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SEIZURE OF PAPERS.
139 Germain to prevent a rupture between the two crowns, which he represented as a natural consequence of the marriage of the princess Mary. In both these attempts he failed : but he was more successful with the bankers, whose money had been shut up in the exchequer, from whom he drew 3,5001. under pretence of procuring for them some parliamentary security; with three successive ambassadors from France, whom he supplied at a stipulated price with daily information of the proceedings in parliament; and in particular during the last session with Barillon, from whom he procured 2,5001. for the purpose of strengthening the French interest in the two houses. Though James frequently reprimanded him for his busy intriguing disposition, he persisted in his course: his table was frequented by many of the Whig members while the parliament was sitting; and the “ fanatics at a distance received from him weekly
news-letters," reflecting so severely on the ambition of Louis, and the measures of the English government, that Charles ordered the duke to dismiss him from the service of the duchess. Luzancy had formerly accused him before the council: but he faced and silenced the informer; and it was perhaps this success which induced him also to despise the deposition of Oates. But on the seizure of his papers he asked the advice of the duke of York, who replied, that if he had written any thing illegal, or even suspicious, he had better conceal himself; otherwise his spontaneous appearance before the council would be taken as a proof of his innocence. He chose the latter, and became the first victim sacrificed to the perjuries of the informer and the prejudices of the nation *.
The fact was that, among several loose papers in a neglected drawer, had been found copies of Coleman's foreign correspondence in the years 1675 and 1676.
* For this account of Coleman, see James (Memoirs), i. 533. C. ourn, 1678, Oct. 31, Nov. 7. Dalrymple, ü. 199. 201. 314. Macpher. i. 82 Briel Hist. i. 144. Burnet, ii. 94.
There was in it much to prove the restless and intriguing spirit of the man: but that which chietly attracted the notice of the council was a proposal from him to la Chaise that Louis should furnish Coleman and his friends with the sum of 20,0001. to be employed by them for certain purposes equally conducive to the interest of France and of the catholic church. There was indeed no visible connexion between this proposal and the plot brought forward by Oates ; for the purposes specified in the letter were the restoration of the duke to his place of lord high admiral, and the establishment of liberty of conscience. But this was accompanied with expressions calculated to awaken suspicion. “Success," he maintained, “would give the greatest blow to the pro“testant religion that it had received since its birth.”
“ They had a mighty work on their hands, no “ less than the conversion of three kingdoms, and by " that perhaps the utter subduing of a pestilent heresy, “ which had so long domineered over great part of the “ northern world." To a cool and dispassionate inquirer, acquainted with the state of parties at the time, this language would have appeared a mere rhetorical flourish, employed by the intriguer to interest in favour of his project the zeal of the old priest whom he addressed : but jealousy had been provoked by the disclosures of Oates; more, it was suspected, might lurk under the words than immediately struck the eye: the great work mentioned by Coleman might be the commeucement of the conspiracy which had been denounced; the two ends of the chain were already in sight, and it was possible that the discovery of more of the correspondence might supply the link by which they were connected. Under this impression Coleman was committed to prison, where he found for his companions in captivity most of the individuals named in the deposition of the informer *.
It was obviously the interest of the king to bring the
• C. Journ. Oct. 31.
A.D. 1678.] THE KING GOES TO NEWMARKET. 141 inquiry to a speedy termination, that of his minister to protract it till the meeting of parliament: because, if it were then pending, it would infallibly be taken up by the country party. Charles foresaw that they would employ it as an additional weapon of offence against his brother, while Danby hoped to convert it into a shield of defence for himself against the impeachment with which he was threatened. At the beginning of October, when the king was accustomed to spend a fortnight at Newmarket, the dukes of York and Lauderdale conjured him to remain at Whitehall, and to prefer his duty to his pleasures : but the opposite advice of the lord treasurer was most palatable to the indolent monarch; and he de- Oct. parted with the court to Newmarket, leaving strict orders 2 with Danby to prosecute the investigation with the utmost expedition, orders which that, minister was careful to disobey *
Hitherto nothing had transpired to connect the informers with any party in the state; but subsequent events induced many to look upon them as mere puppets, whose motions were regulated by the invisible hand of some master artist. That artist was supposed to be the earl of Shaftesbury; of whom, whether he were or were not the real parent of the imposture, this at least is certain, that he took it under his protection from its birth, and nursed it with solicitude till it arrived at maturity. In conjunction with his political associates, he watched the progress of the alarm excited by the frequent meetings of the council, and the numerous arrests of the supposed conspirators ; converted with consummate art every succeeding event into a confirmation of the plot, and gradually contrived, by inflaming the passions, to assume the
* James (Memoirs,) i. 545, 6. Temple, ii. 478." He fancyed by the helpe of his pretended conspiracie, and crying out against popery, he should pass for a pillar of the church, and ward the blow which he foresaw was falling on his shoulders; but my lord Shaftesbury, who soon found out his drift, sayd, let the treasurer cry as lowd as he pleases against popery, and think to put himself at the head of the plot, I will cry a note lowder, and soone take his place; which he failed not to make good.” James (Memoire) i. 546.
most extraordinary control over the judgment, of the people.
It chanced that during the absence of the court, Godfrey, before whom Oates had made his affidavit, was missing from his family. From his father, who died by his own hands, Godfrey had inherited a melancholy tem
perament; and after the apprehension of his friend Oct. Coleman, was observed to labour under great depression 12. of spirits. On the 12th of October, having settled his
accounts, and burnt a large mass of papers, he left his home at an early hour, and was met in different parts of the town during the day, walking with a hurried pace, and apparently inattentive to all that was passing around him *. That very evening it was rumoured that
he had been murdered by the papists ; and five days 17. later his dead body was discovered among some stunted
bushes in a dry ditch on Primrose-hill. It rested on the knees, breast, and left side of the face : a short sword had been thrust with such violence through the heart, that the point protruded a few inches beyond the back : his cane was fixed upright on the bank, his gloves lay near it on the grass, and his rings remained on his fingers, his money in his purse. The extraction of the sword was followed by a copious discharge of blood from the wound ; and, when the body was undressed, a deep purple crease appeared round the neckt. In these circumstances the question to be determined was, whether Godfrey had fallen by his own hand, in which case the tightness of the collar would satisfactorily account for discoloration of the neck, or had been first strangled, and A.D. 1678.] DEATH OF GODFREY
afterwards stabbed by the murderers, to induce a belief 19, that he was the author of his own death. After an in
quiry of two days before the coroner the latter opinion
143 ignorance of the phenomena consequent on sudden and violent death. Even at the time, the verdict was deemed so unsatisfactory, that other medical practitioners solicited permission to open the body: but to this the brothers of the deceased made the most determined opposition. They were aware that a return of felo de se would deprive them of the succession to his estate, and on that account had laboured during the whole investigation to impress a contrary persuasion on the minds of the jurors *.
The result of the inquest imparted the stainp of authority to the reports previously in circulation. It was no longer safe to deny that Godfrey had been murdered, and murdered by the papists. He had indeed always shown himself their steadfast friend, and had recently given to the accused the first notice of their danger. But the absence of any sufficient motive for the crime was considered of little moment; and no man ventured to argue the question, when the least intimation of dissent was taken as a proof of conscious guilt. The body, instead of being speedily deposited in the grave, was carried in public procession to the former habitation of Oct. the deceased; the doors were thrown open during two 20. days; and the populace were invited to gaze on the mangled remains of the protestant martyr. The sight inflamed their passions,' and prepared their minds to believe in the bloody designs attributed to the papists; individual murders, a general massacre, the burning of the city, and the blowing up of Whitehall were hourly expected ; and the precautions employed by the magistrates, the multiplication of the guards, the frequent consultations at the Guildhall, served to nourish the excitement and delusion +.
It was at this moment, when the public phrenzy had 21. reached its height, that Charles met his parliament after the prorogation. The presence of his forces in Flanders
• Brief History, 235-237. 242—230. 257.
+ Burnet, ii. 154.