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despotism abhorred by all respectable Tories. How men live under such infamy it is not easy to understand: but even such infamy was not enough for Williams. He was not ashamed to attack the fallen master to whom he had hired himself out for work which no honest man in the Inns of Court would undertake, and from whom he had, within six months, accepted a baronetcy as the reward of servility.
Only three members ventured to oppose themselves to what was evidently the general sense of the assembly. Sir Christopher Musgrave, a Tory gentleman of great weight and ability, hinted some doubts. Heneage Finch let fall some expressions which were understood to mean that he wished a negotiation to be opened with the King. This suggestion was so ill received that he made haste to explain it away. He protested that he had been misapprehended. He was convinced that, under such a prince, there could be no security for religion, liberty, or property. To recall King James, or to treat with him, would be a fatal course ; but many who would never consent that he should exercise the regal power had conscientious scruples about depriving him of the royal title. There was one expedient which would remove all difficulties, a Regency. This proposition found so little favour that Finch did lot venture to demand a division. Eiehard Fanshaw, Viscount Fanshaw of the kingdom of Ireland, said a few words in behalf of James, and recommended an adjournment; but the recommendation was met by a general outcry. Member after member stood up to represent the importance of despatch. Every moment, it was said, was precious: tha public anxiety was intense: trade was suspended. The minority sullenly submitted, and suffered the predominant party to take its own course.
What that course would be was not perfectly clear. For the majority was made up of two classes. One class consisted of eager and vehement Whigs, who, if they had been able to take their °wn course, would have given to the proceedings of the Convention a decidedly revolutionary character. The
other class admitted that a revolution was necessary, but regarded it as a necessary evil, and wished to disguise it, as much as possible, under the show of legitimacy. The former class demanded a distinct recognition of the right of subjects to dethrone bad princes. The latter class desired to rid the country of one bad prince, without promulgating any doctrine which might be abused for the purpose of weakening the just and salutary authority of future monarchs. The former class dwelt chiefly on the King's misgovernment; the latter on his flight. The former class considered him as having forfeited his crown; the latter as having resigned it. It was not easy to draw up any form of words which would please all whose assent it was important to obtain; but at length, out of many suggestions offered from different quarters, a resolution was framed which gave general satisfaction. It was moved that King James the Second, Reflation having endeavoured to subvert SJJuJjJJ. the constitution of the king- *x»m. dom 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, had abdicated the government, and that the throne had thereby become vacant.
This resolution has been many times subjected to criticism as minute and severe as was ever applied to any sentence written by man: and perhaps there never was a sentence written by man which would bear such criticism less. That a King by grossly abusing his power may forfeit it is true. That a King, who absconds without making any provision for the administration, and leaves his people in a state of anarchy, may, without any violent straining of language, be said to have abdicated his functions is also true. But no accurate writer would affirm that long continued misgovernment and desertion, added together, make up an act of abdication. It is evident too that the mention of the Jesuits and other evil advisers of James weakens, instead of strengthening, the case against him. For it is a well known maxim of English law that, when a king is misled by pernicious counsel, his counsellors, and not himself, ought to be held accountable for his errors. It is idle, however, to examine these memorable words as we should examine a chapter of Aristotle or of Hobbes. Such words are to be considered, not as words, but as deeds. If they effect that which they are intended to effect, they are rational though they may be contradictory. If they fail of attaining their end, they are absurd, though they carry demonstration with them. Logic admits of no compromise. The essence of politics is compromise. It is therefore not strange that some of the most important and most useful political instruments in the world should be among the most illogical compositions that ever were penned. The object of Somers, of Maynard, and of the other eminent men who shaped this celebrated motion was, not to leave to posterity a model of definition and partition, but to make the restoration of a tyrant impossible, and to place on the throne a sovereign under whom law and liberty might be secure. This object they attained by using language which, in a philosophical treatise, would justly be reprehended as inexact, and confused. They cared little whether their major agreed with their conclusion, if the major secured two hundred votes, and the conclusion two hundred more. In fact the one beauty of the resolution is its inconsistency. There was a phrase for every subdivision of the majority. The mention of the original contract gratified the disciples of Sidney. The word abdication conciliated politicians of a more timid school. There were doubtless many ferventProtestants who were pleased with the censure cast on the Jesuits. To the real statesman the single important clause was that which declared the throne vacant; and, if that clause could be carried, he cared little by what preamble it might be introduced. The force which was thus united made all resistance hopeless. The motion was adopted by the Committee withouta division. It was ordered that the report should be instantly
made. Powle returned to the chair: the mace was laid on the table: Hampden brought up the resolution: tie House instantly agreed to it, and ordered him to carry it to the Lords*
On the following morning the Lords assembled early. The benches „,,„, both of the spiritual and of the up too* temporal peers were crowded. Hampden appeared at the bar, and put the resolution of the Commons into the hands of Halifax. The Upper House then resolved itself into a Committee; and Danby took the chair.
The discussion was soon interrupted by the reappearance of Hampden with another message. The House resumed and was informed that the Commons had just voted it inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant nation to be governed by a Popish King. To this resolution, irreconcilable as itobviouslywas with thedoctrine of indefeasible hereditary right, the Peers gave an immediate and unanimous assent. The principle which was thus affirmed has always, down to our own time, been held sacred by all Protestant statesmen, and has never been considered by any reasonable Romar Catholic as objectionable. If, indeed, our sovereigns were, like the Presidents of the United States, mere civil functionaries, it would not be easy to vindicate such a restriction. But the Headship of the English Church is annexed to the English Crown; and there is no intolerance in saying that a Church ought not to be subjected to a head who regards her as schismatical and heretical.f
After this short interlude the Lords again went into committee, D.^,,!. The Tories insisted that their "»t^rf' plan should be discussed before piu> «f the vote of the Commons which **"'' declared the throne vacant was considered. This was conceded to them: and the question was put whether a
* Commons' Journals, Jan. 28.16S5; Grey's
in Grey's Debates be correct, Tan Citta* must have been misinformed as to SaffyK-' speech.
t Lords' and Commons' Journals, Jan. ?'■ 168g.
Kegeney, exercisingkingly power during the life of James, in his name, would be the best expedient for preserving the laws and liberties of the nation?
The contest was long and animated. The chief speakers in favour of a Regency were Rochester and Nottingham. Halifax and Danby led the other side. The Primate, strange to say, did not make his appearance, though earnestly importuned by the Tory peers to place himself at their head. His absence drew on him many contumelious censures; nor hare even his eulogists been able to find any explanation of it which raises his character.* The plan of Regency was his own. He had, a few days before, in a paper written with his own hand, pronounced that plan to be clearly the best that could be adopted. The deliberations of the Lords who supported that plan had been carried on under his roof. His situation made it his clear duty to declare publicly what he thought. Nobody can suspect him of personal cowardice or of vulgar cupidity. It was probably from a nervous fear of doing wrong that, at this great conjuncture, he did nothing: but he should have known that, situated as he was, to do nothing was to do wrong. A man who is too scrupulous to take on himself a grave responsibility at an important crisis ought to be too scrupulous to accept the place of first minister of the Church and first peer of the Parliament.
It is not strange, however, that Sancroft's mind should have been ill at ease; for he could hardly be blind to the obvious truth that the scheme which he had recommended to his friends was utterly inconsistent with all that he and his brethren had been teaching during many years. That the King had a divine and indefeasible right to the regal power, and that the regal power, even when most grossly abused, could not, without sin, be resisted, was the doctrine in which the Anglican Church had long gloried. Did this doctrine, then, really mean only that the King had a divine and indefeasible right to have his effigy and
* Clarendon's Diary, Jon. 21.168§; Burnet, i. 810.; Doyly's Life of Bancroft. vol. n.
name cut on a seal which was to be daily employed in despite of him for the purpose of commissioning his enemies to levy war on him, and of sending his friends to the gallows for obeying him? Did the whole duty of a good subject consist in using the word King? If so, Fairfax and Cromwell at Naseby had performed all the duty of good subjects. For Charles had been designated as King even by the generals who commanded against him. Nothing in the conduct of the Long Parliament had been more severely blamed by the Church than the ingenious device of using his name against himself. Every one of her ministers had been required to sign a declaration condemning as traitorous the fiction by which the authority of the sovereign had been separated from his person.* Yet this traitorous fiction was now considered by the Primate and by many of his suffragans as the only basis on which they could, in strict conformity with Christian principles, erect a government.
The distinction which Sancroft had borrowed from the Roundheads of the preceding generation subverted from the foundation that system of politics which the Church and the Universities pretended to have learned from Saint Paul. The Holy Spirit, it had been a thousand times repeated, had commanded the Romans to be subject to Nero. The meaning of the precept now appeared to be only that the Romans were to call Nero Augustus. They were perfectly at liberty to chase him beyond the Euphrates, to leave him a pensioner on the bounty of the Parthians, to withstand him by force if he attempted to return, to punish all who aided him or corresponded with him, and to transfer the Tribunitian power and the Consular power, the Presidency of the Senate and the command of the Legions, to Galba or Vespasian.
The analogy which the Archbishop imagined that he had discovered between the case of a wrongheaded king and the case of a lunatic king will not bear a moment's examination. It was * Sea the Act of Uniformity. Q
plain that James was not in that state of mind in which, if he had been a conntry gentleman or a merchant, any tribunal would have held him incapable of executing a contract or a will. He was of unsound mind only as all bad kings are of unsound mind; as Charles the First had been of unsound mind when he went to seize the five members; as Charles the Second had been of unsound mind when he concluded the treaty of Dover. If this sort of mental unsoundness did not justify subjects in withdrawing their obedience from princes, the plan of a Regency was evidently indefensible. If this sort of mental unsoundness did justify subjects in withdrawing their obedience from princes, the doctrine of nonresistance was completely given up; and all that any moderate Whig had ever contended for was fully admitted.
As to the oath of allegiance about which Sancroft and his disciples were so anxious, one thing at least is clear, that, whoever might be right, they were wrong. The Whigs held that, in the oath of allegiance, certain conditions were implied, that the King had violated these conditions, and that the oath had therefore lost its force. But, if the Whig doctrine were false, if the oath were still binding, could men of sense really believe that they escaped the guilt of perjury by voting for a Regency? Could they affirm that they bore true allegiance to James, while they were, in defiance of his protestations made before all Europe, authorising another person to receive the royal revenues, to summon and prorogue Parliaments, to create Dukes and Earls, to name Bishops and Judges, to pardon offenders, to command the forces of the state, and to conclude treaties with foreign powers? Had Pascal been able to find, in all the folios of the Jesuitical casuists, a sophism more contemptible than that which now, as it seemed, sufficed to quiet the consciences of the fathers of the Anglican Church?
Nothing could be more evident than that the plan of Regency could be defended only on Whig principles. Between the rational supporters of that plan and the majority of the House of
Commons there could be no dispute as to the question of right. All that remained was a question of expediency. And would any statesman seriously contend that it was expedient to constitute a government with two heads. and to give to one of those heads regal power without regal dignity, and to the other regal dignity without regal power? It was notorious that such m arrangement, even when made necessary by the infancy or insanity of a prince, had serious disadvantages. That times of Regency were times of weakness, of trouble, and of disaster, was a truth proved by the whole history of EngHand, of France, and of Scotland, aid had almost become a proverb. Yet, in a case of infancy or of insanity, the King was at least passive. He could not actively counterwork the Regent What was now proposed was that England should have two first magistrates. of ripe age and sound mind, waging with each other an irreconcilable war. It was absurd to talk of leaving James merely the kingly name, and depriving him of all the kingly power. For the name was a part of the power. Th<word King was a word of conjuration. It was associated in the minds of man; Englishmen with the idea of a mysterious character derived from above, and in the minds of almost all Englishmen with the idea of legitimate and venerable authority. Surely, if the title carried with it such power, those who maintained that James ought to be deprived of all power could not deny that he ought to be deprived of the title. And how long was the anomalous
fovernment planned by the genius of ancroft to last? Every argument which could be urged for setting it up at all might be urged with equal force for retaining it to the end of time. If the boy who had been carried into France was really born of the Queen, he would hereafter inherit the divine and indefeasible right to be called King. The same right would Terr probably be transmitted from Papist to Papist through the whole of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Both the Houses had unanimously resold that England should not be governed
by a Papist. It might well be, therefore, that, from generation to generation, Regents would continue to administer the government in the name of vagrant and mendicant Kings. There was no doubt that the Regents must be appointed by Parliament. The effect therefore, of this contrivance, a contrivance intended to preserve unimpaired the sacred principle of hereditary monarchy, would be that the monarchy would become really elective.
Another unanswerable reason was urged against Sancroft's plan. There was in the statute book a law which had been passed soon after the close of the long and bloody contest between the Houses of York and Lancaster, and which had been framed for the purpose of averting calamities such as the alternate victories of those Houses had brought on the nobility and gentry of the realm. By this law it was provided that no person should, by adhering to a King in possession, incur the penalties of treason. When the regicides were brought to trial after the Restoration, some of them insisted that their case lay within the equity of this act. They had obeyed, they said, the government which was in possession, and were therefore not traitors. The Judges admitted that this would have been a good defence if the prisoners had acted under the authority of an usurper who, like Henry the Fourth and Richard the Third, bore the regal title, but declared that such a defence could not avail men »ho had indicted, sentenced, and executed one who, in the indictment, in the sentence, and in the death warrant, ras designated as King. It followed, therefore, that whoever should support a Regent in opposition to James would run great risk of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, if ever James should recover supreme power; but that no person could, without such a violation of law as Jeffreys himself would hardly venture to commit, be punished for siding with a King who was reigning, though wrongfully, atWhitehall, against a rightful King who was in exile at Saint Germains.*
• Stat. 2 Hen. 7. c. 1.; Lord Coke's Institutes, part iii. chap. i.; Trial of Cook for
It should seem that these arguments admit of no reply; and they were doubtless urged with force by Danby, who had a wonderful power of making every subject which he treated clear to the dullest mind, and by Halifax, who, in fertility of thought and brilliancy of diction, had no rival among the orators of that age. Yet so numerous and powerful were the Tories in the Upper House that, notwithstanding the weakness of their case, the defection of their leader, and the ability of their opponents, they very nearly carried the day. A hundred Lords divided. Forty nine voted for a Regency, fifty one against it. In the minority were the natural children of Charles, the brothers in law of James, the Dukes of Somerset and Ormond, the Archbishop of York and eleven Bishops. No prelate voted in the majority except Compton and Trelawney.*
It was near nine in the evening before the House rose. The following day was the thirtieth of January, the anniversary of the death of Charles the First. The great body of the Anglican clergy had, during many years, thought it a sacred duty to inculcate on that day the doctrines of nonresistance and passive obedience. Their old sermons were now of little use; and many divines were even in doubt whether they could venture to read the whole Liturgy. The Lower House had declared that the throne was vacant. The Upper had not yet expressed any opinion. It was therefore not easy to decide whether the prayers for the sovereign ought to be used. Every officiating minister took his own course. In most of the churches of the capital the petitions for James were omitted: but at Saint Margaret's, Sharp, Dean of Norwich, who had been requested topreachbefore the Commons,
high treason, in the Collection of State Trials; Burnet, i. 813. and Swift's note.
* Lords' Journals, January 29. 168|; Clarendon's Diary; Evelyn's Diary ; Van Citters; Eachard's History of the Revolution ; Burnet, i. 813.; History of the Reestablishment of the Government, 1G89. The numbers of the Contents and Not Contents are not given in the journals, and are differently reported bj different writers. I have followed Clarendon, who took the trouble to make out lists of the majority and minority.