« ZurückWeiter »
reverend prisoners passed, the populace fell upon their knees; and some even ran into the water, craving their blessing, calling upon Heaven to protect them, and encouraging them to suffer nobly in the cause of religion. The bishops were not wanting, by their submissive and humble behaviour, to raise the pity of the spectators; and they still exhorted them to fear God, honour the king, and maintain their loyalty. The very soldiers by whom they were guarded kneeled down before them, and implored their forgiveness. Upon landing, the bishops immediately went to the Tower chapel to render thanks for those afflictions which they suffered in the cause of truth. The twenty-ninth day of June was fixed for their trial; and their return was still more splendidly attended than their imprisonment. Twenty-nine peers, a great number of gentlemen, and an immense crowd of people waited upon them to Westminster-hall. The cause was looked upon as involving the fate of the nation; and future freedom, or future slavery, awaited the decision. The dispute was learnedly managed by the lawyers on both sides. Holloway and Powel, two of the judges, declared themselves in favour of the bishops. The jury withdrew into a chamber, where they passed the night. The next morning, they returned into court, and pronounced the bishops “not guilty.” Westminster hall instantly rang with loud acclamations, which were communicated to the whole extent of the city. They even reached the camp at Hounslow, where the king was at dinner in lord Feversham's tent. His majesty demanding the cause of these rejoicings, and being informed that it was nothing but the soldiers shouting at the delivery of the bishops; “ Call you that nothing?” cried he; “but so much the worse for
them.” If the bishops testified the readiness of martyrs in
support of their religion, James showed no less ardour in his attempts toward the establishment of his own. Grown odious to every class of his subjects, he still resolved to persist; for it was a part of his character, that those measures he once embraced he always persevered in pursuing. He dismissed the judges Powel and Holloway, who had favoured the bishops. He issued orders to prosecute all those clergymen who had not read his declaration; and all had refused it, except two hundred. He sent a mandate to the new fellows, whom he had obtruded on Magdalen college, to elect for president, in the room of Parker, lately deceased, one Gifford, a doctor of the Sorbonne, and titular bishop of Madura. As he found the clergy every where averse to the harshness of his proceedings, he was willing to try next what he could do with the army. He thought, if one regiment should promise implicit obedience, their example would soon induce others to comply. He therefore ordered one of the regiments to be drawn up in his presence, and desired that such as were against his late declaration of liberty of conscience should lay down their arms. He was surprised to see the whole battalion ground their arms, except two officers, and a few Roman-catholic soldiers. Opposition only served to inflame the zeal of this infatuated monarch. He was continually stimulated by the queen, and the priests about him, to go forward without receding. A fortunate circumstance happened in his family. A few days before the acquittal of the bishops, the queen was brought to bed of a son, who was baptized by the name of James. This would, if any thing could at any time, have served to establish him on the throne; but so great was the animosity against him, that a story was propagated that the child was supposititious, and brought to the queen's apartment in a warming-pan. Such was this monarch's pride, that he scorned to take any precautions to refute the calumny. Indeed all his measures were marked with the characters of pride, cruelty, bigotry, and weakness. In these he was chiefly supported by Father Petre, his confessor, an ambitious, ignorant, and intriguing priest, whom some scruple not to call a concealed creature belonging to the prince of Orange. By that prince’s secret directions, it is asserted, though upon no very good authority, that James was hurried on, under the guidance of Petre, from one precipice to another, until he was obliged to give up the reins of that government which he went near to overthrow.
WILLIAM, prince of Orange, had married Mary, the eldest daughter of king James. This princess had been bred a protestant; and as she was presumptive heir of the crown, the people tamely bore the encroachments of the king, in hopes that his protestant successor would rectify those measures he had taken towards the establishment of popery, and the extension of the prerogative of the crown. For this reason the prince gave the king not only advice, but assistance in all emergencies, and had actually supplied him with six thousand troops upon Monmouth's invasion. But now, when a young prince was born, that entirely excluded his hopes by succession, he lent more attention to the complaints of the nation, and began to foment those discontents which before he had endeavoured to suppress. William was a prince who had, from his earliest entrance into business, been immersed in dangers, calamities, and politics. The ambition of France, and the jealousies of Holland, had served to sharpen his talents, and to give him a propensity to intrigue. This great politician and soldier concealed beneath a phlegmatic appearance, a most violent and boundless ambition; all his actions were leveled at power, while his discourse never betrayed the wishes of his heart. His temper was cold and severe; his genius active and piercing; he was valiant without ostentation, and politic without address. Disdaining the elegance and pleasures of life, yet eager after the phantom of pre-eminence, through his whole life he was indefatigable; and, though an unsuccessful general in the field, he was a formidable negotiator in the cabinet. By his intrigues, he saved his own country from ruin, he restored the liberties of England, and preserved the independence of Europe. Thus, though. neither his abilities nor his virtues were of the highest. kind, there are few persons in history whose actions and conduct have contributed more eminently to the general interests of society and mankind. This politic prince now plainly saw that James had incurred the most violent hatred of his subjects. He was minutely informed of their discontents; and, by seeming to discourage, still farther increased them. He therefore began by giving Dyckvelt, his envoy, instruc-. tions to apply in his name to every sect and denomina-tion in the kingdom. To the church-party he sent assurances of favour and regard; and protested that his education in Holland had no way prejudiced him against episcopacy. To the non-conformists he sent exhortations not to be deceived by the insidious caresses of WOL. II. 2 C
their sworn enemy, but to wait for a real and sincere protector. Dyckvelt executed his commission with such dexterity, that all orders of men cast their eyes towards Holland, and expected thence a deliverance from those dangers with which they were threatened at home. The prince soon found that every rank was ripe for defection, and received invitations from some of the most considerable persons in the kingdom. Admiral Herbert, and admiral Russel, assured him in person of their own and the national attachment. Henry Sidney, brother to Algernon, and uncle to the earl of Sunderland, went over to him with assurances of an universal combination against the king. Lord Dumblaine, son of the earl of Danby, being master of a frigate, made several voyages to Holland, and carried from many of the nobility tenders of duty, and even considerable sums of money, to the prince of Orange. Soon after, the bishop of London, the earls of Danby, Nottingham, Devonshire, Dorset, and several other lords, gentlemen, and principal citizens, united in their addresses to him, and entreated his speedy descent. The people of England, though long divided between Whig and Tory, were unanimous in their measures against the king. The Whigs hated him upon principles of liberty, the Tories upon principles of religion. The former had ever shown themselves tenacious of their political rights; the latter were equally obstinate. in defence of their religious tenets. James had invaded both ; so that for a time all factions were laid asleep, except the general one of driving the tyrant from the throne, which upon every account he was so ill qualified to fill. William determined to accept the invitation of the kingdom; and still more readily embarked in the cause, as he saw that the malcontents had conducted their measures with prudence and secrecy.