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famous speech, was the highest indignity which could be offered to the sovereign and the nation of England. Such an action should make all men, who had any regard for the religion and tranquillity of their country, consider what further means could be taken to secure the succession of the crown in the Protestant line, and to extinguish the hopes of all pretenders and their open and secret abettors. The French king had, by placing his grandson on the throne of Spain, acquired a position from which to oppress the remainder of Europe. He had become the real master of the whole Spanish monarchy. He had made every part of it so dependent upon himself that he disposed of it as of his own dominions. He had so surrounded his neighbours that they had no resource but in war. In such a state of affairs the interests of England were concerned in the nearest and most sensible manner : in respect of her trade, which would soon become precarious in every branch; in respect of her peace at home; and in respect of that lead which ought to be hers in preserving the liberties of Europe.

The treaties which William had already concluded with the Powers of the Continent were soon laid before the Commons. There was one treaty by which the King of Denmark engaged, for three hundred thousand crowns a year, to furnish four thousand horse and eight thousand foot soldiers for the service of the King of Great Britain and the States-general. No small amount of diplomacy had been employed in procuring this treaty from the King of Denmark. Under ordinary circumstances his Majesty would have been glad to replenish a scanty treasury by letting out his army to any belligerent who offered good terms for the use. But at this period the terror inspired through the north of Europe by Charles of Sweden was so great that the King had shown a very natural reluctance to parting with his defenders. It had been necessary to overcome his scruples, by an engagement on the part of the Allies to assist him with their whole forces in case he were attacked. Marlborough had done his utmost to induce Charles himself to enter the alliance. The conqueror of Denmark, the victor of Narva, and the actual master of fifty thousand good soldiers, would have been no contemptible addition to the might of the Allies. But Louis had been beforehand in bidding for the hero, and it

VOL. 1.


was much that Marlborough succeeded in inducing him to resist the offers of France, and to abandon for money some old and inconvenient stipulations existing between England and Sweden. The important treaty, which formed the basis of the Grand Alliance, was dated the 7th of September, 1701, and was made between the Emperor, the King, and the States-general. It set forth that nothing could conduce more effectually for establishing the general peace than the procuring of satisfaction to the Emperor on the subject of the Spanish succession, and sufficient security for the dominions and commerce of the Allies. Two months, it was agreed, should be employed in endeavouring to obtain such satisfaction and security by amicable means. If those should fail, then the contracting parties engaged to assist each other with all their forces, according to a specification to be settled in a particular convention. Their objects in a war should be to recover the Spanish Netherlands for a barrier between Holland and France, and to place the Emperor in possession of the duchy of Milan, and of the Italian dominions of the Spanish crown. In favour of the maritime Powers the Emperor consented to their retaining whatever lands and cities they could seize belonging to the Spaniards in the Indies. The confederates should faithfully communicate to one another their designs, and no party should treat of peace or truce except jointly with the rest. To settle the quota of troops which each ally was to bring into the field was a work of some difficulty. The Emperor at length bound himself to furnish ninety thousand men, and the States-general ten thousand. William was of course unable to promise any specific number of men without previously obtaining the sanction of Parliament. He seems, however, to have engaged to use his best endeavours that forty thousand soldiers should be the quota of England.

In the present temper of the House of Commons these treaties were received as evidence of the wisdom and energy of the sovereign, and a vote of supply was passed to aid in carrying them into effect. The feeling of the nation was known to run 80 violently in favour of war, that the most rancorous detractors

The treaties are set forth in the Mémoires de Lamberty and Tindal's continuation.


of William and the extreme supporters of peace deemed it prudent for the moment to be silent. The Whigs, although still inferior in numbers to the Tories, were suffered to carry almost what measures they pleased. At their instigation an address was presented to William suggesting that an article should be added to the treaties making it an essential condition of peace that the King of France should offer reparation for the indignity he had put upon his Majesty and the nation in owning the pretended Prince of Wales. A bill was passed, not however without strong signs of disapprobation from the Tories, attainting this unfortunate youth of high treason for the crime of assuming the title of King of England. This measure, cruel in appearance, was followed by another which was in reality cruel and tyrannical. The fear which pervaded nearly the whole population of England that the House of Stuart would recover the throne, amounted in the Whigs to a morbid and unreasonable alarm. Every Tory was, in the eyes of a professed Whig, a Jacobite. The party, eager to reveal to the sovereign and the world the justice of its suspicions, devised a touchstone for ascertaining who was a good subject and who a Jacobite. The Abjuration Bill, as it was termed, was brought in, and after much bandying to and fro between the houses of legislature, was suffered to pass. Under its provisions every person holding office, down to schoolmasters and tutors in private families, was required to acknowledge William as his lawful and rightful sovereign, and to declare his conscientious belief that the person who pretended to be Prince of Wales during the lifetime of the late King James had no right or title whatever to the realm.

The injustice which this bill was calculated to inflict upon peaceable and well-meaning men of scrupulous consciences is at once apparent. For centuries the Church had been inculcating as a doctrine almost necessary to salvation a belief in the divine and indefeasible right of sovereigns. Who, then, a devout Churchman would ask, could be the lawful and rightful sovereign except the eldest son of the deceased James? William might be permitted for the national welfare to exercise the royal functions; but lawful and rightful sovereign he could not be. The right was in James and his heirs, and could not be defeated by any act of man. St. Paul had fortunately provided

A person

an escape for Christiansin such difficulties by enjoining them not to meddle with questions about dynasties, but to submit to whomsoever had the power of compelling obedience. A scrupulous believer might therefore satisfy his conscience with such arguments as these : James is, no doubt, my lawful and rightful sovereign ; but William is the power whom I am enjoined by Scripture to obey. If Providence should so order it that James should recover his throne, my duty will revert to him; yet so long as he is powerless my duty is to William, and I must not, consistently with my duty, render to my lawful and rightful sovereign any assistance to regain his dominions. who should reason in this manner, and there can be little doubt that some such reasoning stayed and comforted the consciences of thousands at this period, could not be regarded as a dangerous subject. To force such a person therefore to the alternative of violating his convictions of right or of abandoning his means of living was nothing but needless tyranny. The bill affords a melancholy instance of the mischief which arises when men holding strong opinions upon metaphysical questions attain to power. The same spirit which induced the Whigs to dictate on mere matters of conscience to the Tories, actuated Ferdinand II. and Louis XIV. in those atrocious edicts which they issued to their subjects on the score of religion.

To William, a foreigner totally ignorant of the composition of the English mind, the Abjuration Bill naturally presented none of those features of tyranny and injustice which it presents to the critic of the nineteenth century. He saw in it only another security added to the securities already in existence that no friend and dependant of Louis should succeed to the English throne. His last political act was to delegate his authority to a commission which gave the bill his royal assent.

The death of William occurred at a critical period. The system of aggression which Louis had pursued during forty years had at length provoked its just retribution. All the great Powers were united in a crusade against France. was about to commence, the most general which Europe had yet seen. England, Holland, and the Empire were leagued against France and Spain, and it seemed barely possible for the minor Powers to escape being drawn into the contest. I pur

A war

pose to close this chapter with a brief review of the resources of the combatants.

The standing army of France in 1660 probably amounted to about ninety thousand men. This force, even then sufficient to overawe every surrounding nation, had been increased until, during the wars towards the close of the century, it was estimated to be not far short of four hundred thousand. In point of courage and discipline the French troops were regarded as having no equals. Even their accoutrements moved the envy of Spaniards and Germans. The fleet was on a scale which may excite astonishment even at the present day. In 1690 the King possessed no less than a hundred and ten ships of war, each carrying from sixty to a hundred and four guns. A A hundred thousand sailors manned this formidable navy. That the nation, with such burdens upon its resources, could be rich and thriving was of course impossible ; and those resources, such as they were, had been grievously impaired by the bigotry of Louis and the incapacity of his financial counsellors. Both the manufactures and the commerce of France had been all but extinguished by the cruel and absurd persecutions of the Protestants. The King's revenue, derived principally from taxes on land, amounted at the beginning of his actual reign to eighty-four millions of livres. At the close of the century it had increased to a hundred and nineteen millions; but between 1702 and 1712, a period of frightful distress, it declined to about a hundred millions. Before 1700, however, a debt had rolled up which absorbed fifty millions annually for interest, so that the revenue applicable to war, government, and the King's personal extravagancies did not exceed fifty millions. This amount was insufficient to cover expenditure in periods of profound peace. In every war which the King had undertaken he had been compelled to borrow money, and the manner adopted towards the royal creditors was not calculated to inspire the confidence of capitalists. So low had the King's credit fallen indeed that it was obvious that in future his only alternative would lie between promising usurious rates of interest for money or taking money by force.*

I have extracted these details about finance with much difficulty from Forbonnais. They must not be regarded as more than an approximation to the

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