Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/103

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


force; but to Papists no indulgence was shown. The royal prerogative of clemency was limited. The King might indeed, if such were his pleasure, spare the lives of his vanquished enemies; but he was not to be permitted to save any part of their estates from the general doom. He was not to have it in his power to grant a capitulation which should secure to Irish Roman Catholics the enjoyment of their hereditary lands. Nay, he was not to be allowed to keep faith with persons whom he had already received to mercy, who had kissed his hand, and had heard from his lips the promise of protection. An attempt was made to insert a proviso in favour of Lord Dover. Dover, who, with all his faults, was not without some English feelings, had, by defending the interests of his native country at Dublin, made himself odious to both the Irish and the French. After the battle of the Boyne his situation was deplorable. Neither at Limerick nor at Saint Germains could he hope to be welcomed. In his despair, he threw himself at William's feet, promised to live peaceably, and was graciously assured that he had nothing to fear. Though the royal word seemed to be pledged to this unfortunate man, the Commons resolved, by a hundred and nineteen votes to a hundred and twelve, that his property should not be exempted from the general confiscation.

The bill went up to the Peers, but the Peers were not inclined to pass it without considerable amendments; and such amendments there was not time to make. Numerous heirs at law, reversioners, and creditors implored the Upper House to introduce such provisoes as might secure the innocent against all danger of being involved in the punishment of the guilty. Some petitioners asked to be heard by counsel. The King had made all his arrangements for a voyage to the Hague; and the day beyond which he could not postpone his departure drew near. The bill was therefore, happily for the honour of English legislation, consigned to that dark repository in which the abortive statutes of many generations sleep a sleep rarely disturbed by the historian or the antiquary.[1]

  1. Burnet, ii. 67. See the Journals of both Houses, particularly the Commons' Journals of the 19th of December and the Lords' Journals of the 30th of December and the 1st of January. The bill itself will be found in the archives of the House of Lords.