Page images

Stafford, Northampton, Sudbury, Colchester, and other places.1

The most formidable element in this discontent was that, hatred of foreigners which was so deeply rooted in the English mind, and which has played a part that can hardly be exaggerated in English history. Hatred of foreign interference lay at the root of that old antipathy to Rome which alone rendered possible the English Reformation. Hatred of the Irish and hatred of the French were leading elements in the popular feeling against James II., while the adherents of the Stuarts continually appealed to the hatred of the Dutch, of the Germans, and of the French refugees. The very name of each of the great parties in the State bears witness to the feeling, for it was at first only an offensive nickname, deriving its point and its popularity from a national antipathy. The Tory' was originally an Irish robber, and the term was applied by Oates to the disbelievers in the Popish plot, was afterwards extended to the Irish Catholic friends of the Duke of York at the time of the Exclusion Bill, and soon became the designation of the whole body of his supporters. The term Whig' was a nickname applied to the Scotch Presbyterians. It began at the time when the Cameronians took up arms for their religion, and was derived from the whey, or refuse milk, which their poverty obliged them to use, or, according to another version, from Whiggam,' a word employed by Scotch cattle-drovers of the west in driving their horses.2 In many cases these national jealousies might be justified by a real national danger, but there lay behind them a vast mass of unreasoning prejudice which the insular position of England made exceptionally strong, and which was one of the most powerful forces in English politics.


[ocr errors]

In the latter Stuart reigns this sentiment was strongly on the side of the Whigs. The sale of Dunkirk to France, the

'Somers' Tracts, ix. 457, x. 356358. Short's Hist. of the Increase and Decrease of Mankind, in England (1767) p. 87. Chalmers' Estimate.

Craik's Hist. of Commerce, p. 117.

2 North's Examen, p.321. Burnet's Hist. of his own time (folio ed.), i. 43.

shameful day when the Dutch fleet sailed unmolested into the Thames, burnt the shipping at Chatham, and menaced the security of the capital, and, still more, the growing subordination of England to the policy of Lewis XIV., had irritated to the very highest degree the national sentiment. England, which had shattered the power of France at Agincourt, Crecy, and Poitiers, which under Elizabeth and Cromwell had been feared or honoured in every quarter of the Continent, had now sunk into complete disrepute, and followed humbly in the wake of her ancient rival. Year by year the power and the ambition of Lewis increased, and threatened to overshadow all the liberties of Europe, but no danger could rouse the English sovereign from his ignoble torpor, and both he and his ministers were suspected with only too good reason of being the paid vassals of the French King.

It may easily be understood how galling such a subserviency to foreigners must have been to large classes who. were very indifferent to questions of constitutions and parliaments, and the indignation was greatly increased by the close connection between the foreign policy of England and the interests of Protestantism in Europe. In England Protestantism was the religion of so large and so energetic a majority of the people that any attempt to overthrow it was hopeless, but on the Continent its prospects at the time of the Revolution were extremely gloomy. For several generations over a great part of Europe the conflict had been steadily against it, and there was much reason to believe that it might sink into complete political impotence. Partly by the natural reaction that follows a great movement of enthusiasm, partly by the superior attraction of a pictorial form of worship, partly through the skilful organisation of the Society of Jesus, and still more by a systematic policy of repression, Protestantism had almost disappeared in many countries, in which, some fifty years after the Reformation, it appeared to have taken the firmest root. Bohemia had once been mainly Protestant. In Hungary, Transylvania, Poland, Austria proper, and even Bavaria, Pro

[ocr errors]

testants had formed either a majority, or nearly half of the population. In France they had occupied great towns, and organised powerful armies. They might once have been found in numbers in the northern provinces of Italy, in Flanders, in Cologne, Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Ems. In all these quarters the ascendancy of Catholicism was now almost undivided, and the balance of political power was immensely in its favour. Spain, though in a state of decadence, was still the greatest colonial power in the world. The Emperor and the King of France were by far the greatest military powers on the Continent, and the Emperor was persecuting Protestants in Hungary, while Lewis XIV. made it a main object of his home. policy to drive them from France, and a main object of his foreign policy to crush Holland, which was then the most powerful bulwark of Protestantism on the Continent. Of the Protestant States Sweden was too poor and too remote to exercise much permanent influence, and she had for many years been little more than a satellite of France; Holland had been raised under a succession of able leaders to an importance much beyond her natural resources, but her very existence as an independent power was menaced by her too powerful neighbour; England had sunk since the Restoration into complete insignificance, and a bigoted Catholic had now mounted her. throne. The Peace of Westphalia had been more than once violated in Germany to the detriment of the Protestants, and several petty German princes had already abandoned the faith. That great Protestant country which is now Prussia, was then the insignificant Electorate of Brandenburg, and was but just beginning, under an Elector of great ability, to emerge from obscurity. That great country, which now forms the United States of America, consisted then of a few rude and infant colonies, exercising no kind of influence beyond their borders, and although the policy of Roman Catholic nations was by no means invariably subservient to the Church, the movement of religious scepticism which now makes the preponderance of intelligence and energy in every Roman Catholic country

hostile to the priests had not yet arisen. From almost every point of the compass dark and threatening clouds were gathering around the Protestant cause, and the year 1685 was pronounced the most fatal in all its annals. In February an English king declared himself a Papist.. In June Charles, the Elector Palatine, dying without issue, the electoral dignity passed to the bigoted Popish house of Neuburg. In October Lewis XIV. revoked

the edict of Nantes, and began that ferocious persecution which completed the work of St. Bartholomew in France. In December the Duke of Savoy was induced by French persuasion to put an end to the toleration of the Vaudois.'

Happily for the interests of the world the religious difference was not the sole or the chief line of national division, and the terror that was excited by the ambition of France enlisted a great part of Catholic Europe on the side of William. The King of Spain was decidedly in his favour, and the Spanish ambassador at the Hague is said to have ordered masses in his chapel for the success of the expedition.2 The Emperor employed all his influence at Rome on the same side, and by singular good fortune the Pope himself looked with favour on the Revolution. Odescalchi, who, under the name of Innocent XI., had mounted the Papal throne in 1676, was a man of eminent virtue and moderation, and he had, in conjunction with a considerable body of the English Catholics, steadily disapproved of the violent and unconstitutional means by which James, under the advice of Father Petre, was endeavouring to bring the English Catholics to power. He appears to have seen the probability of a reaction, and he wished the King to restrict himself to endeavouring to obtain toleration for his coreligionists, and the English Catholics to abstain as much as possible from political ambition and from every course that could arouse the popular indignation. He had directed the general of the Jesuits to

'See a striking picture of the light in which this struggle appeared to contemporaries in the Somers' Tracts, ix. 593-595; Calamy's Life, i. 125–

126; Kemble's State Papers, p. xli.,


2 Macpherson's Original Papers, i.

p. 301.

rebuke Father Petre for his ambition, and he positively refused the urgent request of James to raise his favourite to the episcopate and to the purple. On the other hand he looked with extreme apprehension and dislike upon the policy of Lewis XIV. In the interests of Europe he clearly saw that the overwhelming power and the insatiable ambition of the French king formed the greatest danger of the time, and that the complete subserviency of England was a main element of his strength. In the interests of the Church he dreaded the attempts of Lewis, while constituting himself the great representative and protector of Catholicism in Europe, to make himself almost as absolute in ecclesiastical as in temporal affairs. The French king had for some time shown a peculiar jealousy of papal authority, and a peculiar desire to humiliate it. In a former pontificate he had made use for this purpose of a quarrel which had arisen between some Corsican guards of the Pope and some Frenchmen attached to the embassy at Rome, had seized Avignon, had threatened to invade Rome, and had compelled Alexander VII. to make the most abject apologies, to engage for the future to admit no Corsicans into his service, and even to erect a monument commemorating the transaction. Soon after the accession of Innocent XI., the feud again broke out, and it was so bitter that the papal court began to look upon the French king as the worst enemy to the Church. The antagonism arose on the question of the right, or the alleged right, of the French sovereign to appoint to ecclesiastical benefices in France during the vacancy of the episcopal sees. The claim had long been contested by the Pope, but it was admitted by the French clergy, who were now closely allied to the sovereign, and were looking forward to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The dispute led to the famous articles of 1682, by which the French Church denied that the Pope possessed by Divine right any temporal jurisdiction, declared its adhesion to the decrees by which the Council of Constance asserted the supremacy of general

'De Flassan, Hist. de la Diplomatie Française, iii. 292–302.

« PreviousContinue »