Sivut kuvina

suffer the justice which we refuse to do." He concluded by moving that, before any supply was granted, the House would take into consideration petitions against returns, and that no member whose right to sit was disputed should be allowed to vote.

Not a cheer was heard. Not a member ventured to second the motion. Indeed, Seymour had said much that no other man could have said with impunity. The proposition fell to the ground, and was not even entered on the journals. But a mighty effect had been produced. Barillon informed his master that many who had not dared to applaud that remarkable speech had cordially approved of it, that it was the universal subject of conversation throughout London, and that the impression made on the public mind seemed likely to be durable.*

The Commons went into committee Tit without delay, and voted to the nnue King, for life, the whole reveTMled' nue enjoyed by his brother, t

The zealous churchmen who formed the majority of the House inporu,. seem to have been of opinion £££? that the promptitude with SjJ which they had met the wish of James, touching the revenue, entitled them to expect some concession en his part. They said that much had been done to gratify him, and that they must now do something to gratify the nation. The House, therefore, rewired itself into a Grand Committee of Religion, in order to consider the best means of providing for the security rf the ecclesiastical establishment. In that Committee two resolutions were unanimously adopted. The first expressed fervent attachment to the Church of England. The second called on the King to put in execution the penal laws against all persons who were not members of that Church.}:

The Whigs would doubtless have

• Burnet, 1. 639.; Evelyn's Diary, May 22. m; Barillon, £&£ and£t» 1685. The plaice of the journals perplexed Mr. Fox: but iT- is explained by the circumstance that Seymour's motion was not seconded.

t Journals, May 22. Stat. Jac. II. i. 1.

t Ibid., May 26, 27. Sir J. Keresby's Memoiri.

wished to see the Protestant dissenters tolerated, and the Roman Catholics alone persecuted. But the Whigs were a small and a disheartened minority. They therefore kept themselves as much as possible out of sight, dropped thenparty name, abstained from obtruding their peculiar opinions on a hostile audience, and steadily supported every proposition tending to disturb the harmony which as yet subsisted between the Parliament and the Court.

When the proceedings of the Committee of Religion were known at Whitehall the King's anger was great. Nor can we justly blame him for resenting the conduct of the Tories. If they were disposed to require the rigorous execution of the penal code, they clearly ought to have supported the Exclusion Bill. For to place a Papist on the throne, and then to insist on his persecuting to the death the teachers of that faith in which alone, on his principles, salvation could be found, was monstrous. In mitigating by a lenient administration the severity of the bloody laws of Elizabeth, the King violated no constitutional principle. He only exerted a power which has always belonged to the crown. Nay, he only did what was afterwards done by a succession of sovereigns zealous for Protestantism, by William, by Anne, and by the princes of the House of Brunswick. Had he suffered Roman Catholic priests, whose lives he could save without infringing any law, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, for discharging what ho considered as their first duty, he would have drawn on himself the hatred and contempt even of those to whose prejudices he had made so shameful a concession; and, had he contented himself with granting to the members of his own Church a practical toleration by a large exercise of his unquestioned prerogative of mercy, posterity would have unanimously applauded him.

The Commons probably felt on reflection that they had acted absurdly. They were also disturbed oy learning that the King, to whom they looked up with superstitious reverence, was greatly provoked. They made haste, therefore, to atone for their offence. In the House, they unanimously reversed the decision which, in the Committee, they had unanimously adopted, and passed a resolution importing that they relied with entire confidence on His Majesty's gracious promise to protect that religion which was dearer to them than life itself*

Three days later the King informed the House that his brother had taie< °'"1 left some debts, and that the T°"d' stores of the navy and ordnance were nearly exhausted. It was promptly resolved that new taxes should be imsirDndiey posed. The person on whom North. devolved the task of devising ways and means was Sir Dudley North, younger brother of the Lord Keeper. Dudley North was one of the ablest men of his time. He had early in life been sent to the Levant, and had there been long engaged in mercantile pursuits. Most men would, in such a situation, have allowed their faculties to rust. For at Smyrna and Constantinople there were few books and few intelligent companions. But the young factor had one of those vigorous understandings which are independent of external aids. In his solitude he meditated deeply on the philosophy of trade, and thought out by degrees a complete and admirable theory, substantially the same with that which, a century later, was expounded by Adam Smith. After an exile of many years, Dudley North returned to England with a large fortune, and commenced business as a Turkey merchant in the City of London. His profound knowledge, both speculative and practical, of commercial matters, and the perspicuity and liveliness with which he explained his views, speedily introduced him to the notice of statesmen. The government found in him at once an enlightened adviser and an unscrupulous slave. For with his rare mental endowments were joined lax principles and an unfeeling heart. When the Tory reaction was in full progress, he, had consented to be made Sheriff for the express purpose of assisting the vengeance of the Court.

* Commons' Journals, May 27. 1G85.

His juries had never failed to find verdicts of Guilty; and, on a day of judicial butchery, carts, loaded with tha legs and arms of quartered Whigs, were, to the great discomposure of his lady, driven to his fine house in Basinghall Street for orders. His services had been rewarded with the honour of knighthood, with an Alderman's gown, and with the office of Commissioner of the Customs. He had been brought into Parliament for Banbury, and, though a new member, was the person on whom the Lord Treasurer chiefly relied for the conduct of financial business in the Lower House.*

Though the Commons were unanimous in their resolution to grant a further supply to the Crown, they were by no means agreed as to the sources from which that supply should be drawn. It was speedily determined that part of the sum which was required should be raised by laying an additional impost, for a term of eight years, on wine and vinegar: but something more than this was needed. Several absurd schemes were suggested. Many country gentlemen were disposed to put a heavy tax on all new buildings in the capital Such a tax, it was hoped, would check the growth of a city which had long been regarded with jealousy and aversion by the rural aristocracy. Dudley North's plan was that additional duties should be imposed, for a term of eight years, on sugar and tobacco. A great clamour was raised. Colonial merchants, grocers, sugar bakers and tobacconists, petitioned the House and besieged the public offices. The people of Bristol, who were deeply interested in the trade with Virginia and Jamaica, sent up a deputation which was heard at the bar of the Commons. Rochester was for a moment staggered; but North's ready wit and perfect knowledge of trade prevailed, both in the Treasury and in the Parliament, against all opposition. The old members were amazed at seeing a man who had not been a fortnight in the House, and whose life had been chiefly passed in foreign countries,

* Boger North's Life of Sir Dudley North; Life of Lord Guildford. 100. ; Mr. M'Culloch's Literature of Political Economv.

assume with confidence, and discharge with ability, all the functions of a Chancellor of the Exchequer.*

His plan was adopted; and thus the Crown was in possession of a clear income of about nineteen hundred thousand pounds, derived from England alone. Such an income was then more than sufficient for the support of the government in time of peace, f

The Lords had, in the meantime, ^^ discussed several important inn of a* questions. The Tory party k^1, had always been strong among the peers. It included the whole bench of Bishops, and had been reinforced, during the four years which had elapsed since the last dissolution, by several fresh creations. Of the new nobles, the most conspicuous were the Lord Treasurer Rochester, the Lord Keeper Guildford, the Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, the Lord Godolphin, and the Lord Churchill, who, after his return from Versailles, had been made a baron of England.

The peers early took into consideration the case of four members of their body who had been impeached in the late reign, but had never been brought to trial, and had, after a long confinement, been admitted to bail by the Court of King's Bench. Three of the noblemen who were thus under recognisances were Roman Catholics. The fourth was a Protestant of great note and influence, the Earl of Danby. Since he had fallen from power and had been accused of treason by the Commons, four Parliaments had been dissolved; but he had been neither acquitted nor condemned. In 1679 the Lords had considered, with reference to his situation, the question whether an impeachment was or was not terminated by a dissolution. They bad resolved, after long debate and full examination of precedents, that the impeachment was still pending. That resolution they now rescinded. A few ^Tiig nobles protested against this 'tep, but to little purpose. The Commons silently acquiesced in tho decision

"Life of Dudley North, 176.; Lonsdale's Uemoirs; Van Citters, June If. 1685. t Commons' Journals, March 1. 1689.

of the Upper House. Danby again took his seat among his peers, and became an active and powerful member of the Tory party.*

The constitutional question on which the Lords thus, in the short space of six years, pronounced two diametrically opposite decisions, slept during more than a century, and was at length revived by the dissolution which took place during the long trial of Warren Hastings. It was then necessary to determine whether the rnle laid down in 1679, or the opposite rule laid down in 1685, was to be accounted the law of the land. The point was long debated in both Houses; and the best legal and parliamentary abilities which an age preeminently fertile both in legal and in parliamentary ability could supply were employed in the discussion. The lawyers were not unequallydivided. Thurlow, Kenyon, Scott, and Erskine maintained that the dissolution had put an end to the impeachment. The contrary doctrine was held by Mansfield, Camden, Loughborough, and Grant. But among those statesmen who grounded their arguments, not on precedents and technical analogies, but on deep and broad constitutional principles, there was little difference of opinion. Pitt and Grenville, as well as Burke and Fox, held that the impeachment was still pending. Both Houses by great majorities set aside the decision of 1685, and pronounced the decision of 1679 to be in conformity with the law of Parliament.

Of the national crimes which had been committed during the Bmfo panic excited by the fictions of vmingthe Oates, the most signal had been "sut the judicial murder of Staf- f°rd' ford. The sentence of that unhappy nobleman was now regarded by all impartial persons as unjust. The principal witness for the prosecution had been convicted of a series of foul perjuries. It was the duty of the legislature, in such circumstances, to do justice to the memory of a guiltless sufferer, and to efface an unmerited stain from a name long illustrious in

» Lords' Journals, March 18,19. 1679, May 22. 1085.

our annals. A bill for reversing the attainder of Stafford was passed by the Upper House, in spite of the murmurs of a few peers who were unwilling to admit that they had shed innocent blood. The Commons read the bill twice without a division, and ordered it to be committed. But, on the day appointed for the committee, arrived news that a formidable rebellion had broken out in the West of England. It was consequently necessary to postpone much important business. The amends due to the memory of Stafford were deferred, as was supposed* only for a short time. But the misgovernment of James in a few months completely turned the tide of public feeling. During several generations the Boman Catholics were in no condition to demand reparation for injus

tice, and accounted themselves happy if they were permitted to live unmolested in obscurity and silence. At length, in the reign of King George the Fourth, more than a hundred and forty years after the day on which the blood of Stafford was shed on Tower Kill, the tardy expiation was accomplished. A law annulling the attainder and restoring the injured family to its ancient dignities was presented to Parliament by the ministers of the crown, was eagerly welcomed by public men of all parties, and was passed without one dissentient voice.*

It is now necessary that I should trace the origin and progress of that rebellion by which the deliberations of the Houses were suddenly interrupted.

• Stat. 5 Geo. IV. c. 46.


Towaeds the close of the reign of whigro. Charles the Second, some lhfco»-n Whigs who had been deeply Hunt implicated in the plot so fatal to their party, and who knew themselves to be marked out for destruction, had sought an asylum in the Low Countries.

These refugees were in general men of fiery temper and weak judgment. They were also under the influence of that peculiar illusion which seems to belong to their situation. A politician driven into banishment by a hostile faction generally sees the society which he has quitted through a false medium. Every object is distorted and discoloured by his regrets, his longings, and his resentments. Every little discontent appears to him to portend a revolution. Every riot is a rebellion. He cannot be convinced that his country does not pine for him as much as he pines for his country. He imagines that all his old associates, who still dwell at their homes and enjoy their estates, are tormented by the same feelings which

make life a burden to himself. The longer his expatriation the greater does this hallucination become. The lapse of time which cools the ardour of the friends whom he has left behind, inflames his. Every month his impatience to revisit his native land increases; and every month his native land remembers and misses him less. This delusion becomes almost a madness when many exiles who suffer in the same cause herd together in a foreign country. Their chief employment is to talk of what they once were, and of what they may yet be, to goad each other into animosity against the common enemy, to feed each other with extravagant hopes of victory and revenge. Thus they become ripe for enterprises which would at once be pronounced hopeless by any man whose passions had not deprived him of the power of calculating chances.

In this mood were many of the outlaws who had assembled on Their corthe Continent. Tho corres- STta1" pondence which they kept up Engi«>i

with England was, for the most part, such as tended to excite their feelings and to mislead their judgment. Their information concerning the temper of the public mind was chiefly derived from the worst members of the Whig party, from men who were plotters and libellers by profession, who were pursued by the officers of justice, who were forced to skulk in disguise through back streets, and who sometimes lay hid for weeks together in cocklofts and cellars. The statesmen who had formerly been the ornaments of the Country Party, the statesmen who afterwards guided the councils of the Convention, would have given advice Tery different from that which was given by such men as John Wildman and Henry Danvers.

Wildman had served forty years before in the parliamentary army, but had been more distinguished there as an agitator than as a soldier, and had early quitted the profession of arms for pursuits better suited to his temper. His hatred of monarchy had induced iim to engage in a long series of conspiracies, first against the Protector, and then against the Stuarts. But with Wildman's fanaticism was joined a tender care for his own safety. He had a wonderful skill in grazing the «ige of treason. No man understood better how to instigate others to desperate enterprises by words which, when repeated to a jury, might seem innocent, or, at worst, ambiguous. Such was his cunning that, though always plotting, though always known to be plotting, and though long malignantly watched by a vindictive government, he eluded every danger, and died in lis bed, after having seen two generations of his accomplices die on the gallows.* Danvers was a man of the same class, hotheaded, but fainthearted, constantly urged to the brink of danger by enthusiasm, and constantly stopped on that brink by cowardice. He had considerable influence among a portion r,f the Baptists, had written largely in

• Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, '■"A xiv.; Bumet's Own Times, i. 546. 625.; Dane's and Ireton's Narratives, Lansdowne M3.1152.; West's information in the Appen<!ii to Sprat's True Account.

defence of their peculiar opinions, and had drawn down on himself the severe censureof the most respectable Puritans by attempting to palliate the crimes of Matthias and John of Leyden. It is probable that, had he possessed a little courage, he would have trodden in the footsteps of the wretches whom he defended. He was, at this time, concealing himself from the officers of justice; for warrants were out against him on account of a grossly calumnious paper of which the government had discovered him to be the author.*

It is easy to imagine what kind of intelligence and counsel men, character such as have been described, J^Ju^ were likely to send to the out- refujw. laws in the Netherlands. Of the general character of those outlaws an estimate may be formed from a few samples.

One of the most conspicuous among them was John Ayloffe, a law- tofc yer connected by affinity with ''""' the Hydes, and through the Hydes, with James. Ayloffe had early made himself remarkable by offering a whimsical insult to the government. At a time when the ascendency of the court of Versailles had excited general uneasiness, he had contrived to put a wooden shoe, the established type, among the English, of French tyranny, into the chair of the House of Commons. He had subsequently been concerned in the Whig plot; but there is no reason to believe that he was a party to the design of assassinating the royal brothers. He was a man of parts and courage; but his moral character did not stand high. The Puritan divines whispered that he was a careless Gallio or something worse, and that, whatever zeal he might profess for civil liberty, the Saints would do well to avoid all connection with him.f

* London Gazette, Jan. 4.168^ ; Ferguson MS. in Eachard's History, iii. 764.; Grey's Narrative; Sprat's True Account; Danvers's Treatise on Baptism; Danvers's Innocency and Truth vindicated; Crosby's History of the English Baptists.

t Sprat's True Account; Burnet, i. 634.; Wade's Confession, Harl. MS. C845.

Lord Howard of Escrick accused Ayloffe of proposing to assassinate the Duke of York; but Lord Howard was an abject liar; and this

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