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if nothing else, the urbanity which was his saving grace
as a king.

The prince whom the Exclusion Bill would have pro-
scribed ascends the throne.



CHAPTER II

JAMES n. вАФ THE REVOLUTION AND ITS RESULTS
Born 1633; Succeeded 1685; Leaves the Kingdom 1688

A REVOLUTION proper is a violent change of the
form of government. Such was the French Revolu-
tion. Such have been the revolutions and counter-revolu-
tions by a series of which it has been followed. Such were
the revolutions which often occurred in the states of antiq-
uity and in the city republics of the middle ages. Such
had been the English Revolution in the time of Charles I.,
commonly known as the Great Rebellion. Such was the
revolution which separated the American Republic from
the British crown. The Revolution of 1688, though
glorified by that name, was not in fact a revolution at
all; it was a change of dynasty, not of the form of
government. The form of government it preserved from
the change attempted by a king who strove to turn a
limited monarchy into a despotism, and at the same time
to impose an alien religion on the nation. It was in fact
the defeat of revolution attempted in the interest of reac-
tion. It was attended by no revolutionary violence, went
through none of the phases of revolutions, produced no
Girondists or Jacobins. Nor was it propagandist, though
its results inspired Montesquieu and Voltaire.

In tiie next reign a trial of a great political cause
gave the Whig leaders the opportunity for an exposi-

63



64 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

tion of the principles on which the party had acted in
1688. Nothing can be less revolutionary than their
speeches. Their creed is that no part of the consti-
tution was altered or suffered the least damage ; but that
the whole received new life and vigour. They studiously
minimize resistance. Still, 1688 is a landmark. It closed
the long conflict of which the first great crisis was the
struggle for the Petition of Right. It established the
supremacy of parliament. From the point of view of
constitutional liberalism, it was not unworthy of the
admiration with which it was regarded by Burke.

Not only was this a British, it was a European event of
the first order. It redressed the balance of power in Eu-
rope. Under the Stuarts England had become the subsi-
dized and subservient ally of the French king's rapacious
ambition, and of the popery, cognate to despotism, of
which he, more than the pope himself, was the head.
The Revolution of 1688 transferred her to the side of
William of Orange and of the liberties of Europe.

When James, as Duke of York, fearing for his brother's
life, offered him his own guard, Charles, as the story
went, replied, "Don't be afraid, brother; nobody will
kill me to make you king." Charles was not by nature
a tyrant. He was not malignant or cruel. His only
personal murder was that of Vane. His desire was not
absolute rule, but freedom from inspection and control.
James was a tyrant by nature. He was malignant and
cruel in a high degree. His heart was as hard as flint.
We have no reason for rejecting the positive statement of
Burnet that James, while acting as viceroy in Scotland,
used to sit out the applications of the boot and thumb-
screw when other members of the council left the room.



11 JAMES II 56

That as king he beheaded one aged woman and burned
another alive for showing womanly kindness to a hunted
fugitive, are certain facts. It is not less certain that he
presided over a cruel persecution of peasants in Scotland
and rewarded the perpetrator of a most savage and das-
tardly butchery of peasants in England. Nor can it be
doubted that he aimed at absolute power. Louis XIV.
and French monarchy were always in his mind. He
was almost more than absolutist. He fancied himself
the vicegerent of God. To his council at his accession he
had proclaimed his resolution of reigning according to
law; yet the first thing that he did on ascending the
throne was to show his contempt for the law of parlia-
mentary taxation by ordering the customs to be collected
before they had been voted by parliament. He addressed
his first parliament in the menacing language of a master.
A still more ominous sign of his intentions was his
immediate increase of the standing army. That if he
had not been prevented he would have used that army
to crush constitutional liberty, to introduce French des-
potism, and afterwards to force popery on the nation,
cannot reasonably be doubted. Fortunately for the na-
tion, while Charles had been an unprincipled man of
sense, James was an obstinate fool.

Of loose life, like his brother, and scandalously given
not only to concubinage but to adultery, James, unlike
his brother, was devout and under the dominion of priests,
to whose influence he, like Louis XIV., would be ex-
posed by an old sinner's cravings for specifics to save
his soul, as well as by the general tendency of kings.
Especially was he under the dominion of the Jesuits, who
in directing his perverted conscience for their own objects



66 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

showed their usual unscrupulousness, their usual cun-
ning, and their usual lack of wisdom. The intrigue
of the sons of Loyola is often a web woven with infinite
skill and labour, but in the moment of accomplishment
swept away. Even the failures, however, have cost
humanity dear. In England the Jesuits brought ruin
upon themselves and upon their dupe. In France their
influence, exercised through a priest-ridden woman and a
royal confessor over the conscience of the French king,
enabled them to obtain the revocation of the Edict of

1685 Nantes and cruelly to persecute or expatriate the best and
most industrious part of the French people. The house
of Bourbon in the end paid for its submission to Jesuit
guidance even more dearly than the house of Stuart.

The disgraceful vassalage to France commenced by
Charles II. was continued by his successor. With abject
expressions of gratitude James received the dole sent him
on his accession by his French patron. It was his pride,
not his patriotism, that afterwards rebelled, and led him
at a decisive moment peevishly to reject his patron's
advice and aid.

The twin objects of James's policy, absolute monarchy
and the conversion of England from protestantism to
popery, were thoroughly akin, as the history of Europe
has shown; yet, happily for the nation, one of them
crossed and wrecked the other. Had he aimed at abso-
lute monarchy alone there is no saying what the event
might have been. In the end, probably, national spirit
and the love of liberty innate in the race would have
gained the day. But there might have been an evil

1685 time. When James came to the throne everything was
propitious to his design. The tide was running in favour



II JAMES II 57

of royalty almost as high as on the morrow of the Restora-
tion. The clergy were preaching the doctrines of Filmer,
in support of the power to which they were beholden for
their restoration to wealth and privilege, and which set
their feet on the necks of their nonconformist enemies.
James was a Roman Catholic, but he had pledged his
word to uphold the church of England, and the clergy
believed him, as they reasonably might, knowing that
they were at least as good friends to absolutism as any
Roman Catholic priesthood; better friends, in fact, since
their dependence was solely on the crown. It was
passed round among them that they had for their security
the word of a king who never was worse than his word.
From the University of Oxford, their mouthpiece, came
professions of unlimited obedience. James's bluntness
was taken for honesty by those who did not know that
his hand was held out behind his back for French gold.
The attempt to deprive him of his birthright, having
failed, had increased his popularity. After the defeat of
the Exclusion Bill and the discovery of the Rye House
Plot, the Whig party, which was that of liberty and the
constitution, lay prostrate. Its electoral strongholds, the
boroughs, had, by the remodelling of the corporations
after the wholesale confiscation of their charters, passed
completely into the hands of the crown, which already
had the support of most of the squires, and of the county
constituencies which were ynder their control. Where
there was still any room for doubt about the election,
official influence and intimidation were unscrupulously
used. The electorate of Cornwall, which had forty-four
petty boroughs, was openly packed with guardsmen.
Here was plain treason to the constitution,



68 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

1685 When the House of Commons met, the king said
that it contained not more than forty members whom he
would not himself have chosen. In the Lords, though
not Tory principles, the conservatism of wealth, rank,
and privilege would prevail. Thus the parliament was
the king's own, and he might keep it, as the law
then was, if he pleased, to the end of his reign. In
fact, the parliament was too much the king's own. His
ma;jority was too overwhelming. He had left not enough
of an opposition to stimulate and keep in exercise the
loyalty of his friends. For want of Whigs to combat
there was a danger that the assembly, as no assembly
likes to efface itself, would in time be led to combat the
crown. Scarcely, in fact, had parliament met when the
voice of Seymour, a Tory magnate, was heard denouncing
the interference of the government with the purity of
election. In the second session something like an oppo-
sition was formed, and it took the turn, ominous for
James, of praying that the law might be put in force
against papists. Here the danger-signal appeared.
In its first session, however, the House carried loyalty

1685 to the verge of suicide. It almost repeated the great
self-betrayal of the parliament of Richard II. It con-
doned the illegal collection by James of the customs voted
only for his predecessor's life. It gave him for his own
life the whole revenue of Charles II. with the addition of
a tax on sugar and tobacco, the means, in fact, if he was
frugal, not only of carrying on the government but of
paying troops independently of the vote of parliament.
This would have made him eventually absolute, provided
he only advanced with caution and refrained from doing
what would drive the nation to rebellion.



II JAMES II 69

James would fain have repealed the Habeas Corpus
Act, which he justly deemed fatal to absolute monarchy.
He was baffled for the time in an attempt to extend the
treason law so as to make it treason in any member of
either House of Parliament to move for a change in the
succession to the crown. He succeeded in obtaining the
re-enactment of the law against the liberty of the press. 1685
As soon as parliament showed the slightest independence
it was prorogued and met no more. That James was
marching to despotism as well as to the establishment
of his own religion there can be no shadow of doubt.

The king's temper was soon shown by inflicting on 1686
Oates and Dangerfield, the inventors of the Popish Plot,
a punishment which amounted to scourging to death,
though Oates, by a miracle, escaped with life. His real
feeling towards the nonconformists, whom he afterwards
hypocritically courted, was shown by the fining and im-
prisonment, after a trial brutally conducted by Jeffreys, 1686
of Richard Baxter, that excellent and blameless minister
of Christ, to whom, as a Presbyterian loyal to the crown,
a bishopric had been offered at the Restoration.

Still further to strengthen James's government and 1685
thus to increase the peril of the constitution, came
Monmouth's rebellion, an enterprise doomed from the out-
set to failure, since it was premature, managed by wild
enthusiasts without national influence, and raised in
the name of a pretender in whose legitimacy none but
peasants could believe. What is wonderful is that the
insurrection should have shown such a front as it did in
the west of England, and struck such a blow as it did at
Sedgemoor. Where, now, are the English peasants or
mechanics who would sally forth with scythes and pitch-



60 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

forks to fight against regular troops in a great cause or
for a beloved name, and who would come as near as those
west country peasants did to defeating a royal army?
Argyle, whose accession lent character to the undertak-
ing in the north, redeemed the madness of the attempt

1685 b}^ the heroic calmness with which he met his end.
When James bade one of his victims remember that it
was in his power to show mercy, the man replied that it
might be in his power but that it was not in his nature.
So Monmouth found when he grovelled at the feet of his

1685 pitiless uncle praying for life in vain. On the scaffold
Monmouth bore himself better; he at least went out of
the world unshriven by the bishops who would have had
him profess the doctrine of non-resistance as one of the
conditions of his absolution. The church of England
had marked her political character by allowing her sacra-
ment to be used as a political test. She here marked it
by making a political doctrine a condition of her member-
ship. In truth Royalism has always been a part, not to
say a vital part, of her creed. She accepted Eikon
Basilik^ almost as an addition to her canon, and her
preachers put the royal martyr only a little, some of them
not at all, below the Saviour. Her offsets in the colonies,
though not established, have preserved her political char-
acter. They preserve something of it, even in the United
States, at the present day.

In the west there followed a hideous slaughter of
peasants who had been merely misguided, who, since
their defeat, were harmless, and to whom true policy as
well as generosity would have shown mercy. First came

1085 a murderous raid of Colonel Kirke with his regiment of
" Lambs," so called from the emblem of Christ which they



II JAMES II 61

bore on their banners as a Tangier regiment destined
to fight against Mahometans. Then came the Bloody 1685
Assize, conducted by Jeffreys, whose name is enough,
and who butchered on his circuit three hundred peasants,
besides inflicting wholesale deportations, scourgings, and
fines. The chief justice and the king afterwards cast
the blame of these cruelties upon each other. Which of
the two lied we cannot say. What is certain is that
James polluted the highest office in the realm by paying
Jeffreys for his massacre with the chancellorship. The
beheading of Alice Lisle, and the burning alive of 1685
Elizabeth Gaunt, for obeying the commonest impulses of
humanity in sheltering fugitives, as well as the judicial
murder of Cornish, an eminent London citizen, for op-
posing court influence in city elections, combined with
the Bloody Assize to show all men what there was upon
the throne.

The rebellion having been crushed and followed by a 1686
reign of terror, with an army, which by this time had
been made strong, with Churchill to take the command,
and Louis to help in time of need, James and his
Jesuit guide. Father Petre, might well think that the
time had come for the opening of their attack upon the
church. Resistance on her part they could hardly fear.
Had she not preached unlimited submission ? She had ;
but they failed to see that what she meant was unlimited
submission to a king who would subdue her enemies before
her, and secure her wealth and power.

In another quarter James had prepared support for his
policy. His father had intrigued with the catholic Celts
of Ireland, irresolutely and to his own ruin, because he
was not a catholic himself. James, being catholic him-



62 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

self, could without hesitation enlist their aid, so far at
least as the religious question was concerned. Rochester,
the Lord Deputy of Ireland, though brother-in-law of the
1687 king and a thorough-going Tory, was driven from his
office to make Avay for the catholic Tyrconnel, a reckless
and profane ruffian, whose nickname was Lying Dick, and
who had once served James's lusts. By this man all the
powers of government and all the offices of the army,
the civil service, and the judiciary were transferred from
the protestants to the catholic Celts, who were organized
for an onslaught on the protestants and the recovery of the
forfeited land. Outrage, pillage, and terrorism reigned.
The days of the Ulster massacre seemed about to return.
A panic exodus of protestants began. At the same time,
to the disgust of England, Irish catholics were imported
into the English army of coercion.

The king's game was the same which had been played
in the last reign. It was probably played in both cases
by the same hand. The nonconformists were first to be
made, as before, by a fresh turn of the screw, to feel the
need of relief. Then was to be put forth a Declara-
tion of Indulgence suspending all the penal laws, which,
it was hoped, would unite the nonconformists with the
Roman Catholics against the church of England. In the
end, Roman Catholics having been put in command of
the army and into the offices of state, and their religion
having thus been made dominant, the nonconformists, it
cannot be doubted, were to share the fate of the Cove-
nanters in Scotland and the Huguenots in France. Then
in England, as in France, the true church and the
church of kings would reign alone. To the ambassador
of Louis James frankly avowed his aim.



II JAMES n 63

Wise Roman Catholics abroad, and notably the Italian
statesman who wore the triple crown, having some insight
into the English temper, advised caution. But to the
king and to his chief adviser, the Jesuit Father Petre,
apparently triumphant as they were over all opposing
forces, caution seemed mistrust of God. They went for-
ward at a pace which soon left the staunchest Tories
behind, and threw off the most devoted and servile minis-
ters of the crown. Halifax, who had been Charles's last
adviser, and to whom was due the defeat of the Exclu-
sion Bill, was thrown off early in the race. Danby, a
thorough-going Tory, but also a strong protestant and 1685
churchman, did not hold on long. The* king's two
brothers-in-law, Rochester and Clarendon, desperately
clinging to power and pelf, were at last compelled to 1687
resign. In the midst of all appears Catherine Sedley,
the king's protestant mistress, comically crossing by
her unholy influence the threads of priestly intrigue.
Otherwise none but apostates kept their places. By
apostasy Sunderland kept his. With apostates such
as Sunderland, who presently proved a traitor, with
Jeffreys, who apparently was beneath apostasy, with
Jesuits like Father Petre, and some Roman Catholics of
the better sort, who, as they had been excluded from
public life, could not be statesmen, for his advisers, the
king rushed onwards to his doom. Public sentiment,
instead of being spared, was recklessly provoked. The
popery of the court was proclaimed and paraded in the
manner most offensive to the nation. Priests and friars
in the garb of their order stalked the streets of London.
An embassy was sent with scandalous ostentation to 1687
Rome, and a papal nuncio was with ostentation equally



V



64 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

scandalous received in England. In recent times, papal
1850 aggression, though impotent and harmless, has set Eng-
land in a flame ; and those were the days of the expulsion
of the Huguenots, the days in which the fires of the
Inquisition were still burning at Madrid.

Under colour of a decision in a collusive suit the laws
1686 excluding Roman Catholics from office, civil and military,
were set aside by an exercise of the prerogative of
dispensation, and the king proceeded to fill the ser-
vices with Roman Catholics. It was certain that if
this went oh, other offices, civil and military, would in
the end be filled by men of the king's religion. Above
all things menacing were the enlistment of Roman Catho-
lics, especially the Irish, in the army, and the evident
determination of the king to place a force, which the
nation had no means of resisting, in Roman Catholic
hands. The struggle was not against Roman Catholic
equality, which, coming in a lawful way, might have
been welcomed by wise and good men, but against Roman
Catholic ascendancy. English protestantism was fighting
for its life.

Dispensation of particular persons from particular laws
and for special reasons is allowed to have been always a
part of the prerogative. But what James asserted was a
power of general dispensation which would have set pre-
rogative above all law.

To give a legal colour to royal encroachment, a bench
of subservient judges was necessary. So much of respect
for the constitution still remained. It was by means of
such a judiciary that Charles II. had been able, without
technical usurpation or breach of law, to deprive the cor-
porations of their chartered rights and commit political



II JAMES II 65

murders. The crown had the power of appointing and
dismissing judges at pleasure. This power was used by
James to weed the bench of independence, learning, and
eminence, and to fill it with court tools, for whom, to the
credit of the bar, he had to look in the lowest grades of
the profession. Here again he treasonably assailed the
foundations of the constitution.

An ecclesiastical court of high commission had been
instituted by Elizabeth for the protection of the church
of England. It was revived by James for her destruc- 1686
tion. Three bishops, Cartwright, Crewe, and Sprat, were
found servile enough to sit in it beside the debauched and
polluted Jeffreys for that purpose. A course of aggres-
sion was commenced on the universities, the high offices
of which were then clerical, evidently to pave the way
for ulterior designs upon the church. Massey, a dis- 1686
credited apostate to Romanism, was thrust into the dean-
ery of Christ Church ; Obadiah Walker, another apostate, 1686
was allowed to hold the headship of University College ;
law being set aside by prerogative in their favour. A
Roman Catholic head was forced by royal mandate upon
Magdalen College; Hough, who had been duly elected,
with his Fellows, was expelled, and the college was
turned into a popish seminary. Cambridge also was
dragooned to force her to admit a Benedictine friar, i688
clearly against the law, as a Master of Arts. Parker, a
political tool of the king's designs against the church,
was made Bishop of Oxford. The violent ejection of
Hough and the Fellows of Magdalen from their free-
holds, striking at all free-holders, created general alarm
and disaffection.

At his accession James had promised to uphold the



66 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

church as by law established, calling her a good friend to
monarchy, and delighted pulpits had re-echoed his words
as those of one whose plighted word was his bond. The
University of Oxford had promised him submission with-
out limits. But when the king proceeded to lay his hand
on Oxford headships and fellowships, a limit to submission
was found.

Finally James, advised no doubt by the purblind cun-
ning of his Jesuits that the time for the grand stroke

1687 had arrived, put forth his Declaration of Indulgence, sus-

1688 pending, in favour of catholics and nonconformists, the
penal code in matters of religion. He here openly set
his foot upon all law. If by his fiat he could suspend
one statute, he could suspend all. He had hoped to cozen
the nonconformists; though on this point he might have
been warned by his experience under the late reign.
The nonconformists once more were better advised. As
before they saw the snare, and discerned to whose advan-
tage the triumph of Jesuitism and despotism over law
would in the end enure. They were warned by the treat-
ment of Baxter, whom Jeffreys, James's second self,
had proposed to whip at the cart's tail. If they looked
to Scotland they there saw their Presbyterian brethren
harried and slaughtered by dragoons, such as Claverhouse,
Dalziel, and Turner, hung up at their own doors, or
tortured with the boot and the thumb-screw; while a
woman, for her religion was tied to a stake on the sea-
shore and left to be slowly drowned by the tide. If they

, looked around them they saw Huguenot refugees who had
fled from the persecuting sword of James's patron Louis
and of the Jesuits who were masters of his counsels.
They saw the bread which protestant charity gave to the



II JAMES 11 67

Huguenot refugee in England snatched from his mouth
by James's hand. Could they believe that a most bigoted
son of a church avowedly intolerant, and wherever it had



Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 51 of 84)