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by accusing him of sharing the gains of a pirate. A viler
attack still was made by the Tories on Spencer Cowper,
a Whig, rising at the Bar, and a destined judge. He
was accused of having seduced and murdered a young
Quakeress, who had drowned herself for love of him. At
the trial sailors were brought by the prosecution as experts
to prove that the bodies of suicides never floated. Sci-
ence, following them in the witness-box, rejoined that
it was the general belief of these nautical experts that
whistling would raise the wind. Toryism narrowly es-
caped, by the acquittal of Cowper, the guilt of judicial

A subject on which the opposition had unfortunately
a much better case was that of the enormous though over-


stated grants of forfeited lands in Ireland by the king to
his Dutch favourites, and not only to those who had 1699
merit, such as Portland and Ginkel, but to the Countess
of Orkney, who had less than none. The legal right of
the crown to grant away the lands could hardly be dis-
puted ; the moral right could not be maintained. William
was unable to prevent the appointment of a commission
of inquiry and resumption, which in its report was hur-
ried, as might have been expected, by party violence,
be3^ond the mark of justice.

The early death of the Duke of Gloucester, Anne
Stuart's son by her husband Prince George of Denmark
and heir after his mother to the crown, rendered necessary
a resettlement of the succession. By the Act of Settlement
the crown was given after Anne to the protestant Sophia, 1701
Electress of Hanover, granddaughter of James I., and her
line, being Protestants, to the exclusion not only of the
house of Stuart, but of the Roman Catholic house of Sa-
voy, which came before the house of Hanover in blood,
and has some fantastic adherents even at the present day.
This Act, perpetuating the Revolution monarchy and once
more setting aside legitimacy and divme right, was passed
under the pressure of necessity by the Tories, then in
the ascendant in parliament, some of whom must have
looked askance at their own work. They indemnified
themselves by the addition of articles expressed as legally
taking effect only with the new limitation of the crown,
but morally glancing at Dutch William. The king is to
join in communion with the church of England. The
nation is not to be bound to go to war for any of his for-
eign dominions. He is not to go out of the realm, as
William had been doing, without the consent of parlia-


ment. He is to act always with the advice of his re-
sponsible privy council, not, as William had been acting,
with the advice of an irresponsible cabinet, or, in making
treaties, by himself. No foreigner, though naturalized, is,
like William's Dutch friends Bentinck, Earl of Portland,
and Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, to be a member of parlia-
ment, hold office, civil or military, or receive- grants of
land from the crown. No holder of place under the
crown or pensioner is to be capable of sitting in the
House of Commons. This prohibition revives the de-
feated Place Bill. The article calling again into life the
old privy council was speedily repealed, while that ex-
cluding place-men from the House of Commons was
watered down to the requirement of re-election on accept-
ance of place. There are two other articles, one already
noticed, enacting that the commission of the judges shall
be during good behaviour, the other forbidding a royal
pardon to be pleaded in bar of impeachment, which,
though dictated perhaps by the same jealous opposition
to the Revolutionary crown, may be numbered among
the good fruits of the Revolution.

The king's popularity was revived by a plot against
his life which put all that was manly or moral in the na-
tion on his side. There seems to be no doubt that James
was privy to the plot or that it had his approval, con-
veyed, of course, in language vague and guarded. Nor
is there any doubt that Louis connived and was preparing
to take advantage of success. Neither of them was the
first religious king or the first eminent champion of the
church who employed assassins. Philip II. had done
the same.

It was in connection with this plot against William's


life tliat the ordinary course of justice was for the last
time superseded by an Act of Attainder. Two witnesses 1696
were required by the treason law. In the case of Sir
John Fenwick, one of the two had been spirited away,
and the Act of Attainder was passed in effect to cure the
flaw. Neither of the evidence which the witness would
have given, nor of the guilt of Sir John Fenwick, was
there any doubt ; but justice must rejoice that this super-
session of jury trial by an Act of Attainder was the last.
That in a country heaving with conspiracy, full of traitors
who were inviting foreign invasion and hatching plots
against the life of the king, there should be suspensions
of the Habeas Corpus could shock no friend of liberty,
though it might enrage friends of treason and murder.
An association for the protection of the king's life, like
that which had been formed for the protection of the life
of Elizabeth, was signed by all the members of the House
of Commons.

At the close of the reign the war cloud, which had lifted
after the treaty of Ryswick, again settled down heavily
upon Europe. The male line of the kings of Spain had
ended in a childless cretin. The Spanish monarchy com-
prising in Europe, besides Spain, the Kingdom of Naples
and Sicily, the Duchy of Milan, and Sardinia; in Asia the
Philippines; in the New World all Central America and
all Southern America except Brazil and Guiana, with
Cuba and other West Indian islands, was about to be left
without an heir. The succession was thrown for settle-
ment on the councils of Europe. A case for European
settlement it was, there being among the members of that
motley and scattered empire no national unity to be re-
spected, while the danger to the community of nations


from leaving the question to be decided by a general
scramble or by French ambition was manifestly great.
Especially great was, or naturally seemed, the danger of
the union of the French and Spanish monarchies in the
rapacious and domineering house of Bourbon, to which,
by the marriage of Louis XIV. with a Spanish princess,
the vast heritage would have gone had the claim not been
barred by her renunciation. Experience, it might be said,
showed that family connection by no means entailed po-
litical union. But in this case the weakness of Spain
would be too likely to make her a vassal of France. The
cretin being morally incapable of making a will, to leave
the decision to him would have been to leave it to intrigu-
ing priests and women. Therefore when his death was
near, William leading the way, a partition treaty had been
made, dividing the Spanish heritage among the powers
and assigning Spain itself, with the Indies, to the young
Electoral Prince of Bavaria, who stood in the line of suc-
cession. This arrangement would perhaps have been
allowed to take effect, and the peace of Europe might
have been secured. But unfortunately the Electoral
Prince died. A second partition treaty was then made,
giving Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and the colonies
to the Austrian Archduke Charles. Soon the flickering
ray of life in the Spanish king expired, and it was then
found that a will had been made by those who had him in
their hands, and who were under French influence, nam-
ing Philip, Duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis, his heir.
Louis had promised on his honour, on the word and faith
of a king, and had sworn upon the cross, the Holy Gospels,
and the Mass-book, faithfully to observe the renunciation.
But on receiving news of the bequest, he gave his


plighted honour and his oath to the winds, and pre-
sented his grandson to his court as king of Spain.

The English people, weary of war and laden with debt,
might not have been willing to take arms again for the
maintenance of the balance of power. They were more
nearly touched by the aggressions of Louis in the Nether-
lands, where he was seizing Barrier fortresses and expelling
Dutch garrisons in the name of his grandson, threaten-
ing thereby the commercial interests as well as the one
sure ally of England. But Louis took another step which
made war inevitable, and put his great enemy once more
at the head of a united and enthusiastic nation. James
II. died at St. Germains. The wisest counsellors of the 1701
French king dissuaded him from recognizing the son of
James as king of England. Louis's own judgment agreed
with theirs. But at his side was a priest-ridden woman.
At her instigation, it seems, Louis recognized James's 1701
son, the pretended Prince of Wales, as king of England,
offering to England an intolerable insult and virtually
declaring war. Against the attempt to impose a king
upon it the spirit of the nation once more rose, and an
election gave a great majority to the Whigs, who were
the party of war. An Abjuration oath renouncing the 1702
Pretender was imposed on the whole governing class.
But William's ear could no longer hear the trumpet call.
He was already sinking beneath disease and toil, when his
horse, putting its foot into a mole-hole, hastened his end, 1702
and the conduct of the French war passed, with the lead-
ership of Europe, into other hands. The Jacobites might
show what they were by drinking to the mole. But the
work of the hero had been done. England and Europe
were free.


Born 1665; Succeeded 1702; Died 1714

rriHE reign of Anne has been called the Augustan Age
of England. There is a likeness. Both were ages of
calm, self-complacency, and jubilant literature, after civil
storms. War there was during the reign of Anne, but it
was far away, glorious, seen only in processions of thanks-
giving for victory, felt at worst in the increase of taxa-
tion. Besides its literature in the persons of Pope,
Addison, Swift, Steele, Defoe, the reign had its science
in the person of Newton, its philosophy in that of Locke,
its scholarship in that of Bentley. It had its architect
in the builder of Blenheim, a palace in majesty whatever
may be said of the style. Its statesmen were literary
and patronized letters. It was an age stately, refined,
picturesque in a formal way, so far as the higher class
was concerned. But beneath the rather artificial brill-
iancy of the surface lay much that was far from brilliant :
coarse excesses, savage duelling, nightly outrage of young
rakes styled Mohocks on the streets, and among the com-
mon people barbarous habits, brutal sports, crime preva-
lent, ill-repressed by the police, and savagely punished.

Queen Anne was virtuous, good-natured, well-meaning,
dull, and weak, though obstinate when the fit was on her.
As a Stuart, though not the heiress by divine right, she



was accepted as half legitimate by the Jacobites. She
touched for the evil; among others the boy Samuel John-
son, in whose case the miracle did not take place. She
was at heart a Tory, or rather a high church-woman, her
strongest sentiment being attachment to the Church of
England, to whose clergy her accession was a new sum-
mer after the winter of Whig Revolution. Her piety
restored to the church the First Fruits which Henry 1703
VIII. and afterwards Elizabeth had seized for the crown.
There was joy in the cathedral closes. Anti-puritan may-
poles went up by scores. Clarendon's " History of the
Rebellion " was brought out, with its preface telling the
queen, whose heart was open to such teaching, that
the church was the great support of the throne, and that
to hurt the church was next door to treason. Anne's
husband. Prince George of Denmark, was a toper and
a cypher. Their children did not live, and Jacobitism
might suspend its conspiracies till her demise all the
more willingly, as she was likely from family feeling to
favour the succession of her Stuart brother. For the
present, however, the high church queen was completely
in thraldom to Marlborough's imperious wife, who called
herself a Whig, but was simply for herself and Marl-
borough. They corresponded under the familiar names
of " Mrs. Morley " and " Mrs. Freeman," but their friend-
ship was the submission of the weak.

Marlborough now finds the field of his ambition. As
the head and the general of the Grand European Alliance
against France he takes the place of William. He fot
the present is king. His prime minister is Godolphin,
whose financial ability provides the sinews of war and the
subsidies for hungry allies.

VOL. II — 9


The House of Commons is still Tory and High Church,
while in the House of Lords a Whig majority is led by
Somers and Wharton, a Tory minority by Nottingham.
Toryism in the House of Commons falls upon the non-
1702- conformists with an Occasional Conformity Bill. Non-
^^^^ conformists were in the habit of eluding the Corporation
and Test Acts by taking* the sacrament in an Anglican
church as a qualification for office and then going back to
the meeting house. High Church Tories did not object
to the profanation of the sacrament, but they did object
to letting the non-conformist thus slip his neck out of the
yoke. The House of Commons passed a Bill punishing
with deprivation and line whoever after taking the sacra-
ment for office should again attend a meeting house. The
Lords threw out the Bill, Liberal bishops distinguishing
themselves in opposition. The Commons then tried to
force it through the Lords by tacking it to the land tax,
but again for the time they were foiled.

Tories, the Jacobite wing of the party especially, were
at this time ready enough to loosen the fangs of the
treason law. The prisoner had been allowed counsel ;
1708 an Act was now passed allowing his witnesses to be
sworn. Hitherto the witnesses for the crown only had
been sworn, so that the evidence for the prisoner was
disrated ; an iniquitous absurdity for which only the
legal casuist and idolater of the common law could find
a reason.
1703 The overbearing temper of the newly enthroned Com-
mons was shown in the case of the men of Aylesbury,
which brought the House into sharp collision with the
Lords. The returning officer at Aylesbury had arbi-
trarily refused the votes of some electors, one of whom


brought an action against him at common law. The case
went up by writ of error to the Lords. The Commons
took fire, denied the common law right, and declared
that they alone were judges of elections and of the suf-
frage. The Houses were falling foul of each other when
prorogation put an end to the strife. Substantially the
Lords were justified. An elector had a legal right
which could not be abrogated by the vote of a single

To extend their privileges, personal as well as political
and judicial, was the strong tendency of the Commons at
this time. They would have exempted not only them-
selves, but their servants and their property to a great
extent from the jurisdiction of the common law. What
had once been the protection of tribunes was becoming
the prerogative of tyrants. Who can be trusted with
power ?

Marlborough, if he had any political principles, was a
Tory. He would probably rather have served, and he
could more fitly have served, a despot than the common-
wealth. Of Tories he first formed his ministry, with
Nottingham as secretary of state ; the queen also strongly
inclining to that side. But his theatre was the field of
the French war. The Tories were against the war and
inclined to the side of France, wjience they hoped to
receive the heir of divine right. The Whigs were
against France and in favour of the war. Hence Marl-
borough, like William, was forced to drop the Tories
and take in Whigs. This he did by degrees, dropping
first strong Tories like Nottingham, afterwards moderate
Tories, such as Harley and St. John then were. At last
of the Tories the indispensable Godolphin alone remained.


From the party strife all eyes were turned to the field
on which the battle between French domination and the
independence of Europe was to be fought. Marlborough
had then taken the place of William as the head of a
Grand Alliance, comprising the Empire, Prussia, Hanover
soon to be linked with England, the Palatine, and Hol-
land, to which presently went over Savoy. The strength
of the alliance, its financial strength especially, lay in the
English and Dutch commonwealths. The Empire was a
sprawling giant harassed in rear by Hungarian revolt and
Turkish inroad. Default was made in contingents ; there
was always craving for subsidies ; jarring interests and
pretensions were always giving trouble ; while on the
side of the enemy was perfect unity of counsels and
forces. In Holland, the Orange supremacy having ended
with William's death, the government had passed into
the hands of leaders who thought more of their own
security than of the common cause, and sent field depu-
ties to control and hamper the general, thereby robbing
him of more than one victory. Marlborough's serenity
was sorely tried, but never failed. In diplomatic address
he was William's equal, while he was far superior as a
general ; and he had one resource which William had not :
he could flatter, and his flattery was superb. The new-
made and barely authentic king of Prussia he won by
handing his Majesty the napkin. The erratic Charles XII.
of Sweden, who seemed at one time to mean mischief,
was propitiated by assuring him that Marlborough would
gladly serve in a campaign under so great a captain to
perfect himself in the art of war.

The army, of which Marlborough took the command,
was as motley as the alliance. His English troops were


a fraction of it, and England must not claim all the
laurels. Tory jealousy had reduced the standing army
by statute to seven thousand, really perhaps to ten thou-
sand, at the end of the last reign. The condition of the
English people was such that volunteer recruits were
dear. Conscription was suggested, but on this parlia-
ment could not venture. Recourse was had to enlist-
ment from the gaols and impressment of tramps. The
gaol-birds and tramps under a great commander seem not
to have made bad soldiers ; Marlborough could depend
on them for difficult mancBuvres as well as for bravery in
action. After all, the tramp, and perhaps even the petty
criminal, may be a man out of whom the nomad has not •
been thoroughly worked and who finds his wandering
home in the camp.

The French king struck at Vienna, the road to which
was opened to him by Bavaria, whose past treasons to the
father-land it took all her loyalty in the late war with
France to redeem. The Empire was in extreme danger.
Marlborough, a part of whose difficulties was the necessity
of concealing his plans from his own employers, managed
to give the trembling Dutch the slip, traversed Germany,
was joined by his true brother in arms, Eugene, with an
imperial army, and at Blenheim confronted the French 1704
and Bavarians under Tallard, Marsin, and the Elector.
Early in the morning of the 13th of August, 1704, Tallard
wrote to his king that the army of the allies was before
him, predicting the direction of its further march. It
would march no further that day; and in the evening Tal-
lard found himself with two other French generals sitting
as prisoners in Marlborough's coach, while of his army
thousands strewed the field of battle, fourteen thousand


of his infantry, whom he had jammed into the village of
Blenheim, having been there surrounded, were prisoners,
and of his cavalry a great number were in the Danube.
The victory was complete. Its effect was- decisive.
Europe was set free from French domination, and was no
more to be the pedestal of the Grand Monarch. Alone
.Marlborough did it, and nothing in military history is
more striking than the confidence with which, at the head
of a motley army used to defeat, he attacked in their
chosen position the victorious veterans of France. To
compare generals is difficult. The force to be overcome
must be considered as well as the overcoming force.
• Hannibal beat militia with mercenaries inured to war.
Napoleon beat Austrian and Prussian armies, then
spiritless machines, with soldiers full of the fire of the
Revolution. Marlborough beat the victorious veterans
and renowned marshals of France with an army to which
he alone could have given unity and spirit. Of what
other general, in modern history at least, can it be said
that he never fought a battle which he did not win, or
besieged a place which he did not take ? Nor did he ever
fail in an operation unless it was through the fault of the
timorous traders or the intractable potentates with whom
he had to act. No commander ever more completely
clipped the wings of victory. Addison's lines, describing
his calmness and serenity amidst the rage of the doubtful
battle, tell no more than truth. With all his meanness
of character Marlborough is one of the most superb figures,
if not the most superb, in the annals of war.

Soon after Blenheim, and partly in consequence of it,

1707 the ministers at home gained a victory still more glorious,

more fruitful, and more lasting. They effected the union


of England with Scotland. How beneficent the work
of the Commonwealth and the Protector had been ap-
peared by what followed from its reversal. Scotland
had been the scene of all that was worst in the tyranny
of the Restoration. She had been a satrapy governed
by a council of tyrannical and persecuting^^^bbers with
thumb-screws and dragonades. Courts of justice had>
relapsed into corruption. The heritable jurisdictions had
been restored. The national religion had been driven to
the hills and the wilds. Anglicanism, hateful to Scot-
land in itself and because it was English, had been forced
upon her. Her martyr peasants had been shot down by
the troopers of Graham of Claverhouse, Turner, and
Dalziel ; her martyr women had been tied to stakes on
the seashore to be drowned by the tide. When the
Revolution came, theocratic Presbyterianism had resumed
its sway, narrowed and embittered by persecution. The
Episcopal clergy had been rabbled and Episcopacy had
been persecuted in its turn. The dark theocracy had
put to death a boy of eighteen for having spoken against
the doctrine of the Trinity, refusing even a respite
to his penitent prayer. The loss of free trade with
England and her colonies had ruined Scotch commerce,
and in place of the prosperity which had marked the
reign of the great usurper, penury, with its attendant
barbarism, prevailed. The habitations of the people
were poor, their manners coarse and unclean. Vaga-
bonds swarmed, and the great Scotch patriot, Fletcher
of Saltoun, could see no remedy for the pest but slavery.
The Highlands, Cromwell's fortresses having been dis-
mantled and his arm withdrawn, had relapsed into law-
lessness and heathenism. They were again the lair of


predatory clans which raided on Lowland fields and
herds. The clans had been brought down by the per-
secuting government as a scourge upon the covenanting
Lowlands. William had earnestly desired a union, and
with that view had done his best to prevent the con-
tinuance and deepening of the religious chasm which
divided the two nations from each other. But instead
of union the relations between the two kingdoms had
been growing more strained than ever. The attempt of
the Stuarts to force Episcopacy on Scotland had inflamed
the antagonism of the churches. The terrible tragedy

1692 of Glencoe, though not only a purely Scotch but a purely
Highland affair, and at the time unnoticed, had now,
because the unlucky warrant had been signed by an Eng-
lish king, become a crime of England against Scotland.
To give Scotland back her commerce and relieve her of
her penury, Paterson, a clever but hair-brained advent-

1693 urer, had devised the Darien Company, which was to
bring to her wealth untold, irrespectively of her natural
resources or industry, by occupying the Isthmus of Darien
and there handling the trade of the golden east. Under
the influence of the dazzling vision, Scotland went wild.
Spanish hostility combined with the pestilential air of
Darien and the inherent folly of the enterprise to pro-
duce a miserable failure. But enough jealousy had been

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 56 of 84)