Paris: ‘I shall only add that no minister of the king's hath had, that I hear of, such a reception’ (ib. 344 a). This roused, we are told, still further the liveliest jealousy of James, who caused it to be so clearly made known to Louis how great were his dislike and suspicion of Burnet, that the French monarch thought it best to offer his excuses (ib. 394 a). Burnet returned at personal risk, and against the warnings of his friends, declaring himself conscious of no crime. His movements were carefully watched, and upon his return at the end of October he was dismissed by the royal mandate from the St. Clement's lectureship, and in December 1684 was also deprived of his chaplaincy at the Rolls; this was the result of a vehement sermon against popery on 5 Nov. He preached for two hours amid great applause from the text, ‘Save me from the lion's mouth; thou hast heard me from the horn of the unicorn;’ it well illustrates the feverish state of people's minds that this choice of a text—the lion and the unicorn being the royal arms—was represented as pointing to the disaffection of the preacher (Macaulay). Burnet appears, from all the notices of his sermons, to have been a singularly effective preacher (see especially for this, Evelyn's Diary for 15 Nov. 1674, 28 May 1682, 9 March 1690, 6 Jan. 1692, and 25 March 1700).
During the last seven years his pen had been active. In 1682 he published his ‘Life of Matthew Hale,’ the ‘History of the Rights of Princes in the Disposing of Ecclesiastical Benefices and Church Lands,’ as well as an answer to the ‘Animadversions’ upon this work. In 1683 he wrote several tracts against popery, and translated the ‘Utopia,’ and the letter of the last general assembly of the clergy of France to the protestants.
Upon the accession of James, Burnet, having no employment, and being refused admittance at court, obtained leave to go abroad. Avoiding Holland, on account of the number of exiles living there, and the consequent danger of being compromised by association with them, he went, upon promise of protection to Paris. There he lived in close intercourse with Lord Montague, in a house of his own, until August 1685, when Monmouth's rebellion and the consequent troubles were over. He then, in company with a French protestant officer, Stouppe, made a journey into Italy. At Rome he was treated with distinction by Innocent XI and by Cardinals Howard and D'Estrées. He soon, however, received a hint to leave, and returned through the south of France and Switzerland. In France he was a witness of the outburst of cruelty which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantes. It is significant of the tone of Burnet's mind that while at Geneva he successfully employed his influence to induce the Genevan church to release their clergy from compulsory subscription to the consensus; that he stayed in close communion with Lutherans at Strasburg and Frankfort, and with Calvinists at Heidelberg. He published in 1687 an able account of his travels, in a series of letters to Robert Boyle, directed naturally in the first place to the exposure, as he says, of popery and tyranny. He now, in order to be nearer England, came to Utrecht, where he found an invitation from the Prince and Princess of Orange to reside at the Hague. He was at once taken into the confidence of the prince, who was glad of an agent so trusted by his friends in England, and still more into that of the princess. Burnet urged William to have his fleet in readiness, but not to move until the cause was sufficiently important to justify him in all eyes. He was still more useful in preparing Mary to yield, on her own motion, and gracefully, what he knew William would insist upon, an engagement that if their plans were successful she would place all power in his hands. Burnet declares solemnly that no one had moved him to do this, but he no doubt knew that it would be a service eminently valued by William. It was now that Burnet met William Penn the quaker, of whom he gives so unfavourable a character. Penn had come to try to secure the prince's consent to the abolition of the Test Acts, and endeavoured to convert Burnet to his views. The two men were perhaps too similar in their unquestioning self-confidence and controversial eagerness to like one another.
The favour in which Burnet lived at the Hague aroused James's jealousy. He twice remonstrated with William, and when D'Albeville came over to treat with the prince, Burnet's dismissal was made a preliminary. William thought it better to comply, and, though consulting him constantly, and employing him to draw up the instructions for Dyckvelt, who was going on a mission to James, never again actually saw him until a few days before setting sail for England. So high had James's displeasure risen that, hearing that Burnet was about to make a rich marriage in Holland, he set on foot against him a prosecution for high treason in Scotland, on the ground of former correspondence with Argyll. Warned of this, Burnet wrote to Middleton on 20 May 1687, saying that he hoped James would not compel him to defend himself, as he should in that case be obliged to mention details which might cause