« PreviousContinue »
the bar, condemned, and executed.-Standing on the cart, which brought him to the place of execution, he addressed the spectators at length ;-in the most moving terms, unequivocally asserting his innocence; forgiving the judges and witnesses ; and imploring the blessing of God on the king, and on every branch of the royal family.---Echard relates that “he had been assured, by an un“ questionable authority, that the earl of Essex, '(who had been lord lieutenant of Ireland), was “ so sensible of the poor man's hardship, that he
generously applied to the king for a pardon; and “ told his majesty, the witnesses must needs be
perjured; for, that the things sworn against him, “ could not possibly be true. Upon which, the
king, in a passion, said, why did you not attest " this at his trial ? it would have done him good " then. I dare not pardon any one. And so con“cluded with the same kind of answer, he had
given another person formerly : his blood be upon your head, and not upon mine.”
In 1680, while the memory of these transactions was still recent,—and while all the agitators of the impositions were living, a most eloquent and argumentative vindication of the sufferers was published, under the title of “ The Papists Plea.” It was afterwards printed among lord Somers's Tracts; and several extracts from it may be found in Mr. Andrews's Historical Account, just cited.-But the most eloquent vindication of the catholics from the charge of being concerned in Oates's plot, is the “Apologie pour les Catholiques, contre les “ fausetés, et les calomnies d'un livre, intitulé, La
Politique du Clergé de France : fait première“ment en François, et puis traduit en Flamand. “ A Liege, 1681.” 2 vols. 8vo. The celebrated Arnaud was the author of this work. In powerful reasoning, and splendid eloquence, it has seldom been equalled. In these terms, cardinal Maury mentions it, in his “ Essai sur l’Eloquence de la “ Chaire.” If any doubt remain upon any mind, respecting the fabrication, or the imposture, of the plot, the perusal of Arnaud's Apologie must remove it.
In the following reign, Oates was tried, and condemned for perjury.“ And never was a criminal,” says Hume, “convicted on fuller, or more un“ doubted evidence.”
For their supposed part in the plot, ten laymen and seven priests, one of whom was seventy, another eighty years of age, were executed. Seventeen others were condemned, but not executed. Some died in prison, and some were pardoned. On the whole body of catholics, the laws were executed with horrible severity. Individuals are still living, whose fathers have told them what their fathers used to relate of the wretchedness and misery of the general body, whilst the delusion lasted. Even at that distance of years, few of these could speak of it, without evident agitation and horror.
On this occasion, Hume has certainly done justice to the catholics :--but the writer can assure hiş readers, that they can form no conception of the wicked arts that were practised to instil the belief of the plot into the public mind, and to induce juries to find the catholic prisoners guilty of the plot, and of the death of sir Edmondbury Godfrey, without perusing the trials themselves. All the information which the reader can desire, is collected in Mr. Andrews's publication,--yet, it principally was from these scenes, that the ancient prejudice against the catholics originated.
The Act disabling Peers from sitting and voting in the
House of Lords. The calamities of the catholics, in the reign of Charles the second, were aggravated by the long odium, which the infamous charges brought against them, had created; and which it required nearly a century to subdue. They were aggravated also by a legislative act, which even yet subjects them to several depressing and painful disabilities.
The Test and Corporation Acts have been mentioned; to these, the roman-catholics are subject in common with all protestant dissenters :— the act to which we now allude, was passed in the thirtieth year
of Charles. It contained a declaration, commonly called the declaration against popery, denying transubstantiation; and asserting the invocation of the Virgin Mary and other saints, and the sacrifice of the mass, to be superstitious and idolatrous. It prescribed that no peer should vote, or make his proxy in the house, or sit there, during the debates; and that no member of the house of commons should vote in the house, or sit there,
during any debate, until he should first take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and make and subscribe the declaration, contained in the act.
The act passed the commons without much opposition ; “but, in the upper house,” says Hume, “ the duke of York moved, that an exception might “ be admitted in his favour. With great earnest
ness, and even with tears in his eyes, he told " them, that he was now to cast himself on their “ kindness, in the greatest concern which he could “ have in the world ; and he protested, that what
ever his religion might be, it should only be “ between God and his own soul. Notwithstand“ing this strong effort, in so important a point, he “ prevailed only by two voices.
With the reign of Charles the second, the sanguinary part of the penal code against the romancatholics finally closes.
Summary Review, by a Protestant Writer, of the Religious
Persecutions in England, from the Reformation till the end of the reign of Charles the second.-General Reflections on them.
“ It is,” said Mosheim, "an observation often “ made, that all religious sects, when they are kept “ under and oppressed, are remarkable for incul
cating the duties of moderation, forbearance, " and charity, towards those who dissent from “them; but that, as soon as the scenes of persecu"tion are removed, and they, in their turn, arrive
“at power and pre-eminence, they forget their
own precepts and maxims; and leave both the “ recommendation and practice of charity to those “ that groan under their yoke.” The events, which form the subject of the present pages, too well exemplify the truth of this observation.
Of the persecution alternately inflicted upon, and inflicted by the protestant non-conformists, Robinson, in his History of the Persecutions of Christians, gives the following extraordinary account:
“ On the death of queen Mary, Elizabeth suc“ ceeded to the throne. Elizabeth being a pro“ testant, and being likewise taught by suffering, “ under the reign of her sister,—the protestants
blessed themselves, that now their cause was “ established; and every friend of mankind hoped “ persecution would now cease. A church, calling “ itself protestant, was indeed established; but, “ this queen imitated her father, in persecuting “ both protestants and papists. Elizabeth was a
princess of most arbitrary principles and charac"ter; ambition was her ruling passion; and he, “ who contradicted her,—died. The protestant
bishops were continually employed in preaching “ in favour of arbitrary power, and persecuting all “ who dissented either from their political or
theological creed. If any one wrote any thing “ against arbitrary power, either in church or
state, he was immediately condemned and put “ to death, as an author of seditious publications; " against which, convenient laws were enacted, to