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Title: History of the English People, Volume VII (of 8) - The Revolution, 1683-1760; Modern England, 1760-1767
Author: Green, John Richard, 1837-1883
Language: English
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Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford


THE REVOLUTION, 1683-1760. MODERN ENGLAND, 1760-1767

MacMillan and Co., Ltd.
New York: MacMillan & Co.

First Edition 1879; Reprinted 1882, 1886, 1891.
Eversley Edition, 1896.



   THE REVOLUTION. 1683-1760

        THE FALL OF THE STUARTS. 1683-1714.            1

        CHAPTER IV

        THE HOUSE OF HANOVER. 1714-1760.             147


   MODERN ENGLAND. 1760-1815

        CHAPTER I

        ENGLAND AND ITS EMPIRE. 1760-1767.           273




[Sidenote: The King's Triumph.]

In 1683 the Constitutional opposition which had held Charles so long in
check lay crushed at his feet. A weaker man might easily have been led
to play the mere tyrant by the mad outburst of loyalty which greeted his
triumph. On the very day when the crowd around Russell's scaffold were
dipping their handkerchiefs in his blood as in the blood of a martyr the
University of Oxford solemnly declared that the doctrine of passive
obedience even to the worst of rulers was a part of religion. But
Charles saw that immense obstacles still lay in the road of a mere
tyranny. Ormond and the great Tory party which had rallied to his
succour against the Exclusionists were still steady for parliamentary
and legal government. The Church was as powerful as ever, and the
mention of a renewal of the Indulgence to Nonconformists had to be
withdrawn before the opposition of the bishops. He was careful therefore
during the few years which remained to him to avoid the appearance of
any open violation of public law. He suspended no statute. He imposed no
tax by Royal authority. Galling to the Crown as the freedom of the press
and the Habeas Corpus Act were soon found to be, Charles made no attempt
to curtail the one or to infringe the other. But while cautious to avoid
rousing popular resistance, he moved coolly and resolutely forward on
the path of despotism. It was in vain that Halifax pressed for energetic
resistance to the aggressions of France, for the recall of Monmouth, or
for the calling of a fresh Parliament. Like every other English
statesman he found he had been duped. Now that his work was done he was
suffered to remain in office but left without any influence in the
government. Hyde, who was created Earl of Rochester, still remained at
the head of the Treasury; but Charles soon gave more of his confidence
to the supple and acute Sunderland, who atoned for his desertion of the
king's cause in the heat of the Exclusion Bill by an acknowledgement of
his error and a pledge of entire accordance with the king's will.

[Sidenote: New Town Charters.]

The protests both of Halifax and of Danby, who was now released from the
Tower, in favour of a return to Parliaments were treated with
indifference, the provisions of the Triennial Act were disregarded, and
the Houses remained unassembled during the remainder of the king's
reign. His secret alliance with France furnished Charles with the funds
he immediately required, and the rapid growth of the customs through the
increase of English commerce promised to give him a revenue which, if
peace were preserved, would save him from any further need of fresh
appeals to the Commons. Charles was too wise however to look upon
Parliaments as utterly at an end: and he used this respite to secure a
House of Commons which should really be at his disposal. The strength of
the Country party had been broken by its own dissensions over the
Exclusion Bill and by the flight or death of its more prominent leaders.
Whatever strength it retained lay chiefly in the towns, whose
representation was for the most part virtually or directly in the hands
of their corporations, and whose corporations, like the merchant class
generally, were in sympathy Whig. The towns were now attacked by writs
of "quo warranto," which called on them to show cause why their charters
should not be declared forfeited on the ground of abuse of their
privileges. A few verdicts on the side of the Crown brought about a
general surrender of municipal liberties; and the grant of fresh
charters, in which all but ultra-loyalists were carefully excluded from
their corporations, placed the representation of the boroughs in the
hands of the Crown. Against active discontent Charles had long been
quietly providing by the gradual increase of his Guards. The withdrawal
of its garrison from Tangier enabled him to raise their force to nine
thousand well-equipped soldiers, and to supplement this force, the
nucleus of our present standing army, by a reserve of six regiments
which were maintained till they should be needed at home in the service
of the United Provinces.

[Sidenote: Death of Charles.]

But great as the danger really was it lay not so much in isolated acts
of tyranny as in the character and purpose of Charles himself, and his
death at the very moment of his triumph saved English freedom. He had
regained his old popularity; and at the news of his sickness in the
spring of 1685 crowds thronged the churches, praying that God would
raise him up again to be a father to his people. But while his subjects
were praying the one anxiety of the king was to die reconciled to the
Catholic Church. His chamber was cleared, and a priest named Huddleston,
who had saved his life after the battle of Worcester, received his
confession and administered the last sacraments. Not a word of this
ceremony was whispered when the nobles and bishops were recalled into
the royal presence, and Charles though steadily refusing the communion
which Bishop Ken offered him accepted the bishop's absolution. All the
children of his mistresses save Monmouth were gathered round the bed,
and Charles commended them to his brother's protection by name. The
scene which followed is described by a chaplain to one of the prelates
who stood round the dying king. Charles "blessed all his children one by
one, pulling them on to his bed; and then the bishops moved him, as he
was the Lord's anointed and the father of his country, to bless them
also and all that were there present, and in them the general body of
his subjects. Whereupon, the room being full, all fell down upon their
knees, and he raised himself in his bed and very solemnly blessed them
all." The strange comedy was at last over. Charles died as he had lived:
brave, witty, cynical, even in the presence of death. Tortured as he was
with pain, he begged the bystanders to forgive him for being so
unconscionable a time in dying. One mistress, the Duchess of Portsmouth,
hung weeping over his bed. His last thought was of another mistress,
Nell Gwynn. "Do not," he whispered to his successor ere he sank into a
fatal stupor, "do not let poor Nelly starve!"

[Sidenote: James the Second.]

The death of Charles in February 1685 placed his brother James, the Duke
of York, upon the throne. His character and policy were already well
known. Of all the Stuart rulers James is the only one whose intellect
was below mediocrity. His mind was dull and narrow though orderly and
methodical; his temper dogged and arbitrary but sincere. His religious
and political tendencies had always been the same. He had always
cherished an entire belief in the royal authority and a hatred of
Parliaments. His main desire was for the establishment of Catholicism as
the only means of ensuring the obedience of his people; and his old love
of France was quickened by the firm reliance which he placed on the aid
of Lewis in bringing about that establishment. But the secrecy in which
his political action had as yet been shrouded and his long absence from
England had hindered any general knowledge of his designs. His first
words on his accession, his promise to "preserve this Government both in
Church and State as it is now by law established," were welcomed by the
whole country with enthusiasm. All the suspicions of a Catholic
sovereign seemed to have disappeared. "We have the word of a King!" ran
the general cry, "and of a King who was never worse than his word." The
conviction of his brother's faithlessness in fact stood James in good
stead. He was looked upon as narrow, impetuous, stubborn, and despotic
in heart, but even his enemies did not accuse him of being false. Above
all, incredible as such a belief may seem now, he was believed to be
keenly alive to the honour of his country and resolute to free it from
foreign dependence.

[Sidenote: James and Parliament.]

From the first indeed there were indications that James understood his
declaration in a different sense from the nation. He was resolved to
make no disguise of his own religion; the chapel in which he had
hitherto worshipped with closed doors was now thrown open and the king
seen at Mass. He regarded attacks on his faith as attacks on himself,
and at once called on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of
London to hinder all preaching against Catholicism as a part of their
"duty" to their king. He made no secret of his resolve to procure
freedom of worship for his co-religionists while still refusing it to
the rest of the Nonconformists, whom he hated as republicans and
Exclusionists. All was passed over however in the general confidence. It
was necessary to summon a Parliament, for the royal revenue ceased with
the death of Charles; but the elections, swayed at once by the tide of
loyalty and by the command of the boroughs which the surrender of their
charters had given to the Crown, sent up in May a House of Commons in
which James found few members who were not to his mind. His appointment
indeed of Catholic officers in the army was already exciting murmurs;
but these were hushed as James repeated his pledge of maintaining the
established order both in Church and State. The question of religious
security was waived at a hint of the royal displeasure, and a revenue of
nearly two millions was granted to the king for life.

[Sidenote: Argyle's Rising.]

All that was wanted to rouse the loyalty of the country into fanaticism
was supplied by a rebellion in the North, and by another under Monmouth
in the West. The hopes of Scotch freedom had clung ever since the
Restoration to the house of Argyle. The great Marquis indeed had been
brought to the block at the king's return. His son, the Earl of Argyle,
had been unable to save himself even by a life of singular caution and
obedience from the ill-will of the vile politicians who governed
Scotland. He was at last convicted of treason in 1682 on grounds at
which every English statesman stood aghast. "We should not hang a dog
here," Halifax protested, "on the grounds on which my Lord Argyle has
been sentenced to death." The Earl escaped however to Holland, and lived
peaceably there during the last six years of the reign of Charles.
Monmouth had found the same refuge at the Hague, where a belief in the
king's love and purpose to recall him secured him a kindly reception
from William of Orange. But the accession of James was a death-blow to
the hopes of the Duke, while it stirred the fanaticism of Argyle to a
resolve of wresting Scotland from the rule of a Catholic king. The two
leaders determined to appear in arms in England and the North, and the
two expeditions sailed within a few days of each other. Argyle's attempt
was soon over. His clan of the Campbells rose on the Earl's landing in
Cantyre, but the country had been occupied for the king, and quarrels
among the exiles who accompanied him robbed his effort of every chance
of success. His force scattered without a fight; and Argyle, arrested
in an attempt to escape, was hurried on the 30th of June to a traitor's

[Sidenote: Monmouth's Rising.]

Monmouth for a time found brighter fortune. His popularity in the West
was great, and though the gentry held aloof when he landed at Lyme and
demanded an effective parliamentary government as well as freedom of
worship for Protestant Nonconformists, the farmers and traders of
Devonshire and Dorset flocked to his standard. The clothier-towns of
Somerset were true to the Whig cause, as they had been true to the cause
of the Long Parliament; and on the entrance of the Duke into Taunton the
popular enthusiasm showed itself in the flowers which wreathed every
door, as well as in a train of young girls who presented Monmouth with a
Bible and a flag. His forces now amounted to six thousand men, but
whatever chance of success he might have had was lost by his assumption
of the title of king, his right to which he had pledged himself hitherto
to leave for decision to a free Parliament. The two Houses offered to
support James with their lives and fortunes, and passed a bill of
attainder against the Duke. The gentry, still true to the cause of Mary
and of William, held stubbornly aloof; while the Guards and the
regiments from Tangier hurried to the scene of the revolt and the
militia gathered to the royal standard. Foiled in an attempt on Bristol
and Bath, Monmouth fell back on Bridgewater, and flung himself in the
night of the 6th of July on the king's forces as they lay encamped hard
by on Sedgemoor. The surprise failed; and the brave peasants and miners
who followed the Duke, checked in their advance by a deep drain which
crossed the moor, were broken after a short but desperate resistance by
the royal horse. Their leader fled from the field, and after a vain
effort to escape from the realm was captured and sent pitilessly to the

[Sidenote: The Bloody Circuit.]

Never had England shown a firmer loyalty; but its loyalty was changed
into horror by the terrible measures of repression which followed on the
victory of Sedgemoor. Even North, the Lord Keeper, a servile tool of the
Crown, protested against the license and bloodshed in which the troops
were suffered to indulge after the battle. His protest however was
disregarded, and he withdrew broken-hearted from the Court to die. James
was in fact resolved on a far more terrible vengeance; and the
Chief-Justice Jeffreys, a man of great natural powers but of violent
temper, was sent to earn the Seals by a series of judicial murders which
have left his name a byword for cruelty. Three hundred and fifty rebels
were hanged in what has ever since, been known as the "Bloody Circuit,"
while Jeffreys made his way through Dorset and Somerset. More than eight
hundred were sold into slavery beyond sea. A yet larger number were
whipped and imprisoned. The Queen, the maids of honour, the courtiers,
even the Judge himself, made shameless profit from the sale of pardons.
What roused pity above all were the cruelties wreaked upon women. Some
were scourged from market-town to market-town. Mrs. Lisle, the wife of
one of the Regicides, was sent to the block at Winchester for harbouring
a rebel. Elizabeth Gaunt for the same act of womanly charity was burned
at Tyburn. Pity turned into horror when it was found that cruelty such
as this was avowed and sanctioned by the king. Even the cold heart of
General Churchill, to whose energy the victory at Sedgemoor had mainly
been owing, revolted at the ruthlessness with which James turned away
from all appeals for mercy. "This marble," he cried as he struck the
chimney-piece on which he leant, "is not harder than the king's heart."

[Sidenote: James and France.]

But it was soon plain that the terror which this butchery was meant to
strike into the people was part of a larger purpose. The revolt was made
a pretext for a vast increase of the standing army. Charles, as we have
seen, had silently and cautiously raised it to nearly ten thousand men;
James raised it at one swoop to twenty thousand. The employment of this
force was to be at home, not abroad, for the hope of an English policy
in foreign affairs had already faded away. In the designs which James
had at heart he could look for no consent from Parliament; and however
his pride revolted against a dependence on France, it was only by
French gold and French soldiers that he could hope to hold the
Parliament permanently at bay. A week therefore after his accession he
assured Lewis that his gratitude and devotion to him equalled that of
Charles himself. "Tell your master," he said to the French ambassador,
"that without his protection I can do nothing. He has a right to be
consulted, and it is my wish to consult him, about everything." The
pledge of subservience was rewarded with the promise of a subsidy, and
the promise was received with the strongest expressions of delight and
servility. The hopes which the Prince of Orange had conceived from his
father-in-law's more warlike temper were nipped by a refusal to allow
him to visit England. All the caution and reserve of Charles the Second
in his dealings with France was set aside. Sunderland, the favourite
Minister of the new king as he had been of the old, not only promised
during the session to avoid the connection with Spain and Holland which
the Parliament was known to desire, but "to throw aside the mask and
openly break with them as soon as the royal revenue is secured." The
support indeed which James needed was a far closer and firmer support
than his brother had sought for. Lewis on the other hand trusted him as
he could never trust Charles. His own bigotry understood the bigotry of
the new sovereign. "The confirmation of the King's authority and the
establishment of religion," he wrote, "are our common interest"; and he
promised that James should "find in his friendship all the resources
which he can expect."

[Sidenote: Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.]

Never had the secret league with France seemed so full of danger to
English religion. Europe had long been trembling at the ambition of
Lewis; it was trembling now at his bigotry. He had proclaimed warfare
against civil liberty in his attack upon Holland; he declared war at
this moment upon religious freedom by revoking the Edict of Nantes, the
measure by which Henry the Fourth after his abandonment of Protestantism
secured toleration and the free exercise of their worship for his
Protestant subjects. It had been respected by Richelieu even in his
victory over the Huguenots, and only lightly tampered with by Mazarin.
But from the beginning of his reign Lewis had resolved to set aside its
provisions, and his revocation of it at the end of 1685 was only the
natural close of a progressive system of persecution. The revocation was
followed by outrages more cruel than even the bloodshed of Alva.
Dragoons were quartered on Protestant families, women were flung from
their sick-beds into the streets, children were torn from their mothers'
arms to be brought up in Catholicism, ministers were sent to the
galleys. In spite of the royal edicts which forbade even flight to the
victims of these horrible atrocities a hundred thousand Protestants
fled over the borders, and Holland, Switzerland, the Palatinate, were
filled with French exiles. Thousands found refuge in England, and their
industry established in the fields east of London the silk trade of

[Sidenote: James and the Parliament.]

But while Englishmen were looking with horror on these events in France
James was taking advantage of the position in which as he believed they
placed him. The news of the revocation drew from James expressions of
delight. The rapid increase of the conversions to Catholicism which
followed on the "dragonnades" raised in him hopes of as general an
apostasy in his own dominions. His tone took a new haughtiness and
decision. He admitted more Catholic officers into his fresh regiments.
He dismissed Halifax from the Privy Council on his refusal to consent to
a plan for repealing the Test Act. He met the Parliament on its
reassembling in November with a haughty declaration that whether legal
or no his grant of commissions to Catholics must not be questioned, and
with a demand of supplies for his new troops. Loyal as was the temper of
the Houses, their alarm for the Church, their dread of a standing army,
was yet stronger than their loyalty. The Commons by the majority of a
single vote deferred the grant of supplies till grievances were
redressed, and demanded in their address the recall of the illegal
commissions on the ground that the continuance of the Catholic officers
in their posts "may be taken to be a dispensing with that law without
Act of Parliament." The Lords took a bolder tone; and the protest of the
bishops against any infringement of the Test Act expressed by Bishop
Compton of London was backed by the eloquence of Halifax. Their desire
for conciliation indeed was shown in an offer to confirm the existing
officers in their posts by Act of Parliament, and even to allow fresh
nominations of Catholics by the king under the same security. But James
had no wish for such a compromise, and the Houses were at once

[Sidenote: The Test set aside.]

The king resolved to obtain from the judges what he could not obtain
from Parliament. He remodelled the bench by dismissing four judges who
refused to lend themselves to his plans; and in the June of 1686 their
successors decided in the case of Sir Edward Hales, a Catholic officer
in the army, that a royal dispensation could be pleaded in bar of the
Test Act. The principle laid down by the judges "that it is a privilege
inseparably connected with the sovereignty of the King to dispense with
penal laws, and that according to his own judgment," was applied by
James with a reckless impatience of all decency and self-restraint.
Catholics were admitted into civil and military offices without stint,
and four Catholic peers were sworn as members of the Privy Council. The
laws which forbade the presence of Catholic priests in the realm or the
open exercise of Catholic worship were set at nought. A gorgeous chapel
was opened in the palace of St. James for the use of the king.
Carmelites, Benedictines, Franciscans, appeared in their religious garb
in the streets of London, and the Jesuits set up a crowded school in the
Savoy. The quick growth of discontent at these acts would have startled
a wiser man into prudence, but James prided himself on an obstinacy
which never gave way; and a riot which took place on the opening of a
Catholic chapel in the City was followed by the establishment of a camp
of thirteen thousand men at Hounslow to overawe the capital.

[Sidenote: Scotland and Ireland.]

The course which James intended to follow in England was shown indeed by
the course he was following in the sister kingdoms. In Scotland he acted
as a pure despot. At the close of Charles's reign the extreme
Covenanters or "wild Whigs" of the Western shires had formally renounced
their allegiance to a "prelatical" king. A smouldering revolt spread
over the country that was only held in check by the merciless cruelties
with which the royal troops avenged the "rabbling of priests" and the
outrages committed by the Whigs on the more prominent persecutors. Such
a revolt threw strength into the hands of the government by rallying to
its side all who were bent on public order, and this strength was
doubled by the landing and failure of Argyle. The Scotch Parliament
granted excise and customs not to the king only but to his successors,
while it confirmed the Acts which established religious conformity. But
James was far from being satisfied with a loyalty which made no
concession to the "king's religion." He placed the government of
Scotland in the hands of two lords, Melfort and Perth, who had embraced
his own faith, and put a Catholic in command of the Castle of Edinburgh.
The drift of these measures was soon seen. The Scotch Parliament had as
yet been the mere creature of the Crown, but servile as were its members
there was a point at which their servility stopped. When James boldly
required them to legalize the toleration of Catholics they refused to
pass such an Act. It was in vain that the king tempted them to consent
by the offer of a free trade with England. "Shall we sell our God?" was
the indignant reply. James at once ordered the Scotch judges to treat
all laws against Catholics as null and void, and his orders were obeyed.
In Ireland his policy threw off even the disguise of law. Catholics were
admitted by the king's command to the council and to civil offices. A
Catholic, Lord Tyrconnell, was put at the head of the army, and set
instantly about its re-organization by cashiering Protestant officers
and by admitting two thousand Catholic natives into its ranks.

[Sidenote: The High Commission.]

Meanwhile in England James was passing from the mere attempt to secure
freedom for his fellow-religionists to a bold and systematic attack
upon the Church. He had at the outset of his reign forbidden the clergy
to preach against "the king's religion"; and ordered the bishops to act
upon this prohibition. But no steps were taken by them to carry out this
order; and the pulpits of the capital soon rang with controversial
sermons. For such a sermon James now called on Compton, the Bishop of
London, to suspend Dr. Sharp, the rector of St. Giles'-in-the-Fields.
Compton answered that as judge he was ready to examine into the case if
brought before him according to law. To James the matter was not one of
law but of prerogative. He regarded his ecclesiastical supremacy as a
weapon providentially left to him for undoing the work which it had
enabled his predecessors to do. Under Henry and Elizabeth it had been
used to turn the Church of England from Catholic to Protestant. Under
James it might be used to turn the Church back again from Protestant to
Catholic. The High Commission indeed which had enforced this supremacy
had been declared illegal by an Act of the Long Parliament, and this Act
had been confirmed by the Parliament of the Restoration. But it was
thought possible to evade this Act by omitting from the instructions on
which the Commission acted the extraordinary powers and jurisdictions by
which its predecessor had given offence. With this reserve, seven
commissioners were appointed in the summer of 1686 for the government
of the Church with the Chancellor, Lord Jeffreys, at their head. The
first blow of the Commission was at the Bishop of London whose refusal
to suspend Sharp was punished by his own suspension. But the pressure of
the Commission only drove the clergy to a bolder defiance of the royal
will. The legality of the Commission and of its proceedings was denied.
Not even the Pope, it was said, had claimed such rights over the conduct
and jurisdiction of English bishops as were claimed by the king. The
prohibition of attacks on the "king's religion" was set at nought.
Sermons against superstition were preached from every pulpit; and the
two most famous divines of the day, Tillotson and Stillingfleet, put
themselves at the head of a host of controversialists who scattered
pamphlets and tracts from every printing press.

[Sidenote: James and the Tories.]

It was in vain that the bulk of the Catholic gentry stood aloof and
predicted the inevitable reaction which the king's course must bring
about, or that Rome itself counselled greater moderation. James was
infatuated with what seemed to be the success of his enterprises. He
looked on the opposition he experienced as due to the influence of the
High Church Tories who had remained in power since the reaction of 1681,
and these he determined "to chastise." The Duke of Queensberry, the
leader of this party in Scotland, was driven from office. Tyrconnell, as
we have seen, was placed as a check on Ormond in Ireland. In England
James resolved to show the world that even the closest ties of blood
were as nothing to him if they conflicted with the demands of his faith.
His earlier marriage with Anne Hyde, the daughter of Clarendon, bound
both the Chancellor's sons to his fortunes; and on his accession he had
sent his elder brother-in-law, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, as
Lord-Lieutenant to Ireland, and raised the younger, Laurence, Earl of
Rochester, who had long been a minister under Charles the Second, to the
post of Lord Treasurer. But the sons of Hyde were as staunch to the old
Cavalier doctrines of Church and State as Hyde himself. Rochester
therefore was told in the opening of 1687 that the king could not safely
entrust so great a charge to any one who did not share his sentiments on
religion, and on his refusal to abandon his faith he was deprived of the
White Staff. His brother Clarendon shared his fall. A Catholic, Lord
Bellasys, became First Lord of the Treasury, which was again put into
commission after Rochester's removal; and another Catholic, Lord
Arundell, became Lord Privy Seal; while Father Petre, a Jesuit, was
called to the Privy Council.

[Sidenote: The Tory Nobles.]

The dismissal of Rochester sprang mainly from a belief that with such a
minister James would fail to procure from the Parliament that freedom
for Catholics which he was bent on establishing. It was in fact a
declaration that on this matter none in the king's service must oppose
the king's will, and it was followed up by the dismissal of one official
after another who refused to aid in the repeal of the Test Act. But acts
like these were of no avail against the steady growth of resistance. If
the great Tory nobles were staunch for the Crown, they were as resolute
Englishmen in their hatred of mere tyranny as the Whigs themselves.
James gave the Duke of Norfolk the sword of State to carry before him as
he went to Mass. The Duke stopped at the Chapel door. "Your father would
have gone further," said the king. "Your Majesty's father was the better
man," replied the Duke, "and he would not have gone so far." The young
Duke of Somerset was ordered to introduce into the Presence Chamber the
Papal Nuncio, who was now received in State at Windsor in the teeth of a
statute which forbade diplomatic relations with Rome. "I am advised,"
Somerset answered, "that I cannot obey your Majesty without breaking the
law." "Do you not know that I am above the law?" James asked angrily.
"Your Majesty may be, but I am not," retorted the Duke. He was dismissed
from his post, but the spirit of resistance spread fast. In spite of the
king's letters the governors of the Charterhouse, who numbered among
them some of the greatest English nobles, refused to admit a Catholic to
the benefits of the foundation. The most devoted loyalists began to
murmur when James demanded apostasy as a proof of their loyalty.

[Sidenote: James and the Nonconformists.]

He had in fact to abandon at last all hope of bringing the Church or the
Tories over to his will, and in the spring of 1687 he turned, as Charles
had turned, to the Nonconformists. He published in April a Declaration
of Indulgence which suspended the operation of the penal laws against
Nonconformists and Catholics alike, and of every Act which imposed a
test as a qualification for office in Church or State. A hope was
expressed that this measure would be sanctioned by Parliament when it
was suffered to reassemble. The temptation to accept the Indulgence was
great, for since the fall of Shaftesbury persecution had fallen heavily
on the Protestant dissidents, and we can hardly wonder that the
Nonconformists wavered for a time or that numerous addresses of thanks
were presented to James. But the great body of them, and all the more
venerable names among them, remained true to the cause of freedom.
Baxter, Howe, and Bunyan all refused an Indulgence which could only be
purchased by the violent overthrow of the law. It was plain that the
only mode of actually securing the end which James had in view was to
procure a repeal of the Test Act from Parliament itself. It was to this
that the king's dismissal of Rochester and other ministerial changes had
been directed; but James found that the temper of the existing Houses,
so far as he could test it, remained absolutely opposed to his project.
In July therefore he dissolved the Parliament, and summoned a new one.
In spite of the support he might expect from the Nonconformists in the
elections, he knew that no free Parliament could be brought to consent
to the repeal. The Lords indeed could be swamped by lavish creations of
new peers. "Your troop of horse," Lord Sunderland told Churchill, "shall
be called up into the House of Lords." But it was a harder matter to
secure a compliant House of Commons. No effort however was spared. The
Lord-Lieutenants were directed to bring about such a "regulation" of the
governing body in boroughs as would ensure the return of candidates
pledged to the repeal of the Test, and to question every magistrate in
their county as to his vote. Half of them at once refused to comply, and
a string of great nobles--the Lords of Oxford, Shrewsbury, Dorset,
Derby, Pembroke, Rutland, Abergavenny, Thanet, Northampton, and
Abingdon--were dismissed from their Lord-Lieutenancies. The justices
when questioned simply replied that they would vote according to their
consciences, and send members to Parliament who would protect the
Protestant religion. After repeated "regulations" it was found
impossible to form a corporate body which would return representatives
willing to comply with the royal will. All thought of a Parliament had
to be abandoned; and even the most bigoted courtiers counselled
moderation at this proof of the stubborn opposition which James must
prepare to encounter from the peers, the gentry, and the trading

[Sidenote: The Attack on the Universities.]

Estranged as he was from the whole body of the nobles and gentry it
remained for James to force the clergy also into an attitude of
resistance. Even the tyranny of the Commission had failed to drive into
open opposition men who had been preaching Sunday after Sunday the
doctrine of passive obedience to the worst of kings. But James who had
now finally abandoned all hope of winning the aid of the Church in his
project cared little for passive obedience. He looked on the refusal of
the clergy to support his plans as freeing him from the pledge he had
given to maintain the Church as established by law; and he resolved to
attack it in the great institutions which had till now been its
strongholds. To secure the Universities for Catholicism was to seize the
only training schools which the English clergy possessed as well as the
only centres of higher education which existed for the English gentry.
It was on such a seizure however that James's mind was set. Little
indeed was done with Cambridge. A Benedictine monk, who presented
himself with royal letters recommending him for the degree of a Master
of Arts, was rejected on his refusal to sign the Articles; and the
Vice-Chancellor was summoned before the Privy Council and punished for
his rejection by deprivation from office. But a violent and obstinate
attack was directed against Oxford. The Master of University College,
Obadiah Walker, who declared himself a Catholic convert, was authorized
to retain his post in defiance of the law. A Roman Catholic named Massey
was presented by the Crown to the Deanery of Christ Church. Magdalen was
the wealthiest College in the University; and James in 1687 recommended
one Farmer, a Catholic of infamous life and not even qualified by
statute for the office, to its vacant headship. The Fellows
remonstrated, and on the rejection of their remonstrance chose Hough,
one of their own number, as their President. The Ecclesiastical
Commission declared the election void; and James, shamed out of his
first candidate, recommended a second, Parker, Bishop of Oxford, a
Catholic in heart and the meanest of his courtiers. The Fellows however
pleaded that Hough was already chosen, and they held stubbornly to their
legal head. It was in vain that the king visited Oxford, summoned them
to his presence, and rated them as they knelt before him like
schoolboys. "I am King," he said; "I will be obeyed! Go to your chapel
this instant, and elect the Bishop! Let those who refuse look to it, for
they shall feel the whole weight of my hand!" It was seen that to give
Magdalen as well as Christ Church into Catholic hands was to turn
Oxford into a Catholic seminary, and the king's threats were
disregarded. But they were soon carried out. A special Commission
visited the University, pronounced Hough an intruder, set aside his
appeal to the law, burst open the door of his president's house to
install Parker in his place, and on their refusal to submit deprived the
Fellows of their fellowships. The expulsion of the Fellows was followed
on a like refusal by that of the Demies. Parker, who died immediately
after his installation, was succeeded by a Roman Catholic bishop _in
partibus_, named Bonaventure Gifford, and twelve Roman Catholics were
admitted to fellowships in a single day.

[Sidenote: James and William.]

With peers, gentry, and clergy in dogged opposition the scheme of
wresting a repeal of the Test Act from a new Parliament became
impracticable, and without this--as James well knew--his system of
Indulgence, even if he was able to maintain it so long, must end with
his death and the accession of a Protestant sovereign. It was to provide
against such a defeat of his designs that he stooped to ask the aid of
William of Orange. Ever since his accession William had followed his
father-in-law's course with a growing anxiety. For while England was
seething with the madness of the Popish Plot and of the royalist
reaction the great European struggle which occupied the whole mind of
the Prince had been drawing nearer and nearer. The patience of Germany
indeed was worn out by the ceaseless aggressions of Lewis, and in 1686
its princes had bound themselves at Augsburg to resist all further
encroachments on the part of France. From that moment war became
inevitable, and in such a war William had always held that the aid of
England was essential to success. But his efforts to ensure English aid
had utterly failed. James, as William soon came to know, had renewed his
brother's secret treaty with France; and even had this been otherwise
his quarrel with his people would of itself have prevented him from
giving any aid in a struggle abroad. The Prince could only silently look
on with a desperate hope that James might yet be brought to a nobler
policy. He refused all encouragement to the leading malcontents who were
already calling on him to interfere in arms. On the other hand he
declined to support the king in his schemes for the abolition of the
Test. If he still cherished hopes of bringing about a peace between the
king and people which might enable him to enlist England in the Grand
Alliance, they vanished in 1687 before the Declaration of Indulgence. It
was at this moment, at the end of May, that James called on him and Mary
to declare themselves in favour of the abolition of the penal laws and
of the Test. "Conscience, honour, and good policy," wrote James, "bind
me to procure safety for the Catholics. I cannot leave those who have
remained faithful to the old and true religion subject to the oppression
under which the laws place them."

[Sidenote: The King's hopes.]

But simultaneously with the king's appeal letters of great import
reached the Prince from the leading nobles. Some, like the Hydes, simply
assured him of their friendship. The Bishop of London added assurances
of support. Others, like Devonshire, Nottingham, and Shrewsbury,
cautiously or openly warned the Prince against compliance with the
king's demand. Lord Churchill announced the resolve of Mary's sister
Anne to stand in any case by the cause of Protestantism. Danby, the
leading representative of the great Tory party, told the Dutch
ambassador plainly to warn William that if James was suffered to pursue
his present course, and above all to gain control over the Parliament,
he would leave the Catholic party strong enough at his death to threaten
Mary's succession. The letters dictated William's answer. No one, he
truly protested, loathed religious persecution more than he himself did,
but in relaxing political disabilities James called on him to
countenance an attack on his own religion. "I cannot," he ended, "concur
in what your Majesty desires of me." William's refusal was justified, as
we have seen, by the result of the efforts to assemble a Parliament
favourable to the repeal of the Test. The wholesale dismissal of
justices and Lord-Lieutenants through the summer of 1687 failed to
shake the resolve of the counties. The "regulation" of their
corporations by the displacing of their older members and the
substitution of Nonconformists did little to gain the towns. The year
1688 indeed had hardly opened when it was found necessary to adjourn the
elections which had been fixed for February, and to make a fresh attempt
to win a warmer support from the dissidents and from the country. For
James clung with a desperate tenacity to the hope of finding a compliant
Parliament. He knew, what was as yet unknown to the world, the fact that
his Queen was with child. The birth of an heir would meet the danger
which he looked for from the succession of William and Mary. But James
was past middle life, and his death would leave his boy at the mercy of
a Regency which could hardly fail to be composed of men who would undo
the king's work and even bring up the young sovereign as a Protestant.
His own security, as he thought, against such a course lay in the
building up a strong Catholic party, in placing Catholics in the high
offices of State, and in providing against their expulsion from these at
his death by a repeal of the Test. But such a repeal could only be won
from Parliament, and hopeless as the effort seemed James pressed
doggedly on in his attempt to secure Houses who would carry out his

[Sidenote: The Trial of the Bishops.]

The renewed Declaration of Indulgence which he issued in 1688 was not
only intended to win the Nonconformists by fresh assurances of the
king's sincerity, it was an appeal to the nation at large. At its close
he promised to summon a Parliament in November, and he called on the
electors to choose such members as would bring to a successful end the
policy he had begun. His resolve, he said, was to make merit the one
qualification for office and to establish universal liberty of
conscience for all future time. It was in this character of a royal
appeal that he ordered every clergyman to read the Declaration during
divine service on two successive Sundays. Little time was given for
deliberation; but little time was needed. The clergy refused almost to a
man to be the instruments of their own humiliation. The Declaration was
read in only four of the London churches, and in these the congregation
flocked out of church at the first words of it. Nearly all the country
parsons refused to obey the royal orders, and the Bishops went with the
rest of the clergy. A few days before the appointed Sunday Archbishop
Sancroft called his suffragans together, and the six who were able to
appear at Lambeth signed a temperate protest to the king in which they
declined to publish an illegal Declaration. "It is a standard of
rebellion," James exclaimed, as the Primate presented the paper; and the
resistance of the clergy was no sooner announced to him than he
determined to wreak his vengeance on the prelates who had signed the
protest. He ordered the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to deprive them of
their sees; but in this matter even the Commissioners shrank from
obeying him. The Chancellor, Lord Jeffreys, advised a prosecution for
libel as an easier mode of punishment; and the Bishops, who refused to
give bail, were committed on this charge to the Tower. They passed to
their prison amidst the shouts of a great multitude; the sentinels knelt
for their blessing as they entered its gates, and the soldiers of the
garrison drank their healths. So threatening was the temper of the
nation that his ministers pressed James to give way. But his obstinacy
grew with the danger. "Indulgence," he said, "ruined my father"; and on
the 29th of June the Bishops appeared as criminals at the bar of the
King's Bench. The jury had been packed, the judges were mere tools of
the Crown, but judges and jury were alike overawed by the indignation of
the people at large. No sooner had the foreman of the jury uttered the
words "Not guilty" than a roar of applause burst from the crowd, and
horsemen spurred along every road to carry over the country the news of
the acquittal.

[Sidenote: The National discontent.]

James was at Hounslow when the news of the verdict reached him, and as
he rode from the camp he heard a great shout behind him. "What is that?"
he asked. "It is nothing," was the reply; "only the soldiers are glad
that the Bishops are acquitted!" "Do you call that nothing?" grumbled
the king. The shout told him that he stood utterly alone in his realm.
The peerage, the gentry, the bishops, the clergy, the universities,
every lawyer, every trader, every farmer, stood aloof from him. And now
his very soldiers forsook him. The most devoted Catholics pressed him to
give way. But to give way was to reverse every act he had done since his
accession and to change the whole nature of his government. All show of
legal rule had disappeared. Sheriffs, mayors, magistrates, appointed by
the Crown in defiance of a parliamentary statute, were no real officers
in the eye of the law. Even if the Houses were summoned members returned
by officers such as these could form no legal Parliament. Hardly a
Minister of the Crown or a Privy Councillor exercised any lawful
authority. James had brought things to such a pass that the restoration
of legal government meant the absolute reversal of every act he had
done. But he was in no mood to reverse his acts. His temper was only
spurred to a more dogged obstinacy by danger and remonstrance. "I will
lose all," he said to the Spanish ambassador who counselled moderation;
"I will lose all or win all." He broke up the camp at Hounslow and
dispersed its troops in distant cantonments. He dismissed the two judges
who had favoured the acquittal of the Bishops. He ordered the
chancellor of each diocese to report the names of the clergy who had not
read the Declaration of Indulgence. But his will broke fruitlessly
against a sullen resistance which met him on every side. Not a
chancellor made a return to the Commissioners, and the Commissioners
were cowed into inaction by the temper of the nation. When the judges
who had displayed their servility to the Crown went on circuit the
gentry refused to meet them. A yet fiercer irritation was kindled by the
king's resolve to supply the place of the English troops whose temper
proved unserviceable for his purposes by drafts from the Catholic army
which Tyrconnell had raised in Ireland. Even the Roman Catholic peers at
the Council-table protested against this measure; and six officers in a
single regiment laid down their commissions rather than enrol the Irish
recruits among their men. The ballad of "Lillibullero," a scurrilous
attack on the Irish recruits, was sung from one end of England to the

[Sidenote: The Invitation.]

Wide however as the disaffection undoubtedly was the position of James
seemed fairly secure. He counted on the aid of France. His army,
whatever signs of discontent it might show, was still a formidable force
of twenty thousand men. Scotland, disheartened by the failure of
Argyle's rising, could give no such help as it gave to the Long
Parliament. Ireland on the other hand was ready to throw a Catholic
army in the king's support on the western coast. It was doubtful too if
in England itself disaffection would turn into actual revolt. The Bloody
Assize had left its terror on the Whigs. The Tories and Churchmen,
angered as they were, were still hampered by their horror of rebellion
and their doctrine of non-resistance. Above all the eyes of the nation
rested on William and Mary. James was past middle age, and a few years
must bring a Protestant successor and restore the reign of law. But in
the midst of the struggle with the Church it was announced that the
Queen was again with child. The news was received with general unbelief,
for five years had passed since the last pregnancy of Mary of Modena,
and the unbelief passed into a general expectation of some imposture as
men watched the joy of the Catholics and their confident prophecies that
the child would be a boy. But, truth or imposture, it was plain that the
appearance of a Prince of Wales must bring on a crisis. If the child
turned out a boy, and as was certain was brought up a Catholic, the
highest Tory had to resolve at last whether the tyranny under which
England lay should go on for ever. The hesitation of the country was at
an end. Danby, loyal above all to the Church and firm in his hatred of
subservience to France, answered for the Tories. Compton answered for
the High Churchmen, goaded at last into rebellion by the Declaration of
Indulgence. The Earl of Devonshire, the Lord Cavendish of the Exclusion
struggle, answered for the Nonconformists, who were satisfied with
William's promise to procure them toleration, as well as for the general
body of the Whigs. The announcement of the boy's birth on the 10th of
June was followed ten days after by a formal invitation to William to
intervene in arms for the restoration of English liberty and the
protection of the Protestant religion. The invitation was signed by
Danby, Devonshire, and Compton, the representatives of the great parties
whose long fight was hushed at last by a common danger, by two recent
converts from the Catholic faith, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord
Lumley, by Edward the cousin of Lord Russell, and by Henry the brother
of Algernon Sidney. It was carried to the Hague by Herbert, the most
popular of English seamen, who had been deprived of his command for a
refusal to vote against the Test.

[Sidenote: James and France.]

The Invitation called on the Prince of Orange to land with an army
strong enough to justify those who signed it in rising in arms. An
outbreak of revolt was in fact inevitable, and either its success or
defeat must be equally fatal to William should he refuse to put himself
at its head. If the rebels were victorious, their resentment at his
desertion of their cause in the hour of need would make Mary's
succession impossible and probably bring about the establishment of a
Commonwealth. On the other hand the victory of the king would not only
ruin English freedom and English Protestantism, but fling the whole
weight of England in the contest for the liberties of Europe which was
now about to open into the scale of France. From the opening of 1688 the
signs of a mutual understanding between the English Court and the French
had been unmistakeable. James had declared himself on the side of Lewis
in the negotiations with the Empire which followed on the Treaty of
Augsburg. He had backed Sweden in its threats of war against the Dutch.
At the instigation of France he had recalled the English and Scotch
troops in the service of the States. He had received supplies from Lewis
to send an English fleet to the coast of Holland; and was at this moment
supporting at Rome the French side in the quarrel over the Electorate of
Cologne, a quarrel which rendered war inevitable. It was certain
therefore that success at home would secure James's aid to France in the
struggle abroad.

[Sidenote: William's Acceptance.]

It was this above all which decided the action of the Prince, for the
ruling passion in William's heart was the longing to free Europe from
the supremacy of France. It was this too which made his enterprise
possible, for nothing but a sense of their own danger would have forced
his opponents in Holland itself to assent to his expedition. Their
assent however once gained, William strained all his resources as
Admiral and Captain-General to gather a fleet and a sufficient force
under pretext of defence against the English fleet which now appeared in
the Channel, while Brandenburg promised to supply the place of the Dutch
forces during their absence in England by lending the States nine
thousand men. As soon as the news of these preparations reached England
noble after noble made his way to the Hague. The Earl of Shrewsbury
brought £2000 towards the expenses of the expedition. Edward Russell,
the representative of the Whig Earl of Bedford, was followed by the
representatives of great Tory houses, by the sons of the Marquis of
Winchester, of Lord Danby, of Lord Peterborough, and by Lord
Macclesfield, a well-known High Churchman. At home the Earls of Danby
and Devonshire prepared silently with Lord Lumley for a rising in the
North. In spite of the profound secrecy with which all was conducted,
the keen instinct of Sunderland, who had stooped to purchase continuance
in office at the price of a secret apostasy to Catholicism, detected the
preparations of William; and the sense that his master's ruin was at
hand encouraged him to tell every secret of James on the promise of a
pardon for the crimes to which he had lent himself. James alone remained
stubborn and insensate as of old. He had no fear of a revolt unaided by
the Prince of Orange, and he believed that the threat of a French
attack on Holland itself would render William's departure impossible. At
the opening of September indeed Lewis declared himself aware of the
meaning of the Dutch armaments and warned the States that he should look
on an attack upon James as a war upon himself.

[Sidenote: James gives way.]

Fortunately for William so open an announcement of the union between
England and France suited ill with the plans of James. He still looked
forward to the coming Parliament, and the knowledge of a league with
France was certain to make any Parliament reluctant to admit Catholics
to a share in political life. James therefore roughly disavowed the act
of Lewis, and William was able to continue his preparations. But even
had no such disavowal come the threat of Lewis would have remained an
empty one. In spite of the counsel of Louvois he looked on an invasion
of Holland as likely to serve English interests rather than French and
resolved to open the war by a campaign on the Rhine. In September his
troops marched eastward, and the Dutch at once felt themselves secure.
The States-General gave their public sanction to William's project, and
the armament he had prepared gathered rapidly in the Scheldt. The news
of war and of the diversion of the French forces to Germany no sooner
reached England than the king passed from obstinacy to panic. By drafts
from Scotland and Ireland he had mustered forty thousand men, but the
temper of the troops robbed him of all trust in them. Help from France
was now out of the question. There was nothing for it but to fall back,
as Sunderland had for some time been advising him to fall back, on the
older policy of a union with the Tory party and the party of the Church;
and to win assent for his plans from the coming Parliament by an
abandonment of his recent acts. But the haste and completeness with
which James reversed his whole course forbade any belief in his
sincerity. He personally appealed for support to the Bishops. He
dissolved the Ecclesiastical Commission. He replaced the magistrates he
had driven from office. He restored their franchises to the towns. The
Chancellor carried back the Charter of London in state into the City.
The Bishop of Winchester was sent to replace the expelled Fellows of
Magdalen. Catholic chapels and Jesuit schools were ordered to be closed.

[Sidenote: William's Landing.]

Sunderland pressed for the instant calling of a Parliament. But it was
still plain that any Parliament would as yet be eager for war with
France and would probably call on the king to put the Prince of Orange
at the head of his army in such a war. To James therefore Sunderland's
counsel seemed treachery, the issue of a secret design with William to
place him helpless in the Prince's hands and above all to imperil the
succession of his boy, whose birth William had now been brought by
advice from the English lords to regard as an imposture. He again
therefore fell back on France which made new advances to him in the hope
of meeting this fresh danger of an attack from England; and in the end
of October he dismissed Sunderland from office. But Sunderland had
hardly left Whitehall when the Declaration of the Prince of Orange
reached England. It demanded the removal of grievances and the calling
of a free Parliament which should establish English freedom and religion
on a secure basis. It promised toleration to Protestant Nonconformists
and freedom of conscience to Catholics. It left the question of the
legitimacy of the Prince of Wales and the settlement of the succession
to Parliament. James was wounded above all by the doubts thrown on the
birth of a Prince; and he produced proofs of the birth before the peers
who were in London. But the proofs came too late. Detained by ill winds,
beaten back on its first venture by a violent storm, William's fleet of
six hundred transports, escorted by fifty men-of-war, anchored on the
5th of November in Torbay; and his army, thirteen thousand strong,
entered Exeter amid the shouts of its citizens. Great pains had been
taken to strip from William's army the appearance of a foreign force,
which might have stirred English feeling to resistance. The core of it
consisted of the English and Scottish regiments which had remained in
the service of the States in spite of their recall by the king. Its
foreign divisions were representatives of the whole Protestant world.
With the Dutchmen were Brandenburgers and Swedes, and the most brilliant
corps in the whole army was composed of French refugees.

[Sidenote: The National Rising.]

The landing seemed at first a failure. The country remained quiet.
William's coming had been unexpected in the West, and no great landowner
joined his forces. Though the king's fleet had failed to intercept the
expedition it closed in from the Channel to prevent William's escape as
soon as he had landed, while the king's army moved rapidly to encounter
him in the field. But the pause was one of momentary surprise. Before a
week had passed the nobles and squires of the west flocked to William's
camp and the adhesion of Plymouth secured his rear. The call of the
king's forces to face the Prince in the south no sooner freed the
northern parts of England from their presence than the insurrection
broke out. Scotland threw off the royal rule. Danby, dashing at the head
of a hundred horsemen into York, gave the signal for a rising. The York
militia met his appeal with shouts of "A free Parliament and the
Protestant religion"; peers and gentry flocked to his standard; and a
march on Nottingham united his forces to those under Devonshire who had
mustered at Derby the great lords of the midland and eastern counties.
Everywhere the revolt was triumphant. The garrison of Hull declared for
a free Parliament. The Duke of Norfolk appeared at the head of three
hundred gentlemen in the market-place at Norwich. At Oxford townsmen and
gownsmen greeted Lord Lovelace and the forces he led with uproarious
welcome. Bristol threw open its gates to the Prince of Orange, who
advanced steadily on Salisbury where James had assembled his forces.

[Sidenote: Flight of James.]

But the king's army, broken by dissensions and mutual suspicions among
its leaders, shrank from an engagement and fell back in disorder at his
approach. Its retreat was the signal for a general abandonment of the
royal cause. The desertion of Lord Churchill, who had from the first
made his support conditional on the calling of a Parliament, a step
which the king still hesitated to take, was followed by that of so many
other officers that James abandoned the struggle in despair. He fled to
London to hear that his daughter Anne had left St. James's to join Danby
at Nottingham. "God help me," cried the wretched father, "for my own
children have forsaken me!" His spirit was utterly broken by the sudden
crash; and though he had promised to call the Houses together and
despatched commissioners to Hungerford to treat with William on the
terms of a free Parliament, in his heart he had resolved on flight.
Parliament, he said to the few who still clung to him, would force on
him concessions he could not endure; while flight would enable him to
return and regain his throne with the assistance of French forces. He
only waited therefore for news of the escape of his wife and child on
the 10th of December to make his way to the Isle of Sheppey, where a hoy
lay ready to carry him to France. Some rough fishermen however who took
him for a Jesuit prevented his escape, and a troop of Life Guards
brought him back in safety to London. His return revived the hopes of
the Tories, who with Clarendon and Rochester at their head looked on the
work of the Prince of Orange as done in the overthrow of the king's
design of establishing a Catholic despotism, and who trusted that their
system would be restored by a reconciliation of James with the Tory
Parliament they expected to be returned. Halifax however, though he had
long acted with the Tories, was too clear-sighted for hopes such as
these. He had taken no part in the invitation or revolt, but now that
the revolution was successful he pressed upon William the impossibility
of carrying out a new system of government with such a sovereign as
James. The Whigs, who had gone beyond hope of forgiveness, backed
powerfully these arguments; and in spite of the pledges with which he
had landed the Prince was soon as convinced of their wisdom as the
Whigs. From this moment it was the policy of William and his advisers to
further a flight which removed their chief difficulty out of the way. It
would have been hard to depose James had he remained, and perilous to
keep him prisoner; but the entry of the Dutch troops into London, the
silence of the Prince, and an order to leave St. James's filled the king
with fresh terrors, and taking advantage of the means of escape which
were almost openly placed at his disposal James a second time quitted
London and embarked on the 23rd of December unhindered for France.

[Sidenote: The Convention.]

Before flying James had burnt most of the writs convoking a new
Parliament, had disbanded his army, and destroyed so far as he could all
means of government. For a few days there was a wild burst of panic and
outrage in London, but the orderly instinct of the people soon
reasserted itself. The Lords who were at the moment in the capital
provided on their own authority as Privy Councillors for the more
pressing needs of administration, and quietly resigned their authority
into William's hands on his arrival. The difficulty which arose from the
absence of any person legally authorized to call Parliament together was
got over by convoking the House of Peers, and forming a second body of
all members who had sat in the Commons in the reign of Charles the
Second together with the Aldermen and Common Councillors of London. Both
bodies requested William to take on himself the provisional government
of the kingdom, and to issue circular letters inviting the electors of
every town and county to send up representatives to a Convention which
met on the 22nd of January 1689. In the new Convention both Houses were
found equally resolved against any recall of or negotiation with the
fallen king. They were united in entrusting a provisional authority to
the Prince of Orange. But with this step their unanimity ended. The
Whigs, who formed a majority in the Commons, voted a resolution which,
illogical and inconsistent as it seemed, was well adapted to unite in
its favour every element of the opposition to James, the Churchman who
was simply scared by his bigotry, the Tory who doubted the right of a
nation to depose its king, the Whig who held the theory of a contract
between King and People. They voted that King James, "having endeavoured
to subvert the constitution of this kingdom by breaking the original
contract between King and People, and by the advice of Jesuits and other
wicked persons having violated the fundamental laws, and having
withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, has abdicated the Government, and
that the throne is thereby vacant." But in the Lords where the Tories
were still in the ascendant the resolution was fiercely debated.
Archbishop Sancroft with the high Tories held that no crime could bring
about a forfeiture of the crown and that James still remained king, but
that his tyranny had given the nation a right to withdraw from him the
actual exercise of government and to entrust his functions to a Regency.
The moderate Tories under Danby's guidance admitted that James had
ceased to be king but denied that the throne could be vacant, and
contended that from the moment of his abdication the sovereignty vested
in his daughter Mary. It was in vain that the eloquence of Halifax
backed the Whig peers in struggling for the resolution of the Commons as
it stood. The plan of a Regency was lost by a single vote, and Danby's
scheme was adopted by a large majority.

[Sidenote: Declaration of Rights.]

But both the Tory courses found a sudden obstacle in William. He
declined to be Regent. He had no mind, he said to Danby, to be his
wife's gentleman-usher. Mary on the other hand refused to accept the
crown save in conjunction with her husband. The two declarations put an
end to the question, and it was settled that William and Mary should be
acknowledged as joint sovereigns but that the actual administration
should rest with William alone. It had been agreed throughout however
that before the throne was filled up the constitutional liberties of the
subject must be secured. A Parliamentary Committee in which the most
active member was John Somers, a young lawyer who had distinguished
himself in the trial of the Bishops and who was destined to play a great
part in later history, drew up a Declaration of Rights which after some
alterations was adopted by the two Houses. The Declaration recited the
misgovernment of James, his abdication, and the resolve of the Lords
and Commons to assert the ancient rights and liberties of English
subjects. It condemned as illegal his establishment of an ecclesiastical
commission, and his raising of an army without Parliamentary sanction.
It denied the right of any king to suspend or dispense with laws, as
they had been suspended or dispensed with of late, or to exact money
save by consent of Parliament. It asserted for the subject a right to
petition, to a free choice of representatives in Parliament, and to a
pure and merciful administration of justice. It declared the right of
both Houses to liberty of debate. It demanded securities for the free
exercise of their religion by all Protestants, and bound the new
sovereign to maintain the Protestant religion as well as the laws and
liberties of the nation. "We do claim and insist on the premises," ran
the Declaration, "as our undoubted rights and liberties; encouraged by
the Declaration of his Highness the Prince, we have confidence that he
will perfect the deliverance he has begun and will preserve our rights
against all further injury." It ended by declaring the Prince and
Princess of Orange King and Queen of England. The Declaration was
presented to William and Mary on the 13th of February by the two Houses
in the Banqueting Room at Whitehall, and at the close of its recital
Halifax, in the name of the Estates of the Realm, prayed them to receive
the crown. William accepted the offer in his own name and in that of
his wife and declared in a few words the resolve of both to maintain the
laws and to govern by advice of Parliament.

[Sidenote: Lewis and the Revolution.]

But William's eyes were fixed less on England than on Europe. His
expedition had had in his own eyes a European rather than an English
aim, and in his acceptance of the crown he had been moved not so much by
personal ambition as by the prospect which offered itself of firmly
knitting together England and Holland, the two great Protestant powers
whose fleets held the mastery of the sea. But the advance from such a
union to the formation of the European alliance against France on which
he was bent was a step that still had to be made. Already indeed his
action in England had told decisively on the contest. The blunder of
Lewis in choosing Germany instead of Holland for his point of attack had
been all but atoned for by the brilliant successes with which he opened
the war. The whole country west of the Rhine fell at once into his
hands; his armies made themselves masters of the Palatinate, and
penetrated even to Würtemberg. The hopes of the French king indeed had
never been higher than at the moment when the arrival of James at St.
Germain dashed all hope to the ground. Lewis was at once thrown back on
a war of defence, and the brutal ravages which marked the retreat of his
armies from the Rhine revealed the bitterness with which his pride
stooped to the necessity.

[Sidenote: The Grand Alliance.]

But his reception of James at St. Germain as still king of England gave
fresh force to William's efforts. It was yet doubtful whether William
would be able to bring England to a hearty co-operation in the struggle
against French ambition. But whatever reluctance there might have been
to follow him in an attack on France with the view of saving the
liberties of Europe, the stoutest Tory had none in following him in such
an attack when it meant simply self-defence against a French restoration
of the Stuart king at the cost of English freedom. It was with universal
approval that the English Government declared war against Lewis. It was
soon followed in this step by Holland, and the two countries at once
agreed to stand by one another in their struggle against France. But it
was more difficult to secure the co-operation of the two branches of the
House of Austria in Germany and Spain, reluctant as they were to join
the Protestant powers in league against a Catholic king. Spain however
was forced by Lewis into war, for he aimed at the Netherlands as his
especial prey; and the court of Vienna at last yielded to the bait held
out by Holland of a recognition of its claims to the Spanish succession.

[Sidenote: Scotland and the Revolution.]

The adhesion of these powers in the spring of 1689 completed the Grand
Alliance of the European powers which William had designed; and the
union of Savoy with the allies girt France in on every side save that of
Switzerland with a ring of foes. Lewis was left without a single ally
save the Turk; for though the Scandinavian kingdoms stood aloof from the
confederacy of Europe their neutrality was unfriendly to him. But the
energy and quickness of movement which sprang from the concentration of
the power of France in a single hand still left the contest an equal
one. The empire was slow to move; the court of Vienna was distracted
with a war against the Turks; Spain was all but powerless; Holland and
England were alone earnest in the struggle, and England could as yet
give little aid in it. One English brigade indeed, formed from the
regiments raised by James, joined the Dutch army on the Sambre, and
distinguished itself under Churchill, who had been rewarded for his
treason with the title of Earl of Marlborough, in a brisk skirmish with
the enemy at Walcourt. But for the bulk of his forces William had as yet
grave work to do at home. In England not a sword had been drawn for
James. In Scotland his tyranny had been yet greater than in England, and
so far as the Lowlands went the fall of his tyranny was as rapid and
complete. No sooner had he called his troops southward to meet William's
invasion than Edinburgh rose in revolt. The western peasants were at
once up in arms; and the Episcopalian clergy, who had been the
instruments of the Stuart misgovernment ever since the Restoration, were
rabbled and driven from their parsonages in every parish. The news of
these disorders forced William to act, though he was without a show of
legal authority over Scotland. On the advice of the Scotch Lords present
in London he ventured to summon a Convention similar to that which had
been summoned in England, and on his own responsibility to set aside the
laws passed by the "Drunken Parliament" of the Restoration which
excluded Presbyterians from the Scotch Parliament. This Convention
resolved that James had forfeited the crown by misgovernment, and
offered it to William and Mary. The offer was accompanied by a Claim of
Right framed on the model of the Declaration of Rights to which the two
sovereigns had consented in England, but closing with a demand for the
abolition of Prelacy. Both crown and claim were accepted, and the
arrival of the Scotch regiments which William had brought from Holland
gave strength to the new Government.

[Sidenote: Killiecrankie.]

Its strength was to be roughly tested. On the revolt of the capital John
Graham of Claverhouse, whose cruelties in the persecution of the Western
Covenanters had been rewarded with high command in the Scotch army and
with the title of Viscount Dundee, withdrew with a few troopers from
Edinburgh to the Highlands and appealed to the clans. In the Highlands
nothing was known of English government or misgovernment: all that the
Revolution meant to a Highlander was the restoration of the House of
Argyle. To many of the clans it meant the restoration of lands which had
been granted them on the Earl's attainder; and the zeal of the
Macdonalds, the Macleans, the Camerons, who were as ready to join Dundee
in fighting the Campbells and the Government which upheld them as they
had been ready to join Montrose in the same cause forty years before,
was quickened by a reluctance to disgorge their spoil. They were soon in
arms. William's Scotch regiments under General Mackay were sent to
suppress the rising; but as they climbed the pass of Killiecrankie on
the 27th of July 1689 Dundee charged them at the head of three thousand
clansmen and swept them in headlong rout down the glen. His death in the
moment of victory broke however the only bond which held the Highlanders
together, and in a few weeks the host which had spread terror through
the Lowlands melted helplessly away. In the next summer Mackay was able
to build the strong post of Fort William in the very heart of the
disaffected country, and his offers of money and pardon brought about
the submission of the clans.

[Sidenote: Massacre of Glencoe.]

The work of peace was sullied by an act of cruel treachery the memory of
which still lingers in the minds of men. Sir John Dalrymple, the Master
of Stair, in whose hands the government of Scotland at this time mainly
rested, had hoped that a refusal of the oath of allegiance would give
grounds for a war of extermination and free Scotland for ever from its
dread of the Highlanders. He had provided for the expected refusal by
orders of a ruthless severity. "Your troops," he wrote to the officer in
command, "will destroy entirely the country of Lochaber, Locheil's
lands, Keppoch's, Glengarry's, and Glencoe's. Your powers shall be large
enough. I hope the soldiers will not trouble the Government with
prisoners." But his hopes were disappointed by the readiness with which
the clans accepted the offers of the Government. All submitted in good
time save Macdonald of Glencoe, whose pride delayed his taking of the
oath till six days after the latest date fixed by the proclamation.
Foiled in his larger hopes of destruction Dalrymple seized eagerly on
the pretext given by Macdonald, and an order "for the extirpation of
that sect of robbers" was laid before William and received the royal
signature. "The work," wrote the Master of Stair to Colonel Hamilton who
undertook it, "must be secret and sudden." The troops were chosen from
among the Campbells, the deadly foes of the clansmen of Glencoe, and
quartered peacefully among the Macdonalds for twelve days till all
suspicion of their errand disappeared. At daybreak on the 13th of
February 1692 they fell on their hosts, and in a few moments thirty of
the clansfolk lay dead on the snow. The rest, sheltered by a storm,
escaped to the mountains to perish for the most part of cold and hunger.
"The only thing I regret," said the Master of Stair, when the news
reached him, "is that any got away."

But whatever horror the Massacre of Glencoe has roused in later days few
save Dalrymple knew of it at the time. The peace of the Highlands
enabled the work of reorganization to go on quietly at Edinburgh. In
accepting the Claim of Right with its repudiation of Prelacy William had
in effect restored the Presbyterian Church to which nine-tenths of the
Lowland Scotchmen clung, and its restoration was accompanied by the
revival of the Westminster Confession as a standard of faith and by the
passing of an Act which abolished lay patronage. Against the Toleration
Act which the king proposed the Scotch Parliament stood firm. But though
the measure failed the king was as firm in his purpose as the
Parliament. So long as he reigned, William declared in memorable words,
there should be no persecution for conscience' sake. "We never could be
of that mind that violence was suited to the advancing of true religion,
nor do we intend that our authority shall ever be a tool to the
irregular passions of any party."

[Sidenote: The Irish Rising.]

It was not in Scotland however but in Ireland that James and Lewis hoped
to arrest William's progress. Ireland had long been the object of
special attention on the part of James. In the middle of his reign, when
his chief aim was to provide against the renewed depression of his
fellow-religionists at his death by any Protestant successor, he had
resolved (if we may trust the statement of the French ambassador) to
place Ireland in such a position of independence that she might serve as
a refuge for his Catholic subjects. It was with a view to the success of
this design that Lord Clarendon was dismissed from the Lord-Lieutenancy
and succeeded in the charge of the island by the Catholic Earl of
Tyrconnell. The new governor, who was raised to a dukedom, went roughly
to work. Every Englishman was turned out of office. Every Judge, every
Privy Councillor, every Mayor and Alderman of a borough, was required to
be a Catholic and an Irishman. The Irish army, raised to the number of
fifty thousand men and purged of its Protestant soldiers, was entrusted
to Catholic officers. In a few months the English ascendency was
overthrown, and the life and fortune of the English settlers were at the
mercy of the natives on whom they had trampled since Cromwell's day. The
king's flight and the agitation among the native Irish at the news
spread panic therefore through the island. Another massacre was believed
to be at hand; and fifteen hundred Protestant families, chiefly from the
south, fled in terror over sea. The Protestants of the north on the
other hand drew together at Enniskillen and Londonderry, and prepared
for self-defence. The outbreak however was still delayed, and for two
months Tyrconnell intrigued with William's Government. But his aim was
simply to gain time. He was at this very moment indeed inviting James to
return to Ireland, and assuring him of his fidelity. To James this call
promised the aid of an army which would enable him to help the Scotch
rising and to effect a landing in England, while Lewis saw in it the
means of diverting William from giving effectual aid to the Grand
Alliance. A staff of French officers with arms, ammunition, and a supply
of money was placed therefore at the service of the exiled king, and the
news of his coming no sooner reached Dublin at the opening of 1689 than
Tyrconnell threw off the mask. A flag was hoisted over Dublin Castle
with the words embroidered on its folds "Now or Never." The signal
called every Catholic to arms. The maddened Irishmen flung themselves on
the plunder which their masters had left and in a few weeks havoc was
done, the French envoy told Lewis, which it would take years to repair.

[Sidenote: Siege of Londonderry.]

It was in this condition that James found Ireland when he landed at
Kinsale. The rising of the natives had already baffled his plans. To him
as to Lewis Ireland was simply a basis of operations against William,
and whatever were their hopes of a future restoration of the soil to its
older possessors both kings were equally anxious that no strife of races
should at this moment interrupt their plans of an invasion of England
with the fifty thousand soldiers that Tyrconnell was said to have at his
disposal. But long ere James landed the war of races had already begun.
To Tyrconnell indeed and the Irish leaders the king's plans were utterly
distasteful. They had no wish for an invasion and conquest of England
which would replace Ireland again in its position of dependence. Their
policy was simply that of Ireland for the Irish, and the first step in
such a policy was to drive out the Englishmen who still stood at bay in
Ulster. Half of Tyrconnell's army therefore had already been sent
against Londonderry, where the bulk of the fugitives found shelter
behind a weak wall, manned by a few old guns and destitute even of a
ditch. But the seven thousand desperate Englishmen behind the wall made
up for its weakness. They rejected with firmness the offers of James,
who was still anxious to free his hands from a strife which broke his
plans. They kept up their fire even when the neighbouring Protestants
with their women and children were brutally driven under their walls and
placed in the way of their guns. So fierce were their sallies, so
crushing the repulse of his attack, that the king's general, Hamilton,
at last turned the siege into a blockade. The Protestants died of hunger
in the streets and of the fever which comes of hunger, but the cry of
the town was still "No Surrender." The siege had lasted a hundred and
five days, and only two days' food remained in Londonderry when on the
28th of July an English ship broke the boom across the river, and the
besiegers sullenly withdrew.

[Sidenote: James and Ireland.]

Their defeat was turned into a rout by the men of Enniskillen who
struggled through a bog to charge an Irish force of double their number
at Newtown Butler, and drove horse and foot before them in a panic which
soon spread through Hamilton's whole army. The routed soldiers fell back
on Dublin where James lay helpless in the hands of the frenzied
Parliament which he had summoned. Every member returned was an Irishman
and a Catholic, and their one aim was to undo the successive
confiscations which had given the soil to English settlers and to get
back Ireland for the Irish. The Act of Settlement, on which all title to
property rested, was at once repealed in spite of the king's reluctance.
He was told indeed bluntly that if he did not do Ireland justice not an
Irishman would fight for him. It was to strengthen this work by ensuring
the legal forfeiture of their lands that three thousand Protestants of
name and fortune were massed together in the hugest Bill of Attainder
which the world has seen. To the bitter memory of past wrongs was added
the fury of religious bigotry. In spite of the king's promise of
religious freedom the Protestant clergy were everywhere driven from
their parsonages, Fellows and scholars were turned out of Trinity
College, and the French envoy, the Count of Avaux, dared even to propose
that if any Protestant rising took place on the English descent, as was
expected, it should be met by a general massacre of the Protestants who
still lingered in the districts which had submitted to James. To his
credit the king shrank horror-struck from the proposal. "I cannot be so
cruel," he said, "as to cut their throats while they live peaceably
under my government." "Mercy to Protestants," was the cold reply, "is
cruelty to Catholics."

[Sidenote: The Revolution and the Monarchy.]

The long agony of Londonderry was invaluable to England: it foiled the
king's hopes of an invasion which would have roused a fresh civil war,
and gave the new Government time to breathe. Time was indeed sorely
needed. Through the proscription and bloodshed of the new Irish rule
William was forced to look helplessly on. The best troops in the army
which had been mustered at Hounslow had been sent with Marlborough to
the Sambre, and the political embarrassments which grew up around the
new Government made it impossible to spare a man of those who remained
at home. The great ends of the Revolution were indeed secured, even
amidst the confusion and intrigue which we shall have to describe, by
the common consent of all. On the great questions of civil liberty Whig
and Tory were now at one. The Declaration of Rights was turned into the
Bill of Rights by the Convention which had now become a Parliament, and
the passing of this measure in 1689 restored to the monarchy the
character which it had lost under the Tudors and the Stuarts. The right
of the people through its representatives to depose the king, to change
the order of succession, and to set on the throne whom they would, was
now established. All claim of Divine Right or hereditary right
independent of the law was formally put an end to by the election of
William and Mary. Since their day no English sovereign has been able to
advance any claim to the crown save a claim which rested on a particular
clause in a particular Act of Parliament. William, Mary, and Anne, were
sovereigns simply by virtue of the Bill of Rights. George the First and
his successors have been sovereigns solely by virtue of the Act of
Settlement. An English monarch is now as much the creature of an Act of
Parliament as the pettiest tax-gatherer in his realm.

[Sidenote: Taxation and the Army.]

Nor was the older character of the kingship alone restored. The older
constitution returned with it. Bitter experience had taught England the
need of restoring to the Parliament its absolute power over taxation.
The grant of revenue for life to the last two kings had been the secret
of their anti-national policy, and the first act of the new legislature
was to restrict the grant of the royal revenue to a term of four years.
William was bitterly galled by the provision. "The gentlemen of England
trusted King James," he said, "who was an enemy of their religion and
their laws, and they will not trust me, by whom their religion and their
laws have been preserved." But the only change brought about in the
Parliament by this burst of royal anger was a resolve henceforth to make
the vote of supplies an annual one, a resolve which, in spite of the
slight changes introduced by the next Tory Parliament, soon became an
invariable rule. A change of almost as great importance established the
control of Parliament over the army. The hatred to a standing army which
had begun under Cromwell had only deepened under James; but with the
Continental war the existence of an army was a necessity. As yet however
it was a force which had no legal existence. The soldier was simply an
ordinary subject; there were no legal means of punishing strictly
military offences or of providing for military discipline: and the
assumed power of billeting soldiers in private houses had been taken
away by the law. The difficulty both of Parliament and the army was met
by a Mutiny Act. The powers requisite for discipline in the army were
conferred by Parliament on its officers, and provision was made for the
pay of the force, but both pay and disciplinary powers were granted only
for a single year.

[Sidenote: Parliament and the Revolution.]

The Mutiny Act, like the grant of supplies, has remained annual ever
since the Revolution; and as it is impossible for the State to exist
without supplies or for the army to exist without discipline and pay the
annual assembly of Parliament has become a matter of absolute necessity.
The greatest constitutional change which our history has witnessed was
thus brought about in an indirect but perfectly efficient way. The
dangers which experience had lately shown lay in the Parliament itself
were met with far less skill. Under Charles the Second England had seen
a Parliament, which had been returned in a moment of reaction,
maintained without fresh election for eighteen years. A Triennial Bill
which limited the duration of a Parliament to three was passed with
little opposition, but fell before the dislike and veto of William. To
counteract the influence which a king might obtain by crowding the
Commons with officials proved a yet harder task. A Place Bill, which
excluded all persons in the employment of the State from a seat in
Parliament, was defeated, and wisely defeated, in the Lords. The modern
course of providing against a pressure from the Court or the
administration by excluding all minor officials, but of preserving the
hold of Parliament over the great officers of State by admitting them
into its body, seems as yet to have occurred to nobody. It is equally
strange that while vindicating its right of Parliamentary control over
the public revenue and the army the Bill of Rights should have left by
its silence the control of trade to the Crown. It was only a few years
later, in the discussions on the charter granted to the East India
Company, that the Houses silently claimed and obtained the right of
regulating English commerce.

[Sidenote: The Toleration Act.]

The religious results of the Revolution were hardly less weighty than
the political. In the common struggle against Catholicism Churchman and
Nonconformist had found themselves, as we have seen, strangely at one;
and schemes of Comprehension became suddenly popular. But with the fall
of James the union of the two bodies abruptly ceased; and the
establishment of a Presbyterian Church in Scotland, together with the
"rabbling" of the Episcopalian clergy in its western shires, revived the
old bitterness of the clergy towards the dissidents. The Convocation
rejected the scheme of the Latitudinarians for such modifications of the
Prayer-Book as would render possible a return of the Nonconformists, and
a Comprehension Bill, which was introduced into Parliament, failed to
pass in spite of the king's strenuous support. William's attempt to
partially admit Dissenters to civil equality by a repeal of the
Corporation Act proved equally fruitless. Active persecution however
had now become distasteful to all; the pledge of religious liberty given
to the Nonconformists to ensure their aid in the Revolution had to be
redeemed; and the passing of a Toleration Act in 1689 practically
established freedom of worship. Whatever the religious effect of this
failure of the Latitudinarian schemes may have been its political effect
has been of the highest value. At no time had the Church been so strong
or so popular as at the Revolution, and the reconciliation of the
Nonconformists would have doubled its strength. It is doubtful whether
the disinclination to all political change which has characterised it
during the last two hundred years would have been affected by such a
change; but it is certain that the power of opposition which it has
wielded would have been enormously increased. As it was, the Toleration
Act established a group of religious bodies whose religious opposition
to the Church forced them to support the measures of progress which the
Church opposed. With religious forces on the one side and on the other
England has escaped the great stumbling-block in the way of nations
where the cause of religion has become identified with that of political

[Sidenote: The Revolution and the Church.]

A secession from within its own ranks weakened the Church still more.
The doctrine of Divine Right had a strong hold on the body of the clergy
though they had been driven from their other favourite doctrine of
passive obedience, and the requirement of an oath of allegiance to the
new sovereigns from all persons exercising public functions was resented
as an intolerable wrong by almost every parson. The whole bench of
bishops resolved, though to no purpose, that Parliament had no right to
impose such an oath on the clergy. Sancroft, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, with a few prelates and a large number of the higher clergy
absolutely refused the oath when it was imposed, treated all who took it
as schismatics, and on their deprivation by Act of Parliament regarded
themselves and their adherents, who were known as Nonjurors, as the only
members of the true Church of England. The bulk of the clergy bowed to
necessity, but their bitterness against the new Government was fanned
into a flame by the religious policy announced in this assertion of the
supremacy of Parliament over the Church, and the deposition of bishops
by an act of the legislature. It was fanned into yet fiercer flame by
the choice of successors to the nonjuring prelates. The new bishops were
men of learning and piety, but they were for the most part
Latitudinarians and some of them Whigs. Tillotson, the new Archbishop of
Canterbury, was the foremost theologian of the school of Chillingworth
and Hales. Burnet, the new bishop of Salisbury, was as liberal as
Tillotson in religion and more liberal in politics. It was indeed only
among Whigs and Latitudinarians that William and William's successors
could find friends in the ranks of the clergy; and it was to these that
they were driven with a few breaks here and there to entrust all the
higher offices of the Church. The result was a severance between the
higher dignitaries and the mass of the clergy which broke the strength
of the Church. From the time of William to the time of George the Third
its fiercest strife was waged within its own ranks. But the resentment
at the measure which brought this strife about already added to the
difficulties which William had to encounter.

[Sidenote: William and the Parliament.]

Yet greater difficulties arose from the temper of his Parliament. In the
Commons, chosen as they had been in the first moment of revolutionary
enthusiasm, the bulk of the members were Whigs, and their first aim was
to redress the wrongs which the Whig party had suffered during the last
two reigns. The attainder of Lord Russell was reversed. The judgments
against Sidney, Cornish, and Alice Lisle were annulled. In spite of the
opinion of the judges that the sentence on Titus Oates had been against
law the Lords refused to reverse it, but even Oates received a pardon
and a pension. The Whigs however wanted not merely the redress of wrongs
but the punishment of the wrong-doers. Whig and Tory had been united
indeed by the tyranny of James; both parties had shared in the
Revolution, and William had striven to prolong their union by joining
the leaders of both in his first Ministry. He named the Tory Earl of
Danby Lord President, made the Whig Earl of Shrewsbury Secretary of
State, and gave the Privy Seal to Lord Halifax, a trimmer between the
one party and the other. But save in a moment of common oppression or
common danger union was impossible. The Whigs clamoured for the
punishment of Tories who had joined in the illegal acts of Charles and
of James, and refused to pass the Bill of General Indemnity which
William laid before them. William on the other hand was resolved that no
bloodshed or proscription should follow the revolution which had placed
him on the throne. His temper was averse from persecution; he had no
great love for either of the battling parties; and above all he saw that
internal strife would be fatal to the effective prosecution of the war.

[Sidenote: The Jacobites.]

While the cares of his new throne were chaining him to England the
confederacy of which he was the guiding spirit was proving too slow and
too loosely compacted to cope with the swift and resolute movements of
France. The armies of Lewis had fallen back within their own borders,
but only to turn fiercely at bay. Even the junction of the English and
Dutch fleets failed to assure them the mastery of the seas. The English
navy was paralysed by the corruption which prevailed in the public
service, as well as by the sloth and incapacity of its commander. The
services of Admiral Herbert at the Revolution had been rewarded with the
earldom of Torrington and the command of the fleet; but his indolence
suffered the seas to be swept by French privateers, and his want of
seamanship was shown in an indecisive engagement with a French squadron
in Bantry Bay. Meanwhile Lewis was straining every nerve to win the
command of the Channel; the French dockyards were turning out ship after
ship, and the galleys of the Mediterranean fleet were brought round to
reinforce the fleet at Brest. A French victory off the English coast
would have brought serious political danger; for the reaction of popular
feeling which had begun in favour of James had been increased by the
pressure of the war, by the taxation, by the expulsion of the Nonjurors
and the discontent of the clergy, by the panic of the Tories at the
spirit of vengeance which broke out among the triumphant Whigs, and
above all by the presence of James in Ireland. A new party, that of the
Jacobites or adherents of King James, was forming around the Nonjurors;
and it was feared that a Jacobite rising would follow the appearance of
a French fleet on the coast.

[Sidenote: Schomberg in Ireland.]

In such a state of affairs William judged rightly that to yield to the
Whig thirst for vengeance would have been to ruin his cause. He
dissolved the Parliament, which had refused to pass a Bill of Indemnity
for all political offences, and called a new one to meet in March. The
result of the elections proved that William had only expressed the
general temper of the nation. In the new Parliament the bulk of the
members proved Tories. The boroughs had been alienated from the Whigs by
their refusal to pass the Indemnity, and their desire to secure the
Corporations for their own party by driving from them all who had taken
part in the Tory misgovernment under Charles or James. In the counties
the discontent of the clergy told as heavily against the Whigs; and
parson after parson led his flock in a body to the poll. The change of
temper in the Parliament necessarily brought about a change among the
king's advisers. William accepted the resignation of the more violent
Whigs among his counsellors and placed Danby at the head of affairs; and
in May the Houses gave their assent to the Act of Grace. The king's aim
in his sudden change of front was not only to meet the change in the
national spirit, but to secure a momentary lull in English faction which
would suffer him to strike at the rebellion in Ireland. While James was
king in Dublin the attempt to crush treason at home was a hopeless one;
and so urgent was the danger, so precious every moment in the present
juncture of affairs, that William could trust no one to bring the work
as sharply to an end as was needful save himself. In the autumn of the
year 1689 the Duke of Schomberg, an exiled Huguenot who had followed
William in his expedition to England and was held to be one of the most
skilful captains of the time, had been sent with a small force to Ulster
to take advantage of the panic which had followed the relief of
Londonderry. James indeed was already talking of flight, and looked upon
the game as hopeless. But the spirit of the Irish people rose quickly
from their despair, and the duke's landing roused the whole nation to a
fresh enthusiasm. The ranks of the Irish army were filled up at once,
and James was able to face the duke at Drogheda with a force double that
of his opponent. Schomberg, whose men were all raw recruits whom it was
hardly possible to trust at such odds in the field, did all that was
possible when he entrenched himself at Dundalk and held his ground in a
camp where pestilence swept off half his numbers.

[Sidenote: Battle of the Boyne.]

Winter at last parted the two armies, and during the next six months
James, whose treasury was utterly exhausted, strove to fill it by a
coinage of brass money while his soldiers subsisted by sheer plunder.
William meanwhile was toiling hard on the other side of the Channel to
bring the Irish war to an end. Schomberg was strengthened during the
winter with men and stores, and when the spring came his force reached
thirty thousand men. Lewis too felt the importance of the coming
struggle. Seven thousand picked Frenchmen under the Count of Lauzun were
despatched to reinforce the army of James, but they had hardly arrived
when William himself landed at Carrickfergus and pushed rapidly with his
whole army to the south. His columns soon caught sight of the Irish
forces, hardly exceeding twenty thousand men in number but posted
strongly behind the Boyne. Lauzun had hoped by falling back on Dublin to
prolong a defensive war, but retreat was now impossible. "I am glad to
see you, gentlemen," William cried with a burst of delight; "and if you
escape me now the fault will be mine." Early next morning, the first of
July 1690, the whole English army plunged into the river. The Irish
foot, who at first fought well, broke in a sudden panic as soon as the
passage of the river was effected, but the horse made so gallant a stand
that Schomberg fell in repulsing its charge and for a time the English
centre was held in check. With the arrival of William however at the
head of his left wing all was over. James, who had throughout been
striving to secure the withdrawal of his troops to the nearest defile
rather than frankly to meet William's onset, abandoned his troops as
they fell back in retreat upon Dublin, and took ship at Kinsale for

[Sidenote: Irish War.]

But though James had fled in despair, and though the beaten army was
forced by William's pursuit to abandon the capital, it was still
resolute to fight. The incapacity of the Stuart sovereign moved the
scorn even of his followers. "Change kings with us," an Irish officer
replied to an Englishman who taunted him with the panic of the Boyne,
"change kings with us and we will fight you again." They did better in
fighting without a king. The French indeed withdrew scornfully from the
routed army as it turned at bay beneath the walls of Limerick. "Do you
call these ramparts?" sneered Lauzun: "the English will need no cannon;
they may batter them down with roasted apples." But twenty thousand
Irish soldiers remained with Sarsfield, a brave and skilful officer who
had seen service in England and abroad; and his daring surprise of the
English ammunition train, his repulse of a desperate attempt to storm
the town, and the approach of winter forced William to raise the siege.
The course of the war abroad recalled him to England, but he was hardly
gone when a new turn was given to the struggle by one who was quietly
proving himself a master in the art of war. Churchill, rewarded for his
opportune desertion of James with the earldom of Marlborough, had been
recalled from Flanders to command a division which landed in the south
of Ireland. Only a few days remained before the operations were
interrupted by the coming of winter, but the few days were turned to
good account. The two ports by which alone Ireland could receive
supplies from France fell into English hands. Cork, with five thousand
men behind its walls, was taken in forty-eight hours. Kinsale a few days
later shared the fate of Cork. Winter indeed left Connaught and the
greater part of Munster in Irish hands, the French force remained
untouched, and the coming of a new French general, St. Ruth, with arms
and supplies encouraged the insurgents. But the summer of 1691 had
hardly begun when Ginkell, the new English general, by his seizure of
Athlone forced on a battle with the combined French and Irish forces at
Aughrim, in which St. Ruth fell on the field and his army was utterly

[Sidenote: Ireland conquered.]

The defeat at Aughrim left Limerick alone in its revolt, and in October
Sarsfield bowed to the necessity of surrender. Two treaties were drawn
up between the Irish and English generals. By the first it was
stipulated that the Catholics of Ireland should enjoy such privileges in
the exercise of their religion as were consistent with law, or as they
had enjoyed in the reign of Charles the Second. The Crown pledged itself
also to summon a Parliament as soon as possible, and to endeavour to
procure to the good Roman Catholics such further security in that
particular as "may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account
of the said religion." By the military treaty those of Sarsfield's
soldiers who would were suffered to follow him to France; and ten
thousand men, the whole of his force, chose exile rather than life in a
land where all hope of national freedom was lost. When the wild cry of
the women who stood watching their departure was hushed the silence of
death settled down upon Ireland. For a hundred years the country
remained at peace. But the peace was a peace of despair. No Englishman
who loves what is noble in the English temper can tell without sorrow
and shame the story of that time of guilt. The work of oppression, it is
true, was done not directly by England but by the English settlers in
Ireland; and the cruelty of their rule sprang in great measure from the
sense of danger and the atmosphere of panic in which the Protestants
lived. But if thoughts such as these relieve the guilt of those who
oppressed they leave the fact of oppression as dark as before. The most
terrible legal tyranny under which a nation has ever groaned avenged the
rising under Tyrconnell. The conquered people, in Swift's bitter words
of contempt, became "hewers of wood and drawers of water" to their
conquerors. Such as the work was, however, it was thoroughly done.
Though local risings of these serfs perpetually spread terror among the
English settlers in Ireland, all dream of a national revolt passed away.
Till the very eve of the French Revolution Ireland ceased to be a source
of political danger and anxiety to England.

[Sidenote: French Descent on England.]

Short as the struggle of Ireland had been it had served Lewis well, for
while William was busy at the Boyne a series of brilliant successes was
restoring the fortunes of France. In Flanders the Duke of Luxembourg won
the victory of Fleurus. In Italy Marshal Catinat defeated the Duke of
Savoy. A success of even greater moment, the last victory which France
was fated to win at sea, placed for an instant the very throne of
William in peril. William never showed a cooler courage than in quitting
England to fight James in Ireland at a moment when the Jacobites were
only looking for the appearance of a French fleet on the coast to rise
in revolt. The French minister in fact hurried the fleet to sea in the
hope of detaining William in England by a danger at home; and he had
hardly set out for Ireland when Tourville, the French admiral, appeared
in the Channel with strict orders to fight. Orders as strict had been
sent to the allied fleets to engage even at the risk of defeat; and when
Tourville was met on the 30th of June 1690 by the English and Dutch
fleet at Beachy Head the Dutch division at once engaged. Though utterly
outnumbered it fought stubbornly in hope of Herbert's aid; but Herbert,
whether from cowardice or treason, looked idly on while his allies were
crushed, and withdrew with the English ships at nightfall to seek
shelter in the Thames. The danger was as great as the shame, for
Tourville's victory left him master of the Channel and his presence off
the coast of Devon invited the Jacobites to revolt. But whatever the
discontent of Tories and Nonjurors against William might be all signs of
it vanished with the landing of the French. The burning of Teignmouth by
Tourville's sailors called the whole coast to arms; and the news of the
Boyne put an end to all dreams of a rising in favour of James.

[Sidenote: Intrigues in England.]

The natural reaction against a cause which looked for foreign aid gave a
new strength for the moment to William in England; but ill luck still
hung around the Grand Alliance. So urgent was the need for his presence
abroad that William left as we have seen his work in Ireland undone, and
crossed in the spring of 1691 to Flanders. It was the first time since
the days of Henry the Eighth that an English king had appeared on the
Continent at the head of an English army. But the slowness of the allies
again baffled William's hopes. He was forced to look on with a small
army while a hundred thousand Frenchmen closed suddenly around Mons, the
strongest fortress of the Netherlands, and made themselves masters of it
in the presence of Lewis. The humiliation was great, and for the moment
all trust in William's fortune faded away. In England the blow was felt
more heavily than elsewhere. The Jacobite hopes which had been crushed
by the indignation at Tourville's descent woke up to a fresh life.
Leading Tories, such as Lord Clarendon and Lord Dartmouth, opened
communications with James; and some of the leading Whigs with the Earl
of Shrewsbury at their head, angered at what they regarded as William's
ingratitude, followed them in their course. In Lord Marlborough's mind
the state of affairs raised hopes of a double treason. His design was to
bring about a revolt which would drive William from the throne without
replacing James on it, a revolt which would in fact give the crown to
his daughter Anne whose affection for Marlborough's wife would place the
real government of England in Churchill's hands. A yet greater danger
lay in the treason of Admiral Russell who had succeeded Torrington in
command of the fleet.

[Sidenote: Battle of La Hogue.]

Russell's defection would have removed the one obstacle to a new attempt
which James was resolved to make for the recovery of his throne and
which Lewis had been brought to support. James had never wavered from
his design of returning to England at the head of a foreign force. He
abandoned Ireland as soon as his hopes of finding such a force there
vanished at the Boyne; and from that moment he had sought a base of
invasion in France. Lewis was the more willing to make the trial that
the pressure of the war had left few troops in England. So certain was
he of success that the future ambassador to the court of James was
already nominated, and a treaty of commerce sketched between France and
England. In the beginning of 1692 an army of thirty thousand troops was
quartered in Normandy in readiness for a descent on the English coast.
Nearly a half of this force was composed of the Irish regiments who had
followed Sarsfield into exile after the surrender of Limerick.
Transports were provided for their passage, and Tourville was ordered to
cover it with the French fleet at Brest. Though Russell had twice as
many ships as his opponent the belief in his purpose of betraying
William's cause was so strong that Lewis ordered Tourville to engage the
allied fleets at any disadvantage. But whatever Russell's intrigues may
have meant he was no Herbert. All he would promise was to keep his fleet
out of the way of hindering a landing. But should Tourville engage, he
would promise nothing. "Do not think I will let the French triumph over
us in our own seas," he warned his Jacobite correspondents. "If I meet
them I will fight them, even though King James were on board." When the
allied fleet, which had been ordered to the Norman coast, met the French
off the heights of Barfleur his fierce attack proved Russell true to his
word. Tourville's fifty vessels were no match for the ninety ships of
the allies, and after five hours of a brave struggle the French were
forced to fly along the rocky coast of the Cotentin. Twenty-two of their
vessels reached St. Malo; thirteen anchored with Tourville in the bays
of Cherbourg and La Hogue; but their pursuers were soon upon them, and
in a bold attack the English boats burned ship after ship under the eyes
of the French army.

[Sidenote: The turn of the War.]

All dread of the invasion was at once at an end; and the throne of
William was secured by the detection and suppression of the Jacobite
conspiracy at home which the invasion was intended to support. The
battle of La Hogue was a death-blow to the project of a Stuart
restoration by help of foreign arms. Henceforth English Jacobitism would
have to battle unaided against the throne of the Revolution. But the
overthrow of the Jacobite hopes was the least result of the victory.
France ceased from that moment to exist as a great naval power; for
though her fleet was soon recruited to its former strength the
confidence of her sailors was lost, and not even Tourville ventured
again to tempt in battle the fortune of the seas. A new hope too dawned
on the Grand Alliance. The spell of French triumph was broken. On land
indeed the French still held their old mastery. Namur, one of the
strongest fortresses in Europe, surrendered to Lewis a few days after
the battle of La Hogue. An inroad into Dauphiné failed to rouse the
Huguenots to revolt, and the Duke of Luxembourg maintained the glory of
the French arms by a victory over William at Steinkirk. But the battle
was a useless butchery in which the conquerors lost as many men as the
conquered. From that moment France felt herself disheartened and
exhausted by the vastness of her efforts. The public misery was extreme.
"The country," Fénélon wrote frankly to Lewis, "is a vast hospital." The
tide too of the war began to turn. In 1693 the campaign of Lewis in the
Netherlands proved a fruitless one, and Luxembourg was hardly able to
beat off the fierce attack of William at Neerwinden. For the first time
in his long career of prosperity therefore Lewis bent his pride to seek
peace at the sacrifice of his conquests, and though the effort was a
vain one it told that the daring hopes of French ambition were at an end
and that the work of the Grand Alliance was practically done.

[Sidenote: The Sovereignty of the Commons.]

Its final triumph however was in great measure brought about by a change
which now passed over the face of English politics. In outer seeming the
Revolution of 1688 had only transferred the sovereignty over England
from James to William and Mary. In actual fact it had given a powerful
and decisive impulse to the great constitutional progress which was
transferring the sovereignty from the king to the House of Commons. From
the moment when its sole right to tax the nation was established by the
Bill of Rights, and when its own resolve settled the practice of
granting none but annual supplies to the Crown, the House of Commons
became the supreme power in the State. It was impossible permanently to
suspend its sittings or in the long run to oppose its will when either
course must end in leaving the Government penniless, in breaking up the
army and navy, and in suspending the public service. But though the
constitutional change was complete the machinery of government was far
from having adapted itself to the new conditions of political life which
such a change brought about. However powerful the will of the House of
Commons might be it had no means of bringing its will directly to bear
upon the conduct of public affairs. The Ministers who had charge of them
were not its servants, but the servants of the Crown; it was from the
king that they looked for direction, and to the king that they held
themselves responsible. By impeachment or more indirect means the
Commons could force a king to remove a Minister who contradicted their
will; but they had no constitutional power to replace the fallen
statesman by a Minister who would carry out their will.

[Sidenote: Lord Sunderland.]

The result was the growth of a temper in the Lower House which drove
William and his Ministers to despair. It became as corrupt, as jealous
of power, as fickle in its resolves and factious in spirit as bodies
always become whose consciousness of the possession of power is
untempered by a corresponding consciousness of the practical
difficulties or the moral responsibilities of the power which they
possess. It grumbled at the ill-success of the war, at the suffering of
the merchants, at the discontent of the Churchmen; and it blamed the
Crown and its Ministers for all at which it grumbled. But it was hard to
find out what policy or measures it would have preferred. Its mood
changed, as William bitterly complained, with every hour. His own hold
over it grew less day by day. It was only through great pressure that he
succeeded in defeating by a majority of two a Place Bill which would
have rendered all his servants and Ministers incapable of sitting in the
Commons. He was obliged to use his veto to defeat a Triennial Bill
which, as he believed, would have destroyed what little stability of
purpose there was in the present Parliament. The Houses were in fact
without the guidance of recognized leaders, without adequate
information, and destitute of that organization out of which alone a
definite policy can come. Nothing better proves the inborn political
capacity of the English mind than that it should at once have found a
simple and effective solution of such a difficulty as this. The credit
of the solution belongs to a man whose political character was of the
lowest type. Robert, Earl of Sunderland, had been a Minister in the
later days of Charles the Second; and he had remained Minister through
almost all the reign of James. He had held office at last only by
compliance with the worst tyranny of his master and by a feigned
conversion to the Roman Catholic faith; but the ruin of James was no
sooner certain than he had secured pardon and protection from William by
the betrayal of the master to whom he had sacrificed his conscience and
his honour. Since the Revolution Sunderland had striven only to escape
public observation in a country retirement, but at this crisis he came
secretly forward to bring his unequalled sagacity to the aid of the
king. His counsel was to recognize practically the new power of the
Commons by choosing the Ministers of the Crown exclusively from among
the members of the party which was strongest in the Lower House.

[Sidenote: The New Ministerial System.]

As yet no Ministry in the modern sense of the term had existed. Each
great officer of State, Treasurer or Secretary or Lord Privy Seal, had
in theory been independent of his fellow-officers; each was the "King's
servant" and responsible for the discharge of his special duties to the
king alone. From time to time one Minister, like Clarendon, might tower
above the rest and give a general direction to the whole course of
government, but the predominance was merely personal and never
permanent; and even in such a case there were colleagues who were ready
to oppose or even impeach the statesman who overshadowed them. It was
common for a king to choose or dismiss a single Minister without any
communication with the rest; and so far was even William from aiming at
ministerial unity that he had striven to reproduce in the Cabinet itself
the balance of parties which prevailed outside it. Sunderland's plan
aimed at replacing these independent Ministers by a homogeneous
Ministry, chosen from the same party, representing the same sentiments,
and bound together for common action by a sense of responsibility and
loyalty to the party to which it belonged. Not only was such a plan
likely to secure a unity of administration which had been unknown till
then, but it gave an organization to the House of Commons which it had
never had before. The Ministers who were representatives of the majority
of its members became the natural leaders of the House. Small factions
were drawn together into the two great parties which supported or
opposed the Ministry of the Crown. Above all it brought about in the
simplest possible way the solution of the problem which had so long
vexed both Kings and Commons. The new Ministers ceased in all but name
to be the king's servants. They became simply an Executive Committee
representing the will of the majority of the House of Commons, and
capable of being easily set aside by it and replaced by a similar
Committee whenever the balance of power shifted from one side of the
House to the other.

[Sidenote: The Junto.]

Such was the origin of that system of representative government which
has gone on from Sunderland's day to our own. But though William showed
his own political genius in understanding and adopting Sunderland's
plan, it was only slowly and tentatively that he ventured to carry it
out in practice. In spite of the temporary reaction Sunderland believed
that the balance of political power was really on the side of the Whigs.
Not only were they the natural representatives of the principles of the
Revolution, and the supporters of the war, but they stood far above
their opponents in parliamentary and administrative talent. At their
head stood a group of statesmen whose close union in thought and action
gained them the name of the Junto. Russell, as yet the most prominent of
these, was the victor of La Hogue; John Somers was an advocate who had
sprung into fame by his defence of the Seven Bishops; Lord Wharton was
known as the most dexterous and unscrupulous of party managers; and
Montague was fast making a reputation as the ablest of English
financiers. In spite of such considerations however it is doubtful
whether William would have thrown himself into the hands of a purely
Whig Ministry but for the attitude which the Tories took towards the
war. Exhausted as France was the war still languished and the allies
still failed to win a single victory. Meanwhile English trade was all
but ruined by the French privateers and the nation stood aghast at the
growth of taxation. The Tories, always cold in their support of the
Grand Alliance, now became eager for peace. The Whigs on the other hand
remained resolute in their support of the war.

[Sidenote: Bank of England.]

William, in whose mind the contest with France was the first object, was
thus driven slowly to follow Sunderland's advice. Already in 1694 indeed
Montague established his political position and weakened that of the
Tory Ministers by his success in a great financial measure which at once
relieved the pressure of taxation and added strength to the new
monarchy. The war could be kept up only by loans: and loans were still
raised in England by personal appeal to a few London goldsmiths in whose
hands men placed money for investment. But the bankruptcies which
followed the closing of the Exchequer by the Cabal had shaken public
confidence in the goldsmiths, while the dread of a restoration of James
made these capitalists appear shy of the Ministers' appeals for aid.
Money therefore could only be raised in scanty quantities and at a heavy
loss. In this emergency Montague came forward with a plan which had been
previously suggested by a Scotchman, William Paterson, for the creation
of a National Bank such as already existed in Holland and in Genoa.
While serving as an ordinary bank for the supply of capital to
commercial enterprises the Bank of England, as the new institution was
called, was in reality an instrument for procuring loans from the
people at large by the formal pledge of the State to repay the money
advanced on the demand of the lender. For this purpose a loan of
£1,200,000 was thrown open to public subscription; and the subscribers
to it were formed into a chartered company in whose hands the
negotiation of all after loans was placed. The plan turned out a perfect
success. In ten days the list of subscribers was full. A new source of
power revealed itself in this discovery of the resources afforded by the
national credit and the national wealth; and the rapid growth of the
National Debt, as the mass of these loans to the State came to be
called, gave a new security against the return of the Stuarts whose
first work would have been the repudiation of the claims of the lenders
or as they were termed the "fundholders."

[Sidenote: The Whig Ministry.]

The evidence of the public credit gave strength to William abroad as at
home. In 1694 indeed the army of 90,000 men which he commanded in the
Netherlands did no more than hold the French successfully at bay; but
the English fleet rode triumphant in the Channel, ravaged and alarmed
the coast of France, and foiled by its pressure the attack of a French
army on Barcelona. The brighter aspect of affairs abroad coincided with
a new unity of action at home. The change which Sunderland counselled
was quietly carried out. One by one the Tory Ministers had been replaced
by members of the Junto. Russell went to the Admiralty; Somers was
named Lord Keeper; Shrewsbury, Secretary of State; Montague, Chancellor
of the Exchequer. Even before this change was completed its effect was
felt. The House of Commons took a new tone. The Whig majority of its
members, united and disciplined, moved quietly under the direction of
their natural leaders, the Whig Ministers of the Crown. It was this
which enabled William to face the shock which was given to his position
by the death of Queen Mary at the end of 1694. It had been provided
indeed that on the death of either sovereign the survivor should retain
the throne; but the renewed attacks of the Tories under Nottingham and
Halifax on the war and the Bank showed what fresh hopes had been raised
by William's lonely position. The Parliament however, whom the king had
just conciliated by assenting at last to the Triennial Bill, went
steadily with the Ministry; and its fidelity was rewarded by triumph
abroad. In September 1695 the Alliance succeeded for the first time in
winning a great triumph over France in the capture of Namur. The king
skilfully took advantage of his victory to call a new Parliament, and
its members at once showed their temper by a vigorous support of the
measures necessary for the prosecution of the war. The Houses indeed
were no mere tools in William's hands. They forced him to resume the
prodigal grants of lands which he had made to his Dutch favourites, and
to remove his Ministers in Scotland who had aided in a wild project for
a Scotch colony on the Isthmus of Darien. They claimed a right to name
members of the new Board of Trade which was established in 1696 for the
regulation of commercial matters. They rejected a proposal, never
henceforth to be revived, for a censorship of the Press. But there was
no factious opposition. So strong was the Ministry that Montague was
enabled to face the general distress which was caused for the moment by
a reform of the currency, which had been reduced by clipping to far less
than its nominal value, and although the financial embarrassments
created by the currency reform hindered any vigorous measures abroad
William was able to hold the French at bay.

[Sidenote: The Spanish Succession.]

But the war was fast drawing to a close. The Catholic powers in the
Grand Alliance were already in revolt against William's supremacy as
they had been in revolt against that of Lewis. In 1696 the Pope
succeeded in detaching Savoy from the league and Lewis was enabled to
transfer his Italian army to the Low Countries. But France was now
simply fighting to secure more favourable terms, and William, though he
held that "the only way of treating with France is with our swords in
our hands," was almost as eager as Lewis for a peace. The defection of
Savoy made it impossible to carry out the original aim of the Alliance,
that of forcing France back to its position at the Treaty of Westphalia,
and a new question was drawing every day nearer, the question of the
succession to the Spanish throne. The death of the King of Spain,
Charles the Second, was now known to be at hand. With him ended the male
line of the Austrian princes who for two hundred years had occupied the
Spanish throne. How strangely Spain had fallen from its high estate in
Europe the wars of Lewis had abundantly shown, but so vast was the
extent of its empire, so enormous the resources which still remained to
it, that under a vigorous ruler men believed its old power would at once
return. Its sovereign was still master of some of the noblest provinces
of the Old World and the New, of Spain itself, of the Milanese, of
Naples and Sicily, of the Netherlands, of Southern America, of the noble
islands of the Spanish Main. To add such a dominion as this to the
dominion either of Lewis or of the Emperor would be to undo at a blow
the work of European independence which William had wrought; and it was
with a view to prevent either of these results that William resolved to
free his hands by a conclusion of the war.

[Sidenote: Peace of Ryswick.]

In May negotiations were opened at Ryswick; the obstacles thrown in the
way of an accommodation by Spain and the Empire were set aside in a
private negotiation between William and Lewis; and peace was finally
signed in October 1697. In spite of failure and defeat in the field
William's policy had won. The victories of France remained barren in the
face of a united Europe; and her exhaustion forced her for the first
time since Richelieu's day to consent to a disadvantageous peace. On the
side of the Empire France withdrew from every annexation save that of
Strassburg which she had made since the Treaty of Nimeguen, and
Strassburg would have been restored but for the unhappy delays of the
German negotiators. To Spain Lewis restored Luxemburg and all the
conquests he had made during the war in the Netherlands. The Duke of
Lorraine was replaced in his dominions. A far more important provision
of the peace pledged Lewis to an abandonment of the Stuart cause and a
recognition of William as King of England. For Europe in general the
peace of Ryswick was little more than a truce. But for England it was
the close of a long and obstinate struggle and the opening of a new æra
of political history. It was the final and decisive defeat of the
conspiracy which had gone on between Lewis and the Stuarts ever since
the Treaty of Dover, the conspiracy to turn England into a Roman
Catholic country and into a dependency of France. But it was even more
than this. It was the definite establishment of England as the centre of
European resistance against all attempts to overthrow the balance of

[Sidenote: William's aims.]

In leaving England face to face with France the Treaty of Ryswick gave a
new turn to the policy of William. Hitherto he had aimed at saving the
balance of European power by the joint action of England and the rest of
the European states against France. He now saw a means of securing what
that action had saved by the co-operation of France and the two great
naval powers. In his new course we see the first indication of that
triple alliance of France, England, and Holland, which formed the base
of Walpole's foreign policy, as well as of that common action of England
and France which since the fall of Holland has so constantly recurred to
the dreams of English statesmen. Peace therefore was no sooner signed
than William by stately embassies and a series of secret negotiations
drew nearer to France. It was in direct negotiation and co-operation
with Lewis that he aimed at bringing about a peaceful settlement of the
question which threatened Europe with war. At this moment the claimants
of the Spanish succession were three: the French Dauphin, a son of the
Spanish king's elder sister; the Electoral Prince of Bavaria, a grandson
of his younger sister; and the Emperor, who was a son of Charles's aunt.
In strict law--if there had been any law really applicable to the
matter--the claim of the last was the strongest of the three; for the
claim of the Dauphin was barred by an express renunciation of all right
to the succession at his mother's marriage with Lewis XIV., a
renunciation which had been ratified at the Treaty of the Pyrenees; and
a similar renunciation barred the claim of the Bavarian candidate. The
claim of the Emperor was more remote in blood, but it was barred by no
renunciation at all. William however was as resolute in the interests of
Europe to repulse the claim of the Emperor as to repulse that of Lewis;
and it was the consciousness that the Austrian succession was inevitable
if the war continued and Spain remained a member of the Grand Alliance,
in arms against France and leagued with the Emperor, which made him
suddenly conclude the Peace of Ryswick.

[Sidenote: The first Partition Treaty.]

Had England and Holland shared William's temper he would have insisted
on the succession of the Electoral Prince to the whole Spanish
dominions. But both were weary of war, and of the financial distress
which war had brought with it. In England the peace of Ryswick was at
once followed by the reduction of the army at the demand of the House of
Commons to ten thousand men; and a clamour had already begun for the
disbanding even of these. It was necessary therefore to bribe the two
rival claimants to a waiver of their claims; and Lewis after some
hesitation yielded to the counsels of his Ministers, and consented to
waive his son's claims for such a bribe. The secret treaty between the
three powers, which was concluded in the summer of 1698, thus became
necessarily a Partition Treaty. The succession of the Electoral Prince
of Bavaria was recognized on condition of the cession by Spain of its
Italian possessions to his two rivals. The Milanese was to pass to the
Emperor; the Two Sicilies, with the border province of Guipuzcoa, to
France. But the arrangement was hardly concluded when the death of the
Bavarian prince in February 1699 made the Treaty waste paper. Austria
and France were left face to face; and a terrible struggle, in which the
success of either would be equally fatal to the independence of Europe,
seemed unavoidable. The peril was the greater that the temper of both
England and Holland left William without the means of backing his policy
by arms. The suffering which the war had caused to the merchant class
and the pressure of the debt and taxation it entailed were waking every
day a more bitter resentment in the people of both countries. While the
struggle lasted the value of English exports had fallen from four
millions a year to less than three, and the losses of ships and goods at
sea had been enormous. Nor had the stress been less felt within the
realm. The revenue from the post-office, a fair index to the general
wealth of the country, had fallen from seventy-six thousand to
fifty-eight. With the restoration of peace indeed the energies of the
country had quickly recovered from the shock. In the five years after
the Peace of Ryswick the exports doubled themselves; the
merchant-shipping was quadrupled; and the revenue of the post-office
rose to eighty-two thousand pounds. But such a recovery only produced a
greater disinclination to face again the sufferings of a renewed state
of war.

[Sidenote: The second Partition Treaty.]

The general discontent at the course of the war, the general anxiety to
preserve the new gains of the peace, told alike on William and on the
party which had backed his policy. In England almost every one was set
on two objects, the reduction of taxes and the disbanding of the
standing army. The war had raised the taxes from two millions a year to
four. It had bequeathed twenty millions of debt and a fresh six millions
of deficit. The standing army was still held to be the enemy of liberty,
as it had been held under the Stuarts; and hardly any one realized the
new conditions of political life which had robbed its existence of
danger to the State. The king however resisted desperately the proposals
for its disbanding; for the maintenance of the army was all-important
for the success of the negotiations he was carrying on. But his stubborn
opposition only told against himself. Personally indeed the king still
remained an object of national gratitude; but his natural partiality to
his Dutch favourites, the confidence he gave to Sunderland, his cold and
sullen demeanour, above all his endeavours to maintain the standing
army, robbed him of popularity and of the strength which comes from
popularity. The negotiations too which he was carrying on were a secret
he could not reveal; and his prayers failed to turn the Parliament from
its purpose. The army and navy were ruthlessly cut down. How much
William's hands were weakened by this reduction of forces and by the
peace-temper of England was shown by the Second Partition Treaty which
was concluded in 1700 between the two maritime powers and France. The
demand of Lewis that the Netherlands should be given to the Elector of
Bavaria, whose political position would always leave him a puppet in the
French king's hands, was indeed successfully resisted. Spain, the
Netherlands, and the Indies were assigned to the second son of the
Emperor, the Archduke Charles of Austria. But the whole of the Spanish
territories in Italy were now granted to France; and it was provided
that Milan should be exchanged for Lorraine, whose Duke was to be
summarily transferred to the new Duchy. If the Emperor persisted in his
refusal to come into the Treaty the share of his son was to pass to
another unnamed prince, who was probably the Duke of Savoy.

[Sidenote: Fall of the Junto.]

The Emperor, indifferent to the Archduke's personal interest, and
anxious only to gain a new dominion in Italy for the House of Austria,
stubbornly protested against this arrangement; but his protest was of
little moment so long as Lewis and the two maritime powers held firmly
together. The new Western Alliance indeed showed how wide its power was
from the first. The mediation of England and Holland, no longer
counteracted by France, secured peace between the Emperor and the Turks
in the Treaty of Carlowitz. The common action of the three powers
stifled a strife between Holstein and Denmark which would have set North
Germany on fire. William's European position indeed was more commanding
than ever. But his difficulties at home were increasing every day. In
spite of the defection of their supporters on the question of a standing
army the Whig Ministry for some time retained fairly its hold on the
Houses. But the elections for a new Parliament at the close of 1698
showed the growth of a new temper in the nation. A Tory majority,
pledged to peace as to a reduction of taxation and indifferent to
foreign affairs, was returned to the House of Commons. The fourteen
thousand men still retained in the army were at once cut down to seven.
It was voted that William's Dutch guards should return to Holland. It
was in vain that William begged for their retention as a personal
favour, that he threatened to leave England with them, and that the ill
effect of this strife on his negotiations threw him into a fever. Even
before the elections he had warned the Dutch Pensionary that in any
fresh struggle England could be relied on only for naval aid. He was
forced to give way; and, as he expected, this open display of the
peace-temper of England told fatally on the resistance he had attempted
to the pretensions of France. He strove indeed to appease the Parliament
by calling for the resignation of Russell and Montague, the two
ministers most hated by the Tories. But all seemed in vain. The Houses
no sooner met in 1699 than the Tory majority attacked the Crown, passed
a Bill for resuming estates granted to the Dutch favourites, and
condemned the Ministers as responsible for these grants. Again
Sunderland had to intervene, and to press William to carry out the
policy which had produced the Whig Ministry by its entire dismissal.
Somers and his friends withdrew, and a new administration composed of
moderate Tories, with Lords Rochester and Godolphin as its leading
members, took their place.

[Sidenote: Accession of the Duke of Anjou.]

The moment indeed was one in which the king needed at any price the
co-operation of the Parliament. Spain had been stirred to bitter
resentment as news of the Partition Treaty crept abroad. The Spaniards
cared little whether a French or an Austrian prince sat on the throne of
Charles the Second, but their pride revolted against the dismemberment
of the monarchy by the loss of its Italian dependencies. The nobles too
dreaded the loss of their vast estates in Italy and of the lucrative
posts they held as governors of these dependencies. Even the dying king
shared the anger of his subjects. He hesitated only whether to leave his
dominions to the House of Austria or the House of Bourbon; but in
either case he was resolved to leave the whole. A will wrested from him
by the factions which wrangled over his deathbed bequeathed at last the
whole monarchy of Spain to a grandson of Lewis, the Duke of Anjou, the
second son of the Dauphin. It was doubtful indeed whether Lewis would
suffer his grandson to receive the crown. He was still a member of that
Triple Alliance on which for the last three years the peace of Europe
had depended. The Treaty of Partition was so recent and the risk of
accepting this bequest so great that Lewis would have hardly resolved on
it but for his belief that the temper of England must necessarily render
William's opposition a fruitless one. Never in fact had England been so
averse from war. So strong was the antipathy to William's policy that
men openly approved the French king's course. Hardly any one in England
dreaded the succession of a boy who, French as he was, would as they
believed soon be turned into a Spaniard by the natural course of events.
The succession of the Duke of Anjou was generally looked upon as far
better than the increase of power which France would have derived from
the cessions of the last treaty of Partition. The cession of the
Sicilies would have turned the Mediterranean, it was said, into a French
lake, and have ruined the English trade with the Levant, while the
cession of Guipuzcoa and the annexation of the west coast of Spain,
which was looked on as certain to follow, would have imperilled the
American trade and again raised France into a formidable power at sea.
Backing all these considerations was the dread of losing by a contest
with Spain and its new king the lucrative trade with the Spanish
colonies. "It grieves me to the heart," William wrote bitterly, "that
almost every one rejoices that France has preferred the Will to the
Treaty." Astonished and angered as he was at his rival's breach of
faith, he had no means of punishing it. In the opening of 1701 the Duke
of Anjou entered Madrid, and Lewis proudly boasted that henceforth there
were no Pyrenees.

[Sidenote: Seizure of the Dutch Barrier.]

The life-work of William seemed undone. He knew himself to be dying. His
cough was incessant, his eyes sunk and dead, his frame so weak that he
could hardly get into his coach. But never had he shown himself so
great. His courage rose with every difficulty. His temper, which had
been heated by the personal affronts lavished on him through English
faction, was hushed by a supreme effort of his will. His large and
clear-sighted intellect looked through the temporary embarrassments of
French diplomacy and English party strife to the great interests which
he knew must in the end determine the course of European politics.
Abroad and at home all seemed to go against him. For the moment he had
no ally save Holland, for Spain was now united with Lewis, while the
attitude of Bavaria divided Germany and held the House of Austria in
check. The Bavarian Elector indeed, who had charge of the Spanish
Netherlands and on whom William had counted, openly joined the French
side from the first and proclaimed the Duke of Anjou as king in
Brussels. In England a new Parliament, which had been called by way of
testing public opinion, was crowded with Tories who were resolute
against war. The Tory Ministry pressed him to acknowledge the new king
of Spain; and as even Holland did this, William was forced to submit. He
could only count on the greed of Lewis to help him, and he did not count
in vain. The general approval of the French king's action had sprung
from a belief that he intended honestly to leave Spain to the Spaniards
under their new boy-king. Bitter too as the strife of Whig and Tory
might be in England, there were two things on which Whig and Tory were
agreed. Neither would suffer France to occupy the Spanish Netherlands.
Neither would endure a French attack on the Protestant succession which
the Revolution of 1688 had established. But the arrogance of Lewis
blinded him to the need of moderation in his hour of good-luck. The
wretched defence made by the strong places of the Netherlands in the
former war had brought about an agreement between Spain and Holland at
its close, by which seven fortresses, including Luxemburg, Mons, and
Charleroi, were garrisoned with Dutch in the place of Spanish troops.
The seven were named the Dutch barrier, and the first anxiety both of
Holland and of William was to maintain this arrangement under the new
state of things. William laid down the maintenance of the barrier in his
negotiations at Madrid as a matter of peace or war. But Lewis was too
eager to wait even for the refusal of William's demand which the pride
of the Spanish Court prompted. In February 1701 his troops appeared at
the gates of the seven fortresses; and a secret convention with the
Elector, who remained in charge of the Netherlands, delivered them into
his hands to hold in trust for his grandson. Other French garrisons took
possession at the same time of Ostend and the coast towns of Flanders.

[Sidenote: The Act of Settlement.]

The Parliament of 1701, a Parliament mainly of Tories, and in which the
leader of the moderate Tories, Robert Harley, came for the first time to
the front, met amidst the general panic and suspension of trade which
followed this seizure of the barrier fortresses. Peace-Parliament as it
was and bitterly as it condemned the Partition Treaties, it at once
supported William in his demand for a withdrawal of the French troops,
and authorized him to conclude a defensive alliance with Holland, which
would give that State courage to join in the demand. The disclosure of a
new Jacobite plot strengthened William's position. The hopes of the
Jacobites had been raised in the preceding year by the death of the
young Duke of Gloucester, the only living child of the Princess Anne,
and who as William was childless ranked, after his mother, as
heir-presumptive of the throne. William was dying, the health of Anne
herself was known to be precarious; and to the partisans of James it
seemed as if the succession of his son, the boy who was known in later
life as the Old Pretender, was all but secure. But Tory as the
Parliament was, it had no mind to undo the work of the Revolution. When
a new Act of Succession was laid before the Houses in 1701 not a voice
was raised for James or his son. By the ordinary rules of heritage the
descendants of the daughter of Charles the First, Henrietta of Orleans,
whose only child had married the Duke of Savoy, would come next as
claimants; but the house of Savoy was Catholic and its pretensions were
passed over in the same silence. No other descendants of Charles the
First remained, and the Parliament fell back on his father's line.
Elizabeth, the daughter of James the First, had married the Elector
Palatine; but of her twelve children all had died save one. This was
Sophia, the wife of the late and the mother of the present Elector of
Hanover. It was in Sophia and the heirs of her body, being Protestants,
that the Act of Settlement vested the Crown. But the jealousy of a
foreign ruler accompanied this settlement with remarkable provisions.
It was enacted that every English sovereign must be in communion with
the Church of England as by law established. All future kings were
forbidden to leave England without consent of Parliament, and foreigners
were excluded from all public posts, military or civil. The independence
of justice, which had been inadequately secured by the Bill of Rights,
was now established by a clause which provided that no judge should be
removed from office save on an address from Parliament to the Crown. The
two principles that the king acts only through his ministers and that
these ministers are responsible to Parliament were asserted by a
requirement that all public business should be formally done in the
Privy Council and all its decisions signed by its members. These two
last provisions went far to complete the parliamentary Constitution
which had been drawn by the Bill of Rights.

[Sidenote: The Country and the War.]

But, firm as it was in its loyalty to the Revolution, and in its resolve
to maintain the independence of the Netherlands, the Parliament had
still no purpose of war. It assented indeed to the alliance with Holland
in the belief that the pressure of the two powers would bring Lewis to a
peaceful settlement of the question. Its aim was still to avoid a
standing army and to reduce taxation; and its bitterness against the
Partition Treaties sprang from a belief that William had entailed on
England by their means a contest which must bring back again the army
and the debt. The king was bitterly blamed, while the late ministers,
Somers, Russell, and Montague (now become peers), were impeached for
their share in the treaties; and the Commons prayed the king to exclude
the three from his counsels for ever. But a counter-prayer from the
Lords gave the first sign of a reaction of opinion. Outside the House of
Commons indeed the tide of national feeling rose as the designs of Lewis
grew clearer. He refused to allow the Dutch barrier to be
re-established; and a great French fleet gathered in the Channel to
support, it was believed, a fresh Jacobite descent which was proposed by
the ministers of James in a letter intercepted and laid before
Parliament. Even the House of Commons took fire at this, and the fleet
was raised to thirty thousand men, the army to ten thousand. But the
country moved faster than the Parliament. Kent sent up a remonstrance
against the factious measures by which the Tories still struggled
against the king's policy, with a prayer "that addresses might be turned
into Bills of Supply"; and William was encouraged by these signs of a
change of temper to despatch an English force to Holland, and to
conclude a secret treaty with the United Provinces for the recovery of
the Netherlands from Lewis and for their transfer with the Milanese to
the house of Austria as a means of counterbalancing the new power added
to France.

[Sidenote: The Grand Alliance.]

England however still clung desperately to a hope of peace; and even in
the Treaty with the Emperor, which followed on the French refusal to
negotiate on a basis of compensation, William was far from disputing the
right of Philip of Anjou to the Spanish throne. Hostilities had indeed
already broken out in Italy between the French and Austrian armies; but
the king had not abandoned the dream of a peaceful settlement when
France by a sudden act forced him into war. Lewis had acknowledged
William as king in the Peace of Ryswick and pledged himself to oppose
all attacks on his throne; but in September 1701 he entered the
bedchamber at St. Germain where James the Second was breathing his last,
and promised to acknowledge his son at his death as king of England,
Scotland, and Ireland. The promise which was thus made was in fact a
declaration of war, and in a moment all England was at one in accepting
the challenge. The issue Lewis had raised was no longer a matter of
European politics, but a question whether the work of the Revolution
should be undone, and whether Catholicism and despotism should be
replaced on the throne of England by the arms of France. On such a
question as this there was no difference between Tory and Whig. Every
Englishman backed William in his open resentment of the insult and in
the recall of his ambassador. The national union showed itself in the
warm welcome given to the king on his return from the Hague, where the
conclusion of a new Grand Alliance in September between the Empire,
Holland, and the United Provinces had rewarded William's patience and
skill. The Alliance was soon joined by Denmark, Sweden, the Palatinate,
and the bulk of the German States. William seized the moment of
enthusiasm to dissolve the Houses whose action had hitherto embarrassed
him; and though the new Parliament which met in 1702 was still Tory in
the main, its Tory members were now as much for war as the Whigs, and
the House of Commons replied to the king's stirring appeal by voting
forty thousand soldiers and as many sailors for the coming struggle. As
a telling reply to the recognition of the young James by Lewis, a Bill
of Attainder was passed against the new Pretender, and correspondence
with him or maintenance of his title was made treason. At the same time
all members of either House and all public officials were sworn to
uphold the succession of the House of Hanover as established by law.

[Sidenote: Marlborough.]

The king's weakness was already too great to allow of his taking the
field; and he was forced to entrust the war in the Netherlands to the
one Englishman who had shown himself capable of a great command. John
Churchill, Earl of Marlborough, was born in 1650, the son of a
Devonshire Cavalier, whose daughter became at the Restoration mistress
of the Duke of York. The shame of Arabella did more perhaps than her
father's loyalty to win for her brother a commission in the royal
Guards; and after five years' service abroad under Turenne the young
captain became colonel of an English regiment which was retained in the
service of France. He had already shown some of the qualities of a great
soldier, an unruffled courage, a temper naturally bold and venturesome
but held in check by a cool and serene judgement, a vigilance and
capacity for enduring fatigue which never forsook him. In later years he
was known to spend a whole day in reconnoitring, and at Blenheim he
remained on horseback for fifteen hours. But courage and skill in arms
did less for Churchill on his return to the English court than his
personal beauty. In the French camp he had been known as "the handsome
Englishman"; and his manners were as winning as his person. Even in age
his address was almost irresistible; "he engrossed the graces," says
Chesterfield; and his air never lost the careless sweetness which won
the favour of Lady Castlemaine. A present of £5000 from the king's
mistress laid the foundation of a fortune which grew rapidly to
greatness, as the prudent forethought of the handsome young soldier
hardened into the avarice of age.

[Sidenote: Churchill and James.]

But it was to the Duke of York that Churchill looked mainly for
advancement, and he earned it by the fidelity with which as a member of
his household he clung to the Duke's fortunes during the dark days of
the Popish Plot. He followed James to Edinburgh and the Hague, and on
his master's return he was rewarded with a peerage and the colonelcy of
the Life Guards. The service he rendered James after his accession by
saving the royal army from a surprise at Sedgemoor would have been yet
more splendidly acknowledged but for the king's bigotry. In spite of his
master's personal solicitations Churchill remained true to
Protestantism. But he knew James too well to count on further favour
after a formal refusal to abandon his faith. Luckily for him he had now
found a new groundwork for his fortunes in the growing influence of his
wife over the king's second daughter, Anne; and at the crisis of the
Revolution the adhesion of Anne to the cause of Protestantism was of the
highest value. No sentiment of gratitude to his older patron hindered
Churchill from corresponding with the Prince of Orange, from promising
Anne's sympathy to William's effort, or from deserting the ranks of the
king's army when it faced William in the field. His desertion proved
fatal to the royal cause; but great as this service was it was eclipsed
by a second. It was by his wife's persuasion that Anne was induced to
forsake her father and take refuge in Danby's camp. Unscrupulous as his
conduct had been, the services which Churchill thus rendered to William
were too great to miss their reward. On the new king's accession he
became Earl of Marlborough; he was put at the head of a force during the
Irish war where his rapid successes at once won William's regard; and he
was given high command in the army of Flanders.

[Sidenote: Churchill and William.]

But the sense of his power over Anne soon turned Marlborough from
plotting treason against James to plot treason against William. Great as
was his greed of gold, he had married Sarah Jennings, a penniless beauty
of Charles's court, in whom a violent and malignant temper was strangely
combined with a power of winning and retaining love. Churchill's
affection for her ran like a thread of gold through the dark web of his
career. In the midst of his marches and from the very battle-field he
writes to his wife with the same passionate tenderness. The composure
which no danger or hatred could ruffle broke down into almost womanish
depression at the thought of her coldness or at any burst of her violent
humour. To the last he never left her without a pang. "I did for a great
while with a perspective glass look upon the cliffs," he once wrote to
her after setting out on a campaign, "in hopes that I might have had one
sight of you." It was no wonder that the woman who inspired Marlborough
with a love like this bound to her the weak and feeble nature of the
Princess Anne. The two friends threw off the restraints of state, and
addressed each other as "Mrs. Freeman" and "Mrs. Morley." It was on his
wife's influence over her friend that the Earl's ambition counted in its
designs against William. His subtle policy aimed at availing itself both
of William's unpopularity and of the dread of a Jacobite restoration.
His plan was to drive the king from the throne by backing the Tories in
their opposition to the war, as well as by stirring to frenzy the
English hatred of foreigners, and then to use the Whig dread of James's
return to seat Anne in William's place. The discovery of these designs
roused the king to a burst of unusual resentment. "Were I and my Lord
Marlborough private persons," William exclaimed, "the sword would have
to settle between us." As it was, he could only strip the Earl of his
offices and command and drive his wife from St. James's. Anne followed
her favourite, and the court of the Princess became the centre of the
Tory opposition: while Marlborough opened a correspondence with James.
So notorious was his treason that on the eve of the French invasion
which was foiled by the victory of La Hogue the Earl was one of the
first among the suspected persons who were sent to the Tower.

[Sidenote: Death of William.]

The death of Mary however forced William to recall the Princess, who
became by this event his successor; and with Anne the Marlboroughs
returned to court. Now indeed that Anne's succession was brought near by
the rapid decay of William's health their loyalty to the throne might
be counted on; and though William could not bend himself to trust the
Earl again, he saw in him as death drew near the one man whose splendid
talents fitted him in spite of the perfidy and treason of his life to
rule England and direct the Grand Alliance in his stead. He employed
Marlborough therefore to negotiate the treaty of alliance with the
Emperor, and put him at the head of the army in Flanders. But the Earl
had only just taken the command when a fall from his horse on the
twenty-first of February 1702 proved fatal to the broken frame of
William of Orange. "There was a time when I should have been glad to
have been delivered out of my troubles," the dying man whispered to
Portland, "but I own I see another scene, and could wish to live a
little longer." He knew however that the wish was vain; and he died on
the morning of the 8th of March, commending Marlborough to Anne as the
fittest person to lead her armies and guide her counsels. Anne's zeal in
her friend's cause needed no quickening. Three days after her accession
the Earl was named Captain-General of the English forces at home and
abroad, and entrusted with the entire direction of the war. His
supremacy over home affairs was secured by the expulsion of the few
remaining Whigs among the ministers, and the construction of a purely
Tory administration with Lord Godolphin, a close friend of
Marlborough's, as Lord Treasurer at its head. The Queen's affection for
his wife ensured him the support of the Crown at a moment when Anne's
personal popularity gave the Crown a new weight with the nation. In
England indeed party feeling for the moment died away. The Parliament
called on the new accession was strongly Tory; but all save the extreme
Tories were won over to the war now that it was waged on behalf of a
Tory queen by a Tory general, while the most extreme of the Whigs were
ready to back even a Tory general in waging a Whig war.

[Sidenote: Marlborough and the Allies.]

Abroad however William's death shook the Alliance to its base; and even
Holland wavered in dread of being deserted by England in the coming
struggle. But the decision of Marlborough soon did away with this
distrust. Anne was made to declare from the throne her resolve to pursue
with energy the policy of her predecessor. The Parliament was brought to
sanction vigorous measures for the prosecution of the war. The new
general hastened to the Hague, received the command of the Dutch as well
as of the English forces, and drew the German powers into the
Confederacy with a skill and adroitness which even William might have
envied. Never indeed was greatness more quickly recognised than in the
case of Marlborough. In a few months he was regarded by all as the
guiding spirit of the Alliance, and princes whose jealousy had worn out
the patience of the king yielded without a struggle to the counsels of
his successor. His temper fitted him in an especial way to be the head
of a great confederacy. Like William, he owed little of his power to any
early training. The trace of his neglected education was seen to the
last in his reluctance to write. "Of all things," he said to his wife,
"I do not love writing." To pen a despatch indeed was a far greater
trouble to Marlborough than to plan a campaign. But nature had given him
qualities which in other men spring specially from culture. His capacity
for business was immense. During the next ten years he assumed the
general direction of the war in Flanders and in Spain. He managed every
negotiation with the courts of the allies. He watched over the shifting
phases of English politics. He crossed the Channel to win over Anne to a
change in the cabinet, or hurried to Berlin to secure the due contingent
of Electoral troops from Brandenburg. At one and the same moment men saw
him reconciling the Emperor with the Protestants of Hungary, stirring
the Calvinists of the Cévennes into revolt, arranging the affairs of
Portugal, and providing for the protection of the Duke of Savoy.

[Sidenote: His temper.]

But his air showed no trace of fatigue or haste or vexation. He retained
to the last the indolent grace of his youth. His natural dignity was
never ruffled by an outbreak of temper. Amidst the storm of battle his
soldiers saw their leader "without fear of danger or in the least hurry
giving his orders with all the calmness imaginable." In the cabinet he
was as cool as on the battle-field. He met with the same equable
serenity the pettiness of the German princes, the phlegm of the Dutch,
the ignorant opposition of his officers, the libels of his political
opponents. There was a touch of irony in the simple expedients by which
he sometimes solved problems which had baffled cabinets. The touchy
pride of the king of Prussia in his new royal dignity, when he rose from
being a simple Elector of Brandenburg to a throne, made him one of the
most vexatious among the allies; but all difficulty with him ceased when
Marlborough rose at a state banquet and glutted his vanity by handing
him a napkin. Churchill's composure rested partly on a pride which could
not stoop to bare the real self within to the eyes of meaner men. In the
bitter moments before his fall he bade Godolphin burn some querulous
letters which the persecution of his opponents had wrung from him; "My
desire," he wrote, "is that the world may continue in their error of
thinking me a happy man, for I think it better to be envied than
pitied." But in great measure it sprang from the purely intellectual
temper of his mind. His passion for his wife was the one sentiment which
tinged the colourless light in which his understanding moved. In all
else he was without affection or resentment, he knew neither doubt nor
regret. In private life he was a humane and compassionate man; but if
his position required it he could betray Englishmen to death or lead his
army to a butchery such as that of Malplaquet. Of honour or the finer
sentiments of mankind he knew nothing; and he turned without a shock
from guiding Europe and winning great victories to heap up a matchless
fortune by peculation and greed. He is perhaps the only instance of a
man of real greatness who loved money for money's sake. No life indeed,
no temper ever stood more aloof from the common life and temper of
mankind. The passions which stirred the men around him, whether noble or
ignoble, were to Marlborough simply elements in an intellectual problem
which had to be solved by patience. "Patience will overcome all things,"
he writes again and again. "As I think most things are governed by
destiny, having done all things we should submit with patience."

[Sidenote: Opening of the War.]

As a statesman the high qualities of Marlborough were owned by his
bitterest foes. "Over the Confederacy," says Lord Bolingbroke, "he, a
new, a private man, acquired by merit and management a more decided
influence than high birth, confirmed authority, and even the crown of
Great Britain had given to King William." But great as he was in the
council, he was even greater in the field. He stands alone amongst the
masters of the art of war as a captain whose victories began at an age
when the work of most men is done. Though he served as a young officer
under Turenne, and for a few months in Ireland and the Netherlands,
Marlborough had held no great command till he took the field in Flanders
at the age of fifty-two. He stands alone too in his unbroken good
fortune. Voltaire notes that he never besieged a fortress which he did
not take, or fought a battle which he did not win. His difficulties
indeed came not so much from the enemy as from the ignorance and
timidity of his own allies. He was never defeated in the field, but
victory after victory was snatched from him by the incapacity of his
officers or the stubbornness of the Dutch. What startled the cautious
strategists of his day was the vigour and audacity of his plans. Old as
he was, Marlborough's designs had from the first all the dash and
boldness of youth. On taking the field in 1702 he at once resolved to
force a battle in the heart of Brabant. The plan was foiled by the
timidity and resistance of the Dutch deputies. But his resolute advance
across the Meuse drew the French forces from that river and enabled him
to reduce fortress after fortress in a series of sieges, till the
surrender of Liége closed a campaign which cut off the French from the
Lower Rhine and freed Holland from all danger of invasion.

[Sidenote: The French in Germany.]

The successes of Marlborough had been brought into bolder relief by the
fortunes of the war in other quarters. Though the Imperialist general,
Prince Eugene of Savoy, showed his powers by a surprise of the French
army at Cremona, no real successes had been won in Italy. An English
descent on the Spanish coast ended in failure. In Germany, where the
Bavarians joined the French, their united armies defeated the army of
the Empire and opened the line of the Danube to a French advance. It was
in this quarter that Lewis resolved to push his fortunes in the coming
year. In the spring of 1703 a French army under Marshal Villars again
relieved the Bavarian Elector from the pressure of the Austrian forces,
and only a strife which arose between the two commanders hindered their
joint armies from marching on Vienna. Meanwhile the timidity of the
Dutch deputies served Lewis well in the Low Countries. The hopes of
Marlborough, who had been raised to a dukedom for his services in the
previous year, were again foiled by the deputies of the States-General.
Serene as his temper was, it broke down before their refusal to
co-operate in an attack on Antwerp and French Flanders; and the prayers
of Godolphin and of the Pensionary Heinsius alone induced him to
withdraw his offer of resignation. In spite of his victories on the
Danube, indeed, of the blunders of his adversaries on the Rhine, and the
sudden aid of an insurrection against the Court of Vienna which broke
out in Hungary, the difficulties of Lewis were hourly increasing. The
accession of Savoy to the Grand Alliance threatened his armies in Italy
with destruction. That of Portugal gave the allies a base of operations
against Spain. The French king's energy however rose with the pressure;
and while the Duke of Berwick, a natural son of James the Second, was
despatched against Portugal, and three small armies closed round Savoy,
the flower of the French troops joined the army of Bavaria on the
Danube, for the bold plan of Lewis was to decide the fortunes of the war
by a victory which would wrest peace from the Empire under the walls of

[Sidenote: Marlborough in Germany.]

The master-stroke of Lewis roused Marlborough at the opening of 1704 to
a master-stroke in return; but the secrecy and boldness of the Duke's
plans deceived both his enemies and his allies. The French army in
Flanders saw in his march from the Netherlands upon Maintz only a design
to transfer the war into Elsass. The Dutch on the other hand were lured
into suffering their troops to be drawn as far from Flanders as Coblentz
by the Duke's proposals for an imaginary campaign on the Moselle. It was
only when Marlborough crossed the Neckar and struck through the centre
of Germany for the Danube that the true aim of his operations was
revealed to both. After struggling through the hill country of
Wurtemberg he joined the Imperial army under the Prince of Baden,
stormed the heights of Donauwerth, crossed the Danube and the Lech, and
penetrated into the heart of Bavaria. The crisis drew two other armies
which were facing one another on the Upper Rhine to the scene. The
arrival of Marshal Tallard with thirty thousand French troops saved the
Elector of Bavaria for the moment from the need of submission; but the
junction of his opponent, Prince Eugene, with Marlborough raised the
contending forces again to an equality. After a few marches the armies
met on the north bank of the Danube near the small town of Hochstädt and
the village of Blindheim or Blenheim, which have given their names to
one of the most memorable battles in the history of the world.

[Sidenote: Battle of Blenheim.]

In one respect the struggle which followed stands almost unrivalled, for
the whole of the Teutonic race was represented in the strange medley of
Englishmen, Dutchmen, Hanoverians, Danes, Wurtembergers and Austrians
who followed Marlborough and Eugene. The French and Bavarians, who
numbered like their opponents some fifty thousand men, lay behind a
little stream which ran through swampy ground to the Danube. Their
position was a strong one, for its front was covered by the swamp, its
right by the Danube, its left by the hill-country in which the stream
rose; and Tallard had not only entrenched himself but was far superior
to his rival in artillery. But for once Marlborough's hands were free.
"I have great reason," he wrote calmly home, "to hope that everything
will go well, for I have the pleasure to find all the officers willing
to obey without knowing any other reason than that it is my desire,
which is very different from what it was in Flanders, where I was
obliged to have the consent of a council of war for everything I
undertook." So formidable were the obstacles, however, that though the
allies were in motion at sunrise on the 13th of August it was not till
midday that Eugene, who commanded on the right, succeeded in crossing
the stream. The English foot at once forded it on the left, and attacked
the village of Blindheim in which the bulk of the French infantry were
entrenched; but after a furious struggle the attack was repulsed, while
as gallant a resistance at the other end of the line held Eugene in
check. It was the centre however, where the French believed themselves
to be unassailable, and which this belief had led them to weaken by
drawing troops to their wings, that had been chosen by Marlborough from
the first for the chief point of attack. By making an artificial road
across the morass which covered it, he was at last enabled to throw his
eight thousand horsemen on the mass of the French cavalry, which
occupied this position; and two desperate charges which the Duke headed
in person decided the day. The French centre was flung back on the
Danube and forced to surrender. Their left fell back in confusion on
Hochstädt: while their right, cooped up in Blindheim and cut off from
retreat, became prisoners of war. Of the defeated army only twenty
thousand men escaped. Twelve thousand were slain, fourteen thousand were
captured. Vienna was saved, Germany finally freed from the French, and
Marlborough, who followed the wreck of the French host in its flight to
Elsass, soon made himself master of the Lower Moselle.

[Sidenote: Occasional conformity.]

But the loss of France could not be measured by men or fortresses. A
hundred victories since Rocroi had taught the world to regard the armies
of Lewis as all but invincible, when Blenheim and the surrender of the
flower of the French soldiery broke the spell. From that moment the
terror of victory passed to the side of the allies, and "Malbrook"
became a name of fear to every child in France. In England itself the
victory of Blenheim aided to bring about a great change in the political
aspect of affairs. The Tories were already pressing hard on the defeated
Whigs. If they were willing to support the war abroad, they were
resolved to use the accession of a Stuart to the throne to secure their
own power at home. They resolved therefore to make a fresh attempt to
create a permanent Tory majority in the Commons by excluding
Nonconformists from the municipal corporations, which returned the bulk
of the borough members, and whose political tendencies were for the
most part Whig. The test of receiving the sacrament according to the
ritual of the Church of England, effective as it was against Catholics,
was useless against Protestant Dissenters. While adhering to their
separate congregations, in which they were now protected by the
Toleration Act, they "qualified for office," as it was called, by the
"occasional conformity" of receiving the sacrament at church once in the
year. It was against "occasional conformity" that the Tories introduced
a test which by excluding the Nonconformists would have given them the
command of the boroughs; and this test at first received Marlborough's
support. But it was rejected by the Lords as often as it was sent up to
them, and it was soon guessed that the resistance of the Lords was
secretly backed by both Marlborough and Godolphin. Tory as he was, in
fact, Marlborough had no mind for an unchecked Tory rule, or for a
measure which would be fatal to the war by again reviving religious
strife. But it was in vain that he strove to propitiate his party by
inducing the Queen to set aside the tenths and first-fruits hitherto
paid by the clergy to the Crown as a fund for the augmentation of small
benefices, a fund which still bears the name of Queen Anne's Bounty. The
Commons showed their resentment against Marlborough by refusing to add a
grant of money to the grant of a dukedom after his first campaign; and
the higher Tories, with Lord Nottingham at their head, began to throw
every obstacle they could in the way of the continuance of the war.

[Sidenote: The Coalition Ministry.]

Nottingham and his followers at last quitted office in 1704, and
Marlborough replaced them by Tories of a more moderate stamp who were
still in favour of the war; by Robert Harley, who became Secretary of
State, and by Henry St. John, a young man of splendid talents, who was
named Secretary at War. Small as the change seemed, its significance was
clear to both parties; and the Duke's march into Germany gave his
enemies an opportunity of embittering the political strife. The original
aim of the Tories had been to limit English efforts to what seemed
purely English objects, the defence of the Netherlands and of English
commerce; and the bulk of them shrank even now from any further
entanglement in the struggle. But the Duke's march seemed at once to
pledge England to a strife in the very heart of the Continent, and above
all to a strife on behalf of the House of Austria, whose designs upon
Spain were regarded with almost as much suspicion as those of Lewis. It
was an act indeed of even greater political than military daring. The
High Tories and Jacobites threatened if Marlborough failed to bring his
head to the block; and only the victory of Blenheim saved him from
political ruin. Slowly and against his will the Duke drifted from his
own party to the party which really backed his policy. He availed
himself of the national triumph over Blenheim to dissolve Parliament;
and when the election of 1705, as he hoped, returned a majority in
favour of the war, his efforts brought about a coalition between the
moderate Tories who still clung to him and the Whig Junto, whose support
was purchased by making a Whig, William Cowper, Lord Keeper, and by
sending Lord Sunderland as envoy to Vienna.

[Sidenote: Ramillies.]

The bitter attacks of the peace party were entirely foiled by this
union, and Marlborough at last felt secure at home. But he had to bear
disappointment abroad. His plan of attack along the line of the Moselle
was defeated by the refusal of the Imperial army to join him. When he
transferred the war again to the Netherlands and entered the French
lines across the Dyle, the Dutch generals withdrew their troops; and his
proposal to attack the Duke of Villeroy in the field of Waterloo was
rejected in full council of war by the deputies of the States with cries
of "murder" and "massacre." Even Marlborough's composure broke into
bitterness at this last blow. "Had I the same power I had last year," he
wrote home, "I could have won a greater victory than that of Blenheim."
On his complaint indeed the States recalled their commissaries, but the
year was lost; nor had greater results been brought about in Italy or on
the Rhine. The spirits of the allies were only sustained by the
romantic exploits of Lord Peterborough in Spain. Profligate,
unprincipled, flighty as he was, Peterborough had a genius for war, and
his seizure of Barcelona with a handful of men, a step followed by his
recognition of the old liberties of Aragon, roused that province to
support the cause of the second son of the Emperor, who had been
acknowledged as King of Spain by the allies under the title of Charles
the Third. Catalonia and Valencia soon joined Aragon in declaring for
Charles: while Marlborough spent the winter of 1705 in negotiations at
Vienna, Berlin, Hanover, and the Hague, and in preparations for the
coming campaign. Eager for freedom of action and sick of the Imperial
generals as of the Dutch, he planned a march over the Alps and a
campaign in Italy; and though these designs were defeated by the
opposition of the allies, he found himself unfettered when he again
appeared in Flanders in 1706. Marshal Villeroy, the new French general,
was as eager as Marlborough for an engagement; and the two armies met on
the 23rd of May at the village of Ramillies on an undulating plain which
forms the highest ground in Brabant. The French were drawn up in a wide
curve with morasses covering their front. After a feint on their left,
Marlborough flung himself on their right wing at Ramillies, crushed it
in a brilliant charge that he led in person, and swept along their whole
line till it broke in a rout which only ended beneath the walls of
Louvain. In an hour and a half the French had lost fifteen thousand men,
their baggage, and their guns; and the line of the Scheldt, Brussels,
Antwerp and Bruges became the prize of the victors. It only needed four
successful sieges which followed the battle of Ramillies to complete the
deliverance of Flanders.

[Sidenote: The Union with Scotland.]

The year which witnessed the victory of Ramillies remains yet more
memorable as the year which witnessed the final Union of England with
Scotland. As the undoing of the earlier union had been the first work of
the Government of the Restoration, its revival was one of the first aims
of the Government which followed the Revolution. But the project was
long held in check by religious and commercial jealousies. Scotland
refused to bear any part of the English debt. England would not yield
any share in her monopoly of trade with the colonies. The English
Churchmen longed for a restoration of Episcopacy north of the Border,
while the Scotch Presbyterians would not hear even of the legal
toleration of Episcopalians. In 1703 however an Act of Settlement which
passed through the Scotch Parliament at last brought home to English
statesmen the dangers of further delay. In dealing with this measure the
Scotch Whigs, who cared only for the independence of their country,
joined hand in hand with the Scotch Jacobites, who looked only to the
interests of the Pretender. The Jacobites excluded from the Act the
name of the Princess Sophia; the Whigs introduced a provision that no
sovereign of England should be recognized as sovereign of Scotland save
upon security given to the religion, freedom, and trade of the Scottish
people. The danger arising from such a measure was undoubtedly great,
for it pointed to a recognition of the Pretender in Scotland on the
Queen's death, and such a recognition meant war between Scotland and
England. The need of a union became at once apparent to every statesman,
but it was only after three years' delay that the wisdom and resolution
of Lord Somers brought the question to an issue. The Scotch proposals of
a federative rather than a legislative union were set aside by his
firmness; the commercial jealousies of the English traders were put by;
and the Act of Union as it was completed in 1706, though not finally
passed till the following year, provided that the two kingdoms should be
united into one under the name of Great Britain, and that the succession
to the crown of this United Kingdom should be ruled by the provisions of
the English Act of Settlement. The Scotch Church and the Scotch law were
left untouched: but all rights of trade were thrown open to both
nations, a common system of taxation was established, and a uniform
system of coinage adopted. A single Parliament was henceforth to
represent the United Kingdom; and for this purpose forty-five Scotch
members, a number taken to represent the proportion of Scotch property
and population relatively to England, were added to the five hundred and
thirteen English members of the House of Commons, and sixteen
representative peers to the one hundred and eight who formed the English
House of Lords.

[Sidenote: Its results.]

In Scotland the opposition to this measure was bitter and almost
universal. The terror of the Presbyterians indeed was met by an Act of
Security which became part of the Treaty of Union, and which required an
oath to support the Presbyterian Church from every sovereign on his
accession. But no securities could satisfy the enthusiastic patriots or
the fanatical Cameronians. The Jacobites sought troops from France and
plotted a Stuart restoration. The nationalists talked of seceding from
the Houses which voted for the Union and of establishing a rival
Parliament. In the end however good sense and the loyalty of the trading
classes to the cause of the Protestant succession won their way. The
measure was adopted by the Scotch Parliament, and the Treaty of Union
became a legislative Act to which Anne in 1707 gave her assent in noble
words. "I desire," said the Queen, "and expect from my subjects of both
nations that from henceforth they act with all possible respect and
kindness to one another, that so it may appear to all the world they
have hearts disposed to become one people." Time has more than answered
these hopes. The two nations whom the Union brought together have ever
since remained one. England gained in the removal of a constant danger
of treason and war. To Scotland the Union opened up new avenues of
wealth which the energy of its people turned to wonderful account. The
farms of Lothian have become models of agricultural skill. A fishing
town on the Clyde has grown into the rich and populous Glasgow. Peace
and culture have changed the wild clansmen of the Highlands into
herdsmen and farmers. Nor was the change followed by any loss of
national spirit. The world has hardly seen a mightier and more rapid
developement of national energy than that of Scotland after the Union.
All that passed away was the jealousy which had parted since the days of
Edward the First two peoples whom a common blood and common speech
proclaimed to be one. The Union between Scotland and England has been
real and stable simply because it was the legislative acknowledgement
and enforcement of a national fact.

[Sidenote: Marlborough's difficulties.]

With the defeat of Ramillies and the conclusion of the Union the
greatness of Marlborough reached its height. In five years he had
rescued Holland, saved Germany, and thrown France back on a purely
defensive position. He exercised an undisputed supremacy over an
alliance which embraced the greatest European powers. At home he was
practically first minister, commander-in-chief, and absolute master
through his wife of the Queen herself. He was looked upon as the most
powerful as he was the wealthiest subject in the world. And while
Marlborough's fortunes mounted to their height those of France sank to
their lowest ebb. Eugene in his greatest victory broke the siege of
Turin, and Lewis saw the loss of Flanders followed by the loss of Italy.
Not only did Peterborough hold his ground in Spain, but Charles the
Third, with an army of English and Portuguese, entered Madrid. But it
was in fact only these triumphs abroad that enabled Marlborough to face
the difficulties which were opening on him at home. His command of the
Parliament rested now on a coalition of the Whigs with the moderate
Tories who still adhered to him after his break with the more violent
members of his old party. Ramillies gave him strength enough to force
Anne in spite of her hatred of the Whigs to fulfil the compact with them
from which this coalition had sprung, by admitting Lord Sunderland, the
bitterest leader of their party, to office as Secretary of State at the
close of 1706. But with the entry of Sunderland into office the system
of political balance which the Duke had maintained till now began at
once to break down. Constitutionally, Marlborough's was the last attempt
to govern England on other terms than those of party government, and the
union of parties to which he had clung ever since his severance from
the extreme Tories became every day more impossible as the growing
opposition of the Tories to the war threw the Duke more and more on the
support of the Whigs.

[Sidenote: Triumph of the Whigs.]

The Whigs sold their support dearly. Sunderland's violent and imperious
temper differed widely from the supple and unscrupulous nature which had
carried his father, the Lord Sunderland of the Restoration, unhurt
through the violent changes of his day. But he had inherited his
father's conceptions of party government. He was resolved to restore a
strict party administration on a purely Whig basis, and to drive the
moderate Tories from office in spite of Marlborough's desire to retain
them. The Duke wrote hotly home at the news of the pressure which the
Whigs were putting on him. "England," he said, "will not be ruined
because a few men are not pleased." Nor was Marlborough alone in his
resentment. Harley foresaw the danger of his expulsion from office, and
even as early as 1706 began to intrigue at court, through Mrs. Masham, a
bedchamber woman of the Queen, who was supplanting the Duchess in Anne's
favour, against the Whigs and against Marlborough, whom he looked upon
as in the hands of the Whigs. St. John, though bound by ties of
gratitude to the Duke, to whose favour he owed his early promotion to
office, was driven by the same fear to share Harley's schemes.
Marlborough strove to win both of them back, but the growing opposition
of the Tories to the war left him helpless in the hands of the only
party that steadily supported it. A factious union of the Whigs with
their opponents, though it roused the Duke to a burst of unusual passion
in Parliament, effected its end by convincing him of the impossibility
of further resistance. The resistance of the Queen indeed was stubborn
and bitter. Anne was at heart a Tory, and her old trust in Marlborough
died with his submission to the Whig demands. It was only by the threat
of resignation that he had forced her to admit Sunderland to office; and
the violent outbreak of temper with which the Duchess enforced her
husband's will changed the Queen's friendship for her into a bitter
resentment. Marlborough was forced to increase this resentment by fresh
compliances with the conditions which the Whigs imposed on him, by
removing Peterborough from his command as a Tory general, and by
wresting from Anne her consent in 1708 to the dismissal from office of
Harley and St. John with the whole of the moderate Tories whom they
headed. Their removal was followed by the complete triumph of the Whigs
in the admission of Lords Somers and Wharton into the ministry. Somers
became President of the Council, Wharton Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland,
while lower posts were occupied by younger men of the same party, who
were destined to play a great part in our later history, such as the
young Duke of Newcastle and Robert Walpole.

[Sidenote: Oudenarde.]

Meanwhile, the great struggle abroad went steadily against France,
though its progress was varied with striking alternations of success.
France rose indeed with singular rapidity from the crushing blow of
Ramillies. Spain was recovered for Philip in 1707 by a victory of
Marshal Berwick at Almanza. Marshal Villars won fresh triumphs on the
Rhine; while Eugene, who had penetrated into Provence, was driven back
into Italy. In Flanders Marlborough's designs for taking advantage of
his great victory were foiled by the strategy of the Duke of Vendôme and
by the reluctance of the Dutch, who were now wavering towards peace. In
the campaign of 1708 however Vendôme, in spite of his superiority in
force, was attacked and defeated at Oudenarde; and though Marlborough
was hindered from striking at the heart of France by the timidity of the
English and Dutch statesmen, he reduced Lille, the strongest of its
frontier fortresses, in the face of an army of relief which numbered a
hundred thousand men. The blow proved an effective one. The pride of
Lewis was at last broken by defeat and by the terrible sufferings of
France. He offered terms of peace which yielded all that the allies had
fought for. He consented to withdraw his aid from Philip of Spain, to
give up ten Flemish fortresses as a barrier for the Dutch, and to
surrender to the Empire all that France had gained since the Treaty of
Westphalia. He offered to acknowledge Anne, to banish the Pretender from
his dominions, and to demolish the fortifications of Dunkirk, a port
hateful to England as the home of the French privateers.

[Sidenote: Peace rejected.]

To Marlborough these terms seemed sufficient, and for the moment he
regarded peace as secure. Peace was indeed now the general wish of the
nation, and the longing for it was nowhere stronger than with the Queen.
Dull and sluggish as was Anne's temper, she had the pride and
stubbornness of her race, and both revolted against the submission to
which she was forced. If she bowed to the spirit of the Revolution by
yielding implicitly to the decision of her Parliament, she held firmly
to the ceremonial traditions of the monarchy of her ancestors. She dined
in royal state, she touched for the evil in her progresses, she presided
at every meeting of council or cabinet, she insisted on every measure
proposed by her ministers being previously laid before her. She shrank
from party government as an enslavement of the Crown; and claimed the
right to call on men from either side to aid in the administration of
the State. But if England was to be governed by a party, she was
resolved that it should be her own party. She had been bred a Tory. Her
youth had fallen among the storms of the Exclusion Bill, and she looked
on Whigs as disguised republicans. Above all her pride was outraged by
the concessions which were forced from her. She had prayed Godolphin to
help her in excluding Sunderland as a thing on which the peace of her
life depended. She trembled every day before the violent temper of the
Duchess of Marlborough, and before the threat of resignation by which
the Duke himself crushed her first faint efforts at revolt. She longed
for a peace which would free her from both Marlborough and the Whigs, as
the Whigs on the other hand were resolute for a war which kept them in
power. It was on this ground that they set aside the Duke's counsels and
answered the French proposals of peace by terms which made peace
impossible. They insisted on the transfer of the whole Spanish monarchy
to the Austrian prince. When even this seemed likely to be conceded they
demanded that Lewis should with his own troops compel his grandson to
give up the crown of Spain.

[Sidenote: Sacheverell.]

"If I must wage war," replied the French king, "I had rather wage it
with my enemies than with my children." In a bitter despair he appealed
to France; and, exhausted as the country was by the struggle, the
campaign of 1709 proved how nobly France answered his appeal. The
terrible slaughter which bears the name of the battle of Malplaquet
showed a new temper in the French soldiers. Starving as they were, they
flung away their rations in their eagerness for the fight, and fell
back at its close in serried masses that no efforts of Marlborough could
break. They had lost twelve thousand men, but the forcing their lines of
entrenchment had cost the allies a loss of double that number. Horror at
such a "deluge of blood" increased the general distaste for the war; and
the rejection of fresh French offers in 1710, a rejection unjustly
attributed to Marlborough's desire for the lengthening out of a contest
which brought him profit and power, fired at last the smouldering
discontent into flame. A storm of popular passion burst suddenly on the
Whigs. Its occasion was a dull and silly sermon in which a High Church
divine, Dr. Sacheverell, maintained the doctrine of non-resistance at
St. Paul's. His boldness challenged prosecution; but in spite of the
warning of Marlborough and of Somers the Whig Ministers resolved on his
impeachment before the Lords, and the trial at once widened into a great
party struggle. An outburst of popular enthusiasm in Sacheverell's
favour showed what a storm of hatred had gathered against the Whigs and
the war. The most eminent of the Tory Churchmen stood by his side at the
bar, crowds escorted him to the court and back again, while the streets
rang with cries of "The Church and Dr. Sacheverell." A small majority of
the peers found the preacher guilty, but the light sentence they
inflicted was in effect an acquittal, and bonfires and illuminations
over the whole country welcomed it as a Tory triumph.

[Sidenote: Dismissal of the Whigs.]

The turn of popular feeling at once roused to new life the party whom
the Whigs had striven to crush. The expulsion of Harley and St. John
from the Ministry had given the Tories leaders of a more subtle and
vigorous stamp than the High Churchmen who had quitted office in the
first years of the war; and St. John brought into play a new engine of
political attack whose powers soon made themselves felt. In the
_Examiner_, and in a crowd of pamphlets and periodicals which followed
in its train, the humour of the poet Prior, the bitter irony of Swift,
an Irish writer who was now forcing his way into fame, as well as St.
John's own brilliant sophistry, spent themselves on the abuse of the war
and of its general. "Six millions of supplies and almost fifty millions
of debt!" Swift wrote bitterly; "the High Allies have been the ruin of
us!" Marlborough was ridiculed and reviled, even his courage was called
in question; he was charged with insolence, with cruelty and ambition,
with corruption and greed. The virulence of the abuse would have
defeated its aim had not the general sense of the people condemned the
maintenance of the war, and encouraged Anne to free herself from the
yoke beneath which she had bent so long. At the close of Sacheverell's
trial she broke with the Duchess. Marlborough looked for support to the
Whigs; but the subtle intrigue of Harley was as busy in undermining the
Ministry as St. John was in openly attacking it. The Whigs, who knew
that the Duke's league with them had simply been forced on him by the
war, and who had already foiled an attempt he had made to secure himself
by the demand of a grant for life of his office of Commander-in-Chief,
were easily persuaded that the Queen's sole object was his personal
humiliation. They looked coolly therefore on at the dismissal of
Sunderland, who had now become his son-in-law, and of Godolphin, who was
his closest friend. The same means were adopted to bring about the ruin
of the Whigs themselves: and Marlborough, lured easily by hopes of
reconciliation with his old party, looked on as coolly while Anne
dismissed her Whig counsellors and named a Tory Ministry, with Harley
and St. John at its head, in their place.

[Sidenote: Fall of Marlborough.]

The time was now come for a final and decisive blow; but how great a
dread Marlborough still inspired in his enemies was shown by the
shameful treachery with which they still thought it needful to bring
about his fall. The intrigues of Harley paled before the subtler treason
of Henry St. John. Young as he was, for he had hardly reached his
thirty-second year, St. John had already shown his ability as Secretary
of War under Marlborough himself, his brilliant rhetoric gave him a hold
over the House of Commons which even the sense of his restlessness and
recklessness failed to shake, while the vigour and eloquence of his
writings infused a new colour and force into political literature. He
was resolute for peace; but he pressed on the work of peace with an
utter indifference to all but party ends. As Marlborough was his great
obstacle, his aim was to drive him from his command; and earnestly as he
admired the Duke's greatness, he hounded on a tribe of libellers who
assailed even his personal courage. Meanwhile St. John was feeding
Marlborough's hopes of reconciliation with the Tories, till he led him
to acquiesce in his wife's dismissal, and to pledge himself to a
co-operation with the Tory policy. It was the Duke's belief that a
reconciliation with the Tories was effected that led him to sanction the
despatch of troops which should have strengthened his army in Flanders
on a fruitless expedition against Canada, though this left him too weak
to carry out a masterly plan which he had formed for a march into the
heart of France in the opening of 1711. He was unable even to risk a
battle or to do more than to pick up a few seaboard towns, and St. John
at once turned the small results of the campaign into an argument for
the conclusion of peace. Peace was indeed all but concluded. In defiance
of an article of the Grand Alliance which pledged its members not to
carry on separate negotiations with France, St. John, who now became
Lord Bolingbroke, pushed forward through the summer of 1711 a secret
accommodation between England and France. It was for this negotiation
that he had crippled Marlborough's campaign; and it was the discovery of
his perfidy which revealed to the Duke how utterly he had been betrayed,
and forced him at last to break with the Tory Minister.

[Sidenote: Treaty of Utrecht.]

He returned to England; and his efforts induced the House of Lords to
denounce the contemplated peace; but the support of the Commons and the
Queen, and the general hatred of the war among the people, enabled
Harley to ride down all resistance. At the opening of 1712 the Whig
majority in the House of Lords was swamped by the creation of twelve
Tory peers. Marlborough was dismissed from his command, charged with
peculation, and condemned as guilty by a vote of the House of Commons.
The Duke at once withdrew from England, and with his withdrawal all
opposition to the peace was at an end. His flight was in fact followed
by the conclusion of a Treaty at Utrecht between France, England, and
the Dutch; and the desertion of his allies forced even the Emperor at
last to make peace at Rastadt. By these treaties the original aim of the
war, that of preventing the possession of France and Spain at once by
the House of Bourbon, was silently abandoned. No precaution was in fact
taken against the dangers it involved to the balance of power, save by a
provision that the two crowns should never be united on a single head,
and by Philip's renunciation of all right of succession to the throne
of France. The principle on which the Treaties were based was in fact
that of the earlier Treaties of Partition. Spain was stripped of even
more than William had proposed to take from her. Philip retained Spain
and the Indies: but he ceded his possessions in Italy and the
Netherlands with the island of Sardinia to Charles of Austria, who had
now become Emperor, in satisfaction of his claims; while he handed over
Sicily to the Duke of Savoy. To England he gave up not only Minorca but
Gibraltar, two positions which secured her the command of the
Mediterranean. France purchased peace by less costly concessions. She
had to consent to the re-establishment of the Dutch barrier on a greater
scale than before; to pacify the English resentment against the French
privateers by the dismantling of Dunkirk; and not only to recognize the
right of Anne to the crown, and the Protestant succession in the House
of Hanover, but to consent to the expulsion of the Pretender from her

[Sidenote: Harley and Bolingbroke.]

The failure of the Queen's health made the succession the real question
of the day, and it was a question which turned all politics into faction
and intrigue. The Whigs, who were still formidable in the Commons, and
who showed the strength of their party in the Lords by defeating a
Treaty of Commerce in which Bolingbroke anticipated the greatest
financial triumph of William Pitt and secured freedom of trade between
England and France, were zealous for the succession of the House of
Hanover in the well-founded belief that the Elector George hated the
Tories; nor did the Tories, though the Jacobite sympathies of a portion
of their party forced both Harley and Bolingbroke to keep up a delusive
correspondence with the Pretender, who had withdrawn to Lorraine, really
contemplate any other succession than that of the Elector. But on the
means of providing for his succession Harley and Bolingbroke differed
widely. Harley, still influenced by the Presbyterian leanings of his
early life, and more jealous of Lord Rochester and the high Tories he
headed than of the Whigs themselves, inclined to an alliance between the
moderate Tories and their opponents, as in the earlier days of
Marlborough's power. The policy of Bolingbroke on the other hand was so
to strengthen the Tories by the utter overthrow of their opponents that
whatever might be the Elector's sympathies they could force their policy
on him as king; and in the advances which Harley made to the Whigs he
saw the means of ruining his rival in the confidence of his party, and
of taking his place at their head. It was with this purpose that he
introduced a Schism Bill, which would have hindered any Nonconformist
from acting as a schoolmaster or a tutor. The success of this measure
broke Harley's plans by creating a bitterer division between Tory and
Whig than ever, while it humiliated him by the failure of his opposition
to it. But its effects went far beyond Bolingbroke's intentions. The
Whigs regarded the Bill as the first step in a Jacobite restoration, and
warned the Electress Sophia that she must look for a struggle against
her accession to the throne. Sophia was herself alarmed, and the more so
that Anne's health was visibly breaking. In April 1714 therefore the
Hanoverian ambassador demanded for the son of the Elector, the future
George the Second, who had been created Duke of Cambridge, a writ of
summons as peer to the coming Parliament. The aim of the demand was
simply that a Hanoverian prince might be present on the spot to maintain
the right of his House in case of the Queen's death. But to Anne it
seemed to furnish at once a head to the Whig opposition which would
render a Tory government impossible; and her anger, fanned by
Bolingbroke, broke out in a letter to the aged Electress which warned
her that "such conduct may imperil the succession itself."

[Sidenote: Death of Anne.]

To Sophia the letter was a sentence of death; two days after she read
it, as she was walking in the garden at Herrenhausen, she fell in a
dying swoon to the ground. The correspondence was at once published, and
necessarily quickened the alarm not only of the Whigs, but of the more
moderate section of the Tories themselves. But Bolingbroke used the
breach which now declared itself between himself and his rival with
unscrupulous skill. Though Anne had shown her confidence in Harley by
conferring on him the earldom of Oxford, her resentment at the conduct
of the Hanoverian Court was so skilfully played upon that she was
brought in July to dismiss the Earl, as a partisan of the House of
Hanover, and to construct a strong and united Tory Ministry which would
back the Queen in her resistance to the Elector's demand. As the crisis
grew nearer, both parties prepared for civil war. In the beginning of
1714 the Whigs had made ready for a rising on the Queen's death; and
invited Marlborough from Flanders to head them, in the hope that his
name would rally the army to their cause. Bolingbroke, on the other
hand, made the Duke of Ormond, whose sympathies were known to be in
favour of the Pretender's succession, Warden of the Cinque Ports, the
district in which either claimant of the crown must land, while he gave
Scotland in charge to the Jacobite Earl of Mar. The appointments were
probably only to secure Jacobite support, for Bolingbroke had in fact no
immediate apprehensions of the Queen's death, and his aim was to trim
between the Court of Hanover and the Court of James while building up a
strong Tory party which would enable him to meet the accession of either
with a certainty of retaining power both for himself and the principles
he represented. With this view he was preparing to attack both the Bank
and the East India Company, the two great strongholds of the Whigs, as
well as to tax the bondholders at higher rates than the rest of the
community by way of conciliating the country gentry, who hated the
moneyed interest which was rising into greatness beside them. But events
moved faster than his plans. On the 30th of July, three days after
Harley's dismissal, Anne was suddenly struck with apoplexy. The Privy
Council at once assembled, and at the news the Whig Dukes of Argyle and
Somerset entered the Council Chamber without summons and took their
places at the board. The step had been taken in secret concert with the
Duke of Shrewsbury, who was President of the Council in the Tory
Ministry, but a rival of Bolingbroke and an adherent of the Hanoverian
succession. The act was a decisive one. The right of the House of
Hanover was at once acknowledged, Shrewsbury was nominated as Lord
Treasurer by the Council, and the nomination was accepted by the dying
Queen. Bolingbroke, though he remained Secretary of State, suddenly
found himself powerless and neglected while the Council took steps to
provide for the emergency. Four regiments were summoned to the capital
in the expectation of a civil war. But the Jacobites were hopeless and
unprepared; and on the death of Anne on the evening of the 10th of
August, the Elector George of Hanover, who had become heir to the throne
by his mother's death, was proclaimed as king of England without a show
of opposition.




[Sidenote: England's European position.]

The accession of George the First marked a change in the position of
England as a member of the European Commonwealth. From the age of the
Plantagenets to the age of the Revolution the country had stood apart
from more than passing contact with the fortunes of the Continent; for
if Wolsey had striven to make it an arbiter between France and the House
of Austria the strain of the Reformation withdrew Henry and his
successor from any effective interference in the strife across the
Channel; and in spite of the conflict with the Armada Elizabeth aimed at
the close as at the beginning of her reign mainly at keeping her realm
as far as might be out of the struggle of western Europe against the
ambition of Spain. Its attitude of isolation was yet more marked when
England stood aloof from the Thirty Years' War, and after a fitful
outbreak of energy under Cromwell looked idly on at the earlier efforts
of Lewis the Fourteenth to become master of Europe. But with the
Revolution this attitude became impossible. In driving out the Stuarts
William had aimed mainly at enlisting England in the league against
France; and France backed his effort by espousing the cause of the
exiled king. To prevent the undoing of all that the Revolution had done
England was forced to join the Great Alliance of the European peoples,
and reluctantly as she was drawn into it she at once found herself its
head. Political and military genius set William and Marlborough in the
forefront of the struggle; Lewis reeled beneath the shock of Blenheim
and Ramillies; and shameful as were some of its incidents the Peace of
Utrecht left England the main barrier against the ambition of the House
of Bourbon.

Nor was this a position from which any change of domestic policy could
withdraw her. So long as a Stuart pretender threatened the throne of the
Revolution, so long every adherent of the cause of the Revolution,
whether Tory or Whig, was forced to guard jealously against the
supremacy of the power which could alone bring about a Jacobite
restoration. As the one check on France lay in the maintenance of a
European concert, in her efforts to maintain this concert England was
drawn out of the narrower circle of her own home interests to watch
every movement of the nations from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. And
not only did the Revolution set England irrevocably among the powers of
Europe, but it assigned her a special place among them. The result of
the alliance and the war had been to establish what was then called a
"balance of power" between the great European states; a balance which
rested indeed not so much on any natural equilibrium of forces as on a
compromise wrung from warring nations by the exhaustion of a great
struggle; but which, once recognized and established, could be adapted
and readjusted, it was hoped, to the varying political conditions of the
time. Of this balance of power, as recognized and defined in the Treaty
of Utrecht and its successors, England became the special guardian. Her
insular position made her almost the one great state which could have no
dreams of continental aggrandizement; while the main aim of her policy,
that of guarding the throne of the Revolution, secured her fidelity to
the European settlement which offered an insuperable obstacle to a
Jacobite invasion. Her only interest lay in the maintenance of European
peace on the basis of an observance of European treaties.

[Sidenote: Its results.]

Nothing is at first sight more wearisome than the long line of
alliances, triple and quadruple, the endless negotiations, the
interminable congresses, the innumerable treaties, which make up the
history of Europe during the earlier half of the eighteenth century; nor
is it easy to follow with patience the meddlesome activity of English
diplomacy during that period, its protests and interventions, its
subsidies and guarantees, its intrigues and finessings, its bluster and
its lies. But wearisome as it all is, it succeeded in its end, and its
end was a noble one. Of the twenty-five years between the Revolution and
the Peace of Utrecht all but five were years of war, and the five were a
mere breathing-space in which the combatants on either side were girding
themselves for fresh hostilities. That the twenty-five years which
followed were for Europe as a whole a time of peace was due in great
measure to the zeal with which England watched over the settlement that
had been brought about at Utrecht. To a great extent her efforts averted
war altogether; and when war could not be averted she brought it within
as narrow limits and to as speedy an end as was possible. Diplomacy
spent its ingenuity in countless choppings and changings of the smaller
territories about the Mediterranean and elsewhere; but till the rise of
Prussia under Frederick the Great it secured Europe as a whole from any
world-wide struggle. Nor was this maintenance of European peace all the
gain which the attitude of England brought with it. The stubborn policy
of the Georgian statesmen has left its mark on our policy ever since. In
struggling for peace and for the sanctity of treaties, even though the
struggle was one of selfish interest, England took a ply which she has
never wholly lost. Warlike and imperious as is her national temper, she
has never been able to free herself from a sense that her business in
the world is to seek peace alike for herself and for the nations about
her, and that the best security for peace lies in her recognition,
amidst whatever difficulties and seductions, of the force of
international engagements and the sanctity of treaties. The sentiment
has no doubt been deepened by other convictions, by convictions of at
once a higher and a lower stamp, by a growing sense of the value of
peace to an industrial nation, as by a growing sense of the moral evil
and destructiveness of war. But strong as is the influence of both these
sentiments on the peace-loving temper of the English people, that temper
itself sprang from another source. It sprang from the sense of
responsibility for the peace of the world, as a necessary condition of
tranquillity and freedom at home, which grew into life with the earlier
years of the eighteenth century.

[Sidenote: England's intellectual influence.]

Nor was this closer political contact with Europe the only result of the
new attitude of England. Throughout the age of the Georges we find her
for the first time exercising an intellectual and moral influence on the
European world. Hitherto Italian and French impulses had told on English
letters or on English thought, but neither our literature nor our
philosophy had exercised any corresponding influence on the Continent.
It may be doubted whether a dozen Frenchmen or Italians had any notion
that a literature existed in England at all, or that her institutions
were worthy of study by any social or political inquirer. But with the
Revolution of 1688 this ignorance came to an end. William and
Marlborough carried more than English arms across the Channel; they
carried English ideas. The combination of material and military
greatness with a freedom of thought and action hardly known elsewhere,
which was revealed in the England that sprang from the Revolution of
1688, imposed on the imagination of men. For the first time in our
history we find foreigners learning English, visiting England, seeking
to understand English life and English opinion. The main curiosity that
drew them was a political curiosity, but they carried back more than
political conceptions. Religious and philosophical notions crossed the
Channel with politics. The world learned that there was an English
literature. It heard of Shakspere. It wept over Richardson. It bowed,
even in wretched translations, before the genius of Swift. France, above
all, was drawn to this study of a country so near to her, and yet so
utterly unknown. If we regard its issues, the brutal outrage which drove
Voltaire to England in 1726 was one of the most important events of the
eighteenth century. With an intelligence singularly open to new
impressions, he revelled in the freedom of social life he found about
him, in its innumerable types of character, its eccentricities, its
individualities. His "Philosophical Letters" revealed to Europe not only
a country where utterance and opinion were unfettered, but a new
literature and a new science; while his intercourse with Bolingbroke
gave the first impulse to that scepticism which was to wage its
destructive war with the faith of the Continent. From the visit of
Voltaire to the outbreak of the French Revolution, this intercourse with
England remained the chief motive power of French opinion, and told
through it on the opinion of the world. In his investigations on the
nature of government Montesquieu studied English institutions as closely
as he studied the institutions of Rome. Buffon was led by English
science into his attempt at a survey and classification of the animal
world. It was from the works of Locke that Rousseau drew the bulk of his
ideas in politics and education.

[Sidenote: The general temper of Europe.]

Such an influence could hardly have been aroused by English letters had
they not given expression to what was the general temper of Europe at
the time. The cessation of religious wars, the upgrowth of great states
with a new political and administrative organization, the rapid progress
of intelligence, showed their effect everywhere in the same
rationalizing temper, extending not only over theology but over each
department of thought, the same interest in political and social
speculation, the same drift towards physical inquiry, the same tendency
to a diffusion and popularization of knowledge. Everywhere the tone of
thought became secular, scientific, prosaic; everywhere men looked away
from the past with a certain contempt; everywhere the social fusion
which followed on the wreck of the Middle Ages was expressing itself in
a vulgarization of ideas, in an appeal from the world of learning to the
world of general intelligence, in a reliance on the "common sense" of
mankind. Nor was it only a unity of spirit which pervaded the literature
of the eighteenth century. Everywhere there was as striking an identity
of form. In poetry this showed itself in the death of the lyric, as in
the universal popularity of the rhetorical ode, in the loss of all
delight in variety of poetic measure, and in the growing restriction of
verse to the single form of the ten-syllable line. Prose too dropped
everywhere its grandeur with its obscurity; and became the same quick,
clear instrument of thought in the hands of Addison as in those of

[Sidenote: Creation of a literary class.]

How strongly this had become the bent of English letters was seen in the
instance of Dryden. In the struggle of the Revolution he had struck
fiercely on the losing side, and England had answered his blows by a
change of masters which ruined and beggared him. But it was in these
later years of his life that his influence over English literature
became supreme. He is the first of the great English writers in whom
letters asserted an almost public importance. The reverence with which
men touched in after-time the hand of Pope, or listened to the voice of
Johnson, or wandered beside his lakes with Wordsworth, dates from the
days when the wits of the Revolution clustered reverently round the old
man who sate in his armchair at Will's discussing the last comedy, or
recalling his visit to the blind poet of the "Paradise Lost." It was by
no mere figure that the group called itself a republic of letters, and
honoured in Dryden the chosen chief of their republic. He had done more
than any man to create a literary class. It was his resolve to live by
his pen that first raised literature into a profession. In the stead of
gentlemen amusing a curious leisure with works of fancy, or Dependants
wringing bread by their genius from a patron's caprice, Dryden saw that
the time had come for the author, trusting for support to the world of
readers, and wielding a power over opinion which compensates for the
smallness of his gains. But he was not only the first to create a
literary class; he was the first to impress the idea of literature on
the English mind. Master as he was alike of poetry and of prose,
covering the fields both of imagination and criticism, seizing for
literary treatment all the more prominent topics of the society about
him, Dryden realized in his own personality the existence of a new
power which was thenceforth to tell steadily on the world.

[Sidenote: The new poetry.]

And to this power he gave for nearly a century its form and direction.
In its outer shape as in its inner spirit our literature obeyed the
impulse he had given it from the beginning of the eighteenth century
till near its close. His influence told especially on poetry. Dryden
remained a poet; even in his most argumentative pieces his subject
seizes him in a poetic way, and prosaic as much of his treatment may be,
he is always ready to rise into sudden bursts of imagery and fancy. But
he was a poet with a prosaic end; his aim was not simply to express
beautiful things in the most beautiful way, but to invest rational
things with such an amount of poetic expression as may make them at once
rational and poetic, to use poetry as an exquisite form for argument,
rhetoric, persuasion, to charm indeed, but primarily to convince. Poetry
no longer held itself apart in the pure world of the imagination, no
longer concerned itself simply with the beautiful in all things, or
sought for its result in the sense of pleasure which an exquisite
representation of what is beautiful in man or nature stirs in its
reader. It narrowed its sphere, and attached itself to man. But from all
that is deepest and noblest in man it was shut off by the reaction from
Puritanism, by the weariness of religious strife, by the disbelief that
had sprung from religious controversy; and it limited itself rigidly to
man's outer life, to his sensuous enjoyment, his toil and labour, his
politics, his society. The limitation, no doubt, had its good sides;
with it, if not of it, came a greater correctness and precision in the
use of words and phrases, a clearer and more perspicuous style, a new
sense of order, of just arrangement, of propriety, of good taste. But
with it came a sense of uniformity, of monotony, of dulness. In Dryden
indeed this was combated if not wholly beaten off by his amazing force;
to the last there was an animal verve and swing about the man that
conquered age. But around him and after him the dulness gathered fast.

[Sidenote: The new prose.]

Of hardly less moment than Dryden's work in poetry was his work in
prose. In continuity and grandeur indeed, as in grace and music of
phrase, the new prose of the Restoration fell far short of the prose of
Hooker or Jeremy Taylor, but its clear nervous structure, its handiness
and flexibility, its variety and ease, fitted it far better for the work
of popularization on which literature was now to enter. It fitted it for
the work of journalism, and every day journalism was playing a larger
part in the political education of Englishmen. It fitted it to express
the life of towns. With the general extension of prosperity and trade
the town was coming into greater prominence as an element of national
life; and London above all was drawing to it the wealth and culture
which had till now been diffused through the people at large. It was
natural that this tendency should be reflected in literature; from the
age of the Restoration indeed literature had been more and more becoming
an expression of the life of towns; and it was town-life which was now
giving to it its character and form. As cities ceased to be regarded
simply as centres of trade and money-getting, and became habitual homes
for the richer and more cultured; as men woke to the pleasure and
freedom of the new life which developed itself in the street and the
mall, of its quicker movement, its greater ease, its abundance of social
intercourse, its keener taste, its subtler and more delicate courtesy,
its flow of conversation, the stately and somewhat tedious prose-writer
of days gone by passed into the briefer and nimbler essayist.

[Sidenote: The Essayists.]

What ruled writer and reader alike was the new-found pleasure of talk.
The use of coffee had only come in at the close of the civil wars; but
already London and the bigger towns were crowded with coffee-houses. The
popularity of the coffee-house sprang not from its coffee, but from the
new pleasure which men found in their chat over the coffee-cup. And from
the coffee-house sprang the Essay. The talk of Addison and Steele is the
brightest and easiest talk that was ever put in print: but its literary
charm lies in this, that it is strictly talk. The essayist is a
gentleman who chats to a world of gentlemen, and whose chat is shaped
and coloured by a sense of what he owes to his company. He must interest
and entertain, he may not bore them; and so his form must be short;
essay or sketch, or tale or letter. So too his style must be simple, the
sentences clear and quotable, good sense ready packed for carriage.
Strength of phrase, intricacy of structure, height of tone were all
necessarily banished from such prose as we banish them from ordinary
conversation. There was no room for pedantry, for the ostentatious
display of learning, for pompousness, for affectation. The essayist had
to think, as a talker should think, more of good taste than of
imaginative excellence, of propriety of expression than of grandeur of
phrase. The deeper themes of the world or man were denied to him; if he
touches them it is superficially, with a decorous dulness, or on their
more humorous side with a gentle irony that shows how faint their hold
is on him. In Addison's chat the war of churches shrinks into a
puppet-show, and the strife of politics loses something of its
fictitious earnestness as the humourist views it from the standpoint of
a lady's patches. It was equally impossible to deal with the fiercer
passions and subtler emotions of man. Shakspere's humour and sublimity,
his fitful transitions from mood to mood, his wild bursts of laughter,
his passion of tears, Hamlet or Hamlet's gravedigger, Lear or Lear's
fool, would have startled the readers of the "Spectator" as they would
startle the group in a modern drawing-room.

[Sidenote: The urbanity of Literature.]

But if deeper and grander themes were denied him the essayist had still
a world of his own. He felt little of the pressure of those spiritual
problems that had weighed on the temper of his fathers, but the removal
of the pressure left him a gay, light-hearted, good-humoured observer of
the social life about him, amused and glad to be amused by it all,
looking on with a leisurely and somewhat indolent interest, a quiet
enjoyment, a quiet scepticism, a shy reserved consciousness of their
beauty and poetry, at the lives of common men and common women. It is to
the essayist that we owe our sense of the infinite variety and
picturesqueness of the human world about us; it was he who for the first
time made every street and every house teem with living people for us,
who found a subtle interest in their bigotries and prejudice, their
inconsistencies, their eccentricities, their oddities, who gave to their
very dulness a charm. In a word it was he who first opened to men the
world of modern fiction. Nor does English literature owe less to him in
its form. Humour has always been an English quality, but with the
essayist humour for the first time severed itself from farce; it was no
longer forced, riotous, extravagant; it acquired taste, gentleness,
adroitness, finesse, lightness of touch, a delicate colouring of
playful fancy. It preserved indeed its old sympathy with pity, with
passion; but it learned how to pass with more ease into pathos, into
love, into the reverence that touches us as we smile. And hand in hand
with this new developement of humour went a moderation won from humour,
whether in matters of religion, of politics, or society, a literary
courtesy and reserve, a well-bred temperance and modesty of tone and
phrase. It was in the hands of the town-bred essayist that our
literature first became urbane.

[Sidenote: The brutality of Politics.]

It is strange to contrast this urbanity of literature with the savage
ferocity which characterized political controversy in the England of the
Revolution and the Georges. Never has the strife of warring parties been
carried on with so utter an absence of truth or fairness; never has the
language of political opponents stooped to such depths of coarseness and
scurrility. From the age of Bolingbroke to the age of Burke the gravest
statesmen were not ashamed to revile one another with invective only
worthy of the fish-market. And outside the legislature the tone of
attack was even more brutal. Grub Street ransacked the whole vocabulary
of abuse to find epithets for Walpole. Gay amidst general applause set
the statesmen of his day on the public stage in the guise of highwaymen
and pickpockets. "It is difficult to determine," said the witty
playwright, "whether the fine gentlemen imitate the gentlemen of the
road, or the gentlemen of the road the fine gentlemen." Much of this
virulence sprang, no doubt, from a real contempt of the selfishness and
corruption which disgraced the politics of the time, but it was far from
being wholly due to this. In selfishness and corruption indeed the
statesmen of the Georgian era were no worse than their predecessors;
while in fidelity to principles and a desire for the public good they
stood immeasurably above them. The standard of political action had
risen with the Revolution. Cynic as was Walpole, jobber as was
Newcastle, it would be absurd to compare their conception of public
duty, their conduct of public affairs, with that of the Danbys and
Sunderlands of the Restoration.

[Sidenote: Public opinion.]

What had really happened was a change not in the attitude of statesmen
towards the nation, but in the attitude of the nation at large towards
the class that governed it. From the triumph of Puritanism in 1640 the
supreme, irresistible force in English politics had been national
opinion. It created the Long Parliament. It gave it its victory over the
Church and the Crown. When a strange turn of events placed Puritanism in
antagonism to it, it crushed Puritanism as easily as it had crushed
Royalty. It was national opinion which restored the Stuarts; and no
sooner did the Stuarts cross its will than it threatened their throne in
the Popish Plot and swept them from the country in the Revolution. The
stubborn purpose of William wrestled in vain with its turns of
sentiment; even the genius of Marlborough proved helpless in a contest
with it. It was indeed irresistible whenever it acted. But as yet it
acted only by spurts. It had no wish to interfere with the general
course of administration or policy; in the bulk of the nation indeed
there was neither the political knowledge nor the sustained interest in
politics which could have prompted such an interference. It was only at
critical moments, when great interests were at stake, interests which it
could understand and on which its mind was made up, that the nation
roused itself and "shook its mighty mane." The reign of the Stuarts
indeed did much to create a more general and continuous attention to
public affairs. In the strife of the Exclusion Bill and in the Popish
Plot Shaftesbury taught how to "agitate" opinion, how to rouse this
lagging attention, this dormant energy of the people at large; and his
opponents learned the art from him. The common statement that our two
great modern parties, the Whig and the Tory, date from the Petitioners
and Abhorrers of the Exclusion Bill is true only in this sense, that
then for the first time the masses of the people were stirred to a more
prolonged and organized action in co-operation with the smaller groups
of professed politicians than they had ever been stirred to before.

[Sidenote: Becomes powerless.]

The Revolution of 1688 was the crowning triumph of this public opinion.
But for the time it seemed a suicidal triumph. At the moment when the
national will claimed to be omnipotent, the nation found itself helpless
to carry out its will. In making the revolution it had meant to
vindicate English freedom and English Protestantism from the attacks of
the Crown. But it had never meant to bring about any radical change in
the system under which the Crown had governed England or under which the
Church had been supreme over English religion. The England of the
Revolution was little less Tory in feeling than the England of the
Restoration; it had no dislike whatever to a large exercise of
administrative power by the sovereign, while it was stubbornly averse
from Nonconformity or the toleration of Nonconformity. That the nation
at large remained Tory in sentiment was seen from the fact that in every
House of Commons elected after the Revolution the majority was commonly
Tory; it was only indeed when their opposition to the war and the
patriotic feeling which it aroused rendered a Tory majority impossible
that the House became Whig. And even in the height of Whig rule and
amidst the blaze of Whig victories, England rose in the Sacheverell
riots, forced Tories again into power, and ended the Whig war by what it
deemed a Tory peace. And yet every Englishman knew that from the moment
of the Revolution the whole system of government had not been Tory but
Whig. Passionate as it was for peace and for withdrawal from all
meddling in foreign affairs, England found itself involved abroad in
ever-widening warfare and drawn into a guardianship of the whole state
of Europe. At home it was drifting along a path that it hated even more.
Every year saw the Crown more helpless, and the Church becoming as
helpless as the Crown. The country hated a standing army, and the
standing army existed in spite of its hate; it revolted against debt and
taxation, and taxes and debt grew heavier and heavier in the teeth of
its revolt. Its prejudice against Nonconformists remained as fanatical
as ever, and yet Nonconformists worshipped in their chapels and served
as aldermen or mayors with perfect security. What made this the bitterer
was the fact that neither a change of ministers nor of sovereign brought
about any in the system of government. Under the Tory Anne the policy of
England remained practically as Whig as under the Whig William.
Nottingham and Harley did as little to restore the monarchy or the
Church as Somers or Godolphin.

[Sidenote: Helplessness of the Tories.]

In driving James to a foreign land, indeed, in making him dependent on a
foreign Court, the Revolution had effectually guarded itself from any
undoing of its work. So long as a Stuart Pretender existed, so long as
he remained a tool in the hands of France, every monarch that the
Revolution placed on the English throne, and every servant of such a
monarch, was forced to cling to the principles of the Revolution and to
the men who were most certain to fight for them. With a Parliament of
landed gentry and Churchmen behind him Harley could not be drawn into
measures which would effectively alienate the merchant or the Dissenter;
and if Bolingbroke's talk was more reckless, time was not given to show
whether his designs were more than talk. There was in fact but one
course open for the Tory who hated what the Revolution had done, and
that was the recall of the Stuarts. Such a recall would have brought him
much of what he wanted. But it would have brought him more that he did
not want. Tory as he might be, he was in no humour to sacrifice English
freedom and English religion to his Toryism, and to recall the Stuarts
was to sacrifice both. None of the Stuart exiles would forsake their
faith; and, promise what they might, England had learned too well what
such pledges were worth to set another Catholic on the throne. The more
earnest a Catholic he was indeed, and no one disputed the earnestness of
the Stuarts, the more impossible was it for him to reign without
striving to bring England over to Catholicism; and there was no means of
even making such an attempt save by repeating the struggle of James the
Second and by the overthrow of English liberty. It was the
consciousness that a Stuart restoration was impossible that egged
Bolingbroke to his desperate plans for forcing a Tory policy on the
monarchs of the Revolution. And it was the same consciousness that at
the crisis which followed the death of Anne made the Tory leaders deaf
to the frantic appeals of Bishop Atterbury. To submit again to Whig rule
was a bitter thing for them; but to accept a Catholic sovereign was an
impossible thing. And yet every Tory felt that with the acceptance of
the House of Hanover their struggle against the principles of the
Revolution came practically to an end. Their intrigues with the
Pretender, the strife which they had brought about between Anne and the
Electress Sophia, their hesitation if not their refusal to frankly
support the succession of her son, were known to have sown a deep
distrust of the whole Tory party in the heart of the new sovereign; and
though in the first ministry which he formed a few posts were offered to
the more moderate of their leaders, the offer was so clearly a delusive
one that they refused to take office.

[Sidenote: Withdrawal of the Tories.]

The refusal not only deepened the chasm between party and party; it
placed the Tories in open opposition to the Hanoverian kings. It did
even more, for it proclaimed a temper of despair which withdrew them as
a whole from any further meddling with political affairs. "The Tory
party," Bolingbroke wrote after Anne's death, "is gone." In the first
House of Commons indeed which was called by the new king, the Tories
hardly numbered fifty members; while a fatal division broke their
strength in the country at large. In their despair the more vehement
among them turned to the Pretender. Bolingbroke and the Duke of Ormond
fled from England to take office under the son of King James, James the
Third, as he was called by his adherents. At home Sir William Wyndham
seconded their efforts by building up a Jacobite faction out of the
wreck of the Tory party. The Jacobite secession gave little help to the
Pretender, while it dealt a fatal blow to the Tory cause. England was
still averse from a return of the Stuarts; and the suspicion of Jacobite
designs not only alienated the trading classes, who shrank from the blow
to public credit which a Jacobite repudiation of the debt would bring
about, but deadened the zeal even of the parsons and squires. The bulk
however of the Tory party were far from turning Jacobites, though they
might play at disloyalty out of hatred of the House of Hanover, and
solace themselves for the triumph of their opponents by passing the
decanter over the water-jug at the toast of "the King." What they did
was to withdraw from public affairs altogether; to hunt and farm and
appear at quarter-sessions, and to leave the work of government to the

[Sidenote: The Whigs and the Church.]

While the Whigs were thus freed from any effective pressure from their
political opponents they found one of their great difficulties becoming
weaker with every year that passed. Up to this time the main
stumbling-block to the Whig party had been the influence of the Church.
But predominant as that influence seemed at the close of the Revolution,
the Church was now sinking into political insignificance. In heart
indeed England remained religious. In the middle class the old Puritan
spirit lived on unchanged, and it was from this class that a religious
revival burst forth at the close of Walpole's administration which
changed after a time the whole tone of English society. But during the
fifty years which preceded this outburst we see little save a revolt
against religion and against churches in either the higher classes or
the poor. Among the wealthier and more educated Englishmen the progress
of free inquiry, the aversion from theological strife which had been
left behind them by the Civil Wars, the new political and material
channels opened to human energy were producing a general indifference to
all questions of religious speculation or religious life. In the higher
circles "every one laughs," said Montesquieu on his visit to England,
"if one talks of religion." Of the prominent statesmen of the time the
greater part were unbelievers in any form of Christianity, and
distinguished for the grossness and immorality of their lives.
Drunkenness and foul talk were thought no discredit to Walpole. A later
prime minister, the Duke of Grafton, was in the habit of appearing with
his mistress at the play. Purity and fidelity to the marriage vow were
sneered out of fashion; and Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his
son, instructs him in the art of seduction as part of a polite

[Sidenote: Sloth of the clergy.]

At the other end of the social scale lay the masses of the poor. They
were ignorant and brutal to a degree which it is hard to conceive, for
the increase of population which followed on the growth of towns and the
developement of commerce had been met by no effort for their religious
or educational improvement. Not a new parish had been created. Hardly a
single new church had been built. Schools there were none, save the
grammar schools of Edward and Elizabeth. The rural peasantry, who were
fast being reduced to pauperism by the abuse of the poor-laws, were left
without much moral or religious training of any sort. "We saw but one
Bible in the parish of Cheddar," said Hannah More at a far later time,
"and that was used to prop a flower-pot." Within the towns things were
worse. There was no effective police; and in great outbreaks the mob of
London or Birmingham burnt houses, flung open prisons, and sacked and
pillaged at their will. The criminal class gathered boldness and numbers
in the face of ruthless laws which only testified to the terror of
society, laws which made it a capital crime to cut down a cherry tree,
and which strung up twenty young thieves of a morning in front of
Newgate; while the introduction of gin gave a new impetus to
drunkenness. In the streets of London gin-shops at one time invited
every passer-by to get drunk for a penny, or dead drunk for twopence.
Much of this social degradation was due without doubt to the apathy and
sloth of the priesthood. A shrewd, if prejudiced, observer, Bishop
Burnet, brands the English clergy of his day as the most lifeless in
Europe, "the most remiss of their labours in private and the least
severe of their lives." A large number of prelates were mere Whig
partizans with no higher aim than that of promotion. The levées of the
Ministers were crowded with lawn sleeves. A Welsh bishop avowed that he
had seen his diocese but once, and habitually resided at the lakes of
Westmoreland. The system of pluralities which enabled a single clergyman
to hold at the same time a number of livings turned the wealthier and
more learned of the clergy into absentees, while the bulk of them were
indolent, poor, and without social consideration.

[Sidenote: The clergy lose political power.]

Their religious inactivity told necessarily on their political
influence; but what most weakened their influence was the severance
between the bulk of the priesthood and its natural leaders. The bishops,
who were now chosen exclusively from among the small number of Whig
ecclesiastics, were left politically powerless by the estrangement and
hatred of their clergy; while the clergy themselves, drawn by their
secret tendencies to Jacobitism, stood sulkily apart from any active
interference with public affairs. The prudence of the Whig statesmen
aided to maintain this ecclesiastical immobility. The Sacheverell riots
had taught them what terrible forces of bigotry and fanaticism lay
slumbering under this thin crust of inaction, and they were careful to
avoid all that could rouse these forces into life. When the Dissenters
pressed for a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Walpole openly
avowed his dread of awaking the passions of religious hate by such a
measure, and satisfied them by an annual act of indemnity for any breach
of these penal statutes. By a complete abstinence from all
ecclesiastical questions no outlet was left for the bigotry of the
people at large, while a suspension of the meetings of Convocation
deprived the clergy of their natural centre of agitation and opposition.

[Sidenote: The Whigs and the Crown.]

And while the Church thus ceased to be a formidable enemy, the Crown
became a friend. Under Anne the throne had regained much of the older
influence which it lost through William's unpopularity; but under the
two sovereigns who followed Anne the power of the Crown lay absolutely
dormant. They were strangers, to whom loyalty in its personal sense was
impossible; and their character as nearly approached insignificance as
it is possible for human character to approach it. Both were honest and
straightforward men, who frankly accepted the irksome position of
constitutional kings. But neither had any qualities which could make
their honesty attractive to the people at large. The temper of George
the First was that of a gentleman usher; and his one care was to get
money for his favourites and himself. The temper of George the Second
was that of a drill-sergeant, who believed himself master of his realm
while he repeated the lessons he had learned from his wife, and which
his wife had learned from the Minister. Their Court is familiar enough
in the witty memoirs of the time; but as political figures the two
Georges are almost absent from our history. William of Orange, while
ruling in most home matters by the advice of his Ministers, had not only
used the power of rejecting bills passed by the two Houses, but had kept
in his own hands the control of foreign affairs. Anne had never yielded
even to Marlborough her exclusive right of dealing with Church
preferment, and had presided to the last at the Cabinet Councils of her
ministers. But with the accession of the Georges these reserves passed
away. No sovereign since Anne's death has appeared at a Cabinet Council,
or has ventured to refuse his assent to an Act of Parliament. As
Elector of Hanover indeed the king still dealt with Continental affairs:
but his personal interference roused an increasing jealousy, while it
affected in a very slight degree the foreign policy of his English

England, in short, was governed not by the king but by the Whig
Ministers. But their power was doubled by the steady support of the very
kings they displaced. The first two sovereigns of the House of Hanover
believed they owed their throne to the Whigs, and looked on the support
of the Whigs as the true basis of their monarchy. The new monarchs had
no longer to dread the spectre of republicanism which had haunted the
Stuarts and even Anne, whenever a Whig domination threatened her; for
republicanism was dead. Nor was there the older anxiety as to the
prerogative to sever the monarchy from the Whigs, for the bounds of the
prerogative were now defined by law, and the Whigs were as zealous as
any Tory could be in preserving what remained. From the accession of
George the First therefore to the death of George the Second the whole
influence of the Crown was thrown into the Whig scale; and if its direct
power was gone, its indirect influence was still powerful. It was indeed
the more powerful that the Revolution had put an end to the dread that
its influence could be used in any struggle against liberty. "The
generality of the world here," said the new Whig Chancellor, Lord
Cowper, to King George, "is so much in love with the advantages a king
of Great Britain has to bestow without the least exceeding the bounds of
law, that 'tis wholly in your majesty's power, by showing your power in
good time to one or other of them, to give which party you please a
clear majority in all succeeding parliaments."

[Sidenote: The Whigs and Parliament.]

It was no wonder therefore that in the first of the new king's
parliaments an overwhelming majority appeared in support of the Whigs.
But the continuance of that majority for more than thirty years was not
wholly due to the unswerving support which the Crown gave its Ministers
or to the secession of the Tories. In some measure it was due to the
excellent organization of the Whig party. While their adversaries were
divided by differences of principle and without leaders of real
eminence, the Whigs stood as one man on the principles of the Revolution
and produced great leaders who carried them into effect. They submitted
with admirable discipline to the guidance of a knot of great nobles, to
the houses of Bentinck, Manners, Campbell, and Cavendish, to the
Fitzroys and Lennoxes, the Russells and Grenvilles, families whose
resistance to the Stuarts, whose share in the Revolution, whose energy
in setting the line of Hanover on the throne, gave them a claim to
power. It was due yet more largely to the activity with which the Whigs
devoted themselves to the gaining and preserving an ascendency in the
House of Commons. The support of the commercial classes and of the great
towns was secured not only by a resolute maintenance of public credit,
but by the special attention which each ministry paid to questions of
trade and finance. Peace and the reduction of the land-tax conciliated
the farmers and the landowners, while the Jacobite sympathies of the
bulk of the squires, and their consequent withdrawal from all share in
politics, threw even the representation of the shires for a time into
Whig hands. Of the county members, who formed the less numerous but the
weightier part of the lower House, nine-tenths were for some years
relatives and dependents of the great Whig families. Nor were coarser
means of controlling Parliament neglected. The wealth of the Whig houses
was lavishly spent in securing a monopoly of the small and corrupt
constituencies which made up a large part of the borough representation.
It was spent yet more unscrupulously in parliamentary bribery.
Corruption was older than Walpole or the Whig Ministers, for it sprang
out of the very transfer of power to the House of Commons which had
begun with the Restoration. The transfer was complete, and the House was
supreme in the State; but while freeing itself from the control of the
Crown, it was as yet imperfectly responsible to the people. It was only
at election time that a member felt the pressure of public opinion. The
secrecy of parliamentary proceedings, which had been needful as a
safeguard against royal interference with debate, served as a safeguard
against interference on the part of constituencies. This strange union
of immense power with absolute freedom from responsibility brought about
its natural results in the bulk of members. A vote was too valuable to
be given without recompense, and parliamentary support had to be bought
by places, pensions, and bribes in hard cash.

But dexterous as was their management, and compact as was their
organization, it was to nobler qualities than these that the Whigs owed
their long rule over England. Factious and selfish as much of their
conduct proved, they were true to their principles, and their principles
were those for which England had been struggling through two hundred
years. The right to free government, to freedom of conscience, and to
freedom of speech, had been declared indeed in the Revolution of 1688.
But these rights owe their definite establishment as the recognized
basis of national life and national action to the age of the Georges. It
was the long and unbroken fidelity to free principles with which the
Whig administration was conducted that made constitutional government a
part of the very life of Englishmen. It was their government of England
year after year on the principles of the Revolution that converted
these principles into national habits. Before their long rule was over
Englishmen had forgotten that it was possible to persecute for
difference of opinion, or to put down the liberty of the press, or to
tamper with the administration of justice, or to rule without a

[Sidenote: Robert Walpole.]

That this policy was so firmly grasped and so steadily carried out was
due above all to the genius of Robert Walpole. Walpole was born in 1676;
and he had entered Parliament two years before the death of William of
Orange as a young Norfolk landowner of fair fortune, with the tastes and
air of the class from which he sprang. His big, square figure, his
vulgar good-humoured face were those of a common country squire. And in
Walpole the squire underlay the statesman to the last. He was ignorant
of books, he "loved neither writing nor reading," and if he had a taste
for art, his real love was for the table, the bottle, and the chase. He
rode as hard as he drank. Even in moments of political peril, the first
despatch he would open was the letter from his gamekeeper. There was the
temper of the Norfolk fox-hunter in the "doggedness" which Marlborough
noted as his characteristic, in the burly self-confidence which declared
"If I had not been Prime Minister I should have been Archbishop of
Canterbury," in the stubborn courage which conquered the awkwardness of
his earlier efforts to speak or met single-handed at the last the bitter
attacks of a host of enemies. There was the same temper in the genial
good-humour which became with him a new force in politics. No man was
ever more fiercely attacked by speakers and writers, but he brought in
no "gagging Act" for the press; and though the lives of most of his
assailants were in his hands through their intrigues with the Pretender,
he made little use of his power over them.

[Sidenote: His policy.]

Where his country breeding showed itself most, however, was in the
shrewd, narrow, honest character of his mind. Though he saw very
clearly, he could not see far, and he would not believe what he could
not see. His prosaic good sense turned sceptically away from the poetic
and passionate sides of human feeling. Appeals to the loftier or purer
motives of action he laughed at as "schoolboy nights." For young members
who talked of public virtue or patriotism he had one good-natured
answer: "You will soon come off that and grow wiser." But he was
thoroughly straightforward and true to his own convictions, so far as
they went. "Robin and I are two honest men," the Jacobite Shippen owned
in later years, when contrasting him with his factious opponents: "he is
for King George and I am for King James, but those men with long cravats
only desire place either under King George or King James." What marked
him off from his fellow-Whigs however was not so much the clearness with
which Walpole saw the value of the political results which the
Revolution had won, or the fidelity with which he carried out his
"Revolution principles"; it was the sagacity with which he grasped the
conditions on which alone England could be brought to a quiet acceptance
of both of them. He never hid from himself that, weakened and broken as
it was, Toryism, lived on in the bulk of the nation as a spirit of
sullen opposition, an opposition that could not rise into active revolt
so long as the Pretender remained a Catholic, but which fed itself with
hopes of a Stuart who would at last befriend English religion and
English liberty, and which in the meanwhile lay ready to give force and
virulence to any outbreak of strife at home. On a temper such as this
argument was wasted. The only agency that could deal with it was the
agency of time, the slow wearing away of prejudice, the slow upgrowth of
new ideas, the gradual conviction that a Stuart restoration was
hopeless, the as gradual recognition of the benefits which had been won
by the Revolution, and which were secured by the maintenance of the
House of Hanover upon the throne.

[Sidenote: The Townshend Ministry.]

Such a transition would be hindered or delayed by every outbreak of
political or religious controversy that changes or reforms, however wise
in themselves, must necessarily bring with them; and Walpole held that
no reform was as important to the country at large as a national
reunion and settlement. Not less keen and steady was his sense of the
necessity of external peace. To provoke or to suffer new struggles on
the Continent was not only to rouse fresh resentment in a people who
still longed to withdraw from all part in foreign wars; it was to give
fresh force to the Pretender by forcing France to use him as a tool
against England, and to give fresh life to Jacobitism by stirring fresh
hopes of the Pretender's return. It was for this reason that Walpole
clung steadily to a policy of peace. But it was not at once that he
could force such a policy either on the Whig party or on the king.
Though his vigour in the cause of his party had earned him the bitter
hostility of the Tories in the later years of Anne, and a trumped-up
charge of peculation had served in 1712 as a pretext for expelling him
from the House and committing him to the Tower, at the accession of
George the First Walpole was far from holding the commanding position he
was soon to assume. The stage indeed was partly cleared for him by the
jealousy with which the new sovereign regarded the men who had till now
served as chiefs of the Whigs. Though the first Hanoverian Ministry was
drawn wholly from the Whig party, its leaders and Marlborough found
themselves alike set aside. But even had they regained their old power,
time must soon have removed them; for Wharton and Halifax died in 1715,
and 1716 saw the death of Somers and the imbecility of Marlborough. The
man to whom the king entrusted the direction of affairs was the new
Secretary of State, Lord Townshend. His merit with George the First lay
in his having negotiated a Barrier Treaty with Holland in 1709 by which
the Dutch were secured in the possession of a greater number of
fortresses in the Netherlands than they had garrisoned before the war,
on condition of their guaranteeing the succession of the House of
Hanover. The king had always looked on this treaty as the great support
of his cause, and on its negotiation as representing that union of
Holland, Hanover, and the Whigs, to which he owed his throne.
Townshend's fellow Secretary was General Stanhope, who had won fame both
as a soldier and a politician, and who was now raised to the peerage. It
was as Townshend's brother-in-law, rather than from a sense of his
actual ability, that Walpole successively occupied the posts of
Paymaster of the Forces, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and First Lord of
the Treasury, in the new administration.

[Sidenote: The rising of 1715.]

The first work of the new Ministry was to meet a desperate attempt of
the Pretender to gain the throne. There was no real hope of success, for
the active Jacobites in England were few, and the Tories were broken and
dispirited by the fall of their leaders. The policy of Bolingbroke, as
Secretary of State to the Pretender, was to defer action till he had
secured help from Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, and had induced Lewis
the Fourteenth to lend a few thousand men to aid a Jacobite rising. But
at the moment of action the death of Lewis ruined all hope of aid from
France; the hope of Swedish aid proved as fruitless; and in spite of
Bolingbroke's counsels James Stuart resolved to act alone. Without
informing his new Minister, he ordered the Earl of Mar to give the
signal for revolt in the North. In Scotland the triumph of the Whigs
meant the continuance of the House of Argyle in power; and the rival
Highland clans were as ready to fight the Campbells under Mar as they
had been ready to fight them under Dundee or Montrose. But Mar was a
leader of a different stamp from these. In September 1715 six thousand
Highlanders joined him at Perth, but his cowardice or want of conduct
kept his army idle till the Duke of Argyle had gathered forces to meet
it in an indecisive engagement at Sheriffmuir. The Pretender, who
arrived too late for the action, proved a yet more sluggish and
incapable leader than Mar: and at the close of the year an advance of
six thousand men under General Carpenter drove James over-sea again and
dispersed the clans to their hills. In England the danger passed away
like a dream. The accession of the new king had been followed by some
outbreaks of riotous discontent; but at the talk of Highland risings
and French invasions Tories and Whigs alike rallied round the throne;
while the army, which had bitterly resented the interruption of its
victories by the treachery of St. John, and hailed with delight the
restoration of Marlborough to its command, went hotly for King George.
The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the arrest of their leader,
Sir William Wyndham, cowed the Jacobites; and not a man stirred in the
west when Ormond appeared off the coast of Devon and called on his party
to rise. Oxford alone, where the University was a hotbed of Jacobitism,
showed itself restless; and a few of the Catholic gentry rose in
Northumberland, under Lord Derwentwater and Mr. Forster. The arrival of
two thousand Highlanders who had been sent to join them by Mar spurred
these insurgents to march into Lancashire, where the Catholic party was
strongest; but they were soon cooped up in Preston, and driven to a

[Sidenote: England and France.]

The Ministry availed itself of their triumph to gratify the
Nonconformists by a repeal of the Schism and Occasional Conformity Acts,
and to venture on a great constitutional change. Under the Triennial
Bill in William's reign the duration of a Parliament was limited to
three years. Now that the House of Commons however was become the ruling
power in the State, a change was absolutely required to secure
steadiness and fixity of political action; and in 1716 this necessity
coincided with the desire of the Whigs to maintain in power a thoroughly
Whig Parliament. The duration of Parliament was therefore extended to
seven years by the Septennial Bill. But while the Jacobite rising
produced these important changes at home, it brought about a yet more
momentous change in English policy abroad. The foresight of William the
Third in his attempt to secure European peace by an alliance of the
three Western powers, France, Holland, and England, was justified by the
realization of his policy under George the First. The new triple
alliance was brought about by the practical advantages which it directly
offered to the rulers in both England and France, as well as by the
actual position of European politics. The landing of James in Scotland
had quickened the anxiety of King George for his removal to a more
distant refuge than Lorraine, and for the entire detachment of France
from his cause. In France on the other hand a political revolution had
been caused by the death of Lewis the Fourteenth, which took place in
September 1715, at the very hour of the Jacobite outbreak. From that
moment the country had been ruled by the Duke of Orleans as Regent for
the young King Lewis the Fifteenth. The boy's health was weak; and the
Duke stood next to him in the succession to the crown, if Philip of
Spain observed the renunciation of his rights which he had made in the
Treaty of Utrecht. It was well known however that Philip had no notion
of observing this renunciation, and that he was already intriguing with
a strong party in France against the hopes as well as the actual power
of the Duke. Nor was Spain more inclined to adhere to its own
renunciations in the Treaty than its king. The constant dream of every
Spaniard was to recover all that Spain had given up, to win back her
Italian dependencies, to win back Gibraltar where the English flag waved
upon Spanish soil, to win back, above all, that monopoly of commerce
with her dominions in America which England was now entitled to break in
upon by the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht.

[Sidenote: Their alliance against Spain.]

To attempt such a recovery was to defy Europe; for if the Treaty had
stripped Spain of its fairest dependencies, it had enriched almost every
European state with its spoils. Savoy had gained Sicily; the Emperor
held the Netherlands, with Naples and the Milanese; Holland looked on
the Barrier fortresses as vital to its own security; England, if as yet
indifferent to the value of Gibraltar, clung tenaciously to the American
Trade. But the boldness of Cardinal Alberoni, who was now the Spanish
Minister, accepted the risk; and while his master was intriguing against
the Regent in France, Alberoni promised aid to the Jacobite cause as a
means of preventing the interference of England with his designs. In
spite of failure in both countries he resolved boldly on an attempt to
recover the Italian provinces which Philip had lost. He selected the
Duke of Savoy as the weakest of his opponents; and armaments greater
than Spain had seen for a century put to sea in 1717, and reduced the
island of Sardinia. The blow however was hardly needed to draw England
and France together. The Abbé Dubois, a confidant of the Regent, had
already met the English King with his Secretary, Lord Stanhope, at the
Hague; and entered into a compact, by which France guaranteed the
Hanoverian line in England, and England the succession of the house of
Orleans should Lewis the Fifteenth die without heirs. The two powers
were joined, though unwillingly, by Holland in an alliance, which was
concluded on the basis of this compact; and, as in William's time, the
existence of this alliance told on the whole aspect of European
politics. Though in the summer of 1718 a strong Spanish force landed in
Sicily, and made itself master of the island, the appearance of an
English squadron in the Straits of Messina was followed by an engagement
in which the Spanish fleet was all but destroyed. Alberoni strove to
avenge the blow by fitting out an armament of five thousand men, which
the Duke of Ormond was to command, for a revival of the Jacobite rising
in Scotland. But the ships were wrecked in the Bay of Biscay; and the
accession of Austria with Savoy to the Triple Alliance, with the death
of the king of Sweden, left Spain alone in the face of Europe. The
progress of the French armies in the north of Spain forced Philip at
last to give way. Alberoni was dismissed; and the Spanish forces were
withdrawn from Sardinia and Sicily. The last of these islands now passed
to the Emperor, Savoy being compensated for its loss by the acquisition
of Sardinia, from which its Duke took the title of King; while the work
of the Treaty of Utrecht was completed by the Emperor's renunciation of
his claims on the crown of Spain, and Philip's renunciation of his
claims on the Milanese and the Two Sicilies.

[Sidenote: Resignation of Townshend.]

Successful as the Ministry had been in its work of peace, the struggle
had disclosed the difficulties which the double position of its new
sovereign was to bring upon England. George was not only King of
England; he was Elector of Hanover; and in his own mind he cared far
more for the interests of his Electorate than for the interests of his
kingdom. His first aim was to use the power of his new monarchy to
strengthen his position in North Germany. At this moment that position
was mainly threatened by the hostility of the king of Sweden. Denmark
had taken advantage of the defeat and absence of Charles the Twelfth to
annex Bremen and Verden with Schleswig and Holstein to its dominions;
but in its dread of the Swedish king's return it secured the help of
Hanover by ceding the first two towns to the Electorate on a promise of
alliance in the war against him. The despatch of a British fleet into
the Baltic with the purpose of overawing Sweden identified England with
the policy of Hanover; and Charles, who from the moment of his return
bent his whole energies to regain what he had lost, retorted by joining
in the schemes of Alberoni, and by concluding an alliance with the
Russian Czar, Peter the Great, who for other reasons was hostile to the
court of Hanover, for a restoration of the Stuarts. Luckily for the new
dynasty his plans were brought to an end at the close of 1718 by his
death at the siege of Frederickshall; but the policy which provoked them
had already brought about the dissolution of the Whig Ministry. When
George pressed on his cabinet a treaty of alliance by which England
shielded Hanover and its acquisitions from any efforts of the Swedish
King, Townshend and Walpole gave a reluctant assent to a measure which
they regarded as sacrificing English interests to that of the
Electorate, and as entangling the country yet more in the affairs of the
Continent. For the moment indeed they yielded to the fact that Bremen
and Verden were not only of the highest importance to Hanover, which was
brought by them in contact with the sea, but of hardly less value to
England itself, as they placed the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, the
chief inlets for British commerce into Germany, in the hands of a
friendly state. But they refused to take any further steps in carrying
out a Hanoverian policy; and they successfully withstood an attempt of
the king to involve England in a war with the Czar, when Russian troops
entered Mecklenburg. The resentment of George the First was seconded by
intrigues among their fellow-ministers; and in 1717 Townshend and
Walpole were forced to resign their posts.

[Sidenote: The Stanhope Ministry.]

The want of their good sense soon made itself felt. In the reconstituted
cabinet Lords Sunderland and Stanhope remained supreme; and their first
aim was to secure the maintenance of the Whig power by a constitutional
change. Firm as was the hold of the Whigs over the Commons, it might be
shaken by a revulsion of popular feeling, it might be ruined, as it was
destined to be ruined afterwards, by a change in the temper of the king.
Sunderland sought a permanence of public policy which neither popular
nor royal government could give in the changelessness of a fixed
aristocracy with its centre in the Lords. Harley's creation of twelve
peers to ensure the sanction of the Lords to the Treaty of Utrecht
showed that the Crown possessed a power of swamping the majority and
changing the balance of opinion in the House of Peers. In 1720 therefore
the Ministry introduced a bill, suggested as was believed by Lord
Sunderland, which professed to secure the liberty of the Upper House by
limiting the power of the Crown in the creation of fresh Peers. The
number of Peers was permanently fixed at the number then sitting in the
House; and creations could only be made when vacancies occurred.
Twenty-five hereditary Scotch Peers were substituted for the sixteen
elected Peers for Scotland. The bill however was strenuously opposed by
Robert Walpole. Not only was it a measure which broke the political
quiet which he looked on as a necessity for the new government, but it
jarred on his good sense as a statesman. It would in fact have rendered
representative government impossible. For representative government was
now coming day by day more completely to mean government by the will of
the House of Commons, carried out by a Ministry which served as the
mouthpiece of that will. But it was only through the prerogative of the
Crown, as exercised under the advice of such a Ministry, that the Peers
could be forced to bow to the will of the Lower House in matters where
their opinion was adverse to that of the Commons; and the proposal of
Sunderland would have brought legislation and government to a dead lock.

[Sidenote: South Sea Bubble.]

It was to Walpole's opposition that the Peerage Bill owed its defeat;
and this success forced his rivals again to admit him, with Townshend,
to a share in the Ministry, though they occupied subordinate offices.
But this arrangement was soon to yield to a more natural one. The sudden
increase of English commerce begot at this moment the mania of
speculation. Ever since the age of Elizabeth the unknown wealth of
Spanish America had acted like a spell upon the imagination of
Englishmen, and Harley gave countenance to a South Sea Company, which
promised a reduction of the public debt as the price of a monopoly of
the Spanish trade. Spain however clung jealously to her old prohibitions
of all foreign commerce; and the Treaty of Utrecht only won for England
the right of engaging in the negro slave-trade with its dominions and of
despatching a single ship to the coast of Spanish America. But in spite
of all this, the Company again came forward, offering in exchange for
new privileges to pay off national burdens which amounted to nearly a
million a year. It was in vain that Walpole warned the Ministry and the
country against this "dream." Both went mad; and in 1720 bubble Company
followed bubble Company, till the inevitable reaction brought a general
ruin in its train. The crash brought Stanhope to the grave. Of his
colleagues, many were found to have received bribes from the South Sea
Company to back its frauds. Craggs, the Secretary of State, died of
terror at the investigation; Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
was sent to the Tower; and in the general wreck of his rivals Robert
Walpole mounted again into power. In 1721 he became First Lord of the
Treasury, while his brother-in-law, Lord Townshend, returned to his
post of Secretary of State. But their relative position was now
reversed. Townshend had been the head in the earlier administration: in
this Walpole was resolved, to use his own characteristic phrase, that
"the firm should be Walpole and Townshend and not Townshend and

[Sidenote: Walpole's Ministry.]

But it was no mere chance or good luck which maintained Walpole at the
head of affairs for more than twenty years. If no Minister has fared
worse at the hand of poets or historians, there are few whose greatness
has been more impartially recognized by practical statesmen. His
qualities indeed were such as a practical statesman can alone do full
justice to. There is nothing to charm in the outer aspect of the man;
nor is there anything picturesque in the work which he set himself to
do, or in the means by which he succeeded in doing it. But picturesque
or no, the work of keeping England quiet, and of giving quiet to Europe,
was in itself a noble one; and it is the temper with which he carried on
this work, the sagacity with which he discerned the means by which alone
it could be done, and the stubborn, indomitable will with which he faced
every difficulty in the doing it, which gives Walpole his place among
English statesmen. He was the first and he was the most successful of
our Peace Ministers. "The most pernicious circumstances," he said, "in
which this country can be are those of war; as we must be losers while
it lasts, and cannot be great gainers when it ends." It was not that the
honour or influence of England suffered in Walpole's hands, for he won
victories by the firmness of his policy and the skill of his
negotiations as effectual as any that are won by arms. But up to the
very end of his Ministry, when the frenzy of the nation at last forced
his hand, in spite of every varying complication of foreign affairs, and
a never-ceasing pressure alike from the Opposition and the Court, it is
the glory of Walpole that he resolutely kept England at peace. And as he
was the first of our Peace Ministers, so he was the first of our
Financiers. He was far indeed from discerning the powers which later
statesmen have shown to exist in a sound finance, powers of producing
both national developement and international amity; but he had the sense
to see, what no minister till then had seen, that the only help a
statesman can give to industry or commerce is to remove all obstacles in
the way of their natural growth, and that beyond this the best course he
can take in presence of a great increase in national energy and national
wealth is to look quietly on and to let it alone. At the outset of his
rule he declared in a speech from the Throne that nothing would more
conduce to the extension of commerce "than to make the exportation of
our own manufactures, and the importation of the commodities used in the
manufacturing of them, as practicable and easy as may be."

[Sidenote: Walpole's finance.]

The first act of his financial administration was to take off the duties
from more than a hundred British exports, and nearly forty articles of
importation. In 1730 he broke in the same enlightened spirit through the
prejudice which restricted the commerce of the Colonies to the mother
country alone, by allowing Georgia and the Carolinas to export their
rice directly to any part of Europe. The result was that the rice of
America soon drove that of Italy and Egypt from the market. His Excise
Bill, defective as it was, was the first measure in which an English
Minister showed any real grasp of the principles of taxation. The wisdom
of Walpole was rewarded by a quick upgrowth of prosperity. The material
progress of the country was such as England had never seen before. Our
exports, which were only six millions in value at the beginning of the
century, had reached the value of twelve millions by the middle of it.
It was above all the trade with the Colonies which began to give England
a new wealth. The whole Colonial trade at the time of the battle of
Blenheim was no greater than the trade with the single isle of Jamaica
at the opening of the American war. At the accession of George the
Second the exports to Pennsylvania were valued at £15,000. At his death
they reached half-a-million. In the middle of the eighteenth century
the profits of Great Britain from the trade with the Colonies were
estimated at two millions a year. And with the growth of wealth came a
quick growth in population. That of Manchester and Birmingham, whose
manufactures were now becoming of importance, doubled in thirty years.
Bristol, the chief seat of the West Indian trade, rose into new
prosperity. Liverpool, which owes its creation to the new trade with the
West, sprang up from a little country town into the third port in the
kingdom. With peace and security, and the wealth that they brought with
them, the value of land, and with it the rental of every country
gentleman, rose fast. "Estates which were rented at two thousand a year
threescore years ago," said Burke in 1766, "are at three thousand at

[Sidenote: His policy of inaction.]

Nothing shows more clearly the soundness of his political intellect than
the fact that this upgrowth of wealth around him never made Walpole
swerve from a rigid economy, from a steady reduction of the debt, or a
diminution of fiscal duties. Even before the death of George the First
the public burdens were reduced by twenty millions. It was indeed in
economy alone that his best work could be done. In finance as in other
fields of statesmanship Walpole was forbidden from taking more than
tentative steps towards a wiser system by the needs of the work he had
specially to do. To this work everything gave way. He withdrew his
Excise Bill rather than suffer the agitation it roused to break the
quiet which was reconciling the country to the system of the Revolution.
His hatred of religious intolerance or the support he hoped for from the
Dissenters never swayed him to rouse the spirit of popular bigotry,
which he knew to be ready to burst out at the slightest challenge, by
any effort to repeal the laws against Nonconformity. His temper was
naturally vigorous and active; and yet the years of his power are years
without parallel in our annals for political stagnation. His long
administration indeed is almost without a history. All legislative and
political action seemed to cease with his entry into office. Year after
year passed by without a change. In the third year of Walpole's ministry
there was but one division in the House of Commons. Such an inaction
gives little scope for the historian; but it fell in with the temper of
the nation at large. It was popular with the class which commonly
presses for political activity. The energy of the trading class was
absorbed for the time in the rapid extension of commerce and
accumulation of wealth. So long as the country was justly and
temperately governed the merchant and shopkeeper were content to leave
government in the hands that held it. All they asked was to be let alone
to enjoy their new freedom and develope their new industries. And
Walpole let them alone. On the other hand, the forces which opposed the
Revolution lost year by year somewhat of their energy. The fervour
which breeds revolt died down among the Jacobites as their swords rusted
idly in their scabbards. The Tories sulked in their country houses; but
their wrath against the House of Hanover ebbed away for want of
opportunities of exerting itself. And meanwhile on opponents as on
friends the freedom which the Revolution had brought with it was doing
its work. It was to the patient influence of this freedom that Walpole
trusted; and it was the special mark of his administration that in spite
of every temptation he gave it full play. Though he dared not touch the
laws that oppressed the Catholic or the Dissenter, he took care that
they should remain inoperative. Catholic worship went on unhindered.
Yearly bills of indemnity exempted the Nonconformists from the
consequences of their infringement of the Test Act. There was no
tampering with public justice or with personal liberty. Thought and
action were alike left free. No Minister was ever more foully slandered
by journalists and pamphleteers; but Walpole never meddled with the

[Sidenote: Fresh efforts of Spain.]

Abroad as well as at home the difficulties in the way of his policy were
enormous. Peace was still hard to maintain. Defeated as her first
attempt had been, Spain remained resolute to regain her lost provinces,
to recover Gibraltar and Minorca, and to restore her old monopoly of
trade with her American colonies. She had learned that she could do
this only by breaking the alliance of the Four Powers, which left her
isolated in Europe; and she saw at last a chance of breaking this league
in the difficulties of the House of Austria. The Emperor Charles the
Sixth was without a son. He had issued a Pragmatic Sanction by which he
provided that his hereditary dominions should descend unbroken to his
daughter, Maria Theresa, but no European state had as yet consented to
guarantee her succession. Spain seized on this opportunity of detaching
the Emperor from the Western powers. She promised to support the
Pragmatic Sanction in return for a pledge on the part of Charles to aid
in wresting Gibraltar and Minorca from England, and in securing to a
Spanish prince the succession to Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany. A grant
of the highest trading privileges in her American dominions to a
commercial company which the Emperor had established at Ostend, in
defiance of the Treaty of Westphalia and the remonstrances of England
and Holland, revealed this secret alliance; and there were fears of the
adhesion of Russia, which still remained hostile to England through the
quarrel with Hanover. The danger was met for a while by an alliance of
England, France, and Prussia, in 1725; but the withdrawal of the last
Power again gave courage to the confederates, and in 1727 the Spaniards
besieged Gibraltar while Charles threatened an invasion of Holland. The
moderation of Walpole alone averted a European war. While sending
British squadrons to the Baltic, the Spanish coast, and America, he
succeeded by diplomatic pressure in again forcing the Emperor to
inaction; after weary negotiations Spain was brought in 1729 to sign the
Treaty of Seville and to content herself with the promise of a
succession of a Spanish prince to the Duchies of Parma and Tuscany; and
the discontent of Charles the Sixth at this concession was allayed in
1731 by giving the guarantee of England to the Pragmatic Sanction.

[Sidenote: George the Second.]

The patience and even temper which Walpole showed in this business were
the more remarkable that in the course of it his power received what
seemed a fatal shock from the death of the king. George the First died
on a journey to Hanover in 1727; and his successor, George the Second,
was known to have hated his father's Minister hardly less than he had
hated his father. But hate Walpole as he might, the new king was
absolutely guided by the adroitness of his wife, Caroline of Anspach;
and Caroline had resolved that there should be no change in the
Ministry. After a few days of withdrawal therefore Walpole again
returned to office; and the years which followed were those in which his
power reached its height. He gained as great an influence over George
the Second as he had gained over his father: and in spite of the steady
increase of his opponents in the House of Commons, his hold over it
remained unshaken. The country was tranquil and prosperous. The
prejudices of the landed gentry were met by a steady effort to reduce
the land-tax, whose pressure was half the secret of their hostility to
the Revolution that produced it. The Church was quiet. The Jacobites
were too hopeless to stir. A few trade measures and social reforms crept
quietly through the Houses. An inquiry into the state of the gaols
showed that social thought was not utterly dead. A bill of great value
enacted that all proceedings in courts of justice should henceforth be
in the English tongue.

[Sidenote: Excise Bill.]

Only once did Walpole break this tranquillity by an attempt at a great
measure of statesmanship; and the result of his attempt proved how wise
was the inactivity of his general policy. No tax had from the first
moment of its introduction been more unpopular than the Excise. Its
origin was due to Pym and the Long Parliament, who imposed duties on
beer, cyder, and perry, which at the Restoration produced an annual
income of more than six hundred thousand pounds. The war with France at
the Revolution brought with it the imposition of a malt-tax and
additional duties on spirits, wine, tobacco, and other articles. So
great had been the increase in the public wealth that the return from
the Excise amounted at the death of George the First to nearly two
millions and a half a year. But its unpopularity remained unabated, and
even philosophers like Locke contended that the whole public revenue
should be drawn from direct taxes upon the land. Walpole, on the other
hand, saw in the growth of indirect taxation a means of winning over the
country gentry to the new dynasty of the Revolution by freeing the land
from all burdens whatever. He saw too a means of diminishing the loss
suffered by the revenue from the Customs through smuggling and fraud.
These losses were immense; that on tobacco alone amounted to a third of
the whole duty. In 1733 therefore he introduced an Excise Bill, which
met this evil by the establishment of bonded warehouses, and by the
collection of the duties from the inland dealers in the form of Excise
and not of Customs. The first measure would have made London a free
port, and doubled English trade. The second would have so largely
increased the revenue, without any loss to the consumer, as to enable
Walpole to repeal the land-tax. In the case of tea and coffee alone, the
change in the mode of levying the duty was estimated to bring in an
additional hundred thousand pounds a year. The necessaries of life and
the raw materials of manufacture were in Walpole's plan to remain
absolutely untaxed. The scheme was in effect an anticipation of the
principles which have guided English finance since the triumph of free
trade, and every part of it has now been carried into effect. But in
1733 Walpole stood ahead of his time. The violence of his opponents was
hacked by an outburst of popular prejudice; riots almost grew into
revolt; and in spite of the Queen's wish to put down resistance by
force, Walpole withdrew the bill. "I will not be the Minister," he said
with noble self-command, "to enforce taxes at the expense of blood."

[Sidenote: The Patriots.]

What had fanned popular prejudice into a flame during the uproar over
the Excise Bill was the violence of the so-called "Patriots." In the
absence of a strong opposition and of great impulses to enthusiasm a
party breaks readily into factions; and the weakness of the Tories
joined with the stagnation of public affairs to breed faction among the
Whigs. Walpole too was jealous of power; and as his jealousy drove
colleague after colleague out of office they became leaders of a party
whose sole aim was to thrust him from his post. Greed of power indeed
was the one passion which mastered his robust common sense. Townshend
was turned out of office in 1730, Lord Chesterfield in 1733; and though
he started with the ablest administration the country had known, Walpole
was left after twenty years of supremacy with but one man of ability in
his cabinet, the Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke. With the single exception
of Townshend, the colleagues whom his jealousy dismissed plunged into an
opposition more factious and unprincipled than has ever disgraced
English politics. The "Patriots," as they called themselves, owned
Pulteney, a brilliant speaker and unscrupulous intriguer, as their head;
they were reinforced by a band of younger Whigs--the "Boys," as Walpole
named them--whose temper revolted alike against the inaction and
cynicism of his policy, and whose fiery spokesman was a young cornet of
horse, William Pitt; and they rallied to these the fragment of the Tory
party which still took part in politics, a fragment inconsiderable in
numbers but of far greater weight as representing a large part of the
nation, and which was guided for a while by the virulent ability of
Bolingbroke, whom Walpole had suffered to return from exile, but to whom
he had refused the restoration of his seat in the House of Lords. Inside
Parliament indeed the invectives of the "Patriots" fell dead before
Walpole's majorities and his good-humoured contempt; so far were their
attacks from shaking his power that Bolingbroke abandoned the struggle
in despair to return again into exile, while Pulteney with his party
could only take refuge in a silly secession from Parliament. But on the
nation at large their speeches and pamphlets, with the brilliant
sarcasms of their literary allies, such as Pope or Johnson, did more
effective work. Unjust indeed as their outcry was, the growing response
to it told that the political inactivity of the country was drawing to
an end. It was the very success of Walpole's policy which was to bring
about his downfall; for it was the gradual closing of the chasm which
had all but broken England into two warring peoples that allowed the
political energy of the country to return to its natural channels and to
give a new vehemence to political strife. Vague too and hollow as much
of the "high talk" of the Patriots was, it showed that the age of
political cynicism, of that unbelief in high sentiment and noble
aspirations which had followed on the crash of Puritanism, was drawing
to an end. Rant about ministerial corruption would have fallen flat on
the public ear had not new moral forces, a new sense of social virtue, a
new sense of religion been stirring, however blindly, in the minds of

[Sidenote: The Methodists.]

The stir showed itself markedly in a religious revival which dates from
the later years of Walpole's ministry; and which began in a small knot
of Oxford students, whose revolt against the religious deadness of their
times expressed itself in ascetic observances, an enthusiastic devotion,
and a methodical regularity of life which gained them the nickname of
"Methodists." Three figures detached themselves from the group as soon
as, on its transfer to London in 1738, it attracted public attention by
the fervour and even extravagance of its piety; and each found his
special work in the task to which the instinct of the new movement led
it from the first, that of carrying religion and morality to the vast
masses of population which lay concentrated in the towns or around the
mines and collieries of Cornwall and the north. Whitefield, a servitor
of Pembroke College, was above all the preacher of the revival. Speech
was governing English politics; and the religious power of speech was
shown when a dread of "enthusiasm" closed against the new apostles the
pulpits of the Established Church, and forced them to preach in the
fields. Their voice was soon heard in the wildest and most barbarous
corners of the land, among the bleak moors of Northumberland, or in the
dens of London, or in the long galleries where in the pauses of his
labour the Cornish miner listens to the sobbing of the sea. Whitefield's
preaching was such as England had never heard before, theatrical,
extravagant, often commonplace, but hushing all criticism by its intense
reality, its earnestness of belief, its deep tremulous sympathy with the
sin and sorrow of mankind. It was no common enthusiast who could wring
gold from the close-fisted Franklin and admiration from the fastidious
Horace Walpole, or who could look down from the top of a green knoll at
Kingswood on twenty thousand colliers, grimy from the Bristol coal-pits,
and see as he preached the tears "making white channels down their
blackened cheeks."

[Sidenote: The religious revival.]

On the rough and ignorant masses to whom they spoke the effect of
Whitefield and his fellow Methodists was mighty both for good and ill.
Their preaching stirred a passionate hatred in their opponents. Their
lives were often in danger, they were mobbed, they were ducked, they
were stoned, they were smothered with filth. But the enthusiasm they
aroused was equally passionate. Women fell down in convulsions; strong
men were smitten suddenly to the earth; the preacher was interrupted by
bursts of hysteric laughter or of hysteric sobbing. All the phenomena of
strong spiritual excitement, so familiar now, but at that time strange
and unknown, followed on their sermons; and the terrible sense of a
conviction of sin, a new dread of hell, a new hope of heaven, took forms
at once grotesque and sublime. Charles Wesley, a Christ Church student,
came to add sweetness to this sudden and startling light. He was the
"sweet singer" of the movement. His hymns expressed the fiery conviction
of its converts in lines so chaste and beautiful that its more
extravagant features disappeared. The wild throes of hysteric enthusiasm
passed into a passion for hymn-singing, and a new musical impulse was
aroused in the people which gradually changed the face of public
devotion throughout England.

[Sidenote: John Wesley.]

But it was his elder brother, John Wesley, who embodied in himself not
this or that side of the new movement, but the movement itself. Even at
Oxford, where he resided as a fellow of Lincoln, he had been looked upon
as head of the group of Methodists, and after his return from a quixotic
mission to the Indians of Georgia he again took the lead of the little
society, which had removed in the interval to London. In power as a
preacher he stood next to Whitefield; as a hymn-writer he stood second
to his brother Charles. But while combining in some degree the
excellences of either, he possessed qualities in which both were utterly
deficient; an indefatigable industry, a cool judgement, a command over
others, a faculty of organization, a singular union of patience and
moderation with an imperious ambition, which marked him as a ruler of
men. He had besides a learning and skill in writing which no other of
the Methodists possessed; he was older than any of his colleagues at the
start of the movement, and he outlived them all. His life indeed almost
covers the century. He was born in 1703 and lived on till 1791, and the
Methodist body had passed through every phase of its history before he
sank into the grave at the age of eighty-eight. It would have been
impossible for Wesley to have wielded the power he did had he not shared
the follies and extravagance as well as the enthusiasm of his disciples.
Throughout his life his asceticism was that of a monk. At times he lived
on bread only, and he often slept on the bare boards. He lived in a
world of wonders and divine interpositions. It was a miracle if the rain
stopped and allowed him to set forward on a journey. It was a judgement
of heaven if a hailstorm burst over a town which had been deaf to his
preaching. One day, he tells us, when he was tired and his horse fell
lame, "I thought cannot God heal either man or beast by any means or
without any?--immediately my headache ceased and my horse's lameness in
the same instant." With a still more childish fanaticism he guided his
conduct, whether in ordinary events or in the great crises of his life,
by drawing lots or watching the particular texts at which his Bible

[Sidenote: His organization of Methodism.]

But with all this extravagance and superstition Wesley's mind was
essentially practical, orderly, and conservative. No man ever stood at
the head of a great revolution whose temper was so anti-revolutionary.
In his earlier days the bishops had been forced to rebuke him for the
narrowness and intolerance of his churchmanship. When Whitefield began
his sermons in the fields, Wesley "could not at first reconcile himself
to that strange way." He condemned and fought against the admission of
laymen as preachers till he found himself left with none but laymen to
preach. To the last he clung passionately to the Church of England, and
looked on the body he had formed as but a lay society in full communion
with it. He broke with the Moravians, who had been the earliest friends
of the new movement, when they endangered its safe conduct by their
contempt of religious forms. He broke with Whitefield when the great
preacher plunged into an extravagant Calvinism. But the same practical
temper of mind which led him to reject what was unmeasured, and to be
the last to adopt what was new, enabled him at once to grasp and
organize the novelties he adopted. He became himself the most unwearied
of field preachers, and his journal for half-a-century is little more
than a record of fresh journeys and fresh sermons. When once driven to
employ lay helpers in his ministry he made their work a new and
attractive feature in his system. His earlier asceticism only lingered
in a dread of social enjoyments and an aversion from the gayer and
sunnier side of life which links the Methodist movement with that of the
Puritans. As the fervour of his superstition died down into the calm of
age, his cool common sense discouraged in his followers the enthusiastic
outbursts which marked the opening of the revival. His powers were bent
to the building up of a great religious society which might give to the
new enthusiasm a lasting and practical form. The Methodists were grouped
into classes, gathered in love-feasts, purified by the expulsion of
unworthy members, and furnished with an alternation of settled ministers
and wandering preachers; while the whole body was placed under the
absolute government of a Conference of ministers. But so long as he
lived, the direction of the new religious society remained with Wesley
alone. "If by arbitrary power," he replied with charming simplicity to
objectors, "you mean a power which I exercise simply without any
colleagues therein, this is certainly true, but I see no hurt in it."

[Sidenote: Results of the movement.]

The great body which he thus founded numbered a hundred thousand members
at his death, and now counts its members in England and America by
millions. But the Methodists themselves were the least result of the
Methodist revival. Its action upon the Church, as we shall see later,
broke the lethargy of the clergy who, under the influence of the
"Evangelical" movement, were called to a loftier conception of their
duties; while a powerful moral enthusiasm appeared in the nation at
large. A new philanthropy reformed our prisons, infused clemency and
wisdom into our penal laws, abolished the slave-trade, and gave the
first impulse to popular education.

[Sidenote: Revival of France.]

From the new England which was springing up about him, from that new
stir of national life and emotion of which the Wesleyan revival was but
a part, Walpole stood utterly aloof. National enthusiasm, national
passion, found no echo in his cool and passionless good sense. The
growing consciousness in the people at large of a new greatness, its
instinctive prevision of the coming of a time when England was to play a
foremost part in the history of the world, the upgrowth of a nobler and
loftier temper which should correspond to such a destiny, all were alike
unintelligible to him. In the talk of patriotism and public virtue he
saw mere rant and extravagance. "Men would grow wiser," he said, "and
come out of that." The revival of English religion he looked on with an
indifference lightly dashed with dread as a reawakening of fanaticism
which might throw new obstacles in the way of religious liberty. In the
face of the growing excitement therefore he clung as doggedly as ever to
his policy of quiet at home and peace abroad. But peace was now
threatened by a foe far more formidable than Spain. What had hitherto
enabled England to uphold the settlement of Europe as established at the
Peace of Utrecht was above all the alliance and backing of France. But
it was clear that such an alliance could hardly be a permanent one. The
Treaty of Utrecht had been a humiliation for France even more than for
Spain. It had marked the failure of those dreams of European supremacy
which the House of Bourbon had nursed ever since the close of the
sixteenth century, and which Lewis the Fourteenth had all but turned
from dreams into realities. Beaten and impoverished, France had bowed to
the need of peace; but her strange powers of recovery had shown
themselves in the years of tranquillity that peace secured; and with
reviving wealth and the upgrowth of a new generation which had known
nothing of the woes that followed Blenheim and Ramillies the old
ambition started again into life.

[Sidenote: Its union with Spain.]

It was fired to action by a new rivalry. The naval supremacy of Britain
was growing into an empire of the sea; and not only was such an empire
in itself a challenge to France, but it was fatal to the aspirations
after a colonial dominion, after aggrandizement in America, and the
upbuilding of a French power in the East, which were already vaguely
stirring in the breasts of her statesmen. And to this new rivalry was
added the temptation of a new chance of success. On the Continent the
mightiest foe of France had ever been the House of Austria; but that
House was now paralyzed by a question of succession. It was almost
certain that the quarrels which must follow the death of the Emperor
would break the strength of Germany, and it was probable that they might
be so managed as to destroy for ever that of the House of Hapsburg.
While the main obstacle to her ambition was thus weakened or removed,
France won a new and invaluable aid to it in the friendship of Spain.
Accident had hindered for a while the realization of the forebodings
which led Marlborough and Somers so fiercely to oppose a recognition of
the union of the two countries under the same royal house in the Peace
of Utrecht. The age and death of Lewis the Fourteenth, the minority of
his successor, the hostility between Philip of Spain and the Duke of
Orleans, the personal quarrel between the two Crowns which broke out
after the Duke's death, had long held the Bourbon powers apart. France
had in fact been thrown on the alliance of England, and had been forced
to play a chief part in opposing Spain and in maintaining the European
settlement. But at the death of George the First this temporary
severance was already passing away. The birth of children to Lewis the
Fifteenth settled all questions of succession; and no obstacle remained
to hinder their family sympathies from uniting the Bourbon Courts in a
common action. The boast of Lewis the Fourteenth was at last fulfilled.
In the mighty struggle for supremacy which France carried on from the
fall of Walpole to the Peace of Paris her strength was doubled by the
fact that there were "no Pyrenees."

[Sidenote: The Family Compact.]

The first signs of this new danger showed themselves in 1733, when the
peace of Europe was broken afresh by disputes which rose out of a
contested election to the throne of Poland. Austria and France were
alike drawn into the strife; and in England the awakening jealousy of
French designs roused a new pressure for war. The new king too was eager
to fight, and her German sympathies inclined even Caroline to join in
the fray. But Walpole stood firm for the observance of neutrality. He
worked hard to avert and to narrow the war; but he denied that British
interests were so involved in it as to call on England to take a part.
"There are fifty thousand men slain this year in Europe," he boasted as
the strife went on, "and not one Englishman." Meanwhile he laboured to
bring the quarrel to a close; and in 1736 the intervention of England
and Holland succeeded in restoring peace. But the country had watched
with a jealous dread the military energy that proclaimed the revival of
the French arms; and it noted bitterly that peace was bought by the
triumph of both branches of the House of Bourbon. A new Bourbon monarchy
was established at the cost of the House of Austria by the cession of
the Two Sicilies to a Spanish Prince in exchange for his right of
succession to the Duchies of Parma and Tuscany. On the other hand,
Lorraine, so long coveted by French ambition, passed finally into the
hands of France. The political instinct of the nation at once discerned
in these provisions a union of the Bourbon powers; and its dread of such
a union proved to be a just one. As early as the outbreak of the war a
Family Compact had been secretly concluded between France and Spain, the
main object of which was the ruin of the maritime supremacy of Britain.
Spain bound herself to deprive England gradually of its commercial
privileges in her American dominions, and to transfer them to France.
France in return engaged to support Spain at sea, and to aid her in the
recovery of Gibraltar.

[Sidenote: England and Spain.]

The caution with which Walpole held aloof from the Polish war rendered
this compact inoperative for the time; but neither of the Bourbon
courts ceased to look forward to its future execution. The peace of
1736 was indeed a mere pause in the struggle which their union made
inevitable. No sooner was the war ended than France strained every nerve
to increase her fleet; while Spain steadily tightened the restrictions
on British commerce with her American colonies. It was the dim, feverish
sense of the drift of these efforts that embittered every hour the
struggle of English traders with the Spaniards in the southern seas. The
trade with Spanish America, which, illegal as it was, had grown largely
through the connivance of Spanish port-officers during the long alliance
of England and Spain in the wars against France, had at last received a
legal recognition in the Peace of Utrecht. But it was left under narrow
restrictions; and Spain had never abandoned the dream of restoring its
old monopoly. Her efforts however to restore it had as yet been baffled;
while the restrictions were evaded by a vast system of smuggling which
rendered what remained of the Spanish monopoly all but valueless. Philip
however persisted in his efforts to bring down English intercourse with
his colonies to the importation of negroes and the despatch of a single
merchant vessel, as stipulated by the Treaty of Utrecht; and from the
moment of the compact with France the restrictions were enforced with a
fresh rigour. Collisions took place which made it hard to keep the
peace; and in 1738 the ill humour of the trading classes was driven to
madness by the appearance of a merchant captain named Jenkins at the bar
of the House of Commons. He told the tale of his torture by the
Spaniards, and produced an ear which, he said, they had cut off amidst
taunts at England and its king. It was in vain that Walpole strove to do
justice to both parties, and that he battled stubbornly against the cry
for a war which he knew to be an unjust one, and to be as impolitic as
it was unjust. He saw that the House of Bourbon was only waiting for the
Emperor's death to deal its blow at the House of Austria; and the
Emperor's death was now close at hand. At such a juncture it was of the
highest importance that England should be free to avail herself of every
means to guard the European settlement, and that she should not tie her
hands by a contest which would divert her attention from the great
crisis which was impending, as well as drain the forces which would have
enabled Walpole to deal with it.

[Sidenote: War with Spain.]

But his efforts were in vain. His negotiations were foiled by the frenzy
of the one country and the pride of the other. At home his enemies
assailed him with a storm of abuse. Pope and Johnson alike lent their
pens to lampoon the minister. Ballad-singers trolled out their rimes to
the crowd on "the cur-dog of Britain and spaniel of Spain." His position
had been weakened by the death of the queen; and it was now weakened
yet more by the open hostility of the Prince of Wales, who in his hatred
of his father had come to hate his father's ministers as heartily as
George the Second had hated those of George the First. His mastery of
the House of Commons too was no longer unquestioned. The Tories were
slowly returning to Parliament, and their numbers had now mounted to a
hundred and ten. The numbers and the violence of the "Patriots" had
grown with the open patronage of Prince Frederick. The country was
slowly turning against him. The counties now sent not a member to his
support. Walpole's majority was drawn from the boroughs; it rested
therefore on management, on corruption, and on the support of the
trading classes. But with the cry for a commercial war the support of
the trading class failed him. Even in his own cabinet, though he had
driven from it every man of independence, he was pressed at this
juncture to yield by the Duke of Newcastle and his brother Henry Pelham,
who were fast acquiring political importance from their wealth, and from
their prodigal devotion of it to the purchase of parliamentary support.
But it was not till he stood utterly alone that Walpole gave way, and
that he consented in 1739 to a war against Spain.

[Sidenote: The Austrian Succession.]

"They may ring their bells now," the great minister said bitterly, as
peals and bonfires welcomed his surrender; "but they will soon be
wringing their hands." His foresight was at once justified. No sooner
had Admiral Vernon appeared off the coast of South America with an
English fleet, and captured Porto Bello, than France gave an indication
of her purpose to act on the secret compact by a formal declaration that
she would not consent to any English settlement on the mainland of South
America, and by despatching two squadrons to the West Indies. But it was
plain that the union of the Bourbon courts had larger aims than the
protection of Spanish America. The Emperor was dying; and pledged as
France was to the Pragmatic Sanction few believed she would redeem her
pledge. It had been given indeed with reluctance; even the peace-loving
Fleury had said that France ought to have lost three battles before she
confirmed it. And now that the opportunity had at last come for
finishing the work which Henry the Second had begun, of breaking up the
Empire into a group of powers too weak to resist French aggression, it
was idle to expect her to pass it by. If once the hereditary dominions
of the House of Austria were parted amongst various claimants, if the
dignity of the Emperor was no longer supported by the mass of dominion
which belonged personally to the Hapsburgs, France would be left without
a rival on the Continent. Walpole at once turned to face this revival of
a danger which the Grand Alliance had defeated. Not only the House of
Austria but Russia too was called on to join in a league against the
Bourbons; and Prussia, the German power to which Walpole had leant from
the beginning, was counted on to give an aid as firm as Brandenburg had
given in the older struggle. But the project remained a mere plan when
in October 1740 the death of Charles the Sixth forced on the European

[Sidenote: Fall of Walpole.]

The plan of the English Cabinet at once broke down. The new King of
Prussia, Frederick the Second, whom English opinion had hailed as
destined to play the part in the new league which his ancestor had
played in the old, suddenly showed himself the most vigorous assailant
of the House of Hapsburg; and while Frederick claimed Silesia, Bavaria
claimed the Austrian Duchies, which passed with the other hereditary
dominions according to the Pragmatic Sanction to Maria Theresa, or, as
she was now called, the Queen of Hungary. The hour was come for the
Bourbon courts to act. In union with Spain, which aimed at the
annexation of the Milanese, France promised her aid to Prussia and
Bavaria; while Sweden and Sardinia allied themselves to France. In the
summer of 1741 two French armies entered Germany, and the Elector of
Bavaria appeared unopposed before Vienna. Never had the House of Austria
stood in such peril. Its opponents counted on a division of its
dominions. France claimed the Netherlands, Spain the Milanese, Bavaria
the kingdom of Bohemia, Frederick the Second Silesia. Hungary and the
Duchy of Austria alone were left to Maria Theresa. Walpole, though still
true to her cause, advised her to purchase Frederick's aid against
France and her allies by the cession of part of Silesia. The counsel was
wise, for Frederick in hope of some such turn of events had as yet held
aloof from actual alliance with France, but the Patriots spurred the
Queen to refusal by promising her England's aid in the recovery of her
full inheritance. Walpole's last hope of rescuing Austria was broken by
this resolve; and Frederick was driven to conclude the alliance with
France from which he had so stubbornly held aloof. But the Queen refused
to despair. She won the support of Hungary by restoring its
constitutional rights; and British subsidies enabled her to march at the
head of a Hungarian army to the rescue of Vienna, to overrun Bavaria,
and repulse an attack of Frederick on Moravia in the spring of 1742. On
England's part, however, the war was waged feebly and ineffectively.
Admiral Vernon was beaten before Carthagena; and Walpole was charged
with thwarting and starving his operations. With the same injustice, the
selfishness with which George the Second hurried to Hanover, and in his
dread of harm to his hereditary state averted the entry of a French
army by binding himself as Elector to neutrality in the war, though the
step had been taken without Walpole's knowledge, was laid to the
minister's charge. His power indeed was ebbing every day. He still
repelled the attacks of the "Patriots" with wonderful spirit; but in a
new Parliament which was called at this crisis his majority dropped to
sixteen, and in his own Cabinet he became almost powerless. The buoyant
temper which had carried him through so many storms broke down at last.
"He who was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow," writes his
son, "now never sleeps above an hour without waking: and he who at
dinner always forgot his own anxieties, and was more gay and thoughtless
than all the company, now sits without speaking and with his eyes fixed
for an hour together." The end was in fact near; and in the opening of
1742 the dwindling of his majority to three forced Walpole to resign.

[Sidenote: Carteret.]

His fall however made no change in English policy, at home or abroad.
The bulk of his ministry had opposed him in his later years of office,
and at his retirement they resumed their posts, simply admitting some of
the more prominent members of opposition, and giving the control of
foreign affairs to Lord Carteret, a man of great power, and skilled in
continental affairs. Carteret mainly followed the system of his
predecessor. It was in the union of Austria and Prussia that he looked
for the means of destroying the hold France had now established in
Germany by the election of her puppet, Charles of Bavaria, as Emperor;
and the pressure of England, aided by a victory of Frederick at
Chotusitz, forced Maria Theresa to consent to Walpole's plan of a peace
with Prussia at Breslau on the terms of the cession of Silesia. The
peace at once realized Carteret's hopes by enabling the Austrian army to
drive the French from Bohemia at the close of 1742, while the new
minister threw a new vigour into the warlike efforts of England itself.
One English fleet blockaded Cadiz, another anchored in the bay of Naples
and forced Don Carlos by a threat of bombarding his capital to conclude
a treaty of neutrality, and English subsidies detached Sardinia from the
French alliance.

[Sidenote: Dettingen.]

The aim of Carteret and of the Court of Vienna was now not only to set
up the Pragmatic Sanction, but to undo the French encroachments of 1736.
Naples and Sicily were to be taken back from their Spanish king, Elsass
and Lorraine from France; and the imperial dignity was to be restored to
the Austrian House. To carry out these schemes an Austrian army drove
the Emperor from Bavaria in the spring of 1743; while George the Second,
who warmly supported Carteret's policy, put himself at the head of a
force of 40,000 men, the bulk of whom were English and Hanoverians, and
marched from the Netherlands to the Main. His advance was checked and
finally turned into a retreat by the Duc de Noailles, who appeared with
a superior army on the south bank of the river, and finally throwing
31,000 men across it threatened to compel the king to surrender. In the
battle of Dettingen which followed, however, on the 27th June 1743, not
only was the allied army saved from destruction by the impetuosity of
the French horse and the dogged obstinacy with which the English held
their ground, but their opponents were forced to recross the Main. Small
as was the victory, it produced amazing results. The French evacuated
Germany. The English and Austrian armies appeared on the Rhine; and a
league between England, Prussia, and the Queen of Hungary, seemed all
that was needed to secure the results already gained.

[Sidenote: Fall of Carteret.]

But the prospect of peace was overthrown by the ambition of the house of
Austria. In the spring of 1744 an Austrian army marched upon Naples,
with the purpose of transferring it after its conquest to the Bavarian
Emperor, whose hereditary dominions in Bavaria were to pass in return to
Maria Theresa. Its march at once forced the Prussian king into a fresh
attitude of hostility. If Frederick had withdrawn from the war on the
cession of Silesia, he was resolute to take up arms again rather than
suffer so great an aggrandizement of the House of Austria in Germany.
His sudden alliance with France failed at first to change the course of
the war; for though he was successful in seizing Prague and drawing the
Austrian army from the Rhine, Frederick was driven from Bohemia, while
the death of the Emperor forced Bavaria to lay down its arms and to ally
itself with Maria Theresa. So high were the Queen's hopes at this moment
that she formed a secret alliance with Russia for the division of the
Prussian monarchy. But in 1745 the tide turned, and the fatal results of
Carteret's weakness in assenting to a change in the character of the
struggle which transformed it from a war of defence into one of attack
became manifest. The young French king, Lewis the Fifteenth, himself led
an army into the Netherlands; and the refusal of Holland to act against
him left their defence wholly in the hands of England. The general anger
at this widening of the war proved fatal to Carteret, or as he now
became, Earl Granville. His imperious temper had rendered him odious to
his colleagues, and he was driven from office by the Pelhams, who not
only forced George against his will to dismiss him, but foiled the
king's attempt to construct a new administration with Granville at its

[Sidenote: The Pelham Ministry.]

Of the reconstituted ministry which followed Henry Pelham became the
head. His temper as well as a consciousness of his own mediocrity
disposed him to a policy of conciliation which reunited the Whigs.
Chesterfield and the Whigs in opposition, with Pitt and "the Boys," all
found room in the new administration; and even a few Tories, who had
given help to Pelham's party, found admittance. Their entry was the
first breach in the system of purely party government established on the
accession of George the First, though it was more than compensated by
the new strength and unity of the Whigs. But the chief significance of
Carteret's fall lay in its bearing on foreign policy. The rivalry of
Hanover with Prussia for a headship of North Germany found expression in
the bitter hostility of George the Second to Frederick; and it was in
accord with George that Carteret had lent himself to the vengeance of
Austria on her most dangerous opponent. But the bulk of the Whigs
remained true to the policy of Walpole, while the entry of the Patriots
into the ministry had been on the condition that English interests
should be preferred to Hanoverian. It was to pave the way to an
accommodation with Frederick and a close of the war that the Pelhams
forced Carteret to resign. But it was long before the new system could
be brought to play, for the main attention of the new ministry had to be
given to the war in Flanders, where Marshal Saxe had established the
superiority of the French army by his defeat of the Duke of Cumberland.
Advancing to the relief of Tournay with a force of English, Hanoverians,
and Dutch--for Holland, however reluctantly, had at last been dragged
into the war, though by English subsidies--the Duke on the 31st of May
1745 found the French covered by a line of fortified villages and
redoubts with but a single narrow gap near the hamlet of Fontenoy. Into
this gap, however, the English troops, formed in a dense column,
doggedly thrust themselves in spite of a terrible fire; but at the
moment when the day seemed won the French guns, rapidly concentrated in
their front, tore the column in pieces and drove it back in a slow and
orderly retreat. The blow was followed up in June by a victory of
Frederick at Hohenfriedburg which drove the Austrians from Silesia, and
by the landing of a Stuart on the coast of Scotland at the close of

[Sidenote: Charles Edward Stuart.]

The war with France had at once revived the hopes of the Jacobites; and
as early as 1744 Charles Edward, the grandson of James the Second, was
placed by the French Government at the head of a formidable armament.
But his plan of a descent on Scotland was defeated by a storm which
wrecked his fleet, and by the march of the French troops which had
sailed in it to the war in Flanders. In 1745 however the young
adventurer again embarked with but seven friends in a small vessel and
landed on a little island of the Hebrides. For three weeks he stood
almost alone; but on the 29th of August the clans rallied to his
standard in Glenfinnan, and Charles found himself at the head of fifteen
hundred men. His force swelled to an army as he marched through Blair
Athol on Perth, entered Edinburgh in triumph, and proclaimed "James the
Eighth" at the Town Cross; and two thousand English troops who marched
against him under Sir John Cope were broken and cut to pieces on the
21st of September by a single charge of the clansmen at Prestonpans.
Victory at once doubled the forces of the conqueror. The Prince was now
at the head of six thousand men; but all were still Highlanders, for the
people of the Lowlands held aloof from his standard, and it was with the
utmost difficulty that he could induce them to follow him to the south.
His tact and energy however at last conquered every obstacle, and after
skilfully evading an army gathered at Newcastle he marched through
Lancashire, and pushed on the 4th of December as far as Derby. But here
all hope of success came to an end. Hardly a man had risen in his
support as he passed through the districts where Jacobitism boasted of
its strength. The people flocked to see his march as if to see a show.
Catholics and Tories abounded in Lancashire, but only a single squire
took up arms. Manchester was looked on as the most Jacobite of English
towns, but all the aid it gave was an illumination and two thousand
pounds. From Carlisle to Derby he had been joined by hardly two hundred
men. The policy of Walpole had in fact secured England for the House of
Hanover. The long peace, the prosperity of the country, and the clemency
of the Government, had done their work. The recent admission of Tories
into the administration had severed the Tory party finally from the mere
Jacobites. Jacobitism as a fighting force was dead, and even Charles
Edward saw that it was hopeless to conquer England with five thousand

[Sidenote: Conquest of the Highlands.]

He soon learned too that forces of double his own strength were closing
on either side of him, while a third army under the king and Lord Stair
covered London. Scotland itself, now that the Highlanders were away,
quietly renewed in all the districts of the Lowlands its allegiance to
the House of Hanover. Even in the Highlands the Macleods rose in arms
for King George, while the Gordons refused to stir, though roused by a
small French force which landed at Montrose. To advance further south
was impossible, and Charles fell rapidly back on Glasgow; but the
reinforcements which he found there raised his army to nine thousand
men, and on the 23rd January 1746 he boldly attacked an English army
under General Hawley which had followed his retreat and had encamped
near Falkirk. Again the wild charge of his Highlanders won victory for
the Prince, but victory was as fatal as defeat. The bulk of his forces
dispersed with their booty to the mountains, and Charles fell sullenly
back to the north before the Duke of Cumberland. On the 16th of April
the two armies faced one another on Culloden Moor, a few miles eastward
of Inverness. The Highlanders still numbered six thousand men, but they
were starving and dispirited, while Cumberland's force was nearly double
that of the Prince. Torn by the Duke's guns, the clansmen flung
themselves in their old fashion on the English front; but they were
received with a terrible fire of musketry, and the few that broke
through the first line found themselves fronted by a second. In a few
moments all was over, and the Stuart force was a mass of hunted
fugitives. Charles himself after strange adventures escaped to France.
In England fifty of his followers were hanged; three Scotch lords,
Lovat, Balmerino, and Kilmarnock, brought to the block; and forty
persons of rank attainted by Act of Parliament. More extensive measures
of repression were needful in the Highlands. The feudal tenures were
abolished. The hereditary jurisdictions of the chiefs were bought up and
transferred to the Crown. The tartan, or garb of the Highlanders, was
forbidden by law. These measures, and a general Act of Indemnity which
followed them, proved effective for their purpose. The dread of the
clansmen passed away, and the sheriff's writ soon ran through the
Highlands with as little resistance as in the streets of Edinburgh.

[Sidenote: Widening of the War.]

Defeat abroad and danger at home only quickened the resolve of the
Pelhams to bring the war, so far as England and Prussia went, to an end.
When England was threatened by a Catholic Pretender, it was no time for
weakening the chief Protestant power in Germany. On the refusal
therefore of Maria Theresa to join in a general peace, England concluded
the Convention of Hanover with Prussia at the close of August, and
withdrew so far as Germany was concerned from the war. Elsewhere however
the contest lingered on. The victories of Maria Theresa in Italy were
balanced by those of France in the Netherlands, where Marshal Saxe
inflicted new defeats on the English and Dutch at Roucoux and Lauffeld.
The danger of Holland and the financial exhaustion of France at last
brought about in 1748 the conclusion of a peace at Aix-la-Chapelle, by
which England surrendered its gains at sea, and France its conquests on
land. But the peace was a mere pause in the struggle, during which both
parties hoped to gain strength for a mightier contest which they saw
impending. The war was in fact widening far beyond the bounds of Germany
or of Europe. It was becoming a world-wide duel which was to settle the
destinies of mankind. Already France was claiming the valleys of the
Ohio and the Mississippi, and mooting the great question whether the
fortunes of the New World were to be moulded by Frenchmen or Englishmen.
Already too French adventurers were driving English merchants from
Madras, and building up, as they trusted, a power which was to add India
to the dominions of France.

[Sidenote: Clive.]

The intercourse of England with India had as yet given little promise of
the great fortunes which awaited it. It was not till the close of
Elizabeth's reign, a century after Vasco de Gama had crept round the
Cape of Good Hope and founded the Portuguese settlement on the Goa
Coast, that an East India Company was founded in London. The trade,
profitable as it was, remained small in extent; and the three early
factories of the Company were only gradually acquired during the century
which followed. The first, that of Madras, consisted of but six
fishermen's houses beneath Fort St. George; that of Bombay was ceded by
the Portuguese as part of the dowry of Catharine of Braganza; while Fort
William, with the mean village which has since grown into Calcutta, owes
its origin to the reign of William the Third. Each of these forts was
built simply for the protection of the Company's warehouses, and guarded
by a few "sepahis," sepoys, or paid native soldiers; while the clerks
and traders of each establishment were under the direction of a
President and a Council. One of these clerks in the middle of the
eighteenth century was Robert Clive, the son of a small proprietor near
Market Drayton in Shropshire, an idle daredevil of a boy whom his
friends had been glad to get rid of by packing him off in the Company's
service as a writer to Madras. His early days there were days of
wretchedness and despair. He was poor and cut off from his fellows by
the haughty shyness of his temper, weary of desk-work, and haunted by
home-sickness. Twice he attempted suicide; and it was only on the
failure of his second attempt that he flung down the pistol which
baffled him, with a conviction that he was reserved for higher things.

[Sidenote: Dupleix.]

A change came at last in the shape of war and captivity. As soon as the
war of the Austrian Succession broke out the superiority of the French
in power and influence tempted them to expel the English from India.
Labourdonnais, the governor of the French colony of the Mauritius,
besieged Madras, razed it to the ground, and carried its clerks and
merchants prisoners to Pondicherry. Clive was among these captives, but
he escaped in disguise, and returning to the settlement, threw aside his
clerkship for an ensign's commission in a force which the Company was
busily raising. For the capture of Madras had not only established the
repute of the French arms, but had roused Dupleix, the governor of
Pondicherry, to conceive plans for the creation of a French empire in
India. When the English merchants of Elizabeth's day brought their goods
to Surat, all India, save the south, had just been brought for the first
time under the rule of a single great power by the Mogul Emperors of the
line of Akbar. But with the death of Aurungzebe, in the reign of Anne,
the Mogul Empire fell fast into decay. A line of feudal princes raised
themselves to independence in Rajpootana. The lieutenants of the Emperor
founded separate sovereignties at Lucknow and Hyderabad, in the
Carnatic, and in Bengal. The plain of the Upper Indus was occupied by a
race of religious fanatics called the Sikhs. Persian and Affghan
invaders crossed the Indus, and succeeded even in sacking Delhi, the
capital of the Moguls. Clans of systematic plunderers, who were known
under the name of Mahrattas, and who were in fact the natives whom
conquest had long held in subjection, poured down from the highlands
along the western coast, ravaged as far as Calcutta and Tanjore, and
finally set up independent states at Poonah and Gwalior.

[Sidenote: Arcot.]

Dupleix skilfully availed himself of the disorder around him. He offered
his aid to the Emperor against the rebels and invaders who had reduced
his power to a shadow; and it was in the Emperor's name that he meddled
with the quarrels of the states of Central and Southern India, made
himself virtually master of the Court of Hyderabad, and seated a
creature of his own on the throne of the Carnatic. Trichinopoly, the one
town which held out against this Nabob of the Carnatic, was all but
brought to surrender when Clive, in 1751, came forward with a daring
scheme for its relief. With a few hundred English and sepoys he pushed
through a thunderstorm to the surprise of Arcot, the Nabob's capital,
entrenched himself in its enormous fort, and held it for fifty days
against thousands of assailants. Moved by his gallantry, the Mahrattas,
who had never before believed that Englishmen would fight, advanced and
broke up the siege. But Clive was no sooner freed than he showed equal
vigour in the field. At the head of raw recruits who ran away at the
first sound of a gun, and sepoys who hid themselves as soon as the
cannon opened fire, he twice attacked and defeated the French and their
Indian allies, foiled every effort of Dupleix, and razed to the ground a
pompous pillar which the French governor had set up in honour of his
earlier victories.

[Sidenote: The American Colonies.]

Clive was recalled by broken health to England, and the fortunes of the
struggle in India were left for decision to a later day. But while
France was struggling for the Empire of the East she was striving with
even more apparent success for the command of the new world of the West.
From the time when the Puritan emigration added the four New England
States, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to
those of Maryland and Virginia the progress of the English colonies in
North America had been slow, but it had never ceased. Settlers still
came, though in smaller numbers, and two new colonies south of Virginia
received from Charles the Second their name of the Carolinas. The war
with Holland in 1664 transferred to British rule a district claimed by
the Dutch from the Hudson to the inner Lakes; and this country, which
was granted by Charles to his brother, received from him the name of New
York. Portions were soon broken off from its vast territory to form the
colonies of New Jersey and Delaware. In 1682 a train of Quakers followed
William Penn across the Delaware into the heart of the primæval forest,
and became a colony which recalled its founder and the woodlands among
which he planted it in its name of Pennsylvania. A long interval elapsed
before a new settlement, which received its title of Georgia from the
reigning sovereign, George the Second, was established by General
Oglethorpe on the Savannah as a refuge for English debtors and for the
persecuted Protestants of Germany.

[Sidenote: Their progress.]

Slow as this progress seemed, the colonies were really growing fast in
numbers and in wealth. Their whole population amounted at the time we
have reached to about 1,200,000 whites and a quarter of a million of
negroes; and this amounted to nearly a fourth of that of the mother
country. Its increase indeed was amazing. The inhabitants of Virginia
were doubling in every twenty-one years, while Massachusetts saw
five-and-twenty new towns spring into existence in a quarter of a
century. The wealth of the colonists was growing even faster than their
numbers. As yet the southern colonies were the more productive. Virginia
boasted of its tobacco plantations, Georgia and the Carolinas of their
maize and rice and indigo crops, while New York and Pennsylvania, with,
the colonies of New England, were restricted to their whale and cod
fisheries, their corn-harvests, and their timber trade. The distinction
indeed between the northern and southern colonies was more than an
industrial one. While New England absorbed half a million of whites, and
the middle colonies from the Hudson to the Potomac contained almost as
many, there were less than 300,000 whites in those to the south of the
Potomac. These on the other hand contained 130,000 negroes, and the
central States 70,000, while but 11,000 were found in the States of New
England. In the Southern States this prevalence of slavery produced an
aristocratic spirit and favoured the creation of large estates; even the
system of entails had been introduced among the wealthy planters of
Virginia, where many of the older English families found representatives
in houses such as those of Fairfax and Washington. Throughout New
England, on the other hand, the characteristics of the Puritans, their
piety, their intolerance, their simplicity of life, their pedantry,
their love of equality and tendency to democratic institutions, remained
unchanged. There were few large fortunes, though the comfort was
general. "Some of the most considerable provinces of America," said
Burke in 1769, "such for instance as Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay,
have not in each of them two men who can afford at a distance from their
estates to spend a thousand pounds a year." In education and political
activity New England stood far ahead of its fellow-colonies, for the
settlement of the Puritans had been followed at once by the
establishment of a system of local schools which is still the glory of
America. "Every township," it was enacted, "after the Lord hath
increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall appoint one to
teach all children to write and read; and when any town shall increase
to the number of a hundred families, they shall set up a grammar
school." The result was that in the midst of the eighteenth century New
England was the one part of the world where every man and woman was able
to read and write.

[Sidenote: Their political condition.]

Great however as these differences were, and great as was to be their
influence on American history, they were little felt as yet. In the main
features of their outer organization the whole of the colonies stood
fairly at one. In religious and in civil matters alike all of them
contrasted sharply with the England at home. Europe saw for the first
time a state growing up amidst the forests of the West where religious
freedom had become complete. Religious tolerance had in fact been
brought about by a medley of religious faiths such as the world had
never seen before. New England was still a Puritan stronghold. In all
the Southern colonies the Episcopal Church was established by law, and
the bulk of the settlers clung to it; but Roman Catholics formed a large
part of the population of Maryland. Pennsylvania was a State of Quakers.
Presbyterians and Baptists had fled from tests and persecutions to
colonize New Jersey. Lutherans and Moravians from Germany abounded among
the settlers of Carolina and Georgia. In such a chaos of creeds
religious persecution became impossible. There was the same outer
diversity and the same real unity in the political tendency and
organization of the States. The colonists proudly looked on the
Constitutions of their various States as copies of that of the mother
country. England had given them her system of self-government, as she
had given them her law, her language, her religion, and her blood. But
the circumstances of their settlement had freed them from many of the
worst abuses which clogged the action of constitutional government at
home. The representative suffrage was in some cases universal and in
all proportioned to population. There were no rotten boroughs, and
members of the legislative assemblies were subject to annual
re-election. The will of the settlers told in this way directly and
immediately on the legislation in a way unknown to the English
Parliament, and the settlers were men whose will was braced and
invigorated by their personal independence and comfort, the tradition of
their past, and the personal temper which was created by the greater
loneliness and self-dependence of their lives. Whether the spirit of the
colony was democratic, moderate, or oligarchical, its form of government
was pretty much the same. The original rights of the proprietor, the
projector and grantee of the earliest settlement, had in all cases, save
in those of Pennsylvania and Maryland, either ceased to exist or fallen
into desuetude. The government of each colony lay in a House of Assembly
elected by the people at large, with a Council sometimes elected,
sometimes nominated by the Governor, and a Governor appointed by the
Crown, or, as in Connecticut and Rhode Island, chosen by the colonists.

[Sidenote: English control.]

With the appointment of these Governors all administrative interference
on the part of the Government at home practically ended. The
superintendence of the colonies rested with a Board for Trade and
Plantations, which, though itself without executive power, advised the
Secretary of State for the Southern Department, within which America was
included. But for two centuries they were left by a happy neglect to
themselves. It was wittily said at a later day that "Mr. Grenville lost
America because he read the American despatches, which none of his
predecessors ever did." There was little room indeed for any
interference within the limits of the colonies. Their privileges were
secured by royal charters. Their Assemblies alone exercised the right of
internal taxation, and they exercised it sparingly. Walpole, like Pitt
afterwards, set roughly aside the project for an American excise. "I
have Old England set against me," he said, "by this measure, and do you
think I will have New England too?" America, in fact, contributed to
England's resources not by taxation, but by the monopoly of her trade.
It was from England that she might import, to England alone that she
might send her exports. She was prohibited from manufacturing her own
products, or from exporting them in any but a raw state for manufacture
in the mother country. But even in matters of trade the supremacy of the
mother country was far from being a galling one. There were some small
import duties, but they were evaded by a well-understood system of
smuggling. The restriction of trade with the colonies to Great Britain
was more than compensated by the commercial privileges which the
Americans enjoyed as British subjects.

[Sidenote: French aggression.]

As yet therefore there was nothing to break the good will which the
colonists felt towards the mother country, while the danger of French
aggression drew them closely to it. Populous as they had become, English
settlements still lay mainly along the seaboard of the Atlantic; for
only a few exploring parties had penetrated into the Alleghanies before
the Seven Years' War; and Indian tribes wandered unquestioned along the
lakes. It was not till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 that the
pretensions of France drew the eyes of the colonists and of English
statesmen to the interior of the Western continent. Planted firmly in
Louisiana and Canada, France openly claimed the whole country west of
the Alleghanies as its own, and its governors now ordered all English
settlers or merchants to be driven from the valleys of Ohio or
Mississippi which were still in the hands of Indian tribes. Even the
inactive Pelham revolted against pretensions such as these; and the Duke
of Bedford, who was then Secretary for the Southern Department, was
stirred to energetic action. The original French settlers were driven
from Acadia or Nova Scotia, and an English colony planted there, whose
settlement of Halifax still bears the name of its founder Lord Halifax,
the head of the Board of Trade. An Ohio Company was formed, and its
agents made their way to the valleys of that river and the Kentucky;
while envoys from Virginia and Pennsylvania drew closer the alliance
between their colonies and the Indian tribes across the mountains. Nor
were the French slow to accept the challenge. Fighting began in Acadia.
A vessel of war appeared in Ontario, and Niagara was turned into a fort.
A force of 1200 men despatched to Erie drove the few English settlers
from their little colony on the fork of the Ohio, and founded there a
fort called Duquesne, on the site of the later Pittsburg. The fort at
once gave this force command of the river valley. After a fruitless
attack on it under George Washington, a young Virginian, who had been
despatched with a handful of men to meet the danger, the colonists were
forced to withdraw over the mountains, and the whole of the west was
left in the hands of France.

[Sidenote: Rout of Braddock.]

It was natural that at such a crisis the mother country should look to
the united efforts of the colonies, and Halifax pressed for a joint
arrangement which should provide a standing force and funds for its
support. A plan for this purpose on the largest scale was drawn up by
Benjamin Franklin, who, from a printer's boy, had risen to supreme
influence in Pennsylvania; but in the way of such a union stood the
jealousies which each state entertained of its neighbour, the
disinclination of the colonists to be drawn into an expensive struggle,
and, above all, suspicion of the motives of Halifax and his colleagues.
The delay in furnishing any force for defence, the impossibility of
bringing the colonies to any agreement, and the perpetual squabbles of
their legislatures with the governors appointed by the Crown, may have
been the motives which induced Halifax to introduce a Bill which would
have made orders by the king in spite of the colonial charters law in
America. The Bill was dropped in deference to the constitutional
objections of wiser men; but the governors fed the fear in England of
the "levelling principles" of the colonists, and every official in
America wrote home to demand that Parliament should do what the colonial
legislatures seemed unable to do, and establish a common fund for
defence by a general taxation. Already plans were mooted for deriving a
revenue from the colonies. But the prudence of Pelham clung to the
policy of Walpole, and nothing was done; while the nearer approach of a
struggle in Europe gave fresh vigour to the efforts of France. The
Marquis of Montcalm, who was now governor of Canada, carried out with
even greater zeal than his predecessor the plans of annexation; and the
three forts of Duquesne on the Ohio, of Niagara on the St. Lawrence, and
of Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, were linked together by a chain of
lesser forts, which cut off the English colonists from all access to the
west. Montcalm was gifted with singular powers of administration; he
had succeeded in attaching the bulk of the Indian tribes from Canada as
far as the Mississippi to the cause of France; and the value of their
aid was shown in 1755, when General Braddock led a force of English
soldiers and American militia to a fresh attack upon fort Duquesne. The
force was utterly routed and Braddock slain.

[Sidenote: State of Europe.]

The defeat woke England to its danger; for it was certain that war in
America would soon be followed by war in Europe itself. Newcastle and
his fellow-ministers were still true in the main to Walpole's policy.
They looked on a league with Prussia as indispensable to the formation
of any sound alliance which could check France. "If you gain Prussia,"
wrote the veteran Lord Chancellor, Hardwicke, to Newcastle in 1748, "the
Confederacy will be restored and made whole, and become a real strength;
if you do not, it will continue lame and weak, and much in the power of
France." Frederick however held cautiously aloof from any engagement.
The league between Prussia and the Queen of Hungary, which England
desired, Frederick knew in fact to be impossible. He knew that the
Queen's passionate resolve to recover Silesia must end in a contest in
which England must take one part or the other; and as yet, if the choice
had to be made, Austria seemed likely to be the favoured ally. The
traditional friendship of the Whigs for that power combined with the
tendencies of George the Second to make an Austrian alliance more
probable than a Prussian one. The advances of England to Frederick only
served therefore to alienate Maria Theresa, whose one desire was to
regain Silesia, and whose hatred and jealousy of the new Protestant
power which had so suddenly risen into rivalry with her house for the
supremacy of Germany blinded her to the older rivalry between her house
and France. The two powers of the House of Bourbon were still bound by
the Family Compact, and eager for allies in the strife with England
which the struggles in India and America were bringing hourly nearer. It
was as early as 1752 that by a startling change of policy Maria Theresa
drew to their alliance. The jealousy which Russia entertained of the
growth of a strong power in North Germany brought the Czarina Elizabeth
to promise aid to the schemes of the Queen of Hungary; and in 1755 the
league of the four powers and of Saxony was practically completed. So
secret were these negotiations that they remained unknown to Henry
Pelham and to his brother the Duke of Newcastle, who succeeded him on
his death in 1754 as the head of the ministry. But they were detected
from the first by the keen eye of Frederick of Prussia, who saw himself
fronted by a line of foes that stretched from Paris to St. Petersburg.

[Sidenote: Alliance with Prussia.]

The danger to England was hardly less; for France appeared again on the
stage with a vigour and audacity which recalled the days of Lewis the
Fourteenth. The weakness and corruption of the French government were
screened for a time by the daring and scope of its plans, as by the
ability of the agents it found to carry them out. In England, on the
contrary, all was vagueness and indecision. The action of the king
showed only his Hanoverian jealousy of the House of Brandenburg. It was
certain that France, as soon as war broke out in the West, would attack
his Electorate; and George sought help not at Berlin but at St.
Petersburg. He concluded a treaty with Russia, which promised him the
help of a Russian army on the Weser in return for a subsidy. Such a
treaty meant war with Frederick, who had openly announced his refusal to
allow the entry of Russian forces on German soil; and it was vehemently
though fruitlessly opposed by William Pitt. But he had hardly withdrawn
with Grenville and Charles Townshend from the Ministry when Newcastle
himself recoiled from the king's policy. The Russian subsidy was
refused, and Hanoverian interests subordinated to those of England by
the conclusion of the treaty with Frederick of Prussia for which Pitt
had pressed. The new compact simply provided for the neutrality of both
Prussia and Hanover in any contest between England and France. But its
results were far from being as peaceable as its provisions. Russia was
outraged by Frederick's open opposition to her presence in Germany;
France resented his compact with and advances towards England; and Maria
Theresa eagerly seized on the temper of both those powers to draw them
into common action against the Prussian king. With the treaty between
England and Frederick indeed began the Seven Years' War.

[Sidenote: The Seven Years' War.]

No war has had greater results on the history of the world or brought
greater triumphs to England: but few have had more disastrous
beginnings. Newcastle was too weak and ignorant to rule without aid, and
yet too greedy of power to purchase aid by sharing it with more capable
men. His preparations for the gigantic struggle before him may be
guessed from the fact that there were but three regiments fit for
service in England at the opening of 1756. France on the other hand was
quick in her attack. Port Mahon in Minorca, the key of the
Mediterranean, was besieged by the Duke of Richelieu and forced to
capitulate. To complete the shame of England, a fleet sent to its relief
under Admiral Byng fell back before the French. In Germany Frederick
seized Dresden at the outset of the war and forced the Saxon army to
surrender; and in 1757 a victory at Prague made him master for a while
of Bohemia; but his success was transient, and a defeat at Kolin drove
him to retreat again into Saxony. In the same year the Duke of
Cumberland, who had taken post on the Weser with an army of fifty
thousand men for the defence of Hanover, fell back before a French army
to the mouth of the Elbe, and engaged by the Convention of Closter-Seven
to disband his forces. In America things went even worse than in
Germany. The inactivity of the English generals was contrasted with the
genius and activity of Montcalm. Already masters of the Ohio by the
defeat of Braddock, the French drove the English garrison from the forts
which commanded Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain, and their empire
stretched without a break over the vast territory from Louisiana to the
St. Lawrence.

[Sidenote: William Pitt.]

A despondency without parallel in our history took possession of our
coolest statesmen, and even the impassive Chesterfield cried in despair,
"We are no longer a nation." But the nation of which Chesterfield
despaired was really on the eve of its greatest triumphs, and the
incapacity of Newcastle only called to the front the genius of William
Pitt. Pitt was the grandson of a wealthy governor of Madras, who had
entered Parliament in 1735, as member for one of his father's pocket
boroughs. A group of younger men, Lord Lyttelton, the Grenvilles,
Wilkes, and others, gradually gathered round him, and formed a band of
young "patriots," "the Boys," as Walpole called them, who added to the
difficulties of that minister. Pitt was as yet a cornet of horse, and
the restless activity of his genius was seen in the energy with which
he threw himself into his military duties. He told Lord Shelburne long
afterwards that "during the time he was cornet of horse there was not a
military book he did not read through." But the dismissal from the army
with which Walpole met his violent attacks threw this energy wholly into
politics. His fiery spirit was hushed in office during the "broad-bottom
administration" which followed Walpole's fall, and he soon attained
great influence over Henry Pelham. "I think him," wrote Pelham to his
brother, "the most able and useful man we have amongst us; truly
honourable and strictly honest." He remained under Newcastle after
Pelham's death, till the Duke's jealousy of power not only refused him
the Secretaryship of State and admission to the Cabinet, but entrusted
the lead of the House of Commons to a mere dependent. Pitt resisted the
slight by an attitude of opposition; and his denunciation of the treaty
with Russia served as a pretext for his dismissal. When the disasters of
the war however drove Newcastle from office, in November 1756, Pitt
became Secretary of State, bringing with him into office his relatives,
George Grenville and Lord Temple, as well as Charles Townshend. But
though his popularity had forced him into office, and though the
grandeur of his policy at once showed itself by his rejection of all
schemes for taxing America, and by his raising a couple of regiments
amongst the Highlanders, he found himself politically powerless. The
House was full of Newcastle's creatures, the king hated him, and only
four months after taking office he was forced to resign. The Duke of
Cumberland insisted on his dismissal in April 1757, before he would
start to take the command in Germany. In July however it was necessary
to recall him. The failure of Newcastle's attempt to construct an
administration forced the Duke to a junction with his rival, and while
Newcastle took the head of the Treasury, Pitt again became Secretary of

[Sidenote: His lofty spirit.]

Fortunately for their country, the character of the two statesmen made
the compromise an easy one. For all that Pitt coveted, for the general
direction of public affairs, the control of foreign policy, the
administration of the war, Newcastle had neither capacity nor
inclination. On the other hand his skill in parliamentary management was
unrivalled. If he knew little else, he knew better than any living man
the price of every member and the intrigues of every borough. What he
cared for was not the control of affairs, but the distribution of
patronage and the work of corruption, and from this Pitt turned
disdainfully away. "I borrow the Duke of Newcastle's majority," his
colleague owned with cool contempt, "to carry on the public business."
"Mr. Pitt does everything," wrote Horace Walpole, "and the Duke gives
everything. So long as they agree in this partition they may do what
they please." Out of the union of these two strangely-contrasted
leaders, in fact, rose the greatest, as it was the last, of the purely
Whig administrations. But its real power lay from beginning to end in
Pitt himself. Poor as he was, for his income was little more than two
hundred a year, and springing as he did from a family of no political
importance, it was by sheer dint of genius that the young cornet of
horse, at whose youth and inexperience Walpole had sneered, seized a
power which the Whig houses had ever since the Revolution kept in their
grasp. The real significance of his entry into the ministry was that the
national opinion entered with him. He had no strength save from his
"popularity," but this popularity showed that the political torpor of
the nation was passing away, and that a new interest in public affairs
and a resolve to have weight in them was becoming felt in the nation at
large. It was by the sure instinct of a great people that this interest
and resolve gathered themselves round William Pitt. If he was ambitious,
his ambition had no petty aim. "I want to call England," he said, as he
took office, "out of that enervate state in which twenty thousand men
from France can shake her." His call was soon answered. He at once
breathed his own lofty spirit into the country he served, as he
communicated something of his own grandeur to the men who served him.
"No man," said a soldier of the time, "ever entered Mr. Pitt's closet
who did not feel himself braver when he came out than when he went in."
Ill-combined as were his earlier expeditions, and many as were his
failures, he roused a temper in the nation at large which made ultimate
defeat impossible. "England has been a long time in labour," exclaimed
Frederick of Prussia as he recognised a greatness like his own, "but she
has at last brought forth a man."

It is this personal and solitary grandeur which strikes us most as we
look back to William Pitt. The tone of his speech and action stands out
in utter contrast with the tone of his time. In the midst of a society
critical, polite, indifferent, simple even to the affectation of
simplicity, witty and amusing but absolutely prosaic, cool of heart and
of head, sceptical of virtue and enthusiasm, sceptical above all of
itself, Pitt stood absolutely alone. The depth of his conviction, his
passionate love for all that he deemed lofty and true, his fiery energy,
his poetic imaginativeness, his theatrical airs and rhetoric, his
haughty self-assumption, his pompousness and extravagance, were not more
puzzling to his contemporaries than the confidence with which he
appealed to the higher sentiments of mankind, the scorn with which he
turned from a corruption which had till then been the great engine of
politics, the undoubting faith which he felt in himself, in the
grandeur of his aims, and in his power to carry them out. "I know that I
can save the country," he said to the Duke of Devonshire on his entry
into the Ministry, "and I know no other man can." The groundwork of
Pitt's character was an intense and passionate pride; but it was a pride
which kept him from stooping to the level of the men who had so long
held England in their hands. He was the first statesman since the
Restoration who set the example of a purely public spirit. Keen as was
his love of power, no man ever refused office so often, or accepted it
with so strict a regard to the principles he professed. "I will not go
to Court," he replied to an offer which was made him, "if I may not
bring the Constitution with me." For the corruption about him he had
nothing but disdain. He left to Newcastle the buying of seats and the
purchase of members. At the outset of his career Pelham appointed him to
the most lucrative office in his administration, that of Paymaster of
the Forces; but its profits were of an illicit kind, and poor as he was,
Pitt refused to accept one farthing beyond his salary. His pride never
appeared in loftier and nobler form than in his attitude towards the
people at large. No leader had ever a wider popularity than "the great
commoner," as Pitt was styled, but his air was always that of a man who
commands popularity, not that of one who seeks it. He never bent to
flatter popular prejudice. When mobs were roaring themselves hoarse for
"Wilkes and liberty," he denounced Wilkes as a worthless profligate; and
when all England went mad in its hatred of the Scots, Pitt haughtily
declared his esteem for a people whose courage he had been the first to
enlist on the side of loyalty. His noble figure, the hawk-like eye which
flashed from the small thin face, his majestic voice, the fire and
grandeur of his eloquence, gave him a sway over the House of Commons far
greater than any other minister has possessed. He could silence an
opponent with a look of scorn, or hush the whole House with a single
word. But he never stooped to the arts by which men form a political
party, and at the height of his power his personal following hardly
numbered half a dozen members.

[Sidenote: His patriotism.]

His real strength indeed lay not in Parliament but in the people at
large. His title of "the great commoner" marks a political revolution.
"It is the people who have sent me here," Pitt boasted with a haughty
pride when the nobles of the Cabinet opposed his will. He was the first
to see that the long political inactivity of the public mind had ceased,
and that the progress of commerce and industry had produced a great
middle class, which no longer found its representatives in the
legislature. "You have taught me," said George the Second when Pitt
sought to save Byng by appealing to the sentiment of Parliament, "to
look for the voice of my people in other places than within the House of
Commons." It was this unrepresented class which had forced him into
power. During his struggle with Newcastle the greater towns backed him
with the gift of their freedom and addresses of confidence. "For weeks,"
laughs Horace Walpole, "it rained gold boxes." London stood by him
through good report and evil report, and the wealthiest of English
merchants, Alderman Beckford, was proud to figure as his political
lieutenant. The temper of Pitt indeed harmonized admirably with the
temper of the commercial England which rallied round him, with its
energy, its self-confidence, its pride, its patriotism, its honesty, its
moral earnestness. The merchant and the trader were drawn by a natural
attraction to the one statesman of their time whose aims were unselfish,
whose hands were clean, whose life was pure and full of tender affection
for wife and child. But there was a far deeper ground for their
enthusiastic reverence, and for the reverence which his country has
borne Pitt ever since. He loved England with an intense and personal
love. He believed in her power, her glory, her public virtue, till
England learned to believe in herself. Her triumphs were his triumphs,
her defeats his defeats. Her dangers lifted him high above all thought
of self or party-spirit. "Be one people," he cried to the factions who
rose to bring about his fall: "forget everything but the public! I set
you the example!" His glowing patriotism was the real spell by which he
held England. But even the faults which chequered his character told for
him with the middle classes. The Whig statesmen who preceded him had
been men whose pride expressed itself in a marked simplicity and absence
of pretence. Pitt was essentially an actor, dramatic in the Cabinet, in
the House, in his very office. He transacted business with his clerks in
full dress. His letters to his family, genuine as his love for them was,
are stilted and unnatural in tone. It was easy for the wits of his day
to jest at his affectation, his pompous gait, the dramatic appearance
which he made on great debates with his limbs swathed in flannel and his
crutch by his side. Early in life Walpole sneered at him for bringing
into the House of Commons "the gestures and emotions of the stage." But
the classes to whom Pitt appealed were classes not easily offended by
faults of taste, and saw nothing to laugh at in the statesman who was
borne into the lobby amidst the tortures of the gout, or carried into
the House of Lords to breathe his last in a protest against national

[Sidenote: His eloquence.]

Above all Pitt wielded the strength of a resistless eloquence. The power
of political speech had been revealed in the stormy debates of the Long
Parliament, but it was cramped in its utterance by the legal and
theological pedantry of the time. Pedantry was flung off by the age of
the Revolution, but in the eloquence of Somers and his rivals we see
ability rather than genius, knowledge, clearness of expression,
precision of thought, the lucidity of the pleader or the man of
business, rather than the passion of the orator. Of this clearness of
statement Pitt had little or none. He was no ready debater like Walpole,
no speaker of set speeches like Chesterfield. His set speeches were
always his worst, for in these his want of taste, his love of effect,
his trite quotations and extravagant metaphors came at once to the
front. That with defects like these he stood far above every orator of
his time was due above all to his profound conviction, to the
earnestness and sincerity with which he spoke. "I must sit still," he
whispered once to a friend, "for when once I am up everything that is in
my mind comes out." But the reality of his eloquence was transfigured by
a large and poetic imagination, an imagination so strong that--as he
said himself--"most things returned to him with stronger force the
second time than the first," and by a glow of passion which not only
raised him high above the men of his own day but set him in the front
rank among the orators of the world. The cool reasoning, the wit, the
common sense of his age made way for a splendid audacity, a sympathy
with popular emotion, a sustained grandeur, a lofty vehemence, a
command over the whole range of human feeling. He passed without an
effort from the most solemn appeal to the gayest raillery, from the
keenest sarcasm to the tenderest pathos. Every word was driven home by
the grand self-consciousness of the speaker. He spoke always as one
having authority. He was in fact the first English orator whose words
were a power, a power not over Parliament only but over the nation at
large. Parliamentary reporting was as yet unknown, and it was only in
detached phrases and half-remembered outbursts that the voice of Pitt
reached beyond the walls of St. Stephen's. But it was especially in
these sudden outbursts of inspiration, in these brief passionate
appeals, that the might of his eloquence lay. The few broken words we
have of him stir the same thrill in men of our day which they stirred in
the men of his own.

[Sidenote: His statesmanship.]

But passionate as was Pitt's eloquence, it was the eloquence of a
statesman, not of a rhetorician. Time has approved almost all his
greater struggles, his defence of the liberty of the subject against
arbitrary imprisonment under "general warrants," of the liberty of the
press against Lord Mansfield, of the rights of constituencies against
the House of Commons, of the constitutional rights of America against
England itself. His foreign policy was directed to the preservation of
Prussia, and Prussia has vindicated his foresight by the creation of
Germany. We have adopted his plans for the direct government of India
by the Crown, plans which when he proposed them were regarded as insane.
Pitt was the first to recognize the liberal character of the Church of
England, its "Calvinistic Creed and Arminian Clergy"; he was the first
to sound the note of Parliamentary reform. One of his earliest measures
shows the generosity and originality of his mind. He quieted Scotland by
employing its Jacobites in the service of their country and by raising
Highland regiments among its clans. The selection of Wolfe and Amherst
as generals showed his contempt for precedent and his inborn knowledge
of men.

[Sidenote: Plassey.]

But it was rather Fortune than his genius that showered on Pitt the
triumphs which signalized the opening of his ministry. In the East the
daring of a merchant-clerk made a company of English traders the
sovereigns of Bengal, and opened that wondrous career of conquest which
has added the Indian peninsula, from Ceylon to the Himalayas, to the
dominions of the British crown. Recalled by broken health to England,
Clive returned at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War to win for
England a greater prize than that which his victories had won for it in
the supremacy of the Carnatic. He had been only a few months at Madras
when a crime whose horror still lingers in English memories called him
to Bengal. Bengal, the delta of the Ganges, was the richest and most
fertile of all the provinces of India. Its rice, its sugar, its silk,
and the produce of its looms, were famous in European markets. Its
Viceroys, like their fellow-lieutenants, had become practically
independent of the Emperor, and had added to Bengal the provinces of
Orissa and Behar. Surajah Dowlah, the master of this vast domain, had
long been jealous of the enterprise and wealth of the English traders;
and, roused at this moment by the instigation of the French, he appeared
before Fort William, seized its settlers, and thrust a hundred and fifty
of them into a small prison called the Black Hole of Calcutta. The heat
of an Indian summer did its work of death. The wretched prisoners
trampled each other under foot in the madness of thirst, and in the
morning only twenty-three remained alive. Clive sailed at the news with
a thousand Englishmen and two thousand sepoys to wreak vengeance for the
crime. He was no longer the boy-soldier of Arcot; and the tact and skill
with which he met Surajah Dowlah in the negotiations by which the
Viceroy strove to avert a conflict were sullied by the Oriental
falsehood and treachery to which he stooped. But his courage remained
unbroken. When the two armies faced each other on the plain of Plassey
the odds were so great that on the very eve of the battle a council of
war counselled retreat. Clive withdrew to a grove hard by, and after an
hour's lonely musing gave the word to fight. Courage, in fact, was all
that was needed. The fifty thousand foot and fourteen thousand horse who
were seen covering the plain at daybreak on the 23rd of June 1757 were
soon thrown into confusion by the English guns, and broke in headlong
rout before the English charge. The death of Surajah Dowlah enabled the
Company to place a creature of its own on the throne of Bengal; but his
rule soon became a nominal one. With the victory of Plassey began in
fact the Empire of England in the East.

[Sidenote: Pitt and Frederick.]

The year of Plassey was the year of a victory hardly less important in
the West. In Europe Pitt wisely limited himself to a secondary part.
There was little in the military expeditions which marked the opening of
his ministry to justify the trust of the country; for money and blood
were lavished on buccaneering expeditions against the French coasts
which did small damage to the enemy. But incidents such as these had
little weight in the minister's general policy. His greatness lies in
the fact that he at once recognised the genius of Frederick the Great,
and resolved without jealousy or reserve to give him an energetic
support. On his entry into office he refused to ratify the Convention of
Closter-Seven, which had reduced Frederick to despair by throwing open
his realm to a French advance; protected his flank by gathering an
English and Hanoverian force on the Elbe, and on the counsel of the
Prussian king placed the best of his generals, the Prince of Brunswick,
at its head; while subsidy after subsidy was poured into Frederick's
exhausted treasury. Pitt's trust was met by the most brilliant display
of military genius which the modern world had as yet witnessed. In
November 1757, two months after his repulse at Kolin, Frederick flung
himself on a French army which had advanced into the heart of Germany,
and annihilated it in the victory of Rossbach. Before another month had
passed he hurried from the Saale to the Oder, and by a yet more signal
victory at Leuthen cleared Silesia of the Austrians. The victory of
Rossbach was destined to change the fortunes of the world by creating
the unity of Germany; its immediate effect was to force the French army
on the Elbe to fall back on the Rhine. Here Ferdinand of Brunswick,
reinforced with twenty thousand English soldiers, held them at bay
during the summer of 1758; while Frederick, foiled in an attack on
Moravia, drove the Russians back on Poland in the battle of Zorndorf.
His defeat however by the Austrian General Daun at Hochkirch proved the
first of a series of terrible misfortunes; and the year 1759 marks the
lowest point of his fortunes. A fresh advance of the Russian army forced
the king to attack it at Kunersdorf in August, and Frederick's repulse
ended in the utter rout of his army. For the moment all seemed lost, for
even Berlin lay open to the conqueror. A few days later the surrender
of Dresden gave Saxony to the Austrians; and at the close of the year an
attempt upon them at Plauen was foiled with terrible loss. But every
disaster was retrieved by the indomitable courage and tenacity of the
king, and winter found him as before master of Silesia and of all Saxony
save the ground which Daun's camp covered.

[Sidenote: Minden and Quiberon.]

The year which marked the lowest point of Frederick's fortunes was the
year of Pitt's greatest triumphs, the year of Minden and Quiberon and
Quebec. France aimed both at a descent upon England and at the conquest
of Hanover; for the one purpose she gathered a naval armament at Brest,
while fifty thousand men under Contades and Broglie united for the other
on the Weser. Ferdinand with less than forty thousand met them (August
1) on the field of Minden. The French marched along the Weser to the
attack, with their flanks protected by that river and a brook which ran
into it, and with their cavalry, ten thousand strong, massed in the
centre. The six English regiments in Ferdinand's army fronted the French
horse, and, mistaking their general's order, marched at once upon them
in line regardless of the batteries on their flank, and rolling back
charge after charge with volleys of musketry. In an hour the French
centre was utterly broken. "I have seen," said Contades, "what I never
thought to be possible--a single line of infantry break through three
lines of cavalry, ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin!"
Nothing but the refusal of Lord John Sackville to complete the victory
by a charge of the horse which he headed saved the French from utter
rout. As it was, their army again fell back broken on Frankfort and the
Rhine. The project of an invasion of England met with the like success.
Eighteen thousand men lay ready to embark on board the French fleet,
when Admiral Hawke came in sight of it on the 20th of November at the
mouth of Quiberon Bay. The sea was rolling high, and the coast where the
French ships lay was so dangerous from its shoals and granite reefs that
the pilot remonstrated with the English admiral against his project of
attack. "You have done your duty in this remonstrance," Hawke coolly
replied; "now lay me alongside the French admiral." Two English ships
were lost on the shoals, but the French fleet was ruined and the
disgrace of Byng's retreat wiped away.

[Sidenote: Pitt in America.]

It was not in the Old World only that the year of Minden and Quiberon
brought glory to the arms of England. In Europe, Pitt had wisely limited
his efforts to the support of Prussia, but across the Atlantic the field
was wholly his own, and he had no sooner entered office than the
desultory raids, which had hitherto been the only resistance to French
aggression, were superseded by a large and comprehensive plan of
attack. The sympathies of the colonies were won by an order which gave
their provincial officers equal rank with the royal officers in the
field. They raised at Pitt's call twenty thousand men, and taxed
themselves heavily for their support. Three expeditions were
simultaneously directed against the French line--one to the Ohio valley,
one against Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, while a third under General
Amherst and Admiral Boscawen sailed to the mouth of the St. Lawrence.
The last was brilliantly successful. Louisburg, though defended by a
garrison of five thousand men, was taken with the fleet in its harbour,
and the whole province of Cape Breton reduced. The American militia
supported the British troops in a vigorous campaign against the forts;
and though Montcalm, with a far inferior force, was able to repulse
General Abercromby from Ticonderoga, a force from Philadelphia and
Virginia, guided and inspired by the courage of George Washington, made
itself master of Duquesne. The name of Pittsburg which was given to
their new conquest still commemorates the enthusiasm of the colonists
for the great Minister who first opened to them the West. The failure at
Ticonderoga only spurred Pitt to greater efforts. The colonists again
responded to his call with fresh supplies of troops, and Montcalm felt
that all was over. The disproportion indeed of strength was enormous. Of
regular French troops and Canadians alike he could muster only ten
thousand, while his enemies numbered fifty thousand men. The next year
(1759) saw Montcalm's previous victory rendered fruitless by the
evacuation of Ticonderoga before the advance of Amherst, and by the
capture of Fort Niagara after the defeat of an Indian force which
marched to its relief. The capture of the three forts was the close of
the French effort to bar the advance of the colonists to the valley of
the Mississippi, and to place in other than English hands the destinies
of North America.

[Sidenote: Conquest of Canada.]

But Pitt had resolved not merely to foil the designs of Montcalm, but to
destroy the French rule in America altogether; and while Amherst was
breaking through the line of forts, an expedition under General Wolfe
entered the St. Lawrence and anchored below Quebec. Wolfe was already a
veteran soldier, for he had fought at Dettingen, Fontenoy, and Laffeldt,
and had played the first part in the capture of Louisburg. Pitt had
discerned the genius and heroism which lay hidden beneath the awkward
manner and occasional gasconade of the young soldier of thirty-three
whom he chose for the crowning exploit of the war. But for a while his
sagacity seemed to have failed. No efforts could draw Montcalm from the
long line of inaccessible cliffs which borders the river, and for six
weeks Wolfe saw his men wasting away in inactivity while he himself lay
prostrate with sickness and despair. At last his resolution was fixed,
and in a long line of boats the army dropped down the St. Lawrence to a
point at the base of the Heights of Abraham, where a narrow path had
been discovered to the summit. Not a voice broke the silence of the
night save the voice of Wolfe himself, as he quietly repeated the
stanzas of Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," remarking as he
closed, "I had rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec." But
his nature was as brave as it was tender; he was the first to leap on
shore and to scale the narrow path where no two men could go abreast.
His men followed, pulling themselves to the top by the help of bushes
and the crags, and at daybreak on the 12th of September the whole army
stood in orderly formation before Quebec. Montcalm hastened to attack,
though his force, composed chiefly of raw militia, was far inferior in
discipline to the English; his onset however was met by a steady fire,
and at the first English advance his men gave way. Wolfe headed a charge
which broke the French line, but a ball pierced his breast in the moment
of victory. "They run," cried an officer who held the dying man in his
arms--"I protest they run." Wolfe rallied to ask who they were that ran,
and was told "the French." "Then," he murmured, "I die happy!" The fall
of Montcalm in the moment of his defeat completed the victory; and the
submission of Canada, on the capture of Montreal by Amherst in 1760, put
an end to the dream of a French empire in America.






[Sidenote: The Seven Years' War.]

Never had England played so great a part in the history of mankind as in
the year 1759. It was a year of triumphs in every quarter of the world.
In September came the news of Minden, and of a victory off Lagos. In
October came tidings of the capture of Quebec. November brought word of
the French defeat at Quiberon. "We are forced to ask every morning what
victory there is," laughed Horace Walpole, "for fear of missing one."
But it was not so much in the number as in the importance of its
triumphs that the Seven Years' War stood and remains still without a
rival. It is no exaggeration to say that three of its many victories
determined for ages to come the destinies of mankind. With that of
Rossbach began the re-creation of Germany, the revival of its political
and intellectual life, the long process of its union under the
leadership of Prussia and Prussia's kings. With that of Plassey the
influence of Europe told for the first time since the days of Alexander
on the nations of the East. The world, in Burke's gorgeous phrase, "saw
one of the races of the north-west cast into the heart of Asia new
manners, new doctrines, new institutions." With the triumph of Wolfe on
the Heights of Abraham began the history of the United States. By
removing an enemy whose dread had knit the colonists to the mother
country, and by breaking through the line with which France had barred
them from the basin of the Mississippi, Pitt laid the foundation of the
great republic of the west.

[Sidenote: England a World-Power.]

Nor were these triumphs less momentous to Britain. The Seven Years' War
is in fact a turning-point in our national history, as it is a
turning-point in the history of the world. Till now the relative weight
of the European states had been drawn from their possessions within
Europe itself. Spain, Portugal, and Holland indeed had won a dominion in
other continents; and the wealth which two of these nations had derived
from their colonies had given them for a time an influence among their
fellow-states greater than that which was due to their purely European
position. But in the very years during which her rule took firm hold in
South America, Spain fell into a decay at home which prevented her
empire over sea from telling directly on the balance of power; while the
strictly commercial character of the Dutch settlements robbed them of
political weight. France in fact was the first state to discern the new
road to greatness which lay without European bounds; and the efforts of
Dupleix and Montcalm aimed at the building up of an empire which would
have lifted her high above her European rivals. The ruin of these hopes
in the Seven Years' War was the bitterest humiliation to which French
ambition has ever bowed. But it was far from being all that France had
to bear. For not only had the genius of Pitt cut her off from the chance
of rising into a world-power, and prisoned her again within the limits
of a single continent, but it had won for Britain the position that
France had lost. From the close of the Seven Years' War it mattered
little whether England counted for less or more with the nations around
her. She was no longer a mere European power; she was no longer a rival
of Germany or France. Her future action lay in a wider sphere than that
of Europe. Mistress of Northern America, the future mistress of India,
claiming as her own the empire of the seas, Britain suddenly towered
high above nations whose position in a single continent doomed them to
comparative insignificance in the after-history of the world.

[Sidenote: England in the Pacific.]

It is this that gives William Pitt so unique a position among our
statesmen. His figure in fact stands at the opening of a new epoch in
English history--in the history not of England only, but of the English
race. However dimly and imperfectly, he alone among his fellows saw that
the struggle of the Seven Years' War was a struggle of a wholly
different order from the struggles that had gone before it. He felt that
the stake he was playing for was something vaster than Britain's
standing among the powers of Europe. Even while he backed Frederick in
Germany, his eye was not on the Weser, but on the Hudson and the St.
Lawrence. "If I send an army to Germany," he replied in memorable words
to his assailants, "it is because in Germany I can conquer America!" But
greater even than Pitt's statesmanship was the conviction on which his
statesmanship rested. He believed in Englishmen, and in the might of
Englishmen. At a moment when few hoped that England could hold her own
among the nations of Europe, he called her not only to face Europe in
arms, but to claim an empire far beyond European bounds. His faith, his
daring, called the English people to a sense of the destinies that lay
before it. And once roused, the sense of these destinies could never be
lost. The war indeed was hardly ended when a consciousness of them
showed itself in the restlessness with which our seamen penetrated into
far-off seas. With England on one side and her American colonies on the
other, the Atlantic was dwindling into a mere strait within the British
Empire; but beyond it to the westward lay a reach of waters where the
British flag was almost unknown. The vast ocean which parts Asia from
America had been discovered by a Spaniard and first traversed by a
Portuguese; as early indeed as the sixteenth century Spanish settlements
spread along its eastern shore and a Spanish galleon crossed it year by
year from Acapulco to the Philippines. But no effort was made by Spain
to explore the lands that broke its wide expanse; and though Dutch
voyagers, coming from the eastward, penetrated its waters and first
noted the mighty continent that bore from that hour the name of New
Holland, no colonists followed in the track of Tasman or Van Diemen. It
was not till another century had gone by indeed that Europe again turned
her eyes to the Pacific. But in the very year which followed the Peace
of Paris, in 1764, two English ships were sent on a cruise of discovery
to the Straits of Magellan.

[Sidenote: Captain Cook.]

"Nothing," ran the instructions of their commander, Commodore Byron,
"nothing can redound more to the honour of this nation as a maritime
power, to the dignity of the Crown of Great Britain, and to the
advancement of the trade and navigation thereof, than to make
discoveries of countries hitherto unknown." Byron himself hardly sailed
beyond Cape Horn; but three years later a second English seaman, Captain
Wallis, succeeded in reaching the central island of the Pacific and in
skirting the coral-reefs of Tahiti, and in 1768 a more famous mariner
traversed the great ocean from end to end. At first a mere ship-boy on a
Whitby collier, James Cook had risen to be an officer in the royal navy,
and had piloted the boats in which Wolfe mounted the St. Lawrence to the
Heights of Abraham. On the return of Wallis he was sent in a small
vessel with a crew of some eighty men and a few naturalists to observe
the transit of Venus at Tahiti, and to explore the seas that stretched
beyond it. After a long stay at Tahiti Cook sailed past the Society
Isles into the heart of the Pacific and reached at the further limits of
that ocean the two islands, as large as his own Britain, which make up
New Zealand. Steering northward from New Zealand over a thousand miles
of sea he touched at last the coast of the great "Southern Land" or
Australia, on whose eastern shore, from some fancied likeness to the
district at home on which he had gazed as he set sail, he gave the name
of New South Wales. In two later voyages Cook traversed the same waters,
and discovered fresh island groups in their wide expanse. But his work
was more than a work of mere discovery. Wherever he touched, in New
Zealand, in Australia, he claimed the soil for the English Crown. The
records which he published of his travels not only woke the interest of
Englishmen in these far-off islands, in their mighty reaches of deep
blue waters, where lands as big as Britain die into mere specks on the
huge expanse, in the coral-reefs, the palms, the bread-fruit of Tahiti,
the tattooed warriors of New Zealand, the gum-trees and kangaroos of the
Southern Continent, but they familiarized them more and more with the
sense of possession, with the notion that this strange world of wonders
was their own, and that a new earth was open in the Pacific for the
expansion of the English race.

[Sidenote: Britain and its Empire.]

Cook in fact pointed out the fitness of New Holland for English
settlement; and projects of its occupation, and of the colonization of
the Pacific islands by English emigrants, became from that moment, in
however vague and imperfect a fashion, the policy of the English crown.
Statesmen and people alike indeed felt the change in their country's
attitude. Great as Britain seemed to Burke, it was now in itself "but
part of a great empire, extended by our virtue and our fortune to the
furthest limits of the east and the west." Its parliament no longer
looked on itself as the local legislature of England and Scotland; it
claimed, in the words of the same great political thinker, "an imperial
character, in which as from the throne of heaven she superintends all
the several inferior legislatures, and guides and controls them all,
without annihilating any." Its people, steeped in the commercial ideas
of the time, saw in the growth of such a dominion, the monopoly of
whose trade was reserved to the mother country, a source of boundless
wealth. The trade with America alone was, in 1772, within less than
half-a-million of being equal to what England carried on with the whole
world at the beginning of the century. So rapid had been its growth that
since the opening of the eighteenth century it had risen from a value of
five hundred thousand pounds to one of six millions, and whereas the
colonial trade then formed but a twelfth part of English commerce, it
had now mounted to a third. To guard and preserve so vast and lucrative
a dominion, to vindicate its integrity alike against outer foes and
inner disaffection, to strengthen its unity by drawing closer the bonds,
whether commercial or administrative, which linked its various parts to
the mother country, became from this moment not only the aim of British
statesmen, but the resolve of the British people.

[Sidenote: England and America.]

And at this moment there were grave reasons why this resolve should take
an active form. Strong as the attachment of the Americans to Britain
seemed at the close of the war, keen lookers-on like the French
minister, the Duc de Choiseul, saw in the very completeness of Pitt's
triumph a danger to their future union. The presence of the French in
Canada, their designs in the west, had thrown America for protection on
the mother country. But with the conquest of Canada all need of
protection was removed. The attitude of England towards its distant
dependency became one of simple possession; and the differences of
temper, the commercial and administrative disputes, which had long
existed as elements of severance, but had been thrown into the
background till now by the higher need for union, started into a new
prominence. Day by day indeed the American colonies found it harder to
submit to the meddling of the mother country with their self-government
and their trade. A consciousness of their destinies was stealing in upon
thoughtful men, and spread from them to the masses around them. At this
very moment the quick growth of population in America moved John Adams,
then a village schoolmaster of Massachusetts, to lofty forebodings of
the future of the great people over whom he was to be called to rule.
"Our people in another century," he wrote, "will be more numerous than
England itself. All Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way
to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us." The sense
that such an independence was drawing nearer spread even to Europe.
"Fools," said a descendant of William Penn, "are always telling their
fears that the colonies will set up for themselves." Philosophers
however were pretty much of the same mind on this subject with the
fools. "Colonies are like fruits," wrote the foreseeing Turgot, "which
cling to the tree only till they ripen. As soon as America can take
care of itself it will do what Carthage did." But from the thought of
separation almost every American turned as yet with horror. The
Colonists still looked to England as their home. They prided themselves
on their loyalty; and they regarded the difficulties which hindered
complete sympathy between the settlements and the mother country as
obstacles which time and good sense could remove. England on the other
hand looked on America as her noblest possession. It was the wealth, the
growth of this dependency which more than all the victories of her arms
was lifting her to a new greatness among the nations. It was the trade
with it which had doubled English commerce in half-a-century. Of the
right of the mother country to monopolize this trade, to deal with this
great people as its own possession, no Englishman had a doubt. England,
it was held, had planted every colony. It was to England that the
Colonists owed not their blood only, but the free institutions under
which they had grown to greatness. English arms had rescued them from
the Indians, and broken the iron barrier with which France was holding
them back from the West. In the war which was drawing to a close England
had poured out her blood and gold without stint in her children's cause.
Of the debt which was mounting to a height unknown before no small part
was due to her struggle on behalf of America. And with this sense of
obligation mingled a sense of ingratitude. It was generally held that
the wealthy Colonists should do something to lighten the load of this
debt from the shoulders of the mother country. But it was known that all
proposals for American taxation would be bitterly resisted. The monopoly
of American trade was looked on as a part of an Englishman's birthright.
Yet the Colonists not only murmured at this monopoly but evaded it in
great part by a wide system of smuggling. And behind all these
grievances lay an uneasy sense of dread at the democratic form which the
government and society of the colonies had taken. The governors sent
from England wrote back words of honest surprise and terror at the
"levelling principles" of the men about them. To statesmen at home the
temper of the colonial legislatures, their protests, their bickerings
with the governors and with the Board of Trade, the constant refusal of
supplies when their remonstrances were set aside, seemed all but

[Sidenote: George the Third.]

To check this republican spirit, to crush all dreams of severance, and
to strengthen the unity of the British Empire by drawing closer the
fiscal and administrative bonds which linked the colonies to the mother
country, was one of the chief aims with which George the Third mounted
the throne on the death of his grandfather George the Second, in 1760.
But it was far from being his only aim. For the first and last time
since the accession of the House of Hanover England saw a king who was
resolved to play a part in English politics; and the part which George
succeeded in playing was undoubtedly a memorable one. During the first
ten years of his reign he managed to reduce government to a shadow, and
to turn the loyalty of his subjects at home into disaffection. Before
twenty years were over he had forced the American colonies into revolt
and independence, and brought England to what then seemed the brink of
ruin. Work such as this has sometimes been done by very great men, and
often by very wicked and profligate men; but George was neither
profligate nor great. He had a smaller mind than any English king before
him save James the Second. He was wretchedly educated, and his natural
powers were of the meanest sort. Nor had he the capacity for using
greater minds than his own by which some sovereigns have concealed their
natural littleness. On the contrary, his only feeling towards great men
was one of jealousy and hate. He longed for the time when "decrepitude
or death" might put an end to Pitt; and even when death had freed him
from "this trumpet of sedition," he denounced the proposal for a public
monument to the great statesman as "an offensive measure to me
personally." But dull and petty as his temper was, he was clear as to
his purpose and obstinate in the pursuit of it. And his purpose was to
rule. "George," his mother, the Princess of Wales, had continually
repeated to him in youth, "George, be king." He called himself always "a
Whig of the Revolution," and he had no wish to undo the work which he
believed the Revolution to have done. But he looked on the subjection of
his two predecessors to the will of their ministers as no real part of
the work of the Revolution, but as a usurpation of that authority which
the Revolution had left to the crown. And to this usurpation he was
determined not to submit. His resolve was to govern, not to govern
against law, but simply to govern, to be freed from the dictation of
parties and ministers, and to be in effect the first minister of the

[Sidenote: Importance of his action.]

How utterly incompatible such a dream was with the Parliamentary
constitution of the country as it had received its final form from
Sunderland it is easy to see; and the effort of the young king to
realize it plunged England at once into a chaos of political and social
disorder which makes the first years of his reign the most painful and
humiliating period in our history. It is with an angry disgust that we
pass from the triumphs of the Seven Years' War to the miserable strife
of Whig factions with one another or of the whole Whig party with the
king. But wearisome as the story is, it is hardly less important than
that of the rise of England into a world-power. In the strife of these
wretched years began a political revolution which is still far from
having reached its close. Side by side with the gradual developement of
the English Empire and of the English race has gone on, through the
century that has passed since the close of the Seven Years' War, the
transfer of power within England itself from a governing class to the
nation as a whole. If the effort of George failed to restore the power
of the Crown, it broke the power which impeded the advance of the people
itself to political supremacy. Whilst labouring to convert the
aristocratic monarchy of which he found himself the head into a personal
sovereignty, the irony of fate doomed him to take the first step in an
organic change which has converted that aristocratic monarchy into a
democratic republic, ruled under monarchical forms.

[Sidenote: The Revolution and the nation.]

To realize however the true character of the king's attempt we must
recall for a moment the issue of the Revolution on which he claimed to
take his stand. It had no doubt given personal and religious liberty to
England at large. But its political benefits seemed as yet to be less
equally shared. The Parliament indeed had become supreme, and in theory
the Parliament was a representative of the whole English people. But in
actual fact the bulk of the English people found itself powerless to
control the course of English government. We have seen how at the very
moment of its triumph opinion had been paralyzed by the results of the
Revolution. The sentiment of the bulk of Englishmen remained Tory, but
the existence of a Stuart Pretender forced on them a system of
government which was practically Whig. Under William and Anne they had
tried to reconcile Toryism with the Revolution; but this effort ended
with the accession of the House of Hanover, and the bulk of the landed
classes and the clergy withdrew in a sulky despair from all permanent
contact with politics. Their hatred of the system to which they bowed
showed itself in the violence of their occasional outbreaks, in riots
over the Excise Bill, in cries for a Spanish war, in the frenzy against
Walpole. Whenever it roused itself, the national will showed its old
power to destroy; but it remained impotent to create any new system of
administrative action. It could aid one clique of Whigs to destroy
another clique of Whigs, but it could do nothing to interrupt the
general course of Whig administration. Walpole and Pelham were alike the
representatives of a minority of the nation; but the minority which they
represented knew its mind and how to carry out its mind, while the
majority of the people remained helpless and distracted between their
hatred of the House of Hanover and their dread of the consequences which
would follow on a return of the Stuarts.

[Sidenote: Parliament and the nation.]

The results of such a divorce between the government and that general
mass of national sentiment on which a government can alone safely ground
itself at once made themselves felt. Robbed as it was of all practical
power, and thus stripped of the feeling of responsibility which the
consciousness of power carries with it, among the mass of Englishmen
public opinion became ignorant and indifferent to the general progress
of the age, but at the same time violent and mutinous, hostile to
Government because it was Government, disloyal to the Crown, averse from
Parliament. For the first and last time in our history Parliament was
unpopular, and its opponents secure of popularity. But the results on
the governing class were even more fatal to any right conduct of public
affairs. Not only had the mass of national sentiment been so utterly
estranged from Parliament by the withdrawal of the Tories that the
people had lost all trust in it as an expression of their will, but the
Parliament did not pretend to express it. It was conscious that for
half-a-century it had not been really a representative of the nation,
that it had represented a minority, wiser no doubt than their
fellow-countrymen, but still a minority of Englishmen. At the same time
it saw, and saw with a just pride, that its policy had as a whole been
for the nation's good, that it had given political and religious freedom
to the people in the very teeth of their political and religious
bigotry, that in spite of their narrow insularism it had made Britain
the greatest of European powers. The sense of both these aspects of
Parliament had sunk in fact so deeply into the mind of the Whigs as to
become a theory of Parliamentary government. They were never weary of
expressing their contempt for public opinion. They shrank with
instinctive dislike from Pitt's appeals to national feeling, and from
the popularity which rewarded them. They denied that members of the
Commons sate as representatives of the people, and they shrank with
actual panic from the thought of any change which could render them
representatives. To a Whig such a change meant the overthrow of the work
done in 1688, the coercion of the minority of sound political thinkers
by the mass of opinion, so brutal and unintelligent, so bigoted in its
views both of Church and State, which had been content to reap the
benefits of the Revolution while vilifying and opposing its principles.

[Sidenote: Need of Parliamentary reform.]

And yet, if representation was to be more than a name, the very relation
of Parliament to the constituencies made some change in its composition
a necessity. That changes in the distribution of seats in the House of
Commons were called for by the natural shiftings of population and
wealth which had gone on since the days of Edward the First had been
recognized as early as the Civil Wars. But the reforms of the Long
Parliament were cancelled at the Restoration; and from the time of
Charles the Second to that of George the Third not a single effort had
been made to meet the growing abuses of our parliamentary system. Great
towns like Manchester or Birmingham remained without a member, while
members still sat for boroughs which, like Old Sarum, had actually
vanished from the face of the earth. The effort of the Tudor sovereigns
to establish a Court party in the House by a profuse creation of
boroughs, most of which were mere villages then in the hands of the
Crown, had ended in the appropriation of these seats by the neighbouring
landowners, who bought and sold them as they bought and sold their own
estates. Even in towns which had a real claim to representation the
narrowing of municipal privileges ever since the fourteenth century to a
small part of the inhabitants, and in many cases the restriction of
electoral rights to the members of the governing corporation, rendered
their representation a mere name. The choice of such places hung simply
on the purse or influence of politicians. Some were "the King's
boroughs," others obediently returned nominees of the Ministry of the
day, others were "close boroughs" in the hands of jobbers like the Duke
of Newcastle, who at one time returned a third of all the borough
members in the House. The counties and the great commercial towns could
alone be said to exercise any real right of suffrage, though the
enormous expense of contesting such constituencies practically left
their representation in the hands of the great local families. But even
in the counties the suffrage was ridiculously limited and unequal. Out
of a population of eight millions of English people, only a hundred and
sixty thousand were electors at all.

[Sidenote: Pressure of opinion.]

"The value, spirit, and essence of a House of Commons," said Burke, in
noble words, "consists in its being the express image of the feelings of
the nation." But how far such a House as that which now existed was from
really representing English opinion we see from the fact that in the
height of his popularity Pitt himself could hardly find a seat in it.
Purchase was becoming more and more the means of entering Parliament;
and seats were bought and sold in the open market at a price which rose
to four thousand pounds. We can hardly wonder that a reformer could
allege without a chance of denial, "This House is not a representative
of the people of Great Britain. It is the representative of nominal
boroughs, of ruined and exterminated towns, of noble families, of
wealthy individuals, of foreign potentates." The meanest motives
naturally told on a body returned by such constituencies, cut off from
the influence of public opinion by the secrecy of Parliamentary
proceedings, and yet invested with almost boundless authority. Walpole
and Newcastle had in fact made bribery and borough-jobbing the base of
their power. But bribery and borough-jobbing were every day becoming
more offensive to the nation at large. A new moral consciousness, as we
have seen in the movement of the Wesleys, was diffusing itself through
England; and behind this moral consciousness came a general advance in
the national intelligence, which could not fail to tell vigorously on

[Sidenote: The intellectual advance.]

Ever since the expulsion of the Stuarts an intellectual revolution had
been silently going on in the people at large. The close of the
seventeenth century was marked by a sudden extension of the world of
readers. The developement of men's minds under the political and social
changes of the day, as well as the rapid increase of wealth, and the
advance in culture and refinement which accompanies an increase of
wealth, were quickening the general intelligence of the people at large;
and the wider demand for books to read that came of this quickening gave
a new extension and vigour to their sale. Addison tells us how large and
rapid was the sale of his "Spectator"; and the sale of Shakspere's works
shows the amazing effect of the new passion for literature on the
diffusion of our older authors. Four issues of his plays in folio, none
of them probably exceeding five hundred copies, had sufficed to meet the
wants of the seventeenth century. But through the eighteenth ten
editions at least followed each other in quick succession; and before
the century was over as many as thirty thousand copies of Shakspere
were dispersed throughout England. Reprints of older works however were
far from being the only need of English readers. The new demand created
an organ for its supply in the publisher, and through the publisher
literature became a profession by which men might win their bread. That
such a change was a healthy one time was to show. But in spite of such
instances as Dryden, at the moment of the change its main result seemed
the degradation of letters. The intellectual demand for the moment
outran the intellectual supply. The reader called for the writer; but
the temper of the time, the diversion of its mental energy to industrial
pursuits, the influences which tended to lower its poetic and
imaginative aspirations, were not such as to bring great writers rapidly
to the front. On the other hand, the new opening which letters afforded
for a livelihood was such as to tempt every scribbler who could handle a
pen; and authors of this sort were soon set to hack-work by the Curles
and the Tonsons who looked on book-making as a mere business. The result
was a mob of authors in garrets, of illiterate drudges as poor as they
were thriftless and debauched, selling their pen to any buyer, hawking
their flatteries and their libels from door to door, fawning on the
patron and the publisher for very bread, tagging rimes which they called
poetry, or abuse which they called criticism, vamping up compilations
and abridgements under the guise of history, or filling the journals
with empty rhetoric in the name of politics.

[Sidenote: Pope.]

It was on such a literary chaos as this that the one great poet of the
time poured scorn in his "Dunciad." Pope was a child of the Revolution;
for he was born in 1688, and he died at the moment when the spirit of
his age was passing into larger and grander forms in 1744. But from all
active contact with the world of his day he stood utterly apart. He was
the son of a Catholic linen-draper, who had withdrawn from his business
in Lombard Street to a retirement on the skirts of Windsor Forest; and
there amidst the stormy years which followed William's accession the boy
grew up in an atmosphere of poetry, buried in the study of the older
English singers, stealing to London for a peep at Dryden in his
arm-chair at Will's, himself already lisping in numbers, and busy with
an epic at the age of twelve. Pope's latter years were as secluded as
his youth. His life, as Johnson says, was "a long disease"; his puny
frame, his crooked figure, the feebleness of his health, his keen
sensitiveness to pain, whether of mind or body, cut him off from the
larger world of men, and doomed him to the faults of a morbid
temperament. To the last he remained vain, selfish, affected; he loved
small intrigues and petty lying; he was incredibly jealous and touchy;
he dwelt on the fouler aspect of things with an unhealthy pruriency; he
stung right and left with a malignant venom. But nobler qualities rose
out of this morbid undergrowth of faults. If Pope was quickly moved to
anger, he was as quickly moved to tears; though every literary gnat
could sting him to passion, he could never read the lament of Priam over
Hector without weeping. His sympathies lay indeed within a narrow range,
but within that range they were vivid and intense; he clung passionately
to the few he loved; he took their cause for his own; he flung himself
almost blindly into their enthusiasms and their hates. But loyal as he
was to his friends, he was yet more loyal to his verse. His vanity never
led him to literary self-sufficiency; no artist ever showed a truer
lowliness before the ideal of his art; no poet ever corrected so much,
or so invariably bettered his work by each correction. One of his finest
characteristics, indeed, was his high sense of literary dignity. From
the first he carried on the work of Dryden by claiming a worth and
independence for literature; and he broke with disdain through the
traditions of patronage which had degraded men of letters into
hangers-on of the great.

[Sidenote: The Dunciad.]

With aims and conceptions such as these, Pope looked bitterly out on the
phase of transition through which English letters were passing. As yet
his poetic works had shown little of the keen and ardent temper that lay
within him. The promise of his spring was not that of a satirist but of
the brightest and most genial of verse writers. When after some fanciful
preludes his genius found full utterance in 1712, it was in the "Rape of
the Lock"; and the "Rape of the Lock" was a poetic counterpart of the
work of the Essayists. If we miss in it the personal and intimate charm
of Addison, or the freshness and pathos of Steele, it passes far beyond
the work of both in the brilliancy of its wit, in the lightness and
buoyancy of its tone, in its atmosphere of fancy, its glancing colour,
its exquisite verse, its irresistible gaiety. The poem remains Pope's
masterpiece; it is impossible to read it without feeling that his
mastery lay in social and fanciful verse, and that he missed his poetic
path when he laid down the humourist for the philosopher and the critic.
But the state of letters presented an irresistible temptation to
criticism. All Pope's nobler feelings of loyalty to his art revolted
from the degradation of letters which he saw about him: and after an
interval of hack-work in a translation of Homer he revealed his terrible
power of sarcasm in his poem of the "Dunciad." The poem is disfigured by
mere outbursts of personal spleen, and in its later form by attacks on
men whose last fault was dulness. But in the main the "Dunciad" was a
noble vindication of literature from the herd of dullards and dunces
that had usurped its name, a protest against the claims of the
journalist or pamphleteer, of the compiler of facts and dates, or the
grubber among archives, to the rank of men of letters.

[Sidenote: Revival of Letters.]

That there was work and useful work for such men to do, Pope would not
have denied. It was when their pretensions threatened the very existence
of literature as an art, when the sense that the writer's work was the
work of an artist, and like an artist's work must show largeness of
design, and grace of form, and fitness of phrase, was either denied or
forgotten, it was when every rimer was claiming to be a poet, every
fault-finder a critic, every chronicler an historian, that Pope struck
at the herd of book-makers and swept them from the path of letters. Such
a protest is as true now, and perhaps as much needed now, as it was true
and needed then. But it had hardly been uttered when the chaos settled
itself, and the intellectual impulse which had as yet been felt mainly
in the demand for literature showed itself in its supply. Even before
the "Dunciad" was completed a great school of novelists was rising into
fame; and the years which elapsed between the death of Pope in 1744 and
that of George the Second in 1760 were filled with the masterpieces of
Richardson, Smollett, and Fielding. Their appearance was but a prelude
of a great literary revival which marked the closing years of the
eighteenth century. But the instant popularity of "Clarissa" and "Tom
Jones" showed the work of intellectual preparation which had been going
on through Walpole's days in the people at large; and it was inevitable
that such a quickening of intelligence should tell on English politics.
The very vulgarization of letters indeed, the broadsheets and pamphlets
and catchpenny magazines of Grub Street, were doing for the mass of the
people a work which greater writers could hardly have done. Above all
the rapid extension of journalism had begun to give opinion a new
information and consistency. In spite of the removal of the censorship
after the Revolution the press had been slow to attain any political
influence. Under the first two Georges its progress had been hindered by
the absence of great topics for discussion, the worthlessness of the
writers, and above all the lethargy of the time. But at the moment of
George the Third's accession the impulse which Pitt had given to the
national spirit, and the rise of a keener interest in politics, was fast
raising the press into an intellectual and political power. Not only was
the number of London newspapers fast increasing, but journals were being
established in almost every considerable town.

[Sidenote: Return of the Tories.]

With impulses such as these telling every day on it more powerfully,
roused as it was too into action by the larger policy of Pitt, and
emboldened at once by the sense of growing wealth and of military
triumph, it is clear that the nation must soon have passed from its old
inaction to claim its part in the direction of public affairs. The very
position of Pitt, forced as he had been into office by the sheer force
of opinion in the teeth of party obstacles, showed the rise of a new
energy in the mass of the people. It showed that a king who enlisted the
national sentiment on his side would have little trouble in dealing with
the Whigs. George indeed had no thought of such a policy. His aim was
not to control the Parliament by the force of national opinion, but
simply to win over the Parliament to his side, and through it to govern
the nation with as little regard to its opinion as of old. But, whether
he would or no, the drift of opinion aided him. Though the policy of
Walpole had ruined Jacobitism, it long remained unconscious of its ruin.
But when a Jacobite prince stood in the heart of the realm, and not a
Jacobite answered his call, the spell of Jacobitism was broken; and the
later degradation of Charles Edward's life wore finally away the thin
coating of disloyalty which clung to the clergy and the squires. They
were ready again to take part in politics; and in the accession of a
king who unlike his two predecessors was no stranger but an Englishman,
who had been born in England and spoke English, they found the
opportunity they desired. From the opening of the reign Tories gradually
appeared again at court.

[Sidenote: The King's friends.]

It was only slowly indeed that the party as a whole swung round to a
steady support of the Government; and in the nation at large the old
Toryism was still for some years to show itself in opposition to the
Crown. But from the first the Tory nobles and gentry came in one by one;
and their action told at once on the complexion of English politics.
Their withdrawal from public affairs had left them untouched by the
progress of political ideas since the Revolution of 1688, and when they
returned to political life it was to invest the new sovereign with all
the reverence which they had bestowed on the Stuarts. In this return of
the Tories therefore a "King's party" was ready made to his hand; but
George was able to strengthen it by a vigorous exertion of the power and
influence which was still left to the Crown. All promotion in the
Church, all advancement in the army, a great number of places in the
civil administration and about the court, were still at the king's
disposal. If this vast mass of patronage had been practically usurped by
the ministers of his predecessors, it was resumed and firmly held by
George the Third; and the character of the House of Commons made
patronage a powerful engine in its management. George had one of
Walpole's weapons in his hands, and he used it with unscrupulous energy
to break up the party which Walpole had held so long together. The Whigs
were still indeed a great power. "Long possession of government, vast
property, obligations of favours given and received, connexion of
office, ties of blood, of alliance, of friendship, the name of Whigs
dear to the majority of the people, the zeal early begun and steadily
continued to the royal family, all these together," says Burke justly,
"formed a body of power in the nation." But George the Third saw that
the Whigs were divided among themselves by the factious spirit which
springs from a long hold of office, and that they were weakened by the
rising contempt with which the country at large regarded the selfishness
and corruption of its representatives.

[Sidenote: Pitt and the Whigs.]

More than thirty years before, the statesmen of the day had figured on
the stage as highwaymen and pickpockets. And now that statesmen were
represented by hoary jobbers such as Newcastle, the public contempt was
fiercer than ever, and men turned sickened from the intrigues and
corruption of party to a young sovereign who aired himself in a
character which Bolingbroke had invented, as a Patriot King. Had Pitt
and Newcastle held together indeed, supported as the one was by the
commercial classes, the other by the Whig families and the whole
machinery of Parliamentary management, George must have struggled in
vain. But the ministry was already disunited. The bulk of the party drew
day by day further from Pitt. Attached as they were to peace by the
traditions of Walpole, dismayed at the enormous expenditure, and haughty
with the pride of a ruling oligarchy, the Whigs were in silent revolt
against the war and the supremacy of the Great Commoner. It was against
their will that he rejected proposals of peace from France which would
have secured to England all her conquests on the terms of a desertion of
Prussia, and that his steady support enabled Frederick still to hold out
against the terrible exhaustion of an unequal struggle. The campaign of
1760 indeed was one of the grandest efforts of Frederick's genius.
Foiled in an attempt on Dresden, he again saved Silesia by a victory at
Liegnitz and hurled back an advance of Daun by a victory at Torgau:
while Ferdinand of Brunswick held his ground as of old along the Weser.
But even victories drained Frederick's strength. Men and money alike
failed him. It was impossible for him to strike another great blow, and
the ring of enemies again closed slowly round him. His one remaining
hope lay in the support of Pitt, and triumphant as his policy had been,
Pitt was tottering to his fall.

[Sidenote: Pitt resigns.]

The envy and resentment of the minister's colleagues at his undisguised
supremacy gave the young king an easy means of realizing his schemes.
George had hardly mounted the throne when he made his influence felt in
the ministry by forcing it to accept a Court favourite, the Earl of
Bute, as Secretary of State. Bute had long been his counsellor, and
though his temper and abilities were those of a gentleman usher, he was
forced into the Cabinet. The new drift of affairs was seen in the
instant desertion from Pitt of the two ablest of his adherents, George
Grenville and Charles Townshend, who attached themselves from this
moment to the rising favourite. It was seen yet more when Bute pressed
for peace. As Bute was known to be his master's mouthpiece, a peace
party at once appeared in the Cabinet itself, and it was only a majority
of one that approved Pitt's refusal to negotiate with France. "He is
madder than ever," was Bute's comment on this refusal in his
correspondence with the king; "he has no thought of abandoning the
Continent." Conscious indeed as he was of the king's temper and of the
temper of his colleagues, Pitt showed no signs of giving way. So far was
he from any thought of peace that he proposed at this moment a vast
extension of the war. In 1761 he learned the signature of a treaty which
brought into force the Family Compact between the Courts of Paris and
Madrid, and of a special convention which bound the last to declare war
on England at the close of the year. Pitt proposed to anticipate the
blow by an instant seizure of the treasure fleet which was on its way
from the Indies to Cadiz, and for whose safe arrival alone the Spanish
Court was deferring its action. He would have followed up the blow by
occupying the Isthmus of Panama, and by an attack on the Spanish
dominions in the New World. It was almost with exultation that he saw
the danger which had threatened her ever since the Peace of Utrecht
break at last upon England. His proud sense of the national strength
never let him doubt for a moment of her triumph over the foes that had
leagued against her. "This is the moment," he exclaimed to his
colleagues, "for humbling the whole House of Bourbon." But the Cabinet
shrank from plans so vast and daring; and the Duke of Newcastle, who had
never forgiven Pitt for forcing himself into power and for excluding him
from the real control of affairs, was backed in his resistance by the
bulk of the Whigs. The king openly supported them, and Pitt with his
brother-in-law Lord Temple found themselves alone. Pitt did not blind
himself to the real character of the struggle. The question, as he felt,
was not merely one of peace or war, it was whether the new force of
opinion which had borne him into office and kept him there was to govern
England or no. It was this which made him stake all on the decision of
the Cabinet. "If I cannot in this instance prevail," he ended his
appeal, "this shall be the last time I will sit in the Council. Called
to office by the voice of the people, to whom I conceive myself
accountable for my conduct, I will not remain in a situation which
renders me responsible for measures I am no longer allowed to guide."
His proposals were rejected; and the resignation of his post, which
followed in October 1761, changed the face of European affairs.

[Sidenote: George breaks with the Whigs.]

"Pitt disgraced!" wrote a French philosopher, "it is worth two victories
to us!" Frederick on the other hand was almost driven to despair. But
George saw in the removal of his powerful minister an opening for the
realization of his long-cherished plans. The Whigs had looked on Pitt's
retirement as the restoration of their rule, unbroken by the popular
forces to which it had been driven during his ministry to bow. His
declaration that he had been "called to office by the voice of the
people, to whom I conceive myself accountable," had been met with
indignant scorn by his fellow-ministers. "When the gentleman talks of
being responsible to the people," retorted Lord Granville, the Lord
Carteret of earlier days, "he talks the language of the House of
Commons, and forgets that at this board he is only responsible to the
King." But his appeal was heard by the people at large. When the
dismissed statesman went to Guildhall the Londoners hung on his
carriage-wheels, hugged his footmen, and even kissed his horses. Their
break with Pitt was in fact the death-blow of the Whigs. In betraying
him to the king they had only put themselves in George's power; and so
great was the unpopularity of the ministry that the king was able to
deliver his longed-for stroke at a party that he hated even more than
Pitt. Newcastle found he had freed himself from the great statesman only
to be driven from office by a series of studied mortifications from his
young master; and the more powerful of his Whig colleagues followed him
into retirement. George saw himself triumphant over the two great
forces which had hampered the free action of the Crown, "the power which
arose," in Burke's words, "from popularity, and the power which arose
from political connexion"; and the rise of Lord Bute to the post of
First Minister marked the triumph of the king.

[Sidenote: The Peace.]

Bute took office simply as an agent of the king's will; and the first
resolve of George the Third was to end the war. In the spring of 1762
Frederick, who still held his ground stubbornly against fate, was
brought to the brink of ruin by a withdrawal of the English subsidies;
it was in fact only his dogged resolution and a sudden change in the
policy of Russia, which followed on the death of his enemy the Czarina
Elizabeth, that enabled him at last to retire from the struggle in the
Treaty of Hubertsberg without the loss of an inch of territory. George
and Lord Bute had already purchased peace at a very different price.
With a shameless indifference to the national honour they not only
deserted Frederick but they offered to negotiate a peace for him on the
basis of a cession of Silesia to Maria Theresa and East Prussia to the
Czarina. The issue of the strife with Spain saved England from
humiliation such as this. Pitt's policy of instant attack had been
justified by a Spanish declaration of war three weeks after his fall;
and the year 1762 saw triumphs which vindicated his confidence in the
issue of the new struggle. Martinico, the strongest and wealthiest of
the French West Indian possessions, was conquered at the opening of the
year, and its conquest was followed by those of Grenada, St. Lucia, and
St. Vincent. In the summer the reduction of Havana brought with it the
gain of the rich Spanish colony of Cuba. The Philippines, the wealthiest
of the Spanish colonies in the Pacific, yielded to a British fleet. It
was these losses that brought about the Peace of Paris in February 1763.
So eager was Bute to end the war that he bought peace by restoring all
that the last year's triumphs had given him. In Europe he contented
himself with the recovery of Minorca, while he restored Martinico to
France, and Cuba and the Philippines to Spain. The real gains of Britain
were in India and America. In the first the French abandoned all right
to any military settlement. From the second they wholly withdrew. To
England they gave up Canada, Nova Scotia, and Louisiana as far as the
Mississippi, while they resigned the rest of that province to Spain, in
compensation for its surrender of Florida to the British Crown.

[Sidenote: George and the Parliament.]

We have already seen how mighty a change in the aspect of the world, and
above all in the aspect of Britain, was marked by this momentous treaty.
But no sense of its great issues influenced the young king in pressing
for its conclusion. His eye was fixed not so much on Europe or the
British Empire as on the petty game of politics which he was playing
with the Whigs. The anxiety which he showed for peace abroad sprang
mainly from his belief that peace was needful for success in his
struggle for power at home. So long as the war lasted Pitt's return to
office and the union of the Whigs under his guidance was an hourly
danger. But with peace the king's hands were free. He could count on the
dissensions of the Whigs, on the new-born loyalty of the Tories, on the
influence of the Crown patronage which he had taken into his own hands.
But what he counted on most of all was the character of the House of
Commons. So long as matters went quietly, so long as no gust of popular
passion or enthusiasm forced its members to bow for a while to outer
opinion, he saw that "management" could make the House a mere organ of
his will. George had discovered--to use Lord Bute's words--"that the
forms of a free and the ends of an arbitrary government were things not
altogether incompatible." At a time when it had become all-powerful in
the State, the House of Commons had ceased in any real and effective
sense to be a representative body at all; and its isolation from the
general opinion of the country left it at ordinary moments amenable only
to selfish influences. The Whigs had managed it by bribery and
borough-jobbing, and George in his turn seized bribery and
borough-jobbing as a base of the power he proposed to give to the
Crown. The royal revenue was employed to buy seats and to buy votes.
Day by day the young sovereign scrutinized the voting-list of the two
Houses, and distributed rewards and punishments as members voted
according to his will or no. Promotion in the civil service, preferment
in the Church, rank in the army, were reserved for "the king's friends."
Pensions and court places were used to influence debates. Bribery was
employed on a scale never known before. Under Bute's ministry an office
was opened at the Treasury for the purchase of members, and twenty-five
thousand pounds are said to have been spent in a single day.

[Sidenote: George III. and America.]

The result of these measures was soon seen in the tone of the
Parliament. Till now it had bowed beneath the greatness of Pitt; but in
the teeth of his denunciation the provisions of the Peace of Paris were
approved by a majority of five to one. It was seen still more in the
vigour with which George and his minister prepared to carry out the
plans over which they had brooded for the regulation of America. The
American question was indeed forced on them, as they pleaded, by the
state of the revenue. Pitt had waged war with characteristic profusion,
and he had defrayed the cost of the war by enormous loans. The public
debt now stood at a hundred and forty millions. The first need therefore
which met Bute after the conclusion of the Peace of Paris was that of
making provision for the new burthens which the nation had incurred,
and as these had been partly incurred in the defence of the American
Colonies it was the general opinion of Englishmen that the Colonies
should bear a share of them. In this opinion Bute and the king
concurred. But their plans went further than mere taxation. The amount
indeed which was expected to be raised as revenue by these changes, at
most two hundred thousand pounds, was far too small to give much relief
to the financial pressure at home. But this revenue furnished an easy
pretext for wider changes. Plans for the regulation of the government of
the Colonies had been suggested from time to time by subordinate
ministers, but they had been set aside alike by the prudence of Walpole
and the generosity of Pitt. The appointment of Charles Townshend to the
Presidency of the Board of Trade however was a sign that Bute had
adopted a policy not only of taxation, but of restraint. The new
minister declared himself resolved on a rigorous execution of the
Navigation laws, laws by which a monopoly of American trade was secured
to the mother country, on the raising of a revenue within the Colonies
for the discharge of the debt, and above all on impressing upon the
colonists a sense of their dependence upon Britain. The direct trade
between America and the French or Spanish West Indian Islands had
hitherto been fettered by prohibitory duties, but these had been easily
evaded by a general system of smuggling. The duties were now reduced,
but the reduced duties were rigorously exacted, and a considerable naval
force was despatched to the American coast by Grenville, who stood at
the head of the Admiralty Board, with a view of suppressing the
clandestine trade with the foreigner. The revenue which was expected
from this measure was to be supplemented by an internal Stamp Tax, a tax
on all legal documents issued within the Colonies, the plan of which
seems to have originated with Bute's secretary, Jenkinson, afterwards
the first Lord Liverpool. That resistance was expected was seen in a
significant step which was taken by the ministry at the end of the war.
Though the defeat of the French had left the Colonies without an enemy
save the Indians, a force of ten thousand men was still kept quartered
on their inhabitants, and a scheme was broached for an extension of the
province of Canada over the district round the Lakes, which would have
turned the western lands into a military settlement, governed at the
will of the Crown, and have furnished a base of warlike operations, if
such were needed, against the settled Colonies on the Atlantic.

Had Bute's power lasted it is probable that these measures would have
brought about the struggle between England and America long before it
actually began. Fortunately for the two countries the minister found
himself from the first the object of a sudden and universal hatred. The
great majority which had rejected Pitt's motion against the Peace had
filled the court with exultation. "Now indeed," cried the Princess
Dowager, "my son is king." But the victory was hardly won when king and
minister found themselves battling with a storm of popular ill-will such
as never since the overthrow of the Stuarts assailed the throne. Violent
and reckless as it was, the storm only marked a fresh advance in the
reawakening of public opinion. The bulk of the higher classes who had
till now stood apart from government were coming gradually in to the
side of the Crown. But the mass of the people was only puzzled and
galled by the turn of events. It felt itself called again to political
activity, but it saw nothing to change its hatred and distrust of
Parliament and the Crown. On the contrary it saw them in greater union
than of old. The House of Commons was more corrupt than ever, and it was
the slave of the king. The king still called himself a Whig, yet he was
reviving a system of absolutism which Whiggism, to do it justice, had
long made impossible. His minister was a mere favourite and in
Englishmen's eyes a foreigner. The masses saw all this, but they saw no
way of mending it. They knew little of their own strength, and they had
no means of influencing the Government they hated save by sheer
violence. They came therefore to the front with their old national and
religious bigotry, their long-nursed dislike of the Hanoverian Court,
their long-nursed habits of violence and faction, their long-nursed
hatred of Parliament, but with no means of expressing them save riot and

[Sidenote: Wilkes.]

It was this temper of the masses which was seized and turned to his
purpose by John Wilkes. Wilkes was a worthless profligate; but he had a
remarkable faculty of enlisting popular sympathy on his side; and by a
singular irony of fortune he became in the end the chief instrument in
bringing about three of the greatest advances which our Constitution has
made. He woke the nation to a sense of the need for Parliamentary reform
by his defence of the rights of constituencies against the despotism of
the House of Commons. He took the lead in a struggle which put an end to
the secrecy of Parliamentary proceedings. He was the first to establish
the right of the press to discuss public affairs. But in his attack upon
the Ministry of Lord Bute he served simply as an organ of the general
excitement and discontent. The bulk of the Tories were on fire to
gratify their old grudge against the Crown and its Ministers. The body
of the Whigs, and the commercial classes who backed them, were startled
and angered by the dismissal of Pitt, and by the revolt of the Crown
against the Whig system. The nation as a whole was uneasy and alarmed at
the sudden break-up of political tranquillity, and by the sense of a
coming struggle between opponents of whom as yet neither had fully its
sympathies. There were mobs, riots, bonfires in the streets, and
disturbances which culminated--in a rough spirit of punning upon the
name of the minister--in the solemn burning of a jack-boot. The
journals, which were now becoming numerous, made themselves organs for
this outburst of popular hatred; and it was in the _North-Briton_ that
Wilkes took a lead in the movement by denouncing the Cabinet and the
peace with peculiar bitterness, by playing on the popular jealousy of
foreigners and Scotchmen, and by venturing to denounce the hated
minister by name.

[Sidenote: Bute's fall.]

Ignorant and brutal as was the movement which Wilkes headed, it was a
revival of public opinion; and though the time was to come when the
influence of opinion would be exercised more wisely, even now it told
for good. It was the attack of Wilkes which more than all else
determined Bute to withdraw from office in 1763 as a means of allaying
the storm of popular indignation. But the king was made of more stubborn
stuff than his minister. If he suffered his favourite to resign he still
regarded him as the real head of administration; for the ministry which
Bute left behind him consisted simply of the more courtly of his
colleagues, and was in fact formed under his direction. George Grenville
was its nominal chief, but the measures of the Cabinet were still
secretly dictated by the favourite. The formation of the Grenville
ministry indeed was laughed at as a joke. Charles Townshend and the Duke
of Bedford, the two ablest of the Whigs who had remained with Bute after
Newcastle's dismissal, refused to join it; and its one man of ability
was Lord Shelburne, a young Irishman, who had served with credit at
Minden, and had been rewarded by a post at Court which brought him into
terms of intimacy with the young sovereign and Bute. Dislike of the Whig
oligarchy and of the war had thrown Shelburne strongly into the
opposition to Pitt, and his diplomatic talents were of service in
securing recruits for his party, as his eloquence had been useful in
advocating the peace; but it was not till he himself retired from office
that Bute obtained for his supporter the Presidency of the Board of
Trade. As yet however Shelburne's powers were little known, and he added
nothing to the strength of the ministry. It was in fact only the
disunion of its opponents which allowed it to hold its ground. Townshend
and Bedford remained apart from the main body of the Whigs, and both
sections held aloof from Pitt. George had counted on the divisions of
the opposition in forming such a ministry; and he counted on the
weakness of the ministry to make it the creature of his will.

[Sidenote: George Grenville.]

But Grenville had no mind to be a puppet either of the king or of Bute.
Narrow and pedantic as he was, severed by sheer jealousy and ambition
from his kinsman Pitt and the bulk of the Whigs, his temper was too
proud to stoop to the position which George designed for him. The
conflicts between the king and his minister soon became so bitter that
in August 1763 George appealed in despair to Pitt to form a ministry.
Never had Pitt shown a nobler patriotism or a grander self-command than
in the reception he gave to this appeal. He set aside all resentment at
his own expulsion from office by Newcastle and the Whigs, and made the
return to office of the whole party, with the exception of Bedford, a
condition of his own. His aim, in other words, was to restore
constitutional government by a reconstruction of the ministry which had
won the triumphs of the Seven Years' War. But it was the destruction of
this ministry and the erection of a kingly government in its place on
which George prided himself most. To restore it was, in his belief, to
restore the tyranny under which the Whigs had so long held the Crown.
"Rather than submit," he cried, "to the terms proposed by Mr. Pitt, I
would die in the room I now stand in." The result left Grenville as
powerful as he had been weak. Bute retired into the country and ceased
to exercise any political influence. Shelburne, the one statesman in the
ministry, and who had borne a chief part in the negotiations for the
formation of a new Cabinet, resigned to follow Pitt. On the other hand,
Bedford, irritated by Pitt's exclusion of him from his proposed
ministry, joined Grenville with his whole party, and the ministry thus
became strong and compact.

[Sidenote: Grenville and Wilkes.]

Grenville himself was ploddingly industrious and not without financial
ability. But his mind was narrow and pedantic in its tone; and, honest
as was his belief in his own Whig creed, he saw nothing beyond legal
forms. He was resolute to withstand the people as he had withstood the
Crown. His one standard of conduct was the approval of Parliament; his
one aim to enforce the supremacy of Parliament over subject as over
king. With such an aim as this, it was inevitable that Grenville should
strike fiercely at the new force of opinion which had just shown its
power in the fall of Bute. He was resolved to see public opinion only in
the voice of Parliament; and his resolve led at once to a contest with
Wilkes as with the press. It was in the press that the nation was
finding a court of appeal from the Houses of Parliament. The popularity
of the _North-Briton_ made Wilkes the representative of the new
journalism, as he was the representative of that mass of general
sentiment of which it was beginning to be the mouthpiece; and the fall
of Bute had shown how real a power lay behind the agitator's diatribes.
But Grenville was of stouter stuff than the court favourite, and his
administration was hardly reformed when he struck at the growing
opposition to Parliament by a blow at its leader. In "Number 45" of the
_North-Briton_ Wilkes had censured the speech from the throne at the
opening of Parliament, and a "general warrant" by the Secretary of State
was issued against the "authors, printers, and publishers of this
seditious libel." Under this warrant forty-nine persons were seized for
a time; and in spite of his privilege as a member of Parliament Wilkes
himself was sent to the Tower. The arrest however was so utterly illegal
that he was at once released by the Court of Common Pleas; but he was
immediately prosecuted for libel. The national indignation at the
harshness of these proceedings passed into graver disapproval when
Parliament took advantage of the case to set itself up as a judicial
tribunal for the trial of its own assailant. While the paper which
formed the subject for prosecution was still before the courts of
justice it was condemned by the House of Commons as a "false,
scandalous, and seditious libel." The House of Lords at the same time
voted a pamphlet found among Wilkes's papers to be blasphemous, and
advised a prosecution. Though Pitt at once denounced the course of the
two Houses as unconstitutional, his protest, like that of Shelburne in
the Lords, proved utterly ineffectual; and Wilkes, who fled in terror to
France, was expelled at the opening of 1764 from the House of Commons.
Rapid and successful blows such as these seem to have shown to how
frivolous an assailant Bute had yielded. But if Wilkes fled over the
Channel, Grenville found he had still England to deal with. The
assumption of an arbitrary judicial power by both Houses, and the system
of terror which the Minister put in force against the Press by issuing
two hundred injunctions against different journals, roused a storm of
indignation throughout the country. Every street resounded with cries of
"Wilkes and Liberty!" Every shutter through the town was chalked with
"No. 45"; the old bonfires and tumults broke out with fresh violence:
and the Common Council of London refused to thank the sheriffs for
dispersing the mob. It was soon clear that opinion had been embittered
rather than silenced by the blow at Wilkes.

[Sidenote: Grenville and the Colonies.]

The same narrowness of view, the same honesty of purpose, the same
obstinacy of temper, were shown by Grenville in a yet more important
struggle, a struggle with the American Colonies. The plans of Bute for
their taxation and restraint had fallen to the ground on his retirement
and that of Townshend from office. Lord Shelburne succeeded Townshend at
the Board of Trade, and young as he was, Shelburne was too sound a
statesman to suffer these plans to be revived. But the resignation of
Shelburne in 1763, after the failure of Pitt to form a united ministry,
again reopened the question. Grenville had fully concurred in a part at
least of Bute's designs; and now that he found himself at the head of a
strong administration he again turned his attention to the Colonies. On
one important side his policy wholly differed from that of Townshend or
Bute. With Bute as with the king the question of deriving a revenue from
America was chiefly important as one which would bring the claims of
independent taxation and legislation put forward by the colonies to an
issue, and in the end--as it was hoped--bring about a reconstruction of
their democratic institutions and a closer union of the colonies under
British rule. Grenville's aim was strictly financial. His conservative
and constitutional temper made him averse from any sweeping changes in
the institutions of the Colonies. He put aside as roughly as Shelburne
the projects which had been suggested for the suppression of colonial
charters, the giving power in the Colonies to military officers, or the
payment of Crown officers in America by the English treasury. All he
desired was that the colonies should contribute what he looked on as
their just share towards the relief of the burthens left by the war; and
it was with a view to this that he proceeded to carry out the financial
plans which had been devised for the purpose of raising both an external
and an internal revenue from America.

[Sidenote: The Colonies and the Stamp Act.]

If such a policy was more honest, it was at the same time more absurd
than that of Bute. Bute had at any rate aimed at a great revolution in
the whole system of colonial government. Grenville aimed simply at
collecting a couple of hundred thousand pounds, and he knew that even
this wretched sum must be immensely lessened unless his plans were
cordially accepted by the colonists. He knew too that there was small
hope of such an acceptance. On the contrary, they at once met with a
dogged opposition; and though the shape which that opposition took was a
legal and technical one, it really opened up the whole question of the
relation of the Colonies to the mother country. Proud as England was of
her imperial position, she had as yet failed to grasp the difference
between an empire and a nation. A nation is an aggregate of individual
citizens, bound together in a common and equal relation to the state
which they form. An empire is an aggregate of political bodies, bound
together by a common relation to a central state, but whose relations to
it may vary from the closest dependency to the loosest adhesion. To
Grenville and the bulk of his fellow-countrymen the Colonies were as
completely English soil as England itself, nor did they see any
difference in political rights or in their relation to the Imperial
legislature between an Englishman of Massachusetts and a man of Kent.
What rights their charters gave the Colonies they looked on as not
strictly political but municipal rights; they were not states but
corporations; and, as corporate bodies, whatever privileges might have
been given them, they were as completely the creatures and subjects of
the English Crown as the corporate body of a borough or of a trading
company. Their very existence in fact rested in a like way on the will
of the Crown; on a breach of the conditions under which they were
granted their charters were revocable and their privileges ceased, their
legislatures and the rights of their legislatures came to an end as
completely as the common council of a borough that had forfeited its
franchise or the rights of that common council. It was true that save in
matters of trade and navigation the Imperial Parliament or the Imperial
Crown had as yet left them mainly to their own self-government; above
all that it had not subjected them to the burthen of taxation which was
borne by other Englishmen at home. But it had more than once asserted
its right to tax the colonies; it had again and again refused assent to
acts of their legislatures which denied such a right; and from the very
nature of things they held it impossible that such a right could exist.
No bounds could be fixed for the supremacy of the king in Parliament
over every subject of the Crown, and the colonist of America was as
absolutely a subject as the ordinary Englishman. On mere grounds of law
Grenville was undoubtedly right in his assertion of such a view as this;
for the law had grown up under purely national conditions, and without
a consciousness of the new political world to which it was now to be
applied. What the colonists had to urge against it was really the fact
of such a world. They were Englishmen, but they were Englishmen parted
from England by three thousand miles of sea. They could not, if they
would, share the common political life of men at home; nature had
imposed on them their own political life; what charters had done was not
to create but to recognize a state of things which sprang from the very
circumstances under which the Colonies had originated and grown into
being. Nor could any cancelling of charters cancel those circumstances.
No Act of Parliament could annihilate the Atlantic. The political status
of the man of Massachusetts could not be identical with that of the man
of Kent, because that of the Kentish man rested on his right of being
represented in Parliament and thus sharing in the work of
self-government, while the other from sheer distance could not exercise
such a right. The pretence of equality was in effect the assertion of
inequality; for it was to subject the colonist to the burthens of
Englishmen without giving him any effective share in the right of
self-government which Englishmen purchased by supporting those burthens.
But the wrong was even greater than this. The Kentish man really took
his share in governing through his representative in Parliament the
Empire to which the colonist belonged. If the colonist had no such
share he became the subject of the Kentish man. The pretence of
political identity had ended in the establishment not only of serfdom
but of the most odious form of serfdom, a subjection to one's

[Sidenote: The theory of the colonists.]

The only alternative for so impossible a relation was the recognition of
such relations as actually existed. While its laws remained national,
England had grown from a nation into an empire. Whatever theorists might
allege, the Colonies were in fact political bodies with a distinct life
of their own, whose connexion with the mother country had in the last
hundred years taken a definite and peculiar form. Their administration
in its higher parts was in the hands of the mother country. Their
legislation on all internal affairs, though lightly supervised by the
mother country, was practically in their own hands. They exercised
without interference the right of self-taxation, while the mother
country exercised with as little interference the right of monopolizing
their trade. Against this monopoly of their trade not a voice was as yet
raised among the colonists. They justly looked on it as an enormous
contribution to the wealth of Britain, which might fairly be taken in
place of any direct supplies, and which while it asserted the
sovereignty of the mother country, left their local freedom untouched.
The harshness of such a monopoly had indeed been somewhat mitigated by
a system of contraband trade which had grown up between American ports
and the adjacent Spanish islands, a trade so necessary for the Colonies,
and in the end so beneficial to British commerce itself, that statesmen
like Walpole had winked at its developement. The pedantry of Grenville
however saw in it only an infringement of British monopoly; and one of
his first steps was to suppress this contraband trade by a rigid
enforcement of the navigation laws. Harsh and unwise as these measures
seemed, the colonists owned their legality; and their resentment only
showed itself in a pledge to use no British manufactures till the
restrictions were relaxed. But such a stroke was a mere measure of
retaliation, whose pressure was pretty sure in the end to effect its
aim; and even in their moment of irritation the colonists uttered no
protest against the monopoly of their trade. Their position indeed was
strictly conservative; what they claimed was a continuance of the
existing connexion; and had their claim been admitted, they would
probably have drifted quietly into such a relation to the crown as that
of our actual colonies in Canada and Australasia.

[Sidenote: The Stamp Act passed.]

What the issue of such a policy might have been as America grew to a
population and wealth beyond those of the mother country, it is hard to
guess. But no such policy was to be tried. The next scheme of the
Minister--his proposal to introduce internal taxation within the bounds
of the Colonies themselves by reviving the project of an excise or stamp
duty, which Walpole's good sense had rejected--was of another order from
his schemes for suppressing the contraband traffic. Unlike the system of
the Navigation Acts, it was a gigantic change in the whole actual
relations of England and its colonies. They met it therefore in another
spirit. Taxation and representation, they asserted, went hand in hand.
America had no representatives in the British Parliament. The
representatives of the colonists met in their own colonial assemblies,
and these were willing to grant supplies of a larger amount than a
stamp-tax would produce. Massachusetts--first as ever in her
protest--marked accurately the position she took. "Prohibitions of trade
are neither equitable nor just; but the power of taxing is the grand
banner of British liberty. If that is once broken down, all is lost."
The distinction was accepted by the assembly of every colony; and it was
with their protest and offer that they despatched Benjamin Franklin, who
had risen from his position of a working printer in Philadelphia to high
repute among scientific discoverers, as their agent to England. In
England Franklin found few who recognized the distinction which the
colonists had drawn; it was indeed incompatible with the universal
belief in the omnipotence of the Imperial Parliament. But there were
many who held that such taxation was unadvisable, that the control of
trade was what a country really gained from its colonies, that it was no
work of a statesman to introduce radical changes into relations so
delicate as those of a mother country and its dependencies, and that,
boundless as was the power of Parliament in theory, "it should
voluntarily set bounds to the exercise of its power." It had the right
to tax Ireland but it never used it. The same self-restraint might be
extended to America, and the more that the colonists were in the main
willing to tax themselves for the general defence. Unluckily Franklin
could give no assurance as to a union for the purpose of such taxation,
and without such an assurance Grenville had no mind to change his plans.
In February 1765 the Stamp Act was passed through both Houses with less
opposition than a turnpike bill.

At this critical moment Pitt was absent from the House of Commons. "When
the resolution was taken to tax America, I was ill and in bed," he said
a few months later. "If I could have endured to be carried in my bed, so
great was the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would have
solicited some kind hand to have laid me down on this floor, to have
borne my testimony against it." He was soon however called to a position
where his protest might have been turned to action. The Stamp Act was
hardly passed when an insult offered to the Princess Dowager, by the
exclusion of her name from a Regency Act, brought to a head the quarrel
which had long been growing between the ministry and the king. George
again offered power to William Pitt, and so great was his anxiety to
free himself from Grenville's dictation that he consented absolutely to
Pitt's terms. He waived his objection to that general return of the
whole Whig party to office which Pitt had laid down in 1763 as a
condition of his own. He consented to his demands for a change of policy
in America, for the abolition of general warrants, and the formation of
a Protestant system of German alliances as a means of counteracting the
family compact of the house of Bourbon. The formation of the new
ministry seemed secured, when the refusal of Earl Temple to join it
brought Pitt's efforts abruptly to an end. Temple was Pitt's
brother-in-law, and Pitt was not only bound to him by strong family
ties, but he found in him his only Parliamentary support. The Great
Commoner had not a single follower of his own in the House of Commons,
nor a single seat in it at his disposal. What following he seemed to
have was simply that of the Grenvilles; and it was the support of his
brothers-in-law, Lord Temple and George Grenville, which had enabled him
in great part to hold his own against the Whig connexion in the Ministry
of 1757. But George Grenville had parted from him at its close, and now
Lord Temple drew to his brother rather than to Pitt. His refusal to
join the Cabinet left Pitt absolutely alone so far as Parliamentary
strength went, and he felt himself too weak, when thus deserted, to hold
his ground in any ministerial combination with the Whigs. Disappointed
in two successive efforts to form a ministry by the same obstacle, he
returned to his seat in Somersetshire, while the king turned for help to
the main body of the Whigs.

[Sidenote: The Rockingham Ministry.]

The age and incapacity of the Duke of Newcastle had placed the Marquis
of Rockingham at the head of this section of the party, after it had
been driven from office to make way for the supremacy of Bute. Thinned
as it was by the desertion of Grenville and Townshend, as well as of the
Bedford faction, it still claimed an exclusive right to the name of the
Whigs. Rockingham was honest of purpose, he was free from all taint of
the corruption of men like Newcastle, and he was inclined to a pure and
lofty view of the nature and end of government. But he was young, timid,
and of small abilities, and he shared to the full the dislike of the
great Whig nobles to Pitt and the popular sympathies on which Pitt's
power rested. The weakness of the ministry which he formed in July 1765
was seen in its slowness to deal with American affairs. Rockingham
looked on the Stamp Act as inexpedient; but he held firmly against Pitt
and Shelburne the right of Parliament to tax and legislate for the
Colonies, and it was probably through this difference of sentiment that
Pitt refused to join his ministry on its formation. For six months he
made no effort to repeal the obnoxious Acts, and in fact suffered
preparations to go on for enforcing them. News however soon came from
America which made this attitude impossible. Vigorously as he had
struggled against the Acts, Franklin had seen no other course for the
Colonies, when they were passed, but that of submission. But submission
was the last thing the colonists dreamed of. Everywhere through New
England riots broke out on the news of the arrival of the stamped paper;
and the frightened collectors resigned their posts. Northern and
Southern States were drawn together by the new danger. "Virginia," it
was proudly said afterwards, "rang the alarm bell"; its assembly was the
first to formally deny the right of the British Parliament to meddle
with internal taxation, and to demand the repeal of the Acts.
Massachusetts not only adopted the denial and the demand as its own, but
proposed a Congress of delegates from all the colonial assemblies to
provide for common and united action; and in October 1765 this Congress
met to repeat the protest and petition of Virginia.

[Sidenote: Pitt and America.]

The Congress was the beginning of American union. "There ought to be no
New Englandman, no New Yorker known on this continent," said one of its
members, "but all of us Americans." The news of its assembly reached
England at the end of the year and perplexed the ministry, two of whose
members now declared themselves in favour of repealing the Acts. But
Rockingham would promise at most no more than suspension; and when the
Houses met in the spring of 1766 no voice but Shelburne's was raised in
the Peers for repeal. In the Commons however the news at once called
Pitt to the front. As a minister he had long since rejected a similar
scheme for taxing the Colonies. He had been ill and absent from
Parliament when the Stamp Act was passed. But he adopted to the full the
constitutional claim of America. He gloried in a resistance, which was
denounced in Parliament as rebellion. "In my opinion," he said, "this
kingdom has no right to lay a tax on the Colonies.... America is
obstinate! America is almost in open rebellion! Sir, I rejoice that
America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the
feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have
been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest." "He spoke," said a
looker-on, "like a man inspired," and he ended by a demand for the
absolute, total, and immediate repeal of the Acts. It is from this
moment that the bitter hatred of George the Third to Pitt may be dated.
In an outburst of resentment the king called him a trumpet of sedition,
and openly wished for his death. But the general desire that he should
return to office was quickened by the sense of power which spoke in his
words, and now that the first bitterness of finding himself alone had
passed away, Pitt was willing to join the Whigs. Negotiations were
opened for this purpose; but they at once broke down. Weak as they felt
themselves, Rockingham and his colleagues now shrank from Pitt, as on
the formation of their ministry Pitt had shrunk from them. Personal
feeling no doubt played its part; for in any united administration Pitt
must necessarily take the lead, and Rockingham was in no mood to give up
his supremacy. But graver political reasons, as we have seen,
co-operated with this jealousy and distrust; and the blind sense which
the Whigs had long had of a radical difference between their policy and
that of Pitt was now defined for them by the keenest political thinker
of the day.

[Sidenote: Edmund Burke.]

At this moment Rockingham was in great measure guided by the counsels of
his secretary, Edmund Burke. Burke had come to London in 1750 as a poor
and unknown Irish adventurer. But the learning which at once won him the
friendship of Johnson, and the imaginative power which enabled him to
give his learning a living shape, soon promised him a philosophical and
literary career. Instinct however drew Burke not to literature but to
politics. He became secretary to Lord Rockingham, and in 1765 entered
Parliament under his patronage. His speech on the repeal of the Stamp
Acts at once lifted him into fame. The heavy Quaker-like figure, the
scratch wig, the round spectacles, the cumbrous roll of paper which
loaded Burke's pocket, gave little promise of a great orator and less of
the characteristics of his oratory--its passionate ardour, its poetic
fancy, its amazing prodigality of resources; the dazzling succession in
which irony, pathos, invective, tenderness, the most brilliant
word-pictures, the coolest argument followed each other. It was an
eloquence indeed of a wholly new order in English experience. Walpole's
clearness of statement, Pitt's appeals to emotion, were exchanged for
the impassioned expression of a distinct philosophy of politics. "I have
learned more from him than from all the books I ever read," Fox cried at
a later time, with a burst of generous admiration. The philosophical
cast of Burke's reasoning was unaccompanied by any philosophical
coldness of tone or phrase. The groundwork indeed of his nature was
poetic. His ideas, if conceived by the reason, took shape and colour
from the splendour and fire of his imagination. A nation was to him a
great living society, so complex in its relations, and whose
institutions were so interwoven with glorious events in the past, that
to touch it rudely was a sacrilege. Its constitution was no artificial
scheme of government, but an exquisite balance of social forces which
was in itself a natural outcome of its history and developement. His
temper was in this way conservative, but his conservatism sprang not
from a love of inaction but from a sense of the value of social order,
and from an imaginative reverence for all that existed. Every
institution was hallowed to him by the clear insight with which he
discerned its relations to the past and its subtle connexion with the
social fabric around it. To touch even an anomaly seemed to Burke to be
risking the ruin of a complex structure of national order which it had
cost centuries to build up. "The equilibrium of the constitution," he
said, "has something so delicate about it, that the least displacement
may destroy it." "It is a difficult and dangerous matter even to touch
so complicated a machine."

[Sidenote: Burke and politics.]

Perhaps the readiest refutation of such a theory was to be found in its
influence on Burke's practical dealing with politics. In the great
question indeed which fronted him as he entered Parliament, it served
him well. No man has ever seen with deeper insight the working of those
natural forces which build up communities, or which group communities
into empires; and in the actual state of the American Colonies, in their
actual relation to the mother country, he saw a result of such forces
which only madmen and pedants would disturb. To enter upon "grounds of
Government," to remodel this great structure of empire on a theoretical
basis, seemed to him a work for "metaphysicians," and not for
statesmen. What statesmen had to do was to take this structure as it
was, and by cautious and delicate adjustment to accommodate from time to
time its general shape and the relations of its various parts to the
varying circumstances of their natural developement. Nothing, in other
words, could be truer than Burke's political philosophy when the actual
state of things was good in itself, and its preservation a recognition
of the harmony of political institutions with political facts. But
nothing could be more unwise than his philosophy when he applied it to a
state of things which in itself was evil, and which was in fact a
defiance of the natural growth and adjustment of political power. It was
thus that he applied it to politics at home. He looked on the Revolution
of 1688 as the final establishment of English institutions. His aim was
to keep England as the Revolution had left it, and under the rule of the
great nobles who were faithful to the Revolution. Such a conviction left
him hostile to all movement whatever. He gave his passionate adhesion to
the inaction of the Whigs. He made an idol of Lord Rockingham, an honest
man, but the weakest of party leaders. He strove to check the corruption
of Parliament by a bill for civil retrenchment, but he took the lead in
defeating all plans for its reform. Though he was one of the few men in
England who understood the value of free industry, he struggled bitterly
against all proposals to give freedom to Irish trade, and against the
Commercial Treaty which the younger Pitt concluded with France. His work
seemed to be that of investing with a gorgeous poetry the policy of
timid content which the Whigs believed they inherited from Sir Robert
Walpole; and the very intensity of his trust in the natural developement
of a people rendered him incapable of understanding the good that might
come from particular or from special reforms.

It was this temper of Burke's mind which estranged him from Pitt. His
political sagacity had discerned that the true basis of the Whig party
must henceforth be formed in a combination of that "power drawn from
popularity" which was embodied in Pitt with the power which the Whig
families drew from political "connexion." But with Pitt's popular
tendencies Burke had no real sympathy. He looked on his eloquence as
mere rant; he believed his character to be hollow, selfish, and
insincere. Above all he saw in him with a true foreboding the
representative of forces before which the actual method of government
must go down. The popularity of Pitt in face of his Parliamentary
isolation was a sign that the House of Commons was no real
representative of the English people. Burke foresaw that Pitt was
drifting inevitably to a demand for a reform of the House which should
make it representative in fact as in name. The full issues of such a
reform, the changes which it would bring with it, the displacement of
political power which it would involve, Burke alone of the men of his
day understood. But he understood them only to shrink from them with
horror, and to shrink with almost as great a horror from the man who was
leading England on in the path of change.

[Sidenote: Repeal of the Stamp Act.]

At this crisis then the temper of Burke squared with the temper of the
Whig party and of Rockingham; and the difference between Pitt's
tendencies and their own came to the front on the question of dealing
with the troubles in America. Pitt was not only for a repeal of the
Stamp Acts, but for an open and ungrudging acknowledgement of the claim
to a partial independence which had been made by the colonists. His
genius saw that, whatever were the legal rights of the mother country,
the time had come when the union between England and its children across
the Atlantic must rest rather on sentiment than on law. Such a view was
wholly unintelligible to the mass of the Whigs or the ministry. They
were willing, rather than heighten American discontent, to repeal the
Stamp Acts; but they looked on the supremacy of England and of the
English Parliament over all English dependencies as a principle
absolutely beyond question. From the union, therefore, which Pitt
offered Rockingham and his fellow-ministers stood aloof. They were
driven, whether they would or no, to a practical acknowledgement of the
policy which he demanded; but they resolved that the repeal of the Stamp
Acts should be accompanied by a formal repudiation of the principles of
colonial freedom which Pitt had laid down. A declaratory act was first
brought in, which asserted the supreme power of Parliament over the
Colonies "in all cases whatsoever." The declaration was intended no
doubt to reassure the followers of the ministry as well as their
opponents, for in the assertion of the omnipotence of the two Houses to
which they belonged Whig and Tory were at one. But it served also as a
public declaration of the difference which severed the Whigs from the
Great Commoner. In a full house Pitt found but two supporters in his
fierce attack upon the declaratory bill, which was supported by Burke in
a speech which at once gave him rank as an orator; while Pitt's
lieutenant, Shelburne, found but four supporters in a similar attack in
the Lords. The passing of the declaratory act was followed by the
introduction of a bill for the repeal of the Stamp Acts; and in spite of
the resistance of the king's friends, a resistance instigated by George
himself, the bill was carried in February 1766 by a large majority.

[Sidenote: The Chatham Ministry.]

As the members left the House of Commons, George Grenville, whose
resistance had been fierce and dogged, was hooted by the crowd which
waited to learn the issue without. Before Pitt the multitude reverently
uncovered their heads and followed him home with blessings. It was the
noblest hour of his life. For the moment indeed he had "saved England"
more truly than even at the crisis of the Seven Years' War. His voice
had forced on the ministry and the king a measure which averted, though
but for a while, the fatal struggle between England and her Colonies.
Lonely as he was, the ministry which had rejected his offers of aid
found itself unable to stand against the general sense that the first
man in the country should be its ruler; and bitter as was the king's
hatred of him, Rockingham's resignation in the summer of 1766 forced
George to call Pitt into office. His acceptance of the king's call and
the measures which he took to construct a ministry showed a new resolve
in the great statesman. He had determined to break finally with the
political tradition which hampered him, and to set aside even the dread
of Parliamentary weakness which had fettered him three years before.
Temple's refusal of aid, save on terms of equality which were wholly
inadmissible, was passed by, though it left Pitt without a party in the
House of Commons. In the same temper he set at defiance the merely
Parliamentary organization of the Whigs by excluding Newcastle, while he
showed his wish to unite the party as a whole by his offer of posts to
nearly all the members of the late administration. Though Rockingham
stood coldly aside, some of his fellow-ministers accepted Pitt's
offers, and they were reinforced by Lords Shelburne and Camden, the
young Duke of Grafton, and the few friends who still clung to the Great
Commoner. Such a ministry however rested for power not on Parliament but
on public opinion. It was in effect an appeal from Parliament to the
people; and it was an appeal which made such a reform in Parliament as
would bring it into unison with public opinion a mere question of time.
Whatever may have been Pitt's ultimate designs, however, no word of such
a reform was uttered by any one. On the contrary, Pitt stooped to
strengthen his Parliamentary support by admitting some even of the
"king's friends" to a share in the administration. But its life lay
really in Pitt himself, in his immense popularity, and in the command
which his eloquence gave him over the House of Commons. His popularity
indeed was soon roughly shaken; for the ministry was hardly formed when
it was announced that its leader had accepted the earldom of Chatham.
The step removed him to the House of Lords, and for a while ruined the
public confidence which his reputation for unselfishness had aided him
to win. But it was from no vulgar ambition that Pitt laid down his title
of the Great Commoner. The nervous disorganization which had shown
itself three years before in his despair upon Temple's desertion had
never ceased to hang around him, and it had been only at rare intervals
that he had forced himself from his retirement to appear in the House of
Commons. It was the consciousness of coming weakness that made him shun
the storms of debate. But in the Cabinet he showed all his old energy.
The most jealous of his fellow-ministers owned his supremacy. At the
close of one of his earliest councils Charles Townshend acknowledged to
a colleague "Lord Chatham has just shown to us what inferior animals we
are!" Plans were at once set on foot for the better government of
Ireland, for the transfer of India from the Company to the Crown, and
for the formation of an alliance with Prussia and Russia to balance the
Family Compact of the House of Bourbon. The alliance was foiled for the
moment by the coldness of Frederick of Prussia. The first steps towards
Indian reform were only taken by the ministry under severe pressure from
Pitt. Petty jealousies, too, brought about the withdrawal of some of the
Whigs, and the hostility of Rockingham was shown by the fierce attacks
of Burke in the House of Commons. But secession and invective had little
effect on the ministry. "The session," wrote Horace Walpole to a friend
at the close of 1766, "has ended triumphantly for the Great Earl"; and
when Chatham withdrew to Bath to mature his plans for the coming year
his power remained unshaken.


      *      *      *      *      *      *


Variations in spelling have been left as in the original. Examples
include the following:

     council  Councils  Councillor  Councillors
     counsel  counsels  counselled  counsellor  counsellors

     ascendant         ascendency
     burdens           burthens
     Luxembourg        Luxemburg
     recognised        recognized

Variations in hyphenation have been left as in the original. Examples
include the following:

     arm-chair             armchair
     re-organization       reorganization

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 35: success or defeat must be{original has by} equally

     Page 155: or dependents{original has dependants} wringing

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