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man in the person of Wharton, the manager of the
Whigs, of whom Swift said that he was the most uni-
versal villain that he ever knew. Wharton, as he is
described to us, was in private life a shameless profligate,
h seducer, a duellist, a scoffer; in public life he was un-
scrupulous and without conscience in corrupting others,
though, himself loving victory more than money, he lav-


ished his own fortune in the game. His one black virtue
was intense devotion to his party. He was an unrivalled
master of all the arts of political management and elec-
tioneering, full of evil energy and daring, and, in spite of
his vices, personally popular to a wonderful degree. In
him at once appeared the consummate "boss," and the
herald of all " bosses " to come.

Wharton was one of a junto of four who managed the 1697
Whigs. The other three were Somers, Russell, and Mon-
tagu. That Wharton and Somers should be political
partners was strange, as strange as it would have been if
Aristides had entered into political partnership with The-
mistocles. For Somers is presented to us as the perfection,
not only of wisdom, unfailing and serene, combined with
the highest culture, both political and general, but of
spotless purity and of every public virtue, so that we feel
it almost a relief to the strain on our powers of admiration
when we are told that in private he was liable to amorous
weakness. Russell, the victor of La Hogue, had little
besides that victory to exalt him. He was turbulent,
wayward, and treacherous ; he had been implicated in
intrigues with St. Germains. Montagu, with a high
university training, destined originally for the church,
and happily diverted from it into public life, was the
great master of finance, in which he had few peers. As
a statesman he kept up his university tastes and studies,
patronized men of letters, and himself wrote verse. The
union of statesmanship with literary tastes and the culti-
vation of the friendship and support of literary men by
statesmen are features of this age. Statesmanship might
gain breadth and liberality from the union.

The struggle between political parties brought with it an


aftermath of the Revolution. There had hitherto been
no fixed limit to the life of parliaments; they had sat as
long as pleased the king. Charles II. 's first parliament
had sat for eighteen years. The representation was thus
divorced from the constituencies, divested of the sense of
responsibility, and exposed to court corruption. Tenure
during the pleasure of the court was corruption in itself.
But even Tories might think with bitterness of the Long
Parliament. A fixed and limited term was essential to

1694 representative government. A Triennial Act was passed
providing for the election of a fresh parliament every
three years. Kadicalism looked back to it with wistful

1716 eyes when by a subsequent Act the three years had been
made seven. There was no rectification of the constitu-
ency itself such as had been embodied in the Instrument
of Government. But it is truly said that the abolition
of the petty boroughs would have inclined the balance to
the Tory side, inasmuch as it was in those boroughs that
the leaders of commerce and finance, who were Whigs,
as well as the nominees of the government, found seats.

The Triennial Bill was traditionally a Whig measure.
From the side of the Tories, as the opposition, came a

1694 Place Bill, excluding from the House of Commons all who
held places of any kind under the government. The ef-
fect of this sweeping measure upon parliamentary govern-
ment in England would have been like that which has been
produced in the American Republic by the exclusion of
the members of the cabinet from Congress. There would
have been nobody to lead for the government or to shape
and control legislation. In the case of England the
leadership and the centre of parliamentary power would
probably have been transferred to the House of Lords.


Of a reform excluding the minor placemen who swarmed
in the House of Commons there was great need. In time
it came. But unmeasured purism would have purged the
House, not of corruption only, but of organizing force and
life. The Lords introduced an amendment allowing a
man who had accepted a place to be re-elected, thereby
breaking the force of the Bill. The king nevertheless
vetoed. He was bitterly convinced that the government
could not afford to lose power.

Another bill, manifestly of Tory origin, as framed in 1696
the interest of the squires against their hated rivals, the
leaders of commerce, was that which required the posses-
sion of land to a certain value as a qualification for mem-
bership of the House of Commons. This, after passing
the House of Commons, where the squires predominated,
found for the time its ^rave in the House of Lords. To
exclude all but landowners from the borough seats might
suit the small neighbouring landowner, but did not suit the
territorial magnate who wished to nominate his kinsmen
or dependents.

The Lords, however, were as a House at this time Lib-
eral in their political and religious tendencies compared
with the squires of the lower House. They lived in the
great world, conversed with statesmen, and had access to
political information which could find its way to the
manor house only in the shape of the weekly news-letter.
Some of them also were still bound to the protestant
reformation and the political party associated with it by
hereditary ties. Peerages and promotion in the peer-
age were still in the gift of the Revolutionary crown.
The bishops too, appointed by a king and queen who sat
at the feet of the Latitudinarian Tillotson, were more


Liberal at this than at any other time, and their Liberalism
could not fail to be confirmed by the slanderous abuse
with which they were assailed by the coarse bigotry of
the Jacobite parsons. That the upper House of convoca-
tion was more Liberal than the lower House, had appeared
in the debates on Comprehension. Addison's Tory and
high-church innkeeper, who has not time to go to church,
but has headed a mob for the pulling down of two or
three meeting-houses, thinks his county happy in having
scarce a Presbyterian in it except the bishop.

The Commons, becoming intoxicated by their increase
of power, more than once tried a trick which if it had
succeeded would have almost extinguished the controlling
authority of the upper House. They tacked a Bill which
they wished to force upon the Lords to a money Bill, so
that the Lords should be forced to pass both or stop the
supplies. But the trick was too shameless ; after a few at-
tempts it was laid aside and the House of Lords remained
on general questions a real branch of the legislature,
though necessarily weaker than the House which held
the purse.

The temper of the House of Commons was shown again
1701 in the case of the Kentish Petition. The House, at
that time Tory, was delaying supplies and crippling the
government in preparation for war. A petition was pre-
sented to it, signed by the justices, grand jurors, and a
number of free-holders of Kent, praying it to turn its
loyal addresses into Bills of supply. The petition was
not less constitutional than that of the seven bishops to
the king. But the many-headed autocrat, transported
with despotic ire, voted it scandalous, insolent, and sedi-
tious, and committed to the Gate House the gentlemen by


whom it had been presented. Public opinion revolted,
the Lords passed a strong resolution, and the Commons
had to beat a retreat.

On the Triennial Bill, as well as on the Place Bill, the
king put his veto, though in regard to the Triennial Bill
he at last gave way. He clung to what remained of the
royal prerogative, not so much from personal love of
power as because he wished to wield the full force of
England in the mortal struggle with France. Neither
he, however, nor those with whom he contended had as
yet distinctly realized the fact that the sovereign power,
executive as well as legislative, had passed, the legislative
power directly, the executive power indirectly and imper-
ceptibly, from the crown to the House of Commons.

Swayed to and fro between the parties, William found
himself for a time in the hands of Danby, now Marquis
of Carmarthen, who set about managing parliament in
his own way, William sadly yielding to the necessities
of a corrupt generation. Trevor, an old parasite of
Jeffreys, being made Speaker of the House of Com-
mons, kept open a regular office for bribery of members.
This is rightly set down as an incident of the trans-
fer of power to the Commons. In Tudor times, the
crown being absolute, there was no occasion for bribery ;
opposition was not bribed but coerced ; the member
of the House who attacked the government was sent
to the Tower. Corruption, however, has no fixed seat
and is protean in its forms. Much depends upon the
morality of the age. But under the party system, when
there is no great question of principle to bind men to a
political standard, other means of attaching them will be
found ; if they are poor, money or a place ; if they are

■ .,:; VOL. II — 8


rich, a title, a ribbon, or an invitation to a court ball. In
time, the demagogue who wants to get himself a following
will learn to corrupt whole classes by legislative bribes.
The publication of debates and division lists may, as is
said, have abated the evil in parliament, but failed to pre-
vent its existence elsewhere.

About this time came, noiselessly and almost in dis-
guise, a momentous and auspicious change. Owing to a
blunder made by a ridiculous censor, the censorship
1695 of the press lapsed and was not renewed. The reasons
given for deciding against its renewal and thus setting
the press free were not those of the " Areopagitica."
They were of an administrative kind, touching only on
the futility of the Act and the difficulty connected with
its operation. It may be surmised that each of the par-
ties, now definitely arrayed against each other, longed
for perfect freedom to assail its adversary in the press.
Whatever the motive, the effect was not less great. It
has been remarked by one who had carefully studied the
political literature of the time, that the violence and scur-
rility of political writing, instead of increasing, were
diminished when the curb was removed. He justly
observes that what was illicit was sure to fall into the
worst hands. Nothing worse, assuredly, than the Jacobite
libels against William and Mary in the earlier part of
their reign could have been produced under any state of
the law. A free press, however, was still exposed to the
onslaughts of party vengeance, which could expel Steele
from the House of Commons for a fair party pamphlet,
order a pastoral of Burnet to be burned by the public
hangman, and put Defoe in the pillory for what would
now be deemed a harmless squib.


There yet remained a rule of the common law restrict-
ing the publication of news. But this was allowed to
sleep, the general appetite for news being too strong to
be restrained; and amidst the storm of a party conflict
the newspaper press, born once before to a short life,
was born anew. In its cradle it was feeble and insignifi-
cant, its editorials being slight and occasional; and,
unlike its future self, it was timorously anxious to be
on the government side. But the germ and assurance
of its coming power lay in the union of editorial com-
ment with the political news of the day. Everybody
must have the hews, and with it everybody reads the
comment, which, published apart from the news, few
or none would read. The combination is natural, yet
the power derived from it is partly factitious, though of
that power the world is full.

For some time, however, the party war outside parlia-
ment will be a war not of journals but of pamphlets.
On one side we shall have Addison, with his "Tatler,"
his "Spectator," and his "Freeholder," polished, playful,
and courteous; Steele whom some think the peer of
Addison; and the homely vigour of Defoe. On the other
side we shall have Swift, strangely combining some of the
highest gifts of human genius with the malice as well as
the filthiness of the ancestral ape. Swift's dominant
passion was clerical hatred of dissenters. When the text
of his sermon is brotherly love, hatred of dissenters is still
the theme. ^ He preached, and, as the writer of "The
Day of Judgment " was evidently an unbeliever himself,
practised political conformity to the state religion.

The ascendancy of the Whigs, with the support of the
commercial and moneyed classes, during the middle part


of the reign, is marked by the great achievements of their
financial minister, Montagu, who restored the currency,
funded the debt, founded the Bank of England, and
reorganized the East India Company. Financiers, who
still tamper with inconvertible paper and bimetallism, may
profit by the study of his example. The coin hitherto
had been unmilled, and the trick of clipping it had been
practised till much of it was far, some of it fifty per cent.,
under due weight. Of course, the good coin took flight,
and all the operations of commerce and wage-paying were
disturbed. Montagu, with Newton at his side, undertook

1696 the perilous work of restoration, and, as he adhered
steadily to public honesty and sound principle, he carried
the nation with him, and his operation, after a fearfully
anxious crisis, was crowned with complete success.

1693 In funding the debt which war expenditure had created
Montagu only followed the example of Holland. Here
again he was perfectly successful. Nations, like men,
must borrow in emergencies; nor is it unfair to throw
upon posterity a share of so extraordinary a burden as the
defence of Europe against Louis XIV. But facility for
running into debt is not, as optimism seems to fancy, an
unmixed blessing. It brings with it, as before long
appeared, recklessness of expenditure, and especially of
expenditure in war. It absorbs capital which would
otherwise feed productive enterprise. If the debt were
what the optimist pictures it, -we should gain by increas-
ing it without limit. Some have actually taken it for so
much wealth and have proposed to base a paper currency
upon it. That it called into existence gambling specula-
tion, as the Tories alleged, has been disproved by the evi-
dence of gambling speculation before the establishment of


the Funds. Yet it must be attended by stock-jobbing, and
stock- jobbing is an evil. It has had an incidental use as
a weather-glass of national prosperity, notwithstanding the
saying of one who was vexed by its fluctuations that the
Funds were the greatest fools in Europe. Montagu
deserves^ at all events, the credit of adherence to prin-
ciple. He issued no greenbacks ; if he had he would have
• been taking up a forced loan, for which he must have paid
dearly by loss of credit at once and by the rate of redemp-
tion in the end. His only lapse was the admission into
his first funding scheme of the spirit of gambling under
the form of a tontine. His other financial measure, the
foundation of the Bank of England, was not less success- 1694
ful than the first two, and all the apprehensions of a great
and unconstitutional power felt or affected by the oppo-
sition proved groundless and passed away. They re-
curred with disastrous effects in the United States when
Jackson proclaimed political war against the Bank.

The last of Montagu's triumphs was the foundation of 1698
a new East India Company, which he consolidated with
the old company on a better footing. A part of the
aftermath of the Revolution was the withdrawal from the
crown of the power to grant monopolies of trade, of which
the usefulness ceased when, commercial enterprise becom-
ing less dangerous and having no longer to go forth armed
for its own protection in unfriendly waters, the stimulus
of privilege was no longer required. Foreign trade was
•henceforth free to all. The old East India Coinpany, a
dark, exclusive, and unregulated power, had sustained
its privileges by corruption, of which the president, Sir
Joshua Child, had been the consummate master; and it
had played no small part in the pollution of public life.


Old Danby, by this time created Duke of Leeds, ended
1695 a chequered career of patriotism and corruption by being
found guilty of the acceptance of an East Indian bribe.
The new company was organized by Montagu under
parliamentary auspices and regulations in connection
with the government.

From the loans, the funded debt, the military and naval
contracts, the creation of the Bank of England, and the
foundation of the new East India Company, sprang a
money power which of necessity allied itself closely with
the Revolution government, since a restoration would have
stopped financial operations and contracts, ruined the
Bank, and probably passed a sponge over the debt. Addi-
son's allegory depicted the fainting of Credit and the
shrinking of her money bags in the Bank hall on the en-
trance of the Pretender. The government thus gained a
strong support, while a new political force came on the
scene. But the moneyed men had to make their way into
parliament by buying the constituencies of the small
boroughs ; and thus the money power, while it saved the
Revolution government, propagated parliamentary corrup-
tion. By ousting the influence of the neighbouring squire
from the small borough it of course incurred the jealousy
of his class and made him the more a Jacobite.

The hero meanwhile was facing death on fields of
battle for the independence of England and of all nations,
a noble contrast to his antagonist, the enshrined grand
monarch of Versailles. William's main object had been
not to make himself king of England, but to bring
England into line as a member of the great European
confederation against French aggression. Of that con-
federation under his leadership England and Holland


were now the soul. As a diplomatist, the chief of a
motley coalition full of jealousy, self-seeking, and frac-
tiousness, including the cumbrous majesty of the empire
and the imbecile pride of Spain, William was superb. As
a general he was not first-rate, and for some time he had
to contend against first-rate generalship, as well as against
armies better trained and not of motley nationality, on
the French side. At Steinkirk he suffered defeat, and 1692
a worse defeat on the terrible day of Landen. But from 1693
each overthrow he rose indomitable, repaired his losses
with wonderful rapidity, and upon the whole held the
ground which a greater commander coming after him was
to turn into the field of victory. At last, the despotism of
Louis blasted by its withering influence in the military as
in other spheres the genius which it had inherited. The
balance began to turn and William took that great prize
of strategy, the fortress of Namur. Earlier in the strug- 1695
gle the English seaman had shown his quality, and, though
at Beachy Head disgraced through the fault of his supe-
riors, he won at La Hogue a victory splendid in itself 1692
and hailed by the nation as the first great triumph over
France since the day of Agincourt. The royal navy, as
a regular profession, a great national institution pro-
foundly affecting the national character, and the trident
of maritime empire, might almost date its history from
that day.

Though parliament sometimes had tried William's
patience to such an extent that he more than once medi-
tated returning to Holland, the nation on the whole had
shown that its heart was in the war, and, like the kindred
republic, its partner, had presented the energy, resolu-
tion, and resource of a free commonwealth in admirable


contrast to the bearing of the great monarchies with which
the commonwealths were allied. The nation had good
reason for its zeal. This war was a struggle for the
independence of nations against a power of rapine,
despotism, and bigotry combined, which, though sub-
limely gilded, was hardly less hostile to the best interests
of civilization than that Mahometan power which, by its
inroads seven centuries before, had united Christendom
in the crusades. The French aggressor, indeed, notwith-
standing his persecuting Catholicism, had Islam for his
ally in his attacks on the rest of Christendom. The

1697 treaty of Ryswick, following the taking of Namur,
was on the whole, thanks to William's diplomatic force
and wisdom, a treaty of peace with honour.

The hour of victory and of public joy was to William
personally the hour of mourning. A few months before,
he had been carried in convulsions from the death-bed

1694 of his wife. Mary, as regent in her husband's absence,
had played her part well, and her tender and graceful man-
ners had throughout been a great support to her husband
on his weakest side. She had influence in the appoint-
ment of bishops, and Tillotson was the primate of her
choice. Her position on the throne of a deposed father
was painful ; most painful when that father and her hus-
band met in arms. She was called a parricide and
" Tullia" by Jacobites, of whose obscene ravings against
her character and that of her husband history takes little
account. Greenwich Hospital bespeaks her sympathy for

1696 English seamen, and is a superb monument of her virtues
as well as of the valour which won La Hogue. William
can hardly be blamed if, after her death, his heart turned
more than ever to the Dutch friends in whose attachment


alone, to the discredit of Englishmen, he could perfectly

it might have been thought that a good peace would
strengthen the Whig government; but the next general
election showed the tendency of the party system to vio-
lent and incalculable oscillation; it went against the
Whigs. The danger from abroad being over, home dis-
contents and dissensions could be indulged with freedom.
Taxation had been severe, the debt was heavy, and the
squires had been angered by the failure of their Land
Bank, a chimerical scheme devised for their special bene-
fit in opposition to the Bank of England, as well as by
taxation and the political encroachments of the money
powet. Harvests had been bad, and the blame as usual
was laid on the government. Tories, and not Tories
alone, attacked the standing army, which had been the 1697
dread of the country gentlemen since the days of Crom-
well, and of the whole nation since the camp at Hounslow.
The case was entirely altered since the army had been
placed under the control of parliament, both as paymaster
and as arbiter of the Mutiny Act. But this the common
intellect failed at once to perceive. In vain Somers strove
by skilful pamphleteering to convince the people that in
face of the continental armies the nation could not be safe
without regular troops, and that the militia on which
patriots relied, whatever might be its native valour, would
not stand against trained soldiers. In vain he cited his-
tory and showed how the best of all militias, that of
ancient Rome, had gone down before the trained mer-
cenaries of Hannibal. In vain William, touched in his
tenderest point, exerted all his influence to preserve his
army. The most that could be done was to preserve it


on a greatly reduced scale. All the men were to be
1699 natives. William was compelled to dismiss his cherished
Dutch Guards, who departed with the dignity of veterans,
amid some late expressions of compunction from the nation
which they had come to save. Marlborough, for his own
purposes, had joined in the agitation.

Nobody yet clearly understood the new machine. The
ministers, not being conscious that they held their of-
fices no longer of the crown but of parliament, stuck
to place in spite of an adverse majority in the House of •
Commons. The majority, instead of passing a vote of
want of confidence or, in the last extremity, withholding
the supplies, attacked the characters of the ministers with
the slanderous malignity of faction. Montagu, by greedi-
ness and by upstart show and arrogance, had given his
enemies a handle. Somers had given none. Yet an
attempt was made to blacken the character of this illus-
trious and incorruptible man, and to drive him from office

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