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Title: William the Third
Author: Traill, H. D. (Henry Duff), 1842-1900
Language: English
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Twelve English Statesmen


[Publisher's logotype]




Macmillan and Co., Limited
New York: The Macmillan Company

All rights reserved

First Edition, May 1888
Reprinted August 1888, 1892, 1897, 1902, 1906




  Birth, ancestry, and early years--State of Dutch parties--
  William's boyhood--His character and ambitions--Hostility of
  De Witt and his partisans--Visit to England--Outbreak of the
  War of 1672                                                        Page 1



  William elected Stadtholder of Holland--Murder of the De Witts--
  Campaign of 1672-3--Successes of the Prince--Declared hereditary
  Stadtholder--Progress of the French arms--Marriage with Mary--
  Negotiations of Nimeguen--Conclusion of the Peace--Battle of St.
  Denis                                                                   9



  An interval of repose--Revival of continental troubles--Death of
  Charles II.--Expedition of Monmouth--Mission of Dykvelt--James's
  growing unpopularity--Invitation to William--Attempted intervention
  by France--William's declaration--He sets sail, and is driven back
  by storm--Second expedition and landing                                17



  Advance to Exeter--Measures of James--Council of the Lords--Their
  proposals--The King goes to Salisbury--Defection of Churchill--
  James returns to London--Negotiation--Attempted flight of James--
  His arrest--Advance of William--Entry of Dutch troops into London
  --Actual flight of James                                               30



  Characteristics of the English Revolution--Views of the various
  parties--The Convention--Proposal to declare the throne vacant--
  The Regency question--The resolution of the Commons--Amendment of
  the Lords--The crisis--Attitude of Mary--Announcement of William
  --Resolution passed--Declaration of Right--Tender of the Crown         39



  William's part in the Revolution--Convention declared a Parliament
  --Oath of Allegiance--Settlement of Civil List--Appropriation
  Clause--Toleration and Comprehension--Address of the Commons
  inviting the King to declare war                                       56



  Invasion of Ireland--Campaign of 1689--Parliamentary strife--The
  conduct of the war--The Oates Case--The Succession Bill--Attempts
  to pass an Indemnity Bill--Rancour of the Whigs--Their factious
  opposition to William's Irish plans--Dissolution of Parliament         67



  Parliament of 1690--Tory majority--Settlement of the royal income
  --Case of the Princess Anne--The "Act of Grace"--Detection of
  Preston's conspiracy--William's departure for Ireland--Battle of
  the Boyne--Battle off Beachy Head--Marlborough's Irish campaign--
  William's departure for the Hague                                      79



  Campaign of 1691 in the Netherlands--Fall of Mons--Disaffection of
  William's councillors--Conclusion of year's campaign--Disgrace and
  dismissal of Marlborough--Massacre of Glencoe                          93



  Gloomy European prospects--Campaign of 1692 in the Netherlands--
  Defeat of Steinkirk--Attempt of Grandval--Session of 1692--Place
  Bill and Triennial Bill--Campaign of 1693--William outwitted by
  Luxembourg--Defeat of Landen--Session of 1693-94--Louis's
  overtures of peace                                                    104



  Formation of the first party Ministry--Reintroduction of the
  Triennial Bill and its defeat--Of the Place Bill and its veto
  --Causes of the disallowance--Macaulay's account examined--
  Campaign of 1694--Death of Mary                                       119



  Campaign of 1695--Capture of Namur by the allies--Dissolution of
  Parliament--William's "progress"--The elections--New Parliament
  --Grants to Portland--The Assassination Plot--Campaign of 1696--
  Fenwick's conspiracy--Negotiations with France--Peace of Ryswick      135



  Portland's embassy--His life in Paris--The question of the Spanish
  Succession--The First Partition Treaty--General election and
  meeting of the new Parliament--Its temper--Opposition to William's
  military policy--Reduction of the army                                156



  Death of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria--Renewed negotiations--
  Second Partition Treaty--The Irish forfeitures--The Resumption
  Bill--Will and death of the King of Spain                             171



  English indifference on the Spanish Question--Death of James II.
  and Louis's recognition of the Pretender--Reaction in England--
  Dissolution of Parliament--Support of William's policy by its
  successor--The Treaties--Accident to William--His illness and
  death--Character--The Whig legend examined--His great qualities
  as man and ruler--Our debt to him                                     189



    Birth, ancestry, and early years--State of Dutch parties--
      William's boyhood--His character and ambitions--Hostility
      of De Witt and his partisans--Visit to England--Outbreak
      of the War of 1672.

William Henry, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau, a ruler destined to
play a greater part in shaping the destinies of modern England than any
of her native sovereigns, was born at the Hague on the 4th of November
1650. By blood and ancestral tradition he was well fitted for the work
to which he was to be called. The descendant of a line of statesmen and
warriors, the scion of a house which more than a century before had been
associated with the most heroic struggle for national freedom that
history records, he could hardly have added stronger hereditary to the
great personal qualifications for the enterprises reserved for him. His
family was one of the most ancient in Europe--reaching back, indeed, for
its origin into the regions of fable. "I will not take upon me," says an
English biographer, writing shortly after his hero's death, "to extend
the Antiquity of the House of Nassau as far as the time of Julius
Cæsar, though that Emperor in his first book of Commentaries, _De Bello
Gallico_, says that one Nassau, with his brother Cimberius, led a body
of Germans out of Suabia and settled upon the banks of the Rhine near
Treves, which is the more observable by reason of the Affinity of the
Words, which differ only in the Transposition of one Letter; but I doubt
'tis rather Presumption than Truth for any one to affirm that there is
an Estate upon that very Spot of Ground mentioned by Cæsar which belongs
to the Nassovian Family to this Day." Without insisting on so very
ancient and remote an origin as this, we may take it as certain that the
House of Nassau had been established in Europe for some thousand years
at the birth of William. As early as in the thirteenth century it was
honoured with the imperial dignity in the person of Adolph of Nassau.
The title and domains of Orange were added to the family in the
sixteenth century by the marriage of Claude de Chalons, sister and
heiress of the then Prince of Orange, with Henry of Nassau, from whose
son Réné the principality passed by testamentary bequest to the great
Stadtholder of Holland, William, surnamed the Silent, the illustrious
liberator of the United Provinces from the yoke of Spain. The
acquisition of this petty principality--only twelve miles in length by
nine in breadth--was by no means the matter of trivial importance which
its territorial dimensions might imply. Its situation in the very heart
of the dominions of France, the incidents attaching to that situation
and the consequences flowing from it, contributed in their degree to
that complex system of forces by which the course of history is
determined. To William I. succeeded his son Maurice, the bearer of a
name also memorable in the history of the States, a greater soldier and
a statesman of scarcely less ability than his father, though of a far
more chequered fame. Under Maurice the power of the Stadtholder or
Governor was, in spite of the jealousy with which it was regarded by the
burgher party, considerably advanced, and he was not without reason
suspected of the design of making himself an absolute ruler. Dying
without issue, he was succeeded by his brother Frederick Henry, another
renowned captain, under whom the long struggle with Spain was at last
brought to a close by the renunciation, in the Treaty of Westphalia, of
the Spanish claim upon the United Provinces. William II., the son of
Frederick Henry, was born in 1626, and succeeded his father at the age
of twenty-one. Endowed with all the restless activity and ambition of
his uncle, he attempted, in prosecution of the same monarchical designs
as that prince, to seize the city of Amsterdam by a _coup de main_. The
project, however, was defeated, and William, after a troubled reign of
only four years, was fatally attacked by the smallpox, and died on the
27th of October 1650, leaving no issue. Eight days after his death,
however, his widow, Mary, daughter of Charles I., gave premature birth
to the son whose career it is in these pages proposed to trace.

Seldom has a new-born child been the object of such diverse emotions,
the centre of so many conflicting hopes and fears among its countrymen
as was this infant Prince. To the partisans of the House of Orange he
appeared as the God-sent heir--an earlier _enfant du miracle_ vouchsafed
by Providence to save the great race of William the Silent from
extinction in the male line. To the party of the municipal oligarchy he
presented himself as the probable inheritor rather of the ambitions of
his father and his father's uncle, than of the virtues of his
great-grandfather. The latter party, who for the moment had the upper
hand, were fully resolved that the young Prince should never wield as
much power as that which Prince Frederick Henry had sought during his
four years' reign to abuse. The party of the infant Prince, on the other
hand, a party headed by the Princess Dowager and her mother, made up as
far as possible for the lack of direct and political power by incessant
and indefatigable intrigue; and to their efforts it was that the
Pensionary De Witt, the representative of the municipal party, ascribed,
and not without reason, the war which broke out between the States and
the Rump Parliament in 1651. Its effect, however, was temporarily
disastrous to their ambitions; for, the United Provinces being compelled
to solicit peace from Cromwell, the Lord Protector, who was naturally
opposed to the elevation of a family allied by marriage to the exiled
Stuarts, compelled the States of Holland and West Friesland, as a
condition of his ratifying the articles of peace, to pass a decree that
"they would never elect the Prince or any of his lineage Stadtholder of
their province, nor consent that he or any of his family should be
Captain-General of the forces of the United Provinces."

Reared from his very cradle amid the animosities of contending factions,
the young Prince learned early those four lessons of statecraft,--to
conceal his designs, to watch his opportunities, to choose his
instruments, and to bide his time. His education, other than that which
he was receiving daily in the stern school of circumstances, he owed to
his mother alone. Under her care he acquired a good knowledge of
mathematics and military science, and learned to speak English, French,
and German almost as fluently as his native tongue. The chiefs of the
municipal party, who became his official guardians, would have willingly
stinted his instruction, if by so doing they might have checked his
aspirations; but the ambition to emulate the fame of his great
predecessors, and to secure the power which they had wielded, took root
within him from his boyish years, and grew steadily with his growth.
Weak and ailing from his childhood, for he shared the too common lot of
those infants who are brought into the world before the appointed months
are run, he took no pleasure, as he possessed no skill, in the ordinary
pastimes of the boy; and, with a mind thus turned inward upon itself,
from an age at which other children have no care or thought but for the
thousand novel interests and attractions of the world without them, he
acquired habits of reserve and thoughtfulness beyond his years. The
religious faith in which he was nurtured was a Calvinism of the
strictest sort. His firm hold of the grim doctrine of predestination
stood him in much the same stead as Napoleon's belief in his destiny,
and long before he arrived at man's estate he had in all probability
convinced himself that the inscrutable counsels of Providence had
designed him for great things.

Humanly speaking, however, his prospects did not appear to brighten
before him as years went on. At the age of ten he lost his mother, who
had gone to England to visit her brother, just restored to the throne,
and was there carried off by an attack of smallpox. In the same year he
saw his principality of Orange forcibly seized by Louis, who, after
demolishing its fortifications, held possession of it for five years,
surrendering it only in 1665. Then came the war of that year between
England and the Dutch Provinces, a conflict which his party temporarily
conceived the hope of turning to their own profit, but which left them
ultimately in a worse plight than before; for no provisions in the
Prince's interests were insisted on by his uncle, Charles II., in the
Treaty of Peace, and, under the instigation of De Witt, the States of
Holland and West Friesland subsequently passed a perpetual edict
suppressing the office of Stadtholder. A faint effort was made by
Charles II. through Sir William Temple to vindicate the rights of his
nephew, but the efforts of the ambassador were coldly received by the
Pensionary, and the matter dropped. De Witt now pushed his hostility yet
further, and the States resorted to the ignoble and ungrateful measure
of calling upon the young Prince to quit the house at the Hague which,
though technically the property of the States, had been for many years
the official residence of his family. To the Pensionary, who was charged
with the communication of this order, William replied by a spirited
refusal, directing his visitor to inform the States that he would not
quit the house unless removed by force; upon which his persecutors,
apprehensive no doubt of the odium which such a step would excite among
the common people, who were many of them well affected to his historic
family, allowed their demand to lapse. William, now eighteen years of
age, determined to make a counter-move on his own part, and presenting
himself before the assembly of the States of the province of Zealand,
he proposed to them to elect him first noble of that province, a
dignity which they had been wont to confer upon his ancestors at his
then age. The Zealanders complied readily with the request, though they
did not proceed, as had been expected, to elect him to the higher office
of Stadtholder of the province; and except by entitling him to a seat in
the States General as representative of the nobility of Zealand, the
minor honours procured him nothing but the increased jealousy and
suspicions of the party of De Witt. Sir William Temple, then ambassador
at the Hague, with whom the Prince came into contact at this time,
characteristically reports of him in his Letters as a "young Man of more
Parts than ordinary and of the better Sort; that is, not lying in that
kind of Wit which is neither of use to one's self nor to anybody else,
but in good plain Sense which showed Application if he had business that
deserved it; and this with extreme good and agreeable Humour and
Dispositions without any Vice; that he was asleep in bed always at Ten
o'clock; loved Hunting as much as he hated Swearing, and preferred
Cock-ale before any Wine." In the year 1670 he managed after some
diplomatic difficulties to pay a visit to London, where he received the
attentions of a civic banquet, and of an honorary degree at Oxford, and
where too he acquired a very shrewd perception of the King's leanings
towards the religion of Rome.

But his day was now fast approaching. At the close of the year 1671 was
concluded the ever-infamous Treaty of Dover. Charles transformed
himself, with more than the celerity of the nimblest modern rat, from
the champion of the Protestant faith in Europe into the ally of its
deadliest enemy. Sir William Temple was recalled from the Hague, and the
Triple League between England, the States, and Sweden, which that
skilful envoy had taken so much pains to cement, was broken up. Early in
1672 war was declared by England against the Dutch, and the armies of
Louis, pouring into the United Provinces, became masters of all their
chief strongholds "in as little time," to quote the vigorous comparison
of one of William's biographers, "as travellers usually employ to view
them." The Prince's opportunity had come.



    William elected Stadtholder of Holland--Murder of the De Witts
      --Campaign of 1672-3--Successes of the Prince--Declared
      hereditary Stadtholder--Progress of the French arms--Marriage
      with Mary--Negotiations of Nimeguen--Conclusion of the Peace
      --Battle of St. Denis.

Louis XIV., like other military malefactors before and since, was
himself the creator of the enemy by whom his power was to be shaken to
its foundations. His invasion of the United Provinces, an enterprise
commenced with that contempt of public right in which no other potentate
has ever equalled him, and prosecuted with that barbarity in which only
Oriental conquerors have ever surpassed him, was the means of raising to
power the one European foe by whom he was destined to be successfully
withstood. The municipal party, unduly absorbed in the task of
safeguarding the liberties of their country against the supposed
ambitions of a single fellow-countryman, had wholly neglected the
protection of its very existence against the known ambitions of a
foreign aggressor. Most of their veteran troops had been disbanded; the
greatest posts in their armies were in the hands of unskilled civilians;
cities garrisoned with considerable forces of soldiery opened their
gates and surrendered without firing a gun. Popular indignation rose
high. Upon William, always a favourite among the commonalty, and the
inheritor of a name ennobled not only by civil wisdom but by military
exploits, all eyes were turned. An insurrection in his favour took place
at Dort, and the magistrates of that city, intimidated by the clamour of
the people, passed an ordinance repealing the perpetual edict, and made
him Stadtholder. Other cities followed their example, and the
States-General of the provinces confirmed their decrees. The two De
Witts, John and his brother Cornelius, now the objects of popular
suspicion and hatred, were assassinated in a street riot; and the
people, as if inspired with new courage by the restoration of a Prince
of Orange to a position from which princes of that name had so often led
them to victory, turned fiercely upon their French invaders. Five
thousand of Louis's troops were repulsed before Ardenburg by the bravery
of no more than two hundred burghers, assisted by the women and children
of the town, and one hundred garrison soldiers. The citizens of
Groningen, aided by the spirited students of its university, defended
themselves with equal vigour and good fortune against the warlike Bishop
of Munster, at the head of 30,000 soldiers, compelling him to raise the
siege. It was evident that a Dutch conquest was going to be no mere
military promenade, as had first appeared to promise, and Louis thought
it advisable to negotiate. To the chief of a state so desperately bested
as were the United Provinces at that moment, the terms offered to
William by the French monarch,--no less than the sovereignty of his
country under the protection of England and France,--might well have
appeared tempting. William rejected them with scorn. He would never, he
said, "betray the trust of his country that his ancestors had so long
defended." Solicitations addressed to him in the same sense by England
met with the same reply. To Buckingham, who had pressed them upon him,
and warned him that "if he persisted in his present humour he must
unavoidably see the final ruin of his cause," he made the Spartan answer
that he "had one way still left not to see that ruin completed, which
was to die in the last dyke."

The winter of 1672-3 had stopped the progress of the French for the
time, but William was unwilling to allow it to arrest his own action. He
laid siege to the town of Woerden, and, though forced by the Duke of
Luxembourg to retreat from it, inflicted heavy losses upon the enemy.
Then, having invested Tongres, captured Walcheren, and demolished Binch,
he himself retired reluctantly into winter quarters. In the following
spring he besieged and took Naerden, and later on in the year achieved a
still more important triumph in the capture of Bonn, which had been put
into the hands of France at the beginning of the war. New honours now
began to be contemplated by his grateful countrymen for their stout
defender. The Stadtholdership of Holland and West Friesland was not only
confirmed to him for life, but was settled upon his heirs male; and on
the same day the like dignity was conferred on him by the States of
Zealand--an example shortly afterwards followed by those of Utrecht. Nor
were his successes without effect upon his enemies. Charles, with whose
subjects the war had never been popular, concluded a peace with him
after these two summers of fighting, and offered his mediation between
the powers still at war, an offer which was accepted by France. Four
years, however, were to elapse, and many souls of brave men to be sent
to Hades, before this mediation took effect in a concluded peace. In the
summer of 1674 was fought the fiercest engagement of the whole war--the
bloody and indecisive battle of Seneff, in which William was pitted
against the renowned Prince of Condé. The young Prince had too much to
gain in reputation not to be eager to provoke a battle, and the old
soldier too much to lose to be willing to accept one if it could be
avoided; but William succeeded in his object. Condé was at first
victorious in an encounter between a portion of the two armies, but he
imprudently brought on a general battle, which, after raging furiously
for a whole day, left both parties to claim the victory--"the allies
because they were last upon the field, and the French on the strength of
the great number of prisoners and standards they had carried off." "But
whoever had the honour," adds Sir William Temple, "both had the loss."
It was on this occasion that Condé paid his famous compliment to the
Prince by describing him as having acted like an old general throughout
the action in every respect save that of having "exposed himself like a
young recruit."

For yet another four years, as has been said, this struggle continued to
rage, and, as it raged, to store up in his heart that exhaustless fund
of resentment against Louis which underwent hardly any depletion till
the day of his death. Several times were attempts made to detach William
from his Spanish allies and to induce him to conclude a separate peace,
but he remained firm against all such solicitations of betrayal. In vain
did Arlington, specially commissioned for that purpose, endeavour to
tempt him to the desertion of his allies by the offer of an English
matrimonial alliance. William simply replied that his fortunes were not
in a condition for him to think of a wife. Louis, however, was extremely
desirous of peace on any honourable terms, and William, to meet him
half-way, put forward a counter-proposal of a marriage between the King
of Spain and the eldest daughter of the Duke of Orleans, to whom France
should give in dowry the late conquered places in Flanders. This
ingenious proposal for reconciling the vindication of Spanish and Dutch
interests on the Flemish frontier with the maintenance of French
military honour, can scarcely have been made with any other purpose than
that of putting France in the wrong. William knew probably that it would
not square with Louis's existing hopes and pretensions, and that whether
Charles pressed it upon his cousin or not, it was pretty certain that no
more would be heard of it. For the present, moreover, he was under no
pressure to make a peace at all. The United Provinces had recovered
their confidence and hopefulness, and were full of admiration for and
attachment to their young leader. He had been actually offered the
sovereignty of Guelderland, and though his politic moderation induced
him to refuse it, opinion among the other provinces was divided as to
the propriety of his rejecting the offer. Nothing, however, could have
more strikingly illustrated the commanding position which he had
attained among his countrymen than the complete paralysis which
overcame them in 1675, during the fortunately brief period of the
Prince's suffering from a dangerous attack of smallpox. From this
disease, so fatal to his race, he recovered with apparent promptitude,
but it is only too probable that it left deep traces behind it on his
congenitally feeble frame.

After much dispute the scene of the peace negotiations had been fixed at
Nimeguen, and the Congress met there in the month of July 1676. But the
diplomatists there were still to deliberate for two years while armies
were fighting; and if William could have prevented it, the peace would
not have been made even as soon as it was. The next two years, however,
were on the whole years of success for France and of defeat for the
allies; and early in 1677 William, of his own accord, revived a project
to which, when previously broached to him, he had refused to listen. The
terms submitted to him during the deliberations at Nimeguen were
intolerable, and yet, though he obstinately refused to accept them, town
after town was falling before the French arms, and his country was at
last beginning to weary of the struggle. If he must at last be forced to
assent to distasteful conditions, why not, as the price of his assent,
obtain for himself a matrimonial alliance which, besides bringing him a
step nearer to the English throne, would immensely strengthen his
position as a representative of the Protestant cause in Europe. A year
before he had sounded Temple as to a proposal for the hand of his cousin
Mary, the Duke of York's eldest daughter; and had been encouraged by
that ambassador to hope for success in his suit. He now more formally
pressed it, selecting the moment with considerable astuteness. Neither
Charles nor James had any liking for the match, but the King was in the
midst of a struggle with his Parliament; his subserviency to Louis was
inflaming popular resentment against him, and a marriage of his niece to
William, more especially if it could be made the means of bringing about
a peace, appeared to promise the only means of extricating himself from
his difficulties. Danby, his minister, moreover, was just at that moment
trembling for his head, and was prepared to exert himself to the utmost
to save it by the only means available--the detachment of his master
from the French alliance. William was reluctantly invited to England,
and it is clear, in the whole history of the affair, that he felt
himself from the moment of his arrival to be _dominus contractûs_. With
respect to the question whether the business of the marriage should be
arranged before that of the peace or _vice versâ_, William insisted upon
his own order of procedure, and procured its adoption. Charles consented
to the marriage, and compelled the assent of his brother. The
States-General, communicated with by express, immediately signified
their approval; and William, who had fortunately found the person and
manners of his cousin highly attractive to him, was married hurriedly
and privately at eleven o'clock on the night of the 4th of November
1677, the anniversary of his birth. The King of England did his best to
reconcile his brother of France to a match, the news of which, our
ambassador at the French Court told Danby, he received "as he would have
done the loss of an army," by representing it as an important step
towards a peace; but William returned home with his bride, pledged only
to his uncle to accept a basis of peace which was to a large extent, if
not entirely, of his own formulation, and far more liberal to the allies
than anything which France had proposed. Louis, however, was to get his
own way after all. The United Provinces were now heartily sick of the
war, and were, moreover, not uninfluenced by a party hostile to William,
who felt or feigned apprehension of his designs upon the liberties of
the Republic. The States-General accepted the articles of France, and
having by their constitution the absolute power of peace and war, they
were able, on the 11th of August, to conclude a treaty over William's
head. Three days after the Prince, unaware, officially at least, that
the signatures had been actually affixed to the treaty, made a dash upon
the army of Luxembourg, then besieging Mons, and after a desperate
encounter secured one of the most brilliant successes of the war. The
next morning, however, advices arrived from the Hague of the conclusion
of the peace, and William had the mortification of feeling that the
fruits of a victory which had opened a way for the allies into the
country of their enemy were to remain ungathered.



    An interval of repose--Revival of continental troubles--Death
      of Charles II.--Expedition of Monmouth--Mission of Dykvelt
      --James's growing unpopularity--Invitation to William--
      Attempted intervention by France--William's declaration--He
      sets sail, and is driven back by storm--Second expedition
      and landing.

For the next six or seven years the life of the Prince of Orange was to
be unmarked by any striking external incidents. He was occupied with all
his wonted patience in the reparation of the mischiefs of the Treaty of
Nimeguen, and in the laborious construction of that great European
league by means of which he was afterwards destined to arrest the course
of French aggression. In this undertaking, and in watching and
retaliating upon the encroachments which Louis XIV., almost on the
morrow of the treaty, began making upon its provisions, William was
sufficiently employed. In 1684 these encroachments became intolerable.
Louis having vainly demanded of the Spaniards certain towns in Flanders,
on the pretext of their being rightful dependencies on places ceded to
him by the Treaty of Nimeguen, seized Strasbourg and besieged Luxembourg
in physical enforcement of his claim. Spain declared war, and William,
though thwarted by the States (mainly through the instrumentality of
the city of Amsterdam, which was always ill-disposed towards him), and
denied the levy of 16,000 men which he had asked for, took the field
notwithstanding in support of his Spanish ally. The united forces,
however, were too weak to effect much. Luxembourg speedily surrendered,
and as the result a twenty years' truce, on terms not very favourable
for William, was concluded with France.

During this period, as always, affairs in England no doubt demanded
general vigilance; but it was not till 1685 that they showed signs of
becoming critical. The death of Charles, and the known designs of
Monmouth, placed William in a very delicate position. During Charles's
life-time he had extended his protection to the exiled Duke, and had
even insisted so punctiliously on proper respect being shown to him,
that a difference had arisen between William and the English Court with
reference to the Duke's receiving salutes from the English troops, and
was actually unadjusted at Charles's death. Upon James's accession,
however, either to clear himself of all suspicion of abetting a
pretender to the throne, or, as some have asserted, to thwart the new
king's design of having his nephew seized and sent a prisoner to
England, William procured his departure from Dutch territory. Monmouth
retired to Brussels, but at the instance of James, who wrote a letter to
the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands charging him with high treason,
he was ordered by that functionary to quit the King of Spain's
dominions, and returned to Holland. Then followed his ill-fated
enterprise, throughout the brief course of which William maintained an
attitude of strict loyalty towards his father-in-law. He not only
despatched the six English and Scotch regiments in the Dutch service to
assist in suppressing the insurrection, but he offered, if James wished,
to take command of the royal troops in person. The offer was declined,
very likely from motives of suspicion by the King, but it is impossible
to suggest any plausible reason for questioning its _bona fides_. The
idle story that it was prompted by William's disgust at Monmouth's
proclaiming himself king, in breach of a promise to raise William
himself to the throne, bears absurdity on its face. The Princess stood
next in succession to the throne as it was; and if the Prince had
conceived a project of anticipating his wife's inheritance, he certainly
would not have entrusted the execution of that project to the feeble
hands and flighty brain of Monmouth.

But two years had scarcely passed before it really became necessary for
him to look after the interests of her reversion. As early as the spring
of 1687 it was beginning to be suspected by men of foresight, both in
England and in Holland, that James II.'s position was precarious. No
one, indeed, who was capable of forming a correct estimate of his
character and capacities could find in them any guarantees of prolonged
rule. He was as obstinate and insincere as his father, as selfish and
unscrupulous as his brother, while he was destitute alike of the
former's power of enlisting the devotion of individuals, and of the
latter's easy popularity with the common people. It would be unjust to
him not to admit that many of his gravest difficulties were prepared for
him in his brother's time, if not by his brother's means; but it cannot
be denied that he had made astonishing haste to convert these grave
difficulties into the most formidable dangers. In little more than two
years from his accession in February 1685, his nephew found it expedient
to send over an emissary to England for the purpose of sounding English
political leaders, not as yet, indeed, with any definitely-formed design
of intervening by force in English affairs, but rather probably that, in
the event of the King rendering himself "impossible," the people might
know where to look for a substitute, and might understand that the
heiress-presumptive and her consort were not only the most natural, but,
as a matter of fact, the most eligible choice for the people to make in
the circumstances. Dykvelt, a judicious diplomatist, made the best use
of his time, and while continuing to give no just ground of remonstrance
to James, to whom he was of course nominally accredited, he managed to
bring back information and assurances of much value from many English
politicians of eminence.

Meantime, and while James was still industriously undermining his
throne, his relations with his destined successor were becoming more
strained. A dispute arose between them with reference to the six English
regiments lent to the States under treaty. The King made a demand that
these regiments should be officered by Catholics--a claim put forward
either with the object of insuring their fidelity to him in case of
future rupture with Holland, or else merely to invite refusal and create
a pretext for insisting on their recall. At any rate the refusal came,
and on James's demanding the return of the troops, the States refused
this also, appealing to the terms of the treaty as only authorising the
King of England to require restitution of these forces in the event of
his being actually engaged in warfare with a foreign foe. An acrimonious
correspondence ensued between the two governments; but James failed to
move the States from their firm attitude. Equally unsuccessful was he in
an attempt to inveigle the Prince into an approval of that policy of
pretended toleration by which he was seeking to further the interests of
the Catholic at the expense of those of the Protestant religion in
England. A Scots lawyer named Stuart, who had taken refuge in Holland
from the religious persecution during the late reign, having made, or
been bribed to make, his submission to the royal authority, was procured
to open a correspondence with the Grand Pensionary Fagel, in which he
pressed the latter to advise the Prince of Orange to support his uncle's
policy, declaring that James would not repeal the penal laws unless the
tests were repealed also. Fagel for some time returned no answer, but at
last, finding the rumour in circulation that the Prince had associated
himself with the King's measures, he wrote a reply, which had no doubt
been drafted by William, to the refugee's request. In this remarkably
politic document the Prince contrived to hold the balance equally
between the English Protestants, with whom he was particularly anxious
to stand well, and the Catholic continental sovereigns, whom in his
struggle with France he could not afford to offend. While maintaining
his former attitude with regard to the tests, William declared that he
would gladly see all other grievances on the part of the English
Catholics removed. He would have no man subjected to punishment for his
opinions, but--and on this point he instanced the practice of the
States-General themselves with respect to Roman Catholics--he was not
prepared to remove all official disabilities founded on religious
opinion. This letter was forwarded by Stuart to the King, and was by him
considered in council. Burnet declares that all the lay papists of
England who were not engaged in the intrigues of the priests earnestly
pressed him to accept the Prince's terms as being what would render them
safe and easy for the future; but the King as usual was obstinate, and
no resolution was taken on the matter.

During most of the remainder of this year the King was filling up the
measure of his political offences. From March till October the dispute
with Magdalen College had raged, and the breach between James and the
once devoted Church of England proportionately widened. But at the end
of the year 1687 a momentous announcement was made to the Court. The
Queen was pronounced to be pregnant, and in July of the following year
she was delivered of a male child. That an infant brought into the world
at so opportune a moment should have been loudly alleged to be
supposititious by the inflamed political partisans of the time was
naturally to be expected. A word or two more will be said on that point
hereafter; it is here only necessary to remark that whether William
shared the suspicions of his partisans or not his outward behaviour on
the occasion was irreproachable. He congratulated his father-in-law on
the auspicious event; and the infant prince was duly prayed for in his
private chapel at the Hague, until the protest hereafter to be referred
to was made against the ceremony by his English partisans. Meanwhile the
events of the eventful year 1688 had been ripening fast to their
destined issue. The end of April had witnessed the second promulgation
of the Declaration of Indulgence, and the ferment occasioned by that new
assertion of the dispensing power. In July, in almost exact coincidence
of time with the Queen's accouchement, came the memorable trial of the
Seven Bishops, which gave the first demonstration of the full force of
that popular animosity which James's rule had provoked. Some months
before,[1] however, Edward Russell, nephew of the Earl of Bedford and
cousin of Algernon Sidney's fellow-victim, had sought the Hague with
proposals to William to make an armed descent upon England, as
vindication of English liberties and the Protestant religion.[2] William
had cautiously required a signed invitation from at least a few
representative statesmen before committing himself to such an
enterprise, and on the day of the acquittal of the Seven Bishops a
paper, signed in cipher by Lords Shrewsbury, Devonshire, Danby, and
Lumley, by Compton, Bishop of Northampton, by Edward Russell, and by
Henry Sidney, brother of Algernon, was conveyed by Admiral Herbert to
the Hague. William was now furnished with the required security for
English assistance in the projected undertaking, but the task before him
was still one of extreme difficulty. He had to allay the natural
disquietudes of the Catholic supporters of his continental policy
without alarming his Protestant friends in England; to win over the
States-General, not by any means universally favourable either to his
designs against James or to his attitude towards Louis (Amsterdam, for
instance, had sided with the former monarch in his dispute with William
about the return of the English regiments); and, above all, he had to
make his naval and military preparations for a descent upon England
without exciting suspicions, or provoking an anticipatory attack. That
he managed matters with much address is evident from the result, but it
is no less clear that luck was on his side. A quarrel of the French king
with the Pope, on a question of diplomatic extra-territorial rights in
the papal city, and his arrogant interference in the election of the
Elector of Cologne, had arrayed against Louis the spiritual and temporal
forces of Catholicism, represented respectively by the Papacy and the
Empire; his ill-timed persecutions of Protestants, and certain
prohibitive measures adopted by him against Dutch trade, had the effect
of alienating his partisans in the States-General. In the meanwhile the
combined blindness and obstinacy of James permitted William to prosecute
his military preparations unmolested, if not unsuspected. These
preparations were very extensive and conspicuous, and seem to have had
their commencement at an earlier date than is consistent with Burnet's
theory referred to in the note on a previous page. It was not, however,
till the summer was beginning to give place to autumn that they began to
excite any very distinct suspicions as to their object. The Cologne
quarrel formed a plausible excuse enough for them; for if Louis, as
events seemed to threaten, were to occupy the Rhine provinces with an
army, it would be obviously necessary for Holland to stand on guard. By
the middle of August the French king had become uneasy, and despatched a
special envoy in the person of M. Bonrepos to awaken James to a sense of
his danger. He had authority, according to Burnet (whom, however,
Macaulay, who mostly follows him, on this point contradicts[3]), to
offer James not only naval but military assistance to repel the invasion
with which he believed him to be threatened. Bonrepos was directed by
his master to promise the King of England that ten or fifteen thousand
(others, according to Ralph, say thirty thousand) men should be landed
at Portsmouth if required, and asked that that place should be put into
his hands to keep the communication between the two kingdoms.
Sunderland, acting perhaps _bona fide_, but more probably not, most
earnestly counselled James to reject the offer, and it was rejected
accordingly, the King's characteristic imbecility of judgment being
never more characteristically shown than in his unwillingness to offend
the patriotic prejudices of his subjects by accepting an offer which,
had he been aware of their true feelings towards him, he would have
recognised as his last chance of saving his crown and kingdom. At this
juncture Ronquillo, the Spanish ambassador, went out of his way to
assure James of what he probably knew to be false, and certainly had no
reason to believe true--namely, that no descent upon England was in
contemplation on the part of William. On an early day in September,
however, Albeville was despatched to the Hague with instructions to
present a memorandum of complaint on the subject of the Dutch
preparations; and the day following d'Avaux delivered, on the part of
Louis, a threatening note to the States, in which he warned them to
desist from their designs upon a monarch to whom he was bound by "such
ties of friendship and alliance" as would oblige him, if James were
attacked, to come to his assistance. That Louis's motive in taking this
step was to commit his brother of England to the alliance which he
pretended to exist it is almost impossible to doubt; but James, more and
more bent upon repudiating the assistance of France the more necessary
it became to him, did his utmost to assure the States that there was
nothing in the nature of an alliance between himself and Louis. William,
however, and his partisans in the States-General, asked nothing better
than this excuse for continuing their preparations, and the Dutch
armament was actively pushed forward. In October the final alienation of
the Dutch friends of France was brought about by Louis's despatching an
army under the Dauphin to besiege Philipsburg, and simultaneously
issuing manifestos against the Emperor and the Pope. Avignon had been
seized by him the day before the siege of Philipsburg was opened; and
the attack on the latter place was followed by the rapid seizure of most
of the important towns of the Palatinate.

On the 10th of October, matters now being ripe for such a step, William,
in conjunction with some of his English advisers, put forth his famous
declaration. Starting with a preamble to the effect that the observance
of laws is necessary to the happiness of states, the instrument proceeds
to enumerate fifteen particulars in which the laws of England had been
set at naught. The most important of these were--(1) the exercise of the
dispensing power; (2) the corruption, coercion, and packing of the
judicial bench; (3) the violation of the test laws by the appointment of
papists to offices (particularly judicial and military offices, and the
administration of Ireland), and generally the arbitrary and illegal
measures resorted to by James for the propagation of the Catholic
religion; (4) the establishment and action of the Court of High
Commission; (5) the infringement of some municipal charters, and the
procuring of the surrender of others; (6) interference with elections by
turning out of all employment such as refused to vote as they were
required; and (7) the grave suspicion which had arisen that the Prince
of Wales was not born of the Queen, which as yet nothing had been done
to remove. Having set forth these grievances, the Prince's manifesto
went on to recite the close interest which he and his consort had in
this matter as next in succession to the crown, and the earnest
solicitations which had been made to him by many lords spiritual and
temporal, and other English subjects of all ranks, to interpose, and
concluded by affirming in a very distinct and solemn manner that the
sole object of the expedition then preparing was to obtain the
assembling of a free and lawful Parliament, to which the Prince pledged
himself to refer all questions concerning the due execution of the laws,
and the maintenance of the Protestant religion, and the conclusion of an
agreement between the Church of England and the Dissenters, as also the
inquiry into the birth of the "pretended Prince of Wales"; and that this
object being attained, the Prince would, as soon as the state of the
nation should permit of it, send home his foreign forces.

About a week after, on the 16th of October, all things being now in
readiness, the Prince took solemn leave of the States-General, thanked
them for their past kindness to him, called them to witness that the
motives of his enterprise were solely those set forth in his
declaration, namely, the vindication of the liberties of England, and
the defence of the Protestant religion, and commended his wife to their
care. The scene was an affecting one, and many among the assembly were
melted to tears; only the Prince himself, says Burnet, "continued firm
in his usual gravity and phlegm." Two days later the States came to a
formal resolution to assist the Prince of Orange with ships and forces
on his expedition to England, having heard his explanations thereof and
found them satisfactory; and authorised their ministers at the various
European Courts to make use of this resolution in whatever way they
might find most convenient.

On the 19th William and his armament set sail from Helvoetsluys, but was
met on the following day by a violent storm which forced him to put back
on the 21st.[4] On the 1st of November the fleet put to sea a second
time, and for the first twelve hours held its course towards the
north-west. It was calculated that thus the scouting vessels sent out by
Dartmouth would carry back word that the landing might be expected to
take place on the Yorkshire coast; and, this ruse successfully effected,
the fleet tacked and sailed southward for the Channel. William was
naturally most desirous to avoid a conflict with the English fleet, and
the heavy weather which prevented Dartmouth from leaving the Thames
enabled him to attain his object. His fleet passed the Straits of Dover
at midday of the 3d of November, and made for Torbay, where it had been
determined to land. In the haze, however, of the morning of the 5th of
November the pilot overshot the mark, and took the fleet some miles to
the west. Its situation became critical. Plymouth was the next port, and
of Lord Bath, who there commanded the King's forces, William was by no
means sure. From the east the royal fleet under Dartmouth was believed
to be approaching. Russell, who had told Burnet that "all was over," and
that he might "go to prayers," was just upon taking boat for the
Prince's ship when the "Protestant wind," as the long prayed-for
easterly gale had hitherto been called, having now by force of
circumstances become a breeze of a distinctly Catholic tendency, was, as
all good Protestants of that day believed, providentially lulled. A wind
of the right direction and denomination sprang up shortly after, and in
four hours' time, by noon of the 5th of November, the Prince's fleet was
wafted safely into Torbay.


[1] In April or May. Macaulay (after Burnet) says May; and the point is
of some importance, because if, as Ralph maintains and proves by
reference to the date of the Elector of Brandenburg's death (an event
referred to by Burnet as still prospective at the date of the conference
with Russell), this interview really took place in April, it does prove,
as Ralph says, that "measures were forming in England against the King
and embraced in Holland before the second Declaration of Indulgence was
published, or the Order in Council which was founded thereon, or the
Prosecution of the Bishops was thought of; which his lordship (Burnet)
holds of such weight for the justification of those measures." Ralph i.

[2] One of Russell's arguments for immediate action was that James's
soldiers, "though _bad Englishmen_ and _worse Christians_, were as yet
such _good Protestants_ that neither were they attached to His Majesty,
nor could His Majesty depend upon them."--Burnet _ap._ Ralph, _Hist._ i.

[3] It is difficult to see why. Sunderland, in his _Apology_, distinctly
says, "I opposed to death the acceptance of them (the ships) as well as
any assistance of men, and I can most truly say that I was the principal
means of hindering both." Sunderland, no doubt, was not the most
veracious of men; but one does not see his precise motive for lying on
this matter.

[4] To make some capital out of the mischance the Haarlem and Amsterdam
Gazettes were ordered (Ralph declares) "to set forth a lamentable
relation of the losses occasioned by it," losses which, it seems,
included "nine men of war, a thousand horses, and Dr. Burnet."



    Advance to Exeter--Measures of James--Council of the Lords--
      Their proposals--The King goes to Salisbury--Defection of
      Churchill--James returns to London--Negotiation--Attempted
      flight of James--His arrest--Advance of William--Entry of
      Dutch troops into London--Actual flight of James.

The spot was in one respect well, in another ill chosen for a descent.
Nowhere, indeed, was James's tyranny more detested than in that quarter
of England in which William now found himself, but nowhere also was it
more feared. It was the country of the men who had risen for Monmouth
and fought at Sedgemoor, but it was the country too of the men who had
trembled before Jeffreys, and whose blood had given its name to his
terrible Assize. The reception which William met with was in fact
determined by a balance of these considerations. He was welcomed with
abundance of popular sympathy, but with little overt popular support.
The gentry and peasantry rejoiced at the sight of his standard, but were
slow in gathering to it. His march to Exeter was something like a
triumph, but it seemed at first, and indeed for some days after he had
fixed his quarters there, that he was to get nothing from the people but
their good wishes. That this delay in supporting him gave much
disappointment and even some anxiety to William is certain. He was too
politic to make any public manifestation of feelings, the disclosure of
which might only have served to aggravate their cause; but in private he
complained indignantly of the slackness of his promised adherents, and
even talked--though here we may permit ourselves to doubt his
seriousness--of abandoning his enterprise and returning to Holland. At
the end of a week, however, important partisans of his cause began to
make their appearance. Lord Colchester, a friend of Monmouth's, was the
first to join him; Edward Russell, a son of the Earl of Bedford,
followed; Lord Abingdon, a recruit from the other side of politics, was
the next to give his adhesion to William; and almost at the same moment
the cause of James sustained the most significant repudiation it had yet
undergone in the desertion of Lord Cornbury, the eldest son of Lord
Clarendon, who, after an unsuccessful attempt to bring over with him the
three regiments of which he was the commander, deserted them with a few
followers and made his way to William's quarters.

In London, ever since the news of the Prince's landing, considerable
agitation had prevailed, and some actual rioting taken place. But the
royal authority was still upheld, and it was evident that the action of
the capital, reversing the order of revolutionary proceedings to which
France has now accustomed us, would await the course of events in the
provinces. As for the King, he was, characteristically enough, as much
reassured by a week's respite from bad news as he had been disturbed by
the tidings of his nephew's landing; but the intelligence of Cornbury's
defection threw him into a state of genuine alarm. Having convoked and
addressed the principal officers then in London, from whom he received
the most earnest professions of loyalty, he prepared to set out to meet
the invader at Salisbury, when he was waited upon by a deputation of the
Lords, praying him to call a Parliament and to open a negotiation with
the Prince of Orange. James, however, to whom no measure ever presented
itself as advisable at the proper moment for adopting it, rejected their
advice. His reason was an excellent one--for any king in a totally
different position from his. He said, and with much truth, that no
Parliament could be freely chosen for a country with an invading army
encamped on its soil; but the question which a clearer-sighted sovereign
would have asked himself was not whether the parliamentary elector would
be a free agent, but whether he himself was. It was eminently probable
that the convocation of a Parliament would not save his throne, but it
was quite certain that nothing else would. Nor had James the excuse of
pride for rejecting the Peers' advice; he was to show in a very short
time that no such account of his conduct could be sustained. Some
monarchs might have preferred to lose a crown rather than be forced into
political concession under coercion of an invading army. James was quite
willing to pay that or any other price to save his crown, only he was
impenetrable to the proof that it was necessary at that moment. He set
out for his destined headquarters, and reached them on the 19th of
November; but by the time he established himself at Salisbury the real
royal court had collected itself at Exeter. William was haranguing the
"friends and fellow Protestants" who had gathered to his banner, and
continually receiving fresh adhesions, among which that of Lord Bath,
the commander of the royal forces at Plymouth, was the most important.
Meanwhile, the northern population of the kingdom, among whom William
had been expected to present himself first, were up in arms. York and
Nottingham were the chief centres of insurrection, and to one or the
other of them many of the great peers and landowners of the north were
already making their way. Placed thus between two fires, it was evident
that immediate action was necessary on James's part to prevent their
meeting and engulfing him. As it was no less evidently to William's
interest to defer a conflict as long as possible, he succeeded in
avoiding anything save mere skirmishes between outposts, until the
occurrence of an event for which he was probably prepared, and which he
had good reason to hope would insure the triumph of his cause without
any serious fighting at all. This was no less an event than the
desertion of Churchill, who, if, as is likely enough, he had been up to
this point doubting to which side his interests pointed--the only form
of indecision he was liable to--had by this time satisfied himself that
James's cause was lost. Alarmed by rumours of disaffection in his army,
James's eagerness for an encounter with William had now entirely
disappeared. He talked of retreating, but Churchill strongly urged an
advance. Whether, if his counsels had prevailed, he would have taken
over the troops under his command to William, or whether he would have
awaited the issue of battle in order to obtain still clearer light on
the only question that interested him, must for ever remain uncertain.
James resolved to fall back, and Churchill resolved not to accompany
him. He quitted the royal camp that night, leaving behind him a letter,
in which he declared it impossible for him to fight against the cause of
the Protestant religion, and presented himself next day at the quarters
of the Prince of Orange. His flight threw James into extreme
consternation. A precipitate retreat was ordered, and the royal
standard, now losing more and more followers every day, was soon being
hurried back to London. Prince George of Denmark, who lives in history
as _Est-il possible?_ abandoned his father-in-law at Andover, and James
returned to Whitehall to find that his younger daughter had followed her
husband's example. "God help me!" the wretched King exclaimed; "my own
children have forsaken me." A man so accustomed to subordinate all the
kindlier instincts of human nature to the precepts of his religion might
have recollected that Anne had only to identify the interests of
Anglican Protestantism with the cause of Christ in order to find
excellent Scriptural authority for turning her back upon her father.

It being now too late to hope for an accommodation with his people and
their invited champion, James began to think of arranging one. He
summoned a council of the Lords spiritual and temporal then in London,
and signified his willingness to "agree with his adversary" slowly,
and when no longer "in the way with him." He was ready now to
take the advice which had been tendered him before he started for
Salisbury--namely, to summon a Parliament and open negotiations with
William. It was now, however, pointed out to him that, his position
having become worse by delay, he must make an advance on his original
offers by dismissing all Catholics from office, breaking off his
relations with France, and promising an amnesty to all political
opponents; but as this or some similar enlargement of the original terms
of concession submitted to him unmistakably recommended itself to common
sense, the King would not hear of it. He would summon a Parliament, and
at once did so by directing Jeffreys to issue writs convoking that body
for the 13th of January. He would negotiate with William, and he named
Nottingham, Halifax, and Godolphin as his commissioners for that
purpose. But more than this he at first declined to do. On further
reflection, however, it occurred to him that the pang of giving these
distasteful pledges might be much mitigated by a secret resolve to break
them. He therefore issued a proclamation granting a free pardon to all
who were in rebellion against him, and declaring them eligible as
members of the forthcoming Parliament. At the same time he gave an
earnest of his willingness to conform to the law excluding papists from
office by removing the Catholic Lieutenant of the Tower. Again, at the
same time, and as the reverse of an "earnest" of anything, he informed
the French Ambassador that the negotiation with William was "a mere
feint," and that all he wanted was to gain time "to ship off his wife
and the Prince of Wales." There was undoubtedly a good deal of his royal
and unfortunate father about James II. He seems, indeed, to have
inherited almost all Charles's moral qualities except his courage. These
he "threw back" to his grandfather--not a fortunate illustration of the
biological principle of atavism.

Infected with the duplicity and unredeemed by the bravery of Charles I.,
the close of his reign is naturally less romantic than his father's.
Kings who fail in business undoubtedly owe it to their historical
reputation to perish on the scaffold or the battlefield. A royal martyr
is a much more impressive object than a royal levanter. It is better to
"ascend to Heaven" as "the son of St. Louis" than to take ship for Dover
as "Mr. Smith." The last three weeks of James's reign are weeks of
painful ignominy. His plan of spiriting away the infant Prince of Wales
was defeated by Dartmouth, the admiral on whom he had relied to execute
it, but who steadfastly refused to lend a hand to the project. William's
army advanced from Exeter to Salisbury, and from Salisbury to
Hungerford, where it had been arranged that the royal commissioners
should meet the Prince. The result of the negotiation was favourable
beyond anything James had a right to expect. The Prince accepted his
father-in-law's offer to refer all questions in dispute to the
Parliament about to be assembled, stipulating only that the capital
should be relieved from military pressure on either side; that James
should, as a security against his inviting French aid, place Portsmouth
under the command of an officer in whom both sides had confidence; and
that, while London was denuded of troops, the Tower--as also Tilbury
Fort--should be garrisoned by the city of London. It is by no means
impossible that James might have saved a crown, however shorn of its
prerogatives, had he accepted these terms. But he was bent on attempting
to regain by foreign arms that full despotic authority which he could
not retain by his own. He contrived, with the assistance of the
chivalrous and eccentric Frenchman Lauzun, to get the Queen and Prince
of Wales conveyed safely to France; and twenty-four hours afterwards,
on the night of the 11th of December, he endeavoured to follow them, but
he was recognised at the Isle of Sheppey, whence he was about to embark,
and his flight arrested. In London, where the royal forces had, in
obedience to James's parting orders, been disbanded by their
commander-in-chief, some forty-eight hours of very dangerous panic
ensued upon the King's departure; but a provisional government was
hastily formed by a committee of temporal and spiritual peers, and
measures promptly taken by them for the maintenance of order. On hearing
of the capture of James, they immediately despatched Feversham with a
troop of Life Guards to escort him back to London. Here he was received
with some marks of popular commiseration, which he mistook for reviving
popular favour, and, regaining confidence, he sent Feversham to Windsor
as the bearer of a letter to the Prince of Orange, expressing a desire
for a personal conference with him at St. James's Palace, which he
offered to fit up for the Prince's accommodation. William, however, as
one may now see plainly, was bent on creating a vacancy of the throne.
He no doubt keenly regretted the officiousness of the sailors who had
defeated James's first attempt at flight, and resolved to do all in his
power short of downright physical coercion to induce him to repeat the
attempt. He arrested Feversham for want of a military safe conduct, and
replied to James's letter by declining the conference, and desiring him
to remain at Rochester. The King had by this time reached Whitehall;
but, disquieted by the sternness of William's message, and by the arrest
of his officer, his nerve began once more to fail him. On the night of
the 18th three or four battalions of William's infantry and a squadron
of horse marched down to Whitehall, and, the English Guards being
withdrawn by the King's orders and to the great regret of their stout
old commander, Lord Craven, took practical possession of the palace. In
the small hours of the morning Halifax and two other lords arrived from
Windsor with a recommendation to James to retire to Ham. Ostensibly
delivered in the name of his own Peers, James felt satisfied that it was
really a hint from William. He proposed to substitute Rochester for Ham,
and the substitution was accepted by William with a readiness which
significantly showed his desire to facilitate his uncle's flight. Early
the next morning James, accompanied by Lords Aylesbury, Lichfield,
Arran, and Dumbarton--peers whose names deserve if only as a matter of
curiosity to be recorded,[5]--set out for Rochester; and four days
afterwards, with motives which have been variously estimated, but in
which fear for his life or liberty and hopes of foreign assistance
towards the recovery of his kingdom played perhaps about an equal part,
he again resolved to quit the kingdom. A letter from his
Queen--intercepted indeed, but which William took care to have conveyed
to him--confirmed his resolution. Between two and three o'clock on the
morning of the 23d he embarked on board a frigate on the Medway, and,
finding the wind favourable, landed after a speedy voyage at Ambleteuse,
whence he proceeded to St. Germains.


[5] It is true that a large number of courtiers quitted Whitehall at the
same time, making the palace, as Ralph says, "like a Desart." But the
large majority of them got no further than St. James's.



    Characteristics of the English Revolution--Views of the
      various parties--The Convention--Proposal to declare the
      throne vacant--The Regency question--The resolution of the
      Commons--Amendment of the Lords--The crisis--Attitude of
      Mary--Announcement of William--Resolution passed--Declaration
      of Right--Tender of the crown.

It is significant of the peaceful and, so to speak, constitutional
character of our English Revolution that by far its most momentous
scenes were enacted within the four walls of the meeting-places of
deliberative assemblies, and find their chronicle in the dry record of
votes and resolutions. We have no "days," in the French sense of the
word, or hardly any, to commemorate. The gradual accomplishment of the
political work of 1688-89 is not marked and emphasised like that of
1789-92 at every stage by some out-door event of the picturesque, the
stirring, or the terrible kind--such for instance as those by which the
14th of July, the 6th of October, the 10th of August, and in a darker
order of memories, the 2d of September, have been made landmarks in the
revolutionary history of France. On every one of the days thus singled
out for glorious or for shameful remembrance, some irrevocable step was
taken--some new position gained by the advancing forces of French
democracy from which there was no retreat. We in England have no
anniversaries of the kind. We may remember, though we have ceased to
celebrate in our churches, the day in which William first set foot on
our shores; but we feel that after all it was not an "event" in the
sense of that other great Protestant deliverance with which in
month-date it so fortunately coincided, and for which the Anglican
liturgy economically set apart a common form of thanksgiving. The
discovery of the Gunpowder Plot was an incident having results of the
most permanent and unalterable character. It made all the difference
between the safety and the destruction of the Sovereign and the three
Estates of the Realm. Again, the execution of Charles I. determined
something, by committing the country to the military autocracy of
Cromwell and the powerful reaction of the Restoration. But this cannot
be said of the landing of the Prince of Orange at Torbay--the mere
opening of a drama which might have had any one of half a dozen
_dénoûments_; it can hardly even be said of the second and definitive
flight of James. The 23d of December 1688 was in one sense no more of an
"epoch-making" day than the 5th of November in the same year. It is true
that the sovereign's abandonment of his throne and country became
something more than a striking dramatic event; it was elevated into an
act of profound political import. It had or was invested with inward and
most momentous legal significance, in addition to its outward historical
prominence. But for all that it determined nothing at the moment of its
occurrence but the future of a single man. It is quite conceivable that
the mere flight of James II. should have settled no more than his own
incapacitation--that it should not even have brought about the exclusion
of his son from the succession, still less have led to the formal
recognition of a new principle in the English Constitution. True it is
that all these consequences were deducible from it as matter of
argument, and flowed from it in fact. True it is that, when James stole
down the Medway in the early morning of the 23d of December, he was
taking a step which was capable of being turned by the friends of
liberty and good government, or his own enemies,--and it was difficult
to be one without being the other,--to the disherison of his son, and
the far-reaching substitution of a statutory for a common-law monarchy.
But no less true is it that these results were very far from being
necessary or automatic in their character; that, on the contrary, they
hung for some critical days in the balance, and that the active
co-operation of human qualities in its very conspicuous and not too
common forms of courage, foresight, and political dexterity, was needed
in the last resort to secure them. It is for this reason that our
"days," our anniversaries of such merely external incidents as William's
landing or James's departure are, comparatively speaking, so
unimportant. No such incident either made or insured the making of our
existing English Constitution. The events which really made it passed,
as I have said, within the walls of two deliberative assemblies, between
January 23 and February 13, 1689, and its making was not actually
assured until this period was well-nigh expired.

How important was the political work compressed within these three
weeks will be at once apparent if now, having noted how little was
settled by the mere flight of James II., we go on to consider how great
was the variety of its possible results. James had ceased to be king _de
facto_, that was all; and the English people were pretty unanimous in
their determination that he should never be king _de facto_ again. But
was he still king _de jure_? If not, if he was not legally sovereign,
was any one? And if so, who? Upon each of these last three questions
there was room for difference of opinion, and upon at least two of them
opinion was in fact divided. A considerable section of the Tory party
were of opinion that James, although he had _de facto_ ceased to reign,
was still the only lawful king of England, in whose name, at any rate,
all royal authority should be exercised, and all royal acts of state
performed. To these men, therefore, the only legal and constitutional
solution of the problem appeared to be the creation of a Regency. They
were for raising William to the position of Regent, and empowering him
to preside over the actual government of the country in this capacity
during the life of his father-in-law.

A second section of the Tory party held, on the other hand, that James
having by his own act ceased to govern, had also ceased to reign. By
deliberately laying aside the sceptre he had brought about a demise of
the crown. It had simply devolved upon the person next in succession,
and that person was, they declared, the Princess Mary. There was no need
therefore for the creation of a Regent, and still less for the more
extreme and wholly unprecedented step of appointing a new sovereign. All
that was necessary was a mere formal recognition by the country of the
bare legal facts of the case. According to this party the Princess Mary
was in truth at that moment the lawful Queen of England, and nothing
more was needed than a national acknowledgment of her title.

To both of these doctrines the Whig party were equally opposed. They
held in opposition to the former, that James had ceased to reign, and in
opposition to the latter, that the crown had been not demised but simply
forfeited. The King's destruction of his own right could not have, and
had not had, the effect of transmitting them to any one else whomsoever.
They resided at that moment, whatever constitutional fictions might aver
to the contrary, in no one; and a special expression of the national
will, a special exertion of the national power, would be required in
favour of some designated successors to these rights before anybody
could be regarded, whether in fact or law, as invested with them.

Apart from all political prepossessions there can, I think, be no
serious dispute as to which was the most logical and tenable contention
of the three; and that this was distinctly that of the Whigs. The Tories
who contended that James had lost his right to the personal exercise of
the royal authority, while yet retaining so much of that authority that
any one who exercised it in his stead must be supposed to do so as his
deputy, were involved in a hopeless contradiction. In assuming to
appoint such deputy to act for a person whom they still persisted in
regarding as king _de jure_, they were themselves obviously usurping a
portion of that very _jus_ which they professed to respect. True, they
attempted to get over this objection by urging that James had placed
himself under a disability to exercise his royal authority, but they
could point to nothing in the facts of the case to support their
contention. Disability to exercise royal authority could, in the view of
the Constitution, arise from one cause alone, the same cause from which
in the view of the common law arises the disability to exercise civil
rights. The disabled King, like the disabled subject, must have become
mentally incapacitated; and James's incapacitation for the work of
government was purely moral. Setting aside the deposition and execution
of his father, which even the Whigs did not endeavour to elevate into a
regular precedent, there was no constitutional sanction for the
withdrawal of the reins of state from the hands of the monarch, on any
ground save that of insanity. Once extend this, and admit that a king
who is merely bad may be treated as though he were mad, and the Whig
doctrine is thereby absolutely conceded. As to the practical
inconveniences of a Regency exercised in the name of an actively hostile
sovereign--a sovereign who would have been sometimes in arms against his
own nominal authority, and always plotting its overthrow--they would of
course have been both grave and numerous. But it is less surprising that
the Regency party of that day should have ignored them than that they
should have been so indifferent to the complete surrender of their
political principles which was involved in the proposal to which they
committed themselves.

More logical in form, but equally untenable in fact, was the position
assumed by the other section of the Tory party. There was perhaps
nothing altogether irreconcilable with their principles in the theory
that a voluntary abandonment of the throne might operate as a demise of
the crown; but coolly to assert a right to pass over the infant Prince
of Wales on the strength of the mere idle story that he was a
supposititious child[6] was a pretension which, especially as put
forward by men who were such sticklers for constitutional fictions as to
insist that there must at any given moment be some one person or other
entitled to wear the English crown, appears little short of

The Whig theory of the situation rejected the fictions of both branches
of the Tory party with equal decision. There was no need, according to
the Whigs, for the country to bewilder itself in efforts to distinguish
between _de jure_ and _de facto_ sovereignty, still less to resort to
the far-fetched expedient of assuming a demise of the crown in order to
prevent the former kind of sovereignty from undergoing interruption. A
king, they held, might lose his title to the crown by a voluntary
abandonment of the throne; and he might lose that title without anybody
succeeding to it. Indeed, since the English crown devolved according to
the ordinary English laws of succession, it was impossible that anybody
should succeed to it by mere _operation of law_ during its former
wearer's life-time. If it was a principle of constitutional law that at
any given moment there must be some lawful king or queen of England in
existence, it was no less a principle of the common law that _nemo est
hæres viventis_. James, therefore, had according to the Whig theory
ceased to be sovereign, and no one else had become sovereign in his
stead: the throne was vacant. Being vacant it was for the Convention to
fill it, and the members of that body were both entitled and bound to
select the fittest successor to it, unconstrained, though not
necessarily uninfluenced, by the claims of successorship which would
have vested in this, that, or the other person under an ordinary demise
of the crown.

That this was the most logical and self-consistent view of the situation
appears to me undeniable; but it is a singular illustration of the
manner in which events may transpose the relative proportions of
principles that this Whig corollary from the abdication of James
appeared to the statesmen of the time, and even it should seem to
Macaulay, a century and a half after them, to be a more pregnant
assertion of democratic doctrine, and a bolder step in its application,
than that expressed in the earlier proposition that James had ceased to
reign. Nowadays the difference between the Tories who contended that the
crown had been demised, and the Whigs who insisted that the throne was
vacant, hardly arrests the student for an instant. He is disposed to
brush the Tory fiction aside as alike irrational and unnecessary. The
real passage of the Rubicon took place in his view of the matter when it
was declared that James had ceased to be _de jure_ king, and no
subsequent assertion of popular rights in the choice of a successor
could possibly be stronger or more important than that declaration
itself. Yet whereas the Convention accepted the first of these
propositions _nemine contradicente_, the second was only adopted after
having been once actually rejected, and was in fact the subject of so
sharp a conflict of opinion as to threaten irreconcilable deadlock
between the two branches of the constituent body.[7]

The Convention met on the 22d of January, when Halifax was chosen
president in the Lords; Powle, Speaker of the Commons. A letter from
William, read in both Houses, informed their members that he had
endeavoured to the best of his power to discharge the trust reposed in
him, and that it now rested with the Convention to lay the foundation of
a firm security for their religion, laws, and liberties. The Prince then
went on to refer to the dangerous condition of the Protestants in
Ireland and the present state of things abroad, which obliged him to
tell them that next to the danger of unreasonable divisions among
themselves, nothing could be so fatal as too great a delay in their
consultations. And he further intimated that as England was already
bound by treaty to help the Dutch in such exigencies as, deprived of the
troops which he had brought over, and threatened with war by Louis XIV.,
they might easily be reduced to, so he felt confident that the cheerful
concurrence of the Dutch in preserving this kingdom would meet with all
the returns of friendship from Protestants and Englishmen whenever their
own condition should require assistance. To this the two Houses replied
with an address thanking the Prince for his great care in the
administration of the affairs of the kingdom to this time, and formally
continuing to him the same commission,[8] recommending to his particular
care the present state of Ireland. William's answer to this address was
characteristic both of his temperament and his preoccupation. "My lords
and gentlemen," he said, "I am glad that what I have done hath pleased
you; and since you desire me to continue the administration of affairs,
I am willing to accept it. I must recommend to you the consideration of
affairs abroad which makes it fit for you to expedite your business, not
only for making a settlement at home on a good foundation, but for the
safety of Europe." On the 28th the Commons resolved themselves into a
committee of the whole House, and Richard Hampden, son of the great
John, was voted into the chair. The honour of having been the first to
speak the word which was on everybody's lips belongs to Gilbert Dolben,
son of a late Archbishop of York, who "made a long speech tending to
prove that the King's deserting his kingdom without appointing any
person to administer the government amounted in reason and judgment of
law to a demise." Sir Robert Howard, one of the members for Castle
Rising, went a step further, and asserted that the throne, was vacant.
The extreme Tories made a vain effort to procure an adjournment, but the
combination against them of Whigs and their own moderates was too strong
for them, and after a long and stormy debate the House resolved "That
King James II., having endeavoured to subvert the constitution by
breaking the original contract between the King and people, and by the
advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons having violated the
fundamental laws and withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, has abdicated
the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant."

This resolution was at once sent up to the Lords. Before, however, they
could proceed to consider it, another message arrived from the Commons
to the effect that they had just voted it inconsistent with the safety
and welfare of this Protestant nation to be governed by a Popish king.
To this resolution the Peers assented with a readiness which showed in
advance that James had no party in the Upper House, and that the utmost
length to which the Tories in that body were prepared to go was to
support the proposal of a Regency. The first resolution of the Commons
was then put aside in order that this proposal might be discussed. It
was Archbishop Sancroft's plan, who, however, did not make his
appearance to advocate it, and in his absence it was supported by
Rochester and Nottingham, while Halifax and Danby led the opposition to
it. After a day's debate it was lost by the narrow majority of two,
forty-nine peers declaring in its favour, and fifty-one against it. The
Lords then went into Committee on the Commons' resolution, and at once
proceeded, as was natural enough, to dispute the clause in its preamble
which referred to the original contract between the King and the people.
No Tory of course could really have subscribed to the doctrine implied
in these words; but it was doubtless as hard in those days as in these
to interest an assembly of English politicians in affirmations of
abstract political principle, and some Tories probably thought it not
worth while to multiply causes of dissent with the Lower House by
attacking a purely academic recital of their resolution. Anyhow, the
numbers of the minority slightly fell off, only forty-six peers
objecting to the phrase, while fifty-three voted that it should stand.
The word "deserted" was then substituted without a division for the word
"abdicated," and the hour being late, the Lords adjourned.

The real battle, of course, was now at hand, and to any one who assents
to the foregoing criticisms it will be evident that it was far less of a
conflict on a point of constitutional principle, and far more of a
struggle between the parties of two distinct--one cannot call them
rival--claimants to the throne than high-flying Whig writers are
accustomed to represent it. It would of course, be too much to say that
the Whigs insisted on declaring the vacancy of the throne, _only_
because they wished to place William on it, and that the Tories
contended for a demise of the crown, _only_ because they wished an
English princess to succeed to the throne rather than a Dutch prince.
Still, it is pretty certain that, but for this conflict of preferences,
the two political parties, who had made so little difficulty of agreeing
in the declaration that James had ceased to reign, would never have
found it so hard to concur in its almost necessary sequence that the
throne was vacant. The debate on the last clause of the resolution
began, and it soon became apparent that the Whigs were outnumbered. The
forty-nine peers who had supported the proposal of a Regency, which
implied that the royal title was still in James, were bound, of course,
to oppose the proposition that the throne was vacant; and they were
reinforced by several peers who held that that title had already
devolved upon Mary. An attempt to compromise the dispute by omitting the
words pronouncing the throne vacant, and inserting words which merely
proclaimed the Prince and Princess of Orange King and Queen, was
rejected by fifty-two votes to forty-seven[9]; and the original clause
was then put and negatived by fifty-five votes to forty-one.

Thus amended by the substitution of "deserted" for "abdicated," and the
omission of the words "and that the throne is thereby vacant," the
resolution was sent back to the Commons, who instantly and without a
division disagreed with the amendments. The situation was now becoming
critical. The prospect of a deadlock between the two branches of the
Convention threw London into a ferment; crowds assembled in Palace Yard;
petitions were presented in that tumultuous fashion which converts
supplication into menace. To their common credit, however, both parties
united in resistance to these attempts at popular coercion; and William
himself interposed to enjoin a stricter police of the capital. On
Monday, the 4th of February, the Lords resolved to insist on their
amendments; on the following day the Commons reaffirmed their
disagreement with them by 282 votes to 151. A free Conference between
the two Houses was then arranged, and met on the following day.

But the dispute, like many another in our political history, had
meanwhile been settled out of court. Between the date of the Peers' vote
and the Conference Mary had communicated to Danby her high displeasure
at the conduct of those who were setting up her claims in opposition to
those of her husband; and William, who had previously maintained an
unbroken silence, now made, unsolicited, a declaration of a most
important, and indeed of a conclusive kind. If the Convention, he said,
chose to adopt the plan of a Regency, he had nothing to say against it,
only they must look out for some other person to fill the office, for he
himself would not consent to do so. As to the alternative proposal of
putting Mary on the throne and allowing him to reign by her courtesy,
"No man," he said, "can esteem a woman more than I do the Princess; but
I am so made that I cannot think of holding anything by apron-strings;
nor can I think it reasonable to have any share in the government unless
it be put in my own person, and that for the term of my life. If you
think fit to settle it otherwise I will not oppose you, but will go back
to Holland and meddle no more in your affairs." These few sentences of
plain speaking swept away the clouds of intrigue and pedantry as by a
wholesome gust of wind. Both political parties at once perceived that
there was but one possible issue from the situation. The Conference was
duly held, and the constitutional question was, with great display of
now unnecessary learning, solemnly debated; but the managers for the two
Houses met only to register a foregone conclusion. The word "abdicated"
was restored; the vacancy of the throne was voted by sixty-two votes to
forty-seven; and it was immediately proposed and carried without a
division that the Prince and Princess of Orange should be declared King
and Queen of England.

It now only remained to give formal effect to this resolution, and in so
doing to settle the conditions whereon the crown, which the Convention
had now distinctly recognised itself as conferring upon the Prince and
Princess, should be conferred. A Committee appointed by the Commons to
consider what safeguards should be taken against the aggressions of
future sovereigns had made a report in which they recommended not only a
solemn enunciation of ancient constitutional principles, but the
enactment of new laws. The Commons, however, having regard to the
importance of prompt action, judiciously resolved on carrying out only
the first part of the programme. They determined to preface their tender
of the crown to William and Mary by a recital of the royal encroachments
of the past reigns, and a formal assertion of the constitutional
principles against which such encroachments had offended. This document,
drafted by a Committee of which the celebrated Somers, then a
scarcely-known young advocate, was the chairman, was the famous

The grievances which it recapitulated in its earlier portion, fourteen
in number, were as follows:--(1) the royal pretension to dispense with
and suspend laws without consent of Parliament; (2) the punishment of
subjects, as in the Seven Bishops' case, for petitioning the Crown; (3)
the establishment of the illegal Court of High Commission for
ecclesiastical affairs; (4) the levy of taxes without the consent of
Parliament; (5) the maintenance of a standing army in time of peace
without the same consent; (6) the disarmament of Protestants while
Papists were both armed and employed contrary to law; (7) the violation
of the freedom of election; (8) the prosecution in the King's Bench of
suits only cognisable in Parliament; (9) the return of partial and
corrupt juries; (10) the requisition of excessive bail; (11) the
imposition of excessive fines; (12) the infliction of illegal and cruel
punishments; (13) the grants of the estates of accused persons before
conviction. Then, after solemnly reaffirming the popular rights from
which these abuses of the prerogative derogated, the Declaration goes on
to recite that, having an "entire confidence" William would "preserve
them from the violation of the rights which they have here asserted, the
Three Estates do resolve that William and Mary, Prince and Princess of
Orange, be and be declared King and Queen ... to hold the Crown and
Royal Dignity ... to them the said Prince and Princess during their
Lives and the Life of the Survivor of them; and the sole and full
exercise of the Royal Power be only in and exercised by the said Prince
of Orange, in the Names of the said Prince and Princess during their
Lives, and after their Deceases, the said Crown and Royal Dignity of the
said Kingdoms and Dominions to the Heirs of the Body of the said
Princess; and, for default of such Issue, to the Princess Anne of
Denmark and the Heirs of her Body; and, for default of such Issue, to
the Issue of the said Prince of Orange." Then followed an alteration
required by the scrupulous conscience of Nottingham in the terms of the
Oath of Allegiance.

On the 12th of February Mary arrived from Holland. On the following day,
in the Banqueting House at Whitehall, the Prince and Princess of Orange
were waited on by both Houses of Convention in a body. The Declaration
was read by the Clerk of the Crown; the sovereignty solemnly tendered to
them by Halifax, in the name of the Estates; and on the same day they
were proclaimed King and Queen in the usual places in the cities of
London and Westminster.


[6] _How_ idle this story was may best be judged by studying the
so-called evidence in its favour, as set forth in the pages of that
writer who, more perhaps than any other chronicler of the events of that
period, would have liked to establish its truth. No one, I think, can
read Burnet's account of the Queen's accouchement, so completely
demonstrating as it does the _impossibility_ of the alleged fraud,
without wondering at the strength of the partisanship and popular
prejudice which could for a moment have believed in its perpetration.

[7] The fact that the _practical_ cause of this sharp conflict was the
rivalry between the partisans of William and those of Mary is only a
partial explanation of the phenomenon referred to in the text. It is a
reason for the Convention having debated the Whig corollary so much, but
not for their debating the Whig-Tory original proposition so little. Of
course the _practical_ explanation is the simple one, that James had
made himself impossible. Both parties concurred so readily in that
opinion that they applied it without either of them pausing to consider
its scope as a precedent, and that, quite apart from all controversies
as to regency, demise of the crown, vacancy of the throne, or what not,
the first instance in which a people pronounced _any_ king
impossible--such king being of sound mind, and still asserting his
sovereignty--let in the whole modern democratic theory.

[8] It is somewhat singular that Macaulay should have taken no notice of
an address which really constituted William's sole legal, or quasi legal
title to the administration of affairs between the assembling of the
Convention (which necessarily revoked his original commission) and the
conclusion of its king-making labours.

[9] The offer and rejection of this compromise appears to me to be
additional proof of the proposition advanced in the text--viz. that both
Whigs and Tories were far more solicitous for the success of their
candidate than for the triumph of their principles. Macaulay, it is
true, contends, as from his point of view he was bound to do, that the
Whigs made no concession of principle in proposing their compromise; for
if, he argues, the Convention could elect William and Mary there must
have been a vacancy of the throne. But surely the resolution as amended
might have been treated as merely _declaratory_ of Mary's title, and
elective only so far as it associated William with her on a throne which
had become his wife's by succession, and so would never have been
vacated at all. No; it was a genuine and not a fictitious surrender of
Whig principle; and while it proved that the Whigs were prepared to
offer any such concession as would make William King, its rejection
proved that the Tories cared for no such concession as did not leave
Mary sole Queen. The gain of votes which the Whigs secured by the
compromise probably represents the proportion of peers who really cared
for the abstract principle apart from the concrete facts.



    William's part in the Revolution--Convention declared a
      Parliament--Oath of Allegiance--Settlement of Civil List
      --Appropriation Clause--Toleration and Comprehension--
      Address of the Commons inviting the King to declare war.

Thus prudently and calmly was effected our great English Revolution.
Both as an event and as an achievement we have equal cause to review its
history with pleasure; for if in some aspects it testifies to the good
fortune of our nation, it reflects credit in others on the good
qualities of our people. I have endeavoured in the last chapter to point
out that the modern Whig view of the Revolution as a great conflict
between two opposing schools of constitutional doctors, resulting in the
victory of the more liberal one, is largely legendary; that the struggle
between Whigs and Tories resolved itself almost entirely into a dispute
of preferences as between two alternative candidates for the throne; and
that both parties showed themselves alike prepared to waive the
principles which they severally held on condition of attaining their
practical end--the success of their favoured candidate. But this does
not in any way detract either from the value of the Revolution or from
the merits of its authors; while it otherwise only serves to conform it
to the normal type of English political work. All our great
constitutional precedents are the parents of principle rather than its
offspring; we deduce our theories from accomplished facts of our own
creation, the creation of such accomplished facts being itself
determined by no theoretical considerations, but by certain practical
exigencies of the moment. Few Englishmen will think any worse of the
Whig because, although firmly wedded to the principle of national
sovereignty, he would have been willing to lose the opportunity of
expressly affirming it so long as he could by any means place William of
Orange, with full regal power, on the throne. Nor will they be any more
disposed to condemn the Tory in that when he found himself compelled to
give way on the practical point of the succession, he did not think it
worth while to quarrel with the assertions or implications of Whig
principle contained in the resolution by which the transfer was
effected. On the contrary, the temper and habits of mind thus jointly
illustrated are national characteristics on which we especially and not
unreasonably pride ourselves.

For the purposes of a precedent, too, the transaction could hardly have
come more happily off. Even a Tory of to-day will admit that it was good
for the future development of our constitutional life that the Whig
principles of "national sovereignty," "original contract between king
and people," and all the rest of it, should then and there receive
unmistakable recognition and irrevocable ratification; and this beyond
question they did receive. No hair-splittings about desertion or
abdication[10] could obscure the two plain facts, that the nation
_deposed_ James II., and by a distinct assertion of inherent, or
assumption of new, authority--it matters not which--_made_ a new king
out of a man who, but for such assertion or assumption of authority,
could never have become more than the consort of a queen.

As regards the new King himself, his behaviour at this great crisis in
his own fortunes and the destiny of two nations deserves, at any rate,
the credit of honesty and straightforwardness. We shall not really add
to that honour by seeking any more showy motives than those which lie on
the face of his conduct. The mere masculine repugnance of the man of
action to lower the spear before the distaff would in any case probably
have induced him to reject the proposal of the Tory lords. But apart
from this, his shrewd knowledge of men and clear insight into politics
assured him that he had only to refuse the false position in order to
compel the offer of the true one. He might have been all else that he
was--the devoted son of Holland; the true, if unimpassioned, friend of
England; the implacable enemy of the French king and his designs; the
ardent champion of Protestantism and the liberties of Europe;--and yet
only been the more tempted in every one of these by a place on the steps
of a powerful throne, and an influence which even from that situation he
might have wielded to the attainment of many great ends. He was saved
from accepting it solely by his pride, his ambition, and his
perspicacity. He resented the thought of holding power as his wife's
lieutenant, and he saw that he had only to refuse that post in order to
make himself a necessity as king.

The first act of the new sovereign was to summon and swear a Privy
Council, and to nominate a Ministry. In the then infancy of our modern
Constitution it was not, as it now is, incumbent upon the sovereign to
select the Ministers from one particular party. It was competent to him,
and William deemed it expedient for him, to tender office to the
representatives of both political connections. Danby, a Tory by
principle, though he had sided with the Whigs in opposing the Regency
scheme, and only broke away from them on the question of declaring the
throne vacant, was made President of the Council. Halifax, a Trimmer
indeed, but of closer affinities with Whiggery than with Toryism, and
the chief upholder of the Whig doctrine on the question of the
succession, became Lord Privy Seal. Nottingham, a Tory up to almost any
point short of passive obedience, received the seals of one
Secretaryship of State; upon Shrewsbury, a Whig, were bestowed those of
the other. The Treasury and the Admiralty were committed to the
Administration of Boards--the former under the presidency of Admiral
Herbert, the latter under that of Charles Mordaunt, afterwards the
famous and eccentric Earl of Peterborough. By an exercise of the royal
authority, willingly acquiesced in at the time by the nation, but
destined to entail more momentous national consequences than any of his
subjects foresaw, King William retained in his own hands the exclusive
direction of foreign affairs. The Great Seal was placed in commission.

The first question propounded to the Privy Council was whether the
Convention should be declared a lawful Parliament, or dissolved and a
fresh Parliament summoned in the regular manner by royal writ. The
Council advised the former course, and a Bill declaring the Convention a
Parliament was at once introduced and passed through the House of Lords.
It was opposed in the Commons by the Tories, who hoped that a general
election might strengthen their numbers; but the resistance--founded as
it was upon mere technical considerations, and with historical precedent
against it--was never very formidable; and the Bill passed the Lower
House in a few days, and became law. Among its clauses was one providing
that no one should, after the 1st of March then next ensuing, sit or
vote in either House of Parliament without taking the oaths of
allegiance to the new King and Queen, and the Jacobites and ultra-Tories
conceived the hope that many peers, bishops, and commoners would find it
impossible to reconcile their consciences to this test. As a matter of
fact the non-jurors, except among the Episcopal body, to whom Archbishop
Sancroft set the example of recusancy, were comparatively few. Even
later, when the oath was tendered to the clergy at large, the number of
those who found themselves conscientiously unable to take it was but
one-twentieth of the whole body.[11]

In the interval, however, between the passing of the Act and the day
fixed for submission to the test, the great question of the royal
revenues was taken up and decided. Certain proceeds of taxation were in
those days granted to the Crown either for a fixed term of years or for
life. The former, being on the face of them annexed to the regal office,
were of course transferable without much difficulty or dispute to the
new incumbent of that office; but doubts naturally arose as to the exact
legal status of the latter kind of imposts. Some were for interpreting
the word "life" as virtually meaning reign, upon which construction the
right to exact these taxes had lapsed by the deposition of the sovereign
to whom they were granted. Others insisted on an interpretation stricter
in one sense and laxer in another, and argued that though William had
become entitled to these revenues as King he could only enjoy them
during the life of James. In other words, in order to avoid taking
liberties with the word "life," they were prepared to behave with far
more unbridled license to the word "king." The practical inconvenience
of settling revenues on William during the life of James may or may not
have weighed more with the Parliament than the theoretical anomaly of
treating the former as sovereign for one purpose and the latter as such
for another; but anyhow it was tacitly agreed to treat the grant to
James as annulled by his so-called abdication. The Commons then voted
the sum of £1,200,000 for the current year, one half to be appropriated
to the civil list, the other half to the defences of the
country--mainly, of course, in other words, to the prosecution of the
impending war in Ireland. At the first sitting of Parliament, after the
prorogation, which took place some months afterwards, the Royal Speech
from the Throne contained an announcement to the Commons that in order
that they might be satisfied how the money had been laid out which they
had already given, his Majesty had directed the accounts to be laid
before them whenever they should think fit to call for them. The
privilege thus practically acknowledged may no doubt be, as some
constitutional lawyers have contended, coeval with the constitution; but
it had been so intermittently respected that its unvarying recognition
from this time forward is justly reckoned as one of the chief gains
which accrued to our parliamentary system from the Revolution. It seems,
however, to have been only in the Stat., 9 and 10 Will. III. c. 44, that
there appears an appropriation clause of the modern type apportioning
all the supplies of the session to the services for which they were

But while these delicate matters of royal rights and official income
were being disposed of, the King was commendably anxious to show himself
at once in some other light than that of an applicant for parliamentary
aids. As early as the 1st of March he sent a special message to the
Commons calling their attention to the "grievous burden" of the
unpopular hearth-tax, and signifying that assent either "to the
regulation of it, or to the taking of it wholly away," not doubting but
the Commons would take care of his revenue in some other way. This
judicious proposal gave great satisfaction. The Commons replied in
terms of warm acknowledgment, and the city of London presented to him an
address of thanks. He interposed, however, with less success and perhaps
with less judgment in the religious disputes by which the country was
divided. The traditions, alike of his nation and his house, may well
have encouraged him to aspire to the great office of moderator and
mediator between contending sects; but it is doubtful whether such a
post could under any circumstances have been within the reach of a Dutch
Calvinist. For the imperfect and illogically-regulated relief accorded
by the Toleration Act to most of the dissenting denominations the
country was prepared; but neither the occasion nor the idea of the
Comprehension Bill--a measure for widening the entrance to the Church of
England at the very moment when those who had chosen to remain outside
were being encouraged by a relieving Act to remain there--was in itself
a happy one. Churchmen were, from their own point of view, entitled to
argue that the two measures proceeded upon two opposite and conflicting
theories of state policy; that toleration, properly understood and
applied, would render comprehension superfluous, and had indeed been
accepted by the Church with that very object; and that it was but a poor
return for her surrender of her ancient claim to compel schismatics into
her fold, that she should be required unduly to extend its limits for
the purpose of embracing them. It is probable enough that William's eye
for an ecclesiastical scruple was not quite as keen as his insight into
the principles of civil government and the workings of European policy,
for he seems to have been surprised and disappointed at finding that
Churchmen and Dissenters, though the Toleration Act was accepted by the
former without serious difficulty and by the latter with hearty
rejoicings, would neither of them so much as look at his scheme of
comprehension. He evidently understood neither the "dissidence of
dissent" nor the Anglicanism of the Anglican Communion. The
Comprehension Bill had a troubled time of it even in the House of Lords,
where it was first introduced, and after some debate in the House of
Commons it was shelved. As vainly did William attempt to compose the
feud between the Whig and Tory Churchman and Nonconformist by offering,
so to speak, a bribe to each of them to tolerate the other. The new oath
of allegiance, framed by Parliament for itself, required to be extended
to all those classes of persons who had been compelled to take one.
Legislation was commenced for that purpose concurrently with the debates
over the Comprehension Bill, and the King, according to Burnet, saw
here, as he thought, an opportunity of bringing the disputants to a
mutually beneficial compromise. In his speech to the Commons on the 16th
of March, he signified his wish that in the pending legislation "they
would leave room for the admission of all Protestants that were willing
and able to serve"--a suggestion which, of course, was directly aimed at
the tests then excluding Dissenters from office. And while he pressed
this measure of relief upon the Tories, he at the same time invited the
Whigs to make a concession to their adversaries by absolving, as he was
willing to do, the existing beneficed clergy from the necessity of
taking the new oath of allegiance. He begged of the one party not to
compel the Nonconformist to choose between offence against conscience
and exclusion from civil office, and of the other party not to compel a
clergyman to choose between offence against conscience and expulsion
from ecclesiastical office; and he imagined that each would find their
account in consenting. But no. The Whig was determined to force the oath
upon the parson; the Tory was resolved to force the test upon the
dissenter. No provision of relief for Nonconformists was introduced into
the Comprehension Bill, and the measure itself was shortly afterwards
dropped. The Oaths Bill passed in a form which compelled every beneficed
clergyman to swear allegiance to the new King and Queen by the 1st of
August 1689, on pain of suspension, to be followed on the 1st of
February 1690, in the event of the non-juror remaining contumacious, by

History has done justice to these well-meaning efforts of William; but
the political virtue which for the moment was its own reward, must, one
imagines, have been felt by him as painfully unremunerative. He could
not have expected to be personally popular, and he was not, though
Macaulay, in his desire for strong pictorial effect, has surely
exaggerated his unpopularity. But he, no doubt, counted upon wielding a
greater civil influence at the outset of his career than he in fact
discovered to be his, and must have learned, with some chagrin, that he
had failed to realise the vehemence of those English party conflicts in
which not even the ablest and best intentioned of mediators can
interpose without disappointment until he has mastered all the secrets
of their intensity. On the whole, one can easily understand the feeling
of satisfaction with which he hailed the coming of the hour when he,
with whom the instincts of the European statesman and soldier were
always dominant over these of the domestic administrator, was once more
summoned to activity in one of the two arts in which he shone. On the
19th of April the Commons presented an address to the Crown, in which,
after reciting the various acts of hostility committed by Louis XIV.
against their country, "particularly the present invasion of Ireland,"
they assured William that when he "should think fit to enter into a war
against the French king, they would give him such assistance in a
parliamentary way as to enable him to support and go through with the
same." To this invitation from his Parliament William returned an answer
of ready acquiescence, while to those about him he exclaimed, with
unwonted animation, "This is the first day of my reign."


[10] There are but two ways in which a sovereign can, while alive, and
_compos mentis_, become divested of his regal attributes and
authority--by abdication and by deposition; and it is impossible to
define abdication satisfactorily by any form of words which does not
involve the idea of a _voluntary_ act. Even if a voluntary abandonment
or "desertion of the Government" amounted to abdication, it would not
help the case. James's flight from England in 1688 was no more voluntary
than the flight of his brother, then king _de jure_, after Worcester in
1651. Both flights were taken under what was or was conceived to be
_force majeure_.

[11] This, however, it should be conceded, was really, of the two, a
more respectable proportion; for the clergy had a sterner alternative
before them than the bishops, peers, or members of the Lower House. The
latter had only status at stake--the former, in most cases, their means
of subsistence.



    Invasion of Ireland--Campaign of 1689--Parliamentary strife
    --The conduct of the war--The Oates Case--The Succession Bill
    --Attempts to pass an Indemnity Bill--Rancour of the Whigs--
    Their factious opposition to William's Irish plans--
    Dissolution of Parliament.

An address from Parliament praying the sovereign to declare war against
a foreign state is far from a common incident in our history; and even
in this instance the initiative then taken by the Commons was one of
form rather than of fact. The descent of James upon Ireland, under the
convoy of a French fleet of fifteen sail of the line, and accompanied by
a force of 2500 French soldiers, amounted to an act of war on the part
of France, if ever such an act was committed by one nation upon another;
and it was not till more than a month after the perpetration of this
outrage that the address referred to in the last chapter was presented
to the King. James landed at Kinsale on the 12th of March; the address
to the King is dated, as has been said, on the 19th of April. England,
moreover, was not the first of the coalition of Powers which the patient
diplomacy of William had formed against Louis to take action against the
common enemy. The declaration of the German Diet had appeared in
February, and that of the States-General in March.

On the 24th of March James entered Dublin, which, in common with all the
other cities of the three southern provinces of Ireland, had declared
for his cause; but after only three weeks' stay in the capital it was
decided, against the advice of his chief French counsellor, d'Avaux, who
with the Lord Deputy Tyrconnel, and the Irish Catholic party in general,
were for keeping him among the Celtic population of the island, that he
should go northward and take command of the royal army in Ulster. He
accordingly set out on the 14th of April, and after some further
hesitations caused by conflicting reports as to the results of a
skirmish between the Protestants and a body of his own men at Strabane,
arrived a few days later among his troops, who were quartered a few
miles south of Londonderry, a city which, with Inniskillen, had formed
the rallying point for the Protestant minority when the outbreak of the
Revolution, awakening the hopes of the Catholic population, appeared to
threaten the "English garrison" with a repetition of the horrors of
1641. Here it had been fully expected by James's more sanguine
counsellors that he would be, if not loyally, at any rate submissively
received. The appearance of their lawful sovereign before their walls
would at any rate, it was thought, confirm the wavering allegiance of
the military under the command of the Governor, Colonel Lundy. As a
matter of fact, it only served to arouse a spirit of determined
resistance in the townsmen, to unite the soldiery in the same cause, and
to precipitate the flight of the Jacobite governor. James and his
retinue, on approaching the gate, were fired on from the nearest
bastion; a subsequent demand for surrender was contemptuously rejected,
and after a few days' delay before the town its rejected sovereign set
off in chagrin and disappointment to return to Dublin, leaving
Londonderry to prepare for that heroic defence of three months against
the combined forces of war, disease, and famine, which has made her name
famous among the cities of the world. James's first act on his return to
the capital was to summon a Parliament, and a Parliament, of a sort,
responded to the summons. That is to say, out of a hundred temporal
peers then in Ireland, fourteen, of whom ten were Catholics, obeyed the
summons, while the fidelity at any rate of the faithful Commons was
guaranteed by the fact that only six out of the total number of two
hundred and fifty were Protestants. Having assembled, they promptly
proceeded to attest this virtue by the wholesale confiscation of the
lands of Protestants, and the proscription of their heads. Ulster,
however, was still unreduced, and while that was so, denunciatory and
spoliatory decrees might well turn out to be mere waste paper. The
dashing Inniskilleners--the cavalry, so to speak, of that Protestant
army in which Londonderry played the part of the immovable square of
infantry--had actually meditated, though they never carried out, an
attempt to relieve their beleaguered sister city, and at Newtown Butler
they were able to render signal service to their cause by the defeat of
General Macarthy and 6000 Irish. By the end of July Londonderry had been
relieved; early in August Marshal Schomberg, then one of the most
renowned of European generals, landed at Carrickfergus with 16,000 men,
and it became evident even to the most hopeful of James's adherents
that the northern province was lost to him irretrievably.

William meanwhile still remained in London busied with the task, at once
delicate and laborious, of administering the government of a distrustful
and almost unfriendly people through the agency of two bitterly divided
factions. The parliamentary session had become more prolific of quarrels
and more barren of counsel as it proceeded. The two Houses and the two
parties had agreed with little difficulty to do justice to some of the
admitted victims of the oppression practised under the last two
sovereigns. The attainders of Sidney, Russell, and others were reversed
without recorded dissent, but the case of Oates gave rise to acute
conflict between the Lords and Commons--a conflict in which, though the
conduct of the former assembly was undoubtedly arbitrary, the temper,
or, at any rate, the motives of the latter appear by no means worthy of
the unqualified praise bestowed upon them by the great Whig historian.
Undoubtedly the Peers were without justification in refusing to reverse
a sentence which the judges had solemnly pronounced illegal; but it is
ridiculous to represent the Commons, as a body of judicially minded
legislators, doing violence to their natural sentiments in their
determination to obtain justice for Oates. Such a theory is at once
refuted by the fact that, after his release under royal pardon, his
personal adherents in the Commons proved numerous enough to disgrace
their party and their country by procuring a pension of three hundred a
year for perhaps the most infamous wretch who ever disgraced human
nature. The dispute is of importance because it has been suggested that
to the bitterness of feeling engendered by it was due the subsequent
quarrel between the two Houses over the succession clauses in the Bill
of Rights. At the end of this famous enactment--the statutory
affirmation of the claims formulated by the Convention in the
Declaration of Right--it had been proposed at William's suggestion that
to the several enumerated reversions of the British Crown a further
remainder should be added. In the Declaration, as will be remembered,
the crown was settled, after the death of the King or Queen, upon the
survivor, and after the death of such survivor upon the heirs of Mary,
failing whom upon Anne and her heirs, failing whom upon the issue of
William by any other wife than Mary. It appearing by no means
improbable, having regard to the fact that the King and Queen were
childless, and that Anne had repeatedly failed to rear the children to
whom she had given birth, that there might be a failure of all the named
reversioners, and that the otherwise legal right of some Catholic prince
might thereupon come into conflict with the statutory exclusion of
Catholic sovereigns, William proposed to entail the crown after the last
mentioned limitation upon an undoubted Protestant, Sophia of Hanover,
granddaughter of James I., and her issue, being Protestants. That the
proposal was a well-conceived one is evidenced by the fact that it was
actually adopted by Parliament in the succeeding reign; but though the
Lords to whom it was submitted by Burnet accepted it unanimously, the
Commons would have none of it. The irritation left by the Oates quarrel
may in part have accounted for this, but Macaulay attributes too
childish a temper to the Lower House in implying as he does that
ill-humour is the sole explanation of their resistance. They in fact
alleged several grounds of objection of unequal weight, but of which one
at least has every appearance of _bona fides_, viz. that the mentioning
of the House of Hanover would give an opportunity to foreigners of
intermeddling too far in the affairs of the nation. But whatever the
excuse, we can readily imagine that William regarded the action of the
Commons as purely factious, and although the birth at this juncture of
another son and heir to the Princess Anne deprived the succession
dispute of its urgency, the cool-headed Dutchman can hardly but have
been impressed with the keenness of that political strife which could
keep the two branches of the legislature asunder when the cost of their
dissension was the postponement of the greatest statutory assertion of
their liberties since Magna Charta. For as a consequence of the
irreconcilable dispute on the succession clause, the Bill of Rights had
of course to be dropped; and between this date and the 20th of August,
when Parliament was prorogued, the breach between William and the Whigs
was still further widened by the rancour with which they pursued their
political enemies, and resisted the attempts of the King to procure a
statutory amnesty for past political offences. Impartiality was easier
of course for him than them, but William's natural affinities of mind
and politics cannot but have been rather with the Whigs than the Tories,
and the steadiness of purpose with which he persisted in his patriotic
though hopeless attempt at combining representatives of both political
parties in his councils is, upon any view of the matter, highly
honourable to him. It was the Whigs who from the first made the
experiment hopeless, and who finally determined its failure. We owe them
the English Constitution, but we owe them also, at any rate in the rigid
inflexible shape which it has since assumed, that _genius vultu
mutabilis albus et ater_, the English party-system.

Parliament met again after a two months' recess on the 19th of October,
and seemed at first disposed to act with somewhat more of unity in
support of the Executive. They unanimously affirmed their determination
to assist the King in the reconquest of Ireland, and in a vigorous
prosecution of the war with France, for which purposes they voted an
extraordinary supply of two millions, a portion of which it was at first
proposed, on principles which the enactors of the Bill of Rights (passed
this session without William's suggested amendment) had inherited in a
slightly modified form from the signatory of Magna Charta, to raise by a
special tax upon Jews. Supplies voted, however, disunion recommenced.
The Whigs had come back from their short holiday more bloodthirsty than
ever. Beginning with a legitimate cause of complaint against the
administration in respect of the mismanagement of the war in Ireland,
where the whole organisation of the commissariat seems to have been
almost of a Crimean inefficiency, they easily converted this just
grievance into a general protest against the presence of Tories in the
Government. An attempt was made to induce William to say by whose advice
he had employed Henry Shales, the knavish Commissary-General, to whom
the scandal was mainly if not wholly due--the object of course being to
found an accusation against some one or other of the Tory officials to
whom Shales's retention in his post was assumed to be due. It would
have been enough for William to reply that he found the man Commissary
on his accession, and simply continued him in office. He refused to
gratify the malicious curiosity of the address presented to him on the
subject, though he assented very readily to another for the appointment
of a commission to examine into the state of affairs in Ireland.

The Tories were next destined to cross the sorely-troubled king by the
resistance which they offered to him on a delicate question connected
with the provision for his sister-in-law. On the vote of the Civil List,
and the question arising under it as to the establishment of the
Princess Anne, it had been originally proposed by William that he
himself should undertake this charge out of his own revenues; but
through the instrumentality of the Churchills a strong party was formed
among the Tories to insist upon Anne having a settlement independent of
the Crown. Seventy thousand a year was the (for those days) extravagant
sum which they demanded, and which proved too much even for an indulgent
House of Commons to grant. The vote was reduced to £50,000, and though
William's dislike to the idea of a parliamentary settlement upon his
sister-in-law induced him to raise his own original offer of £30,000 to
£50,000 Anne still held out, and a yearly income of the amount last
mentioned was accordingly secured to her for life by Act of Parliament.
In none of the parts played by the various actors in this little
political drama (the sequel to which was the permanent estrangement of
the Queen and King from the Princess) is it easy to discern the
promptings of any public principle, or indeed of any decorously
avowable motive whatever. The Tories would seem to have been wholly
swayed either by party and ecclesiastical prepossessions, or by personal
interests of a lower kind--either by sentimental sympathy with a High
Churchwoman, or by a practical eye to the Marlborough gold. As to
William it was eminently natural that he should wish to retain at least
_one_ string of this puppet of the Churchills in his own hands; as
natural as that the Churchills themselves should wish to deprive him of
it, and that the puppet herself should respond to the vigorous pulling
of the strings which they already held. Neither of the two latter
parties would probably have cared to allege any public motive for their
behaviour in the transaction. It is to be presumed, however, that
William would have done so if he could; and it is at least noteworthy
that the only objection which he seems to have taken to Anne's
parliamentary settlement affords no logical support to his own
alternative proposal. That Anne should have her income settled on her
for life, while his was only voted to him annually, was doubtless a just
ground of complaint; but the proper redress of the anomaly would have
been to subject his sister-in-law's income like his own to the annual
revision of the House of Commons. The fact that the King was dependent
upon Parliament could be no reason for making the Princess dependent not
upon Parliament, but upon the King.

Meanwhile the session wore on, and William's cherished project of an Act
of Indemnity was no nearer realisation. He had earnestly recommended it
to Parliament in the Speech from the Throne, but nothing was further
from the hearts of the dominant party in the Commons than the idea of
amnesty. They seemed bent on assuring themselves the tranquil exit of
Marshal Narvaez, who died in peace with all mankind by dint of leaving
himself no enemies to forgive. An Indemnity Bill was for form's sake
brought in at the beginning of November, but no progress was made with
it. Proscription took the place of purgation. Lords Salisbury and
Peterborough, Sir Edward Hales, and others, were marked out for
impeachment and summoned according to their status to the bar of one or
the other House. The Lords appointed a committee to inquire into the
judicial murders of Russell and Sidney, and Sir Dudley North and Lord
Halifax were cited before this body to answer for their shares, real or
alleged, in these dark transactions. John Hampden, a grandson of the
greater John, was conspicuous for the violence of his hostility to the
official Tories, and by his instrumentality a committee was appointed to
prepare an address to the King to remove the authors of the late
failures and to appoint "unsuspected persons" to the management of
affairs. The address, however, presented by Hampden was sharply
criticised for the violence of its language, and the House of Commons
ultimately laid it aside. So plainly, indeed, was the Whig party now
losing ground in that House, and so grave had become their apprehensions
of declining popularity in the country, that with a view of at least
recovering their position at the polling-booths they resolved upon one
of the boldest and most unscrupulous strokes of party tactics which our
history records. Into a Bill then before the House for restoring the
charters to these corporations which had surrendered them to the Crown,
they introduced a clause excluding from municipal office all persons who
had been implicated in the surrenders of such charters--or, in other
words, all Tories, thus designing to fill the municipalities with Whig
office-bearers and to secure the control of the elections to the Whig
party. Smuggled into the Bill in a House half depleted of its members by
the approach of Christmas, it needed a vigorous whip of the Tories to
procure the rejection of this clause by a narrow majority; and William's
disgust at this manœuvre was further intensified by the attachment to
his much-desired Indemnity Bill of a bill of pains and penalties against
political delinquents. So acute at this moment became his chagrin and
disappointment at the condition of English politics that he was strongly
tempted to wash his hands of the whole distasteful and thankless
business, and he was with difficulty prevailed upon by his ministers to
abandon his design of bidding adieu to the country which he had come to
deliver and retiring to his native land. Dissuaded from this, he
resolved that he would at least reduce Ireland to submission if he had
failed to compose the quarrels of his Parliament; and he let it be known
that he was about to quit the capital for the headquarters of his army
in Ulster. But against this, too, the Whigs vehemently protested. An
address deprecatory of the project was said to be preparing; and
William, his patience exhausted by this last sally of faction,
determined to appeal to the good sense and patriotism of the country.

Accordingly, on the 27th of January, after having in a speech from the
throne announced his resolve to go to Ireland in person, "and with the
blessing of God Almighty endeavour to reduce that kingdom, that it may
no longer be a charge to this," the King, to the high satisfaction of
the Tories and the proportional discomfiture of the Whigs, proceeded to
prorogue Parliament with a view to its early dissolution.



    Parliament of 1690--Tory majority--Settlement of the royal
      income--Case of the Princess Anne--The "Act of Grace"--
      Detection of Preston's conspiracy--William's departure
      for Ireland--Battle of the Boyne--Battle of Beachy Head--
      Marlborough's Irish campaign--Session of 1690.

The elections were contested with the utmost energy of party spirit.
Both Whigs and Tories strove their hardest for the victory, but the
policy of the King's appeal to the country was justified by the success
of the latter. A Tory majority was returned to the House of Commons, and
William felt that there was now at last a fair prospect of his
effectually mediating between factions. To have replaced a party to whom
he owed everything by a party who owed everything to him was undoubtedly
a great step towards the attainment of his ends. He had at least secured
a majority who could affect no right to dictate his policy, and had
reduced those who could and did advance this pretension to a minority.
His first act was to remodel his Ministry. Halifax resigned the Privy
Seal, which was placed in commission; Danby, who had been raised at the
distribution of honours accompanying the coronation to the Marquisate of
Caermarthen, became Lord President; Sir John Lowther, First Lord of the
Treasury--not then, as now, the chief office in the Administration.
Whigs and Tories were still mingled in the Government, but no longer in
the old proportions.

On the 20th of March the new Parliament met, and the King addressed it
in a speech in which he announced his intention of proceeding to Ireland
as soon as might be, and recommended to the prompt attention of the two
Houses the question of the settlement of the royal revenue and of the
enactment of an amnesty. In the former of these matters their action was
more conformable to sound constitutional principle than agreeable to the
King. In addition to the hereditary revenues which had passed with the
crown to William and Mary, the Commons would only agree to settle
absolutely upon the King and Queen about one third of the fiscal
revenues which had been assured to the last two sovereigns for the term
of their lives. That portion of the excise, estimated at £300,000, which
had been settled upon James II. for life, was now settled upon William
and Mary for their joint and separate lives. But, on the other hand, the
customs duties, amounting to £600,000, which had been settled for life
on Charles and James successively, were granted to the Crown for a term
of only four years. This restriction, in which Whigs and Tories
concurred, was not unnaturally displeasing to a sovereign who justly
valued himself on the ability, integrity, and thrift which made him, as
he conceived, at once the most efficient and the most trustworthy
steward of the national resources; but that he should have resented the
action of Parliament in this matter not merely as a limitation upon the
free play of his policy, but as a personal slight to himself,
instructively illustrates the very limited extent to which the
principles of the British Constitution, as we now know it, had
established themselves in the joint recognition of the sovereign and the
legislature. If there was one principle more inevitably implied in the
Revolution that William had headed than another, it was that no personal
claims of any individual sovereign could be allowed either to suspend or
in any degree to qualify the general rule of parliamentary control. Had
William contended, whether reasonably or unreasonably, that the
restraint placed on him by Parliament was more severe than needed to be
imposed upon _any_ sovereign, his position would have been a defensible
one; but his complaint, as Burnet testifies, was that the Commons were
showing an undue and ungenerous jealousy of their particular sovereign
for the time being. His claim to enjoy the same amount of freedom as his
predecessor had abused was founded simply on the fact that James was
James and that he was William; and that was obviously one of these
circumstances of which the administrators of a general rule, intended to
apply to any number of future Jameses and Williams, could not possibly
take into account. Had this general rule been recognised with anything
approaching to its acceptance in these days, it is impossible to suppose
that so clear and fair an intelligence as William's could have missed
its application to himself.

No doubt it may have caused him some irritation to observe with what
rapidity the coalition of Whigs and Tories, which had formed for the
purpose of limiting his independence, dissolved again when that work
was done. In a few weeks the two parties were as fiercely at odds as
ever upon a Whig Abjuration Bill, the main object of which, though in
one quite indefensible clause it went far beyond this, was to impose a
test which the official Tories could not swallow, and so to drive them
from office. It was not enough that a man should have sworn allegiance
to King William; he must also expressly abjure allegiance to King James.
Who knew but that he might have taken the former oath in some
non-natural sense or with some mental reservations? And though the
answer seemed obvious that he might take the latter in the same sense
and with the same reservations, the Bill was prosecuted to its rejection
in the House of Commons by a majority of thirty-three. An Abjuration
Bill of a somewhat less stringent kind was then introduced into the
House of Lords, the debate upon which William personally attended. He
had let it be known, however, that he was opposed to the former measure,
and it is probable that he had no great liking for the latter. Anyhow,
it underwent so much mutilation in committee that its authors did not
care to persevere with it.

The Tory majority, however, was soon after employed to an even more
useful purpose in the final accomplishment of William's policy of
pacification. Resolved that on this occasion the measure of indemnity
should not be defeated by delay, the King submitted it personally to the
Upper House in the form of an Act of Grace for political offences--a
proceeding which, according to constitutional practice, abridged its
deliberative stages in each House of Parliament to a single reading.
Introduced under such auspices, and assured of the support of a party
always dominant in the Upper House, and now possessing a majority in the
Lower, it passed without any opposition into law, and is undoubtedly
entitled to take its place among the most honourable and statesmanlike
acts of William's career. Its value as a political precedent was
scarcely capable of exaggeration even by Macaulay; and if he somewhat
inordinately applauds the enlightened clemency which it was as easy for
any brave and dispassionate foreigner to recommend as it was difficult
for English parties embittered by the mutual wrongs of a generation of
conflict to accept, it would be falling into the converse error to
insist on any serious qualification of the historian's praises.
William's great qualities were his own; they must at least divide the
credit of his high-minded and sagacious policy with the accident of his
antecedents in his own country and of his position in ours; nor would it
be gracious to attempt too nice an apportionment of the shares.

Impatience to proceed to Ireland had probably something to do with the
expeditious form of procedure adopted by the King in the case of the
Indemnity Act. On the 20th of May it became law. On the same day William
informed the Houses that his departure for the seat of war could be
delayed no longer; and after having given his assent to an Act
empowering the Queen to administer the government during his absence, he
prorogued Parliament until the 14th of July. Then, having appointed from
the list of Privy Councillors a small interior Council of Nine to advise
the Queen, and having delayed no longer than was necessary to place in
their hands the threads of a newly-discovered conspiracy,[12] William
took a tender farewell of his wife, and set forth on the strange errand
of defeating the army, if not destroying the life, of his wife's father.
"God send," he exclaimed, "that no harm may come to him." His anxiety on
this score for the Queen's sake was painful; but otherwise, though he
belonged to that order of brave men whose spirits are fortified rather
than exhilarated by danger, he was cheered by the approach of the hour
of action. Ireland in the hands of a hostile army, the shores of England
threatened by a hostile fleet, a dangerous conspiracy only detected on
the eve of success, a formidable insurrection imminent in the country he
was leaving behind him, he could still say to Burnet--"As for me, but
for one thing I should enjoy the prospect of being on horseback and
under canvas again. For I am sure that I am fitter to direct a campaign
than to manage your Houses of Lords and Commons."

On the 14th of June he landed at Carrickfergus, and immediately set out
for Belfast to take over the command from Schomberg. All Ulster rose
with enthusiasm to receive him, and the soldiers, whom treachery and
incompetency had been sacrificing by the hundred to the ravages of
disease and privation, took heart once more. After ten days spent in
concentrating his forces at Loughbrickland, William started southward
at the head of 36,000 men. Two days after his nephew's landing James had
left Dublin to lead his troops to Dundalk with the view either of giving
battle at that point, or merely, as has been suggested, of eating up the
country between the capital and the invading army, so as to impede its
advance by difficulties of supply. But if the former were the original
object of the movement it was soon abandoned. When William's army
approached Dundalk James fell back upon Ardee; and the former still
pressing southwards, the latter still continued his retreat, until the
pursuer was brought to a halt on the morning of the 30th of June by the
halt of the pursued, and the English and Irish armies at last looked
each other in the face across the now historic waters of the Boyne.
Lauzun, who had succeeded De Rosen in the command of James's forces, was
a courtier rather than a general, but the position he had here taken up,
behind entrenchments and with a river in front, was strategically a
strong one--so strong indeed that the veteran Schomberg doubted his
master's wisdom in resolving upon an immediate attack. But William, as
he had told the Ulster men, had not come to Ireland to "let the grass
grow under his feet." He had the advantage in numbers; the advantage in
generalship; above all, the advantage in the quality of his troops, who,
if but few of them were as good as the trained French soldiers of his
adversary, were none of them so bad as the rapparee Irish levies who
formed the bulk of James's forces. The day passed in an exchange of
shots across the river, from one of which William had well-nigh lost his
life. Having sat down to breakfast somewhat close to the brink of the
Boyne, he attracted the attention of the Irish sentries on the opposite
shore. Two field-pieces were planted opposite to him, and, on his rising
and remounting his horse, were discharged at the group of which he was
the centre. The first shot killed a man and two horses at some distance
from him; the second, better aimed, struck the river bank and grazed the
King's shoulder in its ricochet, inflicting a slight flesh wound. His
staff thronged anxiously about him, but William, in his usual dry and
stoical fashion, relieved their fears. He was unharmed, he told them,
but "there was no need for any bullet to come nearer." His wound was
dressed, and he remained in the saddle till nightfall. At nine o'clock
he held a council of war, and, against the advice of Schomberg, declared
his determination of effecting a passage of the river on the following
day. Unable to dissuade his master from the rash project, as he deemed
it, the veteran general urged that at least a portion of the army should
be sent up the stream at midnight to Slane Bridge, and crossing it at
that point, should be in readiness either to assist them in the event of
their attack being unsuccessful, by a diversion in the rear of James's
army, or, in case the river should have been carried, to cut off the
retreat of the Irish by the pass of Duleek. This plan, which, if
adopted, would probably, as one of William's biographers points out,
have ended the campaign at a stroke, was rejected: why, does not very
clearly appear. The tactics were such as might have been thought likely
to commend themselves to William, and he could apparently have well
spared the men to execute them. It is said by the biographer above
referred to that the plan was opposed "by the Dutch generals"; but it
is not impossible that the objection may have really come from the King
himself, and have been founded not on strategical but on political
considerations. William, as we know, was especially solicitous about his
father-in-law's life, and not perhaps suspecting how well it would be
cared for by its owner, whom he must have remembered to have once been
brave, he may have rejected Schomberg's scheme for its very
completeness, and because he not unnaturally assumed that in cutting off
the retreat of James's army he would be cutting off the retreat of James
himself. The too complimentary assumption that the royal general would
be last rather than first in the flight had yet to be rebutted by
events. But whatever the reason, the Marshal's plan was rejected; he
retired, chagrined and hurt, from the council, and the last night of the
old soldier's life was spent, it is melancholy to think, in displeasure
with the master whom he had so long and faithfully served.

The morning of the 1st of July broke fair, and a little after sunrise
the English army advanced in three divisions to the attack. The right
under the younger Schomberg, assisted by the Earl of Portland and James
Douglas, was detailed for the same operation which the Marshal would
have had executed four hours earlier, and by a surprise. Having marched
a few miles up the river to Slane Bridge, and finding there but one
regiment of Irish dragoons, they easily beat them back, crossed the
bridge, and made good their footing on the southern bank of the Boyne.
Lauzun, apprehensive for his command of the pass of Duleek, had detached
the best of his troops--his own countrymen--to resist the further
advance of the English right; and the centre and left of William's army
were opposed at the lower fords by the Irish Catholics alone. Between
them and the Dutch Guards, the French Huguenots, the men of Londonderry
and Inniskillen, it was _impar congressus_ indeed.[13] Schomberg in
command of the centre took the water at the ford of Old Bridge. William
at the head of the left wing, consisting entirely of cavalry, made for a
more difficult and dangerous crossing lower down. At one point only does
the passage of the river appear to have been for more than a moment
doubtful. The Danes and Huguenots under Cambon and Caillemot were set
upon in the act of landing by the Irish cavalry under Richard Hamilton;
the former were driven back again into the water, and the latter,
unarmed with pikes, began to give ground. The conflict raged hotly for a
short space at the southern exit of the ford; Caillemot fell mortally
wounded; the whole brigade was wavering; when old Schomberg, who had
been watching the action from the northern bank, dashed impetuously into
the river. "_Allons, Messieurs!_" he cried to the Huguenots, as he
pointed to the French Catholics in James's ranks, "_voila vos
persécuteurs!_" As he uttered the words a small band of Irish horsemen
came galloping in upon the main body, the Huguenots, mistaking them for
friends, having allowed them to pass. In the confused melée which
followed the Marshal was surrounded; he received two sabre cuts on his
head, and a musket shot, said in one account to have been fired in a
fatal mistake "by one of his own men," laid him dead upon the ground.
The arrival of William, who had with difficulty forced his way across
through the strongly flowing tide, at once decided the doubtful
struggle. "Men of Inniskillen, what will you do for me?" was his
inspiriting question to the sorely pressed Protestants of Ulster; and
drawing his sword with an arm yet stiff from the wound of the previous
morning, he led his Dutch Guards and Inniskilleners against the still
unbroken Irish centre. Ulstermen and Hollanders vied with each other in
steadiness and valour; Schomberg's cavalry came opportunely to their
support; De Ginkell's horse effected as timely a diversion on the
enemy's left. Hamilton and his riders being thus driven back, the heart
of the defence was broken, and after one more brief stand at Plottin
Castle, where the Inniskilleners were temporarily checked and had again
to be rallied, and where Hamilton was wounded and made prisoner, the
defeat of the Irish army became a rout, and their retreat a flight.
James, who had watched the battle from the hill of Donore till it went
against him, had already hurried through the pass of Duleek, and was
making the best of his way to Dublin. His army, now a broken and
confused mass of fugitives, struggled after him through the defile. The
battle of the Boyne was won.

The victory, though not so immediately decisive as it might have been if
Schomberg's plan had been adopted, was practically fatal to the Jacobite
cause. Drogheda surrendered the next day. James, who had reached Dublin
on the evening of the battle, quitted it the day after for ever. On the
3d of July he reached Waterford, whence he embarked on board a French
frigate and sailed for Brest. Lauzun and Tyrconnel collected their
straggling forces as best they could, and, evacuating the Irish capital
immediately after James's flight, marched westward with the design of
reorganising resistance at such still remaining strongholds of the
deposed monarch as Limerick and Athlone.

William fixed his headquarters at Finglas, near Dublin, but enjoyed no
long period of unmixed satisfaction with his victory. The day before the
two armies closed upon the Boyne, the French fleet, under De Tourville,
had encountered what should have been the combined fleets of England and
the States off Beachy Head, but by the supineness or treachery of the
English Admiral the Dutch had been left to bear the brunt of the battle
alone. After hours of hard fighting they drew off with the worst of the
encounter, and Admiral Herbert, destroying some of the Dutch ships, and
taking the rest in tow, sailed up the Thames, leaving the enemy in
undisputed possession of the Channel. The news of this defeat, and of
the alarm for our unprotected coasts which it had occasioned in London,
reached William on the 27th of July at Carrick-on-Suir, where he was
encamped, after having reduced Waterford. He immediately hurried to
Dublin with the intention of embarking to England; but, reassured by
later advices informing him that the French attempt at a descent on the
Devonshire coast had proved a failure, he returned to headquarters, and
hastened to prosecute the campaign. The glory of the Boyne, however, was
destined to be somewhat dimmed before many weeks were past. At Limerick
the Celtic Irish showed, with the variability of their unstable race,
that they could fight bravely when "i' th' humour." Sarsfield, left in
command by the departure in disgust of Lauzun and Tyrconnel, approved
himself a leader of vigour and resource. He intercepted and destroyed
William's heavier battering-train before it could reach him. The
besieged of Limerick, fighting with a desperate courage, which even
their women imitated, beat back an assault of the English forces with
much bloodshed, and on the 30th of August, fearing the ravages of
disease with the approach of the autumnal rains, William raised the
siege of the city and returned to England. The campaign thus left
undecided was to be taken in hand by a greater commander than himself.
Landing in Ireland some three weeks later, the Earl of Marlborough gave
promise of his future military prowess in the remarkable speed and
success of his operations. In five weeks after leaving Portsmouth he had
taken Cork and Kinsale, and had not his fast sickening army constrained
his retirement, would probably have settled the whole Irish business out
of hand. He returned to London to receive from William, who, besides
being incapable of jealousy, was in the habit of underrating his own
generalship, the graceful compliment that "no officer living who has
seen so little service as my Lord Marlborough is so fit for great

On the 2d of November the King once more met his Parliament, and under
more favourable auspices than ever before during his reign. The imminent
dangers to which the nation had been exposed had brought about a
temporary truce between parties; the skill, energy, and valour with
which the King had borne his part in averting them had, moreover, united
them in a common sentiment of admiration and gratitude. Thanks were
voted both to William, and separately to Mary, who had indeed well
merited them by the spirit and vigour which she had displayed during the
critical days that followed the defeat of Beachy Head. Supplies of
unusual magnitude were voted with unusual readiness, and the short
session, marked only by an abortive bill for confiscating the property
of Jacobites, passed tranquilly away. On the 5th of January William
thanked the Houses for their supplies, and assuring them, in words on
which later events were to place an awkward commentary, that he would
not grant away any of the forfeited property in Ireland till they had
had an opportunity of declaring their wishes in that matter, he
adjourned Parliament, and on the following day he quitted London to
return for the first time in two years to his native country.


[12] The conspiracy known as Preston's--a plan of inviting the French
king to land troops in England, and offering to second his efforts by an
insurrection, and, if possible, the treacherous surrender of the whole
or a part of the British fleet. Clarendon and Dartmouth, with other more
or less eminent personages, were implicated in it, including, at least
as was suspected, the Quaker, William Penn. The conspirators were
betrayed by an accomplice, and some of them sent to the Tower. Lord
Preston, a Scotch peer, a ringleader of the conspiracy, was tried and
convicted for high treason, but subsequently pardoned.

[13] James's ungenerous reproaches of his defeated troops, and the many
French complaints quoted by Macaulay might not in themselves prove
conclusively that the Irish showed greater _natural_ cowardice, as
distinguished from mere military unsteadiness, than other undisciplined
levies. But the mere fact that with all their advantages of position,
commanding a river which their adversaries had to cross, they made, with
the exception of Hamilton's horse, so miserable an exhibition of
themselves, is a clear enough indication of personal deficiencies. It is
only fair to remember, however, that the generalship of James's army was
beneath contempt. To leave a bridge a few miles above their position
unprotected by artillery, and indeed with only a single regiment of
cavalry available for resisting its being crossed by a hostile army, is
surely the last word of tactical ineptitude.



    Campaign of 1691 in the Netherlands--Fall of Mons--Disaffection
    of William's councillors--Conclusion of year's campaign--
    Disgrace and dismissal of Marlborough--Massacre of Glencoe.

The night of William's arrival off the coast of Holland was wild and
stormy; but impatient to be ashore, he quitted the ship which had
carried him for an open boat, and after a night of extreme danger and
hardship, which he passed through with his usual fearlessness and
stoicism, effected a landing. His welcome among his people was
enthusiastic, and his reception by the assembled notables--electors,
princes, dukes, and ministers-plenipotentiary then assembled in
Congress--at the Hague was signally respectful. Those among them in whom
the statesman was strongest were no doubt chiefly impressed by his
successful elevation of himself to a powerful throne; while to the high
aristocratic and monarchical party among them it was sufficient that he
filled it by a title at least good enough to relieve him of the reproach
of mere high-handed usurpation. Each, after his manner, did homage to
the qualities of character, or the accidents of birth, which are
respectively implied in the two meanings of the word "succeed"; over
both alike, however, the ascendency of William was now in all
probability much more firmly established. As wielding the power of
England he was in a material sense, though not perhaps in any very
imposing degree, stronger than he had been; but the accession to his
moral prestige from his remarkable achievements, in the field and in the
council, of the two previous years was doubtless very great. The banded
enemies of the French monarch looked undoubtedly with new feelings upon
the head of their coalition.

William addressed the Congress at its opening in a stirring speech in
which he impressed on them the necessity of union in counsel and
promptitude in action; and with such effect that the Congress resolved
to oppose Louis with an army of 220,000 men, to which William, acting as
his own war minister--a function which he assumed as constantly as that
of the conduct of foreign affairs--engaged to contribute a contingent of
20,000. While the Congress, however, were talking their enemy was
acting. A heavy blow was dealt at the confederacy by the capture of
Mons, which surrendered to the vigorous siege of the French, commanded
by the King in person, within a few weeks of the separation of the
Congress. On the news of its danger William collected a force with all
speed for its relief, but he was too late to save it; and the short
period of suspension of hostilities which followed upon this disaster he
took advantage of to return to England. His presence there was really
more needed than he at the time imagined, for it is probable that at no
time during the early years of his reign had he so much reason to
distrust the fidelity of so many of his most highly placed servants. To
review the intrigues with the exiled monarch, in which men like
Marlborough, Russell, Godolphin, and Shrewsbury were at this moment
either voluntarily engaged, or being successfully pressed to join, is
altogether beyond the scope of this volume. But it may be worth while to
interpose one observation here on what appears to me to be a common,
and, in a certain sense, a mitigating feature of all these duplicities.
They differ no doubt to a certain extent in depth of moral turpitude one
from another, just as the moral characters and motives of those who
committed them so differed. The devouring ambition which actuated
Marlborough, the disappointed Whiggism which was the dominant impulse
with Russell, gave place in a man like Godolphin to mere distrust of the
future, and anxiety to provide against the incalculable. But it is only
fair to recollect that this last, and for statesmen of that age, most
venial motive of action, most probably played a considerable part in all
their double-dealing. None of them considered William's position
assured. All perceived that he had so far failed, and all doubted
whether he would ever succeed, in winning the affection of the people.
Whether he would succeed in the experiment of governing by his factious
and deeply-divided Parliament was, to say the least of it, a question of
the gravest uncertainty; and they governed their conduct accordingly. It
is not necessary to suppose that because an individual statesman in
William's service maintained communication with James's agents with more
or less vague promises of assistance he contemplated any downright
betrayal of William's cause. In most cases his deceit was rather of that
negative sort which seeks to make to itself friends betimes of the
mammon of unrighteousness. The deceiver was anxious in the event of a
counter-revolution to stand well with the restored monarch, and
intended no further treachery to his existing master than is necessarily
involved in the attempt to serve two masters at once.

In May 1691 William returned to Flanders taking Marlborough with him.
The day of that great soldier had not yet come, but though invested with
no military command, it should seem that he attended councils of war
where his great abilities as a general attracted the notice and
admiration of experts. In June the business of campaigning was
recommenced in the leisurely and ceremonious manner peculiar to the age,
and with that strict attention to the limits of the "season" which in
our own day is only bestowed upon the gaieties of London and the sports
of the country. From early in June until the arrival of what may be
called the "close-time," towards the end of September, the armies of
France and of the allies continued to perform their stately military
minuet to the high satisfaction of their commanders, but without
suffering or inflicting on one another any serious blows.

On the 19th of October William arrived in England, and three days later
he opened Parliament. The circumstances under which he met the Houses
were on the whole favourable, and the mood of the Sovereign and
Legislature was one of mutual good humour. It is true that the campaign
in the Netherlands had been ineffectual, but its failure was more than
balanced by successes nearer home. Ireland had been subdued and
pacified, the navy of England had recovered its ascendency in the
Channel. The King's speech to the two Houses elicited a warm reply, and
the large supplies which he had still to demand for the prosecution of
continental warfare was granted to him without demur. Nor was the
session in other respects one of much difficulty for the King. The House
of Commons indeed renewed its complaints of the magnitude of official
salaries and fees, but, showing little or no capacity to discriminate
between legitimate remuneration for public services and mere corrupt
abuses, they naturally failed to agree upon any measure of reform. The
Bill for regulating trials for high treason--a measure destined to be a
subject of long contention between the two Houses--was introduced for
the first time this session, and, passing the Commons, underwent in the
House of Lords an amendment to which the Lower House refused to assent.
On the merits of the case it ought undoubtedly to have been adopted, but
it happened to touch the royal prerogative, and the Commons made this
the excuse for gratifying their not unreasonable jealousy of the
exclusive privileges in the matter of justiciability which were
possessed by the Peers. They showed no hesitation a little later on in
making a distinct encroachment on the royal rights by imposing the
salaries of the judges as a permanent charge upon the hereditary
revenues of the Crown without the sovereign's consent. On this Bill
William exercised for the first time his right of veto. That such first
employment of it should have been on a matter touching his own
interests, and at the same time affecting the independence of the
judicial bench, was unfortunate; but it is impossible to complain of his
exerting his constitutional authority in this case to arrest a measure
of such a kind as would not, even in our more advanced days, be
introduced without the express assent of the Crown. The "event" of the
year 1691 was undoubtedly the political intrigue, the discovery of which
led to the dismissal and disgrace of Marlborough. That indefatigable
plotter, who was still holding active communication with St. Germains,
undertook to move an address in the House of Lords requesting that all
foreigners might be dismissed from the service of the Crown. It was said
and believed that his object in doing this was to inflame the national
and professional jealousies of the country and the army against the
Dutch officers in William's service, so that in the event of William
declining to act upon the advice of his Parliament, he would find both
the people and the soldiery prepared to support him in an ulterior
design of deposing the King and placing Anne upon the throne, with
himself as mayor of the palace. The plot, however, if plot there was,
fell through; and assuming it to have been really conceived, the natural
resentment with which it inspired William would of course sufficiently
account for the disgrace and dismissal of Marlborough which followed
immediately afterwards.[14] The attempt of the half-lunatic,
half-villain Fuller to repeat the exploits of Oates, with a trumped-up
and promptly disproved charge of conspiracy against many prominent
personages, inspired doubts in the public mind as to whether there had
ever been any Scotch plot at all.

Here, too,--that is, among the record of the events of the winter of
1691 and the spring of 1692,--seems the most fitting place to take
notice of a strange and terrible incident, which, though of little
importance from the historical point of view, could on no account be
omitted from a biography of William III. On the 13th of February 1692,
at five o'clock in the morning, was perpetrated, under circumstances of
signal perfidy and barbarity, the crime known as the Massacre of
Glencoe--the surprise and slaughter of the chief and thirty-eight men of
the Macdonalds by two companies of soldiers, who had been quartered upon
the clan for the preconcerted purpose of their extirpation, under the
command of Captain Campbell of Glenlyon. It is not necessary, and would
here be impossible, to give more than a highly condensed account of the
intrigues, amounting almost to conspiracy, among various enemies of the
ill-fated clan, which preceded the massacre. Suffice it to say that
private revenge combined with public policy to suggest the act. It was
the joint work of the Earls of Breadalbane and Argyle--hereditary foes
of the Macdonalds--and of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Sir John
Dalrymple, Master of Stair; but the order upon which this official
assumed to act was signed and countersigned by the King himself. It was
in these words: "As for MacIan of Glencoe and that tribe, if they can be
distinguished from the other Highlanders, it will be proper for the
vindication of public justice to extirpate that set of thieves." The
"other Highlanders" from whom they were to be distinguished had, in
accordance with a proclamation issued in the autumn of the previous
year, made formal submission to the Government and taken the oath of
allegiance to the sovereign before the 1st of January 1692. This, by an
accident, MacIan had failed to do. He had presented himself on the 31st
of December 1691 to the officer in command at Fort William; but, being
informed by him that he had no power to administer the oaths, the old
chief was obliged to betake himself to Inverary, to be there sworn by
the Sheriff of Argyleshire, Sir Colin Campbell of Ardkinglass, who,
although the submitted Highlander did not arrive there till the 6th of
January, consented, after some demur, to administer to him the oaths. A
certificate setting forth the circumstances was transmitted to the
Council at Edinburgh, but was there cancelled for irregularity; and the
fact of MacIan's tardy submission does not appear to have been--indeed,
we may affirm with confidence that it never was--brought to the
knowledge of the King. Acting, however, on the pretended authority of
the royal order, the Master of Stair gave directions to the military
authorities that "the thieving tribe of Glencoe be rooted out to
purpose"; adding in a later despatch to the commander of Fort William:
"Pray, when the thing concerning Glencoe is resolved let it be secret
and sudden; better not meddle with them than not to purpose;" and again,
in a still later communication: "I hope the soldiers will not trouble
the Government with prisoners." Acting on these sinister injunctions,
Captain Campbell of Glenlyon marched his men to Glencoe, and, pretending
that he came as a friend and not as an enemy, quartered them upon the
Macdonalds, by whom they were cordially received and hospitably
entertained. After a twelve days' sojourn among the clan, Glenlyon
received orders from his superior officer to proceed to his bloody work,
and at five in the morning of the 13th of February the soldiers fell
upon their unsuspecting hosts in their sleep. The massacre, however, was
less skilfully executed than it had been cunningly planned. The greater
portion of the Macdonalds, including the sons of the chief, effected
their escape; but MacIan himself, with his wife and thirty-eight of his
clansmen, including some women and children, were ruthlessly murdered.
As many more, in all probability, fell victims to the rigours of a
Highland winter in their attempted flight. In those days of slow
communication it was long before the story of the savage deed became
known, or at least before it was recognised as possessing a more
trustworthy character than the ordinary Jacobite fables of the day; and
it was eagerly caught up, of course, by the political enemies of the
King and the Government. History has acquitted William of all complicity
with the crime in the precise form in which it was committed, as indeed
it would only be reasonable to acquit any ruler possessing, we will not
say common humanity, but the common instincts of the soldier. But
Burnet's attempt to exonerate his master on the plea of having signed
the order of "extirpation" through inadvertence, and Macaulay's
half-suggestion that it was his general incuriousness in Scotch affairs
which made him Stair's unquestioning instrument in the matter, must be
alike dismissed. It was not William's practice to affix his signature to
public documents of which he knew not the purport; and the mere fact
that the Macdonalds of Glencoe were excepted by name from the submitted
clans, and with the careful proviso that the proposed measure should
only be taken against them "if they could well be separated from the
rest," seems to afford sufficient proof that to this particular matter
of Scotch administration, at any rate, his attention was specially

There is, in short, no good reason to doubt that when William signed the
order for the "extirpation" of the Macdonalds he meant them to be
extirpated. He treated his act as equivalent to the issue of one of
those "letters of fire and sword" which in those wild days of Highland
history formed a recognised instrument of police. He would undoubtedly
have been quite prepared to hear that a regiment had been marched into
the valley of Glencoe, had put the contumacious clansmen (as he believed
them to be) to the sword, and left their village a heap of smoking
ruins. As undoubtedly he was _not_ prepared to hear that a body of
soldiers had quartered themselves on the clan under pretence of amity,
and had treacherously slaughtered them at unawares. But though it is
likely enough that when he did hear of this he was disgusted with the
unsoldierly cowardice of the proceeding, we should mistake both the man
and the time in supposing that he viewed it with the horror and
detestation which in our own days it excites. He regarded it, so far as
one can judge, as a mere blundering excess of duty and nothing more.
Four years later, when an inquiry was instituted into the matter by the
Scotch Parliament, he showed no disposition to press it forward;[15] and
later on, when a commission reported that the affair of Glencoe was a
murder for which the Master of Stair was primarily responsible, he
steadily declined to inflict any further penalty on the chief culprit
than he had already suffered in his dismissal from office. Burnet's
excuse for William that he was alarmed at finding how many men it would
be necessary for him to punish for the massacre is, as Macaulay rightly
says, no justification for his screening the one criminal whose case was
so easily distinguishable from the others, and whose guilt was so much
more heinous than theirs. It is idle, in short, to deny that in the
matter of the Glencoe Massacre William incurred something of the
responsibility of an accessory after the fact.


[14] The whole affair is still surrounded with obscurity. At least half
a dozen conflicting explanations of Marlborough's fall are in existence,
and from the same hand--that of Burnet. It cannot be said that the
conspiracy theory, which Macaulay of course adopts, is in itself at all

[15] Macaulay, in that injudicious spirit of special pleading which is
often so damaging to his hero, says that the King, "who knew little and
cared little" about Scotland, "_forgot_ to urge the commissioners." As
if a king would be likely to "forget" an inquiry as to whether one of
his secretaries of state had or had not been guilty of murder.



    Gloomy European prospects--Campaign of 1692 in the
      Netherlands--Defeat of Steinkirk--Attempt of Grandval
      --Session of 1692--Place Bill and Triennial Bill--
      Campaign of 1693--William outwitted by Luxembourg--
      Defeat of Landen--Session of 1693-94--Louis's
      overtures of peace.

Never perhaps in the whole course of his unresting life were the
energies of William more severely taxed, and never did his great moral
and intellectual qualities shine forth with a brighter lustre, than in
the years 1692-93. The great victory of La Hogue and the destruction of
the flower of the French fleet did, it is true, relieve England of any
immediate dread either of insurrection or invasion, and so far the
prospect before him acquired a slight improvement towards the summer of
1692. But this was the only gleam of light in the horizon; elsewhere the
darkness gathered more thickly than ever as the months rolled on. The
years 1692 and 1693 were years of diplomatic difficulties and military
reverses--the one encountered with unerring sagacity and untiring
patience, the other sustained with a noble fortitude. The great
coalition of Powers which he had succeeded in forming to resist the
ambition of Louis was never nearer dissolution than in the spring of
1692. The Scandinavian states, who had held aloof from it from the
first, were now rapidly changing the benevolence of their neutrality
into something not easily distinguishable from its reverse. The new Pope
Innocent XII. showed himself far less amicably disposed towards William
than his two predecessors. The decrepitude of Spain and the arrogant
self-will of Austria were displaying themselves more conspicuously than
ever. Savoy was ruled by a duke who was more than half suspected of
being a traitor. Out of materials so rotten and so ill-assorted as these
had the one statesman of the whole group to build up and maintain the
barrier which he was bent on erecting against the inroads of France. By
what incessant toil and unfailing tact, with what insistences here and
concessions there, with what appeals to the vanity of this potentate,
the bigotry of that, the cupidity of the third, and the apprehensions of
all, he succeeded in keeping them side by side and with their faces to
the common enemy it would be impossible to describe, in a manner at all
worthy of the subject, within the space at my command. Suffice it to say
that William did succeed in saving the league from dissolution, and in
getting their armies once more into the field. But not, unfortunately,
to any purpose. The campaign of the present year was destined to repeat
the errors of the last, and these errors were to be paid for at a
heavier cost. Mons had fallen in 1691, through the delays and
mismanagement of the allied armies; and in 1692 a greater fortress than
Mons was to share its fate. The French king was bent upon the capture of
the great stronghold of Namur, and the enemy, as in the case of Mons,
were too slow in their movements and too ineffective in their
dispositions to prevent it. Marching to the assault of the doomed city,
with a magnificence of courtly pageantry which had never before been
witnessed in warfare, Louis sat down before Namur, and in eight days its
faint-hearted governor, the nominee of the Spanish viceroy of the
Netherlands, surrendered at discretion. Having accomplished, or rather
having graciously condescended to witness the accomplishment of this
feat of arms, Louis returned to Versailles, leaving his army under the
command of Luxembourg. The fall of Namur was a severe blow to the hopes
of William, but yet worse disasters were in store for him. He was now
pitted against one who enjoyed the reputation of the greatest general of
the age, and William, a fair but by no means brilliant strategist, was
unequal to the contest with his accomplished adversary. Luxembourg lay
at Steinkirk, and William approaching him from a place named Lambeque,
opened his attack upon him by a well-conceived surprise which promised
at first to throw the French army into complete disorder. Luxembourg's
resource and energy, however, were equal to the emergency. He rallied
and steadied his troops with astonishing speed, and the nature of the
ground preventing the allies from advancing as rapidly as they had
expected, they found the enemy in a posture to receive them. The British
forces were in the front, commanded by Count Solmes, the division of
Mackay, a name now honourable for many generations in the annals of
continental, no less than of Scottish warfare, leading the way. These
heroes, for so, though as yet untried soldiers, they approved
themselves, were to have been supported by Count Solmes with a strong
body of cavalry and infantry, but at the critical moment he failed them
miserably, and his failure decided the fortunes of the day. After a
desperate struggle, in which they long sustained the attack of the
French household troops, the flower of Louis's army, Mackay's division
began to give way. But no effective help arrived from Solmes. His
cavalry could not act from the nature of the ground, and he refused to
devote his infantry to what he declared was useless slaughter. The
division was practically annihilated. Its five regiments, "Cutts's,
Mackay's, Angus's, Graham's, and Leven's, all," as Corporal Trim relates
pathetically, "cut to pieces, and so had the English Life-guards been
too, had it not been for some regiments on the right, who marched up
boldly to their relief, and received the enemy's fire in their faces,
before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket." Bitter was
the resentment in the English army at the desertion of these gallant
troops by Count de Solmes, and William gave vent to one of his rare
outbursts of anger at the sight. We have it indeed on the authority
above quoted--unimpeachable as first-hand tradition, for Sterne had
heard the story of these wars at the knees of an eye-witness of and
actor in them--that the King "would not suffer the Count to come into
his presence for many months after." The destruction of Mackay's
division had indeed decided the issue of the struggle. Luxembourg's army
was being rapidly strengthened by reinforcements from that of Boufflers,
and there was nothing for it but retreat. The loss on both sides had
been great, but the moral effect of the victory was still greater.
William's reputation for generalship, perhaps unduly raised by his
recent exploits in Ireland, underwent a serious decline. The French were
exultant at the demonstration of his inferiority to Luxembourg, and the
victory of Steinkirk inflamed the national pride to an overweening

William's popularity with his own army and people, however, was at this
time about to receive one of those friendly "lifts" which his more
unscrupulous enemies were continually giving it throughout his life.
Grandval, a French officer, undertook, at the instigation it is said of
Barbesieux, the French Minister, and with the connivance of James II.,
to assassinate him, and set out with that purpose, accompanied by two
accomplices, for the camp of the allies. Both of these men, however,
appear, with an originality and independence of initiative not often
found among traitors, to have played him false simultaneously, yet
without any collusion with each other. Grandval had not been long in the
Netherlands before he was arrested, brought to trial before a
court-martial, and, on his own confession, sentenced to death. His
statement, attested by the officers constituting the court-martial, was
published immediately after his execution, and the world then learnt
that the dying man's meditated crime was, according to his solemn
asseveration, suggested to him by a minister then, and after the
exposure still retained, in the service of Louis XIV.; and that James
had signified to him at an interview at St. Germains that he had been
informed of the "business" on which he was setting out, and that if
Grandval and his companions rendered him that service "they should never
want." Neither the French king nor his Minister ever made any reply to
Grandval's confession; but James, though he put forth no public
disclaimer, denied on this as on other occasions that he had ever
participated in any of the schemes for killing William. Probably the
projectors of such schemes were careful never to mention the ugly word
assassination in the royal ears, so that it might always be possible for
his ex-Majesty to assume that nothing was contemplated but William's
"taking-off" in a less serious than the Shakspearean sense. Plots to
kidnap the "usurper" were almost as commonly broached as plots to
assassinate him; and it was convenient that exalted personages should be
able to persuade others, if not themselves, that they were thinking only
of seizing William's person when their humbler instruments were in
reality bent upon taking his life.

Towards the end of October William arrived in England, and was received
with an amount of popular acclamation to which the crime of Grandval had
contributed more than his own military prowess. In a few days Parliament
met, and the King addressed the two Houses in a judicious speech, in
which he congratulated them on their great naval victory, condoled with
them on their military reverses, referred with concern to the distress
occasioned by the failure of the last harvest, and informed them in
effect that yet more money would be required for the effective
prosecution of the war. The address in reply was amiable enough, but the
Parliament, as the event soon proved, was in no very manageable mood.
The confusion of parties caused by William's perseverance in his
well-meant attempt at mixed government was now at its height, and the
state of things created was undoubtedly not favourable either to
executive or legislative efficiency. An assembly divided as was the then
House of Commons by two intersecting lines of cleavage, with its Whig
and Tory demarcation, traversed by a cross division into "court party"
and "country party," was obviously not a body likely to display much
unity and vigour. Jealousy of officialism forbade ministers to reckon on
the consentaneous support even of members of their own way of political
thinking, while on the other hand party differences prevented the
formation of a strong opposition.

The session of 1692 was, however, fruitful both in legislative
achievement and in successful legislative effort. In this year was made
that valuation for the land-tax, which subsisted until the tax itself
was made perpetual and redeemable more than a century afterwards in
1798; and the first loan of one million sterling, contracted by the
Government in the name of a National Debt, which has now increased to
almost a thousand times that amount. But the measures with which the
biographer of William is more directly concerned were the Place Bill and
the Triennial Bill. Of both of these legislative projects I shall have
more to say hereafter. Here let it be enough to note that the former was
lost in the House of Lords by a majority of three votes; and that the
latter after passing both Houses was held in suspense by William until
just the eve of the prorogation, and then vetoed. The occasion is one of
special interest to English literature, as it was in reference to this
Bill that the King consulted Sir William Temple, whose strong advice to
his master to assent to the Bill was conveyed through the medium of his
young secretary Jonathan Swift. After making several ministerial
changes, including as the most important the elevation of Lord Somers to
the Chancellorship, William prorogued Parliament, and once more, in the
perpetual succession of the toils of war to the labours of Government,
betook himself to the Netherlands. The outlook of the continental
struggle had not improved; and the task before him, both diplomatic and
military, was as formidable as ever. He had as usual petty quarrels to
compose among the allied Powers, and wounded vanities to soothe, to
animate the energies of the lagging, and to keep an eye on the movements
of the false. The effort in which he was the least successful was the
last mentioned but one; he was unable with all his efforts to collect a
force equal to that of Luxembourg. He managed, however, to take the
field in greater strength than he had mustered on some previous years,
and as Louis had now again put himself, with the usual elaboration of
gorgeous ceremony, at the head of his army, William promised himself the
satisfaction of looking his lifelong enemy once more in the face upon a
battlefield. Louis, however, whether from personal cowardice or from
having really contracted under the influence of perpetual adulation a
sort of religious reverence for his own life, had none of William's
military ardour. He liked directing sieges, but had no taste for
commanding in pitched battles. In other words, he preferred those
operations of war in which the most adventurous of generals must
necessarily remain in the rear to those in which the most cautious of
generals may find himself imperatively called upon to go to the front.
He had hoped that the more agreeable form of warfare would be provided
for him, and that he would have an opportunity of taking Liege or
Brussels as he had taken Ghent. When, however, he found William posted
in his path with a considerable if numerically inferior army, his
martial ardour underwent a rapid reduction of temperature, and he at
once signified his intention of returning to Versailles. The
disappointment of Luxembourg, who had assured him of certain victory
over William, was aggravated by the fact that the King insisted on
detaching Boufflers with a portion of the army of the Netherlands to
reinforce the troops in the Palatinate; which movement having been
effected, he went home to Madame de Maintenon.

Luxembourg, however, though reduced in strength, had still the advantage
over William in point of numbers, and he succeeded in further increasing
the disparity by a feint in the direction of Liege, which deceived
William into despatching more than twenty thousand men of his army to
protect that city from attack. He was thus left with only fifty thousand
men to oppose a force exceeding his own by more than half. His position,
however, on the bank of the Gette was a naturally strong one, and by
extraordinary efforts with the spade he succeeded in adding most
formidably to its strength. On the morning of the 19th of July the men
of Luxembourg's army found themselves confronted by a powerful line of
earthworks manned by a brave and steady foe. Relying, however, upon a
numerical superiority which he rightly regarded as more than
counterbalancing William's advantages of position, Luxembourg at an
early hour of the morning gave orders for the attack, and the two armies
closed in a struggle more bloody and obstinate than that of Steinkirk.
For eight hours the battle raged fiercely along the whole line, but most
fiercely round the village of Neerwinden on the English right. This, the
position of most strategic importance on the field, was disputed with
extraordinary fury. Twice did the French troops succeed in making
themselves masters of it, and twice were they driven out by the allies,
leaving their dead in heaps behind them. At last the household troops,
who had done such service at Steinkirk, were sent against this village;
it was captured a third time, and this time it was held. William
weakened his centre and left in desperate attempts to retake it, but in
vain; and at last, as the day was wearing towards the evening, the line
of the allies gave way. The French troops poured into and over the
entrenchments; the position was captured; nothing remained for the
commander of the beaten army but to arrest disorganisation and save
retreat from becoming flight. To the moral appeal of the situation
William's great nature might be trusted to respond, and it seems to have
equally stimulated his strategic capacities. The praise of his famous
opponent is sufficient testimony to his skilful conduct of the military
operation; the memory of his fiery valour was perpetuated in the
traditions of the English army. No doubt it was from some old messmate
of Roger Sterne's that the future author of _Tristram Shandy_ gathered
the materials of that vivid picture of the retreat across the bridge of
Neerspeeken which he has put into the mouth of My Uncle Toby. "The
King," Trim reminds his master, "was pressed hard, as your honour knows,
on every side of him." "Gallant mortal," cried my Uncle Toby, caught up
with enthusiasm, "this moment, now that all is lost, I see him galloping
across me, corporal, to the left, to bring up the remains of the English
horse along with him to support the right and tear the laurel from
Luxembourg's brows if yet 'tis possible. I see him with the knot of his
scarf just shot off, infusing fresh spirits into poor Galway's regiment,
riding along the line, then wheeling about and charging Conti at the
head of it. Brave! brave! by heaven! He deserves a crown!"

With Galway's regiments, we learn from the same tradition, were those of
"Wyndham and Lumley." Talmash "brought off the foot with great prudence;
but the number of wounded was prodigious, and no one had time to think
of anything but his own safety." It is indeed pretty evident that only
William's cool heroism saved his army from annihilation. Solmes, the
_fainéant_ of Steinkirk, was left dead on the field. Galway himself, the
refugee Ravigny, was taken prisoner; Sarsfield on the other side
received a mortal wound. It was by far the deadliest battle of the whole
war, and it is difficult to understand why a blow so crushing should
have been so slackly followed up. One cannot help thinking what a French
army and a French general would have made of such a defeat inflicted
upon the troops of a continental coalition on such a battlefield some
hundred years later. But the terrible rapidity of those movements with
which, as with hammerstrokes, Napoleon was wont to drive home the nail
of victory was then unknown to warfare. Town upon town would probably
have fallen after Landen had the fruits of the victory been seized, as
they would have been at a later day. But, either through the indolence
of Luxembourg or the comparative immobility of a seventeenth-century
army, William obtained a priceless respite. He was rejoined by the
troops whom the enemy had so fatally decoyed to Liege; and three weeks
after his defeat he was once more at the head of an army stronger than
he had commanded at Landen. The danger to the allied cause was past.
Luxembourg besieged and took Charleroi for sole trophy of his great
victory, and the campaign closed for the year.

On the 31st of October William landed in England, and prepared for a
meeting with his Parliament, to which he could hardly have looked
forward with much pleasure. He had a bad account to give and receive.
Over the whole Continent, in Spain, Germany, and Italy, as well as
Flanders, the allies had met with adverse fortune; at sea the vast
"Smyrna fleet" of merchantmen, four hundred strong, had, through the
incapacity of our naval commanders, been surprised in the Bay of Lagos
by the combined Brest and Toulouse fleets of France, and, its
imprudently reduced convoy of twenty English and Dutch sail having been
easily mastered, nearly three-fourths of it suffered capture or
destruction. His Parliament, however, met him as a matter of fact in a
commendably patriotic mood. William made no attempt to ignore the
serious losses which the nation had incurred by land and sea, though of
the former he said (not perhaps with perfect impartiality towards his
own tactical errors) that "they were only occasioned by the great
numbers of our enemies, which exceeded ours in all places"; while the
latter he described as "having brought great disgrace upon the nation."
And, admitting that the charges of the war had already been very great,
"I am yet persuaded," he added, "that the experience of the summer is
sufficient to convince us all that to arrive at a good end of it there
will be a necessity of increasing our forces both by sea and land." The
reply of the Commons was cordial, and manifested no hesitation as to
granting the increased supplies; and their patriotic spirit encouraged
William to hold his ground on a question in which the minds of the
allies were just now about to be exercised. Louis XIV., insatiable in
war as he had hitherto been, was beginning to feel that he, and still
more that France, had had enough of the struggle. Five years of
hostilities carried on in half a dozen quarters of Europe, with a
failure of the French harvest and the vintage, had almost prostrated the
country. Distress was rife in the provinces; even that most patient of
people showed signs of disaffection. Louis made private overtures to the
States-General with the intention, of course, of his proposals being
brought to the ear of William. Through the neutral King of Denmark he
signified his willingness to restore all the conquests he had made
during the present war, to renounce his pretensions to the Low
Countries, and to agree that the Elector of Bavaria should have the
Spanish Netherlands in case of the death of the King of Spain, and that
the commercial arrangements of Europe should be put on their old
footing. The great _crux_ of the negotiations, and of all negotiations
with a similar object, was, and was known to be, the question of the
recognition or non-recognition of the _de facto_ King and Queen of
England. On this question, so far as we can now judge, the mouth-pieces
of Louis gave forth an uncertain sound. The King of Denmark told the
allies that he was making efforts to induce the King of France to waive
the demand for the restoration of James; the French Ambassador hinted at
a compromise. This, it has been suggested, was that "James should waive
his rights, and that the Prince of Wales should be sent to England, be
bred a Protestant, and, being adopted by William and Mary, be declared
his heir." To such an arrangement Macaulay thinks that William would
probably have had no objection, but that he "neither would nor could
have made it a condition of peace with France, since the question who
should reign in England was to be decided by England alone." Undoubtedly
William "could" not have independently assented to a condition which, to
acquire the least validity, would have necessitated the statutory
revision of the succession settlement, as effected by the Convention and
ratified by the Convention Parliament; but there does not seem to be
much evidence that he would have assented to the condition if he could.
There is no trace of any endeavour on his part to sound the chiefs of
his parliamentary parties on the subject, and I cannot but think it far
more likely that neither in this nor in any other matter of foreign
policy was William at all disposed to share any of his discretionary
powers in his capacity of virtual Foreign Minister with his Parliament,
so long as he could obtain what he wanted from that body without
admitting it any more fully to his confidence. His rejection of Louis's
overtures, including this offer of compromise, if it was made, was
probably not dictated by any high constitutional considerations at all.
He thought, and rightly, that pacific advances made by so haughty an
enemy indicated greater exhaustion than had been suspected, and
reckoning justly that another year or two of fighting would get him
better terms still, he decided that another year or two of fighting
there should be. The supplies had been cheerfully voted him, and that
was enough. That the Parliament which had voted them had any paramount
right to decide whether they would go on voting money or accept Louis's
terms almost certainly never entered his mind. To suppose that it did is
to attribute to him a theory of the constitution anachronistic by fully
fifty years. That such a theory is more or less designedly attributed to
him in the above-quoted passage from Macaulay appears unquestionable;
and the Whig historian's anticipation of history in this respect is of a
piece with his exaggeration of the permanent significance of the
constitutional changes which fall to be treated of in the next chapter.



    Formation of the first party Ministry--Reintroduction of
      the Triennial Bill and its defeat--Of the Place Bill and
      its veto--Causes of the disallowance--Macaulay's account
      examined--Campaign of 1694--Death of Mary.

I am now to speak of one of the most important, as it is sometimes
regarded, of all the steps made under William's auspices in the
development of our parliamentary polity--a step represented as even more
influential in fixing and determining that system of strict party
government under which the nation is thriving or declining at the
present era than even the Revolution itself--the formation of the first
Ministry of the modern type. "No writer," says Macaulay in speaking of
it, "has yet attempted to trace the progress of this institution--an
institution indispensable to the harmonious working of our other
institutions. The first Ministry was the work partly of chance and
partly of wisdom--not however of that highest wisdom that is conversant
with great principles of political philosophy, but of that lower wisdom
which meets daily exigencies by daily expedients. Neither William nor
the most enlightened of his advisers fully understood the nature and
importance of that noiseless revolution--for it was no less--which began
about the close of 1693, and was completed about the close of 1696. But
everybody could perceive that at the close of 1693 the chief offices in
the Government were distributed not unequally between the two great
parties, that the men who held these offices were perpetually caballing
against each other, haranguing against each other, moving votes of
censure on each other, exhibiting articles of impeachment against each
other, and that the temper of the House of Commons was wild,
ungovernable and uncertain. Everybody could perceive that at the close
of 1696 all the principal servants of the Crown were Whigs, closely
bound together by public and private ties, and prompt to defend one
another against every attack, and that the majority of the House of
Commons was arrayed in good order under these leaders, and had learned
to move like one man at the word of command."

There are perhaps not many passages of the famous history in which its
author's love of dramatic antithesis has displayed itself in a statement
more likely to mislead the student. Because the change which took place
in the relation of Ministers of the Crown between 1693 and 1696 was a
striking one Macaulay cannot resist the temptation of describing it as
though it were a final one. In 1693 Ministers in disagreement with each
other, in 1696 Ministers in accord with each other--the suggestion of
course being that they "lived happily ever afterwards." Certainly no one
previously unacquainted with the facts would suppose from this account
of them that the first politically homogeneous Ministry was a purely
experimental one, and that the experiment was not repeated by William,
and never even attempted by his successor, under whom the old system
prevailed, though with gradual modification, throughout her reign; that
on many later occasions in our history the men in the chief offices of
the Government were to be found "caballing" and sometimes even
"haranguing" against each other; and, in short, that it was not till far
on in the next century that the idea of Ministers being men of like
political opinions "bound together by public and private ties," and
supported by a majority "arrayed in good order under them, and moving
like one man at the word of command," became uniformly and permanently
associated with the constitution. Yet this is in fact the case. The
"lower political wisdom meeting daily exigencies by daily expedients"
did not devise an arrangement calculated to endure for all time; and no
one ought to have been more surprised than Macaulay if it had. It met a
particular exigency by a particular expedient, and as that particular
exigency did not uniformly recur, the particular expedient naturally did
not at once stereotype itself in our parliamentary polity. The pure Whig
Government of 1696 attained the object of its formation, namely, to
carry out his war policy, and passed away. William's later ministries
were of a mixed character; the ministries of Anne were partly Whig and
partly Tory; and the political unity which prevailed in the Walpole
Administration was succeeded by a return to the old practice under
Pulteney. It was not, as has been said, until well on in the century
that it became an admitted political axiom that Cabinets should be
constructed upon some bases of political union agreed upon by the
members composing the same when they accept office together.

But though it is delusive to represent a mere political experiment as
the consummation of a great constitutional change, yet an experiment by
which such change was foreshadowed cannot of course be otherwise than
deeply interesting. And such undoubtedly is the character of the
ministerial reconstruction which took place in 1693. The particular
exigency which the expedient was designed to meet is almost patent on
the face of the European situation, as it must have presented itself to
a statesman of William's views and with William's policy at heart. The
one fact that the Whigs were in favour of a vigorous prosecution of the
war with Louis on its continental theatre, while the Tories favoured the
husbanding of English military resources and the maintenance of a
defensive attitude behind our "silver streak," and under the protection
of our navy, would undoubtedly have sufficed of itself to determine
William's choice of the former party. In all other respects he probably
regarded both English parties at this as at all other times of his life
with equal indifference--if indeed one should not say with equal
aversion. He could have no love for men who, like the Whigs, regarded
him as a king of their own making, or who, like the Tories, considered
him no king, in the full sense of the word, at all. Whichever of the two
English parties were more willing to assist his efforts for a country
which he loved far better than England was virtually assured of his
favour; and though no doubt he believed honestly enough that the
interests not only of continental Europe, but of insular England, were
identified with those of the United Provinces--though no doubt he
honestly regarded Holland as only the vanguard of European and English
liberties, menaced by the insatiable ambition of Louis--yet it is
impossible to credit him, or any other mortal man in the same situation,
with the capacity of impartial judgment on any point at which the
interests of England and those of Holland might have diverged. Nor is
it, I think, unjust to add that even when the balance of English
advantage might have appeared to William himself to incline somewhat
against any contemplated course of conduct, he would perhaps have held
himself justified in proceeding from contemplation to action. He was in
all probability firmly, and one cannot say unreasonably, possessed with
the idea that England was largely his debtor and the debtor of his
country; and that she should, at least within reason, make sacrifices
for the protection of that nation, who and whose Prince had rendered
such services to her. Whichever English party showed most disposition,
or rather least reluctance, to make common cause with the United
Provinces in the defence of Dutch (and therefore of English and
European) liberties, became thereby the party of William's choice. No
doubt his gradual construction of a pure Whig Ministry was in part
dictated by a desire to secure greater stability of counsel and unity of
action in the House of Commons. No doubt his laudable experiment of
governing by means of both parties had had results with which he could
hardly have been satisfied. But he had borne for five years with the
parliamentary factiousness which that experiment had undoubtedly tended
to aggravate, and there is no visible reason, save that which I have
indicated, for his putting an end to the experiment at this particular
moment and in this particular way. He had made shift to do without a
homogeneous Ministry ever since his accession. If now he needed a
Ministry which should be not only homogeneous, but homogeneously Whig,
we must look to the exigencies of his continental policy for the cause.

The process, however, of replacing the Tories of the Administration by
Whigs was a very gradual one, and it was not of course until it was
complete that the Whig party in the House of Commons could be trusted to
support the Administration, "right or wrong," as, without much suspicion
of satire, we may say to have now become the accepted constitutional
practice. Nottingham and the Tory Naval administrators were the first to
go, their retirement having been in the one case consequentially, and in
the other directly necessitated by the narrow escape of the latter from
parliamentary censure in respect of the late naval miscarriages. Russell
became First Lord of the Admiralty, and with him Nottingham, who, as
Secretary of State, was then responsible for the military service, was
of course unable to serve. His place, however, was not immediately
filled up, nor was it till the end of the session that any further
ministerial changes were made. And this session itself was one of
peculiar constitutional interest on other grounds. In the first place
the Triennial Bill, vetoed by William in the previous session, was
reintroduced, and met with a most unexpected fate. It was brought in
this time in the House of Commons, and passed through all its stages up
to the final one without a division. But the motion that "the Bill do
now pass" was rejected by a majority of ten. The whole affair is
involved in much obscurity, and the cause or causes of the unlooked-for
rejection of the measure must always remain matter of conjecture.
Macaulay declares its defeat to have been brought about by the
instrumentality of the expert parliamentary intriguer Seymour; and as no
House of Commons that ever lived is likely to have relished the idea of
putting a term to its own existence, it is not difficult to guess the
kind of sentiment to which Seymour might have appealed. But one point
not unworthy of notice in the matter is that the numbers voting in the
division, 146 Noes and 136 Ayes, did not together compose a very full
House. They fell short by thirty-two of the numbers who voted in the
division by which the second edition of the Triennial Bill, introduced
in, and passed through, the House of Lords, and sent down to the House
of Commons, was rejected a fortnight afterwards. In this case, of
course, the adverse majority of 197 were able to allege that they were
not opposing the limitation of Parliament, but merely resisting a
usurpation of constitutional jurisdiction on the part of the Peers. But
it should be observed that this argument does not appear to have
produced many defections from the party of the Ayes. They number 127, or
only nine short of their original strength; and assuming that these nine
votes were transferred to the Noes, it will still leave some forty new
votes to be accounted for. It looks rather as if these were the votes of
members who would have divided against the Bill if they had dared (and
as they did so soon as they got a plausible pretext for doing so), but
not daring, consented to assist in compassing its rejection by absenting
themselves from the division.

The Place Bill, another abortive measure of this session, had a quite
different history. It was introduced in much the same shape as in the
previous year, and passed the Lower House substantially unchanged. In
the Lords, however, it underwent a material amendment. As originally
drawn it provided that no member of the House of Commons elected after
the 1st of January 1694 should accept any place of profit under the
Crown on pain of forfeiting his seat, and of being incapable of sitting
again in the same Parliament. The Lords, while maintaining the provision
for the forfeiture of the seat, introduced words qualifying the acceptor
of office to sit in the same Parliament if again chosen as a
representative. This amendment the Commons adopted, and the Bill thus
modified, having passed both Houses, was, somewhat to the surprise of
everybody and to the disgust of many people, vetoed by the King. This
exercise of the prerogative was received with far less patience than on
the two former occasions, and for a few days a serious conflict between
the Legislature and the Crown appeared to be imminent. An address of
remonstrance was presented to William, who replied in conciliatory
language, but without holding out any hopes that his veto would be
withdrawn. Another debate of a somewhat excited character followed, but
calmer counsels than had at first found favour with the House of Commons
ultimately prevailed. A motion to prepare a new representation or
remonstrance was rejected by a very large majority, and the Place Bill
dropped. The great Whig historian's account of the matter is that the
amendment "deprived the Bill of all efficacy both for good and evil";
but that the Commons "so little understood what they were about that,
after framing a law, in one view most mischievous"--namely, in respect
of its tending to keep the chief Ministers of the Crown out of the
House of Commons, "and in another view most beneficial"--namely, as
tending to keep subordinate officials out of the House of Commons, they
were perfectly willing that it should be "transformed into a law quite
harmless and almost useless"; and that William went out of the way to
veto this quite harmless and almost useless law, because he "understood
the question as little as the Commons themselves."

This is not a very plausible theory; nor does one well see why Macaulay
should describe that proviso of a right to re-election--which was
afterwards adopted, and which is an essential feature of our still
subsisting Act of Anne--as depriving the Bill of nine-tenths of its
power both for good and for evil. Surely both King and Parliament might
have been credited with knowing their own business a little better than
that. It seems reasonable rather to ask ourselves whether the amendment
was such as to militate in any serious degree against the legislative
object of the Commons, or in any similar degree to disarm the objections
which William entertained to the measure. If it did neither of these
things, there was nothing paradoxical either in the Commons accepting or
the King pronouncing his veto upon the Place Bill; and it seems to me to
be clear that the amendment did neither of these things in fact. No
doubt it was desirable, from the point of view of the majority, that
office-holders should cease to sit in Parliament and become
incapacitated for re-election; and this on the abstract and general
ground that such persons were not sufficiently independent to be able to
discharge the functions of legislators with advantage to the country.
So far, then, as the general principle relating to office-holders was
concerned, the amendment was opposed to the real wishes of the Commons,
and had no reason therefore to provoke the hostility of the King. But
there was a specific ground on which the House had cause to dislike
office-holders, and a specific class of appointments to which this
ground applied; and the Bill, even as modified by the Lords' proviso,
would have limited the royal influence in respect of these appointments
to an extent quite sufficient to account both for the Commons adopting
the amendment of the Upper House, and for the King refusing his assent
to the Bill. It would obviously have dealt a heavy, though not, of
course, a final, blow to the employment of the patronage of the Crown
for the purpose of "managing" the Legislature. It would have made it a
far more difficult thing for the Court or the Government to maintain
their majority in the House of Commons by what would now be called a
corrupt use of its patronage, but what was then regarded, or getting to
be regarded--at any rate by the party in power,--as one of the
legitimate arts of rule. For whenever the Sovereign or his Ministers
endeavoured to convert a hostile into a friendly vote by the bestowal of
office upon its possessor, he or they would always have to reckon with
the possibility that the constituents of the bought member might not
care to have their interests sold along with their parliamentary
representative. They might, and on a question which strongly moved them
they very probably would, have expressed their disapproval of his
conduct by refusing to re-elect him; in which case the Government would,
of course, have found themselves at the end of the transaction with one
piece of patronage the less, but not with one vote the more. In a word,
the Place Bill, as amended by the Lords, though it would have left
untouched the power of the Crown to bring office-holders into
Parliament, would materially have impaired its power of turning members
of Parliament into office-holders; and apparently it was only because
Macaulay viewed the Bill too exclusively in its relation to the former
power, and took no account of its bearing on the latter, that he could
have regarded it as a measure in which William had no real concern, and
which he only vetoed through some vague dislike of it as affecting his
prerogative he hardly knew how. So far from this, it seems to me that
his objection may well have been a very definite one, and that he
perfectly understood, and was not at all disposed to undervalue, the
particular exercise of his prerogative which it threatened. For whatever
may have been his original or even his persistent repugnance to the acts
of parliamentary management by means of parliamentary corruption, he had
probably come by this time to regard it as among the inevitable if
disagreeable necessities of royal and ministerial policy under the
English system of party government.

The close of this session witnessed the virtual completion of the work
of ministerial reconstruction on a purely Whig basis. Shrewsbury, who
had been offered the Secretaryship of State left vacant by the
retirement of Nottingham, after some months of hesitation accepted the
office. Trenchard, the other Secretary of State, was also a member of
the Whig party. The rising Whig financier, Charles Montague, who had
during this session devised and carried out the legislative measure for
the establishment of the Bank of England, was for this service elevated
to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Keeper of the Seal was
the Whig Somers. The Whig Russell was First Lord of the Admiralty. All
the important offices of the State were now in fact in the hands of the
Whig party, and William, now fairly embarked upon the experiment
recommended by Sunderland, made one last concession to his old policy of
balancing one party against the other by a liberal distribution of
honours among the displaced Tories.

The military and naval operations of 1694 were marked by none of these
successes which catch the public eye, but the year was really one of
more moment to the history of the struggle with Louis than at first
sight appears. Mismanagement and treachery brought disaster on the
expedition against Brest, and the disgrace was certainly not redeemed by
the subsequent bombardment and destruction of Dieppe and Havre. But the
despatch of Russell's fleet to the Mediterranean yielded solid gains
which more than compensated for our losses in the Channel. Russell
relieved Barcelona, blockaded Toulon, brought the hostile Italian States
to reason, and compelled them, for the first time, to acknowledge
William's titles, reanimated the Duke of Savoy, who had begun to think
of a separate peace with France, and, indeed, practically brought the
Mediterranean under English maritime control. As a consequence, our
commerce, which had been declining ever since the Revolution, began
rapidly to revive.

The land campaign, though equally undistinguished by any striking
triumph, was no less fruitful in matter for solid satisfaction. An
attempt of William to carry the war into the enemy's country was foiled,
it is true, by the skill of Luxembourg, who repulsed the advance of the
Elector of Bavaria upon French Flanders, and this check was, of course,
more important on one side than William's capture of the inconsiderable
fortress of Huy was on the other. But in Spain, where Russell's
appearance before Barcelona had compelled De Noailles to retreat; on the
Rhine, where the Prince of Baden drove back Delorges, and established
himself for the summer in Alsace; and in Piedmont, where, in spite of
the vacillations of the Duke of Savoy, the French gained no material
advantage--the course of events, particularly as contrasted with those
of the three previous years, gave ample justification for the words with
which William met his Parliament on the 9th of November. "With respect,"
he said, "to the war by land, I think I may say that this year has put a
stop to the progress of the French arms." Loyal addresses were returned,
and supplies to the amount of five millions were readily voted; but,
along with the Supply Bill, the Triennial Bill was again introduced. It
was probably intimated to Parliament, through some of the private
channels of communication with the Court, that William was not prepared
to veto it a second time. The Bill was brought in on the first day of
the session, and, together with a Bill settling the Customs on the
Crown, received the royal assent on the 22d of December. November of
1696 was fixed as the limit of the life of the existing Parliament. The
Place Bill, vetoed by the King in the previous session, was again
introduced, and with exactly the same results as had followed the second
attempt to pass the Triennial Bill. This measure, it will be
remembered, after failing to obtain the royal assent in the session of
1692-3, was defeated in the Commons in 1693-4, and so also it happened
with the Place Bill. The inference which I think suggests itself in both
cases is that the exercise of the royal veto, though unpopular with the
country, was not by any means equally so with the House of Commons; that
there were many Tories who were not particularly keen on purging
Parliament of office-holders, and not a few Whigs whose zeal for the
limitation of its constitutional life was somewhat lukewarm; and that
both Whigs and Tories of this order were not sorry to be able to evade
their party obligations to vote for these measures by pleading their
unwillingness to force the King's hand, and perhaps provoke a
constitutional crisis.

The day on which William gave his assent to the Triennial Bill was to
him a day of grave anxiety; and a year fairly prosperous abroad and
peaceful at home was to bring him ere its close the heaviest calamity of
his life. The illness of the Queen, who had been for two or three days
confined to her bed, was on the evening of the 21st of December
recognised by her physician as smallpox. A week afterwards, at one in
the morning of the 28th of December, she died. William's grief at her
loss was uncontrollable, and to all but those, and they were few, who
had penetrated the stoicism beneath which he was accustomed to conceal
deep feelings, it must have been a strange and moving sight. He remained
for days at her bedside scarcely taking food or sleep. He broke out in
the presence of Burnet into passionate outcries upon his agony at the
thought of losing her, and into fervent praises of her love and
virtues. "He cried out," says the Bishop, "that there was no hope, and
that from being the happiest he was now going to be the miserablest
creature on earth. He said that during the whole course of their
marriage he had never known one single fault in her; there was a worth
in her which nobody knew besides himself.... The King's affection was
greater than those who knew him best thought his temper capable of; he
went beyond all bounds in it; during her sickness he was in an agony
that amazed us all, fainting often and breaking out into most violent
lamentations; when she died his spirits sank so low that there was great
reason to apprehend that he was following her; for some weeks after he
was so little master of himself that he was not capable of minding
business or of seeing company."

The depth of this affection, moreover, was not disproportioned, as is
sometimes the case in examples of conjugal devotion, to the worthiness
of the object. Even Evelyn, who was shocked as a Tory and legitimate
king's-man by the levity of Mary's behaviour (for which, however, an
explanation has been suggested) on her arrival at Whitehall after
James's flight, affirms of her that "she was such an admirable woman,
abating for taking the crown without a due apology, as does, if
possible, outdo the renowned Queen Elizabeth." The comparison,
extravagant as it may appear at first sight, is not without some
justification in the spirited behaviour of Mary on the great national
crisis which occurred during her husband's absence in the Irish
campaign. It would be absurd of course to credit Mary with Elizabeth's
gifts of statecraft, or with her intellectual capacity in general, but
in courage and composure in the presence of danger she was no unworthy
successor of that great queen. In William's passionate declarations of
his debt to her there was no extravagance at all. To him she had been
the most affectionate, dutiful, and forbearing of wives, and if her
influence over him fell short of retaining his marital constancy, she
endeared herself more closely to him on the side of the purer emotions
by her magnanimous forgiveness of his errors. It cannot but soften the
harsher outlines of our conception of William, and help to supply that
human and homely element which is too much wanting in his character, to
know that he was capable both of inspiring and reciprocating so true an
affection as this.



    Campaign of 1695--Capture of Namur by the allies--Dissolution
      of Parliament--William's "progress"--The elections--New
      Parliament--Grants to Portland--The Assassination Plot--
      Campaign of 1696--Fenwick's conspiracy--Negotiations with
      France--Peace of Ryswick.

For some weeks after the death of Mary William's grief for her loss
disabled him from the discharge of public duties. He desisted from the
personal delivery of his answers to addresses from the two Houses, and
though important domestic events--such as the disgrace and dismissal of
Sir John Trevor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, for corruption,
and the proceedings preliminary to the contemplated impeachment of
Danby, now Duke of Leeds, for the same offence--took place before the
prorogation, the King does not appear to have actively interested
himself in them, either on one side or the other. Leeds, though he
escaped the impeachment with which he was threatened, stood morally
convicted of the charges preferred against him; but William still
allowed this useful and experienced, if unscrupulous public servant to
remain at the head of the Council. The only mark of royal displeasure
with which he was visited was his exclusion from the list of
lords-justices appointed according to custom to execute the royal
authority during the King's absence on the Continent.

On the 3d of May Parliament was prorogued, and on the 12th of the same
month William set out for Flanders to take command of the allied army
for what was destined to be the most successful of his campaigns.
Luxembourg was dead, and the command of the French army in the
Netherlands had devolved on a far inferior general in the person of
Marshal Villeroy. William was now matched against a general to whom he
was as much superior as Luxembourg had been to him, and this reversal of
conditions told speedily and signally on the fortunes of the year's
campaign. The prime object of William's operations was the retrieval of
the disastrous loss which the allies had suffered in 1692 by the fall of
Namur. On the recapture of this important fortress he now bent his whole
energies. His first movement, however, was an unsuccessful one. Athlone,
who had been detached with a large force to invest the city, was unable
to prevent Boufflers from throwing himself into it with a strong
reinforcement. The garrison now numbered 14,000 or 15,000 men, and as
its works had been planned by Vauban, the greatest military engineer of
his age, its defenders reckoned it impregnable. Leaving the main body of
his army under the Prince of Vaudemont, who, when pressed by Villeroy,
succeeded in skilfully retiring to Ghent, William, at the head of a
division, effected a junction with the forces of the Elector of Bavaria
and the Brandenburg contingent, and marching to Namur proceeded rapidly
to invest it. Its siege was then vigorously prosecuted. Cohorn, the
pupil of Vauban, and next to him in scientific reputation, was the
engineer of the allies, and, thus pitted against his master, had every
incitement to the exertion of his utmost skill. The trenches were opened
on the 2d of July, and on the 8th the outworks of one side of the city
were attacked and carried by an English force. This was the occasion on
which William is reported to have exclaimed, laying his hand on the
shoulder of the Elector of Bavaria, "Look, look at my brave English!"
The soldier in him was far nearer to them than the statesman, and amid
the smoke and tumult of that Flemish battlefield he was doubtless
stirred by emotions towards his subjects which at Kensington or
Westminster he had never known. On the 17th of the month, after a fierce
conflict in which the attacking forces were thrice beaten back and
thrice returned to the assault, the first counterscarp of the town was
carried. On the 20th the Bavarians and Brandenburgers captured another
portion of the outworks, and a few days later the English and Dutch made
themselves masters of the second line of fortifications. Before,
however, a general assault could be ordered, Boufflers, who did not
consider himself strong enough to defend the town, surrendered it on
terms of being allowed to retire into the citadel, for the possession of
which, in its turn, an obstinate struggle began. Villeroy, now before
Brussels, endeavoured in vain by a furious and destructive bombardment
of that city to compel the allies to raise the siege of the Namur
citadel, and Boufflers, in his last stronghold, soon found himself
exposed to so terrible a fire from one hundred and sixty cannon and
sixty mortars that, unless relief reached him, he felt that capitulation
could only be a question of days. At this desperate juncture Villeroy
advanced to his assistance, and on the 15th of August his army, 80,000
strong, was sighted by the defenders of Namur. The siege of the citadel
was not for a moment intermitted; the allies stood between the fortress
they were seeking to capture and the host which was marching to relieve
it, equally prepared to strike at both. For three days the two armies
confronted each other--three days of such anxiety as Europe had not
known since the beginning of the war. Everything seemed to portend a
conflict between the two great hosts--as decisive and even epoch-making
a struggle as that which, after the lapse of a century and a quarter,
was to be fought out on that now historic plain which the French general
had skirted on his way from Brussels. But the event surprised every one
and disappointed many. On the night of the 18th Villeroy unaccountably
withdrew his army, and the fate of the fortress was sealed. Portland was
sent to demand its surrender, but Boufflers, oppressed by the tradition
that no French marshal had ever capitulated, refused to do so, and the
next day, after the bloodiest assault which the history of that time
records, the allies succeeded in capturing about a mile of the
prodigious outworks of the citadel. Boufflers requested a truce of
forty-eight hours to bury his dead, which was allowed him; and before
the expiration of the time he signified his willingness to capitulate
within ten days. He was informed by the Elector of Bavaria on behalf of
the allies that he must surrender immediately or prepare for an
immediate renewal of the attack; and thus resolutely met he yielded. On
the 26th of August the garrison marched out with the honours of war, and
the greatest humiliation inflicted upon the French king since the
commencement of his career of conquest was with much pomp and
circumstance consummated. Villeroy and his useless army had already
retired to Mons.

The capture of Namur was the greatest event of the year, and indeed of
the campaign. It marked the turn of the tide in Louis's fortunes. From
1690 onwards it had set steadily in its favour, and reached full flood
on the day of Landen, in 1693. The following year may be fairly taken as
representing the half-hour of slack water before the ebb begins; but in
1695 it was plain to every one that the tide was running out. No other
victory was needed to demonstrate it after that of Namur, and none in
fact was won. In the autumn hostilities as usual ceased, and on the 10th
of October William, leaving his army in winter quarters, returned to
England to be received with a too rare warmth of welcome by his people.
He seized the opportunity of this burst of popular sunshine to dissolve
Parliament, which had still under the Triennial Act another year of life
to run. It has been suggested that he did so to put a stop to the
impeachment of Leeds, but though the proceeding against the Minister to
whom he owed not only his marriage with Mary, but in a great measure his
elevation to the English throne, must doubtless have given him
uneasiness, he had reason enough apart from this for determining the
life of the Legislature. "The happy state the nation was in," says
Burnet, "put all men except the merchants in a good temper; none could
be sure we should be in so good a state next year; so that now probably
elections would fall on men who were well affected to the Government. A
Parliament that saw itself in its last session might affect to be
froward, the members by such a behaviour hoping to recommend themselves
at the next election." And though Burnet only glances at the State
prosecutions as one among the causes which decided William's action, it
was with no special reference to the case of Leeds. "Besides," are his
words, "if the same Parliament had been continued probably the inquiries
into corruption would have been carried on which might divert them from
more pressing affairs, and kindle greater heats, all which might be more
decently dropped by a new Parliament than suffered to lie asleep by the
old one."

A proclamation was accordingly issued dissolving the existing
Parliament, and summoning a new one for the 22d of November. The
interval was employed by William in an unwonted effort to conciliate the
goodwill of the electors. For the first and only time in his reign he
set out upon a royal progress through the eastern and northern parts of
his kingdom, visiting many great houses, not only of Whig, but in some
cases of Tory magnates. At each of his stopping-places the rural
population of all degrees from squire to peasant thronged to see him,
and it seems evident that he made almost pathetic efforts to please.
"The King," says Burnet, who is always an outspoken critic of his royal
master, "studied to constrain himself to a little more openness and
affability than was natural to him; but his cold and dry way had too
deep a root not to return too oft upon him." Neither at Cambridge in his
journey northward, nor at Oxford, which he took on his return, was his
visit a success. The chiefs of the younger University invited him to no
entertainment; he declined that which was offered him by the
authorities of the elder. People murmured, too, at his visit to Althorp,
and some remarked, no doubt with less truth than ill-nature, that the
only place in which he really succeeded in making himself agreeable was
at the seat of the highly unpopular Sunderland. Nevertheless, and
however little these conciliatory efforts may have contributed to the
result, the elections went generally in William's favour. In many
constituencies Tories lost their seats, and were replaced by Whigs. The
city of London, which had returned four of the former party, now sent to
Parliament four of the latter. Members were in some places expressly
instructed by their constituents to support the King, and to vote
whatever supplies might be necessary for the vigorous prosecution of the
war. The new Parliament contained about one hundred and sixty members,
of whom the greater number were known to be well disposed towards the
King. William had triumphantly performed a feat which, as attempted by
the advisers of the sovereign, has perhaps more often been attended with
disaster than with success.

On the 22d of November, the day appointed, the new Parliament met. The
Commons again chose Foley for their Speaker, and the King made a long
speech from the throne. The demand for supplies was still very high, but
William said that as he had engaged in the present war by the advice of
his first Parliament, who thought it necessary for the defence of the
Protestant religion and the preservation of the liberties of Europe, and
as the last Parliament had with great cheerfulness assisted him to carry
on the war, so he could not doubt but that the present Parliament would
be unanimously zealous in the prosecution of it, particularly since the
advantages gained that year afforded a reasonable hope of future
success. The Commons voted an address of thanks and congratulation upon
the success of his Majesty's arms abroad, and pledged themselves to the
prosecution of the war. William returned a short but suitable answer,
and the business of the session began. The Legislature set to work to
effect a much-needed purification of the coinage, and as the Lords had
made a concession to the Commons in respect of the measure which became
necessary for this purpose, the Lower House now assented to the often
rejected amendment introduced by the Upper House in the Bill for
regulating trials in cases of high treason, which now at last became
law. But the session was not to proceed far without giving birth to an
unfortunate difference between Parliament and the King. William, with
that ill-judged profuseness of liberality towards his Dutch adherents,
by which he compromised not only contemporary popularity but posthumous
reputation, proposed to grant to Portland a magnificent estate
consisting of five very extensive manors in Denbighshire. The people of
the county forthwith set up the cry that the King intended to make this
foreigner Prince of Wales, so far at least as he could do so by
bestowing on him all that the Crown had to give in the principality. The
local gentry petitioned against the grant, and an address was voted
requesting the King to stop it. "Portland," says Macaulay, "begged that
he might not be the cause of a dispute between his master and the
Parliament, and the King, though much mortified, yielded to the general
wish of the nation." It would have been better, however, if the
historian had in this place added that William forthwith made a fresh
grant to the Earl of Portland of the manors of Grantham, Dracklow,
Pevensey, and East Greenwich, in the counties of Lincoln, Cheshire,
Sussex, and Kent, together with the honour of Penrith in the county of
Cumberland, and other manors in Norfolk, York, and the Duchy of
Lancaster. As these ancient crown-lands were far apart it could not now
be said that the King was creating a principality for the favourite, but
it removed no other of the serious objections to the grant.

Again, however, and as before, at a moment when the seldom very bright
sky of William's popularity threatened to become seriously overcast, the
sympathies of his people were revived by his enemies. The most
formidable of the conspiracies against the King's life, that known _par
excellence_ as the Assassination Plot, was set on foot, or rather
revived, as the renewal of a project which had been frustrated several
months earlier by the departure of William for the Continent--in the
autumn of 1695; and by the spring of the following year was ripe for
execution. Its leading spirit was one Sir George Barclay, a Scotchman,
who came over from St. Germains with a special commission from James,
which if it did not actually contemplate, or at least expressly sanction
assassination, was, to say the least, of a dangerously elastic
character. Among those whom he enlisted in the conspiracy were one
Charnock, an ex-fellow of Magdalen College, who had been a tool of James
II. in his high-handed violation of the statutes and liberties of that
society, Sir John Fenwick, a man of good family and connections and a
noted Jacobite agitator, and Sir William Parkyns, a Tory. The plan of
the conspirators was to lie in wait for William at a ferry on the
Thames, which he was in the habit of crossing every Saturday on his way
from Kensington to hunt in Richmond Park. To overpower the royal guards
it was necessary to raise the number of the conspirators to forty, among
whom it was tolerably certain that there would be at least one traitor.
As a matter of fact there were three. The secret was communicated by one
of these to Portland; the King, at first disposed to make light of it,
consented at last to abandon his hunting expedition on the Saturday
fixed for the assassination, and again on the same day in the following
week; and the principal conspirators were arrested. Barclay escaped to
France, and the Duke of Berwick, who had at the same time been vainly
attempting to prepare the way for a French invasion by a Jacobite
insurrection, also fled the country. William, in a speech from the
throne, made a formal announcement to the two Houses of the detection of
the conspiracy and his providential escape; and shortly afterwards
several of the conspirators, including Charnock and Parkyns, were tried
and executed.

That the discovery of the Assassination Plot tended, as Macaulay holds,
to revive the popularity of William may perhaps have been the case; it
is at any rate certain that on the occasion of the next difference
between the King and the Legislature he proved to be fully master of the
situation. The growing jealousy entertained by the landed interest
towards the wealthy traders, who were now in ever-increasing numbers
disputing the representation of the counties and provincial boroughs
with the squirearchy, gave birth during the present session to a project
of legislation of a highly reactionary kind. A Bill was brought in for
excluding from the House of Commons every one not possessed of a certain
estate in land. For a county member this property qualification was
fixed at five hundred a year, for a borough member at two hundred. Early
in February the Bill was read a second time, and referred to a select
committee, whose deliberations are rendered memorable by the fact that
an attempt was made in the course of them to antedate an existing
provision of an electoral system by about a century and a quarter. It
was proposed to add a clause enacting that votes should be taken by
ballot, but the proposition was rejected without a division. Duly
revised by the committee the Bill was returned to the House, and it then
became apparent that the pretensions of the landed interest were to meet
with resistance from an unexpected quarter. The Universities of Oxford
and Cambridge raised their voices against a restriction which struck at
individual ability no less than at personal property, and in deference
to their protest a motion was made to except the Universities from the
operation of the Bill. This, however, was rejected by 151 votes to 143,
and a motion subsequently made to except the city of London was not
pressed to a division. The Lords, from disinclination, let us charitably
hope, to embroil themselves with the elective House on a matter of
electoral legislation, passed the Bill without any amendment, and it
came up in due course for the royal assent. It was perhaps the least
invidious of all the opportunities ever offered to William for the
exercise of the veto, and he very wisely resolved to stop the Bill. In
spite, however, of the obviously disinterested character of the
step--the measure being one which touched no royal prerogative
whatever, and which he could have no reason for vetoing save that he
believed its provisions to be opposed to the true interests of the
country--his action did not escape challenge. An attempt was made by a
section of the Tory party to carry a vote of censure upon whatever
Minister had advised him to refuse assent to the Bill. The proposal,
however, was not taken up by the more moderate members of the
Opposition, and was ultimately rejected by the very large majority of
219 to 70--a sufficiently emphatic affirmation of the legitimate
character of at least this exercise of the prerogative of disallowance.
It is of course not impossible, as has been already admitted, that the
recent revulsion of goodwill towards the King may have contributed to
the completeness of this victory, but it seems scarcely necessary to
ascribe much to the operation of any such sentiment. It is pretty clear
that the Bill for the Regulation of Elections was very doubtfully
regarded in many quarters of the House; and it is indeed rather
surprising that in a Parliament such as that returned in 1695, with Whig
influence in a distinct ascendency, it should have been possible to
carry the Bill at all. It must, moreover, be remembered that even if
there had been a more pronounced liking for it in Parliament itself, the
measure was essentially one of that character for which a shrewd member
will not venture to vote except with one eye on his constituents.
Natural as it was for a country gentleman of that day to object to a
Londoner coming down with a valise full of guineas to contest with him
his native county or his ancestral borough, it is not to be supposed
that his objection would be shared by the free and independent electors
of either constituency. To them it might appear by no means undesirable
that "local interest" should be stimulated to judicious liberality by
the competition of the open-handed outsider.

On the 27th of April the first session of the new Parliament came to an
end, and a fortnight after the prorogation William landed in Holland,
whence he immediately set out to resume the command of the allied forces
in Flanders. His presence, however, was needed rather for purposes of
counsel than command; for, in truth, the long and desperate struggle
with Louis had now reached a stage when even the most enterprising of
captains might well be of opinion that Q. Fabius was the only general
whose tactics were worth studying. At one time it had almost become a
question which of the combatants would be the first to swoon from
exhaustion; but before William's arrival the skilful surprise and
destruction by Athlone and Cohorn of a vast magazine of ammunition and
stores, collected by the French at Groet, had virtually decided that
question against France. England, then in the throes of a monetary
crisis, was sufficiently hard put to it to support the continued strain
of the campaign; but upon France, with three armies afoot in three
hostile countries at once, the demand was far more terrible. She was
virtually too weak to attack in the Netherlands, and William probably
saw no advantage to himself in forcing an engagement. The summer passed
away in marches and counter-marches, and not a blow was exchanged
between Villeroy and the strategist who had plucked Namur out of his
grasp the year before. On the Rhine operations were equally bloodless
and indecisive. In Catalonia there had been some hard fighting, and
Vendome, who had succeeded Noailles, won a dearly-bought victory over
the Spaniards. Throughout the year, indeed, the pen was more busy than
the sword, and the straits in which Louis found himself may be measured
by the energy of his efforts to detach the allies from each other. The
wavering Duke of Savoy was at last definitively won over, his seduction,
it is said, being finally effected by assurances secretly transmitted to
Turin from the Court of Versailles to the effect that James would
inevitably be restored to his throne in consequence of the extraordinary
measures then being concerted for that purpose. The Duke, upon this,
went on pretence of pilgrimage to Loretto, and there signed a secret
treaty with France. Suspicion of his fidelity, however, soon gained
ground, and in the course of the summer he threw off the mask and
declared his intention, in accordance with a clause in the secret
treaty, of establishing a neutrality over all Italy. To this, of course,
the Emperor and the Kings of Spain and England refused to assent; but
the Duke compelled them to submission by an invasion of Milan, and all
Italian resistance to the French power was brought to an end. Louis at
the same time made separate overtures of peace to the Dutch, and with
such success that the States-General formally resolved that the
concessions of France afforded good ground for a treaty. The terms were
communicated to the other members of the confederacy, by some of the
weaker of whom they were accepted, although the Emperor and the King of
Spain united in rejecting them.

While matters were in this condition William returned to England for the
parliamentary session, and in his speech on the 20th of October to the
two Houses he informed them that overtures of peace had been made by the
enemy. But the language in which he referred to them left no doubt of
his own views. "I am sure," he said, "we shall agree in opinion that the
only way of treating with France is with our swords in our hands." This
is not a method of treating with foreign Powers which finds equal favour
in our own day; but in 1696 there was no great difference among English
parties as to the proper mode of negotiating, at any rate with Louis
XIV. The House of Commons was as sternly distrustful of the French king
as was William himself. Protracted and burdensome as had been the
struggle, they were in no more hurry to catch at Louis's overtures than
he. In their address of reply the Commons recalled the fact that this
was the eighth year that they had assisted his Majesty with large
supplies for carrying on a just and necessary war, and that this war had
cost the nation much blood as well as treasure; but they added that the
benefits procured to religion and liberty were not dearly purchased at
this price, and they pledged themselves to provide not only the
necessary supplies for continuing the war with vigour, but also for the
payment of the public debt, which had been gradually accumulating in
consequence of the deficiencies of revenue. The close of this session
was marked by vehement debates in both Houses on the Bill for the
attainder of Sir John Fenwick. Fenwick, who had been arrested in the
previous summer, and was now lying in the Tower, endeavoured to save his
life by making a confession incriminating Marlborough, Godolphin,
Russell, Shrewsbury, and other Lords, whom he indicated as holding
communications with the exiled king. William, however, who had long been
well aware of the treason of most of these accused servants of his,
declined to notice the charges, and the accuser only sealed his own doom
by making them. A Bill of Attainder was brought in against him by the
Whigs, and, the insufficient evidence in support of it having by a
straining of the law of treason been voted sufficient, passed both
Houses after a series of hot debates in which neither political party
showed to great advantage, and Fenwick was executed.

Early in 1697 the long struggle between France and the allies showed
signs of drawing to a close. Louis had expressed his willingness to
surrender the conquests made in the war, to restore Lorraine and
Luxembourg to their lawful owners, and to recognise William as King of
England. To these terms William and the States-General were ready enough
to assent; Spain, however, and the Emperor, raised objections; the
latter, as is suggested, on account of his desire to keep up the war
until the death of the ailing Spanish king, so that his own pretensions
to the crown of Spain might have the support of the allied army against
those of the French rival in the succession. Difficulties were
accordingly raised to delay the meeting by a Congress. The Emperor
proposed Aix-la-Chapelle as its place of meeting, and objected to the
French alternative proposal of the Hague. It was, however, finally
agreed that the representation of the allies should assemble at the
Hague, while those of France took up their quarters at Delft, a few
miles off; and that meetings between the two sets of negotiators should
take place at Ryswick, an intermediate village, in a palace belonging
to the Princes of Orange. Here accordingly they met on the 9th of May
1697, England being represented by Pembroke and Villiers, with the poet
Matthew Prior as their secretary, and France by Messieurs Harley, Crecy,
and Caillieres. Kaunitz and De Quiros were the respective
plenipotentiaries of the Empire and Spain. A Swedish minister acted as
mediator. Like other famous Congresses before and since, however, the
Congress of Ryswick made little progress; and after it had been many
weeks in session with no visible result, William resolved to open
negotiations directly with Louis through one of his generals commanding
in the Netherlands. He selected Boufflers as the most eligible for his
purpose, and Portland was directed to solicit a short interview. Leave
to comply with this request was immediately asked and obtained from the
French king, and several conferences took place between the two,
resulting, in less time than the Congress had taken to exchange powers
and settle formalities of precedence and procedure, in the settlement of
the basis of a treaty. Portland's commission was couched in highly
authoritative terms, and Marshal Boufflers's report of them shows most
strikingly how commanding an influence William then exercised in Europe,
and what lofty language one of the least assuming of men regarded it as
entitling him to use. In the French Marshal's account of his first
interview with Portland he recites an assurance conveyed to him by the
latter on the part of England, "that if satisfaction be given him on
points which concern him (the Prince of Orange) personally, he will
oblige the Emperor and the Spaniards to make peace; being satisfied for
himself, as well as the States-General, with the offers which your
Majesty has made in the preliminaries, and that if the Emperor and the
Spaniards persist in refusing to make peace, he will conclude it without
them together with the Dutch."[16]

The required satisfaction, however, was not obtained without some
difficulty. On William's side two stipulations were made, to which Louis
hesitated to assent; and neither these nor the two counter demands
advanced by the French king were ultimately assented to in the form in
which they were originally proposed. William required first that in the
peace which was to be concluded, and by which Louis was to consent to
recognise him King of England, the French king should "promise and
engage not to favour, directly or indirectly, King James against him."
The French plenipotentiaries at the Hague had already assented to their
master engaging himself not to favour directly or indirectly "the
enemies of the Prince of Orange, acknowledged King of England." William,
however, desired that James should be designated by name. "It is
absolutely necessary," writes Boufflers, reporting Portland's words to
Louis, "for the security of the Prince of Orange, that your Majesty
should engage _expressly_ not to favour directly or indirectly King
James _nominatim_; and" (this was the second point of contention) "that
he shall go and reside at Rome or elsewhere out of France, provided he
be not near enough to keep up any party in England." Boufflers added
that though the first demand might be waived if Louis had any reluctance
to mention James by name, and that "other equivalent terms" might be
found to give the Prince of Orange the securities he desires, yet that
it was indispensable in order to remove all suspicion that the exiled
king should reside out of France.

To both of these stipulations Louis demurred. It was inconsistent, he
held, with his honour as a sovereign, and with his duties as a host and
kinsman, to name "the King of England" in the treaty and to engage to
cause him to quit France; but he offered to agree "not to assist
directly or indirectly the enemies of the Prince of Orange without any
exception"; and Boufflers was directed to point out that the last three
words would exclude all suspicion of a restriction in favour of any
person whatsoever, and in fact amount to a virtual designation of James.
Upon this a further clause was engrafted by William, engaging Louis "not
to favour in any manner whatsoever the cabals, secret intrigues,
factions, and rebellions which might occur in England, nor any person or
persons who should excite or foment them," and to this Louis, after
modifying the expression "person or persons" which he regarded
apparently as the equivalent of "James or James's adherents," consented.
An attempt was made by William to obtain an assurance that after peace
was concluded James would be "induced to resolve of his own accord" to
live out of France; but Louis declined to yield even thus far, and the
point was waived. William perhaps believed that he could the better
afford to do so, as he proposed to make his acceptance of one of Louis's
two stipulations dependent upon his obtaining practical satisfaction on
this head. To the demand for the pension of £50,000, to which Mary of
Modena was alleged to be entitled, William had signified his
willingness to allow her any sum to which she could show lawful claim,
but it seems pretty clear that he had resolved to qualify this promise
by the condition that she and her husband should quit St. Germains. The
other demand of Louis--too arrogant to have been seriously urged, and in
all probability only put forward in formal fulfilment of a promise--was
that a general amnesty should be granted to all those who had followed
the fortunes of James, and further, that they should be restored to
their forfeited estates. To this last modest request William replied
that it was not in his power to grant it since the reversal of attainder
was a matter of statute and not of prerogative; to the former he replied
with proper spirit that "as for the general amnesty, besides that his
honour and glory demand that he shall not be forced to it by a treaty of
peace, the safety of his own person requires him not to recall
individuals to England whom he knows to be his personal enemies; but
that as soon as he shall be acknowledged King of England, and in
undisturbed possession by the treaty of peace, he will readily, of his
own free will, pardon those who seem to him disposed to return with good
faith and to live in quietness, behaving as good and loyal subjects."
The demand was of course immediately waived, and the two Powers being
now in accord, it now only remained to bring the rest of the allies into
the agreement. This, however, was not to be done in a moment. Both
Austria and Spain held back, and while they were hesitating new
successes of the French arms brought about an enhancement of the French
terms. Barcelona fell before one of Louis's armies, and the South
American Cartagena before a squadron of his fleet. Upon this his
plenipotentiaries were instructed to announce that he intended to keep
Strasburg, and that unless his terms, thus modified, were accepted by
the 10th of September he should hold himself at liberty to modify them
yet further. The combined influence of the reverse and the menace,
assisted by the steady pressure of William's determination, at length
produced the desired effect. At daybreak on the 11th of September
(1697), after a night spent in debate as to the order of procedure, the
Treaty of Ryswick was at last signed as between France and Spain, France
and the United Provinces, and France and England--the Emperor being
allowed till the 1st of November to signify his adhesion. Two days later
the news was known in England, and was there received with universal
rejoicings. William, however, regarded it with no unmixed satisfaction.
"I received last night," he writes to the Pensionary, Heinsius, "your
letter of the preceding day, and your letter of yesterday has been
delivered to me to-day by Lord Villiers. May God be pleased to bless the
peace which has just been concluded, and long continue it by His grace.
Yet I confess that the manner in which it has been concluded inspires me
with some apprehensions for the future."


[16] Grimblot's _Letters of William III._, etc., i. 8.



    Portland's embassy--His life in Paris--The question of the
      Spanish Succession--The First Partition Treaty--General
      election and meeting of the new Parliament--Its temper--
      Opposition to William's military policy--Reduction of the

One of William's first steps after the conclusion of the peace was to
appoint a strong ambassador to Versailles. Portland was selected,
partly, as it is said, in consequence of his jealousy of the growing
ascendency of his youthful rival Keppel in the favour of William, but
much more, one may suppose, because of his force of character and
intimate acquaintance with European politics. The Ambassador
Extraordinary was intended, as he understood his mission, to hold his
head high at the Court of Louis, and he undoubtedly did so. His retinue
and equipage was of remarkable splendour, and his bearing, especially
towards those who showed any sign of disputing his just pretensions, was
marked by an unflinching dignity.[17] He protested bluntly against the
presence of the would-be assassins of William at a Court at which he
was William's representative. He pressed for the removal of James and
his adherents from St. Germains; and on both these matters Louis, while
firmly maintaining the position which he had taken up at the Brabant
negotiation, showed, nevertheless, unmistakable anxiety to conciliate
the resolute ambassador. It was not, however, to deal with points of
this kind that Portland had been sent to Versailles. Another matter of
the greatest European moment was beginning to press, and it was to
endeavour to effect an adjustment of the various conflicting interests
involved in it that William had despatched his carefully-selected
emissary to the French Court. Charles II., King of Spain and the Indies,
and last of the male line of the Emperor Charles V., was known to be
near his end, and at his death the whole of his vast empire in the two
hemispheres would pass to one or other of two powerful reigning Houses,
to neither of which its transfer would be regarded with indifference by
Europe at large. The rightful heir of Charles II., if blood alone had
had to be considered, was the Dauphin of France, the son of his sister,
who had married Louis XIV. With the consent of her husband she had at
the time of her marriage renounced for herself and her posterity all
pretensions to the Spanish crown, and her renunciation was duly recorded
in a European Treaty. Failing this line it would be necessary to go back
another generation, and the Emperor Leopold, as the son of Charles's
aunt, stood next in succession. His claim was barred by no renunciation;
but it was no more likely that Louis would quietly allow him to succeed
than that he would submit to the succession of a Bourbon. It was not to
the interests of Europe that either House should acquire such an
enormous accession of territory and power. To William it appeared at any
rate intolerable that the House of Bourbon should do so, and in order to
avert this calamity, as he regarded it, he took one of the most keenly
canvassed steps of his political life in the negotiation and conclusion
of the famous Partition Treaty. There is no likelihood that posterity
will ever arrive at accord upon the policy of this famous transaction,
but before even attempting to consider the unfavourable criticisms
passed upon it, it is absolutely necessary to note one cardinal
characteristic of its nature. To William it was avowedly and essentially
an expedient adopted, to use Aristotle's expression, κατὰ τὸν δεύτερον
πλοῦν. It was never regarded or represented by him as more than the
"second-best" thing to be done in a case where the actual best had been
rendered impracticable by circumstances beyond his own control. He knew
that Louis's moderation in the settlement of the terms of Ryswick had
been merely politic; that its main object was to put an end to the war,
and so to break up the forces of a coalition which both he and his rival
knew that it would be a hard matter to get together again; and that the
peace once concluded, Louis would have it in his power to recruit his
military strength, and prepare to take advantage of the almost daily
expected death of Charles II. of Spain to carry out his long cherished
design upon that kingdom. There were two ways of dealing with this
situation, and two only. Either England must be kept under arms, or the
King of England must "transact" with the King of France. The former of
these two courses was denied him by the jealousy of his English
subjects, and he was accordingly forced upon the latter. In writing to
the Pensionary Heinsius he deplores the fact that he cannot "remain
armed," and declares that little reliance as could be placed upon
engagement with France, it was absolutely necessary that such should be
concluded; since otherwise, he writes, "I do not see a possibility of
preventing France from putting herself in immediate possession of the
monarchy of Spain in case the King should happen to die soon."
Obviously, therefore, it would be unfair to judge of the First Partition
Treaty as though the arrangement of it had been deliberately selected by
William from a variety of more or less eligible expedients. The only
mode in which it can be logically or reasonably attacked is by
contending either that the object of the Treaty, the exclusion of the
grandson of Louis from the throne of Spain, was not a political end of
such importance as to be worth bargaining for at all, or else that the
particular bargain to which William agreed was in itself an improvident

So much premised, let us proceed to examine the provisions of this
memorable instrument. Roughly speaking they would have effected a
division of the heritage of the Spanish king between the Electoral
Prince of Bavaria and the Dauphin of France. The former was to have the
kingdom of Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and the Spanish possessions
in the New World; to the latter were to pass the two Sicilies and
Sardinia, certain places on and off the coast of Tuscany, and the
Cis-Pyrenæan portion of the Province of Guipuzcoa. Milan was to go to
the Archduke Charles, the second son of the Emperor Leopold. Such was
the arrangement, and whether its terms were to be deemed good or bad for
England, it is at least certain that they were only obtained from the
French king after long and obstinate diplomatic haggling, first between
Portland, William's Ambassador-Extraordinary at Versailles, and the
French Ministers, and afterwards between the Count de Tallard, Louis
XIV.'s ambassador to England, and William himself. The French king was
extremely anxious to secure the Spanish kingdom for his grandson Philip,
Duke of Anjou, and was ready to undertake that the Dauphin and Philip's
elder brother should waive their rights, so as to guard against the
possibility of the French and Spanish monarchies being united under one
sceptre. As to the danger lest a Bourbon, once established at Madrid,
might hand over the Spanish Netherlands to the head of the family, Louis
was willing to protect England and Holland against that danger by
consenting that those provinces should be ceded to the Elector of
Bavaria. William met this proposal, not by a direct negative, but by
raising his terms of assent to it. Not only, he insisted, must the
Spanish Netherlands pass to the Elector of Bavaria, but Louis must give
up some fortified towns on his Flemish frontier, for the better
self-protection of the United Provinces, while England was "compensated"
on the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico. Louis protested on his own
behalf against the former of these proposals, and declared that the
Spaniards would never consent to the latter. At last, unable to obtain
his way with regard to the elevation of one of his grandsons to the
Spanish throne, he assented to the only alternative arrangement which
would prevent Spain from passing to his rival the Emperor, and signified
his willingness to accept the Electoral Prince of Bavaria as the heir to
the Peninsula. The obstinacy with which the points of this treaty were
contested may be measured by the fact that the first interview between
Pomponne and Portland, in which the matter of the Spanish succession was
broached, took place on the 15th of March, and it was not till the 4th
of September that the treaty was signed. It cannot therefore be
contended that William spared pains to obtain what he considered the
best terms from Louis, and having regard to the fact that the King of
Spain was not expected to live out the year, it is plain enough that on
one assumption--that, namely, of the paramount necessity of preventing
the accession of a grandson of Louis to the Spanish throne--the
negotiations could not with safety have been protracted much longer. The
latter, in short, of the two questions which were propounded at the
outset of the examination may be said to depend for its answer upon the
former. Supposing that the exclusion of the Duke of Anjou or the Duke of
Berry from the throne of Spain was a political object worth bargaining
for at all, William cannot, I think, be charged with having paid an
improvident price for it. Nor does it appear to me reasonably arguable
that the object in question was not worth bargaining to obtain. It has
been urged by some critics of this transaction that the apprehensions
roused in those days at the prospect of a Bourbon prince succeeding to
the throne of Charles were exaggerated; that experience has shown the
fallacy of supposing that ties of kindred count for much in determining
the policy of monarchs, and that it would certainly have been better
that the Spanish throne should pass to the descendant of a French king
than that the two Sicilies and other points of vantage on the
Mediterranean should pass to a future French king himself. But those who
so argue rely too much upon general principles and pay too little
attention to the facts of the particular case. One might readily admit
that ties of kindred count for little in determining the policy of
monarchs, and at the same time retain the full conviction that the
subsistence of the relation of grandfather and grandson between the then
King of France--the man and the circumstances being what they were--and
the King of Spain would have been fraught with the most disastrous
consequences for all Europe. There could be no serious doubt that the
Duke of Anjou or the Duke of Berry would be a mere puppet with his
strings pulled from beyond the Pyrenees, and that the whole resources of
his kingdom would at once have been drawn upon by Louis to enable him to
resume the war. Had the French crown rested upon another head, or even
had there been any probability that the new occupant of the Spanish
throne would have time allowed him to outgrow the _regni novitas_ and
strike out a policy of his own, the case would have been different. But
we must judge of the situation by the light of the facts as they were.
It is beside the point to argue that because a grandson of Louis after
all succeeded the Spanish king, and after a desolating war for his
dethronement continued to reign over Spain, and his children after him,
without Europe being "a penny the worse"--it is beside the point, I say,
to argue that an arrangement which operated not amiss for Europe from
1712 onwards would have been tolerable in 1698. Philip V. was well
enough as a king of Spain, after his grandfather's power had been
brought low by a dozen more years of European war, but Philip of Anjou,
the nominee and instrument of Louis XIV., at the close of the previous
century, would have been a weapon pointed at the breast of free and
Protestant Europe. You cannot judge of the strength or keenness of a
dagger by merely estimating its power in the grasp of a failing hand.

Doubtless, however, the complaints both contemporary and subsequent of
the provisions of the Partition Treaty were to some extent stimulated by
the circumstances of its arrangement. It is well known that William,
acting as his own Foreign Minister, carried his official independence so
far as to conduct the whole of the negotiations with Louis from
beginning to end without any reference to, or at least any effective
consultation of, a single English Minister. Somers, it is true, had been
told before the King's departure for Loo that Lord Portland had been
sounded by Louis with reference to an agreement with England concerning
the Spanish succession; but it was not till the terms were actually
arranged that William wrote to Somers for his opinion upon them,
"leaving it to his judgment to whom else he might think it proper to
impart them," and adding "if it be fit that this negotiation be carried
on there is no time to be lost, and you will send me the full powers
under the Great Seal, with the names in blank, to treat with Count
Tallard." Portland at the same time communicated directly with Vernon,
the then Secretary of State, whose consent was necessary to the imprint
of the Great Seal; and Somers himself confided the affair to several
other Ministers. But it is clear, not only from Somers's own reply to
William, but generally on the face of the whole transaction, that even
if the King's English Ministers had been competent to revise the
agreement, their suggestions would have come too late. Somers's
criticisms, though sensible in themselves, were of the most tentative
character; he excuses himself indeed that his thoughts were so ill put
together, and pleaded the known effect of the waters at Tunbridge Wells,
where he then was, in "discomposing and disturbing the head so as almost
totally to disable one from writing"; but in fact he writes with the
extreme diffidence natural to the "layman" conscious of his incapacity
to advise the expert. The commission of plenipotentiaries was then drawn
out by Secretary Vernon with the names left in blank, and the Chancellor
requested the Secretary for his warrant before affixing the Great Seal.
This, however, Vernon refused to give, and Somers thereupon sealed the
powers with his own hand, taking care, however, to keep the King's
letter as a justification or an excuse for the act. That the whole
proceeding was unconstitutional, according to the fully developed theory
of the constitution, is of course obvious, and it is only a partial and
not a complete defence of William's share in it that the theory in
question was nothing like so fully developed or so firmly established as
it is at the present day. It is all very well to say that "William was
his own Foreign Minister,"--a statement which is repeated by Whig
writers, as though it sufficed to explain any conceivable
irregularity,--but the mere fact of his being unable to complete the
legal execution of a treaty without calling in the assistance of a
Minister (or rather, as it really should have been, if the Chancellor
had not taken upon him to dispense with the Secretary's co-operation, of
two Ministers), must have been a sufficient indication to the King of
the even _then_ constitutional limits of his prerogative. The _form_, in
short, was eloquent of the _fact_. It would have been plainly irrational
to suppose that the royal treaty-making power would have been made
exercisable only under the authority of an instrument validated by an
act which none but a Minister or Ministers could perform, unless it were
intended that such Minister or Ministers should be as fully responsible
for the doings of the executive in foreign as in domestic affairs. And
assuredly it cannot be regarded as more than a colourable recognition of
this responsibility to procure the merely mechanical assent of Ministers
to the results of an international agreement, in the negotiations for
which they have not been permitted to take any part. It seems difficult
therefore to contend that William was not in this matter _knowingly_
over-riding constitutional restrictions, under the conviction probably
that the pressing nature of the emergency, and the danger of delaying
the Spanish settlement by deliberations with the English Ministers,
sufficiently justified the irregularity.

There was that, too, in Somers's letter which would have confirmed him
in the belief that he had done well in agreeing betimes with his
adversary. The Chancellor spoke of the "deadness and want of spirit"
universally prevailing in the nation. None, he said, were disposed to
the thought of entering on a new war; but all seemed to be tired out
with taxes, to a degree beyond what was discerned till it appeared upon
the occasion of the late elections. And, indeed, the lesson of these
elections was too significant to be missed. A great change had passed
over the mind of the country since the return of the Parliament of 1695,
and the overthrow of the Tory ascendency by an electorate thoroughly
roused to a sense of the duty of prosecuting the war, and to that end
supporting the war party. In 1698, although the Tory ranks were not very
largely recruited, nor those of the non-Ministerial Whigs materially
reduced, it is certain that many candidates on both sides had been
compelled to pledge themselves to a policy of peace and retrenchment.
The new Parliament was opened by the King on the 6th of December, and
the temper of the House of Commons was not long in declaring itself. The
Ministerial party succeeded in carrying the election of their Speaker,
Sir Thomas Littleton, but they were utterly powerless to sustain their
master's military policy against the mass of opposition which it had to
encounter. A resolution was adopted cutting down the army to 7000 men,
"and these to consist of his Majesty's natural-born subjects." To
William, whose Ministers had held out hopes to him that a force of at
least 10,000 men would be sanctioned by Parliament, and who personally
held that anything less than double that number would be insufficient, a
resolution which would not only have inexcusably weakened, in his
opinion, the defences of England, but have deprived him even of the
services of those Dutch Guards who had fought with such signal bravery
for the liberties of that country, caused natural and bitter chagrin. He
gave the royal assent to the Bill founded upon this resolution, but he
gave it in a speech through the dignified composure of which his grave
concern and disappointment perceptibly struggle. A later attempt to save
his Dutch Guards, almost pathetic in its character,[18] proved
unsuccessful; and, when, in reply to this appeal, the Commons reminded
him that he had promised in 1688 to "send all foreign troops that came
over with him back again," so narrow and ungenerous an insistence on the
strict letter of his pledge must no doubt have added to his

The occasion of this second attempt was an event to be shortly noticed,
which might have been thought likely to dispose the Parliament to a more
liberal view of military necessities; and William has been censured by
his greatest admirer for not having applied to the House for an increase
of the English establishment instead of striving to retain a force of
his countrymen. It is not a matter for regret, however, that this
mistake, if mistake it was, should have been committed; for it enables
us pretty accurately to measure the respective proportions of reason and
prejudice in the conduct of Parliament. So far as the motive of the
House of Commons in these military retrenchments was a purely economical
one--so far even as it implied blindness to those European
considerations which our insular position no more absolved us from
regarding in 1698 than it does to-day--this motive was, if mistaken,
respectable. Even that exaggerated dread of a standing army, which, no
doubt, had more to do with the decision of the parliamentary majority
than any theory, good, bad, or indifferent, of the probable course of
European affairs, would not deserve to be severely judged. But it is
difficult to attribute the refusal of the House of Commons to sanction
William's retention of his body-guard to any worthier motive than mere
jealousy of the foreigner. It was a step as unwise from the political
point of view, and in its bearing on the relations of sovereign and
subject, as on the moral side it was ungracious. One can well understand
that the personal affront involved in it may have been harder for the
King to bear than even the rejection of his general military demands.
Anyhow there seems no doubt that upon learning the decision of the House
in the matter of the army William did seriously contemplate retirement
to Holland, after abdicating in favour of the Princess Anne, and that
nothing but the firmness of Somers prevented him from carrying his
resolution into effect. So at least Somers himself believed; and
Somers's knowledge of the royal mind, as well as of the royal character,
was distinctly superior to that of Burnet, who treated the threat of
withdrawal as not seriously meant. And when, having schooled himself to
submit with dignity and grace to this rebuff, he found himself
churlishly denied the slight personal favour which he subsequently
requested, his bitterness of feeling was, we may well believe,
extreme.[19] The whole incident is one which no Englishman of the
present day, whatever his politics, can look back upon without a sense
of shame.

William, it may be imagined, was not sorry to put an end to a
parliamentary session so fraught with unpleasant incidents. Nor, after
the settlement of the military question, was there much more business to
be done. Its despatch, however, was attended by one occurrence which
deserves notice here as having prepared the way for one of the gravest
political conflicts of the reign. Defeated by the manœuvre above
referred to in their attack upon the Crown grants, the country party
brought their forces to bear upon a position at once more limited and
more assailable. They demanded a commission of inquiry into the disposal
of the Irish forfeitures, and to insure the accomplishment of their
object they resorted to the questionable expedient of "tacking" to a
money Bill which they were sending to the Upper House a clause
authorising the appointment of seven commissioners to carry out the
proposed investigation. To this virtual "ouster" of their jurisdiction
over the question the Lords very naturally objected. They could not
reject the Land Tax Bill, the measure to which this clause had been
tacked, without creating national confusion; and rejection without
amendment was their only constitutional alternative to accepting
it--commissioners' clause, and all. They demurred, but ultimately
yielded, under protest; and William, not as it seems without foreboding
of future trouble, assented to the Bill with its irrelevant rider.

It was now the month of May, and the Houses, having held uninterrupted
session ever since the 1st of January, had fairly earned their recess.
On the 4th of the month the King came down to Westminster and bade his
Parliament a cold adieu.


[17] It is with a mixture of amusement and admiration that one reads in
Grimblot (i. 220) the account he gives of one of his diplomatic
receptions: "The King had sent the Duke d'Aumont, his first gentleman of
the bedchamber, to compliment me. After this the Duchess of Burgundy
sent the Marquis de Villacerf. They then began to make new pretensions,
requiring me to go and meet him half-way down the steps, as I had done
the former nobleman, and I refused to receive him except at the door of
the antechamber, which is at the top of the stairs. This gave rise to a
lengthened dispute, during which he was standing half-way up the steps,
and I at the top, while messengers passed backwards and forwards between
us. At length I sent him word that, if this did not content him, it
would be best for each of us to go our own way, without my having the
honour of seeing him, for that undoubtedly I should do no more, after
which he came up." Upon this grandee's leaving another difficulty arose.
Portland, although he conducted him back to his carriage, did not wait
to "see him depart," on which the "conductor of ambassadors" made great
complaints. The dispute as to the proper ceremony of reception was
renewed by the next arrival, when the conductor of ambassadors behaved
impertinently in public, "obliging me," says Portland, "to treat him as
became a person who has the honour to represent your Majesty," whereat
the conductor of ambassadors was "confounded and irritated."

[18] The message from the King runs thus: "His Majesty is pleased to let
the House know that the necessary preparations are made for transporting
the Guards who came with him into England, and that he intends to send
them away immediately, unless out of consideration for him the House be
disposed to find a way for continuing them longer in his service, which
his Majesty would take very kindly."

[19] He writes in a letter to Lord Galway, Jan. 27, 1699: "It is not
possible to be more sensibly touched than I am at my not being able to
do more for the poor refugee officers who have served me with so much
zeal and fidelity. I am afraid the good God will punish the ingratitude
of this nation. Assuredly on all sides my patience is put to the



    Death of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria--Renewed negotiations
      --Second Partition Treaty--The Irish forfeitures--The
      Resumption Bill--Will and death of the King of Spain.

The political event on which William had founded hopes of re-opening the
army question has been indirectly referred to in the last chapter. This
event, as has been said, was one which might reasonably have been
thought likely to dispose the English Parliament to a more liberal view
of the military necessities of the country by bringing once more into
prominence a European danger which diplomacy had been hitherto believed
to have averted. In the early days of 1699 the Electoral Prince of
Bavaria--the youthful heir-designate of the Spanish monarchy--took his
departure from a troubled world whose confusions were to be formidably
increased by his quitting it. The English Parliament, as we have seen,
refused to allow the Prince's death to modify their policy. But William
could not afford to overlook it; for it, of course, reopened at once the
whole question which had been closed by the First Partition Treaty, and
rendered it necessary to nominate a new successor to the Spanish
kingdom and its possessions in the New World. Louis XIV. was the first
to move in the matter. He instructed De Tallard to sound William as to a
new Treaty, and, after one or two candidates had been mentioned and
rejected, it was finally agreed between the French and English
sovereigns that the Archduke Charles, the son of the Emperor Leopold,
should be the future King of Spain and the Indies, and that the
Milanese, which had been allotted to him under the First Treaty, should
go to Louis, by whom it was to be bartered for Lorraine. The arrangement
was complete in all respects except that of having received the sanction
of the Emperor by the summer or early autumn of 1699; but the rumour of
it caused a violent outbreak of indignation in Spain. The Marquis of
Canales, Spanish Ambassador at the English Court, was instructed to
protest, which he did in terms so insolently imperious that William, on
being informed at Loo of the language used by him, at once directed that
the Marquis's passports should be handed to him, and at the same time
recalled our own ambassador at Madrid. By whose means the provisions of
the new Treaty were communicated to the Spanish Court and people is not
certainly known; but considering that one of the parties to whom it had
been submitted rejected it (for the Emperor at the eleventh hour refused
to sign), and, moreover, that another party--the French king--had never,
in all probability, sincerely assented to it, there is no need for much
speculation on this point. Leopold had known and obvious motives for
disclosing it to the unhappy Charles, and Louis is more than suspected
of having private motives for doing so. But whichever of the two was the
medium of communication, Louis was indisputably the gainer. The news
aroused a powerful anti-Austrian feeling in the minds of the Spanish
people, of which the French King, who was far better served at the Court
of Madrid than the Emperor, was not slow to take advantage. From the
autumn of 1699 till the 1st of November 1700, when the few and miserable
days of Charles II. came to an end, the agents of France worked
persistently, and in the end successfully, to overcome the Austrian
leanings of the dying monarch, and to convince him that on grounds of
patriotism, no less than of legal and moral obligation, he was bound to
devise his dominions to his lawful French heir, and away from the Prince
to whom Louis had solemnly agreed with William that they should pass.

The final consummation of these intrigues, however, was still a year
distant, and meanwhile an incident of extreme interest, and at the time
of exceeding gravity, in English politics, has to be recorded. On the
19th of November Parliament met again, and in a mood which boded ill for
the relations between the sovereign and the third estate of his realm.
The session began with one of the numerous abortive attacks made upon
Somers in the course of his distinguished career, and an equally
unsuccessful attempt was made to procure the disgrace of that perpetual
bugbear of the Tories, Bishop Burnet. But these were merely in the
nature of preliminary skirmishes; it was not long before hostilities
were opened upon William and his Ministers in a more serious way. It
will be remembered that at the close of the last session the Commons
tacked to the Land Tax Bill a clause appointing seven commissioners to
inquire into the Irish forfeitures, and that the Lords, after some
demur to the manner in which the proposal was being forced upon them,
passed the measure. The report of these commissioners, who had been
pursuing their inquiries in Ireland during the recess, was now ready,
and early in the session it was presented to Parliament, signed by four
of the commissioners, the other three dissenting. Disfigured by many
exaggerations and some wilful misstatements, this important document
contained, nevertheless, an amount of discreditable truth sufficient not
only to excite considerable popular feeling against William at the time,
but to inflict some permanent injury on his historical reputation.

The four commissioners reported that all the lands in the several
counties in Ireland belonging to the forfeited persons amounted, as far
as they could reckon, to 1,060,762 acres, worth £211,623 per annum, and
computed therefrom to be of the capital value of £2,685,138. That some
of these lands had been restored to the old proprietors by virtue of the
Articles of Limerick and Galway, or by his Majesty's favour through
reversal of outlawries, and royal pardons obtained chiefly by
gratifications to such persons as had abused his Majesty's royal bounty
and compassion; and that besides these restitutions, which they thought
to be corruptly procured, there were seventy-six grants and "custodians"
under the Great Seal of Ireland, of which they made a recital--as, for
instance, to the Lord Romney, three grants now in being, containing
49,517 acres; to the Earl of Albemarle, in two grants, 106,633 acres in
possession and reversion; to William Bentinck, Esq., Lord Woodstock
(Portland's eldest son), 135,820 acres of land; to the Earl of Athlone
in two grants, 26,480 acres; to the Earl of Galway one grant of 36,148
acres, etc. That the estates so mentioned did not indeed yield so much
to the grantees as they were valued at, because as most of them had
abused his Majesty on the real value of their estates, so their agents
had imposed upon them, and had either sold or let the greatest part of
these lands at an undervalue; but that after all deductions and
allowances there yet remained £1,699,343: 14s. which they laid before
the Commons as the gross value of the estates forfeited since the 13th
day of February 1689, and not restored. The commissioners went on, in
excess, as it should seem, of their attributions,[20] to report that
William had conferred the forfeited Irish estates of the late King
James, estimated at 95,649 acres, worth £25,998 a year, on his mistress,
the Countess of Orkney. Excluding this item, however, the value of the
restorations and royal grants against which the commissioners reported
amounted, it will be seen, to close upon a million sterling.

It is very probable, indeed it may be said to be certain, that the total
value of these forfeitures was grossly exaggerated by the commissioners;
it is possible that it was to some extent wilfully exaggerated for party
purposes. The lands forfeited in Ireland during the Revolution may have
been worth "nearer half a million sterling than two millions and a
half." It does not seem to me, however, that this is a point of the
importance which Macaulay seems to attach to it. Even if it could be
shown that the proportion of the royal grants to the total forfeitures
was unduly magnified through an over-estimate of the value of the
former, I cannot see that it would affect the merits of the case. The
real gist of the charge against William in respect of these
grants--assuming, that is to say, that he was justified in making them
at all without the sanction of Parliament--is to be sought not in a
comparison of the royal benefactions with the amount of the property at
his disposal, but in an examination of their proportions _inter se_.
Even if it be shown that he distributed property of the value not of a
million sterling, but of only a fifth of that sum, it remains equally
true in either case, that more than one-tenth of his bounty went to a
single favourite who had little or no public services to show for them,
and very nearly an eighth to a young man whose only claim upon him was
that of being an able and faithful servant's eldest son. The grants to
Albemarle and Woodstock are impossible to defend, and the latter almost
impossible to explain. William had already loaded Portland with
benefits, and to the vast estates he had bestowed upon him in England
his eldest son would, in the natural course of events, succeed. On what
ground, either of justice or even of sentiment, it could have been
thought well to enrich the expectant heir of so much English landed
property with 135,820 acres of forfeited Irish land is a mystery which
has never been satisfactorily explained. As to the grant to Albemarle,
it was of even worse example. Woodstock was at least the son of a
counsellor to whom William owed much, and whom he might conceivably
have regarded himself as rewarding in the person of his heir; but what
had Keppel, a mere favourite, a young courtier with no other
recommendations but his youth, his good looks, and his complaisance, a
personality too closely recalling that of a "minion" of Henri Trois, and
which in the Jacobite libels, not wisely to be thus supplied with
colourable pretexts for their calumnies, was openly so described--what,
one cannot but ask, had Keppel done to deserve a grant of 106,633 acres
of the forfeited Irish land? Compare these two largesses, Woodstock's
and Albemarle's, with those bestowed on Lord Romney, an ex-Secretary of
State, and one of the leaders of the movement which brought William to
England; on Lord Athlone, the stout Dutch soldier who, as General
Ginkel, had given and taken many a hard knock in his master's service;
on Lord Galway, that gallant Marquis de Ruvigny who had turned the flank
of the Irish on the bloody day of Aghrim. Albemarle's, the smaller of
the two, is more than twice that of Romney, nearly thrice that of
Galway, more than four times that of Athlone. It was impossible for
William to contend in the face of this evidence that he had simply been
using the forfeited lands of Irish rebels to reward those public
servants who had done most by valour in the field, or wisdom in the
council-chamber, to establish firmly on the throne of England, the
Prince chosen by the nation; and that therefore he was merely
anticipating the national reward which would have been conferred upon
them, and virtually drawing upon one national fund in relief of
prospective charges upon another. He could not even contend, as we have
seen, that this was the _main_ use to which he had put the forfeitures;
for though wisdom and valour had come in for a share of the spoils,
their share was lamentably smaller than that which was won by mere arts
of courtiership. There is, in short, no denying the fact that while
William applied a part of this property to strictly public objects, or,
in other words, to objects to which, but for such application of it, the
public would have to contribute in another shape, he devoted far too
large a portion of it to purposes of purely private benefaction, for
which he would otherwise have had to resort to drafts upon his Civil

But even this does not exhaust all the disagreeable elements in the
transaction. Had the Irish forfeitures been simply in the nature of
property "within the order and disposition" of the sovereign, and
impressed with only a constructive trust for the benefit of the nation,
the King's dealings with it would have been open to grave reprehension.
As a matter of fact, however, the property in question was the subject
not of a mere constructive trust, but of an express recognition on
William's part of its fiduciary character, and of a distinct promise
that Parliament, as representing the _cestui que trust_, should have an
opportunity of deciding on the proper mode of its application. On the
5th of January 1691 the King had closed the short autumn with a speech,
in which he assured the Houses that he would not "make any grant of the
forfeited lands in England and Ireland till there be another opportunity
of settling that matter in Parliament, in such manner as shall be
thought most expedient." This undertaking had reference to a Bill which
had actually passed the Commons for applying the Irish forfeitures, and
which only failed to become law because William, who was due at the
Congress then about to meet at the Hague, was compelled to prorogue
Parliament before the Lords had had time to consider the measure. It is
vain to contend that this promise was fulfilled, because several
"opportunities" were given to Parliament to deal with the question--in
the sense that several sessions were allowed to pass without Parliament
moving in the matter--before William himself proceeded to grant away the
forfeited lands. William was not entitled, under the circumstances, to
infer any surrender of parliamentary control over the forfeitures from
mere parliamentary inaction. Such an inference would in any case have
been a somewhat questionable one; but this was a case in which the
wishes of one branch of the Legislature had already been recorded in the
form of a distinct legislative project. The King knew, in short, that
the Commons desired to make Irish rebellion as far as possible pay for
its own suppression; he knew that they looked to the value of the
rebels' lands to afford partial relief to the English tax-payer from the
heavy imposts to which he was being subjected; and when, knowing this,
he proceeded to grant away large tracts of these lands, thus affected to
the national service, at his own will and pleasure, and in many cases to
persons whom the nation would never have consented to endow so
munificently out of its own pocket, he was unquestionably dealing with
his Parliament and people after a fashion which, in the case of a
private individual standing in analogous relation to other parties,
would be severely condemned. If he intended to ignore his promise of
January 1691 altogether, his grants were mere high-handed usurpations of
right; if he relied upon the mere "allowance of opportunities" in the
manner above mentioned as being a fulfilment of that promise, then he
was guilty of something which can only be described in modern
phraseology as sharp practice.

Undoubtedly the House of Commons might have proceeded with more
moderation than they displayed, but the majority in that House felt that
they had a good, and what was still better, a popular case against the
King and his advisers; they knew that the country was sore with the
weight of taxation, and jealous of the amount of royal favour bestowed
upon foreigners; and they felt that they might rely upon the combined
force of these two sentiments to support them in extreme measures.
Having gained their first triumph in the committal to the Tower of Sir
Richard Levinge, one of the dissentient commissioners who had charged
his colleagues with speaking disrespectfully of the sovereign in
connection with these benefactions, they introduced the famous
Resumption Bill, a measure by which all the royal grants were
invalidated, and the whole of the alienated property resumed to the use
of the State. In the Bill sent up to the Lords from the Lower House in
1690 it had been proposed to reserve a third part of the forfeitures to
the King, and William was not without hopes that this reservation, which
would just about have covered his grants to Woodstock, Albemarle, and
the three other peers whose names have been mentioned above, would be
renewed. The imperious majority, however, refused to hear of any such
modification of their demands. They rejected a clause moved by Ministers
for reserving at least some portion of the forfeitures to the King; and
they carried resolutions to the effect that "the advising, procuring,
and passing of the grants in Ireland had been the occasion of
contracting great debts, and laying heavy burdens upon the people; that
the said grants reflected highly upon the King's honour; and that the
officers and instruments concerned in procuring and passing them had
highly failed in the performance of their duty." These resolutions were
presented to William at Kensington by the Speaker and leaders of the
Opposition. William replied that he had thought himself bound to reward
out of the forfeited property those who had served him well, and
especially those who had borne a principal part in the reduction of
Ireland. The war, he said, had undoubtedly left behind it a heavy debt,
and he should be glad to see that debt reduced by just and effectual

The answer, though undoubtedly weak enough, seems scarcely open to one
of the criticisms which Macaulay pronounces upon it[22]. It would have
been not so much injudicious as absurd on William's part to "hint" that
the Irish forfeitures "could not justly be applied to the discharge of
the public debts." His meaning could only have been that it would not be
just to the grantees to resume their property in order to apply it to
public uses. It would appear, however, that the House of Commons
understood his words in the wider and less defensible sense. The
Resumption Bill was pushed vigorously through the House of Commons, and
in order to paralyze the expected resistance of the Lords, the expedient
of tacking was again resorted to. The Bill was tacked to a Land Tax Bill
for raising two shillings in the pound for the service of the next year,
and then sent to the Upper House. It passed its second reading by a
considerable majority, but in committee and on the third reading several
amendments were carried. It is highly significant, however, that though
William was known to be very solicitous to obtain the confirmation of at
least some of his Irish grants, and though the majority in the Lords in
favour of the amendment may be supposed desirous of doing all that they
reasonably could to gratify him, the Bill as regards his dealings with
the Irish forfeitures was left untouched. The majority contented
themselves with modifying certain arbitrary and inequitable provisions
whereby the Lower House had sought to usurp jurisdiction over property
which had never come to the Crown by forfeiture at all, and to grant
estates and sums of money of their own authority, and without the
constitutional intermediation of the Crown, to certain favoured
individuals. Thus amended, the Bill was sent back to the Lower House,
where it met of course with the very reception which the expedient of
tacking was designed, in the event of its coming back with amendments,
to secure for it. Parties had been much divided as to the policy of
tacking the Resumption Bill to a money Bill; but as to the duty of
resisting an attempt on the part of the Lords to amend a Bill sent up to
them in this fashion parties were united. The amendments were rejected
_nemine dissentiente_, and at the conference which followed the Lords
were informed by the managers of the Commons that the point of
constitutional practice was too well settled to be arguable, and that
the Bill was left in their hands along with the responsibility of all
the serious consequences which must follow its rejection. The Lords
nevertheless for a time stood firm; they resolved by a majority of
thirteen to adhere to their amendments, and on the following day the
Bill was, on a second conference, returned once more to the Commons, by
whom it was once more sent back to the Lords, with an intimation that
the determination of the Lower House was unalterable. This was on the
10th of May, and the whole of that day and night the greatest public
excitement prevailed. The deadlock between the two Houses had reached
such a point that if both refused to give way, and the supplies were
consequently lost, a complete dislocation of the national business,
accompanied in all probability by dangerous popular disturbance, would
have assuredly followed.

From this peril the country was saved at the critical moment by the good
sense and magnanimity of William. His behaviour was the more creditable
to him because not only was he eager, as has been said, for the
rejection of the Resumption Bill, but he had taken so active a part in
the attempt to bring about that result that surrender must necessarily
subject him to additional humiliation. There can be no doubt from the
account given by Burnet, whose own painful perplexity between the claims
of courtiership and patriotism increases the value of his testimony on
the subject, that William had tried hard to procure the defeat of the
measure. "The King," says the Bishop, "seemed resolved to venture on all
the ill consequences that might follow the losing this Bill, though
these would probably have been fatal. As far as we can judge either
another session of that Parliament or a new one would have banished the
favourites and begun the Bill anew with the addition of obliging the
grantees to refund all the mesne profits. Many in the Lords, that in all
other things were very firm to the King, were for passing the Bill,
notwithstanding the King's earnestness for it, since they apprehended
the ill consequences that were like to follow if it was lost." On the
5th of April he told Portland that if the Bill was not stopped in the
Upper House he should count all lost; and on the same day he declared
that he was resolved not to pass the Bill, and that the only question
was whether he should prorogue the Parliament on that day or on the
following Monday. On or before the 10th of April he had reflected more
maturely on the situation, and with that intuitive recognition of when
to give way, which only strong rulers ever seem to exhibit, and which
the masterful Elizabeth had displayed before him, he saw that the time
had arrived to yield. He took steps to have it conveyed to his adherents
in the Upper House that he desired the Bill to pass; and on the sitting
of the following day, May 11, the Lords withdrew their amendments and
accepted the Bill in its original form. Thus passed away a most perilous
crisis, and William, by the fine temper and moral courage with which he
thus submitted to perhaps the most galling rebuke ever inflicted upon a
monarch by a legislative assembly, must be admitted to have gone far to
atone for the serious error of his previous action. He was, however, and
not unnaturally, of opinion that he had done enough in the cause of the
peace, and the next day, in order to prevent the presentation to him of
an address from the Commons, praying that no person not a native, except
Prince George of Denmark, should be admitted to his Majesty's Councils
in England or Ireland, he came down and prorogued Parliament without a

The whole of the year 1700 was destined to abound in fresh troubles for
this sorely-tried and now fast waning life. No sooner had the English
Parliament separated than the Scotch Parliament met; and their first
business was to espouse the cause of their foolish and unlucky
countrymen who had taken part in the famous "Darien expedition," and
were now under detention by the Spanish Government at Carthagena. The
notable scheme in which these men had thus lost their liberty, and so
many thousands of other Scotchmen their property, was originated by an
adventurer of the name of Paterson, and depended for its success on the
double assumption that the territorial owners of the country on which
they proposed to found a trading station for the avowed purpose of
diverting trade from these owners' hands into their own would respect
their occupancy, and that the burning heat and malarious climate of an
equatorial region would spare their lives. Neither of these assumptions
had been realised. The sun and the swamps had thinned the number of the
settlers to a handful, and this remnant had been besieged, forced to
capitulate, and expelled from the isthmus by the forces of Spain.
William promised, in reply to an address from the Edinburgh legislators,
to demand the release of the Carthagena prisoners; but when the Scotch
Parliament proceeded to pass a resolution affirming that the colony in
Darien was a legal and rightful settlement, and that the Parliament
would maintain and support the same, the King thought it high time to
put a check on their proceedings. This he endeavoured to do through the
royal commissioner by means of repeated adjournments carried to such an
extent as to cause riots in Edinburgh, and at last, by dint of
conciliatory replies to their resolutions, and possibly by
gratifications of a more substantial kind, succeeded not only in
pacifying his northern subjects on this matter, but in bringing them,
before the close of the session at the end of the year, into a state of
such loyal complaisance that, unlike their English brethren, the Scotch
legislators voted for keeping on foot the whole of the land forces that
existed in the kingdom when the session began.

The time was now fast approaching when William's military policy was to
be justified by events. Throughout the whole of this year the struggle
of rival Powers over the fast decaying body of the unhappy Charles had
gone spiritedly forward at the Court of Madrid. The combatants, however,
were unequally matched. On the side of France were enlisted the services
of Cardinal Portocarrero, who soon succeeded in removing the King's
confessor--an Austrian instrument--and substituting another in the
French interests. The terrors of religion were then brought to bear upon
the wretched sovereign in a strength sufficient to overcome his natural
leanings in the matter of the disposition of his crown and kingdom
towards his own Austrian flesh and blood. They persuaded the unhappy
imbecile that he had been bewitched through Austrian agency; they
persuaded the populace of Madrid that the partisans of Austria had
brought about a famine. Having at last succeeded in utterly discrediting
the rival party, and working upon the superstition of Charles until he
believed that if he ousted his Bourbon heir from the succession he would
be inevitably damned, the French faction finally induced him to sign a
will appointing Philip, Duke of Anjou, universal successor to the
Spanish monarchy. A month afterwards this miserable slave of the priest
and the plotter at last obtained his manumission. He died on the 1st of
November 1700, and William then learnt for the first time that the
months of laborious negotiations spent on the successive framing of two
carefully-drawn treaties had been completely thrown away. For a brief
space of time, indeed, he remained in doubt whether Louis really
intended to play him false, but before the middle of the month of
November all uncertainty was at an end. Louis threw over the Partition
Treaty and adopted the will. The Duke of Anjou was despatched into Spain
with the historic exclamation touching the effacement of the
Pyrenees--mountains certainly not in this instance removed by
"faith,"--and William had the intolerable chagrin of discovering not
only that he had been befooled, but that his English subjects had no
sympathy with him or animosity against the royal swindler who had
tricked him. "The blindness of the people here," he writes sadly to the
Pensionary Heinsius, "is incredible. For though the affair is not
public, yet it was no sooner said that the King of Spain's will was in
favour of the Duke of Anjou, than it was the general opinion that it was
better for England that France should accept the will than fulfil the
Treaty of Partition."


[20] It was justly contended by the dissentient commissioners that these
lands had passed to William by his father-in-law's abdication in 1688,
and did not therefore come properly within the purview of an inquiry
limited to forfeitures occurring since February 13, 1689. The majority
of the commission insisted, however, paradoxically enough, that James's
Irish estates were only forfeited on, and by, his invasion of Ireland in
March of the latter year.

[21] The grants to Lady Orkney, of which so much was made by the country
party at the time, raised a totally different question on another level,
so to speak, of political morality. These grants were made out of
William's inheritance from his predecessor; and though Macaulay is no
doubt abstractedly right in arguing that William should have pensioned
his mistress out of economies effected in his Civil List than by
alienating his hereditary revenue, the remark is from the practical
point of view somewhat of an anachronism. In our day, when the lands of
the Crown are formally vested in commissioners by the sovereign in
consideration of his Civil List at the commencement of each reign, the
quasi-national character of this property is fixed and emphasised. But
no sovereign before William's time had regarded it in this light, or
recognised any implied restraint upon alienation; and William, with
Charles II.'s grants to his numerous mistresses before his eyes, may
well be excused for thinking his gift to Lady Orkney not only
justifiable but laudably moderate.

[22] The context of the passage, "The Commons murmured, etc., 'His
Majesty tells us,' they said, 'that the debts fall to us, and the
forfeitures to him'" (_Hist. Eng._ v. 271), appears clearly to show that
Macaulay supposed William to be speaking of the whole of the forfeitures
as not justly applicable to the public debt. His own previous words will
just admit (though not in strict grammar) of the construction that the
King was referring only to the "one-fifth part of these estates" which
had passed to deserving grantees; but if this is to be its construction,
Macaulay's favourite boast that he had written no sentence capable of
being misunderstood would have to be abandoned.



    English indifference on the Spanish question--Death of James
      II. and Louis's recognition of the Pretender--Reaction in
      England--Dissolution of Parliament--Support of William's
      policy by its successor--The Treaties--Accident to William
      --His illness and death--Character--The Whig legend examined
      --His great qualities as man and ruler--Our debt to him.

The insensibility of Englishmen to a danger which weighed heavily on the
mind of William was exactly matched by his own indifference to one which
appeared extremely serious to them. William dreaded the idea of a
Bourbon reigning at Madrid, but he saw no very grave objection, as the
two treaties showed, to Naples and Sicily passing into French hands.
With his English subjects the exact converse was the case. They strongly
deprecated the assignment of the Mediterranean possessions of the
Spaniard to the Dauphin; but they were undisturbed by the sight of the
Duke of Anjou seating himself on the Spanish throne. It has been said
that on their own principles they ought to have disliked the will even
more than the Partition Treaties, because the former document, in
devising _all_ the possessions of Spain to the Duke of Anjou, "gave
precisely the same advantages to France on the Mediterranean" as she
would have obtained under the Treaties. But this argument obviously
begs the whole question against the English view by assigning to the
word "France" a meaning which it was of the essence of that view to
repudiate. The very gist of the English case was that "France" and "the
second son of the French Dauphin barred from the succession to the
French Crown" were not convertible terms. Had Englishmen in general so
regarded them, they would perhaps have been as jealous of the Duke of
Anjou's succession to the Spanish throne as was William himself. They
held, however,--whether rightly or wrongly, and I have already stated my
reason for thinking that at the time and in the circumstances they were
wrong--that the elevation of Louis's grandson to the Spanish throne did
not mean the "solidarity" of France and Spain.[23] But while the Duke of
Anjou, considered as the owner of the two Sicilies, did not in their
opinion stand for "France," the Dauphin, who was to have had them under
the Partition Treaties, undeniably did. The heir to the Crown of France
of course is France, not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of
fact. The English view therefore, however mistaken on the point of
policy, was unassailable on the ground of logic; and its inherent
plausibility, in addition to the national dissatisfaction with the
manner in which the Treaties had been negotiated, would, in all
probability, have made it impossible for William to carry the country
with him in a war policy directed against France.

But just as, under a discharge from an electric battery, two repugnant
chemical compounds will sometimes rush into sudden combination, so at
this juncture the King and the nation were instantaneously united by the
shock of a gross affront. The hand that liberated the uniting fluid was
that of the Christian king. On the 16th of September 1701 James II.
breathed his last at St. Germains, and, obedient to one of those
impulses, half-chivalrous, half-arrogant, which so often determined his
policy, Louis XIV. declared his recognition of the Prince of Wales as
_de jure_ King of England. No more timely and effective assistance to
the policy of its _de facto_ king could possibly have been rendered. Its
effect upon English public opinion was instantaneous; and when William
returned from Holland on the 4th of November, he found the country in
the temper in which he could most have wished it to be. Still he
hesitated for a while as to whether or not he should dissolve
Parliament. Sunderland, for whose astuteness and profound knowledge of
English politics William entertained a respect unqualified, as was usual
with that cool and cynical observer of men, by any repugnance he might
have felt for the ex-Minister's political profligacy, had been consulted
by him on this point through Somers both before and since the death of
James; and this sagacious counsellor had urgently recommended a
dissolution, predicting that it would result in a signal triumph of the
Whigs. On the 7th of November William laid the question before his Privy
Council, who were divided in opinion, and, acting on his own judgment,
he then determined to dissolve. On the 11th of the month the royal
proclamation to that effect was issued, and the new Parliament summoned
to meet on the 31st of December. The result did not, indeed, completely
bear out Sunderland's prediction, but it proved that a marked change had
taken place in the opinion of the country; for, though the Tories
managed still to hold their own in the smaller boroughs, the Whigs
carried most of the counties and great towns. Their opponents, however,
were strong enough to re-elect Harley to the Speakership, his nomination
being seconded by his afterwards yet more famous political ally, Henry
St. John, the future Lord Bolingbroke. William addressed the Houses in a
speech of unusual length and earnestness, in which he recalled the "high
indignity" offered to himself and the nation by Louis's recognition of
the pretended Prince of Wales as King of England, and the dangers with
which England and Europe were threatened by the elevation of his
grandson to the Spanish throne. To obviate these dangers he had, he told
them, concluded several alliances, and treaties for the conclusion of
others were still pending. He went on to remind them that the eyes of
all Europe were upon this Parliament, and "all matters at a standstill
until their resolution was known. Therefore," said he, "no time ought to
be lost; you have an opportunity, by God's blessing, to secure to you
and your posterity the quiet enjoyment of your religion and liberties,
if you are not wanting to yourselves, but will exert the ancient vigour
of the English nation; but I tell you plainly my opinion is, if you do
not lay hold on this occasion you have no reason to hope for another."
He concluded with an exhortation, almost passionate for him, to lay
aside "the unhappy fatal animosities" which divided and weakened them.
"Let me conjure you to disappoint the only hopes of our enemies by your
unanimity. I have shown, and will always show, how desirous I am to be
the common father of my people; do you in like manner lay aside parties
and divisions; let there be no other distinction heard of among us in
future but of those who are for the Protestant religion and the present
Establishment, and of those who mean a Popish prince and a French

This stirring speech produced its due effect. Opposition in
Parliament--in the country it was already inaudible--was completely
silenced. The two Houses sent up addresses assuring the King of their
firm resolve to defend the succession against the pretended Prince of
Wales and all other pretenders whatsoever. The Commons declared
independently--in those days addresses from the two Houses were not as
now identical in terms--that they would to the utmost of their power
enable his Majesty to make good all such alliances as he had made--an
omission from the address of the Upper House which their Lordships
subsequently supplied. Nor did the goodwill of Parliament expend itself
in words. The Commons accepted without a word of protest the four
treaties constituting the new Grand Alliance, though the inequality of
some of their conditions as regarded England, and the self-seeking
motives which actuated one at least of their continental signatories,
were apparent on the face of them. The votes of supply were passed
unanimously, and ere the Parliament had well completed the first
fortnight of its existence a Bill of Attainder against the Prince of
Wales--in which the Lords endeavoured, but in vain, to include Mary of
Modena--had passed both Houses. But the King's assent to this, as also
to an Abjuration Bill directed to the same object, had to be given by
commission; for William was now already sickening to his death. His
always feeble health had become feebler during the winter; his constant
asthma had told heavily upon the condition of his lungs; his legs had
swollen to an extent which led his doctors, though erroneously it would
seem, to suspect dropsy; he had, in fact, arrived at that state of body
in which any accident might be fatal. On Saturday, the 21st of February,
he set out from Kensington on horseback to hunt, according to his weekly
custom, at Hampton Court. On the road his horse stumbled over a
molehill,[24] and fell with his rider, who fractured his right
collar-bone. William was taken to Hampton Court, where the bone was set,
and the surgeon, finding him feverish, recommended bleeding. This he
declined, and, contrary to advice, insisted on returning that evening to
Kensington, where it appeared that the setting of the bone had been
displaced by the motion of the carriage, and the operation had to be
repeated. William slept well, and for a few days no signs of mischief
appeared. But, as was afterwards shown by the autopsy, the fall from his
horse had violently detached a diseased portion of his lungs from its
adhesion to the walls of the thoracic cavity, and this had set up
pulmonary inflammation. On the 28th of February he found himself unable
to attend Parliament in person, and accordingly conveyed to the Houses
by way of message his last recommendation of a project which, ever
since the beginning of his reign, he had had much at heart--that,
namely, of effecting a legislative union between England and Scotland.
On the next day alarming symptoms appeared. The assent to the Prince of
Wales's Attainder Bill was given by commission, and a week later, on the
7th of March, when it became necessary to issue another commission for a
similar purpose, William was past the power of subscribing the
sign-manual, which had to be affixed by a stamp. "_Je tire vers ma
fin_," he murmured to Albemarle, who had arrived from Holland the same
night; and, as the perversity of fate had willed it, he who had from
boyhood sought death everywhere, had not for years perhaps been so
little prepared to meet it. "Sometimes he would have been glad, he told
Portland, to have been delivered out of all his troubles, but he
confessed now he saw another scene, and could wish to live a little
longer." It was another scene indeed--the whole web of his Spanish
policy unravelled, his great enemy once more powerful for mischief, the
whole work of his life to do again!

He lived through the night, but that was all. Burnet and Tillotson had
gone to him that morning and did not quit him till he died. The
Archbishop prayed with him some time, but he was then so weak that he
could scarcely articulate. "About five o'clock on Saturday morning he
desired the Sacrament, and went through the office with great appearance
of seriousness, but could not express himself; when this was done he
called for the Earl of Albemarle and gave him a charge to take care of
his papers. He thanked M. Auverquerque for his long and faithful
services. He took leave of the Duke of Ormond, and called for the Earl
of Portland, but before he came his voice quite failed; so he took him
by the hand and carried it to his heart with great tenderness. Between
seven and eight o'clock the rattle began; the commendatory prayer was
said for him, and as it ended he died."

More than one hundred and eighty years have passed since that morning;
but though the fierce political controversies which raged around the
person and character of the dead man, leaving, perhaps, no quality but
his courage unassailed, have long since subsided, some into utter
silence, others into moderation, it is impossible to say that their
disturbing force is altogether spent. A faint echo from those furious
clamours may still be heard mingling with the voice of History; a ripple
from those distant billows still breaks the mirror of her judgment. It
could hardly be otherwise. The principles of which William was in part
the voluntary and in part the unchoosing champion have triumphed so
completely that they find nowadays no avowed opponent, and scarcely even
any secret enemy; but it was William's destiny to have been identified
in the promotion and defence of them with an English political party
whose many excellent qualities as statesmen and citizens have been
always associated with a moral and intellectual temper which, for a
century and a half, has offered a standing provocation to men of every
other political school. Fate made William of Orange a Whig hero, and in
arranging his preliminary condition ordained also by inevitable sequence
his exposure to some measure of the polemical resentments which his
votaries have never failed to concentrate upon themselves. That the
Whigs of his own day should have behaved as they did, on many occasions
exceedingly ill to him, is no more unnatural than that they should have
unduly exaggerated his virtues after his death. Both their ill-treatment
and their excessive eulogy of him were, in different ways, the
expression of the same modest confidence in their own civil deserts. The
Whigs believed themselves entitled not only to an exclusive interest in
a living Whig-made king, but also to as much capital as could be made
out of his posthumous renown. If they behaved ill to him at times during
his life, it was to assert the just claims of the Whig party; if they
over-praised him when dead, it was by way of just tribute to the Whig

Far be it from me to suggest that William of Orange needs any such
artificial additions to his legitimate glory. They are mentioned merely
to account for and excuse the fact that an impartial review of his
career and character needs to be commenced with what might otherwise
seem words of captious disparagement. It is absolutely necessary to
strip off the draperies of partisanship in order to see the real man
beneath; but that truly heroic figure can well afford it.

William of Orange, I maintain then, is not to be regarded as altogether
that "patriot king," that "sovereign of the people," which it has
pleased his Whig devotees to discover in him, still less as that sort of
anticipatory and prophetic political philosopher for which he passes in
the legend of some Whig constitutionalists. No doubt he had a distinct
popular fibre in his nature. The great-grandson of his great-grandfather
can hardly have been wanting in sympathy with popular aspirations, or in
belief in the might and virtue of popular forces. But such sentiments
have been the birthright of many a man whose instincts were the very
reverse of democratic; and there is no reason to think that William
either foresaw or would have relished that growth of the democratic
element in English government to which he inevitably contributed so
powerful a stimulus. He was not, it must be remembered, a democrat even
in his own country; on the contrary, his strongest impulses were
essentially of aristocratic origin. It was not his Protestant
enthusiasm, though this was ardent enough, nor his love of his country
and his hatred of foreign dictation, though these passions were strong
and sincere enough, which were the dominant influences in moulding his
youthful character. It was pride of ancestry, the memory of William the
Silent, resentment at the fallen fortunes of his house, and resolution
to restore them. These it was which first inspired him with an ambition
essentially personal in its character, and it was not till this ambition
had been gratified by his elevation to higher dignities even than his
forefathers, that the other impulses of birth or training can be said to
have begun to sway him at all. And until that ambition was gratified he
was not only capable of all the virtues of the ambitious, but an adept
in their vices also. He was but sixteen when he taught his mother the
wisdom of disarming the suspicion of the Pensionary De Witt by pretended
cordiality, and earned the criticism of the shrewd French envoy
d'Estrades that he was "a great dissembler, and omitted nothing to gain
his ends." So, too, one can hardly doubt that it was ambition rather
than zeal for liberty and Protestantism that first inspired him with
that design of intervention in England, which must have just taken shape
in his mind shortly after the return of Dykvelt from his mission of
1687. His succession, or rather his wife's succession, was safe enough
if Mary of Modena bore no male issue to James. But she might and did
bear such issue, in a child whose claims could only be set aside by a
revolution; and even had no heir apparent been born to the throne, the
position of William accepting the English crown conjointly with his wife
in his capacity as liberator of the English people would be something
very different from that of a king-consort, which was all he could
otherwise have hoped to be. It is surely not unjust to a man of
William's antecedents to believe that from the hour that he learned the
strength of his party in England, down to the hour when he was presented
with the crown in the banqueting chamber at Whitehall, he had eyes for
little else than the great European future which would open before him
as King of England; and that any hesitations he may have shown in
accepting the sovereignty were as purely politic as those of Cæsar at
the Lupercal.

As regards his attitude towards English political institutions in
general, and the _voluntary_ element in his share in developing them,
the Whig legend appears to me more purely mythical still. At no time in
his life did William show the slightest personal predilection for or
even faith in parliamentary institutions, still less in party
government. He looked upon the English Parliament as a clumsy and
irritating instrument, blunt at one part, dangerously double-edged at
another, which he was nevertheless bound to work with and make the best
of. That he was the first to try the system of a party ministry and
party government is, as I have essayed to show, a fact of little
significance. He tried it as he tried other means of managing the
apparently otherwise unmanageable, as he had at first tried dividing
offices of State among the leading men of both parties, and as he had
tried and continued to try the method of corruption for the rank and
file. As to any preference of one English party to another there is no
trace of such a feeling in his mind. From the moral point of view, I
imagine, he regarded most of the leaders of both parties with an equal,
and, it may be, with an equally just, contempt; but with his
intellectual appreciations he never allowed his moral judgment to
interfere. He used the unscrupulous Tory Marlborough and the
unscrupulous Whig Sunderland with an impartial indifference to their
political profligacy. He made trial, in fact, of all English public men
and of all political expedients to serve his European ends, which were
sometimes but not always English ends also; and thus it was that though
he experimentalised with the strict party system in order to secure a
Parliament which would support the war energetically in 1695, yet in the
next Parliament, his immediate object being gained, he showed no
disposition to prosecute that experiment on abstract political grounds.
It is impossible to represent a ruler of this kind, however wise and
moderate, as _consciously_ training our parliamentary institutions upon
the peculiar lines of growth which they subsequently followed.

Yet after all these deductions there remains to William, both as a
European statesman and as a benefactor to our country, an ample margin
of renown. Of his moral and mental stature as a man it is scarcely
necessary to speak. It must be patent to all but the dullest prejudices
of our day as it was to all but the fiercest passions of his own. It is
the highest praise of his high qualities to say that our impression of
them easily survives the reaction from idolatry, and that after we have
thrown aside the magnifying-glass of Whiggism the objects which it was
used to exaggerate still fill the eye. If William had not all the
virtues which belong to the patriot and philosopher, he had all that go
to the making of the hero. Even Macaulay, who has over painted both his
king-craft and his statesmanship, has not laid on the colours of his
heroism with too bold a hand. Sagacious as he undoubtedly was in
counsel, dexterous as he was in the management of men, keen as was his
outlook on European politics, and resourceful as he was in meeting its
exigencies, it is possible to contend that his Whig eulogist has
credited him with far more than the keenness and sagacity, the dexterity
and resource, which he possessed. But such eulogy does not, for it could
not, materially exaggerate his great features as a man--his patience of
delay and disappointment, his fortitude under disaster, his
imperturbable composure in moments of crisis, his lofty magnanimity,
which from its high place seemed literally to overlook rather than to
forgive injuries, his haughty courage, which thought it equal shame to
glance aside at the lurking assassin and to turn away from the open foe.
His character was stern, forbidding, unamiable, contemptuously generous,
as little fitted to attract love as it was assured of commanding
respect; but it bears in every lineament the unmistakable stamp of
greatness. And his achievements were as great as his character. His
record as a ruler pure and simple, as a mere expert in the art of
governing, has never been surpassed, perhaps never equalled, in history.
The showy administrative exploits of a Napoleon with vast armies at his
back, and the pen of a despotism in his hand, appear to me to sink into
insignificance when compared with those of this ruler of four nations--a
constitutional sovereign in England and Scotland, the chief of a
republic in Holland, and a military autocrat, governing by the sword
alone, in Ireland,--who for eleven years successfully directed the
affairs of these alien and often mutually hostile communities, and who
throughout all that time held in one hand the threads of a vast network
of European diplomacy, and in the other the sword which kept the most
formidable of European monarchs at bay. Nor should we omit from the
comparison that he did all this under moral restraints and physical
disadvantages to which Napoleon was a total stranger, impeded by
obligations to law, municipal and international, which Napoleon set
cynically at defiance, and distressed throughout his life by bodily
ailments which never troubled the Corsican's iron frame.

Nor in what has been written in criticism of the Whig legend would I for
a moment be suspected of undervaluing the debt which Englishmen owe to
William of Orange. It is not necessary to exalt him into a divinely
inspired progenitor of the British Constitution in order to recognise
fully the greatness of the services which he rendered to it. He was not
"Father of the Constitution" in the sense in which the poet is the
father of his poem, or the philosopher of his theory; but assuredly he
was so in the sense in which we say that a child has found a "second
father" in an upright guardian, who, while not, it may be, comprehending
his character, or in sympathy with his spirit, or foreseeing his future,
has yet been his vigilant protector through the perils of childhood, and
has accounted for his patrimony to the uttermost farthing. That William
stood in this relation to our modern English polity throughout his too
short reign, and that he loyally discharged its obligations, is
indisputable. The virtues which enabled him to do so were mainly three,
which are essential to all good and faithful guardianship, whether of
children or constitutions--the virtues of good sense, self-restraint,
and honesty. And the greatest of these three is honesty. William's
practical wisdom always told him the moment when to yield in a struggle
with his Parliament; and when that moment arrived his naturally
passionate temper never failed to answer to the rein. But even at those
moments there would often have been an evil alternative open to him,
from which the fundamental integrity of his nature always turned aside.
He scrupled not to use all the arts of political "management" which were
sanctioned by the lax morality of his day; he exerted his prerogative
freely to gain his ends; but he knew that the compact between him and
his people was that in the last resort the will of the people should
prevail, and this compact he never attempted either to violate or to
evade. Here he was as emphatically a _Rè Galantuomo_, a "King
Honest-man," as was Victor Emmanuel himself.

            "Hos ante effigies majorum pone tuorum,
             Præcedant ipsas illi, te consule, virgas."

Rulers who have earned this name may justly rank it, if only for its
rarity, above every other title of honour--even though, themselves the
creators or regenerators of nations, they can look back upon the
splendid achievements of the Counts of Nassau, or the long ancestral
glories of the House of Savoy.


[23] That Louis intended it to mean this is pretty obvious from his
remark about the effacement of the Pyrenees.

[24] The nature of the impediment lives for history in the Jacobite
toast which so grimly reflects the brutal passions of the time--"To the
little gentleman in black velvet that works underground."


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    |             Transcriber's Note:                       |
    |                                                       |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original |
    | document have been preserved.                         |
    |                                                       |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:           |
    |                                                       |
    | Page   2  Nassua changed to Nassau                    |
    | Page  17  Strasburg changed to Strasbourg             |
    | Page  69  renowed changed to renowned                 |
    | Page 151  Harlay changed to Harley                    |

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