It was sent from London on the day after the acquittal of the Bishops. The general excitement, the shouts of the boats which covered the river, the bonfires in every street, showed indeed that the country was on the eve of revolt. The army itself, on which James had implicitly relied, suddenly showed its sympathy with the people. James was at Hounslow when the news of the verdict reached him, and as he rode from the camp he heard a great shout behind him. " What is that?" he asked. "It is nothing," was the reply, "only the soldiers are glad that the Bishops are acquitted! " "Do you call that nothing?" grumbled the King. The shout told him that he stood utterly alone in his realm. The peerage, the gentry, the Bishops, the clergy, the Universities, every lawyer, every trader, every farmer, stood aloof from him. And now his very soldiers forsook him. The most devoted Catholics pressed him to give way. But to give way was to change the whole nature of his government. All show of legal rule had disappeared. Sheriffs, mayors, magistrates, appointed by the Crown in defiance of a parliamentary statute, were no real officers in the eye of the law.
Even if the Houses were summoned, members returned by officers such as these could form no legal Parliament. Hardly a Minister of the Crown or a Privy Councillor exercised any lawful authority. James had brought things to such a pass that the restoration of legal government memt the absolute reversal of every act he had done. But he was in no mood to reverse his acts. His temper was only spurred to a more dogged obstinacy by danger and remonstrance. He broke,up the camp at Hounslow and dispersed its troops in distant cantonments. He dismissed the two judges who had favoured the acquittal of the Bishops. He ordered the chancellor of each diocese to report the names of the clergy who had not read the Declaration of Indulgence. But his will broke fruitlessly against the sullen resistance which met him on every side. Not a chancellor made a return to the Commissioners, and the Commissioners were cowed into inaction by the temper of the nation. When the judges who had displayed their servility to the Crown went on circuit the gentry refused to meet them.
A yet fiercer irritation was kindled by the King's resolve to supply the place of the English troops, whose temper proved unserviceable for his purposes, by draughts from the Catholic army which Tyrcon-nell had raised in Ireland. Even the Roman Catholic peers at the Council table protested against this measure; and six officers in a single regiment laid down their commissions rather than enroll the Irish recruits among their men. The ballad of "Lillibullero," a scurrilous attack on the Irish recruits, was sung from one end of England to the other.
An outbreak of revolt was in fact inevitable. William was straining all his resources to gather a fleet and sufficient forces, while noble after noble made their way to the Hague. The Earl of Shrewsbury brought £2,000 towards the expenses of the expedition. Edward Russell, the representative of the Whig Earl of Bedford, was followed by the representatives of great Tory houses, by the sons of the Marquis of Winchester, of Lord Danby, of Lord Peterborough, and by the High Church Lord Macclesfield. At home the Earls of Danby and Devonshire prepared silently with Lord Lumley for a rising in the North. In spite of the profound secrecy with which all was conducted, the keen instinct of Sunderland, who had stooped to purchase continuance in office at the price of a secret apostasy to Catholicism, detected the preparations of William; and the sense that his master's ruin was at hand encouraged him to tell every secret of James on the promise of a pardon for the crimes to which he had lent himself. James alone remained stubborn and insensate as of old. He had no fear of a revolt unaided by the Prince of Orange, and he believed that the threat of a French attack on Holland would render William's departure impossible.
But in September the long-delayed war began, and by the greatest political error of his reign Lewis threw his forces not on Holland, but on Germany. The Dutch at once felt themselves secure; the States-General gave their sanction to William's project, and the armament he had prepared gathered rapidly in the Scheldt. The news no sooner reached England than the King passed from obstinacy to panic. By draughts from Scotland and Ireland he had mustered forty thousand men, but the temper of the troops robbed him of all trust in them. Help from France was now out of the question.
He could only fall back on the older policy of a union with the Tory party and the party of the Church. He personally appealed for support to the Bishops. He dissolved the Ecclesiastical Commission. He replaced the magistrates he had driven from office. He restored their franchises to the towns. The Chancellor carried back the Charter of London in state into the City. The Bishop of Winchester was sent to replace the expelled Fellows of Magdalen. Catholic chapels and Jesuit schools were ordered to be closed. Sunderland pressed for the instant calling of a Parliament, but to James the counsel seemed treachery, and he dismissed Sunderland from office. In answer to a declaration from the Prince of Orange, which left the question of the legitimacy of the Prince of Wales to Parliament, he pro luced before the peers who were in London proofs of the birth of his child. But concessions and proofs came too late. Detained by ill winds, beaten back on its first venture by a violent storm, William's fleet of six hundred transports, escorted by fifty men-of-war, anchored on the fifth of November in Torbay; and his army, thirteen thousand men strong, entered Exeter amidst the shouts of its citizens. His coming had not been looked for in the West, and for a week no great landowner joined him.
But nobles and squires soon flocked to his camp, and the adhesion of Plymouth secured his rear. Insurrection broke out in Scotland. Danby, dashing at the head of a hundred horsemen into York, gave the signal for a rising. The militia met his appeal with shouts of "A free Parliament and the Protestant religion!" Peers and gentry flocked to his standard; and a march on Nottingham united his forces to those under Devonshire, who had mustered at Derby the great lords of the midland and eastern counties. Everywhere the revolt was triumphant. The garrison of Hull declared for a free Parliament. The Duke of Norfolk appeared at the head of three hundred gentlemen in the market-place at Norwich. At Oxford townsmen and gownsmen greeted Lord Lovelace with uproarious welcome. Bristol threw open its gates to the Prince of Orange, who advanced steadily on Salisbury, where James had mustered his forces. But the King's army, broken by dissensions and mutual suspicions among its leaders, fell back in disorder; and the desertion of Lord Churchill was followed by that of so many other officers that James abandoned the struggle in despair.