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Reign of James II. (Continued) page 5


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On Friday, the 15th of June, the first day of term, the bishops were brought from the Tower to the King's Bench, and, pleading not guilty, they were admitted to bail till the 29th of June. During this fortnight the public excitement continued to augment, and from every quarter of the kingdom - even from the presbyterians of Scotland, who had shown themselves such determined opponents of prelacy, and had been such sufferers from it. - came messages of sympathy and encouragement to the bishops. On that day immense crowds assembled to receive their blessings and to utter others on their way to Westminster Hall; and this homage was the warmer because the prelates had resisted the demand of Sir Edward Hales, the lieutenant of the Tower, for his fees, this renegade having shown them little courtesy, and who now plainly let them know that, if they came again into his hands, they should lie on the bare stones.

Every means had been taken to pack a jury. Sir Samuel Astrey, the clerk of the crown, had been summoned to the palace, and been instructed by James and his great legal adviser, Jeffreys. The judges, too, were of the most base and complying character. They were such as had been raised from the very lowest ranks of the bar for their servile fitness, and because the more eminent lawyers would not stoop to such ignominy. They were Wright, Allibone, a papist; Holloway, and Powell; the attorney-general, Sir Thomas Powis, van inferior lawyer; the solicitor-general, Sir William Williams, a man of ability and vigour, but rash, imperious, and unpopular. Ranged against these were the most brilliant lawyers of the time - Sawyer, and Finch, formerly attorney and solicitor-general; Pemberton, formerly chief justice; Mayoard, Sir George Treby, who had been recorder of London, and others. The foreman of the jury was Sir Roger Langley. The very men who came forward to defend this cause showed that the undisguised public opinion made them daring. On the other side the judges, and even the blustering Jeffreys, betrayed a sense of terror.

The trial commenced at nine in the morning, and not till seven in the evening did the jury retire to consider their verdict. The lawyers for the prisoners raised great difficulties as to proving the handwriting of the libel, and next in proving its being published in Westminster. The crown lawyers were obliged to bring into court Blathwayt, a clerk of the privy council, for this object; and then the counsel for the prisoners stopped him, and compelled him to state what had passed there betwixt the bishops and the king - much to the chagrin of the government party. Before the publication could be proved, even Sunderland was obliged to be brought into court in a sedan. He was pale, trembled violently from fright and shame of his late apostacy, and gave his evidence with his eyes fixed on the ground. But even then, when the judges came to consider the bishops' petition, they were divided in opinion. Wright and Allibone declared it a libel, and contended for the royal right of the dispensing power; but Holloway conceded that the petition appeared to him perfectly allowable from subjects to their sovereign; and Powell set himself right with the public and wrong with the court - a significant sign - by boldly declaring both the dispensing power and the declaration of indulgence contrary to law.

With such sentiments developing themselves on the bench, there could be little doubt what the verdict would be; yet the jury sate all night, from seven o'clock till six the next morning, before they were fully agreed, there being, however, only three dissentients at first. When the court met at ten o'clock, the crowd, both within and without, was crushing and immense; and when the foreman pronounced the words "Not guilty," Halifax was the first to start up and wave his hat; and such a shout was sent up as was heard as far as Temple Bar. The news flew far and wide; the shouting and rejoicing broke out in every quarter of the town. The whole population, nobility, clergy, people, all seemed gone mad. There were more than sixty lords who had stood out the trial, and now threw money amongst the throngs as they drove away. The people formed a line down to the water's edge, and knelt as the bishops passed through, asking their blessing. The attorney-general, Williams, was pursued in his coach with curses and groans; and Cartwright, the bishop of Chester, and James's tool of the High Commission, being descried, was hooted at as "That wolf in sheep's clothing!" and, as he was a very fat man, one cried, "Room for the man with the pope in his belly!"

The whole city was in an intoxication of delight. Bonfires were lit, guns fired, the bells rang all night, and the pope in effigy was burnt in several places - one before the door of Whitehall itself; another was kindled before the door of the earl of Salisbury, who had lately gone over to popery; and his servants, in their ill-timed zeal, rushing out to extinguish it, were attacked, and, firing on the people, killed the parish beadle, who was come to attempt what they themselves were attempting - to put out the fire. That mörning James had gone to review his troops on Hounslow Heath. He received the news of the acquittal by a special messenger while in lord Feversham's tent. He was greatly enraged, and set out at once for London. Before, however, he was clear of the camp the news had flown amongst the soldiers, and a 'tremendous cheering startled him. "What noise is that?" demanded James. "Oh!" said the general, "it is nothing but the soldiers shouting because the bishops are acquitted." "And call you that nothing?" asked James; and added angrily, "but so much the worse for them."

This was an awakener, if anything could have aroused that dense and obstinate mind from its unconsciousness of the coming destruction. The paroxysm of exultation over his defeat spread through the whole nation, and through every class and rank. The old enemies and most hostile of parties shook hands and made common cause over the defeat of popery. Even old Sancroft, who had persecuted the nonconformists rigorously by the High Commission, and abused them with his pen, now felt softened towards them; and he enjoined the bishops and clergy to regard them as brethren, and remember their kindness in the day of their own trouble, The very day which pronounced the acquittal of the bishops saw signed and dispatched an invitation from the leading whigs to William of Orange to come over and drive the tyrant from the throne. The whigs had long been contemplating and preparing for this end; they now saw that the crisis was come. The brutal and besotted king had effectually alienated all hearts from him. From him nothing but destruction of every liberty and sentiment that Englishmen held dear was to be expected; and in the heir which was now, as was generally believed, foisted on the nation by the king and the Jesuits; there Was only the pledge of the reign of popery and proscription, and of the extermination of all those high hopes and privileges which were entwined with protestant freedom. The whig leaders had sent repeatedly to William to stimulate him to the enterprise; but, independent of his habitual caution and the salutary fear that Monmouth's reception had inspired, the prince of Orange had many difficulties to contend with from the peculiar constitution of the Dutch republic, and the peculiar views and interests of his allies. Though at the head of the Dutch confederation, he had always experienced much opposition from individual states and cities, especially Amsterdam, which his great enemy, Louis of France, managed to influence. This enterprise called him to expel from his throne a catholic kingv and replace his government by a protestant one, though the pope and Spain, the most catholic of countries, were his close allies, and must not be offended. He had, therefore, stipulated that he should receive such an invitation under the hands and seals of the whig leaders as should leave little doubt of his reception, and that he should be regarded as the saviour from an intolerable ruler, and not forced to attempt a conquest which must in its very success bring ruin by wounding the national pride of England.

He now received a paper, signed by the earls of Shrewsbury, Devonshire, Danby, lord Lumley, bishop Compton, Edward Russell, the admiral of England, and Henry Sidney, the brother of the late Algernon Sidney, and afterwards earl of Romney. This paper, which had been furnished at William's request, was but the result of negotiations betwixt himself and the whig leaders for some time. He now called into council with the English envoy his two great confidential friends, Bentinck and Dykvelt, and it was resolved that the time for action was come, and that the invitation should be accepted. Meantime, whilst William began in earnest, but as secretly as circumstances would allow, his preparations, James at home did everything which a foolish and obstinate ruler could do to complete the alienation of the affections of his subjects. He returned from his camp to his capital only to find it in all the transports of delight over his own defeat, and resounding on all sides with the explosions of guns and crackers, drinking of the health of the bishops in the streets, and the effigy of the pope blazing before his own gate. So far from making him pause at the contemplation of the avowed and universal spirit of his people, he was only the more exasperated, and continued muttering "So much the worse for them." He determined to take summary vengeance on the whole body of the clergy, on the lawyers who had opposed or deserted him, on the army, and on the people. Tie burst forth at once into an Ishmael, whose hand was against every one, only soon to find every man's hand against him. He was a modern Pharaoh, whose heart was now hardened to the pitch of defying heaven and earth, and rushing on destruction open-eyed. He at once promoted Mr. solicitor-general Williams, for his unscrupulous conduct on the trial of the bishops, to a baronetcy, and would have placed so convenient a man on the bench could he have spared him at the bar. He dismissed Powell and Holloway; he determined to visit with his vengeance all the clergy throughout the kingdom who had refused to read the declaration; and an order was issued to all the chancellors of the dioceses and the archdeacons to make a return of them. No matter that they approached ten thousand in number; if necessary, he would drive them all from their benefices. The judges on the circuits were ordered to denounce these refractory clergy, and to speak in the most derogatory terms of the bishops. He broke up his camp, the soldiers of which had been intended to overawe the capital, and stand by whilst he destroyed the national constitution and the national religion; but had now terrified and disgusted him by drinking the healths of the liberated bishops.

But all his angry attempts only recoiled on himself, and showed more clearly than ever that the reins of power were irrecoverably slipping from his fingers. The spell of royalty, a people's respect, was utterly broken. The chancellors and archdeacons paid no attention to the order for reporting their independent brethren; the High Commission met, and, so far from finding any returns, received a letter from one of the most truckling of their own body, Sprat, bishop of Rochester, resigning his place in the High Commission. If such a man saw the handwriting on the wall, the warning, they felt, must be imminent, and they departed in confusion. The judges, on their part, found themselves deserted on their circuits; nobody but the sheriff and his javelin men came to meet them, and then went through their duties amid every sign of indifference to their dignity. They were treated, not as the high-minded judges of England, but as the base and venal tools of a most lawless and mischievous monarch. The soldiers were as bold in their separate quarters as they had been in camp. James thought he could deal with them separately, and tried the experiment by ordering a regiment of infantry which had been raised in the catholic district of Staffordshire, to sign an engagement to support him in dispersing all the rest, or to quit the army. Almost to a man they piled their arms, and the confounded king was obliged to withdraw the order.. But James had a remedy even for the defection of the army. In Ireland the brutal and debauched Tyrconnel had been busily engaged in drilling Irish Celts, and preparing an army so strongly catholic that he might by this means carry out the royal design of repealing the act of settlement, and driving the protestant colonists from their lands. These troops James sent for, regiment after regiment, and the people of England saw with equal indignation and alarm that their liberties, their religion, their laws were to be trodden down, and the kingdom reduced to a miserable abode of slaves by the wild tribes of the sister island, vengeful with centuries of unrequited oppressions. This put the climax to the national resentment, and still more pressing messages were sent over to William to hasten his approach, still more numerous leaders of party contemplated a speedy transit to his standard. It was at this juncture that the wild genius of Wharton gave vent to the pent- up feelings of protestant wrath, by the adaptation of the old Irish tune of "Lillibullero" to English words.

William, meantime, was making strenuous preparations for his enterprise. He formed a camp at Nimeguen, collecting troops and artillery from the different fortresses. Twenty-four additional ships of war were fitted out for service, and arms and accoutrements were in busy preparation in every manufactory in Holland. He had saved up unusual funds for him, and had money also pouring in from England and from the refugee Huguenots, who hoped much from his enterprise in favour of protestantism. It was impossible that all this preparation could escape the attention of other nations, and especially of the quick-sighted Louis XIV. of France. But William had a ready answer - that he wanted an extra squadron to go in pursuit of a number of Algerine corsairs which had made their appearance off the Dutch coasts. The military preparations were not so easily explained; but though Louis was satisfied that they were intended against England, James, blind to his danger, as strongly suspected that they were meant to operate against France. The only enemies which William had to really dread were Louis and the council of Amsterdam, which Louis had so long influenced to hostility to William, and without whose consent no expedition could be permitted. But the ambition and the persecuting bigotry of Louis removed this only difficulty out of William's ways in a manner which looked like the actual work of Providence. The two points on which Amsterdam was preeminently sensitive were trade and protestantism. Louis contrived to incense them on both these heads. His unrelenting persecution of the Huguenots, including also Dutch protestants who had settled in France, raised an intense feeling in Amsterdam, stimulated by the outcries and representations of their relatives there. To all representations for tolerance and mercy Louis was utterly deaf; and whilst this feeling was at its height, he imposed a heavy duty on the importation of herrings from Holland into France. Sixty thousand persons in Holland depended on this trade, and the effect was, therefore, disastrous. In vain did the French envoy, Avaux, represent these things; Louis continued haughty and inexorable.

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Pictures for Reign of James II. (Continued) page 5

The Earl of Shrewsbury
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Prince of Orange
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The seven bishops
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William of orange entering Exeter
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Queen of James II
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The flight of the Queen of James II
The flight of the Queen of James II >>>>
Attack on James II
Attack on James II >>>>
The Princess Anne
The Princess Anne >>>>
William of Orange
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