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The time of which Macaulay is writing is June 1690. James was then holding his Court in Dublin; William was on his way to Carrickfergus; Tourbeville was cruising in the Channel; a French descent upon our coasts was hourly expected. But how could Avaux tell his master anything about the state of public feeling? Avaux was at home in France. He had sailed from Cork in the preceding spring. Avaux's letter shows the proper date of his intelligence; he is speaking of the months of May and June 1689; a very different time to June 1690.
The place from which Avaux forwards news of importance (from May and June 1689) is Scotland-not England, as Macaulay says. In May and June 1689, England was calm, and London busy in preparing for the coronation. Scotland was in arms for her ancient line. Dundee was calling for troops, and Avaux trying to persuade his master to adventure in the strife. We see that Avaux, when he comes to business, puts the Scotch affairs in front. “The good effect, sire, which these letters from Scotland and England have produced,' &c. Louis, in replying, treats the news from England as of no importance, while he answers very carefully as to the Scotch affair.
I give the French king's answer to Avaux :
Versailles, June 29, 1689. “Quant aux relations qu'on a envoyé d'Escosse, qui font voir que le party qui s'est declaré pour le Roy pourroit faire des progrez considerables s'i estoit puissamment secouru, ou seulement apuye de la presence du Roy, c'est a ce Prince à voir s'ill est en estat de l'assister, et d'envoyer dans ledit pays quelque partie des troupes qu'il a en Irlande; et si le secours de mille ou douze cens hommes que vous mandez par vostre lettre du 5, qu'il avoit resolu de faire passer en Escosse, y est heureusement arrivé, malgré tous les empeschemens que le Prince d'Orange et les rebelles y peuvent former, on pouroit esperer d'un semblable succez d'un second passage. Il ne peut pas faire une diversion plus salutaire à l'Irlande que l'occupation que les troupes et le party qu'il aura en Encosse pourra donner a ses ennemis. Pour ce qui regarde sa personne, comme il pourroit arriver telle rivolution en sa faveur dans ledit royaume que contre mon opinionsa seule presence seroit capable de reduire entièrement la ville d'Edimbourg a son obeissance, faire casser tout ce que la convention des rebelles a fait contre l'autorité dudit Roy, et restablir tellement ses affaires dans tout l'Escosse qu'elle donneroit de nouvelles forces à tous les Anglois qui sont mecontens du Prince d'Orange; il faut luy laisser prendre dans ces evenemens extraordinaires les risolutions qu'il croira luy estre les plus avantageuses, en sorte qu'il ne puisse pas se plaindre qu'on luy ait fait manquer l'occasion de rentrer dan ses estats; mais la principale application qu'il doit avoir à present est de pourvoir á sa deffense et á la seureté de ce qu'il possede en Irlande, à quoy il faut esperer qu'il pourra reussir, si toutes les troupes qu'il à sur pied font bien leur devoir.'
The person from whom Macaulay says that Avaux got his first news was William Penn; but Avaux nowhere says so. He only mentions M. Pen. Who was Avaux’s ‘M. Pen?' There is no evidence to show that he was William Penn, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he was not. That there were other ‘M. Pens' about the court we know. There was George Penne, the pardon-broker. There was Neville Penn, a secret agent of the exiled court. This Neville Penn (whose name is spelt by different persons Pen, Penn Pain, and Payne) was then in England on a secret mission, and the only fair construction of the words of Avaux is, that the news sent from
England by ‘M. Pen’ were from the King's paid agent, Neville Penn. This Neville Penn was a zealous Catholic a man of talent, and a Jacobite by feeling, even more than by his dubious trade. That he was hated in the English Court we know too well. A few months after Avaux sent his news to Louis, Neville Penn, on flying from England into Scotland, fell into the power of the new gov. ernment, where he was screwed and torn; a first time by command of Mary, and a second time by command of William; till the oldest and least scrupulous politician left the council-table and the torture-chamber in disgust. (Leven and Mellville Papers, p. 582.) But let this ‘M. Pen' be whom he may, it is clear that a letter from him in the early part of 1689 cannot have been written by William Penn in connexion with events in June 1690.
VIII. Penn is accused of falsehood :
‘Penn was brought before the Privy Council. He said ... This was a falsehood; and William was probably aware that it was so.'-Hist. Eng. iii. 600.
No such interview as Macaulay pictures could have taken place. The dates forbid us to believe it. Macaulay fixes his imaginary interview immediately before the King's departure for Ireland. Now, the King left London on the 4th of June, 1690 (Evelyn's Diary, iii. 294). The proclamation for Penn's arrest was not issued until King William had been gone twenty days (Privy Council Reg. June 24, 1690); and Penn was still at large on the 31st of July (Penn to Nottingham, July 31). On the 15th of August Penn was discharged from custody (Privy Council Reg. Aug. 15, 1690). William arrived at Kensington, September 10 (Gazette, Sept. 1690). It is therefore physically impossible that the interview described by Macaulay could have taken place, and therefore physically impossible that Penn could have told the King a falsehood, which William probably knew to be a falsehood.
IX. Penn is described as flying from arrest, stealing down to the Sussex coast, and escaping into France—an enemy's country :
‘A warrant was issued against Penn and he narrowly escaped the messenger. .... Penn was conspicuous among those who committed the corpse (of Fox] to the earth. .... He instantly took flight. .... He lay hid in London during some months, and then stole down to the coast of Sussex, and made his escape to France.'-Hist. Eng. iv. 23, 30, 31.
This paragraph is one mass of error, as the dates alone suffice to prove. Fox was buried at Bunhill Fields on the 16th of January, 1691 (Journal of Fox, p. 366). The order for Penn's arrest was not given until three weeks later (Privy Council Reg. Feb. 5, 1691). Penn neither stole down to Sussex nor escaped into France. He lived in London, and occasionally at Worminghurst. Croese writes :
'Penn withdrew himself more and more from business, and at length he confined himself to his new house in London’. (Hist. Quak. ii. 102.)
Luttrel, indeed, heard in a London coffee-house a report that Penn had escaped to France, but the report was false. On turning to Penn's Works, the reader will find abundant fruit of the leisure now enjoyed by Penn in his own house. (Penn's Collected Works, i. 818 892; i. 774-807). This • escape to France' has disappeared from Macaulay's revised index (Hist. Eng. v. 327).
X. Penn told Sydney something “very like a lie,' and supported that lie by something ‘very like an oath':
*A short time after his disappearance, Sydney received from him a strange communication. Penn begged for an interview, but insisted on a promise that he should be suffered to return unmolested to his hiding-place. Sydney obtained the royal permission to make an appointment on these terms. Penn came to the rendezvous, and spoke at length in his own defence. He declared that he was a faithful subject of King William and Queen Mary, and that if he knew of any design against them he would discover it. Departing from his Yea and Nay he protested, as in the presence of God, that he knew of no plot, and that he did not believe that there was any plot. unless the ambitious projects of the French government might be called plots. Sydney, amazed probably by hearing a person who had such an abhorrence of lies that he would not use the common forms of civility and such an abhorrence of oaths that he would not kiss the book in a court of justice, tell something very like a lie, and confirm it by something very like an oath, asked how if there were really no plot, the letters and minutes which had been found on Ashton were to be explained. This question Penn evaded.'-Hist. Eng. iv. 30, 31.
As Macaulay cites Sydney's letter to William for his version of this strange interview, I give Sydney's letter to the King in full :
*Feb. 21, 1691. “Sir.-About ten days ago Mr. Penn sent his brother-in-law, Mr. Lowther, to me, to let me know that he would be very glad to see me if I