Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/440

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had sometimes, when his host was confined by gout to an easy chair, been attended by the secretary about the grounds. His Majesty had condescended to teach his companion the Dutch way of cutting and eating asparagus, and had graciously asked whether Mr. Swift would like to have a captain's commission in a cavalry regiment. But now for the first time the young man was to stand in the royal presence as a counsellor. He was admitted into the closet, delivered a letter from Temple, and explained and enforced the arguments which that letter contained, concisely, but doubtless with clearness and ability. There was, he said, no reason to think that short Parliaments would be more disposed than long Parliaments to encroach on the just prerogatives of the Crown. In fact the Parliament which had, in the preceding generation, waged war against a king, led him captive, sent him to the prison, to the bar, to the scaffold, was known in our annals as emphatically the Long Parliament. Never would such disasters have befallen the monarchy but for the fatal law which secured that assembly from dissolution.[409] There was, it must be owned, a flaw in this reasoning which a man less shrewd than William might easily detect. That one restriction of the royal prerogative had been mischievous did not prove that another restriction would be salutary. It by no means followed because one sovereign had been ruined by being unable to get rid of a hostile Parliament that another sovereign might not be ruined by being forced to part with a friendly Parliament. To the great mortification of the ambassador, his arguments failed to shake the King's resolution. On the fourteenth of March the Commons were summoned to the Upper House; the title of the Triennial Bill was read; and it was announced, after the ancient form, that the King and Queen would take the matter into their consideration. The Parliament was then prorogued.

Soon after the prorogation William set out for the Continent. It was necessary that, before his departure, he should make some important changes. He was resolved not to discard Nottingham, on whose integrity, a virtue rare among English