Street Corner Society


Skip to site-wide links.

Reflections  >  T.B. Macaulay, History of England  >  Ch. V, The Monmouth Rebellion (part 1)


T.B. Macaulay

History of England

Chap. V, The Monmouth Rebellion
(part 1)


Whig Refugees on the Continent
Their Correspondents in England
Characters of the leading Refugees; Ayloffe; Wade
Goodenough; Rumbold
Lord Grey
Monmouth
Ferguson
Scotch Refugees: Earl of Argyle
Sir Patrick Hume; Sir John Cochrane
Fletcher of Saltoun
Unreasonable Conduct of the Scotch Refugees
Arrangement for an Attempt on England and Scotland
John Locke


Whig Refugees on the Continent

TOWARDS the close of the reign of Charles the Second, some Whigs who had been deeply implicated in the plot so fatal to their party, and who knew themselves to be marked out for destruction, had sought an asylum in the Low Countries.

asterix These refugees were in general men of fiery temper and weak judgment. They were also under the influence of that peculiar illusion which seems to belong to their situation. A politician driven into banishment by a hostile faction generally sees the society which he has quitted through a false medium. Every object is distorted and discoloured by his regrets, his longings, and his resentments. Every little discontent appears to him to portend a revolution. Every riot is a rebellion. He cannot be convinced that his country does not pine for him as much as he pines for his country. He imagines that all his old associates, who still dwell at their homes and enjoy their estates, are tormented by the same feelings which make life a burden to himself. The longer his expatriation, the greater does this hallucination become. The lapse of time, which cools the ardour of the friends whom he has left behind, inflames his. Every month his impatience to revisit his native land increases; and every month his native land remembers and misses him less. This delusion becomes almost a madness when many exiles who suffer in the same cause herd together in a foreign country. Their chief employment is to talk of what they once were, and of what they may yet be, to goad each other into animosity against the common enemy, to feed each other with extravagant hopes of victory and revenge. Thus they become ripe for enterprises which would at once be pronounced hopeless by any man whose passions had not deprived him of the power of calculating chances.

Their Correspondents in England

In this mood were many of the outlaws who had assembled on the Continent. The correspondence which they kept up with England was, for the most part, such as tended to excite their feelings and to mislead their judgment. Their information concerning the temper of the public mind was chiefly derived from the worst members of the Whig party, from men who were plotters and libellers by profession, who were pursued by the officers of justice, who were forced to skulk in disguise through back streets, and who sometimes lay hid for weeks together in cocklofts and cellars. The statesmen who had formerly been the ornaments of the Country Party, the statesmen who afterwards guided the councils of the Convention, would have given advice very different from that which was given by such men as John Wildman and Henry Danvers.

Wildman had served forty years before in the parliamentary army, but had been more distinguished there as an agitator than as a soldier, and had early quitted the profession of arms for pursuits better suited to his temper. His hatred of monarchy had induced him to engage in a long series of conspiracies, first against the Protector, and then against the Stuarts. But with Wildman's fanaticism was joined a tender care for his own safety. He had a wonderful skill in grazing the edge of treason. No man understood better how to instigate others to desperate enterprises by words which, when repeated to a jury, might seem innocent, or, at worst, ambiguous. Such was his cunning that, though always plotting, though always known to be plotting, and though long malignantly watched by a vindictive government, he eluded every danger, and died in his bed, after having seen two generations of his accomplices die on the gallows.(319) Danvers was a man of the same class, hotheaded, but fainthearted, constantly urged to the brink of danger by enthusiasm, and constantly stopped on that brink by cowardice. He had considerable influence among a portion of the Baptists, had written largely in defence of their peculiar opinions, and had drawn down on himself the severe censure of the most respectable Puritans by attempting to palliate the crimes of Matthias and John of Leyden. It is probable that, had he possessed a little courage, he would have trodden in the footsteps of the wretches whom he defended. He was, at this time, concealing himself from the officers of justice; for warrants were out against him on account of a grossly calumnious paper of which the government had discovered him to be the author.(320)

Characters of the leading Refugees; Ayloffe; Wade

It is easy to imagine what kind of intelligence and counsel men, such as have been described, were likely to send to the outlaws in the Netherlands. Of the general character of those outlaws an estimate may be formed from a few samples.

One of the most conspicuous among them was John Ayloffe, a lawyer connected by affinity with the Hydes, and through the Hydes, with James. Ayloffe had early made himself remarkable by offering a whimsical insult to the government. At a time when the ascendancy of the court of Versailles had excited general uneasiness, he had contrived to put a wooden shoe, the established type, among the English, of French tyranny, into the chair of the House of Commons. He had subsequently been concerned in the Whig plot; but there is no reason to believe that he was a party to the design of assassinating the royal brothers. He was a man of parts and courage; but his moral character did not stand high. The Puritan divines whispered that he was a careless Gallio or something worse, and that, whatever zeal he might profess for civil liberty, the Saints would do well to avoid all connection with him.(321)

Nathaniel Wade was, like Ayloffe, a lawyer. He had long resided at Bristol, and had been celebrated in his own neighbourhood as a vehement republican. At one time he had formed a project of emigrating to New Jersey, where he expected to find institutions better suited to his taste than those of England. His activity in electioneering had introduced him to the notice of some Whig nobles. They had employed him professionally, and had, at length, admitted him to their most secret counsels. He had been deeply concerned in the scheme of insurrection, and had undertaken to head a rising in his own city. He had also been privy to the more odious plot against the lives of Charles and James. But he always declared that, though privy to it, he had abhorred it, and had attempted to dissuade his associates from carrying their design into effect. For a man bred to civil pursuits, Wade seems to have had, in an unusual degree, that sort of ability and that sort of nerve which make a good soldier. Unhappily his principles and his courage proved to be not of sufficient force to support him when the fight was over, and when in a prison, he had to choose between death and infamy.(322)

Goodenough; Rumbold

Another fugitive was Richard Goodenough, who had formerly been Under Sheriff of London. On this man his party had long relied for services of no honourable kind, and especially for the selection of jurymen not likely to be troubled with scruples in political cases. He had been deeply concerned in those dark and atrocious parts of the Whig plot which had been carefully concealed from the most respectable Whigs. Nor is it possible to plead, in extenuation of his guilt, that he was misled by inordinate zeal for the public good. For it will be seen that after having disgraced a noble cause by his crimes, he betrayed it in order to escape from his well merited punishment.(323)

Very different was the character of Richard Rumbold. He had held a commission in Cromwell's own regiment, had guarded the scaffold before the Banqueting House on the day of the great execution, had fought at Dunbar and Worcester, and had always shown in the highest degree the qualities which distinguished the invincible army in which he served, courage of the truest temper, fiery enthusiasm, both political and religious, and with that enthusiasm, all the power of selfgovernment which is characteristic of men trained in well disciplined camps to command and to obey. When the Republican troops were disbanded, Rumbold became a maltster, and carried on his trade near Hoddesdon, in that building from which the Rye House plot derives its name. It had been suggested, though not absolutely determined, in the conferences of the most violent and unscrupulous of the malecontents, that armed men should be stationed in the Rye House to attack the Guards who were to escort Charles and James from Newmarket to London. In these conferences Rumbold had borne a part from which he would have shrunk with horror, if his clear understanding had not been overclouded, and his manly heart corrupted, by party spirit.(324)

Lord Grey

Far superior in station to those exiles who have hitherto been named was Ford Grey, Lord Grey of Wark. He had been a zealous Exclusionist, had concurred in the design of insurrection, and had been committed to the Tower, but had succeeded in making his keepers drunk, and in effecting his escape to the Continent. His parliamentary abilities were great, and his manners pleasing: but his life had been sullied by a great domestic crime. His wife was a daughter of the noble house of Berkeley. Her sister, the Lady Henrietta Berkeley, was allowed to associate and correspond with him as with a brother by blood. A fatal attachment sprang up. The high spirit and strong passions of Lady Henrietta broke through all restraints of virtue and decorum. A scandalous elopement disclosed to the whole kingdom the shame of two illustrious families. Grey and some of the agents who had served him in his amour were brought to trial on a charge of conspiracy. A scene unparalleled in our legal history was exhibited in the Court of King's Bench. The seducer appeared with dauntless front, accompanied by his paramour. Nor did the great Whig lords flinch from their friend's side even in that extremity. Those whom he had wronged stood over against him, and were moved to transports of rage by the sight of him. The old Earl of Berkeley poured forth reproaches and curses on the wretched Henrietta. The Countess gave evidence broken by many sobs, and at length fell down in a swoon. The jury found a verdict of Guilty. When the court rose Lord Berkeley called on all his friends to help him to seize his daughter. The partisans of Grey rallied round her. Swords were drawn on both sides; a skirmish took place in Westminster Hall; and it was with difficulty that the Judges and tipstaves parted the combatants. In our time such a trial would be fatal to the character of a public man; but in that age the standard of morality among the great was so low, and party spirit was so violent, that Grey still continued to have considerable influence, though the Puritans, who formed a strong section of the Whig party, looked somewhat coldly on him.(325)

One part of the character, or rather, it may be, of the fortune, of Grey deserves notice. It was admitted that everywhere, except on the field of battle, he showed a high degree of courage. More than once, in embarrassing circumstances, when his life and liberty were at stake, the dignity of his deportment and his perfect command of all his faculties extorted praise from those who neither loved nor esteemed him. But as a soldier he incurred, less perhaps by his fault than by mischance, the degrading imputation of personal cowardice.

Monmouth

In this respect he differed widely from his friend the Duke of Monmouth. Ardent and intrepid on the field of battle, Monmouth was everywhere else effeminate and irresolute. The accident of his birth, his personal courage, and his superficial graces, had placed him in a post for which he was altogether unfitted. After witnessing the ruin of the party of which he had been the nominal head, he had retired to Holland. The Prince and Princess of Orange had now ceased to regard him as a rival. They received him most hospitably; for they hoped that, by treating, him with kindness, they should establish a claim to the gratitude of his father. They knew that paternal affection was not yet wearied out, that letters and supplies of money still came secretly from Whitehall to Monmouth's retreat, and that Charles frowned on those who sought to pay their court to him by speaking ill of his banished son. The Duke had been encouraged to expect that, in a very short time, if he gave no new cause of displeasure, he would be recalled to his native land, and restored to all his high honours and commands. Animated by such expectations he had been the life of the Hague during the late winter. He had been the most conspicuous figure at a succession of balls in that splendid Orange Hall, which blazes on every side with the most ostentatious colouring of Jordaens and Hondthorst.(326) He had taught the English country dance to the Dutch ladies, and had in his turn learned from them to skate on the canals. The Princess had accompanied him in his expeditions on the ice; and the figure which she made there, poised on one leg, and clad in petticoats shorter than are generally worn by ladies so strictly decorous, had caused some wonder and mirth to the foreign ministers. The sullen gravity which had been characteristic of the Stadtholder's court seemed to have vanished before the influence of the fascinating Englishman. Even the stern and pensive William relaxed into good humour when his brilliant guest appeared.(327)

Monmouth meanwhile carefully avoided all that could give offence in the quarter to which he looked for protection. He saw little of any Whigs, and nothing of those violent men who had been concerned in the worst part of the Whig plot. He was therefore loudly accused, by his old associates, of fickleness and ingratitude.(328)

Ferguson

By none of the exiles was this accusation urged with more vehemence and bitterness than by Robert Ferguson, the Judas of Dryden's great satire. Ferguson was by birth a Scot; but England had long been his residence. At the time of the Restoration, indeed, he had held a living in Kent. He had been bred a Presbyterian; but the Presbyterians had cast him out, and he had become an Independent. He had been master of an academy which the Dissenters had set up at Islington as a rival to Westminster School and the Charter House; and he had preached to large congregations at a meeting house in Moorfields. He had also published some theological treatises which may still be found in the dusty recesses of a few old libraries; but, though texts of Scripture were always on his lips, those who had pecuniary transactions with him soon found him to be a mere swindler.

At length he turned his attention almost entirely from theology to the worst part of politics. He belonged to the class whose office it is to render in troubled times to exasperated parties those services from which honest men shrink in disgust and prudent men in fear, the class of fanatical knaves. Violent, malignant, regardless of truth, insensible to shame, insatiable of notoriety, delighting in intrigue, in tumult, in mischief for its own sake, he toiled during many years in the darkest mines of faction. He lived among libellers and false witnesses. He was the keeper of a secret purse from which agents too vile to be acknowledged received hire, and the director of a secret press whence pamphlets, bearing no name, were daily issued. He boasted that he had contrived to scatter lampoons about the terrace of Windsor, and even to lay them under the royal pillow. In this way of life he was put to many shifts, was forced to assume many names, and at one time had four different lodgings in different corners of London. He was deeply engaged in the Rye House plot. There is, indeed, reason to believe that he was the original author of those sanguinary schemes which brought so much discredit on the whole Whig party. When the conspiracy was detected and his associates were in dismay, he bade them farewell with a laugh, and told them that they were novices, that he had been used to flight, concealment and disguise, and that he should never leave off plotting while he lived. He escaped to the Continent. But it seemed that even on the Continent he was not secure. The English envoys at foreign courts were directed to be on the watch for him. The French government offered a reward of five hundred pistoles to any who would seize him. Nor was it easy for him to escape notice; for his broad Scotch accent, his tall and lean figure, his lantern jaws, the gleam of his sharp eyes which were always overhung by his wig, his cheeks inflamed by an eruption, his shoulders deformed by a stoop, and his gait distinguished from that of other men by a peculiar shuffle, made him remarkable wherever he appeared. But, though he was, as it seemed, pursued with peculiar animosity, it was whispered that this animosity was feigned, and that the officers of justice had secret orders not to see him. That he was really a bitter malecontent can scarcely be doubted. But there is strong reason to believe that he provided for his own safety by pretending at Whitehall to be a spy on the Whigs, and by furnishing the government with just so much information as sufficed to keep up his credit. This hypothesis furnishes a simple explanation of what seemed to his associates to be his unnatural recklessness and audacity. Being himself out of danger, he always gave his vote for the most violent and perilous course, and sneered very complacently at the pusillanimity of men who, not having taken the infamous precautions on which he relied, were disposed to think twice before they placed life, and objects dearer than life, on a single hazard.(329)

As soon as he was in the Low Countries he began to form new projects against the English government, and found among his fellow emigrants men ready to listen to his evil counsels. Monmouth, however, stood obstinately aloof; and, without the help of Monmouth's immense popularity, it was impossible to effect anything. Yet such was the impatience and rashness of the exiles that they tried to find another leader. They sent an embassy to that solitary retreat on the shores of Lake Leman where Edmund Ludlow, once conspicuous among the chiefs of the parliamentary army and among the members of the High Court of Justice, had, during many years, hidden himself from the vengeance of the restored Stuarts. The stern old regicide, however, refused to quit his hermitage. His work, he said, was done. If England was still to be saved, she must be saved by younger men.(330)

asterix The unexpected demise of the crown changed the whole aspect of affairs. Any hope which the proscribed Whigs might have cherished of returning peaceably to their native land was extinguished by the death of a careless and goodnatured prince, and by the accession of a prince obstinate in all things, and especially obstinate in revenge. Ferguson was in his element. Destitute of the talents both of a writer and of a statesman, he had in a high degree the unenviable qualifications of a tempter; and now, with the malevolent activity and dexterity of an evil spirit, he ran from outlaw to outlaw, chattered in every ear, and stirred up in every bosom savage animosities and wild desires.

He no longer despaired of being able to seduce Monmouth. The situation of that unhappy young man was completely changed. While he was dancing and skating at the Hague, and expecting every day a summons to London, he was overwhelmed with misery by the tidings of his father's death and of his uncle's accession. During the night which followed the arrival of the news, those who lodged near him could distinctly hear his sobs and his piercing cries. He quitted the Hague the next day, having solemnly pledged his word both to the Prince and to the Princess of Orange not to attempt anything against the government of England, and having been supplied by them with money to meet immediate demands.(331)

The prospect which lay before Monmouth was not a bright one. There was now no probability that he would be recalled from banishment. On the Continent his life could no longer be passed amidst the splendour and festivity of a court. His cousins at the Hague seem to have really regarded him with kindness; but they could no longer countenance him openly without serious risk of producing a rupture between England and Holland. William offered a kind and judicious suggestion. The war which was then raging in Hungary, between the Emperor and the Turks, was watched by all Europe with interest almost as great as that which the Crusades had excited five hundred years earlier. Many gallant gentlemen, both Protestant and Catholic, were fighting as volunteers in the common cause of Christendom. The Prince advised Monmouth to repair to the Imperial camp, and assured him that, if he would do so, he should not want the means of making an appearance befitting an English nobleman.(332) This counsel was excellent: but the Duke could not make up his mind. He retired to Brussels accompanied by Henrietta Wentworth, Baroness Wentworth of Nettlestede, a damsel of high rank and ample fortune, who loved him passionately, who had sacrificed for his sake her maiden honour and the hope of a splendid alliance, who had followed him into exile, and whom he believed to be his wife in the sight of heaven. Under the soothing influence of female friendship, his lacerated mind healed fast. He seemed to have found happiness in obscurity and repose, and to have forgotten that he had been the ornament of a splendid court and the head of a great party, that he had commanded armies, and that he had aspired to a throne.

But he was not suffered to remain quiet. Ferguson employed all his powers of temptation. Grey, who knew not where to turn for a pistole, and was ready for any undertaking, however desperate, lent his aid. No art was spared which could draw Monmouth from retreat. To the first invitations which he received from his old associates he returned unfavourable answers. He pronounced the difficulties of a descent on England insuperable, protested that he was sick of public life, and begged to be left in the enjoyment of his newly found happiness. But he was little in the habit of resisting skilful and urgent importunity. It is said, too, that he was induced to quit his retirement by the same powerful influence which had made that retirement delightful. Lady Wentworth wished to see him a King. Her rents, her diamonds, her credit were put at his disposal. Monmouth's judgment was not convinced; but he had not the firmness to resist such solicitations.(333)

Scotch Refugees: Earl of Argyle

By the English exiles he was joyfully welcomed, and unanimously acknowledged as their head. But there was another class of emigrants who were not disposed to recognise his supremacy. Misgovernment, such as had never been known in the southern part of our island, had driven from Scotland to the Continent many fugitives, the intemperance of whose political and religious zeal was proportioned to the oppression which they had undergone. These men were not willing to follow an English leader. Even in destitution and exile they retained their punctilious national pride, and would not consent that their country should be, in their persons, degraded into a province. They had a captain of their own, Archibald, ninth Earl of Argyle, who, as chief of the great tribe of Campbell, was known among the population of the Highlands by the proud name of Mac Callum More. His father, the Marquess of Argyle, had been the head of the Scotch Covenanters, had greatly contributed to the ruin of Charles the First, and was not thought by the Royalists to have atoned for this offence by consenting to bestow the empty title of King, and a state prison in a palace, on Charles the Second. After the return of the royal family the Marquess was put to death. His marquisate became extinct; but his son was permitted to inherit the ancient earldom, and was still among the greatest if not the greatest, of the nobles of Scotland. The Earl's conduct during the twenty years which followed the Restoration had been, as he afterwards thought, criminally moderate. He had, on some occasions, opposed the administration which afflicted his country: but his opposition had been languid and cautious. His compliances in ecclesiastical matters had given scandal to rigid Presbyterians: and so far had he been from showing any inclination to resistance that, when the Covenanters had been persecuted into insurrection, he had brought into the field a large body of his dependents to support the government.

Such had been his political course until the Duke of York came down to Edinburgh armed with the whole regal authority The despotic viceroy soon found that he could not expect entire support from Argyle. Since the most powerful chief in the kingdom could not be gained, it was thought necessary that he should be destroyed. On grounds so frivolous that even the spirit of party and the spirit of chicane were ashamed of them, he was brought to trial for treason, convicted, and sentenced to death. The partisans of the Stuarts afterwards asserted that it was never meant to carry this sentence into effect, and that the only object of the prosecution was to frighten him into ceding his extensive jurisdiction in the Highlands. Whether James designed, as his enemies suspected, to commit murder, or only, as his friends affirmed, to commit extortion by threatening to commit murder, cannot now be ascertained. "I know nothing of the Scotch law," said Halifax to King Charles; "but this I know, that we should not hang a dog here on the grounds on which my Lord Argyle has been sentenced."(334)

Argyle escaped in disguise to England, and thence passed over to Friesland. In that secluded province his father had bought a small estate, as a place of refuge for the family in civil troubles. It was said, among the Scots that this purchase had been made in consequence of the predictions of a Celtic seer, to whom it had been revealed that Mac Callum More would one day be driven forth from the ancient mansion of his race at Inverary.(335) But it is probable that the politic Marquess had been warned rather by the signs of the times than by the visions of any prophet. In Friesland Earl Archibald resided during some time so quietly that it was not generally known whither he had fled. From his retreat he carried on a correspondence with his friends in Great Britain, was a party to the Whig conspiracy, and concerted with the chiefs of that conspiracy a plan for invading Scotland.(336) This plan had been dropped upon the detection of the Rye House plot, but became again the Subject of his thoughts after the demise of the crown.

He had, during his residence on the Continent, reflected much more deeply on religious questions than in the preceding years of his life. In one respect the effect of these reflections on his mind had been pernicious. His partiality for the synodical form of church government now amounted to bigotry. When he remembered how long he had conformed to the established worship, he was overwhelmed with shame and remorse, and showed too many signs of a disposition to atone for his defection by violence and intolerance. He had however, in no long time, an opportunity of proving that the fear and love of a higher Power had nerved him for the most formidable conflicts by which human nature can be tried.

To his companions in adversity his assistance was of the highest moment. Though proscribed and a fugitive. he was still, in some sense, the most powerful subject in the British dominions. In wealth, even before his attainder, he was probably inferior, not only to the great English nobles, but to some of the opulent esquires of Kent and Norfolk. But his patriarchal authority, an authority which no wealth could give and which no attainder could take away, made him, as a leader of an insurrection, truly formidable. No southern lord could feel any confidence that, if he ventured to resist the government, even his own gamekeepers and huntsmen would stand by him. An Earl of Bedford, an Earl of Devonshire, could not engage to bring ten men into the field. Mac Callum More, penniless and deprived of his earldom, might at any moment, raise a serious civil war. He bad only to show himself on the coast of Lorn; and an army would, in a few days, gather round him. The force which, in favourable circumstances, he could bring into the field, amounted to five thousand fighting, men, devoted to his service accustomed to the use of target and broadsword, not afraid to encounter regular troops even in the open plain, and perhaps superior to regular troops in the qualifications requisite for the defence of wild mountain passes, hidden in mist, and torn by headlong torrents. What such a force, well directed, could effect, even against veteran regiments and skilful commanders, was proved, a few years later, at Killiecrankie.

Sir Patrick Hume; Sir John Cochrane

But, strong as was the claim of Argyle to the confidence of the exiled Scots, there was a faction among them which regarded him with no friendly feeling, and which wished to make use of his name and influence, without entrusting to him any real power. The chief of this faction was a lowland gentleman, who had been implicated in the Whig plot, and had with difficulty eluded the vengeance of the court, Sir Patrick Hume, of Polwarth, in Berwickshire. Great doubt has been thrown on his integrity, but without sufficient reason. It must, however, be admitted that he injured his cause by perverseness as much as he could have done by treachery. He was a man incapable alike of leading and of following, conceited, captious, and wrongheaded, an endless talker, a sluggard in action against the enemy and active only against his own allies. With Hume was closely connected another Scottish exile of great note, who had many, of the same faults, Sir John Cochrane, second son of the Earl of Dundonald.

Fletcher of Saltoun

A far higher character belonged to Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, a man distinguished by learning and eloquence, distinguished also by courage, disinterestedness, and public spirit but of an irritable and impracticable temper. Like many of his most illustrious contemporaries, Milton for example, Harrington, Marvel, and Sidney, Fletcher had, from the misgovernment of several successive princes, conceived a strong aversion to hereditary monarchy. Yet he was no democrat. He was the head of an ancient Norman house, and was proud of his descent. He was a fine speaker and a fine writer, and was proud of his intellectual superiority. Both in his character of gentleman, and in his character of scholar, he looked down with disdain on the common people, and was so little disposed to entrust them with political power that he thought them unfit even to enjoy personal freedom. It is a curious circumstance that this man, the most honest, fearless, and uncompromising republican of his time, should have been the author of a plan for reducing a large part of the working classes of Scotland to slavery. He bore, in truth, a lively resemblance to those Roman Senators who, while they hated the name of King, guarded the privileges of their order with inflexible pride against the encroachments of the multitude, and governed their bondmen and bondwomen by means of the stocks and the scourge.

Unreasonable Conduct of the Scotch Refugees

Amsterdam was the place where the leading emigrants, Scotch and English, assembled. Argyle repaired thither from Friesland, Monmouth from Brabant. It soon appeared that the fugitives had scarcely anything in common except hatred of James and impatience to return from banishment. The Scots were jealous of the English, the English of the Scots. Monmouth's high pretensions were offensive to Argyle, who, proud of ancient nobility and of a legitimate descent from kings, was by no means inclined to do homage to the offspring of a vagrant and ignoble love. But of all the dissensions by which the little band of outlaws was distracted the most serious was that which arose between Argyle and a portion of his own followers. Some of the Scottish exiles had, in a long course of opposition to tyranny, been excited into a morbid state of understanding and temper, which made the most just and necessary restraint insupportable to them. They knew that without Argyle they could do nothing. They ought to have known that, unless they wished to run headlong to ruin, they must either repose full confidence in their leader, or relinquish all thoughts of military enterprise. Experience has fully proved that in war every operation, from the greatest to the smallest, ought to be under the absolute direction of one mind, and that every subordinate agent, in his degree, ought to obey implicitly, strenuously, and with the show of cheerfulness, orders which he disapproves, or of which the reasons are kept secret from him. Representative assemblies, public discussions, and all the other checks by which, in civil affairs, rulers are restrained from abusing power, are out of place in a camp. Machiavel justly imputed many of the disasters of Venice and Florence to the jealousy which led those republics to interfere with every one of their generals.(337) The Dutch practice of sending to an army deputies, without whose consent no great blow could be struck, was almost equally pernicious. It is undoubtedly by no means certain that a captain, who has been entrusted with dictatorial power in the hour of peril, will quietly surrender that power in the hour of triumph; and this is one of the many considerations which ought to make men hesitate long before they resolve to vindicate public liberty by the sword. But, if they determine to try the chance of war, they will, if they are wise, entrust to their chief that plenary authority without which war cannot be well conducted. It is possible that, if they give him that authority, he may turn out a Cromwell or a Napoleon. But it is almost certain that, if they withhold from him that authority, their enterprises will end like the enterprise of Argyle.

Some of the Scottish emigrants, heated with republican enthusiasm, and utterly destitute of the skill necessary to the conduct of great affairs, employed all their industry and ingenuity, not in collecting means for the attack which they were about to make on a formidable enemy, but in devising restraints on their leader's power and securities against his ambition. The selfcomplacent stupidity with which they insisted on organising an army as if they had been organising a commonwealth would be incredible if it had not been frankly and even boastfully recorded by one of themselves.(338)

asterix Arrangement for an Attempt on England and Scotland

At length all differences were compromised. It was determined that an attempt should be forthwith made on the western coast of Scotland, and that it should be promptly followed by a descent on England.

Argyle was to hold the nominal command in Scotland: but be was placed under the control of a Committee which reserved to itself all the most important parts of the military administration. This committee was empowered to determine where the expedition should land, to appoint officers, to superintend the levying of troops, to dole out provisions and ammunition. All that was left to the general was to direct the evolutions of the army in the field, and he was forced to promise that even in the field, except in the case of a surprise, he would do nothing without the assent of a council of war.

Monmouth was to command in England. His soft mind had as usual, taken an impress from the society which surrounded him. Ambitious hopes, which had seemed to be extinguished, revived in his bosom. He remembered the affection with which he had been constantly greeted by the common people in town and country, and expected that they would now rise by hundreds of thousands to welcome him. He remembered the good will which the soldiers had always borne him, and flattered himself that they would come over to him by regiments. Encouraging messages reached him in quick succession from London. He was assured that the violence and injustice with which the elections had been carried on had driven the nation mad, that the prudence of the leading Whigs had with difficulty prevented a sanguinary outbreak on the day of the coronation, and that all the great Lords who had supported the Exclusion Bill were impatient to rally round him. Wildman, who loved to talk treason in parables, sent to say that the Earl of Richmond, just two hundred years before, had landed in England with a handful of men, and had a few days later been crowned, on the field of Bosworth, with the diadem taken from the head of Richard. Danvers undertook to raise the City. The Duke was deceived into the belief that, as soon as he set up his standard, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Cheshire would rise in arms.(339) He consequently became eager for the enterprise from which a few weeks before he had shrunk. His countrymen did not impose on him restrictions so elaborately absurd as those which the Scotch emigrants had devised. All that was required of him was to promise that he would not assume the regal title till his pretensions has been submitted to the judgment of a free Parliament.

It was determined that two Englishmen, Ayloffe and Rumbold, should accompany Argyle to Scotland, and that Fletcher should go with Monmouth to England. Fletcher, from the beginning, had augured ill of the enterprise: but his chivalrous spirit would not suffer him to decline a risk which his friends seemed eager to encounter. When Grey repeated with approbation what Wildman had said about Richmond and Richard, the well read and thoughtful Scot justly remarked that there was a great difference between the fifteenth century and the seventeenth. Richmond was assured of the support of barons, each of whom could bring an army of feudal retainers into the field; and Richard had not one regiment of regular soldiers.(340)

The exiles were able to raise, partly from their own resources and partly from the contributions of well wishers in Holland, a sum sufficient for the two expeditions. Very little was obtained from London. Six thousand pounds had been expected thence. But instead of the money came excuses from Wildman, which ought to have opened the eyes of all who were not wilfully blind. The Duke made up the deficiency by pawning his own jewels and those of Lady Wentworth. Arms, ammunition, and provisions were bought, and several ships which lay at Amsterdam were freighted.(341)

John Locke

It is remarkable that the most illustrious and the most grossly injured man among the British exiles stood far aloof from these rash counsels. John Locke hated tyranny and persecution as a philosopher; but his intellect and his temper preserved him from the violence of a partisan. He had lived on confidential terms with Shaftesbury, and had thus incurred the displeasure of the court. Locke's prudence had, however, been such that it would have been to little purpose to bring him even before the corrupt and partial tribunals of that age. In one point, however, he was vulnerable. He was a student of Christ Church in the University of Oxford. It was determined to drive from that celebrated college the greatest man of whom it could ever boast. But this was not easy. Locke had, at Oxford, abstained from expressing any opinion on the politics of the day. Spies had been set about him. Doctors of Divinity and Masters of Arts had not been ashamed to perform the vilest of all offices, that of watching the lips of a companion in order to report his words to his ruin. The conversation in the hall had been purposely turned to irritating topics, to the Exclusion Bill, and to the character of the Earl of Shaftesbury, but in vain. Locke neither broke out nor dissembled, but maintained such steady silence and composure as forced the tools of power to own with vexation that never man was so complete a master of his tongue and of his passions. When it was found that treachery could do nothing, arbitrary power was used. After vainly trying to inveigle Locke into a fault, the government resolved to punish him without one. Orders came from Whitehall that he should be ejected; and those orders the Dean and Canons made haste to obey.

Locke was travelling on the Continent for his health when he learned that he had been deprived of his home and of his bread without a trial or even a notice. The injustice with which he had been treated would have excused him if he had resorted to violent methods of redress. But he was not to be blinded by personal resentment he augured no good from the schemes of those who had assembled at Amsterdam; and he quietly repaired to Utrecht, where, while his partners in misfortune were planning their own destruction, he employed himself in writing his celebrated letter on Toleration.(342)

Ch. V, next part


Notes and Links

319 -
Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, book xiv.; Burnet's Own Times, i. 546, 625; Wade's and Ireton's Narratives, Lansdowne MS. 1152; West's information in the Appendix to Sprat's True Account.
320 -
London Gazette, January, 4, 1684-5; Ferguson MS. in Eachard's History, iii. 764; Grey's Narratives; Sprat's True Account, Danvers's Treatise on Baptism; Danvers's Innocency and Truth vindicated; Crosby's History of the English Baptists.
321 -
Sprat's True Account; Burnet, i. 634; Wade's Confession, Earl. MS. 6845.
    Lord Howard of Escrick accused Ayloffe of proposing to assassinate the Duke of York; but Lord Howard was an abject liar; and this story was not part of his original confession, but was added afterwards by way of supplement, and therefore deserves no credit whatever.
322 -
Wade's Confession, Harl. MS. 6845; Lansdowne MS. 1152; Holloway's narrative in the Appendix to Sprat's True Account. Wade owned that Holloway had told nothing but truth.
323 -
Sprat's True Account and Appendix, passim.
324 -
Sprat's True Account and Appendix, Proceedings against Rumbold in the Collection of State Trials; Burnet's Own Times, i. 633; Appendix to Fox's History, No. IV.
325 -
Grey's narrative; his trial in the Collection of State Trials; Sprat's True Account.
326 -
In the Pepysian Collection is a print representing one of the balls which About this time William and Mary gave in the Oranje Zaal.
327 -
Avaux Neg. January 25, 1685. Letter from James to the Princess of Orange dated January 1684-5, among Birch's Extracts in the British Museum.
328 -
Grey's Narrative; Wade's Confession, Lansdowne MS. 1152.
329 -
Burnet, i. 542; Wood, Ath. Ox. under the name of Owen; Absalom and Achtophel, part ii.; Eachard, iii. 682, 697; Sprat's True Account, passim; Lond. Gaz. Aug. 6,1683; Nonconformist's Memorial; North's Examen, 399.
330 -
Wade's Confession, Harl. MS. 6845.
331 -
Avaux Neg. Feb. 20, 22, 1685; Monmouth's letter to James from Ringwood.
332 -
Boyer's History of King William the Third, 2d edition, 1703, vol. i 160.
333 -
Welwood's Memoirs, App. xv.; Burnet, i. 530. Grey told a somewhat different story, but he told it to save his life. The Spanish ambassador at the English court, Don Pedro de Ronquillo, in a letter to the governor of the Low Countries written about this time, sneers at Monmouth for living on the bounty of a fond woman, and hints a very unfounded suspicion that the Duke's passion was altogether interested. "HaIIandose hoy tan falto de medios que ha menester trasformarse en Amor con Miledi en vista de la ecesidad de poder subsistir."--Ronquillo to Grana. Mar. 30,/Apr. 9, 1685.
334 -
Proceedings against Argyle in the Collection of State Trials, Burnet, i 521; A True and Plain Account of the Discoveries made in Scotland, 1684, The Scotch Mist Cleared; Sir George Mackenzie's Vindication, Lord Fountainhall's Chronological Notes.
335 -
Information of Robert Smith in the Appendix to Sprat's True Account.
336 -
True and Plain Account of the Discoveries made in Scotland.
337 -
Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio, lib. ii. cap. 33.
338 -
See Sir Patrick Hume's Narrative, passim.
339 -
Grey's Narrative; Wade's Confession, Harl. MS. 6845.
340 -
Burnet, i. 631.
341 -
Grey's Narrative.
342 -
Le Clerc's Life of Locke; Lord King's Life of Locke; Lord Grenville's Oxford and Locke. Locke must not be confounded with the Anabapist Nicholas Look, whose name was spelled Locke in Grey's Confession, and who is mentioned in the Lansdowne MS. 1152, and in the Buccleuch narrative appended to Mr. Rose's dissertation. I should hardly think it necessary to make this remark, but that the similarity of the two names appears to have misled a man so well acquainted with the history of those times as Speaker Onslow. See his note on Burnet, i, 629.

 next part