Through the long agony of Londonderry, through the proscription and bloodshed of the new Irish rule, William was forced to look helplessly on. The best troops in the army which had been mustered at Hounslow had been sent with Marlborough to the Sambre; and the political embarrassments which grew up around the Government made it impossible to spare a man of those who remained. The great ends of the Revolution were indeed secured, even amidst the confusion and intrigue which we shall have to describe, by the common consent of all. On the great questions of civil liberty Whig and Tory were now at one. The Declaration of Rights was turned into the Bill of Rights by the Convention which had now become a Parliament, and the passing of this measure in 1689 restored to the monarchy the character which it had lost under the Tudors and the Stuarts. The right of the people through its representatives to depose the King, to change the order of succession, and to set on the throne whom they would, was now established.
All claim of Divine Right, or hereditary right independent of the law, was formally put an end to by the election of William and Mary. Since their day no English sovereign has been able to advance any claim to the crown save a claim which rested on a particular clause in a particular Act of Parliament. William, Mary, and Anne were sovereigns simply by virtue of the Bill of Rights, George the First and his successors have been sovereigns solely by virtue of the Act of Settlement. An English monarch is now as much the creature of an Act of Parliament as the pettiest tax-gatherer in his realm. Nor was the older character of the kingship alone restored. The older constitution returned with it. Bitter experience had taught England the need of restoring to the Parliament its absolute power over taxation. The grant of revenue for life to the last two kings had been the secret of their anti-national policy, and the first act of the new legislature was to restrict the grant of the royal revenue to a term of four years.
William was bitterly galled by the provision. "The gentlemen of England trusted King James," he said, "who was an enemy of their religion and their laws, and they will not trust me, by whom their religion and their laws have been preserved." But the only change brought about in the Parliament by this burst of royal anger was a resolve henceforth to make the vote of supplies an annual one, a resoles which, in spite of the slight changes introduced by the next Tory Parliament, soon became an invariable rule. A change of almost as great importance established the control of Parliament over the army. The hatred to a standing army which had begun under Cromwell had only deepened under James; but with the continental war the existence of an army was a necessity. As yet, however, it was a force which had no legal existence. The soldier was simply an ordinary subject; there were no legal means of punishing strictly military offences or of providing for military discipline: and the assumed power of billeting soldiers in private houses had been taken away by the law.
The difficulty both of Parliament and the army-was met by the Mutiny Act. The powers requisite for discipline in the army were conferred by Parliament on its officers, and provision was made for the pay of the force, but both pay and disciplinary powers were granted only for a single year. The Mutiny Act, like the grant of supplies, has remained annual ever since the Revolution; and as it is impossible for the State to exist without supplies, or for the army to exist without discipline and pay, the annual assembly of Parliament has become a matter of absolute necessity. The greatest constitutional change which our history has witnessed was thus brought about in an indirect but perfectly efficient way. The dangers which experience had lately shown lay in the Parliament itself were met with far less skill. Under Charles, England had seen a Parliament, which had been returned in a moment of reaction, maintained without fresh election for eighteen years. A Triennial Bill, which limited the duration of a Parliament to three, was passed with little opposition, but fell before the dislike and veto of William. To counteract the influence which a king might obtain by crowding the Commons with officials proved a yet harder task.
A Place Bill, which excluded all persons in the employment of the State from 2 seat in Parliament, was defeated, and wisely defeated, in the Lords. The modern course of providing against a pressure from the Court or the administration by excluding all minor officials, but of preserving the hold of Parliament over the great officers of State by admitting them into its body, seems as yet to have occurred to nobody. It is equally strange that while vindicating its right of Parliamentary control over the public revenue and the army, the Bill of Rights should have left by its silence the control of trade to the Crown. It was only a few years later, in the discussions on the charter granted to the East India Company, that the Houses silently claimed and obtained the right of regulating English commerce.
The religious results of the Revolution were hardly less weighty than the political. In the common struggle against Catholicism Churchman and Nonconformist had found themselves, as we have seen, strangely at one; and schemes of Comprehension became suddenly popular. But with the fall of James the union of the two bodies abruptly ceased: and the establishment of a Presbyterian Church in Scotland, together with the "rabbling" of the Episcopalian clergy in its western shires, revived the old bitterness of the clergy towards the dissidents. The Convocation rejected the scheme of the Latitudinarians for such modifications of the Prayer-book as would render possible a return of the Nonconformists, and a Comprehension Bill which was introduced into Parliament failed to pass in spite of the King's strenuous support. William's attempt to partially admit Dissenters to civil equality by a repeal of the Corporation Act proved equally fruitless; but the passing of a Toleration Act in 1689 practically established freedom of worship. Whatever the religious effect of the failure of the Latitudinarian schemes may have been, its political effect has been of the highest value.