of the fleet. But both in 1689 and in 1692 he had held the language of an implacable tyrant; and it was now too late to affect tenderness of heart and reverence for the constitution of the realm. The contrast between the new Declaration and the preceding Declaration excited, not without reason, general suspicion and contempt. What confidence could be placed in the word of a Prince so unstable, of a Prince who veered from extreme to extreme? In 1692 nothing would satisfy him but the heads and quarters of hundreds of poor ploughmen and boatmen who had, several years before, taken some rustic liberties with him at which his grandfather Henry the Fourth would have had a hearty laugh. In 1693 the foulest and most ungrateful treasons were to be covered with oblivion. Caermarthen expressed the general sentiment. "I do not," he said, "understand all this. Last April I was to be hanged. This April I am to have a free pardon. I cannot imagine what I have done during the past year to deserve such goodness." The general opinion was that a snare was hidden under this unwonted clemency, this unwonted respect for law. The Declaration, it was said, was excellent; and so was the Coronation oath. Every body knew how King James had observed his Coronation oath; and every body might guess how he would observe his Declaration. While grave men reasoned thus, the Whig jesters were not sparing of their pasquinades. Some of the Noncompounders, meantime, uttered indignant murmurs. The King was in bad hands, in the hands of men who hated monarchy. His mercy was cruelty of the worst sort. The general pardon which he had granted to his enemies was in truth a general proscription of his friends. Hitherto the judges appointed by the usurper had been under a restraint, imperfect indeed, yet not absolutely nugatory. They had known that a day of reckoning might come, and had therefore in general dealt tenderly with the persecuted adherents of the rightful King. That restraint His Majesty had now taken away. He had told Holt and Treby that, till he should land in England, they might hang royalists without the smallest fear of being called to account.
Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/461
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