active among the Latitudinarians appear to have been Burnet, Fowler, and Tenison.

The baptismal service was repeatedly discussed. As to matter of form the Commissioners were disposed to be indulgent. They were generally willing to admit infants into the Church without sponsors and without the sign of the cross. But the majority, after much debate, steadily refused to soften down or explain away those words which, to all minds not sophisticated, appear to assert the regenerating virtue of the sacrament, [488]

As to the surplice, the Commissioners determined to recommend that a large discretion should be left to the Bishops. Expedients were devised by which a person who had received Presbyterian ordination might, without admitting, either expressly or by implication, the invalidity of that ordination, become a minister of the Church of England, [489]

The ecclesiastical calendar was carefully revised. The great festivals were retained. But it was not thought desirable that Saint Valentine, Saint Chad, Saint Swithin, Saint Edward King of the West Saxons, Saint Dunstan, and Saint Alphage, should share the honours of Saint John and Saint Paul; or that the Church should appear to class the ridiculous fable of the discovery of the cross with facts so awfully important as the Nativity, the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of her Lord, [490]

The Athanasian Creed caused much perplexity. Most of the Commissioners were equally unwilling to give up the doctrinal clauses and to retain the damnatory clauses. Burnet, Fowler, and Tillotson were desirous to strike this famous symbol out of the liturgy altogether. Burnet brought forward one argument, which to himself probably did not appear to have much weight, but which was admirably calculated to perplex his opponents, Beveridge and Scott. The Council of Ephesus had always been reverenced by Anglican divines as a synod which had truly represented the whole body of the faithful, and which had been divinely guided in the way of truth. The voice of that Council was the voice of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, not yet corrupted by superstition, or rent asunder by schism. During more than twelve centuries the world had not seen an ecclesiastical assembly which had an equal claim to the respect of believers. The Council of Ephesus had, in the plainest terms, and under the most terrible penalties, forbidden Christians to frame or to impose on their brethren any creed other than the creed settled by the Nicene Fathers. It should seem therefore that, if the Council of Ephesus was really under the direction of the Holy Spirit, whoever uses the Athanasian Creed must, in the very act of uttering an anathema against his neighbours, bring down an anathema on his own head, [491] In spite of the authority of the Ephesian Fathers, the majority of the Commissioners determined to leave the Athanasian Creed in the Prayer Book; but they proposed to add a rubric drawn up by Stillingfleet, which declared that the damnatory clauses were to be understood to apply only to such as obstinately denied the substance of the Christian Faith. Orthodox believers were therefore permitted to hope that the heretic who had honestly and humbly sought for truth would not be everlastingly punished for having failed to find it, [492]

Tenison was intrusted with the business of examining the Liturgy and of collecting all those expressions to which objections had been made, either by theological or by literary critics. It was determined to remove some obvious blemishes. And it would have been wise in the Commissioners to stop here. Unfortunately they determined to rewrite a great part of the Prayer Book. It was a bold undertaking; for in general the style of that volume is such as cannot be improved. The English Liturgy indeed gains by being compared even with those fine ancient Liturgies from which it is to a great extent taken. The essential qualities of devotional eloquence, conciseness, majestic simplicity, pathetic earnestness of supplication, sobered by a profound reverence, are common between the translations and the originals. But in the subordinate graces of diction the originals must be allowed to be far inferior to the translations. And the reason is obvious. The technical phraseology of Christianity did not become a part of the Latin language till that language had passed the age of maturity and was sinking into barbarism. But the technical phraseology of Christianity was found in the Anglosaxon and in the Norman French, long before the union of those two dialects had, produced a third dialect superior to either. The Latin of the Roman Catholic services, therefore, is Latin in the last stage of decay. The English of our services is English in all the vigour and suppleness of early youth. To the great Latin writers, to Terence and Lucretius, to Cicero and Caesar, to Tacitus and Quintilian, the noblest compositions of Ambrose and Gregory would have seemed to be, not merely bad writing, but senseless gibberish, [493] The diction of our Book of Common Prayer, on the other hand, has directly or indirectly contributed to form the diction of almost every great English writer, and has extorted the admiration of the most accomplished infidels and of the most accomplished nonconformists, of such men as David Hume and Robert Hall.

The style of the Liturgy, however, did not satisfy the Doctors of the Jerusalem Chamber. They voted the Collects too short and too dry: and Patrick was intrusted with the duty of expanding and ornamenting them. In one respect, at least, the choice seems to have been unexceptionable; for, if we judge by the way in which Patrick paraphrased the most sublime Hebrew poetry, we shall probably be of opinion that, whether he was or was not qualified to make the collects better, no man that ever lived was more competent to make them longer, [494]

It mattered little, however, whether the recommendations of the Commission were good or bad. They were all doomed before they were known. The writs summoning the Convocation of the province of Canterbury had been issued; and the clergy were every where in a state of violent excitement. They had just taken the oaths, and were smarting from the earnest reproofs of nonjurors, from the insolent taunts of Whigs, and often undoubtedly from the stings of remorse. The announcement that a Convocation was to sit for the purpose of deliberating on a plan of comprehension roused all the strongest passions of the priest who had just complied with the law, and was ill satisfied or half satisfied with himself for complying. He had an opportunity of contributing to defeat a favourite scheme of that government which had exacted from him, under severe penalties, a submission not easily to be reconciled to his conscience or his pride. He had an opportunity of signalising his zeal for that Church whose characteristic doctrines he had been accused of deserting for lucre. She was now, he conceived, threatened by a danger as great as that of the preceding year. The Latitudinarians of 1689 were not less eager to humble and to ruin her than the Jesuits of 1688. The Toleration Act had done for the Dissenters quite as much as was compatible with her dignity and security; and nothing more ought to be conceded, not the hem of one of her vestments, not an epithet from the beginning to the end of her Liturgy. All the reproaches which had been thrown on the ecclesiastical commission of James were transferred to the ecclesiastical commission of William. The two commissions indeed had nothing but the name in common. Put the name was associated with illegality and oppression, with the violation of dwellings and the confiscation of freeholds, and was therefore assiduously sounded with no small effect by the tongues of the spiteful in the ears of the ignorant.

The King too, it was said, was not sound. He conformed indeed to the established worship; but his was a local and occasional conformity. For some ceremonies to which High Churchmen were attached he had a distaste which he was at no pains to conceal. One of his first acts had been to give orders that in his private chapel the service should be said instead of being sung; and this arrangement, though warranted by the rubric, caused much murmuring, [495] It was known that he was so profane as to sneer at a practice which had been sanctioned by high ecclesiastical authority, the practice of touching for the scrofula. This ceremony had come down almost unaltered from the darkest of the dark ages to the time of Newton and Locke. The Stuarts frequently dispensed the healing influences in the Banqueting House. The days on which this miracle was to be wrought were fixed at sittings of the Privy Council, and were solemnly notified by the clergy in all the parish churches of the realm, [496] When the appointed time came, several divines in full canonicals stood round the canopy of state. The surgeon of the royal household introduced the sick. A passage from the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Saint Mark was read. When the words, "They shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover," had been pronounced, there was a pause, and one of the sick was brought up to the King. His Majesty stroked the ulcers and swellings, and hung round the patient's neck a white riband to which was fastened a gold coin. The other sufferers were then led up in succession; and, as each was touched, the chaplain repeated the incantation, "they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Then came the epistle, prayers, antiphonies and a benediction. The service may still be found in the prayer books of the reign of Anne. Indeed it was not till some time after the accession of George the First that the University of Oxford ceased to reprint the Office of Healing together with the Liturgy. Theologians of eminent learning, ability, and virtue gave the sanction of their authority to this mummery; [497] and, what is stranger still, medical men of high note believed, or affected to believe, in the balsamic virtues of the royal hand. We must suppose that every surgeon who attended Charles the Second was a man of high repute for skill; and more than one of the surgeons who attended Charles the Second has left us a solemn profession of faith in the King's miraculous power. One of them is not ashamed to tell us that the gift was communicated by the unction administered at the coronation; that the cures were so numerous and sometimes so rapid that they could not be attributed to any natural cause; that the failures were to be ascribed to want of faith on the part of the patients; that Charles once handled a scrofulous Quaker and made him a healthy man and a sound Churchman in a moment; that, if those who had been healed lost or sold the piece of gold which had been hung round their necks, the ulcers broke forth again, and could be removed only by a second touch and a second talisman. We cannot wonder that, when men of science gravely repeated such nonsense, the vulgar should believe it. Still less can we wonder that wretches tortured by a disease over which natural remedies had no power should eagerly drink in tales of preternatural cures: for nothing is so credulous as misery. The crowds which repaired to the palace on the days of healing were immense. Charles the Second, in the course of his reign, touched near a hundred thousand persons. The number seems to have increased or diminished as the king's popularity rose or fell. During that Tory reaction which followed the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament, the press to get near him was terrific. In 1682, he performed the rite eight thousand five hundred times. In 1684, the throng was such that six or seven of the sick were trampled to death. James, in one of his progresses, touched eight hundred persons in the choir of the Cathedral of Chester. The expense of the ceremony was little less than ten thousand pounds a year, and would have been much greater but for the vigilance of the royal surgeons, whose business it was to examine the applicants, and to distinguish those who came for the cure from those who came for the gold, [498]

William had too much sense to be duped, and too much honesty to bear a part in what he knew to be an imposture. "It is a silly superstition," he exclaimed, when he heard that, at the close of Lent, his palace was besieged by a crowd of the sick: "Give the poor creatures some money, and send them away." [499] On one single occasion he was importuned into laying his hand on a patient. "God give you better health," he said, "and more sense." The parents of scrofulous children cried out against his cruelty: bigots lifted up their hands and eyes in horror at his impiety: Jacobites sarcastically praised him for not presuming to arrogate to himself a power which belonged only to legitimate sovereigns; and even some Whigs thought that he acted unwisely in treating with such marked contempt a superstition which had a strong hold on the vulgar mind: but William was not to be moved, and was accordingly set down by many High Churchmen as either an infidel or a puritan, [500]

The chief cause, however, which at this time made even the most moderate plan of comprehension hateful to the priesthood still remains to be mentioned. What Burnet had foreseen and foretold had come to pass. There was throughout the clerical profession a strong disposition to retaliate on the Presbyterians of England the wrongs of the Episcopalians of Scotland. It could not be denied that even the highest churchmen had, in the summer of 1688, generally declared themselves willing to give up many things for the sake of union. But it was said, and not without plausibility, that what was passing on the other side of the Border proved union on any reasonable terms to be impossible. With what face, it was asked, can those who will make no concession to us where we are weak, blame us for refusing to make any concession to them where we are strong? We cannot judge correctly of the principles and feelings of a sect from the professions which it makes in a time of feebleness and suffering. If we would know what the Puritan spirit really is, we must observe the Puritan when he is dominant. He was dominant here in the last generation; and his little finger was thicker than the loins of the prelates. He drove hundreds of quiet students from their cloisters, and thousands of respectable divines from their parsonages, for the crime of refusing to sign his Covenant. No tenderness was shown to learning, to genius or to sanctity. Such men as Hall and Sanderson, Chillingworth and Hammond, were not only plundered, but flung into prisons, and exposed to all the rudeness of brutal gaolers. It was made a crime to read fine psalms and prayers bequeathed to the faithful by Ambrose and Chrysostom. At length the nation became weary of the reign of the saints. The fallen dynasty and the fallen hierarchy were restored. The Puritan was in his turn subjected to disabilities and penalties; and he immediately found out that it was barbarous to punish men for entertaining conscientious scruples about a garb, about a ceremony, about the functions of ecclesiastical officers. His piteous complaints and his arguments in favour of toleration had at length imposed on many well meaning persons. Even zealous churchmen had begun to entertain a hope that the severe discipline which he had undergone had made him candid, moderate, charitable. Had this been really so, it would doubtless have been our duty to treat his scruples with extreme tenderness. But, while we were considering what we could do to meet his wishes in England, he had obtained ascendency in Scotland; and, in an instant, he was all himself again, bigoted, insolent, and cruel. Manses had been sacked; churches shut up; prayer books burned; sacred garments torn; congregations dispersed by violence; priests hustled, pelted, pilloried, driven forth, with their wives and babes, to beg or die of hunger. That these outrages were to be imputed, not to a few lawless marauders, but to the great body of the Presbyterians of Scotland, was evident from the fact that the government had not dared either to inflict punishment on the offenders or to grant relief to the sufferers. Was it not fit then that the Church of England should take warning? Was it reasonable to ask her to mutilate her apostolical polity and her beautiful ritual for the purpose of conciliating those who wanted nothing but power to rabble her as they had rabbled her sister? Already these men had obtained a boon which they ill deserved, and which they never would have granted. They worshipped God in perfect security. Their meeting houses were as effectually protected as the choirs of our cathedrals. While no episcopal minister could, without putting his life in jeopardy, officiate in Ayrshire or Renfrewshire, a hundred Presbyterian ministers preached unmolested every Sunday in Middlesex. The legislature had, with a generosity perhaps imprudent, granted toleration to the most intolerant of men; and with toleration it behoved them to be content.

Thus several causes conspired to inflame the parochial clergy against the scheme of comprehension. Their temper was such that, if the plan framed in the Jerusalem Chamber had been directly submitted to them, it would have been rejected by a majority of twenty to one. But in the Convocation their weight bore no proportion to their number. The Convocation has, happily for our country, been so long utterly insignificant that, till a recent period, none but curious students cared to inquire how it was constituted; and even now many persons, not generally ill informed, imagine it to have been a council representing the Church of England. In truth the Convocation so often mentioned in our ecclesiastical history is merely the synod of the Province of Canterbury, and never had a right to speak in the name of the whole clerical body. The Province of York had also its convocation: but, till the eighteenth century was far advanced, the Province of York was generally so poor, so rude, and so thinly peopled, that, in political importance, it could hardly be considered as more than a tenth part of the kingdom. The sense of the Southern clergy was therefore popularly considered as the sense of the whole profession. When the formal concurrence of the Northern clergy was required, it seems to have been given as a matter of course. Indeed the canons passed by the Convocation of Canterbury in 1604 were ratified by James the First, and were ordered to be strictly observed in every part of the kingdom, two years before the Convocation of York went through the form of approving them. Since these ecclesiastical councils became mere names, a great change has taken place in the relative position of the two Archbishoprics. In all the elements of power, the region beyond Trent is now at least a third part of England. When in our own time the representative system was adjusted to the altered state of the country, almost all the small boroughs which it was necessary to disfranchise were in the south. Two thirds of the new members given to great provincial towns were given to the north. If therefore any English government should suffer the Convocations, as now constituted, to meet for the despatch of business, two independent synods would be legislating at the same time for one Church. It is by no means impossible that one assembly might adopt canons which the other might reject, that one assembly might condemn as heretical propositions which the other might hold to be orthodox, [501] In the seventeenth century no such danger was apprehended. So little indeed was the Convocation of York then considered, that the two Houses of Parliament had, in their address to William, spoken only of one Convocation, which they called the Convocation of the Clergy of the Kingdom.

The body which they thus not very accurately designated is divided into two Houses. The Upper House is composed of the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury. The Lower House consisted, in 1689, of a hundred and forty-four members. Twenty-two Deans and fifty-four Archdeacons sate there in virtue of their offices. Twenty-four divines sate as proctors for twenty-four chapters. Only forty-four proctors were elected by the eight thousand parish priests of the twenty-two dioceses. These forty-four proctors, however, were almost all of one mind. The elections had in former times been conducted in the most quiet and decorous manner. But on this occasion the canvassing was eager: the contests were sharp: Rochester, the leader of the party which in the House of Lords had opposed the Comprehension-Bill, and his brother Clarendon, who had refused to take the oaths, had gone to Oxford, the head quarters of that party, for the purpose of animating and organizing the opposition, [502] The representatives of the parochial clergy must have been men whose chief distinction was their zeal: for in the whole list can be found not a single illustrious name, and very few names which are now known even to curious students, [503] The official members of the Lower House, among whom were many distinguished scholars and preachers, seem to have been not very unequally divided.

During the summer of 1689 several high ecclesiastical dignities became vacant, and were bestowed on divines who were sitting in the Jerusalem Chamber. It has already been mentioned that Thomas, Bishop of Worcester, died just before the day fixed for taking the oaths. Lake, Bishop of Chichester, lived just long enough to refuse them, and with his last breath declared that he would maintain even at the stake the doctrine of indefeasible hereditary right. The see of Chichester was filled by Patrick, that of Worcester by Stillingfleet; and the deanery of Saint Paul's which Stillingfleet quitted was given to Tillotson. That Tillotson was not raised to the episcopal bench excited some surprise. But in truth it was because the government held his services in the highest estimation that he was suffered to remain a little longer a simple presbyter. The most important office in the Convocation was that of Prolocutor of the Lower House. The Prolocutor was to be chosen by the members: and the only moderate man who had a chance of being chosen was Tillotson. It had in fact been already determined that he should be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. When he went to kiss hands for his new deanery he warmly thanked the King. "Your Majesty has now set me at ease for the remainder of my life." "No such thing, Doctor, I assure you," said William. He then plainly intimated that, whenever Sancroft should cease to fill the highest ecclesiastical station, Tillotson would succeed to it. Tillotson stood aghast; for his nature was quiet and unambitious: he was beginning to feel the infirmities of old age: he cared little for money: of worldly advantages those which he most valued were an honest fame and the general good will of mankind: those advantages he already possessed; and he could not but be aware that, if he became primate, he should incur the bitterest hatred of a powerful party, and should become a mark for obloquy, from which his gentle and sensitive nature shrank as from the rack or the wheel. William was earnest and resolute. "It is necessary," he said, "for my service; and I must lay on your conscience the responsibility of refusing me your help." Here the conversation ended. It was, indeed, not necessary that the point should be immediately decided; for several months were still to elapse before the Archbishopric would be vacant.

Tillotson bemoaned himself with unfeigned anxiety and sorrow to Lady Russell, whom, of all human beings, he most honoured and trusted, [504] He hoped, he said, that he was not inclined to shrink from the service of the Church; but he was convinced that his present line of service was that in which he could be most useful. If he should be forced to accept so high and so invidious a post as the primacy, he should soon sink under the load of duties and anxieties too heavy for his strength. His spirits, and with his spirits his abilities, would fail him. He gently complained of Burnet, who loved and admired him with a truly generous heartiness, and who had laboured to persuade both the King and Queen that there was in England only one man fit for the highest ecclesiastical dignity. "The Bishop of Salisbury," said Tillotson, "is one of the best and worst friends that I know."

Nothing that was not a secret to Burnet was likely to be long a secret to any body. It soon began to be whispered about that the King had fixed on Tillotson to fill the place of Sancroft. The news caused cruel mortification to Compton, who, not unnaturally, conceived that his own claims were unrivalled. He had educated the Queen and her sister; and to the instruction which they had received from him might fairly be ascribed, at least in part, the firmness with which, in spite of the influence of their father, they had adhered to the established religion. Compton was, moreover, the only prelate who, during the late reign, had raised his voice in Parliament against the dispensing power, the only prelate who had been suspended by the High Commission, the only prelate who had signed the invitation to the Prince of Orange, the only prelate who had actually taken arms against Popery and arbitrary power, the only prelate, save one, who had voted against a Regency. Among the ecclesiastics of the Province of Canterbury who had taken the oaths, he was highest in rank. He had therefore held, during some months, a vicarious primacy: he had crowned the new Sovereigns: he had consecrated the new Bishops: he was about to preside in the Convocation. It may be added, that he was the son of an Earl; and that no person of equally high birth then sate, or had ever sate, since the Reformation, on the episcopal bench. That the government should put over his head a priest of his own diocese, who was the son of a Yorkshire clothier, and who was distinguished only by abilities and virtues, was provoking; and Compton, though by no means a badhearted man, was much provoked. Perhaps his vexation was increased by the reflection that he had, for the sake of those by whom he was thus slighted, done some things which had strained his conscience and sullied his reputation, that he had at one time practised the disingenuous arts of a diplomatist, and at another time given scandal to his brethren by wearing the buff coat and jackboots of a trooper. He could not accuse Tillotson of inordinate ambition. But, though Tillotson was most unwilling to accept the Archbishopric himself, he did not use his influence in favour of Compton, but earnestly recommended Stillingfleet as the man fittest to preside over the Church of England. The consequence was that, on the eve of the meeting of Convocation, the Bishop who was to be at the head of the Upper House became the personal enemy of the presbyter whom the government wished to see at the head of the Lower House. This quarrel added new difficulties to difficulties which little needed any addition, [505]

It was not till the twentieth of November that the Convocation met for the despatch of business. The place of meeting had generally been Saint Paul's Cathedral. But Saint Paul's Cathedral was slowly rising from its ruins; and, though the dome already towered high above the hundred steeples of the City, the choir had not yet been opened for public worship. The assembly therefore sate at Westminster, [506] A table was placed in the beautiful chapel of Henry the Seventh. Compton was in the chair. On his right and left those suffragans of Canterbury who had taken the oaths were ranged in gorgeous vestments of scarlet and miniver. Below the table was assembled the crowd of presbyters. Beveridge preached a Latin sermon, in which he warmly eulogized the existing system, and yet declared himself favourable to a moderate reform. Ecclesiastical laws were, he said, of two kinds. Some laws were fundamental and eternal: they derived their authority from God; nor could any religious community repeal them without ceasing to form a part of the universal Church. Other laws were local and temporary. They had been framed by human wisdom, and might be altered by human wisdom. They ought not indeed to be altered without grave reasons. But surely, at that moment, such reasons were not wanting. To unite a scattered flock in one fold under one shepherd, to remove stumbling blocks from the path of the weak, to reconcile hearts long estranged, to restore spiritual discipline to its primitive vigour, to place the best and purest of Christian societies on a base broad enough to stand against all the attacks of earth and hell, these were objects which might well justify some modification, not of Catholic institutions, but of national or provincial usages, [507]

The Lower House, having heard this discourse, proceeded to appoint a Prolocutor. Sharp, who was probably put forward by the members favourable to a comprehension as one of the highest churchmen among them, proposed Tillotson. Jane, who had refused to act under the Royal Commission, was proposed on the other side. After some animated discussion, Jane was elected by fifty-five votes to twenty-eight, [508]

The Prolocutor was formally presented to the Bishop of London, and made, according to ancient usage, a Latin oration. In this oration the Anglican Church was extolled as the most perfect of all institutions. There was a very intelligible intimation that no change whatever in her doctrine, her discipline, or her ritual was required; and the discourse concluded with a most significant sentence. Compton, when a few months before he exhibited himself in the somewhat unclerical character of a colonel of horse, had ordered the colours of his regiment to be embroidered with the well known words "Nolumus leges Angliae mutari"; and with these words Jane closed his peroration, [509]

Still the Low Churchmen did not relinquish all hope. They very wisely determined to begin by proposing to substitute lessons taken from the canonical books for the lessons taken from the Apocrypha. It should seem that this was a suggestion which, even if there had not been a single dissenter in the kingdom, might well have been received with favour. For the Church had, in her sixth Article, declared that the canonical books were, and that the Apocryphal books were not, entitled to be called Holy Scriptures, and to be regarded as the rule of faith. Even this reform, however, the High Churchmen were determined to oppose. They asked, in pamphlets which covered the counters of Paternoster Row and Little Britain, why country congregations should be deprived of the pleasure of hearing about the ball of pitch with which Daniel choked the dragon, and about the fish whose liver gave forth such a fume as sent the devil flying from Ecbatana to Egypt. And were there not chapters of the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach far more interesting and edifying than the genealogies and muster rolls which made up a large part of the Chronicles of the Jewish Kings and of the narrative of Nehemiah? No grave divine however would have liked to maintain, in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, that it was impossible to find, in many hundreds of pages dictated by the Holy Spirit, fifty or sixty chapters more edifying than any thing which could be extracted from the works of the most respectable uninspired moralist or historian. The leaders of the majority therefore determined to shun a debate in which they must have been reduced to a disagreeable dilemma. Their plan was, not to reject the recommendations of the Commissioners, but to prevent those recommendations from being discussed; and with this view a system of tactics was adopted which proved successful.

The law, as it had been interpreted during a long course of years, prohibited the Convocation from even deliberating on any ecclesiastical ordinance without a previous warrant from the Crown. Such a warrant, sealed with the great seal, was brought in form to Henry the Seventh's Chapel by Nottingham. He at the same time delivered a message from the King. His Majesty exhorted the assembly to consider calmly and without prejudice the recommendations of the Commission, and declared that he had nothing in view but the honour and advantage of the Protestant religion in general, and of the Church of England in particular, [510]

The Bishops speedily agreed on an address of thanks for the royal message, and requested the concurrence of the Lower House. Jane and his adherents raised objection after objection. First they claimed the privilege of presenting a separate address. When they were forced to waive this claim, they refused to agree to any expression which imported that the Church of England had any fellowship with any other Protestant community. Amendments and reasons were sent backward and forward. Conferences were held at which Burnet on one side and Jane on the other were the chief speakers. At last, with great difficulty, a compromise was made; and an address, cold and ungracious compared with that which the Bishops had framed, was presented to the King in the Banqueting House. He dissembled his vexation, returned a kind answer, and intimated a hope that the assembly would now at length proceed to consider the great question of Comprehension, [511]

Such however was not the intention of the leaders of the Lower House. As soon as they were again in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, one of them raised a debate about the nonjuring bishops. In spite of the unfortunate scruple which those prelates entertained, they were learned and holy men. Their advice might, at this conjuncture, be of the greatest service to the Church. The Upper House was hardly an Upper House in the absence of the Primate and of many of his most respectable suffragans. Could nothing be done to remedy this evil? [512] Another member complained of some pamphlets which had lately appeared, and in which the Convocation was not treated with proper deference. The assembly took fire. Was it not monstrous that this heretical and schismatical trash should be cried by the hawkers about the streets, and should be exposed to sale in the booths of Westminster Hall, within a hundred yards of the Prolocutor's chair? The work of mutilating the Liturgy and of turning cathedrals into conventicles might surely be postponed till the Synod had taken measures to protect its own freedom and dignity. It was then debated how the printing of such scandalous books should be prevented. Some were for indictments, some for ecclesiastical censures, [513] In such deliberations as these week after week passed away. Not a single proposition tending to a Comprehension had been even discussed. Christmas was approaching. At Christmas there was to be a recess. The Bishops were desirous that, during the recess, a committee should sit to prepare business. The Lower House refused to consent, [514] That House, it was now evident, was fully determined not even to enter on the consideration of any part of the plan which had been framed by the Royal Commissioners. The proctors of the dioceses were in a worse humour than when they first came up to Westminster. Many of them had probably never before passed a week in the capital, and had not been aware how great the difference was between a town divine and a country divine. The sight of the luxuries and comforts enjoyed by the popular preachers of the city raised, not unnaturally, some sore feeling in a Lincolnshire or Caernarvonshire vicar who was accustomed to live as hardly as small farmer. The very circumstance that the London clergy were generally for a comprehension made the representatives of the rural clergy obstinate on the other side, [515] The prelates were, as a body, sincerely desirous that some concession might be made to the nonconformists. But the prelates were utterly unable to curb the mutinous democracy. They were few in number. Some of them were objects of extreme dislike to the parochial clergy. The President had not the full authority of a primate; nor was he sorry to see those who had, as he concerned, used him ill, thwarted and mortified. It was necessary to yield. The Convocation was prorogued for six weeks. When those six weeks had expired, it was prorogued again; and many years elapsed before it was permitted to transact business.

So ended, and for ever, the hope that the Church of England might be induced to make some concession to the scruples of the nonconformists. A learned and respectable minority of the clerical order relinquished that hope with deep regret. Yet in a very short time even Barnet and Tillotson found reason to believe that their defeat was really an escape, and that victory would have been a disaster. A reform, such as, in the days of Elizabeth, would have united the great body of English Protestants, would, in the days of William, have alienated more hearts than it would have conciliated. The schism which the oaths had produced was, as yet, insignificant. Innovations such as those proposed by the Royal Commissioners would have given it a terrible importance. As yet a layman, though he might think the proceedings of the Convention unjustifiable, and though he might applaud the virtue of the nonjuring clergy, still continued to sit under the accustomed pulpit, and to kneel at the accustomed altar. But if, just at this conjuncture, while his mind was irritated by what he thought the wrong done to his favourite divines, and while he was perhaps doubting whether he ought not to follow them, his ears and eyes had been shocked by changes in the worship to which he was fondly attached, if the compositions of the doctors of the Jerusalem Chamber had taken the place of the old collects, if he had seen clergymen without surplices carrying the chalice and the paten up and down the aisle to seated communicants, the tie which bound him to the Established Church would have been dissolved. He would have repaired to some nonjuring assembly, where the service which he loved was performed without mutilation. The new sect, which as yet consisted almost exclusively of priests, would soon have been swelled by numerous and large congregations; and in those congregations would have been found a much greater proportion of the opulent, of the highly descended, and of the highly educated, than any other body of dissenters could show. The Episcopal schismatics, thus reinforced, would probably have been as formidable to the new King and his successors as ever the Puritan schismatics had been to the princes of the House of Stuart. It is an indisputable and a most instructive fact, that we are, in a great measure, indebted for the civil and religious liberty which we enjoy to the pertinacity with which the High Church party, in the Convocation of 1689, refused even to deliberate on any plan of Comprehension, [516]


The Parliament meets; Retirement of Halifax—Supplies voted—The Bill of Rights passed—Inquiry into Naval Abuses—Inquiry into the Conduct of the Irish War—Reception of Walker in England—Edmund Ludlow—Violence of the Whigs—Impeachments—Committee of Murder—Malevolence of John Hampden—The Corporation Bill—Debates on the Indemnity Bill—Case of Sir Robert Sawyer—The King purposes to retire to Holland—He is induced to change his Intention; the Whigs oppose his going to Ireland—He prorogues the Parliament—Joy of the Tories—Dissolution and General Election—Changes in the Executive Departments—Caermarthen Chief Minister—Sir John Lowther—Rise and Progress of Parliamentary Corruption in England—Sir John Trevor—Godolphin retires; Changes at the Admiralty—Changes in the Commissions of Lieutenancy—Temper of the Whigs; Dealings of some Whigs with Saint Germains; Shrewsbury; Ferguson—Hopes of the Jacobites—Meeting of the new Parliament; Settlement of the Revenue—Provision for the Princess of Denmark—Bill declaring the Acts of the preceding Parliament valid—Debate on the Changes in the Lieutenancy of London—Abjuration Bill—Act of Grace—The Parliament prorogued; Preparations for the first War—Administration of James at Dublin—An auxiliary Force sent from France to Ireland—Plan of the English Jacobites; Clarendon, Aylesbury, Dartmouth—Penn—Preston—The Jacobites betrayed by Fuller—Crone arrested—Difficulties of William—Conduct of Shrewsbury—The Council of Nine—Conduct of Clarendon—Penn held to Bail—Interview between William and Burnet; William sets out for Ireland—Trial of Crone—Danger of Invasion and Insurrection; Tourville's Fleet in the—Channel—Arrests of suspected Persons—Torrington ordered to give Battle to Tourville—Battle of Beachy Head—Alarm in London; Battle of Fleurus—Spirit of the Nation—Conduct of Shrewsbury

WHILE the Convocation was wrangling on one side of Old Palace Yard, the Parliament was wrangling even more fiercely on the other. The Houses, which had separated on the twentieth of August, had met again on the nineteenth of October. On the day of meeting an important change struck every eye. Halifax was no longer on the woolsack. He had reason to expect that the persecution, from which in the preceding session he had narrowly escaped, would be renewed. The events which had taken place during the recess, and especially the disasters of the campaign in Ireland, had furnished his persecutors with fresh means of annoyance. His administration had not been successful; and, though his failure was partly to be ascribed to causes against which no human wisdom could have contended, it was also partly to be ascribed to the peculiarities of his temper and of his intellect. It was certain that a large party in the Commons would attempt to remove him; and he could no longer depend on the protection of his master. It was natural that a prince who was emphatically a man of action should become weary of a minister who was a man of speculation. Charles, who went to Council as he went to the play, solely to be amused, was delighted with an adviser who had a hundred pleasant and ingenious things to say on both sides of every question. But William had no taste for disquisitions and disputations, however lively and subtle, which occupied much time and led to no conclusion. It was reported, and is not improbable, that on one occasion he could not refrain from expressing in sharp terms at the council board his impatience at what seemed to him a morbid habit of indecision, [517] Halifax, mortified by his mischances in public life, dejected by domestic calamities, disturbed by apprehensions of an impeachment, and no longer supported by royal favour, became sick of public life, and began to pine for the silence and solitude of his seat in Nottinghamshire, an old Cistercian Abbey buried deep among woods. Early in October it was known that he would no longer preside in the Upper House. It was at the same time whispered as a great secret that he meant to retire altogether from business, and that he retained the Privy Seal only till a successor should be named. Chief Baron Atkyns was appointed Speaker of the Lords, [518]

On some important points there appeared to be no difference of opinion in the legislature. The Commons unanimously resolved that they would stand by the King in the work of reconquering Ireland, and that they would enable him to prosecute with vigour the war against France, [519] With equal unanimity they voted an extraordinary supply of two millions, [520] It was determined that the greater part of this sum should be levied by an assessment on real property. The rest was to be raised partly by a poll tax, and partly by new duties on tea, coffee and chocolate. It was proposed that a hundred thousand pounds should be exacted from the Jews; and this proposition was at first favourably received by the House: but difficulties arose. The Jews presented a petition in which they declared that they could not afford to pay such a sum, and that they would rather leave the kingdom than stay there to be ruined. Enlightened politicians could not but perceive that special taxation, laid on a small class which happens to be rich, unpopular and defenceless, is really confiscation, and must ultimately improverish rather than enrich the State. After some discussion, the Jew tax was abandoned, [521]

The Bill of Rights, which, in the last Session, had, after causing much altercation between the Houses, been suffered to drop, was again introduced, and was speedily passed. The peers no longer insisted that any person should be designated by name as successor to the crown, if Mary, Anne and William should all die without posterity. During eleven years nothing more was heard of the claims of the House of Brunswick.

The Bill of Rights contained some provisions which deserve special mention. The Convention had resolved that it was contrary to the interest of the kingdom to be governed by a Papist, but had prescribed no test which could ascertain whether a prince was or was not a Papist. The defect was now supplied. It was enacted that every English sovereign should, in full Parliament, and at the coronation, repeat and subscribe the Declaration against Transubstantiation.

It was also enacted that no person who should marry a Papist should be capable of reigning in England, and that, if the Sovereign should marry a Papist, the subject should be absolved from allegiance. Burnet boasts that this part of the Bill of Rights was his work. He had little reason to boast: for a more wretched specimen of legislative workmanship will not easily be found. In the first place, no test is prescribed. Whether the consort of a Sovereign has taken the oath of supremacy, has signed the declaration against transubstantiation, has communicated according to the ritual of the Church of England, are very simple issues of fact. But whether the consort of a Sovereign is or is not a Papist is a question about which people may argue for ever. What is a Papist? The word is not a word of definite signification either in law or in theology. It is merely a popular nickname, and means very different things in different mouths. Is every person a Papist who is willing to concede to the Bishop of Rome a primacy among Christian prelates? If so, James the First, Charles the First, Laud, Heylyn, were Papists, [522] Or is the appellation to be confined to persons who hold the ultramontane doctrines touching the authority of the Holy See? If so, neither Bossuet nor Pascal was a Papist.

What again is the legal effect of the words which absolve the subject from his allegiance? Is it meant that a person arraigned for high treason may tender evidence to prove that the Sovereign has married a Papist? Would Whistlewood, for example, have been entitled to an acquittal, if he could have proved that King George the Fourth had married Mrs. Fitzherbert, and that Mrs. Fitzherbert was a Papist? It is not easy to believe that any tribunal would have gone into such a question. Yet to what purpose is it to enact that, in a certain case, the subject shall be absolved from his allegiance, if the tribunal before which he is tried for a violation of his allegiance is not to go into the question whether that case has arisen?

The question of the dispensing power was treated in a very different manner, was fully considered, and was finally settled in the only way in which it could be settled. The Declaration of Right had gone no further than to pronounce that the dispensing power, as of late exercised, was illegal. That a certain dispensing power belonged to the Crown was a proposition sanctioned by authorities and precedents of which even Whig lawyers could not speak without respect; but as to the precise extent of this power hardly any two jurists were agreed; and every attempt to frame a definition had failed. At length by the Bill of Rights the anomalous prerogative which had caused so many fierce disputes was absolutely and for ever taken away, [523]

In the House of Commons there was, as might have been expected, a series of sharp debates on the misfortunes of the autumn. The negligence or corruption of the Navy Board, the frauds of the contractors, the rapacity of the captains of the King's ships, the losses of the London merchants, were themes for many keen speeches. There was indeed reason for anger. A severe inquiry, conducted by William in person at the Treasury, had just elicited the fact that much of the salt with which the meat furnished to the fleet had been cured had been by accident mixed with galls such as are used for the purpose of making ink. The victuallers threw the blame on the rats, and maintained that the provisions thus seasoned, though certainly disagreeable to the palate, were not injurious to health, [524] The Commons were in no temper to listen to such excuses. Several persons who had been concerned in cheating the government and poisoning the sailors were taken into custody by the Serjeant, [525] But no censure was passed on the chief offender, Torrington, nor does it appear that a single voice was raised against him. He had personal friends in both parties. He had many popular qualities. Even his vices were not those which excite public hatred. The people readily forgave a courageous openhanded sailor for being too fond of his bottle, his boon companions and his mistresses and did not sufficiently consider how great must be the perils of a country of which the safety depends on a man sunk in indolence, stupified by wine, enervated by licentiousness, ruined by prodigality, and enslaved by sycophants and harlots.

The sufferings of the army in Ireland called forth strong expressions of sympathy and indignation. The Commons did justice to the firmness and wisdom with which Schomberg had conducted the most arduous of all campaigns. That he had not achieved more was attributed chiefly to the villany of the Commissariat. The pestilence itself it was said, would have been no serious calamity if it had not been aggravated by the wickedness of man. The disease had generally spared those who had warm garments and bedding, and had swept away by thousands those who were thinly clad and who slept on the wet ground. Immense sums had been drawn out of the Treasury: yet the pay of the troops was in arrear. Hundreds of horses, tens of thousands of shoes, had been paid for by the public: yet the baggage was left behind for want of beasts to draw it; and the soldiers were marching barefoot through the mire. Seventeen hundred pounds had been charged to the government for medicines: yet the common drugs with which every apothecary in the smallest market town was provided were not to be found in the plaguestricken camp. The cry against Shales was loud. An address was carried to the throne, requesting that he might be sent for to England, and that his accounts and papers might be secured. With this request the King readily complied; but the Whig majority was not satisfied. By whom had Shales been recommended for so important a place as that of Commissary General? He had been a favourite at Whitehall in the worst times. He had been zealous for the Declaration of Indulgence. Why had this creature of James been entrusted with the business of catering for the army of William? It was proposed by some of those who were bent on driving all Tories and Trimmers from office to ask His Majesty by whose advice a man so undeserving of the royal confidence had been employed. The most moderate and judicious Whigs pointed out the indecency and impolicy of interrogating the King, and of forcing him either to accuse his ministers or to quarrel with the representatives of his people. "Advise His Majesty, if you will," said Somers, "to withdraw his confidence from the counsellors who recommended this unfortunate appointment. Such advice, given, as we should probably give it, unanimously, must have great weight with him. But do not put to him a question such as no private gentleman would willingly answer. Do not force him, in defence of his own personal dignity, to protect the very men whom you wish him to discard." After a hard fight of two days, and several divisions, the address was carried by a hundred and ninety five votes to a hundred and forty six, [526] The King, as might have been foreseen, coldly refused to turn informer; and the House did not press him further, [527] To another address, which requested that a Commission might be sent to examine into the state of things in Ireland, William returned a very gracious answer, and desired the Commons to name the Commissioners. The Commons, not to be outdone in courtesy, excused themselves, and left it to His Majesty's wisdom to select the fittest persons, [528]

In the midst of the angry debates on the Irish war a pleasing incident produced for a moment goodhumour and unanimity. Walker had arrived in London, and had been received there with boundless enthusiasm. His face was in every print shop. Newsletters describing his person and his demeanour were sent to every corner of the kingdom. Broadsides of prose and verse written in his praise were cried in every street. The Companies of London feasted him splendidly in their halls. The common people crowded to gaze on him wherever he moved, and almost stifled him with rough caresses. Both the Universities offered him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Some of his admirers advised him to present himself at the palace in that military garb in which he had repeatedly headed the sallies of his fellow townsmen. But, with a better judgment than he sometimes showed, he made his appearance at Hampton Court in the peaceful robe of his profession, was most graciously received, and was presented with an order for five thousand pounds. "And do not think, Doctor," William said, with great benignity, "that I offer you this sum as payment for your services. I assure you that I consider your claims on me as not at all diminished." [529]

It is true that amidst the general applause the voice of detraction made itself heard. The defenders of Londonderry were men of two nations and of two religions. During the siege, hatred of the Irishry had held together all Saxons; and hatred of Popery had held together all Protestants. But, when the danger was over, the Englishman and the Scotchman, the Episcopalian and the Presbyterian, began to wrangle about the distribution of praises and rewards. The dissenting preachers, who had zealously assisted Walker in the hour of peril, complained that, in the account which he published of the siege, he had, though acknowledging that they had done good service, omitted to mention their names. The complaint was just; and, had it been made in language becoming Christians and gentlemen, would probably have produced a considerable effect on the public mind. But Walker's accusers in their resentment disregarded truth and decency, used scurrilous language, brought calumnious accusations which were triumphantly refuted, and thus threw away the advantage which they had possessed. Walker defended himself with moderation and candour. His friends fought his battle with vigour, and retaliated keenly on his assailants. At Edinburgh perhaps the public opinion might have been against him. But in London the controversy seems only to have raised his character. He was regarded as an Anglican divine of eminent merit, who, after having heroically defended his religion against an army of Popish Rapparees, was rabbled by a mob of Scotch Covenanters, [530]

He presented to the Commons a petition setting forth the destitute condition to which the widows and orphans of some brave men who had fallen during the siege were now reduced. The Commons instantly passed a vote of thanks to him, and resolved to present to the King an address requesting that ten thousand pounds might be distributed among the families whose sufferings had been so touchingly described. The next day it was rumoured about the benches that Walker was in the lobby. He was called in. The Speaker, with great dignity and grace, informed him that the House had made haste to comply with his request, commended him in high terms for having taken on himself to govern and defend a city betrayed by its proper governors and defenders, and charged him to tell those who had fought under him that their fidelity and valour would always be held in grateful remembrance by the Commons of England, [531]

About the same time the course of parliamentary business was diversified by another curious and interesting episode, which, like the former, sprang out of the events of the Irish war. In the preceding spring, when every messenger from Ireland brought evil tidings, and when the authority of James was acknowledged in every part of that kingdom, except behind the ramparts of Londonderry and on the banks of Lough Erne, it was natural that Englishmen should remember with how terrible an energy the great Puritan warriors of the preceding generation had crushed the insurrection of the Celtic race. The names of Cromwell, of Ireton, and of the other chiefs of the conquering army, were in many mouths. One of those chiefs, Edmund Ludlow, was still living. At twenty-two he had served as a volunteer in the parliamentary army; at thirty he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant General. He was now old; but the vigour of his mind was unimpaired. His courage was of the truest temper; his understanding strong, but narrow. What he saw he saw clearly: but he saw not much at a glance. In an age of perfidy and levity, he had, amidst manifold temptations and dangers, adhered firmly to the principles of his youth. His enemies could not deny that his life had been consistent, and that with the same spirit with which he had stood up against the Stuarts he had stood up against the Cromwells. There was but a single blemish on his fame: but that blemish, in the opinion of the great majority of his countrymen, was one for which no merit could compensate and which no time could efface. His name and seal were on the death warrant of Charles the First.

After the Restoration, Ludlow found a refuge on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. He was accompanied thither by another member of the High Court of Justice, John Lisle, the husband of that Alice Lisle whose death has left a lasting stain on the memory of James the Second. But even in Switzerland the regicides were not safe. A large price was set on their heads; and a succession of Irish adventurers, inflamed by national and religious animosity, attempted to earn the bribe. Lisle fell by the hand of one of these assassins. But Ludlow escaped unhurt from all the machinations of his enemies. A small knot of vehement and determined Whigs regarded him with a veneration, which increased as years rolled away, and left him almost the only survivor, certainly the most illustrious survivor, of a mighty race of men, the conquerors in a terrible civil war, the judges of a king, the founders of a republic. More than once he had been invited by the enemies of the House of Stuart to leave his asylum, to become their captain, and to give the signal for rebellion: but he had wisely refused to take any part in the desperate enterprises which the Wildmans and Fergusons were never weary of planning, [532]

The Revolution opened a new prospect to him. The right of the people to resist oppression, a right which, during many years, no man could assert without exposing himself to ecclesiastical anathemas and to civil penalties, had been solemnly recognised by the Estates of the realm, and had been proclaimed by Garter King at Arms on the very spot where the memorable scaffold had been set up forty years before. James had not, indeed, like Charles, died the death of a traitor. Yet the punishment of the son might seem to differ from the punishment of the father rather in degree than in principle. Those who had recently waged war on a tyrant, who had turned him out of his palace, who had frightened him out of his country, who had deprived him of his crown, might perhaps think that the crime of going one step further had been sufficiently expiated by thirty years of banishment. Ludlow's admirers, some of whom appear to have been in high public situations, assured him that he might safely venture over, nay, that he might expect to be sent in high command to Ireland, where his name was still cherished by his old soldiers and by their children, [533] He came and early in September it was known that he was in London, [534] But it soon appeared that he and his friends had misunderstood the temper of the English people. By all, except a small extreme section of the Whig party, the act, in which he had borne a part never to be forgotten, was regarded, not merely with the disapprobation due to a great violation of law and justice, but with horror such as even the Gunpowder Plot had not excited. The absurd and almost impious service which is still read in our churches on the thirtieth of January had produced in the minds of the vulgar a strange association of ideas. The sufferings of Charles were confounded with the sufferings of the Redeemer of mankind; and every regicide was a Judas, a Caiaphas or a Herod. It was true that, when Ludlow sate on the tribunal in Westminster Hall, he was an ardent enthusiast of twenty eight, and that he now returned from exile a greyheaded and wrinkled man in his seventieth year. Perhaps, therefore, if he had been content to live in close retirement, and to shun places of public resort, even zealous Royalists might not have grudged the old Republican a grave in his native soil. But he had no thought of hiding himself. It was soon rumoured that one of those murderers, who had brought on England guilt, for which she annually, in sackcloth and ashes, implored God not to enter into judgment with her, was strutting about the streets of her capital, and boasting that he should ere long command her armies. His lodgings, it was said, were the head quarters of the most noted enemies of monarchy and episcopacy, [535] The subject was brought before the House of Commons. The Tory members called loudly for justice on the traitor. None of the Whigs ventured to say a word in his defence. One or two faintly expressed a doubt whether the fact of his return had been proved by evidence such as would warrant a parliamentary proceeding. The objection was disregarded. It was resolved, without a division, that the King should be requested to issue a proclamation for the apprehending of Ludlow. Seymour presented the address; and the King promised to do what was asked. Some days however elapsed before the proclamation appeared, [536] Ludlow had time to make his escape, and again hid himself in his Alpine retreat, never again to emerge. English travellers are still taken to see his house close to the lake, and his tomb in a church among the vineyards which overlook the little town of Vevay. On the house was formerly legible an inscription purporting that to him to whom God is a father every land is a fatherland; [537] and the epitaph on the tomb still attests the feelings with which the stern old Puritan to the last regarded the people of Ireland and the House of Stuart.

Tories and Whigs had concurred, or had affected to concur, in paying honour to Walker and in putting a brand on Ludlow. But the feud between the two parties was more bitter than ever. The King had entertained a hope that, during the recess, the animosities which had in the preceding session prevented an Act of Indemnity from passing would have been mitigated. On the day on which the Houses reassembled, he had pressed them earnestly to put an end to the fear and discord which could never cease to exist, while great numbers held their property and their liberty, and not a few even their lives, by an uncertain tenure. His exhortation proved of no effect. October, November, December passed away; and nothing was done. An Indemnity Bill indeed had been brought in, and read once; but it had ever since lain neglected on the table of the House, [538] Vindictive as had been the mood in which the Whigs had left Westminster, the mood in which they returned was more vindictive still. Smarting from old sufferings, drunk with recent prosperity, burning with implacable resentment, confident of irresistible strength, they were not less rash and headstrong than in the days of the Exclusion Bill. Sixteen hundred and eighty was come again. Again all compromise was rejected. Again the voices of the wisest and most upright friends of liberty were drowned by the clamour of hotheaded and designing agitators. Again moderation was despised as cowardice, or execrated as treachery. All the lessons taught by a cruel experience were forgotten. The very same men who had expiated, by years of humiliation, of imprisonment, of penury, of exile, the folly with which they had misused the advantage given them by the Popish plot, now misused with equal folly the advantage given them by the Revolution. The second madness would, in all probability, like the first, have ended in their proscription, dispersion, decimation, but for the magnanimity and wisdom of that great prince, who, bent on fulfilling his mission, and insensible alike to flattery and to outrage, coldly and inflexibly saved them in their own despite.

It seemed that nothing but blood would satisfy them. The aspect and the temper of the House of Commons reminded men of the time of the ascendency of Oates; and, that nothing might be wanting to the resemblance, Oates himself was there. As a witness, indeed, he could now render no service: but he had caught the scent of carnage, and came to gloat on the butchery in which he could no longer take an active part. His loathsome features were again daily seen, and his well known "Ah Laard, ah Laard!" was again daily heard in the lobbies and in the gallery, [539] The House fell first on the renegades of the late reign. Of those renegades the Earls of Peterborough and Salisbury were the highest in rank, but were also the lowest in intellect: for Salisbury had always been an idiot; and Peterborough had long been a dotard. It was however resolved by the Commons that both had, by joining the Church of Rome, committed high treason, and that both should be impeached, [540] A message to that effect was sent to the Lords. Poor old Peterborough was instantly taken into custody, and was sent, tottering on a crutch, and wrapped up in woollen stuffs, to the Tower. The next day Salisbury was brought to the bar of his peers. He muttered something about his youth and his foreign education, and was then sent to bear Peterborough company, [541] The Commons had meanwhile passed on to offenders of humbler station and better understanding. Sir Edward Hales was brought before them. He had doubtless, by holding office in defiance of the Test Act, incurred heavy penalties. But these penalties fell far short of what the revengeful spirit of the victorious party demanded; and he was committed as a traitor, [542] Then Obadiah Walker was led in. He behaved with a pusillanimity and disingenuousness which deprived him of all claim to respect or pity. He protested that he had never changed his religion, that his opinions had always been and still were those of some highly respectable divines of the Church of England, and that there were points on which he differed from the Papists. In spite of this quibbling, he was pronounced guilty of high treason, and sent to prison, [543] Castlemaine was put next to the bar, interrogated, and committed under a warrant which charged him with the capital crime of trying to reconcile the kingdom to the Church of Rome, [544]

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