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CHAPTER III. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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State of the Army.—Attempts of the King to Convert it.—The Princess Anne.—Dryden.—Lord Middleton and others.—Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.—Attempt to convert Rochester.—Conduct of the Queen.—Religious Conference.—Failure of the attempt.—His Dismissal.
During the summer of 1686, the King had assembled a body of 15,000 troops, who were encamped on Hounslow Heath;—a spectacle new to the people of England, who, though full of martial spirit, have never regarded with favour the separate profession of arms.∥ He viewed this encampment with a complacency natural to princes, and he expressed his feelings to the Prince of Orange in a tone of no friendly boast.* He caressed the officers, and he openly declared that he should keep none but those on whom he could rely.† A Catholic chapel was opened in the camp, and missionaries were distributed among the soldiers. The numbers of the army rendered it an object of very serious consideration. Supposing them to be only 32,000 in England and Scotland alone, they were twice as many as were kept up in Great Britain in the year 1792, when the population of the island had certainly more than doubled. As this force was kept on foot without the consent of Parliament, there was no limit to its numbers, but the means of supporting it possessed by the King; which might be derived from the misapplication of funds granted for other purposes, or be supplied by foreign powers interested in destroying the liberties of the kingdom. The means of governing it were at first a source of perplexity to the King, but, in the sequel, a new object of apprehension to the people. The Petition of Right,‡ in affirmance of the ancient laws, had forbidden the exercise of martial law within the kingdom; and the ancient mode of establishing those summary jurisdictions and punishments which seem to be necessary to secure the obedience of armies was, in a great measure, wanting. The servile ingenuity of aspiring lawyers was, therefore, set at work to devise some new expedient for more easily destroying the constitution, according to the forms of law. For this purpose they revived the provisions of some ancient statutes,§ which had made desertion a capital felony; though these were, in the opinion of the best lawyers, either repealed, or confined to soldiers serving in the case of actual or immediately impending hostilities. Even this device did not provide the means of punishing the other military offences, which are so dangerous to the order of armies, that there can be little doubt of their having been actually punished by other means, however confessedly illegal. Several soldiers were tried, convicted, and executed for the felony of desertion; and the scruples of judges on the legality of these proceedings induced the King more than once to recur to his ordinary measure for the purification of tribunals by the removal of the judges. Sir John Holt, who was destined, in better times, to be one of the most inflexible guardians of the laws, was also then dismissed from the recordership of London.
The only person who ventured to express the general feeling respecting the army was Mr. Samuel Johnson, who had been chaplain to Lord Russell, and who was then in prison for a work which he had published some years before against the succession of James, under the title of “Julian the Apostate.”* He now wrote, and sent to an agent to be dispersed (for there was no proof of actual dispersion or sale† ), an address to the army, expostulating with them on the danger of serving under illegally commissioned officers, and for objects inconsistent with the safety of their country. He also wrote another paper, in which he asserted that “resistance may be used in case our religion or our rights should be invaded.” For these acts he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to pay a small fine, to be thrice pilloried, and to be whipped by the common hangman from Newgate to Tyburn. For both these publications, his spirit was, doubtless, deserving of the highest applause. The prosecution in the first case can hardly be condemned, and the conviction still less: but the cruelty of the punishment reflects the highest dishonour on the judges, more especially on Sir Edward Herbert, whose high pretensions to morality and humanity deeply aggravate the guilt of his concurrence in this atrocious judgment. Previous to its infliction, he was degraded from his sacred character by Crew, Sprat, and White, three bishops authorised to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the diocese of London during the suspension of Compton. When, as part of the formality, the Bible was taken out of his hands, he struggled to preserve it, and bursting into tears, cried out, “You cannot take from me the consolation contained in the sacred volume.” The barbarous judgment was “executed with great rigour and cruelty.”‡ In the course of a painful and ignominous progress of two miles through crowded streets, he received three hundred and seventeen stripes, inflicted with a whip of nine cords knotted. It will be a consolation to the reader, as soon as he has perused the narrative of these enormities, to learn, though with some disturbance of the order of time, that amends were in some measure made to Mr. Johnson, and that his persecutors were reduced to the bitter mortification of humbling themselves before their victim. After the Revolution, the judgment pronounced on him was voted by the House of Commons to be illegal and cruel.§ Crew, Bishop of Durham, one of the commissioners who deprived him, made him a considerable compensation in money;∥ and Withins, the Judge who delivered the sentence, counterfeited a dangerous illness, and pretended that his dying hours were disturbed by the remembrance of what he had done, in order to betray Johnson, through his humane and Christian feelings, into such a declaration of forgiveness as might contribute to shelter the cruel judge from further animadversion.*
The desire of the King to propagate his religion was a natural consequence of zealous attachment to it. But it was a very dangerous quality in a monarch, especially when the principles of religious liberty were not adopted by any European government. The royal apostle is seldom convinced of the good faith of the opponent whom he has failed to convert: he soon persuades himself that the pertinacity of the heretic arises more from the depravity of his nature than from the errors of his judgment. He first shows displeasure to his perverse antagonists; he then withdraws advantages from them; he, in many cases, may think it reasonable to bring them to reflection by some degree of hardship; and the disappointed disputant may at last degenerate into the furious persecutor. The attempt to convert the army was peculiarly dangerous to the King’s own object. He boasted of the number of converts in one of his regiments of Guards, without considering the consequences of teaching controversy to an army. The political canvass carried on among the officers, and the controversial sermons preached to the soldiers, probably contributed to awaken that spirit of inquiry and discussion in his camp which he ought to have dreaded as his most formidable enemy. He early destined the revenue of the Archbishop of York to be a provision for converts,† —being probably sincere in his professions, that he meant only to make it one for those who had sacrificed interest to religion. But experience shows how easily such a provision swells into a reward, and how naturally it at length becomes a premium for hypocrisy. It was natural that his passion for making proselytes should show itself towards his own children. The Pope, in his conversations with Lord Castlemaine, said, that without the conversion of the Princess Anne, no advantage obtained for the Catholic religion could be permanently secured.‡ The King assented to this opinion, and had, indeed, before attempted to dispose his daughter favourably to his religion, influenced probably by the parental kindness, which was one of his best qualities.§ He must have considered as hopeless the case of his eldest daughter, early removed from her father, and the submissive as well as affectionate wife of a husband of decisive character, who was also the leader of the Protestant cause. To Anne, therefore, his attention was turned: but with her he found insurmountable difficulties. Both these princesses, after their father had become a Catholic, were considered as the hope of the Protestant religion, and accordingly trained in the utmost horror of Popery. Their partialities and resentments were regulated by difference of religion; their political importance and their splendid prospects were dependent on the Protestant Church. Anne was surrounded by zealous Churchmen; she was animated by her preceptor Compton; her favourites Lord and Lady Churchill had become determined partisans of Protestantism; and the King found in the obstinacy of his daughter’s character, a resistance hardly to be apprehended from a young princess of slight understanding.* Some of the reasons of this zeal for converting her clearly show that, whether the succession was actually held out to her as a lure or not, at least there was an intention, if she became a Catholic, to prefer her to the Princess of Orange. Bonrepos, a minister of ability, had indeed, at a somewhat earlier period, tried the effect of that temptation on her husband, Prince George.† He ventured to ask his friend the Danish envoy, “whether the Prince had any ambition to raise his consort to the throne at the expense of the Princess Mary, which seemed to be practicable if he became a Catholic.” The envoy hinted this bold suggestion to the Prince, who appeared to receive it well, and even showed a willingness to be instructed on the controverted questions. Bonrepos found means to supply the Princess Anne with Catholic books, which, for a moment, she showed some willingness to consider. He represented her to his Court as timid and silent, but ambitious and of some talent, with a violent hatred for the Queen. He reported his attempts to the King, who listened to him with the utmost pleasure; and the subtile diplomatist observes, that, though he might fail in the conversion, he should certainly gain the good graces of James by the effort, which his knowledge of that monarch’s hatred of the Prince of Orange had been his chief inducement to hazard.
The success of the King himself, in his attempts to make proselytes, was less than might have been expected from his zeal and influence. Parker, originally a zealous Nonconformist, aftewards a slanderous buffoon, and an Episcopalian of persecuting principles, earned the bishopric of Oxford by showing a strong disposition to favour, if not to be reconciled to, the Church of Rome. Two bishops publicly visited Mr. Leyburn the Catholic prelate, at his apartments in St. James’ Palace, on his being made almoner to the King, when it was, unhappily, impossible to impute their conduct to liberality or charity.‡ Walker, the Master of University College in Oxford, and three of the fellows of that society, were the earliest and most noted of the few open converts among the clergy. L’Estrange, though he had for five-and-twenty years written all the scurrilous libels of the Court, refused to abandon the Protestant Church. Dryden, indeed, conformed to the doctrines of his master;* and neither the critical time, nor his general character, have been sufficient to deter some of the admirers of that great poet from seriously maintaining that his conversion was real. The same persons who make this stand for the conscientious character of the poet of a profligate Court, have laboured with all their might to discover and exaggerate those human frailties from which fervid piety and intrepid integrity did not altogether preserve Milton, in the evil days of his age, and poverty, and blindness.† The King failed in a personal attempt to convert Lord Dartmouth, whom he considered as his most faithful servant for having advised him to bring Irish troops into England, such being more worthy of trust than others;‡ —a remarkable instance of a man of honour adhering inflexibly to the Church of England, though his counsels relating to civil affairs were the most fatal to public liberty. Middleton, one of the secretaries of state, a man of ability, supposed to have no strong principles of religion, was equally inflexible. The Catholic divine who was sent to him began by attempting to reconcile his understanding to the mysterious doctrine of transubstantiation. “Your Lordship,” said he, “believes the Trinity.”—“Who told you so?” answered Middleton; “you are come here to prove your own opinions, not to ask about mine.” The astonished priest is said to have immediately retired. Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, is also said to have sent away a monk who came to convert him by a jest upon the same doctrine:—“I have convinced myself,” said he, “by much reflection that God made man; but I cannot believe that man can make God.” But though there is no reason to doubt his pleasantry or profaneness, his integrity is more questionable.* Colonel Kirke, from whom strong scruples were hardly to be expected, is said to have answered the King’s desire, that he would listen to Catholic divines, by declaring, that when he was at Tangier he had engaged himself to the Emperor of Morocco, if ever he changed his religion, to become a Mahometan. Lord Churchill, though neither insensible to the kindness of James, nor distinguished by a strict conformity to the precepts of Religion, withstood the attempts of his generous benefactor to bring him over to the Church of Rome. He said of himself, “that though he could not lead the life of a saint, he was resolved if there was ever occasion for it, to show the resolution of a martyr.”† So much constancy in religious opinion may seem singular among courtiers and soldiers: but it must be considered, that the inconsistency of men’s actions with their opinions is more often due to infirmity than to insincerity; that the members of the Protestant party were restrained from deserting it by principles of honour; and that the disgrace of desertion was much aggravated by the general unpopularity of the adverse cause, and by the violent animosity then raging between the two parties who divided England and Europe.
Nothing so much excited the abhorrence of all Protestant nations against Louis XIV., as the measures which he adopted against his subjects of that religion. As his policy on that subject contributed to the downfall of James, it seems proper to state it more fully than the internal occurrences of a foreign country ought generally to be treated in English history. The opinions of the Reformers, which triumphed in some countries of Europe, and were wholly banished from others, had very early divided France and Germany into two powerful but unequal parties. The wars between the princes of the Empire which sprung from this source, after a period of one hundred and fifty years, were finally composed by the treaty of Westphalia. In France, where religious enthusiasm was exasperated by the lawless character and mortal animosities of civil war, these hostilities raged for nearly forty years with a violence unparalleled in any civilized age or country. As soon as Henry IV. had established his authority by conformity to the worship of the majority of his people, the first object of his paternal policy was to secure the liberty of the Protestants, and to restore the quiet of the kingdom by a general law on this equally arduous and important subject. The contending opinions in their nature admitted no negotiation or concession. The simple and effectual expedient of permitting them all to be professed with equal freedom was then untried in practice, and almost unknown in speculation. The toleration of error, according to the received principles of that age, differed little from the permission of crimes. Amidst such opinions it was extremely difficult to frame a specific law for the government of hostile sects; and the Edict of Nantes, passed by Henry for that purpose in the year 1598, must be considered as honourable to the wisdom and virtue of his Catholic counsellors. This Edict,* said to be composed by the great historian De Thou, was based on the principle of a treaty of peace between belligerent parties, sanctioned and enforced by the royal authority. Though the transaction was founded merely in humanity and prudence, without any reference to religious liberty, some of its provisions were conformable to the legitimate results of that great principle. All Frenchmen of the reformed religion were declared to be admissible to every office, civil and military, in the kingdom; and they were received into all schools and colleges without distinction. Dissent from the Established Church was exempted from all penalty or civil inconvenience. The public exercise of the Protestant religion was confined to those cities and towns where it had been formerly granted, and to the mansions of the gentry who had seignorial jurisdiction over capital crimes. It might, however, be practised in other places by the permission of the Catholics, who were lords of the respective manors. Wherever the worship of the Protestants was lawful, their religious books might freely be bought and sold. They might inhabit any part of the kingdom without molestation for their opinion; and private worship was everywhere protected by the exemption of their houses from all legal search on account of religion. These restrictions, though they show the Edict to have been a pacification between parties, with little regard to the conscience of individuals, yet do not seem in practice to have much limited the religious liberty of French Protestants. To secure an impartial administration of justice, Chambers, into which Protestants and Catholics were admitted in equal numbers, were established in the principal parliaments.† The Edict was declared to be a perpetual and irrevocable law. By a separate grant executed at Nantes, the King authorised the Protestants, for eight years, to garrison the towns and places of which they were at that time in military possession, and to hold them under his authority and obedience. The possession of these places of security was afterwards continued from time to time, and the expense of their garrisons defrayed by the Crown. Some cities also, where the majority of the inhabitants were Protestants, and where the magistrates, by the ancient constitution, regulated the armed force, with little dependence on the Crown, such as Nismes, Rochelle, and Montauban,* though not formerly garrisoned by the Reformed, still constituted a part of their military security for the observance of the Edict. An armed sect of dissenters must have afforded many plausible pretexts for attack; and Cardinal Richelieu had justifiable reasons of policy for depriving the Protestants of those important fortresses, the possession of which gave them the character of an independent republic, and naturally led them into dangerous connection with Protestant and rival states. His success in accomplishing that important enterprise is one of the most splendid parts of his administration; though he owed the reduction of Rochelle to the feebleness and lukewarmness, if not to the treachery, of the Court of England. Richelieu discontinued the practice of granting the royal licence to the Protestant body to hold political assemblies; and he adopted it as a maxim of permanent policy, that the highest dignities of the army and the state should be granted to Protestants only in cases of extraordinary merit. In other respects that haughty minister treated them as a mild conqueror. When they were reduced to entire submission, in 1629, an edict of pardon was issued at Nismes, confirming all the civil and religious principles which had been granted by the Edict of Nantes.† At the moment that they were reduced to the situation of private subjects, they disappear from the history of France. They are not mentioned in the dissensions which disturbed the minority of Louis XIV., nor are they named by that Prince in the enumeration which he gives of objects of public anxiety at the period which preceded his assumption of the reins of government, in 1660. The great families attached to them by birth and honour during the civil wars were gradually allured to the religion of the Court; while those of inferior condition, like the members of other sects excluded from power, applied themselves to the pursuit of wealth, and were patronised by Colbert as the most in genious manufacturers in France. A declaration, prohibiting the relapse of converted Protestants under pain of confiscation, indicated a disposition to persecute, which that prudent minister had the good fortune to check. An edict punishing emigration with death, though long after turned into the sharpest instrument of intolerance, seems originally to have nowel solely from the general prejudices on that subject, which have infected the laws and policy of most states. Till the peace of Nimeguen, when Louis had reached the zenith of his power, the French Protestants experienced only those minute vexations from which sectaries, discouraged by a government, are seldom secure.
The immediate cause of a general and open departure from the moderate system, under which France had enjoyed undisturbed quiet for half a century, is to be discerned only in the character of the King, and the inconsistency of his conduct with his opinions. Those conflicts between his disorderly passions and his unenlightened devotion, which had long agitated his mind, were at last composed under the ascendant of Madame de Maintenon; and in this situation he was seized with a desire of signalizing his penitence, and atoning for his sins, by the conversion of his heretical subjects.* Her prudence as well as moderation prevented her from counselling the employment of violence against the members of her former religion; nor do such means appear to have been distinctly contemplated by the King;—still she dared not moderate the zeal on which her greatness was founded. But the passion for conversion, armed with absolute power, fortified by the sanction of mistaken conscience, intoxicated by success, exasperated by resistance, anticipated and carried beyond its purpose by the zeal of subaltern agents, deceived by their false representations, often irrevocably engaged by their rash acts, and too warm to be considerate in choosing means or weighing consequences, led the government of France, under a prince of no cruel nature, by an almost unconscious progress, in the short space of six years, from a successful system of toleration to the most unprovoked and furious persecution ever carried on against so great, so innocent, and so meritorious a body of men. The Chambers of the Edict were suppressed on general grounds of judicial reformation, and because the concord between the two religions rendered them no longer necessary. By a series of edicts the Protestants were excluded from all public offices, and from all professions which were said to give them a dangerous influence over opinion. They were successively rendered incapable of being judges, advocates, attorneys, notaries, clerks, officers, or even attendants of courts of law. They were banished in multitudes from places in the revenue, to which their habit of method and calculation had directed their pursuits. They were forbidden to exercise the occupations of printers and booksellers.* Even the pacific and neutral profession of medicine, down to its humblest branches, was closed to their industry. They were prohibited from intermarriage with Catholics, and from hiring Catholic domestics, without exception of convenience or necessity. Multitudes of men were thus driven from their employments, without any regard to the habits, expectations, and plans, which they had formed on the faith of the laws. Besides the misery which immediately flowed from these acts of injustice, they roused and stimulated the bigotry of those, who need only the slightest mark of the temper of government to inflict on their dissenting countrymen those minute but ceaseless vexations which embitter the daily course of human life.
As the Edict of Nantes had only permitted the public worship of Protestants in certain places, it had often been a question whether particular churches were erected conformably to that law. The renewal and multiplication of suits on this subject furnished the means of striking a dangerous blow against the Reformed religion. Prejudice and servile tribunals adjudged multitudes of churches to be demolished by decrees which were often illegal, and always unjust. By these judgments a hundred thousand Protestants were, in fact, prohibited from the exercise of their religion. They were deprived of the means of educating their clergy by the suppression of their flourishing colleges at Sedan, Saumur, and Montauban, which had long been numbered among the chief ornaments of Protestant Europe. Other expedients were devised to pursue them into their families, and harass them in those situations where the disturbance of quiet inflicts the deepest wounds on human nature. The local judges were authorised and directed to visit the death-beds of Protestants, and to interrogate them whether they determined to die in obstinate heresy. Their children were declared competent to abjure their errors at the age of seven; and by such mockery of conversion they might escape, at that age, from the affectionate care of their parents. Every childish sport was received as evidence of abjuration; and every parent dreaded the presence of a Catholic neighbour, as the means of ensnaring a child into irrevocable alienation. Each of these disabilities or severities was inflicted by a separate edict; and each was founded on the allegation of some special grounds, which seemed to guard against any general conclusion at variance with the privileges of Protestants.
On the other hand, a third of the King’s savings on his privy purse was set apart to recompense converts to the Established religion. The new converts were allowed a delay of three years for the payment of their debts; and they were exempted for the same period from the obligation of affording quarters to soldiers. This last privilege seems to have suggested to Louvois, a minister of great talent but of tyrannical character, a new and more terrible instrument of conversion. He despatched regiments of dragoons into the Protestant provinces, with instructions that they should be almost entirely quartered on the richer Protestants. This practice, which afterwards, under the name of “Dragonnades,” became so infamous throughout Europe, was attended by all the outrages and barbarities to be expected from a licentious soldiery let loose on those whom they considered as the enemies of their King, and the blasphemers of their religion. Its effects became soon conspicuous in the feigned conversion of great cities and extensive provinces; which, instead of opening the eyes of the Government to the atrocity of the policy adopted under its sanction, served only to create a deplorable expectation of easy, immediate, and complete success. At Nismes, 60,000 Protestants abjured their religion in three days. The King was informed by one despatch that all Poitou was converted, and that in some parts of Dauphiné the same change had been produced by the terror of the dragoons without their actual presence.*
All these expedients of disfranchisement, chicane, vexation, seduction, and military license, almost amounting to military execution, were combined with declarations of respect for the Edict of Nantes, and of resolutions to maintain the religious rights of the new churches. Every successive edict spoke the language of toleration and liberality: every separate exclusion was justified on a distinct ground of specious policy. The most severe hardships were plausibly represented as necessarily arising from a just interpretation and administration of the law. Many of the restrictions were in themselves small; many tried in one province, and slowly extended to all; some apparently excused by the impatience of the sufferers under preceding restraints. In the end, however, the unhappy Protestants saw themselves surrounded by a persecution which, in its full extent, had probably never been contemplated by the author; and, after all the privileges were destroyed, nothing remained but the formality of repealing the law by which these privileges had been conferred.
At length, on the 18th of October, 1685, the Government of France, not unwillingly deceived by feigned conversions, and, as it now appears, actuated more by sudden impulse than long-premeditated design, revoked the Edict of Nantes. In the preamble of the edict of revocation it was alleged, that, as the better and greater part of those who professed the pretended Reformed religion had embraced the Catholic faith, the Edict of Nantes had become unnecessary. The ministers of the Reformed faith were banished from France in fifteen days, under pain of the galleys. All Protestant schools were shut up; and the unconverted children, at first allowed to remain in France without annoyance on account of their religion, were soon afterwards ordered to be taken from their parents, and committed to the care of their nearest Catholic relations, or, in default of such relations, to the magistrates. The return of the exiled ministers, and the attendance on a Protestant church for religious worship, were made punishable with death. Carrying vengeance beyond the grave, another edict enjoined, that if any new converts should refuse the Catholic sacraments on their death-bed, when required to receive them by a magistrate, their bodies should be drawn on a hurdle along the public way, and then cast into the common sewers.
The conversion sought by James with most apparent eagerness was that of Lord Rochester. Though he had lost all favour, and even confidence, James long hesitated to remove him from office. The latter was willing, but afraid to take a measure which would involve a final rupture with the Church of England. Rochester’s connection with the family of Hyde, and some remains perhaps of gratitude for past services, and a dread of increasing the numbers of his enemies, together with the powerful influence of old habits of intimacy, kept his mind for some time in a state of irresolution and fluctuation. His dissatisfaction with the Lord Treasurer became generally known in the summer, and appears to have been considerably increased by the supposed connection of that nobleman with the episcopalian administration in Scotland; of whose removal it will become our duty presently to speak.* The sudden return of Lady Dorchester revived the spirits of his adherents.† But the Queen, a person of great importance in these affairs, was, on this occasion, persuaded to repress her anger, and to profess a reliance on the promise made by the King not to see his mistress.”‡ Formerly, indeed, the violence of the Queen’s temper is said to have been one source of her influence over the King; and her ascendency was observed to be always greatest after those paroxysms of rage to which she was excited by the detection of his infidelities. But, in circumstances so critical, her experienced advisers dissuaded her from repeating hazardous experiments;* and the amours of her husband are said, at this time, to have become so vulgar and obscure as to elude her vigilance. She was mild and submissive to him; but she showed her suspicion of the motive of Lady Dorchester’s journey by violent resentment against Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whom she believed to be privy to it, and who in vain attempted to appease her anger by the most humble—not to say abject—submissions.† She at this moment seemed to have had more than ordinary influence, and was admitted into the secret of all affairs.‡ Supported, if not instigated by her, Sunderland and Petre, with the more ambitious and turbulent part of the Catholics, represented to the King that nothing favourable to the Catholics was to be hoped from Parliament as long as his Court and Council were divided, and as long as he was surrounded by a Protestant cabal, at the head of which was the Lord Treasurer, professing the most extravagant zeal for the English Church; that, notwithstanding the pious zeal of his Majesty, nothing important had yet been done for religion; that not one considerable person had declared himself a Catholic; that no secret believer would avow himself, and no well-disposed Protestant would be reconciled to the Church, till the King’s administration was uniform, and the principles of government more decisive; and that the time was now come when it was necessary for his Majesty to execute the intention which he had long entertained, either to bring the Treasurer to more just sentiments, or to remove him from the important office which he filled, and thus prove to the public that there was no means of preserving power or credit but by supporting the King’s measures for the Catholic religion.§ They reminded him of the necessity of taking means to perpetuate the benefits which he designed for the Catholics, and of the alarming facility with which the Tudor princes had made and subverted religious revolutions. Even the delicate question of the succession was agitated, and some had the boldness of throwing out suggestions to James on the most effectual means of insuring a Catholic successor. These extraordinary suggestions appear to have been in some measure known to Van Citters, the Dutch minister, who expressed his fears that projects were forming against the rights of the Princess of Orange. The more affluent and considerable Catholics themselves became alarmed, seeing, as clearly as their brethren, the dangers to which they might be exposed under a Protestant successor. But they thought it wiser to entitle themselves to his favour by a moderate exercise of their influence, than to provoke his hostility by precautions so unlikely to be effectual against his succession or his religion. Moderation had its usual fate: the faction of zealots, animated by the superstition, the jealousy, and the violence of the Queen, became the most powerful. Even at this time, however, the Treasurer was thought likely to have maintained his ground for some time longer, if he had entirely conformed to the King’s wishes. His friends Ormonde, Middleton, Feversham, Dartmouth, and Preston were not without hope that he might retain office. At last, in the end of October, James declared that Rochester must either go to mass, or go out of office.* His advisers represented to him that it was dangerous to leave this alternative to the Treasurer, which gave him the means of saving his place by a pretended conformity. The King replied that he hazarded nothing by the proposal, for he knew that Rochester would never conform. If this observation was sincere, it seems to have been rash; for some of Rochester’s friends still believed he would do whatever was necessary, and advised him to keep his office at any price.† The Spanish and Dutch ambassadors expressed their fear of the fall of their last friend in the Cabinet;‡ and Louis XIV. considered the measure as certainly favourable to religion and to his policy, whether it ended in the conversion of Rochester or in his dismissal; in acquiring a friend, or in disabling an enemy.§
It was agreed that a conference on the questions in dispute should be held in the presence of Rochester, by Dr. Jane and Dr. Patrick on behalf of the Church of England, and by Dr. Giffard and Dr. Tilden∥ on the part of the Church of Rome. It is not easy to believe that the King or his minister should have considered a real change of opinion as a possible result of such a dispute. Even if the influence of attachment, of antipathy, of honour, and of habit on the human mind were suspended, the conviction of a man of understanding on questions of great importance, then the general object of study and discussion, could hardly be conceived to depend on the accidental superiority in skill and knowledge exhibited by the disputants of either party in the course of a single debate. But the proposal, if made by one party, was too specious and popular to be prudently rejected by the other: they were alike interested in avoiding the imputation of shrinking from an argumentative examination of their faith. The King was desirous of being relieved from his own indecision by a signal proof of Rochester’s obstinacy; and in the midst of his fluctuations he may sometimes have indulged a lingering hope that the disputation might supply a decent excuse for the apparent conformity of his old friend and servant. In all prolonged agitations of the mind, it is in succession affected by motives not very consistent with each other. Rochester foresaw that his popularity among Protestants would be enhanced by his triumphant resistance to the sophistry of their adversaries; and he gave the King, by consenting to the conference, a pledge of his wish to carry compliance to the utmost boundaries of integrity. He hoped to gain time; he retained the means of profiting by fortunate accidents; at least he postponed the fatal hour of removal; and there were probably moments in which his fainting virtue looked for some honourable pretence for deserting a vanquished party.
The conference took place on the 30th of November.* Each of the contending parties, as usual, claimed the victory. The Protestant writers, though they agree that the Catholics were defeated, vary from each other. Some ascribe the victory to the two divines; others to the arguments of Rochester himself; and one of the disputants of the English Church said that it was unnecessary for them to do much. One writer tells us that the King said he never saw a good cause so ill defended; and all agree that Rochester closed the conference with the most determined declaration that he was confirmed in his religion.† Giffard, afterwards a Catholic prelate of exemplary character, published an account of the particulars of the controversy, which gives a directly opposite account of it. In the only part of it which can in any degree be tried by historical evidence, the Catholic account of the dispute is more probable. Rochester, if we may believe Giffard, at the end of the conference, said—“The disputants have discoursed learnedly, and I desire time to consider.”‡ Agreeably to this statement, Barillon, after mentioning the dispute, told his Court that Rochester still showed a disposition to be instructed with respect to the difficulties which prevented him from declaring himself a Catholic, and added that some even then expected that he would determine for conformity.* This despatch was written two days after the disputation by a minister who could neither be misinformed, nor have any motive to deceive. Some time afterwards, indeed, Rochester made great efforts to preserve his place, and laboured to persuade the moderate party among the Catholics that it was their interest to support him.† He did not, indeed, offer to sacrifice his opinions; but a man who, after the loss of all confidence and real power, clung with such tenacity to mere office, under a system of which he disapproved every principle, could hardly be supposed to be unassailable. The violent or decisive politicians of the Catholic party dreaded that Rochester might still take the King at his word, and defeat all their plans by a feigned compliance. James distrusted his sincerity, suspected that his object was to amuse and temporise, and at length, weary of his own irresolution, took the decisive measure of removing the only minister by whom the Protestant party had a hold on his councils.
The place of Lord Rochester was accordingly supplied on the 5th of January, 1687, by commissioners, of whom two were Catholics, Lord Bellasis of the cautious, and Lord Dover of the zealous party; and the remaining three, Lord Godolphin, Sir John Ernley, and Sir Stephen Fox, were probably chosen for their capacity and experience in the affairs of finance. Two days afterwards Parliament, in which the Protestant Tories, the followers of Rochester, predominated, was prorogued. James endeavoured to soften the removal of his minister by a pension of 4000l. a year on the Post Office for a term of years, together with the polluted grant of a perpetual annuity of 1700l. a year out of the forfeited estate of Lord Gray,‡ for the sake of which the King, under a false show of mercy, had spared the life of that nobleman. The King was no longer, however, at pains to conceal his displeasure. He told Barillon that Rochester favoured the French Protestants, whom, as a term of reproach, he called “Calvinists,” and added that this was one of many instances in which the sentiments of the minister were opposite to those of his master.§ He informed D’Adda that the Treasurer’s obstinate perseverance in error had at length rendered his removal inevitable; but that wary minister adds, that they who had the most sanguine hopes of the final success of the Catholic cause were obliged to own that, at that moment, the public temper was inflamed and exasperated, and that the cry of the people was, that since Rochester was dismissed because he would not become a Catholic, there must be a design to expel all Protestants from office.*
The fall of Rochester was preceded, and probably quickened, by an important change in the administration of Scotland, and it was also connected with a revolution in the government of Ireland, of both which events it is now necessary to relate the most important particulars.
[∥ ] The army, on the 1st of January, 1685, amounted to 19,979.—Accounts in the War Office. The number of the army in Great Britain in 1824 is 22,019 (Army Estimates), the population being 14,391,681 (Population Returns); which gives a proportion of nearly one out of every 654 persons, or of one soldier out of every 160 men of the fighting age. The population of England and Wales, in 1685, not exceeding five millions, the proportion of the army to it was one soldier to every 250 persons, or of one soldier to every sixty-five men of the fighting age. Scotland, in 1685, had a separate establishment. The army of James, at his accession, therefore, was more than twice and a half greater in comparison with the population than the present force (1822). The comparative wealth, if it could be estimated, would probably afford similar results.
[* ] James to the Prince of Orange, 29th June,—Dalrymple, app. to books iii. & iv.
[† ] Barillon, 8th July. Ibid.
[‡ ] 3 Car. I. c. 1.
[§ ] 7 Hen. VII. c. 1. 3 Hen. VIII. c. 5; & 2 & 3 Edw. VI. c. 2. See Hale, Pleas of the Crown, book i. c. 63.
[* ] State Trials, vol. xi. p. 1339.
[† ] In fact, however, many were dispersed.—Kennet, History, vol. iii. p. 450.
[‡ ] Commons’ Journals, 24th June, 1690. These are the words of the Report of a Committee who examined evidence on the case, and whose resolutions were adopted by the House. They sufficiently show that Echard’s extenuating statements are false.
[§ ] Ibid.
[∥ ] Narcissus Luttrell, February, 1690.
[* ] State Trials, vol. xi. p. 1354.
[† ] D’Adda, 10th May, 1686.—MS.
[‡ ] Barillon, 27th June.—Fox MSS.
[§ ] D’Adda, suprà.
[* ] Barillon, suprà.
[† ] Bonrepos, 28th March.—Fox MSS.
[‡ ] D’Adda, 21st January, 1686,—MS. The King and Queen took the sacrament at St. James’ Chapel. “Monsigre Vescovo Leyburn, passato da alcuni giorni nell’ apartamento de St. James destinato al gran Elimosiniere de S. M. in habito lungo nero portando la croce nera, si fa vedere in publico visitando i ministri del Principe e altri: furono un giorno per fargli una visita due vescovi Protestanti.” As this occurred before the promotion of the two profligate prelates, Parker and Cartwright, one of these visitors must have been Crew, and the other was, too probably, Spratt. The former had been appointed Clerk of the Closet, and Dean of the Chapel Royal, a few days before.
[* ] “Dryden, the famous play-writer, and his two sons, and Mrs. Nelly, were said to go to mass. Such proselytes were no great loss to the Church.” Evelyn, vol. i. p. 594. The rumour, as far as it related to Mrs. Gwynne, was calumnious.
[† ] Compare Dr. Johnson’s biography of Milton with his generally excellent life of Dryden.
[‡ ] D’Adda, 10th May.—MS. “Diceva il Re che il detto Milord veramente gli aveva dato consigli molto fedeli, uno di quelli era stato di far venire truppi Irlandesi in Inghilterra, nelli quad poteva S. M. meglio fidarsi che negli altri.”
[* ] He had been made Lord Chamberlain immediately after Jeffreys’ circuit, and had been appointed a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission, in November, 1685, when Sancroft refused to act. in which last office he continued to the last. He held out hopes that he might be converted to a very late period of the reign, (Barillon, 30th August, 1687,) and he was employed by James to persuade Sir George Mackenzie to consent to the removal of the Test.—(Halifax MSS.) He brought a patent for a marquisate to the King half-an-hour before King James went away.—(Ibid.) In October, 1688, he thought it necessary to provide against the approaching storm by obtaining a general pardon. Had not Lord Mulgrave written some memoirs of his own time, his importance as a statesman would not have deserved so full an exposure of his political character.
[† ] Coxe, Memoirs of the Duke of Marlborough, vol. i. p. 27.
[* ] The original is to be found in Benoit, Histoire de l’Edit de Nantes, vol. i. app. pp. 62—85.
[† ] Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble, and Bordeaux. The Chamber of the Edict at Paris took congizance of all causes where Protestants were parties in Normandy and Brittany.
[* ] Cautionary Towns.—“La Rochelle surtout avait des traités avec les Rois de France qui la rendoient presque indépendante.”—Benoit, vol. i. p. 251.
[† ] Benoit, vol. ii. app. 92. Madame de Duras, the sister of Turenne, was so zealous a Protestant that she wished to educate as a minister, her son, who afterwards went to England, and became Lord Feversham.—Vol. iv. p. 129.
[* ] “Le Roi pense sérieusement à la conversion des hérétiques, et dans peu on y travaillera tout de bon.”—Mad. de Maintenon, Oct. 28th, 1679.
[* ] It is singular that they were not excluded from the military service by sea or land.
[* ] Lémontey, Nouveaux Mémoires de Dangeau, p. 19. The fate of the province of Bearn was peculiarly dreadful. It may be seen in Rulhière (Eclaircissemens, &c. chap. xv.), and Benoît, liv. xxii.
[* ] Barillon, 18th July.—Fox MSS.
[† ] Id. 2d Sept.—Ibid.
[‡ ] Report of an agent of Louis XIV. in London, in 1686, of which a copy is in my possession.
[* ] In a MS. among the Stuart papers in possession of his Majesty, which was written by Sheridan, Secretary for Ireland under Tyrconnel, we are told that Petre and Sunderland agreed to dismiss Mrs. Sedley, under pretence of morality, but really because she was thought the support of Rochester; and that it was effected by Lady Powis and Bishop Giffard, to the Queen’s great joy.—See farther Barillon, 5th Sept.—Fox MSS.
[† ] Letters of Henry, Earl of Clarendon.
[‡ ] Barillon, 23d Sept.—Fox MSS.
[§ ] The words of Barillon, “pour l’établissement de la religion Catholique,” being capable of two senses, have been translated in the text in a manner which admits of a double interpretation. The context removes all ambiguity in this case.
[* ] Barillon, 4th Nov.—Fox MSS. It is curious that the report of Rochester’s dismissal is mentioned by Narcissus Luttrell on the same day on which Barillon’s despatch is dated.
[† ] Id. 9th Dec.—Ibid.
[‡ ] Id. 18th Nov.—Ibid.
[§ ] The King to Barillon. Versailles, 19th Oct.—Ibid.
[∥ ] This peculiarly respectable divine assumed the name of Godden;—a practice to which Catholic clergymen were then sometimes reduced to elude persecution.
[* ] Dodd, vol. iii. p. 419. Barillon’s short account of the conference is dated on the 12th December, which, after making allowance for the difference of calendars, makes the despatch to be written two days after the conference, which deserves to be mentioned as a proof of Dodd’s singular exactness.
[† ] Burnet, Echard, and Kennet. There are other contradictions in the testimony of these historians, and it is evident that Burnet did not implicitly believe Rochester’s own story.
[‡ ] Dodd, vol. iii. p. 420.
[* ] Barillon, 12th Dec.—Fox MSS.
[† ] Id. 30th Dec.—Ibid.
[‡ ] Evelyn, vol. i. p. 595.
[§ ] Barillon, 13th Jan. 1687.—Fox MSS.
[* ] D’Adda, 10th Jan. 1687.—MS.