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The History of England from the Accession of James II
By Thomas Babington MacAulay
Volume 5 Part 3


Molyneux soon found that he had ventured on a perilous undertaking. A member of the English House of Commons complained in his place that a book which attacked the most precious privileges of the supreme legislature was in circulation. The volume was produced; some passages were read; and a Committee was appointed to consider the whole subject. The Committee soon reported that the obnoxious pamphlet was only one of several symptoms which indicated a spirit such as ought to be suppressed. The Crown of Ireland had been most improperly described in public instruments as an imperial Crown. The Irish Lords and Commons had presumed, not only to reenact an English Act passed expressly for the purpose of binding them, but to reenact it with alterations. The alterations were indeed small; but the alteration even of a letter was tantamount to a declaration of independence. Several addresses were voted without a division. The King was entreated to discourage all encroachments of subordinate powers on the supreme authority of the English legislature, to bring to justice the pamphleteer who had dared to question that authority, to enforce the Acts which had been passed for the protection of the woollen manufactures of England, and to direct the industry and capital of Ireland into the channel of the linen trade, a trade which might grow and flourish in Leinster and Ulster without exciting the smallest jealousy at Norwich or at Halifax.

The King promised to do what the Commons asked; but in truth there was little to be done. The Irish, conscious of their impotence, submitted without a murmur. The Irish woollen manufacture languished and disappeared, as it would, in all probability, have languished and disappeared if it had been left to itself. Had Molyneux lived a few months longer he would probably have been impeached. But the close of the session was approaching; and before the Houses met again a timely death had snatched him from their vengeance; and the momentous question which had been first stirred by him slept a deep sleep till it was revived in a more formidable shape, after the lapse of twenty-six years, by the fourth letter of The Drapier.

Of the commercial questions which prolonged this session far into the summer the most important respected India. Four years had elapsed since the House of Commons had decided that all Englishmen had an equal right to traffic in the Asiatic Seas, unless prohibited by Parliament; and in that decision the King had thought it prudent to acquiesce. Any merchant of London or Bristol might now fit out a ship for Bengal or for China, without the least apprehension of being molested by the Admiralty or sued in the Courts of Westminster. No wise man, however, was disposed to stake a large sum on such a venture. For the vote which protected him from annoyance here left him exposed to serious risks on the other side of the Cape of Good Hope. The Old Company, though its exclusive privileges were no more, and though its dividends had greatly diminished, was still in existence, and still retained its castles and warehouses, its fleet of fine merchantmen, and its able and zealous factors, thoroughly qualified by a long experience to transact business both in the palaces and in the bazaars of the East, and accustomed to look for direction to the India House alone. The private trader therefore still ran great risk of being treated as a smuggler, if not as a pirate. He might indeed, if he was wronged, apply for redress to the tribunals of his country. But years must elapse before his cause could be heard; his witnesses must be conveyed over fifteen thousand miles of sea; and in the meantime he was a ruined man. The experiment of free trade with India had therefore been tried under every disadvantage, or, to speak more correctly, had not been tried at all. The general opinion had always been that some restriction was necessary; and that opinion had been confirmed by all that had happened since the old restrictions had been removed. The doors of the House of Commons were again besieged by the two great contending factions of the City. The Old Company offered, in return for a monopoly secured by law, a loan of seven hundred thousand pounds; and the whole body of Tories was for accepting the offer. But those indefatigable agitators who had, ever since the Revolution, been striving to obtain a share in the trade of the Eastern seas exerted themselves at this conjuncture more strenuously than ever, and found a powerful patron in Montague.

That dexterous and eloquent statesman had two objects in view. One was to obtain for the State, as the price of the monopoly, a sum much larger than the Old Company was able to give. The other was to promote the interest of his own party. Nowhere was the conflict between Whigs and Tories sharper than in the City of London; and the influence of the City of London was felt to the remotest corner of the realm. To elevate the Whig section of that mighty commercial aristocracy which congregated under the arches of the Royal Exchange, and to depress the Tory section, had long been one of Montague's favourite schemes. He had already formed one citadel in the heart of that great emporium; and he now thought that it might be in his power to erect and garrison a second stronghold in a position scarcely less commanding. It had often been said, in times of civil war, that whoever was master of the Tower and of Tilbury Fort was master of London. The fastnesses by means of which Montague proposed to keep the capital obedient in times of peace and of constitutional government were of a different kind. The Bank was one of his fortresses; and he trusted that a new India House would be the other.

The task which he had undertaken was not an easy one. For, while his opponents were united, his adherents were divided. Most of those who were for a New Company thought that the New Company ought, like the Old Company, to trade on a joint stock. But there were some who held that our commerce with India would be best carried on by means of what is called a regulated Company. There was a Turkey Company, the members of which contributed to a general fund, and had in return the exclusive privilege of trafficking with the Levant; but those members trafficked, each on his own account; they forestalled each other; they undersold each other; one became rich; another became bankrupt. The Corporation meanwhile watched over the common interest of all the members, furnished the Crown with the means of maintaining an embassy at Constantinople, and placed at several important ports consuls and vice-consuls, whose business was to keep the Pacha and the Cadi in good humour, and to arbitrate in disputes among Englishmen. Why might not the same system be found to answer in regions lying still further to the east? Why should not every member of the New Company be at liberty to export European commodities to the countries beyond the Cape, and to bring back shawls, saltpetre and bohea to England, while the Company, in its collective capacity, might treat with Asiatic potentates, or exact reparation from them, and might be entrusted with powers for the administration of justice and for the government of forts and factories?

Montague tried to please all those whose support was necessary to him; and this he could effect only by bringing forward a plan so intricate that it cannot without some pains be understood. He wanted two millions to extricate the State from its financial embarrassments. That sum he proposed to raise by a loan at eight per cent. The lenders might be either individuals or corporations. But they were all, individuals and corporations, to be united in a new corporation, which was to be called the General Society. Every member of the General Society, whether individual or corporation, might trade separately with India to an extent not exceeding the amount which such member had advanced to the government. But all the members or any of them might, if they so thought fit, give up the privilege of trading separately, and unite themselves under a royal Charter for the purpose of trading in common. Thus the General Society was, by its original constitution, a regulated company; but it was provided that either the whole Society or any part of it might become a joint stock company.

The opposition to the scheme was vehement and pertinacious. The Old Company presented petition after petition. The Tories, with Seymour at their head, appealed both to the good faith and to the compassion of Parliament. Much was said about the sanctity of the existing Charter, and much about the tenderness due to the numerous families which had, in reliance on that Charter, invested their substance in India stock. On the other side there was no want of plausible topics or of skill to use them. Was it not strange that those who talked so much about the Charter should have altogether overlooked the very clause of the Charter on which the whole question turned? That clause expressly reserved to the government power of revocation, after three years' notice, if the Charter should not appear to be beneficial to the public. The Charter had not been found beneficial to the public; the three years' notice should be given; and in the year 1701 the revocation would take effect. What could be fairer? If anybody was so weak as to imagine that the privileges of the Old Company were perpetual, when the very instrument which created those privileges expressly declared them to be terminable, what right had he to blame the Parliament, which was bound to do the best for the State, for not saving him, at the expense of the State, from the natural punishment of his own folly? It was evident that nothing was proposed inconsistent with strict justice. And what right had the Old Company to more than strict justice? These petitioners who implored the legislature to deal indulgently with them in their adversity, how had they used their boundless prosperity? Had not the India House recently been the very den of corruption, the tainted spot from which the plague had spread to the Court and the Council, to the House of Commons and the House of Lords? Were the disclosures of 1695 forgotten, the eighty thousand pounds of secret service money disbursed in one year, the enormous bribes direct and indirect, Seymour's saltpetre contracts, Leeds's bags of golds? By the malpractices which the inquiry in the Exchequer Chamber then brought to light, the Charter had been forfeited; and it would have been well if the forfeiture had been immediately enforced. "Had not time then pressed," said Montague, "had it not been necessary that the session should close, it is probable that the petitioners, who now cry out that they cannot get justice, would have got more justice than they desired. If they had been called to account for great and real wrong in 1695, we should not have had them here complaining of imaginary wrong in 1698."

The fight was protracted by the obstinacy and dexterity of the Old Company and its friends from the first week of May to the last week in June. It seems that many even of Montague's followers doubted whether the promised two millions would be forthcoming. His enemies confidently predicted that the General Society would be as complete a failure as the Land Bank had been in the year before the last, and that he would in the autumn find himself in charge of an empty exchequer. His activity and eloquence, however, prevailed. On the twenty-sixth of June, after many laborious sittings, the question was put that this Bill do pass, and was carried by one hundred and fifteen votes to seventy-eight. In the upper House, the conflict was short and sharp. Some peers declared that, in their opinion, the subscription to the proposed loan, far from amounting to the two millions which the Chancellor of the Exchequer expected, would fall far short of one million. Others, with much reason, complained that a law of such grave importance should have been sent up to them in such a shape that they must either take the whole or throw out the whole. The privilege of the Commons with respect to money bills had of late been grossly abused. The Bank had been created by one money bill; this General Society was to be created by another money bill. Such a bill the Lords could not amend; they might indeed reject it; but to reject it was to shake the foundations of public credit and to leave the kingdom defenceless. Thus one branch of the legislature was systematically put under duress by the other, and seemed likely to be reduced to utter insignificance. It was better that the government should be once pinched for money than that the House of Peers should cease to be part of the Constitution. So strong was this feeling that the Bill was carried only by sixty-five to forty-eight. It received the royal sanction on the fifth of July. The King then spoke from the throne. This was the first occasion on which a King of England had spoken to a Parliament of which the existence was about to be terminated, not by his own act, but by the act of the law. He could not, he said, take leave of the Lords and Gentlemen before him without publicly acknowledging the great things which they had done for his dignity and for the welfare of the nation. He recounted the chief services which they had, during three eventful sessions, rendered to the country. "These things will," he said, "give a lasting reputation to this Parliament, and will be a subject of emulation to Parliaments which shall come after." The Houses were then prorogued.

During the week which followed there was some anxiety as to the result of the subscription for the stock of the General Society. If that subscription failed, there would be a deficit; public credit would be shaken; and Montague would be regarded as a pretender who had owed his reputation to a mere run of good luck, and who had tempted chance once too often. But the event was such as even his sanguine spirit had scarcely ventured to anticipate. At one in the afternoon of the 14th of July the books were opened at the Hall of the Company of Mercers in Cheapside. An immense crowd was already collected in the street. As soon as the doors were flung wide, wealthy citizens, with their money in their hands, pressed in, pushing and elbowing each other. The guineas were paid down faster than the clerks could count them. Before night six hundred thousand pounds had been subscribed. The next day the throng was as great. More than one capitalist put down his name for thirty thousand pounds. To the astonishment of those ill boding politicians who were constantly repeating that the war, the debt, the taxes, the grants to Dutch courtiers, had ruined the kingdom, the sum, which it had been doubted whether England would be able to raise in many weeks, was subscribed by London in a few hours. The applications from the provincial towns and rural districts came too late. The merchants of Bristol had intended to take three hundred thousand pounds of the stock, but had waited to learn how the subscription went on before they gave their final orders; and, by the time that the mail had gone down to Bristol and returned, there was no more stock to be had. This was the moment at which the fortunes of Montague reached the meridian. The decline was close at hand. His ability and his constant success were everywhere talked of with admiration and envy. That man, it was commonly said, has never wanted, and never will want, an expedient.

During the long and busy session which had just closed, some interesting and important events had taken place which may properly be mentioned here. One of those events was the destruction of the most celebrated palace in which the sovereigns of England have ever dwelt. On the evening of the 4th of January, a woman,--the patriotic journalists and pamphleteers of that time did not fail to note that she was a Dutchwoman,--who was employed as a laundress at Whitehall, lighted a charcoal fire in her room and placed some linen round it. The linen caught fire and burned furiously. The tapestry, the bedding, the wainscots were soon in a blaze. The unhappy woman who had done the mischief perished. Soon the flames burst out of the windows. All Westminster, all the Strand, all the river were in commotion. Before midnight the King's apartments, the Queen's apartments, the Wardrobe, the Treasury, the office of the Privy Council, the office of the Secretary of State, had been destroyed. The two chapels perished together; that ancient chapel where Wolsey had heard mass in the midst of gorgeous copes, golden candlesticks, and jewelled crosses, and that modern edifice which had been erected for the devotions of James and had been embellished by the pencil of Verrio and the chisel of Gibbons. Meanwhile a great extent of building had been blown up; and it was hoped that by this expedient a stop had been put to the conflagration. But early in the morning a new fire broke out of the heaps of combustible matter which the gunpowder had scattered to right and left. The guard room was consumed. No trace was left of that celebrated gallery which had witnessed so many balls and pageants, in which so many maids of honour had listened too easily to the vows and flatteries of gallants, and in which so many bags of gold had changed masters at the hazard table. During some time men despaired of the Banqueting House. The flames broke in on the south of that beautiful hall, and were with great difficulty extinguished by the exertions of the guards, to whom Cutts, mindful of his honourable nickname of the Salamander, set as good an example on this night of terror as he had set in the breach of Namur. Many lives were lost, and many grievous wounds were inflicted by the falling masses of stone and timber, before the fire was effectually subdued. When day broke, the heaps of smoking ruins spread from Scotland Yard to the Bowling Green, where the mansion of the Duke of Buccleuch now stands. The Banqueting House was safe; but the graceful columns and festoons designed by Inigo were so much defaced and blackened that their form could hardly be discerned. There had been time to move the most valuable effects which were moveable. Unfortunately some of Holbein's finest pictures were painted on the walls, and are consequently known to us only by copies and engravings. The books of the Treasury and of the Privy Council were rescued, and are still preserved. The Ministers whose offices had been burned down were provided with new offices in the neighbourhood. Henry the Eighth had built, close to St. James's Park, two appendages to the Palace of Whitehall, a cockpit and a tennis court. The Treasury now occupies the site of the cockpit, the Privy Council Office the site of the tennis court.

Notwithstanding the many associations which make the name of Whitehall still interesting to an Englishman, the old building was little regretted. It was spacious indeed and commodious, but mean and inelegant. The people of the capital had been annoyed by the scoffing way in which foreigners spoke of the principal residence of our sovereigns, and often said that it was a pity that the great fire had not spared the old portico of St. Paul's and the stately arcades of Gresham's Bourse, and taken in exchange that ugly old labyrinth of dingy brick and plastered timber. It might now be hoped that we should have a Louvre. Before the ashes of the old palace were cold, plans for a new palace were circulated and discussed. But William, who could not draw his breath in the air of Westminster, was little disposed to expend a million on a house which it would have been impossible for him to inhabit. Many blamed him for not restoring the dwelling of his predecessors; and a few Jacobites, whom evil temper and repeated disappointments had driven almost mad, accused him of having burned it down. It was not till long after his death that Tory writers ceased to call for the rebuilding of Whitehall, and to complain that the King of England had no better town house than St. James's, while the delightful spot where the Tudors and the Stuarts had held their councils and their revels was covered with the mansions of his jobbing courtiers. In the same week in which Whitehall perished, the Londoners were supplied with a new topic of conversation by a royal visit, which, of all royal visits, was the least pompous and ceremonious and yet the most interesting and important. On the 10th of January a vessel from Holland anchored off Greenwich and was welcomed with great respect. Peter the First, Czar of Muscovy, was on board. He took boat with a few attendants and was rowed up the Thames to Norfolk Street, where a house overlooking the river had been prepared for his reception.

His journey is an epoch in the history, not only of his own country, but of our's, and of the world. To the polished nations of Western Europe, the empire which he governed had till then been what Bokhara or Siam is to us. That empire indeed, though less extensive than at present, was the most extensive that had ever obeyed a single chief. The dominions of Alexander and of Trajan were small when compared with the immense area of the Scythian desert. But in the estimation of statesmen that boundless expanse of larch forest and morass, where the snow lay deep during eight months of every year, and where a wretched peasantry could with difficulty defend their hovels against troops of famished wolves, was of less account than the two or three square miles into which were crowded the counting houses, the warehouses, and the innumerable masts of Amsterdam. On the Baltic Russia had not then a single port. Her maritime trade with the other rations of Christendom was entirely carried on at Archangel, a place which had been created and was supported by adventurers from our island. In the days of the Tudors, a ship from England, seeking a north east passage to the land of silk and spice, had discovered the White Sea. The barbarians who dwelt on the shores of that dreary gulf had never before seen such a portent as a vessel of a hundred and sixty tons burden. They fled in terror; and, when they were pursued and overtaken, prostrated themselves before the chief of the strangers and kissed his feet.

He succeeded in opening a friendly communication with them; and from that time there had been a regular commercial intercourse between our country and the subjects of the Czar. A Russia Company was incorporated in London. An English factory was built at Archangel. That factory was indeed, even in the latter part of the seventeenth century, a rude and mean building. The walls consisted of trees laid one upon another; and the roof was of birch bark. This shelter, however, was sufficient in the long summer day of the Arctic regions. Regularly at that season several English ships cast anchor in the bay. A fair was held on the beach. Traders came from a distance of many hundreds of miles to the only mart where they could exchange hemp and tar, hides and tallow, wax and honey, the fur of the sable and the wolverine, and the roe of the sturgeon of the Volga, for Manchester stuffs, Sheffield knives, Birmingham buttons, sugar from Jamaica and pepper from Malabar. The commerce in these articles was open. But there was a secret traffic which was not less active or less lucrative, though the Russian laws had made it punishable, and though the Russian divines pronounced it damnable. In general the mandates of princes and the lessons of priests were received by the Muscovite with profound reverence. But the authority of his princes and of his priests united could not keep him from tobacco. Pipes he could not obtain; but a cow's horn perforated served his turn. From every Archangel fair rolls of the best Virginia speedily found their way to Novgorod and Tobolsk.

The commercial intercourse between England and Russia made some diplomatic intercourse necessary. The diplomatic intercourse however was only occasional. The Czar had no permanent minister here. We had no permanent minister at Moscow; and even at Archangel we had no consul. Three or four times in a century extraordinary embassies were sent from Whitehall to the Kremlin and from the Kremlin to Whitehall.

The English embassies had historians whose narratives may still be read with interest. Those historians described vividly, and sometimes bitterly, the savage ignorance and the squalid poverty of the barbarous country in which they had sojourned. In that country, they said, there was neither literature nor science, neither school nor college. It was not till more than a hundred years after the invention of printing that a single printing press had been introduced into the Russian empire; and that printing press had speedily perished in a fire which was supposed to have been kindled by the priests. Even in the seventeenth century the library of a prelate of the first dignity consisted of a few manuscripts. Those manuscripts too were in long rolls; for the art of bookbinding was unknown. The best educated men could barely read and write. It was much if the secretary to whom was entrusted the direction of negotiations with foreign powers had a sufficient smattering of Dog Latin to make himself understood. The arithmetic was the arithmetic of the dark ages. The denary notation was unknown. Even in the Imperial Treasury the computations were made by the help of balls strung on wires. Round the person of the Sovereign there was a blaze of gold and jewels; but even in his most splendid palaces were to be found the filth and misery of an Irish cabin. So late as the year 1663 the gentlemen of the retinue of the Earl of Carlisle were, in the city of Moscow, thrust into a single bedroom, and were told that, if they did not remain together, they would be in danger of being devoured by rats.

Such was the report which the English legations made of what they had seen and suffered in Russia; and their evidence was confirmed by the appearance which the Russian legations made in England. The strangers spoke no civilised language. Their garb, their gestures, their salutations, had a wild and barbarous character. The ambassador and the grandees who accompanied him were so gorgeous that all London crowded to stare at them, and so filthy that nobody dared to touch them. They came to the court balls dropping pearls and vermin. It was said that one envoy cudgelled the lords of his train whenever they soiled or lost any part of their finery, and that another had with difficulty been prevented from putting his son to death for the crime of shaving and dressing after the French fashion.

Our ancestors therefore were not a little surprised to learn that a young barbarian, who had, at seventeen years of age, become the autocrat of the immense region stretching from the confines of Sweden to those of China, and whose education had been inferior to that of an English farmer or shopman, had planned gigantic improvements, had learned enough of some languages of Western Europe to enable him to communicate with civilised men, had begun to surround himself with able adventurers from various parts of the world, had sent many of his young subjects to study languages, arts and sciences in foreign cities, and finally had determined to travel as a private man, and to discover, by personal observation, the secret of the immense prosperity and power enjoyed by some communities whose whole territory was far less than the hundredth part of his dominions.

It might have been expected that France would have been the first object of his curiosity. For the grace and dignity of the French King, the splendour of the French Court, the discipline of the French armies, and the genius and learning of the French writers, were then renowned all over the world. But the Czar's mind had early taken a strange ply which it retained to the last. His empire was of all empires the least capable of being made a great naval power. The Swedish provinces lay between his States and the Baltic. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles lay between his States and the Mediterranean. He had access to the ocean only in a latitude in which navigation is, during a great part of every year, perilous and difficult. On the ocean he had only a single port, Archangel; and the whole shipping of Archangel was foreign. There did not exist a Russian vessel larger than a fishing-boat.

Yet, from some cause which cannot now be traced, he had a taste for maritime pursuits which amounted to a passion, indeed almost to a monomania. His imagination was full of sails, yardarms, and rudders. That large mind, equal to the highest duties of the general and the statesman, contracted itself to the most minute details of naval architecture and naval discipline. The chief ambition of the great conqueror and legislator was to be a good boatswain and a good ship's carpenter. Holland and England therefore had for him an attraction which was wanting to the galleries and terraces of Versailles. He repaired to Amsterdam, took a lodging in the dockyard, assumed the garb of a pilot, put down his name on the list of workmen, wielded with his own hand the caulking iron and the mallet, fixed the pumps, and twisted the ropes. Ambassadors who came to pay their respects to him were forced, much against their will, to clamber up the rigging of a man of war, and found him enthroned on the cross trees.

Such was the prince whom the populace of London now crowded to behold. His stately form, his intellectual forehead, his piercing black eyes, his Tartar nose and mouth, his gracious smile, his frown black with all the stormy rage and hate of a barbarian tyrant, and above all a strange nervous convulsion which sometimes transformed his countenance during a few moments, into an object on which it was impossible to look without terror, the immense quantities of meat which he devoured, the pints of brandy which he swallowed, and which, it was said, he had carefully distilled with his own hands, the fool who jabbered at his feet, the monkey which grinned at the back of his chair, were, during some weeks, popular topics of conversation. He meanwhile shunned the public gaze with a haughty shyness which inflamed curiosity. He went to a play; but, as soon as he perceived that pit, boxes and galleries were staring, not at the stage, but at him, he retired to a back bench where he was screened from observation by his attendants. He was desirous to see a sitting of the House of Lords; but, as he was determined not to be seen, he was forced to climb up to the leads, and to peep through a small window. He heard with great interest the royal assent given to a bill for raising fifteen hundred thousand pounds by land tax, and learned with amazement that this sum, though larger by one half than the whole revenue which he could wring from the population of the immense empire of which he was absolute master, was but a small part of what the Commons of England voluntarily granted every year to their constitutional King.

William judiciously humoured the whims of his illustrious guest, and stole to Norfolk Street so quietly that nobody in the neighbourhood recognised His Majesty in the thin gentleman who got out of the modest looking coach at the Czar's lodgings. The Czar returned the visit with the same precautions, and was admitted into Kensington House by a back door. It was afterwards known that he took no notice of the fine pictures with which the palace was adorned. But over the chimney of the royal sitting room was a plate which, by an ingenious machinery, indicated the direction of the wind; and with this plate he was in raptures. He soon became weary of his residence. He found that he was too far from the objects of his curiosity, and too near to the crowds to which he was himself an object of curiosity. He accordingly removed to Deptford, and was there lodged in the house of John Evelyn, a house which had long been a favourite resort of men of letters, men of taste and men of science. Here Peter gave himself up to his favourite pursuits. He navigated a yacht every day up and down the river. His apartment was crowded with models of three deckers and two deckers, frigates, sloops and fireships. The only Englishman of rank in whose society he seemed to take much pleasure was the eccentric Caermarthen, whose passion for the sea bore some resemblance to his own, and who was very competent to give an opinion about every part of a ship from the stem to the stern. Caermarthen, indeed, became so great a favourite that he prevailed on the Czar to consent to the admission of a limited quantity of tobacco into Russia. There was reason to apprehend that the Russian clergy would cry out against any relaxation of the ancient rule, and would strenuously maintain that the practice of smoking was condemned by that text which declares that man is defiled, not by those things which enter in at the mouth, but by those which proceed out of it. This apprehension was expressed by a deputation of merchants who were admitted to an audience of the Czar; but they were reassured by the air with which he told them that he knew how to keep priests in order.

He was indeed so free from any bigoted attachment to the religion in which he had been brought up that both Papists and Protestants hoped at different times to make him a proselyte. Burnet, commissioned by his brethren, and impelled, no doubt, by his own restless curiosity and love of meddling, repaired to Deptford and was honoured with several audiences. The Czar could not be persuaded to exhibit himself at Saint Paul's; but he was induced to visit Lambeth palace. There he saw the ceremony of ordination performed, and expressed warm approbation of the Anglican ritual. Nothing in England astonished him so much as the Archiepiscopal library. It was the first good collection of books that he had seen; and he declared that he had never imagined that there were so many printed volumes in the world.

The impression which he made on Burnet was not favourable. The good bishop could not understand that a mind which seemed to be chiefly occupied with questions about the best place for a capstan and the best way of rigging a jury mast might be capable, not merely of ruling an empire, but of creating a nation. He complained that he had gone to see a great prince, and had found only an industrious shipwright. Nor does Evelyn seem to have formed a much more favourable opinion of his august tenant. It was, indeed, not in the character of tenant that the Czar was likely to gain the good word of civilised men. With all the high qualities which were peculiar to himself, he had all the filthy habits which were then common among his countrymen. To the end of his life, while disciplining armies, founding schools, framing codes, organising tribunals, building cities in deserts, joining distant seas by artificial rivers, he lived in his palace like a hog in a sty; and, when he was entertained by other sovereigns, never failed to leave on their tapestried walls and velvet state beds unequivocal proof that a savage had been there. Evelyn's house was left in such a state that the Treasury quieted his complaints with a considerable sum of money.

Towards the close of March the Czar visited Portsmouth, saw a sham seafight at Spithead, watched every movement of the contending fleets with intense interest, and expressed in warm terms his gratitude to the hospitable government which had provided so delightful a spectacle for his amusement and instruction. After passing more than three months in England, he departed in high good humour.

His visit, his singular character, and what was rumoured of his great designs, excited much curiosity here, but nothing more than curiosity. England had as yet nothing to hope or to fear from his vast empire. All her serious apprehensions were directed towards a different quarter. None could say how soon France, so lately an enemy, might be an enemy again.

The new diplomatic relations between the two great western powers were widely different from those which had existed before the war. During the eighteen years which had elapsed between the signing of the Treaty of Dover and the Revolution, all the envoys who had been sent from Whitehall to Versailles had been mere sycophants of the great King. In England the French ambassador had been the object of a degrading worship. The chiefs of both the great parties had been his pensioners and his tools. The ministers of the Crown had paid him open homage. The leaders of the opposition had stolen into his house by the back door. Kings had stooped to implore his good offices, had persecuted him for money with the importunity of street beggars; and, when they had succeeded in obtaining from him a box of doubloons or a bill of exchange, had embraced him with tears of gratitude and joy. But those days were past. England would never again send a Preston or a Skelton to bow down before the majesty of France. France would never again send a Barillon to dictate to the cabinet of England. Henceforth the intercourse between the two states would be on terms of perfect equality.

William thought it necessary that the minister who was to represent him at the French Court should be a man of the first consideration, and one on whom entire reliance could be reposed. Portland was chosen for this important and delicate mission; and the choice was eminently judicious. He had, in the negotiations of the preceding year, shown more ability than was to be found in the whole crowd of formalists who had been exchanging notes and drawing up protocols at Ryswick. Things which had been kept secret from the plenipotentiaries who had signed the treaty were well known to him. The clue of the whole foreign policy of England and Holland was in his possession. His fidelity and diligence were beyond all praise. These were strong recommendations. Yet it seemed strange to many that William should have been willing to part, for a considerable time, from a companion with whom he had during a quarter of a century lived on terms of entire confidence and affection. The truth was that the confidence was still what it had long been, but that the affection, though it was not yet extinct, though it had not even cooled, had become a cause of uneasiness to both parties. Till very recently, the little knot of personal friends who had followed William from his native land to his place of splendid banishment had been firmly united. The aversion which the English nation felt for them had given him much pain; but he had not been annoyed by any quarrel among themselves. Zulestein and Auverquerque had, without a murmur, yielded to Portland the first place in the royal favour; nor had Portland grudged to Zulestein and Auverquerque very solid and very signal proofs of their master's kindness. But a younger rival had lately obtained an influence which created much jealousy. Among the Dutch gentlemen who had sailed with the Prince of Orange from Helvoetsluys to Torbay was one named Arnold Van Keppel. Keppel had a sweet and obliging temper, winning manners, and a quick, though not a profound, understanding. Courage, loyalty and secresy were common between him and Portland. In other points they differed widely.


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