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Reign of Charles II. (Continued) page 14


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On the news reaching London, Charles despatched the duke of Monmouth, with a large body of the royal guards, to quell the rebellion. On the 21st of June, as the covenanters lay near theĽ town of Hamilton, they received the intelligence that Monmouth, with his forces joined to those of Claverhouse, was approaching. The insurgents had soon taken to quarrelling amongst themselves, and the more moderate section were now for submitting on favourable terms. Rathillet and the more determined would not hear of any surrender, but marched off and left the waverers, who sent a memorial to Monmouth, declaring that they were ready to leave all their complaints to a free parliament, and free assembly of the church. The duke, who showed much mildness throughout this campaign, replied that he felt greatly for their sufferings, but that they must lay down their arms, and then he would intercede for them with the king. On the receipt of this answer the greatest confusion prevailed; the moderate dare not risk a surrender on such terms, remembering the little mercy they had hitherto received from the government; the more violent, with a fatal want of prudence, now insisting on cashiering their officers who had shown what they called a leaning towards Erastianism, or, in other words, a disposition to submit to the civil power.

Whilst they were in this divided and unprepared state, Monmouth's army appeared in sight. The covenanters, therefore, compelled to fight or fly, seized on the bridge of Bothwell, which crossed the Clyde betwixt the village of Bothwell and the town of Hamilton. It was narrow, and crossed in the centre by a gateway. Here Rathillet, Balfour, and others posted themselves with about three hundred men to defend this pass. But the army of Monmouth, on the slope of the hill descending from Bothwell to the Clyde, commanded the opposite hill on which the covenanters were posted with his artillery, and under its fire a strong body of troops advanced to force the bridge. Balfour and Rathillet defended their post bravely, but the gate was at length forced, and they were pushed back at the point of the bayonet. They found themselves unsupported by the main body, which, on the artillery playing murderously upon them, had retreated to Hamilton Heath, about a quarter of a mile distant. There they rallied, and repulsed one or two charges, and broke a body of Highlanders; but undisciplined, disunited, and without artillery to cope with that of Monmouth, they were only exposed to slaughter. They turned and fled. Monmouth commanded a halt, to spare the fugitives.

"'Haud up your hand,' then Monmouth said,
'Gie quarter to these men for me.'
But bloody Claver'se swore an oath,
His kinsman's death avenged should be;"

and he is said to have pursued and cut them down to the number of four hundred men, besides taking twelve hundred prisoners. Some of the ministers and leaders were executed, the more obstinate were sent as slaves to the plantations, many of them being lost at sea, and the rest were liberated on giving bonds for conformity. The efforts of Monmouth procured an indemnity and indulgence, which might, after this severe chastisement, have produced the most salutary effect; but we shall see that this was speedily superseded by the old, faithless, and cruel regime of Lauderdale, and the still more brutal rule of the duke of York.

During this time the popish plot, with fresh actors and fresh ramifications, was agitated by the anti-papal party with unabated zeal. On the 24th of April a protestant barrister, Nathaniel Reading, was tried for tampering with the evidence against catholic noblemen in prison, in order to reduce the charge from treason to felony. It appeared that Bedloe had engaged him to do it, and then informed against him. There appeared on the trial many damning circumstances against the character and veracity of Bedloe, yet Reading was condemned to pay a fine of one thousand pounds, and to suffer a year's imprisonment.

Bedloe, Oates, and Prance were again, however, brought forward in June against Whitbread and Fenwick, who had been illegally remanded to prison on their former trial, and three other Jesuits - Harcourt, Gavan, and Turner were now also examined, and a new witness, one Dugdale, a discarded steward of lord Aston's, was introduced. Oates had little to add to his former story, but Bedloe and Prance were prolific in new charges. It was in vain that the prisoners pointed out their gross prevarications and palpable falsehoods. They were all condemned, as well as Langhorne, a celebrated catholic barrister. The infamous Jeffreys, now recorder of London, sentenced them, amid the loud acclamations of the spectators, and they were all executed, after being offered a pardon on condition of confessing the plot, and disclosing what they knew. Langhorne was promised his life if he would reveal the property of the Jesuits, and on its proving only of the value of twenty thousand pounds or thirty thousand pounds, he was told it was too insignificant to save his life. A second time his life was offered him if he would reveal the plot, but he replied he knew of no plot, and all were executed with the usual horrors. Next came up for trial Sir George Wakeman, the queen's physician, and Corker, Rumby, and Marshall, Benedictine monks; but the diabolical perjury of Oates this time received such an exposure, that the prisoners were all acquitted. Philip Lloyd, the clerk of the council, deposed that when Oates had been questioned by the lord chancellor whether he knew anything personally of Sir George Wakeman, he had solemnly sworn that he did not, yet this morning he had charged him with different acts of treason committed in his own presence.

Notwithstanding this rebuff to the despicable informer, the three monks were recommitted on a fresh charge, and in every quarter of the kingdom similar persecutions were carried on, numbers were thrown into prison, and eight other catholics were executed in different places.

The duke of York was every day becoming more uneasy in his residence at Brussels. Knowing the intrigues of Shaftesbury and his party to advance the claims of Monmouth, he repeatedly solicited the king to let him return, and Charles falling ill in August, at Windsor, consented, and James made his appearance at court, much to the consternation of Monmouth and his supporters. The king recovering, to put an end to the intrigues and feuds betwixt the two dukes, Charles sent Monmouth to Brussels instead of James, and ordered James to retire to Scotland. Being, as usual, pressed for money, Charles again importuned Louis for one million livres for three years; but Louis replied that he did- not see at this period what services England could render him for that expense: and James advised him to manage without the money, by adopting a system of rigid economy. In August he prorogued parliament for a year, and endeavoured to carry on without the French king's pension. On seeing this, Louis, through Barillon, renewed his offers, but Charles felt too proud to accept them, and then the French king once more turned to the patriots, so-called, to instigate fresh annoyances. Barillon paid to Buckingham one thousand guineas, two thousand five hundred guineas were distributed amongst Baber, Littleton, Harbord, and Powle, Montague received fifty thousand livres in part payment of his reward for overthrowing Danby. The consequences were now seen. On the 17th of November, the anniversary of the accession of queen Elizabeth, an anti-popish procession was organised by Shaftesbury and that party, though carried on under the auspices of the green-ribbon club. The bellman went first, ringing his bell, and exclaiming at intervals, "Remember Mr. Justice Godfrey!" Then came a man in the habit of a Jesuit, supporting before him on horseback an effigy of the murdered magistrate, followed by a long train of men and women, habited as monks, nuns, priests, and catholic bishops in capes and mitres, and protestant bishops in lawn sleeves, six cardinals with their caps, and lastly the pope, on a litter with his arch-prompter, the devil, by his side. This procession, commencing in Moorgate, traversed the street at night with flambeaus, amid a hundred thousand spectators, who were frantic with cries of vengeance against papists and popery. At Temple Bar, in front of the clubhouse, they burnt the whole array of popish effigies, amid fireworks and rending shouts. This exhibition of fury against the catholics was reported all over Europe with astonishment and awe; but on the other hand it roused Charles to dismiss Shaftesbury from the presidency of the council, and to order James to return to England, and assume his proper place at court. Russell, Capel, Cavendish, and Powle, seeing their party reduced to impotence in the council, resigned, and Essex threw up the treasury, and was succeeded by Hyde, the second son of Clarendon. Sir William Temple also retired again to his rural retreat, and Sidney Godolphin became a leading man in the council. Both Hyde and Godolphin were men of much talent, but decided tories. The character of Lawrence Hyde has been sketched by Macaulay in a few words. He was a cavalier of the old school, a zealous champion of the crown and of the church, and a hater of republicans and nonconformists. He had, consequently, a great body of personal adherents. The clergy, especially, looked on him as their own man, and extended to his foibles an indulgence of which, to say the truth, he stood in some need, for he drank deep, and when he was in a rage - and he was very often in a rage - he swore like a trooper. "Godolphin," says the same authority, "had low and frivolous personal tastes, and was much addicted to racing, card-playing, and cock-fighting."

Betwixt these new ministers and the opposition the contest grew more vehement. Shaftesbury persuaded Monmouth to return, and there was much rejoicing got up for him in public. The king was extremely angry, and ordered him to retire, but Monmouth paid no attention to the paternal command; and there was much talk of a certain black box, in which the proofs of the marriage of Monmouth's mother, Lucy Walters or Barlow, were contained. Charles summoned all the persons alleged to know of this box and its contents, and questioned them, when there clearly appeared to be no such box or such evidence; and these facts were published in the " Gazette." Still the duke was extremely popular with the people, and occupied a prominent place in the public eye. He was duke of Monmouth in England, of Buccleuch in Scotland, master of the horse, commander of the first troop of life guards, chief justice in Eyre south of Trent, a knight of the garter, and chancellor of the University of Cambridge; and the opposition did all they could to enhance his importance^ The war of whig and tory, now the established terms, was fierce. The whigs were also called Birminghamers, Petitioners, and Exclusionists; the tories, Anti-Birminghamers, Abhorrers, and Tantivies; and at this time came up the two phrases of Mob and Sham.

Of course the popish plot continued to play its part, its puppets being moved, and its victims selected by the great political oppositionists. Fresh vermin crept out of their hiding places of infamy to serve as tools in their hands. Amongst these a young man named Dangerfield played just now a conspicuous part. He was a handsome fellow, deep to the lips in dissipation and guilt. He had been no less than sixteen times convicted of different crimes, and had been repeatedly fined, imprisoned, whipped, set in the pillory, burnt in the hand, and outlawed. This infamous wretch managed to attract the attention of a Mrs. Cellier, a catholic midwife of repute, who collected contributions for the prisoners of her faith in Newgate. Dangerfield was a debtor there, and he assured her that if she would raise money for his discharge, he would possess himself of the papers of a man named Stroud, said to have been suborned by Shaftesbury, against the lords in the Tower. She effected his liberation, and he was employed by her husband to collect debts. He very soon pretended that in visiting different coffee-houses in the course of his business, he had discovered a most dangerous conspiracy, this time not a popish, but a Protestant conspiracy. Mrs. Cellier introduced him to lady Powis, and she to lord Peterborough, who took him to the duke of York. To him he stated that the principal presbyterians, during the king's illness, had planned to raise a large army to seize on the crown, and thus prevent a popish successor. James gave him twenty guineas, and led him to the king, who gave him forty more guineas, and ordered secretary Coventry to trace out the plot. What gave plausibility to Dangerfield's story, was, that he was in possession of two letters written by Bulstrode, the secretary to Shaftesbury. In consequence of his information, the lodgings of colonel Mansel were searched, and a bundle of treasonable papers were found concealed behind his bed. Mansel declared that the informer must have put them there himself, and on examination they proved to be such a clumsy forgery, that the council committed Dangerfield to Newgate. There the rascal pretended great distress of mind, and declared that this plot was undoubtedly a sham plot, but that he had been employed in it by Mrs. Cellier and lady Powis to cover a real one. That lord Arundel had offered him two thousand pounds to assassinate the king, but that he refused, and then lord Powis offered him five hundred pounds to kill the earl of Shaftesbury. That this was fact, and that the real plot was popish, would be proved by a discovery he would now make, that the original notes of the sham plot were hidden in a meal-tub in Mrs. Cellier's house. The papers were found there, and the plot became known as the meal-tub plot.

On such miserable and disgraceful evidence lady Powis was committed to the Tower, and Mrs. Cellier to Newgate, but in turning thus against his benefactor, the miscreant had met with his match. Mrs. Cellier, on the trial, so completely exhibited the vile and worthless character of the viper that she had cherished, that the jury refused to believe him, and acquitted her. There was a charge of high treason against lord Castlemaine on the evidence of the same precious witness, whom the spirited Mrs. Cellier aptly styled, "the matchless rogue," which was also dismissed. Shaftesbury, Sir William Waller, and Dangerfield had visited Cellier whilst in prison, and tempted her to turn informer, but she indignantly refused, and when afterwards attacked by Dangerfield in print, she stoutly and successfully replied to him.

But fresh plots kept streaming up from the same inexhaustible source. A fellow of the name of Bolron, who had been the manager of Sir Thomas Gascoign's colleries in Yorkshire, and dismissed for embezzlement, assisted by Mowbray, a servant dismissed for suspicion of theft, charged Sir Thomas, who was eighty-five years of age, his daughter, lady Tempest, Thomas Gascoign, the son, Mr. Thwinge, the nephew, Sir Miles Stapleton, and others, with a conspiracy to assassinate the king. As the county magistrates would not listen to such a charge, these men hastened to the great receiver-general, as well as inventor of plots, Shaftesbury, and they were arrested and tried in Westminster on the 28th and 29th of July, but were acquitted, with the exception of Mr. Thwinge, who, if the others were innocent, certainly could not be guilty; yet he was executed at York as a traitor.

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