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Volume V

(Chapters XXIII-XXV)

by Thomas Babington Macaulay



Standing Armies
Lord Spencer
Controversy touching Standing Armies
Meeting of Parliament
The King's Speech well received; Debate on a Peace Establishment
Sunderland attacked
The Nation averse to a Standing Army
Mutiny Act; the Navy Acts concerning High Treason
Earl of Clancarty
Ways and Means; Rights of the Sovereign in reference to Crown Lands
Proceedings in Parliament on Grants of Crown Lands
Montague accused of Peculation
Bill of Pains and Penalties against Duncombe
Dissension between the houses
Commercial Questions
Irish Manufactures
East India Companies
Fire at Whitehall
Visit of the Czar
Portland's Embassy to France
The Spanish Succession
The Count of Tallard's Embassy
Newmarket Meeting: the insecure State of the Roads
Further Negotiations relating to the Spanish Succession
The King goes to Holland
Portland returns from his Embassy
William is reconciled to Marlborough


Altered Position of the Ministry
The Elections
First Partition Treaty
Domestic Discontent
Littleton chosen Speaker
King's Speech; Proceedings relating to the Amount of the Land Force
Unpopularity of Montague
Bill for Disbanding the Army
The King's Speech
Death of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria.
Renewed Discussion of the Army Question
Naval Administration
Commission on Irish Forfeitures.
Prorogation of Parliament
Changes in the Ministry and Household
Spanish Succession


Trial of Spencer Cowper
Discontent of the Nation
Captain Kidd
Meeting of Parliament
Attacks on Burnet
Renewed Attack on Somers
Question of the Irish Forfeitures: Dispute between the Houses
Somers again attacked
Prorogation of Parliament
Death of James the Second
The Pretender recognised as King
Return of the King
General Election
Death of William


I HAVE thought it right to publish that portion of the continuation of
the "History of England" which was fairly transcribed and revised by
Lord Macaulay. It is given to the world precisely as it was left: no
connecting link has been added; no reference verified; no authority
sought for or examined. It would indeed have been possible, with the
help I might have obtained from his friends, to have supplied much that
is wanting; but I preferred, and I believe the public will prefer, that
the last thoughts of the great mind passed away from among us should
be preserved sacred from any touch but his own. Besides the revised
manuscript, a few pages containing the first rough sketch of the last
two months of William's reign are all that is left. From this I have
with some difficulty deciphered the account of the death of William. No
attempt has been made to join it on to the preceding part, or to supply
the corrections which would have been given by the improving hand of the
author. But, imperfect as it must be, I believe it will be received with
pleasure and interest as a fit conclusion to the life of his great hero.

I will only add my grateful thanks for the kind advice and assistance
given me by his most dear and valued friends, Dean Milman and Mr. Ellis.


Standing Armies--Sunderland--Lord Spencer--Controversy touching Standing
Armies--Meeting of Parliament--The King's Speech well received; Debate
on a Peace Establishment--Sunderland attacked--The Nation averse to a
Standing Army--Mutiny Act; the Navy Acts concerning High Treason--Earl
of Clancarty--Ways and Means; Rights of the Sovereign in reference
to Crown Lands--Proceedings in Parliament on Grants of Crown
Lands--Montague accused of Peculation--Bill of Pains and Penalties
against Duncombe--Dissension between the houses--Commercial
Questions--Irish Manufactures--East India Companies--Fire at
Whitehall--Visit of the Czar--Portland's Embassy to France--The Spanish
Succession--The Count of Tallard's Embassy--Newmarket Meeting: the
insecure State of the Roads--Further Negotiations relating to the
Spanish Succession--The King goes to Holland--Portland returns from his
Embassy--William is reconciled to Marlborough

THE rejoicings, by which London, on the second of December 1697,
celebrated the return of peace and prosperity, continued till long after
midnight. On the following morning the Parliament met; and one of the
most laborious sessions of that age commenced.

Among the questions which it was necessary that the Houses should
speedily decide, one stood forth preeminent in interest and importance.
Even in the first transports of joy with which the bearer of the treaty
of Ryswick had been welcomed to England, men had eagerly and anxiously
asked one another what was to be done with that army which had
been formed in Ireland and Belgium, which had learned, in many
hard campaigns, to obey and to conquer, and which now consisted of
eighty-seven thousand excellent soldiers. Was any part of this great
force to be retained in the service of the State? And, if any part, what
part? The last two kings had, without the consent of the legislature,
maintained military establishments in time of peace. But that they
had done this in violation of the fundamental laws of England was
acknowledged by all jurists, and had been expressly affirmed in the Bill
of Rights. It was therefore impossible for William, now that the country
was threatened by no foreign and no domestic enemy, to keep up even a
single battalion without the sanction of the Estates of the Realm; and
it might well be doubted whether such a sanction would be given.

It is not easy for us to see this question in the light in which it
appeared to our ancestors.

No man of sense has, in our days, or in the days of our fathers,
seriously maintained that our island could be safe without an army.
And, even if our island were perfectly secure from attack, an army would
still be indispensably necessary to us. The growth of the empire has
left us no choice. The regions which we have colonized or conquered
since the accession of the House of Hanover contain a population
exceeding twenty-fold that which the House of Stuart governed. There are
now more English soldiers on the other side of the tropic of Cancer in
time of peace than Cromwell had under his command in time of war. All
the troops of Charles II. would not have been sufficient to garrison the
posts which we now occupy in the Mediterranean Sea alone. The regiments
which defend the remote dependencies of the Crown cannot be duly
recruited and relieved, unless a force far larger than that which James
collected in the camp at Hounslow for the purpose of overawing his
capital be constantly kept up within the kingdom. The old national
antipathy to permanent military establishments, an antipathy which was
once reasonable and salutary, but which lasted some time after it
had become unreasonable and noxious, has gradually yielded to the
irresistible force of circumstances. We have made the discovery, that
an army may be so constituted as to be in the highest degree efficient
against an enemy, and yet obsequious to the civil magistrate. We have
long ceased to apprehend danger to law and to freedom from the license
of troops, and from the ambition of victorious generals. An alarmist who
should now talk such language, as was common five generations ago, who
should call for the entire disbanding of the land force; of the realm,
and who should gravely predict that the warriors of Inkerman and Delhi
would depose the Queen, dissolve the Parliament, and plunder the Bank,
would be regarded as fit only for a cell in Saint Luke's. But before the
Revolution our ancestors had known a standing army only as an instrument
of lawless power. Judging by their own experience, they thought it
impossible that such an army should exist without danger to the rights
both of the Crown and of the people. One class of politicians was never
weary of repeating that an Apostolic Church, a loyal gentry, an ancient
nobility, a sainted King, had been foully outraged by the Joyces and the
Prides; another class recounted the atrocities committed by the Lambs of
Kirke, and by the Beelzebubs and Lucifers of Dundee; and both classes,
agreeing in scarcely any thing else, were disposed to agree in aversion
to the red coats.

While such was the feeling of the nation, the King was, both as a
statesman and as a general, most unwilling to see that superb body
of troops which he had formed with infinite difficulty broken up and
dispersed. But, as to this matter, he could not absolutely rely on the
support of his ministers; nor could his ministers absolutely rely on the
support of that parliamentary majority whose attachment had enabled them
to confront enemies abroad and to crush traitors at home, to restore
a debased currency, and to fix public credit on deep and solid

The difficulties of the King's situation are to be, in part at least,
attributed to an error which he had committed in the preceding spring.
The Gazette which announced that Sunderland been appointed Chamberlain
of the Royal Household, sworn of the Privy Council, and named one of the
Lords Justices who were to administer the government during the summer
had caused great uneasiness among plain men who remembered all the
windings and doublings of his long career. In truth, his countrymen
were unjust to him. For they thought him, not only an unprincipled and
faithless politician, which he was, but a deadly enemy of the liberties
of the nation, which he was not. What he wanted was simply to be safe,
rich and great. To these objects he had been constant through all the
vicissitudes of his life. For these objects he had passed from Church
to Church and from faction to faction, had joined the most turbulent
of oppositions without any zeal for freedom, and had served the most
arbitrary of monarchs without any zeal for monarchy; had voted for
the Exclusion Bill without being a Protestant, and had adored the Host
without being a Papist; had sold his country at once to both the great
parties which divided the Continent; had taken money from France, and
had sent intelligence to Holland.

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