But whatever the discontent of Tories and Non-jurors against William might be, all signs of it vanished with the landing of the French. The burning of Teignmouth by Tourville's sailors called the whole coast to arms; and the news of the Boyne put an end to all dreams of a rising in favour of James. The natural reaction against a cause which looked for foreign aid gave a new strength for the moment to William in England; but ill luck still hung around the Grand Alliance. So urgent was the need for his presence abroad that William left, as we have seen, his work in Ireland undone, and crossed in the spring of 1691 to Flanders. It was the first time since the days of Henry the Eighth that an English king had appeared on the Continent at the head of an English army. But the slowness of the allies again baffled William's hopes. He was forced to look on with a small army while a hundred thousand Frenchmen closed suddenly around Mons, the strongest fortress of the Netherlands, and made themselves masters of it in the presence of Lewis. The humiliation was great, and for the moment all trust in William's fortune faded away. In England the blow was felt more heavily than elsewhere. The Jacobite hopes which had been crushed by the indignation at Tourville's descent woke up to a fresh life.
Leading Tories, such as Lord Clarendon and Lord Dartmouth, opened communications with James; and some of the leading Whigs, with the Earl of Shrewsbury at their head, angered at what they regarded as William's ingratitude, followed them in their course. In Lord Marlborough's mind the state of affairs raised hopes of a double treason. His design was to bring about a revolt which would drive William from the throne without replacing James, and give the crown to his daughter Anne, whose affection for Marlborough's wife would place the real government of England in his hands. A yet greater danger lay in the treason of Admiral Russell, who had succeeded Torrington in command of the fleet. Russell's defection would have removed the one obstacle to a new attempt which James was resolved to make for the recovery of his throne, and which Lewis had been brought to support. In the beginning of 1692 an army of thirty thousand troops was quartered in Normandy in readiness for a descent on the English coast.
Transports were provided for their pa-sage, and Tourville was ordered to cover it with the French fleet at Brest. Though Russell had twice as many ships as his. opponent, the belief in his purpose of betraying William's cause was so strong that Lewis ordered Tourville to engage the allied fleets at any disadvantage. But whatever Russell's intrigues may have meant, he was no Herbert. "Do not think I will let the French triumph over us in our own seas," he warned his Jacobite' correspondents. "If I meet them I will fight them, even though King James were on board." When the allied fleets met the French off the heights of Barfleur his fierce attack proved Russell true to his word. Tourville's fifty vessels were no match for the ninety ships of the allies, and after five hours of a brave struggle the French were forced to fly along the rocky coast of the Cotentin. Twenty-two of their vessels reached St. Malo; thirteen anchored with Tourville in the bays of Cherbourg and La Hogue; but their pursuers were soon upon them, and in a bold attack the English boats burnt ship after ship under the eyes of the French army.
All dread of the invasion was at once at an end; and the throne of William was secured by the detection and suppression of the Jacobite conspiracy at home which the invasion was intended to support. But the overthrow of the Jacobite hopes was the least result of the victory of La Hogue. France ceased from that moment to exist as a great naval power; for though her fleet was soon recruited to its former strength, the confidence of her sailors was lost, and not even Tourville ventured again to tempt in battle the fortune of the seas. A new hope, too, dawned on the Grand Alliance. The spell of French triumph was broken. Namur indeed surrendered to Lewis, and the Duke of Luxembourg maintained the glory of the French arms by a victory over William at Steinkirk. But the battle was a useless butchery in which the conquerors lost as many men as the conquered. France felt herself disheartened and exhausted by the vastness of her efforts. The public misery was extreme. "The country," Fdnelon wrote frankly to Lewis, "is a vast hospital." In 1693 the campaign of Lewis in the Netherlands proved a fruitless one, and Luxembourg was hardly able to beat off the fierce attack of William at Neerwinden. For the first time in his long career of prosperity Lewis bent his pride to seek peace at the sacrifice of his conquests, and though the effort was vain it told that the daring hopes of French ambition were at an end, and that the work of the Grand Alliance was practically done.
In outer seeming, the Revolution of 1688 had only transferred the sovereignty over England from James to William and Mary. In actual fact it had given a powerful and decisive impulse to the great constitutional progress which was transferring the sovereignty from the King to the House of Commons. From the moment when its sole right to tax the nation was established by the Bill of Rights, and when its own resolve settled the practice of granting none but annual supplies to the Crown, the House of Commons became the supreme power in the State. It was impossible permanently to suspend its sittings, or in the long run to oppose its will, when either course must end in leaving the Government penniless, in breaking up the army and navy, and in suspending the public service. But though the constitutional change was complete, the machinery of government was far from having adapted itself to the new conditions of political life which such a change brought about. However powerful the will of the House of Commons might be, it had no means of bringing its will directly to bear upon the conduct of public affairs.