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The History of England from the Accession of James II
By Thomas Babington MacAulay
Chapter 3 Part 2


The Commons granted, with little dispute, and without a division, six hundred thousand pounds for the purpose of repaying to the United Provinces the charges of the expedition which had delivered England. The facility with which this large sum was voted to a shrewd, diligent and thrifty people, our allies, indeed, politically, but commercially our most formidable rivals, excited some murmurs out of doors, and was, during many years, a favourite subject of sarcasm with Tory pamphleteers.  The liberality of the House admits however of an easy explanation. On the very day on which the subject was under consideration, alarming news arrived at Westminster, and convinced many, who would at another time have been disposed to scrutinise severely any account sent in by the Dutch, that our country could not yet dispense with the services of the foreign troops.

France had declared war against the States General; and the States General had consequently demanded from the King of England those succours which he was bound by the treaty of Nimeguen to furnish. He had ordered some battalions to march to Harwich, that they might be in readiness to cross to the Continent. The old soldiers of James were generally in a very bad temper; and this order did not produce a soothing effect. The discontent was greatest in the regiment which now ranks as first of the line.

Though borne on the English establishment, that regiment, from the time when it first fought under the great Gustavus, had been almost exclusively composed of Scotchmen; and Scotchmen have never, in any region to which their adventurous and aspiring temper has led them, failed to note and to resent every slight offered to Scotland. Officers and men muttered that a vote of a foreign assembly was nothing to them. If they could be absolved from their allegiance to King James the Seventh, it must be by the Estates at Edinburgh, and not by the Convention at Westminster. Their ill humour increased when they heard that Schomberg had been appointed their colonel. They ought perhaps to have thought it an honour to be called by the name of the greatest soldier in Europe. But, brave and skilful as he was, he was not their countryman: and their regiment, during the fifty-six years which had elapsed since it gained its first honourable distinctions in Germany, had never been commanded but by a Hepburn or a Douglas. While they were in this angry and punctilious mood, they were ordered to join the forces which were assembling at Harwich. There was much murmuring; but there was no outbreak till the regiment arrived at Ipswich. There the signal of revolt was given by two captains who were zealous for the exiled King. The market place was soon filled with pikemen and musketeers running to and fro. Gunshots were wildly fired in all directions. Those officers who attempted to restrain the rioters were overpowered and disarmed.

At length the chiefs of the insurrection established some order, and marched out of Ipswich at the head of their adherents. The little army consisted of about eight hundred men. They had seized four pieces of cannon, and had taken possession of the military chest, which contained a considerable sum of money. At the distance of half a mile from the town a halt was called: a general consultation was held; and the mutineers resolved that they would hasten back to their native country, and would live and die with their rightful King. They instantly proceeded northward by forced marches.

When the news reached London the dismay was great. It was rumoured that alarming symptoms had appeared in other regiments, and particularly that a body of fusileers which lay at Harwich was likely to imitate the example set at Ipswich. "If these Scots," said Halifax to Reresby, "are unsupported, they are lost. But if they have acted in concert with others, the danger is serious indeed." The truth seems to be that there was a conspiracy which had ramifications in many parts of the army, but that the conspirators were awed by the firmness of the government and of the Parliament. A committee of the Privy Council was sitting when the tidings of the mutiny arrived in London. William Harbord, who represented the borough of Launceston, was at the board. His colleagues entreated him to go down instantly to the House of Commons, and to relate what had happened. He went, rose in his place, and told his story. The spirit of the assembly rose to the occasion. Howe was the first to call for vigorous action. "Address the King," he said, "to send his Dutch troops after these men. I know not who else can be trusted." "This is no jesting matter," said old Birch, who had been a colonel in the service of the Parliament, and had seen the most powerful and renowned House of Commons that ever sate twice purged and twice expelled by its own soldiers; "if you let this evil spread, you will have an army upon you in a few days. Address the King to send horse and foot instantly, his own men, men whom he can trust, and to put these people down at once." The men of the long robe caught the flame. "It is not the learning of my profession that is needed here," said Treby. "What is now to be done is to meet force with force, and to maintain in the field what we have done in the senate." "Write to the Sheriffs," said Colonel Mildmay, member for Essex. "Raise the militia. There are a hundred and fifty thousand of them: they are good Englishmen: they will not fail you." It was resolved that all members of the House who held commissions in the army should be dispensed from parliamentary attendance, in order that they might repair instantly to their military posts. An address was unanimously voted requesting the King to take effectual steps for the suppression of the rebellion, and to put forth a proclamation denouncing public vengeance on the rebels. One gentleman hinted that it might be well to advise his Majesty to offer a pardon to those who should peaceably submit: but the House wisely rejected the suggestion. "This is no time," it was well said, "for any thing that looks like fear." The address was instantly sent up to the Lords. The Lords concurred in it. Two peers, two knights of shires, and two burgesses were sent with it to Court. William received them graciously, and informed them that he had already given the necessary orders. In fact, several regiments of horse and dragoons had been sent northward under the command of Ginkell, one of the bravest and ablest officers of the Dutch army.

Meanwhile the mutineers were hastening across the country which lies between Cambridge and the Wash. Their road lay through a vast and desolate fen, saturated with all the moisture of thirteen counties, and overhung during the greater part of the year by a low grey mist, high above which rose, visible many miles, the magnificent tower of Ely. In that dreary region, covered by vast flights of wild fowl, a half savage population, known by the name of the Breedlings, then led an amphibious life, sometimes wading, and sometimes rowing, from one islet of firm ground to another.46 The roads were amongst the worst in the island, and, as soon as rumour announced the approach of the rebels, were studiously made worse by the country people. Bridges were broken down. Trees were laid across the highways to obstruct the progress of the cannon. Nevertheless the Scotch veterans not only pushed forward with great speed, but succeeded in carrying their artillery with them. They entered Lincolnshire, and were not far from Sleaford, when they learned that Ginkell with an irresistible force was close on their track. Victory and escape were equally out of the question. The bravest warriors could not contend against fourfold odds. The most active infantry could not outrun horsemen. Yet the leaders, probably despairing of pardon, urged the men to try the chance of battle. In that region, a spot almost surrounded by swamps and pools was without difficulty found. Here the insurgents were drawn up; and the cannon were planted at the only point which was thought not to be sufficiently protected by natural defences. Ginkell ordered the attack to be made at a place which was out of the range of the guns; and his dragoons dashed gallantly into the water, though it was so deep that their horses were forced to swim. Then the mutineers lost heart. They beat a parley, surrendered at discretion, and were brought up to London under a strong guard.

Their lives were forfeit: for they had been guilty, not merely of mutiny, which was then not a legal crime, but of levying war against the King. William, however, with politic clemency, abstained from shedding the blood even of the most culpable. A few of the ringleaders were brought to trial at the next Bury assizes, and were convicted of high treason; but their lives were spared. The rest were merely ordered to return to their duty. The regiment, lately so refractory, went submissively to the Continent, and there, through many hard campaigns, distinguished itself by fidelity, by discipline, and by valour. This event facilitated an important change in our polity, a change which, it is true, could not have been long delayed, but which would not have been easily accomplished except at a moment of extreme danger. The time had at length arrived at which it was necessary to make a legal distinction between the soldier and the citizen. Under the Plantagenets and the Tudors there had been no standing army. The standing army which had existed under the last kings of the House of Stuart had been regarded by every party in the state with strong and not unreasonable aversion. The common law gave the Sovereign no power to control his troops. The Parliament, regarding them as mere tools of tyranny, had not been disposed to give such power by statute. James indeed had induced his corrupt and servile judges to put on some obsolete laws a construction which enabled him to punish desertion capitally. But this construction was considered by all respectable jurists as unsound, and, had it been sound, would have been far from effecting all that was necessary for the purpose of maintaining military discipline. Even James did not venture to inflict death by sentence of a court martial. The deserter was treated as an ordinary felon, was tried at the assizes by a petty jury on a bill found by a grand jury, and was at liberty to avail himself of any technical flaw which might be discovered in the indictment.

The Revolution, by altering the relative position of the prince and the parliament, had altered also the relative position of the army and the nation. The King and the Commons were now at unity; and both were alike menaced by the greatest military power which had existed in Europe since the downfall of the Roman empire. In a few weeks thirty thousand veterans, accustomed to conquer, and led by able and experienced captains, might cross from the ports of Normandy and Brittany to our shores. That such a force would with little difficulty scatter three times that number of militia, no man well acquainted with war could doubt. There must then be regular soldiers; and, if there were to be regular soldiers, it must be indispensable, both to their efficiency, and to the security of every other class, that they should be kept under a strict discipline. An ill disciplined army has ever been a more costly and a more licentious militia, impotent against a foreign enemy, and formidable only to the country which it is paid to defend. A strong line of demarcation must therefore be drawn between the soldiers and the rest of the community. For the sake of public freedom, they must, in the midst of freedom, be placed under a despotic rule. They must be subject to a sharper penal code, and to a more stringent code of procedure, than are administered by the ordinary tribunals. Some acts which in the citizen are innocent must in the soldier be crimes. Some acts which in the citizen are punished with fine or imprisonment must in the soldier be punished with death. The machinery by which courts of law ascertain the guilt or innocence of an accused citizen is too slow and too intricate to be applied to an accused soldier. For, of all the maladies incident to the body politic, military insubordination is that which requires the most prompt and drastic remedies. If the evil be not stopped as soon as it appears, it is certain to spread; and it cannot spread far without danger to the very vitals of the commonwealth. For the general safety, therefore, a summary jurisdiction of terrible extent must, in camps, be entrusted to rude tribunals composed of men of the sword.

But, though it was certain that the country could not at that moment be secure without professional soldiers, and equally certain that professional soldiers must be worse than useless unless they were placed under a rule more arbitrary and severe than that to which other men were subject, it was not without great misgivings that a House of Commons could venture to recognise the existence and to make provision for the government of a standing army. There was scarcely a public man of note who had not often avowed his conviction that our polity and a standing army could not exist together. The Whigs had been in the constant habit of repeating that standing armies had destroyed the free institutions of the neighbouring nations. The Tories had repeated as constantly that, in our own island, a standing army had subverted the Church, oppressed the gentry, and murdered the King. No leader of either party could, without laying himself open to the charge of gross inconsistency, propose that such an army should henceforth be one of the permanent establishments of the realm. The mutiny at Ipswich, and the panic which that mutiny produced, made it easy to effect what would otherwise have been in the highest degree difficult. A short bill was brought in which began by declaring, in explicit terms, that standing armies and courts martial were unknown to the law of England. It was then enacted that, on account of the extreme perils impending at that moment over the state, no man mustered on pay in the service of the crown should, on pain of death, or of such lighter punishment as a court martial should deem sufficient, desert his colours or mutiny against his commanding officers. This statute was to be in force only six months; and many of those who voted for it probably believed that it would, at the close of that period, be suffered to expire. The bill passed rapidly and easily. Not a single division was taken upon it in the House of Commons. A mitigating clause indeed, which illustrates somewhat curiously the manners of that age, was added by way of rider after the third reading. This clause provided that no court martial should pass sentence of death except between the hours of six in the morning and one in the afternoon. The dinner hour was then early; and it was but too probable that a gentleman who had dined would be in a state in which he could not safely be trusted with the lives of his fellow creatures. With this amendment, the first and most concise of our many Mutiny Bills was sent up to the Lords, and was, in a few hours, hurried by them through all its stages and passed by the King.

Thus was made, without one dissentient voice in Parliament, without one murmur in the nation, the first step towards a change which had become necessary to the safety of the state, yet which every party in the state then regarded with extreme dread and aversion. Six months passed; and still the public danger continued. The power necessary to the maintenance of military discipline was a second time entrusted to the crown for a short term. The trust again expired, and was again renewed. By slow degrees familiarity reconciled the public mind to the names, once so odious, of standing army and court martial. It was proved by experience that, in a well constituted society, professional soldiers may be terrible to a foreign enemy, and yet submissive to the civil power. What had been at first tolerated as the exception began to be considered as the rule. Not a session passed without a Mutiny Bill. When at length it became evident that a political change of the highest importance was taking place in such a manner as almost to escape notice, a clamour was raised by some factious men desirous to weaken the hands of the government, and by some respectable men who felt an honest but injudicious reverence for every old constitutional tradition, and who were unable to understand that what at one stage in the progress of society is pernicious may at another stage be indispensable. This clamour however, as years rolled on, became fainter and fainter. The debate which recurred every spring on the Mutiny Bill came to be regarded merely as an occasion on which hopeful young orators fresh from Christchurch were to deliver maiden speeches, setting forth how the guards of Pisistratus seized the citadel of Athens, and how the Praetorian cohorts sold the Roman empire to Didius. At length these declamations became too ridiculous to be repeated. The most oldfashioned, the most eccentric, politician could hardly, in the reign of George the Third, contend that there ought to be no regular soldiers, or that the ordinary law, administered by the ordinary courts, would effectually maintain discipline among such soldiers. All parties being agreed as to the general principle, a long succession of Mutiny Bills passed without any discussion, except when some particular article of the military code appeared to require amendment. It is perhaps because the army became thus gradually, and almost imperceptibly, one of the institutions of England, that it has acted in such perfect harmony with all her other institutions, has never once, during a hundred and sixty years, been untrue to the throne or disobedient to the law, has never once defied the tribunals or overawed the constituent bodies. To this day, however, the Estates of the Realm continue to set up periodically, with laudable jealousy, a landmark on the frontier which was traced at the time of the Revolution. They solemnly reassert every year the doctrine laid down in the Declaration of Rights; and they then grant to the Sovereign an extraordinary power to govern a certain number of soldiers according to certain rules during twelve months more.

In the same week in which the first Mutiny Bill was laid on the table of the Commons, another temporary law, made necessary by the unsettled state of the kingdom, was passed. Since the flight of James many persons who were believed to have been deeply implicated in his unlawful acts, or to be engaged in plots for his restoration, had been arrested and confined. During the vacancy of the throne, these men could derive no benefit from the Habeas Corpus Act. For the machinery by which alone that Act could be carried into execution had ceased to exist; and, through the whole of Hilary term, all the courts in Westminster Hall had remained closed. Now that the ordinary tribunals were about to resume their functions, it was apprehended that all those prisoners whom it was not convenient to bring instantly to trial would demand and obtain their liberty. A bill was therefore brought in which empowered the King to detain in custody during a few weeks such persons as he should suspect of evil designs against his government. This bill passed the two Houses with little or no opposition.49 But the malecontents out of doors did not fail to remark that, in the late reign, the Habeas Corpus Act had not been one day suspended. It was the fashion to call James a tyrant, and William a deliverer. Yet, before the deliverer had been a month on the throne, he had deprived Englishmen of a precious right which the tyrant had respected. This is a kind of reproach which a government sprung from a popular revolution almost inevitably incurs. From such a government men naturally think themselves entitled to demand a more gentle and liberal administration than is expected from old and deeply rooted power. Yet such a government, having, as it always has, many active enemies, and not having the strength derived from legitimacy and prescription, can at first maintain itself only by a vigilance and a severity of which old and deeply rooted power stands in no need. Extraordinary and irregular vindications of public liberty are sometimes necessary: yet, however necessary, they are almost always followed by some temporary abridgments of that very liberty; and every such abridgment is a fertile and plausible theme for sarcasm and invective.

Unhappily sarcasm and invective directed against William were but too likely to find favourable audience. Each of the two great parties had its own reasons for being dissatisfied with him; and there were some complaints in which both parties joined. His manners gave almost universal offence. He was in truth far better qualified to save a nation than to adorn a court. In the highest parts of statesmanship, he had no equal among his contemporaries. He had formed plans not inferior in grandeur and boldness to those of Richelieu, and had carried them into effect with a tact and wariness worthy of Mazarin. Two countries, the seats of civil liberty and of the Reformed Faith, had been preserved by his wisdom and courage from extreme perils. Holland he had delivered from foreign, and England from domestic foes. Obstacles apparently insurmountable had been interposed between him and the ends on which he was intent; and those obstacles his genius had turned into stepping stones. Under his dexterous management the hereditary enemies of his house had helped him to mount a throne; and the persecutors of his religion had helped him to rescue his religion from persecution. Fleets and armies, collected to withstand him, had, without a struggle, submitted to his orders. Factions and sects, divided by mortal antipathies, had recognised him as their common head. Without carnage, without devastation, he had won a victory compared with which all the victories of Gustavus and Turenne were insignificant. In a few weeks he had changed the relative position of all the states in Europe, and had restored the equilibrium which the preponderance of one power had destroyed. Foreign nations did ample justice to his great qualities. In every Continental country where Protestant congregations met, fervent thanks were offered to God, who, from among the progeny of His servants, Maurice, the deliverer of Germany, and William, the deliverer of Holland, had raised up a third deliverer, the wisest and mightiest of all. At Vienna, at Madrid, nay, at Rome, the valiant and sagacious heretic was held  in honour as the chief of the great confederacy against the House of Bourbon; and even at Versailles the hatred which he inspired was largely mingled with admiration.

Here he was less favourably judged. In truth, our ancestors saw him in the worst of all lights. By the French, the Germans, and the Italians, he was contemplated at such a distance that only what was great could be discerned, and that small blemishes were invisible. To the Dutch he was brought close: but he was himself a Dutchman. In his intercourse with them he was seen to the best advantage, he was perfectly at his ease with them; and from among them he had chosen his earliest and dearest friends. But to the English he appeared in a most unfortunate point of view. He was at once too near to them and too far from them. He lived among them, so that the smallest peculiarity of temper or manner could not escape their notice. Yet he lived apart from them, and was to the last a foreigner in speech, tastes, and habits.

One of the chief functions of our Sovereigns had long been to preside over the society of the capital. That function Charles the Second had performed with immense success. His easy bow, his good stories, his style of dancing and playing tennis, the sound of his cordial laugh, were familiar to all London. One day he was seen among the elms of Saint James's Park chatting with Dryden about poetry. Another day his arm was on Tom Durfey's shoulder; and his Majesty was taking a second, while his companion sang "Phillida, Phillida," or "To horse, brave boys, to Newmarket, to horse." James, with much less vivacity and good nature, was accessible, and, to people who did not cross him, civil. But of this sociableness William was entirely destitute. He seldom came forth from his closet; and, when he appeared in the public rooms, he stood among the crowd of courtiers and ladies, stern and abstracted, making no jest and smiling at none. His freezing look, his silence, the dry and concise answers which he uttered when he could keep silence no longer, disgusted noblemen and gentlemen who had been accustomed to be slapped on the back by their royal masters, called Jack or Harry, congratulated about race cups or rallied about actresses. The women missed the homage due to their sex. They observed that the King spoke in a somewhat imperious tone even to the wife to whom he owed so much, and whom he sincerely loved and esteemed. They were amused and shocked to see him, when the Princess Anne dined with him, and when the first green peas of the year were put on the table, devour the whole dish without offering a spoonful to her Royal Highness; and they pronounced that this great soldier and politician was no better than a Low Dutch bear.

One misfortune, which was imputed to him as a crime, was his bad English. He spoke our language, but not well. His accent was foreign: his diction was inelegant; and his vocabulary seems to have been no larger than was necessary for the transaction of business. To the difficulty which he felt in expressing himself, and to his consciousness that his pronunciation was bad, must be partly ascribed the taciturnity and the short answers which gave so much offence. Our literature he was incapable of enjoying or of understanding. He never once, during his whole reign, showed himself at the theatre. The poets who wrote Pindaric verses in his praise complained that their flights of sublimity were beyond his comprehension. Those who are acquainted with the panegyrical odes of that age will perhaps be of opinion that he did not lose much by his ignorance.

It is true that his wife did her best to supply what was wanting, and that she was excellently qualified to be the head of the Court. She was English by birth, and English also in her tastes and feelings. Her face was handsome, her port majestic, her temper sweet and lively, her manners affable and graceful. Her understanding, though very imperfectly cultivated, was quick. There was no want of feminine wit and shrewdness in her conversation; and her letters were so well expressed that they deserved to be well spelt. She took much pleasure in the lighter kinds of literature, and did something towards bringing books into fashion among ladies of quality. The stainless purity of her private life and the strict attention which she paid to her religious duties were the more respectable, because she was singularly free from censoriousness, and discouraged scandal as much as vice. In dislike of backbiting indeed she and her husband cordially agreed; but they showed their dislike in different and in very characteristic ways. William preserved profound silence, and gave the talebearer a look which, as was said by a person who had once encountered it, and who took good care never to encounter it again, made your story go back down your throat.

Mary had a way of interrupting tattle about elopements, duels, and playdebts by asking the tattlers, very quietly yet significantly, whether they had ever read her favourite sermon, Doctor Tillotson's on Evil Speaking. Her charities were munificent and judicious; and, though she made no ostentatious display of them, it was known that she retrenched from her own state in order to relieve Protestants whom persecution had driven from France and Ireland, and who were starving in the garrets of London. So amiable was her conduct, that she was generally spoken of with esteem and tenderness by the most respectable of those who disapproved of the manner in which she had been raised to the throne, and even of those who refused to acknowledge her as Queen. In the Jacobite lampoons of that time, lampoons which, in virulence and malignity, far exceed any thing that our age has produced, she was not often mentioned with severity. Indeed she sometimes expressed her surprise at finding that libellers who respected nothing else respected her name. God, she said, knew where her weakness lay. She was too sensitive to abuse and calumny; He had mercifully spared her a trial which was beyond her strength; and the best return which she could make to Him was to discountenance all malicious reflections on the characters of others. Assured that she possessed her husband's entire confidence and affection, she turned the edge of his sharp speeches sometimes by soft and sometimes by playful answers, and employed all the influence which she derived from her many pleasing qualities to gain the hearts of the people for him.

If she had long continued to assemble round her the best society of London, it is probable that her kindness and courtesy would have done much to efface the unfavourable impression made by his stern and frigid demeanour. Unhappily his physical infirmities made it impossible for him to reside at Whitehall. The air of Westminster, mingled with tile fog of the river which in spring tides overflowed the courts of his palace, with the smoke of seacoal from two hundred thousand chimneys, and with the fumes of all the filth which was then suffered to accumulate in the streets, was insupportable to him; for his lungs were weak, and his sense of smell exquisitely keen. His constitutional asthma made rapid progress. His physicians pronounced it impossible that he could live to the end of the year. His face was so ghastly that he could hardly be recognised. Those who had to transact business with him were shocked to hear him gasping for breath, and coughing till the tears ran down his cheeks. His mind, strong as it was, sympathized with his body. His judgment was indeed as clear as ever. But there was, during some months, a perceptible relaxation of that energy by which he had been distinguished. Even his Dutch friends whispered that he was not the man that he had been at the Hague. It was absolutely necessary that he should quit London. He accordingly took up his residence in the purer air of Hampton Court. That mansion, begun by the magnificent Wolsey, was a fine specimen of the architecture which flourished in England under the first Tudors; but the apartments were not, according to the notions of the seventeenth century, well fitted for purposes of state. Our princes therefore had, since the Restoration, repaired thither seldom, and only when they wished to live for a time in retirement. As William purposed to make the deserted edifice his chief palace, it was necessary for him to build and to plant; nor was the necessity disagreeable to him. For he had, like most of his countrymen, a pleasure in decorating a country house; and next to hunting, though at a great interval, his favourite amusements were architecture and gardening. He had already created on a sandy heath in Guelders a paradise, which attracted multitudes of the curious from Holland and Westphalia. Mary had laid the first stone of the house. Bentinck had superintended the digging of the fishponds. There were cascades and grottoes, a spacious orangery, and an aviary which furnished Hondekoeter with numerous specimens of manycoloured plumage. The King, in his splendid banishment, pined for this favourite seat, and found some consolation in creating another Loo on the banks of the Thames. Soon a wide extent of ground was laid out in formal walks and parterres. Much idle ingenuity was employed in forming that intricate labyrinth of verdure which has puzzled and amused five generations of holiday visitors from London. Limes thirty years old were transplanted from neighbouring woods to shade the alleys. Artificial fountains spouted among the flower beds. A new court, not designed with the purest taste, but stately, spacious, and commodious, rose under the direction of Wren. The wainscots were adorned with the rich and delicate carvings of Gibbons. The staircases were in a blaze with the glaring frescoes of Verrio. In every corner of the mansion appeared a profusion of gewgaws, not yet familiar to English eyes. Mary had acquired at the Hague a taste for the porcelain of China, and amused herself by forming at Hampton a vast collection of hideous images, and of vases on which houses, trees, bridges, and mandarins were depicted in outrageous defiance of all the laws of perspective. The fashion, a frivolous and inelegant fashion it must be owned, which was thus set by the amiable Queen, spread fast and wide. In a few years almost every great house in the kingdom contained a museum of these grotesque baubles. Even statesmen and generals were not ashamed to be renowned as judges of teapots and dragons; and satirists long continued to repeat that a fine lady valued her mottled green pottery quite as much as she valued her monkey, and much more than she valued her husband. But the new palace was embellished with works of art of a very different kind. A gallery was erected for the cartoons of Raphael. Those great pictures, then and still the finest on our side of the Alps, had been preserved by Cromwell from the fate which befell most of the other masterpieces in the collection of Charles the First, but had been suffered to lie during many years nailed up in deal boxes. They were now brought forth from obscurity to be contemplated by artists with admiration and despair. The expense of the works at Hampton was a subject of bitter complaint to many Tories, who had very gently blamed the boundless profusion with which Charles the Second had built and rebuilt, furnished and refurnished, the dwelling of the Duchess of Portsmouth. The expense, however, was not the chief cause of the discontent which William's change of residence excited. There was no longer a Court at Westminster. Whitehall, once the daily resort of the noble and the powerful, the beautiful and the gay, the place to which fops came to show their new peruques, men of gallantry to exchange glances with fine ladies, politicians to push their fortunes, loungers to hear the news, country gentlemen to see the royal family, was now, in the busiest season of the year, when London was full, when Parliament was sitting, left desolate. A solitary sentinel paced the grassgrown pavement before that door which had once been too narrow for the opposite streams of entering and departing courtiers. The services which the metropolis had rendered to the King were great and recent; and it was thought that he might have requited those services better than by treating it as Lewis had treated Paris. Halifax ventured to hint this, but was silenced by a few words which admitted of no reply. "Do you wish," said William peevishly, "to see me dead?"

In a short time it was found that Hampton Court was too far from the Houses of Lords and Commons, and from the public offices, to be the ordinary abode of the Sovereign. Instead, however, of returning to Whitehall, William determined to have another dwelling, near enough to his capital for the transaction of business, but not near enough to be within that atmosphere in which he could not pass a night without risk of suffocation. At one time he thought of Holland House, the villa of the noble family of Rich; and he actually resided there some weeks. But he at length fixed his choice on Kensington House, the suburban residence of the Earl of Nottingham. The purchase was made for eighteen thousand guineas, and was followed by more building, more planting, more expense, and more discontent. At present Kensington House is considered as a part of London. It was then a rural mansion, and could not, in those days of highwaymen and scourers, of roads deep in mire and nights without lamps, be the rallying point of fashionable society.

It was well known that the King, who treated the English nobility and gentry so ungraciously, could, in a small circle of his own countrymen, be easy, friendly, even jovial, could pour out his feelings garrulously, could fill his glass, perhaps too often; and this was, in the view of our forefathers, an aggravation of his offences. Yet our forefathers should have had the sense and the justice to acknowledge that the patriotism which they considered as a virtue in themselves, could not be a fault in him. It was unjust to blame him for not at once transferring to our island the love which he bore to the country of his birth. If, in essentials, he did his duty towards England, he might well be suffered to feel at heart an affectionate preference for Holland. Nor is it a reproach to him that he did not, in this season of his greatness, discard companions who had played with him in his childhood, who had stood by him firmly through all the vicissitudes of his youth and manhood, who had, in defiance of the most loathsome and deadly forms of infection, kept watch by his sick-bed, who had, in the thickest of the battle, thrust themselves between him and the French swords, and whose attachment was, not to the Stadtholder or to the King, but to plain William of Nassau. It may be added that his old friends could not but rise in his estimation by comparison with his new courtiers. To the end of his life all his Dutch comrades, without exception, continued to deserve his confidence. They could be out of humour with him, it is true; and, when out of humour, they could be sullen and rude; but never did they, even when most angry and unreasonable, fail to keep his secrets and to watch over his interests with gentlemanlike and soldierlike fidelity. Among his English councillors such fidelity was rare. It is painful, but it is no more than just, to acknowledge that he had but too good reason for thinking meanly of our national character. That character was indeed, in essentials, what it has always been. Veracity, uprightness, and manly boldness were then, as now, qualities eminently English. But those qualities, though widely diffused among the great body of the people, were seldom to be found in the class with which William was best acquainted.

The standard of honour and virtue among our public men was, during his reign, at the very lowest point. His predecessors had bequeathed to him a court foul with all the vices of the Restoration, a court swarming with sycophants, who were ready, on the first turn of fortune, to abandon him as they had abandoned his uncle. Here and there, lost in that ignoble crowd, was to be found a man of true integrity and public spirit. Yet even such a man could not long live in such society without much risk that the strictness of his principles would be relaxed, and the delicacy of his sense of right and wrong impaired. It was unjust to blame a prince surrounded by flatterers and traitors for wishing to keep near him four or five servants whom he knew by proof to be faithful even to death.

Nor was this the only instance in which our ancestors were unjust to him. They had expected that, as soon as so distinguished a soldier and statesman was placed at the head of affairs, he would give some signal proof, they scarcely knew what, of genius and vigour. Unhappily, during the first months of his reign, almost every thing went wrong. His subjects, bitterly disappointed, threw the blame on him, and began to doubt whether he merited that reputation which he had won at his first entrance into public life, and which the splendid success of his last great enterprise had raised to the highest point. Had they been in a temper to judge fairly, they would have perceived that for the maladministration of which they with good reason complained he was not responsible. He could as yet work only with the machinery which he had found; and the machinery which he had found was all rust and rottenness. From the time of the Restoration to the time of the Revolution, neglect and fraud had been almost constantly impairing the efficiency of every department of the government. Honours and public trusts, peerages, baronetcies, regiments, frigates, embassies, governments, commissionerships, leases of crown lands, contracts for clothing, for provisions, for ammunition, pardons for murder, for robbery, for arson, were sold at Whitehall scarcely less openly than asparagus at Covent Garden or herrings at Billingsgate. Brokers had been incessantly plying for custom in the purlieus of the court; and of these brokers the most successful had been, in the days of Charles, the harlots, and in the days of James, the priests. From the palace which was the chief seat of this pestilence the taint had diffused itself through every office and through every rank in every office, and had every where produced feebleness and disorganization. So rapid was the progress of the decay that, within eight years after the time when Oliver had been the umpire of Europe, the roar of the guns of De Ruyter was heard in the Tower of London. The vices which had brought that great humiliation on the country had ever since been rooting themselves deeper and spreading themselves wider. James had, to do him justice, corrected a few of the gross abuses which disgraced the naval administration. Yet the naval administration, in spite of his attempts to reform it, moved the contempt of men who were acquainted with the dockyards of France and Holland. The military administration was still worse. The courtiers took bribes from the colonels; the colonels cheated the soldiers: the commissaries sent in long bills for what had never been furnished: the keepers of the arsenals sold the public stores and pocketed the price. But these evils, though they had sprung into existence and grown to maturity under the government of Charles and James, first made themselves severely felt under the government of William. For Charles and James were content to be the vassals and pensioners of a powerful and ambitious neighbour: they submitted to his ascendency: they shunned with pusillanimous caution whatever could give him offence; and thus, at the cost of the independence and dignity of that ancient and glorious crown which they unworthily wore, they avoided a conflict which would instantly have shown how helpless, under their misrule, their once formidable kingdom had become. Their ignominious policy it was neither in William's power nor in his nature to follow. It was only by arms that the liberty and religion of England could be protected against the most formidable enemy that had threatened our island since the Hebrides were strown with the wrecks of the Armada. The body politic, which, while it remained in repose, had presented a superficial appearance of health and vigour, was now under the necessity of straining every nerve in a wrestle for life or death, and was immediately found to be unequal to the exertion. The first efforts showed an utter relaxation of fibre, an utter want of training. Those efforts were, with scarcely an exception, failures; and every failure was popularly imputed, not to the rulers whose mismanagement had produced the infirmities of the  state, but to the ruler in whose time the infirmities of the state became visible.

William might indeed, if he had been as absolute as Lewis, have used such sharp remedies as would speedily have restored to the English administration that firm tone which had been wanting since the death of Oliver. But the instantaneous reform of inveterate abuses was a task far beyond the powers of a prince strictly restrained by law, and restrained still more strictly by the difficulties of his situation. Some of the most serious difficulties of his situation were caused by the conduct of the ministers on whom, new as he was to the details of English affairs, he was forced to rely for information about men and things. There was indeed no want of ability among his chief counsellors: but one half of their ability was employed in counteracting the other half. Between the Lord President and the Lord Privy Seal there was an inveterate enmity. It had begun twelve years before when Danby was Lord High Treasurer, a persecutor of nonconformists, an uncompromising defender of prerogative, and when Halifax was rising to distinction as one of the most eloquent leaders of the country party. In the reign of James, the two statesmen had found themselves in opposition together; and their common hostility to France and to Rome, to the High Commission and to the dispensing power, had produced an apparent reconciliation; but as soon as they were in office together the old antipathy revived. The hatred which the Whig party felt towards them both ought, it should seem, to have produced a close alliance between them: but in fact each of them saw with complacency the danger which threatened the other. Danby exerted himself to rally round him a strong phalanx of Tories. Under the plea of ill health, he withdrew from court, seldom came to the Council over which it was his duty to preside, passed much time in the country, and took scarcely any part in public affairs except by grumbling and sneering at all the acts of the government, and by doing jobs and getting places for his personal retainers. In consequence of this defection, Halifax became prime minister, as far any minister could, in that reign, be called prime minister. An immense load of business fell on him; and that load he was unable to sustain. In wit and eloquence, in amplitude of comprehension and subtlety of disquisition, he had no equal among the statesmen  of his time. But that very fertility, that very acuteness, which gave a singular charm to his conversation, to his oratory and to his writings, unfitted him for the work of promptly deciding practical questions. He was slow from very quickness. For he saw so many arguments for and against every possible course that he was longer in making up his mind than a dull man would have been. Instead of acquiescing in his first thoughts, he replied on himself, rejoined on himself, and surrejoined on himself. Those who heard him talk owned that he talked like an angel: but too often, when he had exhausted all that could be said, and came to act, the time for action was over.


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