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CHAPTER VII. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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Remarkable quiet.—Its peculiar causes.—Coalition of Nottingham and Halifax.—Fluctuating counsels of the Court.—“Parliamentum Pacificum.”—Bill for liberty of conscience.—Conduct of Sunderland.—Jesuits.
England perhaps never exhibited an external appearance of more undisturbed and profound tranquillity than in the momentous seven months which elapsed from the end of the autumn of 1687 to the beginning of the following summer. Not a speck in the heavens seemed to the common eye to forebode a storm. None of the riots now occurred which were the forerunners of the civil war under Charles I.: nor were there any of those numerous assemblies of the people which affright by their force, when they do not disturb by their violence, and are sometimes as terrific in disciplined inaction, as in tumultuous outrage. Even the ordinary marks of national disapprobation, which prepare and announce a legal resistance to power, were wanting. There is no trace of any public meetings having been held in counties or great towns where such demonstrations of public opinion could have been made. The current of flattering addresses continued to flow towards the throne, uninterrupted by a single warning remonstrance of a more independent spirit, or even of a mere decent servility. It does not appear that in the pulpit, where alone the people could be freely addressed, political topics were discussed; though it must be acknowledged that the controversial sermons against the opinions of the Church of Rome, which then abounded, proved in effect the most formidable obstacle to the progress of her ambition.
Various considerations will serve to lessen our wonder at this singular state of silence and inactivity. Though it would be idle to speak gravely of the calm which precedes the storm, and thus to substitute a trite illustration for a reason, it is nevertheless true, that there are natural causes which commonly produce an interval, sometimes, indeed, a very short one, of more than ordinary quiet between the complete operation of the measures which alienate a people, and the final resolution which precedes a great change. Amidst the hopes and fears which succeed each other in such a state, every man has much to conceal; and it requires some time to acquire the boldness to disclose it. Distrust and suspicion, the parents of silence, which easily yield to sympathy in ordinary and legal opposition, are called into full activity by the first secret consciousness of a disposition to more daring designs. It is natural for men in such circumstances to employ time in watching their opponents, as well as in ascertaining the integrity and courage of their friends. When human nature is stirred by such mighty agents, the understanding, indeed, rarely deliberates; but the conflict and alternation of strong emotions, which assume the appearance and receive the name of deliberation, produce naturally a disposition to pause before irrevocable action. The boldest must occasionally contemplate their own danger with apprehension; the most sanguine must often doubt their success; those who are alive to honour must be visited by the sad reflection, that if they be unfortunate they may be insulted by the multitude for whom they sacrifice themselves; and good men will be frequently appalled by the inevitable calamities to which they expose their country for the uncertain chance of deliverance. When the fluctuation of mind has terminated in bold resolution, a farther period of reserve must be employed in preparing the means of cooperation and maturing the plans of action.
But there were some circumstances peculiar to the events now under consideration, which strengthened and determined the operation of general causes. In 1640, the gentry and the clergy had been devoted to the Court, while the higher nobility and the great towns adhered to the Parliament. The people distrusted their divided superiors, and the tumultuous display of their force (the natural result of their angry suspicions) served to manifest their own inclinations, while it called forth their friends and intimidated their enemies among the higher orders. In 1688, the state of the country was reversed. The clergy and gentry were for the first time discontented with the Crown; and the majority of the nobility, and the growing strength of the commercial classes, reinforced by these unusual auxiliaries, and by all who either hated Popery or loved liberty, were fully as much disaffected to the King as the great body of the people. The nation trusted their natural leaders, who, perhaps, gave, more than they received, the impulse on this occasion. No popular chiefs were necessary, and none arose to supply the place of their authority with the people, who reposed in quiet and confidence till the signal for action was made. This important circumstance produced another effect: the whole guidance of the opposition fell gradually into fewer and fewer hands; it became every day easier to carry it on more calmly; popular commotion could only have disturbed councils where the people did not suspect their chiefs of lukewarmness, and the chiefs were assured of the prompt and zealous support of the people. It was as important now to restrain the impetuosity of the multitude, as it might be necessary in other circumstances to indulge it. Hence arose the facility of caution and secrecy at one time, of energy and speed at another, of concert and co-operation throughout, which are indispensable in enterprises so perilous. It must not be forgotten that a coalition of parties was necessary on this occasion. It was long before the Tories could be persuaded to oppose the monarch; and there was always some reason to apprehend, that he might by timely concessions recal them to their ancient standard: it was still longer before they could so far relinquish their avowed principles as to contemplate, without horror, any resistance by force, however strictly defensive. Two parties, who had waged war against each other in the contest between monarchy and popular government, during half a century, even when common danger taught them the necessity of sacrificing their differences, had still more than common reason to examine each other’s purposes before they at last determined on resolutely and heartily acting together; and it required some time after a mutual belief in sincerity, before habitual distrust could be so much subdued as to allow reciprocal communication of opinion. In these moments of hesitation, the friends of liberty must have been peculiarly desirous not to alarm the newborn zeal of their important and unwonted confederates by turbulent scenes or violent councils. The state of the succession to the crown had also a considerable influence, as will afterwards more fully appear. Suffice it for the present to observe, that the expectation of a Protestant successor, restrained the impetuosity of the more impatient Catholics, and disposed the more moderate Protestants to an acquiescence, however sullen, in evils which could only be temporary. The rumour of the Queen’s pregnancy had roused the passions of both parties; but as soon as the first shock had passed, the uncertain result produced an armistice, distinguished by the silence of anxious expectation, during which each eagerly but resolutely waited for the event, which might extinguish the hopes of one, and release the other from the restraint of fear.
It must be added, that to fix the precise moment when a wary policy is to be exchanged for bolder measures, is a problem so important, that a slight mistake in the attempt to solve it may be fatal, and yet so difficult, that its solution must generally depend more on a just balance of firmness and caution in the composition of character, than on a superiority of any intellectual faculties. The two eminent persons who were now at the head of the coalition against the Court, afforded remarkable examples of this truth. Lord Nottingham, who occupied that leading station among the Tories, which the timidity if not treachery of Rochester had left vacant, was a man of firm and constant character, but solicitous to excess for the maintenance of that uniformity of measures and language which, indeed, is essential to the authority of a decorous and grave statesman. Lord Halifax, sufficiently pliant, or perhaps fickle, though the boldest of politicians in speculation, became refined, sceptical, and irresolute, at the moment of action. Both hesitated on the brink of a great enterprise: Lord Nottingham pleaded conscientious scruples, and recoiled from the avowal of the principles of resistance which he had long reprobated; Lord Halifax saw difficulty too clearly, and continued too long to advise delay. Those who knew the state of the latter’s mind, observed “the war between his constitution and his judgment;”* in which, as usual, the former gained the ascendant for a longer period than, in the midst of the rapid progress of great events, was conducive to his reputation.
Some of the same causes which restrained the manifestation of popular discontent, contributed also to render the counsels of the Government inconstant. The main subject of deliberation, regarding the internal affairs of the kingdom, continued to be the possibility of obtaining the objects sought for by a compliant Parliament, or the pursuit of them by means of the prerogative and the army. On these questions a more than ordinary fluctuation prevailed. Early in the preceding September, Bonrepos, who, on landing, met the King at Portsmouth, had been surprised at the frankness with which he owned, that the repairs and enlargements of that important fortress were intended to strengthen it against his subjects;† and at several periods the King and his most zealous advisers had spoken of the like projects with as little reserve. In October it was said, “that if nothing could be done by parlimentary means, the King would do all by his prerogative;”—an attempt from which Barillon expected that insurrection would ensue.‡ Three months after, the bigoted Romanists, whether more despairing of a Parliament or more confident in their own strength, and incensed at resistance, no longer concealed their contempt for the Protestants of the Royal Family, and the necessity of recurring to arms.§ The same temper showed itself at the eye of the birth of a Prince. The King then declared, that, rather than desert, he should pursue his objects without a Parliament, in spite of any laws which might stand in his way;—a project which Louis XIV., less bigoted and more politic, considered “as equally difficult and dangerous.”∥ But the sea might as well cease to ebb and flow, as a council to remain for so many months at precisely the same point in regard to such hazardous designs. In the interval between these plans of violence, hopes were sometimes harboured of obtaining from the daring fraud of returning officers, such a House of Commons as could not be hoped for from the suffrages of any electors; but the prudence of the Catholic gentry, who were named sheriffs, appears to have speedily disappointed this expectation.* Neither do the Court appear to have even adhered for a considerable time to the bold project of accomplishing their purposes without a Parliament. In moments of secret misgiving, when they shrunk from these desperate counsels, they seem frequently to have sought refuge in the flattering hope, that their measures to fill a House of Commons with their adherents, though hitherto so obstinately resisted, would in due time prove successful. The meeting of a Parliament was always held out to the public, and was still sometimes regarded as a promising expedient:† while a considerable time for sounding and moulding the public temper yet remained before the three years within which the Triennial Act required that assembly to be called together, would elapse; and it seemed needless to cut off all retreat to legal means till that time should expire. The Queen’s pregnancy affected these consultations in various modes. The boldest considered it as likely to intimidate their enemies, and to afford the happiest opportunity for immediate action. A Parliament might, they said, be assembled, that would either yield to the general joy at the approaching birth of a prince, or by their sullen and mutinous spirit justify the employment of more decisive measures. The more moderate, on the other hand, thought, that if the birth of a prince was followed by a more cautious policy, and if the long duration of a Catholic government were secured by the parliamentary establishment of a regency, there was a better chance than before of gaining all important objects in no very long time by the forms of law and without hazard to the public quiet. Penn desired a Parliament, as the only mode of establishing toleration without subverting the laws, and laboured to persuade the King to spare the Tests, or to offer an equivalent for such parts of them as he wished to take away.‡ Halifax said to a friend, who argued for the equivalent, “Look at my nose; it is a very ugly one, but I would not take one five hundred times better as an equivalent, because my own is fast to my face;”§ and made a more serious attack on these dangerous and seductive experiments, in his masterly tract, entitled “The Anatomy of an Equivalent.” Another tract was published to prepare the way for what was called “A Healing Parliament,” which, in the midst of tolerant professions and conciliatory language, chiefly attracted notice by insult and menace. In this publication, which, being licensed by Lord Sunderland,* was treated as the act of the Government, the United Provinces were reminded, that “their commonwealth was the result of an absolute rebellion, revolt, and defection, from their prince;” and they were apprised of the respect of the King for the inviolability of their territory, by a menace thrown out to Burnet, that he “might be taken out of their country, and cut up alive in England,” in imitation of a supposed example in the reign of Elizabeth;† —a threat the more alarming because it was well known that the first part of such a project had been long entertained, and that attempts had already been made for its execution. Van Citters complained of this libel in vain: the King expressed wonder and indignation, that a complaint should be made of the publication of an universally acknowledged truth,—confounding the fact of resistance with the condemnation pronounced upon it by the opprobrious terms, which naturally imported and were intended to affirm that the resistance was criminal.‡ Another pamphlet, called “A New Test of the Church of England’s Loyalty,”§ exposed with scurrility the inconsistency of the Church’s recent independence with her long professions and solemn decrees of non-resistance, and hinted that “His Majesty would withdraw his royal protection, which was promised upon the account of her constant fidelity.” Such menaces were very serious, at a moment when D’Abbeville, James’ minister at the Hague, told the Prince of Orange, that “upon some occasions princes must forget their promises;” and being “reminded by William, that the King ought to have more regard to the Church of England, which was the main body of the nation,” answered, “that the body called the ‘Church of England’ would not have a being in two years.”∥
The great charter of conscience was now drawn up, in the form of a bill, and prepared to be laid before Parliament. It was entitled “An Act for granting of Liberty of Conscience, without imposing of Oaths and Tests.” The preamble thanks the King for the exercise of his dispensing power, and recognises it as legally warranting his subjects to enjoy their religion and their offices during his reign: but, in order to perpetuate his pious and Christian bounty to his people, the bill proceeds to enact, that all persons professing Christ may assemble publicly or privately, without any licence, for the exercise of their religious worship, and that all laws against nonconformity and recusancy or exacting oaths, declarations, or tests, or imposing disabilities or penalties on religion, shall be repealed; and more especially in order “that his Majesty may not be debarred of the service of his subjects, which by the law of nature is inseparably annexed to his person, and over which no Act of Parliament can have any control, any further than he is pleased to allow of the same,”* it takes away the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and the tests and declarations required by the 25th and 30th of the late king, as qualifications to hold office, or to sit in either House of Parliament. It was, moreover, provided that meetings for religious worship should be open and peaceable; that notice of the place of assembly should be given to a justice of the peace; that no seditious sermons should be preached in them; and that in cathedral and collegiate churches, parish churches, and chapels, no persons shall officiate but such as are duly authorised according to the Act of Uniformity, and no worship be used but what is conformable to the Book of Common Prayer therein established; for the observance of which provision,—the only concession made by the bill to the fears of the Establishment,—it was further enacted, that the penalties of the Act of Uniformity should be maintained against the contravention of that statute in the above respects. Had this bill passed into a law, and had such a law been permanently and honestly executed, Great Britain would have enjoyed the blessings of religious liberty in a degree unimagined by the statesmen of that age, and far surpassing all that she has herself gained during the century and a half of the subsequent progress of almost all Europe towards tolerant principles. But such projects were examined by the nation with a view to the intention of their authors, and to the tendency of their provisions in the actual circumstances of the time and country; and the practical question was, whether such intention and tendency were not to relieve the minority from intolerance, but to lessen the security of the great majority against it. The speciousness of the language, and the liberality of the enactments, in which it rivalled the boldest speculations at that time hazarded by philosophers, were so contrary to the opinions, and so far beyond the sympathy, of the multitude, that none of the great divisions of Christians could heartily themselves adopt, or could prudently trust each other’s sincerity in holding them forth: they were regarded not as a boon, but as a snare. From the ally of Louis XIV., three years after the persecution of the Protestants, they had the appearance of an insulting mockery; even though it was not then known that James had during his whole reign secretly congratulated that monarch on his barbarous measures.
The general distrust of the King’s designs arose from many circumstances, separately too small to reach posterity, but, taken together, sufficient to entitle near observers to form an estimate of his character. When, about 1679, he had visited Amsterdam, he declared to the magistrates of that liberal and tolerant city, that he “never was for oppressing tender consciences.”* The sincerity of these tolerant professions was soon after tried when holding a Parliament as Lord High Commissioner at Edinburgh, in 1681, he exhorted that assembly to suppress the conventicles, or, in other words, the religious worship of the majority of the Scottish people.† It being difficult for the fiercest zealots to devise any new mode of persecution which the Parliament had not already tried, he was content to give the royal assent to an act confirmatory of all those edicts of blood already in force against the proscribed Presbyterians.‡ But very shortly after, when the Earl of Argyle, acting evidently from the mere dictates of conscience, added a modest and reasonable explanation to an oath required of him, which without it would have been contradictory, the Lord Commissioner caused that nobleman to be prosecuted for high treason, and to be condemned to death on account of his conscientious scruples.§ To complete the evidence of his tolerant spirit, it is only necessary to quote one passage which he himself has fortunately preserved. He assures us that, in his confidential communication with his brother, he represented it as an act of “imprudence to have proposed in Parliament the repeal of the 35th of Elizabeth,”∥ —a statute almost as sanguinary as those Scottish acts which he had sanctioned. The folly of believing his assurances of equal toleration was at the time evinced by his appeal to those solemn declarations of a resolution to maintain the Edict of Nantz, with which Louis XIV. had accompanied each of his encroachments on it.
Where a belief prevailed that a law was passed without an intention to observe it, all scrutiny of its specific provisions became needless:—yet it ought to be remarked, that though it might be fair to indemnify those who acted under the dispensing power, the recognition of its legality was at least a wanton insult to the Constitution, and appeared to betray a wish to reserve that power for further and more fatal measures. The dispensation which had been granted to the incumbent of Putney showed the facility with which such a prerogative might be employed to elude the whole proviso of the proposed bill in favour of the Established Church. It contained no confirmation of the King’s promises to protect the endowments of the Protestant clergy; and instead of comprehending, as all wise laws should do, the means of its own execution, it would have facilitated the breach of its own most important enactments. If it had been adopted by the next Parliament, another still more compliant would have found it easier, instead of more difficult, to establish the Catholic religion, and to abolish toleration. This essential defect was confessed rather than obviated by the impracticable remedies recommended in a tract,* which, for the security of the great charter of religious liberty about to be passed, proposed “that every man in the kingdom should, on obtaining the age of twenty-one, swear to observe it; that no Peer or Commoner should take his seat in either House of Parliament till he had taken the like oath; and that all sheriffs, or others, making false returns, or Peers or Commoners, presuming to sit in either House without taking the oath, or who should move or mention any thing in or out of Parliament that might tend to the violating or altering the liberty of conscience, should be hanged on a gallows made out of the timber of his own house, which was for that purpose to be demolished.”† It seems not to have occurred to this writer that the Parliament whom he thus proposes to restrain, might have begun their operations by repealing his oenal laws.
Notwithstanding the preparations for convening a Parliament, it was not believed, by the most discerning and well-informed, that any determination was yet adopted on the subject. Lord Nottingham early thought that, in case of a general election, “few Dissenters would be chosen, and that such as were, would not, in present circumstances, concur in the repeal of so much as the penal laws; because to do it might encourage the Papists to greater attempts.”‡ Lord Halifax, at a later period, observes, “that the moderate Catholics acted reluctantly; that the Court, finding their expectations not answered by the Dissenters, had thoughts of returning to their old friends the High Churchmen; and that he thought a meeting of Parliament impracticable, and continued as much an unbeliever for October, as he had before been for April.”* In private, he mentioned, as one of the reasons of his opinion, that some of the courtiers had declined to take up a bet for five hundred pounds, which he had offered, that the Parliament would not meet in October; and that, though they liked him very little, they liked his money as well as any other man’s.†
The perplexities and variations of the Court were multiplied by the subtile and crooked policy of Sunderland, who, though willing to purchase his continuance in office by unbounded compliance, was yet extremely solicitous, by a succession of various projects and reasonings adapted to the circumstances of each moment, to divert the mind of James as long as possible from assembling Parliament, or entering on a foreign war, or committing any acts of unusual severity or needless insult to the Constitution, or undertaking any of those bold or even decisive measures, the consequences of which to his own power, or to the throne of his sovereign, no man could foresee. Sunderland had gained every object of ambition: he could only lose by change, and instead of betraying James by violent counsels, he appears to have better consulted his own interest, by offering as prudent advice to him as he could venture without the risk of incurring the royal displeasure. He might lose his greatness by hazarding too good counsel, and he must lose it if his master was ruined. Thus placed between two precipices, and winding his course between them, he could find safety only by sometimes approaching one, and sometimes the other. Another circumstance contributed to augment the seeming inconsistencies of the minister:—he was sometimes tempted to deviate from his own path by the pecuniary gratifications which, after the example of Charles and James, he clandestinely received from France;—an infamous practice, in that age very prevalent among European statesmen, and regarded by many of them as little more than forming part of the perquisites of office.‡ It will appear in the sequel that, like his master, he received French money only for doing what he otherwise desired to do; and that it rather induced him to quicken or retard, to enlarge or contract, than substantially to alter his measures. But though he was too prudent to hazard the power which produced all his emolument for a single gratuity, yet this dangerous practice must have multiplied the windings of his course; and from these deviations arose, in some measure, the fluctuating counsels and varying language of the Government of which he was the chief. The divisions of the Court, and the variety of tempers and opinions by which he was surrounded, added new difficulties to the game which he played. This was a more simple one at first, while he coalesced with the Queen and the then united Catholic party, and professed moderation as his sole defence against Rochester and the Protestant Tories; but after the defeat of the latter, and the dismissal of their chief, divisions began to show themselves among the victorious Catholics, which gradually widened as the moment of decisive action seemed to approach. It was then* that he made an effort to strengthen himself by the revival of the office of Lord Treasurer in his own person;—a project in which he endeavoured to engage Father Petre by proposing that Jesuit to be his successor as Secretary of State, and in which he obtained the co-operation of Sir Nicholas Butler, a new convert, by suggesting that he should be Chancellor of the Exchequer. The King, however, adhered to his determination that the treasury should be in commission notwithstanding the advice of Butler, and the Queen declined to interfere in a matter where her husband appeared to be resolute. It should seem, from the account of this intrigue by James himself, that Petre neither discouraged Sunderland in his plan, nor supported it by the exercise of his own ascendency over the mind of the King.
In the spring of 1688, the Catholics formed three separate and unfriendly parties, whose favour it was not easy for a minister to preserve at the same time. The nobility and gentry of England were, as they continued to the last, adverse to those rash courses which honour obliged them apparently to support, but which they had always dreaded as dangerous to their sovereign and their religion. Lords Powis, Bellasis, and Arundel, vainly laboured to inculcate their wise maxims on the mind of James; while the remains of the Spanish influence, formerly so powerful among British Catholics, were employed by the ambassador, Don Pedro Ronquillo, in support of this respectable party. Sunderland, though he began, soon after his victory over Rochester, to moderate and temper the royal measures, was afraid of displeasing his impatient master by openly supporting them. The second party, which may be called the Papal, was that of the Nuncio, who had at first considered the Catholic aristocracy as lukewarm in the cause of their religion, but who, though he continued outwardly to countenance all domestic efforts for the advancement of the faith, became at length more hostile to the connection of James with France, than zealous for the speedy accomplishment of that Prince’s ecclesiastical policy in England. To him the Queen seems to have adhered, both from devotion to Rome, and from that habitual apprehension of the displeasure of the House of Austria which an Italian princess naturally entertained towards the masters of Lombardy and Naples.* When hostility towards Holland was more openly avowed, and when Louis XIV., no longer content with acquiescence, began to require from England the aid of armaments and threats, if not co-operation in war, Sunderland and the Nuncio became more closely united, and both drew nearer to the more moderate party. The third, known by the name of the French or Jesuit party, supported by Ireland and the clergy, and possessing the personal favour and confidence of the King, considered all delay in the advancement of their religion as dangerous, and were devoted to France as the only ally able and willing to insure the success of their designs. Emboldened by the pregnancy of the Queen, and by so signal a mark of favour as the introduction of Father Petre into the Council,—an act of folly which the moderate Catholics would have resisted, if the secret had not been kept from them till the appointment,† —they became impatient of Sunderland’s evasion and procrastination, especially of his disinclination to all hostile demonstrations against Holland. Their agent, Skelton, the British minister at Paris, represented the minister’s policy to the French Government, as “a secret opposition to all measures against the interest of the Prince of Orange,”‡ and though Barillon acquits him of such treachery,§ it would seem that from that moment he ceased to enjoy the full confidence of the French party.
It was with difficulty that at the beginning of the year Sunderland had prevailed on the majority of the Council to postpone the calling a Parliament till they should be strengthened by the recall of the English troops from the Dutch service:∥ and when, two months later, just before the delivery of the Queen, (in which they would have the advantage of the expectation of a Prince of Wales,) the King and the majority of the Council declared for this measure, conformably to his policy of delaying decisive, and perhaps irretrievable steps, he again resisted it with success, on the ground that matters were not ripe, that it required much longer time to prepare the corporations, and that, if the Nonconformists in the Parliament should prove mutinous, an opposition so national would render the employment of any other means more hazardous.* Sunderland owed his support to the Queen, who, together with the Nuncio, protected him from the attack of Father Petre, who, after a considerable period of increasing estrangement, had now declared against him with violence.† In the meantime the French Government, which had hitherto affected impartiality in the divisions of the British Catholics, had made advances to Petre as he receded from Sunderland; while the former had, as long ago as January, declared in Council, that the King ought to be solicitous only for the friendship of France.‡ James now desired Barillon to convey the assurances of his high esteem for the Jesuit;§ and the ambassador undertook to consider of some more efficacious proof of respect to him, agreeably to the King’s commands.∥
Henceforward the power of Sunderland was seen to totter. It was thought that he himself saw that it could not, even with the friendship of the Queen, stand long, since the French ambassador had begun to trim, and the whole French party leant against him.¶ Petre, through whom Sunderland formerly had a hold on the Jesuit party, became now himself a formidable rival for power, and was believed to be so infatuated by ambition as to pursue the dignity of a cardinal, that he might more easily become prime minister of England.** At a later period, Barclay, the celebrated Quaker, boasted of having reconciled Sunderland to Melfort, trusting that it would be the ruin of Petre;†† and Sunderland then told the Nuncio that he considered it as the first principle of the King’s policy to frame all his measures with a view to their reception by Parliament;‡‡ —a strong proof of the aversion to extreme measures, to which he afterwards adhered. A fitter opportunity will present itself hereafter for relating the circumstances in which he demanded a secret gratuity from France in addition to his pension from that Court of 60,000 livres yearly (2500l.); of the skill with which Barillon beat down his demands, and made a bargain less expensive to his Government; and of the address with which Sunderland claimed the bribe for measures on which he had before determined,—so that he might seem rather to have obtained it under false pretences, than to have been diverted by it from his own policy. It is impossible to trace clearly the serpentine course of an intriguing minister, whose opinions were at variance with his language, and whose craving passions often led him astray from his interest; but an attempt to discover it is necessary to the illustration of the government of James. In general, then, it seems to be clear that, from the beginning of 1687, Sunderland had struggled in secret to moderate the measures of the Government; and that it was not till the spring of 1688, when he carried that system to the utmost, that the decay of his power became apparent. As Halifax had lost his office by liberal principles, and Sunderland had outbidden Rochester for the King’s favour, so Sunderland himself was now on the eve of being overthrown by the influence of Petre, at a time when no successor of specious pretensions presented himself. He seems to have made one attempt to recover strength, by remodelling the Cabinet Council. For a considerable time the Catholic counsellors had been summoned separately, together with Sunderland himself, on all confidential affairs, while the more ordinary business only was discussed in the presence of the Protestants:—thus forming two Cabinets; one ostensible, the other secret. He now proposed to form them into one, in order to remove the jealousy of the Protestant counsellors, and to encourage them to promote the King’s designs. To this united Cabinet the affairs of Scotland and Ireland were to be committed, which had been separately administered before, with manifest disadvantage to uniformity and good order. Foreign affairs, and others requiring the greatest secrecy, were still to be reserved to a smaller number. The public pretences for this change were specious: but the object was to curb the power of Petre, who now ruled without control in a secret cabal of his own communion and selection.*
The party which had now the undisputed ascendant were denominated “Jesuits,” as a term of reproach, by the enemies of that famous society in the Church of Rome, as well as by those among the Protestant communions. A short account of their origin and character may facilitate a faint conception of the admiration, jealousy, fear, and hatred,—the profound submission or fierce resistance,—which that formidable name once inspired. Their institution originated in pure zeal for religion, glowing in the breast of Loyola, a Spanish soldier,—a man full of imagination and sensibility,—in a country where wars, rather civil than foreign, waged against unbelievers for ages, had rendered a passion for spreading the Catholic faith a national point of honour, and blended it with the pursuit of glory as well as with the memory of past renown. The legislative forethought of his successors gave form and order to the product of enthusiasm, and bestowed laws and institutions on their society which were admirably fitted to its various ends.* Having arisen in the age of the Reformation, they naturally became the champions of the Church against her new enemies,—and in that also of the revival of letters, instead of following the example of the unlettered monks, who decried knowledge as the mother of heresy, they joined in the general movement of mankind; they cultivated polite literature with splendid success; they were the earliest and, perhaps, most extensive reformers of European education, which, in their schools, made a larger stride than it has done at any succeeding moment;† and, by the just reputation of their learning, as well as by the weapons with which it armed them, they were enabled to carry on a vigorous contest against the most learned impugners of the authority of the Church. Peculiarly subjected to the See of Rome by their constitution, they became ardently devoted to its highest pretensions, in order to maintain a monarchical power, the necessity of which they felt for concert, discipline, and energy in their theological warfare.
While the nations of the Peninsula hastened with barbaric chivalry to spread religion by the sword in the newly explored regions of the East and West, the Jesuits alone, the missionaries of that age, either repaired or atoned for the evils caused by the misguided zeal of their countrymen. In India, they suffered martyrdom with heroic constancy.‡ They penetrated through the barrier which Chinese policy opposed to the entrance of strangers,—cultivating the most difficult of languages with such success as to compose hundreds of volumes in it; and, by the public utility of their scientific acquirements, obtained toleration, patronage, and personal honours, from that jealous government. The natives of America, who generally felt the comparative superiority of the European race only in a more rapid or a more gradual destruction, and to whom even the excellent Quakers dealt out little more than penurious justice, were, under the paternal rule of the Jesuits, reclaimed from savage manners, and instructed in the arts and duties of civilized life. At the opposite point of society, they were fitted by their release from conventual life, and their allowed intercourse with the world, for the perilous office of secretly guiding the conscience of princes. They maintained the highest station as a religious body in the literature of Catholic countries. No other association ever sent forth so many disciples who reached such eminence in departments so various and unlike. While some of their number ruled the royal penitents at Versailles or the Escurial, others were teaching the use of the spade and the shuttle to the naked savages of Paraguay; a third body daily endangered their lives in an attempt to convert the Hindus to Christianity; a fourth carried on the controversy against the Reformers; a portion were at liberty to cultivate polite literature; while the greater part continued to be employed either in carrying on the education of Catholic Europe, or in the government of their society, and in ascertaining the ability and disposition of the junior members, so that well-qualified men might be selected for the extraordinary variety of offices in their immense commonwealth. The most famous constitutionalists, the most skilful casuists, the ablest schoolmasters, the most celebrated professors, the best teachers of the humblest mechanical arts, the missionaries who could most bravely encounter martyrdom, or who with most patient skill could infuse the rudiments of religion into the minds of ignorant tribes or prejudiced nations, were the growth of their fertile schools. The prosperous administration of such a society for two centuries, is probably the strongest proof afforded from authentic history that an artificially-formed system of government and education is capable, under some circumstances, of accomplishing greater things than the general experience of it would warrant us in expecting.
Even here, however, the materials were supplied, and the first impulse given by enthusiasm; and in this memorable instance the defects of such a system are discoverable. The whole ability of the members being constantly, exclusively, and intensely directed to the various purposes of their Order, their minds had not the leisure, or liberty, necessary for works of genius, or even for discoveries in science,—to say nothing of the original speculations in philosophy which are interdicted by implicit faith. That great society, which covered the world for two hundred years, has no names which can be opposed to those of Pascal and Racine, produced by the single community of Port Royal, persecuted as it was during the greater part of its short existence. But this remarkable peculiarity amounts perhaps to little more than that they were more eminent in active than in contemplative life. A far more serious objection is the manifest tendency of such a system, while it produces the precise excellences aimed at by its mode of cultivation, to raise up all the neighbouring evils with a certainty and abundance,—a size and malignity,—unknown to the freer growth of nature. The mind is narrowed by the constant concentration of the understanding; and those who are habitually intent on one object learn at last to pursue it at the expense of others equally or more important. The Jesuits, the reformers of education, sought to engross it, as well as to stop it at their own point. Placed in the front of the battle against the Protestants, they caught a more than ordinary portion of that theological hatred against their opponents which so naturally springs up where the greatness of the community, the fame of the controversialist, and the salvation of mankind seem to be at stake. Affecting more independence in their missions than other religious orders, they were the formidable enemies of episcopal jurisdiction, and thus armed against themselves the secular clergy, especially in Great Britain, where they were the chief missionaries. Intrusted with the irresponsible guidance of Kings, they were too often betrayed into a compliant morality,—excused probably to themselves, by the great public benefits which they might thus obtain, by the numerous temptations which seemed to palliate royal vices, and by the real difficulties of determining, in many instances, whether there was more danger of deterring such persons from virtue by unreasonable austerity, or of alluring them into vice by unbecoming relaxation. This difficulty is indeed so great, that casuistry has, in general, vibrated between these extremes, rather than rested near the centre. To exalt the Papal power they revived the scholastic doctrine of the popular origin of government,—that rulers might be subject to the people, while the people themselves, on all questions so difficult as those which relate to the limits of obedience, were to listen with reverential submission to the judgment of the Sovereign Pontiff, the common pastor of sovereigns and subjects, and the unerring oracle of humble Christians in all cases of perplexed conscience.* The ancient practice of excommunication, which, in its original principle, was no more than the expulsion from a community of an individual who did not observe its rules, being stretched so far as to interdict intercourse with offenders, and, by consequence, to suspend duty towards them, became, in the middle age, the means of absolving nations from obedience to excommunicated sovereigns.* Under these specious colours both Popes and Councils had been guilty of alarming encroachments on the civil authority. The Church had, indeed, never solemnly adopted the principle of these usurpations into her rule of faith or of life, though many famous doctors gave them a dangerous countenance; but she had not condemned or even disavowed those equally celebrated divines who resisted them: and though the Court of Rome undoubtedly patronised opinions so favourable to its power, the Catholic Church, which had never pronounced a collective judgment on them, was still at liberty to disclaim them, without abandoning her haughty claim of exemption from fundamental error.†
On the Jesuits, as the most staunch of the polemics who struggled to exalt the Church above the State, and who ascribed to the Supreme Pontiff an absolute power over the Church, the odium of these doctrines principally fell.‡ Among Reformed nations, and especially in Great Britain, the greatest of them, the whole Order were regarded as incendiaries who were perpetually plotting the overthrow of all Protestant governments, and as immoral sophists who employed their subtle casuistry to silence the remains of conscience in tyrants of their own persuasion. Nor was the detestation of Protestants rewarded by general popularity in Catholic countries: all other regulars envied their greatness; the universities dreaded their acquiring a monopoly of education; while monarchs the most zealously Catholic, though they often favoured individual Jesuits, looked with fear and hatred on a society which would reduce them to the condition of vassals of the priesthood. In France, the magistrates, who preserved their integrity and dignity in the midst of general servility, maintained a more constant conflict with these formidable adversaries of the independence of the State and the Church. The Kings of Spain and Portugal envied their well-earned authority, in the missions of Paraguay and California, over districts which they had conquered from the wilderness. The impenetrable mystery in which a part of their constitution was enveloped, though it strengthened their association, and secured the obedience of its members, was an irresistible temptation to abuse power, and justified the apprehensions of temporal sovereigns, while it opened an unbounded scope for heinous accusations. Even in the eighteenth century, when many of their peculiarities had become faint, and when they were perhaps little more than the most accomplished, opulent, and powerful of religious orders, they were charged with spreading secret confraternities over France.* The greatness of the body became early so invidious as to be an obstacle to the advancement of their members; and it was generally believed that if Bellarmine had belonged to any other than the most powerful Order in Christendom, he would have been raised to the chair of Peter.† The Court of Rome itself, for whom they had sacrificed all, dreaded auxiliaries so potent that they might easily become masters; and these champions of the Papal monarchy were regarded with jealousy by Popes whose policy they aspired to dictate or control. But temporary circumstances at this time created a more than ordinary alienation between them.
In their original character of a force raised for the defence of the Church against the Lutherans, the Jesuits always devoted themselves to the temporal sovereign who was at the head of the Catholic party. They were attached to Philip II., at the time when Sextus V. dreaded his success; and they now placed their hopes on Louis XIV., in spite of his patronage, for a time, of the independent maxims of the Gallican Church.‡ On the other hand, Odeschalchi, who governed the Church under the name of Innocent XI., feared the growing power of France, resented the independence of the Gallican Church, and was, to the last degree, exasperated by the insults offered to him in his capital by the command of Louis. He was born in the Spanish province of Lombardy, and, as an Italian sovereign, he could not be indifferent to the bombardment of Genoa, and to the humiliation of that respectable republic, in the required public submission of the Doge at Versailles. As soon then as James became the pensioner and creature of Louis, the resentments of Odeschalchi prevailed over his zeal for the extension of the Church. The Jesuits had treated him and these of his predecessors who hesitated between them and their opponents with offensive liberty;* but while they bore sway at Versailles and St. James’, they were, on that account, less obnoxious to the Roman Court. Men of wit remarked at Paris, that things would never go on well till the Pope became a Catholic, and King James a Huguenot.† Such were the intricate and dark combinations of opinions, passions, and interests which placed the Nuncio in opposition to the most potent Order of the Church, and completed the alienation of the British nation from James, by bringing on the party which now ruled his councils, the odious and terrible name of Jesuits.
[* ] Johnstone, 4th April,—MS.
[† ] Bonrepos to Seignelai, 4th Sept.—Fox MSS.
[‡ ] Barillon, 10th Oct. Bonrepos to Seignelai same date.—Fox MSS.
[§ ] Johnstone, 29th Jan.—MS. Lady Melfort overheard the priests speak to her husband of “blood,” probably with reference to foreign war, as well as to the suppression of the disaffected at home.—“Sidney vous fera savoir qu’après des grandes contestations on est enfin résolu de faire leurs affaires sans un parlement.”
[∥ ] Barillon, 6th May. The King to Barillon, 14th May.—Fox MSS.—“Le projet que fait la cour ou vous êtes de renverser toutes les lois d’Angleterre pour parvenir au but qu’elle se propose, me paroît d’une difficile et périlleuse exécution.”
[* ] Johnstone, 8th Dec.—MS. “Many of the Popish sheriffs have estates, and declare that whoever expects false returns from them will be deceived.”
[† ] Ibid. 21st Feb.—MS.
[‡ ] Ibid. 6th Feb.—MS.
[§ ] Ibid. 12th March.—MS.
[* ] Johnstone, 15th Feb.
[† ] Parliamentum Pacificum, p. 57.
[‡ ] Barillon, 19th April.—MS.
[§ ] Somers’ Tracts, vol. ix. p. 195.
[∥ ] Burnet, vol. iii. p. 207.
[* ] This language seems to have been intentionally equivocal. The words “allow of the same,” may in themselves mean till he gives his royal assent to the Act. But in this construction the paragraph would be an unmeaning boast, since no bill can become an Act of Parliament till it receives the royal assent; and, secondly, it would be inconsistent with the previous recognition of the legality of the King’s exercise of the dispensing power; Charles II. having given his assent to the Acts dispensed with. It must therefore be understood to declare, that Acts of Parliament disabling individuals from serving the public, restrain the King only till he dispenses with them.
[* ] Account of James II.’s visit to Amsterdam, by William Carr, then English consul (said by mistake to be in 1681).—Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. lix. part 2. p. 659.
[† ] Life of James II., vol. i. p. 694. The words of his speech are copied from his own MS. Memoirs.
[‡ ] Acts of Parliament, vol. viii. p. 242.
[§ ] State Trials, vol. viii. p. 843. Wodrow, vol. i. pp. 205—217,—a narrative full of interest, and obviously written with a careful regard to truth. Laing, vol. iv. p. 125,—where the moral feelings of that upright and sagacious historian are conspicuous.
[∥ ] Life of James II., vol. ii. p. 656, verbatim from the King’s Memoirs.
[* ] A New Test instead of the Old One. By G. S. Licensed 24th March, 1688.
[† ] The precedent alleged for this provision is the decree of Darius, for rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem:—“And I have made a decree that whoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon.”—Ezra, chap. vi. v. 11.
[‡ ] Lord Nottingham to the Prince of Orange, 2d Sept. 1687.—Dalrymple, app. to book v.
[* ] Lord Halifax to the Prince of Orange, 12th April, 1688.—Dalrymple, app. to book v.
[† ] Johnstone, 27th Feb.—MS.
[‡ ] D’Avaux, passim. See Lettres de De Witt, vol. iv., and Ellis, History of the Iron Mask.
[* ] “A little before Christmas.”—Life of James II. vol. ii. p. 131; passages quoted from James’ Memoirs. The King’s own Memoirs are always deserving of great consideration, and in unmixed cases of fact are, I am willing to hope, generally conclusive.
[* ] The King to Barillon, 2d June.—MS. Louis heard of this partiality from his ministers at Madrid and Vienna, and desired Barillon to insinuate to her that neither she nor her husband had any thing to hope from Spain.
[† ] The account of Petre’s advancement by Dodd is a specimen of the opinion entertained by the secular clergy of the regulars, but especially of the Jesuits.
[‡ ] The King to Barillon, 11th Dec. 1687.—MS.
[§ ] Barillon to the King, 5th Jan. 1688.—MS.
[∥ ] Johnstone, 16th Jan.—MS. “Sidney believes that Sunderland has prevailed, after a great struggle, to dissuade the Council from a war or a Parliament.”
[* ] D’Adda, 12th March.—MS. “Il y avaient beaucoup d’intrigues et de cabales de cour sur cela dirigées contre mi Lord Sunderland: la reine le soutient, et il a emporté.”—Baillon, Mazure, Histoire de la Revolution, vol. ii. p. 399. Shrewsbury to the Prince of Orange (communicating the disanion), 14th March, 1688. Dalrymple, app. to books v. and vi.
[† ] Van Citters, 9th April.—MS.
[‡ ] Barillon, 2d Feb.—MS.
[§ ] The King to Barillon, 19th March.—MS.
[∥ ] Barillon, 29th March.—MS.
[¶ ] Johnstone, 12th March and 2d April.—MS.
[** ] Lettre au Roi, 1 Août, 1687, in the Depôt des Affaires Etrangères at Paris, not signed, but probably from Bonrepos.
[†† ] Clarendon, Diary, 23d June.
[‡‡ ] D’Adda, 4th June. MS.
[* ] D’Adda, 23d April.—MS.
[* ] Originally consisting of seven men, the society possessed, at the end of the sixteenth century, one thousand five hundred colleges, and contained twenty-two thousand avowed members. Parts of their constitution were allowed (by Paul III.) to be kept and to be altered, without the privity of the Pope himself. The simple institution of lay brethren, combined with the privilege of secrecy, afforded the means of enlisting powerful individuals, among whom Louis XIV. and James II. are generally numbered.
[† ] “For education,” says Bacon, within fifty years of the institution of the Order, “consult the schools of the Jesuits. Nothing hitherto tried in practice surpasses them.”—De Augment. Scient. lib. vi. cap. 4. “Education, that excellent part of ancient discipline, has been, in some sorts, revived of late times in the colleges of the Jesuits, of whom, in regard of this and of some other points of human learning and moral matters, I may say, “Talis cum sis utinam noster esses.”—Advancement of Learning, book i. Such is the disinterested testimony of the wisest of men to the merit of the Jesuits, to the unspeakable importance of reforming education, and to the infatuation of those who, in civilized nations, attempt to resist new opinions by mere power, without calling in aid such a show of reason, if not the whole substance of reason, as cannot be maintained without a part of the substance.
[‡ ] See the Lettres Edifiantes, &c.
[* ] It is true that Mariana (De Rege et Regis Institutione) only contends for the right of the people to depose sovereigns, without building the authority of the Pope on that principle, as the schoolmen have expressly done; but his manifest approbation of the assassination of Henry III. by Clement, a fanatical partisan of the League, sufficiently discloses his purpose. See La Mennais, La Religion considérée dans ses Rapports avec l’Ordre politique. (Paris, 1826.)
[* ] Fleury, Discours sur l’Histoire Ecclésiastique No. iii. sect. 18.
[† ] “Il est vrai que Gregoire VII. n’a jamais fait aucune décision sur ce point. Dieu ne l’a pas permis.”—Ibid. It is evident that if such a determination had, in Fleury’s opinion, subsequently been pronounced by the Church, the last words of this passage would have been unreasonable.
[‡ ] Bayle, Dictionnaire Historique, &c., article “Bellarmine,”—who is said by that unsuspected judge to have had the best pen for controversy of any man of that age.
[* ] Montlosier Mémoire à consulter (Paris, 1826), pp. 20, 22,—quoted only to prove that such accusations were made.
[† ] Bayle, article “Bellarmine.”
[‡ ] Bayle, Nouvelles de la République des Lettres, April, 1686. “Aujourd’hui plus attachés à la France qu’à l’Espagne.”—Ibid. Nov. They were charged with giving secret intelligence to Louis XIV. of the state of the Spanish Netherlands. The French Jesuits suspended for a year the execution of the Pope’s order to remove Father Maimbourg from their society, in consequence of a direction from the King.
[* ] Ibid., Oct. and Nov.“Le chevalier de Silleri,En parlant de ce Pape-ci,Souhaitoit, pour la paix publiquo,Qu’il se fut rendu Catholique,Et le roi Jacques Huguenot.”La Fontaine to the Duc de Vendome.
[†] Racine (Prologue to Esther) expresses the same sentiments in a milder form:—“Et l’enfer, convrant tout de ses vapeurs funèbres,Sur les yeux les plus saints a jeté les ténèbres.”