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History of the English People, Volume VII (of 8),
by John Richard Green

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Title: History of the English People, Volume VII (of 8)

The Revolution, 1683-1760; Modern England, 1760-1767

Author: John Richard Green

Release Date: April 30, 2008 [eBook #25261]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Paul Murray, Lisa Reigel,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team


Transcriber's note:

Click on the page number in the left margin to see an image of the original page.

The index for the entire 8 volume set of History of the English People was located at the end of Volume VIII. For ease in accessibility, it has been removed and produced as a separate volume (

More notes follow the text.






  • THE REVOLUTION, 1683-1760.
  • MODERN ENGLAND 1760-1767




  • First Edition, 1879; Reprinted 1882, 1886, 1891.
  • Eversley Edition, 1896.


The Fall of the Stuarts. 1683-1714. 1
The House of Hanover. 1714-1760. 147
England and its Empire. 1760-1767. 273


  • 1683-1714

The King's Triumph.

In 1683 the Constitutional opposition which had held Charles so long in check lay crushed at his feet. A weaker man might easily have been led to play the mere tyrant by the mad outburst of loyalty which greeted his triumph. On the very day when the crowd around Russell's scaffold were dipping their handkerchiefs in his blood as in the blood of a martyr the University of Oxford solemnly declared that the doctrine of passive obedience even to the worst of rulers was a part of religion. But Charles saw that immense obstacles still lay in the road of a mere tyranny. Ormond and the great Tory party which had rallied to his succour against the Exclusionists were still steady for parliamentary and legal government. The Church was as powerful as ever, and the mention of a renewal of the Indulgence to Nonconformists 7-002]had to be withdrawn before the opposition of the bishops. He was careful therefore during the few years which remained to him to avoid the appearance of any open violation of public law. He suspended no statute. He imposed no tax by Royal authority. Galling to the Crown as the freedom of the press and the Habeas Corpus Act were soon found to be, Charles made no attempt to curtail the one or to infringe the other. But while cautious to avoid rousing popular resistance, he moved coolly and resolutely forward on the path of despotism. It was in vain that Halifax pressed for energetic resistance to the aggressions of France, for the recall of Monmouth, or for the calling of a fresh Parliament. Like every other English statesman he found he had been duped. Now that his work was done he was suffered to remain in office but left without any influence in the government. Hyde, who was created Earl of Rochester, still remained at the head of the Treasury; but Charles soon gave more of his confidence to the supple and acute Sunderland, who atoned for his desertion of the king's cause in the heat of the Exclusion Bill by an acknowledgement of his error and a pledge of entire accordance with the king's will.

New Town Charters.

The protests both of Halifax and of Danby, who was now released from the Tower, in favour of a return to Parliaments were treated with indifference, the provisions of the Triennial Act 7-003]were disregarded, and the Houses remained unassembled during the remainder of the king's reign. His secret alliance with France furnished Charles with the funds he immediately required, and the rapid growth of the customs through the increase of English commerce promised to give him a revenue which, if peace were preserved, would save him from any further need of fresh appeals to the Commons. Charles was too wise however to look upon Parliaments as utterly at an end: and he used this respite to secure a House of Commons which should really be at his disposal. The strength of the Country party had been broken by its own dissensions over the Exclusion Bill and by the flight or death of its more prominent leaders. Whatever strength it retained lay chiefly in the towns, whose representation was for the most part virtually or directly in the hands of their corporations, and whose corporations, like the merchant class generally, were in sympathy Whig. The towns were now attacked by writs of "quo warranto," which called on them to show cause why their charters should not be declared forfeited on the ground of abuse of their privileges. A few verdicts on the side of the Crown brought about a general surrender of municipal liberties; and the grant of fresh charters, in which all but ultra-loyalists were carefully excluded from their corporations, placed the representation of the boroughs in the hands of the Crown. Against 7-004]active discontent Charles had long been quietly providing by the gradual increase of his Guards. The withdrawal of its garrison from Tangier enabled him to raise their force to nine thousand well-equipped soldiers, and to supplement this force, the nucleus of our present standing army, by a reserve of six regiments which were maintained till they should be needed at home in the service of the United Provinces.

Death of Charles.

But great as the danger really was it lay not so much in isolated acts of tyranny as in the character and purpose of Charles himself, and his death at the very moment of his triumph saved English freedom. He had regained his old popularity; and at the news of his sickness in the spring of 1685 crowds thronged the churches, praying that God would raise him up again to be a father to his people. But while his subjects were praying the one anxiety of the king was to die reconciled to the Catholic Church. His chamber was cleared, and a priest named Huddleston, who had saved his life after the battle of Worcester, received his confession and administered the last sacraments. Not a word of this ceremony was whispered when the nobles and bishops were recalled into the royal presence, and Charles though steadily refusing the communion which Bishop Ken offered him accepted the bishop's absolution. All the children of his mistresses save Monmouth were gathered round the bed, and Charles 7-005]commended them to his brother's protection by name. The scene which followed is described by a chaplain to one of the prelates who stood round the dying king. Charles "blessed all his children one by one, pulling them on to his bed; and then the bishops moved him, as he was the Lord's anointed and the father of his country, to bless them also and all that were there present, and in them the general body of his subjects. Whereupon, the room being full, all fell down upon their knees, and he raised himself in his bed and very solemnly blessed them all." The strange comedy was at last over. Charles died as he had lived: brave, witty, cynical, even in the presence of death. Tortured as he was with pain, he begged the bystanders to forgive him for being so unconscionable a time in dying. One mistress, the Duchess of Portsmouth, hung weeping over his bed. His last thought was of another mistress, Nell Gwynn. "Do not," he whispered to his successor ere he sank into a fatal stupor, "do not let poor Nelly starve!"

James the Second.

The death of Charles in February 1685 placed his brother James, the Duke of York, upon the throne. His character and policy were already well known. Of all the Stuart rulers James is the only one whose intellect was below mediocrity. His mind was dull and narrow though orderly and methodical; his temper dogged and arbitrary but sincere. His religious and political tendencies 7-006]had always been the same. He had always cherished an entire belief in the royal authority and a hatred of Parliaments. His main desire was for the establishment of Catholicism as the only means of ensuring the obedience of his people; and his old love of France was quickened by the firm reliance which he placed on the aid of Lewis in bringing about that establishment. But the secrecy in which his political action had as yet been shrouded and his long absence from England had hindered any general knowledge of his designs. His first words on his accession, his promise to "preserve this Government both in Church and State as it is now by law established," were welcomed by the whole country with enthusiasm. All the suspicions of a Catholic sovereign seemed to have disappeared. "We have the word of a King!" ran the general cry, "and of a King who was never worse than his word." The conviction of his brother's faithlessness in fact stood James in good stead. He was looked upon as narrow, impetuous, stubborn, and despotic in heart, but even his enemies did not accuse him of being false. Above all, incredible as such a belief may seem now, he was believed to be keenly alive to the honour of his country and resolute to free it from foreign dependence.

James and Parliament.

From the first indeed there were indications that James understood his declaration in a different sense from the nation. He was resolved to make 7-007]no disguise of his own religion; the chapel in which he had hitherto worshipped with closed doors was now thrown open and the king seen at Mass. He regarded attacks on his faith as attacks on himself, and at once called on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London to hinder all preaching against Catholicism as a part of their "duty" to their king. He made no secret of his resolve to procure freedom of worship for his co-religionists while still refusing it to the rest of the Nonconformists, whom he hated as republicans and Exclusionists. All was passed over however in the general confidence. It was necessary to summon a Parliament, for the royal revenue ceased with the death of Charles; but the elections, swayed at once by the tide of loyalty and by the command of the boroughs which the surrender of their charters had given to the Crown, sent up in May a House of Commons in which James found few members who were not to his mind. His appointment indeed of Catholic officers in the army was already exciting murmurs; but these were hushed as James repeated his pledge of maintaining the established order both in Church and State. The question of religious security was waived at a hint of the royal displeasure, and a revenue of nearly two millions was granted to the king for life.

Argyle's Rising.

All that was wanted to rouse the loyalty of the country into fanaticism was supplied by a rebellion in the North, and by another under Monmouth in 7-008]the West. The hopes of Scotch freedom had clung ever since the Restoration to the house of Argyle. The great Marquis indeed had been brought to the block at the king's return. His son, the Earl of Argyle, had been unable to save himself even by a life of singular caution and obedience from the ill-will of the vile politicians who governed Scotland. He was at last convicted of treason in 1682 on grounds at which every English statesman stood aghast. "We should not hang a dog here," Halifax protested, "on the grounds on which my Lord Argyle has been sentenced to death." The Earl escaped however to Holland, and lived peaceably there during the last six years of the reign of Charles. Monmouth had found the same refuge at the Hague, where a belief in the king's love and purpose to recall him secured him a kindly reception from William of Orange. But the accession of James was a death-blow to the hopes of the Duke, while it stirred the fanaticism of Argyle to a resolve of wresting Scotland from the rule of a Catholic king. The two leaders determined to appear in arms in England and the North, and the two expeditions sailed within a few days of each other. Argyle's attempt was soon over. His clan of the Campbells rose on the Earl's landing in Cantyre, but the country had been occupied for the king, and quarrels among the exiles who accompanied him robbed his effort of every chance of success. His 7-009]force scattered without a fight; and Argyle, arrested in an attempt to escape, was hurried on the 30th of June to a traitor's death.

Monmouth's Rising.

Monmouth for a time found brighter fortune. His popularity in the West was great, and though the gentry held aloof when he landed at Lyme and demanded an effective parliamentary government as well as freedom of worship for Protestant Nonconformists, the farmers and traders of Devonshire and Dorset flocked to his standard. The clothier-towns of Somerset were true to the Whig cause, as they had been true to the cause of the Long Parliament; and on the entrance of the Duke into Taunton the popular enthusiasm showed itself in the flowers which wreathed every door, as well as in a train of young girls who presented Monmouth with a Bible and a flag. His forces now amounted to six thousand men, but whatever chance of success he might have had was lost by his assumption of the title of king, his right to which he had pledged himself hitherto to leave for decision to a free Parliament. The two Houses offered to support James with their lives and fortunes, and passed a bill of attainder against the Duke. The gentry, still true to the cause of Mary and of William, held stubbornly aloof; while the Guards and the regiments from Tangier hurried to the scene of the revolt and the militia gathered to the royal standard. Foiled in an attempt on Bristol and Bath, Monmouth fell back 7-010]on Bridgewater, and flung himself in the night of the 6th of July on the king's forces as they lay encamped hard by on Sedgemoor. The surprise failed; and the brave peasants and miners who followed the Duke, checked in their advance by a deep drain which crossed the moor, were broken after a short but desperate resistance by the royal horse. Their leader fled from the field, and after a vain effort to escape from the realm was captured and sent pitilessly to the block.

The Bloody Circuit.

Never had England shown a firmer loyalty; but its loyalty was changed into horror by the terrible measures of repression which followed on the victory of Sedgemoor. Even North, the Lord Keeper, a servile tool of the Crown, protested against the license and bloodshed in which the troops were suffered to indulge after the battle. His protest however was disregarded, and he withdrew broken-hearted from the Court to die. James was in fact resolved on a far more terrible vengeance; and the Chief-Justice Jeffreys, a man of great natural powers but of violent temper, was sent to earn the Seals by a series of judicial murders which have left his name a byword for cruelty. Three hundred and fifty rebels were hanged in what has ever since, been known as the "Bloody Circuit," while Jeffreys made his way through Dorset and Somerset. More than eight hundred were sold into slavery beyond sea. A yet larger number were whipped and imprisoned. 7-011]The Queen, the maids of honour, the courtiers, even the Judge himself, made shameless profit from the sale of pardons. What roused pity above all were the cruelties wreaked upon women. Some were scourged from market-town to market-town. Mrs. Lisle, the wife of one of the Regicides, was sent to the block at Winchester for harbouring a rebel. Elizabeth Gaunt for the same act of womanly charity was burned at Tyburn. Pity turned into horror when it was found that cruelty such as this was avowed and sanctioned by the king. Even the cold heart of General Churchill, to whose energy the victory at Sedgemoor had mainly been owing, revolted at the ruthlessness with which James turned away from all appeals for mercy. "This marble," he cried as he struck the chimney-piece on which he leant, "is not harder than the king's heart."

James and France.

But it was soon plain that the terror which this butchery was meant to strike into the people was part of a larger purpose. The revolt was made a pretext for a vast increase of the standing army. Charles, as we have seen, had silently and cautiously raised it to nearly ten thousand men; James raised it at one swoop to twenty thousand. The employment of this force was to be at home, not abroad, for the hope of an English policy in foreign affairs had already faded away. In the designs which James had at heart he could look for no consent from Parliament; and however his 7-012]pride revolted against a dependence on France, it was only by French gold and French soldiers that he could hope to hold the Parliament permanently at bay. A week therefore after his accession he assured Lewis that his gratitude and devotion to him equalled that of Charles himself. "Tell your master," he said to the French ambassador, "that without his protection I can do nothing. He has a right to be consulted, and it is my wish to consult him, about everything." The pledge of subservience was rewarded with the promise of a subsidy, and the promise was received with the strongest expressions of delight and servility. The hopes which the Prince of Orange had conceived from his father-in-law's more warlike temper were nipped by a refusal to allow him to visit England. All the caution and reserve of Charles the Second in his dealings with France was set aside. Sunderland, the favourite Minister of the new king as he had been of the old, not only promised during the session to avoid the connection with Spain and Holland which the Parliament was known to desire, but "to throw aside the mask and openly break with them as soon as the royal revenue is secured." The support indeed which James needed was a far closer and firmer support than his brother had sought for. Lewis on the other hand trusted him as he could never trust Charles. His own bigotry understood the bigotry of the new sovereign. "The confirmation 7-013]of the King's authority and the establishment of religion," he wrote, "are our common interest"; and he promised that James should "find in his friendship all the resources which he can expect."

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

Never had the secret league with France seemed so full of danger to English religion. Europe had long been trembling at the ambition of Lewis; it was trembling now at his bigotry. He had proclaimed warfare against civil liberty in his attack upon Holland; he declared war at this moment upon religious freedom by revoking the Edict of Nantes, the measure by which Henry the Fourth after his abandonment of Protestantism secured toleration and the free exercise of their worship for his Protestant subjects. It had been respected by Richelieu even in his victory over the Huguenots, and only lightly tampered with by Mazarin. But from the beginning of his reign Lewis had resolved to set aside its provisions, and his revocation of it at the end of 1685 was only the natural close of a progressive system of persecution. The revocation was followed by outrages more cruel than even the bloodshed of Alva. Dragoons were quartered on Protestant families, women were flung from their sick-beds into the streets, children were torn from their mothers' arms to be brought up in Catholicism, ministers were sent to the galleys. In spite of the royal edicts which forbade even flight to the victims of these horrible atrocities a hundred 7-014]thousand Protestants fled over the borders, and Holland, Switzerland, the Palatinate, were filled with French exiles. Thousands found refuge in England, and their industry established in the fields east of London the silk trade of Spitalfields.

James and the Parliament.

But while Englishmen were looking with horror on these events in France James was taking advantage of the position in which as he believed they placed him. The news of the revocation drew from James expressions of delight. The rapid increase of the conversions to Catholicism which followed on the "dragonnades" raised in him hopes of as general an apostasy in his own dominions. His tone took a new haughtiness and decision. He admitted more Catholic officers into his fresh regiments. He dismissed Halifax from the Privy Council on his refusal to consent to a plan for repealing the Test Act. He met the Parliament on its reassembling in November with a haughty declaration that whether legal or no his grant of commissions to Catholics must not be questioned, and with a demand of supplies for his new troops. Loyal as was the temper of the Houses, their alarm for the Church, their dread of a standing army, was yet stronger than their loyalty. The Commons by the majority of a single vote deferred the grant of supplies till grievances were redressed, and demanded in their address the recall of the illegal commissions on the ground that the continuance of the Catholic officers in 7-015]their posts "may be taken to be a dispensing with that law without Act of Parliament." The Lords took a bolder tone; and the protest of the bishops against any infringement of the Test Act expressed by Bishop Compton of London was backed by the eloquence of Halifax. Their desire for conciliation indeed was shown in an offer to confirm the existing officers in their posts by Act of Parliament, and even to allow fresh nominations of Catholics by the king under the same security. But James had no wish for such a compromise, and the Houses were at once prorogued.

The Test set aside.

The king resolved to obtain from the judges what he could not obtain from Parliament. He remodelled the bench by dismissing four judges who refused to lend themselves to his plans; and in the June of 1686 their successors decided in the case of Sir Edward Hales, a Catholic officer in the army, that a royal dispensation could be pleaded in bar of the Test Act. The principle laid down by the judges "that it is a privilege inseparably connected with the sovereignty of the King to dispense with penal laws, and that according to his own judgment," was applied by James with a reckless impatience of all decency and self-restraint. Catholics were admitted into civil and military offices without stint, and four Catholic peers were sworn as members of the Privy Council. The laws which forbade the presence of Catholic priests in the realm or the open exercise of Catholic 7-016]worship were set at nought. A gorgeous chapel was opened in the palace of St. James for the use of the king. Carmelites, Benedictines, Franciscans, appeared in their religious garb in the streets of London, and the Jesuits set up a crowded school in the Savoy. The quick growth of discontent at these acts would have startled a wiser man into prudence, but James prided himself on an obstinacy which never gave way; and a riot which took place on the opening of a Catholic chapel in the City was followed by the establishment of a camp of thirteen thousand men at Hounslow to overawe the capital.

Scotland and Ireland.

The course which James intended to follow in England was shown indeed by the course he was following in the sister kingdoms. In Scotland he acted as a pure despot. At the close of Charles's reign the extreme Covenanters or "wild Whigs" of the Western shires had formally renounced their allegiance to a "prelatical" king. A smouldering revolt spread over the country that was only held in check by the merciless cruelties with which the royal troops avenged the "rabbling of priests" and the outrages committed by the Whigs on the more prominent persecutors. Such a revolt threw strength into the hands of the government by rallying to its side all who were bent on public order, and this strength was doubled by the landing and failure of Argyle. The Scotch Parliament granted excise and customs not to the 7-017]king only but to his successors, while it confirmed the Acts which established religious conformity. But James was far from being satisfied with a loyalty which made no concession to the "king's religion." He placed the government of Scotland in the hands of two lords, Melfort and Perth, who had embraced his own faith, and put a Catholic in command of the Castle of Edinburgh. The drift of these measures was soon seen. The Scotch Parliament had as yet been the mere creature of the Crown, but servile as were its members there was a point at which their servility stopped. When James boldly required them to legalize the toleration of Catholics they refused to pass such an Act. It was in vain that the king tempted them to consent by the offer of a free trade with England. "Shall we sell our God?" was the indignant reply. James at once ordered the Scotch judges to treat all laws against Catholics as null and void, and his orders were obeyed. In Ireland his policy threw off even the disguise of law. Catholics were admitted by the king's command to the council and to civil offices. A Catholic, Lord Tyrconnell, was put at the head of the army, and set instantly about its re-organization by cashiering Protestant officers and by admitting two thousand Catholic natives into its ranks.

The High Commission.

Meanwhile in England James was passing from the mere attempt to secure freedom for his 7-018]fellow-religionists to a bold and systematic attack upon the Church. He had at the outset of his reign forbidden the clergy to preach against "the king's religion"; and ordered the bishops to act upon this prohibition. But no steps were taken by them to carry out this order; and the pulpits of the capital soon rang with controversial sermons. For such a sermon James now called on Compton, the Bishop of London, to suspend Dr. Sharp, the rector of St. Giles'-in-the-Fields. Compton answered that as judge he was ready to examine into the case if brought before him according to law. To James the matter was not one of law but of prerogative. He regarded his ecclesiastical supremacy as a weapon providentially left to him for undoing the work which it had enabled his predecessors to do. Under Henry and Elizabeth it had been used to turn the Church of England from Catholic to Protestant. Under James it might be used to turn the Church back again from Protestant to Catholic. The High Commission indeed which had enforced this supremacy had been declared illegal by an Act of the Long Parliament, and this Act had been confirmed by the Parliament of the Restoration. But it was thought possible to evade this Act by omitting from the instructions on which the Commission acted the extraordinary powers and jurisdictions by which its predecessor had given offence. With this reserve, seven commissioners were appointed 7-019]in the summer of 1686 for the government of the Church with the Chancellor, Lord Jeffreys, at their head. The first blow of the Commission was at the Bishop of London whose refusal to suspend Sharp was punished by his own suspension. But the pressure of the Commission only drove the clergy to a bolder defiance of the royal will. The legality of the Commission and of its proceedings was denied. Not even the Pope, it was said, had claimed such rights over the conduct and jurisdiction of English bishops as were claimed by the king. The prohibition of attacks on the "king's religion" was set at nought. Sermons against superstition were preached from every pulpit; and the two most famous divines of the day, Tillotson and Stillingfleet, put themselves at the head of a host of controversialists who scattered pamphlets and tracts from every printing press.

James and the Tories.

It was in vain that the bulk of the Catholic gentry stood aloof and predicted the inevitable reaction which the king's course must bring about, or that Rome itself counselled greater moderation. James was infatuated with what seemed to be the success of his enterprises. He looked on the opposition he experienced as due to the influence of the High Church Tories who had remained in power since the reaction of 1681, and these he determined "to chastise." The Duke of Queensberry, the leader of this party in Scotland, was driven from office. Tyrconnell, as we have seen, 7-020]was placed as a check on Ormond in Ireland. In England James resolved to show the world that even the closest ties of blood were as nothing to him if they conflicted with the demands of his faith. His earlier marriage with Anne Hyde, the daughter of Clarendon, bound both the Chancellor's sons to his fortunes; and on his accession he had sent his elder brother-in-law, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, as Lord-Lieutenant to Ireland, and raised the younger, Laurence, Earl of Rochester, who had long been a minister under Charles the Second, to the post of Lord Treasurer. But the sons of Hyde were as staunch to the old Cavalier doctrines of Church and State as Hyde himself. Rochester therefore was told in the opening of 1687 that the king could not safely entrust so great a charge to any one who did not share his sentiments on religion, and on his refusal to abandon his faith he was deprived of the White Staff. His brother Clarendon shared his fall. A Catholic, Lord Bellasys, became First Lord of the Treasury, which was again put into commission after Rochester's removal; and another Catholic, Lord Arundell, became Lord Privy Seal; while Father Petre, a Jesuit, was called to the Privy Council.

The Tory Nobles.

The dismissal of Rochester sprang mainly from a belief that with such a minister James would fail to procure from the Parliament that freedom for Catholics which he was bent on establishing. 7-021]It was in fact a declaration that on this matter none in the king's service must oppose the king's will, and it was followed up by the dismissal of one official after another who refused to aid in the repeal of the Test Act. But acts like these were of no avail against the steady growth of resistance. If the great Tory nobles were staunch for the Crown, they were as resolute Englishmen in their hatred of mere tyranny as the Whigs themselves. James gave the Duke of Norfolk the sword of State to carry before him as he went to Mass. The Duke stopped at the Chapel door. "Your father would have gone further," said the king. "Your Majesty's father was the better man," replied the Duke, "and he would not have gone so far." The young Duke of Somerset was ordered to introduce into the Presence Chamber the Papal Nuncio, who was now received in State at Windsor in the teeth of a statute which forbade diplomatic relations with Rome. "I am advised," Somerset answered, "that I cannot obey your Majesty without breaking the law." "Do you not know that I am above the law?" James asked angrily. "Your Majesty may be, but I am not," retorted the Duke. He was dismissed from his post, but the spirit of resistance spread fast. In spite of the king's letters the governors of the Charterhouse, who numbered among them some of the greatest English nobles, refused to admit a Catholic to the benefits of the foundation. The 7-022]most devoted loyalists began to murmur when James demanded apostasy as a proof of their loyalty.

James and the Nonconformists.

He had in fact to abandon at last all hope of bringing the Church or the Tories over to his will, and in the spring of 1687 he turned, as Charles had turned, to the Nonconformists. He published in April a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended the operation of the penal laws against Nonconformists and Catholics alike, and of every Act which imposed a test as a qualification for office in Church or State. A hope was expressed that this measure would be sanctioned by Parliament when it was suffered to reassemble. The temptation to accept the Indulgence was great, for since the fall of Shaftesbury persecution had fallen heavily on the Protestant dissidents, and we can hardly wonder that the Nonconformists wavered for a time or that numerous addresses of thanks were presented to James. But the great body of them, and all the more venerable names among them, remained true to the cause of freedom. Baxter, Howe, and Bunyan all refused an Indulgence which could only be purchased by the violent overthrow of the law. It was plain that the only mode of actually securing the end which James had in view was to procure a repeal of the Test Act from Parliament itself. It was to this that the king's dismissal of Rochester and other ministerial changes had been directed; but James 7-023]found that the temper of the existing Houses, so far as he could test it, remained absolutely opposed to his project. In July therefore he dissolved the Parliament, and summoned a new one. In spite of the support he might expect from the Nonconformists in the elections, he knew that no free Parliament could be brought to consent to the repeal. The Lords indeed could be swamped by lavish creations of new peers. "Your troop of horse," Lord Sunderland told Churchill, "shall be called up into the House of Lords." But it was a harder matter to secure a compliant House of Commons. No effort however was spared. The Lord-Lieutenants were directed to bring about such a "regulation" of the governing body in boroughs as would ensure the return of candidates pledged to the repeal of the Test, and to question every magistrate in their county as to his vote. Half of them at once refused to comply, and a string of great nobles—the Lords of Oxford, Shrewsbury, Dorset, Derby, Pembroke, Rutland, Abergavenny, Thanet, Northampton, and Abingdon—were dismissed from their Lord-Lieutenancies. The justices when questioned simply replied that they would vote according to their consciences, and send members to Parliament who would protect the Protestant religion. After repeated "regulations" it was found impossible to form a corporate body which would return representatives willing to comply with the royal will. All thought of a 7-024]Parliament had to be abandoned; and even the most bigoted courtiers counselled moderation at this proof of the stubborn opposition which James must prepare to encounter from the peers, the gentry, and the trading classes.

The Attack on the Universities.

Estranged as he was from the whole body of the nobles and gentry it remained for James to force the clergy also into an attitude of resistance. Even the tyranny of the Commission had failed to drive into open opposition men who had been preaching Sunday after Sunday the doctrine of passive obedience to the worst of kings. But James who had now finally abandoned all hope of winning the aid of the Church in his project cared little for passive obedience. He looked on the refusal of the clergy to support his plans as freeing him from the pledge he had given to maintain the Church as established by law; and he resolved to attack it in the great institutions which had till now been its strongholds. To secure the Universities for Catholicism was to seize the only training schools which the English clergy possessed as well as the only centres of higher education which existed for the English gentry. It was on such a seizure however that James's mind was set. Little indeed was done with Cambridge. A Benedictine monk, who presented himself with royal letters recommending him for the degree of a Master of Arts, was rejected on his refusal to sign the Articles; and the 7-025]Vice-Chancellor was summoned before the Privy Council and punished for his rejection by deprivation from office. But a violent and obstinate attack was directed against Oxford. The Master of University College, Obadiah Walker, who declared himself a Catholic convert, was authorized to retain his post in defiance of the law. A Roman Catholic named Massey was presented by the Crown to the Deanery of Christ Church. Magdalen was the wealthiest College in the University; and James in 1687 recommended one Farmer, a Catholic of infamous life and not even qualified by statute for the office, to its vacant headship. The Fellows remonstrated, and on the rejection of their remonstrance chose Hough, one of their own number, as their President. The Ecclesiastical Commission declared the election void; and James, shamed out of his first candidate, recommended a second, Parker, Bishop of Oxford, a Catholic in heart and the meanest of his courtiers. The Fellows however pleaded that Hough was already chosen, and they held stubbornly to their legal head. It was in vain that the king visited Oxford, summoned them to his presence, and rated them as they knelt before him like schoolboys. "I am King," he said; "I will be obeyed! Go to your chapel this instant, and elect the Bishop! Let those who refuse look to it, for they shall feel the whole weight of my hand!" It was seen that to give Magdalen as 7-026]well as Christ Church into Catholic hands was to turn Oxford into a Catholic seminary, and the king's threats were disregarded. But they were soon carried out. A special Commission visited the University, pronounced Hough an intruder, set aside his appeal to the law, burst open the door of his president's house to install Parker in his place, and on their refusal to submit deprived the Fellows of their fellowships. The expulsion of the Fellows was followed on a like refusal by that of the Demies. Parker, who died immediately after his installation, was succeeded by a Roman Catholic bishop in partibus, named Bonaventure Gifford, and twelve Roman Catholics were admitted to fellowships in a single day.

James and William.

With peers, gentry, and clergy in dogged opposition the scheme of wresting a repeal of the Test Act from a new Parliament became impracticable, and without this—as James well knew—his system of Indulgence, even if he was able to maintain it so long, must end with his death and the accession of a Protestant sovereign. It was to provide against such a defeat of his designs that he stooped to ask the aid of William of Orange. Ever since his accession William had followed his father-in-law's course with a growing anxiety. For while England was seething with the madness of the Popish Plot and of the royalist reaction the great European struggle which occupied the whole mind of the Prince had been drawing nearer and 7-027]nearer. The patience of Germany indeed was worn out by the ceaseless aggressions of Lewis, and in 1686 its princes had bound themselves at Augsburg to resist all further encroachments on the part of France. From that moment war became inevitable, and in such a war William had always held that the aid of England was essential to success. But his efforts to ensure English aid had utterly failed. James, as William soon came to know, had renewed his brother's secret treaty with France; and even had this been otherwise his quarrel with his people would of itself have prevented him from giving any aid in a struggle abroad. The Prince could only silently look on with a desperate hope that James might yet be brought to a nobler policy. He refused all encouragement to the leading malcontents who were already calling on him to interfere in arms. On the other hand he declined to support the king in his schemes for the abolition of the Test. If he still cherished hopes of bringing about a peace between the king and people which might enable him to enlist England in the Grand Alliance, they vanished in 1687 before the Declaration of Indulgence. It was at this moment, at the end of May, that James called on him and Mary to declare themselves in favour of the abolition of the penal laws and of the Test. "Conscience, honour, and good policy," wrote James, "bind me to procure safety for the Catholics. I cannot 7-028]leave those who have remained faithful to the old and true religion subject to the oppression under which the laws place them."

The King's hopes.

But simultaneously with the king's appeal letters of great import reached the Prince from the leading nobles. Some, like the Hydes, simply assured him of their friendship. The Bishop of London added assurances of support. Others, like Devonshire, Nottingham, and Shrewsbury, cautiously or openly warned the Prince against compliance with the king's demand. Lord Churchill announced the resolve of Mary's sister Anne to stand in any case by the cause of Protestantism. Danby, the leading representative of the great Tory party, told the Dutch ambassador plainly to warn William that if James was suffered to pursue his present course, and above all to gain control over the Parliament, he would leave the Catholic party strong enough at his death to threaten Mary's succession. The letters dictated William's answer. No one, he truly protested, loathed religious persecution more than he himself did, but in relaxing political disabilities James called on him to countenance an attack on his own religion. "I cannot," he ended, "concur in what your Majesty desires of me." William's refusal was justified, as we have seen, by the result of the efforts to assemble a Parliament favourable to the repeal of the Test. The wholesale dismissal of justices and Lord-Lieutenants through the 7-029]summer of 1687 failed to shake the resolve of the counties. The "regulation" of their corporations by the displacing of their older members and the substitution of Nonconformists did little to gain the towns. The year 1688 indeed had hardly opened when it was found necessary to adjourn the elections which had been fixed for February, and to make a fresh attempt to win a warmer support from the dissidents and from the country. For James clung with a desperate tenacity to the hope of finding a compliant Parliament. He knew, what was as yet unknown to the world, the fact that his Queen was with child. The birth of an heir would meet the danger which he looked for from the succession of William and Mary. But James was past middle life, and his death would leave his boy at the mercy of a Regency which could hardly fail to be composed of men who would undo the king's work and even bring up the young sovereign as a Protestant. His own security, as he thought, against such a course lay in the building up a strong Catholic party, in placing Catholics in the high offices of State, and in providing against their expulsion from these at his death by a repeal of the Test. But such a repeal could only be won from Parliament, and hopeless as the effort seemed James pressed doggedly on in his attempt to secure Houses who would carry out his will.

The Trial of the Bishops.

The renewed Declaration of Indulgence which 7-030]he issued in 1688 was not only intended to win the Nonconformists by fresh assurances of the king's sincerity, it was an appeal to the nation at large. At its close he promised to summon a Parliament in November, and he called on the electors to choose such members as would bring to a successful end the policy he had begun. His resolve, he said, was to make merit the one qualification for office and to establish universal liberty of conscience for all future time. It was in this character of a royal appeal that he ordered every clergyman to read the Declaration during divine service on two successive Sundays. Little time was given for deliberation; but little time was needed. The clergy refused almost to a man to be the instruments of their own humiliation. The Declaration was read in only four of the London churches, and in these the congregation flocked out of church at the first words of it. Nearly all the country parsons refused to obey the royal orders, and the Bishops went with the rest of the clergy. A few days before the appointed Sunday Archbishop Sancroft called his suffragans together, and the six who were able to appear at Lambeth signed a temperate protest to the king in which they declined to publish an illegal Declaration. "It is a standard of rebellion," James exclaimed, as the Primate presented the paper; and the resistance of the clergy was no sooner announced to him than he determined to 7-031]wreak his vengeance on the prelates who had signed the protest. He ordered the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to deprive them of their sees; but in this matter even the Commissioners shrank from obeying him. The Chancellor, Lord Jeffreys, advised a prosecution for libel as an easier mode of punishment; and the Bishops, who refused to give bail, were committed on this charge to the Tower. They passed to their prison amidst the shouts of a great multitude; the sentinels knelt for their blessing as they entered its gates, and the soldiers of the garrison drank their healths. So threatening was the temper of the nation that his ministers pressed James to give way. But his obstinacy grew with the danger. "Indulgence," he said, "ruined my father"; and on the 29th of June the Bishops appeared as criminals at the bar of the King's Bench. The jury had been packed, the judges were mere tools of the Crown, but judges and jury were alike overawed by the indignation of the people at large. No sooner had the foreman of the jury uttered the words "Not guilty" than a roar of applause burst from the crowd, and horsemen spurred along every road to carry over the country the news of the acquittal.

The National discontent.

James was at Hounslow when the news of the verdict reached him, and as he rode from the camp he heard a great shout behind him. "What is that?" he asked. "It is nothing," was the 7-032]reply; "only the soldiers are glad that the Bishops are acquitted!" "Do you call that nothing?" grumbled the king. The shout told him that he stood utterly alone in his realm. The peerage, the gentry, the bishops, the clergy, the universities, every lawyer, every trader, every farmer, stood aloof from him. And now his very soldiers forsook him. The most devoted Catholics pressed him to give way. But to give way was to reverse every act he had done since his accession and to change the whole nature of his government. All show of legal rule had disappeared. Sheriffs, mayors, magistrates, appointed by the Crown in defiance of a parliamentary statute, were no real officers in the eye of the law. Even if the Houses were summoned members returned by officers such as these could form no legal Parliament. Hardly a Minister of the Crown or a Privy Councillor exercised any lawful authority. James had brought things to such a pass that the restoration of legal government meant the absolute reversal of every act he had done. But he was in no mood to reverse his acts. His temper was only spurred to a more dogged obstinacy by danger and remonstrance. "I will lose all," he said to the Spanish ambassador who counselled moderation; "I will lose all or win all." He broke up the camp at Hounslow and dispersed its troops in distant cantonments. He dismissed the two judges who had favoured the acquittal of the 7-033]Bishops. He ordered the chancellor of each diocese to report the names of the clergy who had not read the Declaration of Indulgence. But his will broke fruitlessly against a sullen resistance which met him on every side. Not a chancellor made a return to the Commissioners, and the Commissioners were cowed into inaction by the temper of the nation. When the judges who had displayed their servility to the Crown went on circuit the gentry refused to meet them. A yet fiercer irritation was kindled by the king's resolve to supply the place of the English troops whose temper proved unserviceable for his purposes by drafts from the Catholic army which Tyrconnell had raised in Ireland. Even the Roman Catholic peers at the Council-table protested against this measure; and six officers in a single regiment laid down their commissions rather than enrol the Irish recruits among their men. The ballad of "Lillibullero," a scurrilous attack on the Irish recruits, was sung from one end of England to the other.

The Invitation.

Wide however as the disaffection undoubtedly was the position of James seemed fairly secure. He counted on the aid of France. His army, whatever signs of discontent it might show, was still a formidable force of twenty thousand men. Scotland, disheartened by the failure of Argyle's rising, could give no such help as it gave to the Long Parliament. Ireland on the other hand was 7-034]ready to throw a Catholic army in the king's support on the western coast. It was doubtful too if in England itself disaffection would turn into actual revolt. The Bloody Assize had left its terror on the Whigs. The Tories and Churchmen, angered as they were, were still hampered by their horror of rebellion and their doctrine of non-resistance. Above all the eyes of the nation rested on William and Mary. James was past middle age, and a few years must bring a Protestant successor and restore the reign of law. But in the midst of the struggle with the Church it was announced that the Queen was again with child. The news was received with general unbelief, for five years had passed since the last pregnancy of Mary of Modena, and the unbelief passed into a general expectation of some imposture as men watched the joy of the Catholics and their confident prophecies that the child would be a boy. But, truth or imposture, it was plain that the appearance of a Prince of Wales must bring on a crisis. If the child turned out a boy, and as was certain was brought up a Catholic, the highest Tory had to resolve at last whether the tyranny under which England lay should go on for ever. The hesitation of the country was at an end. Danby, loyal above all to the Church and firm in his hatred of subservience to France, answered for the Tories. Compton answered for the High Churchmen, goaded at last into rebellion 7-035]by the Declaration of Indulgence. The Earl of Devonshire, the Lord Cavendish of the Exclusion struggle, answered for the Nonconformists, who were satisfied with William's promise to procure them toleration, as well as for the general body of the Whigs. The announcement of the boy's birth on the 10th of June was followed ten days after by a formal invitation to William to intervene in arms for the restoration of English liberty and the protection of the Protestant religion. The invitation was signed by Danby, Devonshire, and Compton, the representatives of the great parties whose long fight was hushed at last by a common danger, by two recent converts from the Catholic faith, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Lumley, by Edward the cousin of Lord Russell, and by Henry the brother of Algernon Sidney. It was carried to the Hague by Herbert, the most popular of English seamen, who had been deprived of his command for a refusal to vote against the Test.

James and France.

The Invitation called on the Prince of Orange to land with an army strong enough to justify those who signed it in rising in arms. An outbreak of revolt was in fact inevitable, and either its success or defeat must be equally fatal to William should he refuse to put himself at its head. If the rebels were victorious, their resentment at his desertion of their cause in the hour of need would make Mary's succession impossible and probably 7-036]bring about the establishment of a Commonwealth. On the other hand the victory of the king would not only ruin English freedom and English Protestantism, but fling the whole weight of England in the contest for the liberties of Europe which was now about to open into the scale of France. From the opening of 1688 the signs of a mutual understanding between the English Court and the French had been unmistakeable. James had declared himself on the side of Lewis in the negotiations with the Empire which followed on the Treaty of Augsburg. He had backed Sweden in its threats of war against the Dutch. At the instigation of France he had recalled the English and Scotch troops in the service of the States. He had received supplies from Lewis to send an English fleet to the coast of Holland; and was at this moment supporting at Rome the French side in the quarrel over the Electorate of Cologne, a quarrel which rendered war inevitable. It was certain therefore that success at home would secure James's aid to France in the struggle abroad.

William's Acceptance.

It was this above all which decided the action of the Prince, for the ruling passion in William's heart was the longing to free Europe from the supremacy of France. It was this too which made his enterprise possible, for nothing but a sense of their own danger would have forced his opponents in Holland itself to assent to his expedition. 7-037]Their assent however once gained, William strained all his resources as Admiral and Captain-General to gather a fleet and a sufficient force under pretext of defence against the English fleet which now appeared in the Channel, while Brandenburg promised to supply the place of the Dutch forces during their absence in England by lending the States nine thousand men. As soon as the news of these preparations reached England noble after noble made his way to the Hague. The Earl of Shrewsbury brought £2000 towards the expenses of the expedition. Edward Russell, the representative of the Whig Earl of Bedford, was followed by the representatives of great Tory houses, by the sons of the Marquis of Winchester, of Lord Danby, of Lord Peterborough, and by Lord Macclesfield, a well-known High Churchman. At home the Earls of Danby and Devonshire prepared silently with Lord Lumley for a rising in the North. In spite of the profound secrecy with which all was conducted, the keen instinct of Sunderland, who had stooped to purchase continuance in office at the price of a secret apostasy to Catholicism, detected the preparations of William; and the sense that his master's ruin was at hand encouraged him to tell every secret of James on the promise of a pardon for the crimes to which he had lent himself. James alone remained stubborn and insensate as of old. He had no fear of a revolt unaided by the Prince of Orange, and 7-038]he believed that the threat of a French attack on Holland itself would render William's departure impossible. At the opening of September indeed Lewis declared himself aware of the meaning of the Dutch armaments and warned the States that he should look on an attack upon James as a war upon himself.

James gives way.

Fortunately for William so open an announcement of the union between England and France suited ill with the plans of James. He still looked forward to the coming Parliament, and the knowledge of a league with France was certain to make any Parliament reluctant to admit Catholics to a share in political life. James therefore roughly disavowed the act of Lewis, and William was able to continue his preparations. But even had no such disavowal come the threat of Lewis would have remained an empty one. In spite of the counsel of Louvois he looked on an invasion of Holland as likely to serve English interests rather than French and resolved to open the war by a campaign on the Rhine. In September his troops marched eastward, and the Dutch at once felt themselves secure. The States-General gave their public sanction to William's project, and the armament he had prepared gathered rapidly in the Scheldt. The news of war and of the diversion of the French forces to Germany no sooner reached England than the king passed from obstinacy to panic. By drafts from Scotland and Ireland he had 7-039]mustered forty thousand men, but the temper of the troops robbed him of all trust in them. Help from France was now out of the question. There was nothing for it but to fall back, as Sunderland had for some time been advising him to fall back, on the older policy of a union with the Tory party and the party of the Church; and to win assent for his plans from the coming Parliament by an abandonment of his recent acts. But the haste and completeness with which James reversed his whole course forbade any belief in his sincerity. He personally appealed for support to the Bishops. He dissolved the Ecclesiastical Commission. He replaced the magistrates he had driven from office. He restored their franchises to the towns. The Chancellor carried back the Charter of London in state into the City. The Bishop of Winchester was sent to replace the expelled Fellows of Magdalen. Catholic chapels and Jesuit schools were ordered to be closed.

William's Landing.

Sunderland pressed for the instant calling of a Parliament. But it was still plain that any Parliament would as yet be eager for war with France and would probably call on the king to put the Prince of Orange at the head of his army in such a war. To James therefore Sunderland's counsel seemed treachery, the issue of a secret design with William to place him helpless in the Prince's hands and above all to imperil the succession of his boy, whose birth William had now been 7-040]brought by advice from the English lords to regard as an imposture. He again therefore fell back on France which made new advances to him in the hope of meeting this fresh danger of an attack from England; and in the end of October he dismissed Sunderland from office. But Sunderland had hardly left Whitehall when the Declaration of the Prince of Orange reached England. It demanded the removal of grievances and the calling of a free Parliament which should establish English freedom and religion on a secure basis. It promised toleration to Protestant Nonconformists and freedom of conscience to Catholics. It left the question of the legitimacy of the Prince of Wales and the settlement of the succession to Parliament. James was wounded above all by the doubts thrown on the birth of a Prince; and he produced proofs of the birth before the peers who were in London. But the proofs came too late. Detained by ill winds, beaten back on its first venture by a violent storm, William's fleet of six hundred transports, escorted by fifty men-of-war, anchored on the 5th of November in Torbay; and his army, thirteen thousand strong, entered Exeter amid the shouts of its citizens. Great pains had been taken to strip from William's army the appearance of a foreign force, which might have stirred English feeling to resistance. The core of it consisted of the English and Scottish regiments which had remained in the service of the States in spite of 7-041]their recall by the king. Its foreign divisions were representatives of the whole Protestant world. With the Dutchmen were Brandenburgers and Swedes, and the most brilliant corps in the whole army was composed of French refugees.

The National Rising.

The landing seemed at first a failure. The country remained quiet. William's coming had been unexpected in the West, and no great landowner joined his forces. Though the king's fleet had failed to intercept the expedition it closed in from the Channel to prevent William's escape as soon as he had landed, while the king's army moved rapidly to encounter him in the field. But the pause was one of momentary surprise. Before a week had passed the nobles and squires of the west flocked to William's camp and the adhesion of Plymouth secured his rear. The call of the king's forces to face the Prince in the south no sooner freed the northern parts of England from their presence than the insurrection broke out. Scotland threw off the royal rule. Danby, dashing at the head of a hundred horsemen into York, gave the signal for a rising. The York militia met his appeal with shouts of "A free Parliament and the Protestant religion"; peers and gentry flocked to his standard; and a march on Nottingham united his forces to those under Devonshire who had mustered at Derby the great lords of the midland and eastern counties. Everywhere the revolt was triumphant. The garrison of Hull 7-042]declared for a free Parliament. The Duke of Norfolk appeared at the head of three hundred gentlemen in the market-place at Norwich. At Oxford townsmen and gownsmen greeted Lord Lovelace and the forces he led with uproarious welcome. Bristol threw open its gates to the Prince of Orange, who advanced steadily on Salisbury where James had assembled his forces.

Flight of James.

But the king's army, broken by dissensions and mutual suspicions among its leaders, shrank from an engagement and fell back in disorder at his approach. Its retreat was the signal for a general abandonment of the royal cause. The desertion of Lord Churchill, who had from the first made his support conditional on the calling of a Parliament, a step which the king still hesitated to take, was followed by that of so many other officers that James abandoned the struggle in despair. He fled to London to hear that his daughter Anne had left St. James's to join Danby at Nottingham. "God help me," cried the wretched father, "for my own children have forsaken me!" His spirit was utterly broken by the sudden crash; and though he had promised to call the Houses together and despatched commissioners to Hungerford to treat with William on the terms of a free Parliament, in his heart he had resolved on flight. Parliament, he said to the few who still clung to him, would force on him concessions he could not endure; while flight would enable him to return 7-043]and regain his throne with the assistance of French forces. He only waited therefore for news of the escape of his wife and child on the 10th of December to make his way to the Isle of Sheppey, where a hoy lay ready to carry him to France. Some rough fishermen however who took him for a Jesuit prevented his escape, and a troop of Life Guards brought him back in safety to London. His return revived the hopes of the Tories, who with Clarendon and Rochester at their head looked on the work of the Prince of Orange as done in the overthrow of the king's design of establishing a Catholic despotism, and who trusted that their system would be restored by a reconciliation of James with the Tory Parliament they expected to be returned. Halifax however, though he had long acted with the Tories, was too clear-sighted for hopes such as these. He had taken no part in the invitation or revolt, but now that the revolution was successful he pressed upon William the impossibility of carrying out a new system of government with such a sovereign as James. The Whigs, who had gone beyond hope of forgiveness, backed powerfully these arguments; and in spite of the pledges with which he had landed the Prince was soon as convinced of their wisdom as the Whigs. From this moment it was the policy of William and his advisers to further a flight which removed their chief difficulty out of the way. It would have been hard to depose James 7-044]had he remained, and perilous to keep him prisoner; but the entry of the Dutch troops into London, the silence of the Prince, and an order to leave St. James's filled the king with fresh terrors, and taking advantage of the means of escape which were almost openly placed at his disposal James a second time quitted London and embarked on the 23rd of December unhindered for France.

The Convention.

Before flying James had burnt most of the writs convoking a new Parliament, had disbanded his army, and destroyed so far as he could all means of government. For a few days there was a wild burst of panic and outrage in London, but the orderly instinct of the people soon reasserted itself. The Lords who were at the moment in the capital provided on their own authority as Privy Councillors for the more pressing needs of administration, and quietly resigned their authority into William's hands on his arrival. The difficulty which arose from the absence of any person legally authorized to call Parliament together was got over by convoking the House of Peers, and forming a second body of all members who had sat in the Commons in the reign of Charles the Second together with the Aldermen and Common Councillors of London. Both bodies requested William to take on himself the provisional government of the kingdom, and to issue circular letters inviting the electors of every town and county to send up representatives to a Convention which met on the 7-045]22nd of January 1689. In the new Convention both Houses were found equally resolved against any recall of or negotiation with the fallen king. They were united in entrusting a provisional authority to the Prince of Orange. But with this step their unanimity ended. The Whigs, who formed a majority in the Commons, voted a resolution which, illogical and inconsistent as it seemed, was well adapted to unite in its favour every element of the opposition to James, the Churchman who was simply scared by his bigotry, the Tory who doubted the right of a nation to depose its king, the Whig who held the theory of a contract between King and People. They voted that King James, "having endeavoured to subvert the constitution of this kingdom by breaking the original contract between King and People, and by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, has abdicated the Government, and that the throne is thereby vacant." But in the Lords where the Tories were still in the ascendant the resolution was fiercely debated. Archbishop Sancroft with the high Tories held that no crime could bring about a forfeiture of the crown and that James still remained king, but that his tyranny had given the nation a right to withdraw from him the actual exercise of government and to entrust his functions to a Regency. The moderate Tories 7-046]under Danby's guidance admitted that James had ceased to be king but denied that the throne could be vacant, and contended that from the moment of his abdication the sovereignty vested in his daughter Mary. It was in vain that the eloquence of Halifax backed the Whig peers in struggling for the resolution of the Commons as it stood. The plan of a Regency was lost by a single vote, and Danby's scheme was adopted by a large majority.

Declaration of Rights.

But both the Tory courses found a sudden obstacle in William. He declined to be Regent. He had no mind, he said to Danby, to be his wife's gentleman-usher. Mary on the other hand refused to accept the crown save in conjunction with her husband. The two declarations put an end to the question, and it was settled that William and Mary should be acknowledged as joint sovereigns but that the actual administration should rest with William alone. It had been agreed throughout however that before the throne was filled up the constitutional liberties of the subject must be secured. A Parliamentary Committee in which the most active member was John Somers, a young lawyer who had distinguished himself in the trial of the Bishops and who was destined to play a great part in later history, drew up a Declaration of Rights which after some alterations was adopted by the two Houses. The Declaration recited the misgovernment of James, 7-047]his abdication, and the resolve of the Lords and Commons to assert the ancient rights and liberties of English subjects. It condemned as illegal his establishment of an ecclesiastical commission, and his raising of an army without Parliamentary sanction. It denied the right of any king to suspend or dispense with laws, as they had been suspended or dispensed with of late, or to exact money save by consent of Parliament. It asserted for the subject a right to petition, to a free choice of representatives in Parliament, and to a pure and merciful administration of justice. It declared the right of both Houses to liberty of debate. It demanded securities for the free exercise of their religion by all Protestants, and bound the new sovereign to maintain the Protestant religion as well as the laws and liberties of the nation. "We do claim and insist on the premises," ran the Declaration, "as our undoubted rights and liberties; encouraged by the Declaration of his Highness the Prince, we have confidence that he will perfect the deliverance he has begun and will preserve our rights against all further injury." It ended by declaring the Prince and Princess of Orange King and Queen of England. The Declaration was presented to William and Mary on the 13th of February by the two Houses in the Banqueting Room at Whitehall, and at the close of its recital Halifax, in the name of the Estates of the Realm, prayed them to receive the crown. William 7-048]accepted the offer in his own name and in that of his wife and declared in a few words the resolve of both to maintain the laws and to govern by advice of Parliament.

Lewis and the Revolution.

But William's eyes were fixed less on England than on Europe. His expedition had had in his own eyes a European rather than an English aim, and in his acceptance of the crown he had been moved not so much by personal ambition as by the prospect which offered itself of firmly knitting together England and Holland, the two great Protestant powers whose fleets held the mastery of the sea. But the advance from such a union to the formation of the European alliance against France on which he was bent was a step that still had to be made. Already indeed his action in England had told decisively on the contest. The blunder of Lewis in choosing Germany instead of Holland for his point of attack had been all but atoned for by the brilliant successes with which he opened the war. The whole country west of the Rhine fell at once into his hands; his armies made themselves masters of the Palatinate, and penetrated even to Würtemberg. The hopes of the French king indeed had never been higher than at the moment when the arrival of James at St. Germain dashed all hope to the ground. Lewis was at once thrown back on a war of defence, and the brutal ravages which marked the retreat of his armies from the Rhine revealed the 7-049]bitterness with which his pride stooped to the necessity.

The Grand Alliance.

But his reception of James at St. Germain as still king of England gave fresh force to William's efforts. It was yet doubtful whether William would be able to bring England to a hearty co-operation in the struggle against French ambition. But whatever reluctance there might have been to follow him in an attack on France with the view of saving the liberties of Europe, the stoutest Tory had none in following him in such an attack when it meant simply self-defence against a French restoration of the Stuart king at the cost of English freedom. It was with universal approval that the English Government declared war against Lewis. It was soon followed in this step by Holland, and the two countries at once agreed to stand by one another in their struggle against France. But it was more difficult to secure the co-operation of the two branches of the House of Austria in Germany and Spain, reluctant as they were to join the Protestant powers in league against a Catholic king. Spain however was forced by Lewis into war, for he aimed at the Netherlands as his especial prey; and the court of Vienna at last yielded to the bait held out by Holland of a recognition of its claims to the Spanish succession.

Scotland and the Revolution.

The adhesion of these powers in the spring of 1689 completed the Grand Alliance of the European 7-050]powers which William had designed; and the union of Savoy with the allies girt France in on every side save that of Switzerland with a ring of foes. Lewis was left without a single ally save the Turk; for though the Scandinavian kingdoms stood aloof from the confederacy of Europe their neutrality was unfriendly to him. But the energy and quickness of movement which sprang from the concentration of the power of France in a single hand still left the contest an equal one. The empire was slow to move; the court of Vienna was distracted with a war against the Turks; Spain was all but powerless; Holland and England were alone earnest in the struggle, and England could as yet give little aid in it. One English brigade indeed, formed from the regiments raised by James, joined the Dutch army on the Sambre, and distinguished itself under Churchill, who had been rewarded for his treason with the title of Earl of Marlborough, in a brisk skirmish with the enemy at Walcourt. But for the bulk of his forces William had as yet grave work to do at home. In England not a sword had been drawn for James. In Scotland his tyranny had been yet greater than in England, and so far as the Lowlands went the fall of his tyranny was as rapid and complete. No sooner had he called his troops southward to meet William's invasion than Edinburgh rose in revolt. The western peasants were at once up in arms; and the Episcopalian clergy, 7-051]who had been the instruments of the Stuart misgovernment ever since the Restoration, were rabbled and driven from their parsonages in every parish. The news of these disorders forced William to act, though he was without a show of legal authority over Scotland. On the advice of the Scotch Lords present in London he ventured to summon a Convention similar to that which had been summoned in England, and on his own responsibility to set aside the laws passed by the "Drunken Parliament" of the Restoration which excluded Presbyterians from the Scotch Parliament. This Convention resolved that James had forfeited the crown by misgovernment, and offered it to William and Mary. The offer was accompanied by a Claim of Right framed on the model of the Declaration of Rights to which the two sovereigns had consented in England, but closing with a demand for the abolition of Prelacy. Both crown and claim were accepted, and the arrival of the Scotch regiments which William had brought from Holland gave strength to the new Government.


Its strength was to be roughly tested. On the revolt of the capital John Graham of Claverhouse, whose cruelties in the persecution of the Western Covenanters had been rewarded with high command in the Scotch army and with the title of Viscount Dundee, withdrew with a few troopers from Edinburgh to the Highlands and appealed to the clans. 7-052]In the Highlands nothing was known of English government or misgovernment: all that the Revolution meant to a Highlander was the restoration of the House of Argyle. To many of the clans it meant the restoration of lands which had been granted them on the Earl's attainder; and the zeal of the Macdonalds, the Macleans, the Camerons, who were as ready to join Dundee in fighting the Campbells and the Government which upheld them as they had been ready to join Montrose in the same cause forty years before, was quickened by a reluctance to disgorge their spoil. They were soon in arms. William's Scotch regiments under General Mackay were sent to suppress the rising; but as they climbed the pass of Killiecrankie on the 27th of July 1689 Dundee charged them at the head of three thousand clansmen and swept them in headlong rout down the glen. His death in the moment of victory broke however the only bond which held the Highlanders together, and in a few weeks the host which had spread terror through the Lowlands melted helplessly away. In the next summer Mackay was able to build the strong post of Fort William in the very heart of the disaffected country, and his offers of money and pardon brought about the submission of the clans.

Massacre of Glencoe.

The work of peace was sullied by an act of cruel treachery the memory of which still lingers in the minds of men. Sir John Dalrymple, the 7-053]Master of Stair, in whose hands the government of Scotland at this time mainly rested, had hoped that a refusal of the oath of allegiance would give grounds for a war of extermination and free Scotland for ever from its dread of the Highlanders. He had provided for the expected refusal by orders of a ruthless severity. "Your troops," he wrote to the officer in command, "will destroy entirely the country of Lochaber, Locheil's lands, Keppoch's, Glengarry's, and Glencoe's. Your powers shall be large enough. I hope the soldiers will not trouble the Government with prisoners." But his hopes were disappointed by the readiness with which the clans accepted the offers of the Government. All submitted in good time save Macdonald of Glencoe, whose pride delayed his taking of the oath till six days after the latest date fixed by the proclamation. Foiled in his larger hopes of destruction Dalrymple seized eagerly on the pretext given by Macdonald, and an order "for the extirpation of that sect of robbers" was laid before William and received the royal signature. "The work," wrote the Master of Stair to Colonel Hamilton who undertook it, "must be secret and sudden." The troops were chosen from among the Campbells, the deadly foes of the clansmen of Glencoe, and quartered peacefully among the Macdonalds for twelve days till all suspicion of their errand disappeared. At daybreak on the 13th of February 1692 they fell on their hosts, and in a few 7-054]moments thirty of the clansfolk lay dead on the snow. The rest, sheltered by a storm, escaped to the mountains to perish for the most part of cold and hunger. "The only thing I regret," said the Master of Stair, when the news reached him, "is that any got away."

But whatever horror the Massacre of Glencoe has roused in later days few save Dalrymple knew of it at the time. The peace of the Highlands enabled the work of reorganization to go on quietly at Edinburgh. In accepting the Claim of Right with its repudiation of Prelacy William had in effect restored the Presbyterian Church to which nine-tenths of the Lowland Scotchmen clung, and its restoration was accompanied by the revival of the Westminster Confession as a standard of faith and by the passing of an Act which abolished lay patronage. Against the Toleration Act which the king proposed the Scotch Parliament stood firm. But though the measure failed the king was as firm in his purpose as the Parliament. So long as he reigned, William declared in memorable words, there should be no persecution for conscience' sake. "We never could be of that mind that violence was suited to the advancing of true religion, nor do we intend that our authority shall ever be a tool to the irregular passions of any party."

The Irish Rising.

It was not in Scotland however but in Ireland that James and Lewis hoped to arrest William's 7-055]progress. Ireland had long been the object of special attention on the part of James. In the middle of his reign, when his chief aim was to provide against the renewed depression of his fellow-religionists at his death by any Protestant successor, he had resolved (if we may trust the statement of the French ambassador) to place Ireland in such a position of independence that she might serve as a refuge for his Catholic subjects. It was with a view to the success of this design that Lord Clarendon was dismissed from the Lord-Lieutenancy and succeeded in the charge of the island by the Catholic Earl of Tyrconnell. The new governor, who was raised to a dukedom, went roughly to work. Every Englishman was turned out of office. Every Judge, every Privy Councillor, every Mayor and Alderman of a borough, was required to be a Catholic and an Irishman. The Irish army, raised to the number of fifty thousand men and purged of its Protestant soldiers, was entrusted to Catholic officers. In a few months the English ascendency was overthrown, and the life and fortune of the English settlers were at the mercy of the natives on whom they had trampled since Cromwell's day. The king's flight and the agitation among the native Irish at the news spread panic therefore through the island. Another massacre was believed to be at hand; and fifteen hundred Protestant families, chiefly from the 7-056]south, fled in terror over sea. The Protestants of the north on the other hand drew together at Enniskillen and Londonderry, and prepared for self-defence. The outbreak however was still delayed, and for two months Tyrconnell intrigued with William's Government. But his aim was simply to gain time. He was at this very moment indeed inviting James to return to Ireland, and assuring him of his fidelity. To James this call promised the aid of an army which would enable him to help the Scotch rising and to effect a landing in England, while Lewis saw in it the means of diverting William from giving effectual aid to the Grand Alliance. A staff of French officers with arms, ammunition, and a supply of money was placed therefore at the service of the exiled king, and the news of his coming no sooner reached Dublin at the opening of 1689 than Tyrconnell threw off the mask. A flag was hoisted over Dublin Castle with the words embroidered on its folds "Now or Never." The signal called every Catholic to arms. The maddened Irishmen flung themselves on the plunder which their masters had left and in a few weeks havoc was done, the French envoy told Lewis, which it would take years to repair.

Siege of Londonderry.

It was in this condition that James found Ireland when he landed at Kinsale. The rising of the natives had already baffled his plans. To him as to Lewis Ireland was simply a basis of 7-057]operations against William, and whatever were their hopes of a future restoration of the soil to its older possessors both kings were equally anxious that no strife of races should at this moment interrupt their plans of an invasion of England with the fifty thousand soldiers that Tyrconnell was said to have at his disposal. But long ere James landed the war of races had already begun. To Tyrconnell indeed and the Irish leaders the king's plans were utterly distasteful. They had no wish for an invasion and conquest of England which would replace Ireland again in its position of dependence. Their policy was simply that of Ireland for the Irish, and the first step in such a policy was to drive out the Englishmen who still stood at bay in Ulster. Half of Tyrconnell's army therefore had already been sent against Londonderry, where the bulk of the fugitives found shelter behind a weak wall, manned by a few old guns and destitute even of a ditch. But the seven thousand desperate Englishmen behind the wall made up for its weakness. They rejected with firmness the offers of James, who was still anxious to free his hands from a strife which broke his plans. They kept up their fire even when the neighbouring Protestants with their women and children were brutally driven under their walls and placed in the way of their guns. So fierce were their sallies, so crushing the repulse of his 7-058]attack, that the king's general, Hamilton, at last turned the siege into a blockade. The Protestants died of hunger in the streets and of the fever which comes of hunger, but the cry of the town was still "No Surrender." The siege had lasted a hundred and five days, and only two days' food remained in Londonderry when on the 28th of July an English ship broke the boom across the river, and the besiegers sullenly withdrew.

James and Ireland.

Their defeat was turned into a rout by the men of Enniskillen who struggled through a bog to charge an Irish force of double their number at Newtown Butler, and drove horse and foot before them in a panic which soon spread through Hamilton's whole army. The routed soldiers fell back on Dublin where James lay helpless in the hands of the frenzied Parliament which he had summoned. Every member returned was an Irishman and a Catholic, and their one aim was to undo the successive confiscations which had given the soil to English settlers and to get back Ireland for the Irish. The Act of Settlement, on which all title to property rested, was at once repealed in spite of the king's reluctance. He was told indeed bluntly that if he did not do Ireland justice not an Irishman would fight for him. It was to strengthen this work by ensuring the legal forfeiture of their lands that three thousand Protestants of name and fortune were massed together in the hugest Bill of Attainder 7-059]which the world has seen. To the bitter memory of past wrongs was added the fury of religious bigotry. In spite of the king's promise of religious freedom the Protestant clergy were everywhere driven from their parsonages, Fellows and scholars were turned out of Trinity College, and the French envoy, the Count of Avaux, dared even to propose that if any Protestant rising took place on the English descent, as was expected, it should be met by a general massacre of the Protestants who still lingered in the districts which had submitted to James. To his credit the king shrank horror-struck from the proposal. "I cannot be so cruel," he said, "as to cut their throats while they live peaceably under my government." "Mercy to Protestants," was the cold reply, "is cruelty to Catholics."

The Revolution and the Monarchy.

The long agony of Londonderry was invaluable to England: it foiled the king's hopes of an invasion which would have roused a fresh civil war, and gave the new Government time to breathe. Time was indeed sorely needed. Through the proscription and bloodshed of the new Irish rule William was forced to look helplessly on. The best troops in the army which had been mustered at Hounslow had been sent with Marlborough to the Sambre, and the political embarrassments which grew up around the new Government made it impossible to spare a man of those who remained at home. The great ends of the Revolution were indeed secured, even amidst the confusion and intrigue 7-060]which we shall have to describe, by the common consent of all. On the great questions of civil liberty Whig and Tory were now at one. The Declaration of Rights was turned into the Bill of Rights by the Convention which had now become a Parliament, and the passing of this measure in 1689 restored to the monarchy the character which it had lost under the Tudors and the Stuarts. The right of the people through its representatives to depose the king, to change the order of succession, and to set on the throne whom they would, was now established. All claim of Divine Right or hereditary right independent of the law was formally put an end to by the election of William and Mary. Since their day no English sovereign has been able to advance any claim to the crown save a claim which rested on a particular clause in a particular Act of Parliament. William, Mary, and Anne, were sovereigns simply by virtue of the Bill of Rights. George the First and his successors have been sovereigns solely by virtue of the Act of Settlement. An English monarch is now as much the creature of an Act of Parliament as the pettiest tax-gatherer in his realm.

Taxation and the Army.

Nor was the older character of the kingship alone restored. The older constitution returned with it. Bitter experience had taught England the need of restoring to the Parliament its absolute power over taxation. The grant of revenue for 7-061]life to the last two kings had been the secret of their anti-national policy, and the first act of the new legislature was to restrict the grant of the royal revenue to a term of four years. William was bitterly galled by the provision. "The gentlemen of England trusted King James," he said, "who was an enemy of their religion and their laws, and they will not trust me, by whom their religion and their laws have been preserved." But the only change brought about in the Parliament by this burst of royal anger was a resolve henceforth to make the vote of supplies an annual one, a resolve which, in spite of the slight changes introduced by the next Tory Parliament, soon became an invariable rule. A change of almost as great importance established the control of Parliament over the army. The hatred to a standing army which had begun under Cromwell had only deepened under James; but with the Continental war the existence of an army was a necessity. As yet however it was a force which had no legal existence. The soldier was simply an ordinary subject; there were no legal means of punishing strictly military offences or of providing for military discipline: and the assumed power of billeting soldiers in private houses had been taken away by the law. The difficulty both of Parliament and the army was met by a Mutiny Act. The powers requisite for discipline in the army were conferred by Parliament 7-062]on its officers, and provision was made for the pay of the force, but both pay and disciplinary powers were granted only for a single year.

Parliament and the Revolution.

The Mutiny Act, like the grant of supplies, has remained annual ever since the Revolution; and as it is impossible for the State to exist without supplies or for the army to exist without discipline and pay the annual assembly of Parliament has become a matter of absolute necessity. The greatest constitutional change which our history has witnessed was thus brought about in an indirect but perfectly efficient way. The dangers which experience had lately shown lay in the Parliament itself were met with far less skill. Under Charles the Second England had seen a Parliament, which had been returned in a moment of reaction, maintained without fresh election for eighteen years. A Triennial Bill which limited the duration of a Parliament to three was passed with little opposition, but fell before the dislike and veto of William. To counteract the influence which a king might obtain by crowding the Commons with officials proved a yet harder task. A Place Bill, which excluded all persons in the employment of the State from a seat in Parliament, was defeated, and wisely defeated, in the Lords. The modern course of providing against a pressure from the Court or the administration by excluding all minor officials, but of preserving the hold of Parliament over the great officers of State by 7-063]admitting them into its body, seems as yet to have occurred to nobody. It is equally strange that while vindicating its right of Parliamentary control over the public revenue and the army the Bill of Rights should have left by its silence the control of trade to the Crown. It was only a few years later, in the discussions on the charter granted to the East India Company, that the Houses silently claimed and obtained the right of regulating English commerce.

The Toleration Act.

The religious results of the Revolution were hardly less weighty than the political. In the common struggle against Catholicism Churchman and Nonconformist had found themselves, as we have seen, strangely at one; and schemes of Comprehension became suddenly popular. But with the fall of James the union of the two bodies abruptly ceased; and the establishment of a Presbyterian Church in Scotland, together with the "rabbling" of the Episcopalian clergy in its western shires, revived the old bitterness of the clergy towards the dissidents. The Convocation rejected the scheme of the Latitudinarians for such modifications of the Prayer-Book as would render possible a return of the Nonconformists, and a Comprehension Bill, which was introduced into Parliament, failed to pass in spite of the king's strenuous support. William's attempt to partially admit Dissenters to civil equality by a repeal of the Corporation Act proved equally 7-064]fruitless. Active persecution however had now become distasteful to all; the pledge of religious liberty given to the Nonconformists to ensure their aid in the Revolution had to be redeemed; and the passing of a Toleration Act in 1689 practically established freedom of worship. Whatever the religious effect of this failure of the Latitudinarian schemes may have been its political effect has been of the highest value. At no time had the Church been so strong or so popular as at the Revolution, and the reconciliation of the Nonconformists would have doubled its strength. It is doubtful whether the disinclination to all political change which has characterised it during the last two hundred years would have been affected by such a change; but it is certain that the power of opposition which it has wielded would have been enormously increased. As it was, the Toleration Act established a group of religious bodies whose religious opposition to the Church forced them to support the measures of progress which the Church opposed. With religious forces on the one side and on the other England has escaped the great stumbling-block in the way of nations where the cause of religion has become identified with that of political reaction.

The Revolution and the Church.

A secession from within its own ranks weakened the Church still more. The doctrine of Divine Right had a strong hold on the body of the clergy 7-065]though they had been driven from their other favourite doctrine of passive obedience, and the requirement of an oath of allegiance to the new sovereigns from all persons exercising public functions was resented as an intolerable wrong by almost every parson. The whole bench of bishops resolved, though to no purpose, that Parliament had no right to impose such an oath on the clergy. Sancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with a few prelates and a large number of the higher clergy absolutely refused the oath when it was imposed, treated all who took it as schismatics, and on their deprivation by Act of Parliament regarded themselves and their adherents, who were known as Nonjurors, as the only members of the true Church of England. The bulk of the clergy bowed to necessity, but their bitterness against the new Government was fanned into a flame by the religious policy announced in this assertion of the supremacy of Parliament over the Church, and the deposition of bishops by an act of the legislature. It was fanned into yet fiercer flame by the choice of successors to the nonjuring prelates. The new bishops were men of learning and piety, but they were for the most part Latitudinarians and some of them Whigs. Tillotson, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, was the foremost theologian of the school of Chillingworth and Hales. Burnet, the new 7-066]bishop of Salisbury, was as liberal as Tillotson in religion and more liberal in politics. It was indeed only among Whigs and Latitudinarians that William and William's successors could find friends in the ranks of the clergy; and it was to these that they were driven with a few breaks here and there to entrust all the higher offices of the Church. The result was a severance between the higher dignitaries and the mass of the clergy which broke the strength of the Church. From the time of William to the time of George the Third its fiercest strife was waged within its own ranks. But the resentment at the measure which brought this strife about already added to the difficulties which William had to encounter.

William and the Parliament.

Yet greater difficulties arose from the temper of his Parliament. In the Commons, chosen as they had been in the first moment of revolutionary enthusiasm, the bulk of the members were Whigs, and their first aim was to redress the wrongs which the Whig party had suffered during the last two reigns. The attainder of Lord Russell was reversed. The judgments against Sidney, Cornish, and Alice Lisle were annulled. In spite of the opinion of the judges that the sentence on Titus Oates had been against law the Lords refused to reverse it, but even Oates received a pardon and a pension. The Whigs however wanted not merely the redress of wrongs but the punishment of the wrong-doers. 7-067]Whig and Tory had been united indeed by the tyranny of James; both parties had shared in the Revolution, and William had striven to prolong their union by joining the leaders of both in his first Ministry. He named the Tory Earl of Danby Lord President, made the Whig Earl of Shrewsbury Secretary of State, and gave the Privy Seal to Lord Halifax, a trimmer between the one party and the other. But save in a moment of common oppression or common danger union was impossible. The Whigs clamoured for the punishment of Tories who had joined in the illegal acts of Charles and of James, and refused to pass the Bill of General Indemnity which William laid before them. William on the other hand was resolved that no bloodshed or proscription should follow the revolution which had placed him on the throne. His temper was averse from persecution; he had no great love for either of the battling parties; and above all he saw that internal strife would be fatal to the effective prosecution of the war.

The Jacobites.

While the cares of his new throne were chaining him to England the confederacy of which he was the guiding spirit was proving too slow and too loosely compacted to cope with the swift and resolute movements of France. The armies of Lewis had fallen back within their own borders, but only to turn fiercely at bay. Even the junction of the English and Dutch fleets failed to assure them the mastery of the seas. The English navy 7-068]was paralysed by the corruption which prevailed in the public service, as well as by the sloth and incapacity of its commander. The services of Admiral Herbert at the Revolution had been rewarded with the earldom of Torrington and the command of the fleet; but his indolence suffered the seas to be swept by French privateers, and his want of seamanship was shown in an indecisive engagement with a French squadron in Bantry Bay. Meanwhile Lewis was straining every nerve to win the command of the Channel; the French dockyards were turning out ship after ship, and the galleys of the Mediterranean fleet were brought round to reinforce the fleet at Brest. A French victory off the English coast would have brought serious political danger; for the reaction of popular feeling which had begun in favour of James had been increased by the pressure of the war, by the taxation, by the expulsion of the Nonjurors and the discontent of the clergy, by the panic of the Tories at the spirit of vengeance which broke out among the triumphant Whigs, and above all by the presence of James in Ireland. A new party, that of the Jacobites or adherents of King James, was forming around the Nonjurors; and it was feared that a Jacobite rising would follow the appearance of a French fleet on the coast.

Schomberg in Ireland.

In such a state of affairs William judged rightly that to yield to the Whig thirst for vengeance would have been to ruin his cause. He dissolved 7-069]the Parliament, which had refused to pass a Bill of Indemnity for all political offences, and called a new one to meet in March. The result of the elections proved that William had only expressed the general temper of the nation. In the new Parliament the bulk of the members proved Tories. The boroughs had been alienated from the Whigs by their refusal to pass the Indemnity, and their desire to secure the Corporations for their own party by driving from them all who had taken part in the Tory misgovernment under Charles or James. In the counties the discontent of the clergy told as heavily against the Whigs; and parson after parson led his flock in a body to the poll. The change of temper in the Parliament necessarily brought about a change among the king's advisers. William accepted the resignation of the more violent Whigs among his counsellors and placed Danby at the head of affairs; and in May the Houses gave their assent to the Act of Grace. The king's aim in his sudden change of front was not only to meet the change in the national spirit, but to secure a momentary lull in English faction which would suffer him to strike at the rebellion in Ireland. While James was king in Dublin the attempt to crush treason at home was a hopeless one; and so urgent was the danger, so precious every moment in the present juncture of affairs, that William could trust no one to bring the work 7-070]as sharply to an end as was needful save himself. In the autumn of the year 1689 the Duke of Schomberg, an exiled Huguenot who had followed William in his expedition to England and was held to be one of the most skilful captains of the time, had been sent with a small force to Ulster to take advantage of the panic which had followed the relief of Londonderry. James indeed was already talking of flight, and looked upon the game as hopeless. But the spirit of the Irish people rose quickly from their despair, and the duke's landing roused the whole nation to a fresh enthusiasm. The ranks of the Irish army were filled up at once, and James was able to face the duke at Drogheda with a force double that of his opponent. Schomberg, whose men were all raw recruits whom it was hardly possible to trust at such odds in the field, did all that was possible when he entrenched himself at Dundalk and held his ground in a camp where pestilence swept off half his numbers.

Battle of the Boyne.

Winter at last parted the two armies, and during the next six months James, whose treasury was utterly exhausted, strove to fill it by a coinage of brass money while his soldiers subsisted by sheer plunder. William meanwhile was toiling hard on the other side of the Channel to bring the Irish war to an end. Schomberg was strengthened during the winter with men and stores, and when the spring came his force reached thirty thousand 7-071]men. Lewis too felt the importance of the coming struggle. Seven thousand picked Frenchmen under the Count of Lauzun were despatched to reinforce the army of James, but they had hardly arrived when William himself landed at Carrickfergus and pushed rapidly with his whole army to the south. His columns soon caught sight of the Irish forces, hardly exceeding twenty thousand men in number but posted strongly behind the Boyne. Lauzun had hoped by falling back on Dublin to prolong a defensive war, but retreat was now impossible. "I am glad to see you, gentlemen," William cried with a burst of delight; "and if you escape me now the fault will be mine." Early next morning, the first of July 1690, the whole English army plunged into the river. The Irish foot, who at first fought well, broke in a sudden panic as soon as the passage of the river was effected, but the horse made so gallant a stand that Schomberg fell in repulsing its charge and for a time the English centre was held in check. With the arrival of William however at the head of his left wing all was over. James, who had throughout been striving to secure the withdrawal of his troops to the nearest defile rather than frankly to meet William's onset, abandoned his troops as they fell back in retreat upon Dublin, and took ship at Kinsale for France.

Irish War.

But though James had fled in despair, and though the beaten army was forced by William's 7-072]pursuit to abandon the capital, it was still resolute to fight. The incapacity of the Stuart sovereign moved the scorn even of his followers. "Change kings with us," an Irish officer replied to an Englishman who taunted him with the panic of the Boyne, "change kings with us and we will fight you again." They did better in fighting without a king. The French indeed withdrew scornfully from the routed army as it turned at bay beneath the walls of Limerick. "Do you call these ramparts?" sneered Lauzun: "the English will need no cannon; they may batter them down with roasted apples." But twenty thousand Irish soldiers remained with Sarsfield, a brave and skilful officer who had seen service in England and abroad; and his daring surprise of the English ammunition train, his repulse of a desperate attempt to storm the town, and the approach of winter forced William to raise the siege. The course of the war abroad recalled him to England, but he was hardly gone when a new turn was given to the struggle by one who was quietly proving himself a master in the art of war. Churchill, rewarded for his opportune desertion of James with the earldom of Marlborough, had been recalled from Flanders to command a division which landed in the south of Ireland. Only a few days remained before the operations were interrupted by the coming of winter, but the few days were turned to good account. The two ports by which alone 7-073]Ireland could receive supplies from France fell into English hands. Cork, with five thousand men behind its walls, was taken in forty-eight hours. Kinsale a few days later shared the fate of Cork. Winter indeed left Connaught and the greater part of Munster in Irish hands, the French force remained untouched, and the coming of a new French general, St. Ruth, with arms and supplies encouraged the insurgents. But the summer of 1691 had hardly begun when Ginkell, the new English general, by his seizure of Athlone forced on a battle with the combined French and Irish forces at Aughrim, in which St. Ruth fell on the field and his army was utterly broken.

Ireland conquered.

The defeat at Aughrim left Limerick alone in its revolt, and in October Sarsfield bowed to the necessity of surrender. Two treaties were drawn up between the Irish and English generals. By the first it was stipulated that the Catholics of Ireland should enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as were consistent with law, or as they had enjoyed in the reign of Charles the Second. The Crown pledged itself also to summon a Parliament as soon as possible, and to endeavour to procure to the good Roman Catholics such further security in that particular as "may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of the said religion." By the military treaty those of Sarsfield's soldiers who would were suffered to follow him to France; and ten thousand men, 7-074]the whole of his force, chose exile rather than life in a land where all hope of national freedom was lost. When the wild cry of the women who stood watching their departure was hushed the silence of death settled down upon Ireland. For a hundred years the country remained at peace. But the peace was a peace of despair. No Englishman who loves what is noble in the English temper can tell without sorrow and shame the story of that time of guilt. The work of oppression, it is true, was done not directly by England but by the English settlers in Ireland; and the cruelty of their rule sprang in great measure from the sense of danger and the atmosphere of panic in which the Protestants lived. But if thoughts such as these relieve the guilt of those who oppressed they leave the fact of oppression as dark as before. The most terrible legal tyranny under which a nation has ever groaned avenged the rising under Tyrconnell. The conquered people, in Swift's bitter words of contempt, became "hewers of wood and drawers of water" to their conquerors. Such as the work was, however, it was thoroughly done. Though local risings of these serfs perpetually spread terror among the English settlers in Ireland, all dream of a national revolt passed away. Till the very eve of the French Revolution Ireland ceased to be a source of political danger and anxiety to England.

French Descent on England.

Short as the struggle of Ireland had been it 7-075]had served Lewis well, for while William was busy at the Boyne a series of brilliant successes was restoring the fortunes of France. In Flanders the Duke of Luxembourg won the victory of Fleurus. In Italy Marshal Catinat defeated the Duke of Savoy. A success of even greater moment, the last victory which France was fated to win at sea, placed for an instant the very throne of William in peril. William never showed a cooler courage than in quitting England to fight James in Ireland at a moment when the Jacobites were only looking for the appearance of a French fleet on the coast to rise in revolt. The French minister in fact hurried the fleet to sea in the hope of detaining William in England by a danger at home; and he had hardly set out for Ireland when Tourville, the French admiral, appeared in the Channel with strict orders to fight. Orders as strict had been sent to the allied fleets to engage even at the risk of defeat; and when Tourville was met on the 30th of June 1690 by the English and Dutch fleet at Beachy Head the Dutch division at once engaged. Though utterly outnumbered it fought stubbornly in hope of Herbert's aid; but Herbert, whether from cowardice or treason, looked idly on while his allies were crushed, and withdrew with the English ships at nightfall to seek shelter in the Thames. The danger was as great as the shame, for Tourville's victory left him master of the Channel and his presence off the coast of 7-076]Devon invited the Jacobites to revolt. But whatever the discontent of Tories and Nonjurors against William might be all signs of it vanished with the landing of the French. The burning of Teignmouth by Tourville's sailors called the whole coast to arms; and the news of the Boyne put an end to all dreams of a rising in favour of James.

Intrigues in England.

The natural reaction against a cause which looked for foreign aid gave a new strength for the moment to William in England; but ill luck still hung around the Grand Alliance. So urgent was the need for his presence abroad that William left as we have seen his work in Ireland undone, and crossed in the spring of 1691 to Flanders. It was the first time since the days of Henry the Eighth that an English king had appeared on the Continent at the head of an English army. But the slowness of the allies again baffled William's hopes. He was forced to look on with a small army while a hundred thousand Frenchmen closed suddenly around Mons, the strongest fortress of the Netherlands, and made themselves masters of it in the presence of Lewis. The humiliation was great, and for the moment all trust in William's fortune faded away. In England the blow was felt more heavily than elsewhere. The Jacobite hopes which had been crushed by the indignation at Tourville's descent woke up to a fresh life. Leading Tories, such as Lord Clarendon 7-077]and Lord Dartmouth, opened communications with James; and some of the leading Whigs with the Earl of Shrewsbury at their head, angered at what they regarded as William's ingratitude, followed them in their course. In Lord Marlborough's mind the state of affairs raised hopes of a double treason. His design was to bring about a revolt which would drive William from the throne without replacing James on it, a revolt which would in fact give the crown to his daughter Anne whose affection for Marlborough's wife would place the real government of England in Churchill's hands. A yet greater danger lay in the treason of Admiral Russell who had succeeded Torrington in command of the fleet.

Battle of La Hogue.

Russell's defection would have removed the one obstacle to a new attempt which James was resolved to make for the recovery of his throne and which Lewis had been brought to support. James had never wavered from his design of returning to England at the head of a foreign force. He abandoned Ireland as soon as his hopes of finding such a force there vanished at the Boyne; and from that moment he had sought a base of invasion in France. Lewis was the more willing to make the trial that the pressure of the war had left few troops in England. So certain was he of success that the future ambassador to the court of James was already nominated, and a treaty of commerce sketched between France and England. In the 7-078]beginning of 1692 an army of thirty thousand troops was quartered in Normandy in readiness for a descent on the English coast. Nearly a half of this force was composed of the Irish regiments who had followed Sarsfield into exile after the surrender of Limerick. Transports were provided for their passage, and Tourville was ordered to cover it with the French fleet at Brest. Though Russell had twice as many ships as his opponent the belief in his purpose of betraying William's cause was so strong that Lewis ordered Tourville to engage the allied fleets at any disadvantage. But whatever Russell's intrigues may have meant he was no Herbert. All he would promise was to keep his fleet out of the way of hindering a landing. But should Tourville engage, he would promise nothing. "Do not think I will let the French triumph over us in our own seas," he warned his Jacobite correspondents. "If I meet them I will fight them, even though King James were on board." When the allied fleet, which had been ordered to the Norman coast, met the French off the heights of Barfleur his fierce attack proved Russell true to his word. Tourville's fifty vessels were no match for the ninety ships of the allies, and after five hours of a brave struggle the French were forced to fly along the rocky coast of the Cotentin. Twenty-two of their vessels reached St. Malo; thirteen anchored with Tourville in the bays of Cherbourg and La Hogue; but their 7-079]pursuers were soon upon them, and in a bold attack the English boats burned ship after ship under the eyes of the French army.

The turn of the War.

All dread of the invasion was at once at an end; and the throne of William was secured by the detection and suppression of the Jacobite conspiracy at home which the invasion was intended to support. The battle of La Hogue was a death-blow to the project of a Stuart restoration by help of foreign arms. Henceforth English Jacobitism would have to battle unaided against the throne of the Revolution. But the overthrow of the Jacobite hopes was the least result of the victory. France ceased from that moment to exist as a great naval power; for though her fleet was soon recruited to its former strength the confidence of her sailors was lost, and not even Tourville ventured again to tempt in battle the fortune of the seas. A new hope too dawned on the Grand Alliance. The spell of French triumph was broken. On land indeed the French still held their old mastery. Namur, one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, surrendered to Lewis a few days after the battle of La Hogue. An inroad into Dauphiné failed to rouse the Huguenots to revolt, and the Duke of Luxembourg maintained the glory of the French arms by a victory over William at Steinkirk. But the battle was a useless butchery in which the conquerors lost as many men as the conquered. From that 7-080]moment France felt herself disheartened and exhausted by the vastness of her efforts. The public misery was extreme. "The country," Fénélon wrote frankly to Lewis, "is a vast hospital." The tide too of the war began to turn. In 1693 the campaign of Lewis in the Netherlands proved a fruitless one, and Luxembourg was hardly able to beat off the fierce attack of William at Neerwinden. For the first time in his long career of prosperity therefore Lewis bent his pride to seek peace at the sacrifice of his conquests, and though the effort was a vain one it told that the daring hopes of French ambition were at an end and that the work of the Grand Alliance was practically done.

The Sovereignty of the Commons.

Its final triumph however was in great measure brought about by a change which now passed over the face of English politics. In outer seeming the Revolution of 1688 had only transferred the sovereignty over England from James to William and Mary. In actual fact it had given a powerful and decisive impulse to the great constitutional progress which was transferring the sovereignty from the king to the House of Commons. From the moment when its sole right to tax the nation was established by the Bill of Rights, and when its own resolve settled the practice of granting none but annual supplies to the Crown, the House of Commons became the supreme power in the State. It was impossible permanently to 7-081]suspend its sittings or in the long run to oppose its will when either course must end in leaving the Government penniless, in breaking up the army and navy, and in suspending the public service. But though the constitutional change was complete the machinery of government was far from having adapted itself to the new conditions of political life which such a change brought about. However powerful the will of the House of Commons might be it had no means of bringing its will directly to bear upon the conduct of public affairs. The Ministers who had charge of them were not its servants, but the servants of the Crown; it was from the king that they looked for direction, and to the king that they held themselves responsible. By impeachment or more indirect means the Commons could force a king to remove a Minister who contradicted their will; but they had no constitutional power to replace the fallen statesman by a Minister who would carry out their will.

Lord Sunderland.

The result was the growth of a temper in the Lower House which drove William and his Ministers to despair. It became as corrupt, as jealous of power, as fickle in its resolves and factious in spirit as bodies always become whose consciousness of the possession of power is untempered by a corresponding consciousness of the practical difficulties or the moral responsibilities of the power which they possess. It grumbled at 7-082]the ill-success of the war, at the suffering of the merchants, at the discontent of the Churchmen; and it blamed the Crown and its Ministers for all at which it grumbled. But it was hard to find out what policy or measures it would have preferred. Its mood changed, as William bitterly complained, with every hour. His own hold over it grew less day by day. It was only through great pressure that he succeeded in defeating by a majority of two a Place Bill which would have rendered all his servants and Ministers incapable of sitting in the Commons. He was obliged to use his veto to defeat a Triennial Bill which, as he believed, would have destroyed what little stability of purpose there was in the present Parliament. The Houses were in fact without the guidance of recognized leaders, without adequate information, and destitute of that organization out of which alone a definite policy can come. Nothing better proves the inborn political capacity of the English mind than that it should at once have found a simple and effective solution of such a difficulty as this. The credit of the solution belongs to a man whose political character was of the lowest type. Robert, Earl of Sunderland, had been a Minister in the later days of Charles the Second; and he had remained Minister through almost all the reign of James. He had held office at last only by compliance with the worst tyranny of his master and by a feigned 7-083]conversion to the Roman Catholic faith; but the ruin of James was no sooner certain than he had secured pardon and protection from William by the betrayal of the master to whom he had sacrificed his conscience and his honour. Since the Revolution Sunderland had striven only to escape public observation in a country retirement, but at this crisis he came secretly forward to bring his unequalled sagacity to the aid of the king. His counsel was to recognize practically the new power of the Commons by choosing the Ministers of the Crown exclusively from among the members of the party which was strongest in the Lower House.

The New Ministerial System.

As yet no Ministry in the modern sense of the term had existed. Each great officer of State, Treasurer or Secretary or Lord Privy Seal, had in theory been independent of his fellow-officers; each was the "King's servant" and responsible for the discharge of his special duties to the king alone. From time to time one Minister, like Clarendon, might tower above the rest and give a general direction to the whole course of government, but the predominance was merely personal and never permanent; and even in such a case there were colleagues who were ready to oppose or even impeach the statesman who overshadowed them. It was common for a king to choose or dismiss a single Minister without any communication with the rest; and so far was even William 7-084]from aiming at ministerial unity that he had striven to reproduce in the Cabinet itself the balance of parties which prevailed outside it. Sunderland's plan aimed at replacing these independent Ministers by a homogeneous Ministry, chosen from the same party, representing the same sentiments, and bound together for common action by a sense of responsibility and loyalty to the party to which it belonged. Not only was such a plan likely to secure a unity of administration which had been unknown till then, but it gave an organization to the House of Commons which it had never had before. The Ministers who were representatives of the majority of its members became the natural leaders of the House. Small factions were drawn together into the two great parties which supported or opposed the Ministry of the Crown. Above all it brought about in the simplest possible way the solution of the problem which had so long vexed both Kings and Commons. The new Ministers ceased in all but name to be the king's servants. They became simply an Executive Committee representing the will of the majority of the House of Commons, and capable of being easily set aside by it and replaced by a similar Committee whenever the balance of power shifted from one side of the House to the other.

The Junto.

Such was the origin of that system of representative government which has gone on from 7-085]Sunderland's day to our own. But though William showed his own political genius in understanding and adopting Sunderland's plan, it was only slowly and tentatively that he ventured to carry it out in practice. In spite of the temporary reaction Sunderland believed that the balance of political power was really on the side of the Whigs. Not only were they the natural representatives of the principles of the Revolution, and the supporters of the war, but they stood far above their opponents in parliamentary and administrative talent. At their head stood a group of statesmen whose close union in thought and action gained them the name of the Junto. Russell, as yet the most prominent of these, was the victor of La Hogue; John Somers was an advocate who had sprung into fame by his defence of the Seven Bishops; Lord Wharton was known as the most dexterous and unscrupulous of party managers; and Montague was fast making a reputation as the ablest of English financiers. In spite of such considerations however it is doubtful whether William would have thrown himself into the hands of a purely Whig Ministry but for the attitude which the Tories took towards the war. Exhausted as France was the war still languished and the allies still failed to win a single victory. Meanwhile English trade was all but ruined by the French privateers and the nation stood aghast at the growth of taxation. The Tories, always 7-086]cold in their support of the Grand Alliance, now became eager for peace. The Whigs on the other hand remained resolute in their support of the war.

Bank of England.

William, in whose mind the contest with France was the first object, was thus driven slowly to follow Sunderland's advice. Already in 1694 indeed Montague established his political position and weakened that of the Tory Ministers by his success in a great financial measure which at once relieved the pressure of taxation and added strength to the new monarchy. The war could be kept up only by loans: and loans were still raised in England by personal appeal to a few London goldsmiths in whose hands men placed money for investment. But the bankruptcies which followed the closing of the Exchequer by the Cabal had shaken public confidence in the goldsmiths, while the dread of a restoration of James made these capitalists appear shy of the Ministers' appeals for aid. Money therefore could only be raised in scanty quantities and at a heavy loss. In this emergency Montague came forward with a plan which had been previously suggested by a Scotchman, William Paterson, for the creation of a National Bank such as already existed in Holland and in Genoa. While serving as an ordinary bank for the supply of capital to commercial enterprises the Bank of England, as the new institution was called, was in reality an 7-087]instrument for procuring loans from the people at large by the formal pledge of the State to repay the money advanced on the demand of the lender. For this purpose a loan of £1,200,000 was thrown open to public subscription; and the subscribers to it were formed into a chartered company in whose hands the negotiation of all after loans was placed. The plan turned out a perfect success. In ten days the list of subscribers was full. A new source of power revealed itself in this discovery of the resources afforded by the national credit and the national wealth; and the rapid growth of the National Debt, as the mass of these loans to the State came to be called, gave a new security against the return of the Stuarts whose first work would have been the repudiation of the claims of the lenders or as they were termed the "fundholders."

The Whig Ministry.

The evidence of the public credit gave strength to William abroad as at home. In 1694 indeed the army of 90,000 men which he commanded in the Netherlands did no more than hold the French successfully at bay; but the English fleet rode triumphant in the Channel, ravaged and alarmed the coast of France, and foiled by its pressure the attack of a French army on Barcelona. The brighter aspect of affairs abroad coincided with a new unity of action at home. The change which Sunderland counselled was quietly carried out. One by one the Tory Ministers had been replaced 7-088]by members of the Junto. Russell went to the Admiralty; Somers was named Lord Keeper; Shrewsbury, Secretary of State; Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Even before this change was completed its effect was felt. The House of Commons took a new tone. The Whig majority of its members, united and disciplined, moved quietly under the direction of their natural leaders, the Whig Ministers of the Crown. It was this which enabled William to face the shock which was given to his position by the death of Queen Mary at the end of 1694. It had been provided indeed that on the death of either sovereign the survivor should retain the throne; but the renewed attacks of the Tories under Nottingham and Halifax on the war and the Bank showed what fresh hopes had been raised by William's lonely position. The Parliament however, whom the king had just conciliated by assenting at last to the Triennial Bill, went steadily with the Ministry; and its fidelity was rewarded by triumph abroad. In September 1695 the Alliance succeeded for the first time in winning a great triumph over France in the capture of Namur. The king skilfully took advantage of his victory to call a new Parliament, and its members at once showed their temper by a vigorous support of the measures necessary for the prosecution of the war. The Houses indeed were no mere tools in William's hands. They forced him to resume the 7-089]prodigal grants of lands which he had made to his Dutch favourites, and to remove his Ministers in Scotland who had aided in a wild project for a Scotch colony on the Isthmus of Darien. They claimed a right to name members of the new Board of Trade which was established in 1696 for the regulation of commercial matters. They rejected a proposal, never henceforth to be revived, for a censorship of the Press. But there was no factious opposition. So strong was the Ministry that Montague was enabled to face the general distress which was caused for the moment by a reform of the currency, which had been reduced by clipping to far less than its nominal value, and although the financial embarrassments created by the currency reform hindered any vigorous measures abroad William was able to hold the French at bay.

The Spanish Succession.

But the war was fast drawing to a close. The Catholic powers in the Grand Alliance were already in revolt against William's supremacy as they had been in revolt against that of Lewis. In 1696 the Pope succeeded in detaching Savoy from the league and Lewis was enabled to transfer his Italian army to the Low Countries. But France was now simply fighting to secure more favourable terms, and William, though he held that "the only way of treating with France is with our swords in our hands," was almost as eager as Lewis for a peace. The defection of 7-090]Savoy made it impossible to carry out the original aim of the Alliance, that of forcing France back to its position at the Treaty of Westphalia, and a new question was drawing every day nearer, the question of the succession to the Spanish throne. The death of the King of Spain, Charles the Second, was now known to be at hand. With him ended the male line of the Austrian princes who for two hundred years had occupied the Spanish throne. How strangely Spain had fallen from its high estate in Europe the wars of Lewis had abundantly shown, but so vast was the extent of its empire, so enormous the resources which still remained to it, that under a vigorous ruler men believed its old power would at once return. Its sovereign was still master of some of the noblest provinces of the Old World and the New, of Spain itself, of the Milanese, of Naples and Sicily, of the Netherlands, of Southern America, of the noble islands of the Spanish Main. To add such a dominion as this to the dominion either of Lewis or of the Emperor would be to undo at a blow the work of European independence which William had wrought; and it was with a view to prevent either of these results that William resolved to free his hands by a conclusion of the war.

Peace of Ryswick.

In May negotiations were opened at Ryswick; the obstacles thrown in the way of an accommodation by Spain and the Empire were set aside in a private negotiation between William and Lewis; and 7-091]peace was finally signed in October 1697. In spite of failure and defeat in the field William's policy had won. The victories of France remained barren in the face of a united Europe; and her exhaustion forced her for the first time since Richelieu's day to consent to a disadvantageous peace. On the side of the Empire France withdrew from every annexation save that of Strassburg which she had made since the Treaty of Nimeguen, and Strassburg would have been restored but for the unhappy delays of the German negotiators. To Spain Lewis restored Luxemburg and all the conquests he had made during the war in the Netherlands. The Duke of Lorraine was replaced in his dominions. A far more important provision of the peace pledged Lewis to an abandonment of the Stuart cause and a recognition of William as King of England. For Europe in general the peace of Ryswick was little more than a truce. But for England it was the close of a long and obstinate struggle and the opening of a new æra of political history. It was the final and decisive defeat of the conspiracy which had gone on between Lewis and the Stuarts ever since the Treaty of Dover, the conspiracy to turn England into a Roman Catholic country and into a dependency of France. But it was even more than this. It was the definite establishment of England as the centre of European resistance against all attempts to overthrow the balance of power.

7-092] William's aims.

In leaving England face to face with France the Treaty of Ryswick gave a new turn to the policy of William. Hitherto he had aimed at saving the balance of European power by the joint action of England and the rest of the European states against France. He now saw a means of securing what that action had saved by the co-operation of France and the two great naval powers. In his new course we see the first indication of that triple alliance of France, England, and Holland, which formed the base of Walpole's foreign policy, as well as of that common action of England and France which since the fall of Holland has so constantly recurred to the dreams of English statesmen. Peace therefore was no sooner signed than William by stately embassies and a series of secret negotiations drew nearer to France. It was in direct negotiation and co-operation with Lewis that he aimed at bringing about a peaceful settlement of the question which threatened Europe with war. At this moment the claimants of the Spanish succession were three: the French Dauphin, a son of the Spanish king's elder sister; the Electoral Prince of Bavaria, a grandson of his younger sister; and the Emperor, who was a son of Charles's aunt. In strict law—if there had been any law really applicable to the matter—the claim of the last was the strongest of the three; for the claim of the Dauphin was barred by an express renunciation of all right to the succession 7-093]at his mother's marriage with Lewis XIV., a renunciation which had been ratified at the Treaty of the Pyrenees; and a similar renunciation barred the claim of the Bavarian candidate. The claim of the Emperor was more remote in blood, but it was barred by no renunciation at all. William however was as resolute in the interests of Europe to repulse the claim of the Emperor as to repulse that of Lewis; and it was the consciousness that the Austrian succession was inevitable if the war continued and Spain remained a member of the Grand Alliance, in arms against France and leagued with the Emperor, which made him suddenly conclude the Peace of Ryswick.

The first Partition Treaty.

Had England and Holland shared William's temper he would have insisted on the succession of the Electoral Prince to the whole Spanish dominions. But both were weary of war, and of the financial distress which war had brought with it. In England the peace of Ryswick was at once followed by the reduction of the army at the demand of the House of Commons to ten thousand men; and a clamour had already begun for the disbanding even of these. It was necessary therefore to bribe the two rival claimants to a waiver of their claims; and Lewis after some hesitation yielded to the counsels of his Ministers, and consented to waive his son's claims for such a bribe. The secret treaty between the three powers, which was concluded in the summer of 1698, thus became 7-094]necessarily a Partition Treaty. The succession of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria was recognized on condition of the cession by Spain of its Italian possessions to his two rivals. The Milanese was to pass to the Emperor; the Two Sicilies, with the border province of Guipuzcoa, to France. But the arrangement was hardly concluded when the death of the Bavarian prince in February 1699 made the Treaty waste paper. Austria and France were left face to face; and a terrible struggle, in which the success of either would be equally fatal to the independence of Europe, seemed unavoidable. The peril was the greater that the temper of both England and Holland left William without the means of backing his policy by arms. The suffering which the war had caused to the merchant class and the pressure of the debt and taxation it entailed were waking every day a more bitter resentment in the people of both countries. While the struggle lasted the value of English exports had fallen from four millions a year to less than three, and the losses of ships and goods at sea had been enormous. Nor had the stress been less felt within the realm. The revenue from the post-office, a fair index to the general wealth of the country, had fallen from seventy-six thousand to fifty-eight. With the restoration of peace indeed the energies of the country had quickly recovered from the shock. In the five years after the Peace of Ryswick the exports doubled themselves; the 7-095]merchant-shipping was quadrupled; and the revenue of the post-office rose to eighty-two thousand pounds. But such a recovery only produced a greater disinclination to face again the sufferings of a renewed state of war.

The second Partition Treaty.

The general discontent at the course of the war, the general anxiety to preserve the new gains of the peace, told alike on William and on the party which had backed his policy. In England almost every one was set on two objects, the reduction of taxes and the disbanding of the standing army. The war had raised the taxes from two millions a year to four. It had bequeathed twenty millions of debt and a fresh six millions of deficit. The standing army was still held to be the enemy of liberty, as it had been held under the Stuarts; and hardly any one realized the new conditions of political life which had robbed its existence of danger to the State. The king however resisted desperately the proposals for its disbanding; for the maintenance of the army was all-important for the success of the negotiations he was carrying on. But his stubborn opposition only told against himself. Personally indeed the king still remained an object of national gratitude; but his natural partiality to his Dutch favourites, the confidence he gave to Sunderland, his cold and sullen demeanour, above all his endeavours to maintain the standing army, robbed him of popularity and of the strength which comes from popularity. The 7-096]negotiations too which he was carrying on were a secret he could not reveal; and his prayers failed to turn the Parliament from its purpose. The army and navy were ruthlessly cut down. How much William's hands were weakened by this reduction of forces and by the peace-temper of England was shown by the Second Partition Treaty which was concluded in 1700 between the two maritime powers and France. The demand of Lewis that the Netherlands should be given to the Elector of Bavaria, whose political position would always leave him a puppet in the French king's hands, was indeed successfully resisted. Spain, the Netherlands, and the Indies were assigned to the second son of the Emperor, the Archduke Charles of Austria. But the whole of the Spanish territories in Italy were now granted to France; and it was provided that Milan should be exchanged for Lorraine, whose Duke was to be summarily transferred to the new Duchy. If the Emperor persisted in his refusal to come into the Treaty the share of his son was to pass to another unnamed prince, who was probably the Duke of Savoy.

Fall of the Junto.

The Emperor, indifferent to the Archduke's personal interest, and anxious only to gain a new dominion in Italy for the House of Austria, stubbornly protested against this arrangement; but his protest was of little moment so long as Lewis and the two maritime powers held firmly together. 7-097]The new Western Alliance indeed showed how wide its power was from the first. The mediation of England and Holland, no longer counteracted by France, secured peace between the Emperor and the Turks in the Treaty of Carlowitz. The common action of the three powers stifled a strife between Holstein and Denmark which would have set North Germany on fire. William's European position indeed was more commanding than ever. But his difficulties at home were increasing every day. In spite of the defection of their supporters on the question of a standing army the Whig Ministry for some time retained fairly its hold on the Houses. But the elections for a new Parliament at the close of 1698 showed the growth of a new temper in the nation. A Tory majority, pledged to peace as to a reduction of taxation and indifferent to foreign affairs, was returned to the House of Commons. The fourteen thousand men still retained in the army were at once cut down to seven. It was voted that William's Dutch guards should return to Holland. It was in vain that William begged for their retention as a personal favour, that he threatened to leave England with them, and that the ill effect of this strife on his negotiations threw him into a fever. Even before the elections he had warned the Dutch Pensionary that in any fresh struggle England could be relied on only for naval aid. He was forced to give way; and, as he expected, this 7-098]open display of the peace-temper of England told fatally on the resistance he had attempted to the pretensions of France. He strove indeed to appease the Parliament by calling for the resignation of Russell and Montague, the two ministers most hated by the Tories. But all seemed in vain. The Houses no sooner met in 1699 than the Tory majority attacked the Crown, passed a Bill for resuming estates granted to the Dutch favourites, and condemned the Ministers as responsible for these grants. Again Sunderland had to intervene, and to press William to carry out the policy which had produced the Whig Ministry by its entire dismissal. Somers and his friends withdrew, and a new administration composed of moderate Tories, with Lords Rochester and Godolphin as its leading members, took their place.

Accession of the Duke of Anjou.

The moment indeed was one in which the king needed at any price the co-operation of the Parliament. Spain had been stirred to bitter resentment as news of the Partition Treaty crept abroad. The Spaniards cared little whether a French or an Austrian prince sat on the throne of Charles the Second, but their pride revolted against the dismemberment of the monarchy by the loss of its Italian dependencies. The nobles too dreaded the loss of their vast estates in Italy and of the lucrative posts they held as governors of these dependencies. Even the dying king shared the anger of his subjects. He hesitated only whether to leave his 7-099]dominions to the House of Austria or the House of Bourbon; but in either case he was resolved to leave the whole. A will wrested from him by the factions which wrangled over his deathbed bequeathed at last the whole monarchy of Spain to a grandson of Lewis, the Duke of Anjou, the second son of the Dauphin. It was doubtful indeed whether Lewis would suffer his grandson to receive the crown. He was still a member of that Triple Alliance on which for the last three years the peace of Europe had depended. The Treaty of Partition was so recent and the risk of accepting this bequest so great that Lewis would have hardly resolved on it but for his belief that the temper of England must necessarily render William's opposition a fruitless one. Never in fact had England been so averse from war. So strong was the antipathy to William's policy that men openly approved the French king's course. Hardly any one in England dreaded the succession of a boy who, French as he was, would as they believed soon be turned into a Spaniard by the natural course of events. The succession of the Duke of Anjou was generally looked upon as far better than the increase of power which France would have derived from the cessions of the last treaty of Partition. The cession of the Sicilies would have turned the Mediterranean, it was said, into a French lake, and have ruined the English trade with the Levant, while the cession of Guipuzcoa 7-100]and the annexation of the west coast of Spain, which was looked on as certain to follow, would have imperilled the American trade and again raised France into a formidable power at sea. Backing all these considerations was the dread of losing by a contest with Spain and its new king the lucrative trade with the Spanish colonies. "It grieves me to the heart," William wrote bitterly, "that almost every one rejoices that France has preferred the Will to the Treaty." Astonished and angered as he was at his rival's breach of faith, he had no means of punishing it. In the opening of 1701 the Duke of Anjou entered Madrid, and Lewis proudly boasted that henceforth there were no Pyrenees.

Seizure of the Dutch Barrier.

The life-work of William seemed undone. He knew himself to be dying. His cough was incessant, his eyes sunk and dead, his frame so weak that he could hardly get into his coach. But never had he shown himself so great. His courage rose with every difficulty. His temper, which had been heated by the personal affronts lavished on him through English faction, was hushed by a supreme effort of his will. His large and clear-sighted intellect looked through the temporary embarrassments of French diplomacy and English party strife to the great interests which he knew must in the end determine the course of European politics. Abroad and at home all seemed to go against him. For the moment he had no ally save 7-101]Holland, for Spain was now united with Lewis, while the attitude of Bavaria divided Germany and held the House of Austria in check. The Bavarian Elector indeed, who had charge of the Spanish Netherlands and on whom William had counted, openly joined the French side from the first and proclaimed the Duke of Anjou as king in Brussels. In England a new Parliament, which had been called by way of testing public opinion, was crowded with Tories who were resolute against war. The Tory Ministry pressed him to acknowledge the new king of Spain; and as even Holland did this, William was forced to submit. He could only count on the greed of Lewis to help him, and he did not count in vain. The general approval of the French king's action had sprung from a belief that he intended honestly to leave Spain to the Spaniards under their new boy-king. Bitter too as the strife of Whig and Tory might be in England, there were two things on which Whig and Tory were agreed. Neither would suffer France to occupy the Spanish Netherlands. Neither would endure a French attack on the Protestant succession which the Revolution of 1688 had established. But the arrogance of Lewis blinded him to the need of moderation in his hour of good-luck. The wretched defence made by the strong places of the Netherlands in the former war had brought about an agreement between Spain and Holland at its close, by which seven 7-102]fortresses, including Luxemburg, Mons, and Charleroi, were garrisoned with Dutch in the place of Spanish troops. The seven were named the Dutch barrier, and the first anxiety both of Holland and of William was to maintain this arrangement under the new state of things. William laid down the maintenance of the barrier in his negotiations at Madrid as a matter of peace or war. But Lewis was too eager to wait even for the refusal of William's demand which the pride of the Spanish Court prompted. In February 1701 his troops appeared at the gates of the seven fortresses; and a secret convention with the Elector, who remained in charge of the Netherlands, delivered them into his hands to hold in trust for his grandson. Other French garrisons took possession at the same time of Ostend and the coast towns of Flanders.

The Act of Settlement.

The Parliament of 1701, a Parliament mainly of Tories, and in which the leader of the moderate Tories, Robert Harley, came for the first time to the front, met amidst the general panic and suspension of trade which followed this seizure of the barrier fortresses. Peace-Parliament as it was and bitterly as it condemned the Partition Treaties, it at once supported William in his demand for a withdrawal of the French troops, and authorized him to conclude a defensive alliance with Holland, which would give that State courage to join in the demand. The disclosure of a new Jacobite plot strengthened William's position. The hopes of the 7-103]Jacobites had been raised in the preceding year by the death of the young Duke of Gloucester, the only living child of the Princess Anne, and who as William was childless ranked, after his mother, as heir-presumptive of the throne. William was dying, the health of Anne herself was known to be precarious; and to the partisans of James it seemed as if the succession of his son, the boy who was known in later life as the Old Pretender, was all but secure. But Tory as the Parliament was, it had no mind to undo the work of the Revolution. When a new Act of Succession was laid before the Houses in 1701 not a voice was raised for James or his son. By the ordinary rules of heritage the descendants of the daughter of Charles the First, Henrietta of Orleans, whose only child had married the Duke of Savoy, would come next as claimants; but the house of Savoy was Catholic and its pretensions were passed over in the same silence. No other descendants of Charles the First remained, and the Parliament fell back on his father's line. Elizabeth, the daughter of James the First, had married the Elector Palatine; but of her twelve children all had died save one. This was Sophia, the wife of the late and the mother of the present Elector of Hanover. It was in Sophia and the heirs of her body, being Protestants, that the Act of Settlement vested the Crown. But the jealousy of a foreign ruler accompanied this settlement with 7-104]remarkable provisions. It was enacted that every English sovereign must be in communion with the Church of England as by law established. All future kings were forbidden to leave England without consent of Parliament, and foreigners were excluded from all public posts, military or civil. The independence of justice, which had been inadequately secured by the Bill of Rights, was now established by a clause which provided that no judge should be removed from office save on an address from Parliament to the Crown. The two principles that the king acts only through his ministers and that these ministers are responsible to Parliament were asserted by a requirement that all public business should be formally done in the Privy Council and all its decisions signed by its members. These two last provisions went far to complete the parliamentary Constitution which had been drawn by the Bill of Rights.

The Country and the War.

But, firm as it was in its loyalty to the Revolution, and in its resolve to maintain the independence of the Netherlands, the Parliament had still no purpose of war. It assented indeed to the alliance with Holland in the belief that the pressure of the two powers would bring Lewis to a peaceful settlement of the question. Its aim was still to avoid a standing army and to reduce taxation; and its bitterness against the Partition Treaties sprang from a belief that William had entailed on England by their means a contest 7-105]which must bring back again the army and the debt. The king was bitterly blamed, while the late ministers, Somers, Russell, and Montague (now become peers), were impeached for their share in the treaties; and the Commons prayed the king to exclude the three from his counsels for ever. But a counter-prayer from the Lords gave the first sign of a reaction of opinion. Outside the House of Commons indeed the tide of national feeling rose as the designs of Lewis grew clearer. He refused to allow the Dutch barrier to be re-established; and a great French fleet gathered in the Channel to support, it was believed, a fresh Jacobite descent which was proposed by the ministers of James in a letter intercepted and laid before Parliament. Even the House of Commons took fire at this, and the fleet was raised to thirty thousand men, the army to ten thousand. But the country moved faster than the Parliament. Kent sent up a remonstrance against the factious measures by which the Tories still struggled against the king's policy, with a prayer "that addresses might be turned into Bills of Supply"; and William was encouraged by these signs of a change of temper to despatch an English force to Holland, and to conclude a secret treaty with the United Provinces for the recovery of the Netherlands from Lewis and for their transfer with the Milanese to the house of Austria as a means of counterbalancing the new power added to France.

7-106] The Grand Alliance.

England however still clung desperately to a hope of peace; and even in the Treaty with the Emperor, which followed on the French refusal to negotiate on a basis of compensation, William was far from disputing the right of Philip of Anjou to the Spanish throne. Hostilities had indeed already broken out in Italy between the French and Austrian armies; but the king had not abandoned the dream of a peaceful settlement when France by a sudden act forced him into war. Lewis had acknowledged William as king in the Peace of Ryswick and pledged himself to oppose all attacks on his throne; but in September 1701 he entered the bedchamber at St. Germain where James the Second was breathing his last, and promised to acknowledge his son at his death as king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The promise which was thus made was in fact a declaration of war, and in a moment all England was at one in accepting the challenge. The issue Lewis had raised was no longer a matter of European politics, but a question whether the work of the Revolution should be undone, and whether Catholicism and despotism should be replaced on the throne of England by the arms of France. On such a question as this there was no difference between Tory and Whig. Every Englishman backed William in his open resentment of the insult and in the recall of his ambassador. The national union showed itself 7-107]in the warm welcome given to the king on his return from the Hague, where the conclusion of a new Grand Alliance in September between the Empire, Holland, and the United Provinces had rewarded William's patience and skill. The Alliance was soon joined by Denmark, Sweden, the Palatinate, and the bulk of the German States. William seized the moment of enthusiasm to dissolve the Houses whose action had hitherto embarrassed him; and though the new Parliament which met in 1702 was still Tory in the main, its Tory members were now as much for war as the Whigs, and the House of Commons replied to the king's stirring appeal by voting forty thousand soldiers and as many sailors for the coming struggle. As a telling reply to the recognition of the young James by Lewis, a Bill of Attainder was passed against the new Pretender, and correspondence with him or maintenance of his title was made treason. At the same time all members of either House and all public officials were sworn to uphold the succession of the House of Hanover as established by law.


The king's weakness was already too great to allow of his taking the field; and he was forced to entrust the war in the Netherlands to the one Englishman who had shown himself capable of a great command. John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough, was born in 1650, the son of a Devonshire Cavalier, whose daughter became at 7-108]the Restoration mistress of the Duke of York. The shame of Arabella did more perhaps than her father's loyalty to win for her brother a commission in the royal Guards; and after five years' service abroad under Turenne the young captain became colonel of an English regiment which was retained in the service of France. He had already shown some of the qualities of a great soldier, an unruffled courage, a temper naturally bold and venturesome but held in check by a cool and serene judgement, a vigilance and capacity for enduring fatigue which never forsook him. In later years he was known to spend a whole day in reconnoitring, and at Blenheim he remained on horseback for fifteen hours. But courage and skill in arms did less for Churchill on his return to the English court than his personal beauty. In the French camp he had been known as "the handsome Englishman"; and his manners were as winning as his person. Even in age his address was almost irresistible; "he engrossed the graces," says Chesterfield; and his air never lost the careless sweetness which won the favour of Lady Castlemaine. A present of £5000 from the king's mistress laid the foundation of a fortune which grew rapidly to greatness, as the prudent forethought of the handsome young soldier hardened into the avarice of age.

Churchill and James.

But it was to the Duke of York that Churchill looked mainly for advancement, and he earned it by the fidelity with which as a member of his 7-109]household he clung to the Duke's fortunes during the dark days of the Popish Plot. He followed James to Edinburgh and the Hague, and on his master's return he was rewarded with a peerage and the colonelcy of the Life Guards. The service he rendered James after his accession by saving the royal army from a surprise at Sedgemoor would have been yet more splendidly acknowledged but for the king's bigotry. In spite of his master's personal solicitations Churchill remained true to Protestantism. But he knew James too well to count on further favour after a formal refusal to abandon his faith. Luckily for him he had now found a new groundwork for his fortunes in the growing influence of his wife over the king's second daughter, Anne; and at the crisis of the Revolution the adhesion of Anne to the cause of Protestantism was of the highest value. No sentiment of gratitude to his older patron hindered Churchill from corresponding with the Prince of Orange, from promising Anne's sympathy to William's effort, or from deserting the ranks of the king's army when it faced William in the field. His desertion proved fatal to the royal cause; but great as this service was it was eclipsed by a second. It was by his wife's persuasion that Anne was induced to forsake her father and take refuge in Danby's camp. Unscrupulous as his conduct had been, the services which Churchill thus rendered to William were too great to miss 7-110]their reward. On the new king's accession he became Earl of Marlborough; he was put at the head of a force during the Irish war where his rapid successes at once won William's regard; and he was given high command in the army of Flanders.

Churchill and William.

But the sense of his power over Anne soon turned Marlborough from plotting treason against James to plot treason against William. Great as was his greed of gold, he had married Sarah Jennings, a penniless beauty of Charles's court, in whom a violent and malignant temper was strangely combined with a power of winning and retaining love. Churchill's affection for her ran like a thread of gold through the dark web of his career. In the midst of his marches and from the very battle-field he writes to his wife with the same passionate tenderness. The composure which no danger or hatred could ruffle broke down into almost womanish depression at the thought of her coldness or at any burst of her violent humour. To the last he never left her without a pang. "I did for a great while with a perspective glass look upon the cliffs," he once wrote to her after setting out on a campaign, "in hopes that I might have had one sight of you." It was no wonder that the woman who inspired Marlborough with a love like this bound to her the weak and feeble nature of the Princess Anne. The two friends threw off the restraints of state, and addressed each other 7-111]as "Mrs. Freeman" and "Mrs. Morley." It was on his wife's influence over her friend that the Earl's ambition counted in its designs against William. His subtle policy aimed at availing itself both of William's unpopularity and of the dread of a Jacobite restoration. His plan was to drive the king from the throne by backing the Tories in their opposition to the war, as well as by stirring to frenzy the English hatred of foreigners, and then to use the Whig dread of James's return to seat Anne in William's place. The discovery of these designs roused the king to a burst of unusual resentment. "Were I and my Lord Marlborough private persons," William exclaimed, "the sword would have to settle between us." As it was, he could only strip the Earl of his offices and command and drive his wife from St. James's. Anne followed her favourite, and the court of the Princess became the centre of the Tory opposition: while Marlborough opened a correspondence with James. So notorious was his treason that on the eve of the French invasion which was foiled by the victory of La Hogue the Earl was one of the first among the suspected persons who were sent to the Tower.

Death of William.

The death of Mary however forced William to recall the Princess, who became by this event his successor; and with Anne the Marlboroughs returned to court. Now indeed that Anne's succession was brought near by the rapid decay of 7-112]William's health their loyalty to the throne might be counted on; and though William could not bend himself to trust the Earl again, he saw in him as death drew near the one man whose splendid talents fitted him in spite of the perfidy and treason of his life to rule England and direct the Grand Alliance in his stead. He employed Marlborough therefore to negotiate the treaty of alliance with the Emperor, and put him at the head of the army in Flanders. But the Earl had only just taken the command when a fall from his horse on the twenty-first of February 1702 proved fatal to the broken frame of William of Orange. "There was a time when I should have been glad to have been delivered out of my troubles," the dying man whispered to Portland, "but I own I see another scene, and could wish to live a little longer." He knew however that the wish was vain; and he died on the morning of the 8th of March, commending Marlborough to Anne as the fittest person to lead her armies and guide her counsels. Anne's zeal in her friend's cause needed no quickening. Three days after her accession the Earl was named Captain-General of the English forces at home and abroad, and entrusted with the entire direction of the war. His supremacy over home affairs was secured by the expulsion of the few remaining Whigs among the ministers, and the construction of a purely Tory administration with Lord Godolphin, a close friend of 7-113]Marlborough's, as Lord Treasurer at its head. The Queen's affection for his wife ensured him the support of the Crown at a moment when Anne's personal popularity gave the Crown a new weight with the nation. In England indeed party feeling for the moment died away. The Parliament called on the new accession was strongly Tory; but all save the extreme Tories were won over to the war now that it was waged on behalf of a Tory queen by a Tory general, while the most extreme of the Whigs were ready to back even a Tory general in waging a Whig war.

Marlborough and the Allies.

Abroad however William's death shook the Alliance to its base; and even Holland wavered in dread of being deserted by England in the coming struggle. But the decision of Marlborough soon did away with this distrust. Anne was made to declare from the throne her resolve to pursue with energy the policy of her predecessor. The Parliament was brought to sanction vigorous measures for the prosecution of the war. The new general hastened to the Hague, received the command of the Dutch as well as of the English forces, and drew the German powers into the Confederacy with a skill and adroitness which even William might have envied. Never indeed was greatness more quickly recognised than in the case of Marlborough. In a few months he was regarded by all as the guiding spirit of the Alliance, and princes whose jealousy had worn 7-114]out the patience of the king yielded without a struggle to the counsels of his successor. His temper fitted him in an especial way to be the head of a great confederacy. Like William, he owed little of his power to any early training. The trace of his neglected education was seen to the last in his reluctance to write. "Of all things," he said to his wife, "I do not love writing." To pen a despatch indeed was a far greater trouble to Marlborough than to plan a campaign. But nature had given him qualities which in other men spring specially from culture. His capacity for business was immense. During the next ten years he assumed the general direction of the war in Flanders and in Spain. He managed every negotiation with the courts of the allies. He watched over the shifting phases of English politics. He crossed the Channel to win over Anne to a change in the cabinet, or hurried to Berlin to secure the due contingent of Electoral troops from Brandenburg. At one and the same moment men saw him reconciling the Emperor with the Protestants of Hungary, stirring the Calvinists of the Cévennes into revolt, arranging the affairs of Portugal, and providing for the protection of the Duke of Savoy.

His temper.

But his air showed no trace of fatigue or haste or vexation. He retained to the last the indolent grace of his youth. His natural dignity was never ruffled by an outbreak of temper. Amidst the 7-115]storm of battle his soldiers saw their leader "without fear of danger or in the least hurry giving his orders with all the calmness imaginable." In the cabinet he was as cool as on the battle-field. He met with the same equable serenity the pettiness of the German princes, the phlegm of the Dutch, the ignorant opposition of his officers, the libels of his political opponents. There was a touch of irony in the simple expedients by which he sometimes solved problems which had baffled cabinets. The touchy pride of the king of Prussia in his new royal dignity, when he rose from being a simple Elector of Brandenburg to a throne, made him one of the most vexatious among the allies; but all difficulty with him ceased when Marlborough rose at a state banquet and glutted his vanity by handing him a napkin. Churchill's composure rested partly on a pride which could not stoop to bare the real self within to the eyes of meaner men. In the bitter moments before his fall he bade Godolphin burn some querulous letters which the persecution of his opponents had wrung from him; "My desire," he wrote, "is that the world may continue in their error of thinking me a happy man, for I think it better to be envied than pitied." But in great measure it sprang from the purely intellectual temper of his mind. His passion for his wife was the one sentiment which tinged the colourless light in which his understanding moved. In all else he 7-116]was without affection or resentment, he knew neither doubt nor regret. In private life he was a humane and compassionate man; but if his position required it he could betray Englishmen to death or lead his army to a butchery such as that of Malplaquet. Of honour or the finer sentiments of mankind he knew nothing; and he turned without a shock from guiding Europe and winning great victories to heap up a matchless fortune by peculation and greed. He is perhaps the only instance of a man of real greatness who loved money for money's sake. No life indeed, no temper ever stood more aloof from the common life and temper of mankind. The passions which stirred the men around him, whether noble or ignoble, were to Marlborough simply elements in an intellectual problem which had to be solved by patience. "Patience will overcome all things," he writes again and again. "As I think most things are governed by destiny, having done all things we should submit with patience."

Opening of the War.

As a statesman the high qualities of Marlborough were owned by his bitterest foes. "Over the Confederacy," says Lord Bolingbroke, "he, a new, a private man, acquired by merit and management a more decided influence than high birth, confirmed authority, and even the crown of Great Britain had given to King William." But great as he was in the council, he was even greater in the field. He stands alone amongst the masters of the art 7-117]of war as a captain whose victories began at an age when the work of most men is done. Though he served as a young officer under Turenne, and for a few months in Ireland and the Netherlands, Marlborough had held no great command till he took the field in Flanders at the age of fifty-two. He stands alone too in his unbroken good fortune. Voltaire notes that he never besieged a fortress which he did not take, or fought a battle which he did not win. His difficulties indeed came not so much from the enemy as from the ignorance and timidity of his own allies. He was never defeated in the field, but victory after victory was snatched from him by the incapacity of his officers or the stubbornness of the Dutch. What startled the cautious strategists of his day was the vigour and audacity of his plans. Old as he was, Marlborough's designs had from the first all the dash and boldness of youth. On taking the field in 1702 he at once resolved to force a battle in the heart of Brabant. The plan was foiled by the timidity and resistance of the Dutch deputies. But his resolute advance across the Meuse drew the French forces from that river and enabled him to reduce fortress after fortress in a series of sieges, till the surrender of Liége closed a campaign which cut off the French from the Lower Rhine and freed Holland from all danger of invasion.

The French in Germany.

The successes of Marlborough had been brought 7-118]into bolder relief by the fortunes of the war in other quarters. Though the Imperialist general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, showed his powers by a surprise of the French army at Cremona, no real successes had been won in Italy. An English descent on the Spanish coast ended in failure. In Germany, where the Bavarians joined the French, their united armies defeated the army of the Empire and opened the line of the Danube to a French advance. It was in this quarter that Lewis resolved to push his fortunes in the coming year. In the spring of 1703 a French army under Marshal Villars again relieved the Bavarian Elector from the pressure of the Austrian forces, and only a strife which arose between the two commanders hindered their joint armies from marching on Vienna. Meanwhile the timidity of the Dutch deputies served Lewis well in the Low Countries. The hopes of Marlborough, who had been raised to a dukedom for his services in the previous year, were again foiled by the deputies of the States-General. Serene as his temper was, it broke down before their refusal to co-operate in an attack on Antwerp and French Flanders; and the prayers of Godolphin and of the Pensionary Heinsius alone induced him to withdraw his offer of resignation. In spite of his victories on the Danube, indeed, of the blunders of his adversaries on the Rhine, and the sudden aid of an insurrection against the Court of Vienna which broke out in Hungary, the 7-119]difficulties of Lewis were hourly increasing. The accession of Savoy to the Grand Alliance threatened his armies in Italy with destruction. That of Portugal gave the allies a base of operations against Spain. The French king's energy however rose with the pressure; and while the Duke of Berwick, a natural son of James the Second, was despatched against Portugal, and three small armies closed round Savoy, the flower of the French troops joined the army of Bavaria on the Danube, for the bold plan of Lewis was to decide the fortunes of the war by a victory which would wrest peace from the Empire under the walls of Vienna.

Marlborough in Germany.

The master-stroke of Lewis roused Marlborough at the opening of 1704 to a master-stroke in return; but the secrecy and boldness of the Duke's plans deceived both his enemies and his allies. The French army in Flanders saw in his march from the Netherlands upon Maintz only a design to transfer the war into Elsass. The Dutch on the other hand were lured into suffering their troops to be drawn as far from Flanders as Coblentz by the Duke's proposals for an imaginary campaign on the Moselle. It was only when Marlborough crossed the Neckar and struck through the centre of Germany for the Danube that the true aim of his operations was revealed to both. After struggling through the hill country of Wurtemberg he joined the Imperial army under the Prince of 7-120]Baden, stormed the heights of Donauwerth, crossed the Danube and the Lech, and penetrated into the heart of Bavaria. The crisis drew two other armies which were facing one another on the Upper Rhine to the scene. The arrival of Marshal Tallard with thirty thousand French troops saved the Elector of Bavaria for the moment from the need of submission; but the junction of his opponent, Prince Eugene, with Marlborough raised the contending forces again to an equality. After a few marches the armies met on the north bank of the Danube near the small town of Hochstädt and the village of Blindheim or Blenheim, which have given their names to one of the most memorable battles in the history of the world.

Battle of Blenheim.

In one respect the struggle which followed stands almost unrivalled, for the whole of the Teutonic race was represented in the strange medley of Englishmen, Dutchmen, Hanoverians, Danes, Wurtembergers and Austrians who followed Marlborough and Eugene. The French and Bavarians, who numbered like their opponents some fifty thousand men, lay behind a little stream which ran through swampy ground to the Danube. Their position was a strong one, for its front was covered by the swamp, its right by the Danube, its left by the hill-country in which the stream rose; and Tallard had not only entrenched himself but was far superior to his rival in artillery. But for once Marlborough's hands were free. "I 7-121]have great reason," he wrote calmly home, "to hope that everything will go well, for I have the pleasure to find all the officers willing to obey without knowing any other reason than that it is my desire, which is very different from what it was in Flanders, where I was obliged to have the consent of a council of war for everything I undertook." So formidable were the obstacles, however, that though the allies were in motion at sunrise on the 13th of August it was not till midday that Eugene, who commanded on the right, succeeded in crossing the stream. The English foot at once forded it on the left, and attacked the village of Blindheim in which the bulk of the French infantry were entrenched; but after a furious struggle the attack was repulsed, while as gallant a resistance at the other end of the line held Eugene in check. It was the centre however, where the French believed themselves to be unassailable, and which this belief had led them to weaken by drawing troops to their wings, that had been chosen by Marlborough from the first for the chief point of attack. By making an artificial road across the morass which covered it, he was at last enabled to throw his eight thousand horsemen on the mass of the French cavalry, which occupied this position; and two desperate charges which the Duke headed in person decided the day. The French centre was flung back on the Danube and forced to surrender. 7-122]Their left fell back in confusion on Hochstädt: while their right, cooped up in Blindheim and cut off from retreat, became prisoners of war. Of the defeated army only twenty thousand men escaped. Twelve thousand were slain, fourteen thousand were captured. Vienna was saved, Germany finally freed from the French, and Marlborough, who followed the wreck of the French host in its flight to Elsass, soon made himself master of the Lower Moselle.

Occasional conformity.

But the loss of France could not be measured by men or fortresses. A hundred victories since Rocroi had taught the world to regard the armies of Lewis as all but invincible, when Blenheim and the surrender of the flower of the French soldiery broke the spell. From that moment the terror of victory passed to the side of the allies, and "Malbrook" became a name of fear to every child in France. In England itself the victory of Blenheim aided to bring about a great change in the political aspect of affairs. The Tories were already pressing hard on the defeated Whigs. If they were willing to support the war abroad, they were resolved to use the accession of a Stuart to the throne to secure their own power at home. They resolved therefore to make a fresh attempt to create a permanent Tory majority in the Commons by excluding Nonconformists from the municipal corporations, which returned the bulk of the borough members, and whose political 7-123]tendencies were for the most part Whig. The test of receiving the sacrament according to the ritual of the Church of England, effective as it was against Catholics, was useless against Protestant Dissenters. While adhering to their separate congregations, in which they were now protected by the Toleration Act, they "qualified for office," as it was called, by the "occasional conformity" of receiving the sacrament at church once in the year. It was against "occasional conformity" that the Tories introduced a test which by excluding the Nonconformists would have given them the command of the boroughs; and this test at first received Marlborough's support. But it was rejected by the Lords as often as it was sent up to them, and it was soon guessed that the resistance of the Lords was secretly backed by both Marlborough and Godolphin. Tory as he was, in fact, Marlborough had no mind for an unchecked Tory rule, or for a measure which would be fatal to the war by again reviving religious strife. But it was in vain that he strove to propitiate his party by inducing the Queen to set aside the tenths and first-fruits hitherto paid by the clergy to the Crown as a fund for the augmentation of small benefices, a fund which still bears the name of Queen Anne's Bounty. The Commons showed their resentment against Marlborough by refusing to add a grant of money to the grant of a dukedom after his first campaign; and the higher Tories, 7-124]with Lord Nottingham at their head, began to throw every obstacle they could in the way of the continuance of the war.

The Coalition Ministry.

Nottingham and his followers at last quitted office in 1704, and Marlborough replaced them by Tories of a more moderate stamp who were still in favour of the war; by Robert Harley, who became Secretary of State, and by Henry St. John, a young man of splendid talents, who was named Secretary at War. Small as the change seemed, its significance was clear to both parties; and the Duke's march into Germany gave his enemies an opportunity of embittering the political strife. The original aim of the Tories had been to limit English efforts to what seemed purely English objects, the defence of the Netherlands and of English commerce; and the bulk of them shrank even now from any further entanglement in the struggle. But the Duke's march seemed at once to pledge England to a strife in the very heart of the Continent, and above all to a strife on behalf of the House of Austria, whose designs upon Spain were regarded with almost as much suspicion as those of Lewis. It was an act indeed of even greater political than military daring. The High Tories and Jacobites threatened if Marlborough failed to bring his head to the block; and only the victory of Blenheim saved him from political ruin. Slowly and against his will the Duke drifted from his own party to the party which 7-125]really backed his policy. He availed himself of the national triumph over Blenheim to dissolve Parliament; and when the election of 1705, as he hoped, returned a majority in favour of the war, his efforts brought about a coalition between the moderate Tories who still clung to him and the Whig Junto, whose support was purchased by making a Whig, William Cowper, Lord Keeper, and by sending Lord Sunderland as envoy to Vienna.


The bitter attacks of the peace party were entirely foiled by this union, and Marlborough at last felt secure at home. But he had to bear disappointment abroad. His plan of attack along the line of the Moselle was defeated by the refusal of the Imperial army to join him. When he transferred the war again to the Netherlands and entered the French lines across the Dyle, the Dutch generals withdrew their troops; and his proposal to attack the Duke of Villeroy in the field of Waterloo was rejected in full council of war by the deputies of the States with cries of "murder" and "massacre." Even Marlborough's composure broke into bitterness at this last blow. "Had I the same power I had last year," he wrote home, "I could have won a greater victory than that of Blenheim." On his complaint indeed the States recalled their commissaries, but the year was lost; nor had greater results been brought about in Italy or on the Rhine. The spirits of 7-126]the allies were only sustained by the romantic exploits of Lord Peterborough in Spain. Profligate, unprincipled, flighty as he was, Peterborough had a genius for war, and his seizure of Barcelona with a handful of men, a step followed by his recognition of the old liberties of Aragon, roused that province to support the cause of the second son of the Emperor, who had been acknowledged as King of Spain by the allies under the title of Charles the Third. Catalonia and Valencia soon joined Aragon in declaring for Charles: while Marlborough spent the winter of 1705 in negotiations at Vienna, Berlin, Hanover, and the Hague, and in preparations for the coming campaign. Eager for freedom of action and sick of the Imperial generals as of the Dutch, he planned a march over the Alps and a campaign in Italy; and though these designs were defeated by the opposition of the allies, he found himself unfettered when he again appeared in Flanders in 1706. Marshal Villeroy, the new French general, was as eager as Marlborough for an engagement; and the two armies met on the 23rd of May at the village of Ramillies on an undulating plain which forms the highest ground in Brabant. The French were drawn up in a wide curve with morasses covering their front. After a feint on their left, Marlborough flung himself on their right wing at Ramillies, crushed it in a brilliant charge that he led in person, and swept along their whole line 7-127]till it broke in a rout which only ended beneath the walls of Louvain. In an hour and a half the French had lost fifteen thousand men, their baggage, and their guns; and the line of the Scheldt, Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges became the prize of the victors. It only needed four successful sieges which followed the battle of Ramillies to complete the deliverance of Flanders.

The Union with Scotland.

The year which witnessed the victory of Ramillies remains yet more memorable as the year which witnessed the final Union of England with Scotland. As the undoing of the earlier union had been the first work of the Government of the Restoration, its revival was one of the first aims of the Government which followed the Revolution. But the project was long held in check by religious and commercial jealousies. Scotland refused to bear any part of the English debt. England would not yield any share in her monopoly of trade with the colonies. The English Churchmen longed for a restoration of Episcopacy north of the Border, while the Scotch Presbyterians would not hear even of the legal toleration of Episcopalians. In 1703 however an Act of Settlement which passed through the Scotch Parliament at last brought home to English statesmen the dangers of further delay. In dealing with this measure the Scotch Whigs, who cared only for the independence of their country, joined hand in hand with the Scotch Jacobites, who looked only to the interests of the 7-128]Pretender. The Jacobites excluded from the Act the name of the Princess Sophia; the Whigs introduced a provision that no sovereign of England should be recognized as sovereign of Scotland save upon security given to the religion, freedom, and trade of the Scottish people. The danger arising from such a measure was undoubtedly great, for it pointed to a recognition of the Pretender in Scotland on the Queen's death, and such a recognition meant war between Scotland and England. The need of a union became at once apparent to every statesman, but it was only after three years' delay that the wisdom and resolution of Lord Somers brought the question to an issue. The Scotch proposals of a federative rather than a legislative union were set aside by his firmness; the commercial jealousies of the English traders were put by; and the Act of Union as it was completed in 1706, though not finally passed till the following year, provided that the two kingdoms should be united into one under the name of Great Britain, and that the succession to the crown of this United Kingdom should be ruled by the provisions of the English Act of Settlement. The Scotch Church and the Scotch law were left untouched: but all rights of trade were thrown open to both nations, a common system of taxation was established, and a uniform system of coinage adopted. A single Parliament was henceforth to represent the United Kingdom; and for this 7-129]purpose forty-five Scotch members, a number taken to represent the proportion of Scotch property and population relatively to England, were added to the five hundred and thirteen English members of the House of Commons, and sixteen representative peers to the one hundred and eight who formed the English House of Lords.

Its results.

In Scotland the opposition to this measure was bitter and almost universal. The terror of the Presbyterians indeed was met by an Act of Security which became part of the Treaty of Union, and which required an oath to support the Presbyterian Church from every sovereign on his accession. But no securities could satisfy the enthusiastic patriots or the fanatical Cameronians. The Jacobites sought troops from France and plotted a Stuart restoration. The nationalists talked of seceding from the Houses which voted for the Union and of establishing a rival Parliament. In the end however good sense and the loyalty of the trading classes to the cause of the Protestant succession won their way. The measure was adopted by the Scotch Parliament, and the Treaty of Union became a legislative Act to which Anne in 1707 gave her assent in noble words. "I desire," said the Queen, "and expect from my subjects of both nations that from henceforth they act with all possible respect and kindness to one another, that so it may appear to all the world they have hearts disposed to become one people." 7-130]Time has more than answered these hopes. The two nations whom the Union brought together have ever since remained one. England gained in the removal of a constant danger of treason and war. To Scotland the Union opened up new avenues of wealth which the energy of its people turned to wonderful account. The farms of Lothian have become models of agricultural skill. A fishing town on the Clyde has grown into the rich and populous Glasgow. Peace and culture have changed the wild clansmen of the Highlands into herdsmen and farmers. Nor was the change followed by any loss of national spirit. The world has hardly seen a mightier and more rapid developement of national energy than that of Scotland after the Union. All that passed away was the jealousy which had parted since the days of Edward the First two peoples whom a common blood and common speech proclaimed to be one. The Union between Scotland and England has been real and stable simply because it was the legislative acknowledgement and enforcement of a national fact.

Marlborough's difficulties.

With the defeat of Ramillies and the conclusion of the Union the greatness of Marlborough reached its height. In five years he had rescued Holland, saved Germany, and thrown France back on a purely defensive position. He exercised an undisputed supremacy over an alliance which embraced the greatest European powers. At home 7-131]he was practically first minister, commander-in-chief, and absolute master through his wife of the Queen herself. He was looked upon as the most powerful as he was the wealthiest subject in the world. And while Marlborough's fortunes mounted to their height those of France sank to their lowest ebb. Eugene in his greatest victory broke the siege of Turin, and Lewis saw the loss of Flanders followed by the loss of Italy. Not only did Peterborough hold his ground in Spain, but Charles the Third, with an army of English and Portuguese, entered Madrid. But it was in fact only these triumphs abroad that enabled Marlborough to face the difficulties which were opening on him at home. His command of the Parliament rested now on a coalition of the Whigs with the moderate Tories who still adhered to him after his break with the more violent members of his old party. Ramillies gave him strength enough to force Anne in spite of her hatred of the Whigs to fulfil the compact with them from which this coalition had sprung, by admitting Lord Sunderland, the bitterest leader of their party, to office as Secretary of State at the close of 1706. But with the entry of Sunderland into office the system of political balance which the Duke had maintained till now began at once to break down. Constitutionally, Marlborough's was the last attempt to govern England on other terms than those of party government, and the union 7-132]of parties to which he had clung ever since his severance from the extreme Tories became every day more impossible as the growing opposition of the Tories to the war threw the Duke more and more on the support of the Whigs.

Triumph of the Whigs.

The Whigs sold their support dearly. Sunderland's violent and imperious temper differed widely from the supple and unscrupulous nature which had carried his father, the Lord Sunderland of the Restoration, unhurt through the violent changes of his day. But he had inherited his father's conceptions of party government. He was resolved to restore a strict party administration on a purely Whig basis, and to drive the moderate Tories from office in spite of Marlborough's desire to retain them. The Duke wrote hotly home at the news of the pressure which the Whigs were putting on him. "England," he said, "will not be ruined because a few men are not pleased." Nor was Marlborough alone in his resentment. Harley foresaw the danger of his expulsion from office, and even as early as 1706 began to intrigue at court, through Mrs. Masham, a bedchamber woman of the Queen, who was supplanting the Duchess in Anne's favour, against the Whigs and against Marlborough, whom he looked upon as in the hands of the Whigs. St. John, though bound by ties of gratitude to the Duke, to whose favour he owed his early promotion to office, was driven by the same fear 7-133]to share Harley's schemes. Marlborough strove to win both of them back, but the growing opposition of the Tories to the war left him helpless in the hands of the only party that steadily supported it. A factious union of the Whigs with their opponents, though it roused the Duke to a burst of unusual passion in Parliament, effected its end by convincing him of the impossibility of further resistance. The resistance of the Queen indeed was stubborn and bitter. Anne was at heart a Tory, and her old trust in Marlborough died with his submission to the Whig demands. It was only by the threat of resignation that he had forced her to admit Sunderland to office; and the violent outbreak of temper with which the Duchess enforced her husband's will changed the Queen's friendship for her into a bitter resentment. Marlborough was forced to increase this resentment by fresh compliances with the conditions which the Whigs imposed on him, by removing Peterborough from his command as a Tory general, and by wresting from Anne her consent in 1708 to the dismissal from office of Harley and St. John with the whole of the moderate Tories whom they headed. Their removal was followed by the complete triumph of the Whigs in the admission of Lords Somers and Wharton into the ministry. Somers became President of the Council, Wharton Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, while lower posts were occupied by younger men of the same party, 7-134]who were destined to play a great part in our later history, such as the young Duke of Newcastle and Robert Walpole.


Meanwhile, the great struggle abroad went steadily against France, though its progress was varied with striking alternations of success. France rose indeed with singular rapidity from the crushing blow of Ramillies. Spain was recovered for Philip in 1707 by a victory of Marshal Berwick at Almanza. Marshal Villars won fresh triumphs on the Rhine; while Eugene, who had penetrated into Provence, was driven back into Italy. In Flanders Marlborough's designs for taking advantage of his great victory were foiled by the strategy of the Duke of Vendôme and by the reluctance of the Dutch, who were now wavering towards peace. In the campaign of 1708 however Vendôme, in spite of his superiority in force, was attacked and defeated at Oudenarde; and though Marlborough was hindered from striking at the heart of France by the timidity of the English and Dutch statesmen, he reduced Lille, the strongest of its frontier fortresses, in the face of an army of relief which numbered a hundred thousand men. The blow proved an effective one. The pride of Lewis was at last broken by defeat and by the terrible sufferings of France. He offered terms of peace which yielded all that the allies had fought for. He consented to withdraw his aid from Philip of Spain, to give 7-135]up ten Flemish fortresses as a barrier for the Dutch, and to surrender to the Empire all that France had gained since the Treaty of Westphalia. He offered to acknowledge Anne, to banish the Pretender from his dominions, and to demolish the fortifications of Dunkirk, a port hateful to England as the home of the French privateers.

Peace rejected.

To Marlborough these terms seemed sufficient, and for the moment he regarded peace as secure. Peace was indeed now the general wish of the nation, and the longing for it was nowhere stronger than with the Queen. Dull and sluggish as was Anne's temper, she had the pride and stubbornness of her race, and both revolted against the submission to which she was forced. If she bowed to the spirit of the Revolution by yielding implicitly to the decision of her Parliament, she held firmly to the ceremonial traditions of the monarchy of her ancestors. She dined in royal state, she touched for the evil in her progresses, she presided at every meeting of council or cabinet, she insisted on every measure proposed by her ministers being previously laid before her. She shrank from party government as an enslavement of the Crown; and claimed the right to call on men from either side to aid in the administration of the State. But if England was to be governed by a party, she was resolved that it should be her own party. She had been bred a Tory. Her youth had fallen among the storms of the Exclusion 7-136]Bill, and she looked on Whigs as disguised republicans. Above all her pride was outraged by the concessions which were forced from her. She had prayed Godolphin to help her in excluding Sunderland as a thing on which the peace of her life depended. She trembled every day before the violent temper of the Duchess of Marlborough, and before the threat of resignation by which the Duke himself crushed her first faint efforts at revolt. She longed for a peace which would free her from both Marlborough and the Whigs, as the Whigs on the other hand were resolute for a war which kept them in power. It was on this ground that they set aside the Duke's counsels and answered the French proposals of peace by terms which made peace impossible. They insisted on the transfer of the whole Spanish monarchy to the Austrian prince. When even this seemed likely to be conceded they demanded that Lewis should with his own troops compel his grandson to give up the crown of Spain.


"If I must wage war," replied the French king, "I had rather wage it with my enemies than with my children." In a bitter despair he appealed to France; and, exhausted as the country was by the struggle, the campaign of 1709 proved how nobly France answered his appeal. The terrible slaughter which bears the name of the battle of Malplaquet showed a new temper in the French soldiers. Starving as they were, they flung away their 7-137]rations in their eagerness for the fight, and fell back at its close in serried masses that no efforts of Marlborough could break. They had lost twelve thousand men, but the forcing their lines of entrenchment had cost the allies a loss of double that number. Horror at such a "deluge of blood" increased the general distaste for the war; and the rejection of fresh French offers in 1710, a rejection unjustly attributed to Marlborough's desire for the lengthening out of a contest which brought him profit and power, fired at last the smouldering discontent into flame. A storm of popular passion burst suddenly on the Whigs. Its occasion was a dull and silly sermon in which a High Church divine, Dr. Sacheverell, maintained the doctrine of non-resistance at St. Paul's. His boldness challenged prosecution; but in spite of the warning of Marlborough and of Somers the Whig Ministers resolved on his impeachment before the Lords, and the trial at once widened into a great party struggle. An outburst of popular enthusiasm in Sacheverell's favour showed what a storm of hatred had gathered against the Whigs and the war. The most eminent of the Tory Churchmen stood by his side at the bar, crowds escorted him to the court and back again, while the streets rang with cries of "The Church and Dr. Sacheverell." A small majority of the peers found the preacher guilty, but the light sentence they inflicted was in effect an acquittal, 7-138]and bonfires and illuminations over the whole country welcomed it as a Tory triumph.

Dismissal of the Whigs.

The turn of popular feeling at once roused to new life the party whom the Whigs had striven to crush. The expulsion of Harley and St. John from the Ministry had given the Tories leaders of a more subtle and vigorous stamp than the High Churchmen who had quitted office in the first years of the war; and St. John brought into play a new engine of political attack whose powers soon made themselves felt. In the Examiner, and in a crowd of pamphlets and periodicals which followed in its train, the humour of the poet Prior, the bitter irony of Swift, an Irish writer who was now forcing his way into fame, as well as St. John's own brilliant sophistry, spent themselves on the abuse of the war and of its general. "Six millions of supplies and almost fifty millions of debt!" Swift wrote bitterly; "the High Allies have been the ruin of us!" Marlborough was ridiculed and reviled, even his courage was called in question; he was charged with insolence, with cruelty and ambition, with corruption and greed. The virulence of the abuse would have defeated its aim had not the general sense of the people condemned the maintenance of the war, and encouraged Anne to free herself from the yoke beneath which she had bent so long. At the close of Sacheverell's trial she broke with the Duchess. Marlborough looked for support to the Whigs; but the subtle intrigue of Harley was 7-139]as busy in undermining the Ministry as St. John was in openly attacking it. The Whigs, who knew that the Duke's league with them had simply been forced on him by the war, and who had already foiled an attempt he had made to secure himself by the demand of a grant for life of his office of Commander-in-Chief, were easily persuaded that the Queen's sole object was his personal humiliation. They looked coolly therefore on at the dismissal of Sunderland, who had now become his son-in-law, and of Godolphin, who was his closest friend. The same means were adopted to bring about the ruin of the Whigs themselves: and Marlborough, lured easily by hopes of reconciliation with his old party, looked on as coolly while Anne dismissed her Whig counsellors and named a Tory Ministry, with Harley and St. John at its head, in their place.

Fall of Marlborough.

The time was now come for a final and decisive blow; but how great a dread Marlborough still inspired in his enemies was shown by the shameful treachery with which they still thought it needful to bring about his fall. The intrigues of Harley paled before the subtler treason of Henry St. John. Young as he was, for he had hardly reached his thirty-second year, St. John had already shown his ability as Secretary of War under Marlborough himself, his brilliant rhetoric gave him a hold over the House of Commons which even the sense of his restlessness and recklessness failed to shake, while the vigour and eloquence of his writings 7-140]infused a new colour and force into political literature. He was resolute for peace; but he pressed on the work of peace with an utter indifference to all but party ends. As Marlborough was his great obstacle, his aim was to drive him from his command; and earnestly as he admired the Duke's greatness, he hounded on a tribe of libellers who assailed even his personal courage. Meanwhile St. John was feeding Marlborough's hopes of reconciliation with the Tories, till he led him to acquiesce in his wife's dismissal, and to pledge himself to a co-operation with the Tory policy. It was the Duke's belief that a reconciliation with the Tories was effected that led him to sanction the despatch of troops which should have strengthened his army in Flanders on a fruitless expedition against Canada, though this left him too weak to carry out a masterly plan which he had formed for a march into the heart of France in the opening of 1711. He was unable even to risk a battle or to do more than to pick up a few seaboard towns, and St. John at once turned the small results of the campaign into an argument for the conclusion of peace. Peace was indeed all but concluded. In defiance of an article of the Grand Alliance which pledged its members not to carry on separate negotiations with France, St. John, who now became Lord Bolingbroke, pushed forward through the summer of 1711 a secret accommodation between England and France. It 7-141]was for this negotiation that he had crippled Marlborough's campaign; and it was the discovery of his perfidy which revealed to the Duke how utterly he had been betrayed, and forced him at last to break with the Tory Minister.

Treaty of Utrecht.

He returned to England; and his efforts induced the House of Lords to denounce the contemplated peace; but the support of the Commons and the Queen, and the general hatred of the war among the people, enabled Harley to ride down all resistance. At the opening of 1712 the Whig majority in the House of Lords was swamped by the creation of twelve Tory peers. Marlborough was dismissed from his command, charged with peculation, and condemned as guilty by a vote of the House of Commons. The Duke at once withdrew from England, and with his withdrawal all opposition to the peace was at an end. His flight was in fact followed by the conclusion of a Treaty at Utrecht between France, England, and the Dutch; and the desertion of his allies forced even the Emperor at last to make peace at Rastadt. By these treaties the original aim of the war, that of preventing the possession of France and Spain at once by the House of Bourbon, was silently abandoned. No precaution was in fact taken against the dangers it involved to the balance of power, save by a provision that the two crowns should never be united on a single head, and by Philip's renunciation of all right of succession to 7-142]the throne of France. The principle on which the Treaties were based was in fact that of the earlier Treaties of Partition. Spain was stripped of even more than William had proposed to take from her. Philip retained Spain and the Indies: but he ceded his possessions in Italy and the Netherlands with the island of Sardinia to Charles of Austria, who had now become Emperor, in satisfaction of his claims; while he handed over Sicily to the Duke of Savoy. To England he gave up not only Minorca but Gibraltar, two positions which secured her the command of the Mediterranean. France purchased peace by less costly concessions. She had to consent to the re-establishment of the Dutch barrier on a greater scale than before; to pacify the English resentment against the French privateers by the dismantling of Dunkirk; and not only to recognize the right of Anne to the crown, and the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, but to consent to the expulsion of the Pretender from her soil.

Harley and Bolingbroke.

The failure of the Queen's health made the succession the real question of the day, and it was a question which turned all politics into faction and intrigue. The Whigs, who were still formidable in the Commons, and who showed the strength of their party in the Lords by defeating a Treaty of Commerce in which Bolingbroke anticipated the greatest financial triumph of William Pitt and secured freedom of trade between England and France, were zealous for the succession of the 7-143]House of Hanover in the well-founded belief that the Elector George hated the Tories; nor did the Tories, though the Jacobite sympathies of a portion of their party forced both Harley and Bolingbroke to keep up a delusive correspondence with the Pretender, who had withdrawn to Lorraine, really contemplate any other succession than that of the Elector. But on the means of providing for his succession Harley and Bolingbroke differed widely. Harley, still influenced by the Presbyterian leanings of his early life, and more jealous of Lord Rochester and the high Tories he headed than of the Whigs themselves, inclined to an alliance between the moderate Tories and their opponents, as in the earlier days of Marlborough's power. The policy of Bolingbroke on the other hand was so to strengthen the Tories by the utter overthrow of their opponents that whatever might be the Elector's sympathies they could force their policy on him as king; and in the advances which Harley made to the Whigs he saw the means of ruining his rival in the confidence of his party, and of taking his place at their head. It was with this purpose that he introduced a Schism Bill, which would have hindered any Nonconformist from acting as a schoolmaster or a tutor. The success of this measure broke Harley's plans by creating a bitterer division between Tory and Whig than ever, while it humiliated him by the failure of his opposition to it. But its effects 7-144]went far beyond Bolingbroke's intentions. The Whigs regarded the Bill as the first step in a Jacobite restoration, and warned the Electress Sophia that she must look for a struggle against her accession to the throne. Sophia was herself alarmed, and the more so that Anne's health was visibly breaking. In April 1714 therefore the Hanoverian ambassador demanded for the son of the Elector, the future George the Second, who had been created Duke of Cambridge, a writ of summons as peer to the coming Parliament. The aim of the demand was simply that a Hanoverian prince might be present on the spot to maintain the right of his House in case of the Queen's death. But to Anne it seemed to furnish at once a head to the Whig opposition which would render a Tory government impossible; and her anger, fanned by Bolingbroke, broke out in a letter to the aged Electress which warned her that "such conduct may imperil the succession itself."

Death of Anne.

To Sophia the letter was a sentence of death; two days after she read it, as she was walking in the garden at Herrenhausen, she fell in a dying swoon to the ground. The correspondence was at once published, and necessarily quickened the alarm not only of the Whigs, but of the more moderate section of the Tories themselves. But Bolingbroke used the breach which now declared itself between himself and his rival with unscrupulous skill. Though Anne had shown her confidence 7-145]in Harley by conferring on him the earldom of Oxford, her resentment at the conduct of the Hanoverian Court was so skilfully played upon that she was brought in July to dismiss the Earl, as a partisan of the House of Hanover, and to construct a strong and united Tory Ministry which would back the Queen in her resistance to the Elector's demand. As the crisis grew nearer, both parties prepared for civil war. In the beginning of 1714 the Whigs had made ready for a rising on the Queen's death; and invited Marlborough from Flanders to head them, in the hope that his name would rally the army to their cause. Bolingbroke, on the other hand, made the Duke of Ormond, whose sympathies were known to be in favour of the Pretender's succession, Warden of the Cinque Ports, the district in which either claimant of the crown must land, while he gave Scotland in charge to the Jacobite Earl of Mar. The appointments were probably only to secure Jacobite support, for Bolingbroke had in fact no immediate apprehensions of the Queen's death, and his aim was to trim between the Court of Hanover and the Court of James while building up a strong Tory party which would enable him to meet the accession of either with a certainty of retaining power both for himself and the principles he represented. With this view he was preparing to attack both the Bank and the East India Company, the two great strongholds of the Whigs, as well as to tax the 7-146]bondholders at higher rates than the rest of the community by way of conciliating the country gentry, who hated the moneyed interest which was rising into greatness beside them. But events moved faster than his plans. On the 30th of July, three days after Harley's dismissal, Anne was suddenly struck with apoplexy. The Privy Council at once assembled, and at the news the Whig Dukes of Argyle and Somerset entered the Council Chamber without summons and took their places at the board. The step had been taken in secret concert with the Duke of Shrewsbury, who was President of the Council in the Tory Ministry, but a rival of Bolingbroke and an adherent of the Hanoverian succession. The act was a decisive one. The right of the House of Hanover was at once acknowledged, Shrewsbury was nominated as Lord Treasurer by the Council, and the nomination was accepted by the dying Queen. Bolingbroke, though he remained Secretary of State, suddenly found himself powerless and neglected while the Council took steps to provide for the emergency. Four regiments were summoned to the capital in the expectation of a civil war. But the Jacobites were hopeless and unprepared; and on the death of Anne on the evening of the 10th of August, the Elector George of Hanover, who had become heir to the throne by his mother's death, was proclaimed as king of England without a show of opposition.


  • 1714-1760

England's European position.

The accession of George the First marked a change in the position of England as a member of the European Commonwealth. From the age of the Plantagenets to the age of the Revolution the country had stood apart from more than passing contact with the fortunes of the Continent; for if Wolsey had striven to make it an arbiter between France and the House of Austria the strain of the Reformation withdrew Henry and his successor from any effective interference in the strife across the Channel; and in spite of the conflict with the Armada Elizabeth aimed at the close as at the beginning of her reign mainly at keeping her realm as far as might be out of the struggle of western Europe against the ambition of Spain. Its attitude of isolation was yet more marked when England stood aloof from the Thirty Years' War, and after a fitful 7-148]outbreak of energy under Cromwell looked idly on at the earlier efforts of Lewis the Fourteenth to become master of Europe. But with the Revolution this attitude became impossible. In driving out the Stuarts William had aimed mainly at enlisting England in the league against France; and France backed his effort by espousing the cause of the exiled king. To prevent the undoing of all that the Revolution had done England was forced to join the Great Alliance of the European peoples, and reluctantly as she was drawn into it she at once found herself its head. Political and military genius set William and Marlborough in the forefront of the struggle; Lewis reeled beneath the shock of Blenheim and Ramillies; and shameful as were some of its incidents the Peace of Utrecht left England the main barrier against the ambition of the House of Bourbon.

Nor was this a position from which any change of domestic policy could withdraw her. So long as a Stuart pretender threatened the throne of the Revolution, so long every adherent of the cause of the Revolution, whether Tory or Whig, was forced to guard jealously against the supremacy of the power which could alone bring about a Jacobite restoration. As the one check on France lay in the maintenance of a European concert, in her efforts to maintain this concert England was drawn out of the narrower circle of her own home interests to watch every movement of the nations from the 7-149]Baltic to the Mediterranean. And not only did the Revolution set England irrevocably among the powers of Europe, but it assigned her a special place among them. The result of the alliance and the war had been to establish what was then called a "balance of power" between the great European states; a balance which rested indeed not so much on any natural equilibrium of forces as on a compromise wrung from warring nations by the exhaustion of a great struggle; but which, once recognized and established, could be adapted and readjusted, it was hoped, to the varying political conditions of the time. Of this balance of power, as recognized and defined in the Treaty of Utrecht and its successors, England became the special guardian. Her insular position made her almost the one great state which could have no dreams of continental aggrandizement; while the main aim of her policy, that of guarding the throne of the Revolution, secured her fidelity to the European settlement which offered an insuperable obstacle to a Jacobite invasion. Her only interest lay in the maintenance of European peace on the basis of an observance of European treaties.

Its results.

Nothing is at first sight more wearisome than the long line of alliances, triple and quadruple, the endless negotiations, the interminable congresses, the innumerable treaties, which make up the history of Europe during the earlier half of the eighteenth century; nor is it easy to follow 7-150]with patience the meddlesome activity of English diplomacy during that period, its protests and interventions, its subsidies and guarantees, its intrigues and finessings, its bluster and its lies. But wearisome as it all is, it succeeded in its end, and its end was a noble one. Of the twenty-five years between the Revolution and the Peace of Utrecht all but five were years of war, and the five were a mere breathing-space in which the combatants on either side were girding themselves for fresh hostilities. That the twenty-five years which followed were for Europe as a whole a time of peace was due in great measure to the zeal with which England watched over the settlement that had been brought about at Utrecht. To a great extent her efforts averted war altogether; and when war could not be averted she brought it within as narrow limits and to as speedy an end as was possible. Diplomacy spent its ingenuity in countless choppings and changings of the smaller territories about the Mediterranean and elsewhere; but till the rise of Prussia under Frederick the Great it secured Europe as a whole from any world-wide struggle. Nor was this maintenance of European peace all the gain which the attitude of England brought with it. The stubborn policy of the Georgian statesmen has left its mark on our policy ever since. In struggling for peace and for the sanctity of treaties, even though the 7-151]struggle was one of selfish interest, England took a ply which she has never wholly lost. Warlike and imperious as is her national temper, she has never been able to free herself from a sense that her business in the world is to seek peace alike for herself and for the nations about her, and that the best security for peace lies in her recognition, amidst whatever difficulties and seductions, of the force of international engagements and the sanctity of treaties. The sentiment has no doubt been deepened by other convictions, by convictions of at once a higher and a lower stamp, by a growing sense of the value of peace to an industrial nation, as by a growing sense of the moral evil and destructiveness of war. But strong as is the influence of both these sentiments on the peace-loving temper of the English people, that temper itself sprang from another source. It sprang from the sense of responsibility for the peace of the world, as a necessary condition of tranquillity and freedom at home, which grew into life with the earlier years of the eighteenth century.

England's intellectual influence.

Nor was this closer political contact with Europe the only result of the new attitude of England. Throughout the age of the Georges we find her for the first time exercising an intellectual and moral influence on the European world. Hitherto Italian and French impulses had told on English letters or on English thought, but neither our literature nor our philosophy had exercised any corresponding 7-152]influence on the Continent. It may be doubted whether a dozen Frenchmen or Italians had any notion that a literature existed in England at all, or that her institutions were worthy of study by any social or political inquirer. But with the Revolution of 1688 this ignorance came to an end. William and Marlborough carried more than English arms across the Channel; they carried English ideas. The combination of material and military greatness with a freedom of thought and action hardly known elsewhere, which was revealed in the England that sprang from the Revolution of 1688, imposed on the imagination of men. For the first time in our history we find foreigners learning English, visiting England, seeking to understand English life and English opinion. The main curiosity that drew them was a political curiosity, but they carried back more than political conceptions. Religious and philosophical notions crossed the Channel with politics. The world learned that there was an English literature. It heard of Shakspere. It wept over Richardson. It bowed, even in wretched translations, before the genius of Swift. France, above all, was drawn to this study of a country so near to her, and yet so utterly unknown. If we regard its issues, the brutal outrage which drove Voltaire to England in 1726 was one of the most important events of the eighteenth century. With an intelligence singularly open to new impressions, he revelled in the freedom of social life he found 7-153]about him, in its innumerable types of character, its eccentricities, its individualities. His "Philosophical Letters" revealed to Europe not only a country where utterance and opinion were unfettered, but a new literature and a new science; while his intercourse with Bolingbroke gave the first impulse to that scepticism which was to wage its destructive war with the faith of the Continent. From the visit of Voltaire to the outbreak of the French Revolution, this intercourse with England remained the chief motive power of French opinion, and told through it on the opinion of the world. In his investigations on the nature of government Montesquieu studied English institutions as closely as he studied the institutions of Rome. Buffon was led by English science into his attempt at a survey and classification of the animal world. It was from the works of Locke that Rousseau drew the bulk of his ideas in politics and education.

The general temper of Europe.

Such an influence could hardly have been aroused by English letters had they not given expression to what was the general temper of Europe at the time. The cessation of religious wars, the upgrowth of great states with a new political and administrative organization, the rapid progress of intelligence, showed their effect everywhere in the same rationalizing temper, extending not only over theology but over each department of thought, the same interest in political and social speculation, the same drift towards physical 7-154]inquiry, the same tendency to a diffusion and popularization of knowledge. Everywhere the tone of thought became secular, scientific, prosaic; everywhere men looked away from the past with a certain contempt; everywhere the social fusion which followed on the wreck of the Middle Ages was expressing itself in a vulgarization of ideas, in an appeal from the world of learning to the world of general intelligence, in a reliance on the "common sense" of mankind. Nor was it only a unity of spirit which pervaded the literature of the eighteenth century. Everywhere there was as striking an identity of form. In poetry this showed itself in the death of the lyric, as in the universal popularity of the rhetorical ode, in the loss of all delight in variety of poetic measure, and in the growing restriction of verse to the single form of the ten-syllable line. Prose too dropped everywhere its grandeur with its obscurity; and became the same quick, clear instrument of thought in the hands of Addison as in those of Voltaire.

Creation of a literary class.

How strongly this had become the bent of English letters was seen in the instance of Dryden. In the struggle of the Revolution he had struck fiercely on the losing side, and England had answered his blows by a change of masters which ruined and beggared him. But it was in these later years of his life that his influence over English literature became 7-155]supreme. He is the first of the great English writers in whom letters asserted an almost public importance. The reverence with which men touched in after-time the hand of Pope, or listened to the voice of Johnson, or wandered beside his lakes with Wordsworth, dates from the days when the wits of the Revolution clustered reverently round the old man who sate in his armchair at Will's discussing the last comedy, or recalling his visit to the blind poet of the "Paradise Lost." It was by no mere figure that the group called itself a republic of letters, and honoured in Dryden the chosen chief of their republic. He had done more than any man to create a literary class. It was his resolve to live by his pen that first raised literature into a profession. In the stead of gentlemen amusing a curious leisure with works of fancy, or Dependants wringing bread by their genius from a patron's caprice, Dryden saw that the time had come for the author, trusting for support to the world of readers, and wielding a power over opinion which compensates for the smallness of his gains. But he was not only the first to create a literary class; he was the first to impress the idea of literature on the English mind. Master as he was alike of poetry and of prose, covering the fields both of imagination and criticism, seizing for literary treatment all the more prominent topics of the society about him, Dryden 7-156]realized in his own personality the existence of a new power which was thenceforth to tell steadily on the world.

The new poetry.

And to this power he gave for nearly a century its form and direction. In its outer shape as in its inner spirit our literature obeyed the impulse he had given it from the beginning of the eighteenth century till near its close. His influence told especially on poetry. Dryden remained a poet; even in his most argumentative pieces his subject seizes him in a poetic way, and prosaic as much of his treatment may be, he is always ready to rise into sudden bursts of imagery and fancy. But he was a poet with a prosaic end; his aim was not simply to express beautiful things in the most beautiful way, but to invest rational things with such an amount of poetic expression as may make them at once rational and poetic, to use poetry as an exquisite form for argument, rhetoric, persuasion, to charm indeed, but primarily to convince. Poetry no longer held itself apart in the pure world of the imagination, no longer concerned itself simply with the beautiful in all things, or sought for its result in the sense of pleasure which an exquisite representation of what is beautiful in man or nature stirs in its reader. It narrowed its sphere, and attached itself to man. But from all that is deepest and noblest in man it was shut off by the reaction from Puritanism, by the weariness of religious strife, by the disbelief that had sprung from 7-157]religious controversy; and it limited itself rigidly to man's outer life, to his sensuous enjoyment, his toil and labour, his politics, his society. The limitation, no doubt, had its good sides; with it, if not of it, came a greater correctness and precision in the use of words and phrases, a clearer and more perspicuous style, a new sense of order, of just arrangement, of propriety, of good taste. But with it came a sense of uniformity, of monotony, of dulness. In Dryden indeed this was combated if not wholly beaten off by his amazing force; to the last there was an animal verve and swing about the man that conquered age. But around him and after him the dulness gathered fast.

The new prose.

Of hardly less moment than Dryden's work in poetry was his work in prose. In continuity and grandeur indeed, as in grace and music of phrase, the new prose of the Restoration fell far short of the prose of Hooker or Jeremy Taylor, but its clear nervous structure, its handiness and flexibility, its variety and ease, fitted it far better for the work of popularization on which literature was now to enter. It fitted it for the work of journalism, and every day journalism was playing a larger part in the political education of Englishmen. It fitted it to express the life of towns. With the general extension of prosperity and trade the town was coming into greater prominence as an element of national life; and London above all 7-158]was drawing to it the wealth and culture which had till now been diffused through the people at large. It was natural that this tendency should be reflected in literature; from the age of the Restoration indeed literature had been more and more becoming an expression of the life of towns; and it was town-life which was now giving to it its character and form. As cities ceased to be regarded simply as centres of trade and money-getting, and became habitual homes for the richer and more cultured; as men woke to the pleasure and freedom of the new life which developed itself in the street and the mall, of its quicker movement, its greater ease, its abundance of social intercourse, its keener taste, its subtler and more delicate courtesy, its flow of conversation, the stately and somewhat tedious prose-writer of days gone by passed into the briefer and nimbler essayist.

The Essayists.

What ruled writer and reader alike was the new-found pleasure of talk. The use of coffee had only come in at the close of the civil wars; but already London and the bigger towns were crowded with coffee-houses. The popularity of the coffee-house sprang not from its coffee, but from the new pleasure which men found in their chat over the coffee-cup. And from the coffee-house sprang the Essay. The talk of Addison and Steele is the brightest and easiest talk that was ever put in print: but its literary charm lies in this, that it is strictly talk. The essayist 7-159]is a gentleman who chats to a world of gentlemen, and whose chat is shaped and coloured by a sense of what he owes to his company. He must interest and entertain, he may not bore them; and so his form must be short; essay or sketch, or tale or letter. So too his style must be simple, the sentences clear and quotable, good sense ready packed for carriage. Strength of phrase, intricacy of structure, height of tone were all necessarily banished from such prose as we banish them from ordinary conversation. There was no room for pedantry, for the ostentatious display of learning, for pompousness, for affectation. The essayist had to think, as a talker should think, more of good taste than of imaginative excellence, of propriety of expression than of grandeur of phrase. The deeper themes of the world or man were denied to him; if he touches them it is superficially, with a decorous dulness, or on their more humorous side with a gentle irony that shows how faint their hold is on him. In Addison's chat the war of churches shrinks into a puppet-show, and the strife of politics loses something of its fictitious earnestness as the humourist views it from the standpoint of a lady's patches. It was equally impossible to deal with the fiercer passions and subtler emotions of man. Shakspere's humour and sublimity, his fitful transitions from mood to mood, his wild bursts of laughter, his passion of tears, Hamlet or Hamlet's gravedigger, Lear or 7-160]Lear's fool, would have startled the readers of the "Spectator" as they would startle the group in a modern drawing-room.

The urbanity of Literature.

But if deeper and grander themes were denied him the essayist had still a world of his own. He felt little of the pressure of those spiritual problems that had weighed on the temper of his fathers, but the removal of the pressure left him a gay, light-hearted, good-humoured observer of the social life about him, amused and glad to be amused by it all, looking on with a leisurely and somewhat indolent interest, a quiet enjoyment, a quiet scepticism, a shy reserved consciousness of their beauty and poetry, at the lives of common men and common women. It is to the essayist that we owe our sense of the infinite variety and picturesqueness of the human world about us; it was he who for the first time made every street and every house teem with living people for us, who found a subtle interest in their bigotries and prejudice, their inconsistencies, their eccentricities, their oddities, who gave to their very dulness a charm. In a word it was he who first opened to men the world of modern fiction. Nor does English literature owe less to him in its form. Humour has always been an English quality, but with the essayist humour for the first time severed itself from farce; it was no longer forced, riotous, extravagant; it acquired taste, gentleness, adroitness, finesse, lightness of touch, a delicate 7-161]colouring of playful fancy. It preserved indeed its old sympathy with pity, with passion; but it learned how to pass with more ease into pathos, into love, into the reverence that touches us as we smile. And hand in hand with this new developement of humour went a moderation won from humour, whether in matters of religion, of politics, or society, a literary courtesy and reserve, a well-bred temperance and modesty of tone and phrase. It was in the hands of the town-bred essayist that our literature first became urbane.

The brutality of Politics.

It is strange to contrast this urbanity of literature with the savage ferocity which characterized political controversy in the England of the Revolution and the Georges. Never has the strife of warring parties been carried on with so utter an absence of truth or fairness; never has the language of political opponents stooped to such depths of coarseness and scurrility. From the age of Bolingbroke to the age of Burke the gravest statesmen were not ashamed to revile one another with invective only worthy of the fish-market. And outside the legislature the tone of attack was even more brutal. Grub Street ransacked the whole vocabulary of abuse to find epithets for Walpole. Gay amidst general applause set the statesmen of his day on the public stage in the guise of highwaymen and pickpockets. "It is difficult to determine," said the witty playwright, "whether the fine gentlemen imitate the gentlemen 7-162]of the road, or the gentlemen of the road the fine gentlemen." Much of this virulence sprang, no doubt, from a real contempt of the selfishness and corruption which disgraced the politics of the time, but it was far from being wholly due to this. In selfishness and corruption indeed the statesmen of the Georgian era were no worse than their predecessors; while in fidelity to principles and a desire for the public good they stood immeasurably above them. The standard of political action had risen with the Revolution. Cynic as was Walpole, jobber as was Newcastle, it would be absurd to compare their conception of public duty, their conduct of public affairs, with that of the Danbys and Sunderlands of the Restoration.

Public opinion.

What had really happened was a change not in the attitude of statesmen towards the nation, but in the attitude of the nation at large towards the class that governed it. From the triumph of Puritanism in 1640 the supreme, irresistible force in English politics had been national opinion. It created the Long Parliament. It gave it its victory over the Church and the Crown. When a strange turn of events placed Puritanism in antagonism to it, it crushed Puritanism as easily as it had crushed Royalty. It was national opinion which restored the Stuarts; and no sooner did the Stuarts cross its will than it threatened their throne in the Popish Plot and swept them 7-163]from the country in the Revolution. The stubborn purpose of William wrestled in vain with its turns of sentiment; even the genius of Marlborough proved helpless in a contest with it. It was indeed irresistible whenever it acted. But as yet it acted only by spurts. It had no wish to interfere with the general course of administration or policy; in the bulk of the nation indeed there was neither the political knowledge nor the sustained interest in politics which could have prompted such an interference. It was only at critical moments, when great interests were at stake, interests which it could understand and on which its mind was made up, that the nation roused itself and "shook its mighty mane." The reign of the Stuarts indeed did much to create a more general and continuous attention to public affairs. In the strife of the Exclusion Bill and in the Popish Plot Shaftesbury taught how to "agitate" opinion, how to rouse this lagging attention, this dormant energy of the people at large; and his opponents learned the art from him. The common statement that our two great modern parties, the Whig and the Tory, date from the Petitioners and Abhorrers of the Exclusion Bill is true only in this sense, that then for the first time the masses of the people were stirred to a more prolonged and organized action in co-operation with the smaller groups of professed politicians than they had ever been stirred to before.

7-164] Becomes powerless.

The Revolution of 1688 was the crowning triumph of this public opinion. But for the time it seemed a suicidal triumph. At the moment when the national will claimed to be omnipotent, the nation found itself helpless to carry out its will. In making the revolution it had meant to vindicate English freedom and English Protestantism from the attacks of the Crown. But it had never meant to bring about any radical change in the system under which the Crown had governed England or under which the Church had been supreme over English religion. The England of the Revolution was little less Tory in feeling than the England of the Restoration; it had no dislike whatever to a large exercise of administrative power by the sovereign, while it was stubbornly averse from Nonconformity or the toleration of Nonconformity. That the nation at large remained Tory in sentiment was seen from the fact that in every House of Commons elected after the Revolution the majority was commonly Tory; it was only indeed when their opposition to the war and the patriotic feeling which it aroused rendered a Tory majority impossible that the House became Whig. And even in the height of Whig rule and amidst the blaze of Whig victories, England rose in the Sacheverell riots, forced Tories again into power, and ended the Whig war by what it deemed a Tory peace. And yet every Englishman knew that from the moment of the 7-165]Revolution the whole system of government had not been Tory but Whig. Passionate as it was for peace and for withdrawal from all meddling in foreign affairs, England found itself involved abroad in ever-widening warfare and drawn into a guardianship of the whole state of Europe. At home it was drifting along a path that it hated even more. Every year saw the Crown more helpless, and the Church becoming as helpless as the Crown. The country hated a standing army, and the standing army existed in spite of its hate; it revolted against debt and taxation, and taxes and debt grew heavier and heavier in the teeth of its revolt. Its prejudice against Nonconformists remained as fanatical as ever, and yet Nonconformists worshipped in their chapels and served as aldermen or mayors with perfect security. What made this the bitterer was the fact that neither a change of ministers nor of sovereign brought about any in the system of government. Under the Tory Anne the policy of England remained practically as Whig as under the Whig William. Nottingham and Harley did as little to restore the monarchy or the Church as Somers or Godolphin.

Helplessness of the Tories.

In driving James to a foreign land, indeed, in making him dependent on a foreign Court, the Revolution had effectually guarded itself from any undoing of its work. So long as a Stuart Pretender existed, so long as he remained a tool in 7-166]the hands of France, every monarch that the Revolution placed on the English throne, and every servant of such a monarch, was forced to cling to the principles of the Revolution and to the men who were most certain to fight for them. With a Parliament of landed gentry and Churchmen behind him Harley could not be drawn into measures which would effectively alienate the merchant or the Dissenter; and if Bolingbroke's talk was more reckless, time was not given to show whether his designs were more than talk. There was in fact but one course open for the Tory who hated what the Revolution had done, and that was the recall of the Stuarts. Such a recall would have brought him much of what he wanted. But it would have brought him more that he did not want. Tory as he might be, he was in no humour to sacrifice English freedom and English religion to his Toryism, and to recall the Stuarts was to sacrifice both. None of the Stuart exiles would forsake their faith; and, promise what they might, England had learned too well what such pledges were worth to set another Catholic on the throne. The more earnest a Catholic he was indeed, and no one disputed the earnestness of the Stuarts, the more impossible was it for him to reign without striving to bring England over to Catholicism; and there was no means of even making such an attempt save by repeating the struggle of James the Second and 7-167]by the overthrow of English liberty. It was the consciousness that a Stuart restoration was impossible that egged Bolingbroke to his desperate plans for forcing a Tory policy on the monarchs of the Revolution. And it was the same consciousness that at the crisis which followed the death of Anne made the Tory leaders deaf to the frantic appeals of Bishop Atterbury. To submit again to Whig rule was a bitter thing for them; but to accept a Catholic sovereign was an impossible thing. And yet every Tory felt that with the acceptance of the House of Hanover their struggle against the principles of the Revolution came practically to an end. Their intrigues with the Pretender, the strife which they had brought about between Anne and the Electress Sophia, their hesitation if not their refusal to frankly support the succession of her son, were known to have sown a deep distrust of the whole Tory party in the heart of the new sovereign; and though in the first ministry which he formed a few posts were offered to the more moderate of their leaders, the offer was so clearly a delusive one that they refused to take office.

Withdrawal of the Tories.

The refusal not only deepened the chasm between party and party; it placed the Tories in open opposition to the Hanoverian kings. It did even more, for it proclaimed a temper of despair which withdrew them as a whole from any further meddling with political affairs. "The Tory party," 7-168]Bolingbroke wrote after Anne's death, "is gone." In the first House of Commons indeed which was called by the new king, the Tories hardly numbered fifty members; while a fatal division broke their strength in the country at large. In their despair the more vehement among them turned to the Pretender. Bolingbroke and the Duke of Ormond fled from England to take office under the son of King James, James the Third, as he was called by his adherents. At home Sir William Wyndham seconded their efforts by building up a Jacobite faction out of the wreck of the Tory party. The Jacobite secession gave little help to the Pretender, while it dealt a fatal blow to the Tory cause. England was still averse from a return of the Stuarts; and the suspicion of Jacobite designs not only alienated the trading classes, who shrank from the blow to public credit which a Jacobite repudiation of the debt would bring about, but deadened the zeal even of the parsons and squires. The bulk however of the Tory party were far from turning Jacobites, though they might play at disloyalty out of hatred of the House of Hanover, and solace themselves for the triumph of their opponents by passing the decanter over the water-jug at the toast of "the King." What they did was to withdraw from public affairs altogether; to hunt and farm and appear at quarter-sessions, and to leave the work of government to the Whigs.

7-169] The Whigs and the Church.

While the Whigs were thus freed from any effective pressure from their political opponents they found one of their great difficulties becoming weaker with every year that passed. Up to this time the main stumbling-block to the Whig party had been the influence of the Church. But predominant as that influence seemed at the close of the Revolution, the Church was now sinking into political insignificance. In heart indeed England remained religious. In the middle class the old Puritan spirit lived on unchanged, and it was from this class that a religious revival burst forth at the close of Walpole's administration which changed after a time the whole tone of English society. But during the fifty years which preceded this outburst we see little save a revolt against religion and against churches in either the higher classes or the poor. Among the wealthier and more educated Englishmen the progress of free inquiry, the aversion from theological strife which had been left behind them by the Civil Wars, the new political and material channels opened to human energy were producing a general indifference to all questions of religious speculation or religious life. In the higher circles "every one laughs," said Montesquieu on his visit to England, "if one talks of religion." Of the prominent statesmen of the time the greater part were unbelievers in any form of Christianity, and distinguished for the grossness and immorality 7-170]of their lives. Drunkenness and foul talk were thought no discredit to Walpole. A later prime minister, the Duke of Grafton, was in the habit of appearing with his mistress at the play. Purity and fidelity to the marriage vow were sneered out of fashion; and Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, instructs him in the art of seduction as part of a polite education.

Sloth of the clergy.

At the other end of the social scale lay the masses of the poor. They were ignorant and brutal to a degree which it is hard to conceive, for the increase of population which followed on the growth of towns and the developement of commerce had been met by no effort for their religious or educational improvement. Not a new parish had been created. Hardly a single new church had been built. Schools there were none, save the grammar schools of Edward and Elizabeth. The rural peasantry, who were fast being reduced to pauperism by the abuse of the poor-laws, were left without much moral or religious training of any sort. "We saw but one Bible in the parish of Cheddar," said Hannah More at a far later time, "and that was used to prop a flower-pot." Within the towns things were worse. There was no effective police; and in great outbreaks the mob of London or Birmingham burnt houses, flung open prisons, and sacked and pillaged at their will. The criminal class gathered boldness and numbers in the face of ruthless laws which 7-171]only testified to the terror of society, laws which made it a capital crime to cut down a cherry tree, and which strung up twenty young thieves of a morning in front of Newgate; while the introduction of gin gave a new impetus to drunkenness. In the streets of London gin-shops at one time invited every passer-by to get drunk for a penny, or dead drunk for twopence. Much of this social degradation was due without doubt to the apathy and sloth of the priesthood. A shrewd, if prejudiced, observer, Bishop Burnet, brands the English clergy of his day as the most lifeless in Europe, "the most remiss of their labours in private and the least severe of their lives." A large number of prelates were mere Whig partizans with no higher aim than that of promotion. The levées of the Ministers were crowded with lawn sleeves. A Welsh bishop avowed that he had seen his diocese but once, and habitually resided at the lakes of Westmoreland. The system of pluralities which enabled a single clergyman to hold at the same time a number of livings turned the wealthier and more learned of the clergy into absentees, while the bulk of them were indolent, poor, and without social consideration.

The clergy lose political power.

Their religious inactivity told necessarily on their political influence; but what most weakened their influence was the severance between the bulk of the priesthood and its natural leaders. The bishops, who were now chosen exclusively 7-172]from among the small number of Whig ecclesiastics, were left politically powerless by the estrangement and hatred of their clergy; while the clergy themselves, drawn by their secret tendencies to Jacobitism, stood sulkily apart from any active interference with public affairs. The prudence of the Whig statesmen aided to maintain this ecclesiastical immobility. The Sacheverell riots had taught them what terrible forces of bigotry and fanaticism lay slumbering under this thin crust of inaction, and they were careful to avoid all that could rouse these forces into life. When the Dissenters pressed for a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Walpole openly avowed his dread of awaking the passions of religious hate by such a measure, and satisfied them by an annual act of indemnity for any breach of these penal statutes. By a complete abstinence from all ecclesiastical questions no outlet was left for the bigotry of the people at large, while a suspension of the meetings of Convocation deprived the clergy of their natural centre of agitation and opposition.

The Whigs and the Crown.

And while the Church thus ceased to be a formidable enemy, the Crown became a friend. Under Anne the throne had regained much of the older influence which it lost through William's unpopularity; but under the two sovereigns who followed Anne the power of the Crown lay absolutely dormant. They were strangers, to 7-173]whom loyalty in its personal sense was impossible; and their character as nearly approached insignificance as it is possible for human character to approach it. Both were honest and straightforward men, who frankly accepted the irksome position of constitutional kings. But neither had any qualities which could make their honesty attractive to the people at large. The temper of George the First was that of a gentleman usher; and his one care was to get money for his favourites and himself. The temper of George the Second was that of a drill-sergeant, who believed himself master of his realm while he repeated the lessons he had learned from his wife, and which his wife had learned from the Minister. Their Court is familiar enough in the witty memoirs of the time; but as political figures the two Georges are almost absent from our history. William of Orange, while ruling in most home matters by the advice of his Ministers, had not only used the power of rejecting bills passed by the two Houses, but had kept in his own hands the control of foreign affairs. Anne had never yielded even to Marlborough her exclusive right of dealing with Church preferment, and had presided to the last at the Cabinet Councils of her ministers. But with the accession of the Georges these reserves passed away. No sovereign since Anne's death has appeared at a Cabinet Council, or has ventured to refuse his assent to an Act of 7-174]Parliament. As Elector of Hanover indeed the king still dealt with Continental affairs: but his personal interference roused an increasing jealousy, while it affected in a very slight degree the foreign policy of his English counsellors.

England, in short, was governed not by the king but by the Whig Ministers. But their power was doubled by the steady support of the very kings they displaced. The first two sovereigns of the House of Hanover believed they owed their throne to the Whigs, and looked on the support of the Whigs as the true basis of their monarchy. The new monarchs had no longer to dread the spectre of republicanism which had haunted the Stuarts and even Anne, whenever a Whig domination threatened her; for republicanism was dead. Nor was there the older anxiety as to the prerogative to sever the monarchy from the Whigs, for the bounds of the prerogative were now defined by law, and the Whigs were as zealous as any Tory could be in preserving what remained. From the accession of George the First therefore to the death of George the Second the whole influence of the Crown was thrown into the Whig scale; and if its direct power was gone, its indirect influence was still powerful. It was indeed the more powerful that the Revolution had put an end to the dread that its influence could be used in any struggle against liberty. "The generality of the world here," said the new Whig 7-175]Chancellor, Lord Cowper, to King George, "is so much in love with the advantages a king of Great Britain has to bestow without the least exceeding the bounds of law, that 'tis wholly in your majesty's power, by showing your power in good time to one or other of them, to give which party you please a clear majority in all succeeding parliaments."

The Whigs and Parliament.

It was no wonder therefore that in the first of the new king's parliaments an overwhelming majority appeared in support of the Whigs. But the continuance of that majority for more than thirty years was not wholly due to the unswerving support which the Crown gave its Ministers or to the secession of the Tories. In some measure it was due to the excellent organization of the Whig party. While their adversaries were divided by differences of principle and without leaders of real eminence, the Whigs stood as one man on the principles of the Revolution and produced great leaders who carried them into effect. They submitted with admirable discipline to the guidance of a knot of great nobles, to the houses of Bentinck, Manners, Campbell, and Cavendish, to the Fitzroys and Lennoxes, the Russells and Grenvilles, families whose resistance to the Stuarts, whose share in the Revolution, whose energy in setting the line of Hanover on the throne, gave them a claim to power. It was due yet more largely to the activity with which the Whigs 7-176]devoted themselves to the gaining and preserving an ascendency in the House of Commons. The support of the commercial classes and of the great towns was secured not only by a resolute maintenance of public credit, but by the special attention which each ministry paid to questions of trade and finance. Peace and the reduction of the land-tax conciliated the farmers and the landowners, while the Jacobite sympathies of the bulk of the squires, and their consequent withdrawal from all share in politics, threw even the representation of the shires for a time into Whig hands. Of the county members, who formed the less numerous but the weightier part of the lower House, nine-tenths were for some years relatives and dependents of the great Whig families. Nor were coarser means of controlling Parliament neglected. The wealth of the Whig houses was lavishly spent in securing a monopoly of the small and corrupt constituencies which made up a large part of the borough representation. It was spent yet more unscrupulously in parliamentary bribery. Corruption was older than Walpole or the Whig Ministers, for it sprang out of the very transfer of power to the House of Commons which had begun with the Restoration. The transfer was complete, and the House was supreme in the State; but while freeing itself from the control of the Crown, it was as yet imperfectly responsible to the people. It was only at election time that a member felt 7-177]the pressure of public opinion. The secrecy of parliamentary proceedings, which had been needful as a safeguard against royal interference with debate, served as a safeguard against interference on the part of constituencies. This strange union of immense power with absolute freedom from responsibility brought about its natural results in the bulk of members. A vote was too valuable to be given without recompense, and parliamentary support had to be bought by places, pensions, and bribes in hard cash.

But dexterous as was their management, and compact as was their organization, it was to nobler qualities than these that the Whigs owed their long rule over England. Factious and selfish as much of their conduct proved, they were true to their principles, and their principles were those for which England had been struggling through two hundred years. The right to free government, to freedom of conscience, and to freedom of speech, had been declared indeed in the Revolution of 1688. But these rights owe their definite establishment as the recognized basis of national life and national action to the age of the Georges. It was the long and unbroken fidelity to free principles with which the Whig administration was conducted that made constitutional government a part of the very life of Englishmen. It was their government of England year after year on the principles of the Revolution that converted 7-178]these principles into national habits. Before their long rule was over Englishmen had forgotten that it was possible to persecute for difference of opinion, or to put down the liberty of the press, or to tamper with the administration of justice, or to rule without a Parliament.

Robert Walpole.

That this policy was so firmly grasped and so steadily carried out was due above all to the genius of Robert Walpole. Walpole was born in 1676; and he had entered Parliament two years before the death of William of Orange as a young Norfolk landowner of fair fortune, with the tastes and air of the class from which he sprang. His big, square figure, his vulgar good-humoured face were those of a common country squire. And in Walpole the squire underlay the statesman to the last. He was ignorant of books, he "loved neither writing nor reading," and if he had a taste for art, his real love was for the table, the bottle, and the chase. He rode as hard as he drank. Even in moments of political peril, the first despatch he would open was the letter from his gamekeeper. There was the temper of the Norfolk fox-hunter in the "doggedness" which Marlborough noted as his characteristic, in the burly self-confidence which declared "If I had not been Prime Minister I should have been Archbishop of Canterbury," in the stubborn courage which conquered the awkwardness of his earlier efforts to speak or met single-handed at the last the bitter attacks of a 7-179]host of enemies. There was the same temper in the genial good-humour which became with him a new force in politics. No man was ever more fiercely attacked by speakers and writers, but he brought in no "gagging Act" for the press; and though the lives of most of his assailants were in his hands through their intrigues with the Pretender, he made little use of his power over them.

His policy.

Where his country breeding showed itself most, however, was in the shrewd, narrow, honest character of his mind. Though he saw very clearly, he could not see far, and he would not believe what he could not see. His prosaic good sense turned sceptically away from the poetic and passionate sides of human feeling. Appeals to the loftier or purer motives of action he laughed at as "schoolboy nights." For young members who talked of public virtue or patriotism he had one good-natured answer: "You will soon come off that and grow wiser." But he was thoroughly straightforward and true to his own convictions, so far as they went. "Robin and I are two honest men," the Jacobite Shippen owned in later years, when contrasting him with his factious opponents: "he is for King George and I am for King James, but those men with long cravats only desire place either under King George or King James." What marked him off from his fellow-Whigs however was not so much the clearness with 7-180]which Walpole saw the value of the political results which the Revolution had won, or the fidelity with which he carried out his "Revolution principles"; it was the sagacity with which he grasped the conditions on which alone England could be brought to a quiet acceptance of both of them. He never hid from himself that, weakened and broken as it was, Toryism, lived on in the bulk of the nation as a spirit of sullen opposition, an opposition that could not rise into active revolt so long as the Pretender remained a Catholic, but which fed itself with hopes of a Stuart who would at last befriend English religion and English liberty, and which in the meanwhile lay ready to give force and virulence to any outbreak of strife at home. On a temper such as this argument was wasted. The only agency that could deal with it was the agency of time, the slow wearing away of prejudice, the slow upgrowth of new ideas, the gradual conviction that a Stuart restoration was hopeless, the as gradual recognition of the benefits which had been won by the Revolution, and which were secured by the maintenance of the House of Hanover upon the throne.

The Townshend Ministry.

Such a transition would be hindered or delayed by every outbreak of political or religious controversy that changes or reforms, however wise in themselves, must necessarily bring with them; and Walpole held that no reform was as 7-181]important to the country at large as a national reunion and settlement. Not less keen and steady was his sense of the necessity of external peace. To provoke or to suffer new struggles on the Continent was not only to rouse fresh resentment in a people who still longed to withdraw from all part in foreign wars; it was to give fresh force to the Pretender by forcing France to use him as a tool against England, and to give fresh life to Jacobitism by stirring fresh hopes of the Pretender's return. It was for this reason that Walpole clung steadily to a policy of peace. But it was not at once that he could force such a policy either on the Whig party or on the king. Though his vigour in the cause of his party had earned him the bitter hostility of the Tories in the later years of Anne, and a trumped-up charge of peculation had served in 1712 as a pretext for expelling him from the House and committing him to the Tower, at the accession of George the First Walpole was far from holding the commanding position he was soon to assume. The stage indeed was partly cleared for him by the jealousy with which the new sovereign regarded the men who had till now served as chiefs of the Whigs. Though the first Hanoverian Ministry was drawn wholly from the Whig party, its leaders and Marlborough found themselves alike set aside. But even had they regained their old power, time must soon have removed them; for Wharton and 7-182]Halifax died in 1715, and 1716 saw the death of Somers and the imbecility of Marlborough. The man to whom the king entrusted the direction of affairs was the new Secretary of State, Lord Townshend. His merit with George the First lay in his having negotiated a Barrier Treaty with Holland in 1709 by which the Dutch were secured in the possession of a greater number of fortresses in the Netherlands than they had garrisoned before the war, on condition of their guaranteeing the succession of the House of Hanover. The king had always looked on this treaty as the great support of his cause, and on its negotiation as representing that union of Holland, Hanover, and the Whigs, to which he owed his throne. Townshend's fellow Secretary was General Stanhope, who had won fame both as a soldier and a politician, and who was now raised to the peerage. It was as Townshend's brother-in-law, rather than from a sense of his actual ability, that Walpole successively occupied the posts of Paymaster of the Forces, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and First Lord of the Treasury, in the new administration.

The rising of 1715.

The first work of the new Ministry was to meet a desperate attempt of the Pretender to gain the throne. There was no real hope of success, for the active Jacobites in England were few, and the Tories were broken and dispirited by the fall of their leaders. The policy of Bolingbroke, as 7-183]Secretary of State to the Pretender, was to defer action till he had secured help from Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, and had induced Lewis the Fourteenth to lend a few thousand men to aid a Jacobite rising. But at the moment of action the death of Lewis ruined all hope of aid from France; the hope of Swedish aid proved as fruitless; and in spite of Bolingbroke's counsels James Stuart resolved to act alone. Without informing his new Minister, he ordered the Earl of Mar to give the signal for revolt in the North. In Scotland the triumph of the Whigs meant the continuance of the House of Argyle in power; and the rival Highland clans were as ready to fight the Campbells under Mar as they had been ready to fight them under Dundee or Montrose. But Mar was a leader of a different stamp from these. In September 1715 six thousand Highlanders joined him at Perth, but his cowardice or want of conduct kept his army idle till the Duke of Argyle had gathered forces to meet it in an indecisive engagement at Sheriffmuir. The Pretender, who arrived too late for the action, proved a yet more sluggish and incapable leader than Mar: and at the close of the year an advance of six thousand men under General Carpenter drove James over-sea again and dispersed the clans to their hills. In England the danger passed away like a dream. The accession of the new king had been followed by some outbreaks of 7-184]riotous discontent; but at the talk of Highland risings and French invasions Tories and Whigs alike rallied round the throne; while the army, which had bitterly resented the interruption of its victories by the treachery of St. John, and hailed with delight the restoration of Marlborough to its command, went hotly for King George. The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the arrest of their leader, Sir William Wyndham, cowed the Jacobites; and not a man stirred in the west when Ormond appeared off the coast of Devon and called on his party to rise. Oxford alone, where the University was a hotbed of Jacobitism, showed itself restless; and a few of the Catholic gentry rose in Northumberland, under Lord Derwentwater and Mr. Forster. The arrival of two thousand Highlanders who had been sent to join them by Mar spurred these insurgents to march into Lancashire, where the Catholic party was strongest; but they were soon cooped up in Preston, and driven to a surrender.

England and France.

The Ministry availed itself of their triumph to gratify the Nonconformists by a repeal of the Schism and Occasional Conformity Acts, and to venture on a great constitutional change. Under the Triennial Bill in William's reign the duration of a Parliament was limited to three years. Now that the House of Commons however was become the ruling power in the State, a change was absolutely required to secure steadiness and fixity 7-185]of political action; and in 1716 this necessity coincided with the desire of the Whigs to maintain in power a thoroughly Whig Parliament. The duration of Parliament was therefore extended to seven years by the Septennial Bill. But while the Jacobite rising produced these important changes at home, it brought about a yet more momentous change in English policy abroad. The foresight of William the Third in his attempt to secure European peace by an alliance of the three Western powers, France, Holland, and England, was justified by the realization of his policy under George the First. The new triple alliance was brought about by the practical advantages which it directly offered to the rulers in both England and France, as well as by the actual position of European politics. The landing of James in Scotland had quickened the anxiety of King George for his removal to a more distant refuge than Lorraine, and for the entire detachment of France from his cause. In France on the other hand a political revolution had been caused by the death of Lewis the Fourteenth, which took place in September 1715, at the very hour of the Jacobite outbreak. From that moment the country had been ruled by the Duke of Orleans as Regent for the young King Lewis the Fifteenth. The boy's health was weak; and the Duke stood next to him in the succession to the crown, if Philip of Spain observed the renunciation of his rights 7-186]which he had made in the Treaty of Utrecht. It was well known however that Philip had no notion of observing this renunciation, and that he was already intriguing with a strong party in France against the hopes as well as the actual power of the Duke. Nor was Spain more inclined to adhere to its own renunciations in the Treaty than its king. The constant dream of every Spaniard was to recover all that Spain had given up, to win back her Italian dependencies, to win back Gibraltar where the English flag waved upon Spanish soil, to win back, above all, that monopoly of commerce with her dominions in America which England was now entitled to break in upon by the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht.

Their alliance against Spain.

To attempt such a recovery was to defy Europe; for if the Treaty had stripped Spain of its fairest dependencies, it had enriched almost every European state with its spoils. Savoy had gained Sicily; the Emperor held the Netherlands, with Naples and the Milanese; Holland looked on the Barrier fortresses as vital to its own security; England, if as yet indifferent to the value of Gibraltar, clung tenaciously to the American Trade. But the boldness of Cardinal Alberoni, who was now the Spanish Minister, accepted the risk; and while his master was intriguing against the Regent in France, Alberoni promised aid to the Jacobite cause as a means of preventing the interference of England with his designs. In spite 7-187]of failure in both countries he resolved boldly on an attempt to recover the Italian provinces which Philip had lost. He selected the Duke of Savoy as the weakest of his opponents; and armaments greater than Spain had seen for a century put to sea in 1717, and reduced the island of Sardinia. The blow however was hardly needed to draw England and France together. The Abbé Dubois, a confidant of the Regent, had already met the English King with his Secretary, Lord Stanhope, at the Hague; and entered into a compact, by which France guaranteed the Hanoverian line in England, and England the succession of the house of Orleans should Lewis the Fifteenth die without heirs. The two powers were joined, though unwillingly, by Holland in an alliance, which was concluded on the basis of this compact; and, as in William's time, the existence of this alliance told on the whole aspect of European politics. Though in the summer of 1718 a strong Spanish force landed in Sicily, and made itself master of the island, the appearance of an English squadron in the Straits of Messina was followed by an engagement in which the Spanish fleet was all but destroyed. Alberoni strove to avenge the blow by fitting out an armament of five thousand men, which the Duke of Ormond was to command, for a revival of the Jacobite rising in Scotland. But the ships were wrecked in the Bay of Biscay; and the accession of Austria with Savoy to the 7-188]Triple Alliance, with the death of the king of Sweden, left Spain alone in the face of Europe. The progress of the French armies in the north of Spain forced Philip at last to give way. Alberoni was dismissed; and the Spanish forces were withdrawn from Sardinia and Sicily. The last of these islands now passed to the Emperor, Savoy being compensated for its loss by the acquisition of Sardinia, from which its Duke took the title of King; while the work of the Treaty of Utrecht was completed by the Emperor's renunciation of his claims on the crown of Spain, and Philip's renunciation of his claims on the Milanese and the Two Sicilies.

Resignation of Townshend.

Successful as the Ministry had been in its work of peace, the struggle had disclosed the difficulties which the double position of its new sovereign was to bring upon England. George was not only King of England; he was Elector of Hanover; and in his own mind he cared far more for the interests of his Electorate than for the interests of his kingdom. His first aim was to use the power of his new monarchy to strengthen his position in North Germany. At this moment that position was mainly threatened by the hostility of the king of Sweden. Denmark had taken advantage of the defeat and absence of Charles the Twelfth to annex Bremen and Verden with Schleswig and Holstein to its dominions; but in its dread of the Swedish king's return it 7-189]secured the help of Hanover by ceding the first two towns to the Electorate on a promise of alliance in the war against him. The despatch of a British fleet into the Baltic with the purpose of overawing Sweden identified England with the policy of Hanover; and Charles, who from the moment of his return bent his whole energies to regain what he had lost, retorted by joining in the schemes of Alberoni, and by concluding an alliance with the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, who for other reasons was hostile to the court of Hanover, for a restoration of the Stuarts. Luckily for the new dynasty his plans were brought to an end at the close of 1718 by his death at the siege of Frederickshall; but the policy which provoked them had already brought about the dissolution of the Whig Ministry. When George pressed on his cabinet a treaty of alliance by which England shielded Hanover and its acquisitions from any efforts of the Swedish King, Townshend and Walpole gave a reluctant assent to a measure which they regarded as sacrificing English interests to that of the Electorate, and as entangling the country yet more in the affairs of the Continent. For the moment indeed they yielded to the fact that Bremen and Verden were not only of the highest importance to Hanover, which was brought by them in contact with the sea, but of hardly less value to England itself, as they placed the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, the chief inlets for British 7-190]commerce into Germany, in the hands of a friendly state. But they refused to take any further steps in carrying out a Hanoverian policy; and they successfully withstood an attempt of the king to involve England in a war with the Czar, when Russian troops entered Mecklenburg. The resentment of George the First was seconded by intrigues among their fellow-ministers; and in 1717 Townshend and Walpole were forced to resign their posts.

The Stanhope Ministry.

The want of their good sense soon made itself felt. In the reconstituted cabinet Lords Sunderland and Stanhope remained supreme; and their first aim was to secure the maintenance of the Whig power by a constitutional change. Firm as was the hold of the Whigs over the Commons, it might be shaken by a revulsion of popular feeling, it might be ruined, as it was destined to be ruined afterwards, by a change in the temper of the king. Sunderland sought a permanence of public policy which neither popular nor royal government could give in the changelessness of a fixed aristocracy with its centre in the Lords. Harley's creation of twelve peers to ensure the sanction of the Lords to the Treaty of Utrecht showed that the Crown possessed a power of swamping the majority and changing the balance of opinion in the House of Peers. In 1720 therefore the Ministry introduced a bill, suggested as was believed by Lord Sunderland, which professed to secure the liberty of the Upper House by limiting 7-191]the power of the Crown in the creation of fresh Peers. The number of Peers was permanently fixed at the number then sitting in the House; and creations could only be made when vacancies occurred. Twenty-five hereditary Scotch Peers were substituted for the sixteen elected Peers for Scotland. The bill however was strenuously opposed by Robert Walpole. Not only was it a measure which broke the political quiet which he looked on as a necessity for the new government, but it jarred on his good sense as a statesman. It would in fact have rendered representative government impossible. For representative government was now coming day by day more completely to mean government by the will of the House of Commons, carried out by a Ministry which served as the mouthpiece of that will. But it was only through the prerogative of the Crown, as exercised under the advice of such a Ministry, that the Peers could be forced to bow to the will of the Lower House in matters where their opinion was adverse to that of the Commons; and the proposal of Sunderland would have brought legislation and government to a dead lock.

South Sea Bubble.

It was to Walpole's opposition that the Peerage Bill owed its defeat; and this success forced his rivals again to admit him, with Townshend, to a share in the Ministry, though they occupied subordinate offices. But this arrangement was soon to yield to a more natural one. The sudden 7-192]increase of English commerce begot at this moment the mania of speculation. Ever since the age of Elizabeth the unknown wealth of Spanish America had acted like a spell upon the imagination of Englishmen, and Harley gave countenance to a South Sea Company, which promised a reduction of the public debt as the price of a monopoly of the Spanish trade. Spain however clung jealously to her old prohibitions of all foreign commerce; and the Treaty of Utrecht only won for England the right of engaging in the negro slave-trade with its dominions and of despatching a single ship to the coast of Spanish America. But in spite of all this, the Company again came forward, offering in exchange for new privileges to pay off national burdens which amounted to nearly a million a year. It was in vain that Walpole warned the Ministry and the country against this "dream." Both went mad; and in 1720 bubble Company followed bubble Company, till the inevitable reaction brought a general ruin in its train. The crash brought Stanhope to the grave. Of his colleagues, many were found to have received bribes from the South Sea Company to back its frauds. Craggs, the Secretary of State, died of terror at the investigation; Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was sent to the Tower; and in the general wreck of his rivals Robert Walpole mounted again into power. In 1721 he became First Lord of the Treasury, while his brother-in-law, 7-193]Lord Townshend, returned to his post of Secretary of State. But their relative position was now reversed. Townshend had been the head in the earlier administration: in this Walpole was resolved, to use his own characteristic phrase, that "the firm should be Walpole and Townshend and not Townshend and Walpole."

Walpole's Ministry.

But it was no mere chance or good luck which maintained Walpole at the head of affairs for more than twenty years. If no Minister has fared worse at the hand of poets or historians, there are few whose greatness has been more impartially recognized by practical statesmen. His qualities indeed were such as a practical statesman can alone do full justice to. There is nothing to charm in the outer aspect of the man; nor is there anything picturesque in the work which he set himself to do, or in the means by which he succeeded in doing it. But picturesque or no, the work of keeping England quiet, and of giving quiet to Europe, was in itself a noble one; and it is the temper with which he carried on this work, the sagacity with which he discerned the means by which alone it could be done, and the stubborn, indomitable will with which he faced every difficulty in the doing it, which gives Walpole his place among English statesmen. He was the first and he was the most successful of our Peace Ministers. "The most pernicious circumstances," he said, "in which this country can be are those 7-194]of war; as we must be losers while it lasts, and cannot be great gainers when it ends." It was not that the honour or influence of England suffered in Walpole's hands, for he won victories by the firmness of his policy and the skill of his negotiations as effectual as any that are won by arms. But up to the very end of his Ministry, when the frenzy of the nation at last forced his hand, in spite of every varying complication of foreign affairs, and a never-ceasing pressure alike from the Opposition and the Court, it is the glory of Walpole that he resolutely kept England at peace. And as he was the first of our Peace Ministers, so he was the first of our Financiers. He was far indeed from discerning the powers which later statesmen have shown to exist in a sound finance, powers of producing both national developement and international amity; but he had the sense to see, what no minister till then had seen, that the only help a statesman can give to industry or commerce is to remove all obstacles in the way of their natural growth, and that beyond this the best course he can take in presence of a great increase in national energy and national wealth is to look quietly on and to let it alone. At the outset of his rule he declared in a speech from the Throne that nothing would more conduce to the extension of commerce "than to make the exportation of our own manufactures, and the importation of the commodities used in the 7-195]manufacturing of them, as practicable and easy as may be."

Walpole's finance.

The first act of his financial administration was to take off the duties from more than a hundred British exports, and nearly forty articles of importation. In 1730 he broke in the same enlightened spirit through the prejudice which restricted the commerce of the Colonies to the mother country alone, by allowing Georgia and the Carolinas to export their rice directly to any part of Europe. The result was that the rice of America soon drove that of Italy and Egypt from the market. His Excise Bill, defective as it was, was the first measure in which an English Minister showed any real grasp of the principles of taxation. The wisdom of Walpole was rewarded by a quick upgrowth of prosperity. The material progress of the country was such as England had never seen before. Our exports, which were only six millions in value at the beginning of the century, had reached the value of twelve millions by the middle of it. It was above all the trade with the Colonies which began to give England a new wealth. The whole Colonial trade at the time of the battle of Blenheim was no greater than the trade with the single isle of Jamaica at the opening of the American war. At the accession of George the Second the exports to Pennsylvania were valued at £15,000. At his death they reached half-a-million. In the middle of the eighteenth 7-196]century the profits of Great Britain from the trade with the Colonies were estimated at two millions a year. And with the growth of wealth came a quick growth in population. That of Manchester and Birmingham, whose manufactures were now becoming of importance, doubled in thirty years. Bristol, the chief seat of the West Indian trade, rose into new prosperity. Liverpool, which owes its creation to the new trade with the West, sprang up from a little country town into the third port in the kingdom. With peace and security, and the wealth that they brought with them, the value of land, and with it the rental of every country gentleman, rose fast. "Estates which were rented at two thousand a year threescore years ago," said Burke in 1766, "are at three thousand at present."

His policy of inaction.

Nothing shows more clearly the soundness of his political intellect than the fact that this upgrowth of wealth around him never made Walpole swerve from a rigid economy, from a steady reduction of the debt, or a diminution of fiscal duties. Even before the death of George the First the public burdens were reduced by twenty millions. It was indeed in economy alone that his best work could be done. In finance as in other fields of statesmanship Walpole was forbidden from taking more than tentative steps towards a wiser system by the needs of the work he had specially to do. To this work everything gave way. He withdrew his Excise Bill rather than 7-197]suffer the agitation it roused to break the quiet which was reconciling the country to the system of the Revolution. His hatred of religious intolerance or the support he hoped for from the Dissenters never swayed him to rouse the spirit of popular bigotry, which he knew to be ready to burst out at the slightest challenge, by any effort to repeal the laws against Nonconformity. His temper was naturally vigorous and active; and yet the years of his power are years without parallel in our annals for political stagnation. His long administration indeed is almost without a history. All legislative and political action seemed to cease with his entry into office. Year after year passed by without a change. In the third year of Walpole's ministry there was but one division in the House of Commons. Such an inaction gives little scope for the historian; but it fell in with the temper of the nation at large. It was popular with the class which commonly presses for political activity. The energy of the trading class was absorbed for the time in the rapid extension of commerce and accumulation of wealth. So long as the country was justly and temperately governed the merchant and shopkeeper were content to leave government in the hands that held it. All they asked was to be let alone to enjoy their new freedom and develope their new industries. And Walpole let them alone. On the other hand, the forces which opposed the 7-198]Revolution lost year by year somewhat of their energy. The fervour which breeds revolt died down among the Jacobites as their swords rusted idly in their scabbards. The Tories sulked in their country houses; but their wrath against the House of Hanover ebbed away for want of opportunities of exerting itself. And meanwhile on opponents as on friends the freedom which the Revolution had brought with it was doing its work. It was to the patient influence of this freedom that Walpole trusted; and it was the special mark of his administration that in spite of every temptation he gave it full play. Though he dared not touch the laws that oppressed the Catholic or the Dissenter, he took care that they should remain inoperative. Catholic worship went on unhindered. Yearly bills of indemnity exempted the Nonconformists from the consequences of their infringement of the Test Act. There was no tampering with public justice or with personal liberty. Thought and action were alike left free. No Minister was ever more foully slandered by journalists and pamphleteers; but Walpole never meddled with the press.

Fresh efforts of Spain.

Abroad as well as at home the difficulties in the way of his policy were enormous. Peace was still hard to maintain. Defeated as her first attempt had been, Spain remained resolute to regain her lost provinces, to recover Gibraltar and Minorca, and to restore her old monopoly of trade 7-199]with her American colonies. She had learned that she could do this only by breaking the alliance of the Four Powers, which left her isolated in Europe; and she saw at last a chance of breaking this league in the difficulties of the House of Austria. The Emperor Charles the Sixth was without a son. He had issued a Pragmatic Sanction by which he provided that his hereditary dominions should descend unbroken to his daughter, Maria Theresa, but no European state had as yet consented to guarantee her succession. Spain seized on this opportunity of detaching the Emperor from the Western powers. She promised to support the Pragmatic Sanction in return for a pledge on the part of Charles to aid in wresting Gibraltar and Minorca from England, and in securing to a Spanish prince the succession to Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany. A grant of the highest trading privileges in her American dominions to a commercial company which the Emperor had established at Ostend, in defiance of the Treaty of Westphalia and the remonstrances of England and Holland, revealed this secret alliance; and there were fears of the adhesion of Russia, which still remained hostile to England through the quarrel with Hanover. The danger was met for a while by an alliance of England, France, and Prussia, in 1725; but the withdrawal of the last Power again gave courage to the confederates, and in 1727 the Spaniards besieged Gibraltar while Charles 7-200]threatened an invasion of Holland. The moderation of Walpole alone averted a European war. While sending British squadrons to the Baltic, the Spanish coast, and America, he succeeded by diplomatic pressure in again forcing the Emperor to inaction; after weary negotiations Spain was brought in 1729 to sign the Treaty of Seville and to content herself with the promise of a succession of a Spanish prince to the Duchies of Parma and Tuscany; and the discontent of Charles the Sixth at this concession was allayed in 1731 by giving the guarantee of England to the Pragmatic Sanction.

George the Second.

The patience and even temper which Walpole showed in this business were the more remarkable that in the course of it his power received what seemed a fatal shock from the death of the king. George the First died on a journey to Hanover in 1727; and his successor, George the Second, was known to have hated his father's Minister hardly less than he had hated his father. But hate Walpole as he might, the new king was absolutely guided by the adroitness of his wife, Caroline of Anspach; and Caroline had resolved that there should be no change in the Ministry. After a few days of withdrawal therefore Walpole again returned to office; and the years which followed were those in which his power reached its height. He gained as great an influence over George the Second as he had gained over his father: and in 7-201]spite of the steady increase of his opponents in the House of Commons, his hold over it remained unshaken. The country was tranquil and prosperous. The prejudices of the landed gentry were met by a steady effort to reduce the land-tax, whose pressure was half the secret of their hostility to the Revolution that produced it. The Church was quiet. The Jacobites were too hopeless to stir. A few trade measures and social reforms crept quietly through the Houses. An inquiry into the state of the gaols showed that social thought was not utterly dead. A bill of great value enacted that all proceedings in courts of justice should henceforth be in the English tongue.

Excise Bill.

Only once did Walpole break this tranquillity by an attempt at a great measure of statesmanship; and the result of his attempt proved how wise was the inactivity of his general policy. No tax had from the first moment of its introduction been more unpopular than the Excise. Its origin was due to Pym and the Long Parliament, who imposed duties on beer, cyder, and perry, which at the Restoration produced an annual income of more than six hundred thousand pounds. The war with France at the Revolution brought with it the imposition of a malt-tax and additional duties on spirits, wine, tobacco, and other articles. So great had been the increase in the public wealth that the return from the Excise amounted at the death of George the First to nearly two millions and a 7-202]half a year. But its unpopularity remained unabated, and even philosophers like Locke contended that the whole public revenue should be drawn from direct taxes upon the land. Walpole, on the other hand, saw in the growth of indirect taxation a means of winning over the country gentry to the new dynasty of the Revolution by freeing the land from all burdens whatever. He saw too a means of diminishing the loss suffered by the revenue from the Customs through smuggling and fraud. These losses were immense; that on tobacco alone amounted to a third of the whole duty. In 1733 therefore he introduced an Excise Bill, which met this evil by the establishment of bonded warehouses, and by the collection of the duties from the inland dealers in the form of Excise and not of Customs. The first measure would have made London a free port, and doubled English trade. The second would have so largely increased the revenue, without any loss to the consumer, as to enable Walpole to repeal the land-tax. In the case of tea and coffee alone, the change in the mode of levying the duty was estimated to bring in an additional hundred thousand pounds a year. The necessaries of life and the raw materials of manufacture were in Walpole's plan to remain absolutely untaxed. The scheme was in effect an anticipation of the principles which have guided English finance since the triumph of free trade, and every part of it has now been carried into 7-203]effect. But in 1733 Walpole stood ahead of his time. The violence of his opponents was hacked by an outburst of popular prejudice; riots almost grew into revolt; and in spite of the Queen's wish to put down resistance by force, Walpole withdrew the bill. "I will not be the Minister," he said with noble self-command, "to enforce taxes at the expense of blood."

The Patriots.

What had fanned popular prejudice into a flame during the uproar over the Excise Bill was the violence of the so-called "Patriots." In the absence of a strong opposition and of great impulses to enthusiasm a party breaks readily into factions; and the weakness of the Tories joined with the stagnation of public affairs to breed faction among the Whigs. Walpole too was jealous of power; and as his jealousy drove colleague after colleague out of office they became leaders of a party whose sole aim was to thrust him from his post. Greed of power indeed was the one passion which mastered his robust common sense. Townshend was turned out of office in 1730, Lord Chesterfield in 1733; and though he started with the ablest administration the country had known, Walpole was left after twenty years of supremacy with but one man of ability in his cabinet, the Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke. With the single exception of Townshend, the colleagues whom his jealousy dismissed plunged into an opposition more factious and unprincipled than has ever disgraced English 7-204]politics. The "Patriots," as they called themselves, owned Pulteney, a brilliant speaker and unscrupulous intriguer, as their head; they were reinforced by a band of younger Whigs—the "Boys," as Walpole named them—whose temper revolted alike against the inaction and cynicism of his policy, and whose fiery spokesman was a young cornet of horse, William Pitt; and they rallied to these the fragment of the Tory party which still took part in politics, a fragment inconsiderable in numbers but of far greater weight as representing a large part of the nation, and which was guided for a while by the virulent ability of Bolingbroke, whom Walpole had suffered to return from exile, but to whom he had refused the restoration of his seat in the House of Lords. Inside Parliament indeed the invectives of the "Patriots" fell dead before Walpole's majorities and his good-humoured contempt; so far were their attacks from shaking his power that Bolingbroke abandoned the struggle in despair to return again into exile, while Pulteney with his party could only take refuge in a silly secession from Parliament. But on the nation at large their speeches and pamphlets, with the brilliant sarcasms of their literary allies, such as Pope or Johnson, did more effective work. Unjust indeed as their outcry was, the growing response to it told that the political inactivity of the country was drawing to an end. It was the very success of Walpole's policy which was to bring about his 7-205]downfall; for it was the gradual closing of the chasm which had all but broken England into two warring peoples that allowed the political energy of the country to return to its natural channels and to give a new vehemence to political strife. Vague too and hollow as much of the "high talk" of the Patriots was, it showed that the age of political cynicism, of that unbelief in high sentiment and noble aspirations which had followed on the crash of Puritanism, was drawing to an end. Rant about ministerial corruption would have fallen flat on the public ear had not new moral forces, a new sense of social virtue, a new sense of religion been stirring, however blindly, in the minds of Englishmen.

The Methodists.

The stir showed itself markedly in a religious revival which dates from the later years of Walpole's ministry; and which began in a small knot of Oxford students, whose revolt against the religious deadness of their times expressed itself in ascetic observances, an enthusiastic devotion, and a methodical regularity of life which gained them the nickname of "Methodists." Three figures detached themselves from the group as soon as, on its transfer to London in 1738, it attracted public attention by the fervour and even extravagance of its piety; and each found his special work in the task to which the instinct of the new movement led it from the first, that of carrying religion and morality to the vast masses of population which 7-206]lay concentrated in the towns or around the mines and collieries of Cornwall and the north. Whitefield, a servitor of Pembroke College, was above all the preacher of the revival. Speech was governing English politics; and the religious power of speech was shown when a dread of "enthusiasm" closed against the new apostles the pulpits of the Established Church, and forced them to preach in the fields. Their voice was soon heard in the wildest and most barbarous corners of the land, among the bleak moors of Northumberland, or in the dens of London, or in the long galleries where in the pauses of his labour the Cornish miner listens to the sobbing of the sea. Whitefield's preaching was such as England had never heard before, theatrical, extravagant, often commonplace, but hushing all criticism by its intense reality, its earnestness of belief, its deep tremulous sympathy with the sin and sorrow of mankind. It was no common enthusiast who could wring gold from the close-fisted Franklin and admiration from the fastidious Horace Walpole, or who could look down from the top of a green knoll at Kingswood on twenty thousand colliers, grimy from the Bristol coal-pits, and see as he preached the tears "making white channels down their blackened cheeks."

The religious revival.

On the rough and ignorant masses to whom they spoke the effect of Whitefield and his fellow Methodists was mighty both for good and ill. Their preaching stirred a passionate hatred in their 7-207]opponents. Their lives were often in danger, they were mobbed, they were ducked, they were stoned, they were smothered with filth. But the enthusiasm they aroused was equally passionate. Women fell down in convulsions; strong men were smitten suddenly to the earth; the preacher was interrupted by bursts of hysteric laughter or of hysteric sobbing. All the phenomena of strong spiritual excitement, so familiar now, but at that time strange and unknown, followed on their sermons; and the terrible sense of a conviction of sin, a new dread of hell, a new hope of heaven, took forms at once grotesque and sublime. Charles Wesley, a Christ Church student, came to add sweetness to this sudden and startling light. He was the "sweet singer" of the movement. His hymns expressed the fiery conviction of its converts in lines so chaste and beautiful that its more extravagant features disappeared. The wild throes of hysteric enthusiasm passed into a passion for hymn-singing, and a new musical impulse was aroused in the people which gradually changed the face of public devotion throughout England.

John Wesley.

But it was his elder brother, John Wesley, who embodied in himself not this or that side of the new movement, but the movement itself. Even at Oxford, where he resided as a fellow of Lincoln, he had been looked upon as head of the group of Methodists, and after his return from a quixotic mission to the Indians of Georgia he again took 7-208]the lead of the little society, which had removed in the interval to London. In power as a preacher he stood next to Whitefield; as a hymn-writer he stood second to his brother Charles. But while combining in some degree the excellences of either, he possessed qualities in which both were utterly deficient; an indefatigable industry, a cool judgement, a command over others, a faculty of organization, a singular union of patience and moderation with an imperious ambition, which marked him as a ruler of men. He had besides a learning and skill in writing which no other of the Methodists possessed; he was older than any of his colleagues at the start of the movement, and he outlived them all. His life indeed almost covers the century. He was born in 1703 and lived on till 1791, and the Methodist body had passed through every phase of its history before he sank into the grave at the age of eighty-eight. It would have been impossible for Wesley to have wielded the power he did had he not shared the follies and extravagance as well as the enthusiasm of his disciples. Throughout his life his asceticism was that of a monk. At times he lived on bread only, and he often slept on the bare boards. He lived in a world of wonders and divine interpositions. It was a miracle if the rain stopped and allowed him to set forward on a journey. It was a judgement of heaven if a hailstorm burst over a town which had been deaf to his preaching. One day, 7-209]he tells us, when he was tired and his horse fell lame, "I thought cannot God heal either man or beast by any means or without any?—immediately my headache ceased and my horse's lameness in the same instant." With a still more childish fanaticism he guided his conduct, whether in ordinary events or in the great crises of his life, by drawing lots or watching the particular texts at which his Bible opened.

His organization of Methodism.

But with all this extravagance and superstition Wesley's mind was essentially practical, orderly, and conservative. No man ever stood at the head of a great revolution whose temper was so anti-revolutionary. In his earlier days the bishops had been forced to rebuke him for the narrowness and intolerance of his churchmanship. When Whitefield began his sermons in the fields, Wesley "could not at first reconcile himself to that strange way." He condemned and fought against the admission of laymen as preachers till he found himself left with none but laymen to preach. To the last he clung passionately to the Church of England, and looked on the body he had formed as but a lay society in full communion with it. He broke with the Moravians, who had been the earliest friends of the new movement, when they endangered its safe conduct by their contempt of religious forms. He broke with Whitefield when the great preacher plunged into an extravagant Calvinism. But the same practical temper of 7-210]mind which led him to reject what was unmeasured, and to be the last to adopt what was new, enabled him at once to grasp and organize the novelties he adopted. He became himself the most unwearied of field preachers, and his journal for half-a-century is little more than a record of fresh journeys and fresh sermons. When once driven to employ lay helpers in his ministry he made their work a new and attractive feature in his system. His earlier asceticism only lingered in a dread of social enjoyments and an aversion from the gayer and sunnier side of life which links the Methodist movement with that of the Puritans. As the fervour of his superstition died down into the calm of age, his cool common sense discouraged in his followers the enthusiastic outbursts which marked the opening of the revival. His powers were bent to the building up of a great religious society which might give to the new enthusiasm a lasting and practical form. The Methodists were grouped into classes, gathered in love-feasts, purified by the expulsion of unworthy members, and furnished with an alternation of settled ministers and wandering preachers; while the whole body was placed under the absolute government of a Conference of ministers. But so long as he lived, the direction of the new religious society remained with Wesley alone. "If by arbitrary power," he replied with charming simplicity to objectors, "you mean a power which I exercise simply 7-211]without any colleagues therein, this is certainly true, but I see no hurt in it."

Results of the movement.

The great body which he thus founded numbered a hundred thousand members at his death, and now counts its members in England and America by millions. But the Methodists themselves were the least result of the Methodist revival. Its action upon the Church, as we shall see later, broke the lethargy of the clergy who, under the influence of the "Evangelical" movement, were called to a loftier conception of their duties; while a powerful moral enthusiasm appeared in the nation at large. A new philanthropy reformed our prisons, infused clemency and wisdom into our penal laws, abolished the slave-trade, and gave the first impulse to popular education.

Revival of France.

From the new England which was springing up about him, from that new stir of national life and emotion of which the Wesleyan revival was but a part, Walpole stood utterly aloof. National enthusiasm, national passion, found no echo in his cool and passionless good sense. The growing consciousness in the people at large of a new greatness, its instinctive prevision of the coming of a time when England was to play a foremost part in the history of the world, the upgrowth of a nobler and loftier temper which should correspond to such a destiny, all were alike unintelligible to him. In the talk of patriotism and public virtue he saw mere rant and extravagance. "Men would 7-212]grow wiser," he said, "and come out of that." The revival of English religion he looked on with an indifference lightly dashed with dread as a reawakening of fanaticism which might throw new obstacles in the way of religious liberty. In the face of the growing excitement therefore he clung as doggedly as ever to his policy of quiet at home and peace abroad. But peace was now threatened by a foe far more formidable than Spain. What had hitherto enabled England to uphold the settlement of Europe as established at the Peace of Utrecht was above all the alliance and backing of France. But it was clear that such an alliance could hardly be a permanent one. The Treaty of Utrecht had been a humiliation for France even more than for Spain. It had marked the failure of those dreams of European supremacy which the House of Bourbon had nursed ever since the close of the sixteenth century, and which Lewis the Fourteenth had all but turned from dreams into realities. Beaten and impoverished, France had bowed to the need of peace; but her strange powers of recovery had shown themselves in the years of tranquillity that peace secured; and with reviving wealth and the upgrowth of a new generation which had known nothing of the woes that followed Blenheim and Ramillies the old ambition started again into life.

Its union with Spain.

It was fired to action by a new rivalry. The naval supremacy of Britain was growing into an 7-213]empire of the sea; and not only was such an empire in itself a challenge to France, but it was fatal to the aspirations after a colonial dominion, after aggrandizement in America, and the upbuilding of a French power in the East, which were already vaguely stirring in the breasts of her statesmen. And to this new rivalry was added the temptation of a new chance of success. On the Continent the mightiest foe of France had ever been the House of Austria; but that House was now paralyzed by a question of succession. It was almost certain that the quarrels which must follow the death of the Emperor would break the strength of Germany, and it was probable that they might be so managed as to destroy for ever that of the House of Hapsburg. While the main obstacle to her ambition was thus weakened or removed, France won a new and invaluable aid to it in the friendship of Spain. Accident had hindered for a while the realization of the forebodings which led Marlborough and Somers so fiercely to oppose a recognition of the union of the two countries under the same royal house in the Peace of Utrecht. The age and death of Lewis the Fourteenth, the minority of his successor, the hostility between Philip of Spain and the Duke of Orleans, the personal quarrel between the two Crowns which broke out after the Duke's death, had long held the Bourbon powers apart. France had in fact been thrown on the alliance 7-214]of England, and had been forced to play a chief part in opposing Spain and in maintaining the European settlement. But at the death of George the First this temporary severance was already passing away. The birth of children to Lewis the Fifteenth settled all questions of succession; and no obstacle remained to hinder their family sympathies from uniting the Bourbon Courts in a common action. The boast of Lewis the Fourteenth was at last fulfilled. In the mighty struggle for supremacy which France carried on from the fall of Walpole to the Peace of Paris her strength was doubled by the fact that there were "no Pyrenees."

The Family Compact.

The first signs of this new danger showed themselves in 1733, when the peace of Europe was broken afresh by disputes which rose out of a contested election to the throne of Poland. Austria and France were alike drawn into the strife; and in England the awakening jealousy of French designs roused a new pressure for war. The new king too was eager to fight, and her German sympathies inclined even Caroline to join in the fray. But Walpole stood firm for the observance of neutrality. He worked hard to avert and to narrow the war; but he denied that British interests were so involved in it as to call on England to take a part. "There are fifty thousand men slain this year in Europe," he boasted as the strife went on, "and not one Englishman." 7-215]Meanwhile he laboured to bring the quarrel to a close; and in 1736 the intervention of England and Holland succeeded in restoring peace. But the country had watched with a jealous dread the military energy that proclaimed the revival of the French arms; and it noted bitterly that peace was bought by the triumph of both branches of the House of Bourbon. A new Bourbon monarchy was established at the cost of the House of Austria by the cession of the Two Sicilies to a Spanish Prince in exchange for his right of succession to the Duchies of Parma and Tuscany. On the other hand, Lorraine, so long coveted by French ambition, passed finally into the hands of France. The political instinct of the nation at once discerned in these provisions a union of the Bourbon powers; and its dread of such a union proved to be a just one. As early as the outbreak of the war a Family Compact had been secretly concluded between France and Spain, the main object of which was the ruin of the maritime supremacy of Britain. Spain bound herself to deprive England gradually of its commercial privileges in her American dominions, and to transfer them to France. France in return engaged to support Spain at sea, and to aid her in the recovery of Gibraltar.

England and Spain.

The caution with which Walpole held aloof from the Polish war rendered this compact inoperative for the time; but neither of the Bourbon 7-216]courts ceased to look forward to its future execution. The peace of 1736 was indeed a mere pause in the struggle which their union made inevitable. No sooner was the war ended than France strained every nerve to increase her fleet; while Spain steadily tightened the restrictions on British commerce with her American colonies. It was the dim, feverish sense of the drift of these efforts that embittered every hour the struggle of English traders with the Spaniards in the southern seas. The trade with Spanish America, which, illegal as it was, had grown largely through the connivance of Spanish port-officers during the long alliance of England and Spain in the wars against France, had at last received a legal recognition in the Peace of Utrecht. But it was left under narrow restrictions; and Spain had never abandoned the dream of restoring its old monopoly. Her efforts however to restore it had as yet been baffled; while the restrictions were evaded by a vast system of smuggling which rendered what remained of the Spanish monopoly all but valueless. Philip however persisted in his efforts to bring down English intercourse with his colonies to the importation of negroes and the despatch of a single merchant vessel, as stipulated by the Treaty of Utrecht; and from the moment of the compact with France the restrictions were enforced with a fresh rigour. Collisions took place which made it hard to keep the peace; and in 1738 the ill 7-217]humour of the trading classes was driven to madness by the appearance of a merchant captain named Jenkins at the bar of the House of Commons. He told the tale of his torture by the Spaniards, and produced an ear which, he said, they had cut off amidst taunts at England and its king. It was in vain that Walpole strove to do justice to both parties, and that he battled stubbornly against the cry for a war which he knew to be an unjust one, and to be as impolitic as it was unjust. He saw that the House of Bourbon was only waiting for the Emperor's death to deal its blow at the House of Austria; and the Emperor's death was now close at hand. At such a juncture it was of the highest importance that England should be free to avail herself of every means to guard the European settlement, and that she should not tie her hands by a contest which would divert her attention from the great crisis which was impending, as well as drain the forces which would have enabled Walpole to deal with it.

War with Spain.

But his efforts were in vain. His negotiations were foiled by the frenzy of the one country and the pride of the other. At home his enemies assailed him with a storm of abuse. Pope and Johnson alike lent their pens to lampoon the minister. Ballad-singers trolled out their rimes to the crowd on "the cur-dog of Britain and spaniel of Spain." His position had been weakened by 7-218]the death of the queen; and it was now weakened yet more by the open hostility of the Prince of Wales, who in his hatred of his father had come to hate his father's ministers as heartily as George the Second had hated those of George the First. His mastery of the House of Commons too was no longer unquestioned. The Tories were slowly returning to Parliament, and their numbers had now mounted to a hundred and ten. The numbers and the violence of the "Patriots" had grown with the open patronage of Prince Frederick. The country was slowly turning against him. The counties now sent not a member to his support. Walpole's majority was drawn from the boroughs; it rested therefore on management, on corruption, and on the support of the trading classes. But with the cry for a commercial war the support of the trading class failed him. Even in his own cabinet, though he had driven from it every man of independence, he was pressed at this juncture to yield by the Duke of Newcastle and his brother Henry Pelham, who were fast acquiring political importance from their wealth, and from their prodigal devotion of it to the purchase of parliamentary support. But it was not till he stood utterly alone that Walpole gave way, and that he consented in 1739 to a war against Spain.

The Austrian Succession.

"They may ring their bells now," the great minister said bitterly, as peals and bonfires 7-219]welcomed his surrender; "but they will soon be wringing their hands." His foresight was at once justified. No sooner had Admiral Vernon appeared off the coast of South America with an English fleet, and captured Porto Bello, than France gave an indication of her purpose to act on the secret compact by a formal declaration that she would not consent to any English settlement on the mainland of South America, and by despatching two squadrons to the West Indies. But it was plain that the union of the Bourbon courts had larger aims than the protection of Spanish America. The Emperor was dying; and pledged as France was to the Pragmatic Sanction few believed she would redeem her pledge. It had been given indeed with reluctance; even the peace-loving Fleury had said that France ought to have lost three battles before she confirmed it. And now that the opportunity had at last come for finishing the work which Henry the Second had begun, of breaking up the Empire into a group of powers too weak to resist French aggression, it was idle to expect her to pass it by. If once the hereditary dominions of the House of Austria were parted amongst various claimants, if the dignity of the Emperor was no longer supported by the mass of dominion which belonged personally to the Hapsburgs, France would be left without a rival on the Continent. Walpole at once turned to face this revival of a danger which 7-220]the Grand Alliance had defeated. Not only the House of Austria but Russia too was called on to join in a league against the Bourbons; and Prussia, the German power to which Walpole had leant from the beginning, was counted on to give an aid as firm as Brandenburg had given in the older struggle. But the project remained a mere plan when in October 1740 the death of Charles the Sixth forced on the European struggle.

Fall of Walpole.

The plan of the English Cabinet at once broke down. The new King of Prussia, Frederick the Second, whom English opinion had hailed as destined to play the part in the new league which his ancestor had played in the old, suddenly showed himself the most vigorous assailant of the House of Hapsburg; and while Frederick claimed Silesia, Bavaria claimed the Austrian Duchies, which passed with the other hereditary dominions according to the Pragmatic Sanction to Maria Theresa, or, as she was now called, the Queen of Hungary. The hour was come for the Bourbon courts to act. In union with Spain, which aimed at the annexation of the Milanese, France promised her aid to Prussia and Bavaria; while Sweden and Sardinia allied themselves to France. In the summer of 1741 two French armies entered Germany, and the Elector of Bavaria appeared unopposed before Vienna. Never had the House of Austria stood in such peril. Its opponents 7-221]counted on a division of its dominions. France claimed the Netherlands, Spain the Milanese, Bavaria the kingdom of Bohemia, Frederick the Second Silesia. Hungary and the Duchy of Austria alone were left to Maria Theresa. Walpole, though still true to her cause, advised her to purchase Frederick's aid against France and her allies by the cession of part of Silesia. The counsel was wise, for Frederick in hope of some such turn of events had as yet held aloof from actual alliance with France, but the Patriots spurred the Queen to refusal by promising her England's aid in the recovery of her full inheritance. Walpole's last hope of rescuing Austria was broken by this resolve; and Frederick was driven to conclude the alliance with France from which he had so stubbornly held aloof. But the Queen refused to despair. She won the support of Hungary by restoring its constitutional rights; and British subsidies enabled her to march at the head of a Hungarian army to the rescue of Vienna, to overrun Bavaria, and repulse an attack of Frederick on Moravia in the spring of 1742. On England's part, however, the war was waged feebly and ineffectively. Admiral Vernon was beaten before Carthagena; and Walpole was charged with thwarting and starving his operations. With the same injustice, the selfishness with which George the Second hurried to Hanover, and in his dread of harm to his 7-222]hereditary state averted the entry of a French army by binding himself as Elector to neutrality in the war, though the step had been taken without Walpole's knowledge, was laid to the minister's charge. His power indeed was ebbing every day. He still repelled the attacks of the "Patriots" with wonderful spirit; but in a new Parliament which was called at this crisis his majority dropped to sixteen, and in his own Cabinet he became almost powerless. The buoyant temper which had carried him through so many storms broke down at last. "He who was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow," writes his son, "now never sleeps above an hour without waking: and he who at dinner always forgot his own anxieties, and was more gay and thoughtless than all the company, now sits without speaking and with his eyes fixed for an hour together." The end was in fact near; and in the opening of 1742 the dwindling of his majority to three forced Walpole to resign.


His fall however made no change in English policy, at home or abroad. The bulk of his ministry had opposed him in his later years of office, and at his retirement they resumed their posts, simply admitting some of the more prominent members of opposition, and giving the control of foreign affairs to Lord Carteret, a man of great power, and skilled in continental affairs. 7-223]Carteret mainly followed the system of his predecessor. It was in the union of Austria and Prussia that he looked for the means of destroying the hold France had now established in Germany by the election of her puppet, Charles of Bavaria, as Emperor; and the pressure of England, aided by a victory of Frederick at Chotusitz, forced Maria Theresa to consent to Walpole's plan of a peace with Prussia at Breslau on the terms of the cession of Silesia. The peace at once realized Carteret's hopes by enabling the Austrian army to drive the French from Bohemia at the close of 1742, while the new minister threw a new vigour into the warlike efforts of England itself. One English fleet blockaded Cadiz, another anchored in the bay of Naples and forced Don Carlos by a threat of bombarding his capital to conclude a treaty of neutrality, and English subsidies detached Sardinia from the French alliance.


The aim of Carteret and of the Court of Vienna was now not only to set up the Pragmatic Sanction, but to undo the French encroachments of 1736. Naples and Sicily were to be taken back from their Spanish king, Elsass and Lorraine from France; and the imperial dignity was to be restored to the Austrian House. To carry out these schemes an Austrian army drove the Emperor from Bavaria in the spring of 1743; while George the Second, who warmly supported Carteret's 7-224]policy, put himself at the head of a force of 40,000 men, the bulk of whom were English and Hanoverians, and marched from the Netherlands to the Main. His advance was checked and finally turned into a retreat by the Duc de Noailles, who appeared with a superior army on the south bank of the river, and finally throwing 31,000 men across it threatened to compel the king to surrender. In the battle of Dettingen which followed, however, on the 27th June 1743, not only was the allied army saved from destruction by the impetuosity of the French horse and the dogged obstinacy with which the English held their ground, but their opponents were forced to recross the Main. Small as was the victory, it produced amazing results. The French evacuated Germany. The English and Austrian armies appeared on the Rhine; and a league between England, Prussia, and the Queen of Hungary, seemed all that was needed to secure the results already gained.

Fall of Carteret.

But the prospect of peace was overthrown by the ambition of the house of Austria. In the spring of 1744 an Austrian army marched upon Naples, with the purpose of transferring it after its conquest to the Bavarian Emperor, whose hereditary dominions in Bavaria were to pass in return to Maria Theresa. Its march at once forced the Prussian king into a fresh attitude of hostility. If Frederick had withdrawn from the 7-225]war on the cession of Silesia, he was resolute to take up arms again rather than suffer so great an aggrandizement of the House of Austria in Germany. His sudden alliance with France failed at first to change the course of the war; for though he was successful in seizing Prague and drawing the Austrian army from the Rhine, Frederick was driven from Bohemia, while the death of the Emperor forced Bavaria to lay down its arms and to ally itself with Maria Theresa. So high were the Queen's hopes at this moment that she formed a secret alliance with Russia for the division of the Prussian monarchy. But in 1745 the tide turned, and the fatal results of Carteret's weakness in assenting to a change in the character of the struggle which transformed it from a war of defence into one of attack became manifest. The young French king, Lewis the Fifteenth, himself led an army into the Netherlands; and the refusal of Holland to act against him left their defence wholly in the hands of England. The general anger at this widening of the war proved fatal to Carteret, or as he now became, Earl Granville. His imperious temper had rendered him odious to his colleagues, and he was driven from office by the Pelhams, who not only forced George against his will to dismiss him, but foiled the king's attempt to construct a new administration with Granville at its head.

The Pelham Ministry.

Of the reconstituted ministry which followed 7-226]Henry Pelham became the head. His temper as well as a consciousness of his own mediocrity disposed him to a policy of conciliation which reunited the Whigs. Chesterfield and the Whigs in opposition, with Pitt and "the Boys," all found room in the new administration; and even a few Tories, who had given help to Pelham's party, found admittance. Their entry was the first breach in the system of purely party government established on the accession of George the First, though it was more than compensated by the new strength and unity of the Whigs. But the chief significance of Carteret's fall lay in its bearing on foreign policy. The rivalry of Hanover with Prussia for a headship of North Germany found expression in the bitter hostility of George the Second to Frederick; and it was in accord with George that Carteret had lent himself to the vengeance of Austria on her most dangerous opponent. But the bulk of the Whigs remained true to the policy of Walpole, while the entry of the Patriots into the ministry had been on the condition that English interests should be preferred to Hanoverian. It was to pave the way to an accommodation with Frederick and a close of the war that the Pelhams forced Carteret to resign. But it was long before the new system could be brought to play, for the main attention of the new ministry had to be given to the war in Flanders, where Marshal Saxe had established the superiority 7-227]of the French army by his defeat of the Duke of Cumberland. Advancing to the relief of Tournay with a force of English, Hanoverians, and Dutch—for Holland, however reluctantly, had at last been dragged into the war, though by English subsidies—the Duke on the 31st of May 1745 found the French covered by a line of fortified villages and redoubts with but a single narrow gap near the hamlet of Fontenoy. Into this gap, however, the English troops, formed in a dense column, doggedly thrust themselves in spite of a terrible fire; but at the moment when the day seemed won the French guns, rapidly concentrated in their front, tore the column in pieces and drove it back in a slow and orderly retreat. The blow was followed up in June by a victory of Frederick at Hohenfriedburg which drove the Austrians from Silesia, and by the landing of a Stuart on the coast of Scotland at the close of July.

Charles Edward Stuart.

The war with France had at once revived the hopes of the Jacobites; and as early as 1744 Charles Edward, the grandson of James the Second, was placed by the French Government at the head of a formidable armament. But his plan of a descent on Scotland was defeated by a storm which wrecked his fleet, and by the march of the French troops which had sailed in it to the war in Flanders. In 1745 however the young adventurer again embarked with but seven friends in a small 7-228]vessel and landed on a little island of the Hebrides. For three weeks he stood almost alone; but on the 29th of August the clans rallied to his standard in Glenfinnan, and Charles found himself at the head of fifteen hundred men. His force swelled to an army as he marched through Blair Athol on Perth, entered Edinburgh in triumph, and proclaimed "James the Eighth" at the Town Cross; and two thousand English troops who marched against him under Sir John Cope were broken and cut to pieces on the 21st of September by a single charge of the clansmen at Prestonpans. Victory at once doubled the forces of the conqueror. The Prince was now at the head of six thousand men; but all were still Highlanders, for the people of the Lowlands held aloof from his standard, and it was with the utmost difficulty that he could induce them to follow him to the south. His tact and energy however at last conquered every obstacle, and after skilfully evading an army gathered at Newcastle he marched through Lancashire, and pushed on the 4th of December as far as Derby. But here all hope of success came to an end. Hardly a man had risen in his support as he passed through the districts where Jacobitism boasted of its strength. The people flocked to see his march as if to see a show. Catholics and Tories abounded in Lancashire, but only a single squire took up arms. Manchester was looked on as the most Jacobite of 7-229]English towns, but all the aid it gave was an illumination and two thousand pounds. From Carlisle to Derby he had been joined by hardly two hundred men. The policy of Walpole had in fact secured England for the House of Hanover. The long peace, the prosperity of the country, and the clemency of the Government, had done their work. The recent admission of Tories into the administration had severed the Tory party finally from the mere Jacobites. Jacobitism as a fighting force was dead, and even Charles Edward saw that it was hopeless to conquer England with five thousand Highlanders.

Conquest of the Highlands.

He soon learned too that forces of double his own strength were closing on either side of him, while a third army under the king and Lord Stair covered London. Scotland itself, now that the Highlanders were away, quietly renewed in all the districts of the Lowlands its allegiance to the House of Hanover. Even in the Highlands the Macleods rose in arms for King George, while the Gordons refused to stir, though roused by a small French force which landed at Montrose. To advance further south was impossible, and Charles fell rapidly back on Glasgow; but the reinforcements which he found there raised his army to nine thousand men, and on the 23rd January 1746 he boldly attacked an English army under General Hawley which had followed his retreat and had encamped near Falkirk. Again the wild 7-230]charge of his Highlanders won victory for the Prince, but victory was as fatal as defeat. The bulk of his forces dispersed with their booty to the mountains, and Charles fell sullenly back to the north before the Duke of Cumberland. On the 16th of April the two armies faced one another on Culloden Moor, a few miles eastward of Inverness. The Highlanders still numbered six thousand men, but they were starving and dispirited, while Cumberland's force was nearly double that of the Prince. Torn by the Duke's guns, the clansmen flung themselves in their old fashion on the English front; but they were received with a terrible fire of musketry, and the few that broke through the first line found themselves fronted by a second. In a few moments all was over, and the Stuart force was a mass of hunted fugitives. Charles himself after strange adventures escaped to France. In England fifty of his followers were hanged; three Scotch lords, Lovat, Balmerino, and Kilmarnock, brought to the block; and forty persons of rank attainted by Act of Parliament. More extensive measures of repression were needful in the Highlands. The feudal tenures were abolished. The hereditary jurisdictions of the chiefs were bought up and transferred to the Crown. The tartan, or garb of the Highlanders, was forbidden by law. These measures, and a general Act of Indemnity which followed them, proved effective for their purpose. 7-231]The dread of the clansmen passed away, and the sheriff's writ soon ran through the Highlands with as little resistance as in the streets of Edinburgh.

Widening of the War.

Defeat abroad and danger at home only quickened the resolve of the Pelhams to bring the war, so far as England and Prussia went, to an end. When England was threatened by a Catholic Pretender, it was no time for weakening the chief Protestant power in Germany. On the refusal therefore of Maria Theresa to join in a general peace, England concluded the Convention of Hanover with Prussia at the close of August, and withdrew so far as Germany was concerned from the war. Elsewhere however the contest lingered on. The victories of Maria Theresa in Italy were balanced by those of France in the Netherlands, where Marshal Saxe inflicted new defeats on the English and Dutch at Roucoux and Lauffeld. The danger of Holland and the financial exhaustion of France at last brought about in 1748 the conclusion of a peace at Aix-la-Chapelle, by which England surrendered its gains at sea, and France its conquests on land. But the peace was a mere pause in the struggle, during which both parties hoped to gain strength for a mightier contest which they saw impending. The war was in fact widening far beyond the bounds of Germany or of Europe. It was becoming a world-wide duel which was to 7-232]settle the destinies of mankind. Already France was claiming the valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi, and mooting the great question whether the fortunes of the New World were to be moulded by Frenchmen or Englishmen. Already too French adventurers were driving English merchants from Madras, and building up, as they trusted, a power which was to add India to the dominions of France.


The intercourse of England with India had as yet given little promise of the great fortunes which awaited it. It was not till the close of Elizabeth's reign, a century after Vasco de Gama had crept round the Cape of Good Hope and founded the Portuguese settlement on the Goa Coast, that an East India Company was founded in London. The trade, profitable as it was, remained small in extent; and the three early factories of the Company were only gradually acquired during the century which followed. The first, that of Madras, consisted of but six fishermen's houses beneath Fort St. George; that of Bombay was ceded by the Portuguese as part of the dowry of Catharine of Braganza; while Fort William, with the mean village which has since grown into Calcutta, owes its origin to the reign of William the Third. Each of these forts was built simply for the protection of the Company's warehouses, and guarded by a few "sepahis," sepoys, or paid native soldiers; while the clerks and traders of each establishment were under the 7-233]direction of a President and a Council. One of these clerks in the middle of the eighteenth century was Robert Clive, the son of a small proprietor near Market Drayton in Shropshire, an idle daredevil of a boy whom his friends had been glad to get rid of by packing him off in the Company's service as a writer to Madras. His early days there were days of wretchedness and despair. He was poor and cut off from his fellows by the haughty shyness of his temper, weary of desk-work, and haunted by home-sickness. Twice he attempted suicide; and it was only on the failure of his second attempt that he flung down the pistol which baffled him, with a conviction that he was reserved for higher things.


A change came at last in the shape of war and captivity. As soon as the war of the Austrian Succession broke out the superiority of the French in power and influence tempted them to expel the English from India. Labourdonnais, the governor of the French colony of the Mauritius, besieged Madras, razed it to the ground, and carried its clerks and merchants prisoners to Pondicherry. Clive was among these captives, but he escaped in disguise, and returning to the settlement, threw aside his clerkship for an ensign's commission in a force which the Company was busily raising. For the capture of Madras had not only established the repute of the French arms, but had roused Dupleix, the governor of Pondicherry, to conceive 7-234]plans for the creation of a French empire in India. When the English merchants of Elizabeth's day brought their goods to Surat, all India, save the south, had just been brought for the first time under the rule of a single great power by the Mogul Emperors of the line of Akbar. But with the death of Aurungzebe, in the reign of Anne, the Mogul Empire fell fast into decay. A line of feudal princes raised themselves to independence in Rajpootana. The lieutenants of the Emperor founded separate sovereignties at Lucknow and Hyderabad, in the Carnatic, and in Bengal. The plain of the Upper Indus was occupied by a race of religious fanatics called the Sikhs. Persian and Affghan invaders crossed the Indus, and succeeded even in sacking Delhi, the capital of the Moguls. Clans of systematic plunderers, who were known under the name of Mahrattas, and who were in fact the natives whom conquest had long held in subjection, poured down from the highlands along the western coast, ravaged as far as Calcutta and Tanjore, and finally set up independent states at Poonah and Gwalior.


Dupleix skilfully availed himself of the disorder around him. He offered his aid to the Emperor against the rebels and invaders who had reduced his power to a shadow; and it was in the Emperor's name that he meddled with the quarrels of the states of Central and Southern India, made himself virtually master of the Court of Hyderabad, and 7-235]seated a creature of his own on the throne of the Carnatic. Trichinopoly, the one town which held out against this Nabob of the Carnatic, was all but brought to surrender when Clive, in 1751, came forward with a daring scheme for its relief. With a few hundred English and sepoys he pushed through a thunderstorm to the surprise of Arcot, the Nabob's capital, entrenched himself in its enormous fort, and held it for fifty days against thousands of assailants. Moved by his gallantry, the Mahrattas, who had never before believed that Englishmen would fight, advanced and broke up the siege. But Clive was no sooner freed than he showed equal vigour in the field. At the head of raw recruits who ran away at the first sound of a gun, and sepoys who hid themselves as soon as the cannon opened fire, he twice attacked and defeated the French and their Indian allies, foiled every effort of Dupleix, and razed to the ground a pompous pillar which the French governor had set up in honour of his earlier victories.

The American Colonies.

Clive was recalled by broken health to England, and the fortunes of the struggle in India were left for decision to a later day. But while France was struggling for the Empire of the East she was striving with even more apparent success for the command of the new world of the West. From the time when the Puritan emigration added the four New England States, Massachusetts, New 7-236]Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to those of Maryland and Virginia the progress of the English colonies in North America had been slow, but it had never ceased. Settlers still came, though in smaller numbers, and two new colonies south of Virginia received from Charles the Second their name of the Carolinas. The war with Holland in 1664 transferred to British rule a district claimed by the Dutch from the Hudson to the inner Lakes; and this country, which was granted by Charles to his brother, received from him the name of New York. Portions were soon broken off from its vast territory to form the colonies of New Jersey and Delaware. In 1682 a train of Quakers followed William Penn across the Delaware into the heart of the primæval forest, and became a colony which recalled its founder and the woodlands among which he planted it in its name of Pennsylvania. A long interval elapsed before a new settlement, which received its title of Georgia from the reigning sovereign, George the Second, was established by General Oglethorpe on the Savannah as a refuge for English debtors and for the persecuted Protestants of Germany.

Their progress.

Slow as this progress seemed, the colonies were really growing fast in numbers and in wealth. Their whole population amounted at the time we have reached to about 1,200,000 whites and a quarter of a million of negroes; and this amounted to nearly a fourth of that of the mother country. 7-237]Its increase indeed was amazing. The inhabitants of Virginia were doubling in every twenty-one years, while Massachusetts saw five-and-twenty new towns spring into existence in a quarter of a century. The wealth of the colonists was growing even faster than their numbers. As yet the southern colonies were the more productive. Virginia boasted of its tobacco plantations, Georgia and the Carolinas of their maize and rice and indigo crops, while New York and Pennsylvania, with, the colonies of New England, were restricted to their whale and cod fisheries, their corn-harvests, and their timber trade. The distinction indeed between the northern and southern colonies was more than an industrial one. While New England absorbed half a million of whites, and the middle colonies from the Hudson to the Potomac contained almost as many, there were less than 300,000 whites in those to the south of the Potomac. These on the other hand contained 130,000 negroes, and the central States 70,000, while but 11,000 were found in the States of New England. In the Southern States this prevalence of slavery produced an aristocratic spirit and favoured the creation of large estates; even the system of entails had been introduced among the wealthy planters of Virginia, where many of the older English families found representatives in houses such as those of Fairfax and 7-238]Washington. Throughout New England, on the other hand, the characteristics of the Puritans, their piety, their intolerance, their simplicity of life, their pedantry, their love of equality and tendency to democratic institutions, remained unchanged. There were few large fortunes, though the comfort was general. "Some of the most considerable provinces of America," said Burke in 1769, "such for instance as Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay, have not in each of them two men who can afford at a distance from their estates to spend a thousand pounds a year." In education and political activity New England stood far ahead of its fellow-colonies, for the settlement of the Puritans had been followed at once by the establishment of a system of local schools which is still the glory of America. "Every township," it was enacted, "after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall appoint one to teach all children to write and read; and when any town shall increase to the number of a hundred families, they shall set up a grammar school." The result was that in the midst of the eighteenth century New England was the one part of the world where every man and woman was able to read and write.

Their political condition.

Great however as these differences were, and great as was to be their influence on American history, they were little felt as yet. In the main 7-239]features of their outer organization the whole of the colonies stood fairly at one. In religious and in civil matters alike all of them contrasted sharply with the England at home. Europe saw for the first time a state growing up amidst the forests of the West where religious freedom had become complete. Religious tolerance had in fact been brought about by a medley of religious faiths such as the world had never seen before. New England was still a Puritan stronghold. In all the Southern colonies the Episcopal Church was established by law, and the bulk of the settlers clung to it; but Roman Catholics formed a large part of the population of Maryland. Pennsylvania was a State of Quakers. Presbyterians and Baptists had fled from tests and persecutions to colonize New Jersey. Lutherans and Moravians from Germany abounded among the settlers of Carolina and Georgia. In such a chaos of creeds religious persecution became impossible. There was the same outer diversity and the same real unity in the political tendency and organization of the States. The colonists proudly looked on the Constitutions of their various States as copies of that of the mother country. England had given them her system of self-government, as she had given them her law, her language, her religion, and her blood. But the circumstances of their settlement had freed them from many of the worst abuses which clogged the action of constitutional government at home. 7-240]The representative suffrage was in some cases universal and in all proportioned to population. There were no rotten boroughs, and members of the legislative assemblies were subject to annual re-election. The will of the settlers told in this way directly and immediately on the legislation in a way unknown to the English Parliament, and the settlers were men whose will was braced and invigorated by their personal independence and comfort, the tradition of their past, and the personal temper which was created by the greater loneliness and self-dependence of their lives. Whether the spirit of the colony was democratic, moderate, or oligarchical, its form of government was pretty much the same. The original rights of the proprietor, the projector and grantee of the earliest settlement, had in all cases, save in those of Pennsylvania and Maryland, either ceased to exist or fallen into desuetude. The government of each colony lay in a House of Assembly elected by the people at large, with a Council sometimes elected, sometimes nominated by the Governor, and a Governor appointed by the Crown, or, as in Connecticut and Rhode Island, chosen by the colonists.

English control.

With the appointment of these Governors all administrative interference on the part of the Government at home practically ended. The superintendence of the colonies rested with a Board for Trade and Plantations, which, though 7-241]itself without executive power, advised the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, within which America was included. But for two centuries they were left by a happy neglect to themselves. It was wittily said at a later day that "Mr. Grenville lost America because he read the American despatches, which none of his predecessors ever did." There was little room indeed for any interference within the limits of the colonies. Their privileges were secured by royal charters. Their Assemblies alone exercised the right of internal taxation, and they exercised it sparingly. Walpole, like Pitt afterwards, set roughly aside the project for an American excise. "I have Old England set against me," he said, "by this measure, and do you think I will have New England too?" America, in fact, contributed to England's resources not by taxation, but by the monopoly of her trade. It was from England that she might import, to England alone that she might send her exports. She was prohibited from manufacturing her own products, or from exporting them in any but a raw state for manufacture in the mother country. But even in matters of trade the supremacy of the mother country was far from being a galling one. There were some small import duties, but they were evaded by a well-understood system of smuggling. The restriction of trade with the colonies to 7-242]Great Britain was more than compensated by the commercial privileges which the Americans enjoyed as British subjects.

French aggression.

As yet therefore there was nothing to break the good will which the colonists felt towards the mother country, while the danger of French aggression drew them closely to it. Populous as they had become, English settlements still lay mainly along the seaboard of the Atlantic; for only a few exploring parties had penetrated into the Alleghanies before the Seven Years' War; and Indian tribes wandered unquestioned along the lakes. It was not till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 that the pretensions of France drew the eyes of the colonists and of English statesmen to the interior of the Western continent. Planted firmly in Louisiana and Canada, France openly claimed the whole country west of the Alleghanies as its own, and its governors now ordered all English settlers or merchants to be driven from the valleys of Ohio or Mississippi which were still in the hands of Indian tribes. Even the inactive Pelham revolted against pretensions such as these; and the Duke of Bedford, who was then Secretary for the Southern Department, was stirred to energetic action. The original French settlers were driven from Acadia or Nova Scotia, and an English colony planted there, whose settlement of Halifax still bears the name of its founder Lord Halifax, the head of the Board of Trade. An Ohio Company 7-243]was formed, and its agents made their way to the valleys of that river and the Kentucky; while envoys from Virginia and Pennsylvania drew closer the alliance between their colonies and the Indian tribes across the mountains. Nor were the French slow to accept the challenge. Fighting began in Acadia. A vessel of war appeared in Ontario, and Niagara was turned into a fort. A force of 1200 men despatched to Erie drove the few English settlers from their little colony on the fork of the Ohio, and founded there a fort called Duquesne, on the site of the later Pittsburg. The fort at once gave this force command of the river valley. After a fruitless attack on it under George Washington, a young Virginian, who had been despatched with a handful of men to meet the danger, the colonists were forced to withdraw over the mountains, and the whole of the west was left in the hands of France.

Rout of Braddock.

It was natural that at such a crisis the mother country should look to the united efforts of the colonies, and Halifax pressed for a joint arrangement which should provide a standing force and funds for its support. A plan for this purpose on the largest scale was drawn up by Benjamin Franklin, who, from a printer's boy, had risen to supreme influence in Pennsylvania; but in the way of such a union stood the jealousies which each state entertained of its neighbour, the disinclination of the colonists to be drawn into an 7-244]expensive struggle, and, above all, suspicion of the motives of Halifax and his colleagues. The delay in furnishing any force for defence, the impossibility of bringing the colonies to any agreement, and the perpetual squabbles of their legislatures with the governors appointed by the Crown, may have been the motives which induced Halifax to introduce a Bill which would have made orders by the king in spite of the colonial charters law in America. The Bill was dropped in deference to the constitutional objections of wiser men; but the governors fed the fear in England of the "levelling principles" of the colonists, and every official in America wrote home to demand that Parliament should do what the colonial legislatures seemed unable to do, and establish a common fund for defence by a general taxation. Already plans were mooted for deriving a revenue from the colonies. But the prudence of Pelham clung to the policy of Walpole, and nothing was done; while the nearer approach of a struggle in Europe gave fresh vigour to the efforts of France. The Marquis of Montcalm, who was now governor of Canada, carried out with even greater zeal than his predecessor the plans of annexation; and the three forts of Duquesne on the Ohio, of Niagara on the St. Lawrence, and of Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, were linked together by a chain of lesser forts, which cut off the English colonists from all access to the west. Montcalm was gifted with singular powers of 7-245]administration; he had succeeded in attaching the bulk of the Indian tribes from Canada as far as the Mississippi to the cause of France; and the value of their aid was shown in 1755, when General Braddock led a force of English soldiers and American militia to a fresh attack upon fort Duquesne. The force was utterly routed and Braddock slain.

State of Europe.

The defeat woke England to its danger; for it was certain that war in America would soon be followed by war in Europe itself. Newcastle and his fellow-ministers were still true in the main to Walpole's policy. They looked on a league with Prussia as indispensable to the formation of any sound alliance which could check France. "If you gain Prussia," wrote the veteran Lord Chancellor, Hardwicke, to Newcastle in 1748, "the Confederacy will be restored and made whole, and become a real strength; if you do not, it will continue lame and weak, and much in the power of France." Frederick however held cautiously aloof from any engagement. The league between Prussia and the Queen of Hungary, which England desired, Frederick knew in fact to be impossible. He knew that the Queen's passionate resolve to recover Silesia must end in a contest in which England must take one part or the other; and as yet, if the choice had to be made, Austria seemed likely to be the favoured ally. The traditional friendship of the Whigs for that power combined 7-246]with the tendencies of George the Second to make an Austrian alliance more probable than a Prussian one. The advances of England to Frederick only served therefore to alienate Maria Theresa, whose one desire was to regain Silesia, and whose hatred and jealousy of the new Protestant power which had so suddenly risen into rivalry with her house for the supremacy of Germany blinded her to the older rivalry between her house and France. The two powers of the House of Bourbon were still bound by the Family Compact, and eager for allies in the strife with England which the struggles in India and America were bringing hourly nearer. It was as early as 1752 that by a startling change of policy Maria Theresa drew to their alliance. The jealousy which Russia entertained of the growth of a strong power in North Germany brought the Czarina Elizabeth to promise aid to the schemes of the Queen of Hungary; and in 1755 the league of the four powers and of Saxony was practically completed. So secret were these negotiations that they remained unknown to Henry Pelham and to his brother the Duke of Newcastle, who succeeded him on his death in 1754 as the head of the ministry. But they were detected from the first by the keen eye of Frederick of Prussia, who saw himself fronted by a line of foes that stretched from Paris to St. Petersburg.

Alliance with Prussia.

The danger to England was hardly less; for 7-247]France appeared again on the stage with a vigour and audacity which recalled the days of Lewis the Fourteenth. The weakness and corruption of the French government were screened for a time by the daring and scope of its plans, as by the ability of the agents it found to carry them out. In England, on the contrary, all was vagueness and indecision. The action of the king showed only his Hanoverian jealousy of the House of Brandenburg. It was certain that France, as soon as war broke out in the West, would attack his Electorate; and George sought help not at Berlin but at St. Petersburg. He concluded a treaty with Russia, which promised him the help of a Russian army on the Weser in return for a subsidy. Such a treaty meant war with Frederick, who had openly announced his refusal to allow the entry of Russian forces on German soil; and it was vehemently though fruitlessly opposed by William Pitt. But he had hardly withdrawn with Grenville and Charles Townshend from the Ministry when Newcastle himself recoiled from the king's policy. The Russian subsidy was refused, and Hanoverian interests subordinated to those of England by the conclusion of the treaty with Frederick of Prussia for which Pitt had pressed. The new compact simply provided for the neutrality of both Prussia and Hanover in any contest between England and France. But its results were far from being as peaceable as its provisions. Russia was outraged 7-248]by Frederick's open opposition to her presence in Germany; France resented his compact with and advances towards England; and Maria Theresa eagerly seized on the temper of both those powers to draw them into common action against the Prussian king. With the treaty between England and Frederick indeed began the Seven Years' War.

The Seven Years' War.

No war has had greater results on the history of the world or brought greater triumphs to England: but few have had more disastrous beginnings. Newcastle was too weak and ignorant to rule without aid, and yet too greedy of power to purchase aid by sharing it with more capable men. His preparations for the gigantic struggle before him may be guessed from the fact that there were but three regiments fit for service in England at the opening of 1756. France on the other hand was quick in her attack. Port Mahon in Minorca, the key of the Mediterranean, was besieged by the Duke of Richelieu and forced to capitulate. To complete the shame of England, a fleet sent to its relief under Admiral Byng fell back before the French. In Germany Frederick seized Dresden at the outset of the war and forced the Saxon army to surrender; and in 1757 a victory at Prague made him master for a while of Bohemia; but his success was transient, and a defeat at Kolin drove him to retreat again into Saxony. In the same year the Duke of Cumberland, 7-249]who had taken post on the Weser with an army of fifty thousand men for the defence of Hanover, fell back before a French army to the mouth of the Elbe, and engaged by the Convention of Closter-Seven to disband his forces. In America things went even worse than in Germany. The inactivity of the English generals was contrasted with the genius and activity of Montcalm. Already masters of the Ohio by the defeat of Braddock, the French drove the English garrison from the forts which commanded Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain, and their empire stretched without a break over the vast territory from Louisiana to the St. Lawrence.

William Pitt.

A despondency without parallel in our history took possession of our coolest statesmen, and even the impassive Chesterfield cried in despair, "We are no longer a nation." But the nation of which Chesterfield despaired was really on the eve of its greatest triumphs, and the incapacity of Newcastle only called to the front the genius of William Pitt. Pitt was the grandson of a wealthy governor of Madras, who had entered Parliament in 1735, as member for one of his father's pocket boroughs. A group of younger men, Lord Lyttelton, the Grenvilles, Wilkes, and others, gradually gathered round him, and formed a band of young "patriots," "the Boys," as Walpole called them, who added to the difficulties of that minister. Pitt was as yet a cornet of horse, and the restless activity of his 7-250]genius was seen in the energy with which he threw himself into his military duties. He told Lord Shelburne long afterwards that "during the time he was cornet of horse there was not a military book he did not read through." But the dismissal from the army with which Walpole met his violent attacks threw this energy wholly into politics. His fiery spirit was hushed in office during the "broad-bottom administration" which followed Walpole's fall, and he soon attained great influence over Henry Pelham. "I think him," wrote Pelham to his brother, "the most able and useful man we have amongst us; truly honourable and strictly honest." He remained under Newcastle after Pelham's death, till the Duke's jealousy of power not only refused him the Secretaryship of State and admission to the Cabinet, but entrusted the lead of the House of Commons to a mere dependent. Pitt resisted the slight by an attitude of opposition; and his denunciation of the treaty with Russia served as a pretext for his dismissal. When the disasters of the war however drove Newcastle from office, in November 1756, Pitt became Secretary of State, bringing with him into office his relatives, George Grenville and Lord Temple, as well as Charles Townshend. But though his popularity had forced him into office, and though the grandeur of his policy at once showed itself by his rejection of all schemes for taxing America, and by his raising a couple of 7-251]regiments amongst the Highlanders, he found himself politically powerless. The House was full of Newcastle's creatures, the king hated him, and only four months after taking office he was forced to resign. The Duke of Cumberland insisted on his dismissal in April 1757, before he would start to take the command in Germany. In July however it was necessary to recall him. The failure of Newcastle's attempt to construct an administration forced the Duke to a junction with his rival, and while Newcastle took the head of the Treasury, Pitt again became Secretary of State.

His lofty spirit.

Fortunately for their country, the character of the two statesmen made the compromise an easy one. For all that Pitt coveted, for the general direction of public affairs, the control of foreign policy, the administration of the war, Newcastle had neither capacity nor inclination. On the other hand his skill in parliamentary management was unrivalled. If he knew little else, he knew better than any living man the price of every member and the intrigues of every borough. What he cared for was not the control of affairs, but the distribution of patronage and the work of corruption, and from this Pitt turned disdainfully away. "I borrow the Duke of Newcastle's majority," his colleague owned with cool contempt, "to carry on the public business." "Mr. Pitt does everything," wrote Horace Walpole, "and the Duke gives 7-252]everything. So long as they agree in this partition they may do what they please." Out of the union of these two strangely-contrasted leaders, in fact, rose the greatest, as it was the last, of the purely Whig administrations. But its real power lay from beginning to end in Pitt himself. Poor as he was, for his income was little more than two hundred a year, and springing as he did from a family of no political importance, it was by sheer dint of genius that the young cornet of horse, at whose youth and inexperience Walpole had sneered, seized a power which the Whig houses had ever since the Revolution kept in their grasp. The real significance of his entry into the ministry was that the national opinion entered with him. He had no strength save from his "popularity," but this popularity showed that the political torpor of the nation was passing away, and that a new interest in public affairs and a resolve to have weight in them was becoming felt in the nation at large. It was by the sure instinct of a great people that this interest and resolve gathered themselves round William Pitt. If he was ambitious, his ambition had no petty aim. "I want to call England," he said, as he took office, "out of that enervate state in which twenty thousand men from France can shake her." His call was soon answered. He at once breathed his own lofty spirit into the country he served, as he communicated something of his own grandeur to 7-253]the men who served him. "No man," said a soldier of the time, "ever entered Mr. Pitt's closet who did not feel himself braver when he came out than when he went in." Ill-combined as were his earlier expeditions, and many as were his failures, he roused a temper in the nation at large which made ultimate defeat impossible. "England has been a long time in labour," exclaimed Frederick of Prussia as he recognised a greatness like his own, "but she has at last brought forth a man."

It is this personal and solitary grandeur which strikes us most as we look back to William Pitt. The tone of his speech and action stands out in utter contrast with the tone of his time. In the midst of a society critical, polite, indifferent, simple even to the affectation of simplicity, witty and amusing but absolutely prosaic, cool of heart and of head, sceptical of virtue and enthusiasm, sceptical above all of itself, Pitt stood absolutely alone. The depth of his conviction, his passionate love for all that he deemed lofty and true, his fiery energy, his poetic imaginativeness, his theatrical airs and rhetoric, his haughty self-assumption, his pompousness and extravagance, were not more puzzling to his contemporaries than the confidence with which he appealed to the higher sentiments of mankind, the scorn with which he turned from a corruption which had till then been the great engine of politics, the undoubting faith which he 7-254]felt in himself, in the grandeur of his aims, and in his power to carry them out. "I know that I can save the country," he said to the Duke of Devonshire on his entry into the Ministry, "and I know no other man can." The groundwork of Pitt's character was an intense and passionate pride; but it was a pride which kept him from stooping to the level of the men who had so long held England in their hands. He was the first statesman since the Restoration who set the example of a purely public spirit. Keen as was his love of power, no man ever refused office so often, or accepted it with so strict a regard to the principles he professed. "I will not go to Court," he replied to an offer which was made him, "if I may not bring the Constitution with me." For the corruption about him he had nothing but disdain. He left to Newcastle the buying of seats and the purchase of members. At the outset of his career Pelham appointed him to the most lucrative office in his administration, that of Paymaster of the Forces; but its profits were of an illicit kind, and poor as he was, Pitt refused to accept one farthing beyond his salary. His pride never appeared in loftier and nobler form than in his attitude towards the people at large. No leader had ever a wider popularity than "the great commoner," as Pitt was styled, but his air was always that of a man who commands popularity, not that of one who seeks it. He never bent to 7-255]flatter popular prejudice. When mobs were roaring themselves hoarse for "Wilkes and liberty," he denounced Wilkes as a worthless profligate; and when all England went mad in its hatred of the Scots, Pitt haughtily declared his esteem for a people whose courage he had been the first to enlist on the side of loyalty. His noble figure, the hawk-like eye which flashed from the small thin face, his majestic voice, the fire and grandeur of his eloquence, gave him a sway over the House of Commons far greater than any other minister has possessed. He could silence an opponent with a look of scorn, or hush the whole House with a single word. But he never stooped to the arts by which men form a political party, and at the height of his power his personal following hardly numbered half a dozen members.

His patriotism.

His real strength indeed lay not in Parliament but in the people at large. His title of "the great commoner" marks a political revolution. "It is the people who have sent me here," Pitt boasted with a haughty pride when the nobles of the Cabinet opposed his will. He was the first to see that the long political inactivity of the public mind had ceased, and that the progress of commerce and industry had produced a great middle class, which no longer found its representatives in the legislature. "You have taught me," said George the Second when Pitt sought to save 7-256]Byng by appealing to the sentiment of Parliament, "to look for the voice of my people in other places than within the House of Commons." It was this unrepresented class which had forced him into power. During his struggle with Newcastle the greater towns backed him with the gift of their freedom and addresses of confidence. "For weeks," laughs Horace Walpole, "it rained gold boxes." London stood by him through good report and evil report, and the wealthiest of English merchants, Alderman Beckford, was proud to figure as his political lieutenant. The temper of Pitt indeed harmonized admirably with the temper of the commercial England which rallied round him, with its energy, its self-confidence, its pride, its patriotism, its honesty, its moral earnestness. The merchant and the trader were drawn by a natural attraction to the one statesman of their time whose aims were unselfish, whose hands were clean, whose life was pure and full of tender affection for wife and child. But there was a far deeper ground for their enthusiastic reverence, and for the reverence which his country has borne Pitt ever since. He loved England with an intense and personal love. He believed in her power, her glory, her public virtue, till England learned to believe in herself. Her triumphs were his triumphs, her defeats his defeats. Her dangers lifted him high above all thought of self or party-spirit. "Be one people," he cried to the factions 7-257]who rose to bring about his fall: "forget everything but the public! I set you the example!" His glowing patriotism was the real spell by which he held England. But even the faults which chequered his character told for him with the middle classes. The Whig statesmen who preceded him had been men whose pride expressed itself in a marked simplicity and absence of pretence. Pitt was essentially an actor, dramatic in the Cabinet, in the House, in his very office. He transacted business with his clerks in full dress. His letters to his family, genuine as his love for them was, are stilted and unnatural in tone. It was easy for the wits of his day to jest at his affectation, his pompous gait, the dramatic appearance which he made on great debates with his limbs swathed in flannel and his crutch by his side. Early in life Walpole sneered at him for bringing into the House of Commons "the gestures and emotions of the stage." But the classes to whom Pitt appealed were classes not easily offended by faults of taste, and saw nothing to laugh at in the statesman who was borne into the lobby amidst the tortures of the gout, or carried into the House of Lords to breathe his last in a protest against national dishonour.

His eloquence.

Above all Pitt wielded the strength of a resistless eloquence. The power of political speech had been revealed in the stormy debates of the Long Parliament, but it was cramped in its utterance 7-258]by the legal and theological pedantry of the time. Pedantry was flung off by the age of the Revolution, but in the eloquence of Somers and his rivals we see ability rather than genius, knowledge, clearness of expression, precision of thought, the lucidity of the pleader or the man of business, rather than the passion of the orator. Of this clearness of statement Pitt had little or none. He was no ready debater like Walpole, no speaker of set speeches like Chesterfield. His set speeches were always his worst, for in these his want of taste, his love of effect, his trite quotations and extravagant metaphors came at once to the front. That with defects like these he stood far above every orator of his time was due above all to his profound conviction, to the earnestness and sincerity with which he spoke. "I must sit still," he whispered once to a friend, "for when once I am up everything that is in my mind comes out." But the reality of his eloquence was transfigured by a large and poetic imagination, an imagination so strong that—as he said himself—"most things returned to him with stronger force the second time than the first," and by a glow of passion which not only raised him high above the men of his own day but set him in the front rank among the orators of the world. The cool reasoning, the wit, the common sense of his age made way for a splendid audacity, a sympathy with popular emotion, a sustained grandeur, a lofty vehemence, 7-259]a command over the whole range of human feeling. He passed without an effort from the most solemn appeal to the gayest raillery, from the keenest sarcasm to the tenderest pathos. Every word was driven home by the grand self-consciousness of the speaker. He spoke always as one having authority. He was in fact the first English orator whose words were a power, a power not over Parliament only but over the nation at large. Parliamentary reporting was as yet unknown, and it was only in detached phrases and half-remembered outbursts that the voice of Pitt reached beyond the walls of St. Stephen's. But it was especially in these sudden outbursts of inspiration, in these brief passionate appeals, that the might of his eloquence lay. The few broken words we have of him stir the same thrill in men of our day which they stirred in the men of his own.

His statesmanship.

But passionate as was Pitt's eloquence, it was the eloquence of a statesman, not of a rhetorician. Time has approved almost all his greater struggles, his defence of the liberty of the subject against arbitrary imprisonment under "general warrants," of the liberty of the press against Lord Mansfield, of the rights of constituencies against the House of Commons, of the constitutional rights of America against England itself. His foreign policy was directed to the preservation of Prussia, and Prussia has vindicated his foresight by the creation of 7-260]Germany. We have adopted his plans for the direct government of India by the Crown, plans which when he proposed them were regarded as insane. Pitt was the first to recognize the liberal character of the Church of England, its "Calvinistic Creed and Arminian Clergy"; he was the first to sound the note of Parliamentary reform. One of his earliest measures shows the generosity and originality of his mind. He quieted Scotland by employing its Jacobites in the service of their country and by raising Highland regiments among its clans. The selection of Wolfe and Amherst as generals showed his contempt for precedent and his inborn knowledge of men.


But it was rather Fortune than his genius that showered on Pitt the triumphs which signalized the opening of his ministry. In the East the daring of a merchant-clerk made a company of English traders the sovereigns of Bengal, and opened that wondrous career of conquest which has added the Indian peninsula, from Ceylon to the Himalayas, to the dominions of the British crown. Recalled by broken health to England, Clive returned at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War to win for England a greater prize than that which his victories had won for it in the supremacy of the Carnatic. He had been only a few months at Madras when a crime whose horror still lingers in English memories called him to Bengal. Bengal, the delta of the Ganges, was the richest 7-261]and most fertile of all the provinces of India. Its rice, its sugar, its silk, and the produce of its looms, were famous in European markets. Its Viceroys, like their fellow-lieutenants, had become practically independent of the Emperor, and had added to Bengal the provinces of Orissa and Behar. Surajah Dowlah, the master of this vast domain, had long been jealous of the enterprise and wealth of the English traders; and, roused at this moment by the instigation of the French, he appeared before Fort William, seized its settlers, and thrust a hundred and fifty of them into a small prison called the Black Hole of Calcutta. The heat of an Indian summer did its work of death. The wretched prisoners trampled each other under foot in the madness of thirst, and in the morning only twenty-three remained alive. Clive sailed at the news with a thousand Englishmen and two thousand sepoys to wreak vengeance for the crime. He was no longer the boy-soldier of Arcot; and the tact and skill with which he met Surajah Dowlah in the negotiations by which the Viceroy strove to avert a conflict were sullied by the Oriental falsehood and treachery to which he stooped. But his courage remained unbroken. When the two armies faced each other on the plain of Plassey the odds were so great that on the very eve of the battle a council of war counselled retreat. Clive withdrew to a grove hard by, and after an hour's lonely musing gave 7-262]the word to fight. Courage, in fact, was all that was needed. The fifty thousand foot and fourteen thousand horse who were seen covering the plain at daybreak on the 23rd of June 1757 were soon thrown into confusion by the English guns, and broke in headlong rout before the English charge. The death of Surajah Dowlah enabled the Company to place a creature of its own on the throne of Bengal; but his rule soon became a nominal one. With the victory of Plassey began in fact the Empire of England in the East.

Pitt and Frederick.

The year of Plassey was the year of a victory hardly less important in the West. In Europe Pitt wisely limited himself to a secondary part. There was little in the military expeditions which marked the opening of his ministry to justify the trust of the country; for money and blood were lavished on buccaneering expeditions against the French coasts which did small damage to the enemy. But incidents such as these had little weight in the minister's general policy. His greatness lies in the fact that he at once recognised the genius of Frederick the Great, and resolved without jealousy or reserve to give him an energetic support. On his entry into office he refused to ratify the Convention of Closter-Seven, which had reduced Frederick to despair by throwing open his realm to a French advance; protected his flank by gathering an English and Hanoverian force on the Elbe, and on the counsel of the 7-263]Prussian king placed the best of his generals, the Prince of Brunswick, at its head; while subsidy after subsidy was poured into Frederick's exhausted treasury. Pitt's trust was met by the most brilliant display of military genius which the modern world had as yet witnessed. In November 1757, two months after his repulse at Kolin, Frederick flung himself on a French army which had advanced into the heart of Germany, and annihilated it in the victory of Rossbach. Before another month had passed he hurried from the Saale to the Oder, and by a yet more signal victory at Leuthen cleared Silesia of the Austrians. The victory of Rossbach was destined to change the fortunes of the world by creating the unity of Germany; its immediate effect was to force the French army on the Elbe to fall back on the Rhine. Here Ferdinand of Brunswick, reinforced with twenty thousand English soldiers, held them at bay during the summer of 1758; while Frederick, foiled in an attack on Moravia, drove the Russians back on Poland in the battle of Zorndorf. His defeat however by the Austrian General Daun at Hochkirch proved the first of a series of terrible misfortunes; and the year 1759 marks the lowest point of his fortunes. A fresh advance of the Russian army forced the king to attack it at Kunersdorf in August, and Frederick's repulse ended in the utter rout of his army. For the moment all seemed lost, for even Berlin lay 7-264]open to the conqueror. A few days later the surrender of Dresden gave Saxony to the Austrians; and at the close of the year an attempt upon them at Plauen was foiled with terrible loss. But every disaster was retrieved by the indomitable courage and tenacity of the king, and winter found him as before master of Silesia and of all Saxony save the ground which Daun's camp covered.

Minden and Quiberon.

The year which marked the lowest point of Frederick's fortunes was the year of Pitt's greatest triumphs, the year of Minden and Quiberon and Quebec. France aimed both at a descent upon England and at the conquest of Hanover; for the one purpose she gathered a naval armament at Brest, while fifty thousand men under Contades and Broglie united for the other on the Weser. Ferdinand with less than forty thousand met them (August 1) on the field of Minden. The French marched along the Weser to the attack, with their flanks protected by that river and a brook which ran into it, and with their cavalry, ten thousand strong, massed in the centre. The six English regiments in Ferdinand's army fronted the French horse, and, mistaking their general's order, marched at once upon them in line regardless of the batteries on their flank, and rolling back charge after charge with volleys of musketry. In an hour the French centre was utterly broken. "I have seen," said Contades, 7-265]"what I never thought to be possible—a single line of infantry break through three lines of cavalry, ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin!" Nothing but the refusal of Lord John Sackville to complete the victory by a charge of the horse which he headed saved the French from utter rout. As it was, their army again fell back broken on Frankfort and the Rhine. The project of an invasion of England met with the like success. Eighteen thousand men lay ready to embark on board the French fleet, when Admiral Hawke came in sight of it on the 20th of November at the mouth of Quiberon Bay. The sea was rolling high, and the coast where the French ships lay was so dangerous from its shoals and granite reefs that the pilot remonstrated with the English admiral against his project of attack. "You have done your duty in this remonstrance," Hawke coolly replied; "now lay me alongside the French admiral." Two English ships were lost on the shoals, but the French fleet was ruined and the disgrace of Byng's retreat wiped away.

Pitt in America.

It was not in the Old World only that the year of Minden and Quiberon brought glory to the arms of England. In Europe, Pitt had wisely limited his efforts to the support of Prussia, but across the Atlantic the field was wholly his own, and he had no sooner entered office than the desultory raids, which had hitherto been the only resistance to French aggression, were superseded 7-266]by a large and comprehensive plan of attack. The sympathies of the colonies were won by an order which gave their provincial officers equal rank with the royal officers in the field. They raised at Pitt's call twenty thousand men, and taxed themselves heavily for their support. Three expeditions were simultaneously directed against the French line—one to the Ohio valley, one against Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, while a third under General Amherst and Admiral Boscawen sailed to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. The last was brilliantly successful. Louisburg, though defended by a garrison of five thousand men, was taken with the fleet in its harbour, and the whole province of Cape Breton reduced. The American militia supported the British troops in a vigorous campaign against the forts; and though Montcalm, with a far inferior force, was able to repulse General Abercromby from Ticonderoga, a force from Philadelphia and Virginia, guided and inspired by the courage of George Washington, made itself master of Duquesne. The name of Pittsburg which was given to their new conquest still commemorates the enthusiasm of the colonists for the great Minister who first opened to them the West. The failure at Ticonderoga only spurred Pitt to greater efforts. The colonists again responded to his call with fresh supplies of troops, and Montcalm felt that all was over. The disproportion indeed of strength was enormous. Of 7-267]regular French troops and Canadians alike he could muster only ten thousand, while his enemies numbered fifty thousand men. The next year (1759) saw Montcalm's previous victory rendered fruitless by the evacuation of Ticonderoga before the advance of Amherst, and by the capture of Fort Niagara after the defeat of an Indian force which marched to its relief. The capture of the three forts was the close of the French effort to bar the advance of the colonists to the valley of the Mississippi, and to place in other than English hands the destinies of North America.

Conquest of Canada.

But Pitt had resolved not merely to foil the designs of Montcalm, but to destroy the French rule in America altogether; and while Amherst was breaking through the line of forts, an expedition under General Wolfe entered the St. Lawrence and anchored below Quebec. Wolfe was already a veteran soldier, for he had fought at Dettingen, Fontenoy, and Laffeldt, and had played the first part in the capture of Louisburg. Pitt had discerned the genius and heroism which lay hidden beneath the awkward manner and occasional gasconade of the young soldier of thirty-three whom he chose for the crowning exploit of the war. But for a while his sagacity seemed to have failed. No efforts could draw Montcalm from the long line of inaccessible cliffs which borders the river, and for six weeks Wolfe 7-268]saw his men wasting away in inactivity while he himself lay prostrate with sickness and despair. At last his resolution was fixed, and in a long line of boats the army dropped down the St. Lawrence to a point at the base of the Heights of Abraham, where a narrow path had been discovered to the summit. Not a voice broke the silence of the night save the voice of Wolfe himself, as he quietly repeated the stanzas of Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," remarking as he closed, "I had rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec." But his nature was as brave as it was tender; he was the first to leap on shore and to scale the narrow path where no two men could go abreast. His men followed, pulling themselves to the top by the help of bushes and the crags, and at daybreak on the 12th of September the whole army stood in orderly formation before Quebec. Montcalm hastened to attack, though his force, composed chiefly of raw militia, was far inferior in discipline to the English; his onset however was met by a steady fire, and at the first English advance his men gave way. Wolfe headed a charge which broke the French line, but a ball pierced his breast in the moment of victory. "They run," cried an officer who held the dying man in his arms—"I protest they run." Wolfe rallied to ask who they were that ran, and was told "the French." "Then," he murmured, "I die happy!" 7-269]The fall of Montcalm in the moment of his defeat completed the victory; and the submission of Canada, on the capture of Montreal by Amherst in 1760, put an end to the dream of a French empire in America.





  • 1760-1767

The Seven Years' War.

Never had England played so great a part in the history of mankind as in the year 1759. It was a year of triumphs in every quarter of the world. In September came the news of Minden, and of a victory off Lagos. In October came tidings of the capture of Quebec. November brought word of the French defeat at Quiberon. "We are forced to ask every morning what victory there is," laughed Horace Walpole, "for fear of missing one." But it was not so much in the number as in the importance of its triumphs that the Seven Years' War stood and remains still without a rival. It is no exaggeration to say that three of its many victories determined for ages to come the destinies of mankind. With that of Rossbach began the re-creation of Germany, the revival of its political and intellectual life, the long process of its union under the leadership of Prussia and Prussia's 7-274]kings. With that of Plassey the influence of Europe told for the first time since the days of Alexander on the nations of the East. The world, in Burke's gorgeous phrase, "saw one of the races of the north-west cast into the heart of Asia new manners, new doctrines, new institutions." With the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the history of the United States. By removing an enemy whose dread had knit the colonists to the mother country, and by breaking through the line with which France had barred them from the basin of the Mississippi, Pitt laid the foundation of the great republic of the west.

England a World-Power.

Nor were these triumphs less momentous to Britain. The Seven Years' War is in fact a turning-point in our national history, as it is a turning-point in the history of the world. Till now the relative weight of the European states had been drawn from their possessions within Europe itself. Spain, Portugal, and Holland indeed had won a dominion in other continents; and the wealth which two of these nations had derived from their colonies had given them for a time an influence among their fellow-states greater than that which was due to their purely European position. But in the very years during which her rule took firm hold in South America, Spain fell into a decay at home which prevented her empire over sea from telling directly on the balance of power; while the strictly commercial 7-275]character of the Dutch settlements robbed them of political weight. France in fact was the first state to discern the new road to greatness which lay without European bounds; and the efforts of Dupleix and Montcalm aimed at the building up of an empire which would have lifted her high above her European rivals. The ruin of these hopes in the Seven Years' War was the bitterest humiliation to which French ambition has ever bowed. But it was far from being all that France had to bear. For not only had the genius of Pitt cut her off from the chance of rising into a world-power, and prisoned her again within the limits of a single continent, but it had won for Britain the position that France had lost. From the close of the Seven Years' War it mattered little whether England counted for less or more with the nations around her. She was no longer a mere European power; she was no longer a rival of Germany or France. Her future action lay in a wider sphere than that of Europe. Mistress of Northern America, the future mistress of India, claiming as her own the empire of the seas, Britain suddenly towered high above nations whose position in a single continent doomed them to comparative insignificance in the after-history of the world.

England in the Pacific.

It is this that gives William Pitt so unique a position among our statesmen. His figure in fact stands at the opening of a new epoch in English 7-276]history—in the history not of England only, but of the English race. However dimly and imperfectly, he alone among his fellows saw that the struggle of the Seven Years' War was a struggle of a wholly different order from the struggles that had gone before it. He felt that the stake he was playing for was something vaster than Britain's standing among the powers of Europe. Even while he backed Frederick in Germany, his eye was not on the Weser, but on the Hudson and the St. Lawrence. "If I send an army to Germany," he replied in memorable words to his assailants, "it is because in Germany I can conquer America!" But greater even than Pitt's statesmanship was the conviction on which his statesmanship rested. He believed in Englishmen, and in the might of Englishmen. At a moment when few hoped that England could hold her own among the nations of Europe, he called her not only to face Europe in arms, but to claim an empire far beyond European bounds. His faith, his daring, called the English people to a sense of the destinies that lay before it. And once roused, the sense of these destinies could never be lost. The war indeed was hardly ended when a consciousness of them showed itself in the restlessness with which our seamen penetrated into far-off seas. With England on one side and her American colonies on the other, the Atlantic was dwindling into a mere strait within the British 7-277]Empire; but beyond it to the westward lay a reach of waters where the British flag was almost unknown. The vast ocean which parts Asia from America had been discovered by a Spaniard and first traversed by a Portuguese; as early indeed as the sixteenth century Spanish settlements spread along its eastern shore and a Spanish galleon crossed it year by year from Acapulco to the Philippines. But no effort was made by Spain to explore the lands that broke its wide expanse; and though Dutch voyagers, coming from the eastward, penetrated its waters and first noted the mighty continent that bore from that hour the name of New Holland, no colonists followed in the track of Tasman or Van Diemen. It was not till another century had gone by indeed that Europe again turned her eyes to the Pacific. But in the very year which followed the Peace of Paris, in 1764, two English ships were sent on a cruise of discovery to the Straits of Magellan.

Captain Cook.

"Nothing," ran the instructions of their commander, Commodore Byron, "nothing can redound more to the honour of this nation as a maritime power, to the dignity of the Crown of Great Britain, and to the advancement of the trade and navigation thereof, than to make discoveries of countries hitherto unknown." Byron himself hardly sailed beyond Cape Horn; but three years later a second English seaman, Captain Wallis, succeeded in reaching the central island of the 7-278]Pacific and in skirting the coral-reefs of Tahiti, and in 1768 a more famous mariner traversed the great ocean from end to end. At first a mere ship-boy on a Whitby collier, James Cook had risen to be an officer in the royal navy, and had piloted the boats in which Wolfe mounted the St. Lawrence to the Heights of Abraham. On the return of Wallis he was sent in a small vessel with a crew of some eighty men and a few naturalists to observe the transit of Venus at Tahiti, and to explore the seas that stretched beyond it. After a long stay at Tahiti Cook sailed past the Society Isles into the heart of the Pacific and reached at the further limits of that ocean the two islands, as large as his own Britain, which make up New Zealand. Steering northward from New Zealand over a thousand miles of sea he touched at last the coast of the great "Southern Land" or Australia, on whose eastern shore, from some fancied likeness to the district at home on which he had gazed as he set sail, he gave the name of New South Wales. In two later voyages Cook traversed the same waters, and discovered fresh island groups in their wide expanse. But his work was more than a work of mere discovery. Wherever he touched, in New Zealand, in Australia, he claimed the soil for the English Crown. The records which he published of his travels not only woke the interest of Englishmen in these far-off islands, in their mighty reaches 7-279]of deep blue waters, where lands as big as Britain die into mere specks on the huge expanse, in the coral-reefs, the palms, the bread-fruit of Tahiti, the tattooed warriors of New Zealand, the gum-trees and kangaroos of the Southern Continent, but they familiarized them more and more with the sense of possession, with the notion that this strange world of wonders was their own, and that a new earth was open in the Pacific for the expansion of the English race.

Britain and its Empire.

Cook in fact pointed out the fitness of New Holland for English settlement; and projects of its occupation, and of the colonization of the Pacific islands by English emigrants, became from that moment, in however vague and imperfect a fashion, the policy of the English crown. Statesmen and people alike indeed felt the change in their country's attitude. Great as Britain seemed to Burke, it was now in itself "but part of a great empire, extended by our virtue and our fortune to the furthest limits of the east and the west." Its parliament no longer looked on itself as the local legislature of England and Scotland; it claimed, in the words of the same great political thinker, "an imperial character, in which as from the throne of heaven she superintends all the several inferior legislatures, and guides and controls them all, without annihilating any." Its people, steeped in the commercial ideas of the time, saw in the growth of such a dominion, the 7-280]monopoly of whose trade was reserved to the mother country, a source of boundless wealth. The trade with America alone was, in 1772, within less than half-a-million of being equal to what England carried on with the whole world at the beginning of the century. So rapid had been its growth that since the opening of the eighteenth century it had risen from a value of five hundred thousand pounds to one of six millions, and whereas the colonial trade then formed but a twelfth part of English commerce, it had now mounted to a third. To guard and preserve so vast and lucrative a dominion, to vindicate its integrity alike against outer foes and inner disaffection, to strengthen its unity by drawing closer the bonds, whether commercial or administrative, which linked its various parts to the mother country, became from this moment not only the aim of British statesmen, but the resolve of the British people.

England and America.

And at this moment there were grave reasons why this resolve should take an active form. Strong as the attachment of the Americans to Britain seemed at the close of the war, keen lookers-on like the French minister, the Duc de Choiseul, saw in the very completeness of Pitt's triumph a danger to their future union. The presence of the French in Canada, their designs in the west, had thrown America for protection on the mother country. But with the conquest of 7-281]Canada all need of protection was removed. The attitude of England towards its distant dependency became one of simple possession; and the differences of temper, the commercial and administrative disputes, which had long existed as elements of severance, but had been thrown into the background till now by the higher need for union, started into a new prominence. Day by day indeed the American colonies found it harder to submit to the meddling of the mother country with their self-government and their trade. A consciousness of their destinies was stealing in upon thoughtful men, and spread from them to the masses around them. At this very moment the quick growth of population in America moved John Adams, then a village schoolmaster of Massachusetts, to lofty forebodings of the future of the great people over whom he was to be called to rule. "Our people in another century," he wrote, "will be more numerous than England itself. All Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us." The sense that such an independence was drawing nearer spread even to Europe. "Fools," said a descendant of William Penn, "are always telling their fears that the colonies will set up for themselves." Philosophers however were pretty much of the same mind on this subject with the fools. "Colonies are like fruits," wrote the foreseeing Turgot, "which cling 7-282]to the tree only till they ripen. As soon as America can take care of itself it will do what Carthage did." But from the thought of separation almost every American turned as yet with horror. The Colonists still looked to England as their home. They prided themselves on their loyalty; and they regarded the difficulties which hindered complete sympathy between the settlements and the mother country as obstacles which time and good sense could remove. England on the other hand looked on America as her noblest possession. It was the wealth, the growth of this dependency which more than all the victories of her arms was lifting her to a new greatness among the nations. It was the trade with it which had doubled English commerce in half-a-century. Of the right of the mother country to monopolize this trade, to deal with this great people as its own possession, no Englishman had a doubt. England, it was held, had planted every colony. It was to England that the Colonists owed not their blood only, but the free institutions under which they had grown to greatness. English arms had rescued them from the Indians, and broken the iron barrier with which France was holding them back from the West. In the war which was drawing to a close England had poured out her blood and gold without stint in her children's cause. Of the debt which was mounting to a height unknown before no small part was due 7-283]to her struggle on behalf of America. And with this sense of obligation mingled a sense of ingratitude. It was generally held that the wealthy Colonists should do something to lighten the load of this debt from the shoulders of the mother country. But it was known that all proposals for American taxation would be bitterly resisted. The monopoly of American trade was looked on as a part of an Englishman's birthright. Yet the Colonists not only murmured at this monopoly but evaded it in great part by a wide system of smuggling. And behind all these grievances lay an uneasy sense of dread at the democratic form which the government and society of the colonies had taken. The governors sent from England wrote back words of honest surprise and terror at the "levelling principles" of the men about them. To statesmen at home the temper of the colonial legislatures, their protests, their bickerings with the governors and with the Board of Trade, the constant refusal of supplies when their remonstrances were set aside, seemed all but republican.

George the Third.

To check this republican spirit, to crush all dreams of severance, and to strengthen the unity of the British Empire by drawing closer the fiscal and administrative bonds which linked the colonies to the mother country, was one of the chief aims with which George the Third mounted the throne on the death of his grandfather George the Second, in 1760. But it was far from being his only aim. 7-284]For the first and last time since the accession of the House of Hanover England saw a king who was resolved to play a part in English politics; and the part which George succeeded in playing was undoubtedly a memorable one. During the first ten years of his reign he managed to reduce government to a shadow, and to turn the loyalty of his subjects at home into disaffection. Before twenty years were over he had forced the American colonies into revolt and independence, and brought England to what then seemed the brink of ruin. Work such as this has sometimes been done by very great men, and often by very wicked and profligate men; but George was neither profligate nor great. He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James the Second. He was wretchedly educated, and his natural powers were of the meanest sort. Nor had he the capacity for using greater minds than his own by which some sovereigns have concealed their natural littleness. On the contrary, his only feeling towards great men was one of jealousy and hate. He longed for the time when "decrepitude or death" might put an end to Pitt; and even when death had freed him from "this trumpet of sedition," he denounced the proposal for a public monument to the great statesman as "an offensive measure to me personally." But dull and petty as his temper was, he was clear as to his purpose and obstinate in the 7-285]pursuit of it. And his purpose was to rule. "George," his mother, the Princess of Wales, had continually repeated to him in youth, "George, be king." He called himself always "a Whig of the Revolution," and he had no wish to undo the work which he believed the Revolution to have done. But he looked on the subjection of his two predecessors to the will of their ministers as no real part of the work of the Revolution, but as a usurpation of that authority which the Revolution had left to the crown. And to this usurpation he was determined not to submit. His resolve was to govern, not to govern against law, but simply to govern, to be freed from the dictation of parties and ministers, and to be in effect the first minister of the State.

Importance of his action.

How utterly incompatible such a dream was with the Parliamentary constitution of the country as it had received its final form from Sunderland it is easy to see; and the effort of the young king to realize it plunged England at once into a chaos of political and social disorder which makes the first years of his reign the most painful and humiliating period in our history. It is with an angry disgust that we pass from the triumphs of the Seven Years' War to the miserable strife of Whig factions with one another or of the whole Whig party with the king. But wearisome as the story is, it is hardly less important than that of the rise of England into a world-power. In the 7-286]strife of these wretched years began a political revolution which is still far from having reached its close. Side by side with the gradual developement of the English Empire and of the English race has gone on, through the century that has passed since the close of the Seven Years' War, the transfer of power within England itself from a governing class to the nation as a whole. If the effort of George failed to restore the power of the Crown, it broke the power which impeded the advance of the people itself to political supremacy. Whilst labouring to convert the aristocratic monarchy of which he found himself the head into a personal sovereignty, the irony of fate doomed him to take the first step in an organic change which has converted that aristocratic monarchy into a democratic republic, ruled under monarchical forms.

The Revolution and the nation.

To realize however the true character of the king's attempt we must recall for a moment the issue of the Revolution on which he claimed to take his stand. It had no doubt given personal and religious liberty to England at large. But its political benefits seemed as yet to be less equally shared. The Parliament indeed had become supreme, and in theory the Parliament was a representative of the whole English people. But in actual fact the bulk of the English people found itself powerless to control the course of English government. We have seen how at the very 7-287]moment of its triumph opinion had been paralyzed by the results of the Revolution. The sentiment of the bulk of Englishmen remained Tory, but the existence of a Stuart Pretender forced on them a system of government which was practically Whig. Under William and Anne they had tried to reconcile Toryism with the Revolution; but this effort ended with the accession of the House of Hanover, and the bulk of the landed classes and the clergy withdrew in a sulky despair from all permanent contact with politics. Their hatred of the system to which they bowed showed itself in the violence of their occasional outbreaks, in riots over the Excise Bill, in cries for a Spanish war, in the frenzy against Walpole. Whenever it roused itself, the national will showed its old power to destroy; but it remained impotent to create any new system of administrative action. It could aid one clique of Whigs to destroy another clique of Whigs, but it could do nothing to interrupt the general course of Whig administration. Walpole and Pelham were alike the representatives of a minority of the nation; but the minority which they represented knew its mind and how to carry out its mind, while the majority of the people remained helpless and distracted between their hatred of the House of Hanover and their dread of the consequences which would follow on a return of the Stuarts.

Parliament and the nation.

The results of such a divorce between the 7-288]government and that general mass of national sentiment on which a government can alone safely ground itself at once made themselves felt. Robbed as it was of all practical power, and thus stripped of the feeling of responsibility which the consciousness of power carries with it, among the mass of Englishmen public opinion became ignorant and indifferent to the general progress of the age, but at the same time violent and mutinous, hostile to Government because it was Government, disloyal to the Crown, averse from Parliament. For the first and last time in our history Parliament was unpopular, and its opponents secure of popularity. But the results on the governing class were even more fatal to any right conduct of public affairs. Not only had the mass of national sentiment been so utterly estranged from Parliament by the withdrawal of the Tories that the people had lost all trust in it as an expression of their will, but the Parliament did not pretend to express it. It was conscious that for half-a-century it had not been really a representative of the nation, that it had represented a minority, wiser no doubt than their fellow-countrymen, but still a minority of Englishmen. At the same time it saw, and saw with a just pride, that its policy had as a whole been for the nation's good, that it had given political and religious freedom to the people in the very teeth of their political and religious bigotry, that in spite of their narrow 7-289]insularism it had made Britain the greatest of European powers. The sense of both these aspects of Parliament had sunk in fact so deeply into the mind of the Whigs as to become a theory of Parliamentary government. They were never weary of expressing their contempt for public opinion. They shrank with instinctive dislike from Pitt's appeals to national feeling, and from the popularity which rewarded them. They denied that members of the Commons sate as representatives of the people, and they shrank with actual panic from the thought of any change which could render them representatives. To a Whig such a change meant the overthrow of the work done in 1688, the coercion of the minority of sound political thinkers by the mass of opinion, so brutal and unintelligent, so bigoted in its views both of Church and State, which had been content to reap the benefits of the Revolution while vilifying and opposing its principles.

Need of Parliamentary reform.

And yet, if representation was to be more than a name, the very relation of Parliament to the constituencies made some change in its composition a necessity. That changes in the distribution of seats in the House of Commons were called for by the natural shiftings of population and wealth which had gone on since the days of Edward the First had been recognized as early as the Civil Wars. But the reforms of the Long Parliament were cancelled at the Restoration; and from the 7-290]time of Charles the Second to that of George the Third not a single effort had been made to meet the growing abuses of our parliamentary system. Great towns like Manchester or Birmingham remained without a member, while members still sat for boroughs which, like Old Sarum, had actually vanished from the face of the earth. The effort of the Tudor sovereigns to establish a Court party in the House by a profuse creation of boroughs, most of which were mere villages then in the hands of the Crown, had ended in the appropriation of these seats by the neighbouring landowners, who bought and sold them as they bought and sold their own estates. Even in towns which had a real claim to representation the narrowing of municipal privileges ever since the fourteenth century to a small part of the inhabitants, and in many cases the restriction of electoral rights to the members of the governing corporation, rendered their representation a mere name. The choice of such places hung simply on the purse or influence of politicians. Some were "the King's boroughs," others obediently returned nominees of the Ministry of the day, others were "close boroughs" in the hands of jobbers like the Duke of Newcastle, who at one time returned a third of all the borough members in the House. The counties and the great commercial towns could alone be said to exercise any real right of suffrage, though the enormous expense of contesting such 7-291]constituencies practically left their representation in the hands of the great local families. But even in the counties the suffrage was ridiculously limited and unequal. Out of a population of eight millions of English people, only a hundred and sixty thousand were electors at all.

Pressure of opinion.

"The value, spirit, and essence of a House of Commons," said Burke, in noble words, "consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation." But how far such a House as that which now existed was from really representing English opinion we see from the fact that in the height of his popularity Pitt himself could hardly find a seat in it. Purchase was becoming more and more the means of entering Parliament; and seats were bought and sold in the open market at a price which rose to four thousand pounds. We can hardly wonder that a reformer could allege without a chance of denial, "This House is not a representative of the people of Great Britain. It is the representative of nominal boroughs, of ruined and exterminated towns, of noble families, of wealthy individuals, of foreign potentates." The meanest motives naturally told on a body returned by such constituencies, cut off from the influence of public opinion by the secrecy of Parliamentary proceedings, and yet invested with almost boundless authority. Walpole and Newcastle had in fact made bribery and borough-jobbing the base of their power. But bribery and borough-jobbing 7-292]were every day becoming more offensive to the nation at large. A new moral consciousness, as we have seen in the movement of the Wesleys, was diffusing itself through England; and behind this moral consciousness came a general advance in the national intelligence, which could not fail to tell vigorously on politics.

The intellectual advance.

Ever since the expulsion of the Stuarts an intellectual revolution had been silently going on in the people at large. The close of the seventeenth century was marked by a sudden extension of the world of readers. The developement of men's minds under the political and social changes of the day, as well as the rapid increase of wealth, and the advance in culture and refinement which accompanies an increase of wealth, were quickening the general intelligence of the people at large; and the wider demand for books to read that came of this quickening gave a new extension and vigour to their sale. Addison tells us how large and rapid was the sale of his "Spectator"; and the sale of Shakspere's works shows the amazing effect of the new passion for literature on the diffusion of our older authors. Four issues of his plays in folio, none of them probably exceeding five hundred copies, had sufficed to meet the wants of the seventeenth century. But through the eighteenth ten editions at least followed each other in quick succession; and before the century was over as many as thirty thousand copies of 7-293]Shakspere were dispersed throughout England. Reprints of older works however were far from being the only need of English readers. The new demand created an organ for its supply in the publisher, and through the publisher literature became a profession by which men might win their bread. That such a change was a healthy one time was to show. But in spite of such instances as Dryden, at the moment of the change its main result seemed the degradation of letters. The intellectual demand for the moment outran the intellectual supply. The reader called for the writer; but the temper of the time, the diversion of its mental energy to industrial pursuits, the influences which tended to lower its poetic and imaginative aspirations, were not such as to bring great writers rapidly to the front. On the other hand, the new opening which letters afforded for a livelihood was such as to tempt every scribbler who could handle a pen; and authors of this sort were soon set to hack-work by the Curles and the Tonsons who looked on book-making as a mere business. The result was a mob of authors in garrets, of illiterate drudges as poor as they were thriftless and debauched, selling their pen to any buyer, hawking their flatteries and their libels from door to door, fawning on the patron and the publisher for very bread, tagging rimes which they called poetry, or abuse which they called criticism, vamping up compilations and abridgements under the guise of history, 7-294]or filling the journals with empty rhetoric in the name of politics.


It was on such a literary chaos as this that the one great poet of the time poured scorn in his "Dunciad." Pope was a child of the Revolution; for he was born in 1688, and he died at the moment when the spirit of his age was passing into larger and grander forms in 1744. But from all active contact with the world of his day he stood utterly apart. He was the son of a Catholic linen-draper, who had withdrawn from his business in Lombard Street to a retirement on the skirts of Windsor Forest; and there amidst the stormy years which followed William's accession the boy grew up in an atmosphere of poetry, buried in the study of the older English singers, stealing to London for a peep at Dryden in his arm-chair at Will's, himself already lisping in numbers, and busy with an epic at the age of twelve. Pope's latter years were as secluded as his youth. His life, as Johnson says, was "a long disease"; his puny frame, his crooked figure, the feebleness of his health, his keen sensitiveness to pain, whether of mind or body, cut him off from the larger world of men, and doomed him to the faults of a morbid temperament. To the last he remained vain, selfish, affected; he loved small intrigues and petty lying; he was incredibly jealous and touchy; he dwelt on the fouler aspect of things with an unhealthy pruriency; he stung right and left with a 7-295]malignant venom. But nobler qualities rose out of this morbid undergrowth of faults. If Pope was quickly moved to anger, he was as quickly moved to tears; though every literary gnat could sting him to passion, he could never read the lament of Priam over Hector without weeping. His sympathies lay indeed within a narrow range, but within that range they were vivid and intense; he clung passionately to the few he loved; he took their cause for his own; he flung himself almost blindly into their enthusiasms and their hates. But loyal as he was to his friends, he was yet more loyal to his verse. His vanity never led him to literary self-sufficiency; no artist ever showed a truer lowliness before the ideal of his art; no poet ever corrected so much, or so invariably bettered his work by each correction. One of his finest characteristics, indeed, was his high sense of literary dignity. From the first he carried on the work of Dryden by claiming a worth and independence for literature; and he broke with disdain through the traditions of patronage which had degraded men of letters into hangers-on of the great.

The Dunciad.

With aims and conceptions such as these, Pope looked bitterly out on the phase of transition through which English letters were passing. As yet his poetic works had shown little of the keen and ardent temper that lay within him. The promise of his spring was not that of a satirist 7-296]but of the brightest and most genial of verse writers. When after some fanciful preludes his genius found full utterance in 1712, it was in the "Rape of the Lock"; and the "Rape of the Lock" was a poetic counterpart of the work of the Essayists. If we miss in it the personal and intimate charm of Addison, or the freshness and pathos of Steele, it passes far beyond the work of both in the brilliancy of its wit, in the lightness and buoyancy of its tone, in its atmosphere of fancy, its glancing colour, its exquisite verse, its irresistible gaiety. The poem remains Pope's masterpiece; it is impossible to read it without feeling that his mastery lay in social and fanciful verse, and that he missed his poetic path when he laid down the humourist for the philosopher and the critic. But the state of letters presented an irresistible temptation to criticism. All Pope's nobler feelings of loyalty to his art revolted from the degradation of letters which he saw about him: and after an interval of hack-work in a translation of Homer he revealed his terrible power of sarcasm in his poem of the "Dunciad." The poem is disfigured by mere outbursts of personal spleen, and in its later form by attacks on men whose last fault was dulness. But in the main the "Dunciad" was a noble vindication of literature from the herd of dullards and dunces that had usurped its name, a protest against the claims of the journalist or pamphleteer, of the compiler of facts and dates, or 7-297]the grubber among archives, to the rank of men of letters.

Revival of Letters.

That there was work and useful work for such men to do, Pope would not have denied. It was when their pretensions threatened the very existence of literature as an art, when the sense that the writer's work was the work of an artist, and like an artist's work must show largeness of design, and grace of form, and fitness of phrase, was either denied or forgotten, it was when every rimer was claiming to be a poet, every fault-finder a critic, every chronicler an historian, that Pope struck at the herd of book-makers and swept them from the path of letters. Such a protest is as true now, and perhaps as much needed now, as it was true and needed then. But it had hardly been uttered when the chaos settled itself, and the intellectual impulse which had as yet been felt mainly in the demand for literature showed itself in its supply. Even before the "Dunciad" was completed a great school of novelists was rising into fame; and the years which elapsed between the death of Pope in 1744 and that of George the Second in 1760 were filled with the masterpieces of Richardson, Smollett, and Fielding. Their appearance was but a prelude of a great literary revival which marked the closing years of the eighteenth century. But the instant popularity of "Clarissa" and "Tom Jones" showed the work of intellectual preparation which had been going on through Walpole's days 7-298]in the people at large; and it was inevitable that such a quickening of intelligence should tell on English politics. The very vulgarization of letters indeed, the broadsheets and pamphlets and catchpenny magazines of Grub Street, were doing for the mass of the people a work which greater writers could hardly have done. Above all the rapid extension of journalism had begun to give opinion a new information and consistency. In spite of the removal of the censorship after the Revolution the press had been slow to attain any political influence. Under the first two Georges its progress had been hindered by the absence of great topics for discussion, the worthlessness of the writers, and above all the lethargy of the time. But at the moment of George the Third's accession the impulse which Pitt had given to the national spirit, and the rise of a keener interest in politics, was fast raising the press into an intellectual and political power. Not only was the number of London newspapers fast increasing, but journals were being established in almost every considerable town.

Return of the Tories.

With impulses such as these telling every day on it more powerfully, roused as it was too into action by the larger policy of Pitt, and emboldened at once by the sense of growing wealth and of military triumph, it is clear that the nation must soon have passed from its old inaction to claim its part in the direction of public affairs. The very 7-299]position of Pitt, forced as he had been into office by the sheer force of opinion in the teeth of party obstacles, showed the rise of a new energy in the mass of the people. It showed that a king who enlisted the national sentiment on his side would have little trouble in dealing with the Whigs. George indeed had no thought of such a policy. His aim was not to control the Parliament by the force of national opinion, but simply to win over the Parliament to his side, and through it to govern the nation with as little regard to its opinion as of old. But, whether he would or no, the drift of opinion aided him. Though the policy of Walpole had ruined Jacobitism, it long remained unconscious of its ruin. But when a Jacobite prince stood in the heart of the realm, and not a Jacobite answered his call, the spell of Jacobitism was broken; and the later degradation of Charles Edward's life wore finally away the thin coating of disloyalty which clung to the clergy and the squires. They were ready again to take part in politics; and in the accession of a king who unlike his two predecessors was no stranger but an Englishman, who had been born in England and spoke English, they found the opportunity they desired. From the opening of the reign Tories gradually appeared again at court.

The King's friends.

It was only slowly indeed that the party as a whole swung round to a steady support of the Government; and in the nation at large the old 7-300]Toryism was still for some years to show itself in opposition to the Crown. But from the first the Tory nobles and gentry came in one by one; and their action told at once on the complexion of English politics. Their withdrawal from public affairs had left them untouched by the progress of political ideas since the Revolution of 1688, and when they returned to political life it was to invest the new sovereign with all the reverence which they had bestowed on the Stuarts. In this return of the Tories therefore a "King's party" was ready made to his hand; but George was able to strengthen it by a vigorous exertion of the power and influence which was still left to the Crown. All promotion in the Church, all advancement in the army, a great number of places in the civil administration and about the court, were still at the king's disposal. If this vast mass of patronage had been practically usurped by the ministers of his predecessors, it was resumed and firmly held by George the Third; and the character of the House of Commons made patronage a powerful engine in its management. George had one of Walpole's weapons in his hands, and he used it with unscrupulous energy to break up the party which Walpole had held so long together. The Whigs were still indeed a great power. "Long possession of government, vast property, obligations of favours given and received, connexion of office, ties of blood, of alliance, of friendship, the name of Whigs 7-301]dear to the majority of the people, the zeal early begun and steadily continued to the royal family, all these together," says Burke justly, "formed a body of power in the nation." But George the Third saw that the Whigs were divided among themselves by the factious spirit which springs from a long hold of office, and that they were weakened by the rising contempt with which the country at large regarded the selfishness and corruption of its representatives.

Pitt and the Whigs.

More than thirty years before, the statesmen of the day had figured on the stage as highwaymen and pickpockets. And now that statesmen were represented by hoary jobbers such as Newcastle, the public contempt was fiercer than ever, and men turned sickened from the intrigues and corruption of party to a young sovereign who aired himself in a character which Bolingbroke had invented, as a Patriot King. Had Pitt and Newcastle held together indeed, supported as the one was by the commercial classes, the other by the Whig families and the whole machinery of Parliamentary management, George must have struggled in vain. But the ministry was already disunited. The bulk of the party drew day by day further from Pitt. Attached as they were to peace by the traditions of Walpole, dismayed at the enormous expenditure, and haughty with the pride of a ruling oligarchy, the Whigs were in silent revolt against the war and the supremacy of 7-302]the Great Commoner. It was against their will that he rejected proposals of peace from France which would have secured to England all her conquests on the terms of a desertion of Prussia, and that his steady support enabled Frederick still to hold out against the terrible exhaustion of an unequal struggle. The campaign of 1760 indeed was one of the grandest efforts of Frederick's genius. Foiled in an attempt on Dresden, he again saved Silesia by a victory at Liegnitz and hurled back an advance of Daun by a victory at Torgau: while Ferdinand of Brunswick held his ground as of old along the Weser. But even victories drained Frederick's strength. Men and money alike failed him. It was impossible for him to strike another great blow, and the ring of enemies again closed slowly round him. His one remaining hope lay in the support of Pitt, and triumphant as his policy had been, Pitt was tottering to his fall.

Pitt resigns.

The envy and resentment of the minister's colleagues at his undisguised supremacy gave the young king an easy means of realizing his schemes. George had hardly mounted the throne when he made his influence felt in the ministry by forcing it to accept a Court favourite, the Earl of Bute, as Secretary of State. Bute had long been his counsellor, and though his temper and abilities were those of a gentleman usher, he was forced into the Cabinet. The new drift of affairs was seen in the instant desertion from Pitt of the two 7-303]ablest of his adherents, George Grenville and Charles Townshend, who attached themselves from this moment to the rising favourite. It was seen yet more when Bute pressed for peace. As Bute was known to be his master's mouthpiece, a peace party at once appeared in the Cabinet itself, and it was only a majority of one that approved Pitt's refusal to negotiate with France. "He is madder than ever," was Bute's comment on this refusal in his correspondence with the king; "he has no thought of abandoning the Continent." Conscious indeed as he was of the king's temper and of the temper of his colleagues, Pitt showed no signs of giving way. So far was he from any thought of peace that he proposed at this moment a vast extension of the war. In 1761 he learned the signature of a treaty which brought into force the Family Compact between the Courts of Paris and Madrid, and of a special convention which bound the last to declare war on England at the close of the year. Pitt proposed to anticipate the blow by an instant seizure of the treasure fleet which was on its way from the Indies to Cadiz, and for whose safe arrival alone the Spanish Court was deferring its action. He would have followed up the blow by occupying the Isthmus of Panama, and by an attack on the Spanish dominions in the New World. It was almost with exultation that he saw the danger which had threatened her ever since the Peace of Utrecht break at last upon 7-304]England. His proud sense of the national strength never let him doubt for a moment of her triumph over the foes that had leagued against her. "This is the moment," he exclaimed to his colleagues, "for humbling the whole House of Bourbon." But the Cabinet shrank from plans so vast and daring; and the Duke of Newcastle, who had never forgiven Pitt for forcing himself into power and for excluding him from the real control of affairs, was backed in his resistance by the bulk of the Whigs. The king openly supported them, and Pitt with his brother-in-law Lord Temple found themselves alone. Pitt did not blind himself to the real character of the struggle. The question, as he felt, was not merely one of peace or war, it was whether the new force of opinion which had borne him into office and kept him there was to govern England or no. It was this which made him stake all on the decision of the Cabinet. "If I cannot in this instance prevail," he ended his appeal, "this shall be the last time I will sit in the Council. Called to office by the voice of the people, to whom I conceive myself accountable for my conduct, I will not remain in a situation which renders me responsible for measures I am no longer allowed to guide." His proposals were rejected; and the resignation of his post, which followed in October 1761, changed the face of European affairs.

George breaks with the Whigs.

"Pitt disgraced!" wrote a French philosopher, "it is worth two victories to us!" Frederick on 7-305]the other hand was almost driven to despair. But George saw in the removal of his powerful minister an opening for the realization of his long-cherished plans. The Whigs had looked on Pitt's retirement as the restoration of their rule, unbroken by the popular forces to which it had been driven during his ministry to bow. His declaration that he had been "called to office by the voice of the people, to whom I conceive myself accountable," had been met with indignant scorn by his fellow-ministers. "When the gentleman talks of being responsible to the people," retorted Lord Granville, the Lord Carteret of earlier days, "he talks the language of the House of Commons, and forgets that at this board he is only responsible to the King." But his appeal was heard by the people at large. When the dismissed statesman went to Guildhall the Londoners hung on his carriage-wheels, hugged his footmen, and even kissed his horses. Their break with Pitt was in fact the death-blow of the Whigs. In betraying him to the king they had only put themselves in George's power; and so great was the unpopularity of the ministry that the king was able to deliver his longed-for stroke at a party that he hated even more than Pitt. Newcastle found he had freed himself from the great statesman only to be driven from office by a series of studied mortifications from his young master; and the more powerful of his Whig colleagues followed him into retirement. George 7-306]saw himself triumphant over the two great forces which had hampered the free action of the Crown, "the power which arose," in Burke's words, "from popularity, and the power which arose from political connexion"; and the rise of Lord Bute to the post of First Minister marked the triumph of the king.

The Peace.

Bute took office simply as an agent of the king's will; and the first resolve of George the Third was to end the war. In the spring of 1762 Frederick, who still held his ground stubbornly against fate, was brought to the brink of ruin by a withdrawal of the English subsidies; it was in fact only his dogged resolution and a sudden change in the policy of Russia, which followed on the death of his enemy the Czarina Elizabeth, that enabled him at last to retire from the struggle in the Treaty of Hubertsberg without the loss of an inch of territory. George and Lord Bute had already purchased peace at a very different price. With a shameless indifference to the national honour they not only deserted Frederick but they offered to negotiate a peace for him on the basis of a cession of Silesia to Maria Theresa and East Prussia to the Czarina. The issue of the strife with Spain saved England from humiliation such as this. Pitt's policy of instant attack had been justified by a Spanish declaration of war three weeks after his fall; and the year 1762 saw triumphs which vindicated his confidence in the 7-307]issue of the new struggle. Martinico, the strongest and wealthiest of the French West Indian possessions, was conquered at the opening of the year, and its conquest was followed by those of Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. In the summer the reduction of Havana brought with it the gain of the rich Spanish colony of Cuba. The Philippines, the wealthiest of the Spanish colonies in the Pacific, yielded to a British fleet. It was these losses that brought about the Peace of Paris in February 1763. So eager was Bute to end the war that he bought peace by restoring all that the last year's triumphs had given him. In Europe he contented himself with the recovery of Minorca, while he restored Martinico to France, and Cuba and the Philippines to Spain. The real gains of Britain were in India and America. In the first the French abandoned all right to any military settlement. From the second they wholly withdrew. To England they gave up Canada, Nova Scotia, and Louisiana as far as the Mississippi, while they resigned the rest of that province to Spain, in compensation for its surrender of Florida to the British Crown.

George and the Parliament.

We have already seen how mighty a change in the aspect of the world, and above all in the aspect of Britain, was marked by this momentous treaty. But no sense of its great issues influenced the young king in pressing for its conclusion. His eye was fixed not so much on Europe or the 7-308]British Empire as on the petty game of politics which he was playing with the Whigs. The anxiety which he showed for peace abroad sprang mainly from his belief that peace was needful for success in his struggle for power at home. So long as the war lasted Pitt's return to office and the union of the Whigs under his guidance was an hourly danger. But with peace the king's hands were free. He could count on the dissensions of the Whigs, on the new-born loyalty of the Tories, on the influence of the Crown patronage which he had taken into his own hands. But what he counted on most of all was the character of the House of Commons. So long as matters went quietly, so long as no gust of popular passion or enthusiasm forced its members to bow for a while to outer opinion, he saw that "management" could make the House a mere organ of his will. George had discovered—to use Lord Bute's words—"that the forms of a free and the ends of an arbitrary government were things not altogether incompatible." At a time when it had become all-powerful in the State, the House of Commons had ceased in any real and effective sense to be a representative body at all; and its isolation from the general opinion of the country left it at ordinary moments amenable only to selfish influences. The Whigs had managed it by bribery and borough-jobbing, and George in his turn seized bribery and borough-jobbing as a base of the power he proposed to give to the 7-309]Crown. The royal revenue was employed to buy seats and to buy votes. Day by day the young sovereign scrutinized the voting-list of the two Houses, and distributed rewards and punishments as members voted according to his will or no. Promotion in the civil service, preferment in the Church, rank in the army, were reserved for "the king's friends." Pensions and court places were used to influence debates. Bribery was employed on a scale never known before. Under Bute's ministry an office was opened at the Treasury for the purchase of members, and twenty-five thousand pounds are said to have been spent in a single day.

George III. and America.

The result of these measures was soon seen in the tone of the Parliament. Till now it had bowed beneath the greatness of Pitt; but in the teeth of his denunciation the provisions of the Peace of Paris were approved by a majority of five to one. It was seen still more in the vigour with which George and his minister prepared to carry out the plans over which they had brooded for the regulation of America. The American question was indeed forced on them, as they pleaded, by the state of the revenue. Pitt had waged war with characteristic profusion, and he had defrayed the cost of the war by enormous loans. The public debt now stood at a hundred and forty millions. The first need therefore which met Bute after the conclusion of the Peace of Paris was that of making 7-310]provision for the new burthens which the nation had incurred, and as these had been partly incurred in the defence of the American Colonies it was the general opinion of Englishmen that the Colonies should bear a share of them. In this opinion Bute and the king concurred. But their plans went further than mere taxation. The amount indeed which was expected to be raised as revenue by these changes, at most two hundred thousand pounds, was far too small to give much relief to the financial pressure at home. But this revenue furnished an easy pretext for wider changes. Plans for the regulation of the government of the Colonies had been suggested from time to time by subordinate ministers, but they had been set aside alike by the prudence of Walpole and the generosity of Pitt. The appointment of Charles Townshend to the Presidency of the Board of Trade however was a sign that Bute had adopted a policy not only of taxation, but of restraint. The new minister declared himself resolved on a rigorous execution of the Navigation laws, laws by which a monopoly of American trade was secured to the mother country, on the raising of a revenue within the Colonies for the discharge of the debt, and above all on impressing upon the colonists a sense of their dependence upon Britain. The direct trade between America and the French or Spanish West Indian Islands had hitherto been fettered by prohibitory duties, but these had been easily 7-311]evaded by a general system of smuggling. The duties were now reduced, but the reduced duties were rigorously exacted, and a considerable naval force was despatched to the American coast by Grenville, who stood at the head of the Admiralty Board, with a view of suppressing the clandestine trade with the foreigner. The revenue which was expected from this measure was to be supplemented by an internal Stamp Tax, a tax on all legal documents issued within the Colonies, the plan of which seems to have originated with Bute's secretary, Jenkinson, afterwards the first Lord Liverpool. That resistance was expected was seen in a significant step which was taken by the ministry at the end of the war. Though the defeat of the French had left the Colonies without an enemy save the Indians, a force of ten thousand men was still kept quartered on their inhabitants, and a scheme was broached for an extension of the province of Canada over the district round the Lakes, which would have turned the western lands into a military settlement, governed at the will of the Crown, and have furnished a base of warlike operations, if such were needed, against the settled Colonies on the Atlantic.

Had Bute's power lasted it is probable that these measures would have brought about the struggle between England and America long before it actually began. Fortunately for the two countries the minister found himself from the first 7-312]the object of a sudden and universal hatred. The great majority which had rejected Pitt's motion against the Peace had filled the court with exultation. "Now indeed," cried the Princess Dowager, "my son is king." But the victory was hardly won when king and minister found themselves battling with a storm of popular ill-will such as never since the overthrow of the Stuarts assailed the throne. Violent and reckless as it was, the storm only marked a fresh advance in the reawakening of public opinion. The bulk of the higher classes who had till now stood apart from government were coming gradually in to the side of the Crown. But the mass of the people was only puzzled and galled by the turn of events. It felt itself called again to political activity, but it saw nothing to change its hatred and distrust of Parliament and the Crown. On the contrary it saw them in greater union than of old. The House of Commons was more corrupt than ever, and it was the slave of the king. The king still called himself a Whig, yet he was reviving a system of absolutism which Whiggism, to do it justice, had long made impossible. His minister was a mere favourite and in Englishmen's eyes a foreigner. The masses saw all this, but they saw no way of mending it. They knew little of their own strength, and they had no means of influencing the Government they hated save by sheer violence. They came therefore to the front with 7-313]their old national and religious bigotry, their long-nursed dislike of the Hanoverian Court, their long-nursed habits of violence and faction, their long-nursed hatred of Parliament, but with no means of expressing them save riot and uproar.


It was this temper of the masses which was seized and turned to his purpose by John Wilkes. Wilkes was a worthless profligate; but he had a remarkable faculty of enlisting popular sympathy on his side; and by a singular irony of fortune he became in the end the chief instrument in bringing about three of the greatest advances which our Constitution has made. He woke the nation to a sense of the need for Parliamentary reform by his defence of the rights of constituencies against the despotism of the House of Commons. He took the lead in a struggle which put an end to the secrecy of Parliamentary proceedings. He was the first to establish the right of the press to discuss public affairs. But in his attack upon the Ministry of Lord Bute he served simply as an organ of the general excitement and discontent. The bulk of the Tories were on fire to gratify their old grudge against the Crown and its Ministers. The body of the Whigs, and the commercial classes who backed them, were startled and angered by the dismissal of Pitt, and by the revolt of the Crown against the Whig system. The nation as a whole was uneasy and alarmed at the sudden break-up of political tranquillity, 7-314]and by the sense of a coming struggle between opponents of whom as yet neither had fully its sympathies. There were mobs, riots, bonfires in the streets, and disturbances which culminated—in a rough spirit of punning upon the name of the minister—in the solemn burning of a jack-boot. The journals, which were now becoming numerous, made themselves organs for this outburst of popular hatred; and it was in the North-Briton that Wilkes took a lead in the movement by denouncing the Cabinet and the peace with peculiar bitterness, by playing on the popular jealousy of foreigners and Scotchmen, and by venturing to denounce the hated minister by name.

Bute's fall.

Ignorant and brutal as was the movement which Wilkes headed, it was a revival of public opinion; and though the time was to come when the influence of opinion would be exercised more wisely, even now it told for good. It was the attack of Wilkes which more than all else determined Bute to withdraw from office in 1763 as a means of allaying the storm of popular indignation. But the king was made of more stubborn stuff than his minister. If he suffered his favourite to resign he still regarded him as the real head of administration; for the ministry which Bute left behind him consisted simply of the more courtly of his colleagues, and was in fact formed under his direction. George Grenville was its nominal chief, but the measures of the Cabinet were still 7-315]secretly dictated by the favourite. The formation of the Grenville ministry indeed was laughed at as a joke. Charles Townshend and the Duke of Bedford, the two ablest of the Whigs who had remained with Bute after Newcastle's dismissal, refused to join it; and its one man of ability was Lord Shelburne, a young Irishman, who had served with credit at Minden, and had been rewarded by a post at Court which brought him into terms of intimacy with the young sovereign and Bute. Dislike of the Whig oligarchy and of the war had thrown Shelburne strongly into the opposition to Pitt, and his diplomatic talents were of service in securing recruits for his party, as his eloquence had been useful in advocating the peace; but it was not till he himself retired from office that Bute obtained for his supporter the Presidency of the Board of Trade. As yet however Shelburne's powers were little known, and he added nothing to the strength of the ministry. It was in fact only the disunion of its opponents which allowed it to hold its ground. Townshend and Bedford remained apart from the main body of the Whigs, and both sections held aloof from Pitt. George had counted on the divisions of the opposition in forming such a ministry; and he counted on the weakness of the ministry to make it the creature of his will.

George Grenville.

But Grenville had no mind to be a puppet either of the king or of Bute. Narrow and 7-316]pedantic as he was, severed by sheer jealousy and ambition from his kinsman Pitt and the bulk of the Whigs, his temper was too proud to stoop to the position which George designed for him. The conflicts between the king and his minister soon became so bitter that in August 1763 George appealed in despair to Pitt to form a ministry. Never had Pitt shown a nobler patriotism or a grander self-command than in the reception he gave to this appeal. He set aside all resentment at his own expulsion from office by Newcastle and the Whigs, and made the return to office of the whole party, with the exception of Bedford, a condition of his own. His aim, in other words, was to restore constitutional government by a reconstruction of the ministry which had won the triumphs of the Seven Years' War. But it was the destruction of this ministry and the erection of a kingly government in its place on which George prided himself most. To restore it was, in his belief, to restore the tyranny under which the Whigs had so long held the Crown. "Rather than submit," he cried, "to the terms proposed by Mr. Pitt, I would die in the room I now stand in." The result left Grenville as powerful as he had been weak. Bute retired into the country and ceased to exercise any political influence. Shelburne, the one statesman in the ministry, and who had borne a chief part in the negotiations for the formation of a new Cabinet, resigned to follow 7-317]Pitt. On the other hand, Bedford, irritated by Pitt's exclusion of him from his proposed ministry, joined Grenville with his whole party, and the ministry thus became strong and compact.

Grenville and Wilkes.

Grenville himself was ploddingly industrious and not without financial ability. But his mind was narrow and pedantic in its tone; and, honest as was his belief in his own Whig creed, he saw nothing beyond legal forms. He was resolute to withstand the people as he had withstood the Crown. His one standard of conduct was the approval of Parliament; his one aim to enforce the supremacy of Parliament over subject as over king. With such an aim as this, it was inevitable that Grenville should strike fiercely at the new force of opinion which had just shown its power in the fall of Bute. He was resolved to see public opinion only in the voice of Parliament; and his resolve led at once to a contest with Wilkes as with the press. It was in the press that the nation was finding a court of appeal from the Houses of Parliament. The popularity of the North-Briton made Wilkes the representative of the new journalism, as he was the representative of that mass of general sentiment of which it was beginning to be the mouthpiece; and the fall of Bute had shown how real a power lay behind the agitator's diatribes. But Grenville was of stouter stuff than the court favourite, and his administration was hardly reformed when he struck at the 7-318]growing opposition to Parliament by a blow at its leader. In "Number 45" of the North-Briton Wilkes had censured the speech from the throne at the opening of Parliament, and a "general warrant" by the Secretary of State was issued against the "authors, printers, and publishers of this seditious libel." Under this warrant forty-nine persons were seized for a time; and in spite of his privilege as a member of Parliament Wilkes himself was sent to the Tower. The arrest however was so utterly illegal that he was at once released by the Court of Common Pleas; but he was immediately prosecuted for libel. The national indignation at the harshness of these proceedings passed into graver disapproval when Parliament took advantage of the case to set itself up as a judicial tribunal for the trial of its own assailant. While the paper which formed the subject for prosecution was still before the courts of justice it was condemned by the House of Commons as a "false, scandalous, and seditious libel." The House of Lords at the same time voted a pamphlet found among Wilkes's papers to be blasphemous, and advised a prosecution. Though Pitt at once denounced the course of the two Houses as unconstitutional, his protest, like that of Shelburne in the Lords, proved utterly ineffectual; and Wilkes, who fled in terror to France, was expelled at the opening of 1764 from the House of Commons. Rapid and successful 7-319]blows such as these seem to have shown to how frivolous an assailant Bute had yielded. But if Wilkes fled over the Channel, Grenville found he had still England to deal with. The assumption of an arbitrary judicial power by both Houses, and the system of terror which the Minister put in force against the Press by issuing two hundred injunctions against different journals, roused a storm of indignation throughout the country. Every street resounded with cries of "Wilkes and Liberty!" Every shutter through the town was chalked with "No. 45"; the old bonfires and tumults broke out with fresh violence: and the Common Council of London refused to thank the sheriffs for dispersing the mob. It was soon clear that opinion had been embittered rather than silenced by the blow at Wilkes.

Grenville and the Colonies.

The same narrowness of view, the same honesty of purpose, the same obstinacy of temper, were shown by Grenville in a yet more important struggle, a struggle with the American Colonies. The plans of Bute for their taxation and restraint had fallen to the ground on his retirement and that of Townshend from office. Lord Shelburne succeeded Townshend at the Board of Trade, and young as he was, Shelburne was too sound a statesman to suffer these plans to be revived. But the resignation of Shelburne in 1763, after the failure of Pitt to form a united ministry, again reopened the question. Grenville had fully 7-320]concurred in a part at least of Bute's designs; and now that he found himself at the head of a strong administration he again turned his attention to the Colonies. On one important side his policy wholly differed from that of Townshend or Bute. With Bute as with the king the question of deriving a revenue from America was chiefly important as one which would bring the claims of independent taxation and legislation put forward by the colonies to an issue, and in the end—as it was hoped—bring about a reconstruction of their democratic institutions and a closer union of the colonies under British rule. Grenville's aim was strictly financial. His conservative and constitutional temper made him averse from any sweeping changes in the institutions of the Colonies. He put aside as roughly as Shelburne the projects which had been suggested for the suppression of colonial charters, the giving power in the Colonies to military officers, or the payment of Crown officers in America by the English treasury. All he desired was that the colonies should contribute what he looked on as their just share towards the relief of the burthens left by the war; and it was with a view to this that he proceeded to carry out the financial plans which had been devised for the purpose of raising both an external and an internal revenue from America.

The Colonies and the Stamp Act.

If such a policy was more honest, it was at the same time more absurd than that of Bute. Bute 7-321]had at any rate aimed at a great revolution in the whole system of colonial government. Grenville aimed simply at collecting a couple of hundred thousand pounds, and he knew that even this wretched sum must be immensely lessened unless his plans were cordially accepted by the colonists. He knew too that there was small hope of such an acceptance. On the contrary, they at once met with a dogged opposition; and though the shape which that opposition took was a legal and technical one, it really opened up the whole question of the relation of the Colonies to the mother country. Proud as England was of her imperial position, she had as yet failed to grasp the difference between an empire and a nation. A nation is an aggregate of individual citizens, bound together in a common and equal relation to the state which they form. An empire is an aggregate of political bodies, bound together by a common relation to a central state, but whose relations to it may vary from the closest dependency to the loosest adhesion. To Grenville and the bulk of his fellow-countrymen the Colonies were as completely English soil as England itself, nor did they see any difference in political rights or in their relation to the Imperial legislature between an Englishman of Massachusetts and a man of Kent. What rights their charters gave the Colonies they looked on as not strictly political but municipal rights; they were not states but 7-322]corporations; and, as corporate bodies, whatever privileges might have been given them, they were as completely the creatures and subjects of the English Crown as the corporate body of a borough or of a trading company. Their very existence in fact rested in a like way on the will of the Crown; on a breach of the conditions under which they were granted their charters were revocable and their privileges ceased, their legislatures and the rights of their legislatures came to an end as completely as the common council of a borough that had forfeited its franchise or the rights of that common council. It was true that save in matters of trade and navigation the Imperial Parliament or the Imperial Crown had as yet left them mainly to their own self-government; above all that it had not subjected them to the burthen of taxation which was borne by other Englishmen at home. But it had more than once asserted its right to tax the colonies; it had again and again refused assent to acts of their legislatures which denied such a right; and from the very nature of things they held it impossible that such a right could exist. No bounds could be fixed for the supremacy of the king in Parliament over every subject of the Crown, and the colonist of America was as absolutely a subject as the ordinary Englishman. On mere grounds of law Grenville was undoubtedly right in his assertion of such a view as this; for the law had grown up under purely 7-323]national conditions, and without a consciousness of the new political world to which it was now to be applied. What the colonists had to urge against it was really the fact of such a world. They were Englishmen, but they were Englishmen parted from England by three thousand miles of sea. They could not, if they would, share the common political life of men at home; nature had imposed on them their own political life; what charters had done was not to create but to recognize a state of things which sprang from the very circumstances under which the Colonies had originated and grown into being. Nor could any cancelling of charters cancel those circumstances. No Act of Parliament could annihilate the Atlantic. The political status of the man of Massachusetts could not be identical with that of the man of Kent, because that of the Kentish man rested on his right of being represented in Parliament and thus sharing in the work of self-government, while the other from sheer distance could not exercise such a right. The pretence of equality was in effect the assertion of inequality; for it was to subject the colonist to the burthens of Englishmen without giving him any effective share in the right of self-government which Englishmen purchased by supporting those burthens. But the wrong was even greater than this. The Kentish man really took his share in governing through his representative in Parliament the Empire to which 7-324]the colonist belonged. If the colonist had no such share he became the subject of the Kentish man. The pretence of political identity had ended in the establishment not only of serfdom but of the most odious form of serfdom, a subjection to one's fellow-subjects.

The theory of the colonists.

The only alternative for so impossible a relation was the recognition of such relations as actually existed. While its laws remained national, England had grown from a nation into an empire. Whatever theorists might allege, the Colonies were in fact political bodies with a distinct life of their own, whose connexion with the mother country had in the last hundred years taken a definite and peculiar form. Their administration in its higher parts was in the hands of the mother country. Their legislation on all internal affairs, though lightly supervised by the mother country, was practically in their own hands. They exercised without interference the right of self-taxation, while the mother country exercised with as little interference the right of monopolizing their trade. Against this monopoly of their trade not a voice was as yet raised among the colonists. They justly looked on it as an enormous contribution to the wealth of Britain, which might fairly be taken in place of any direct supplies, and which while it asserted the sovereignty of the mother country, left their local freedom untouched. The harshness of such a monopoly had indeed been 7-325]somewhat mitigated by a system of contraband trade which had grown up between American ports and the adjacent Spanish islands, a trade so necessary for the Colonies, and in the end so beneficial to British commerce itself, that statesmen like Walpole had winked at its developement. The pedantry of Grenville however saw in it only an infringement of British monopoly; and one of his first steps was to suppress this contraband trade by a rigid enforcement of the navigation laws. Harsh and unwise as these measures seemed, the colonists owned their legality; and their resentment only showed itself in a pledge to use no British manufactures till the restrictions were relaxed. But such a stroke was a mere measure of retaliation, whose pressure was pretty sure in the end to effect its aim; and even in their moment of irritation the colonists uttered no protest against the monopoly of their trade. Their position indeed was strictly conservative; what they claimed was a continuance of the existing connexion; and had their claim been admitted, they would probably have drifted quietly into such a relation to the crown as that of our actual colonies in Canada and Australasia.

The Stamp Act passed.

What the issue of such a policy might have been as America grew to a population and wealth beyond those of the mother country, it is hard to guess. But no such policy was to be tried. The next scheme of the Minister—his proposal to 7-326]introduce internal taxation within the bounds of the Colonies themselves by reviving the project of an excise or stamp duty, which Walpole's good sense had rejected—was of another order from his schemes for suppressing the contraband traffic. Unlike the system of the Navigation Acts, it was a gigantic change in the whole actual relations of England and its colonies. They met it therefore in another spirit. Taxation and representation, they asserted, went hand in hand. America had no representatives in the British Parliament. The representatives of the colonists met in their own colonial assemblies, and these were willing to grant supplies of a larger amount than a stamp-tax would produce. Massachusetts—first as ever in her protest—marked accurately the position she took. "Prohibitions of trade are neither equitable nor just; but the power of taxing is the grand banner of British liberty. If that is once broken down, all is lost." The distinction was accepted by the assembly of every colony; and it was with their protest and offer that they despatched Benjamin Franklin, who had risen from his position of a working printer in Philadelphia to high repute among scientific discoverers, as their agent to England. In England Franklin found few who recognized the distinction which the colonists had drawn; it was indeed incompatible with the universal belief in the omnipotence of the Imperial Parliament. But there were many 7-327]who held that such taxation was unadvisable, that the control of trade was what a country really gained from its colonies, that it was no work of a statesman to introduce radical changes into relations so delicate as those of a mother country and its dependencies, and that, boundless as was the power of Parliament in theory, "it should voluntarily set bounds to the exercise of its power." It had the right to tax Ireland but it never used it. The same self-restraint might be extended to America, and the more that the colonists were in the main willing to tax themselves for the general defence. Unluckily Franklin could give no assurance as to a union for the purpose of such taxation, and without such an assurance Grenville had no mind to change his plans. In February 1765 the Stamp Act was passed through both Houses with less opposition than a turnpike bill.

At this critical moment Pitt was absent from the House of Commons. "When the resolution was taken to tax America, I was ill and in bed," he said a few months later. "If I could have endured to be carried in my bed, so great was the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would have solicited some kind hand to have laid me down on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it." He was soon however called to a position where his protest might have been turned to action. The Stamp Act was hardly passed when an insult offered to the Princess Dowager, 7-328]by the exclusion of her name from a Regency Act, brought to a head the quarrel which had long been growing between the ministry and the king. George again offered power to William Pitt, and so great was his anxiety to free himself from Grenville's dictation that he consented absolutely to Pitt's terms. He waived his objection to that general return of the whole Whig party to office which Pitt had laid down in 1763 as a condition of his own. He consented to his demands for a change of policy in America, for the abolition of general warrants, and the formation of a Protestant system of German alliances as a means of counteracting the family compact of the house of Bourbon. The formation of the new ministry seemed secured, when the refusal of Earl Temple to join it brought Pitt's efforts abruptly to an end. Temple was Pitt's brother-in-law, and Pitt was not only bound to him by strong family ties, but he found in him his only Parliamentary support. The Great Commoner had not a single follower of his own in the House of Commons, nor a single seat in it at his disposal. What following he seemed to have was simply that of the Grenvilles; and it was the support of his brothers-in-law, Lord Temple and George Grenville, which had enabled him in great part to hold his own against the Whig connexion in the Ministry of 1757. But George Grenville had parted from him at its close, and now Lord Temple drew to his brother rather than to Pitt. 7-329]His refusal to join the Cabinet left Pitt absolutely alone so far as Parliamentary strength went, and he felt himself too weak, when thus deserted, to hold his ground in any ministerial combination with the Whigs. Disappointed in two successive efforts to form a ministry by the same obstacle, he returned to his seat in Somersetshire, while the king turned for help to the main body of the Whigs.

The Rockingham Ministry.

The age and incapacity of the Duke of Newcastle had placed the Marquis of Rockingham at the head of this section of the party, after it had been driven from office to make way for the supremacy of Bute. Thinned as it was by the desertion of Grenville and Townshend, as well as of the Bedford faction, it still claimed an exclusive right to the name of the Whigs. Rockingham was honest of purpose, he was free from all taint of the corruption of men like Newcastle, and he was inclined to a pure and lofty view of the nature and end of government. But he was young, timid, and of small abilities, and he shared to the full the dislike of the great Whig nobles to Pitt and the popular sympathies on which Pitt's power rested. The weakness of the ministry which he formed in July 1765 was seen in its slowness to deal with American affairs. Rockingham looked on the Stamp Act as inexpedient; but he held firmly against Pitt and Shelburne the right of Parliament to tax and legislate for the Colonies, and it was 7-330]probably through this difference of sentiment that Pitt refused to join his ministry on its formation. For six months he made no effort to repeal the obnoxious Acts, and in fact suffered preparations to go on for enforcing them. News however soon came from America which made this attitude impossible. Vigorously as he had struggled against the Acts, Franklin had seen no other course for the Colonies, when they were passed, but that of submission. But submission was the last thing the colonists dreamed of. Everywhere through New England riots broke out on the news of the arrival of the stamped paper; and the frightened collectors resigned their posts. Northern and Southern States were drawn together by the new danger. "Virginia," it was proudly said afterwards, "rang the alarm bell"; its assembly was the first to formally deny the right of the British Parliament to meddle with internal taxation, and to demand the repeal of the Acts. Massachusetts not only adopted the denial and the demand as its own, but proposed a Congress of delegates from all the colonial assemblies to provide for common and united action; and in October 1765 this Congress met to repeat the protest and petition of Virginia.

Pitt and America.

The Congress was the beginning of American union. "There ought to be no New Englandman, no New Yorker known on this continent," said one of its members, "but all of us Americans." 7-331]The news of its assembly reached England at the end of the year and perplexed the ministry, two of whose members now declared themselves in favour of repealing the Acts. But Rockingham would promise at most no more than suspension; and when the Houses met in the spring of 1766 no voice but Shelburne's was raised in the Peers for repeal. In the Commons however the news at once called Pitt to the front. As a minister he had long since rejected a similar scheme for taxing the Colonies. He had been ill and absent from Parliament when the Stamp Act was passed. But he adopted to the full the constitutional claim of America. He gloried in a resistance, which was denounced in Parliament as rebellion. "In my opinion," he said, "this kingdom has no right to lay a tax on the Colonies.... America is obstinate! America is almost in open rebellion! Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest." "He spoke," said a looker-on, "like a man inspired," and he ended by a demand for the absolute, total, and immediate repeal of the Acts. It is from this moment that the bitter hatred of George the Third to Pitt may be dated. In an outburst of resentment the king called him a trumpet of sedition, and openly wished for his death. But the general desire that he should 7-332]return to office was quickened by the sense of power which spoke in his words, and now that the first bitterness of finding himself alone had passed away, Pitt was willing to join the Whigs. Negotiations were opened for this purpose; but they at once broke down. Weak as they felt themselves, Rockingham and his colleagues now shrank from Pitt, as on the formation of their ministry Pitt had shrunk from them. Personal feeling no doubt played its part; for in any united administration Pitt must necessarily take the lead, and Rockingham was in no mood to give up his supremacy. But graver political reasons, as we have seen, co-operated with this jealousy and distrust; and the blind sense which the Whigs had long had of a radical difference between their policy and that of Pitt was now defined for them by the keenest political thinker of the day.

Edmund Burke.

At this moment Rockingham was in great measure guided by the counsels of his secretary, Edmund Burke. Burke had come to London in 1750 as a poor and unknown Irish adventurer. But the learning which at once won him the friendship of Johnson, and the imaginative power which enabled him to give his learning a living shape, soon promised him a philosophical and literary career. Instinct however drew Burke not to literature but to politics. He became secretary to Lord Rockingham, and in 1765 entered Parliament under his patronage. His speech on the 7-333]repeal of the Stamp Acts at once lifted him into fame. The heavy Quaker-like figure, the scratch wig, the round spectacles, the cumbrous roll of paper which loaded Burke's pocket, gave little promise of a great orator and less of the characteristics of his oratory—its passionate ardour, its poetic fancy, its amazing prodigality of resources; the dazzling succession in which irony, pathos, invective, tenderness, the most brilliant word-pictures, the coolest argument followed each other. It was an eloquence indeed of a wholly new order in English experience. Walpole's clearness of statement, Pitt's appeals to emotion, were exchanged for the impassioned expression of a distinct philosophy of politics. "I have learned more from him than from all the books I ever read," Fox cried at a later time, with a burst of generous admiration. The philosophical cast of Burke's reasoning was unaccompanied by any philosophical coldness of tone or phrase. The groundwork indeed of his nature was poetic. His ideas, if conceived by the reason, took shape and colour from the splendour and fire of his imagination. A nation was to him a great living society, so complex in its relations, and whose institutions were so interwoven with glorious events in the past, that to touch it rudely was a sacrilege. Its constitution was no artificial scheme of government, but an exquisite balance of social forces which was in itself a natural outcome of its history and 7-334]developement. His temper was in this way conservative, but his conservatism sprang not from a love of inaction but from a sense of the value of social order, and from an imaginative reverence for all that existed. Every institution was hallowed to him by the clear insight with which he discerned its relations to the past and its subtle connexion with the social fabric around it. To touch even an anomaly seemed to Burke to be risking the ruin of a complex structure of national order which it had cost centuries to build up. "The equilibrium of the constitution," he said, "has something so delicate about it, that the least displacement may destroy it." "It is a difficult and dangerous matter even to touch so complicated a machine."

Burke and politics.

Perhaps the readiest refutation of such a theory was to be found in its influence on Burke's practical dealing with politics. In the great question indeed which fronted him as he entered Parliament, it served him well. No man has ever seen with deeper insight the working of those natural forces which build up communities, or which group communities into empires; and in the actual state of the American Colonies, in their actual relation to the mother country, he saw a result of such forces which only madmen and pedants would disturb. To enter upon "grounds of Government," to remodel this great structure of empire on a theoretical basis, seemed to him a work for 7-335]"metaphysicians," and not for statesmen. What statesmen had to do was to take this structure as it was, and by cautious and delicate adjustment to accommodate from time to time its general shape and the relations of its various parts to the varying circumstances of their natural developement. Nothing, in other words, could be truer than Burke's political philosophy when the actual state of things was good in itself, and its preservation a recognition of the harmony of political institutions with political facts. But nothing could be more unwise than his philosophy when he applied it to a state of things which in itself was evil, and which was in fact a defiance of the natural growth and adjustment of political power. It was thus that he applied it to politics at home. He looked on the Revolution of 1688 as the final establishment of English institutions. His aim was to keep England as the Revolution had left it, and under the rule of the great nobles who were faithful to the Revolution. Such a conviction left him hostile to all movement whatever. He gave his passionate adhesion to the inaction of the Whigs. He made an idol of Lord Rockingham, an honest man, but the weakest of party leaders. He strove to check the corruption of Parliament by a bill for civil retrenchment, but he took the lead in defeating all plans for its reform. Though he was one of the few men in England who understood the value of free industry, he struggled bitterly against all 7-336]proposals to give freedom to Irish trade, and against the Commercial Treaty which the younger Pitt concluded with France. His work seemed to be that of investing with a gorgeous poetry the policy of timid content which the Whigs believed they inherited from Sir Robert Walpole; and the very intensity of his trust in the natural developement of a people rendered him incapable of understanding the good that might come from particular or from special reforms.

It was this temper of Burke's mind which estranged him from Pitt. His political sagacity had discerned that the true basis of the Whig party must henceforth be formed in a combination of that "power drawn from popularity" which was embodied in Pitt with the power which the Whig families drew from political "connexion." But with Pitt's popular tendencies Burke had no real sympathy. He looked on his eloquence as mere rant; he believed his character to be hollow, selfish, and insincere. Above all he saw in him with a true foreboding the representative of forces before which the actual method of government must go down. The popularity of Pitt in face of his Parliamentary isolation was a sign that the House of Commons was no real representative of the English people. Burke foresaw that Pitt was drifting inevitably to a demand for a reform of the House which should make it representative in fact as in name. The full issues of such a reform, 7-337]the changes which it would bring with it, the displacement of political power which it would involve, Burke alone of the men of his day understood. But he understood them only to shrink from them with horror, and to shrink with almost as great a horror from the man who was leading England on in the path of change.

Repeal of the Stamp Act.

At this crisis then the temper of Burke squared with the temper of the Whig party and of Rockingham; and the difference between Pitt's tendencies and their own came to the front on the question of dealing with the troubles in America. Pitt was not only for a repeal of the Stamp Acts, but for an open and ungrudging acknowledgement of the claim to a partial independence which had been made by the colonists. His genius saw that, whatever were the legal rights of the mother country, the time had come when the union between England and its children across the Atlantic must rest rather on sentiment than on law. Such a view was wholly unintelligible to the mass of the Whigs or the ministry. They were willing, rather than heighten American discontent, to repeal the Stamp Acts; but they looked on the supremacy of England and of the English Parliament over all English dependencies as a principle absolutely beyond question. From the union, therefore, which Pitt offered Rockingham and his fellow-ministers stood aloof. They were driven, whether they would or no, to a practical 7-338]acknowledgement of the policy which he demanded; but they resolved that the repeal of the Stamp Acts should be accompanied by a formal repudiation of the principles of colonial freedom which Pitt had laid down. A declaratory act was first brought in, which asserted the supreme power of Parliament over the Colonies "in all cases whatsoever." The declaration was intended no doubt to reassure the followers of the ministry as well as their opponents, for in the assertion of the omnipotence of the two Houses to which they belonged Whig and Tory were at one. But it served also as a public declaration of the difference which severed the Whigs from the Great Commoner. In a full house Pitt found but two supporters in his fierce attack upon the declaratory bill, which was supported by Burke in a speech which at once gave him rank as an orator; while Pitt's lieutenant, Shelburne, found but four supporters in a similar attack in the Lords. The passing of the declaratory act was followed by the introduction of a bill for the repeal of the Stamp Acts; and in spite of the resistance of the king's friends, a resistance instigated by George himself, the bill was carried in February 1766 by a large majority.

The Chatham Ministry.

As the members left the House of Commons, George Grenville, whose resistance had been fierce and dogged, was hooted by the crowd which waited to learn the issue without. Before Pitt the multitude reverently uncovered their heads 7-339]and followed him home with blessings. It was the noblest hour of his life. For the moment indeed he had "saved England" more truly than even at the crisis of the Seven Years' War. His voice had forced on the ministry and the king a measure which averted, though but for a while, the fatal struggle between England and her Colonies. Lonely as he was, the ministry which had rejected his offers of aid found itself unable to stand against the general sense that the first man in the country should be its ruler; and bitter as was the king's hatred of him, Rockingham's resignation in the summer of 1766 forced George to call Pitt into office. His acceptance of the king's call and the measures which he took to construct a ministry showed a new resolve in the great statesman. He had determined to break finally with the political tradition which hampered him, and to set aside even the dread of Parliamentary weakness which had fettered him three years before. Temple's refusal of aid, save on terms of equality which were wholly inadmissible, was passed by, though it left Pitt without a party in the House of Commons. In the same temper he set at defiance the merely Parliamentary organization of the Whigs by excluding Newcastle, while he showed his wish to unite the party as a whole by his offer of posts to nearly all the members of the late administration. Though Rockingham stood coldly aside, some of his 7-340]fellow-ministers accepted Pitt's offers, and they were reinforced by Lords Shelburne and Camden, the young Duke of Grafton, and the few friends who still clung to the Great Commoner. Such a ministry however rested for power not on Parliament but on public opinion. It was in effect an appeal from Parliament to the people; and it was an appeal which made such a reform in Parliament as would bring it into unison with public opinion a mere question of time. Whatever may have been Pitt's ultimate designs, however, no word of such a reform was uttered by any one. On the contrary, Pitt stooped to strengthen his Parliamentary support by admitting some even of the "king's friends" to a share in the administration. But its life lay really in Pitt himself, in his immense popularity, and in the command which his eloquence gave him over the House of Commons. His popularity indeed was soon roughly shaken; for the ministry was hardly formed when it was announced that its leader had accepted the earldom of Chatham. The step removed him to the House of Lords, and for a while ruined the public confidence which his reputation for unselfishness had aided him to win. But it was from no vulgar ambition that Pitt laid down his title of the Great Commoner. The nervous disorganization which had shown itself three years before in his despair upon Temple's desertion had never ceased to hang around him, 7-341]and it had been only at rare intervals that he had forced himself from his retirement to appear in the House of Commons. It was the consciousness of coming weakness that made him shun the storms of debate. But in the Cabinet he showed all his old energy. The most jealous of his fellow-ministers owned his supremacy. At the close of one of his earliest councils Charles Townshend acknowledged to a colleague "Lord Chatham has just shown to us what inferior animals we are!" Plans were at once set on foot for the better government of Ireland, for the transfer of India from the Company to the Crown, and for the formation of an alliance with Prussia and Russia to balance the Family Compact of the House of Bourbon. The alliance was foiled for the moment by the coldness of Frederick of Prussia. The first steps towards Indian reform were only taken by the ministry under severe pressure from Pitt. Petty jealousies, too, brought about the withdrawal of some of the Whigs, and the hostility of Rockingham was shown by the fierce attacks of Burke in the House of Commons. But secession and invective had little effect on the ministry. "The session," wrote Horace Walpole to a friend at the close of 1766, "has ended triumphantly for the Great Earl"; and when Chatham withdrew to Bath to mature his plans for the coming year his power remained unshaken.



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