Obrazy na stronie

party essayed, and not in vain, to win the Nonconformists to their side. In the Letter to a Dissenter, the most celebrated publication in this controversy, Mr. Macaulay recognizes the "amplitude and acuteness of intellect," the “ vivacity of fancy," the “terse and energetic style," and “the placid dignity, half courtly, half philosophical,” of Halifax, and Halifax alone. The Nonconformists seduced by James's declaration were a small minority," headed by a few busy men, whose judgment was defective," or whose principles gave way to interest. Amongst the Presbyterians none more eminent than Vincent Alsop and Thomas Rosewell, turned courtiers. Stephen Lobb used all his influence with the Independents, as did Henry Care the pamphleteer, previously distinguished by his coarse vituperation of the Church of Rome. To these perverted men Mr. Macaulay is compelled to add the name of William Penn. The influence of these men, aided by the active exertions of the Court, could in six months only extort from the entire body of English Nonconformists sixty addresses to the King.

“ The great body of Protestant Nonconformists, firmly attached to civil liberty, and distrusting the promises of the king and of the Jesuits, steadily refused to return thanks for a favour which, it might well be suspected, concealed a snare. This was the temper of all the most illustrious chiefs of the party.”—II. 225.

A good description follows of the conduct of Baxter and Howe, of the conduct and character of Bunyan (the portrait is full of life), and of the firm resistance of William Kiffin to the seductions of the Court. Before quitting this portion of the History, we must quote the striking passage relating to this eminent Baptist:

“Between him and the court was interposed the remembrance of one terrible event. He was the grandfather of the two Hewlings, those gallant youths who, of all the victims of the Bloody Assizes, had been the most generally lamented. For the sad fate of one of them James was in a peculiar manner responsible. Jeffreys had respited the younger brother. The poor lad's sister had been ushered by Churchill into the royal presence, and had begged for mercy; but the king's heart had been obdurate. The misery of the whole family had been great; but Kiffin was most to be pitied. He was seventy years old when he was left destitute, the survivor of those who should have survived him. The heartless and venal sycophants of Whitehall, judging by themselves, thought that the old man would be easily propitiated by an alderman's gown, and by some compensation in money for the property which his grandsons had forfeited. Penn was employed in the work of seduction, but to no purpose. The king determined to try what effect his own civilities would produce. Kiffin was ordered to attend at the palace. He found a brilliant cir. cle of noblemen and gentlemen assembled. James immediately came to him, spoke to him very graciously, and concluded by saying, 'I have put you down, Mr. Kiffin, for an Alderman of London.' The old man looked fixedly at the king, burst into tears, and made answer, 'Sir, I am worn out; I am unfit to serve your Majesty or the City. And, sir, the death of my poor boys broke my heart. That wound is as fresh as ever. I shall carry it to my grave.' The king stood silent for a minute in some confusion, and then said, Mr. Kiffin, I will find a balsam for that sore.' Assuredly, James did not mean to say any thing cruel or insolent: on the contrary, he seems to have been in an unusually gentle mood. Yet no speech that is recorded of him gives so unfavourable a notion of his character as these few words. They are the words of a hard-hearted and low-minded man, unable to conceive any laceration of the affections for which a place or a pension would not be a full compensation.” II. 229, 230.

But we must hasten to introduce to the reader the hero of this portion of Mr. Macaulay's work, the Protestant Deliverer, on the delineation of whose character he has evidently bestowed unusual care. It is too long for quotation, and the general portraiture of mind and body is familiar to us, though it has never yet been so forcibly or so elaborately drawn. We prefer giving an extract which shews that under the stoical exterior there was a heart capable not only of a steady, but of a romantic friendship. Having described how he was watched and tended by Bentinck for sixteen days and nights in the small-pox, he proceeds:

“Such was the origin of a friendship as warm and pure as any that ancient or modern history records. The descendants of Bentinck still preserve many letters written by William to their ancestor; and it is not too much to say that no person who has not studied those letters can form a correct notion of the prince's character. He whom even his admirers generally accounted the most distant and frigid of men, here forgets all distinctions of rank, and pours out all his thoughts with the ingenuousness of a school-boy. He imparts without reserve secrets of the highest moment. He explains with perfect simplicity vast designs affecting all the governments of Europe. Mingled with his communications on such subjects are other communications of a very different, but perhaps not of a less interesting kind. All his adventures, all his personal feelings, his long runs after enormous stags, his carousals on St. Hubert's day, the growth of his plantations, the failure of his melons, the state of his stud, his wish to procure an easy pad nag for his wife, his vexation at finding that one of his household, after ruining a girl of good family, refused to marry her, his fits of sea-sickness, his coughs, his head-aches, his devotional moods, his gratitude for the Divine protection after a great escape, his struggles to submit himself to the Divine will after disaster, are described with an amiable garrulity hardly to have been expected from the most discreet and sedate statesman of the age. Still more remarkable is the careless effusion of his tenderness, and the brotherly interest which he takes in his friend's domestic felicity. When an heir is born to Bentinck, ' he will live, I hope,' says William,' to be as good a fellow as you are; and, if I should have a son, our children will love each other, I hope, as we have done.' Through life he continues to regard the little Bentincks with paternal kindness. He calls them by endearing diminutives ; he takes charge of them in their father's absence, and, though vexed at being forced to refuse them any pleasure, will not suffer them to go on a hunting party, where there would be a risk of a push from a stag's horn, or to sit up late at a riotous supper. When their mother is taken ill during her husband's absence, William, in the midst of business of the highest moment, finds time to send off several expresses in one day, with short notes containing intelligence of her state. On one occasion, when she is pronounced out of danger after a severe attack, the prince breaks forth into fervent expressions of gratitude to God. 'I write,' he says, 'with tears of joy in my eyes.' There is a singular charm in such letters, penned by a man whose irresistible energy and inflexible firmness extorted the respect of his enemies, whose cold and ungracious demeanour repelled the attachment of almost all his partisans, and whose mind was occupied by gigantic schemes which have changed the face of the world.”—II. 171–173.

Mr. Macaulay has brought into more prominent view than previous historians two circumstances important to a right conception of the history of these times. One is the obstruction to William's plans occasioned by the state of parties in the United Provinces. The power of the Stadtholder had long been an object of jealousy to the municipal oligarchies of the several provinces, and the office had been formally abolished by the Edictum perpetuum of 1667. The imminent danger to which the state had been reduced by the invasion of Louis and the policy of the De Witts had led to its re-establishment in 1672, and the Prince of Orange, on whom it was bestowed, had soon retrieved the desperate condition of his country. But with the removal of the immediate danger, the old jealousies returned; the magistrates of Amsterdam, the most important city of the confederation, were most determined in their opposition to the Stadtholder, and, as party-spirit seldom fails to corrupt patriotism, the most inclined to court the favour of Louis XIV., of whom the Prince was already the avowed and implacable enemy. By the constitution of the federation, no public measure could be adopted without the consent of every state, and no state could give its sanction without the consent of every town council. Thus a single veto could defeat the will of the majority, and Amsterdam had frequently nullified measures which had been sanctioned by all the other towns of the province. So deeply rooted was the aversion to the House of Orange in the minds of the ruling body in Amsterdam, that William's enterprize might have been defeated, had not the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes brought crowds of fugitive Protestants to Holland, the sight of whom inflamed the people to madness. After his religion (longo non proximus intervallo), his commerce was most dear to the heart of a Dutchman, and the next step of the French King was to prohibit the importation of herrings into his dominions. The eloquence of preachers was seconded by the outcries of starving fishermen and bankrupt merchants; the partizans of a French alliance became odious; and when the time of action arrived, the sanction of the city of Amsterdam was given to the Prince's expedition.

The other circumstance which Mr. Macaulay has presented in a clearer light than preceding historians, is the relation in which William stood to the two great parties of England. Accustomed to see our sovereigns, since the accession of the House of Hanover, choose their party and govern by means of Whigs or Tories, we are astonished at the facility with which William passed from the one to the other, and may suppose that he was indifferent to their very opposite principles. In most cases of this apparent versatility he might be defended on constitutional grounds, as he changed his tactics with the change of parliamentary majorities. But the truth is, as Mr. Macaulay observes, that he was neither Whig nor Tory, nor could be, inasmuch as these parties are essentially English, and he never became an Englishman. His affections were always placed on the land of his birth. But there was a passion even stronger than patriotism in his bosom-it was hostility to France and her monarch, who had insulted him and endeavoured to trample on his country. It was far less by the prospect of wearing the crown of England (which, indeed, must have seemed very doubtful) that he was moved to undertake his expedition, than by the hope of gaining her as an ally in the great coalition which he was planning. When he had been called to the throne, this object was ever foremost in his thoughts, and he used the parties in our government, with little reference to their principles, according as he could make them instrumental in promoting this great purpose of his life.

The account of the preparations for the expedition—the embarkation -the storm by which the fleet was driven back to Helvoetsluys—the passage down the Channel-the danger to which the fleet was exposed of being unable to anchor in Torbay, the destined landing-place-is full of interest and animation. Mr. Macaulay has shewn by his Lays of Ancient Rome that he has a quick eye for the picturesque, and our Western readers will recognize this power in his contrast of the past and present aspect of the place where William set his foot on the English shore.


* Under the mild light of an autumnal noon, the fleet turned back, passed round the lofty cape of Berry Head, and rode safe in the harbour of Torbay

“Since William looked on that harbour its aspect has greatly changed. The amphitheatre which surrounds the spacious basin now exhibits every where the signs of prosperity and civilisation. At the north-eastern extremity has sprung up a great watering-place, to which strangers are attracted from the most remote parts of our island by the Italian softness of the air; for in that climate the myrtle flourishes unsheltered, and even the winter is milder than the Northumbrian April. The inhabitants are about ten thousand in number. The newly-built churches and chapels, the baths and libraries, the hotels and public gardens, the infirmary and museum, the white streets, rising terrace above terrace, the gay villas peeping from the midst of shrubberies and flowerbeds, present a spectacle widely different from any that in the seventeenth century England could show. At the opposite end of the bay lies, sheltered by Berry Head, the stirring market town of Brixham, the wealthiest seat of our fishing trade. A pier and a haven were formed there at the beginning of the present century, but have been found insufficient for the increasing traffic. The population is about six thousand souls. The shipping amounts to more than two hundred sail. The tonnage exceeds many times the tonnage of the port of Liverpool under the kings of the House of Stuart. But Torbay, when the Dutch Heet cast anchor there, was known only as a haven where ships sometimes took refuge from the tempests of the Atlantic. Its quiet shores were undisturbed by the bustle either of commerce or of pleasure, and the huts of ploughmen and fishermen were thinly scattered over what is now the site of crowded marts and of luxurious pavilions.”—II. 483, 484.

The winds and the waves had favoured the cause of William ; he had twitted Burnet with his disbelief in predestination, and Burnet had happily applied to him the congratulation of Claudian to Honorius:

O nimium dilecte Deo, cui militat æther
Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti!

De tert. Consul, Hon. 97. But there remained, even after the flight of James, a problem in the solution of which no providential interference could be looked for; a knot to be untied which no god from the machine would descend to cut; a tangled web of passions and prejudices, resentments and partialities, hopes and fears, which only the most consummate judgment and patience could unravel. These qualities William possessed beyond any public man of his time; but they would not alone have availed to bring about the quiet settlement of the Revolution. The leaders of the Whig party had acquired, by long parliamentary and administrative experience, that practical sagacity which even to our own time seems to be the exclusive gift of English statesmen, and the want of which condemns the authors of all other revolutions to perish, in body or in fame, under the ruins of their own work. The nation was divided and subdivided into parties; a few, the Jacobites of succeeding times, held the title of James to be sacred, and would have wished to see him restored with undiminished prerogatives; a few minds still retained the leaven of the Commonwealth and would gladly have seen monarchy abolished. Among the Catholics there was a violent and a moderate, an English and a Jesuitical party. The Tories were already frightened at their own work, and alarmed at the alliance with the old enemies of monarchy into which the danger of the Church had driven them. They, also, were divided, some wishing to recal James

with stipulations, some to establish a regency to govern in his name.* Of the Whigs some were prepared to declare the throne forfeited by the violation of the king's oath; others could not advance beyond abdication, while Danby was playing his own by-game and endeavouring to procure the crown exclusively for the Princess. That all these questions were happily solved and these interests conciliated was owing chiefly to two menHalifax, whose prudence and moderation have been condemned as trimming by the extreme politicians of either party, and Somers, whose integrity not even extreme politicians have ventured to attack. The declaration of the grounds on which the Revolution was justified may be neither correct in logic nor in fact; but time has justified them by a much better test—the experience of a century and a half, in which the Constitution, as established by them, has restrained prerogative, protected public right and expanded its forms to give room to a new element of popular power. We shall conclude our quotations with a reflection suggested to Mr. Macaulay by the events which were passing in Europe when the last page of his History was written.

" The highest eulogy which can be pronounced on the revolution of 1688 is this, that it was our last revolution. Several generations have now passed away since any wise and patriotic Englishman has meditated resistance to the established government. In all honest and reflecting minds there is a conviction, daily strengthened by experience, that the means of effecting every improvement which the constitution requires may be found within the constitution itself.

“Now, if ever, we ought to be able to appreciate the whole importance of the stand which was made by our forefathers against the House of Stuart. All around us the world is convulsed by the agonies of great nations. Governments which lately seemed likely to stand during ages have been on a sudden shaken and overthrown. The proudest capitals of Western Europe have streamed with civil blood. All evil passions, the thirst of gain and the thirst of vengeance, the antipathy of class to class, the antipathy of race to race, have broken loose from the control of divine and human laws. Fear and anxiety have clouded the faces and depressed the hearts of millions. Trade has been suspended, and industry paralysed. The rich have become poor, and

poor have become poorer. Doctrines hostile to all sciences, to all arts, to all industry, to all domestic charities, doctrines which, if carried into effect, would, in thirty years, undo all that thirty centuries have done for mankind, and would make the fairest provinces of France and Germany as savage as

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