The night came; but the Protestant counties were awake and up. A royal salute had been fired from the castle of Belfast. It had been echoed and reechoed by guns which Schomberg had placed at wide intervals for the purpose of conveying signals from post to post. Wherever the peal was heard, it was known that King William was come. Before midnight all the heights of Antrim and Down were blazing with bonfires. The light was seen across the bays of Carlingford and Dundalk, and gave notice to the outposts of the enemy that the decisive hour was at hand. Within forty-eight hours after William had landed, James set out from Dublin for the Irish camp, which was pitched near the northern frontier of Leinster.
In Dublin the agitation was fearful. None could doubt that the decisive crisis was approaching; and the agony of suspense stimulated to the highest point the passions of both the hostile castes. The majority could easily detect, in the looks and tones of the oppressed minority, signs which indicated the hope of a speedy deliverance and of a terrible revenge. Simon Luttrell, to whom the care of the capital was entrusted, hastened to take such precautions as fear and hatred dictated. A proclamation appeared, enjoining all Protestants to remain in their houses from nightfall to dawn, and prohibiting them, on pain of death, from assembling in any place or for any purpose to the number of more than five. No indulgence was granted even to those divines of the Established Church who had never ceased to teach the doctrine of non resistance. Doctor William King, who had, after long holding out, lately begun to waver in his political creed, was committed to custody. There was no gaol large enough to hold one half of those whom the governor suspected of evil designs. The College and several parish churches were used as prisons; and into those buildings men accused of no crime but their religion were crowded in such numbers that they could hardly breathe.
The two rival princes meanwhile were busied in collecting their forces. Loughbrickland was the place appointed by William for the rendezvous of the scattered divisions of his army. While his troops were assembling, he exerted himself indefatigably to improve their discipline and to provide for their subsistence. He had brought from England two hundred thousand pounds in money and a great quantity of ammunition and provisions. Pillaging was prohibited under severe penalties. At the same time supplies were liberally dispensed; and all the paymasters of regiments were directed to send in their accounts without delay, in order that there might be no arrears. Thomas Coningsby, Member of Parliament for Leominster, a busy and unscrupulous Whig, accompanied the King, and acted as Paymaster General. It deserves to be mentioned that William, at this time, authorised the Collector of Customs at Belfast to pay every year twelve hundred pounds into the hands of some of the principal dissenting ministers of Down and Antrim, who were to be trustees for their brethren. The King declared that he bestowed this sum on the nonconformist divines, partly as a reward for their eminent loyalty to him, and partly as a compensation for their recent losses. Such was the origin of that donation which is still annually bestowed by the government on the Presbyterian clergy of Ulster.
William was all himself again. His spirits, depressed by eighteen months passed in dull state, amidst factions and intrigues which he but half understood, rose high as soon as he was surrounded by tents and standards. It was strange to see how rapidly this man, so unpopular at Westminster, obtained a complete mastery over the hearts of his brethren in arms. They observed with delight that, infirm as he was, he took his share of every hardship which they underwent; that he thought more of their comfort than of his own, that he sharply reprimanded some officers, who were so anxious to procure luxuries for his table as to forget the wants of the common soldiers; that he never once, from the day on which he took the field, lodged in a house, but, even in the neighbourhood of cities and palaces, slept in his small moveable hut of wood; that no solicitations could induce him, on a hot day and in a high wind, to move out of the choking cloud of dust, which overhung the line of march, and which severely tried lungs less delicate than his. Every man under his command became familiar with his looks and with his voice; for there was not a regiment which he did not inspect with minute attention. His pleasant looks and sayings were long remembered. One brave soldier has recorded in his journal the kind and courteous manner in which a basket of the first cherries of the year was accepted from him by the King, and the sprightliness with which His Majesty conversed at supper with those who stood round the table.
On the twenty-fourth of June, the tenth day after William's landing, he marched southward from Loughbrickland with all his forces. He was fully determined to take the first opportunity of fighting. Schomberg and some other officers recommended caution and delay. But the King answered that he had not come to Ireland to let the grass grow under his feet. The event seems to prove that he judged rightly as a general. That he judged rightly as a statesman cannot be doubted. He knew that the English nation was discontented with the way in which the war had hitherto been conducted; that nothing but rapid and splendid success could revive the enthusiasm of his friends and quell the spirit of his enemies; and that a defeat could scarcely be more injurious to his fame and to his interests than a languid and indecisive campaign.
The country through which he advanced had, during eighteen months, been fearfully wasted both by soldiers and by Rapparees. The cattle had been slaughtered: the plantations had been cut down: the fences and houses were in ruins. Not a human being was to be found near the road, except a few naked and meagre wretches who had no food but the husks of oats, and who were seen picking those husks, like chickens, from amidst dust and cinders. Yet, even under such disadvantages, the natural fertility of the country, the rich green of the earth, the bays and rivers so admirably fitted for trade, could not but strike the King's observant eye. Perhaps he thought how different an aspect that unhappy region would have presented if it had been blessed with such a government and such a religion as had made his native Holland the wonder of the world; how endless a succession of pleasure houses, tulip gardens and dairy farms would have lined the road from Lisburn to Belfast; how many hundreds of barges would have been constantly passing up and down the Laggan; what a forest of masts would have bristled in the desolate port of Newry; and what vast warehouses and stately mansions would have covered the space occupied by the noisome alleys of Dundalk. "The country," he was heard to say, "is worth fighting for."
The original intention of James seems to have been to try the chances of a pitched field on the border between Leinster and Ulster. But this design was abandoned, in consequence, apparently, of the representations of Lauzun, who, though very little disposed and very little qualified to conduct a campaign on the Fabian system, had the admonitions of Louvois still in his ears. James, though resolved not to give up Dublin without a battle, consented to retreat till he should reach some spot where he might have the vantage of ground. When therefore William's advanced guard reached Dundalk, nothing was to be seen of the Irish Army, except a great cloud of dust which was slowly rolling southwards towards Ardee. The English halted one night near the ground on which Schomberg's camp had been pitched in the preceding year; and many sad recollections were awakened by the sight of that dreary marsh, the sepulchre of thousands of brave men.
Still William continued to push forward, and still the Irish receded before him, till, on the morning of Monday the thirtieth of June, his army, marching in three columns, reached the summit of a rising ground near the southern frontier of the county of Louth. Beneath lay a valley, now so rich and so cheerful that the Englishman who gazes on it may imagine himself to be in one of the most highly favoured parts of his own highly favoured country. Fields of wheat, woodlands, meadows bright with daisies and clover, slope gently down to the edge of the Boyne. That bright and tranquil stream, the boundary of Louth and Meath, having flowed many miles between verdant banks crowned by modern palaces, and by the ruined keeps of old Norman barons of the pale, is here about to mingle with the sea. Five miles to the west of the place from which William looked down on the river, now stands, on a verdant bank, amidst noble woods, Slane Castle, the mansion of the Marquess of Conyngham. Two miles to the east, a cloud of smoke from factories and steam vessels overhangs the busy town and port of Drogheda. On the Meath side of the Boyne, the ground, still all corn, grass, flowers, and foliage, rises with a gentle swell to an eminence surmounted by a conspicuous tuft of ash trees which overshades the ruined church and desolate graveyard of Donore.
In the seventeenth century the landscape presented a very different aspect. The traces of art and industry were few. Scarcely a vessel was on the river except those rude coracles of wickerwork covered with the skins of horses, in which the Celtic peasantry fished for trout and salmon. Drogheda, now peopled by twenty thousand industrious inhabitants, was a small knot of narrow, crooked and filthy lanes, encircled by a ditch and a mound. The houses were built of wood with high gables and projecting upper stories. Without the walls of the town, scarcely a dwelling was to be seen except at a place called Oldbridge. At Oldbridge the river was fordable; and on the south of the ford were a few mud cabins, and a single house built of more solid materials.
When William caught sight of the valley of the Boyne, he could not suppress an exclamation and a gesture of delight. He had been apprehensive that the enemy would avoid a decisive action, and would protract the war till the autumnal rains should return with pestilence in their train. He was now at ease. It was plain that the contest would be sharp and short. The pavilion of James was pitched on the eminence of Donore. The flags of the House of Stuart and of the House of Bourbon waved together in defiance on the walls of Drogheda. All the southern bank of the river was lined by the camp and batteries of the hostile army. Thousands of armed men were moving about among the tents; and every one, horse soldier or foot soldier, French or Irish, had a white badge in his hat. That colour had been chosen in compliment to the House of Bourbon. "I am glad to see you, gentlemen," said the King, as his keen eye surveyed the Irish lines. "If you escape me now, the fault will be mine."
Each of the contending princes had some advantages over his rival. James, standing on the defensive, behind entrenchments, with a river before him, had the stronger position; but his troops were inferior both in number and in quality to those which were opposed to him. He probably had thirty thousand men. About a third part of this force consisted of excellent French infantry and excellent Irish cavalry. But the rest of his army was the scoff of all Europe. The Irish dragoons were bad; the Irish infantry worse. It was said that their ordinary way of fighting was to discharge their pieces once, and then to run away bawling "Quarter" and "Murder." Their inefficiency was, in that age, commonly imputed, both by their enemies and by their allies, to natural poltroonery. How little ground there was for such an imputation has since been signally proved by many heroic achievements in every part of the globe. It ought, indeed, even in the seventeenth century, to have occurred to reasonable men, that a race which furnished some of the best horse soldiers in the world would certainly, with judicious training, furnish good foot soldiers. But the Irish foot soldiers had not merely not been well trained; they had been elaborately ill trained. The greatest of our generals repeatedly and emphatically declared that even the admirable army which fought its way, under his command, from Torres Vedras to Toulouse, would, if he had suffered it to contract habits of pillage, have become, in a few weeks, unfit for all military purposes. What then was likely to be the character of troops who, from the day on which they enlisted, were not merely permitted, but invited, to supply the deficiencies of pay by marauding? They were, as might have been expected, a mere mob, furious indeed and clamorous in their zeal for the cause which they had espoused, but incapable of opposing a stedfast resistance to a well ordered force. In truth, all that the discipline, if it is to be so called, of James's army had done for the Celtic kerne had been to debase and enervate him. After eighteen months of nominal soldiership, he was positively farther from being a soldier than on the day on which he quilted his hovel for the camp.
William had under his command near thirty-six thousand men, born in many lands, and speaking many tongues. Scarcely one Protestant Church, scarcely one Protestant nation, was unrepresented in the army which a strange series of events had brought to fight for the Protestant religion in the remotest island of the west. About half the troops were natives of England. Ormond was there with the Life Guards, and Oxford with the Blues. Sir John Lanier, an officer who had acquired military experience on the Continent, and whose prudence was held in high esteem, was at the head of the Queen's regiment of horse, now the First Dragoon Guards. There were Beaumont's foot, who had, in defiance of the mandate of James, refused to admit Irish papists among them, and Hastings's foot, who had, on the disastrous day of Killiecrankie, maintained the military reputation of the Saxon race. There were the two Tangier battalions, hitherto known only by deeds of violence and rapine, but destined to begin on the following morning a long career of glory. The Scotch Guards marched under the command of their countryman James Douglas. Two fine British regiments, which had been in the service of the States General, and had often looked death in the face under William's leading, followed him in this campaign, not only as their general, but as their native King. They now rank as the fifth and sixth of the line. The former was led by an officer who had no skill in the higher parts of military science, but whom the whole army allowed to be the bravest of all the brave, John Cutts. Conspicuous among the Dutch troops were Portland's and Ginkell's Horse, and Solmes's Blue regiment, consisting of two thousand of the finest infantry in Europe. Germany had sent to the field some warriors, sprung from her noblest houses. Prince George of Hesse Darmstadt, a gallant youth who was serving his apprenticeship in the military art, rode near the King. A strong brigade of Danish mercenaries was commanded by Duke Charles Frederic of Wirtemberg, a near kinsman of the head of his illustrious family. It was reported that of all the soldiers of William these were most dreaded by the Irish. For centuries of Saxon domination had not effaced the recollection of the violence and cruelty of the Scandinavian sea kings; and an ancient prophecy that the Danes would one day destroy the children of the soil was still repeated with superstitious horror. Among the foreign auxiliaries were a Brandenburg regiment and a Finland regiment. But in that great array, so variously composed, were two bodies of men animated by a spirit peculiarly fierce and implacable, the Huguenots of France thirsting for the blood of the French, and the Englishry of Ireland impatient to trample down the Irish. The ranks of the refugees had been effectually purged of spies and traitors, and were made up of men such as had contended in the preceding century against the power of the House of Valois and the genius of the House of Lorraine. All the boldest spirits of the unconquerable colony had repaired to William's camp. Mitchelburne was there with the stubborn defenders of Londonderry, and Wolseley with the warriors who had raised the unanimous shout of "Advance" on the day of Newton Butler. Sir Albert Conyngham, the ancestor of the noble family whose seat now overlooks the Boyne, had brought from the neighbourhood of Lough Erne a gallant regiment of dragoons which still glories in the name of Enniskillen, and which has proved on the shores of the Euxine that it has not degenerated since the day of the Boyne.
Walker, notwithstanding his advanced age and his peaceful profession, accompanied the men of Londonderry, and tried to animate their zeal by exhortation and by example. He was now a great prelate. Ezekiel Hopkins had taken refuge from Popish persecutors and Presbyterian rebels in the city of London, had brought himself to swear allegiance to the government, had obtained a cure, and had died in the performance of the humble duties of a parish priest. William, on his march through Louth, learned that the rich see of Derry was at his disposal. He instantly made choice of Walker to be the new Bishop. The brave old man, during the few hours of life which remained to him, was overwhelmed with salutations and congratulations. Unhappily he had, during the siege in which he had so highly distinguished himself, contracted a passion for war; and he easily persuaded himself that, in indulging this passion, he was discharging a duty to his country and his religion. He ought to have remembered that the peculiar circumstances which had justified him in becoming a combatant had ceased to exist, and that, in a disciplined army led by generals of long experience and great fame a fighting divine was likely to give less help than scandal. The Bishop elect was determined to be wherever danger was; and the way in which he exposed himself excited the extreme disgust of his royal patron, who hated a meddler almost as much as a coward. A soldier who ran away from a battle and a gownsman who pushed himself into a battle were the two objects which most strongly excited William's spleen.
It was still early in the day. The King rode slowly along the northern bank of the river, and closely examined the position of the Irish, from whom he was sometimes separated by an interval of little more than two hundred feet. He was accompanied by Schomberg, Ormond, Sidney, Solmes, Prince George of Hesse, Coningsby, and others. "Their army is but small;" said one of the Dutch officers. Indeed it did not appear to consist of more than sixteen thousand men. But it was well known, from the reports brought by deserters, that many regiments were concealed from view by the undulations of the ground. "They may be stronger than they look," said William; "but, weak or strong, I will soon know all about them."
At length he alighted at a spot nearly opposite to Oldbridge, sate down on the turf to rest himself, and called for breakfast. The sumpter horses were unloaded: the canteens were opened; and a tablecloth was spread on the grass. The place is marked by an obelisk, built while many veterans who could well remember the events of that day were still living.
While William was at his repast, a group of horsemen appeared close to the water on the opposite shore. Among them his attendants could discern some who had once been conspicuous at reviews in Hyde Park and at balls in the gallery of Whitehall, the youthful Berwick, the small, fairhaired Lauzun, Tyrconnel, once admired by maids of honour as the model of manly vigour and beauty, but now bent down by years and crippled by gout, and, overtopping all, the stately head of Sarsfield.
The chiefs of the Irish army soon discovered that the person who, surrounded by a splendid circle, was breakfasting on the opposite bank, was the Prince of Orange. They sent for artillery. Two field pieces, screened from view by a troop of cavalry, were brought down almost to the brink of the river, and placed behind a hedge. William, who had just risen from his meal, and was again in the saddle, was the mark of both guns. The first shot struck one of the holsters of Prince George of Hesse, and brought his horse to the ground. "Ah!" cried the King; "the poor Prince is killed." As the words passed his lips, he was himself hit by a second ball, a sixpounder. It merely tore his coat, grazed his shoulder, and drew two or three ounces of blood. Both armies saw that the shot had taken effect; for the King sank down for a moment on his horse's neck. A yell of exultation rose from the Irish camp. The English and their allies were in dismay. Solmes flung himself prostrate on the earth, and burst into tears. But William's deportment soon reassured his friends. "There is no harm done," he said: "but the bullet came quite near enough." Coningsby put his handkerchief to the wound: a surgeon was sent for: a plaster was applied; and the King, as soon as the dressing was finished, rode round all the posts of his army amidst loud acclamations. Such was the energy of his spirit that, in spite of his feeble health, in spite of his recent hurt, he was that day nineteen hours on horseback.
A cannonade was kept up on both sides till the evening. William observed with especial attention the effect produced by the Irish shots on the English regiments which had never been in action, and declared himself satisfied with the result. "All is right," he said; "they stand fire well." Long after sunset he made a final inspection of his forces by torchlight, and gave orders that every thing should be ready for forcing a passage across the river on the morrow. Every soldier was to put a green bough in his hat. The baggage and great coats were to be left under a guard. The word was Westminster.
The King's resolution to attack the Irish was not approved by all his lieutenants. Schomberg, in particular, pronounced the experiment too hazardous, and, when his opinion was overruled, retired to his tent in no very good humour. When the order of battle was delivered to him, he muttered that he had been more used to give such orders than to receive them. For this little fit of sullenness, very pardonable in a general who had won great victories when his master was still a child, the brave veteran made, on the following morning, a noble atonement.
The first of July dawned, a day which has never since returned without exciting strong emotions of very different kinds in the two populations which divide Ireland. The sun rose bright and cloudless. Soon after four both armies were in motion. William ordered his right wing, under the command of Meinhart Schomberg, one of the Duke's sons, to march to the bridge of Slane, some miles up the river, to cross there, and to turn the left flank of the Irish army. Meinhart Schomberg was assisted by Portland and Douglas. James, anticipating some such design, had already sent to the bridge a regiment of dragoons, commanded by Sir Neil O'Neil. O'Neil behaved himself like a brave gentleman: but he soon received a mortal wound; his men fled; and the English right wing passed the river.
This move made Lauzun uneasy. What if the English right wing should get into the rear of the army of James? About four miles south of the Boyne was a place called Duleek, where the road to Dublin was so narrow, that two cars could not pass each other, and where on both sides of the road lay a morass which afforded no firm footing. If Meinhart Schomberg should occupy this spot, it would be impossible for the Irish to retreat. They must either conquer, or be cut off to a man. Disturbed by this apprehension, the French general marched with his countrymen and with Sarsfield's horse in the direction of Slane Bridge. Thus the fords near Oldbridge were left to be defended by the Irish alone.
It was now near ten o'clock. William put himself at the head of his left wing, which was composed exclusively of cavalry, and prepared to pass the river not far above Drogheda. The centre of his army, which consisted almost exclusively of foot, was entrusted to the command of Schomberg, and was marshalled opposite to Oldbridge. At Oldbridge the whole Irish infantry had been collected. The Meath bank bristled with pikes and bayonets. A fortification had been made by French engineers out of the hedges and buildings; and a breastwork had been thrown up close to the water side. Tyrconnel was there; and under him were Richard Hamilton and Antrim.
Schomberg gave the word. Solmes's Blues were the first to move. They marched gallantly, with drums beating, to the brink of the Boyne. Then the drums stopped; and the men, ten abreast, descended into the water. Next plunged Londonderry and Enniskillen. A little to the left of Londonderry and Enniskillen, Caillemot crossed, at the head of a long column of French refugees. A little to the left of Caillemot and his refugees, the main body of the English infantry struggled through the river, up to their armpits in water. Still further down the stream the Danes found another ford. In a few minutes the Boyne, for a quarter of a mile, was alive with muskets and green boughs.
It was not till the assailants had reached the middle of the channel that they became aware of the whole difficulty and danger of the service in which they were engaged. They had as yet seen little more than half the hostile army. Now whole regiments of foot and horse seemed to start out of the earth. A wild shout of defiance rose from the whole shore: during one moment the event seemed doubtful: but the Protestants pressed resolutely forward; and in another moment the whole Irish line gave way. Tyrconnel looked on in helpless despair. He did not want personal courage; but his military skill was so small that he hardly ever reviewed his regiment in the Phoenix Park without committing some blunder; and to rally the ranks which were breaking all round him was no task for a general who had survived the energy of his body and of his mind, and yet had still the rudiments of his profession to learn. Several of his best officers fell while vainly endeavouring to prevail on their soldiers to look the Dutch Blues in the face. Richard Hamilton ordered a body of foot to fall on the French refugees, who were still deep in water. He led the way, and, accompanied by several courageous gentlemen, advanced, sword in hand, into the river. But neither his commands nor his example could infuse courage into that mob of cowstealers. He was left almost alone, and retired from the bank in despair. Further down the river Antrim's division ran like sheep at the approach of the English column. Whole regiments flung away arms, colours and cloaks, and scampered off to the hills without striking a blow or firing a shot.
It required many years and many heroic exploits to take away the reproach which that ignominious rout left on the Irish name. Yet, even before the day closed, it was abundantly proved that the reproach was unjust. Richard Hamilton put himself at the head of the cavalry, and, under his command, they made a gallant, though an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve the day. They maintained a desperate fight in the bed of the river with Solmes's Blues. They drove the Danish brigade back into the stream. They fell impetuously on the Huguenot regiments, which, not being provided with pikes, then ordinarily used by foot to repel horse, began to give ground. Caillemot, while encouraging his fellow exiles, received a mortal wound in the thigh. Four of his men carried him back across the ford to his tent. As he passed, he continued to urge forward the rear ranks which were still up to the breast in the water. "On; on; my lads: to glory; to glory." Schomberg, who had remained on the northern bank, and who had thence watched the progress of his troops with the eye of a general, now thought that the emergency required from him the personal exertion of a soldier. Those who stood about him besought him in vain to put on his cuirass. Without defensive armour he rode through the river, and rallied the refugees whom the fall of Caillemot had dismayed. "Come on," he cried in French, pointing to the Popish squadrons; "come on, gentlemen; there are your persecutors." Those were his last words. As he spoke, a band of Irish horsemen rushed upon him and encircled him for a moment. When they retired, he was on the ground. His friends raised him; but he was already a corpse. Two sabre wounds were on his head; and a bullet from a carbine was lodged in his neck. Almost at the same moment Walker, while exhorting the colonists of Ulster to play the men, was shot dead. During near half an hour the battle continued to rage along the southern shore of the river. All was smoke, dust and din. Old soldiers were heard to say that they had seldom seen sharper work in the Low Countries. But, just at this conjuncture, William came up with the left wing. He had found much difficulty in crossing. The tide was running fast. His charger had been forced to swim, and had been almost lost in the mud. As soon as the King was on firm ground he took his sword in his left hand,--for his right arm was stiff with his wound and his bandage,--and led his men to the place where the fight was the hottest. His arrival decided the fate of the day. Yet the Irish horse retired fighting obstinately. It was long remembered among the Protestants of Ulster that, in the midst of the tumult, William rode to the head of the Enniskilleners. "What will you do for me?" he cried. He was not immediately recognised; and one trooper, taking him for an enemy, was about to fire. William gently put aside the carbine. "What," said he, "do you not know your friends?" "It is His Majesty;" said the Colonel. The ranks of sturdy Protestant yeomen set up a shout of joy. "Gentlemen," said William, "you shall be my guards to day. I have heard much of you. Let me see something of you." One of the most remarkable peculiarities of this man, ordinarily so saturnine and reserved, was that danger acted on him like wine, opened his heart, loosened his tongue, and took away all appearance of constraint from his manner. On this memorable day he was seen wherever the peril was greatest. One ball struck the cap of his pistol: another carried off the heel of his jackboot: but his lieutenants in vain implored him to retire to some station from which he could give his orders without exposing a life so valuable to Europe. His troops, animated by his example, gained ground fast. The Irish cavalry made their last stand at a house called Plottin Castle, about a mile and a half south of Oldbridge. There the Enniskilleners were repelled with the loss of fifty men, and were hotly pursued, till William rallied them and turned the chase back. In this encounter Richard Hamilton, who had done all that could be done by valour to retrieve a reputation forfeited by perfidy, was severely wounded, taken prisoner, and instantly brought, through the smoke and over the carnage, before the prince whom he had foully wronged. On no occasion did the character of William show itself in a more striking manner. "Is this business over?" he said; "or will your horse make more fight?" "On my honour, Sir," answered Hamilton, "I believe that they will." "Your honour!" muttered William; "your honour!" That half suppressed exclamation was the only revenge which he condescended to take for an injury for which many sovereigns, far more affable and gracious in their ordinary deportment, would have exacted a terrible retribution. Then, restraining himself, he ordered his own surgeon to look to the hurts of the captive.
And now the battle was over. Hamilton was mistaken in thinking that his horse would continue to fight. Whole troops had been cut to pieces. One fine regiment had only thirty unwounded men left. It was enough that these gallant soldiers had disputed the field till they were left without support, or hope, or guidance, till their bravest leader was a captive, and till their King had fled.
Whether James had owed his early reputation for valour to accident and flattery, or whether, as he advanced in life, his character underwent a change, may be doubted. But it is certain that, in his youth, he was generally believed to possess, not merely that average measure of fortitude which qualifies a soldier to go through a campaign without disgrace, but that high and serene intrepidity which is the virtue of great commanders. It is equally certain that, in his later years, he repeatedly, at conjunctures such as have often inspired timorous and delicate women with heroic courage, showed a pusillanimous anxiety about his personal safety. Of the most powerful motives which can induce human beings to encounter peril none was wanting to him on the day of the Boyne. The eyes of his contemporaries and of posterity, of friends devoted to his cause and of enemies eager to witness his humiliation, were fixed upon him. He had, in his own opinion, sacred rights to maintain and cruel wrongs to revenge. He was a King come to fight for three kingdoms. He was a father come to fight for the birthright of his child. He was a zealous Roman Catholic, come to fight in the holiest of crusades. If all this was not enough, he saw, from the secure position which he occupied on the height of Donore, a sight which, it might have been thought, would have roused the most torpid of mankind to emulation. He saw his rival, weak, sickly, wounded, swimming the river, struggling through the mud, leading the charge, stopping the flight, grasping the sword with the left hand, managing the bridle with a bandaged arm. But none of these things moved that sluggish and ignoble nature. He watched, from a safe distance, the beginning of the battle on which his fate and the fate of his race depended. When it became clear that the day was going against Ireland, he was seized with an apprehension that his flight might be intercepted, and galloped towards Dublin. He was escorted by a bodyguard under the command of Sarsfield, who had, on that day, had no opportunity of displaying the skill and courage which his enemies allowed that he possessed. The French auxiliaries, who had been employed the whole morning in keeping William's right wing in check, covered the flight of the beaten army. They were indeed in some danger of being broken and swept away by the torrent of runaways, all pressing to get first to the pass of Duleek, and were forced to fire repeatedly on these despicable allies. The retreat was, however, effected with less loss than might have been expected. For even the admirers of William owned that he did not show in the pursuit the energy which even his detractors acknowledged that he had shown in the battle. Perhaps his physical infirmities, his hurt, and the fatigue which he had undergone, had made him incapable of bodily or mental exertion. Of the last forty hours he had passed thirty-five on horseback. Schomberg, who might have supplied his place, was no more. It was said in the camp that the King could not do every thing, and that what was not done by him was not done at all.
The slaughter had been less than on any battle field of equal importance and celebrity. Of the Irish only about fifteen hundred had fallen; but they were almost all cavalry, the flower of the army, brave and well disciplined men, whose place could not easily be supplied. William gave strict orders that there should be no unnecessary bloodshed, and enforced those orders by an act of laudable severity. One of his soldiers, after the fight was over, butchered three defenceless Irishmen who asked for quarter. The King ordered the murderer to be hanged on the spot.
The loss of the conquerors did not exceed five hundred men : but among them was the first captain in Europe. To his corpse every honour was paid. The only cemetery in which so illustrious a warrior, slain in arms for the liberties and religion of England, could properly be laid was that venerable Abbey, hallowed by the dust of many generations of princes, heroes and poets. It was announced that the brave veteran should have a public funeral at Westminster. In the mean time his corpse was embalmed with such skill as could be found in the camp, and was deposited in a leaden coffin.
Walker was treated less respectfully. William thought him a busybody who had been properly punished for running into danger without any call of duty, and expressed that feeling, with characteristic bluntness, on the field of battle. "Sir," said an attendant, the Bishop of Derry has been killed by a shot at the ford." "What took him there?" growled the King.
The victorious army advanced that day to Duleek, and passed the warm summer night there under the open sky. The tents and the baggage waggons were still on the north of the river. William's coach had been brought over; and he slept in it surrounded by his soldiers. On the following day, Drogheda surrendered without a blow, and the garrison, thirteen hundred strong, marched out unarmed.
Meanwhile Dublin had been in violent commotion. On the thirtieth of June it was known that the armies were face to face with the Boyne between them, and that a battle was almost inevitable. The news that William had been wounded came that evening. The first report was that the wound was mortal. It was believed, and confidently repeated, that the usurper was no more; and couriers started bearing the glad tidings of his death to the French ships which lay in the ports of Munster. From daybreak on the first of July the streets of Dublin were filled with persons eagerly asking and telling news. A thousand wild rumours wandered to and fro among the crowd. A fleet of men of war under the white flag had been seen from the hill of Howth. An army commanded by a Marshal of France had landed in Kent. There had been hard fighting at the Boyne; but the Irish had won the day; the English right wing had been routed; the Prince of Orange was a prisoner. While the Roman Catholics heard and repeated these stories in all the places of public resort, the few Protestants who were still out of prison, afraid of being torn to pieces, shut themselves up in their inner chambers. But, towards five in the afternoon, a few runaways on tired horses came straggling in with evil tidings. By six it was known that all was lost. Soon after sunset, James, escorted by two hundred cavalry, rode into the Castle. At the threshold he was met by the wife of Tyrconnel, once the gay and beautiful Fanny Jennings, the loveliest coquette in the brilliant Whitehall of the Restoration. To her the vanquished King had to announce the ruin of her fortunes and of his own. And now the tide of fugitives came in fast. Till midnight all the northern avenues of the capital were choked by trains of cars and by bands of dragoons, spent with running and riding, and begrimed with dust. Some had lost their fire arms, and some their swords. Some were disfigured by recent wounds. At two in the morning Dublin was still: but, before the early dawn of midsummer, the sleepers were roused by the peal of trumpets; and the horse, who had, on the preceding day, so well supported the honour of their country, came pouring through the streets, with ranks fearfully thinned, yet preserving, even in that extremity, some show of military order. Two hours later Lauzun's drums were heard; and the French regiments, in unbroken array, marched into the city. Many thought that, with such a force, a stand might still be made. But, before six o'clock, the Lord Mayor and some of the principal Roman Catholic citizens were summoned in haste to the Castle. James took leave of them with a speech which did him little honour. He had often, he said, been warned that Irishmen, however well they might look, would never acquit themselves well on a field of battle; and he had now found that the warning was but too true. He had been so unfortunate as to see himself in less than two years abandoned by two armies. His English troops had not wanted courage; but they had wanted loyalty. His Irish troops were, no doubt, attached to his cause, which was their own. But as soon as they were brought front to front with an enemy, they ran away. The loss indeed had been little. More shame for those who had fled with so little loss. "I will never command an Irish army again. I must shift for myself; and so must you." After thus reviling his soldiers for being the rabble which his own mismanagement had made them, and for following the example of cowardice which he had himself set them, he uttered a few words more worthy of a King. He knew, he said, that some of his adherents had declared that they would burn Dublin down rather than suffer it to fall into the hands of the English. Such an act would disgrace him in the eyes of all mankind: for nobody would believe that his friends would venture so far without his sanction. Such an act would also draw on those who committed it severities which otherwise they had no cause to apprehend: for inhumanity to vanquished enemies was not among the faults of the Prince of Orange. For these reasons James charged his hearers on their allegiance neither to sack nor to destroy the city. He then took his departure, crossed the Wicklow hills with all speed, and never stopped till he was fifty miles from Dublin. Scarcely had he alighted to take some refreshment when he was scared by an absurd report that the pursuers were close upon him. He started again, rode hard all night, and gave orders that the bridges should be pulled down behind him. At sunrise on the third of July he reached the harbour of Waterford. Thence he went by sea to Kinsale, where he embarked on board of a French frigate, and sailed for Brest.
After his departure the confusion in Dublin increased hourly. During the whole of the day which followed the battle, flying foot soldiers, weary and soiled with travel, were constantly coming in. Roman Catholic citizens, with their wives, their families and their household stuff, were constantly going out. In some parts of the capital there was still an appearance of martial order and preparedness. Guards were posted at the gates: the Castle was occupied by a strong body of troops; and it was generally supposed that the enemy would not be admitted without a struggle. Indeed some swaggerers, who had, a few hours before, run from the breastwork at Oldbridge without drawing a trigger, now swore that they would lay the town in ashes rather than leave it to the Prince of Orange. But towards the evening Tyrconnel and Lauzun collected all their forces, and marched out of the city by the road leading to that vast sheepwalk which extends over the table land of Kildare. Instantly the face of things in Dublin was changed. The Protestants every where came forth from their hiding places. Some of them entered the houses of their persecutors and demanded arms. The doors of the prisons were opened. The Bishops of Meath and Limerick, Doctor King, and others, who had long held the doctrine of passive obedience, but who had at length been converted by oppression into moderate Whigs, formed themselves into a provisional government, and sent a messenger to William's camp, with the news that Dublin was prepared to welcome him. At eight that evening a troop of English dragoons arrived. They were met by the whole Protestant population on College Green, where the statue of the deliverer now stands. Hundreds embraced the soldiers, hung fondly about the necks of the horses, and ran wildly about, shaking hands with each other. On the morrow a large body of cavalry arrived; and soon from every side came news of the effects which the victory of the Boyne had produced. James had quitted the island. Wexford had declared for William. Within twenty-five miles of the capital there was not a Papist in arms. Almost all the baggage and stores of the defeated army had been seized by the conquerors. The Enniskilleners had taken not less than three hundred cars, and had found among the booty ten thousand pounds in money, much plate, many valuable trinkets, and all the rich camp equipage of Tyrconnel and Lauzun.
William fixed his head quarters at Ferns, about two miles from Dublin. Thence, on the morning of Sunday, the sixth of July, he rode in great state to the cathedral, and there, with the crown on his head, returned public thanks to God in the choir which is now hung with the banners of the Knights of Saint Patrick. King preached, with all the fervour of a neophyte, on the great deliverance which God had wrought for the Church. The Protestant magistrates of the city appeared again, after a long interval, in the pomp of office. William could not be persuaded to repose himself at the Castle, but in the evening returned to his camp, and slept there in his wooden cabin.
The fame of these great events flew fast, and excited strong emotions all over Europe. The news of William's wound every where preceded by a few hours the news of his victory. Paris was roused at dead of night by the arrival of a courier who brought the joyful intelligence that the heretic, the parricide, the mortal enemy of the greatness of France, had been struck dead by a cannon ball in the sight of the two armies. The commissaries of police ran about the city, knocked at the doors, and called the people up to illuminate. In an hour streets, quays and bridges were in a blaze: drums were beating and trumpets sounding: the bells of Notre Dame were ringing; peals of cannon were resounding from the batteries of the Bastile. Tables were set out in the streets; and wine was served to all who passed. A Prince of Orange, made of straw, was trailed through the mud, and at last committed to the flames. He was attended by a hideous effigy of the devil, carrying a scroll, on which was written, "I have been waiting for thee these two years." The shops of several Huguenots who had been dragooned into calling themselves Catholics, but were suspected of being still heretics at heart, were sacked by the rabble. It was hardly safe to question the truth of the report which had been so eagerly welcomed by the multitude. Soon, however, some coolheaded people ventured to remark that the fact of the tyrant's death was not quite so certain as might be wished. Then arose a vehement controversy about the effect of such wounds; for the vulgar notion was that no person struck by a cannon ball on the shoulder could recover. The disputants appealed to medical authority; and the doors of the great surgeons and physicians were thronged, it was jocosely said, as if there had been a pestilence in Paris. The question was soon settled by a letter from James, which announced his defeat and his arrival at Brest.
At Rome the news from Ireland produced a sensation of a very different kind. There too the report of William's death was, during a short time, credited. At the French embassy all was joy and triumph: but the Ambassadors of the House of Austria were in despair; and the aspect of the Pontifical Court by no means indicated exultation. Melfort, in a transport of joy, sate down to write a letter of congratulation to Mary of Modena. That letter is still extant, and would alone suffice to explain why he was the favourite of James. Herod,--so William was designated, was gone. There must be a restoration; and that restoration ought to be followed by a terrible revenge and by the establishment of despotism. The power of the purse must be taken away from the Commons. Political offenders must be tried, not by juries, but by judges on whom the Crown could depend. The Habeas Corpus Act must be rescinded. The authors of the Revolution must be punished with merciless severity. "If," the cruel apostate wrote, "if the King is forced to pardon, let it be as few rogues as he can." After the lapse of some anxious hours, a messenger bearing later and more authentic intelligence alighted at the palace occupied by the representative of the Catholic King. In a moment all was changed. The enemies of France,--and all the population, except Frenchmen and British Jacobites, were her enemies, eagerly felicitated one another. All the clerks of the Spanish legation were too few to make transcripts of the despatches for the Cardinals and Bishops who were impatient to know the details of the victory. The first copy was sent to the Pope, and was doubtless welcome to him.
The good news from Ireland reached London at a moment when good news was needed. The English flag had been disgraced in the English seas. A foreign enemy threatened the coast. Traitors were at work within the realm. Mary had exerted herself beyond her strength. Her gentle nature was unequal to the cruel anxieties of her position; and she complained that she could scarcely snatch a moment from business to calm herself by prayer. Her distress rose to the highest point when she learned that the camps of her father and her husband were pitched near to each other, and that tidings of a battle might be hourly expected. She stole time for a visit to Kensington, and had three hours of quiet in the garden, then a rural solitude. But the recollection of days passed there with him whom she might never see again overpowered her. "The place," she wrote to him, "made me think how happy I was there when I had your dear company. But now I will say no more; for I shall hurt my own eyes, which I want now more than ever. Adieu. Think of me, and love me as much as I shall you, whom I love more than my life."
Early on the morning after these tender lines had been despatched, Whitehall was roused by the arrival of a post from Ireland. Nottingham was called out of bed. The Queen, who was just going to the chapel where she daily attended divine service, was informed that William had been wounded. She had wept much; but till that moment she had wept alone, and had constrained herself to show a cheerful countenance to her Court and Council. But when Nottingham put her husband's letter into her hands, she burst into tears. She was still trembling with the violence of her emotions, and had scarcely finished a letter to William in which she poured out her love, her fears and her thankfulness, with the sweet natural eloquence of her sex, when another messenger arrived with the news that the English army had forced a passage across the Boyne, that the Irish were flying in confusion, and that the King was well. Yet she was visibly uneasy till Nottingham had assured her that James was safe. The grave Secretary, who seems to have really esteemed and loved her, afterwards described with much feeling that struggle of filial duty with conjugal affection. On the same day she wrote to adjure her husband to see that no harm befell her father. "I know," she said, "I need not beg you to let him be taken care of; for I am confident you will for your own sake; yet add that to all your kindness; and, for my sake, let people know you would have no hurt happen to his person." This solicitude, though amiable, was superfluous. Her father was perfectly competent to take care of himself. He had never, during the battle, run the smallest risk of hurt; and, while his daughter was shuddering at the dangers to which she fancied that he was exposed in Ireland, he was half way on his voyage to France.
It chanced that the glad tidings arrived at Whitehall on the day to which the Parliament stood prorogued. The Speaker and several members of the House of Commons who were in London met, according to form, at ten in the morning, and were summoned by Black Rod to the bar of the Peers. The Parliament was then again prorogued by commission. As soon as this ceremony had been performed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer put into the hands of the Clerk the despatch which had just arrived from Ireland, and the Clerk read it with a loud voice to the lords and gentlemen present. The good news spread rapidly from Westminster Hall to all the coffeehouses, and was received with transports of joy. For those Englishmen who wished to see an English army beaten and an English colony extirpated by the French and Irish were a minority even of the Jacobite party.
On the ninth day after the battle of the Boyne James landed at Brest, with an excellent appetite, in high spirits, and in a talkative humour. He told the history of his defeat to everybody who would listen to him. But French officers who understood war, and who compared his story with other accounts, pronounced that, though His Majesty had witnessed the battle, he knew nothing about it, except that his army had been routed. From Brest he proceeded to Saint Germains, where, a few hours after his arrival, he was visited by Lewis. The French King had too much delicacy and generosity to utter a word which could sound like reproach. Nothing, he declared, that could conduce to the comfort of the royal family of England should be wanting, as far as his power extended. But he was by no means disposed to listen to the political and military projects of his unlucky guest. James recommended an immediate descent on England. That kingdom, he said, had been drained of troops by the demands of Ireland. The seven or eight thousand regular soldiers who were left would be unable to withstand a great French army. The people were ashamed of their error and impatient to repair it. As soon as their rightful King showed himself, they would rally round him in multitudes. Lewis was too polite and goodnatured to express what he must have felt. He contented himself with answering coldly that he could not decide upon any plan about the British islands till he had heard from his generals in Ireland. James was importunate, and seemed to think himself ill used, because, a fortnight after he had run away from one army, he was not entrusted with another. Lewis was not to be provoked into uttering an unkind or uncourteous word: but he was resolute and, in order to avoid solicitation which gave him pain, he pretended to be unwell. During some time, whenever James came to Versailles, he was respectfully informed that His Most Christian Majesty was not equal to the transaction of business. The highspirited and quickwitted nobles who daily crowded the antechambers could not help sneering while they bowed low to the royal visitor, whose poltroonery and stupidity had a second time made him an exile and a mendicant. They even whispered their sarcasms loud enough to call up the haughty blood of the Guelphs in the cheeks of Mary of Modena. But the insensibility of James was of no common kind. It had long been found proof against reason and against pity. It now sustained a still harder trial, and was found proof even against contempt.
While he was enduring with ignominious fortitude the polite scorn of the French aristocracy, and doing his best to weary out his benefactor's patience and good breeding by repeating that this was the very moment for an invasion of England, and that the whole island was impatiently expecting its foreign deliverers, events were passing which signally proved how little the banished oppressor understood the character of his countrymen.
Tourville had, since the battle of Beachy Head, ranged the Channel unopposed. On the twenty-first of July his masts were seen from the rocks of Portland. On the twenty-second he anchored in the harbour of Torbay, under the same heights which had, not many months before, sheltered the armament of William. The French fleet, which now had a considerable number of troops on board, consisted of a hundred and eleven sail. The galleys, which formed a large part of this force, resembled rather those ships with which Alcibiades and Lysander disputed the sovereignty of the Aegean than those which contended at the Nile and at Trafalgar. The galley was very long and very narrow, the deck not more than two feet from the water edge. Each galley was propelled by fifty or sixty huge oars, and each oar was tugged by five or six slaves. The full complement of slaves to a vessel was three hundred and thirty-six; the full complement of officers and soldiers a hundred and fifty. Of the unhappy rowers some were criminals who had been justly condemned to a life of hardship and danger; a few had been guilty only of adhering obstinately to the Huguenot worship; the great majority were purchased bondsmen, generally Turks and Moors. They were of course always forming plans for massacring their tyrants and escaping from servitude, and could be kept in order only by constant stripes and by the frequent infliction of death in horrible forms. An Englishman, who happened to fall in with about twelve hundred of these most miserable and most desperate of human beings on their road from Marseilles to join Tourville's squadron, heard them vowing that, if they came near a man of war bearing the cross of Saint George, they would never again see a French dockyard.
In the Mediterranean galleys were in ordinary use: but none had ever before been seen on the stormy ocean which roars round our island. The flatterers of Lewis said that the appearance of such a squadron on the Atlantic was one of those wonders which were reserved for his reign; and a medal was struck at Paris to commemorate this bold experiment in maritime war. English sailors, with more reason, predicted that the first gale would send the whole of this fairweather armament to the bottom of the Channel. Indeed the galley, like the ancient trireme, generally kept close to the shore, and ventured out of sight of land only when the water was unruffled and the sky serene. But the qualities which made this sort of ship unfit to brave tempests and billows made it peculiarly fit for the purpose of landing soldiers. Tourville determined to try what effect would be produced by a disembarkation. The English Jacobites who had taken refuge in France were all confident that the whole population of the island was ready to rally round an invading army; and he probably gave them credit for understanding the temper of their countrymen.
Never was there a greater error. Indeed the French admiral is said by tradition to have received, while he was still out at sea, a lesson which might have taught him not to rely on the assurances of exiles. He picked up a fishing boat, and interrogated the owner, a plain Sussex man, about the sentiments of the nation. "Are you," he said, "for King James?" "I do not know much about such matters," answered the fisherman. "I have nothing to say against King James. He is a very worthy gentleman, I believe. God bless him!" "A good fellow!" said Tourville: "then I am sure you will have no objection to take service with us." "What!" cried the prisoner; "I go with the French to fight against the English! Your honour must excuse me; I could not do it to save my life." This poor fisherman, whether he was a real or an imaginary person, spoke the sense of the nation. The beacon on the ridge overlooking Teignmouth was kindled; the High Tor and Causland made answer; and soon all the hill tops of the West were on fire. Messengers were riding hard all night from Deputy Lieutenant to Deputy Lieutenant. Early the next morning, without chief, without summons, five hundred gentlemen and yeomen, armed and mounted, had assembled on the summit of Haldon Hill. In twenty-four hours all Devonshire was up. Every road in the county from sea to sea was covered by multitudes of fighting men, all with their faces set towards Torbay. The lords of a hundred manors, proud of their long pedigrees and old coats of arms, took the field at the head of their tenantry, Drakes, Prideauxes and Rolles, Fowell of Fowelscombe and Fulford of Fulford, Sir Bourchier Wray of Tawstock Park and Sir William Courtenay of Powderham Castle. Letters written by several of the Deputy Lieutenants who were most active during this anxious week are still preserved. All these letters agree in extolling the courage and enthusiasm of the people. But all agree also in expressing the most painful solicitude as to the result of an encounter between a raw militia and veterans who had served under Turenne and Luxemburg; and all call for the help of regular troops, in language very unlike that which, when the pressure of danger was not felt, country gentlemen were then in the habit of using about standing armies.
Tourville, finding that the whole population was united as one man against him, contented himself with sending his galleys to ravage Teignmouth, now a gay watering place consisting of twelve hundred houses, then an obscure village of about forty cottages. The inhabitants had fled. Their dwellings were burned; the venerable parish church was sacked, the pulpit and the communion table demolished, the Bibles and Prayer Books torn and scattered about the roads; the cattle and pigs were slaughtered; and a few small vessels which were employed in fishing or in the coasting trade, were destroyed. By this time sixteen or seventeen thousand Devonshire men had encamped close to the shore; and all the neighbouring counties had risen. The tin mines of Cornwall had sent forth a great multitude of rude and hardy men mortally hostile to Popery. Ten thousand of them had just signed an address to the Queen, in which they had promised to stand by her against every enemy; and they now kept their word. In truth, the whole nation was stirred. Two and twenty troops of cavalry, furnished by Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, were reviewed by Mary at Hounslow, and were complimented by Marlborough on their martial appearance. The militia of Kent and Surrey encamped on Blackheath. Van Citters informed the States General that all England was up in arms, on foot or on horseback, that the disastrous event of the battle of Beachy Head had not cowed, but exasperated the people, and that every company of soldiers which he passed on the road was shouting with one voice, "God bless King William and Queen Mary."
Charles Granville, Lord Lansdowne, eldest son of the Earl of Bath, came with some troops from the garrison of Plymouth to take the command of the tumultuary army which had assembled round the basin of Torbay. Lansdowne was no novice. He had served several hard campaigns against the common enemy of Christendom, and had been created a Count of the Roman Empire in reward of the valour which he had displayed on that memorable day, sung by Filicaja and by Waller, when the infidels retired from the walls of Vienna. He made preparations for action; but the French did not choose to attack him, and were indeed impatient to depart. They found some difficulty in getting away. One day the wind was adverse to the sailing vessels. Another day the water was too rough for the galleys. At length the fleet stood out to sea. As the line of ships turned the lofty cape which overlooks Torquay, an incident happened which, though slight in itself, greatly interested the thousands who lined the coast. Two wretched slaves disengaged themselves from an oar, and sprang overboard. One of them perished. The other, after struggling more than an hour in the water, came safe to English ground, and was cordially welcomed by a population to which the discipline of the galleys was a thing strange and shocking. He proved to be a Turk, and was humanely sent back to his own country.
A pompous description of the expedition appeared in the Paris Gazette. But in truth Tourville's exploits had been inglorious, and yet less inglorious than impolitic. The injury which he had done bore no proportion to the resentment which he had roused. Hitherto the Jacobites had tried to persuade the nation that the French would come as friends and deliverers, would observe strict discipline, would respect the temples and the ceremonies of the established religion, and would depart as soon as the Dutch oppressors had been expelled and the ancient constitution of the realm restored. The short visit of Tourville to our coast had shown how little reason there was to expect such moderation from the soldiers of Lewis. They had been in our island only a few hours, and had occupied only a few acres. But within a few hours and a few acres had been exhibited in miniature the devastation of the Palatinate. What had happened was communicated to the whole kingdom far more rapidly than by gazettes or news letters. A brief for the relief of the people of Teignmouth was read in all the ten thousand parish churches of the land. No congregation could hear without emotion that the Popish marauders had made desolate the habitations of quiet and humble peasants, had outraged the altars of God, had torn to pieces the Gospels and the Communion service. A street, built out of the contributions of the charitable, on the site of the dwellings which the invaders had destroyed, still retains the name of French Street.
The outcry against those who were, with good reason, suspected of having invited the enemy to make a descent on our shores was vehement and general, and was swollen by many voices which had recently been loud in clamour against the government of William. The question had ceased to be a question between two dynasties, and had become a question between England and France. So strong was the national sentiment that nonjurors and Papists shared or affected to share it. Dryden, not long after the burning of Teignmouth, laid a play at the feet of Halifax, with a dedication eminently ingenious, artful, and eloquent. The dramatist congratulated his patron on having taken shelter in a calm haven from the storms of public life, and, with great force and beauty of diction, magnified the felicity of the statesman who exchanges the bustle of office and the fame of oratory for philosophic studies and domestic endearments. England could not complain that she was defrauded of the service to which she had a right. Even the severe discipline of ancient Rome permitted a soldier, after many campaigns, to claim his dismission; and Halifax had surely done enough for his country to be entitled to the same privilege. But the poet added that there was one case in which the Roman veteran, even after his discharge, was required to resume his shield and his pilum; and that one case was an invasion of the Gauls. That a writer who had purchased the smiles of James by apostasy, who had been driven in disgrace from the court of William, and who had a deeper interest in the restoration of the exiled House than any man who made letters his calling, should have used, whether sincerely or insincerely, such language as this, is a fact which may convince us that the determination never to be subjugated by foreigners was fixed in the hearts of the people.
There was indeed a Jacobite literature in which no trace of this patriotic spirit can be detected, a literature the remains of which prove that there were Englishmen perfectly willing to see the English flag dishonoured, the English soil invaded, the English capital sacked, the English crown worn by a vassal of Lewis, if only they might avenge themselves on their enemies, and especially on William, whom they hated with a hatred half frightful, half ludicrous. But this literature was altogether a work of darkness. The law by which the Parliament of James had subjected the press to the control of censors was still in force; and, though the officers whose business it was to prevent the infraction of that law were not extreme to mark every irregularity committed by a bookseller who understood the art of conveying a guinea in a squeeze of the hand, they could not wink at the open vending of unlicensed pamphlets filled with ribald insults to the Sovereign, and with direct instigations to rebellion. But there had long lurked in the garrets of London a class of printers who worked steadily at their calling with precautions resembling those employed by coiners and forgers. Women were on the watch to give the alarm by their screams if an officer appeared near the workshop. The press was immediately pushed into a closet behind the bed; the types were flung into the coalhole, and covered with cinders: the compositor disappeared through a trapdoor in the roof, and made off over the tiles of the neighbouring houses. In these dens were manufactured treasonable works of all classes and sizes, from halfpenny broadsides of doggrel verse up to massy quartos filled with Hebrew quotations. It was not safe to exhibit such publications openly on a counter. They were sold only by trusty agents, and in secret places. Some tracts which were thought likely to produce a great effect were given away in immense numbers at the expense of wealthy Jacobites. Sometimes a paper was thrust under a door, sometimes dropped on the table of a coffeehouse. One day a thousand copies of a scurrilous pamphlet went out by the postbags. On another day, when the shopkeepers rose early to take down their shutters, they found the whole of Fleet Street and the Strand white with seditious handbills.
Of the numerous performances which were ushered into the world by such shifts as these, none produced a greater sensation than a little book which purported to be a form of prayer and humiliation for the use of the persecuted Church. It was impossible to doubt that a considerable sum had been expended on this work. Ten thousand copies were, by various means, scattered over the kingdom. No more mendacious, more malignant or more impious lampoon was ever penned. Though the government had as yet treated its enemies with a lenity unprecedented in the history of our country, though not a single person had, since the Revolution, suffered death for any political offence, the authors of this liturgy were not ashamed to pray that God would assuage their enemy's insatiable thirst for blood, or would, if any more of them were to be brought through the Red Sea to the Land of Promise, prepare them for the passage. They complained that the Church of England, once the perfection of beauty, had become a scorn and derision, a heap of ruins, a vineyard of wild grapes; that her services had ceased to deserve the name of public worship; that the bread and wine which she dispensed had no longer any sacramental virtue; that her priests, in the act of swearing fealty to the usurper, had lost the sacred character which had been conferred on them by their ordination. James was profanely described as the stone which foolish builders had rejected; and a fervent petition was put up that Providence would again make him the head of the corner. The blessings which were called down on our country were of a singular description. There was something very like a prayer for another Bloody Circuit; "Give the King the necks of his enemies;" there was something very like a prayer for a French invasion; "Raise him up friends abroad;" and there was a more mysterious prayer, the best comment on which was afterwards furnished by the Assassination Plot; "Do some great thing for him; which we in particular know not how to pray for."
This liturgy was composed, circulated, and read, it is said, in some congregations of Jacobite schismatics, before William set out for Ireland, but did not attract general notice till the appearance of a foreign armament on our coast had roused the national spirit. Then rose a roar of indignation against the Englishmen who had dared, under the hypocritical pretence of devotion, to imprecate curses on England. The deprived Prelates were suspected, and not without some show of reason. For the nonjurors were, to a man, zealous Episcopalians. Their doctrine was that, in ecclesiastical matters of grave moment, nothing could be well done without the sanction of the Bishop. And could it be believed that any who held this doctrine would compose a service, print it, circulate it, and actually use it in public worship, without the approbation of Sancroft, whom the whole party revered, not only as the true Primate of all England, but also as a Saint and a Confessor? It was known that the Prelates who had refused the oaths had lately held several consultations at Lambeth. The subject of those consultations, it was now said, might easily be guessed. The holy fathers had been engaged in framing prayers for the destruction of the Protestant colony in Ireland, for the defeat of the English fleet in the Channel, and for the speedy arrival of a French army in Kent. The extreme section of the Whig party pressed this accusation with vindictive eagerness. This then, said those implacable politicians, was the fruit of King William's merciful policy. Never had he committed a greater error than when he had conceived the hope that the hearts of the clergy were to be won by clemency and moderation. He had not chosen to give credit to men who had learned by a long and bitter experience that no kindness will tame the sullen ferocity of a priesthood. He had stroked and pampered when he should have tried the effect of chains and hunger. He had hazarded the good will of his best friends by protecting his worst enemies. Those Bishops who had publicly refused to acknowledge him as their Sovereign, and who, by that refusal, had forfeited their dignities and revenues, still continued to live unmolested in palaces which ought to be occupied by better men: and for this indulgence, an indulgence unexampled in the history of revolutions, what return had been made to him? Even this, that the men whom he had, with so much tenderness, screened from just punishment, had the insolence to describe him in their prayers as a persecutor defiled with the blood of the righteous; they asked for grace to endure with fortitude his sanguinary tyranny; they cried to heaven for a foreign fleet and army to deliver them from his yoke; nay, they hinted at a wish so odious that even they had not the front to speak it plainly. One writer, in a pamphlet which produced a great sensation, expressed his wonder that the people had not, when Tourville was riding victorious in the Channel, bewitted the nonjuring Prelates. Excited as the public mind then was, there was some danger that this suggestion might bring a furious mob to Lambeth. At Norwich indeed the people actually rose, attacked the palace which the Bishop was still suffered to occupy, and would have pulled it down but for the timely arrival of the trainbands. The government very properly instituted criminal proceedings against the publisher of the work which had produced this alarming breach of the peace. The deprived Prelates meanwhile put forth a defence of their conduct. In this document they declared, with all solemnity, and as in the presence of God, that they had no hand in the new liturgy, that they knew not who had framed it, that they had never used it, that they had never held any correspondence directly or indirectly with the French court, that they were engaged in no plot against the existing government, and that they would willingly shed their blood rather than see England subjugated by a foreign prince, who had, in his own kingdom, cruelly persecuted their Protestant brethren. As to the writer who had marked them out to the public vengeance by a fearful word, but too well understood, they commended him to the Divine mercy, and heartily prayed that his great sin might be forgiven him. Most of those who signed this paper did so doubtless with perfect sincerity: but it soon appeared that one at least of the subscribers had added to the crime of betraying his country the crime of calling God to witness a falsehood.
The events which were passing in the Channel and on the Continent compelled William to make repeated changes in his plans. During the week which followed his triumphal entry into Dublin, messengers charged with evil tidings arrived from England in rapid succession. First came the account of Waldeck's defeat at Fleurus. The King was much disturbed. All the pleasure, he said, which his own victory had given him was at an end. Yet, with that generosity which was hidden under his austere aspect, he sate down, even in the moment of his first vexation, to write a kind and encouraging letter to the unfortunate general. Three days later came intelligence more alarming still. The allied fleet had been ignominiously beaten. The sea from the Downs to the Land's End was in possession of the enemy. The next post might bring news that Kent was invaded. A French squadron might appear in Saint George's Channel, and might without difficulty burn all the transports which were anchored in the Bay of Dublin. William determined to return to England; but he wished to obtain, before he went, the command of a safe haven on the eastern coast of Ireland. Waterford was the place best suited to his purpose; and towards Waterford he immediately proceeded. Clonmel and Kilkenny were abandoned by the Irish troops as soon as it was known that he was approaching. At Kilkenny he was entertained, on the nineteenth of July, by the Duke of Ormond in the ancient castle of the Butlers, which had not long before been occupied by Lauzun, and which therefore, in the midst of the general devastation, still had tables and chairs, hangings on the walls, and claret in the cellars. On the twenty-first two regiments which garrisoned Waterford consented to march out after a faint show of resistance; a few hours later, the fort of Duncannon, which, towering on a rocky promontory, commanded the entrance of the harbour, was surrendered; and William was master of the whole of that secure and spacious basin which is formed by the united waters of the Suir, the Nore and the Barrow. He then announced his intention of instantly returning to England, and, having declared Count Solmes Commander in Chief of the army of Ireland, set out for Dublin.
But good news met him on the road. Tourville had appeared on the coast of Devonshire, had put some troops on shore, and had sacked Teignmouth; but the only effect of this insult had been to raise the whole population of the western counties in arms against the invaders. The enemy had departed, after doing just mischief enough to make the cause of James as odious for a time to Tories as to Whigs. William therefore again changed his plans, and hastened back to his army, which, during his absence, had moved westward, and which he rejoined in the neighbourhood of Cashel.
About this time he received from Mary a letter requesting him to decide an important question on which the Council of Nine was divided. Marlborough was of opinion that all danger of invasion was over for that year. The sea, he said, was open; for the French ships had returned into port, and were refitting. Now was the time to send an English fleet, with five thousand troops on board, to the southern extremity of Ireland. Such a force might easily reduce Cork and Kinsale, two of the most important strongholds still occupied by the forces of James. Marlborough was strenuously supported by Nottingham, and as strenuously opposed by the other members of the interior council with Caermarthen at their head. The Queen referred the matter to her husband. He highly approved of the plan, and gave orders that it should be executed by the General who had formed it. Caermarthen submitted, though with a bad grace, and with some murmurs at the extraordinary partiality of His Majesty for Marlborough.
William meanwhile was advancing towards Limerick. In that city the army which he had put to rout at the Boyne had taken refuge, discomfited, indeed, and disgraced, but very little diminished. He would not have had the trouble of besieging the place, if the advice of Lauzun and of Lauzun's countrymen had been followed. They laughed at the thought of defending such fortifications, and indeed would not admit that the name of fortifications could properly be given to heaps of dirt, which certainly bore little resemblance to the works of Valenciennes and Philipsburg. "It is unnecessary," said Lauzun, with an oath, "for the English to bring cannon against such a place as this. What you call your ramparts might be battered down with roasted apples." He therefore gave his voice for evacuating Limerick, and declared that, at all events, he was determined not to throw away in a hopeless resistance the lives of the brave men who had been entrusted to his care by his master. The truth is, that the judgment of the brilliant and adventurous Frenchman was biassed by his inclinations. He and his companions were sick of Ireland. They were ready to face death with courage, nay, with gaiety, on a field of battle. But the dull, squalid, barbarous life, which they had now been leading during several months, was more than they could bear. They were as much out of the pale of the civilised world as if they had been banished to Dahomey or Spitzbergen. The climate affected their health and spirits. In that unhappy country, wasted by years of predatory war, hospitality could offer little more than a couch of straw, a trencher of meat half raw and half burned, and a draught of sour milk. A crust of bread, a pint of wine, could hardly be purchased for money. A year of such hardships seemed a century to men who had always been accustomed to carry with them to the camp the luxuries of Paris, soft bedding, rich tapestry, sideboards of plate, hampers of Champagne, opera dancers, cooks and musicians. Better to be a prisoner in the Bastille, better to be a recluse at La Trappe, than to be generalissimo of the half naked savages who burrowed in the dreary swamps of Munster. Any plea was welcome which would serve as an excuse for returning from that miserable exile to the land of cornfields and vineyards, of gilded coaches and laced cravats, of ballrooms and theatres.
Very different was the feeling of the children of the soil. The island, which to French courtiers was a disconsolate place of banishment, was the Irishman's home. There were collected all the objects of his love and of his ambition; and there he hoped that his dust would one day mingle with the dust of his fathers. To him even the heaven dark with the vapours of the ocean, the wildernesses of black rushes and stagnant water, the mud cabins where the peasants and the swine shared their meal of roots, had a charm which was wanting to the sunny skies, the cultured fields and the stately mansions of the Seine. He could imagine no fairer spot than his country, if only his country could be freed from the tyranny of the Saxons; and all hope that his country would be freed from the tyranny of the Saxons must be abandoned if Limerick were surrendered.
The conduct of the Irish during the last two months had sunk their military reputation to the lowest point. They had, with the exception of some gallant regiments of cavalry, fled disgracefully at the Boyne, and had thus incurred the bitter contempt both of their enemies and of their allies. The English who were at Saint Germains never spoke of the Irish but as a people of dastards and traitors. The French were so much exasperated against the unfortunate nation, that Irish merchants, who had been many years settled at Paris, durst not walk the streets for fear of being insulted by the populace. So strong was the prejudice, that absurd stories were invented to explain the intrepidity with which the horse had fought. It was said that the troopers were not men of Celtic blood, but descendants of the old English of the pale. It was also said that they had been intoxicated with brandy just before the battle. Yet nothing can be more certain than that they must have been generally of Irish race; nor did the steady valour which they displayed in a long and almost hopeless conflict against great odds bear any resemblance to the fury of a coward maddened by strong drink into momentary hardihood. Even in the infantry, undisciplined and disorganized as it was, there was much spirit, though little firmness. Fits of enthusiasm and fits of faintheartedness succeeded each other. The same battalion, which at one time threw away its arms in a panic and shrieked for quarter, would on another occasion fight valiantly. On the day of the Boyne the courage of the ill trained and ill commanded kernes had ebbed to the lowest point. When they had rallied at Limerick, their blood was up. Patriotism, fanaticism, shame, revenge, despair, had raised them above themselves. With one voice officers and men insisted that the city should be defended to the last. At the head of those who were for resisting was the brave Sarsfield; and his exhortations diffused through all ranks a spirit resembling his own. To save his country was beyond his power. All that he could do was to prolong her last agony through one bloody and disastrous year.
Tyrconnel was altogether incompetent to decide the question on which the French and the Irish differed. The only military qualities that he had ever possessed were personal bravery and skill in the use of the sword. These qualities had once enabled him to frighten away rivals from the doors of his mistresses, and to play the Hector at cockpits and hazard tables. But more was necessary to enable him to form an opinion as to the possibility of defending Limerick. He would probably, had his temper been as hot as in the days when he diced with Grammont and threatened to cut the old Duke of Ormond's throat, have voted for running any risk however desperate. But age, pain and sickness had left little of the canting, bullying, fighting Dick Talbot of the Restoration. He had sunk into deep despondency. He was incapable of strenuous exertion. The French officers pronounced him utterly ignorant of the art of war. They had observed that at the Boyne he had seemed to be stupified, unable to give directions himself, unable even to make up his mind about the suggestions which were offered by others. The disasters which had since followed one another in rapid succession were not likely to restore the tone of a mind so pitiably unnerved. His wife was already in France with the little which remained of his once ample fortune: his own wish was to follow her thither: his voice was therefore given for abandoning the city.
At last a compromise was made. Lauzun and Tyrconnel, with the French troops, retired to Galway. The great body of the native army, about twenty thousand strong, remained at Limerick. The chief command there was entrusted to Boisseleau, who understood the character of the Irish better, and consequently, judged them more favourably, than any of his countrymen. In general, the French captains spoke of their unfortunate allies with boundless contempt and abhorrence, and thus made themselves as hateful as the English.
Lauzun and Tyrconnel had scarcely departed when the advanced guard of William's army came in sight. Soon the King himself, accompanied by Auverquerque and Ginkell, and escorted by three hundred horse, rode forward to examine the fortifications. The city, then the second in Ireland, though less altered since that time than most large cities in the British isles, has undergone a great change. The new town did not then exist. The ground now covered by those smooth and broad pavements, those neat gardens, those stately shops flaming with red brick, and gay with shawls and china, was then an open meadow lying without the walls. The city consisted of two parts, which had been designated during several centuries as the English and the Irish town. The English town stands on an island surrounded by the Shannon, and consists of a knot of antique houses with gable ends, crowding thick round a venerable cathedral. The aspect of the streets is such that a traveller who wanders through them may easily fancy himself in Normandy or Flanders. Not far from the cathedral, an ancient castle overgrown with weeds and ivy looks down on the river. A narrow and rapid stream, over which, in 1690, there was only a single bridge, divides the English town from the quarter anciently occupied by the hovels of the native population. The view from the top of the cathedral now extends many miles over a level expanse of rich mould, through which the greatest of Irish rivers winds between artificial banks. But in the seventeenth century those banks had not been constructed; and that wide plain, of which the grass, verdant even beyond the verdure of Munster, now feeds some of the finest cattle in Europe, was then almost always a marsh and often a lake.
When it was known that the French troops had quitted Limerick, and that the Irish only remained, the general expectation in the English camp was that the city would be an easy conquest. Nor was that expectation unreasonable; for even Sarsfield desponded. One chance, in his opinion, there still was. William had brought with him none but small guns. Several large pieces of ordnance, a great quantity of provisions and ammunition, and a bridge of tin boats, which in the watery plain of the Shannon was frequently needed, were slowly following from Cashel. If the guns and gunpowder could be intercepted and destroyed, there might be some hope. If not, all was lost; and the best thing that a brave and high spirited Irish gentleman could do was to forget the country which he had in vain tried to defend, and to seek in some foreign land a home or a grave.
A few hours, therefore, after the English tents had been pitched before Limerick, Sarsfield set forth, under cover of the night, with a strong body of horse and dragoons. He took the road to Killaloe, and crossed the Shannon there. During the day he lurked with his band in a wild mountain tract named from the silver mines which it contains. Those mines had many years before been worked by English proprietors, with the help of engineers and labourers imported from the Continent. But, in the rebellion of 1641, the aboriginal population had destroyed the works and massacred the workmen; nor had the devastation then committed been since repaired. In this desolate region Sarsfield found no lack of scouts or of guides; for all the peasantry of Munster were zealous on his side. He learned in the evening that the detachment which guarded the English artillery had halted for the night about seven miles from William's camp, on a pleasant carpet of green turf under the ruined walls of an old castle that officers and men seemed to think themselves perfectly secure; that the beasts had been turned loose to graze, and that even the sentinels were dozing. When it was dark the Irish horsemen quitted their hiding place, and were conducted by the people of the country to the place where the escort lay sleeping round the guns. The surprise was complete. Some of the English sprang to their arms and made an attempt to resist, but in vain. About sixty fell. One only was taken alive. The rest fled. The victorious Irish made a huge pile of waggons and pieces of cannon. Every gun was stuffed with powder, and fixed with its mouth in the ground; and the whole mass was blown up. The solitary prisoner, a lieutenant, was treated with great civility by Sarsfield. "If I had failed in this attempt," said the gallant Irishman, "I should have been off to France."
Intelligence had been carried to William's head quarters that Sarsfield had stolen out of Limerick and was ranging the country. The King guessed the design of his brave enemy, and sent five hundred horse to protect the guns. Unhappily there was some delay, which the English, always disposed to believe the worst of the Dutch courtiers, attributed to the negligence or perverseness of Portland. At one in the morning the detachment set out, but had scarcely left the camp when a blaze like lightning and a crash like thunder announced to the wide plain of the Shannon that all was over.
Sarsfield had long been the favourite of his countrymen; and this most seasonable exploit, judiciously planned and vigorously executed, raised him still higher in their estimation. Their spirits rose; and the besiegers began to lose heart. William did his best to repair his loss. Two of the guns which had been blown up were found to be still serviceable. Two more were sent for from Waterford. Batteries were constructed of small field pieces, which, though they might have been useless against one of the fortresses of Hainault or Brabant, made some impression on the feeble defences of Limerick. Several outworks were carried by storm; and a breach in the rampart of the city began to appear.
During these operations, the English army was astonished and amused by an incident, which produced indeed no very important consequences, but which illustrates in the most striking manner the real nature of Irish Jacobitism. In the first rank of those great Celtic houses, which, down to the close of the reign of Elizabeth, bore rule in Ulster, were the O'Donnels. The head of that house had yielded to the skill and energy of Mountjoy, had kissed the hand of James the First, and had consented to exchange the rude independence of a petty prince for an eminently honourable place among British subjects. During a short time the vanquished chief held the rank of an Earl, and was the landlord of an immense domain of which he had once been the sovereign. But soon he began to suspect the government of plotting against him, and, in revenge or in selfdefence, plotted against the government. His schemes failed; he fled to the continent; his title and his estates were forfeited; and an Anglosaxon colony was planted in the territory which he had governed. He meanwhile took refuge at the court of Spain. Between that court and the aboriginal Irish there had, during the long contest between Philip and Elizabeth, been a close connection. The exiled chieftain was welcomed at Madrid as a good Catholic flying from heretical persecutors. His illustrious descent and princely dignity, which to the English were subjects of ridicule, secured to him the respect of the Castilian grandees. His honours were inherited by a succession of banished men who lived and died far from the land where the memory of their family was fondly cherished by a rude peasantry, and was kept fresh by the songs of minstrels and the tales of begging friars. At length, in the eighty-third year of the exile of this ancient dynasty, it was known over all Europe that the Irish were again in arms for their independence. Baldearg O'Donnel, who called himself the O'Donnel, a title far prouder, in the estimation of his race, than any marquisate or dukedom, had been bred in Spain, and was in the service of the Spanish government. He requested the permission of that government to repair to Ireland. But the House of Austria was now closely leagued with England; and the permission was refused. The O'Donnel made his escape, and by a circuitous route, in the course of which he visited Turkey, arrived at Kinsale a few days after James had sailed thence for France. The effect produced on the native population by the arrival of this solitary wanderer was marvellous. Since Ulster had been reconquered by the Englishry, great multitudes of the Irish inhabitants of that province had migrated southward, and were now leading a vagrant life in Connaught and Munster. These men, accustomed from their infancy to hear of the good old times, when the O'Donnel, solemnly inaugurated on the rock of Kilmacrenan by the successor of Saint Columb, governed the mountains of Donegal in defiance of the strangers of the pale, flocked to the standard of the restored exile. He was soon at the head of seven or eight thousand Rapparees, or, to use the name peculiar to Ulster, Creaghts; and his followers adhered to him with a loyalty very different from the languid sentiment which the Saxon James had been able to inspire. Priests and even Bishops swelled the train of the adventurer. He was so much elated by his reception that he sent agents to France, who assured the ministers of Lewis that the O'Donnel would, if furnished with arms and ammunition, bring into the field thirty thousand Celts from Ulster, and that the Celts of Ulster would be found far superior in every military quality to those of Leinster, Munster and Connaught. No expression used by Baldearg indicated that he considered himself as a subject. His notion evidently was that the House of O'Donnel was as truly and as indefeasibly royal as the House of Stuart; and not a few of his countrymen were of the same mind. He made a pompous entrance into Limerick; and his appearance there raised the hopes of the garrison to a strange pitch. Numerous prophecies were recollected or invented. An O'Donnel with a red mark was to be the deliverer of his country; and Baldearg meant a red mark. An O'Donnel was to gain a great battle over the English near Limerick; and at Limerick the O'Donnel and the English were now brought face to face.
While these predictions were eagerly repeated by the defenders of the city, evil presages, grounded not on barbarous oracles, but on grave military reasons, began to disturb William and his most experienced officers. The blow struck by Sarsfield had told; the artillery had been long in doing its work; that work was even now very imperfectly done; the stock of powder had begun to run low; the autumnal rain had begun to fall. The soldiers in the trenches were up to their knees in mire. No precaution was neglected; but, though drains were dug to carry off the water, and though pewter basins of usquebaugh and brandy blazed all night in the tents, cases of fever had already occurred, and it might well be apprehended that, if the army remained but a few days longer on that swampy soil, there would be a pestilence more terrible than that which had raged twelve months before under the walls of Dundalk. A council of war was held. It was determined to make one great effort, and, if that effort failed, to raise the seige.
On the twenty-seventh of August, at three in the afternoon, the signal was given. Five hundred grenadiers rushed from the English trenches to the counterscarp, fired their pieces, and threw their grenades. The Irish fled into the town, and were followed by the assailants, who, in the excitement of victory, did not wait for orders. Then began a terrible street fight. The Irish, as soon as they had recovered from their surprise, stood resolutely to their arms; and the English grenadiers, overwhelmed by numbers, were, with great loss, driven back to the counterscarp. There the struggle was long and desperate. When indeed was the Roman Catholic Celt to fight if he did not fight on that day? The very women of Limerick mingled, in the combat, stood firmly under the hottest fire, and flung stones and broken bottles at the enemy. In the moment when the conflict was fiercest a mine exploded, and hurled a fine German battalion into the air. During four hours the carnage and uproar continued. The thick cloud which rose from the breach streamed out on the wind for many miles, and disappeared behind the hills of Clare. Late in the evening the besiegers retired slowly and sullenly to their camp. Their hope was that a second attack would be made on the morrow; and the soldiers vowed to have the town or die. But the powder was now almost exhausted; the rain fell in torrents; the gloomy masses of cloud which came up from the south west threatened a havoc more terrible than that of the sword; and there was reason to fear that the roads, which were already deep in mud, would soon be in such a state that no wheeled carriage could be dragged through them. The King determined to raise the siege, and to move his troops to a healthier region. He had in truth staid long enough; for it was with great difficulty that his guns and waggons were tugged away by long teams of oxen.
The history of the first siege of Limerick bears, in some respects, a remarkable analogy to the history of the siege of Londonderry. The southern city was, like the northern city, the last asylum of a Church and of a nation. Both places were crowded by fugitives from all parts of Ireland. Both places appeared to men who had made a regular study of the art of war incapable of resisting an enemy. Both were, in the moment of extreme danger, abandoned by those commanders who should have defended them. Lauzun and Tyrconnel deserted Limerick as Cunningham and Lundy had deserted Londonderry. In both cases, religious and patriotic enthusiasm struggled unassisted against great odds; and, in both cases, religious and patriotic enthusiasm did what veteran warriors had pronounced it absurd to attempt.
It was with no pleasurable emotions that Lauzun and Tyrconnel learned at Galway the fortunate issue of the conflict in which they had refused to take a part. They were weary of Ireland; they were apprehensive that their conduct might be unfavourably represented in France; they therefore determined to be beforehand with their accusers, and took ship together for the Continent.
Tyrconnel, before he departed, delegated his civil authority to one council, and his military authority to another. The young Duke of Berwick was declared Commander in Chief; but this dignity was merely nominal. Sarsfield, undoubtedly the first of Irish soldiers, was placed last in the list of the councillors to whom the conduct of the war was entrusted; and some believed that he would not have been in the list at all, had not the Viceroy feared that the omission of so popular a name might produce a mutiny.
William meanwhile had reached Waterford, and had sailed thence for England. Before he embarked, he entrusted the government of Ireland to three Lords Justices. Henry Sydney, now Viscount Sydney, stood first in the commission; and with him were joined Coningsby and Sir Charles Porter. Porter had formerly held the Great Seal of the kingdom, had, merely because he was a Protestant, been deprived of it by James, and had now received it again from the hand of William.
On the sixth of September the King, after a voyage of twenty-four hours, landed at Bristol. Thence he travelled to London, stopping by the road at the mansions of some great lords, and it was remarked that all those who were thus honoured were Tories. He was entertained one day at Badminton by the Duke of Beaufort, who was supposed to have brought himself with great difficulty to take the oaths, and on a subsequent day at a large house near Marlborough which, in our own time, before the great revolution produced by railways, was renowned as one of the best inns in England, but which, in the seventeenth century, was a seat of the Duke of Somerset. William was every where received with marks of respect and joy. His campaign indeed had not ended quite so prosperously as it had begun; but on the whole his success had been great beyond expectation, and had fully vindicated the wisdom of his resolution to command his army in person. The sack of Teignmouth too was fresh in the minds of Englishmen, and had for a time reconciled all but the most fanatical Jacobites to each other and to the throne. The magistracy and clergy of the capital repaired to Kensington with thanks and congratulations. The people rang bells and kindled bonfires. For the Pope, whom good Protestants had been accustomed to immolate, the French King was on this occasion substituted, probably by way of retaliation for the insults which had been offered to the effigy of William by the Parisian populace. A waxen figure, which was doubtless a hideous caricature of the most graceful and majestic of princes, was dragged about Westminster in a chariot. Above was inscribed, in large letters, "Lewis the greatest tyrant of fourteen." After the procession, the image was committed to the flames, amidst loud huzzas, in the middle of Covent Garden.
When William arrived in London, the expedition destined for Cork was ready to sail from Portsmouth, and Marlborough had been some time on board waiting for a fair wind. He was accompanied by Grafton. This young man had been, immediately after the departure of James, and while the throne was still vacant, named by William Colonel of the First Regiment of Foot Guards. The Revolution had scarcely been consummated, when signs of disaffection began to appear in that regiment, the most important, both because of its peculiar duties and because of its numerical strength, of all the regiments in the army. It was thought that the Colonel had not put this bad spirit down with a sufficiently firm hand. He was known not to be perfectly satisfied with the new arrangement; he had voted for a Regency; and it was rumoured, perhaps without reason, that he had dealings with Saint Germains. The honourable and lucrative command to which he had just been appointed was taken from him. Though severely mortified, he behaved like a man of sense and spirit. Bent on proving that he had been wrongfully suspected, and animated by an honourable ambition to distinguish himself in his profession, he obtained permission to serve as a volunteer under Marlborough in Ireland.
At length, on the eighteenth of September, the wind changed. The fleet stood out to sea, and on the twenty-first appeared before the harbour of Cork. The troops landed, and were speedily joined by the Duke of Wirtemberg, with several regiments, Dutch, Danish, and French, detached from the army which had lately besieged Limerick. The Duke immediately put forward a claim which, if the English general had not been a man of excellent judgment and temper, might have been fatal to the expedition. His Highness contended that, as a prince of a sovereign house, he was entitled to command in chief. Marlborough calmly and politely showed that the pretence was unreasonable. A dispute followed, in which it is said that the German behaved with rudeness, and the Englishman with that gentle firmness to which, more perhaps than even to his great abilities, he owed his success in life. At length a Huguenot officer suggested a compromise. Marlborough consented to waive part of his rights, and to allow precedence to the Duke on the alternate days. The first morning on which Marlborough had the command, he gave the word "Wirtemberg." The Duke's heart was won by this compliment and on the next day he gave the word "Marlborough."
But, whoever might give the word, genius asserted its indefeasible superiority. Marlborough was on every day the real general. Cork was vigorously attacked. Outwork after outwork was rapidly carried. In forty-eight hours all was over. The traces of the short struggle may still be seen. The old fort, where the Irish made the hardest fight, lies in ruins. The Daria Cathedral, so ungracefully joined to the ancient tower, stands on the site of a Gothic edifice which was shattered by the English cannon. In the neighbouring churchyard is still shown the spot where stood, during many ages, one of those round towers which have perplexed antiquaries. This venerable monument shared the fate of the neighbouring church. On another spot, which is now called the Mall, and is lined by the stately houses of banking companies, railway companies, and insurance companies, but which was then a bog known by the name of the Rape Marsh, four English regiments, up to the shoulders in water, advanced gallantly to the assault. Grafton, ever foremost in danger, while struggling through the quagmire, was struck by a shot from the ramparts, and was carried back dying. The place where he fell, then about a hundred yards without the city, but now situated in the very centre of business and population, is still called Grafton Street. The assailants had made their way through the swamp, and the close fighting was just about to begin, when a parley was beaten. Articles of capitulation were speedily adjusted. The garrison, between four and five thousand fighting men, became prisoners. Marlborough promised to intercede with the King both for them and for the inhabitants, and to prevent outrage and spoliation. His troops he succeeded in restraining; but crowds of sailors and camp followers came into the city through the breach; and the houses of many Roman Catholics were sacked before order was restored.
No commander has ever understood better than Marlborough how to improve a victory. A few hours after Cork had fallen, his cavalry were on the road to Kinsale. A trumpeter was sent to summon the place. The Irish threatened to hang him for bringing such a message, set fire to the town, and retired into two forts called the Old and the New. The English horse arrived just in time to extinguish the flames. Marlborough speedily followed with his infantry. The Old Fort was scaled; and four hundred and fifty men who defended it were all killed or taken. The New Fort it was necessary to attack in a more methodical way. Batteries were planted; trenches were opened; mines were sprung; in a few days the besiegers were masters of the counterscarp; and all was ready for storming, when the governor offered to capitulate. The garrison, twelve hundred strong, was suffered to retire to Limerick; but the conquerors took possession of the stores, which were of considerable value. Of all the Irish ports Kinsale was the best situated for intercourse with France. Here, therefore, was a plenty unknown in any other part of Munster. At Limerick bread and wine were luxuries which generals and privy councillors were not always able to procure. But in the New Fort of Kinsale Marlborough found a thousand barrels of wheat and eighty pipes of claret.
His success had been complete and rapid; and indeed, had it not been rapid, it would not have been complete. His campaign, short as it was, had been long enough to allow time for the deadly work which, in that age, the moist earth and air of Ireland seldom failed, in the autumnal season, to perform on English soldiers. The malady which had thinned the ranks of Schomberg's army at Dundalk, and which had compelled William to make a hasty retreat from the estuary of the Shannon, had begun to appear at Kinsale. Quick and vigorous as Marlborough's operations were, he lost a much greater number of men by disease than by the fire of the enemy. He presented himself at Kensington only five weeks after he had sailed from Portsmouth, and was most graciously received. "No officer living," said William, "who has seen so little service as my Lord Marlborough, is so fit for great commands."
In Scotland, as in Ireland, the aspect of things had, during this memorable summer, changed greatly for the better. That club of discontented Whigs which had, in the preceding year, ruled the Parliament, browbeaten the ministers, refused the supplies and stopped the signet, had sunk under general contempt, and had at length ceased to exist. There was harmony between the Sovereign and the Estates; and the long contest between two forms of ecclesiastical government had been terminated in the only way compatible with the peace and prosperity of the country.
This happy turn in affairs is to be chiefly ascribed to the errors of the perfidious, turbulent and revengeful Montgomery. Some weeks after the close of that session during which he had exercised a boundless authority over the Scottish Parliament, he went to London with his two principal confederates, the Earl of Annandale and the Lord Ross. The three had an audience of William, and presented to him a manifesto setting forth what they demanded for the public. They would very soon have changed their tone if he would have granted what they demanded for themselves. But he resented their conduct deeply, and was determined not to pay them for annoying him. The reception which he gave them convinced them that they had no favour to expect. Montgomery's passions were fierce; his wants were pressing; he was miserably poor; and, if he could not speedily force himself into a lucrative office, he would be in danger of rotting in a gaol. Since his services were not likely to be bought by William, they must be offered to James. A broker was easily found. Montgomery was an old acquaintance of Ferguson. The two traitors soon understood each other. They were kindred spirits, differing widely in intellectual power, but equally vain, restless, false and malevolent. Montgomery was introduced to Neville Payne, one of the most adroit and resolute agents of the exiled family, Payne had been long well known about town as a dabbler in poetry and politics. He had been an intimate friend of the indiscreet and unfortunate Coleman, and had been committed to Newgate as an accomplice in the Popish plot. His moral character had not stood high; but he soon had an opportunity of proving that he possessed courage and fidelity worthy of a better cause than that of James and of a better associate than Montgomery.
The negotiation speedily ended in a treaty of alliance, Payne confidently promised Montgomery, not merely pardon, but riches, power and dignity. Montgomery as confidently undertook to induce the Parliament of Scotland to recall the rightful King. Ross and Annandale readily agreed to whatever their able and active colleague proposed. An adventurer, who was sometimes called Simpson and sometimes Jones, who was perfectly willing to serve or to betray any government for hire, and who received wages at once from Portland and from Neville Payne, undertook to carry the offers of the Club to James. Montgomery and his two noble accomplices returned to Edinburgh, and there proceeded to form a coalition with their old enemies, the defenders of prelacy and of arbitrary power.
The Scottish opposition, strangely made up of two factions, one zealous for bishops, the other zealous for synods, one hostile to all liberty, the other impatient of all government, flattered itself during a short time with hopes that the civil war would break out in the Highlands with redoubled fury. But those hopes were disappointed. In the spring of 1690 an officer named Buchan arrived in Lochaber from Ireland. He bore a commission which appointed him general in chief of all the forces which were in arms for King James throughout the kingdom of Scotland. Cannon, who had, since the death of Dundee, held the first post and had proved himself unfit for it, became second in command. Little however was gained by the change. It was no easy matter to induce the Gaelic princes to renew the war. Indeed, but for the influence and eloquence of Lochiel, not a sword would have been drawn for the House of Stuart. He, with some difficulty, persuaded the chieftains, who had, in the preceding year, fought at Killiecrankie, to come to a resolution that, before the end of the summer, they would muster all their followers and march into the Lowlands. In the mean time twelve hundred mountaineers of different tribes were placed under the orders of Buchan, who undertook, with this force, to keep the English garrisons in constant alarm by feints and incursions, till the season for more important operations should arrive. He accordingly marched into Strathspey. But all his plans were speedily disconcerted by the boldness and dexterity of Sir Thomas Livingstone, who held Inverness for King William. Livingstone, guided and assisted by the Grants, who were firmly attached to the new government, came, with a strong body of cavalry and dragoons, by forced marches and through arduous defiles, to the place where the Jacobites had taken up their quarters. He reached the camp fires at dead of night. The first alarm was given by the rush of the horses over the terrified sentinels into the midst of the crowd of Celts who lay sleeping in their plaids. Buchan escaped bareheaded and without his sword. Cannon ran away in his shirt. The conquerors lost not a man. Four hundred Highlanders were killed or taken. The rest fled to their hills and mists.
This event put an end to all thoughts of civil war. The gathering which had been planned for the summer never took place. Lochiel, even if he had been willing, was not able to sustain any longer the falling cause. He had been laid on his bed by a mishap which would alone suffice to show how little could be effected by a confederacy of the petty kings of the mountains. At a consultation of the Jacobite leaders, a gentleman from the Lowlands spoke with severity of those sycophants who had changed their religion to curry favour with King James. Glengarry was one of those people who think it dignified to suppose that every body is always insulting them. He took it into his head that some allusion to himself was meant. "I am as good a Protestant as you." he cried, and added a word not to be patiently borne by a man of spirit. In a moment both swords were out. Lochiel thrust himself between the combatants, and, while forcing them asunder, received a wound which was at first believed to be mortal.
So effectually had the spirit of the disaffected clans been cowed that Mackay marched unresisted from Perth into Lochaber, fixed his head quarters at Inverlochy, and proceeded to execute his favourite design of erecting at that place a fortress which might overawe the mutinous Camerons and Macdonalds. In a few days the walls were raised; the ditches were sunk; the pallisades were fixed; demiculverins from a ship of war were ranged along the parapets, and the general departed, leaving an officer named Hill in command of a sufficient garrison. Within the defences there was no want of oatmeal, red herrings, and beef; and there was rather a superabundance of brandy. The new stronghold, which, hastily and rudely as it had been constructed, seemed doubtless to the people of the neighbourhood the most stupendous work that power and science united had ever produced, was named Fort William in honour of the King.
By this time the Scottish Parliament had reassembled at Edinburgh. William had found it no easy matter to decide what course should be taken with that capricious and unruly body. The English Commons had sometimes put him out of temper. Yet they had granted him millions, and had never asked from him such concessions as had been imperiously demanded by the Scottish legislature, which could give him little and had given him nothing. The English statesmen with whom he had to deal did not generally stand or serve to stand high in his esteem. Yet few of them were so utterly false and shameless as the leading Scottish politicians. Hamilton was, in morality and honour, rather above than below his fellows; and even Hamilton was fickle, false and greedy. "I wish to heaven," William was once provoked into exclaiming, "that Scotland were a thousand miles off, and that the Duke of Hamilton were King of it. Then I should be rid of them both."
After much deliberation William determined to send Melville down to Edinburgh as Lord High Commissioner. Melville was not a great statesman; he was not a great orator; he did not look or move like the representative of royalty; his character was not of more than standard purity; and the standard of purity among Scottish senators was not high; but he was by no means deficient in prudence or temper; and he succeeded, on the whole, better than a man of much higher qualities might have done.
During the first days of the Session, the friends of the government desponded, and the chiefs of the opposition were sanguine. Montgomery's head, though by no means a weak one, had been turned by the triumphs of the preceding year. He believed that his intrigues and his rhetoric had completely subjugated the Estates. It seemed to him impossible that, having exercised a boundless empire in the Parliament House when the Jacobites were absent, he should be defeated when they were present, and ready to support whatever he proposed. He had not indeed found it easy to prevail on them to attend: for they could not take their seats without taking the oaths. A few of them had some slight scruple of conscience about foreswearing themselves; and many, who did not know what a scruple of conscience meant, were apprehensive that they might offend the rightful King by vowing fealty to the actual King. Some Lords, however, who were supposed to be in the confidence of James, asserted that, to their knowledge, he wished his friends to perjure themselves; and this assertion induced most of the Jacobites, with Balcarras at their head, to be guilty of perfidy aggravated by impiety.
It soon appeared, however, that Montgomery's faction, even with this reinforcement, was no longer a majority of the legislature. For every supporter that he had gained he had lost two. He had committed an error which has more than once, in British history, been fatal to great parliamentary leaders. He had imagined that, as soon as he chose to coalesce with those to whom he had recently been opposed, all his followers would imitate his example. He soon found that it was much easier to inflame animosities than to appease them. The great body of Whigs and Presbyterians shrank from the fellowship of the Jacobites. Some waverers were purchased by the government; nor was the purchase expensive, for a sum which would hardly be missed in the English Treasury was immense in the estimation of the needy barons of the North. Thus the scale was turned; and, in the Scottish Parliaments of that age, the turn of the scale was every thing; the tendency of majorities was always to increase, the tendency of minorities to diminish.
The first question on which a vote was taken related to the election for a borough. The ministers carried their point by six voices. In an instant every thing was changed; the spell was broken; the Club, from being a bugbear, became a laughingstock; the timid and the venal passed over in crowds from the weaker to the stronger side. It was in vain that the opposition attempted to revive the disputes of the preceding year. The King had wisely authorised Melville to give up the Committee of Articles. The Estates, on the other hand, showed no disposition to pass another Act of Incapacitation, to censure the government for opening the Courts of justice, or to question the right of the Sovereign to name the judges. An extraordinary supply was voted, small, according to the notions of English financiers, but large for the means of Scotland. The sum granted was a hundred and sixty-two thousand pounds sterling, to be raised in the course of four years.
The Jacobites, who found that they had forsworn themselves to no purpose, sate, bowed down by shame and writhing with vexation, while Montgomery, who had deceived himself and them, and who, in his rage, had utterly lost, not indeed his parts and his fluency, but all decorum and selfcommand, scolded like a waterman on the Thames, and was answered with equal asperity and even more than equal ability by Sir John Dalrymple.
The most important Acts of this Session were those which fixed the ecclesiastical constitution of Scotland. By the Claim of Right it had been declared that the authority of Bishops was an insupportable grievance; and William, by accepting the Crown, had bound himself not to uphold an institution condemned by the very instrument on which his title to the Crown depended. But the Claim of Right had not defined the form of Church government which was to be substituted for episcopacy; and, during the stormy Session held in the summer of 1689, the violence of the Club had made legislation impossible. During many months therefore every thing had been in confusion. One polity had been pulled down; and no other polity had been set up. In the Western Lowlands, the beneficed clergy had been so effectually rabbled, that scarcely one of them had remained at his post. In Berwickshire, the three Lothians and Stirlingshire, most of the curates had been removed by the Privy Council for not obeying that vote of the Convention which had directed all ministers of parishes, on pain of deprivation, to proclaim William and Mary King and Queen of Scotland. Thus, throughout a great part of the realm, there was no public worship except what was performed by Presbyterian divines, who sometimes officiated in tents, and sometimes, without any legal right, took possession of the churches. But there were large districts, especially on the north of the Tay, where the people had no strong feeling against episcopacy; and there were many priests who were not disposed to lose their manses, and stipends for the sake of King James. Hundreds of the old curates, therefore, having been neither hunted by the populace nor deposed by the Council, still performed their spiritual functions. Every minister was, during this time of transition, free to conduct the service and to administer the sacraments as he thought fit. There was no controlling authority. The legislature had taken away the jurisdiction of Bishops, and had not established the jurisdiction of Synods.
To put an end to this anarchy was one of the first duties of the Parliament. Melville had, with the powerful assistance of Carstairs, obtained, in spite of the remonstrances of English Tories, authority to assent to such ecclesiastical arrangements as might satisfy the Scottish nation. One of the first laws which the Lord Commissioner touched with the sceptre repealed the Act of Supremacy. He next gave the royal assent to a law enacting that those Presbyterian divines who had been pastors of parishes in the days of the Covenant, and had, after the Restoration, been ejected for refusing to acknowledge episcopal authority, should be restored. The number of those Pastors had originally been about three hundred and fifty: but not more than sixty were still living.
The Estates then proceeded to fix the national creed. The Confession of Faith drawn up by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, the Longer and Shorter Catechism, and the Directory, were considered by every good Presbyterian as the standards of orthodoxy; and it was hoped that the legislature would recognise them as such. This hope, however, was in part disappointed. The Confession was read at length, amidst much yawning, and adopted without alteration. But, when it was proposed that the Catechisms and the Directory should be taken into consideration, the ill humour of the audience broke forth into murmurs. For that love of long sermons which was strong in the Scottish commonalty was not shared by the Scottish aristocracy. The Parliament had already been listening during three hours to dry theology, and was not inclined to hear any thing more about original sin and election. The Duke of Hamilton said that the Estates had already done all that was essential. They had given their sanction to a digest of the great principles of Christianity. The rest might well be left to the Church. The weary majority eagerly assented, in spite of the muttering of some zealous Presbyterian ministers who had been admitted to hear the debate, and who could sometimes hardly restrain themselves from taking part in it.
The memorable law which fixed the ecclesiastical constitution of Scotland was brought in by the Earl of Sutherland. By this law the synodical polity was reestablished. The rule of the Church was entrusted to the sixty ejected ministers who had just been restored, and to such other persons, whether ministers or elders, as the Sixty should think fit to admit to a participation of power. The Sixty and their nominees were authorised to visit all the parishes in the kingdom, and to turn out all ministers who were deficient in abilities, scandalous in morals, or unsound in faith. Those parishes which had, during the interregnum, been deserted by their pastors, or, in plain words, those parishes of which the pastors had been rabbled, were declared vacant.
To the clause which reestablished synodical government no serious opposition appears to have been made. But three days were spent in discussing the question whether the Sovereign should have power to convoke and to dissolve ecclesiastical assemblies; and the point was at last left in dangerous ambiguity. Some other clauses were long and vehemently debated. It was said that the immense power given to the Sixty was incompatible with the fundamental principle of the polity which the Estates were about to set up. That principle was that all presbyters were equal, and that there ought to be no order of ministers of religion superior to the order of presbyters. What did it matter whether the Sixty were called prelates or not, if they were to lord it with more than prelatical authority over God's heritage? To the argument that the proposed arrangement was, in the very peculiar circumstances of the Church, the most convenient that could be made, the objectors replied that such reasoning might suit the mouth of an Erastian, but that all orthodox Presbyterians held the parity of ministers to be ordained by Christ, and that, where Christ had spoken, Christians were not at liberty to consider what was convenient.
With much greater warmth and much stronger reason the minority attacked the clause which sanctioned the lawless acts of the Western fanatics. Surely, it was said, a rabbled curate might well be left to the severe scrutiny of the sixty Inquisitors. If he was deficient in parts or learning, if he was loose in life, if he was heterodox in doctrine, those stern judges would not fail to detect and to depose him. They would probably think a game at bowls, a prayer borrowed from the English Liturgy, or a sermon in which the slightest taint of Arminianism could be discovered, a sufficient reason for pronouncing his benefice vacant. Was it not monstrous, after constituting a tribunal from which he could scarcely hope for bare justice, to condemn him without allowing him to appear even before that tribunal, to condemn him without a trial, to condemn him without an accusation? Did ever any grave senate, since the beginning of the world, treat a man as a criminal merely because he had been robbed, pelted, hustled, dragged through snow and mire, and threatened with death if he returned to the house which was his by law? The Duke of Hamilton, glad to have so good an Opportunity of attacking the new Lord Commissioner, spoke with great vehemence against this odious clause. We are told that no attempt was made to answer him; and, though those who tell us so were zealous Episcopalians, we may easily believe their report; for what answer was it possible to return? Melville, on whom the chief responsibility lay, sate on the throne in profound silence through the whole of this tempestuous debate. It is probable that his conduct was determined by considerations which prudence and shame prevented him from explaining. The state of the southwestern shires was such that it would have been impossible to put the rabbled minister in possession of their dwellings and churches without employing a military force, without garrisoning every manse, without placing guards round every pulpit, and without handing over some ferocious enthusiasts to the Provost Marshal; and it would be no easy task for the government to keep down by the sword at once the Jacobites of the Highlands and the Covenanters of the Lowlands. The majority, having made up their minds for reasons which could not well be produced, became clamorous for the question. "No more debate," was the cry: "We have heard enough: a vote! a vote!" The question was put according to the Scottish form, "Approve or not approve the article?" Hamilton insisted that the question, should be, "Approve or not approve the rabbling?" After much altercation, he was overruled, and the clause passed. Only fifteen or sixteen members voted with him. He warmly and loudly exclaimed, amidst much angry interruption, that he was sorry to see a Scottish Parliament disgrace itself by such iniquity. He then left the house with several of his friends. It is impossible not to sympathize with the indignation which he expressed. Yet we ought to remember that it is the nature of injustice to generate injustice. There are wrongs which it is almost impossible to repair without committing other wrongs; and such a wrong had been done to the people of Scotland in the preceding generation. It was because the Parliament of the Restoration had legislated in insolent defiance of the sense of the nation that the Parliament of the Revolution had to abase itself before the mob.
When Hamilton and his adherents had retired, one of the preachers who had been admitted to the hall called out to the members who were near him; "Fie! Fie! Do not lose time. Make haste, and get all over before he comes back." This advice was taken. Four or five sturdy Prelatists staid to give a last vote against Presbytery. Four or five equally sturdy Covenanters staid to mark their dislike of what seemed to them a compromise between the Lord and Baal. But the Act was passed by an overwhelming majority.
Two supplementary Acts speedily followed. One of them, now happily repealed, required every officebearer in every University of Scotland to sign the Confession of Faith and to give in his adhesion to the new form of Church government. The other settled the important and delicate question of patronage. Knox had, in the First Book of Discipline, asserted the right of every Christian congregation to choose its own pastor. Melville had not, in the Second Book of Discipline, gone quite so far; but he had declared that no pastor could lawfully be forced on an unwilling congregation. Patronage had been abolished by a Covenanted Parliament in 1649, and restored by a Royalist Parliament in 1661. What ought to be done in 1690 it was no easy matter to decide. Scarcely any question seems to have caused so much anxiety to William. He had, in his private instructions, given the Lord Commissioner authority to assent to the abolition of patronage, if nothing else would satisfy the Estates. But this authority was most unwillingly given; and the King hoped that it would not be used. "It is," he said, "the taking of men's property." Melville succeeded in effecting a compromise. Patronage was abolished; but it was enacted that every patron should receive six hundred marks Scots, equivalent to about thirty-five pounds sterling, as a compensation for his rights. The sum seems ludicrously small. Yet, when the nature of the property and the poverty of the country are considered, it may be doubted whether a patron would have made much more by going into the market. The largest sum that any member ventured to propose was nine hundred marks, little more than fifty pounds sterling. The right of proposing a minister was given to a parochial council consisting of the Protestant landowners and the elders. The congregation might object to the person proposed; and the Presbytery was to judge of the objections. This arrangement did not give to the people all the power to which even the Second Book of Discipline had declared that they were entitled. But the odious name of patronage was taken away; it was probably thought that the elders and landowners of a parish would seldom persist in nominating a person to whom the majority of the congregation had strong objections; and indeed it does not appear that, while the Act of 1690 continued in force, the peace of the Church was ever broken by disputes such as produced the schisms of 1732, of 1756, and of 1843.
Montgomery had done all in his power to prevent the Estates from settling the ecclesiastical polity of the realm. He had incited the zealous Covenanters to demand what he knew that the government would never grant. He had protested against all Erastianism, against all compromise. Dutch Presbyterianism, he said, would not do for Scotland. She must have again the system of 1649. That system was deduced from the Word of God: it was the most powerful check that had ever been devised on the tyranny of wicked kings; and it ought to be restored without addition or diminution. His Jacobite allies could not conceal their disgust and mortification at hearing him hold such language, and were by no means satisfied with the explanations which he gave them in private. While they were wrangling with him on this subject, a messenger arrived at Edinburgh with important despatches from James and from Mary of Modena. These despatches had been written in the confident expectation that the large promises of Montgomery would be fulfilled, and that the Scottish Estates would, under his dexterous management, declare for the rightful Sovereign against the Usurper. James was so grateful for the unexpected support of his old enemies, that he entirely forgot the services and disregarded the feelings of his old friends. The three chiefs of the Club, rebels and Puritans as they were, had become his favourites. Annandale was to be a Marquess, Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and Lord High Commissioner. Montgomery was to be Earl of Ayr and Secretary of State. Ross was to be an Earl and to command the guards. An unprincipled lawyer named James Stewart, who had been deeply concerned in Argyle's insurrection, who had changed sides and supported the dispensing power, who had then changed sides a second time and concurred in the Revolution, and who had now changed sides a third time and was scheming to bring about a Restoration, was to be Lord Advocate. The Privy Council, the Court of Session, the army, were to be filled with Whigs. A Council of Five was appointed, which all loyal subjects were to obey; and in this Council Annandale, Ross and Montgomery formed the majority. Mary of Modena informed Montgomery that five thousand pounds sterling had been remitted to his order, and that five thousand more would soon follow. It was impossible that Balcarras and those who had acted with him should not bitterly resent the manner in which they were treated. Their names were not even mentioned. All that they had done and suffered seemed to have faded from their master's mind. He had now given them fair notice that, if they should, at the hazard of their lands and lives, succeed in restoring him, all that he had to give would be given to those who had deposed him. They too, when they read his letters, knew, what he did not know when the letters were written, that he had been duped by the confident boasts and promises of the apostate Whigs. He imagined that the Club was omnipotent at Edinburgh; and, in truth, the Club had become a mere byword of contempt. The Tory Jacobites easily found pretexts for refusing to obey the Presbyterian Jacobites to whom the banished King had delegated his authority. They complained that Montgomery had not shown them all the despatches which he had received. They affected to suspect that he had tampered with the seals. He called God Almighty to witness that the suspicion was unfounded. But oaths were very naturally regarded as insufficient guarantees by men who had just been swearing allegiance to a King against whom they were conspiring. There was a violent outbreak of passion on both sides; the coalition was dissolved; the papers were flung into the fire; and, in a few days, the infamous triumvirs who had been, in the short space of a year, violent Williamites and violent Jacobites, became Williamites again, and attempted to make their peace with the government by accusing each other.
Ross was the first who turned informer. After the fashion of the school in which he had been bred, he committed this base action with all the forms of sanctity. He pretended to be greatly troubled in mind, sent for a celebrated Presbyterian minister named Dunlop, and bemoaned himself piteously: "There is a load on my conscience; there is a secret which I know that I ought to disclose; but I cannot bring myself to do it." Dunlop prayed long and fervently; Ross groaned and wept; at last it seemed that heaven had been stormed by the violence of supplication; the truth came out, and many lies with it. The divine and the penitent then returned thanks together. Dunlop went with the news to Melville. Ross set off for England to make his peace at court, and performed his journey in safety, though some of his accomplices, who had heard of his repentance, but had been little edified by it, had laid plans for cutting his throat by the way. At London he protested, on his honour and on the word of a gentleman, that he had been drawn in, that he had always disliked the plot, and that Montgomery and Ferguson were the real criminals.
Dunlop was, in the mean time, magnifying, wherever he went, the divine goodness which had, by so humble an instrument as himself, brought a noble person back to the right path. Montgomery no sooner heard of this wonderful work of grace than he too began to experience compunction. He went to Melville, made a confession not exactly coinciding with Ross's, and obtained a pass for England. William was then in Ireland; and Mary was governing in his stead. At her feet Montgomery threw himself. He tried to move her pity by speaking of his broken fortunes, and to ingratiate himself with her by praising her sweet and affable manners. He gave up to her the names of his fellow plotters. He vowed to dedicate his whole life to her service, if she would obtain for him some place which might enable him to subsist with decency. She was so much touched by his supplications and flatteries that she recommended him to her husband's favour; but the just distrust and abhorrence with which William regarded Montgomery were not to be overcome.
Before the traitor had been admitted to Mary's presence, he had obtained a promise that he should be allowed to depart in safety. The promise was kept. During some months, he lay hid in London, and contrived to carry on a negotiation with the government. He offered to be a witness against his accomplices on condition of having a good place. William would bid no higher than a pardon. At length the communications were broken off. Montgomery retired for a time to France. He soon returned to London, and passed the miserable remnant of his life in forming plots which came to nothing, and in writing libels which are distinguished by the grace and vigour of their style from most of the productions of the Jacobite press.
Annandale, when he learned that his two accomplices had turned approvers, retired to Bath, and pretended to drink the waters. Thence he was soon brought up to London by a warrant. He acknowledged that he had been seduced into treason; but he declared that he had only said Amen to the plans of others, and that his childlike simplicity had been imposed on by Montgomery, that worst, that falsest, that most unquiet of human beings. The noble penitent then proceeded to make atonement for his own crime by criminating other people, English and Scotch, Whig and Tory, guilty and innocent. Some he accused on his own knowledge, and some on mere hearsay. Among those whom he accused on his own knowledge was Neville Payne, who had not, it should seem, been mentioned either by Ross or by Montgomery.
Payne, pursued by messengers and warrants, was so ill advised as to take refuge in Scotland. Had he remained in England he would have been safe; for, though the moral proofs of his guilt were complete, there was not such legal evidence as would have satisfied a jury that he had committed high treason; he could not be subjected to torture in order to force him to furnish evidence against himself; nor could he be long confined without being brought to trial. But the moment that he passed the border he was at the mercy of the government of which he was the deadly foe. The Claim of Right had recognised torture as, in cases like his, a legitimate mode of obtaining information; and no Habeas Corpus Act secured him against a long detention. The unhappy man was arrested, carried to Edinburgh, and brought before the Privy Council. The general notion was that he was a knave and a coward, and that the first sight of the boots and thumbscrews would bring out all the guilty secrets with which he had been entrusted. But Payne had a far braver spirit than those highborn plotters with whom it was his misfortune to have been connected. Twice he was subjected to frightful torments; but not a word inculpating himself or any other person could be wrung out of him. Some councillors left the board in horror. But the pious Crawford presided. He was not much troubled with the weakness of compassion where an Amalekite was concerned, and forced the executioner to hammer in wedge after wedge between the knees of the prisoner till the pain was as great as the human frame can sustain without dissolution. Payne was then carried to the Castle of Edinburgh, where he long remained, utterly forgotten, as he touchingly complained, by those for whose sake he had endured more than the bitterness of death. Yet no ingratitude could damp the ardour of his fanatical loyalty; and he continued, year after year, in his cell, to plan insurrections and invasions.
Before Payne's arrest the Estates had been adjourned after a Session as important as any that had ever been held in Scotland. The nation generally acquiesced in the new ecclesiastical constitution. The indifferent, a large portion of every society, were glad that the anarchy was over, and conformed to the Presbyterian Church as they had conformed to the Episcopal Church. To the moderate Presbyterians the settlement which had been made was on the whole satisfactory. Most of the strict Presbyterians brought themselves to accept it under protest, as a large instalment of what was due. They missed indeed what they considered as the perfect beauty and symmetry of that Church which had, forty years before, been the glory of Scotland. But, though the second temple was not equal to the first, the chosen people might well rejoice to think that they were, after a long captivity in Babylon, suffered to rebuild, though imperfectly, the House of God on the old foundations; nor could it misbecome them to feel for the latitudinarian William a grateful affection such as the restored Jews had felt for the heathen Cyrus.
There were however two parties which regarded the settlement of 1690 with implacable detestation. Those Scotchmen who were Episcopalians on conviction and with fervour appear to have been few; but among them were some persons superior, not perhaps in natural parts, but in learning, in taste, and in the art of composition, to the theologians of the sect which had now become dominant. It might not have been safe for the ejected Curates and Professors to give vent in their own country to the anger which they felt. But the English press was open to them; and they were sure of the approbation of a large part of the English people. During several years they continued to torment their enemies and to amuse the public with a succession of ingenious and spirited pamphlets. In some of these works the hardships suffered by the rabbled priests of the western shires are set forth with a skill which irresistibly moves pity and indignation. In others, the cruelty with which the Covenanters had been treated during the reigns of the last two kings of the House of Stuart is extenuated by every artifice of sophistry. There is much joking on the bad Latin which some Presbyterian teachers had uttered while seated in academic chairs lately occupied by great scholars. Much was said about the ignorant contempt which the victorious barbarians professed for science and literature. They were accused of anathematizing the modern systems of natural philosophy as damnable heresies, of condemning geometry as a souldestroying pursuit, of discouraging even the study of those tongues in which the sacred books were written. Learning, it was said, would soon be extinct in Scotland. The Universities, under their new rulers, were languishing and must soon perish. The booksellers had been half ruined: they found that the whole profit of their business would not pay the rent of their shops, and were preparing to emigrate to some country where letters were held in esteem by those whose office was to instruct the public. Among the ministers of religion no purchaser of books was left. The Episcopalian divine was glad to sell for a morsel of bread whatever part of his library had not been torn to pieces or burned by the Christmas mobs; and the only library of a Presbyterian divine consisted of an explanation of the Apocalypse and a commentary on the Song of Songs. The pulpit oratory of the triumphant party was an inexhaustible subject of mirth. One little volume, entitled The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Displayed, had an immense success in the South among both High Churchmen and scoffers, and is not yet quite forgotten. It was indeed a book well fitted to lie on the hall table of a Squire whose religion consisted in hating extemporaneous prayer and nasal psalmody. On a rainy day, when it was impossible to hunt or shoot, neither the card table nor the backgammon board would have been, in the intervals of the flagon and the pasty, so agreeable a resource. Nowhere else, perhaps, can be found, in so small a compass, so large a collection of ludicrous quotations and anecdotes. Some grave men, however, who bore no love to the Calvinistic doctrine or discipline, shook their heads over this lively jest book, and hinted their opinion that the writer, while holding up to derision the absurd rhetoric by which coarseminded and ignorant men tried to illustrate dark questions of theology and to excite devotional feeling among the populace, had sometimes forgotten the reverence due to sacred things. The effect which tracts of this sort produced on the public mind of England could not be fully discerned, while England and Scotland were independent of each other, but manifested itself, very soon after the union of the kingdoms, in a way which we still have reason, and which our posterity will probably long have reason, to lament.
The extreme Presbyterians were as much out of humour as the extreme Prelatists, and were as little inclined as the extreme Prelatists to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary. Indeed, though the Jacobite nonjuror and the Cameronian nonjuror were diametrically opposed to each other in opinion, though they regarded each other with mortal aversion, though neither of them would have had any scruple about persecuting the other, they had much in common. They were perhaps the two most remarkable specimens that the world could show of perverse absurdity. Each of them considered his darling form of ecclesiastical polity, not as a means but as an end, as the one thing needful, as the quintessence of the Christian religion. Each of them childishly fancied that he had found a theory of civil government in his Bible. Neither shrank from the frightful consequences to which his theory led. To all objections both had one answer,--Thus saith the Lord. Both agreed in boasting that the arguments which to atheistical politicians seemed unanswerable presented no difficulty to the Saint. It might be perfectly true that, by relaxing the rigour of his principles, he might save his country from slavery, anarchy, universal ruin. But his business was not to save his country, but to save his soul. He obeyed the commands of God, and left the event to God. One of the two fanatical sects held that, to the end of time, the nation would be bound to obey the heir of the Stuarts; the other held that, to the end of time, the nation would be bound by the Solemn League and Covenant; and thus both agreed in regarding the new Sovereigns as usurpers.
The Presbyterian nonjurors have scarcely been heard of out of Scotland; and perhaps it may not now be generally known, even in Scotland, how long they continued to form a distinct class. They held that their country was under a precontract to the Most High, and could never, while the world lasted, enter into any engagement inconsistent with that precontract. An Erastian, a latitudinarian, a man who knelt to receive the bread and wine from the hands of bishops, and who bore, though not very patiently, to hear anthems chaunted by choristers in white vestments, could not be King of a covenanted kingdom. William had moreover forfeited all claim to the crown by committing that sin for which, in the old time, a dynasty preternaturally appointed had been preternaturally deposed. He had connived at the escape of his father in law, that idolater, that murderer, that man of Belial, who ought to have been hewn in pieces before the Lord, like Agag. Nay, the crime of William had exceeded that of Saul. Saul had spared only one Amalekite, and had smitten the rest. What Amalekite had William smitten? The pure Church had been twenty-eight years under persecution. Her children had been imprisoned, transported, branded, shot, hanged, drowned, tortured. And yet he who called himself her deliverer had not suffered her to see her desire upon her enemies. The bloody Claverhouse had been graciously received at Saint James's. The bloody Mackenzie had found a secure and luxurious retreat among the malignants of Oxford. The younger Dalrymple who had prosecuted the Saints, the elder Dalrymple who had sate in judgment on the Saints, were great and powerful. It was said by careless Gallios, that there was no choice but between William and James, and that it was wisdom to choose the less of two evils. Such was indeed the wisdom of this world. But the wisdom which was from above taught us that of two things, both of which were evil in the sight of God, we should choose neither. As soon as James was restored, it would be a duty to disown and withstand him. The present duty was to disown and withstand his son in law. Nothing must be said, nothing must be done that could be construed into a recognition of the authority of the man from Holland. The godly must pay no duties to him, must hold no offices under him, must receive no wages from him, must sign no instruments in which he was styled King. Anne succeeded William; and Anne was designated, by those who called themselves the remnant of the true Church, as the pretended Queen, the wicked woman, the Jezebel. George the First succeeded Anne; and George the First was the pretended King, the German Beast. George the Second succeeded George the First; George the Second too was a pretended King, and was accused of having outdone the wickedness of his wicked predecessors by passing a law in defiance of that divine law which ordains that no witch shall be suffered to live. George the Third succeeded George the Second; and still these men continued, with unabated stedfastness, though in language less ferocious than before, to disclaim all allegiance to an uncovenanted Sovereign. So late as the year 1806, they were still bearing their public testimony against the sin of owning his government by paying taxes, by taking out excise licenses, by joining the volunteers, or by labouring on public works. The number of these zealots went on diminishing till at length they were so thinly scattered over Scotland that they were nowhere numerous enough to have a meeting house, and were known by the name of the Nonhearers. They, however, still assembled and prayed in private dwellings, and still persisted in considering themselves as the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people, which, amidst the common degeneracy, alone preserved the faith of a better age. It is by no means improbable that this superstition, the most irrational and the most unsocial into which Protestant Christianity has ever been corrupted by human prejudices and passions, may still linger in a few obscure farmhouses.
The King was but half satisfied with the manner in which the ecclesiastical polity of Scotland had been settled. He thought that the Episcopalians had been hardly used; and he apprehended that they might be still more hardly used when the new system was fully organized. He had been very desirous that the Act which established the Presbyterian Church should be accompanied by an Act allowing persons who were not members of that Church to hold their own religious assemblies freely; and he had particularly directed Melville to look to this. But some popular preachers harangued so vehemently at Edinburgh against liberty of conscience, which they called the mystery of iniquity, that Melville did not venture to obey his master's instructions. A draught of a Toleration Act was offered to the Parliament by a private member, but was coldly received and suffered to drop.
William, however, was fully determined to prevent the dominant sect from indulging in the luxury of persecution; and he took an early opportunity of announcing his determination. The first General Assembly of the newly established Church met soon after his return from Ireland. It was necessary that he should appoint a Commissioner and send a letter. Some zealous Presbyterians hoped that Crawford would be the Commissioner; and the ministers of Edinburgh drew up a paper in which they very intelligibly hinted that this was their wish. William, however, selected Lord Carmichael, a nobleman distinguished by good sense, humanity and moderation. The royal letter to the Assembly was eminently wise in substance and impressive in language. "We expect," the King wrote, "that your management shall be such that we may have no reason to repent of what we have done. We never could be of the 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. Moderation is what religion enjoins, what neighbouring Churches expect from you, and what we recommend to you." The Sixty and their associates would probably have been glad to reply in language resembling that which, as some of them could well remember, had been held by the clergy to Charles the Second during his residence in Scotland. But they had just been informed that there was in England a strong feeling in favour of the rabbled curates, and that it would, at such a conjuncture, be madness in the body which represented the Presbyterian Church to quarrel with the King. The Assembly therefore returned a grateful and respectful answer to the royal letter, and assured His Majesty that they had suffered too much from oppression ever to be oppressors.
Meanwhile the troops all over the Continent were going into winter quarters. The campaign had everywhere been indecisive. The victory gained by Luxemburg at Fleurus had produced no important effect. On the Upper Rhine great armies had eyed each other, month after month, without exchanging a blow. In Catalonia a few small forts had been taken. In the cast of Europe the Turks had been successful on some points, the Christians on other points; and the termination of the contest seemed to be as remote as ever. The coalition had in the course of the year lost one valuable member and gained another. The Duke of Lorraine, the ablest captain in the Imperial service, was no more. He had died, as he had lived, an exile and a wanderer, and had bequeathed to his children nothing but his name and his rights. It was popularly said that the confederacy could better have spared thirty thousand soldiers than such a general. But scarcely had the allied Courts gone into mourning for him when they were consoled by learning that another prince, superior to him in power, and not inferior to him in capacity or courage, had joined the league against France.
This was Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy. He was a young man; but he was already versed in those arts for which the statesmen of Italy had, ever since the thirteenth century, been celebrated, those arts by which Castruccio Castracani and Francis Sforza rose to greatness, and which Machiavel reduced to a system. No sovereign in modern Europe has, with so small a principality, exercised so great an influence during so long a period. He had for a time submitted, with a show of cheerfulness, but with secret reluctance and resentment, to the French ascendency. When the war broke out, he professed neutrality, but entered into private negotiations with the House of Austria. He would probably have continued to dissemble till he found some opportunity of striking an unexpected blow, had not his crafty schemes been disconcerted by the decision and vigour of Lewis. A French army commanded by Catinat, an officer of great skill and valour, marched into Piedmont. The Duke was informed that his conduct had excited suspicions which he could remove only by admitting foreign garrisons into Turin and Vercelli. He found that he must be either the slave or the open enemy of his powerful and imperious neighbour. His choice was soon made; and a war began which, during seven years, found employment for some of the best generals and best troops of Lewis. An Envoy Extraordinary from Savoy went to the Hague, proceeded thence to London, presented his credentials in the Banqueting House, and addressed to William a speech which was speedily translated into many languages and read in every part of Europe. The orator congratulated the King on the success of that great enterprise which had restored England to her ancient place among the nations, and had broken the chains of Europe. "That my master," he said, "can now at length venture to express feelings which have been long concealed in the recesses of his heart, is part of the debt which he owes to Your Majesty. You have inspired him with the hope of freedom after so many years of bondage."
It had been determined that, during the approaching winter a Congress of all the powers hostile to France should be held at the Hague. William was impatient to proceed thither. But it was necessary that he should first hold a Session of Parliament. Early in October the Houses reassembled at Westminster. The members had generally come up in good humour. Those Tories whom it was possible to conciliate had been conciliated by the Act of Grace, and by the large share which they had obtained of the favours of the Crown. Those Whigs who were capable of learning had learned much from the lesson which William had given them, and had ceased to expect that he would descend from the rank of a King to that of a party leader. Both Whigs and Tories had, with few exceptions, been alarmed by the prospect of a French invasion and cheered by the news of the victory of the Boyne. The Sovereign who had shed his blood for their nation and their religion stood at this moment higher in public estimation than at any time since his accession. His speech from the throne called forth the loud acclamations of Lords and Commons. Thanks were unanimously voted by both Houses to the King for his achievements in Ireland, and to the Queen for the prudence with which she had, during his absence, governed England. Thus commenced a Session distinguished among the Sessions of that reign by harmony and tranquillity. No report of the debates has been preserved, unless a long forgotten lampoon, in which some of the speeches made on the first day are burlesqued in doggrel rhymes, may be called a report. The time of the Commons appears to have been chiefly occupied in discussing questions arising out of the elections of the preceding spring. The supplies necessary for the war, though large, were granted with alacrity. The number of regular troops for the next year was fixed at seventy thousand, of whom twelve thousand were to be horse or dragoons. The charge of this army, the greatest that England had ever maintained, amounted to about two million three hundred thousand pounds; the charge of the navy to about eighteen hundred thousand pounds. The charge of the ordnance was included in these sums, and was roughly estimated at one eighth of the naval and one fifth of the military expenditure. The whole of the extraordinary aid granted to the King exceeded four millions.
The Commons justly thought that the extraordinary liberality with which they had provided for the public service entitled them to demand extraordinary securities against waste and peculation. A bill was brought in empowering nine Commissioners to examine and state the public accounts. The nine were named in the bill, and were all members of the Lower House. The Lords agreed to the bill without amendments; and the King gave his assent.
The debates on the Ways and Means occupied a considerable part of the Session. It was resolved that sixteen hundred and fifty thousand pounds should be raised by a direct monthly assessment on land. The excise duties on ale and beer were doubled; and the import duties on raw silk, linen, timber, glass, and some other articles, were increased. Thus far there was little difference of opinion. But soon the smooth course of business was disturbed by a proposition which was much more popular than just or humane. Taxes of unprecedented severity had been imposed; and yet it might well be doubted whether these taxes would be sufficient. Why, it was asked, should not the cost of the Irish war be borne by the Irish insurgents? How those insurgents had acted in their mock Parliament all the world knew; and nothing could be more reasonable than to mete to them from their own measure. They ought to be treated as they had treated the Saxon colony. Every acre which the Act of Settlement had left them ought to be seized by the state for the purpose of defraying that expense which their turbulence and perverseness had made necessary. It is not strange that a plan which at once gratified national animosity, and held out the hope of pecuniary relief, should have been welcomed with eager delight. A bill was brought in which bore but too much resemblance to some of the laws passed by the Jacobite legislators of Dublin. By this bill it was provided that the property of every person who had been in rebellion against the King and Queen since the day on which they were proclaimed should be confiscated, and that the proceeds should be applied to the support of the war. An exception was made in favour of such Protestants as had merely submitted to superior force; but to Papists no indulgence was shown. The royal prerogative of clemency was limited. The King might indeed, if such were his pleasure, spare the lives of his vanquished enemies; but he was not to be permitted to save any part of their estates from the general doom. He was not to have it in his power to grant a capitulation which should secure to Irish Roman Catholics the enjoyment of their hereditary lands. Nay, he was not to be allowed to keep faith with persons whom he had already received to mercy, who had kissed his hand, and had heard from his lips the promise of protection. An attempt was made to insert a proviso in favour of Lord Dover. Dover, who, with all his faults, was not without some English feelings, had, by defending the interests of his native country at Dublin, made himself odious to both the Irish and the French. After the battle of the Boyne his situation was deplorable. Neither at Limerick nor at Saint Germains could he hope to be welcomed. In his despair, he threw himself at William's feet, promised to live peaceably, and was graciously assured that he had nothing to fear. Though the royal word seemed to be pledged to this unfortunate man, the Commons resolved, by a hundred and nineteen votes to a hundred and twelve, that his property should not be exempted from the general confiscation.
The bill went up to the Peers, but the Peers were not inclined to pass it without considerable amendments; and such amendments there was not time to make. Numerous heirs at law, reversioners, and creditors implored the Upper House to introduce such provisoes as might secure the innocent against all danger of being involved in the punishment of the guilty. Some petitioners asked to be heard by counsel. The King had made all his arrangements for a voyage to the Hague; and the day beyond which he could not postpone his departure drew near. The bill was therefore, happily for the honour of English legislation, consigned to that dark repository in which the abortive statutes of many generations sleep a sleep rarely disturbed by the historian or the antiquary.
Another question, which slightly and but slightly discomposed the tranquillity of this short session, arose out of the disastrous and disgraceful battle of Beachy Head. Torrington had, immediately after that battle, been sent to the Tower, and had ever since remained there. A technical difficulty had arisen about the mode of bringing him to trial. There was no Lord High Admiral; and whether the Commissioners of the Admiralty were competent to execute martial law was a point which to some jurists appeared not perfectly clear. The majority of the judges held that the Commissioners were competent; but, for the purpose of removing all doubt, a bill was brought into the Upper House; and to this bill several Lords offered an opposition which seems to have been most unreasonable. The proposed law, they said, was a retrospective penal law, and therefore objectionable. If they used this argument in good faith, they were ignorant of the very rudiments of the science of legislation. To make a law for punishing that which, at the time when it was done, was not punishable, is contrary to all sound principle. But a law which merely alters the criminal procedure may with perfect propriety be made applicable to past as well as to future offences. It would have been the grossest injustice to give a retrospective operation to the law which made slavetrading felony. But there was not the smallest injustice in enacting that the Central Criminal Court should try felonies committed long before that Court was in being. In Torrington's case the substantive law continued to be what it had always been. The definition of the crime, the amount of the penalty, remained unaltered. The only change was in the form of procedure; and that change the legislature was perfectly justified in making retrospectively.
It is indeed hardly possible to believe that some of those who opposed the bill were duped by the fallacy of which they condescended to make use. The feeling of caste was strong among the Lords. That one of themselves should be tried for his life by a court composed of plebeians seemed to them a degradation of their whole order. If their noble brother had offended, articles of impeachment ought to be exhibited against him: Westminster Hall ought to be fitted up: his peers ought to meet in their robes, and to give in their verdict on their honour; a Lord High Steward ought to pronounce the sentence and to break the staff. There was an end of privilege if an Earl was to be doomed to death by tarpaulins seated round a table in the cabin of a ship. These feelings had so much influence that the bill passed the Upper House by a majority of only two. In the Lower House, where the dignities and immunities of the nobility were regarded with no friendly feeling, there was little difference of opinion. Torrington requested to be heard at the bar, and spoke there at great length, but weakly and confusedly. He boasted of his services, of his sacrifices, and of his wounds. He abused the Dutch, the Board of Admiralty, and the Secretary of State. The bill, however, went through all its stages without a division.
Early in December Torrington was sent under a guard down the river to Sheerness. There the Court Martial met on board of a frigate named the Kent. The investigation lasted three days; and during those days the ferment was great in London. Nothing was heard of on the exchange, in the coffeehouses, nay even at the church doors, but Torrington. Parties ran high; wagers to an immense amount were depending; rumours were hourly arriving by land and water, and every rumour was exaggerated and distorted by the way. From the day on which the news of the ignominious battle arrived, down to the very eve of the trial, public opinion had been very unfavourable to the prisoner. His name, we are told by contemporary pamphleteers, was hardly ever mentioned without a curse. But, when the crisis of his fate drew nigh, there was, as in our country there often is, a reaction. All his merits, his courage, his good nature, his firm adherence to the Protestant religion in the evil times, were remembered. It was impossible to deny that he was sunk in sloth and luxury, that he neglected the most important business for his pleasures, and that he could not say No to a boon companion or to a mistress; but for these faults excuses and soft names were found. His friends used without scruple all the arts which could raise a national feeling in his favour; and these arts were powerfully assisted by the intelligence that the hatred which was felt towards him in Holland had vented itself in indignities to some of his countrymen. The cry was that a bold, jolly, freehanded English gentleman, of whom the worst that could be said was that he liked wine and women, was to be shot in order to gratify the spite of the Dutch. What passed at the trial tended to confirm the populace in this notion. Most of the witnesses against the prisoner were Dutch officers. The Dutch real admiral, who took on himself the part of prosecutor, forgot himself so far as to accuse the judges of partiality. When at length, on the evening of the third day, Torrington was pronounced not guilty, many who had recently clamoured for his blood seemed to be well pleased with his acquittal. He returned to London free, and with his sword by his side. As his yacht went up the Thames, every ship which he passed saluted him. He took his seat in the House of Lords, and even ventured to present himself at court. But most of the peers looked coldly on him; William would not see him, and ordered him to be dismissed from the service.
There was another subject about which no vote was passed by either of the Houses, but about which there is reason to believe that some acrimonious discussion took place in both. The Whigs, though much less violent than in the preceding year, could not patiently see Caermarthen as nearly prime minister as any English subject could be under a prince of William's character. Though no man had taken a more prominent part in the Revolution than the Lord President, though no man had more to fear from a counterrevolution, his old enemies would not believe that he had from his heart renounced those arbitrary doctrines for which he had once been zealous, or that he could bear true allegiance to a government sprung from resistance. Through the last six months of 1690 he was mercilessly lampooned. Sometimes he was King Thomas and sometimes Tom the Tyrant. William was adjured not to go to the Continent leaving his worst enemy close to the ear of the Queen. Halifax, who had, in the preceding year, been ungenerously and ungratefully persecuted by the Whigs, was now mentioned by them with respect and regret; for he was the enemy of their enemy. The face, the figure, the bodily infirmities of Caermarthen, were ridiculed. Those dealings with the French Court in which, twelve years before, he had, rather by his misfortune than by his fault, been implicated, were represented in the most odious colours. He was reproached with his impeachment and his imprisonment. Once, it was said, he had escaped; but vengeance might still overtake him, and London might enjoy the long deferred pleasure of seeing the old traitor flung off the ladder in the blue riband which he disgraced. All the members of his family, wife, son, daughters, were assailed with savage invective and contemptuous sarcasm. All who were supposed to be closely connected with him by political ties came in for a portion of this abuse; and none had so large a portion as Lowther. The feeling indicated by these satires was strong among the Whigs in Parliament. Several of them deliberated on a plan of attack, and were in hopes that they should be able to raise such a storm as would make it impossible for him to remain at the head of affairs. It should seem that, at this time, his influence in the royal closet was not quite what it had been. Godolphin, whom he did not love, and could not control, but whose financial skill had been greatly missed during the summer, was brought back to the Treasury, and made First Commissioner. Lowther, who was the Lord President's own man, still sate at the board, but no longer presided there. It is true that there was not then such a difference as there now is between the First Lord and his colleagues. Still the change was important and significant. Marlborough, whom Caermarthen disliked, was, in military affairs, not less trusted than Godolphin in financial affairs. The seals which Shrewsbury had resigned in the summer had ever since been lying in William's secret drawer. The Lord President probably expected that he should be consulted before they were given away; but he was disappointed. Sidney was sent for from Ireland; and the seals were delivered to him. The first intimation which the Lord President received of this important appointment was not made in a manner likely to soothe his feelings. "Did you meet the new Secretary of State going out?" said William. "No, Sir," answered the Lord President; "I met nobody but my Lord Sidney." "He is the new Secretary," said William. "He will do till I find a fit man; and he will be quite willing to resign as soon as I find a fit man. Any other person that I could put in would think himself ill used if I were to put him out." If William had said all that was in his mind, he would probably have added that Sidney, though not a great orator or statesman, was one of the very few English politicians who could be as entirely trusted as Bentinck or Zulestein. Caermarthen listened with a bitter smile. It was new, he afterwards said, to see a nobleman placed in the Secretary's office, as a footman was placed in a box at the theatre, merely in order to keep a seat till his betters came. But this jest was a cover for serious mortification and alarm. The situation of the prime minister was unpleasant and even perilous; and the duration of his power would probably have been short, had not fortune, just at this moment, put it in his power to confound his adversaries by rendering a great service to the state.
The Jacobites had seemed in August to be completely crushed. The victory of the Boyne, and the irresistible explosion of patriotic feeling produced by the appearance of Tourville's fleet on the coast of Devonshire, had cowed the boldest champions of hereditary right. Most of the chief plotters passed some weeks in confinement or in concealment. But, widely as the ramifications of the conspiracy had extended, only one traitor suffered the punishment of his crime. This was a man named Godfrey Cross, who kept an inn on the beach near Rye, and who, when the French fleet was on the coast of Sussex, had given information to Tourville. When it appeared that this solitary example was thought sufficient, when the danger of invasion was over, when the popular enthusiasm excited by that danger had subsided, when the lenity of the government had permitted some conspirators to leave their prisons and had encouraged others to venture out of their hidingplaces, the faction which had been prostrated and stunned began to give signs of returning animation. The old traitors again mustered at the old haunts, exchanged significant looks and eager whispers, and drew from their pockets libels on the Court of Kensington, and letters in milk and lemon juice from the Court of Saint Germains. Preston, Dartmouth, Clarendon, Penn, were among the most busy. With them, was leagued the nonjuring Bishop of Ely, who was still permitted by the government to reside in the palace, now no longer his own, and who had, but a short time before, called heaven to witness that he detested the thought of inviting foreigners to invade England. One good opportunity had been lost; but another was at hand, and must not be suffered to escape. The usurper would soon be again out of England. The administration would soon be again confided to a weak woman and a divided council. The year which was closing had certainly been unlucky; but that which was about to commence might be more auspicious.
In December a meeting of the leading Jacobites was held. The sense of the assembly, which consisted exclusively of Protestants, was that something ought to be attempted, but that the difficulties were great. None ventured to recommend that James should come over unaccompanied by regular troops. Yet all, taught by the experience of the preceding summer, dreaded the effect which might be produced by the sight of French uniforms and standards on English ground. A paper was drawn up which would, it was hoped, convince both James and Lewis that a restoration could not be effected without the cordial concurrence of the nation. France,--such was the substance of this remarkable document,--might possibly make the island a heap of ruins, but never a subject province. It was hardly possible for any person, who had not had an opportunity of observing the temper of the public mind, to imagine the savage and dogged determination with which men of all classes, sects and factions were prepared to resist any foreign potentate who should attempt to conquer the kingdom by force of arms. Nor could England be governed as a Roman Catholic country. There were five millions of Protestants in the realm: there were not a hundred thousand Papists: that such a minority should keep down such a majority was physically impossible; and to physical impossibility all other considerations must give way. James would therefore do well to take without delay such measures as might indicate his resolution to protect the established religion. Unhappily every letter which arrived from France contained something tending to irritate feelings which it was most desirable to soothe. Stories were every where current of slights offered at Saint Germains to Protestants who had given the highest proof of loyalty by following into banishment a master zealous for a faith which was not their own. The edicts which had been issued against the Huguenots might perhaps have been justified by the anarchical opinions and practices of those sectaries; but it was the height of injustice and of inhospitality to put those edicts in force against men who had been driven from their country solely on account of their attachment to a Roman Catholic King. Surely sons of the Anglican Church, who had, in obedience to her teaching, sacrificed all that they most prized on earth to the royal cause, ought not to be any longer interdicted from assembling in some modest edifice to celebrate her rites and to receive her consolations. An announcement that Lewis had, at the request of James, permitted the English exiles to worship God according to their national forms would be the best prelude to the great attempt. That attempt ought to be made early in the spring. A French force must undoubtedly accompany His Majesty. But he must declare that he brought that force only for the defence of his person and for the protection of his loving subjects, and that, as soon as the foreign oppressors had been expelled, the foreign deliverers should be dismissed. He must also promise to govern according to law, and must refer all the points which had been in dispute between him and his people to the decision of a Parliament.
It was determined that Preston should carry to Saint Germains the resolutions and suggestions of the conspirators, John Ashton, a person who had been clerk of the closet to Mary of Modena when she was on the throne, and who was entirely devoted to the interests of the exiled family, undertook to procure the means of conveyance, and for this purpose engaged the cooperation of a hotheaded young Jacobite named Elliot, who only knew in general that a service of some hazard was to be rendered to the good cause.
It was easy to find in the port of London a vessel the owner of which was not scrupulous about the use for which it might be wanted. Ashton and Elliot were introduced to the master of a smack named the James and Elizabeth. The Jacobite agents pretended to be smugglers, and talked of the thousands of pounds which might be got by a single lucky trip to France and back again. A bargain was struck: a sixpence was broken; and all the arrangements were made for the voyage.
Preston was charged by his friends with a packet containing several important papers. Among these was a list of the English fleet furnished by Dartmouth, who was in communication with some of his old companions in arms, a minute of the resolutions which had been adopted at the meeting of the conspirators, and the Heads of a Declaration which it was thought desirable that James should publish at the moment of his landing. There were also six or seven letters from persons of note in the Jacobite party. Most of these letters were parables, but parables which it was not difficult to unriddle. One plotter used the cant of the law. There was hope that Mr. Jackson would soon recover his estate. The new landlord was a hard man, and had set the freeholders against him. A little matter would redeem the whole property. The opinions of the best counsel were in Mr. Jackson's favour. All that was necessary was that he should himself appear in Westminster Hall. The final hearing ought to be before the close of Easter Term. Other writers affected the style of the Royal Exchange. There was a great demand for a cargo of the right sort. There was reason to hope that the old firm would soon form profitable connections with houses with which it had hitherto had no dealings. This was evidently an allusion to the discontented Whigs. But, it was added, the shipments must not be delayed. Nothing was so dangerous as to overstay the market. If the expected goods did not arrive by the tenth of March, the whole profit of the year would be lost. As to details, entire reliance might be placed on the excellent factor who was going over. Clarendon assumed the character of a matchmaker. There was great hope that the business which he had been negotiating would be brought to bear, and that the marriage portion would be well secured. "Your relations," he wrote, in allusion to his recent confinement, "have been very hard on me this last summer. Yet, as soon as I could go safely abroad, I pursued the business." Catharine Sedley entrusted Preston with a letter in which, without allegory or circumlocution, she complained that her lover had left her a daughter to support, and begged very hard for money. But the two most important despatches were from Bishop Turner. They were directed to Mr. and Mrs. Redding: but the language was such as it would be thought abject in any gentleman to hold except to royalty. The Bishop assured their Majesties that he was devoted to their cause, that he earnestly wished for a great occasion to prove his zeal, and that he would no more swerve from his duty to them than renounce his hope of heaven. He added, in phraseology metaphorical indeed, but perfectly intelligible, that he was the mouthpiece of several of the nonjuring prelates, and especially of Sancroft. "Sir, I speak in the plural,"--these are the words of the letter to James,-- "because I write my elder brother's sentiments as well as my own, and the rest of our family." The letter to Mary of Modena is to the same effect. "I say this in behalf of my elder brother, and the rest of my nearest relations, as well as from myself."
All the letters with which Preston was charged referred the Court of Saint Germains to him for fuller information. He carried with him minutes in his own handwriting of the subjects on which he was to converse with his master and with the ministers of Lewis. These minutes, though concise and desultory, can for the most part be interpreted without difficulty. The vulnerable points of the coast are mentioned. Gosport is defended only by palisades. The garrison of Portsmouth is small. The French fleet ought to be out in April, and to fight before the Dutch are in the Channel. There are a few broken words clearly importing that some at least of the nonjuring bishops, when they declared, before God, that they abhorred the thought of inviting the French over, were dissembling.
Everything was now ready for Preston's departure. But the owner of the James and Elizabeth had conceived a suspicion that the expedition for which his smack had been hired was rather of a political than of a commercial nature. It occurred to him that more might be made by informing against his passengers than by conveying them safely. Intelligence of what was passing was conveyed to the Lord President. No intelligence could be more welcome to him. He was delighted to find that it was in his power to give a signal proof of his attachment to the government which his enemies had accused him of betraying. He took his measures with his usual energy and dexterity. His eldest son, the Earl of Danby, a bold, volatile, and somewhat eccentric young man, was fond of the sea, lived much among sailors, and was the proprietor of a small yacht of marvellous speed. This vessel, well manned, was placed under the command of a trusty officer named Billop, and was sent down the river, as if for the purpose of pressing mariners.
At dead of night, the last night of the year 1690, Preston, Ashton and Elliot went on board of their smack near the Tower. They were in great dread lest they should be stopped and searched, either by a frigate which lay off Woolwich, or by the guard posted at the blockhouse of Gravesend. But, when they had passed both frigate and blockhouse without being challenged, their spirits rose: their appetite became keen; they unpacked a hamper well stored with roast beef, mince pies, and bottles of wine, and were just sitting down to their Christmas cheer, when the alarm was given that a vessel from Tilbury was flying through the water after them. They had scarcely time to hide themselves in a dark hole among the gravel which was the ballast of their smack, when the chase was over, and Billop, at the head of an armed party, came on board. The hatches were taken up: the conspirators were arrested; and their clothes were strictly examined. Preston, in his agitation, had dropped on the gravel his official seal and the packet of which he was the bearer. The seal was discovered where it had fallen. Ashton, aware of the importance of the papers, snatched them up and tried to conceal them; but they were soon found in his bosom.
The prisoners then tried to cajole or to corrupt Billop. They called for wine, pledged him, praised his gentlemanlike demeanour, and assured him that, if he would accompany them, nay, if he would only let that little roll of paper fall overboard into the Thames, his fortune would be made. The tide of affairs, they said, was on the turn, things could not go on for ever as they had gone on of late and it was in the captain's power to be as great and as rich as he could desire. Billop, though courteous, was inflexible. The conspirators became sensible that their necks were in imminent danger. The emergency brought out strongly the true characters of all the three, characters which, but for such an emergency, might have remained for ever unknown. Preston had always been reputed a highspirited and gallant gentleman; but the near prospect of a dungeon and a gallows altogether unmanned him. Elliot stormed and blasphemed, vowed that, if he ever got free, he would be revenged, and, with horrible imprecations, called on the thunder to strike the yacht, and on London Bridge to fall in and crush her. Ashton alone behaved with manly firmness.
Late in the evening the yacht reached Whitehall Stairs; and the prisoners, strongly guarded, were conducted to the Secretary's office. The papers which had been found in Ashton's bosom were inspected that night by Nottingham and Caermarthen, and were, on the following morning, put by Caermarthen into the hands of the King.
Soon it was known all over London that a plot had been detected, that the messengers whom the adherents of James had sent to solicit the help of an invading army from France had been arrested by the agents of the vigilant and energetic Lord President, and that documentary evidence, which might affect the lives of some great men, was in the possession of the government. The Jacobites were terrorstricken; the clamour of the Whigs against Caermarthen was suddenly hushed; and the Session ended in perfect harmony. On the fifth of January the King thanked the Houses for their support, and assured them that he would not grant away any forfeited property in Ireland till they should reassemble. He alluded to the plot which had just been discovered, and expressed a hope that the friends of England would not, at such a moment, be less active or less firmly united than her enemies. He then signified his pleasure that the Parliament should adjourn. On the following day he set out, attended by a splendid train of nobles, for the Congress at the Hague.