William of Orange and Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXIII

The Protestants professed to be afraid of being massacred by the Catholics; the Catholics apprehended a massacre from the Protestants. Catholics were now admitted to the army, to the bar, and to the senate. Protestants declared this an infringement of their rights, and forgot how recently they had expelled their Catholic fellow-subjects, not merely from honours and emoluments, but even from their altars and their homes.

An event now occurred which brought affairs to a crisis. The King's second wife, Mary of Modena, gave him an heir, and the heir appeared likely to live (A.D. 1688). William of Orange, who had long flattered himself that he should one day wear the crown of England, saw that no time should be lost if he intended to secure the prize, and commenced his preparations with all the ability and with all the duplicity for which his career has been admired by one party, and denounced by the other, according as political and religious opinions viewed the deceit under the strong light of the ability, or the ability under the glare of the deceit. The Protestant party could not but see all that was to be apprehended if a Catholic heir should succeed to the throne, and they sacrificed their loyalty to their interests, if not to their principles.

William arrived in England on the 5th of November, 1688. He professed to have come for the purpose of investigating the rumours which had been so industriously circulated respecting the birth of the heir who had barred his pretensions, and to induce the King to join the league which had been just formed against France; but he took care to come provided with an armament, which gave the lie to his diplomatic pretensions; and as soon as he had been joined by English troops, of whose disaffection he was well aware, his real motive was no longer concealed. James fled to France, whither he had already sent his Queen and heir. Still there was a large party in England who had not yet declared openly for the usurper; and had not James entirely alienated the affection of his subjects by his tyrannical treatment of the Protestant bishops, his conduct towards the University of Oxford, and the permission, if not the sanction, which he gave to Jeffreys in his bloody career, there can be little doubt that William should have fought for the crown on English ground as he did on Irish.