The House of Commons is made up of persons chosen—whenever there is a general election—by the men who have a certain amount of property in each county and large town. There must be a fresh election, or choosing again every seven years; also, whenever the sovereign dies; and the sovereign can dissolve the Parliament—that is, break it up— and have a fresh election whenever it is thought right. But above the House of Commons stands the House of Lords, or Peers. These are not chosen, but the eldest son, or next heir of each lord, succeeds to his seat upon his death; and fresh peerages are given as rewards to great generals, great lawyers, or people who have deserved well of their country. When a law has to be made, it has first to be agreed to by a majority—that is, the larger number—of the Commons, then by a majority of the Lords, and lastly, by the king or queen. The sovereign’s council are called the ministers, and if the Houses of Parliament do not approve of their way of carrying on the government they vote against their proposals, and this generally makes them resign, that others may be chosen in their place who may please the country better.
This arrangement has gone on ever since William and Mary came in. However, James II. still had many friends, only they had been out of reach at the first alarm. The Latin word for James is Jacobus, and, therefore, they were called Jacobites. All Roman Catholics were, of course, Jacobites; and there were other persons who, though grieved at the king’s conduct, did not think it right to rise against him and drive him away; and, having taken an oath to obey him, held that it would be wrong to swear obedience to anyone else while he was alive. Archbishop Sancroft was one of these. He thought it wrong in the new queen, Mary, to consent to take her father’s place; and when she sent to ask his blessing, he told her to ask her father’s first, as, without that, his own would do her little good. Neither he nor Bishop Ken, nor some other bishops, nor a good many more of the clergy, would take the oaths to William, or put his name instead of that of James in the prayers at church. They rather chose to be turned out of their bishoprics and parishes, and to live in poverty. They were called the non-jurors, or not-swearers.
Louis, King of France, tried to send James back, and gave him the service of his fleet; but it was beaten by Admiral Russell, off Cape La Hogue. Poor James could not help crying out, “See my brave English sailors!” One of Charles’s old officers, Lord Dundee, raised an army of Scots in James’s favor, but he was killed just as he had won the battle of Killicrankie; and there was no one to take up the cause just then, and the Scotch Whigs were glad of the change.