Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the next event of the reign, the suppression of the rebellions of Monmouth and Argyle, Miss Strictland omits all particulars of the proceedings of Kirk and Jeffries in the western counties. We are again compelled to supply the omission. “The army was kept for some time in the western counties, where both officers and soldiers lived as in an enemy's country, and treated all that were believed to be ill affected to the king with great rudeness and violence.

“ Kirk, who had commanded long in Tangier, was become so savage by the neighbourhood of the Moors there, that, some days after the battle, he ordered several of the prisoners to be hanged up at Taunton, without so much as the form of law, he and his company looking on from an entertainment they were at. At every new health another prisoner was hanged up. And they were so brutal, that observing the shaking of the legs of those whom they hanged, it was said among them, they were dancing ; and, upon that, music was called for. This was both so illegal, and so inhuman, that it might have been expected that some notice would have been taken of it: but Kirk was only chid for it. And it was said, that he had a particular order for some military executions: so that he could only be chid for the manner of it.

“But, as if this had been nothing, Jefferies was sent the western circuit to try the prisoners. His behaviour was beyond any thing that was ever heard of in a civilized nation. He was perpetually either drunk, or in a rage, liker a fury than the zeal of a judge. He required the prisoners to plead guilty; and, in that case, he gave them some hope of favour, if they gave him no trouble ; otherwise, he told them, he would execute the letter of the law upon them, in its utmost severity. This made many plead guilty, who had a great defence in law. But he shewed no mercy. He ordered a great many to be hanged up immediately, without allowing them a minute's time to say their prayers. He hanged, in several places, about six hundred persons. The greatest part of these were of the meanest sort, and of no distinction. The impieties with which he treated them, and his behaviour towards some of the nobility and gentry that were well affected, but came and pleaded in favour of some prisoners, would have amazed one, if done by a bashaw in Turkey. England had never known any thing like it. The instances are too many to be reckoned up.

“ But that which brought all his excesses to be imputed to the King himself, and to the orders given by him, was that the King had a particular account of all his proceedings writ to him every day. And he took pleasure to relate them in the drawing-room to foreign ministers, and at his table, calling it Jefferies's campaign : speaking of all he had done in a style, that neither became the majesty, nor the mercifulness of a great prince. Dykeveld was a that time in England, one of the ambassadors whom the States had sent over to congratulate the king's coming to the crown. He told me, that the king talked so often of these things in his hearing, that he wondered to see him break out into those indecencio. And upon Jefferies coming back, he was created a baron, and pče? of England : a dignity which, though anciently some judges were raised to it, yet in these later ages, as there was no example of is, so it was thought inconsistent with the character of a judge.

“ Two executions were of such an extraordinary nature, that they deserve a more particular recital. The king apprehended that many of the prisoners had got into London, and were concealed there. So he said, those who concealed them were the worst sort of traitors, who endeavoured to preserve such persons to a better time. He had likewise a great mind to find out, among the rich merchants, some who might afford great compositions to save their lives : for though there was much blood shed, there was little booty got to reward those who had served. Upon this the king declared, he would sooner pardon the rebels, than those ybo harboured them.

“ There was in London one Gaunt, a woman that was an Anabaptist, who spent a great part of her life in acts of charity, visiting the jails, and looking after the poor of what persuasion soever they were. One of the rebels found her out : and she harbpared him in her house, and was looking for an occasion of sending bim out of the kingdom. He went about in the night, and came to hear what the king had said. So he, by an unheard-of baseness, went and delivered himself, and accused her that harboured him. She was seized on, and tried. There was no witness to prove that she knew that the person she harboured was a rebel, but he himself: her maid witnessed only, that he was entertained at her house. But, though the crime was her harbouring a traitor, and was proved only by this infamous witness, yet the judge charged the jury to bring her in guilty, pretending that the maid was second witness, though she knew nothing of that which was the criminal part. She was condemned, and burnt, as the law directa in the case of women convict of treason. She died with a con; stancy, even to a cheerfulness, that struck all that saw it. She sale charity was a part of her religion, as well as faith: this at word was the feeding an enemy; so she hoped, she had her reward Find him, for whose sake she did this service, how unworthy soever person was, that made so ill a return for it: she rejoiced, that Gou had honoured her to be the first that suffered by fire in this reign, and that her suffering was a martyrdom for that religion which

was all love. Penn, the quaker, told me he saw her die. She laid the straw about her for burning her speedily; and behaved herself in such a manner, that all the spectators melted in tears.

“ The other execution was of a woman of greater quality : the Lady Lisle. Her husband had been a regicide, and was one of Cromwell's lords, and was called the Lord Lisle. He went at the time of the Restoration beyond sea, and lived at Lausanne. But three desperate Irishmen, hoping by such a service to make their fortunes, went thither, and killed him as he was going to church; and being well mounted, and ill pursued, got into France. His lady was known to be much affected with the king's death, and not easily reconciled to her husband for the share he had in it. She was a woman of great piety and charity. The night after the action, Hicks, a violent preacher among the dissenters, and Nelthorp, came to her house. She knew Hicks, and treated him civilly, not asking from whence they came. But Hicks told what brought them thither; for they had been with the Duke of Monmouth. Upon which she went out of the room immediately, and ordered her chief servant to send an information concerning them to the next justice of peace, and in the mean while to suffer them to make their escape. But, before this could be done, a party came about the house, and took both them and her for harbouring them. Jefferies resolved to make a sacrifice of her; and obtained of the king a promise that he would not pardon her : which the king owned to the Earl of Feversham, when he, upon the offer of £1000 if he could obtain her pardon, went and begged it. So she was brought to her trial. No legal proof was brought, that she knew that they were rebels : the names of the persons found in her house were in no proclamation : so there was no notice given to beware of them. Jefferies affirmed to the jury upon his honour, that the persons had confessed that they had been with the Duke of Monmouth. This was the turning a witness against her, after which he ought not to have judged in the matter. And, though it was insisted on, as a point of law, that, till the persons found in her house were convicted, she could not be found guilty, yet Jefferies charged the jury in a most violent manner to bring her in guilty. All the audience was strangely affected with so unusual a behaviour in a judge. Only the person most concerned, the lady herself, who was then past seventy, was so little moved at it that she fell asleep. The jury brought her in not guilty. But the judge in great fury sent them out again. Yet they brought her in a second time not guilty. Then he seemed as in a transport of rage, and upon that threatened them with an attaint of jury. So they, overcome with fear, brought her in, the third time, guilty.

1846.

The king would shew no other favour, but that he changed the sentence from burning to beheading. She died with great constancy of mind; and expressed a joy, that she thus suffered for an act of charity and piety.” 1

Of the former portions of these atrocities Miss Strickland's only mention is a lame and impotent attempt to exonerate James from the knowledge and participation of them, by dwelling and enlarzing upon the one or two cases in which con consideration of large sums of money) he was induced to pardon the followers of Monmouth; and by a quotation from his journal, written in France long after his abdication, in which he expresses regret at the atrocities of these monsters in human shape; and naturally enough: for he had then discovered that the proceedings of Jefferies were the immediate cause of his loss of three kingdoms, and that Kirke had turned traitor to him and joined the Prince of Orange! Fæ the pitiless and cruel murders of Gaunt and Lady Lisle, Miss Strickland has no sympathies to spare. Their names, or a single allusion to their hard cases, will be sought for in vain in her pages

Miss Strickland's history of the years 1686 to 1688, is entirely occupied with pomps and processions, grand reviews at Hounslon, stag-hunts, unexpected royal visits, the splendours of the court a the new Roman Catholic chapel, the erection of statues, James pilgrimage to St. Winifred's," the fair D’Este's” offerings at the shrine of Loretto, the accouchement of this peerless queen, the die• tary of the royal baby, and some other matters equally momenton.

The only notices of politics with which she favours her readers are occasional parenthetical regrets that James was so open in bas profession of Popery, and so far in advance of his times in his desire to abolish the Test acts.

The omissions here are so numerous, that to supply them would require a volume as bulky as Miss Strickland's. Even to mention the circumstances which are absolutely needful to be known, to which this pattern of historical veracity makes not the remotest allusion, would exceed our present limits. We can only give a rapid glance at one or two of the most prominent of them.

Miss Strickland's readers certainly ought to have been made ac; quainted with the fact, that, three months after the frightful cruelties in the Western counties, Jefferies the perpetrator of them, was made Lord Chancellor by James; that James set up an ecclesiastical commission, of which Jefferies was president sine quo non; that the first act of this commission was the suspension of Compton, bishop of London, for his fidelity against Popery. That the next acts of this commission were the suspension of the Vic

Bumet, vol. iii. pp. 43—48.

chancellor of Cambridge, for refusing the degree of A.M. to Father Francis, an ignorant Benedictine monk; and of the President of Magdalen college, Oxford, because the fellows refused to obey the king's mandamus to elect to that office “one Farmer, a vicious and ignorant person, with not one quality to recommend him to so high a post but that of changing his religion.” The end of the matter was, that all the fellows of Magdalen who remained true to their oath were turned out, the doors of the college were broken open, and the new president forced upon it was our friend Bully Parker, who had turned Papist immediately on James's accession, and had just been consecrated Bishop of Oxford !

The cancelling of the charters of all the corporations of · England, and the dismissal of all Protestant magistrates, with the

design of filling up the vacancies with Papist partizans, are the last of the illegal acts of this madman, of which we shall remind our readers, in default of any notice of them in Miss Strickland's pages. We have no fear of their agreeing with us, that those who have been led by her life of Mary of Modena to form their opinions of the reign and character of James, in ignorance of facts like these, have been grossly imposed upon.

Miss Strickland's omissions become perfectly inexcusable, when it is considered that Queen Mary Beatrice had boundless influence over her husband, while these transactions were taking place ; that the immediate agents employed in them were the persons upon whom she showered her especial favours; and that at the time no one attempted to conceal, much less to deny, that she was the originator, the adviser, or the abettor of the whole of them.

The last fiction of Miss Strickland's which we feel it our duty to expose, is that with which she masks her casual and very meagre glance at the trial of the six bishops. They were committed to the Tower, and brought to trial, because of their refusal to read the king's proclamation. Miss Strickland tells her readers that they refused to read it because they objected to the principle of religious toleration which that document proclaimed. This is an untruth as direct as it is possible for words to embody. These high-principled prelates did not object to religious toleration. The writings of more than one of them remain to this day to testify to the contrary. They refused to read the proclamation, because therein the royal madman arrogated to himself the power to repeal a host of parliamentary enactments, without the consent of parliament, and in virtue of his own prerogative only!

James's pretended zeal for toleration was so perfectly understood by all Protestants, to be a mere pretext for the removal of the difficulties which the statutes against recusancy presented to his

« PreviousContinue »