Disputes in the English Parliament — The Attainder of Russell reversed — Other Attainders reversed; Case of Samuel Johnson — Case of Devonshire — Case of Oates — Bill of Rights — Disputes about a Bill of Indemnity — Last Days of Jeffreys — The Whigs dissatisfied with the King — Intemperance of Howe — Attack on Caermarthen — Attack on Halifax — Preparations for a Campaign in Ireland — Schomberg — Recess of the Parliament — State of Ireland; Advice of Avaux — Dismission of Melfort; Schomberg lands in Ulster — Carrickfergus taken — Schomberg advances into Leinster; the English and Irish Armies encamp near each other — Schomberg declines a Battle — Frauds of the English Commissariat — Conspiracy among the French Troops in the English Service — Pestilence in the English Army — The English and Irish Armies go into Winter Quarters — Various Opinions about Schomberg’s Conduct — Maritime Affairs — Maladministration of Torrington — Continental Affairs — Skirmish at Walcourt — Imputations thrown on Marlborough — Pope Innocent XI. succeeded by Alexander viii. — The High Church Clergy divided on the Subject of the Oaths — Arguments for taking the Oaths — Arguments against taking the Oaths — A great Majority of the Clergy take the Oaths — The Nonjurors; Ken — Leslie — Sherlock — Hickes — Collier — Dodwell — Kettlewell; Fitzwilliam — General Character of the Nonjuring Clergy — The Plan of Comprehension; Tillotson — An Ecclesiastical Commission issued. — Proceedings of the Commission — The Convocation of the Province of Canterbury summoned; Temper of the Clergy — The Clergy ill affected towards the King — The Clergy exasperated against the Dissenters by the Proceedings of the Scotch Presbyterians — Constitution of the Convocation — Election of Members of Convocation; Ecclesiastical Preferments bestowed — Compton discontented — The Convocation meets — The High Churchmen a Majority of the Lower House of Convocation — Difference between the two Houses of Convocation — The Lower House of Convocation proves unmanageable. — The Convocation prorogued
TWENTY-four hours before the war in Scotland was brought to a close by the discomfiture of the Celtic army at Dunkeld, the Parliament broke up at Westminster. The Houses had sate ever since January without a recess. The Commons, who were cooped up in a narrow space, had suffered severely from heat and discomfort; and the health of many members had given way. The fruit however had not been proportioned to the toil. The last three months of the session had been almost entirely wasted in disputes, which have left no trace in the Statute Book. The progress of salutary laws had been impeded, sometimes by bickerings between the Whigs and the Tories, and sometimes by bickerings between the Lords and the Commons.
The Revolution had scarcely been accomplished when it appeared that the supporters of the Exclusion Bill had not forgotten what they had suffered during the ascendancy of their enemies, and were bent on obtaining both reparation and revenge. Even before the throne was filled, the Lords appointed a committee to examine into the truth of the frightful stories which had been circulated concerning the death of Essex. The committee, which consisted of zealous Whigs, continued its inquiries till all reasonable men were convinced that he had fallen by his own hand, and till his wife, his brother, and his most intimate friends were desirous that the investigation should be carried no further, 1 Atonement was made, without any opposition on the part of the Tories, to the memory and the families of some other victims, who were themselves beyond the reach of human power. Soon after the Convention had been turned into a Parliament, a bill for reversing the attainder of Lord Russell was presented to the peers, was speedily passed by them, was sent down to the Lower House, and was welcomed there with no common signs of emotion. Many of the members had sate in that very chamber with Russell. He had long exercised there an influence resembling the influence which, within the memory of this generation, belonged to the upright and benevolent Althorpe; an influence derived, not from superior skill in debate or in declamation, but from spotless integrity, from plain good sense, and from that frankness, that simplicity, that good nature, which are singularly graceful and winning in a man raised by birth and fortune high above his fellows. By the Whigs Russell had been honoured as a chief; and his political adversaries had admitted that, when he was not misled by associates less respectable and more artful than himself, he was as honest and kindhearted a gentleman as any in England. The manly firmness and Christian meekness with which he had met death, the desolation of his noble house, the misery of the bereaved father, the blighted prospects of the orphan children, 2 above all, the union of womanly tenderness and angelic patience in her who had been dearest to the brave sufferer, who had sate, with the pen in her hand, by his side at the bar, who had cheered the gloom of his cell, and who, on his last day, had shared with him the memorials of the great sacrifice, had softened the hearts of many who were little in the habit of pitying an opponent. That Russell had many good qualities, that he had meant well, that he had been hardly used, was now admitted even by courtly lawyers who had assisted in shedding his blood, and by courtly divines who had done their worst to blacken his reputation. When, therefore, the parchment which annulled his sentence was laid on the table of that assembly in which, eight years before, his face and his voice had been so well known, the excitement was great. One old Whig member tried to speak, but was overcome by his feelings. “I cannot,” he said, “name my Lord Russell without disorder. It is enough to name him. I am not able to say more.” Many eyes were directed towards that part of the house where Finch sate. The highly honourable manner in which he had quitted a lucrative office, as soon as he had found that he could not keep it without supporting the dispensing power, and the conspicuous part which he had borne in the defence of the Bishops, had done much to atone for his faults. Yet, on this day, it could not be forgotten that he had strenuously exerted himself, as counsel for the Crown, to obtain that judgment which was now to be solemnly revoked. He rose, and attempted to defend his conduct: but neither his legal acuteness, nor that fluent and sonorous elocution which was in his family a hereditary gift, and of which none of his family had a larger share than himself, availed him on this occasion. The House was in no humour to hear him, and repeatedly interrupted him by cries of “Order.” He had been treated, he was told, with great indulgence. No accusation had been brought against him. Why then should he, under pretence of vindicating himself, attempt to throw dishonourable imputations on an illustrious name, and to apologise for a judicial murder? He was forced to sit dorm, after declaring that he meant only to clear himself from the charge of having exceeded the limits of his professional duty; that he disclaimed all intention of attacking the memory of Lord Russell; and that he should sincerely rejoice at the reversing of the attainder. Before the House rose the bill was read a second time, and would have been instantly read a third time and passed, had not some additions and omissions been proposed, which would, it was thought, make the reparation more complete. The amendments were prepared with great expedition: the Lords agreed to them; and the King gladly gave his assent, 3
This bill was soon followed by three other bills which annulled three wicked and infamous judgments, the judgment against Sidney, the judgment against Cornish, and the judgment against Alice Lisle, 4
Some living Whigs obtained without difficulty redress for injuries which they had suffered in the late reign. The sentence of Samuel Johnson was taken into consideration by the House of Commons. It was resolved that the scourging which he had undergone was cruel, and that his degradation was of no legal effect. The latter proposition admitted of no dispute: for he had been degraded by the prelates who had been appointed to govern the diocese of London during Compton’s suspension. Compton had been suspended by a decree of the High Commission, and the decrees of the High Commission were universally acknowledged to be nullities. Johnson had therefore been stripped of his robe by persons who had no jurisdiction over him. The Commons requested the king to compensate the sufferer by some ecclesiastical preferment, 5 William, however, found that he could not, without great inconvenience, grant this request. For Johnson, though brave, honest and religious, had always been rash, mutinous and quarrelsome; and, since he had endured for his opinions a martyrdom more terrible than death, the infirmities of his temper and understanding had increased to such a degree that he was as disagreeable to Low Churchmen as to High Churchmen. Like too many other men, who are not to be turned from the path of right by pleasure, by lucre or by danger, he mistook the impulses of his pride and resentment for the monitions of conscience, and deceived himself into a belief that, in treating friends and foes with indiscriminate insolence and asperity, he was merely showing his Christian faithfulness and courage. Burnet, by exhorting him to patience and forgiveness of injuries, made him a mortal enemy. “Tell His Lordship,” said the inflexible priest, “to mind his own business, and to let me look after mine.” 6 It soon began to be whispered that Johnson was mad. He accused Burnet of being the author of the report, and avenged himself by writing libels so violent that they strongly confirmed the imputation which they were meant to refute. The King, therefore, thought it better to give out of his own revenue a liberal compensation for the wrongs which the Commons had brought to his notice than to place an eccentric and irritable man in a situation of dignity and public trust. Johnson was gratified with a present of a thousand pounds, and a pension of three hundred a year for two lives. His son was also provided for in the public service, 7
While the Commons were considering the case of Johnson, the Lords were scrutinising with severity the proceedings which had, in the late reign, been instituted against one of their own order, the Earl of Devonshire. The judges who had passed sentence on him were strictly interrogated; and a resolution was passed declaring that in his case the privileges of the peerage had been infringed, and that the Court of King’s Bench, in punishing a hasty blow by a fine of thirty thousand pounds, had violated common justice and the Great Charter, 8
In the cases which have been mentioned, all parties seem to have agreed in thinking that some public reparation was due. But the fiercest passions both of Whigs and Tories were soon roused by the noisy claims of a wretch whose sufferings, great as they might seem, had been trifling when compared with his crimes. Gates had come back, like a ghost from the place of punishment, to haunt the spots which had been polluted by his guilt. The three years and a half which followed his scourging he had passed in one of the cells of Newgate, except when on certain days, the anniversaries of his perjuries, he had been brought forth and set on the pillory. He was still, however, regarded by many fanatics as a martyr; and it was said that they were able so far to corrupt his keepers that, in spite of positive orders from the government, his sufferings were mitigated by many indulgences. While offenders, who, compared with him, were innocent, grew lean on the prison allowance, his cheer was mended by turkeys and chines, capons and sucking pigs, venison pasties and hampers of claret, the offerings of zealous Protestants, 9 When James had fled from Whitehall, and when London was in confusion, it was moved, in the council of Lords which had provisionally assumed the direction of affairs, that Gates should be set at liberty. The motion was rejected: 10 but the gaolers, not knowing whom to obey in that time of anarchy, and desiring to conciliate a man who had once been, and might perhaps again be, a terrible enemy, allowed their prisoner to go freely about the town, 11 His uneven legs and his hideous face, made more hideous by the shearing which his ears had undergone, were now again seen every day in Westminster Hall and the Court of Requests, 12 He fastened himself on his old patrons, and, in that drawl which he affected as a mark of gentility, gave them the history of his wrongs and of his hopes. It was impossible, he said, that now, when the good cause was triumphant, the discoverer of the plot could be overlooked. “Charles gave me nine hundred pounds a year. Sure William will give me more.” 13
In a few weeks he brought his sentence before the House of Lords by a writ of error. This is a species of appeal which raises no question of fact. The Lords, while sitting judicially on the writ of error, were not competent to examine whether the verdict which pronounced Gates guilty was or was not according to the evidence. All that they had to consider was whether, the verdict being supposed to be according to the evidence, the judgment was legal. But it would have been difficult even for a tribunal composed of veteran magistrates, and was almost impossible for an assembly of noblemen who were all strongly biassed on one side or on the other, and among whom there was at that time not a single person whose mind had been disciplined by the study of jurisprudence, to look steadily at the mere point of law, abstracted from the special circumstances of the case. In the view of one party, a party which even among the Whig peers was probably a minority, the appellant was a man who had rendered inestimable services to the cause of liberty and religion, and who had been requited by long confinement, by degrading exposure, and by torture not to be thought of without a shudder. The majority of the House more justly regarded him as the falsest, the most malignant and the most impudent being that had ever disgraced the human form. The sight of that brazen forehead, the accents of that lying tongue, deprived them of all mastery over themselves. Many of them doubtless remembered with shame and remorse that they had been his dupes, and that, on the very last occasion on which he had stood before them, he had by perjury induced them to shed the blood of one of their own illustrious order. It was not to be expected that a crowd of gentlemen under the influence of feelings like these would act with the cold impartiality of a court of justice. Before they came to any decision on the legal question which Titus had brought before them, they picked a succession of quarrels with him. He had published a paper magnifying his merits and his sufferings. The Lords found out some pretence for calling this publication a breach of privilege, and sent him to the Marshalsea. He petitioned to be released; but an objection was raised to his petition. He had described himself as a Doctor of Divinity; and their lordships refused to acknowledge him as such. He was brought to their bar, and asked where he had graduated. He answered, “At the university of Salamanca.” This was no new instance of his mendacity and effrontery. His Salamanca degree had been, during many years, a favourite theme of all the Tory satirists from Dryden downwards; and even on the Continent the Salamanca Doctor was a nickname in ordinary use, 14 The Lords, in their hatred of Oates, so far forgot their own dignity as to treat this ridiculous matter seriously. They ordered him to efface from his petition the words, “Doctor of Divinity.” He replied that he could not in conscience do it; and he was accordingly sent back to gaol, 15
These preliminary proceedings indicated not obscurely what the fate of the writ of error would be. The counsel for Oates had been heard. No counsel appeared against him. The judges were required to give their opinions. Nine of them were in attendance; and among the nine were the Chiefs of the three Courts of Common Law. The unanimous answer of these grave, learned and upright magistrates was that the Court of King’s Bench was not competent to degrade a priest from his sacred office, or to pass a sentence of perpetual imprisonment; and that therefore the judgment against Oates was contrary to law, and ought to be reversed. The Lords should undoubtedly have considered themselves as bound by this opinion. That they knew Oates to be the worst of men was nothing to the purpose. To them, sitting as a court of justice, he ought to have been merely a John of Styles or a John of Nokes. But their indignation was violently excited. Their habits were not those which fit men for the discharge of judicial duties. The debate turned almost entirely on matters to which no allusion ought to have been made. Not a single peer ventured to affirm that the judgment was legal: but much was said about the odious character of the appellant, about the impudent accusation which he had brought against Catherine of Braganza, and about the evil consequences which might follow if so bad a man were capable of being a witness. “There is only one way,” said the Lord President, “in which I can consent to reverse the fellow’s sentence. He has been whipped from Aldgate to Tyburn. He ought to be whipped from Tyburn back to Aldgate.” The question was put. Twenty-three peers voted for reversing the judgment; thirty-five for affirming it, 16
This decision produced a great sensation, and not without reason. A question was now raised which might justly excite the anxiety of every man in the kingdom. That question was whether the highest tribunal, the tribunal on which, in the last resort, depended the most precious interests of every English subject, was at liberty to decide judicial questions on other than judicial grounds, and to withhold from a suitor what was admitted to be his legal right, on account of the depravity of his moral character. That the supreme Court of Appeal ought not to be suffered to exercise arbitrary power, under the forms of ordinary justice, was strongly felt by the ablest men in the House of Commons, and by none more strongly than by Somers. With him, and with those who reasoned like him, were, on this occasion, allied many weak and hot-headed zealots who still regarded Oates as a public benefactor, and who imagined that to question the existence of the Popish plot was to question the truth of the Protestant religion. On the very morning after the decision of the Peers had been pronounced, keen reflections were thrown, in the House of Commons, on the justice of their lordships. Three days later, the subject was brought forward by a Whig Privy Councillor, Sir Robert Howard, member for Castle Rising. He was one of the Berkshire branch of his noble family, a branch which enjoyed, in that age, the unenviable distinction of being wonderfully fertile of bad rhymers. The poetry of the Berkshire Howards was the jest of three generations of satirists. The mirth began with the first representation of the Rehearsal, and continued down to the last edition of the Dunciad,17 But Sir Robert, in spite of his bad verses, and of some foibles and vanities which had caused him to be brought on the stage under the name of Sir Positive Atall, had in parliament the weight which a stanch party man, of ample fortune, of illustrious name, of ready utterance, and of resolute spirit, can scarcely fail to possess, 18 When he rose to call the attention of the Commons to the case of Oates, some Tories, animated by the same passions which had prevailed in the other House, received him with loud hisses. In spite of this most unparliamentary insult, he persevered; and it soon appeared that the majority was with him. Some orators extolled the patriotism and courage of Oates: others dwelt much on a prevailing rumour, that the solicitors who were employed against him on behalf of the Crown had distributed large sums of money among the jurymen. These were topics on which there was much difference of opinion. But that the sentence was illegal was a proposition which admitted of no dispute. The most eminent lawyers in the House of Commons declared that, on this point, they entirely concurred in the opinion given by the judges in the House of Lords. Those who had hissed when the subject was introduced, were so effectually cowed that they did not venture to demand a division; and a bill annulling the sentence was brought in, without any opposition, 19
The Lords were in an embarrassing situation. To retract was not pleasant. To engage in a contest with the Lower House, on a question on which that House was clearly in the right, and was backed at once by the opinions of the sages of the law, and by the passions of the populace, might be dangerous. It was thought expedient to take a middle course. An address was presented to the King, requesting him to pardon Oates, 20 But this concession only made bad worse. Titus had, like every other human being, a right to justice: but he was not a proper object of mercy. If the judgment against him was illegal, it ought to have been reversed. If it was legal, there was no ground for remitting any part of it. The Commons, very properly, persisted, passed their bill, and sent it up to the Peers. Of this bill the only objectionable part was the preamble, which asserted, not only that the judgment was illegal, a proposition which appeared on the face of the record to be true, but also that the verdict was corrupt, a proposition which, whether true or false, was not proved by any evidence at all.
The Lords were in a great strait. They knew that they were in the wrong. Yet they were determined not to proclaim, in their legislative capacity, that they had, in their judicial capacity, been guilty of injustice. They again tried a middle course. The preamble was softened down: a clause was added which provided that Oates should still remain incapable of being a witness; and the bill thus altered was returned to the Commons.
The Commons were not satisfied. They rejected the amendments, and demanded a free conference. Two eminent Tories, Rochester and Nottingham, took their seats in the Painted Chamber as managers for the Lords. With them was joined Burnet, whose well known hatred of Popery was likely to give weight to what he might say on such an occasion. Somers was the chief orator on the other side; and to his pen we owe a singularly lucid and interesting abstract of the debate.
The Lords frankly owned that the judgment of the Court of King’s Bench could not be defended. They knew it to be illegal, and had known it to be so even when they affirmed it. But they had acted for the best. They accused Oates of bringing an impudently false accusation against Queen Catherine: they mentioned other instances of his villany; and they asked whether such a man ought still to be capable of giving testimony in a court of justice. The only excuse which, in their opinion, could be made for him was, that he was insane; and in truth, the incredible insolence and absurdity of his behaviour when he was last before them seemed to warrant the belief that his brain had been turned, and that he was not to be trusted with the lives of other men. The Lords could not therefore degrade themselves by expressly rescinding what they had done; nor could they consent to pronounce the verdict corrupt on no better evidence than common report.
The reply was complete and triumphant. “Oates is now the smallest part of the question. He has, Your Lordships say, falsely accused the Queen Dowager and other innocent persons. Be it so. This bill gives him no indemnity. We are quite willing that, if he is guilty, he shall be punished. But for him, and for all Englishmen, we demand that punishment shall be regulated by law, and not by the arbitrary discretion of any tribunal. We demand that, when a writ of error is before Your Lordships, you shall give judgment on it according to the known customs and statutes of the realm. We deny that you have any right, on such occasions, to take into consideration the moral character of a plaintiff or the political effect of a decision. It is acknowledged by yourselves that you have, merely because you thought ill of this man, affirmed a judgment which you knew to be illegal. Against this assumption of arbitrary power the Commons protest; and they hope that you will now redeem what you must feel to be an error. Your Lordships intimate a suspicion that Oates is mad. That a man is mad may be a very good reason for not punishing him at all. But how it can be a reason for inflicting on him a punishment which would be illegal even if he were sane, the Commons do not comprehend. Your Lordships think that you should not be justified in calling a verdict corrupt which has not been legally proved to be so. Suffer us to remind you that you have two distinct functions to perform. You are judges; and you are legislators. When you judge, your duty is strictly to follow the law. When you legislate, you may properly take facts from common fame. You invert this rule. You are lax in the wrong place, and scrupulous in the wrong place. As judges, you break through the law for the sake of a supposed convenience. As legislators, you will not admit any fact without such technical proof as it is rarely possible for legislators to obtain.” 21
This reasoning was not and could not be answered. The Commons were evidently flushed with their victory in the argument, and proud of the appearance which Somers had made in the Painted Chamber. They particularly charged him to see that the report which he had made of the conference was accurately entered in the journals. The Lords very wisely abstained from inserting in their records an account of a debate in which they had been so signally discomfited. But, though conscious of their fault and ashamed of it, they could not be brought to do public penance by owning, in the preamble of the Act, that they had been guilty of injustice. The minority was, however, strong. The resolution to adhere was carried by only twelve votes, of which ten were proxies,22
Twenty-one Peers protested. The bill dropped. Two Masters in Chancery were sent to announce to the Commons the final resolution of the Peers. The Commons thought this proceeding unjustifiable in substance and uncourteous in form. They determined to remonstrate; and Somers drew up an excellent manifesto, in which the vile name of Oates was scarcely mentioned, and in which the Upper House was with great earnestness and gravity exhorted to treat judicial questions judicially, and not, under pretence of administering law, to make law, 23 The wretched man, who had now a second time thrown the political world into confusion, received a pardon, and was set at liberty. His friends in the Lower House moved an address to the Throne, requesting that a pension sufficient for his support might be granted to him, 24 He was consequently allowed about three hundred a year, a sum which he thought unworthy of his acceptance, and which he took with the savage snarl of disappointed greediness.
From the dispute about Oates sprang another dispute, which might have produced very serious consequences. The instrument which had declared William and Mary King and Queen was a revolutionary instrument. It had been drawn up by an assembly unknown to the ordinary law, and had never received the royal sanction. It was evidently desirable that this great contract between the governors and the governed, this titledeed by which the King held his throne and the people their liberties, should be put into a strictly regular form. The Declaration of Rights was therefore turned into a Bill of Rights; and the Bill of Rights speedily passed the Commons; but in the Lords difficulties arose.
The Declaration had settled the crown, first on William and Mary jointly, then on the survivor of the two, then on Mary’s posterity, then on Anne and her posterity, and, lastly, on the posterity of William by any other wife than Mary. The Bill had been drawn in exact conformity with the Declaration. Who was to succeed if Mary, Anne, and William should all die without posterity, was left in uncertainty. Yet the event for which no provision was made was far from improbable. Indeed it really came to pass. William had never had a child. Anne had repeatedly been a mother, but had no child living. It would not be very strange if, in a few months, disease, war, or treason should remove all those who stood in the entail. In what state would the country then be left? To whom would allegiance be due? The bill indeed contained a clause which excluded Papists from the throne. But would such a clause supply the place of a clause designating the successor by name? What if the next heir should be a prince of the House of Savoy not three months old? It would be absurd to call such an infant a Papist. Was he then to be proclaimed King? Or was the crown to be in abeyance till he came to an age at which he might be capable of choosing a religion? Might not the most honest and the most intelligent men be in doubt whether they ought to regard him as their Sovereign? And to whom could they look for a solution of this doubt? Parliament there would be none: for the Parliament would expire with the prince who had convoked it. There would be mere anarchy, anarchy which might end in the destruction of the monarchy, or in the destruction of public liberty. For these weighty reasons, Barnet, at William’s suggestion, proposed it the House of Lords that the crown should, failing heirs of His Majesty’s body, be entailed on an undoubted Protestant, Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick Lunenburg, granddaughter of James the First, and daughter of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia.
The Lords unanimously assented to this amendment: but the Commons unanimously rejected it. The cause of the rejection no contemporary writer has satisfactorily explained. One Whig historian talks of the machinations of the republicans, another of the machinations of the Jacobites. But it is quite certain that four fifths of the representatives of the people were neither Jacobites nor republicans. Yet not a single voice was raised in the Lower House in favour of the clause which in the Upper House had been carried by acclamation, 25 The most probable explanation seems to be that the gross injustice which had been committed in the case of Oates had irritated the Commons to such a degree that they were glad of an opportunity to quarrel with the Peers. A conference was held. Neither assembly would give way. While the dispute was hottest, an event took place which, it might have been thought, would have restored harmony. Anne gave birth to a son. The child was baptized at Hampton Court with great pomp, and with many signs of public joy. William was one of the sponsors. The other was the accomplished Dorset, whose roof had given shelter to the Princess in her distress. The King bestowed his own name on his godson, and announced to the splendid circle assembled around the font that the little William was henceforth to be called Duke of Gloucester, 26 The birth of this child had greatly diminished the risk against which the Lords had thought it necessary to guard. They might therefore have retracted with a good grace. But their pride had been wounded by the severity with which their decision on Oates’s writ of error had been censured in the Painted Chamber. They had been plainly told across the table that they were unjust judges; and the imputation was not the less irritating because they were conscious that it was deserved. They refused to make any concession; and the Bill of Rights was suffered to drop, 27
But the most exciting question of this long and stormy session was, what punishment should be inflicted on those men who had, during the interval between the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament and the Revolution, been the advisers or the tools of Charles and James. It was happy for England that, at this crisis, a prince who belonged to neither of her factions, who loved neither, who hated neither, and who, for the accomplishment of a great design, wished to make use of both, was the moderator between them.
The two parties were now in a position closely resembling that in which they had been twenty-eight years before. The party indeed which had then been undermost was now uppermost: but the analogy between the situations is one of the most perfect that can be found in history. Both the Restoration and the Revolution was accomplished by coalitions. At the Restoration, those politicians who were peculiarly zealous for liberty assisted to reestablish monarchy: at the Revolution those politicians who were peculiarly zealous for monarchy assisted to vindicate liberty. The Cavalier would, at the former conjuncture, have been able to effect nothing without the help of Puritans who had fought for the Covenant; nor would the Whig, at the latter conjuncture, have offered a successful resistance to arbitrary power, had he not been backed by men who had a very short time before condemned resistance to arbitrary power as a deadly sin. Conspicuous among those by whom, in 1660, the royal family was brought back, were Hopis, who had in the days of the tyranny of Charles the First held down the Speaker in the chair by main force, while Black Rod knocked for admission in vain; Ingoldsby, whose name was subscribed to the memorable death warrant; and Prynne, whose ears Laud had cut off, and who, in return, had borne the chief part in cutting off Laud’s head. Among the seven who, in 1688, signed the invitation to William, were Compton, who had long enforced the duty of obeying Nero; Danby, who had been impeached for endeavouring to establish military despotism; and Lumley, whose bloodhounds had tracked Monmouth to that sad last hiding place among the fern. Both in 1660 and in 1688, while the fate of the nation still hung in the balance, forgiveness was exchanged between the hostile factions. On both occasions the reconciliation, which had seemed to be cordial in the hour of danger, proved false and hollow in the hour of triumph. As soon as Charles the Second was at Whitehall, the Cavalier forgot the good service recently done by the Presbyterians, and remembered only their old offences. As soon as William was King, too many of the Whigs began to demand vengeance for all that they had, in the days of the Rye House Plot, suffered at the hands of the Tories. On both occasions the Sovereign found it difficult to save the vanquished party from the fury of his triumphant supporters; and on both occasions those whom he had disappointed of their revenge murmured bitterly against the government which had been so weak and ungrateful as to protect its foes against its friends.
So early as the twenty-fifth of March, William called the attention of the Commons to the expediency of quieting the public mind by an amnesty. He expressed his hope that a bill of general pardon and oblivion would be as speedily as possible presented for his sanction, and that no exceptions would be made, except such as were absolutely necessary for the vindication of public justice and for the safety of the state. The Commons unanimously agreed to thank him for this instance of his paternal kindness: but they suffered many weeks to pass without taking any step towards the accomplishment of his wish. When at length the subject was resumed, it was resumed in such a manner as plainly showed that the majority had no real intention of putting an end to the suspense which embittered the lives of all those Tories who were conscious that, in their zeal for prerogative, they had some times overstepped the exact line traced by law. Twelve categories were framed, some of which were so extensive as to include tens of thousands of delinquents; and the House resolved that, under every one of these categories, some exceptions should be made. Then came the examination into the cases of individuals. Numerous culprits and witnesses were summoned to the bar. The debates were long and sharp; and it soon became evident that the work was interminable. The summer glided away: the autumn was approaching: the session could not last much longer; and of the twelve distinct inquisitions, which the Commons had resolved to institute, only three had been brought to a close. It was necessary to let the bill drop for that year, 28
Among the many offenders whose names were mentioned in the course of these inquiries, was one who stood alone and unapproached in guilt and infamy, and whom Whigs and Tories were equally willing to leave to the extreme rigour of the law. On that terrible day which was succeeded by the Irish Night, the roar of a great city disappointed of its revenge had followed Jeffreys to the drawbridge of the Tower. His imprisonment was not strictly legal: but he at first accepted with thanks and blessings the protection which those dark walls, made famous by so many crimes and sorrows, afforded him against the fury of the multitude,29 Soon, however, he became sensible that his life was still in imminent peril. For a time he flattered himself with the hope that a writ of Habeas Corpus would liberate him from his confinement, and that he should be able to steal away to some foreign country, and to hide himself with part of his ill gotten wealth from the detestation of mankind: but, till the government was settled, there was no Court competent to grant a writ of Habeas Corpus; and, as soon as the government had been settled, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, 30 Whether the legal guilt of murder could be brought home to Jeffreys may be doubted. But he was morally guilty of so many murders that, if there had been no other way of reaching his life, a retrospective Act of Attainder would have been clamorously demanded by the whole nation. A disposition to triumph over the fallen has never been one of the besetting sins of Englishmen: but the hatred of which Jeffreys was the object was without a parallel in our history, and partook but too largely of the savageness of his own nature. The people, where he was concerned, were as cruel as himself, and exulted in his misery as he had been accustomed to exult in the misery of convicts listening to the sentence of death, and of families clad in mourning. The rabble congregated before his deserted mansion in Duke Street, and read on the door, with shouts of laughter, the bills which announced the sale of his property. Even delicate women, who had tears for highwaymen and housebreakers, breathed nothing but vengeance against him. The lampoons on him which were hawked about the town were distinguished by an atrocity rare even in those days. Hanging would be too mild a death for him: a grave under the gibbet too respectable a resting place: he ought to be whipped to death at the cart’s tail: he ought to be tortured like an Indian: he ought to be devoured alive. The street poets portioned out all his joints with cannibal ferocity, and computed how many pounds of steaks might be cut from his well fattened carcass. Nay, the rage of his enemies was such that, in language seldom heard in England, they proclaimed their wish that he might go to the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, to the worm that never dies, to the fire that is never quenched. They exhorted him to hang himself in his garters, and to cut his throat with his razor. They put up horrible prayers that he might not be able to repent, that he might die the same hardhearted, wicked Jeffreys that he had lived, 31 His spirit, as mean in adversity as insolent and inhuman in prosperity, sank down under the load of public abhorrence. His constitution, originally bad, and much impaired by intemperance, was completely broken by distress and anxiety. He was tormented by a cruel internal disease, which the most skilful surgeons of that age were seldom able to relieve. One solace was left to him, brandy. Even when he had causes to try and councils to attend, he had seldom gone to bed sober. Now, when he had nothing to occupy his mind save terrible recollections and terrible forebodings, he abandoned himself without reserve to his favourite vice. Many believed him to be bent on shortening his life by excess. He thought it better, they said, to go off in a drunken fit than to be hacked by Ketch, or torn limb from limb by the populace.
Once he was roused from a state of abject despondency by an agreeable sensation, speedily followed by a mortifying disappointment. A parcel had been left for him at the Tower. It appeared to be a barrel of Colchester oysters, his favourite dainties. He was greatly moved: for there are moments when those who least deserve affection are pleased to think that they inspire it. “Thank God,” he exclaimed, “I have still some friends left.” He opened the barrel; and from among a heap of shells out tumbled a stout halter, 32
It does not appear that one of the flatterers or buffoons whom he had enriched out of the plunder of his victims came to comfort him in the day of trouble. But he was not left in utter solitude. John Tutchin, whom he had sentenced to be flogged every fortnight for seven years, made his way into the Tower, and presented himself before the fallen oppressor. Poor Jeffreys, humbled to the dust, behaved with abject civility, and called for wine. “I am glad, sir,” he said, “to see you.” “And I am glad,” answered the resentful Whig, “to see Your Lordship in this place.” “I served my master,” said Jeffreys: “I was bound in conscience to do so.” “Where was your conscience,” said Tutchin, “when you passed that sentence on me at Dorchester?” “It was set down in my instructions,” answered Jeffreys, fawningly, “that I was to show no mercy to men like you, men of parts and courage. When I went back to court I was reprimanded for my lenity.” 33 Even Tutchin, acrimonious as was his nature, and great as were his wrongs, seems to have been a little mollified by the pitiable spectacle which he had at first contemplated with vindictive pleasure. He always denied the truth of the report that he was the person who sent the Colchester barrel to the Tower.
A more benevolent man, John Sharp, the excellent Dean of Norwich, forced himself to visit the prisoner. It was a painful task: but Sharp had been treated by Jeffreys, in old times, as kindly as it was in the nature of Jeffreys to treat any body, and had once or twice been able, by patiently waiting till the storm of curses and invectives had spent itself, and by dexterously seizing the moment of good humour, to obtain for unhappy families some mitigation of their sufferings. The prisoner was surprised and pleased. “What,” he said, “dare you own me now?” It was in vain, however, that the amiable divine tried to give salutary pain to that seared conscience. Jeffreys, instead of acknowledging his guilt, exclaimed vehemently against the injustice of mankind. “People call me a murderer for doing what at the time was applauded by some who are now high in public favour. They call me a drunkard because I take punch to relieve me in my agony.” He would not admit that, as President of the High Commission, he had done any thing that deserved reproach. His colleagues, he said, were the real criminals; and now they threw all the blame on him. He spoke with peculiar asperity of Sprat, who had undoubtedly been the most humane and moderate member of the board.
It soon became clear that the wicked judge was fast sinking under the weight of bodily and mental suffering. Doctor John Scott, prebendary of Saint Paul’s, a clergyman of great sanctity, and author of the Christian Life, a treatise once widely renowned, was summoned, probably on the recommendation of his intimate friend Sharp, to the bedside of the dying man. It was in vain, however, that Scott spoke, as Sharp had already spoken, of the hideous butcheries of Dorchester and Taunton. To the last Jeffreys continued to repeat that those who thought him cruel did not know what his orders were, that he deserved praise instead of blame, and that his clemency had drawn on him the extreme displeasure of his master, 34
Disease, assisted by strong drink and by misery, did its work fast. The patient’s stomach rejected all nourishment. He dwindled in a few weeks from a portly and even corpulent man to a skeleton. On the eighteenth of April he died, in the forty-first year of his age. He had been Chief Justice of the King’s Bench at thirty-five, and Lord Chancellor at thirty-seven. In the whole history of the English bar there is no other instance of so rapid an elevation, or of so terrible a fall. The emaciated corpse was laid, with all privacy, next to the corpse of Monmouth in the chapel of the Tower, 35
The fall of this man, once so great and so much dreaded, the horror with which he was regarded by all the respectable members of his own party, the manner in which the least respectable members of that party renounced fellowship with him in his distress, and threw on him the whole blame of crimes which they had encouraged him to commit, ought to have been a lesson to those intemperate friends of liberty who were clamouring for a new proscription. But it was a lesson which too many of them disregarded. The King had, at the very commencement of his reign, displeased them by appointing a few Tories and Trimmers to high offices; and the discontent excited by these appointments had been inflamed by his attempt to obtain a general amnesty for the vanquished. He was in truth not a man to be popular with the vindictive zealots of any faction. For among his peculiarities was a certain ungracious humanity which rarely conciliated his foes, which often provoked his adherents, but in which he doggedly persisted, without troubling himself either about the thanklessness of those whom he had saved from destruction, or about the rage of those whom he had disappointed of their revenge. Some of the Whigs now spoke of him as bitterly as they had ever spoken of either of his uncles. He was a Stuart after all, and was not a Stuart for nothing. Like the rest of the race, he loved arbitrary power. In Holland, he had succeeded in making himself, under the forms of a republican polity, scarcely less absolute than the old hereditary Counts had been. In consequence of a strange combination of circumstances, his interest had, during a short time, coincided with the interest of the English people: but though he had been a deliverer by accident, he was a despot by nature. He had no sympathy with the just resentments of the Whigs. He had objects in view which the Whigs would not willingly suffer any Sovereign to attain. He knew that the Tories were the only tools for his purpose. He had therefore, from the moment at which he took his seat on the throne, favoured them unduly. He was now trying to procure an indemnity for those very delinquents whom he had, a few months before, described in his Declaration as deserving of exemplary punishment. In November he had told the world that the crimes in which these men had borne a part had made it the duty of subjects to violate their oath of allegiance, of soldiers to desert their standards, of children to make war on their parents. With what consistency then could he recommend that such crimes should be covered by a general oblivion? And was there not too much reason to fear that he wished to save the agents of tyranny from the fate which they merited, in the hope that, at some future time, they might serve him as unscrupulously as they had served his father in law? 36
Of the members of the House of Commons who were animated by these feelings, the fiercest and most audacious was Howe. He went so far on one occasion as to move that an inquiry should be instituted into the proceedings of the Parliament of 1685, and that some note of infamy should be put on all who, in that Parliament, had voted with the Court. This absurd and mischievous motion was discountenanced by all the most respectable Whigs, and strongly opposed by Birch and Maynard, 37 Howe was forced to give way: but he was a man whom no check could abash; and he was encouraged by the applause of many hotheaded members of his party, who were far from foreseeing that he would, after having been the most rancorous and unprincipled of Whigs, become, at no distant time, the most rancorous and unprincipled of Tories.
This quickwitted, restless and malignant politician, though himself occupying a lucrative place in the royal household, declaimed, day after day, against the manner in which the great offices of state were filled; and his declamations were echoed, in tones somewhat less sharp and vehement, by other orators. No man, they said, who had been a minister of Charles or of James ought to be a minister of William. The first attack was directed against the Lord President Caermarthen. Howe moved that an address should be presented to the King, requesting that all persons who had ever been impeached by the Commons might be dismissed from His Majesty’s counsels and presence. The debate on this motion was repeatedly adjourned. While the event was doubtful, William sent Dykvelt to expostulate with Howe. Howe was obdurate. He was what is vulgarly called a disinterested man; that is to say, he valued money less than the pleasure of venting his spleen and of making a sensation. “I am doing the King a service,” he said: “I am rescuing him from false friends: and, as to my place, that shall never be a gag to prevent me from speaking my mind.” The motion was made, but completely failed. In truth the proposition, that mere accusation, never prosecuted to conviction, ought to be considered as a decisive proof of guilt, was shocking to natural justice. The faults of Caermarthen had doubtless been great; but they had been exaggerated by party spirit, had been expiated by severe suffering, and had been redeemed by recent and eminent services. At the time when he raised the great county of York in arms against Popery and tyranny, he had been assured by some of the most eminent Whigs that all old quarrels were forgotten. Howe indeed maintained that the civilities which had passed in the moment of peril signified nothing. “When a viper is on my hand,” he said, “I am very tender of him; but, as soon as I have him on the ground, I set my foot on him and crush him.” The Lord President, however, was so strongly supported that, after a discussion which lasted three days, his enemies did not venture to take the sense of the House on the motion against him. In the course of the debate a grave constitutional question was incidentally raised. This question was whether a pardon could be pleaded in bar of a parliamentary impeachment. The Commons resolved, without a division, that a pardon could not be so pleaded, 38
The next attack was made on Halifax. He was in a much more invidious position than Caermarthen, who had, under pretence of ill health, withdrawn himself almost entirely from business. Halifax was generally regarded as the chief adviser of the Crown, and was in an especial manner held responsible for all the faults which had been committed with respect to Ireland. The evils which had brought that kingdom to ruin might, it was said, have been averted by timely precaution, or remedied by vigorous exertion. But the government had foreseen nothing: it had done little; and that little had been done neither at the right time nor in the right way. Negotiation had been employed instead of troops, when a few troops might have sufficed. A few troops had been sent when many were needed. The troops that had been sent had been ill equipped and ill commanded. Such, the vehement Whigs exclaimed, were the natural fruits of that great error which King William had committed on the first day of his reign. He had placed in Tories and Trimmers a confidence which they did not deserve. He had, in a peculiar manner, entrusted the direction of Irish affairs to the Trimmer of Trimmers, to a man whose ability nobody disputed, but who was not firmly attached to the new government, who, indeed, was incapable of being firmly attached to any government, who had always halted between two opinions, and who, till the moment of the flight of James, had not given up the hope that the discontents of the nation might be quieted without a change of dynasty. Howe, on twenty occasions, designated Halifax as the cause of all the calamities of the country. Monmouth held similar language in the House of Lords. Though First Lord of the Treasury, he paid no attention to financial business, for which he was altogether unfit, and of which he had very soon become weary. His whole heart was in the work of persecuting the Tories. He plainly told the King that nobody who was not a Whig ought to be employed in the public service. William’s answer was cool and determined. “I have done as much for your friends as I can do without danger to the state; and I will do no more,” 39 The only effect of this reprimand was to make Monmouth more factious than ever. Against Halifax especially he intrigued and harangued with indefatigable animosity. The other Whig Lords of the Treasury, Delamere and Capel, were scarcely less eager to drive the Lord Privy Seal from office; and personal jealousy and antipathy impelled the Lord President to conspire with his own accusers against his rival.
What foundation there may have been for the imputations thrown at this time on Halifax cannot now be fully ascertained. His enemies, though they interrogated numerous witnesses, and though they obtained William’s reluctant permission to inspect the minutes of the Privy Council, could find no evidence which would support a definite charge, 40 But it was undeniable that the Lord Privy Seal had acted as minister for Ireland, and that Ireland was all but lost. It is unnecessary, and indeed absurd, to suppose, as many Whigs supposed, that his administration was unsuccessful because he did not wish it to be successful. The truth seems to be that the difficulties of the situation were great, and that he, with all his ingenuity and eloquence, was ill qualified to cope with those difficulties. The whole machinery of government was out of joint; and he was not the man to set it right. What was wanted was not what he had in large measure, wit, taste, amplitude of comprehension, subtlety in drawing distinctions; but what he had not, prompt decision, indefatigable energy, and stubborn resolution. His mind was at best of too soft a temper for such work as he had now to do, and had been recently made softer by severe affliction. He had lost two sons in less than twelve months. A letter is still extant, in which he at this time complained to his honoured friend Lady Russell of the desolation of his hearth and of the cruel ingratitude of the Whigs. We possess, also, the answer, in which she gently exhorted him to seek for consolation where she had found it under trials not less severe than his, 41
The first attack on him was made in the Upper House. Some Whig Lords, among whom the wayward and petulant First Lord of the Treasury was conspicuous, proposed that the King should be requested to appoint a new Speaker. The friends of Halifax moved and carried the previous question,42 About three weeks later his persecutors moved, in a Committee of the whole House of Commons, a resolution which imputed to him no particular crime either of omission or of commission, but simply declared it to be advisable that he should be dismissed from the service of the Crown. The debate was warm. Moderate politicians of both parties were unwilling to put a stigma on a man, not indeed faultless, but distinguished both by his abilities and by his amiable qualities. His accusers saw that they could not carry their point, and tried to escape from a decision which was certain to be adverse to them, by proposing that the Chairman should report progress. But their tactics were disconcerted by the judicious and spirited conduct of Lord Eland, now the Marquess’s only son. “My father has not deserved,” said the young nobleman, “to be thus trifled with. If you think him culpable, say so. He will at once submit to your verdict. Dismission from Court has no terrors for him. He is raised, by the goodness of God, above the necessity of looking to office for the means of supporting his rank.” The Committee divided, and Halifax was absolved by a majority of fourteen, 43
Had the division been postponed a few hours, the majority would probably have been much greater. The Commons voted under the impression that Londonderry had fallen, and that all Ireland was lost. Scarcely had the House risen when a courier arrived with news that the boom on the Foyle had been broken. He was speedily followed by a second, who announced the raising of the siege, and by a third who brought the tidings of the battle of Newton Butler. Hope and exultation succeeded to discontent and dismay, 44 Ulster was safe; and it was confidently expected that Schomberg would speedily reconquer Leinster, Connaught, and Munster. He was now ready to set out. The port of Chester was the place from which he was to take his departure. The army which he was to command had assembled there; and the Dee was crowded with men of war and transports. Unfortunately almost all those English soldiers who had seen war had been sent to Flanders. The bulk of the force destined for Ireland consisted of men just taken from the plough and the threshing floor. There was, however, an excellent brigade of Dutch troops under the command of an experienced officer, the Count of Solmes. Four regiments, one of cavalry and three of infantry, had been formed out of the French refugees, many of whom had borne arms with credit. No person did more to promote the raising of these regiments than the Marquess of Ruvigny. He had been during many years an eminently faithful and useful servant of the French government. So highly was his merit appreciated at Versailles that he had been solicited to accept indulgences which scarcely any other heretic could by any solicitation obtain. Had he chosen to remain in his native country, he and his household would have been permitted to worship God privately according to their own forms. But Ruvigny rejected all offers, cast in his lot with his brethren, and, at upwards of eighty years of age, quitted Versailles, where he might still have been a favourite, for a modest dwelling at Greenwich. That dwelling was, during the last months of his life, the resort of all that was most distinguished among his fellow exiles. His abilities, his experience and his munificent kindness, made him the undisputed chief of the refugees. He was at the same time half an Englishman: for his sister had been Countess of Southampton, and he was uncle of Lady Russell. He was long past the time of action. But his two sons, both men of eminent courage, devoted their swords to the service of William. The younger son, who bore the name of Caillemote, was appointed colonel of one of the Huguenot regiments of foot. The two other regiments of foot were commanded by La Melloniere and Cambon, officers of high reputation. The regiment of horse was raised by Schomberg himself, and bore his name. Ruvigny lived just long enough to see these arrangements complete, 45
The general to whom the direction of the expedition against Ireland was confided had wonderfully succeeded in obtaining the affection and esteem of the English nation. He had been made a Duke, a Knight of the Garter, and Master of the Ordnance: he was now placed at the head of an army: and yet his elevation excited none of that jealousy which showed itself as often as any mark of royal favour was bestowed on Bentinck, on Zulestein, or on Auverquerque. Schomberg’s military skill was universally acknowledged. He was regarded by all Protestants as a confessor who had endured every thing short of martyrdom for the truth. For his religion he had resigned a splendid income, had laid down the truncheon of a Marshal of France, and had, at near eighty years of age, begun the world again as a needy soldier of fortune. As he had no connection with the United Provinces, and had never belonged to the little Court of the Hague, the preference given to him over English captains was justly ascribed, not to national or personal partiality, but to his virtues and his abilities. His deportment differed widely from that of the other foreigners who had just been created English peers. They, with many respectable qualities, were, in tastes, manners, and predilections, Dutchmen, and could not catch the tone of the society to which they had been transferred. He was a citizen of the world, had travelled over all Europe, had commanded armies on the Meuse, on the Ebro, and on the Tagus, had shone in the splendid circle of Versailles, and had been in high favour at the court of Berlin. He had often been taken by French noblemen for a French nobleman. He had passed some time in England, spoke English remarkably well, accommodated himself easily to English manners, and was often seen walking in the park with English companions. In youth his habits had been temperate; and his temperance had its proper reward, a singularly green and vigorous old age. At fourscore he retained a strong relish for innocent pleasures: he conversed with great courtesy and sprightliness: nothing could be in better taste than his equipages and his table; and every cornet of cavalry envied the grace and dignity with which the veteran appeared in Hyde Park on his charger at the head of his regiment, 46 The House of Commons had, with general approbation, compensated his losses and rewarded his services by a grant of a hundred thousand pounds. Before he set out for Ireland, he requested permission to express his gratitude for this magnificent present. A chair was set for him within the bar. He took his seat there with the mace at his right hand, rose, and in a few graceful words returned his thanks and took his leave. The Speaker replied that the Commons could never forget the obligation under which they already lay to His Grace, that they saw him with pleasure at the head of an English army, that they felt entire confidence in his zeal and ability, and that, at whatever distance he might be, he would always be in a peculiar manner an object of their care. The precedent set on this interesting occasion was followed with the utmost minuteness, a hundred and twenty-five years later, on an occasion more interesting still. Exactly on the same spot on which, in July 1689, Schomberg had acknowledged the liberality of the nation, a chair was set, in July 1814, for a still more illustrious warrior, who came to return thanks for a still more splendid mark of public gratitude. Few things illustrate more strikingly the peculiar character of the English government and people than the circumstance that the House of Commons, a popular assembly, should, even in a moment of joyous enthusiasm, have adhered to ancient forms with the punctilious accuracy of a College of Heralds; that the sitting and rising, the covering and the uncovering, should have been regulated by exactly the same etiquette in the nineteenth century as in the seventeenth; and that the same mace which had been held at the right hand of Schomberg should have been held in the same position at the right hand of Wellington, 47
On the twentieth of August the Parliament, having been constantly engaged in business during seven months, broke up, by the royal command, for a short recess. The same Gazette which announced that the Houses had ceased to sit announced that Schomberg had landed in Ireland, 48
During the three weeks which preceded his landing, the dismay and confusion at Dublin Castle had been extreme. Disaster had followed disaster so fast that the mind of James, never very firm, had been completely prostrated. He had learned first that Londonderry had been relieved; then that one of his armies had been beaten by the Enniskilleners; then that another of his armies was retreating, or rather flying, from Ulster, reduced in numbers and broken in spirit; then that Sligo, the key of Connaught, had been abandoned to the Englishry. He had found it impossible to subdue the colonists, even when they were left almost unaided. He might therefore well doubt whether it would be possible for him to contend against them when they were backed by an English army, under the command of the greatest general living. The unhappy prince seemed, during some days, to be sunk in despondency. On Avaux the danger produced a very different effect. Now, he thought, was the time to turn the war between the English and the Irish into a war of extirpation, and to make it impossible that the two nations could ever be united under one government. With this view, he coolly submitted to the King a proposition of almost incredible atrocity. There must be a Saint Bartholomew. A pretext would easily be found. No doubt, when Schomberg was known to be in Ireland, there would be some excitement in those southern towns of which the population was chiefly English. Any disturbance, wherever it might take place, would furnish an excuse for a general massacre of the Protestants of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, 49 As the King did not at first express any horror at this suggestion, 50 the Envoy, a few days later, renewed the subject, and pressed His Majesty to give the necessary orders. Then James, with a warmth which did him honour, declared that nothing should induce him to commit such a crime. “These people are my subjects; and I cannot be so cruel as to cut their throats while they live peaceably under my government.” “There is nothing cruel,” answered the callous diplomatist, “in what I recommend. Your Majesty ought to consider that mercy to Protestants is cruelty to Catholics.” James, however, was not to be moved; and Avaux retired in very bad humour. His belief was that the King’s professions of humanity were hypocritical, and that, if the orders for the butchery were not given, they were not given only because His Majesty was confident that the Catholics all over the country would fall on the Protestants without waiting for orders, 51 But Avaux was entirely mistaken. That he should have supposed James to be as profoundly immoral as himself is not strange. But it is strange that so able a man should have forgotten that James and himself had quite different objects in view. The object of the Ambassador’s politics was to make the separation between England and Ireland eternal. The object of the King’s politics was to unite England and Ireland under his own sceptre; and he could not but be aware that, if there should be a general massacre of the Protestants of three provinces, and he should be suspected of having authorised it or of having connived at it, there would in a fortnight be not a Jacobite left even at Oxford, 52
Just at this time the prospects of James, which had seemed hopelessly dark, began to brighten. The danger which had unnerved him had roused the Irish people. They had, six months before, risen up as one man against the Saxons. The army which Tyrconnel had formed was, in proportion to the population from which it was taken, the largest that Europe had ever seen. But that army had sustained a long succession of defeats and disgraces, unredeemed by a single brilliant achievement. It was the fashion, both in England and on the Continent, to ascribe those defeats and disgraces to the pusillanimity of the Irish race, 53 That this was a great error is sufficiently proved by the history of every war which has been carried on in any part of Christendom during five generations. The raw material out of which a good army may be formed existed in great abundance among the Irish. Avaux informed his government that they were a remarkably handsome, tall, and well made race; that they were personally brave; that they were sincerely attached to the cause for which they were in arms; that they were violently exasperated against the colonists. After extolling their strength and spirit, he proceeded to explain why it was that, with all their strength and spirit, they were constantly beaten. It was vain, he said, to imagine that bodily prowess, animal courage, or patriotic enthusiasm would, in the day of battle, supply the place of discipline. The infantry were ill armed and ill trained. They were suffered to pillage wherever they went. They had contracted all the habits of banditti. There was among them scarcely one officer capable of showing them their duty. Their colonels were generally men of good family, but men who had never seen service. The captains were butchers, tailors, shoemakers. Hardly one of them troubled himself about the comforts, the accoutrements, or the drilling of those over whom he was placed. The dragoons were little better than the infantry. But the horse were, with some exceptions, excellent. Almost all the Irish gentlemen who had any military experience held commissions in the cavalry; and, by the exertions of these officers, some regiments had been raised and disciplined which Avaux pronounced equal to any that he had ever seen. It was therefore evident that the inefficiency of the foot and of the dragoons was to be ascribed to the vices, not of the Irish character, but of the Irish administration, 54
The events which took place in the autumn of 1689 sufficiently proved that the ill fated race, which enemies and allies generally agreed in regarding with unjust contempt, had, together with the faults inseparable from poverty, ignorance, and superstition, some fine qualities which have not always been found in more prosperous and more enlightened communities. The evil tidings which terrified and bewildered James stirred the whole population of the southern provinces like the peal of a trumpet sounding to battle. That Ulster was lost, that the English were coming, that the death grapple between the two hostile nations was at hand, was proclaimed from all the altars of three and twenty counties. One last chance was left; and, if that chance failed, nothing remained but the despotic, the merciless, rule of the Saxon colony and of the heretical church. The Roman Catholic priest who had just taken possession of the glebe house and the chancel, the Roman Catholic squire who had just been carried back on the shoulders of the shouting tenantry into the hall of his fathers, would be driven forth to live on such alms as peasants, themselves oppressed and miserable, could spare. A new confiscation would complete the work of the Act of Settlement; and the followers of William would seize whatever the followers of Cromwell had spared. These apprehensions produced such an outbreak of patriotic and religious enthusiasm as deferred for a time the inevitable day of subjugation. Avaux was amazed by the energy which, in circumstances so trying, the Irish displayed. It was indeed the wild and unsteady energy of a half barbarous people: it was transient: it was often misdirected: but, though transient and misdirected, it did wonders. The French Ambassador was forced to own that those officers of whose incompetency and inactivity he had so often complained had suddenly shaken off their lethargy. Recruits came in by thousands. The ranks which had been thinned under the walls of Londonderry were soon again full to overflowing. Great efforts were made to arm and clothe the troops; and, in the short space of a fortnight, every thing presented a new and cheering aspect, 55
The Irish required of the King, in return for their strenuous exertions in his cause, one concession which was by no means agreeable to him. The unpopularity of Melfort had become such, that his person was scarcely safe. He had no friend to speak a word in his favour. The French hated him. In every letter which arrived at Dublin from England or from Scotland, he was described as the evil genius of the House of Stuart. It was necessary for his own sake to dismiss him. An honourable pretext was found. He was ordered to repair to Versailles, to represent there the state of affairs in Ireland, and to implore the French government to send over without delay six or seven thousand veteran infantry. He laid down the seals; and they were, to the great delight of the Irish, put into the hands of an Irishman, Sir Richard Nagle, who had made himself conspicuous as Attorney General and Speaker of the House of Commons. Melfort took his departure under cover of the night: for the rage of the populace against him was such that he could not without danger show himself in the streets of Dublin by day. On the following morning James left his capital in the opposite direction to encounter Schomberg, 56
Schomberg had landed in Antrim. The force which he had brought with him did not exceed ten thousand men. But he expected to be joined by the armed colonists and by the regiments which were under Kirke’s command. The coffeehouse politicians of London fully expected that such a general with such an army would speedily reconquer the island. Unhappily it soon appeared that the means which had been furnished to him were altogether inadequate to the work which he had to perform: of the greater part of these means he was speedily deprived by a succession of unforeseen calamities; and the whole campaign was merely a long struggle maintained by his prudence and resolution against the utmost spite of fortune.
He marched first to Carrickfergus. That town was held for James by two regiments of infantry. Schomberg battered the walls; and the Irish, after holding out a week, capitulated. He promised that they should depart unharmed; but he found it no easy matter to keep his word. The people of the town and neighbourhood were generally Protestants of Scottish extraction. They had suffered much during the short ascendency of the native race; and what they had suffered they were now eager to retaliate. They assembled in great multitudes, exclaiming that the capitulation was nothing to them, and that they would be revenged. They soon proceeded from words to blows. The Irish, disarmed, stripped, and hustled, clung for protection to the English officers and soldiers. Schomberg with difficulty prevented a massacre by spurring, pistol in hand, through the throng of the enraged colonists, 57
From Carrickfergus Schomberg proceeded to Lisburn, and thence, through towns left without an inhabitant, and over plains on which not a cow, nor a sheep, nor a stack of corn was to be seen, to Loughbrickland. Here he was joined by three regiments of Enniskilleners, whose dress, horses, and arms locked strange to eyes accustomed to the pomp of reviews, but who in natural courage were inferior to no troops in the world, and who had, during months of constant watching and skirmishing, acquired many of the essential qualities of soldiers. 58
Schomberg continued to advance towards Dublin through a desert. The few Irish troops which remained in the south of Ulster retreated before him, destroying as they retreated. Newry, once a well built and thriving Protestant borough, he found a heap of smoking ashes. Carlingford too had perished. The spot where the town had once stood was marked only by the massy remains of the old Norman castle. Those who ventured to wander from the camp reported that the country, as far as they could explore it, was a wilderness. There were cabins, but no inmates: there was rich pasture, but neither flock nor herd: there were cornfields; but the harvest lay on the ground soaked with rain, 59
While Schomberg was advancing through a vast solitude, the Irish forces were rapidly assembling from every quarter. On the tenth of September the royal standard of James was unfurled on the tower of Drogheda; and beneath it were soon collected twenty thousand fighting men, the infantry generally bad, the cavalry generally good, but both infantry and cavalry full of zeal for their country and their religion, 60 The troops were attended as usual by a great multitude of camp followers, armed with scythes, half pikes, and skeans. By this time Schomberg had reached Dundalk. The distance between the two armies was not more than a long day’s march. It was therefore generally expected that the fate of the island would speedily be decided by a pitched battle.
In both camps, all who did not understand war were eager to fight; and, in both camps; the few who head a high reputation for military science were against fighting. Neither Rosen nor Schomberg wished to put every thing on a cast. Each of them knew intimately the defects of his own army, and neither of them was fully aware of the defects of the other’s army. Rosen was certain that the Irish infantry were “worse equipped, worse officered, and worse drilled,” than any infantry that he had ever seen from the Gulf of Bothnia to the Atlantic; and he supposed that the English troops were well trained, and were, as they doubtless ought to have been, amply provided with every thing necessary to their efficiency. Numbers, he rightly judged, would avail little against a great superiority of arms and discipline. He therefore advised James to fall back, and even to abandon Dublin to the enemy, rather than hazard a battle the loss of which would be the loss of all. Athlone was the best place in the kingdom for a determined stand. The passage of the Shannon might be defended till the succours which Melfort had been charged to solicit came from France; and those succours would change the whole character of the war. But the Irish, with Tyrconnel at their head, were unanimous against retreating. The blood of the whole nation was up. James was pleased with the enthusiasm of his subjects, and positively declared that he would not disgrace himself by leaving his capital to the invaders without a blow, 61
In a few days it became clear that Schomberg had determined not to fight. His reasons were weighty. He had some good Dutch and French troops. The Enniskilleners who had joined him had served a military apprenticeship, though not in a very regular manner. But the bulk of his army consisted of English peasants who had just left their cottages. His musketeers had still to learn how to load their pieces: his dragoons had still to learn how to manage their horses; and these inexperienced recruits were for the most part commanded by officers as inexperienced as themselves. His troops were therefore not generally superior in discipline to the Irish, and were in number far inferior. Nay, he found that his men were almost as ill armed, as ill lodged, as ill clad, as the Celts to whom they were opposed. The wealth of the English nation and the liberal votes of the English parliament had entitled him to expect that he should be abundantly supplied with all the munitions of war. But he was cruelly disappointed. The administration had, ever since the death of Oliver, been constantly becoming more and more imbecile, more and more corrupt; and now the Revolution reaped what the Restoration had sown. A crowd of negligent or ravenous functionaries, formed under Charles and James, plundered, starved, and poisoned the armies and fleets of William. Of these men the most important was Henry Shales, who, in the late reign, had been Commissary General to the camp at Hounslow. It is difficult to blame the new government for continuing to employ him: for, in his own department, his experience far surpassed that of any other Englishman. Unfortunately, in the same school in which he had acquired his experience, he had learned the whole art of peculation. The beef and brandy which he furnished were so bad that the soldiers turned from them with loathing: the tents were rotten: the clothing was scanty: the muskets broke in the handling. Great numbers of shoes were set down to the account of the government: but, two months after the Treasury had paid the bill, the shoes had not arrived in Ireland. The means of transporting baggage and artillery were almost entirely wanting. An ample number of horses had been purchased in England with the public money, and had been sent to the banks of the Dee. But Shales had let them out for harvest work to the farmers of Cheshire, had pocketed the hire, and had left the troops in Ulster to get on as they best might, 62 Schomberg thought that, if he should, with an ill trained and ill appointed army, risk a battle against a superior force, he might not improbably be defeated; and he knew that a defeat might be followed by the loss of one kingdom, perhaps by the loss of three kingdoms. He therefore made up his mind to stand on the defensive till his men had been disciplined, and till reinforcements and supplies should arrive.
He entrenched himself near Dundalk in such a manner that he could not be forced to fight against his will. James, emboldened by the caution of his adversary, and disregarding the advice of Rosen, advanced to Ardee, appeared at the head of the whole Irish army before the English lines, drew up horse, foot and artillery, in order of battle, and displayed his banner. The English were impatient to fall on. But their general had made up his mind, and was not to be moved by the bravadoes of the enemy or by the murmurs of his own soldiers. During some weeks he remained secure within his defences, while the Irish lay a few miles off. He set himself assiduously to drill those new levies which formed the greater part of his army. He ordered the musketeers to be constantly exercised in firing, sometimes at marks and sometimes by platoons; and, from the way in which they at first acquitted themselves, it plainly appeared that he had judged wisely in not leading them out to battle. It was found that not one in four of the English soldiers could manage his piece at all; and whoever succeeded in discharging it, no matter in what direction, thought that he had performed a great feat.
While the Duke was thus employed, the Irish eyed his camp without daring to attack it. But within that camp soon appeared two evils more terrible than the foe, treason and pestilence. Among the best troops under his command were the French exiles. And now a grave doubt arose touching their fidelity. The real Huguenot refugee indeed might safely be trusted. The dislike with which the most zealous English Protestant regarded the House of Bourbon and the Church of Rome was a lukewarm feeling when compared with that inextinguishable hatred which glowed in the bosom of the persecuted, dragooned, expatriated Calvinist of Languedoc. The Irish had already remarked that the French heretic neither gave nor took quarter, 63 Now, however, it was found that with those emigrants who had sacrificed every thing for the reformed religion were intermingled emigrants of a very different sort, deserters who had run away from their standards in the Low Countries, and had coloured their crime by pretending that they were Protestants, and that their conscience would not suffer them to fight for the persecutor of their Church. Some of these men, hoping that by a second treason they might obtain both pardon and reward, opened a correspondence with Avaux. The letters were intercepted; and a formidable plot was brought to light. It appeared that, if Schomberg had been weak enough to yield to the importunity of those who wished him to give battle, several French companies would, in the heat of the action, have fired on the English, and gone over to the enemy. Such a defection might well have produced a general panic in a better army than that which was encamped under Dundalk. It was necessary to be severe. Six of the conspirators were hanged. Two hundred of their accomplices were sent in irons to England. Even after this winnowing, the refugees were long regarded by the rest of the army with unjust but not unnatural suspicion. During some days indeed there was great reason to fear that the enemy would be entertained with a bloody fight between the English soldiers and their French allies, 64
A few hours before the execution of the chief conspirators, a general muster of the army was held; and it was observed that the ranks of the English battalions looked thin. From the first day of the campaign, there had been much sickness among the recruits: but it was not till the time of the equinox that the mortality became alarming. The autumnal rains of Ireland are usually heavy; and this year they were heavier than usual. The whole country was deluged; and the Duke’s camp became a marsh. The Enniskillen men were seasoned to the climate. The Dutch were accustomed to live in a country which, as a wit of that age said, draws fifty feet of water. They kept their huts dry and clean; and they had experienced and careful officers who did not suffer them to omit any precaution. But the peasants of Yorkshire and Derbyshire had neither constitutions prepared to resist the pernicious influence, nor skill to protect themselves against it. The bad provisions furnished by the Commissariat aggravated the maladies generated by the air. Remedies were almost entirely wanting. The surgeons were few. The medicine chests contained little more than lint and plaisters for wounds. The English sickened and died by hundreds. Even those who were not smitten by the pestilence were unnerved and dejected, and, instead of putting forth the energy which is the heritage of our race, awaited their fate with the helpless apathy of Asiatics. It was in vain that Schomberg tried to teach them to improve their habitations, and to cover the wet earth on which they lay with a thick carpet of fern. Exertion had become more dreadful to them than death. It was not to be expected that men who would not help themselves should help each other. Nobody asked and nobody showed compassion. Familiarity with ghastly spectacles produced a hardheartedness and a desperate impiety, of which an example will not easily be found even in the history of infectious diseases. The moans of the sick were drowned by the blasphemy and ribaldry of their comrades. Sometimes, seated on the body of a wretch who had died in the morning, might be seen a wretch destined to die before night, cursing, singing loose songs, and swallowing usquebaugh to the health of the devil. When the corpses were taken away to be buried the survivors grumbled. A dead man, they said, was a good screen and a good stool. Why, when there was so abundant a supply of such useful articles of furniture, were people to be exposed to the cold air and forced to crouch on the moist ground? 65
Many of the sick were sent by the English vessels which lay off the coast to Belfast, where a great hospital had been prepared. But scarce half of them lived to the end of the voyage. More than one ship lay long in the bay of Carrickfergus heaped with carcasses, and exhaling the stench of death, without a living man on board, 66
The Irish army suffered much less. The kerne of Munster or Connaught was dune as well off in the camp as if he had been in his own mud cabin inhaling the vapours of his own quagmire. He naturally exulted in the distress of the Saxon heretics, and flattered himself that they would be destroyed without a blow. He heard with delight the guns pealing all day over the graves of the English officers, till at length the funerals became too numerous to be celebrated with military pomp, and the mournful sounds were succeeded by a silence more mournful still.
The superiority of force was now so decidedly on the side of James that he could safely venture to detach five regiments from his army, and to send them into Connaught. Sarsfield commanded them. He did not, indeed, stand so high as he deserved in the royal estimation. The King, with an air of intellectual superiority which must have made Avaux and Rosen bite their lips, pronounced him a brave fellow, but very scantily supplied with brains. It was not without great difficulty that the Ambassador prevailed on His Majesty to raise the best officer in the Irish army to the rank of Brigadier. Sarsfield now fully vindicated the favourable opinion which his French patrons had formed of him. He dislodged the English from Sligo; and he effectually secured Galway, which had been in considerable danger, 67
No attack, however, was made on the English entrenchments before Dundalk. In the midst of difficulties and disasters hourly multiplying, the great qualities of Schomberg appeared hourly more and more conspicuous. Not in the full tide of success, not on the field of Montes Claros, not under the walls of Maestricht, had he so well deserved the admiration of mankind. His resolution never gave way. His prudence never slept. His temper, in spite of manifold vexations and provocations, was always cheerful and serene. The effective men under his command, even if all were reckoned as effective who were not stretched on the earth by fever, did not now exceed five thousand. These were hardly equal to their ordinary duty; and yet it was necessary to harass them with double duty. Nevertheless so masterly were the old man’s dispositions that with this small force he faced during several weeks twenty thousand troops who were accompanied by a multitude of armed banditti. At length early in November the Irish dispersed, and went to winter quarters. The Duke then broke up his camp and retired into Ulster. Just as the remains of his army were about to move, a rumour spread that the enemy was approaching in great force. Had this rumour been true, the danger would have been extreme. But the English regiments, though they had been reduced to a third part of their complement, and though the men who were in best health were hardly able to shoulder arms, showed a strange joy and alacrity at the prospect of battle, and swore that the Papists should pay for all the misery of the last month. “We English,” Schomberg said, identifying himself good humouredly with the people of the country which had adopted him, “we English have stomach enough for fighting. It is a pity that we are not as fond of some other parts of a soldier’s business.”
The alarm proved false: the Duke’s army departed unmolested: but the highway along which he retired presented a piteous and hideous spectacle. A long train of waggons laden with the sick jolted over the rugged pavement. At every jolt some wretched man gave up the ghost. The corpse was flung out and left unburied to the foxes and crows. The whole number of those who died, in the camp at Dundalk, in the hospital at Belfast, on the road, and on the sea, amounted to above six thousand. The survivors were quartered for the winter in the towns and villages of Ulster. The general fixed his head quarters at Lisburn, 68
His conduct was variously judged. Wise and candid men said that he had surpassed himself, and that there was no other captain in Europe who, with raw troops, with ignorant officers, with scanty stores, having to contend at once against a hostile army of greatly superior force, against a villanous commissariat, against a nest of traitors in his own camp, and against a disease more murderous than the sword, would have brought the campaign to a close without the loss of a flag or a gun. On the other hand, many of those newly commissioned majors and captains, whose helplessness had increased all his perplexities, and who had not one qualification for their posts except personal courage, grumbled at the skill and patience which had saved them from destruction. Their complaints were echoed on the other side of Saint George’s Channel. Some of the murmuring, though unjust, was excusable. The parents, who had sent a gallant lad, in his first uniform, to fight his way to glory, might be pardoned if, when they learned that he had died on a wisp of straw without medical attendance, and had been buried in a swamp without any Christian or military ceremony, their affliction made them hasty and unreasonable. But with the cry of bereaved families was mingled another cry much less respectable. All the hearers and tellers of news abused the general who furnished them with so little news to hear and to tell. For men of that sort are so greedy after excitement that they far more readily forgive a commander who loses a battle than a commander who declines one. The politicians, who delivered their oracles from the thickest cloud of tobacco smoke at Garroway’s, confidently asked, without knowing any thing, either of war in general, or of Irish war in particular, why Schomberg did not fight. They could not venture to say that he did not understand his calling. No doubt he had been an excellent officer: but he was very old. He seemed to bear his years well: but his faculties were not what they had been: his memory was failing; and it was well known that he sometimes forgot in the afternoon what he had done in the morning. It may be doubted whether there ever existed a human being whose mind was quite as firmly toned at eighty as at forty. But that Schomberg’s intellectual powers had been little impaired by years is sufficiently proved by his despatches, which are still extant, and which are models of official writing, terse, perspicuous, full of important facts and weighty reasons, compressed into the smallest possible number of words. In those despatches he sometimes alluded, not angrily, but with calm disdain, to the censures thrown upon his conduct by shallow babblers, who, never having seen any military operation more important than the relieving of the guard at Whitehall, imagined that the easiest thing in the world was to gain great victories in any situation and against any odds, and by sturdy patriots who were convinced that one English tarter or thresher, who had not yet learned how to load a gun or port a pike, was a match for any five musketeers of King Lewis’s household, 69
Unsatisfactory as had been the results of the campaign in Ireland, the results of the maritime operations of the year were more unsatisfactory still. It had been confidently expected that, on the sea, England, allied with Holland, would have been far more than a match for the power of Lewis: but everything went wrong. Herbert had, after the unimportant skirmish of Bantry Bay, returned with his squadron to Portsmouth. There he found that he had not lost the good opinion either of the public or of the government. The House of Commons thanked him for his services; and he received signal marks of the favour of the Crown. He had not been at the coronation, and had therefore missed his share of the rewards which, at the time of that solemnity, had been distributed among the chief agents in the Revolution. The omission was now repaired; and he was created Earl of Torrington. The King went down to Portsmouth, dined on board of the Admiral’s flag ship, expressed the fullest confidence in the valour and loyalty of the navy, knighted two gallant captains, Cloudesley Shovel and John Ashby, and ordered a donative to be divided among the seamen, 70
We cannot justly blame William for having a high opinion of Torrington. For Torrington was generally regarded as one of the bravest and most skilful officers in the navy. He had been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral of England by James, who, if he understood any thing, understood maritime affairs. That place and other lucrative places Torrington had relinquished when he found that he could retain them only by submitting to be a tool of the Jesuitical cabal. No man had taken a more active, a more hazardous, or a more useful part in effecting the Revolution. It seemed, therefore, that no man had fairer pretensions to be put at the head of the naval administration. Yet no man could be more unfit for such a post. His morals had always been loose, so loose indeed that the firmness with which in the late reign he had adhered to his religion had excited much surprise. His glorious disgrace indeed seemed to have produced a salutary effect on his character. In poverty and exile he rose from a voluptuary into a hero. But, as soon as prosperity returned, the hero sank again into a voluptuary; and the lapse was deep and hopeless. The nerves of his mind, which had been during a short time braced to a firm tone, were now so much relaxed by vice that he was utterly incapable of selfdenial or of strenuous exertion. The vulgar courage of a foremast man he still retained. But both as Admiral and as First Lord of the Admiralty he was utterly inefficient. Month after month the fleet which should have been the terror of the seas lay in harbour while he was diverting himself in London. The sailors, punning upon his new title, gave him the name of Lord Tarry-intown. When he came on shipboard he was accompanied by a bevy of courtesans. There was scarcely an hour of the day or of the night when he was not under the influence of claret. Being insatiable of pleasure, he necessarily became insatiable of wealth. Yet he loved flattery almost as much as either wealth or pleasure. He had long been in the habit of exacting the most abject homage from those who were under his command. His flagship was a little Versailles. He expected his captains to attend him to his cabin when he went to bed, and to assemble every morning at his levee. He even suffered them to dress him. One of them combed his flowing wig; another stood ready with the embroidered coat. Under such a chief there could be no discipline. His tars passed their time in rioting among the rabble of Portsmouth. Those officers who won his favour by servility and adulation easily obtained leave of absence, and spent weeks in London, revelling in taverns, scouring the streets, or making love to the masked ladies in the pit of the theatre. The victuallers soon found out with whom they had to deal, and sent down to the fleet casks of meat which dogs would not touch, and barrels of beer which smelt worse than bilge water. Meanwhile the British Channel seemed to be abandoned to French rovers. Our merchantmen were boarded in sight of the ramparts of Plymouth. The sugar fleet from the West Indies lost seven ships. The whole value of the prizes taken by the cruisers of the enemy in the immediate neighbourhood of our island, while Torrington was engaged with his bottle and his harem, was estimated at six hundred thousand pounds. So difficult was it to obtain the convoy of a man of war, except by giving immense bribes, that our traders were forced to hire the services of Dutch privateers, and found these foreign mercenaries much more useful and much less greedy than the officers of our own royal navy, 71
The only department with which no fault could be found was the department of Foreign Affairs. There William was his own minister; and, where he was his own minister, there were no delays, no blunders, no jobs, no treasons. The difficulties with which he had to contend were indeed great. Even at the Hague he had to encounter an opposition which all his wisdom and firmness could, with the strenuous support of Heinsius, scarcely overcome. The English were not aware that, while they were murmuring at their Sovereign’s partiality for the land of his birth, a strong party in Holland was murmuring at his partiality for the land of his adoption. The Dutch ambassadors at Westminster complained that the terms of alliance which he proposed were derogatory to the dignity and prejudicial to the interests of the republic; that wherever the honour of the English flag was concerned, he was punctilious and obstinate; that he peremptorily insisted on an article which interdicted all trade with France, and which could not but be grievously felt on the Exchange of Amsterdam; that, when they expressed a hope that the Navigation Act would be repealed, he burst out a laughing, and told them that the thing was not to be thought of. He carried all his points; and a solemn contract was made by which England and the Batavian federation bound themselves to stand firmly by each other against France, and not to make peace except by mutual consent. But one of the Dutch plenipotentiaries declared that he was afraid of being one day held up to obloquy as a traitor for conceding so much; and the signature of another plainly appeared to have been traced by a hand shaking with emotion, 72
Meanwhile under William’s skilful management a treaty of alliance had been concluded between the States General and the Emperor. To that treaty Spain and England gave in their adhesion; and thus the four great powers which had long been bound together by a friendly understanding were bound together by a formal contract, 73
But before that formal contract had been signed and sealed, all the contracting parties were in arms. Early in the year 1689 war was raging all over the Continent from the Humus to the Pyrenees. France, attacked at once on every side, made on every side a vigorous defence; and her Turkish allies kept a great German force fully employed in Servia and Bulgaria. On the whole, the results of the military operations of the summer were not unfavourable to the confederates. Beyond the Danube, the Christians, under Prince Lewis of Baden, gained a succession of victories over the Mussulmans. In the passes of Roussillon, the French troops contended without any decisive advantage against the martial peasantry of Catalonia. One German army, led by the Elector of Bavaria, occupied the Archbishopric of Cologne. Another was commanded by Charles, Duke of Lorraine, a sovereign who, driven from his own dominions by the arms of France, had turned soldier of fortune, and had, as such, obtained both distinction and revenge. He marched against the devastators of the Palatinate, forced them to retire behind the Rhine, and, after a long siege, took the important and strongly fortified city of Mentz.
Between the Sambre and the Meuse the French, commanded by Marshal Humieres, were opposed to the Dutch, commanded by the Prince of Waldeck, an officer who had long served the States General with fidelity and ability, though not always with good fortune, and who stood high in the estimation of William. Under Waldeck’s orders was Marlborough, to whom William had confided an English brigade consisting of the best regiments of the old army of James. Second to Marlborough in command, and second also in professional skill, was Thomas Talmash, a brave soldier, destined to a fate never to be mentioned without shame and indignation. Between the army of Waldeck and the army of Humieres no general action took place: but in a succession of combats the advantage was on the side of the confederates. Of these combats the most important took place at Walcourt on the fifth of August. The French attacked an outpost defended by the English brigade, were vigorously repulsed, and were forced to retreat in confusion, abandoning a few field pieces to the conquerors and leaving more than six hundred corpses on the ground. Marlborough, on this as on every similar occasion, acquitted himself like a valiant and skilful captain. The Coldstream Guards commanded by Talmash, and the regiment which is now called the sixteenth of the line, commanded by Colonel Robert Hodges, distinguished themselves highly. The Royal regiment too, which had a few months before set up the standard of rebellion at Ipswich, proved on this day that William, in freely pardoning that great fault, had acted not less wisely than generously. The testimony which Waldeck in his despatch bore to the gallant conduct of the islanders was read with delight by their countrymen. The fight indeed was no more than a skirmish: but it was a sharp and bloody skirmish. There had within living memory been no equally serious encounter between the English and French; and our ancestors were naturally elated by finding that many years of inaction and vassalage did not appear to have enervated the courage of the nation, 74
The Jacobites however discovered in the events of the campaign abundant matter for invective. Marlborough was, not without reason, the object of their bitterest hatred. In his behaviour on a field of battle malice itself could find little to censure: but there were other parts of his conduct which presented a fair mark for obloquy. Avarice is rarely the vice of a young man: it is rarely the vice of a great man: but Marlborough was one of the few who have, in the bloom of youth, loved lucre more than wine or women, and who have, at the height of greatness, loved lucre more than power or fame. All the precious gifts which nature had lavished on him he valued chiefly for what they would fetch. At twenty he made money of his beauty and his vigour. At sixty he made money of his genius and his glory. The applauses which were justly due to his conduct at Walcourt could not altogether drown the voices of those who muttered that, wherever a broad piece was to be saved or got, this hero was a mere Euclio, a mere Harpagon; that, though he drew a large allowance under pretence of keeping a public table, he never asked an officer to dinner; that his muster rolls were fraudulently made up; that he pocketed pay in the names of men who had long been dead, of men who had been killed in his own sight four years before at Sedgemoor; that there were twenty such names in one troop; that there were thirty-six in another. Nothing but the union of dauntless courage and commanding powers of mind with a bland temper and winning manners could have enabled him to gain and keep, in spite of faults eminently unsoldierlike, the good will of his soldiers, 75
About the time at which the contending armies in every part of Europe were going into winter quarters, a new Pontiff ascended the chair of Saint Peter. Innocent the Eleventh was no more. His fate had been strange indeed. His conscientious and fervent attachment to the Church of which he was the head had induced him, at one of the most critical conjunctures in her history, to ally herself with her mortal enemies. The news of his decease was received with concern and alarm by Protestant princes and commonwealths, and with joy and hope at Versailles and Dublin. An extraordinary ambassador of high rank was instantly despatched by Lewis to Rome. The French garrison which had been placed in Avignon was withdrawn. When the votes of the Conclave had been united in favour of Peter Ottobuoni, an ancient Cardinal who assumed the appellation of Alexander the Eighth, the representative of France assisted at the installation, bore up the cope of the new Pontiff, and put into the hands of His Holiness a letter in which the most Christian King declared that he renounced the odious privilege of protecting robbers and assassins. Alexander pressed the letter to his lips, embraced the bearer, and talked with rapture of the near prospect of reconciliation. Lewis began to entertain a hope that the influence of the Vatican might be exerted to dissolve the alliance between the House of Austria and the heretical usurper of the English throne. James was even more sanguine. He was foolish enough to expect that the new Pope would give him money, and ordered Melfort, who had now acquitted himself of his mission at Versailles, to hasten to Rome, and beg His Holiness to contribute something towards the good work of upholding pure religion in the British islands. But it soon appeared that Alexander, though he might hold language different from that of his predecessor, was determined to follow in essentials his predecessor’s policy. The original cause of the quarrel between the Holy See and Lewis was not removed. The King continued to appoint prelates: the Pope continued to refuse their institution: and the consequence was that a fourth part of the dioceses of France had bishops who were incapable of performing any episcopal function, 76
The Anglican Church was, at this time, not less distracted than the Gallican Church. The first of August had been fixed by Act of Parliament as the day before the close of which all beneficed clergymen and all persons holding academical offices must, on pain of suspension, swear allegiance to William and Mary. During the earlier part of the summer, the Jacobites hoped that the number of nonjurors would be so considerable as seriously to alarm and embarrass the Government. But this hope was disappointed. Few indeed of the clergy were Whigs. Few were Tories of that moderate school which acknowledged, reluctantly and with reserve, that extreme abuses might sometimes justify a nation in resorting to extreme remedies. The great majority of the profession still held the doctrine of passive obedience: but that majority was now divided into two sections. A question, which, before the Revolution, had been mere matter of speculation, and had therefore, though sometimes incidentally raised, been, by most persons, very superficially considered, had now become practically most important. The doctrine of passive obedience being taken for granted, to whom was that obedience due? While the hereditary right and the possession were conjoined, there was no room for doubt: but the hereditary right and the possession were now separated. One prince, raised by the Revolution, was reigning at Westminster, passing laws, appointing magistrates and prelates, sending forth armies and fleets. His judges decided causes. His Sheriffs arrested debtors and executed criminals. Justice, order, property, would cease to exist, and society would be resolved into chaos, but for his Great Seal. Another prince, deposed by the Revolution, was living abroad. He could exercise none of the powers and perform none of the duties of a ruler, and could, as it seemed, be restored only by means as violent as those by which he had been displaced, to which of these two princes did Christian men owe allegiance?
To a large part of the clergy it appeared that the plain letter of Scripture required them to submit to the Sovereign who was in possession, without troubling themselves about his title. The powers which the Apostle, in the text most familiar to the Anglican divines of that age, pronounces to be ordained of God, are not the powers that can be traced back to a legitimate origin, but the powers that be. When Jesus was asked whether the chosen people might lawfully give tribute to Caesar, he replied by asking the questioners, not whether Caesar could make out a pedigree derived from the old royal house of Judah, but whether the coin which they scrupled to pay into Caesar’s treasury came from Caesar’s mint, in other words, whether Caesar actually possessed the authority and performed the functions of a ruler.
It is generally held, with much appearance of reason, that the most trustworthy comment on the text of the Gospels and Epistles is to be found in the practice of the primitive Christians, when that practice can be satisfactorily ascertained; and it so happened that the times during which the Church is universally acknowledged to have been in the highest state of purity were times of frequent and violent political change. One at least of the Apostles appears to have lived to see four Emperors pulled down in little more than a year. Of the martyrs of the third century a great proportion must have been able to remember ten or twelve revolutions. Those martyrs must have had occasion often to consider what was their duty towards a prince just raised to power by a successful insurrection. That they were, one and all, deterred by the fear of punishment from doing what they thought right, is an imputation which no candid infidel would throw on them. Yet, if there be any proposition which can with perfect confidence be affirmed touching the early Christians, it is this, that they never once refused obedience to any actual ruler on account of the illegitimacy of his title. At one time, indeed, the supreme power was claimed by twenty or thirty competitors. Every province from Britain to Egypt had its own Augustus. All these pretenders could not be rightful Emperors. Yet it does not appear that, in any place, the faithful had any scruple about submitting to the person who, in that place, exercised the imperial functions. While the Christian of Rome obeyed Aurelian, the Christian of Lyons obeyed Tetricus, and the Christian of Palmyra obeyed Zenobia. “Day and night,” such were the words which the great Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, addressed to the representative of Valerian and Gallienus — “day and night do we Christians pray to the one true God for the safety of our Emperors.” Yet those Emperors had a few months before pulled down their predecessor Aemilianus, who had pulled down his predecessor Gallus, who had climbed to power on the ruins of the house of his predecessor Decius, who had slain his predecessor Philip, who had slain his predecessor Gordian. Was it possible to believe that a saint, who had, in the short space of thirteen or fourteen years, borne true allegiance to this series of rebels and regicides, would have made a schism in the Christian body rather than acknowledge King William and Queen Mary? A hundred times those Anglican divines who had taken the oaths challenged their more scrupulous brethren to cite a single instance in which the primitive Church had refused obedience to a successful usurper; and a hundred times the challenge was evaded. The nonjurors had little to say on this head, except that precedents were of no force when opposed to principles, a proposition which came with but a bad grace from a school which had always professed an almost superstitious reverence for the authority of the Fathers, 77
To precedents drawn from later and more corrupt times little respect was due. But, even in the history of later and more corrupt times, the nonjurors could not easily find any precedent that would serve their purpose. In our own country many Kings, who had not the hereditary right, had filled the throne but it had never been thought inconsistent with the duty of a Christian to be a true liegeman to such Kings. The usurpation of Henry the Fourth, the more odious usurpation of Richard the Third, had produced no schism in the Church. As soon as the usurper was firm in his seat, Bishops had done homage to him for their domains: Convocations had presented addresses to him, and granted him supplies; nor had any casuist ever pronounced that such submission to a prince in possession was deadly sin, 78
With the practice of the whole Christian world the authoritative teaching of the Church of England appeared to be in strict harmony. The Homily on Wilful Rebellion, a discourse which inculcates, in unmeasured terms, the duty of obeying rulers, speaks of none but actual rulers. Nay, the people are distinctly told in that Homily that they are bound to obey, not only their legitimate prince, but any usurper whom God shall in anger set over them for their sins. And surely it would be the height of absurdity to say that we must accept submissively such usurpers as God sends in anger, but must pertinaciously withhold our obedience from usurpers whom He sends in mercy. Grant that it was a crime to invite the Prince of Orange over, a crime to join him, a crime to make him King; yet what was the whole history of the Jewish nation and of the Christian Church but a record of cases in which Providence had brought good out of evil? And what theologian would assert that, in such cases, we ought, from abhorrence of the evil, to reject the good?
On these grounds a large body of divines, still asserting the doctrine that to resist the Sovereign must always be sinful, conceived that William was now the Sovereign whom it would be sinful to resist.
To these arguments the nonjurors replied that Saint Paul must have meant by the powers that be the rightful powers that be; and that to put any other interpretation on his words would be to outrage common sense, to dishonour religion, to give scandal to weak believers, to give an occasion of triumph to scoffers. The feelings of all mankind must be shocked by the proposition that, as soon as a King, however clear his title, however wise and good his administration, is expelled by traitors, all his servants are bound to abandon him, and to range themselves on the side of his enemies. In all ages and nations, fidelity to a good cause in adversity had been regarded as a virtue. In all ages and nations, the politician whose practice was always to be on the side which was uppermost had been despised. This new Toryism was worse than Whiggism. To break through the ties of allegiance because the Sovereign was a tyrant was doubtless a very great sin: but it was a sin for which specious names and pretexts might be found, and into which a brave and generous man, not instructed in divine truth and guarded by divine grace, might easily fall. But to break through the ties of allegiance, merely because the Sovereign was unfortunate, was not only wicked, but dirty. Could any unbeliever offer a greater insult to the Scriptures than by asserting that the Scriptures had enjoined on Christians as a sacred duty what the light of nature had taught heathens to regard as the last excess of baseness? In the Scriptures was to be found the history of a King of Israel, driven from his palace by an unnatural son, and compelled to fly beyond Jordan. David, like James, had the right: Absalom, like William, had the possession. Would any student of the sacred writings dare to affirm that the conduct of Shimei on that occasion was proposed as a pattern to be imitated, and that Barzillai, who loyally adhered to his fugitive master, was resisting the ordinance of God, and receiving to himself damnation? Would any true son of the Church of England seriously affirm that a man who was a strenuous royalist till after the battle of Naseby, who then went over to the Parliament, who, as soon as the Parliament had been purged, became an obsequious servant of the Rump, and who, as soon as the Rump had been ejected, professed himself a faithful subject of the Protector, was more deserving of the respect of Christian men than the stout old Cavalier who bore true fealty to Charles the First in prison and to Charles the Second in exile, and who was ready to put lands, liberty, life, in peril, rather than acknowledge, by word or act, the authority of any of the upstart governments which, during that evil time, obtained possession of a power not legitimately theirs? And what distinction was there between that case and the case which had now arisen? That Cromwell had actually enjoyed as much power as William, nay much more power than William, was quite certain. That the power of William, as well as the power of Cromwell, had an illegitimate origin, no divine who held the doctrine of nonresistance would dispute. How then was it possible for such a divine to deny that obedience had been due to Cromwell, and yet to affirm that it was due to William? To suppose that there could be such inconsistency without dishonesty would be not charity but weakness. Those who were determined to comply with the Act of Parliament would do better to speak out, and to say, what every body knew, that they complied simply to save their benefices. The motive was no doubt strong. That a clergyman who was a husband and a father should look forward with dread to the first of August and the first of February was natural. But he would do well to remember that, however terrible might be the day of suspension and the day of deprivation, there would assuredly come two other days more terrible still, the day of death and the day of judgment, 79
The swearing clergy, as they were called, were not a little perplexed by this reasoning. Nothing embarrassed them more than the analogy which the nonjurors were never weary of pointing out between the usurpation of Cromwell and the usurpation of William. For there was in that age no High Churchman who would not have thought himself reduced to an absurdity if he had been reduced to the necessity of saying that the Church had commanded her sons to obey Cromwell. And yet it was impossible to prove that William was more fully in possession of supreme power than Cromwell had been. The swearers therefore avoided coming to close quarters with the nonjurors on this point as carefully as the nonjurors avoided coming to close quarters with the swearers on the question touching the practice of the primitive Church.
The truth is that the theory of government which had long been taught by the clergy was so absurd that it could lead to nothing but absurdity. Whether the priest who adhered to that theory swore or refused to swear, he was alike unable to give a rational explanation of his conduct. If he swore, he could vindicate his swearing only by laying down propositions against which every honest heart instinctively revolts, only by proclaiming that Christ had commanded the Church to desert the righteous cause as soon as that cause ceased to prosper, and to strengthen the hands of successful villany against afflicted virtue. And yet, strong as were the objections to this doctrine, the objections to the doctrine of the nonjuror were, if possible, stronger still. According to him, a Christian nation ought always to be in a state of slavery or in a state of anarchy. Something is to be said for the man who sacrifices liberty to preserve order. Something is to be said for the man who sacrifices order to preserve liberty. For liberty and order are two of the greatest blessings which a society can enjoy: and, when unfortunately they appear to be incompatible, much indulgence is due to those who take either side. But the nonjuror sacrificed, not liberty to order, not order to liberty, but both liberty and order to a superstition as stupid and degrading as the Egyptian worship of cats and onions. While a particular person, differing from other persons by the mere accident of birth, was on the throne, though he might be a Nero, there was to be no insubordination. When any other person was on the throne, though he might be an Alfred, there was to be no obedience. It mattered not how frantic and wicked might be the administration of the dynasty which had the hereditary title, or how wise and virtuous might be the administration of a government sprung from a revolution. Nor could any time of limitation be pleaded against the claim of the expelled family. The lapse of years, the lapse of ages, made no change. To the end of the world, Christians were to regulate their political conduct simply according to the genealogy of their ruler. The year 1800, the year 1900, might find princes who derived their title from the votes of the Convention reigning in peace and prosperity. No matter: they would still be usurpers; and, if, in the twentieth or twenty-first century, any person who could make out a better right by blood to the crown should call on a late posterity to acknowledge him as King, the call must be obeyed on peril of eternal perdition.
A Whig might well enjoy the thought that the controversies which had arisen among his adversaries had established the soundness of his own political creed. The disputants who had long agreed in accusing him of an impious error had now effectually vindicated him, and refuted one another. The High Churchman who took the oaths had shown by irrefragable arguments from the Gospels and the Epistles, from the uniform practice of the primitive Church, and from the explicit declarations of the Anglican Church, that Christians were not in all cases bound to pay obedience to the prince who had the hereditary title. The High Churchman who would not take the oaths had shown as satisfactorily that Christians were not in all cases bound to pay obedience to the prince who was actually reigning. It followed that, to entitle a government to the allegiance of subjects, something was necessary different from mere legitimacy, and different also from mere possession. What that something was the Whigs had no difficulty in pronouncing. In their view, the end for which all governments had been instituted was the happiness of society. While the magistrate was, on the whole, notwithstanding some faults, a minister for good, Reason taught mankind to obey him; and Religion, giving her solemn sanction to the teaching of Reason, commanded mankind to revere him as divinely commissioned. But if he proved to be a minister for evil, on what grounds was he to be considered as divinely commissioned? The Tories who swore had proved that he ought not to be so considered on account of the origin of his power: the Tories who would not swear had proved as clearly that he ought not to be so considered on account of the existence of his power.
Some violent and acrimonious Whigs triumphed ostentatiously and with merciless insolence over the perplexed and divided priesthood. The nonjuror they generally affected to regard with contemptuous pity as a dull and perverse, but sincere, bigot, whose absurd practice was in harmony with his absurd theory, and who might plead, in excuse for the infatuation which impelled him to ruin his country, that the same infatuation had impelled him to ruin himself. They reserved their sharpest taunts for those divines who, having, in the days of the Exclusion Bill and the Rye House Plot, been distinguished by zeal for the divine and indefeasible right of the hereditary Sovereign, were now ready to swear fealty to an usurper. Was this then the real sense of all those sublime phrases which had resounded during twenty-nine years from innumerable pulpits? Had the thousands of clergymen, who had so loudly boasted of the unchangeable loyalty of their order, really meant only that their loyalty would remain unchangeable till the next change of fortune? It was idle, it was impudent in them to pretend that their present conduct was consistent with their former language. If any Reverend Doctor had at length been convinced that he had been in the wrong, he surely ought, by an open recantation, to make all the amends now possible to the persecuted, the calumniated, the murdered defenders of liberty. If he was still convinced that his old opinions were sound, he ought manfully to cast in his lot with the nonjurors. Respect, it was said, is due to him who ingenuously confesses an error; respect is due to him who courageously suffers for an error; but it is difficult to respect a minister of religion who, while asserting that he still adheres to the principles of the Tories, saves his benefice by taking an oath which can be honestly taken only on the principles of the Whigs.
These reproaches, though perhaps not altogether unjust, were unseasonable. The wiser and more moderate Whigs, sensible that the throne of William could not stand firm if it had not a wider basis than their own party, abstained at this conjuncture from sneers and invectives, and exerted themselves to remove the scruples and to soothe the irritated feelings of the clergy. The collective power of the rectors and vicars of England was immense: and it was much better that they should swear for the most flimsy reason that could be devised by a sophist than they should not swear at all.
It soon became clear that the arguments for swearing, backed as they were by some of the strongest motives which can influence the human mind, had prevailed. Above twenty-nine thirtieths of the profession submitted to the law. Most of the divines of the capital, who then formed a separate class, and who were as much distinguished from the rural clergy by liberality of sentiment as by eloquence and learning, gave in their adhesion to the government early, and with every sign of cordial attachment. Eighty of them repaired together, in full term, to Westminster Hall, and were there sworn. The ceremony occupied so long a time that little else was done that day in the Courts of Chancery and King’s Bench, 80 But in general the compliance was tardy, sad and sullen. Many, no doubt, deliberately sacrificed principle to interest. Conscience told them that they were committing a sin. But they had not fortitude to resign the parsonage, the garden, the glebe, and to go forth without knowing where to find a meal or a roof for themselves and their little ones. Many swore with doubts and misgivings, 81 Some declared, at the moment of taking the oath, that they did not mean to promise that they would not submit to James, if he should ever be in a condition to demand their allegiance, 82 Some clergymen in the north were, on the first of August, going in a company to swear, when they were met on the road by the news of the battle which had been fought, four days before, in the pass of Killiecrankie. They immediately turned back, and did not again leave their homes on the same errand till it was clear that Dundee’s victory had made no change in the state of public affairs, 83 Even of those whose understandings were fully convinced that obedience was due to the existing government, very few kissed the book with the heartiness with which they had formerly plighted their faith to Charles and James. Still the thing was done. Ten thousand clergymen had solemnly called heaven to attest their promise that they would be true liegemen to William; and this promise, though it by no means warranted him in expecting that they would strenuously support him, had at least deprived them of a great part of their power to injure him. They could not, without entirely forfeiting that public respect on which their influence depended, attack, except in an indirect and timidly cautious manner, the throne of one whom they had, in the presence of God, vowed to obey as their King. Some of them, it is true, affected to read the prayers for the new Sovereigns in a peculiar tone which could not be misunderstood, 84 Others were guilty of still grosser indecency. Thus, one wretch, just after praying for William and Mary in the most solemn office of religion, took off a glass to their damnation. Another, after performing divine service on a fast day appointed by their authority, dined on a pigeon pie, and while he cut it up, uttered a wish that it was the usurper’s heart. But such audacious wickedness was doubtless rare and was rather injurious to the Church than to the government, 85
Those clergymen and members of the Universities who incurred the penalties of the law were about four hundred in number. Foremost in rank stood the Primate and six of his suffragans, Turner of Ely, Lloyd of Norwich, Frampton of Gloucester, Lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Ken of Bath and Wells. Thomas of Worcester would have made a seventh: but he died three weeks before the day of suspension. On his deathbed he adjured his clergy to be true to the cause of hereditary right, and declared that those divines who tried to make out that the oaths might be taken without any departure from the loyal doctrines of the Church of England seemed to him to reason more jesuitically than the Jesuits themselves, 86
Ken, who, both in intellectual and in moral qualities, ranked highest among the nonjuring prelates, hesitated long. There were few clergymen who could have submitted to the new government with a better grace. For, in the times when nonresistance and passive obedience were the favourite themes of his brethren, he had scarcely ever alluded to politics in the pulpit. He owned that the arguments in favour of swearing were very strong. He went indeed so far as to say that his scruples would be completely removed if he could be convinced that James had entered into engagements for ceding Ireland to the French King. It is evident therefore that the difference between Ken and the Whigs was not a difference of principle. He thought, with them, that misgovernment, carried to a certain point, justified a transfer of allegiance, and doubted only whether the misgovernment of James had been carried quite to that point. Nay, the good Bishop actually began to prepare a pastoral letter explaining his reasons for taking the oaths. But, before it was finished, he received information which convinced him that Ireland had not been made over to France: doubts came thick upon him: he threw his unfinished letter into the fire, and implored his less scrupulous friends not to urge him further. He was sure, he said, that they had acted uprightly: he was glad that they could do with a clear conscience what he shrank from doing: he felt the force of their reasoning: he was all but persuaded; and he was afraid to listen longer lest he should be quite persuaded: for, if he should comply, and his misgivings should afterwards return, he should be the most miserable of men. Not for wealth, not for a palace, not for a peerage, would he run the smallest risk of ever feeling the torments of remorse. It is a curious fact that, of the seven nonjuring prelates, the only one whose name carries with it much weight was on the point of swearing, and was prevented from doing so, as he himself acknowledged, not by the force of reason, but by a morbid scrupulosity which he did not advise others to imitate, 87
Among the priests who refused the oaths were some men eminent in the learned world, as grammarians, chronologists, canonists, and antiquaries, and a very few who were distinguished by wit and eloquence: but scarcely one can be named who was qualified to discuss any large question of morals or politics, scarcely one whose writings do not indicate either extreme feebleness or extreme flightiness of mind. Those who distrust the judgment of a Whig on this point will probably allow some weight to the opinion which was expressed, many years after the Revolution, by a philosopher of whom the Tories are justly proud. Johnson, after passing in review the celebrated divines who had thought it sinful to swear allegiance to William the Third and George the First, pronounced that, in the whole body of nonjurors, there was one, and one only, who could reason, 88
The nonjuror in whose favour Johnson made this exception was Charles Leslie. Leslie had, before the Revolution, been Chancellor of the diocese of Connor in Ireland. He had been forward in opposition to Tyrconnel; had, as a justice of the peace for Monaghan, refused to acknowledge a papist as Sheriff of that county; and had been so courageous as to send some officers of the Irish army to prison for marauding. But the doctrine of nonresistance, such as it had been taught by Anglican divines in the days of the Rye House Plot, was immovably fixed in his mind. When the state of Ulster became such that a Protestant who remained there could hardly avoid being either a rebel or a martyr, Leslie fled to London. His abilities and his connections were such that he might easily have obtained high preferment in the Church of England. But he took his place in the front rank of the Jacobite body, and remained there stedfastly, through all the dangers and vicissitudes of three and thirty troubled years. Though constantly engaged in theological controversy with Deists, Jews, Socinians, Presbyterians, Papists, and Quakers, he found time to be one of the most voluminous political writers of his age. Of all the nonjuring clergy he was the best qualified to discuss constitutional questions. For, before he had taken orders, he had resided long in the Temple, and had been studying English history and law, while most of the other chiefs of the schism had been poring over the Acts of Chalcedon, or seeking for wisdom in the Targurn of Onkelos, 89 In 1689, however, Leslie was almost unknown in England. Among the divines who incurred suspension on the first of August in that year, the highest in popular estimation was without dispute Doctor William Sherlock. Perhaps no simple presbyter of the Church of England has ever possessed a greater authority over his brethren than belonged to Sherlock at the time of the Revolution. He was not of the first rank among his contemporaries as a scholar, as a preacher, as a writer on theology, or as a writer on politics: but in all the four characters he had distinguished himself. The perspicuity and liveliness of his style have been praised by Prior and Addison. The facility and assiduity with which he wrote are sufficiently proved by the bulk and the dates of his works. There were indeed among the clergy men of brighter genius and men of wider attainments: but during a long period there was none who more completely represented the order, none who, on all subjects, spoke more precisely the sense of the Anglican priesthood, without any taint of Latitudinarianism, of Puritanism, or of Popery. He had, in the days of the Exclusion Bill, when the power of the dissenters was very great in Parliament and in the country, written strongly against the sin of nonconformity. When the Rye House Plot was detected, he had zealously defended by tongue and pen the doctrine of nonresistance. His services to the cause of episcopacy and monarchy were so highly valued that he was made master of the Temple. A pension was also bestowed on him by Charles: but that pension James soon took away; for Sherlock, though he held himself bound to pay passive obedience to the civil power, held himself equally bound to combat religious errors, and was the keenest and most laborious of that host of controversialists who, in the day of peril, manfully defended the Protestant faith. In little more than two years he published sixteen treatises, some of them large books, against the high pretensions of Rome. Not content with the easy victories which he gained over such feeble antagonists as those who were quartered at Clerkenwell and the Savoy, he had the courage to measure his strength with no less a champion than Bossuet, and came out of the conflict without discredit. Nevertheless Sherlock still continued to maintain that no oppression could justify Christians in resisting the kingly authority. When the Convention was about to meet, he strongly recommended, in a tract which was considered as the manifesto of a large part of the clergy, that James should be invited to return on such conditions as might secure the laws and religion of the nation, 90 The vote which placed William and Mary on the throne filled Sherlock with sorrow and anger. He is said to have exclaimed that if the Convention was determined on a revolution, the clergy would find forty thousand good Churchmen to effect a restoration, 91 Against the new oaths he gave his opinion plainly and warmly. He declared himself at a loss to understand how any honest man could doubt that, by the powers that be, Saint Paul meant legitimate powers and no others. No name was in 1689 cited by the Jacobites so proudly and fondly as that of Sherlock. Before the end of 1690 that name excited very different feelings.
A few other nonjurors ought to be particularly noticed. High among them in rank was George Hickes, Dean of Worcester. Of all the Englishmen of his time he was the most versed in the old Teutonic languages; and his knowledge of the early Christian literature was extensive. As to his capacity for political discussions, it may be sufficient to say that his favourite argument for passive obedience was drawn from the story of the Theban legion. He was the younger brother of that unfortunate John Hickes who had been found hidden in the malthouse of Alice Lisle. James had, in spite of all solicitation, put both John Hickes and Alice Lisle to death. Persons who did not know the strength of the Dean’s principles thought that he might possibly feel some resentment on this account: for he was of no gentle or forgiving temper, and could retain during many years a bitter remembrance of small injuries. But he was strong in his religious and political faith: he reflected that the sufferers were dissenters; and he submitted to the will of the Lord’s Anointed not only with patience but with complacency. He became indeed a more loving subject than ever from the time when his brother was hanged and his brother’s benefactress beheaded. While almost all other clergymen, appalled by the Declaration of Indulgence and by the proceedings of the High Commission, were beginning to think that they had pushed the doctrine of nonresistance a little too far, he was writing a vindication of his darling legend, and trying to convince the troops at Hounslow that, if James should be pleased to massacre them all, as Maximian had massacred the Theban legion, for refusing to commit idolatry, it would be their duty to pile their arms, and meekly to receive the crown of martyrdom. To do Hickes justice, his whole conduct after the Revolution proved that his servility had sprung neither from fear nor from cupidity, but from mere bigotry, 92
Jeremy Collier, who was turned out of the preachership of the Rolls, was a man of a much higher order. He is well entitled to grateful and respectful mention: for to his eloquence and courage is to be chiefly ascribed the purification of our lighter literature from that foul taint which had been contracted during the Antipuritan reaction. He was, in the full force of the words, a good man. He was also a man of eminent abilities, a great master of sarcasm, a great master of rhetoric, 93 His reading, too, though undigested, was of immense extent. But his mind was narrow: his reasoning, even when he was so fortunate as to have a good cause to defend, was singularly futile and inconclusive; and his brain was almost turned by pride, not personal, but professional. In his view, a priest was the highest of human beings, except a bishop. Reverence and submission were due from the best and greatest of the laity to the least respectable of the clergy. However ridiculous a man in holy orders might make himself, it was impiety to laugh at him. So nervously sensitive indeed was Collier on this point that he thought it profane to throw any reflection even on the ministers of false religions. He laid it down as a rule that Muftis and Augurs ought always to be mentioned with respect. He blamed Dryden for sneering at the Hierophants of Apis. He praised Racine for giving dignity to the character of a priest of Baal. He praised Corneille for not bringing that learned and reverend divine Tiresias on the stage in the tragedy of Oedipus. The omission, Collier owned, spoiled the dramatic effect of the piece: but the holy function was much too solemn to be played with. Nay, incredible as it may seem, he thought it improper in the laity to sneer at Presbyterian preachers. Indeed his Jacobitism was little more than one of the forms in which his zeal for the dignity of his profession manifested itself. He abhorred the Revolution less as a rising up of subjects against their King than as a rising up of the laity against the sacerdotal caste. The doctrines which had been proclaimed from the pulpit during thirty years had been treated with contempt by the Convention. A new government had been set up in opposition to the wishes of the spiritual peers in the House of Lords and of the priesthood throughout the country. A secular assembly had taken upon itself to pass a law requiring archbishops and bishops, rectors and vicars, to abjure; on pain of deprivation, what they had been teaching all their lives. Whatever meaner spirits might do, Collier was determined not to be led in triumph by the victorious enemies of his order. To the last he would confront, with the authoritative port of an ambassador of heaven, the anger of the powers and principalities of the earth.
In parts Collier was the first man among the nonjurors. In erudition the first place must be assigned to Henry Dodwell, who, for the unpardonable crime of having a small estate in Mayo, had been attainted by the Popish Parliament at Dublin. He was Camdenian Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford, and had already acquired considerable celebrity by chronological and geographical researches: but, though he never could be persuaded to take orders, theology was his favourite study. He was doubtless a pious and sincere man. He had perused innumerable volumes in various languages, and had indeed acquired more learning than his slender faculties were able to bear. The small intellectual spark which he possessed was put out by the fuel. Some of his books seem to have been written in a madhouse, and, though filled with proofs of his immense reading, degrade him to the level of James Naylor and Ludowick Muggleton. He began a dissertation intended to prove that the law of nations was a divine revelation made to the family which was preserved in the ark. He published a treatise in which he maintained that a marriage between a member of the Church of England and a dissenter was a nullity, and that the couple were, in the sight of heaven, guilty of adultery. He defended the use of instrumental music in public worship on the ground that the notes of the organ had a power to counteract the influence of devils on the spinal marrow of human beings. In his treatise on this subject, he remarked that there was high authority for the opinion that the spinal marrow, when decomposed, became a serpent. Whether this opinion were or were not correct, he thought it unnecessary to decide. Perhaps, he said, the eminent men in whose works it was found had meant only to express figuratively the great truth, that the Old Serpent operates on us chiefly through the spinal marrow, 94 Dodwell’s speculations on the state of human beings after death are, if possible, more extraordinary still. He tells us that our souls are naturally mortal. Annihilation is the fate of the greater part of mankind, of heathens, of Mahometans, of unchristened babes. The gift of immortality is conveyed in the sacrament of baptism: but to the efficacy of the sacrament it is absolutely necessary that the water be poured and the words pronounced by a priest who has been ordained by a bishop. In the natural course of things, therefore, all Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers would, like the inferior animals, cease to exist. But Dodwell was far too good a churchman to let off dissenters so easily. He informs them that, as they have had an opportunity of hearing the gospel preached, and might, but for their own perverseness, have received episcopalian baptism, God will, by an extraordinary act of power, bestow immortality on them in order that they may be tormented for ever and ever, 95
No man abhorred the growing latitudinarianism of those times more than Dodwell. Yet no man had more reason to rejoice in it. For, in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, a speculator who had dared to affirm that the human soul is by its nature mortal, and does, in the great majority of cases, actually die with the body, would have been burned alive in Smithfield. Even in days which Dodwell could well remember, such heretics as himself would have been thought fortunate if they escaped with life, their backs flayed, their ears clipped, their noses slit, their tongues bored through with red hot iron, and their eyes knocked out with brickbats. With the nonjurors, however, the author of this theory was still the great Mr. Dodwell; and some, who thought it culpable lenity to tolerate a Presbyterian meeting, thought it at the same time gross illiberality to blame a learned and pious Jacobite for denying a doctrine so utterly unimportant in a religious point of view as that of the immortality of the soul, 96
Two other nonjurors deserve special mention, less on account of their abilities and learning, than on account of their rare integrity, and of their not less rare candour. These were John Kettlewell, Rector of Coleshill, and John Fitzwilliam, Canon of Windsor. It is remarkable that both these men had seen much of Lord Russell, and that both, though differing from him in political opinions, and strongly disapproving the part which he had taken in the Whig plot, had thought highly of his character, and had been sincere mourners for his death. He had sent to Kettlewell an affectionate message from the scaffold in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Lady Russell, to her latest day, loved, trusted, and revered Fitzwilliam, who, when she was a girl, had been the friend of her father, the virtuous Southampton. The two clergymen agreed in refusing to swear: but they, from that moment, took different paths. Kettlewell was one of the most active members of his party: he declined no drudgery in the common cause, provided only that it were such drudgery as did not misbecome an honest man; and he defended his opinions in several tracts, which give a much higher notion of his sincerity than of his judgment or acuteness, 97 Fitzwilliam thought that he had done enough in quitting his pleasant dwelling and garden under the shadow of Saint George’s Chapel, and in betaking himself with his books to a small lodging in an attic. He could not with a safe conscience acknowledge William and Mary: but he did not conceive that he was bound to be always stirring up sedition against them; and he passed the last years of his life, under the powerful protection of the House of Bedford, in innocent and studious repose, 98
Among the less distinguished divines who forfeited their benefices, were doubtless many good men: but it is certain that the moral character of the nonjurors, as a class, did not stand high. It seems hard to impute laxity of principle to persons who undoubtedly made a great sacrifice to principle. And yet experience abundantly proves that many who are capable of making a great sacrifice, when their blood is heated by conflict, and when the public eye is fixed upon them, are not capable of persevering long in the daily practice of obscure virtues. It is by no means improbable that zealots may have given their lives for a religion which had never effectually restrained their vindictive or their licentious passions. We learn indeed from fathers of the highest authority that, even in the purest ages of the Church, some confessors, who had manfully refused to save themselves from torments and death by throwing frankincense on the altar of Jupiter, afterwards brought scandal on the Christian name by gross fraud and debauchery, 99 For the nonjuring divines great allowance must in fairness be made. They were doubtless in a most trying situation. In general, a schism, which divides a religious community, divides the laity as well as the clergy. The seceding pastors therefore carry with them a large part of their flocks, and are consequently assured of a maintenance. But the schism of 1689 scarcely extended beyond the clergy. The law required the rector to take the oaths, or to quit his living: but no oath, no acknowledgment of the title of the new King and Queen, was required from the parishioner as a qualification for attending divine service, or for receiving the Eucharist. Not one in fifty, therefore, of those laymen who disapproved of the Revolution thought himself bound to quit his pew in the old church, where the old liturgy was still read, and where the old vestments were still worn, and to follow the ejected priest to a conventicle, a conventicle, too, which was not protected by the Toleration Act. Thus the new sect was a sect of preachers without hearers; and such preachers could not make a livelihood by preaching. In London, indeed, and in some other large towns, those vehement Jacobites, whom nothing would satisfy but to hear King James and the Prince of Wales prayed for by name, were sufficiently numerous to make up a few small congregations, which met secretly, and under constant fear of the constables, in rooms so mean that the meeting houses of the Puritan dissenters might by comparison be called palaces. Even Collier, who had all the qualities which attract large audiences, was reduced to be the minister of a little knot of malecontents, whose oratory was on a second floor in the city. But the nonjuring clergymen who were able to obtain even a pittance by officiating at such places were very few. Of the rest some had independent means: some lived by literature: one or two practised physic. Thomas Wagstaffe, for example, who had been Chancellor of Lichfield, had many patients, and made himself conspicuous by always visiting them in full canonicals, 100 But these were exceptions. Industrious poverty is a state by no means unfavourable to virtue: but it is dangerous to be at once poor and idle; and most of the clergymen who had refused to swear found themselves thrown on the world with nothing to eat and with nothing to do. They naturally became beggars and loungers. Considering themselves as martyrs suffering in a public cause, they were not ashamed to ask any good churchman for a guinea. Most of them passed their lives in running about from one Tory coffeehouse to another, abusing the Dutch, hearing and spreading reports that within a month His Majesty would certainly be on English ground, and wondering who would have Salisbury when Burnet was hanged. During the session of Parliament the lobbies and the Court of Requests were crowded with deprived parsons, asking who was up, and what the numbers were on the last division. Many of the ejected divines became domesticated, as chaplains, tutors and spiritual directors, in the houses of opulent Jacobites. In a situation of this kind, a man of pure and exalted character, such a man as Ken was among the nonjurors, and Watts among the nonconformists, may preserve his dignity, and may much more than repay by his example and his instructions the benefits which he receives. But to a person whose virtue is not high toned this way of life is full of peril. If he is of a quiet disposition, he is in danger of sinking into a servile, sensual, drowsy parasite. If he is of an active and aspiring nature, it may be feared that he will become expert in those bad arts by which, more easily than by faithful service, retainers make themselves agreeable or formidable. To discover the weak side of every character, to flatter every passion and prejudice, to sow discord and jealousy where love and confidence ought to exist, to watch the moment of indiscreet openness for the purpose of extracting secrets important to the prosperity and honour of families, such are the practices by which keen and restless spirits have too often avenged themselves for the humiliation of dependence. The public voice loudly accused many nonjurors of requiting the hospitality of their benefactors with villany as black as that of the hypocrite depicted in the masterpiece of Moliere. Indeed, when Cibber undertook to adapt that noble comedy to the English stage, he made his Tartuffe a nonjuror: and Johnson, who cannot be supposed to have been prejudiced against the nonjurors, frankly owned that Cibber had done them no wrong, 101
There can be no doubt that the schism caused by the oaths would have been far more formidable, if, at this crisis, any extensive change had been made in the government or in the ceremonial of the Established Church. It is a highly instructive fact that those enlightened and tolerant divines who most ardently desired such a change afterwards saw reason to be thankful that their favourite project had failed.
Whigs and Tories had in the late Session combined to get rid of Nottingham’s Comprehension Bill by voting an address which requested the King to refer the whole subject to the Convocation. Burnet foresaw the effect of this vote. The whole scheme, he said, was utterly ruined,102 Many of his friends, however, thought differently; and among these was Tillotson. Of all the members of the Low Church party Tillotson stood highest in general estimation. As a preacher, he was thought by his contemporaries to have surpassed all rivals living or dead. Posterity has reversed this judgment. Yet Tillotson still keeps his place as a legitimate English classic. His highest flights were indeed far below those of Taylor, of Barrow, and of South; but his oratory was more correct and equable than theirs. No quaint conceits, no pedantic quotations from Talmudists and scholiasts, no mean images, buffoon stories, scurrilous invectives, ever marred the effect of his grave and temperate discourses. His reasoning was just sufficiently profound and sufficiently refined to be followed by a popular audience with that slight degree of intellectual exertion which is a pleasure. His style is not brilliant; but it is pure, transparently clear, and equally free from the levity and from the stiffness which disfigure the sermons of some eminent divines of the seventeenth century. He is always serious: yet there is about his manner a certain graceful ease which marks him as a man who knows the world, who has lived in populous cities and in splendid courts, and who has conversed, not only with books, but with lawyers and merchants, wits and beauties, statesmen and princes. The greatest charm of his compositions, however, is deriven from the benignity and candour which appear in every line, and which shone forth not less conspicuously in his life than in his writings.
As a theologian, Tillotson was certainly not less latitudinarian than Burnet. Yet many of those clergymen to whom Burnet was an object of implacable aversion spoke of Tillotson with tenderness and respect. It is therefore not strange that the two friends should have formed different estimates of the temper of the priesthood, and should have expected different results from the meeting of the Convocation. Tillotson was not displeased with the vote of the Commons. He conceived that changes made in religious institutions by mere secular authority might disgust many churchmen, who would yet be perfectly willing to vote, in an ecclesiastical synod, for changes more extensive still; and his opinion had great weight with the King, 103 It was resolved that the Convocation should meet at the beginning of the next session of Parliament, and that in the meantime a commission should issue empowering some eminent divines to examine the Liturgy, the canons, and the whole system of jurisprudence administered by the Courts Christian, and to report on the alterations which it might be desirable to make,104
Most of the Bishops who had taken the oaths were in this commission; and with them were joined twenty priests of great note. Of the twenty Tillotson was the most important: for he was known to speak the sense both of the King and of the Queen. Among those Commissioners who looked up to Tillotson as their chief were Stillingfleet, Dean of Saint Paul’s, Sharp, Dean of Norwich, Patrick, Dean of Peterborough, Tenison, Rector of Saint Martin’s, and Fowler, to whose judicious firmness was chiefly to be ascribed the determination of the London clergy not to read the Declaration of Indulgence.
With such men as those who have been named were mingled some divines who belonged to the High Church party. Conspicuous among these were two of the rulers of Oxford, Aldrich and Jane. Aldrich had recently been appointed Dean of Christchurch, in the room of the Papist Massey, whom James had, in direct violation of the laws, placed at the head of that great college. The new Dean was a polite, though not a profound, scholar, and a jovial, hospitable gentleman. He was the author of some theological tracts which have long been forgotten, and of a compendium of logic which is still used: but the best works which he has bequeathed to posterity are his catches. Jane, the King’s Professor of Divinity, was a graver but a less estimable man. He had borne the chief part in framing that decree by which his University ordered the works of Milton and Buchanan to be publicly burned in the Schools. A few years later, irritated and alarmed by the persecution of the Bishops and by the confiscation of the revenues of Magdalene College, he had renounced the doctrine of nonresistance, had repaired to the headquarters of the Prince of Orange, and had assured His Highness that Oxford would willingly coin her plate for the support of the war against her oppressor. During a short time Jane was generally considered as a Whig, and was sharply lampooned by some of his old allies. He was so unfortunate as to have a name which was an excellent mark for the learned punsters of his university. Several epigrams were written on the doublefaced Janus, who, having got a professorship by looking one way, now hoped to get a bishopric by looking another. That he hoped to get a bishopric was perfectly true. He demanded the see of Exeter as a reward due to his services. He was refused. The refusal convinced him that the Church had as much to apprehend from Latitudinarianism as from Popery; and he speedily became a Tory again, 105
Early in October the Commissioners assembled in the Jerusalem Chamber. At their first meeting they determined to propose that, in the public services of the Church, lessons taken from the canonical books of Scripture should be substituted for the lessons taken from the Apocrypha, 106 At the second meeting a strange question was raised by the very last person who ought to have raised it. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, had, without any scruple, sate, during two years, in the unconstitutional tribunal which had, in the late reign, oppressed and pillaged the Church of which he was a ruler. But he had now become scrupulous, and expressed a doubt whether the commission were legal. To a plain understanding his objections seem to be mere quibbles. The commission gave power neither to make laws nor to administer laws, but simply to inquire and to report. Even without a royal commission Tillotson, Patrick, and Stillingfleet might, with perfect propriety, have met to discuss the state and prospects of the Church, and to consider whether it would or would not be desirable to make some concession to the dissenters. And how could it be a crime for subjects to do at the request of their Sovereign that which it would have been innocent and laudable for them to do without any such request? Sprat however was seconded by Jane. There was a sharp altercation; and Lloyd, Bishop of Saint Asaph, who, with many good qualities, had an irritable temper, was provoked into saying something about spies. Sprat withdrew and came no more. His example was soon followed by Jane and Aldrich,107 The commissioners proceeded to take into consideration the question of the posture at the Eucharist. It was determined to recommend that a communicant, who, after conference with his minister, should declare that he could not conscientiously receive the bread and wine kneeling, might receive them sitting. Mew, Bishop of Winchester, an honest man, but illiterate, weak even in his best days, and now fast sinking into dotage, protested against this concession, and withdrew from the assembly. The other members continued to apply themselves vigorously to their task: and no more secessions took place, though there were great differences of opinion, and though the debates were sometimes warm. The highest churchmen who still remained were Doctor William Beveridge, Archdeacon of Colchester, who many years later became Bishop of Saint Asaph, and Doctor John Scott, the same who had prayed by the deathbed of Jeffreys. The most active among the Latitudinarians appear to have been Burnet, Fowler, and Tenison.
The baptismal service was repeatedly discussed. As to matter of form the Commissioners were disposed to be indulgent. They were generally willing to admit infants into the Church without sponsors and without the sign of the cross. But the majority, after much debate, steadily refused to soften down or explain away those words which, to all minds not sophisticated, appear to assert the regenerating virtue of the sacrament, 108
As to the surplice, the Commissioners determined to recommend that a large discretion should be left to the Bishops. Expedients were devised by which a person who had received Presbyterian ordination might, without admitting, either expressly or by implication, the invalidity of that ordination, become a minister of the Church of England, 109
The ecclesiastical calendar was carefully revised. The great festivals were retained. But it was not thought desirable that Saint Valentine, Saint Chad, Saint Swithin, Saint Edward King of the West Saxons, Saint Dunstan, and Saint Alphage, should share the honours of Saint John and Saint Paul; or that the Church should appear to class the ridiculous fable of the discovery of the cross with facts so awfully important as the Nativity, the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of her Lord, 110
The Athanasian Creed caused much perplexity. Most of the Commissioners were equally unwilling to give up the doctrinal clauses and to retain the damnatory clauses. Burnet, Fowler, and Tillotson were desirous to strike this famous symbol out of the liturgy altogether. Burnet brought forward one argument, which to himself probably did not appear to have much weight, but which was admirably calculated to perplex his opponents, Beveridge and Scott. The Council of Ephesus had always been reverenced by Anglican divines as a synod which had truly represented the whole body of the faithful, and which had been divinely guided in the way of truth. The voice of that Council was the voice of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, not yet corrupted by superstition, or rent asunder by schism. During more than twelve centuries the world had not seen an ecclesiastical assembly which had an equal claim to the respect of believers. The Council of Ephesus had, in the plainest terms, and under the most terrible penalties, forbidden Christians to frame or to impose on their brethren any creed other than the creed settled by the Nicene Fathers. It should seem therefore that, if the Council of Ephesus was really under the direction of the Holy Spirit, whoever uses the Athanasian Creed must, in the very act of uttering an anathema against his neighbours, bring down an anathema on his own head, 111 In spite of the authority of the Ephesian Fathers, the majority of the Commissioners determined to leave the Athanasian Creed in the Prayer Book; but they proposed to add a rubric drawn up by Stillingfleet, which declared that the damnatory clauses were to be understood to apply only to such as obstinately denied the substance of the Christian Faith. Orthodox believers were therefore permitted to hope that the heretic who had honestly and humbly sought for truth would not be everlastingly punished for having failed to find it, 112
Tenison was intrusted with the business of examining the Liturgy and of collecting all those expressions to which objections had been made, either by theological or by literary critics. It was determined to remove some obvious blemishes. And it would have been wise in the Commissioners to stop here. Unfortunately they determined to rewrite a great part of the Prayer Book. It was a bold undertaking; for in general the style of that volume is such as cannot be improved. The English Liturgy indeed gains by being compared even with those fine ancient Liturgies from which it is to a great extent taken. The essential qualities of devotional eloquence, conciseness, majestic simplicity, pathetic earnestness of supplication, sobered by a profound reverence, are common between the translations and the originals. But in the subordinate graces of diction the originals must be allowed to be far inferior to the translations. And the reason is obvious. The technical phraseology of Christianity did not become a part of the Latin language till that language had passed the age of maturity and was sinking into barbarism. But the technical phraseology of Christianity was found in the Anglosaxon and in the Norman French, long before the union of those two dialects had, produced a third dialect superior to either. The Latin of the Roman Catholic services, therefore, is Latin in the last stage of decay. The English of our services is English in all the vigour and suppleness of early youth. To the great Latin writers, to Terence and Lucretius, to Cicero and Caesar, to Tacitus and Quintilian, the noblest compositions of Ambrose and Gregory would have seemed to be, not merely bad writing, but senseless gibberish, 113 The diction of our Book of Common Prayer, on the other hand, has directly or indirectly contributed to form the diction of almost every great English writer, and has extorted the admiration of the most accomplished infidels and of the most accomplished nonconformists, of such men as David Hume and Robert Hall.
The style of the Liturgy, however, did not satisfy the Doctors of the Jerusalem Chamber. They voted the Collects too short and too dry: and Patrick was intrusted with the duty of expanding and ornamenting them. In one respect, at least, the choice seems to have been unexceptionable; for, if we judge by the way in which Patrick paraphrased the most sublime Hebrew poetry, we shall probably be of opinion that, whether he was or was not qualified to make the collects better, no man that ever lived was more competent to make them longer, 114
It mattered little, however, whether the recommendations of the Commission were good or bad. They were all doomed before they were known. The writs summoning the Convocation of the province of Canterbury had been issued; and the clergy were every where in a state of violent excitement. They had just taken the oaths, and were smarting from the earnest reproofs of nonjurors, from the insolent taunts of Whigs, and often undoubtedly from the stings of remorse. The announcement that a Convocation was to sit for the purpose of deliberating on a plan of comprehension roused all the strongest passions of the priest who had just complied with the law, and was ill satisfied or half satisfied with himself for complying. He had an opportunity of contributing to defeat a favourite scheme of that government which had exacted from him, under severe penalties, a submission not easily to be reconciled to his conscience or his pride. He had an opportunity of signalising his zeal for that Church whose characteristic doctrines he had been accused of deserting for lucre. She was now, he conceived, threatened by a danger as great as that of the preceding year. The Latitudinarians of 1689 were not less eager to humble and to ruin her than the Jesuits of 1688. The Toleration Act had done for the Dissenters quite as much as was compatible with her dignity and security; and nothing more ought to be conceded, not the hem of one of her vestments, not an epithet from the beginning to the end of her Liturgy. All the reproaches which had been thrown on the ecclesiastical commission of James were transferred to the ecclesiastical commission of William. The two commissions indeed had nothing but the name in common. Put the name was associated with illegality and oppression, with the violation of dwellings and the confiscation of freeholds, and was therefore assiduously sounded with no small effect by the tongues of the spiteful in the ears of the ignorant.
The King too, it was said, was not sound. He conformed indeed to the established worship; but his was a local and occasional conformity. For some ceremonies to which High Churchmen were attached he had a distaste which he was at no pains to conceal. One of his first acts had been to give orders that in his private chapel the service should be said instead of being sung; and this arrangement, though warranted by the rubric, caused much murmuring, 115 It was known that he was so profane as to sneer at a practice which had been sanctioned by high ecclesiastical authority, the practice of touching for the scrofula. This ceremony had come down almost unaltered from the darkest of the dark ages to the time of Newton and Locke. The Stuarts frequently dispensed the healing influences in the Banqueting House. The days on which this miracle was to be wrought were fixed at sittings of the Privy Council, and were solemnly notified by the clergy in all the parish churches of the realm, 116 When the appointed time came, several divines in full canonicals stood round the canopy of state. The surgeon of the royal household introduced the sick. A passage from the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Saint Mark was read. When the words, “They shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover,” had been pronounced, there was a pause, and one of the sick was brought up to the King. His Majesty stroked the ulcers and swellings, and hung round the patient’s neck a white riband to which was fastened a gold coin. The other sufferers were then led up in succession; and, as each was touched, the chaplain repeated the incantation, “they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Then came the epistle, prayers, antiphonies and a benediction. The service may still be found in the prayer books of the reign of Anne. Indeed it was not till some time after the accession of George the First that the University of Oxford ceased to reprint the Office of Healing together with the Liturgy. Theologians of eminent learning, ability, and virtue gave the sanction of their authority to this mummery; 117 and, what is stranger still, medical men of high note believed, or affected to believe, in the balsamic virtues of the royal hand. We must suppose that every surgeon who attended Charles the Second was a man of high repute for skill; and more than one of the surgeons who attended Charles the Second has left us a solemn profession of faith in the King’s miraculous power. One of them is not ashamed to tell us that the gift was communicated by the unction administered at the coronation; that the cures were so numerous and sometimes so rapid that they could not be attributed to any natural cause; that the failures were to be ascribed to want of faith on the part of the patients; that Charles once handled a scrofulous Quaker and made him a healthy man and a sound Churchman in a moment; that, if those who had been healed lost or sold the piece of gold which had been hung round their necks, the ulcers broke forth again, and could be removed only by a second touch and a second talisman. We cannot wonder that, when men of science gravely repeated such nonsense, the vulgar should believe it. Still less can we wonder that wretches tortured by a disease over which natural remedies had no power should eagerly drink in tales of preternatural cures: for nothing is so credulous as misery. The crowds which repaired to the palace on the days of healing were immense. Charles the Second, in the course of his reign, touched near a hundred thousand persons. The number seems to have increased or diminished as the king’s popularity rose or fell. During that Tory reaction which followed the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament, the press to get near him was terrific. In 1682, he performed the rite eight thousand five hundred times. In 1684, the throng was such that six or seven of the sick were trampled to death. James, in one of his progresses, touched eight hundred persons in the choir of the Cathedral of Chester. The expense of the ceremony was little less than ten thousand pounds a year, and would have been much greater but for the vigilance of the royal surgeons, whose business it was to examine the applicants, and to distinguish those who came for the cure from those who came for the gold, 118
William had too much sense to be duped, and too much honesty to bear a part in what he knew to be an imposture. “It is a silly superstition,” he exclaimed, when he heard that, at the close of Lent, his palace was besieged by a crowd of the sick: “Give the poor creatures some money, and send them away.” 119 On one single occasion he was importuned into laying his hand on a patient. “God give you better health,” he said, “and more sense.” The parents of scrofulous children cried out against his cruelty: bigots lifted up their hands and eyes in horror at his impiety: Jacobites sarcastically praised him for not presuming to arrogate to himself a power which belonged only to legitimate sovereigns; and even some Whigs thought that he acted unwisely in treating with such marked contempt a superstition which had a strong hold on the vulgar mind: but William was not to be moved, and was accordingly set down by many High Churchmen as either an infidel or a puritan, 120
The chief cause, however, which at this time made even the most moderate plan of comprehension hateful to the priesthood still remains to be mentioned. What Burnet had foreseen and foretold had come to pass. There was throughout the clerical profession a strong disposition to retaliate on the Presbyterians of England the wrongs of the Episcopalians of Scotland. It could not be denied that even the highest churchmen had, in the summer of 1688, generally declared themselves willing to give up many things for the sake of union. But it was said, and not without plausibility, that what was passing on the other side of the Border proved union on any reasonable terms to be impossible. With what face, it was asked, can those who will make no concession to us where we are weak, blame us for refusing to make any concession to them where we are strong? We cannot judge correctly of the principles and feelings of a sect from the professions which it makes in a time of feebleness and suffering. If we would know what the Puritan spirit really is, we must observe the Puritan when he is dominant. He was dominant here in the last generation; and his little finger was thicker than the loins of the prelates. He drove hundreds of quiet students from their cloisters, and thousands of respectable divines from their parsonages, for the crime of refusing to sign his Covenant. No tenderness was shown to learning, to genius or to sanctity. Such men as Hall and Sanderson, Chillingworth and Hammond, were not only plundered, but flung into prisons, and exposed to all the rudeness of brutal gaolers. It was made a crime to read fine psalms and prayers bequeathed to the faithful by Ambrose and Chrysostom. At length the nation became weary of the reign of the saints. The fallen dynasty and the fallen hierarchy were restored. The Puritan was in his turn subjected to disabilities and penalties; and he immediately found out that it was barbarous to punish men for entertaining conscientious scruples about a garb, about a ceremony, about the functions of ecclesiastical officers. His piteous complaints and his arguments in favour of toleration had at length imposed on many well meaning persons. Even zealous churchmen had begun to entertain a hope that the severe discipline which he had undergone had made him candid, moderate, charitable. Had this been really so, it would doubtless have been our duty to treat his scruples with extreme tenderness. But, while we were considering what we could do to meet his wishes in England, he had obtained ascendency in Scotland; and, in an instant, he was all himself again, bigoted, insolent, and cruel. Manses had been sacked; churches shut up; prayer books burned; sacred garments torn; congregations dispersed by violence; priests hustled, pelted, pilloried, driven forth, with their wives and babes, to beg or die of hunger. That these outrages were to be imputed, not to a few lawless marauders, but to the great body of the Presbyterians of Scotland, was evident from the fact that the government had not dared either to inflict punishment on the offenders or to grant relief to the sufferers. Was it not fit then that the Church of England should take warning? Was it reasonable to ask her to mutilate her apostolical polity and her beautiful ritual for the purpose of conciliating those who wanted nothing but power to rabble her as they had rabbled her sister? Already these men had obtained a boon which they ill deserved, and which they never would have granted. They worshipped God in perfect security. Their meeting houses were as effectually protected as the choirs of our cathedrals. While no episcopal minister could, without putting his life in jeopardy, officiate in Ayrshire or Renfrewshire, a hundred Presbyterian ministers preached unmolested every Sunday in Middlesex. The legislature had, with a generosity perhaps imprudent, granted toleration to the most intolerant of men; and with toleration it behoved them to be content.
Thus several causes conspired to inflame the parochial clergy against the scheme of comprehension. Their temper was such that, if the plan framed in the Jerusalem Chamber had been directly submitted to them, it would have been rejected by a majority of twenty to one. But in the Convocation their weight bore no proportion to their number. The Convocation has, happily for our country, been so long utterly insignificant that, till a recent period, none but curious students cared to inquire how it was constituted; and even now many persons, not generally ill informed, imagine it to have been a council representing the Church of England. In truth the Convocation so often mentioned in our ecclesiastical history is merely the synod of the Province of Canterbury, and never had a right to speak in the name of the whole clerical body. The Province of York had also its convocation: but, till the eighteenth century was far advanced, the Province of York was generally so poor, so rude, and so thinly peopled, that, in political importance, it could hardly be considered as more than a tenth part of the kingdom. The sense of the Southern clergy was therefore popularly considered as the sense of the whole profession. When the formal concurrence of the Northern clergy was required, it seems to have been given as a matter of course. Indeed the canons passed by the Convocation of Canterbury in 1604 were ratified by James the First, and were ordered to be strictly observed in every part of the kingdom, two years before the Convocation of York went through the form of approving them. Since these ecclesiastical councils became mere names, a great change has taken place in the relative position of the two Archbishoprics. In all the elements of power, the region beyond Trent is now at least a third part of England. When in our own time the representative system was adjusted to the altered state of the country, almost all the small boroughs which it was necessary to disfranchise were in the south. Two thirds of the new members given to great provincial towns were given to the north. If therefore any English government should suffer the Convocations, as now constituted, to meet for the despatch of business, two independent synods would be legislating at the same time for one Church. It is by no means impossible that one assembly might adopt canons which the other might reject, that one assembly might condemn as heretical propositions which the other might hold to be orthodox, 121 In the seventeenth century no such danger was apprehended. So little indeed was the Convocation of York then considered, that the two Houses of Parliament had, in their address to William, spoken only of one Convocation, which they called the Convocation of the Clergy of the Kingdom.
The body which they thus not very accurately designated is divided into two Houses. The Upper House is composed of the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury. The Lower House consisted, in 1689, of a hundred and forty-four members. Twenty-two Deans and fifty-four Archdeacons sate there in virtue of their offices. Twenty-four divines sate as proctors for twenty-four chapters. Only forty-four proctors were elected by the eight thousand parish priests of the twenty-two dioceses. These forty-four proctors, however, were almost all of one mind. The elections had in former times been conducted in the most quiet and decorous manner. But on this occasion the canvassing was eager: the contests were sharp: Rochester, the leader of the party which in the House of Lords had opposed the Comprehension–Bill, and his brother Clarendon, who had refused to take the oaths, had gone to Oxford, the head quarters of that party, for the purpose of animating and organizing the opposition, 122 The representatives of the parochial clergy must have been men whose chief distinction was their zeal: for in the whole list can be found not a single illustrious name, and very few names which are now known even to curious students, 123 The official members of the Lower House, among whom were many distinguished scholars and preachers, seem to have been not very unequally divided.
During the summer of 1689 several high ecclesiastical dignities became vacant, and were bestowed on divines who were sitting in the Jerusalem Chamber. It has already been mentioned that Thomas, Bishop of Worcester, died just before the day fixed for taking the oaths. Lake, Bishop of Chichester, lived just long enough to refuse them, and with his last breath declared that he would maintain even at the stake the doctrine of indefeasible hereditary right. The see of Chichester was filled by Patrick, that of Worcester by Stillingfleet; and the deanery of Saint Paul’s which Stillingfleet quitted was given to Tillotson. That Tillotson was not raised to the episcopal bench excited some surprise. But in truth it was because the government held his services in the highest estimation that he was suffered to remain a little longer a simple presbyter. The most important office in the Convocation was that of Prolocutor of the Lower House. The Prolocutor was to be chosen by the members: and the only moderate man who had a chance of being chosen was Tillotson. It had in fact been already determined that he should be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. When he went to kiss hands for his new deanery he warmly thanked the King. “Your Majesty has now set me at ease for the remainder of my life.” “No such thing, Doctor, I assure you,” said William. He then plainly intimated that, whenever Sancroft should cease to fill the highest ecclesiastical station, Tillotson would succeed to it. Tillotson stood aghast; for his nature was quiet and unambitious: he was beginning to feel the infirmities of old age: he cared little for money: of worldly advantages those which he most valued were an honest fame and the general good will of mankind: those advantages he already possessed; and he could not but be aware that, if he became primate, he should incur the bitterest hatred of a powerful party, and should become a mark for obloquy, from which his gentle and sensitive nature shrank as from the rack or the wheel. William was earnest and resolute. “It is necessary,” he said, “for my service; and I must lay on your conscience the responsibility of refusing me your help.” Here the conversation ended. It was, indeed, not necessary that the point should be immediately decided; for several months were still to elapse before the Archbishopric would be vacant.
Tillotson bemoaned himself with unfeigned anxiety and sorrow to Lady Russell, whom, of all human beings, he most honoured and trusted, 124 He hoped, he said, that he was not inclined to shrink from the service of the Church; but he was convinced that his present line of service was that in which he could be most useful. If he should be forced to accept so high and so invidious a post as the primacy, he should soon sink under the load of duties and anxieties too heavy for his strength. His spirits, and with his spirits his abilities, would fail him. He gently complained of Burnet, who loved and admired him with a truly generous heartiness, and who had laboured to persuade both the King and Queen that there was in England only one man fit for the highest ecclesiastical dignity. “The Bishop of Salisbury,” said Tillotson, “is one of the best and worst friends that I know.”
Nothing that was not a secret to Burnet was likely to be long a secret to any body. It soon began to be whispered about that the King had fixed on Tillotson to fill the place of Sancroft. The news caused cruel mortification to Compton, who, not unnaturally, conceived that his own claims were unrivalled. He had educated the Queen and her sister; and to the instruction which they had received from him might fairly be ascribed, at least in part, the firmness with which, in spite of the influence of their father, they had adhered to the established religion. Compton was, moreover, the only prelate who, during the late reign, had raised his voice in Parliament against the dispensing power, the only prelate who had been suspended by the High Commission, the only prelate who had signed the invitation to the Prince of Orange, the only prelate who had actually taken arms against Popery and arbitrary power, the only prelate, save one, who had voted against a Regency. Among the ecclesiastics of the Province of Canterbury who had taken the oaths, he was highest in rank. He had therefore held, during some months, a vicarious primacy: he had crowned the new Sovereigns: he had consecrated the new Bishops: he was about to preside in the Convocation. It may be added, that he was the son of an Earl; and that no person of equally high birth then sate, or had ever sate, since the Reformation, on the episcopal bench. That the government should put over his head a priest of his own diocese, who was the son of a Yorkshire clothier, and who was distinguished only by abilities and virtues, was provoking; and Compton, though by no means a badhearted man, was much provoked. Perhaps his vexation was increased by the reflection that he had, for the sake of those by whom he was thus slighted, done some things which had strained his conscience and sullied his reputation, that he had at one time practised the disingenuous arts of a diplomatist, and at another time given scandal to his brethren by wearing the buff coat and jackboots of a trooper. He could not accuse Tillotson of inordinate ambition. But, though Tillotson was most unwilling to accept the Archbishopric himself, he did not use his influence in favour of Compton, but earnestly recommended Stillingfleet as the man fittest to preside over the Church of England. The consequence was that, on the eve of the meeting of Convocation, the Bishop who was to be at the head of the Upper House became the personal enemy of the presbyter whom the government wished to see at the head of the Lower House. This quarrel added new difficulties to difficulties which little needed any addition, 125
It was not till the twentieth of November that the Convocation met for the despatch of business. The place of meeting had generally been Saint Paul’s Cathedral. But Saint Paul’s Cathedral was slowly rising from its ruins; and, though the dome already towered high above the hundred steeples of the City, the choir had not yet been opened for public worship. The assembly therefore sate at Westminster, 126 A table was placed in the beautiful chapel of Henry the Seventh. Compton was in the chair. On his right and left those suffragans of Canterbury who had taken the oaths were ranged in gorgeous vestments of scarlet and miniver. Below the table was assembled the crowd of presbyters. Beveridge preached a Latin sermon, in which he warmly eulogized the existing system, and yet declared himself favourable to a moderate reform. Ecclesiastical laws were, he said, of two kinds. Some laws were fundamental and eternal: they derived their authority from God; nor could any religious community repeal them without ceasing to form a part of the universal Church. Other laws were local and temporary. They had been framed by human wisdom, and might be altered by human wisdom. They ought not indeed to be altered without grave reasons. But surely, at that moment, such reasons were not wanting. To unite a scattered flock in one fold under one shepherd, to remove stumbling blocks from the path of the weak, to reconcile hearts long estranged, to restore spiritual discipline to its primitive vigour, to place the best and purest of Christian societies on a base broad enough to stand against all the attacks of earth and hell, these were objects which might well justify some modification, not of Catholic institutions, but of national or provincial usages, 127
The Lower House, having heard this discourse, proceeded to appoint a Prolocutor. Sharp, who was probably put forward by the members favourable to a comprehension as one of the highest churchmen among them, proposed Tillotson. Jane, who had refused to act under the Royal Commission, was proposed on the other side. After some animated discussion, Jane was elected by fifty-five votes to twenty-eight, 128
The Prolocutor was formally presented to the Bishop of London, and made, according to ancient usage, a Latin oration. In this oration the Anglican Church was extolled as the most perfect of all institutions. There was a very intelligible intimation that no change whatever in her doctrine, her discipline, or her ritual was required; and the discourse concluded with a most significant sentence. Compton, when a few months before he exhibited himself in the somewhat unclerical character of a colonel of horse, had ordered the colours of his regiment to be embroidered with the well known words “Nolumus leges Angliae mutari”; and with these words Jane closed his peroration, 129
Still the Low Churchmen did not relinquish all hope. They very wisely determined to begin by proposing to substitute lessons taken from the canonical books for the lessons taken from the Apocrypha. It should seem that this was a suggestion which, even if there had not been a single dissenter in the kingdom, might well have been received with favour. For the Church had, in her sixth Article, declared that the canonical books were, and that the Apocryphal books were not, entitled to be called Holy Scriptures, and to be regarded as the rule of faith. Even this reform, however, the High Churchmen were determined to oppose. They asked, in pamphlets which covered the counters of Paternoster Row and Little Britain, why country congregations should be deprived of the pleasure of hearing about the ball of pitch with which Daniel choked the dragon, and about the fish whose liver gave forth such a fume as sent the devil flying from Ecbatana to Egypt. And were there not chapters of the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach far more interesting and edifying than the genealogies and muster rolls which made up a large part of the Chronicles of the Jewish Kings and of the narrative of Nehemiah? No grave divine however would have liked to maintain, in Henry the Seventh’s Chapel, that it was impossible to find, in many hundreds of pages dictated by the Holy Spirit, fifty or sixty chapters more edifying than any thing which could be extracted from the works of the most respectable uninspired moralist or historian. The leaders of the majority therefore determined to shun a debate in which they must have been reduced to a disagreeable dilemma. Their plan was, not to reject the recommendations of the Commissioners, but to prevent those recommendations from being discussed; and with this view a system of tactics was adopted which proved successful.
The law, as it had been interpreted during a long course of years, prohibited the Convocation from even deliberating on any ecclesiastical ordinance without a previous warrant from the Crown. Such a warrant, sealed with the great seal, was brought in form to Henry the Seventh’s Chapel by Nottingham. He at the same time delivered a message from the King. His Majesty exhorted the assembly to consider calmly and without prejudice the recommendations of the Commission, and declared that he had nothing in view but the honour and advantage of the Protestant religion in general, and of the Church of England in particular, 130
The Bishops speedily agreed on an address of thanks for the royal message, and requested the concurrence of the Lower House. Jane and his adherents raised objection after objection. First they claimed the privilege of presenting a separate address. When they were forced to waive this claim, they refused to agree to any expression which imported that the Church of England had any fellowship with any other Protestant community. Amendments and reasons were sent backward and forward. Conferences were held at which Burnet on one side and Jane on the other were the chief speakers. At last, with great difficulty, a compromise was made; and an address, cold and ungracious compared with that which the Bishops had framed, was presented to the King in the Banqueting House. He dissembled his vexation, returned a kind answer, and intimated a hope that the assembly would now at length proceed to consider the great question of Comprehension, 131
Such however was not the intention of the leaders of the Lower House. As soon as they were again in Henry the Seventh’s Chapel, one of them raised a debate about the nonjuring bishops. In spite of the unfortunate scruple which those prelates entertained, they were learned and holy men. Their advice might, at this conjuncture, be of the greatest service to the Church. The Upper House was hardly an Upper House in the absence of the Primate and of many of his most respectable suffragans. Could nothing be done to remedy this evil? 132 Another member complained of some pamphlets which had lately appeared, and in which the Convocation was not treated with proper deference. The assembly took fire. Was it not monstrous that this heretical and schismatical trash should be cried by the hawkers about the streets, and should be exposed to sale in the booths of Westminster Hall, within a hundred yards of the Prolocutor’s chair? The work of mutilating the Liturgy and of turning cathedrals into conventicles might surely be postponed till the Synod had taken measures to protect its own freedom and dignity. It was then debated how the printing of such scandalous books should be prevented. Some were for indictments, some for ecclesiastical censures, 133 In such deliberations as these week after week passed away. Not a single proposition tending to a Comprehension had been even discussed. Christmas was approaching. At Christmas there was to be a recess. The Bishops were desirous that, during the recess, a committee should sit to prepare business. The Lower House refused to consent, 134 That House, it was now evident, was fully determined not even to enter on the consideration of any part of the plan which had been framed by the Royal Commissioners. The proctors of the dioceses were in a worse humour than when they first came up to Westminster. Many of them had probably never before passed a week in the capital, and had not been aware how great the difference was between a town divine and a country divine. The sight of the luxuries and comforts enjoyed by the popular preachers of the city raised, not unnaturally, some sore feeling in a Lincolnshire or Caernarvonshire vicar who was accustomed to live as hardly as small farmer. The very circumstance that the London clergy were generally for a comprehension made the representatives of the rural clergy obstinate on the other side, 135 The prelates were, as a body, sincerely desirous that some concession might be made to the nonconformists. But the prelates were utterly unable to curb the mutinous democracy. They were few in number. Some of them were objects of extreme dislike to the parochial clergy. The President had not the full authority of a primate; nor was he sorry to see those who had, as he concerned, used him ill, thwarted and mortified. It was necessary to yield. The Convocation was prorogued for six weeks. When those six weeks had expired, it was prorogued again; and many years elapsed before it was permitted to transact business.
So ended, and for ever, the hope that the Church of England might be induced to make some concession to the scruples of the nonconformists. A learned and respectable minority of the clerical order relinquished that hope with deep regret. Yet in a very short time even Barnet and Tillotson found reason to believe that their defeat was really an escape, and that victory would have been a disaster. A reform, such as, in the days of Elizabeth, would have united the great body of English Protestants, would, in the days of William, have alienated more hearts than it would have conciliated. The schism which the oaths had produced was, as yet, insignificant. Innovations such as those proposed by the Royal Commissioners would have given it a terrible importance. As yet a layman, though he might think the proceedings of the Convention unjustifiable, and though he might applaud the virtue of the nonjuring clergy, still continued to sit under the accustomed pulpit, and to kneel at the accustomed altar. But if, just at this conjuncture, while his mind was irritated by what he thought the wrong done to his favourite divines, and while he was perhaps doubting whether he ought not to follow them, his ears and eyes had been shocked by changes in the worship to which he was fondly attached, if the compositions of the doctors of the Jerusalem Chamber had taken the place of the old collects, if he had seen clergymen without surplices carrying the chalice and the paten up and down the aisle to seated communicants, the tie which bound him to the Established Church would have been dissolved. He would have repaired to some nonjuring assembly, where the service which he loved was performed without mutilation. The new sect, which as yet consisted almost exclusively of priests, would soon have been swelled by numerous and large congregations; and in those congregations would have been found a much greater proportion of the opulent, of the highly descended, and of the highly educated, than any other body of dissenters could show. The Episcopal schismatics, thus reinforced, would probably have been as formidable to the new King and his successors as ever the Puritan schismatics had been to the princes of the House of Stuart. It is an indisputable and a most instructive fact, that we are, in a great measure, indebted for the civil and religious liberty which we enjoy to the pertinacity with which the High Church party, in the Convocation of 1689, refused even to deliberate on any plan of Comprehension, 136
1 See the Lords’ Journals of Feb. 5. 1688 and of many subsequent days; Braddon’s pamphlet, entitled the Earl of Essex’s Memory and Honour Vindicated, 1690; and the London Gazettes of July 31. and August 4. and 7. 1690, in which Lady Essex and Burnet publicly contradicted Braddon.]
2 Whether the attainder of Lord Russell would, if unreversed, have prevented his son from succeeding to the earldom of Bedford is a difficult question. The old Earl collected the opinions of the greatest lawyers of the age, which may still be seen among the archives at Woburn. It is remarkable that one of these opinions is signed by Pemberton, who had presided at the trial. This circumstance seems to prove that the family did not impute to him any injustice or cruelty; and in truth he had behaved as well as any judge, before the Revolution, ever behaved on a similar occasion.]
3 Grey’s Debates, March 1688/9.]
4 The Acts which reversed the attainders of Russell Sidney, Cornish, and Alice Lisle were private Acts. Only the titles therefore are printed in the Statute Book; but the Acts will be found in Howell’s Collection of State Trials.]
5 Commons’ Journals, June 24. 1689.]
6 Johnson tells this story himself in his strange pamphlet entitled, Notes upon the Phoenix Edition of the Pastoral Letter, 1694.]
7 Some Memorials of the Reverend Samuel Johnson, prefixed to the folio edition of his works, 1710.]
8 Lords’ Journals, May 15. 1689.]
9 North’s Examen, 224. North’s evidence is confirmed by several contemporary squibs in prose and verse. See also the eikon Brotoloigon, 1697.]
10 Halifax MS. in the British Museum.]
11 Epistle Dedicatory to Oates’s eikon Basiliki]
12 In a ballad of the time are the following lines]
“Come listen, ye Whigs, to my pitiful moan, All you that have ears, when the Doctor has none.”]
These lines must have been in Mason’s head when he wrote the couplet]
“Witness, ye Hills, ye Johnsons, Scots, Shebbeares; Hark to my call: for some of you have ears.”]
13 North’s Examen, 224. 254. North says “six hundred a year.” But I have taken the larger sum from the impudent petition which Gates addressed to the Commons, July 25. 1689. See the Journals.]
14 Van Citters, in his despatches to the States General, uses this nickname quite gravely.]
15 Lords’ Journals, May 30. 1689.]
16 Lords’ Journals, May 31. 1689; Commons’ Journals, Aug. 2.; North’s Examen, 224; Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary.]
17 Sir Robert was the original hero of the Rehearsal, and was called Bilboa. In the remodelled Dunciad, Pope inserted the lines]
“And highborn Howard, more majestic sire, With Fool of Quality completes the quire.”]
Pope’s highborn Howard was Edward Howard, the author of the British Princes.]
18 Key to the Rehearsal; Shadwell’s Sullen Lovers; Pepys, May 5. 8. 1668; Evelyn, Feb. 16. 1684/5.]
19 Grey’s Debates and Commons’ Journals, June 4. and 11 1689.]
20 Lords’ Journals, June 6. 1689.]
21 Commons’ Journals, Aug. 2. 1689; Dutch Ambassadors Extraordinary to the States General, July 30/Aug 9]
22 Lords’ Journals, July 30. 1689; Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary; Clarendon’s Diary, July 31. 1689.]
23 See the Commons’ Journals of July 31. and August 13 1689.]
24 Commons’ Journals, Aug. 20]
25 Oldmixon accuses the Jacobites, Barnet the republicans. Though Barnet took a prominent part in the discussion of this question, his account of what passed is grossly inaccurate. He says that the clause was warmly debated in the Commons, and that Hampden spoke strongly for it. But we learn from the journals (June 19 1689) that it was rejected nemine contradicente. The Dutch Ambassadors describe it as “een propositie ‘twelck geen ingressie schynt te sullen vinden.”]
26 London Gazette, Aug. 1. 1689; Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary.]
27 The history of this Bill may be traced in the journals of the two Houses, and in Grey’s Debates.]
28 See Grey’s Debates, and the Commons’ Journals from March to July. The twelve categories will be found in the journals of the 23d and 29th of May and of the 8th of June.]
29 Halifax MS. in the British Museum.]
30 The Life and Death of George Lord Jeffreys; Finch’s speech in Grey’s Debates, March 1. 1688/9.]
31 See, among many other pieces, Jeffreys’s Elegy, the Letter to the Lord Chancellor exposing to him the sentiments of the people, the Elegy on Dangerfield, Dangerfield’s Ghost to Jeffreys, The Humble Petition of Widows and fatherless Children in the West, the Lord Chancellor’s Discovery and Confession made in the lime of his sickness in the Tower; Hickeringill’s Ceremonymonger; a broadside entitled “O rare show! O rare sight! O strange monster! The like not in Europe! To be seen near Tower Hill, a few doors beyond the Lion’s den.”]
32 Life and Death of George Lord Jeffreys,]
33 Tutchin himself gives this narrative in the Bloody Assizes.]
34 See the Life of Archbishop Sharp by his son. What passed between Scott and Jeffreys was related by Scott to Sir Joseph Jekyl. See Tindal’s History; Echard, iii. 932. Echard’s informant, who is not named, but who seems to have had good opportunities of knowing the truth, said that Jeffreys died, not, as the vulgar believed, of drink, but of the stone. The distinction seems to be of little importance. It is certain that Jeffreys was grossly intemperate; and his malady was one which intemperance notoriously tends to aggravate.]
35 See a Full and True Account of the Death of George Lord Jeffreys, licensed on the day of his death. The wretched Le Noble was never weary of repeating that Jeffreys was poisoned by the usurper. I will give a short passage as a specimen of the calumnies of which William was the object. “Il envoya,” says Pasquin “ce fin ragout de champignons au Chancelier Jeffreys, prisonnier dans la Tour, qui les trouva du meme goust, et du mmee assaisonnement que furent les derniers dont Agrippine regala le bon-homme Claudius son epoux, et que Neron appella depuis la viande des Dieux.” Marforio asks: “Le Chancelier est donc mort dans la Tour?” Pasquin answers: “Il estoit trop fidele a son Roi legitime, et trop habile dans les loix du royaume, pour echapper a l’Usurpateur qu’il ne vouloit point reconnoistre. Guillemot prit soin de faire publier que ce malheureux prisonnier estoit attaque du’ne fievre maligne; mais, a parler franchement, i1 vivroit peutestre encore s’il n’avoit rien mange que de la main de ses anciens cuisiniers.”— Le Festin de Guillemot, 1689. Dangeau (May q.) mentions a report that Jeffreys had poisoned himself.]
36 Among the numerous pieces in which the malecontent Whigs vented their anger, none is more curious than the poem entitled the Ghost of Charles the Second. Charles addresses William thus:
“Hail my blest nephew, whom the fates ordain
To fill the measure of the Stuart’s reign,
That all the ills by our whole race designed
In thee their full accomplishment might find
’Tis thou that art decreed this point to clear,
Which we have laboured for these fourscore year.”]
37 Grey’s Debates, June 12 1689.]
38 See Commons’ Journals, and Grey’s Debates, June 1. 3. and 4. 1689; Life of William, 1704.]
39 Barnet MS. Harl. 6584.; Avaux to De Croissy, June 16/26 1689.]
40 As to the minutes of the Privy Council, see the Commons’ Journals of June 22. and 28., and of July 3. 5. 13. and 16.]
41 The letter of Halifax to Lady Russell is dated on the 23d of July 1689, about a fortnight after the attack on him in the Lords, and about a week before the attack on him in the Commons.]
42 See the Lords’ Journals of July 10. 1689, and a letter from London dated July 11/21, and transmitted by Croissy to Avaux. Don Pedro de Ronquillo mentions this attack of the Whig Lords on Halifax in a despatch of which I cannot make out the date.]
43 This was on Saturday the 3d of August. As the division was in Committee, the numbers do not appear in the journals. Clarendon, in his Diary, says that the majority was eleven. But Narcissus Luttrell, Oldmixon, and Tindal agree in putting it at fourteen. Most of the little information which I have been able to find about the debate is contained in a despatch of Don Pedro de Ronquillo. “Se resolvio” he says, “que el sabado, en comity de toda la casa, se tratasse del estado de la nation para representarle al Rey. Emperose por acusar al Marques de Olifax; y reconociendo sus emulos que no tenian partido bastante, quisieron remitir para otro dia esta motion: pero el Conde de Elan, primogenito del Marques de Olifax, miembro de la casa, les dijo que su padre no era hombre para andar peloteando con el, y que se tubiesse culpa lo acabasen de castigar, que el no havia menester estar en la corte para portarse conforme a su estado, pues Dios le havia dado abundamente para poderlo hazer; conque por pluralidad de votes vencio su partido.” I suspect that Lord Eland meant to sneer at the poverty of some of his father’s persecutors, and at the greediness of others.]
44 This change of feeling, immediately following the debate on the motion for removing Halifax, is noticed by Ronquillo,]
45 As to Ruvigny, see Saint Simon’s Memoirs of the year 1697: Burnet, i. 366. There is some interesting information about Ruvigny and about the Huguenot regiments in a narrative written by a French refugee of the name of Dumont. This narrative, which is in manuscript, and which I shall occasionally quote as the Dumont MS., was kindly lent to me by the Dean of Ossory.]
46 See the Abrege de la Vie de Frederic Duc de Schomberg by Lunancy, 1690, the Memoirs of Count Dohna, and the note of Saint Simon on Dangeau’s Journal, July 30, 1690.]
47 See the Commons’ Journals of July 16. 1689, and of July 1. 1814.]
48 Journals of the Lords and Commons, Aug. 20. 1689; London Gazette, Aug, 22.]
49 “J’estois d’avis qu’, apres que la descente seroit faite, si on apprenoit que des Protestans se fassent soulevez en quelques endroits du royaume, on fit main basse sur tous generalement.”— Avaux, July 31/Aug 10 1689.]
50 “Le Roy d’Angleterre m’avoit ecoute assez paisiblement la première fois que je luy avois propose ce qu’il y avoit a faire contre les Protestans.”— Avaux, Aug. 4/14]
51 Avaux, Aug. 4/14. He says, “Je m’imagine qu’il est persuade que, quoiqu’il ne donne point d’ordre sur cela, la plupart des Catholiques de la campagne se jetteront sur les Protestans.”]
52 Lewis, Aug 27/Sept 6, reprimanded Avaux, though much too gently, for proposing to butcher the whole Protestant population of Leinster, Connaught, and Munster. “Je n’approuve pas cependant la proposition que vous faites de faire main basse sur tous les Protestans du royaume, du moment qu’, en quelque endroit que ce soit, ils se seront soulevez: et, outre que la punition du’ne infinite d’innocens pour peu de coupables ne seroit pas juste, d’ailleurs les represailles contre les Catholiques seroient d’autant plus dangereuses, que les premiers se trouveront mieux armez et soutenus de toutes les forces d’Angleterre.”]
53 Ronquillo, Aug. 9/19 speaking of the siege of Londonderry, expresses his astonishment “que una plaza sin fortification y sin genies de guerra aya hecho una defensa tan gloriosa, y que los sitiadores al contrario ayan sido tan poltrones.”]
54 This account of the Irish army is compiled from numerous letters written by Avaux to Lewis and to Lewis’s ministers. I will quote a few of the most remarkable passages. “Les plus beaux hommes,” Avaux says of the Irish, “qu’on peut voir. Il n’y en a presque point au dessous de cinq pieds cinq a six pouces.” It will be remembered that the French foot is longer than ours. “Ils sont tres bien faits: mais; il ne sont ny disciplinez ny armez, et de surplus sont de grands voleurs.” “La plupart de ces regimens sont levez par des gentilshommes qui n’ont jamais este á l’armee. Ce sont des tailleurs, des bouchers, des cordonniers, qui ont forme les compagnies et qui en sont les Capitaines.” “Jamais troupes n’ont marche comme font celles-cy. Ils vent comme des bandits, et pillent tout ce qu’ils trouvent en chemin.” “Quoiqu’il soit vrai que les soldats paroissent fort resolus a bien faire, et qu’ils soient fort animez contre les rebelles, neantmoins il ne suffit pas de cela pour combattre. . . . . Les officiers subalternes sont mauvais, et, a la reserve d’un tres peut nombre, il n’y en a point qui ayt soin des soldats, des armes, et de la discipline.” “On a beaucoup plus de confiance en la cavalerie, dont la plus grande partie est assez bonne.” Avaux mentions several regiments of horse with particular praise. Of two of these he says, “On ne peut voir de meilleur regiment.” The correctness of the opinion which he had formed both of the infantry and of the cavalry was, after his departure from Ireland, signally proved at the Boyne.]
55 I will quote a passage or two from the despatches written at this time by Avaux. On September 7/17. he says: “De quelque coste qu’on se tournat, on ne pouvoir rien prevoir que de desagreable. Mais dans cette extremite chacun s’est evertue. Les officiers ont fait leurs recrues avec beaucoup de diligence.” Three days later he says: “Il y a quinze jours que nous n’esperions guare de pouvoir mettre les choses en si bon estat mais my Lord Tyrconnel et tous les Irlandais ont travaille avec tant d’empressement qu’on s’est mis en estat de deffense.”]
56 Avaux, Aug 25/Sep 4 Aug 26/Sep 5; Life of James, ii. 373.; Melfort’s vindication of himself among the Nairne Papers. Avaux says: “Il pourra partir ce soir a la nuit: car je vois bien qu’il apprehende qu’il ne sera pas sur pour luy de partir en plein jour.”]
57 Story’s Impartial History of the Wars of Ireland, 1693; Life of James, ii. 374; Avaux, Sept. 7/17 1689; Nihell’s journal, printed in 1689, and reprinted by Macpherson.]
58 Story’s Impartial History.]
60 Avaux, Sep. 10/20. 1689; Story’s Impartial History; Life of James, ii. 377, 378 Orig. Mem. Story and James agree in estimating the Irish army at about twenty thousand men. See also Dangeau, Oct. 28. 1689.]
61 Life of James, ii. 377, 378. Orig. Mem.]
62 See Grey’s Debates, Nov. 26, 27, 28. 1689, and the Dialogue between a Lord Lieutenant and one of his deputies, 1692.]
63 Nihell’s Journal. A French officer, in a letter to Avaux, written soon after Schomberg’s landing, says, “Les Huguenots font plus de mal que les Anglois, et tuent force Catholiques pour avoir fait resistance.”]
64 Story; Narrative transmitted by Avaux to Seignelay, Nov 26/Dec 6 1689 London Gazette, Oct. 14. 1689. It is curious that, though Dumont was in the camp before Dundalk, there is in his MS. no mention of the conspiracy among the French.]
65 Story’s Impartial History; Dumont MS. The profaneness and dissoluteness of the camp during the sickness are mentioned in many contemporary pamphlets both in verse and prose. See particularly a Satire entitled Reformation of Manners, part ii.]
66 Story’s Impartial History.]
67 Avaux, Oct. 11/21. Nov. 14/24 1689; Story’s Impartial History; Life of James, ii. 382, 383. Orig. Mem.; Nihell’s Journal.]
68 Story’s Impartial History; Schomberg’s Despatches; Nihell’s Journal, and James’s Life; Burnet, ii. 20.; Dangeau’s journal during this autumn; the Narrative sent by Avaux to Seignelay, and the Dumont MS. The lying of the London Gazette is monstrous. Through the whole autumn the troops are constantly said to be in good condition. In the absurd drama entitled the Royal Voyage, which was acted for the amusement of the rabble of London in 1689, the Irish are represented as attacking some of the sick English. The English put the assailants to the rout, and then drop down dead.]
69 See his despatches in the appendix to Dalrymple’s Memoirs.]
70 London Gazette; May 20 1689.]
71 Commons’ Journals, Nov. 13, 23. 1689; Grey’s Debates, Nov. 13. 14. 18. 23. 1689. See, among numerous pasquinades, the Parable of the Bearbaiting, Reformation of Manners, a Satire, the Mock Mourners, a Satire. See also Pepys’s Diary kept at Tangier, Oct. 15. 1683.]
72 The best account of these negotiations will be found in Wagenaar, lxi. He had access to Witsen’s papers, and has quoted largely from them. It was Witsen who signed in violent agitation, “zo als” he says, “myne beevende hand getuigen kan.” The treaties will be found in Dumont’s Corps Diplomatique. They were signed in August 1689.]
73 The treaty between the Emperor and the States General is dated May 12. 1689. It will be found in Dumont’s Corps Diplomatique.]
74 See the despatch of Waldeck in the London Gazette, Aug. 26, 1689; historical Records of the First Regiment of Foot; Dangeau, Aug. 28.; Monthly Mercury, September 1689.]
75 See the Dear Bargain, a Jacobite pamphlet clandestinely printed in 1690. “I have not patience,” says the writer, “after this wretch (Marlborough) to mention any other. All are innocent comparatively, even Kirke himself.”]
76 See the Mercuries for September 1689, and the four following months. See also Welwood’s Mercurius Reformatus of Sept. 18. Sept. 25. and Oct. 8. 1689. Melfort’s Instructions, and his memorials to the Pope and the Cardinal of Este, are among the Nairne Papers; and some extracts have been printed by Macpherson.]
77 See the Answer of a Nonjuror to the Bishop of Sarum’s challenge in the Appendix to the Life of Kettlewell. Among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library is a paper which, as Sancroft thought it worth preserving, I venture to quote. The writer, a strong nonjuror, after trying to evade, by many pitiable shifts the argument drawn by a more compliant divine from the practice of the primitive Church, proceeds thus: “Suppose the primitive Christians all along, from the time of the very Apostles, had been as regardless of their oaths by former princes as he suggests will he therefore say that their practice is to be a rule? Ill things have been done, and very generally abetted, by men of otherwise very orthodox principles.” The argument from the practice of the primitive Christians is remarkably well put in a tract entitled The Doctrine of Nonresistance or Passive Obedience No Way concerned in the Controversies now depending between the Williamites and the Jacobites, by a Lay Gentleman, of the Communion of the Church of England, as by Law establish’d, 1689.]
78 One of the most adulatory addresses ever voted by a Convocation was to Richard the Third. It will be found in Wilkins’s Concilia. Dryden, in his fine rifacimento of one of the finest passages in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, represents the Good Parson as choosing to resign his benefice rather than acknowledge the Duke of Lancaster to be King of England. For this representation no warrant can be found in Chaucer’s Poem, or any where else. Dryden wished to write something that would gall the clergy who had taken the oaths, and therefore attributed to a Roman Catholic priest of the fourteenth century a superstition which originated among the Anglican priests of the seventeenth century.]
79 See the defence of the profession which the Right Reverend Father in God John Lake, Lord Bishop of Chichester, made upon his deathbed concerning passive obedience and the new oaths. 1690.]
80 London Gazette, June 30. 1689; Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary. “The eminentest men,” says Luttrell.]
81 See in Kettlewell’s Life, iii. 72., the retractation drawn by him for a clergyman who had taken the oaths, and who afterwards repented of having done so.]
82 See the account of Dr. Dove’s conduct in Clarendon’s Diary, and the account of Dr. Marsh’s conduct in the Life of Kettlewell.]
83 The Anatomy of a Jacobite Tory, 1690.]
84 Dialogue between a Whig and a Tory.]
85 Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary, Nov. 1697, Feb. 1692.]
86 Life of Kettlewell, iii. 4.]
87 See Turner’s Letter to Sancroft, dated on Ascension Day, 1689. The original is among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library. But the letter will be found with much other curious matter in the Life of Ken by a Layman, lately published. See also the Life of Kettlewell, iii. 95.; and Ken’s letter to Burnet, dated Oct. 5. 1689, in Hawkins’s Life of Ken. “I am sure,” Lady Russell wrote to Dr. Fitzwilliam, “the Bishop of Bath and Wells excited others to comply, when he could not bring himself to do so, but rejoiced when others did.” Ken declared that he had advised nobody to take the oaths, and that his practice had been to remit those who asked his advice to their own studies and prayers. Lady Russell’s assertion and Ken’s denial will be found to come nearly to the same thing, when we make those allowances which ought to be made for situation and feeling, even in weighing the testimony of the most veracious witnesses. Ken, having at last determined to cast in his lot with the nonjurors, naturally tried to vindicate his consistency as far as he honestly could. Lady Russell, wishing to induce her friend to take the oaths, naturally made as munch of Ken’s disposition to compliance as she honestly could. She went too far in using the word “excited.” On the other hand it is clear that Ken, by remitting those who consulted him to their own studies and prayers, gave them to understand that, in his opinion, the oath was lawful to those who, after a serious inquiry, thought it lawful. If people had asked him whether they might lawfully commit perjury or adultery, he would assuredly have told them, not to consider the point maturely and to implore the divine direction, but to abstain on peril of their souls.]
88 See the conversation of June 9. 1784, in Boswell’s Life of Johnson, and the note. Boswell, with his usual absurdity, is sure that Johnson could not have recollected “that the seven bishops, so justly celebrated for their magnanimous resistance to arbitrary power, were yet nonjurors.” Only five of the seven were nonjurors; and anybody but Boswell would have known that a man may resist arbitrary power, and yet not be a good reasoner. Nay, the resistance which Sancroft and the other nonjuring bishops offered to arbitrary power, while they continued to hold the doctrine of nonresistance, is the most decisive proof that they were incapable of reasoning. It must be remembered that they were prepared to take the whole kingly power from James and to bestow it on William, with the title of Regent. Their scruple was merely about the word King.
I am surprised that Johnson should have pronounced William Law no reasoner. Law did indeed fall into great errors; but they were errors against which logic affords no security. In mere dialectical skill he had very few superiors. That he was more than once victorious over Hoadley no candid Whig will deny. But Law did not belong to the generation with which I have now to do.]
89 Ware’s History of the Writers of Ireland, continued by Harris.]
90 Letter to a member of the Convention, 1689]
91 Johnson’s Notes on the Phoenix Edition of Burnet’s Pastoral Letter, 1692.]
92 The best notion of Hickes’s character will be formed from his numerous controversial writings, particularly his Jovian, written in 1684, his Thebaean Legion no Fable, written in 1687, though not published till 1714, and his discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson, 1695. His literary fame rests on works of a very different kind.]
93 Collier’s Tracts on the Stage are, on the whole his best pieces. But there is much that is striking in his political pamphlets. His “Persuasive to Consider anon, tendered to the Royalists, particularly those of the Church of England,” seems to me one of the best productions of the Jacobite press.]
94 See Brokesby’s Life of Dodwell. The Discourse against Marriages in different Communions is known to me, I ought to say, only from Brokesby’s copious abstract. That Discourse is very rare. It was originally printed as a preface to a sermon preached by Leslie. When Leslie collected his works he omitted the discourse, probably because he was ashamed of it. The Treatise on the Lawfulness of Instrumental Music I have read; and incredibly absurd it is.]
95 Dodwell tells us that the title of the work in which he first promulgated this theory was framed with great care and precision. I will therefore transcribe the title-page. “An Epistolary Discourse proving from Scripture and the First Fathers that the Soul is naturally Mortal, but Immortalized actually by the Pleasure of God to Punishment or to Reward, by its Union with the Divine Baptismal Spirit, wherein is proved that none have the Power of giving this Divine Immortalizing Spirit since the Apostles but only the Bishops. By H. Dodwell.” Dr. Clarke, in a Letter to Dodwell (1706), says that this Epistolary Discourse is “a book at which all good men are sorry, and all profane men rejoice.”]
96 See Leslie’s Rehearsals, No. 286, 287.]
97 See his works, and the highly curious life of him which was compiled from the papers of his friends Hickes and Nelson.]
98 See Fitzwilliam’s correspondence with Lady Russell, and his evidence on the trial of Ashton, in the State Trials. The only work which Fitzwilliam, as far as I have been able to discover, ever published was a sermon on the Rye House Plot, preached a few weeks after Russell’s execution. There are some sentences in this sermon which I a little wonder that the widow and the family forgave.]
99 Cyprian, in one of his Epistles, addresses the confessors thus: “Quosdam audio inficere numerum vestrum, et laudem praecipui nominis prava sua conversatione destruere . . . Cum quanto nominis vestri pudore delinquitur quando alius aliquis temulentus et lasciviens demoratur; alius in eam patriam unde extorris est regreditur, ut deprehensus non eam quasi Christianus, sed quasi nocens pereat.” He uses still stronger language in the book de Unitate Ecclesiae: “Neque enim confessio immunem facet ab insidiis diaboli, aut contra tentationes et pericula et incursus atque impetus saeculares adhuc in saeculo positum perpetua securitate defendit; caeterum nunquam in confessoribus fraudes et stupra et adulteria postmodum videremus, quae nunc in quibusdam videntes ingemiscimus et dolemus.”]
100 Much curious information about the nonjurors will be found in the Biographical Memoirs of William Bowyer, printer, which forms the first volume of Nichols’s Literary Anecdotes of the eighteenth century. A specimen of Wagstaffe’s prescriptions is in the Bodleian Library.]
101 Cibber’s play, as Cibber wrote it, ceased to be popular when the Jacobites ceased to be formidable, and is now known only to the curious. In 1768 Bickerstaffe altered it into the Hypocrite, and substituted Dr. Cantwell, the Methodist, for Dr. Wolfe, the Nonjuror. “I do not think,” said Johnson, “the character of the Hypocrite justly applicable to the Methodists; but it was very applicable to the nonjurors.” Boswell asked him if it were true that the nonjuring clergymen intrigued with the wives of their patrons. “I am afraid,” said Johnson, “many of them did.” This conversation took place on the 27th of March 1775. It was not merely in careless tally that Johnson expressed an unfavourable opinion of the nonjurors. In his Life of Fenton, who was a nonjuror, are these remarkable words: “It must be remembered that he kept his name unsullied, and never suffered himself to be reduced, like too many of the same sect to mean arts and dishonourable shifts.” See the Character of a Jacobite, 1690. Even in Kettlewell’s Life compiled from the papers of his friends Hickes and Nelson, will be found admissions which show that, very soon after the schism, some of the nonjuring clergy fell into habits of idleness, dependence, and mendicancy, which lowered the character of the whole party. “Several undeserving persons, who are always the most confident, by their going up and down, did much prejudice to the truly deserving, whose modesty would not suffer them to solicit for themselves. . . . .. Mr. Kettlewell was also very sensible that some of his brethren spent too much of their time in places of concourse and news, by depending for their subsistence upon those whom they there got acquainted with.”]
102 Reresby’s Memoirs, 344]
103 Birch’s Life of Tillotson.]
104 See the Discourse concerning the Ecclesiastical Commission, 1689.]
105 Birch’s Life of Tillotson; Life of Prideaux; Gentleman’s Magazine for June and July, 1745.]
106 Diary of the Proceedings of the Commissioners, taken by Dr. Williams afterwards Bishop of Chichester, one of the Commissioners, every night after he went home from the several meetings. This most curious Diary was printed by order of the House of Commons in 1854.]
107 Williams’s Diary.]
108 Williams’s Diary.]
110 See the alterations in the Book of Common Prayer prepared by the Royal Commissioners for the revision of the Liturgy in 1689, and printed by order of the House of Commons in 1854.]
111 It is difficult to conceive stronger or clearer language than that used by the Council. Touton toinun anagnosthenton orisan e agia sunodos, eteran pistin medeni ekseinai prospherein, egoun suggraphein, e suntithenia, para ten oristheisan para ton agion pateron ton en te Nikaeon sunegthonton sun agio pneumati tous de tolmontas e suntithenai pistin eteran, egoun prokomizein, e prospherein tois ethegousin epistrephein eis epignosin tes agetheias e eks Ellinismou e eks Ioudaismon, i eks aireseos oiasdepotoun, toutous, ei men eien episkopoi i klerikoi, allotrious einai tous episkopon, tes episkopes, kai tous klerikous ton kliron ei de laikoi eien, agathematizesthai — Concil. Ephes. Actio VI.]
112 Williams’s Diary; Alterations in the Book of Common Prayer.]
113 It is curious to consider how those great masters of the Latin tongue who used to sup with Maecenas and Pollio would have been perplexed by “Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth;” or by “Ideo cum angelis et archangelis, cum thronis et dominationibus.”]
114 I will give two specimens of Patrick’s workmanship. “He maketh me,” says David, “to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Patrick’s version is as follows: “For as a good shepherd leads his sheep in the violent heat to shady places, where they may lie down and feed (not in parched but) in fresh and green pastures, and in the evening leads them (not to muddy and troubled waters, but) to pure and quiet streams; so hath he already made a fair and plentiful provision for me, which I enjoy in peace without any disturbance.”
In the Song of Solomon is an exquisitely beautiful verse. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love.” Patrick’s version runs thus: “So I turned myself to those of my neighbours and familiar acquaintance who were awakened by my cries to come and see what the matter was; and conjured them, as they would answer it to God, that, if they met with my beloved, they would let him know — What shall I say? — What shall I desire you to tell him but that I do not enjoy myself now that I want his company, nor can be well till I recover his love again.”]
115 William’s dislike of the Cathedral service is sarcastically noticed by Leslie in the Rehearsal, No. 7. See also a Letter from a Member of the House of Commons to his Friend in the Country, 1689, and Bisset’s Modern Fanatic, 1710.]
116 See the Order in Council of Jan. 9. 1683.]
117 See Collier’s Desertion discussed, 1689. Thomas Carte, who was a disciple, and, at one time, an assistant of Collier, inserted, so late as the year 1747, in a bulky History of England, an exquisitely absurd note in which he assured the world that, to his certain knowledge, the Pretender had cured the scrofula, and very gravely inferred that the healing virtue was transmitted by inheritance, and was quite independent of any unction. See Carte’s History of England, vol, i. page 297.]
118 See the Preface to a Treatise on Wounds, by Richard Wiseman, Sergeant Chirurgeon to His Majesty, 1676. But the fullest information on this curious subject will be found in the Charisma Basilicon, by John Browne, Chirurgeon in ordinary to His Majesty, 1684. See also The Ceremonies used in the Time of King Henry VII. for the Healing of them that be Diseased with the King’s Evil, published by His Majesty’s Command, 1686; Evelyn’s Diary, March 18. 1684; and Bishop Cartwright’s Diary, August 28, 29, and 30. 1687. It is incredible that so large a proportion of the population should have been really scrofulous. No doubt many persons who had slight and transient maladies were brought to the king, and the recovery of these persons kept up the vulgar belief in the efficacy of his touch.]
119 Paris Gazette, April 23. 1689.]
120 See Whiston’s Life of himself. Poor Whiston, who believed in every thing but the Trinity, tells us gravely that the single person whom William touched was cured, notwithstanding His Majesty’s want of faith. See also the Athenian Mercury of January 16. 1691.]
121 In several recent publications the apprehension that differences might arise between the Convocation of York and the Convocation of Canterbury has been contemptuously pronounced chimerical. But it is not easy to understand why two independent Convocations should be less likely to differ than two Houses of the same Convocation; and it is matter of notoriety that, in the reigns of William the Third and Anne, the two Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury scarcely ever agreed.]
122 Birch’s Life of Tillotson; Life of Prideaux. From Clarendon’s Diary, it appears that he and Rochester were at Oxford on the 23rd of September.]
123 See the Roll in the Historical Account of the present Convocation, appended to the second edition of Vox Cleri, 1690. The most considerable name that I perceive in the list of proctors chosen by the parochial clergy is that of Dr. John Mill, the editor of the Greek Testament.]
124 Tillotson to Lady Russell, April 19. 1690.]
125 Birch’s Life of Tillotson. The account there given of the coldness between Compton and Tillotson was taken by Birch from the MSS. of Henry Wharton, and is confirmed by many circumstances which are known from other sources of intelligence.]
126 Chamberlayne’s State of England, 18th edition.]
127 Condo ad Synodum per Gulielmum Beveregium, 1689.]
128 Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary; Historical Account of the Present Convocation.]
129 Kennet’s History, iii. 552.]
130 Historical Account of the Present Convocation, 1689.]
131 Historical Account of the Present Convocation; Burnet, ii. 58.; Kennet’s History of the Reign of William and Mary.]
132 Historical Account of the Present Convocation; Kennet’s History.]
133 Historical Account of the Present Convocation; Kennet.]
134 Historical Account of the Present Convocation.]
135 That there was such a jealousy as I have described is admitted in the pamphlet entitled Vox Cleri. “Some country ministers now of the Convocation, do now see in what great ease and plenty the City ministers live, who have their readers and lecturers, and frequent supplies, and sometimes tarry in the vestry till prayers be ended, and have great dignities in the Church, besides their rich parishes in the City.” The author of this tract, once widely celebrated, was Thomas Long, proctor for the clergy of the diocese of Exeter. In another pamphlet, published at this time, the rural clergymen are said to have seen with an evil eye their London brethren refreshing themselves with sack after preaching. Several satirical allusions to the fable of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse will be found in the pamphlets of that winter.]
136 Barnet, ii, 33, 34. The best narratives of what passed in this Convocation are the Historical Account appended to the second edition of Vox Cleri, and the passage in Kennet’s History to which I have already referred the reader. The former narrative is by a very high churchman, the latter by a very low churchman. Those who are desirous of obtaining fuller information must consult the contemporary pamphlets. Among them are Vox Populi; Vox Laici; Vox Regis et Regni; the Healing Attempt; the Letter to a Friend, by Dean Prideaux the Letter from a Minister in the Country to a Member of the Convocation; the Answer to the Merry Answer to Vox Cleri; the Remarks from the Country upon two Letters relating to the Convocation; the Vindication of the Letters in answer to Vox Cleri; the Answer to the Country Minister’s Letter. All these tracts appeared late in 1689 or early in 1690.]
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