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The History of England from the Accession of James II. - Volume 3 (of 5)
by Thomas Babington Macaulay
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In the meantime the Lords had appointed a Committee to Inquire who were answerable for the deaths of Russell, of Sidney, and of some other eminent Whigs. Of this Committee, which was popularly called the Murder Committee, the Earl of Stamford, a Whig who had been deeply concerned in the plots formed by his party against the Stuarts, was chairman, [545] The books of the Council were inspected: the clerks of the Council were examined: some facts disgraceful to the Judges, to the Solicitors of the Treasury, to the witnesses for the Crown, and to the keepers of the state prisons, were elicited: but about the packing of the juries no evidence could be obtained. The Sheriffs kept their own counsel. Sir Dudley North, in particular, underwent a most severe cross examination with characteristic clearness of head and firmness of temper, and steadily asserted that he had never troubled himself about the political opinions of the persons whom he put on any panel, but had merely inquired whether they were substantial citizens. He was undoubtedly lying; and so some of the Whig peers told him in very plain words and in very loud tones: but, though they were morally certain of his guilt, they could find no proofs which would support a criminal charge against him. The indelible stain however remains on his memory, and is still a subject of lamentation to those who, while loathing his dishonesty and cruelty, cannot forget that he was one of the most original, profound and accurate thinkers of his age, [546]

Halifax, more fortunate than Dudley North, was completely cleared, not only from legal, but also from moral guilt. He was the chief object of attack; and yet a severe examination brought nothing to light that was not to his honour. Tillotson was called as a witness. He swore that he had been the channel of communication between Halifax and Russell when Russell was a prisoner in the Tower. "My Lord Halifax," said the Doctor, "showed a very compassionate concern for my Lord Russell; and my Lord Russell charged me with his last thanks for my Lord Halifax's humanity and kindness." It was proved that the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth had borne similar testimony to Halifax's good nature. One hostile witness indeed was produced, John Hampden, whose mean supplications and enormous bribes had saved his neck from the halter. He was now a powerful and prosperous man: he was a leader of the dominant party in the House of Commons; and yet he was one of the most unhappy beings on the face of the earth. The recollection of the pitiable figure which he had made at the bar of the Old Bailey embittered his temper, and impelled him to avenge himself without mercy on those who had directly or indirectly contributed to his humiliation. Of all the Whigs he was the most intolerant and the most obstinately hostile to all plans of amnesty. The consciousness that he had disgraced himself made him jealous of his dignity and quick to take offence. He constantly paraded his services and his sufferings, as if he hoped that this ostentatious display would hide from others the stain which nothing could hide from himself. Having during many months harangued vehemently against Halifax in the House of Commons, he now came to swear against Halifax before the Lords. The scene was curious. The witness represented himself as having saved his country, as having planned the Revolution, as having placed their Majesties on the throne. He then gave evidence intended to show that his life had been endangered by the machinations of the Lord Privy Seal: but that evidence missed the mark at which it was aimed, and recoiled on him from whom it proceeded. Hampden was forced to acknowledge that he had sent his wife to implore the intercession of the man whom he was now persecuting. "Is it not strange," asked Halifax, "that you should have requested the good offices of one whose arts had brought your head into peril?" "Not at all," said Hampden; "to whom was I to apply except to the men who were in power? I applied to Lord Jeffreys: I applied to Father Petre; and I paid them six thousand pounds for their services." "But did Lord Halifax take any money?" "No, I cannot say that he did." "And, Mr. Hampden, did not you afterwards send your wife to thank him for his kindness?" "Yes, I believe I did," answered Hampden; "but I know of no solid effects of that kindness. If there were any, I should be obliged to my Lord to tell me what they were." Disgraceful as had been the appearance which this degenerate heir of an illustrious name had made at the Old Bailey, the appearance which he made before the Committee of Murder was more disgraceful still, [547] It is pleasing to know that a person who had been far more cruelly wronged than he, but whose nature differed widely from his, the nobleminded Lady Russell, remonstrated against the injustice with which the extreme Whigs treated Halifax, [548]

The malice of John Hampden, however, was unwearied and unabashed. A few days later, in a committee of the whole House of Commons on the state of the nation, he made a bitter speech, in which he ascribed all the disasters of the year to the influence of the men who had, in the days of the Exclusion Bill, been censured by Parliaments, of the men who had attempted to mediate between James and William. The King, he said, ought to dismiss from his counsels and presence all the three noblemen who had been sent to negotiate with him at Hungerford. He went on to speak of the danger of employing men of republican principles. He doubtless alluded to the chief object of his implacable malignity. For Halifax, though from temper averse to violent changes, was well known to be in speculation a republican, and often talked, with much ingenuity and pleasantry, against hereditary monarchy. The only effect, however, of the reflection now thrown on him was to call forth a roar of derision. That a Hampden, that the grandson of the great leader of the Long Parliament, that a man who boasted of having conspired with Algernon Sidney against the royal House, should use the word republican as a term of reproach! When the storm of laughter had subsided, several members stood up to vindicate the accused statesmen. Seymour declared that, much as he disapproved of the manner in which the administration had lately been conducted, he could not concur in the vote which John Hampden had proposed. "Look where you will," he said, "to Ireland, to Scotland, to the navy, to the army, you will find abundant proofs of mismanagement. If the war is still to be conducted by the same hands, we can expect nothing but a recurrence of the same disasters. But I am not prepared to proscribe men for the best thing that they ever did in their lives, to proscribe men for attempting to avert a revolution by timely mediation." It was justly said by another speaker that Halifax and Nottingham had been sent to the Dutch camp because they possessed the confidence of the nation, because they were universally known to be hostile to the dispensing power, to the Popish religion, and to the French ascendency. It was at length resolved that the King should be requested in general terms to find out and to remove the authors of the late miscarriages, [549] A committee was appointed to prepare an Address. John Hampden was chairman, and drew up a representation in terms so bitter that, when it was reported to the House, his own father expressed disapprobation, and one member exclaimed: "This an address! It is a libel." After a sharp debate, the Address was recommitted, and was not again mentioned, [550]

Indeed, the animosity which a large part of the House had felt against Halifax was beginning to abate. It was known that, though he had not yet formally delivered up the Privy Seal, he had ceased to be a confidential adviser of the Crown. The power which he had enjoyed during the first months of the reign of William and Mary had passed to the more daring, more unscrupulous and more practical Caermarthen, against whose influence Shrewsbury contended in vain. Personally Shrewsbury stood high in the royal favour: but he was a leader of the Whigs, and, like all leaders of parties, was frequently pushed forward against his will by those who seemed to follow him. He was himself inclined to a mild and moderate policy: but he had not sufficient firmness to withstand the clamorous importunity with which such politicians as John Howe and John Hampden demanded vengeance on their enemies. His advice had therefore, at this time, little weight with his master, who neither loved the Tories nor trusted them, but who was fully determined not to proscribe them.

Meanwhile the Whigs, conscious that they had lately sunk in the opinion both of the King and of the nation, resolved on making a bold and crafty attempt to become independent of both. A perfect account of that attempt cannot be constructed out of the scanty and widely dispersed materials which have come down to us. Yet the story, as it has come down to us, is both interesting and instructive.

A bill for restoring the rights of those corporations which had surrendered their charters to the Crown during the last two reigns had been brought into the House of Commons, had been received with general applause by men of all parties, had been read twice, and had been referred to a select committee, of which Somers was chairman. On the second of January Somers brought up the report. The attendance of Tories was scanty: for, as no important discussion was expected, many country gentlemen had left town, and were keeping a merry Christmas by the chimney fires of their manor houses. The muster of zealous Whigs was strong. As soon as the bill had been reported, Sacheverell, renowned in the stormy parliaments of the reign of Charles the Second as one of the ablest and keenest of the Exclusionists, stood up and moved to add a clause providing that every municipal functionary who had in any manner been a party to the surrendering of the franchises of a borough should be incapable for seven years of holding any office in that borough. The constitution of almost every corporate town in England had been remodelled during that hot fit of loyalty which followed the detection of the Rye House Plot; and, in almost every corporate town, the voice of the Tories had been for delivering up the charter, and for trusting every thing to the paternal care of the Sovereign. The effect of Sacheverell's clause, therefore, was to make some thousands of the most opulent and highly considered men in the kingdom incapable, during seven years, of bearing any part in the government of the places in which they resided, and to secure to the Whig party, during seven years, an overwhelming influence in borough elections.

The minority exclaimed against the gross injustice of passing, rapidly and by surprise, at a season when London was empty, a law of the highest importance, a law which retrospectively inflicted a severe penalty on many hundreds of respectable gentlemen, a law which would call forth the strongest passions in every town from Berwick to St. Ives, a law which must have a serious effect on the composition of the House itself. Common decency required at least an adjournment. An adjournment was moved: but the motion was rejected by a hundred and twenty-seven votes to eighty-nine. The question was then put that Sacheverell's clause should stand part of the bill, and was carried by a hundred and thirty-three to sixty-eight. Sir Robert Howard immediately moved that every person who, being under Sacheverell's clause disqualified for municipal office, should presume to take any such office, should forfeit five hundred pounds, and should be for life incapable of holding any public employment whatever. The Tories did not venture to divide, [551] The rules of the House put it in the power of a minority to obstruct the progress of a bill; and this was assuredly one of the very rare occasions on which that power would have been with great propriety exerted. It does not appear, however, that the parliamentary tacticians of that age were aware of the extent to which a small number of members can, without violating any form, retard the course of business.

It was immediately resolved that the bill, enlarged by Sacheverell's and Howard's clauses, should be ingrossed. The most vehement Whigs were bent on finally passing it within forty-eight hours. The Lords, indeed, were not likely to regard it very favourably. But it should seem that some desperate men were prepared to withhold the supplies till it should pass, nay, even to tack it to the bill of supply, and thus to place the Upper House under the necessity of either consenting to a vast proscription of the Tories or refusing to the government the means of carrying on the war, [552] There were Whigs, however, honest enough to wish that fair play should be given to the hostile party, and prudent enough to know that an advantage obtained by violence and cunning could not be permanent. These men insisted that at least a week should be suffered to elapse before the third reading, and carried their point. Their less scrupulous associates complained bitterly that the good cause was betrayed. What new laws of war were these? Why was chivalrous courtesy to be shown to foes who thought no stratagem immoral, and who had never given quarter? And what had been done that was not in strict accordance with the law of Parliament? That law knew nothing of short notices and long notices, of thin houses and full houses. It was the business of a representative of the people to be in his place. If he chose to shoot and guzzle at his country seat when important business was under consideration at Westminster, what right had he to murmur because more upright and laborious servants of the public passed, in his absence, a bill which appeared to them necessary to the public safety? As however a postponement of a few days appeared to be inevitable, those who had intended to gain the victory by stealing a march now disclaimed that intention. They solemnly assured the King, who could not help showing some displeasure at their conduct, and who felt much more displeasure than he showed, that they had owed nothing to surprise, and that they were quite certain of a majority in the fullest house. Sacheverell is said to have declared with great warmth that he would stake his seat on the issue, and that if he found himself mistaken he would never show his face in Parliament again. Indeed, the general opinion at first was that the Whigs would win the day. But it soon became clear that the fight would be a hard one. The mails had carried out along all the high roads the tidings that, on the second of January, the Commons had agreed to a retrospective penal law against the whole Tory party, and that, on the tenth, that law would be considered for the last time. The whole kingdom was moved from Northumberland to Cornwall. A hundred knights and squires left their halls hung with mistletoe and holly, and their boards groaning with brawn and plum porridge, and rode up post to town, cursing the short days, the cold weather, the miry roads and the villanous Whigs. The Whigs, too, brought up reinforcements, but not to the same extent; for the clauses were generally unpopular, and not without good cause. Assuredly no reasonable man of any party will deny that the Tories, in surrendering to the Crown all the municipal franchises of the realm, and, with those franchises, the power of altering the constitution of the House of Commons, committed a great fault. But in that fault the nation itself had been an accomplice. If the Mayors and Aldermen whom it was now proposed to punish had, when the tide of loyal enthusiasm ran high, sturdily refused to comply with the wish of their Sovereign, they would have been pointed at in the street as Roundhead knaves, preached at by the Rector, lampooned in ballads, and probably burned in effigy before their own doors. That a community should be hurried into errors alternately by fear of tyranny and by fear of anarchy is doubtless a great evil. But the remedy for that evil is not to punish for such errors some persons who have merely erred with the rest, and who have since repented with the rest. Nor ought it to have been forgotten that the offenders against whom Sacheverell's clause was directed had, in 1688, made large atonement for the misconduct of which they had been guilty in 1683. They had, as a class, stood up firmly against the dispensing power; and most of them had actually been turned out of their municipal offices by James for refusing to support his policy. It is not strange therefore that the attempt to inflict on all these men without exception a degrading punishment should have raised such a storm of public indignation as many Whig members of parliament were unwilling to face.

As the decisive conflict drew near, and as the muster of the Tories became hourly stronger and stronger, the uneasiness of Sacheverell and of his confederates increased. They found that they could hardly hope for a complete victory. They must make some concession. They must propose to recommit the bill. They must declare themselves willing to consider whether any distinction could be made between the chief offenders and the multitudes who had been misled by evil example. But as the spirit of one party fell the spirit of the other rose. The Tories, glowing with resentment which was but too just, were resolved to listen to no terms of compromise.

The tenth of January came; and, before the late daybreak of that season, the House was crowded. More than a hundred and sixty members had come up to town within a week. From dawn till the candles had burned down to their sockets the ranks kept unbroken order; and few members left their seats except for a minute to take a crust of bread or a glass of claret. Messengers were in waiting to carry the result to Kensington, where William, though shaken by a violent cough, sate up till midnight, anxiously expecting the news, and writing to Portland, whom he had sent on an important mission to the Hague.

The only remaining account of the debate is defective and confused. But from that account it appears that the excitement was great. Sharp things were said. One young Whig member used language so hot that he was in danger of being called to the bar. Some reflections were thrown on the Speaker for allowing too much licence to his own friends. But in truth it mattered little whether he called transgressors to order or not. The House had long been quite unmanageable; and veteran members bitterly regretted the old gravity of debate and the old authority of the chair, [553] That Somers disapproved of the violence of the party to which he belonged may be inferred, both from the whole course of his public life, and from the very significant fact that, though he had charge of the Corporation Bill, he did not move the penal clauses, but left that ungracious office to men more impetuous and less sagacious than himself. He did not however abandon his allies in this emergency, but spoke for them, and tried to make the best of a very bad case. The House divided several times. On the first division a hundred and seventy-four voted with Sacheverell, a hundred and seventy-nine against him. Still the battle was stubbornly kept up; but the majority increased from five to ten, from ten to twelve, and from twelve to eighteen. Then at length, after a stormy sitting of fourteen hours, the Whigs yielded. It was near midnight when, to the unspeakable joy and triumph of the Tories, the clerk tore away from the parchment on which the bill had been engrossed the odious clauses of Sacheverell and Howard, [554]

Emboldened by this great victory, the Tories made an attempt to push forward the Indemnity Bill which had lain many weeks neglected on the table, [555] But the Whigs, notwithstanding their recent defeat, were still the majority of the House; and many members, who had shrunk from the unpopularity which they would have incurred by supporting the Sacheverell clause and the Howard clause, were perfectly willing to assist in retarding the general pardon. They still propounded their favourite dilemma. How, they asked, was it possible to defend this project of amnesty without condemning the Revolution? Could it be contended that crimes which had been grave enough to justify resistance had not been grave enough to deserve punishment? And, if those crimes were of such magnitude that they could justly be visited on the Sovereign whom the Constitution had exempted from responsibility, on what principle was immunity to be granted to his advisers and tools, who were beyond all doubt responsible? One facetious member put this argument in a singular form. He contrived to place in the Speaker's chair a paper which, when examined, appeared to be a Bill of Indemnity for King James, with a sneering preamble about the mercy which had, since the Revolution, been extended to more heinous offenders, and about the indulgence due to a King, who, in oppressing his people, had only acted after the fashion of all Kings, [556]

On the same day on which this mock Bill of Indemnity disturbed the gravity of the Commons, it was moved that the House should go into Committee on the real Bill. The Whigs threw the motion out by a hundred and ninety-three votes to a hundred and fifty-six. They then proceeded to resolve that a bill of pains and penalties against delinquents should be forthwith brought in, and engrafted on the Bill of Indemnity, [557]

A few hours later a vote passed that showed more clearly than any thing that had yet taken place how little chance there was that the public mind would be speedily quieted by an amnesty. Few persons stood higher in the estimation of the Tory party than Sir Robert Sawyer. He was a man of ample fortune and aristocratical connections, of orthodox opinions and regular life, an able and experienced lawyer, a well read scholar, and, in spite of a little pomposity, a good speaker. He had been Attorney General at the time of the detection of the Rye House Plot; he had been employed for the Crown in the prosecutions which followed; and he had conducted those prosecutions with an eagerness which would, in our time, be called cruelty by all parties, but which, in his own time, and to his own party, seemed to be merely laudable zeal. His friends indeed asserted that he was conscientious even to scrupulosity in matters of life and death; [558] but this is an eulogy which persons who bring the feelings of the nineteenth century to the study of the State Trials of the seventeenth century will have some difficulty in understanding. The best excuse which can be made for this part of his life is that the stain of innocent blood was common to him with almost all the eminent public men of those evil days. When we blame him for prosecuting Russell, we must not forget that Russell had prosecuted Stafford.

Great as Sawyer's offences were, he had made great atonement for them. He had stood up manfully against Popery and despotism; he had, in the very presence chamber, positively refused to draw warrants in contravention of Acts of Parliament; he had resigned his lucrative office rather than appear in Westminster Hall as the champion of the dispensing power; he had been the leading counsel for the seven Bishops; and he had, on the day of their trial, done his duty ably, honestly, and fearlessly. He was therefore a favourite with High Churchmen, and might be thought to have fairly earned his pardon from the Whigs. But the Whigs were not in a pardoning mood; and Sawyer was now called to account for his conduct in the case of Sir Thomas Armstrong.

If Armstrong was not belied, he was deep in the worst secrets of the Rye House Plot, and was one of those who undertook to slay the two royal brothers. When the conspiracy was discovered, he fled to the Continent and was outlawed. The magistrates of Leyden were induced by a bribe to deliver him up. He was hurried on board of an English ship, carried to London, and brought before the King's Bench. Sawyer moved the Court to award execution on the outlawry. Armstrong represented that a year had not yet elapsed since he had been outlawed, and that, by an Act passed in the reign of Edward the Sixth, an outlaw who yielded himself within the year was entitled to plead Not Guilty, and to put himself on his country. To this it was answered that Armstrong had not yielded himself, that he had been dragged to the bar a prisoner, and that he had no right to claim a privilege which was evidently meant to be given only to persons who voluntarily rendered themselves up to public justice. Jeffreys and the other judges unanimously overruled Armstrong's objection, and granted the award of execution. Then followed one of the most terrible of the many terrible scenes which, in those times, disgraced our Courts. The daughter of the unhappy man was at his side. "My Lord," she cried out, "you will not murder my father. This is murdering a man." "How now?" roared the Chief Justice. "Who is this woman? Take her, Marshal. Take her away." She was forced out, crying as she went, "God Almighty's judgments light on you!" "God Almighty's judgment," said Jeffreys, "will light on traitors. Thank God, I am clamour proof." When she was gone, her father again insisted on what he conceived to be his right. "I ask" he said, "only the benefit of the law." "And, by the grace of God, you shall have it," said the judge. "Mr. Sheriff, see that execution be done on Friday next. There is the benefit of the law for you." On the following Friday, Armstrong was hanged, drawn and quartered; and his head was placed over Westminster Hall, [559]

The insolence and cruelty of Jeffreys excite, even at the distance of so many years, an indignation which makes it difficult to be just to him. Yet a perfectly dispassionate inquirer may perhaps think it by no means clear that the award of execution was illegal. There was no precedent; and the words of the Act of Edward the Sixth may, without any straining, be construed as the Court construed them. Indeed, had the penalty been only fine or imprisonment, nobody would have seen any thing reprehensible in the proceeding. But to send a man to the gallows as a traitor, without confronting him with his accusers, without hearing his defence, solely because a timidity which is perfectly compatible with innocence has impelled him to hide himself, is surely a violation, if not of any written law, yet of those great principles to which all laws ought to conform. The case was brought before the House of Commons. The orphan daughter of Armstrong came to the bar to demand vengeance; and a warm debate followed. Sawyer was fiercely attacked and strenuously defended. The Tories declared that he appeared to them to have done only what, as counsel for the Crown, he was bound to do, and to have discharged his duty to God, to the King, and to the prisoner. If the award was legal, nobody was to blame; and, if the award was illegal, the blame lay, not with the Attorney General, but with the Judges. There would be an end of all liberty of speech at the bar, if an advocate was to be punished for making a strictly regular application to a Court, and for arguing that certain words in a statute were to be understood in a certain sense. The Whigs called Sawyer murderer, bloodhound, hangman. If the liberty of speech claimed by advocates meant the liberty of haranguing men to death, it was high time that the nation should rise up and exterminate the whole race of lawyers. "Things will never be well done," said one orator, "till some of that profession be made examples." "No crime to demand execution!" exclaimed John Hampden. "We shall be told next that it was no crime in the Jews to cry out 'Crucify him.'" A wise and just man would probably have been of opinion that this was not a case for severity. Sawyer's conduct might have been, to a certain extent, culpable: but, if an Act of Indemnity was to be passed at all, it was to be passed for the benefit of persons whose conduct had been culpable. The question was not whether he was guiltless, but whether his guilt was of so peculiarly black a dye that he ought, notwithstanding all his sacrifices and services, to be excluded by name from the mercy which was to be granted to many thousands of offenders. This question calm and impartial judges would probably have decided in his favour. It was, however, resolved that he should be excepted from the Indemnity, and expelled from the House, [560]

On the morrow the Bill of Indemnity, now transformed into a Bill of Pains and Penalties, was again discussed. The Whigs consented to refer it to a Committee of the whole House, but proposed to instruct the Committee to begin its labours by making out a list of the offenders who were to be proscribed. The Tories moved the previous question. The House divided; and the Whigs carried their point by a hundred and ninety votes to a hundred and seventy-three, [561]

The King watched these events with painful anxiety. He was weary of his crown. He had tried to do justice to both the contending parties; but justice would satisfy neither. The Tories hated him for protecting the Dissenters. The Whigs hated him for protecting the Tories. The amnesty seemed to be more remote than when, ten months before, he first recommended it from the throne. The last campaign in Ireland had been disastrous. It might well be that the next campaign would be more disastrous still. The malpractices, which had done more than the exhalations of the marshes of Dundalk to destroy the efficiency of the English troops, were likely to be as monstrous as ever. Every part of the administration was thoroughly disorganized; and the people were surprised and angry because a foreigner, newly come among them, imperfectly acquainted with them, and constantly thwarted by them, had not, in a year, put the whole machine of government to rights. Most of his ministers, instead of assisting him, were trying to get up addresses and impeachments against each other. Yet if he employed his own countrymen, on whose fidelity and attachment he could rely, a general cry of rage was set up by all the English factions. The knavery of the English Commissariat had destroyed an army: yet a rumour that he intended to employ an able, experienced, and trusty Commissary from Holland had excited general discontent. The King felt that he could not, while thus situated, render any service to that great cause to which his whole soul was devoted. Already the glory which he had won by conducting to a successful issue the most important enterprise of that age was becoming dim. Even his friends had begun to doubt whether he really possessed all that sagacity and energy which had a few months before extorted the unwilling admiration of his enemies. But he would endure his splendid slavery no longer. He would return to his native country. He would content himself with being the first citizen of a commonwealth to which the name of Orange was dear. As such, he might still be foremost among those who were banded together in defence of the liberties of Europe. As for the turbulent and ungrateful islanders, who detested him because he would not let them tear each other in pieces, Mary must try what she could do with them. She was born on their soil. She spoke their language. She did not dislike some parts of their Liturgy, which they fancied to be essential, and which to him seemed at best harmless. If she had little knowledge of politics and war, she had what might be more useful, feminine grace and tact, a sweet temper, a smile and a kind word for every body. She might be able to compose the disputes which distracted the State and the Church. Holland, under his government, and England under hers, might act cordially together against the common enemy.

He secretly ordered preparations to be made for his voyage. Having done this, he called together a few of his chief counsellors, and told them his purpose. A squadron, he said, was ready to convey him to his country. He had done with them. He hoped that the Queen would be more successful. The ministers were thunderstruck. For once all quarrels were suspended. The Tory Caermarthen on one side, the Whig Shrewsbury on the other, expostulated and implored with a pathetic vehemence rare in the conferences of statesmen. Many tears were shed. At length the King was induced to give up, at least for the present, his design of abdicating the government. But he announced another design which he was fully determined not to give up. Since he was still to remain at the head of the English administration, he would go himself to Ireland. He would try whether the whole royal authority strenuously exerted on the spot where the fate of the empire was to be decided, would suffice to prevent peculation and to maintain discipline, [562]

That he had seriously meditated a retreat to Holland long continued to be a secret, not only to the multitude, but even to the Queen, [563] That he had resolved to take the command of his army in Ireland was soon rumoured all over London. It was known that his camp furniture was making, and that Sir Christopher Wren was busied in constructing a house of wood which was to travel about, packed in two waggons, and to be set up wherever His Majesty might fix his quarters, [564] The Whigs raised a violent outcry against the whole scheme. Not knowing, or affecting not to know, that it had been formed by William and by William alone, and that none of his ministers had dared to advise him to encounter the Irish swords and the Irish atmosphere, the whole party confidently affirmed that it had been suggested by some traitor in the cabinet, by some Tory who hated the Revolution and all that had sprung from the Revolution. Would any true friend have advised His Majesty, infirm in health as he was, to expose himself, not only to the dangers of war, but to the malignity of a climate which had recently been fatal to thousands of men much stronger than himself? In private the King sneered bitterly at this anxiety for his safety. It was merely, in his judgment, the anxiety which a hard master feels lest his slaves should become unfit for their drudgery. The Whigs, he wrote to Portland, were afraid to lose their tool before they had done their work. "As to their friendship," he added, "you know what it is worth." His resolution, he told his friend, was unalterably fixed. Every thing was at stake; and go he must, even though the Parliament should present an address imploring him to stay, [565]

He soon learned that such an address would be immediately moved in both Houses and supported by the whole strength of the Whig party. This intelligence satisfied him that it was time to take a decisive step. He would not discard the Whigs but he would give them a lesson of which they stood much in need. He would break the chain in which they imagined that they had him fast. He would not let them have the exclusive possession of power. He would not let them persecute the vanquished party. In their despite, he would grant an amnesty to his people. In their despite, he would take the command of his army in Ireland. He arranged his plan with characteristic prudence, firmness, and secrecy. A single Englishman it was necessary to trust: for William was not sufficiently master of our language to address the Houses from the throne in his own words; and, on very important occasions, his practice was to write his speech in French, and to employ a translator. It is certain that to one person, and to one only, the King confided the momentous resolution which he had taken; and it can hardly be doubted that this person was Caermarthen.

On the twenty-seventh of January, Black Rod knocked at the door of the Commons. The Speaker and the members repaired to the House of Lords. The King was on the throne. He gave his assent to the Supply Bill, thanked the Houses for it, announced his intention of going to Ireland, and prorogued the Parliament. None could doubt that a dissolution would speedily follow. As the concluding words, "I have thought it convenient now to put an end to this session," were uttered, the Tories, both above and below the bar, broke forth into a shout of joy. The King meanwhile surveyed his audience from the throne with that bright eagle eye which nothing escaped. He might be pardoned if he felt some little vindictive pleasure in annoying those who had cruelly annoyed him. "I saw," he wrote to Portland the next day, "faces an ell long. I saw some of those men change colour with vexation twenty times while I was speaking." [566]

A few hours after the prorogation, a hundred and fifty Tory members of Parliament had a parting dinner together at the Apollo Tavern in Fleet Street, before they set out for their counties. They were in better temper with William than they had been since his father in law had been turned out of Whitehall. They had scarcely recovered from the joyful surprise with which they had heard it announced from the throne that the session was at an end. The recollection of their danger and the sense of their deliverance were still fresh. They talked of repairing to Court in a body to testify their gratitude: but they were induced to forego their intention; and not without cause: for a great crowd of squires after a revel, at which doubtless neither October nor claret had been spared, might have caused some inconvenience in the presence chamber. Sir John Lowther, who in wealth and influence was inferior to no country gentleman of that age, was deputed to carry the thanks of the assembly to the palace. He spoke, he told the King, the sense of a great body of honest gentlemen. They begged His Majesty to be assured that they would in their counties do their best to serve him; and they cordially wished him a safe voyage to Ireland, a complete victory, a speedy return, and a long and happy reign. During the following week, many, who had never shown their faces in the circle at Saint James's since the Revolution, went to kiss the King's hand. So warmly indeed did those who had hitherto been regarded as half Jacobites express their approbation of the policy of the government that the thoroughgoing Jacobites were much disgusted, and complained bitterly of the strange blindness which seemed to have come on the sons of the Church of England, [567]

All the acts of William, at this time, indicated his determination to restrain, steadily though gently, the violence of the Whigs, and to conciliate, if possible, the good will of the Tories. Several persons whom the Commons had thrown into prison for treason were set at liberty on bail, [568] The prelates who held that their allegiance was still due to James were treated with a tenderness rare in the history of revolutions. Within a week after the prorogation, the first of February came, the day on which those ecclesiastics who refused to take the oath were to be finally deprived. Several of the suspended clergy, after holding out till the last moment, swore just in time to save themselves from beggary. But the Primate and five of his suffragans were still inflexible. They consequently forfeited their bishoprics; but Sancroft was informed that the King had not yet relinquished the hope of being able to make some arrangement which might avert the necessity of appointing successors, and that the nonjuring prelates might continue for the present to reside in their palaces. Their receivers were appointed receivers for the Crown, and continued to collect the revenues of the vacant sees, [569] Similar indulgence was shown to some divines of lower rank. Sherlock, in particular, continued, after his deprivation, to live unmolested in his official mansion close to the Temple Church.

And now appeared a proclamation dissolving the Parliament. The writs for a general election went out; and soon every part of the kingdom was in a ferment. Van Citters, who had resided in England during many eventful years, declared that he had never seen London more violently agitated, [570] The excitement was kept up by compositions of all sorts, from sermons with sixteen heads down to jingling street ballads. Lists of divisions were, for the first time in our history, printed and dispersed for the information of constituent bodies. Two of these lists may still be seen in old libraries. One of the two, circulated by the Whigs, contained the names of those Tories who had voted against declaring the throne vacant. The other, circulated by the Tories, contained the names of those Whigs who had supported the Sacheverell clause.

It soon became clear that public feeling had undergone a great change during the year which had elapsed since the Convention had met; and it is impossible to deny that this change was, at least in part, the natural consequence and the just punishment of the intemperate and vindictive conduct of the Whigs. Of the city of London they thought themselves sure. The Livery had in the preceding year returned four zealous Whigs without a contest. But all the four had voted for the Sacheverell clause; and by that clause many of the merchant princes of Lombard Street and Cornhill, men powerful in the twelve great companies, men whom the goldsmiths followed humbly, hat in hand, up and down the arcades of the Royal Exchange, would have been turned with all indignity out of the Court of Aldermen and out of the Common Council. The struggle was for life or death. No exertions, no artifices, were spared. William wrote to Portland that the Whigs of the City, in their despair, stuck at nothing, and that, as they went on, they would soon stand as much in need of an Act of Indemnity as the Tories. Four Tories however were returned, and that by so decisive a majority, that the Tory who stood lowest polled four hundred votes more than the Whig who stood highest, [571] The Sheriffs, desiring to defer as long as possible the triumph of their enemies, granted a scrutiny. But, though the majority was diminished, the result was not affected, [572] At Westminster, two opponents of the Sacheverell clause were elected without a contest, [573] But nothing indicated more strongly the disgust excited by the proceedings of the late House of Commons than what passed in the University of Cambridge. Newton retired to his quiet observatory over the gate of Trinity College. Two Tories were returned by an overwhelming majority. At the head of the poll was Sawyer, who had, but a few days before, been excepted from the Indemnity Bill and expelled from the House of Commons. The records of the University contain curious proofs that the unwise severity with which he had been treated had raised an enthusiastic feeling in his favour. Newton voted for Sawyer; and this remarkable fact justifies us in believing that the great philosopher, in whose genius and virtue the Whig party justly glories, had seen the headstrong and revengeful conduct of that party with concern and disapprobation, [574]

It was soon plain that the Tories would have a majority in the new House of Commons, [575] All the leading Whigs however obtained seats, with one exception. John Hampden was excluded, and was regretted only by the most intolerant and unreasonable members of his party, [576]

The King meanwhile was making, in almost every department of the executive government, a change corresponding to the change which the general election was making in the composition of the legislature. Still, however, he did not think of forming what is now called a ministry. He still reserved to himself more especially the direction of foreign affairs; and he superintended with minute attention all the preparations for the approaching campaign in Ireland. In his confidential letters he complained that he had to perform, with little or no assistance, the task of organizing the disorganized military establishments of the kingdom. The work, he said, was heavy; but it must be done; for everything depended on it, [577] In general, the government was still a government by independent departments; and in almost every department Whigs and Tories were still mingled, though not exactly in the old proportions. The Whig element had decidedly predominated, in 1689. The Tory element predominated, though not very decidedly, in 1690.

Halifax had laid down the Privy Seal. It was offered to Chesterfield, a Tory who had voted in the Convention for a Regency. But Chesterfield refused to quit his country house and gardens in Derbyshire for the Court and the Council Chamber; and the Privy Seal was put into Commission, [578] Caermarthen was now the chief adviser of the Crown on all matters relating to the internal administration and to the management of the two Houses of Parliament. The white staff, and the immense power which accompanied the white staff, William was still determined never to entrust to any subject. Caermarthen therefore, continued to be Lord President; but he took possession of a suite of apartments in Saint James's Palace which was considered as peculiarly belonging to the Prime Minister, [579] He had, during the preceding year, pleaded ill health as an excuse for seldom appearing at the Council Board; and the plea was not without foundation, for his digestive organs had some morbid peculiarities which puzzled the whole College of Physicians; his complexion was livid; his frame was meagre; and his face, handsome and intellectual as it was, had a haggard look which indicated the restlessness of pain as well as the restlessness of ambition, [580] As soon, however, as he was once more minister, he applied himself strenuously to business, and toiled every day, and all day long, with an energy which amazed every body who saw his ghastly countenance and tottering gait.

Though he could not obtain for himself the office of Lord Treasurer, his influence at the Treasury was great. Monmouth, the First Commissioner, and Delamere, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, two of the most violent Whigs in England, quitted their seats. On this, as on many other occasions, it appeared that they had nothing but their Whiggism in common. The volatile Monmouth, sensible that he had none of the qualities of a financier, seems to have taken no personal offence at being removed from a place which he never ought to have occupied. He thankfully accepted a pension, which his profuse habits made necessary to him, and still continued to attend councils, to frequent the Court, and to discharge the duties of a Lord of the Bedchamber, [581] He also tried to make himself useful in military business, which he understood, if not well, yet better than most of his brother nobles; and he professed, during a few months, a great regard for Caermarthen. Delamere was in a very different mood. It was in vain that his services were overpaid with honours and riches. He was created Earl of Warrington. He obtained a grant of all the lands that could be discovered belonging to Jesuits in five or six counties. A demand made by him on account of expenses incurred at the time of the Revolution was allowed; and he carried with him into retirement as the reward of his patriotic exertions a large sum, which the State could ill spare. But his anger was not to be so appeased; and to the end of his life he continued to complain bitterly of the ingratitude with which he and his party had been treated, [582]

Sir John Lowther became First Lord of the Treasury, and was the person on whom Caermarthen chiefly relied for the conduct of the ostensible business of the House of Commons. Lowther was a man of ancient descent, ample estate, and great parliamentary interest. Though not an old man, he was an old senator: for he had, before he was of age, succeeded his father as knight of the shire for Westmoreland. In truth the representation of Westmoreland was almost as much one of the hereditaments of the Lowther family as Lowther Hall. Sir John's abilities were respectable; his manners, though sarcastically noticed in contemporary lampoons as too formal, were eminently courteous; his personal courage he was but too ready to prove; his morals were irreproachable; his time was divided between respectable labours and respectable pleasures; his chief business was to attend the House of Commons and to preside on the Bench of justice; his favourite amusements were reading and gardening. In opinions he was a very moderate Tory. He was attached to hereditary monarchy and to the Established Church; but he had concurred in the Revolution; he had no misgivings touching the title of William and Mary; he had sworn allegiance to them without any mental reservation; and he appears to have strictly kept his oath. Between him and Caermarthen there was a close connection. They had acted together cordially in the Northern insurrection; and they agreed in their political views, as nearly as a very cunning statesman and a very honest country gentleman could be expected to agree, [583] By Caermarthen's influence Lowther was now raised to one of the most important places in the kingdom. Unfortunately it was a place requiring qualities very different from those which suffice to make a valuable county member and chairman of quarter sessions. The tongue of the new First Lord of the Treasury was not sufficiently ready, nor was his temper sufficiently callous for his post. He had neither adroitness to parry, nor fortitude to endure, the gibes and reproaches to which, in his new character of courtier and placeman, he was exposed. There was also something to be done which he was too scrupulous to do; something which had never been done by Wolsey or Burleigh; something which has never been done by any English statesman of our generation; but which, from the time of Charles the Second to the time of George the Third, was one of the most important parts of the business of a minister.

The history of the rise, progress, and decline of parliamentary corruption in England still remains to be written. No subject has called forth a greater quantity of eloquent vituperation and stinging sarcasm. Three generations of serious and of sportive writers wept and laughed over the venality of the senate. That venality was denounced on the hustings, anathematized from the pulpit, and burlesqued on the stage; was attacked by Pope in brilliant verse, and by Bolingbroke in stately prose, by Swift with savage hatred, and by Gay with festive malice. The voices of Tories and Whigs, of Johnson and Akenside, of Smollett and Fielding, contributed to swell the cry. But none of those who railed or of those who jested took the trouble to verify the phaenomena, or to trace them to the real causes.

Sometimes the evil was imputed to the depravity of a particular minister: but, when he had been driven from power, and when those who had most loudly accused him governed in his stead, it was found that the change of men had produced no change of system. Sometimes the evil was imputed to the degeneracy of the national character. Luxury and cupidity, it was said, had produced in our country the same effect which they had produced of old in the Roman republic. The modern Englishman was to the Englishman of the sixteenth century what Verres and Curio were to Dentatus and Fabricius. Those who held this language were as ignorant and shallow as people generally are who extol the past at the expense of the present. A man of sense would have perceived that, if the English of the time of George the Second had really been more sordid and dishonest than their forefathers, the deterioration would not have shown itself in one place alone. The progress of judicial venality and of official venality would have kept pace with the progress of parliamentary venality. But nothing is more certain than that, while the legislature was becoming more and more venal, the courts of law and the public offices were becoming purer and purer. The representatives of the people were undoubtedly more mercenary in the days of Hardwicke and Pelham than in the days of the Tudors. But the Chancellors of the Tudors took plate and jewels from suitors without scruple or shame; and Hardwicke would have committed for contempt any suitor who had dared to bring him a present. The Treasurers of the Tudors raised princely fortunes by the sale of places, titles, and pardons; and Pelham would have ordered his servants to turn out of his house any man who had offered him money for a peerage or a commissionership of customs. It is evident, therefore, that the prevalence of corruption in the Parliament cannot be ascribed to a general depravation of morals. The taint was local; we must look for some local cause; and such a cause will without difficulty be found.

Under our ancient sovereigns the House of Commons rarely interfered with the executive administration. The Speaker was charged not to let the members meddle with matters of State. If any gentleman was very troublesome he was cited before the Privy Council, interrogated, reprimanded, and sent to meditate on his undutiful conduct in the Tower. The Commons did their best to protect themselves by keeping their deliberations secret, by excluding strangers, by making it a crime to repeat out of doors what had passed within doors. But these precautions were of small avail. In so large an assembly there were always talebearers ready to carry the evil report of their brethren to the palace. To oppose the Court was therefore a service of serious danger. In those days of course, there was little or no buying of votes. For an honest man was not to be bought; and it was much cheaper to intimidate or to coerce a knave than to buy him.

For a very different reason there has been no direct buying of votes within the memory of the present generation. The House of Commons is now supreme in the State, but is accountable to the nation. Even those members who are not chosen by large constituent bodies are kept in awe by public opinion. Every thing is printed; every thing is discussed; every material word uttered in debate is read by a million of people on the morrow. Within a few hours after an important division, the lists of the majority and the minority are scanned and analysed in every town from Plymouth to Inverness. If a name be found where it ought not to be, the apostate is certain to be reminded in sharp language of the promises which he has broken and of the professions which he has belied. At present, therefore, the best way in which a government can secure the support of a majority of the representative body is by gaining the confidence of the nation.

But between the time when our Parliaments ceased to be controlled by royal prerogative and the time when they began to be constantly and effectually controlled by public opinion there was a long interval. After the Restoration, no government ventured to return to those methods by which, before the civil war, the freedom of deliberation has been restrained. A member could no longer be called to account for his harangues or his votes. He might obstruct the passing of bills of supply; he might arraign the whole foreign policy of the country; he might lay on the table articles of impeachment against all the chief ministers; and he ran not the smallest risk of being treated as Morrice had been treated by Elizabeth, or Eliot by Charles the First. The senator now stood in no awe of the Court. Nevertheless all the defences behind which the feeble Parliaments of the sixteenth century had entrenched themselves against the attacks of prerogative were not only still kept up, but were extended and strengthened. No politician seems to have been aware that these defences were no longer needed for their original purpose, and had begun to serve a purpose very different. The rules which had been originally designed to secure faithful representatives against the displeasure of the Sovereign, now operated to secure unfaithful representatives against the displeasure of the people, and proved much more effectual for the latter end than they had ever been for the former. It was natural, it was inevitable, that, in a legislative body emancipated from the restraints of the sixteenth century, and not yet subjected to the restraints of the nineteenth century, in a legislative body which feared neither the King nor the public, there should be corruption.

The plague spot began to be visible and palpable in the days of the Cabal. Clifford, the boldest and fiercest of the wicked Five, had the merit of discovering that a noisy patriot, whom it was no longer possible to send to prison, might be turned into a courtier by a goldsmith's note. Clifford's example was followed by his successors. It soon became a proverb that a Parliament resembled a pump. Often, the wits said, when a pump appears to be dry, if a very small quantity of water is poured in, a great quantity of water gushes out: and so, when a Parliament appears to be niggardly, ten thousand pounds judiciously given in bribes will often produce a million in supplies. The evil was not diminished, nay, it was aggravated, by that Revolution which freed our country from so many other evils. The House of Commons was now more powerful than ever as against the Crown, and yet was not more strictly responsible than formerly to the nation. The government had a new motive for buying the members; and the members had no new motive for refusing to sell themselves. William, indeed, had an aversion to bribery; he resolved to abstain from it; and, during the first year of his reign, he kept his resolution. Unhappily the events of that year did not encourage him to persevere in his good intentions. As soon as Caermarthen was placed at the head of the internal administration of the realm, a complete change took place. He was in truth no novice in the art of purchasing votes. He had, sixteen years before, succeeded Clifford at the Treasury, had inherited Clifford's tactics, had improved upon them, and had employed them to an extent which would have amazed the inventor. From the day on which Caermarthen was called a second time to the chief direction of affairs, parliamentary corruption continued to be practised, with scarcely any intermission, by a long succession of statesmen, till the close of the American war. Neither of the great English parties can justly charge the other with any peculiar guilt on this account. The Tories were the first who introduced the system and the last who clung to it; but it attained its greatest vigour in the time of Whig ascendency. The extent to which parliamentary support was bartered for money cannot be with any precision ascertained. But it seems probable that the number of hirelings was greatly exaggerated by vulgar report, and was never large, though often sufficient to turn the scale on important divisions. An unprincipled minister eagerly accepted the services of these mercenaries. An honest minister reluctantly submitted, for the sake of the commonwealth, to what he considered as a shameful and odious extortion. But during many years every minister, whatever his personal character might be, consented, willingly or unwillingly, to manage the Parliament in the only way in which the Parliament could then be managed. It at length became as notorious that there was a market for votes at the Treasury as that there was a market for cattle in Smithfield. Numerous demagogues out of power declaimed against this vile traffic; but every one of those demagogues, as soon as he was in power, found himself driven by a kind of fatality to engage in that traffic, or at least to connive at it. Now and then perhaps a man who had romantic notions of public virtue refused to be himself the paymaster of the corrupt crew, and averted his eyes while his less scrupulous colleagues did that which he knew to be indispensable, and yet felt to be degrading. But the instances of this prudery were rare indeed. The doctrine generally received, even among upright and honourable politicians, was that it was shameful to receive bribes, but that it was necessary to distribute them. It is a remarkable fact that the evil reached the greatest height during the administration of Henry Pelham, a statesman of good intentions, of spotless morals in private life, and of exemplary disinterestedness. It is not difficult to guess by what arguments he and other well meaning men, who, like him, followed the fashion of their age, quieted their consciences. No casuist, however severe, has denied that it may be a duty to give what it is a crime to take. It was infamous in Jeffreys to demand money for the lives of the unhappy prisoners whom he tried at Dorchester and Taunton. But it was not infamous, nay, it was laudable, in the kinsmen and friends of a prisoner to contribute of their substance in order to make up a purse for Jeffreys. The Sallee rover, who threatened to bastinado a Christian captive to death unless a ransom was forthcoming, was an odious ruffian. But to ransom a Christian captive from a Sallee rover was, not merely an innocent, but a highly meritorious act. It would be improper in such cases to use the word corruption. Those who receive the filthy lucre are corrupt already. He who bribes them does not make them wicked: he finds them so; and he merely prevents their evil propensities from producing evil effects. And might not the same plea be urged in defence of a minister who, when no other expedient would avail, paid greedy and lowminded men not to ruin their country?

It was by some such reasoning as this that the scruples of William were overcome. Honest Burnet, with the uncourtly courage which distinguished him, ventured to remonstrate with the King. "Nobody," William answered, "hates bribery more, than I. But I have to do with a set of men who must be managed in this vile way or not at all. I must strain a point or the country is lost." [584]

It was necessary for the Lord President to have in the House of Commons an agent for the purchase of members; and Lowther was both too awkward and too scrupulous to be such an agent. But a man in whom craft and profligacy were united in a high degree was without difficulty found. This was the Master of the Rolls, Sir John Trevor, who had been Speaker in the single Parliament held by James. High as Trevor had risen in the world, there were people who could still remember him a strange looking lawyer's clerk in the Inner Temple. Indeed, nobody who had ever seen him was likely to forget him. For his grotesque features and his hideous squint were far beyond the reach of caricature. His parts, which were quick and vigorous, had enabled him early to master the science of chicane. Gambling and betting were his amusements; and out of these amusements he contrived to extract much business in the way of his profession. For his opinion on a question arising out of a wager or a game at chance had as much authority as a judgment of any court in Westminster Hall. He soon rose to be one of the boon companions whom Jeffreys hugged in fits of maudlin friendship over the bottle at night, and cursed and reviled in court on the morrow. Under such a teacher, Trevor rapidly became a proficient in that peculiar kind of rhetoric which had enlivened the trials of Baxter and of Alice Lisle. Report indeed spoke of some scolding matches between the Chancellor and his friend, in which the disciple had been not less voluble and scurrilous than the master. These contests, however, did not take place till the younger adventurer had attained riches and dignities such that he no longer stood in need of the patronage which had raised him, [585] Among High Churchmen Trevor, in spite of his notorious want of principle, had at this time a certain popularity, which he seems to have owed chiefly to their conviction that, however insincere he might be in general, his hatred of the dissenters was genuine and hearty. There was little doubt that, in a House of Commons in which the Tories had a majority, he might easily, with the support of the Court, be chosen Speaker. He was impatient to be again in his old post, which he well knew how to make one of the most lucrative in the kingdom; and he willingly undertook that secret and shameful office for which Lowther was altogether unqualified.

Richard Hampden was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. This appointment was probably intended as a mark of royal gratitude for the moderation of his conduct, and for the attempts which he had made to curb the violence of his Whig friends, and especially of his son.

Godolphin voluntarily left the Treasury; why, we are not informed. We can scarcely doubt that the dissolution and the result of the general election must have given him pleasure. For his political opinions leaned towards Toryism; and he had, in the late reign, done some things which, though not very heinous, stood in need of an indemnity. It is probable that he did not think it compatible with his personal dignity to sit at the board below Lowther, who was in rank his inferior, [586]

A new Commission of Admiralty was issued. At the head of the naval administration was placed Thomas Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, a high born and high bred man, who had ranked among the Tories, who had voted for a Regency, and who had married the daughter of Sawyer. That Pembroke's Toryism, however, was not of a narrow and illiberal kind is sufficiently proved by the fact that, immediately after the Revolution, the Essay on the Human Understanding was dedicated to him by John Locke, in token of gratitude for kind offices done in evil times, [587]

Nothing was omitted which could reconcile Torrington to this change. For, though he had been found an incapable administrator, he still stood so high in general estimation as a seaman that the government was unwilling to lose his services. He was assured that no slight was intended to him. He could not serve his country at once on the ocean and at Westminster; and it had been thought less difficult to supply his place in his office than on the deck of his flagship. He was at first very angry, and actually laid down his commission: but some concessions were made to his pride: a pension of three thousand pounds a year and a grant of ten thousand acres of crown land in the Peterborough level were irresistible baits to his cupidity; and, in an evil hour for England, he consented to remain at the head of the naval force, on which the safety of her coasts depended, [588]

While these changes were making in the offices round Whitehall, the Commissions of Lieutenancy all over the kingdom were revised. The Tories had, during twelve months, been complaining that their share in the government of the districts in which they lived bore no proportion to their number, to their wealth, and to the consideration which they enjoyed in society. They now regained with great delight their former position in their shires. The Whigs raised a cry that the King was foully betrayed, and that he had been induced by evil counsellors to put the sword into the hands of men who, as soon as a favourable opportunity offered, would turn the edge against himself. In a dialogue which was believed to have been written by the newly created Earl of Warrington, and which had a wide circulation at the time, but has long been forgotten, the Lord Lieutenant of a county was introduced expressing his apprehensions that the majority of his deputies were traitors at heart, [589] But nowhere was the excitement produced by the new distribution of power so great as in the capital. By a Commission of Lieutenancy which had been issued immediately after the Revolution, the train bands of the City had been put under the command of staunch Whigs. Those powerful and opulent citizens whose names were omitted complained that the list was filled with elders of Puritan congregations, with Shaftesbury's brisk boys, with Rye House plotters, and that it was scarcely possible to find, mingled with that multitude of fanatics and levellers, a single man sincerely attached to monarchy and to the Church. A new Commission now appeared framed by Caermarthen and Nottingham. They had taken counsel with Compton, the Bishop of the diocese; and Compton was not a very discreet adviser. He had originally been a High Churchman and a Tory. The severity with which he had been treated in the late reign had transformed him into a Latitudinarian and a rebel; and he had now, from jealousy of Tillotson, turned High Churchman and Tory again. The Whigs complained that they were ungratefully proscribed by a government which owed its existence to them; that some of the best friends of King William had been dismissed with contumely to make room for some of his worst enemies, for men who were as unworthy of trust as any Irish Rapparee, for men who had delivered up to a tyrant the charter and the immemorial privileges of the City, for men who had made themselves notorious by the cruelty with which they had enforced the penal laws against Protestant dissenters, nay, for men who had sate on those juries which had found Russell and Cornish guilty, [590] The discontent was so great that it seemed, during a short time, likely to cause pecuniary embarrassment to the State. The supplies voted by the late Parliament came in slowly. The wants of the public service were pressing. In such circumstances it was to the citizens of London that the government always looked for help; and the government of William had hitherto looked especially to those citizens who professed Whig opinions. Things were now changed. A few eminent Whigs, in their first anger, sullenly refused to advance money. Nay, one or two unexpectedly withdrew considerable sums from the Exchequer, [591] The financial difficulties might have been serious, had not some wealthy Tories, who, if Sacheverell's clause had become law, would have been excluded from all municipal honours, offered the Treasury a hundred thousand pounds down, and promised to raise a still larger sum, [592]

While the City was thus agitated, came a day appointed by royal proclamation for a general fast. The reasons assigned for this solemn act of devotion were the lamentable state of Ireland and the approaching departure of the King. Prayers were offered up for the safety of His Majesty's person and for the success of his arms. The churches of London were crowded. The most eminent preachers of the capital, who were, with scarcely an exception, either moderate Tories or moderate Whigs, exerted themselves to calm the public mind, and earnestly exhorted their flocks not to withhold, at this great conjuncture, a hearty support from the prince, with whose fate was bound up the fate of the whole nation. Burnet told a large congregation from the pulpit how the Greeks, when the Great Turk was preparing to besiege Constantinople, could not be persuaded to contribute any part of their wealth for the common defence, and how bitterly they repented of their avarice when they were compelled to deliver up to the victorious infidels the treasures which had been refused to the supplications of the last Christian emperor, [593]

The Whigs, however, as a party, did not stand in need of such an admonition. Grieved and angry as they were, they were perfectly sensible that on the stability of the throne of William depended all that they most highly prized. What some of them might, at this conjuncture, have been tempted to do if they could have found another leader, if, for example, their Protestant Duke, their King Monmouth, had still been living, may be doubted. But their only choice was between the Sovereign whom they had set up and the Sovereign whom they had pulled down. It would have been strange indeed if they had taken part with James in order to punish William, when the worst fault which they imputed to William was that he did not participate in the vindictive feeling with which they remembered the tyranny of James. Much as they disliked the Bill of Indemnity, they had not forgotten the Bloody Circuit. They therefore, even in their ill humour, continued true to their own King, and, while grumbling at him, were ready to stand by him against his adversary with their lives and fortunes, [594]

There were indeed exceptions; but they were very few; and they were to be found almost exclusively in two classes, which, though widely differing from each other in social position, closely resembled each other in laxity of principle. All the Whigs who are known to have trafficked with Saint Germains belonged, not to the main body of the party, but either to the head or to the tail. They were either patricians high in rank and office, or caitiffs who had long been employed in the foulest drudgery of faction. To the former class belonged Shrewsbury. Of the latter class the most remarkable specimen was Robert Ferguson. From the day on which the Convention Parliament was dissolved, Shrewsbury began to waver in his allegiance: but that he had ever wavered was not, till long after, suspected by the public. That Ferguson had, a few months after the Revolution, become a furious Jacobite, was no secret to any body, and ought not to have been matter of surprise to any body. For his apostasy he could not plead even the miserable excuse that he had been neglected. The ignominious services which he had formerly rendered to his party as a spy, a raiser of riots, a dispenser of bribes, a writer of libels, a prompter of false witnesses, had been rewarded only too prodigally for the honour of the new government. That he should hold any high office was of course impossible. But a sinecure place of five hundred a year had been created for him in the department of the Excise. He now had what to him was opulence: but opulence did not satisfy him. For money indeed he had never scrupled to be guilty of fraud aggravated by hypocrisy; yet the love of money was not his strongest passion. Long habits had developed in him a moral disease from, which people who make political agitation their calling are seldom wholly free. He could not be quiet. Sedition, from being his business, had become his pleasure. It was as impossible for him to live without doing mischief as for an old dram drinker or an old opium eater to live without the daily dose of poison. The very discomforts and hazards of a lawless life had a strange attraction for him. He could no more be turned into a peaceable and loyal subject than the fox can be turned into a shepherd's dog, or than the kite can be taught the habits of the barn door fowl. The Red Indian prefers his hunting ground to cultivated fields and stately cities: the gipsy, sheltered by a commodious roof, and provided with meat in due season, still pines for the ragged tent on the moor and the meal of carrion, and even so Ferguson became weary of plenty and security, of his salary, his house, his table and his coach, and longed to be again the president of societies where none could enter without a password, the director of secret presses, the distributor of inflammatory pamphlets; to see the walls placarded with descriptions of his Person and offers of reward for his apprehension; to have six or seven names, with a different wig and cloak for each, and to change his lodgings thrice a week at dead of night. His hostility was not to Popery or to Protestantism, to monarchical government or to republican government, to the House of Stuart or to the House of Nassau, but to whatever was at the time established.

By the Jacobites this new ally was eagerly welcomed. They were at that moment busied with schemes in which the help of a veteran plotter was much needed. There had been a great stir among them from the day on which it had been announced that William had determined to take the command in Ireland; and they were all looking forward with impatient hope to his departure.—He was not a prince against whom men lightly venture to set up a standard of rebellion. His courage, his sagacity, the secrecy of his counsels, the success which had generally crowned his enterprises, overawed the vulgar. Even his most acrimonious enemies feared him at least as much as they hated him. While he was at Kensington, ready to take horse at a moment's notice, malecontents who prized their heads and their estates were generally content to vent their hatred by drinking confusion to his hooked nose, and by squeezing with significant energy the orange which was his emblem. But their courage rose when they reflected that the sea would soon roll between him and our island. In the military and political calculations of that age, thirty leagues of water were as important as three hundred leagues now are. The winds and waves frequently interrupted all communication between England and Ireland. It sometimes happened that, during a fortnight or three weeks, not a word of intelligence from London reached Dublin. Twenty English counties might be up in arms long before any rumour that an insurrection was even apprehended could reach Ulster. Early in the spring, therefore, the leading malecontents assembled in London for the purpose of concerting an extensive plan of action, and corresponded assiduously both with France and with Ireland.

Such was the temper of the English factions when, on the twentieth of March, the new Parliament met. The first duty which the Commons had to perform was that of choosing a Speaker. Trevor was proposed by Lowther, was elected without opposition, and was presented and approved with the ordinary ceremonial. The King then made a speech in which he especially recommended to the consideration of the Houses two important subjects, the settling of the revenue and the granting of an amnesty. He represented strongly the necessity of despatch. Every day was precious, the season for action was approaching. "Let not us," he said, "be engaged in debates while our enemies are in the field." [595]

The first subject which the Commons took into consideration was the state of the revenue. A great part of the taxes had, since the accession of William and Mary, been collected under the authority of Acts passed for short terms, and it was now time to determine on a permanent arrangement. A list of the salaries and pensions for which provision was to be made was laid before the House; and the amount of the sums thus expended called forth very just complaints from the independent members, among whom Sir Charles Sedley distinguished himself by his sarcastic pleasantry. A clever speech which he made against the placemen stole into print and was widely circulated: it has since been often republished; and it proves, what his poems and plays might make us doubt, that his contemporaries were not mistaken in considering him as a man of parts and vivacity. Unfortunately the ill humour which the sight of the Civil List caused evaporated in jests and invectives without producing any reform.

The ordinary revenue by which the government had been supported before the Revolution had been partly hereditary, and had been partly drawn from taxes granted to each sovereign for life. The hereditary revenue had passed, with the crown, to William and Mary. It was derived from the rents of the royal domains, from fees, from fines, from wine licenses, from the first fruits and tenths of benefices, from the receipts of the Post Office, and from that part of the excise which had, immediately after the Restoration, been granted to Charles the Second and to his successors for ever in lieu of the feudal services due to our ancient kings. The income from all these sources was estimated at between four and five hundred thousand pounds, [596]

Those duties of excise and customs which had been granted to James for life had, at the close of his reign, yielded about nine hundred thousand pounds annually. William naturally wished to have this income on the same terms on which his uncle had enjoyed it; and his ministers did their best to gratify his wishes. Lowther moved that the grant should be to the King and Queen for their joint and separate lives, and spoke repeatedly and earnestly in defence of this motion. He set forth William's claims to public gratitude and confidence; the nation rescued from Popery and arbitrary power; the Church delivered from persecution; the constitution established on a firm basis. Would the Commons deal grudgingly with a prince who had done more for England than had ever been done for her by any of his predecessors in so short a time, with a prince who was now about to expose himself to hostile weapons and pestilential air in order to preserve the English colony in Ireland, with a prince who was prayed for in every corner of the world where a congregation of Protestants could meet for the worship of God? [597] But on this subject Lowther harangued in vain. Whigs and Tories were equally fixed in the opinion that the liberality of Parliaments had been the chief cause of the disasters of the last thirty years; that to the liberality of the Parliament of 1660 was to be ascribed the misgovernment of the Cabal; that to the liberality of the Parliament of 1685 was to be ascribed the Declaration of Indulgence, and that the Parliament of 1690 would be inexcusable if it did not profit by a long, a painful, an unvarying experience. After much dispute a compromise was made. That portion of the excise which had been settled for life on James, and which was estimated at three hundred thousand pounds a year, was settled on William and Mary for their joint and separate lives. It was supposed that, with the hereditary revenue, and with three hundred thousand a year more from the excise, their Majesties would have, independent of parliamentary control, between seven and eight hundred thousand a year. Out of this income was to be defrayed the charge both of the royal household and of those civil offices of which a list had been laid before the House. This income was therefore called the Civil List. The expenses of the royal household are now entirely separated from the expenses of the civil government; but, by a whimsical perversion, the name of Civil List has remained attached to that portion of the revenue which is appropriated to the expenses of the royal household. It is still more strange that several neighbouring nations should have thought this most unmeaning of all names worth borrowing. Those duties of customs which had been settled for life on Charles and James successively, and which, in the year before the Revolution, had yielded six hundred thousand pounds, were granted to the Crown for a term of only four years, [598]

William was by no means well pleased with this arrangement. He thought it unjust and ungrateful in a people whose liberties he had saved to bind him over to his good behaviour. "The gentlemen of England," he said to Burnet, "trusted King James who was an enemy of their religion and of their laws; and they will not trust me by whom their religion and their laws have been preserved." Burnet answered very properly that there was no mark of personal confidence which His Majesty was not entitled to demand, but that this question was not a question of personal confidence. The Estates of the Realm wished to establish a general principle. They wished to set a precedent which might secure a remote posterity against evils such as the indiscreet liberality of former Parliaments had produced. "From those evils Your Majesty has delivered this generation. By accepting the gift of the Commons on the terms on which it is offered Your Majesty will be also a deliverer of future generations." William was not convinced; but he had too much wisdom and selfcommand to give way to his ill humour; and he accepted graciously what he could not but consider as ungraciously given, [599]

The Civil List was charged with an annuity of twenty thousand pounds to the Princess of Denmark, in addition to an annuity of thirty thousand pounds which had been settled on her at the time of her marriage. This arrangement was the result of a compromise which had been effected with much difficulty and after many irritating disputes. The King and Queen had never, since the commencement of their reign, been on very good terms with their sister. That William should have been disliked by a woman who had just sense enough to perceive that his temper was sour and his manners repulsive, and who was utterly incapable of appreciating his higher qualities, is not extraordinary. But Mary was made to be loved. So lively and intelligent a woman could not indeed derive much pleasure from the society of Anne, who, when in good humour, was meekly stupid, and, when in bad humour, was sulkily stupid. Yet the Queen, whose kindness had endeared her to her humblest attendants, would hardly have made an enemy of one whom it was her duty and her interest to make a friend, had not an influence strangely potent and strangely malignant been incessantly at work to divide the Royal House against itself. The fondness of the Princess for Lady Marlborough was such as, in a superstitious age, would have been ascribed to some talisman or potion. Not only had the friends, in their confidential intercourse with each other, dropped all ceremony and all titles, and become plain Mrs. Morley and plain Mrs. Freeman; but even Prince George, who cared as much for the dignity of his birth as he was capable of caring for any thing but claret and calvered salmon, submitted to be Mr. Morley. The Countess boasted that she had selected the name of Freeman because it was peculiarly suited to the frankness and boldness of her character; and, to do her justice, it was not by the ordinary arts of courtiers that she established and long maintained her despotic empire over the feeblest of minds, She had little of that tact which is the characteristic talent of her sex; she was far too violent to flatter or to dissemble: but, by a rare chance, she had fallen in with a nature on which dictation and contradiction acted as philtres. In this grotesque friendship all the loyalty, the patience, the selfdevotion, was on the side of the mistress. The whims, the haughty airs, the fits of ill temper, were on the side of the waiting woman.

Nothing is more curious than the relation in which the two ladies stood to Mr. Freeman, as they called Marlborough. In foreign countries people knew in general that Anne was governed by the Churchills. They knew also that the man who appeared to enjoy so large a share of her favour was not only a great soldier and politician, but also one of the finest gentlemen of his time, that his face and figure were eminently handsome, his temper at once bland and resolute, his manners at once engaging and noble. Nothing could be more natural than that graces and accomplishments like his should win a female heart. On the Continent therefore many persons imagined that he was Anne's favoured lover; and he was so described in contemporary French libels which have long been forgotten. In England this calumny never found credit even with the vulgar, and is nowhere to be found even in the most ribald doggrel that was sung about our streets. In truth the Princess seems never to have been guilty of a thought inconsistent with her conjugal vows. To her Marlborough, with all his genius and his valour, his beauty and his grace, was nothing but the husband of her friend. Direct power over Her Royal Highness he had none. He could influence her only by the instrumentality of his wife; and his wife was no passive instrument. Though it is impossible to discover, in any thing that she ever did, said or wrote, any indication of superior understanding, her fierce passions and strong will enabled her often to rule a husband who was born to rule grave senates and mighty armies. His courage, that courage which the most perilous emergencies of war only made cooler and more steady, failed him when he had to encounter his Sarah's ready tears and voluble reproaches, the poutings of her lip and the tossings of her head. History exhibits to us few spectacles more remarkable than that of a great and wise man, who, when he had combined vast and profound schemes of policy, could carry them into effect only by inducing one foolish woman, who was often unmanageable, to manage another woman who was more foolish still.

In one point the Earl and the Countess were perfectly agreed. They were equally bent on getting money; though, when it was got, he loved to hoard it, and she was not unwilling to spend it, [600] The favour of the Princess they both regarded as a valuable estate. In her father's reign, they had begun to grow rich by means of her bounty. She was naturally inclined to parsimony; and, even when she was on the throne, her equipages and tables were by no means sumptuous, [601] It might have been thought, therefore, that, while she was a subject, thirty thousand a year, with a residence in the palace, would have been more than sufficient for all her wants. There were probably not in the kingdom two noblemen possessed of such an income. But no income would satisfy the greediness of those who governed her. She repeatedly contracted debts which James repeatedly discharged, not without expressing much surprise and displeasure.

The Revolution opened to the Churchills a new and boundless prospect of gain. The whole conduct of their mistress at the great crisis had proved that she had no will, no judgment, no conscience, but theirs. To them she had sacrificed affections, prejudices, habits, interests. In obedience to them, she had joined in the conspiracy against her father; she had fled from Whitehall in the depth of winter, through ice and mire, to a hackney coach; she had taken refuge in the rebel camp; she had consented to yield her place in the order of succession to the Prince of Orange. They saw with pleasure that she, over whom they possessed such boundless influence, possessed no common influence over others. Scarcely had the Revolution been accomplished when many Tories, disliking both the King who had been driven out and the King who had come in, and doubting whether their religion had more to fear from Jesuits or from Latitudinarians, showed a strong disposition to rally round Anne. Nature had made her a bigot. Such was the constitution of her mind that to the religion of her nursery she could not but adhere, without examination and without doubt, till she was laid in her coffin. In the court of her father she had been deaf to all that could be urged in favour of transubstantiation and auricular confession. In the court of her brother in law she was equally deaf to all that could be urged in favour of a general union among Protestants. This slowness and obstinacy made her important. It was a great thing to be the only member of the Royal Family who regarded Papists and Presbyterians with an impartial aversion. While a large party was disposed to make her an idol, she was regarded by her two artful servants merely as a puppet. They knew that she had it in her power to give serious annoyance to the government; and they determined to use this power in order to extort money, nominally for her, but really for themselves. While Marlborough was commanding the English forces in the Low Countries, the execution of the plan was necessarily left to his wife; and she acted, not as he would doubtless have acted, with prudence and temper, but, as is plain even from her own narrative, with odious violence and insolence. Indeed she had passions to gratify from which he was altogether free. He, though one of the most covetous, was one of the least acrimonious of mankind; but malignity was in her a stronger passion than avarice. She hated easily; she hated heartily; and she hated implacably. Among the objects of her hatred were all who were related to her mistress either on the paternal or on the maternal side. No person who had a natural interest in the Princess could observe without uneasiness the strange infatuation which made her the slave of an imperious and reckless termagant. This the Countess well knew. In her view the Royal Family and the family of Hyde, however they might differ as to other matters, were leagued against her; and she detested them all, James, William and Mary, Clarendon and Rochester. Now was the time to wreak the accumulated spite of years. It was not enough to obtain a great, a regal, revenue for Anne. That revenue must be obtained by means which would wound and humble those whom the favourite abhorred. It must not be asked, it must not be accepted, as a mark of fraternal kindness, but demanded in hostile tones, and wrung by force from reluctant hands. No application was made to the King and Queen. But they learned with astonishment that Lady Marlborough was indefatigable in canvassing the Tory members of Parliament, that a Princess's party was forming, that the House of Commons would be moved to settle on Her Royal Highness a vast income independent of the Crown. Mary asked her sister what these proceedings meant. "I hear," said Anne, "that my friends have a mind to make me some settlement." It is said that the Queen, greatly hurt by an expression which seemed to imply that she and her husband were not among her sister's friends, replied with unwonted sharpness, "Of what friends do you speak? What friends have you except the King and me?" [602] The subject was never again mentioned between the sisters. Mary was probably sensible that she had made a mistake in addressing herself to one who was merely a passive instrument in the hands of others. An attempt was made to open a negotiation with the Countess. After some inferior agents had expostulated with her in vain, Shrewsbury waited on her. It might have been expected that his intervention would have been successful; for, if the scandalous chronicle of those times could be trusted, he had stood high, too high, in her favour, [603] He was authorised by the King to promise that, if the Princess would desist from soliciting the members of the House of Commons to support her cause, the income of Her Royal Highness should be increased from thirty thousand pounds to fifty thousand. The Countess flatly rejected this offer. The King's word, she had the insolence to hint, was not a sufficient security. "I am confident," said Shrewsbury, "that His Majesty will strictly fulfil his engagements. If he breaks them I will not serve him an hour longer." "That may be very honourable in you," answered the pertinacious vixen, "but it will be very poor comfort to the Princess." Shrewsbury, after vainly attempting to move the servant, was at length admitted to an audience of the mistress. Anne, in language doubtless dictated by her friend Sarah, told him that the business had gone too far to be stopped, and must be left to the decision of the Commons, [604]

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