Page images
PDF
EPUB

A.D. 1673.]

DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL.

29

Rome. He should vote, indeed, against the bill, because it contained expressions to which he could not conscientiously assent; but he hoped that the house would adopt it, as a measure of prudence, calculated to prevent mischief, and to pacify discontent. By this speech, Bristol obtained the reputation of a patriot: the reader will, perhaps, think him a hypocrite ; for he prevailed on the parliament to adopt a proviso in his favour, securing to him and his wife a large pension from the crown, and exempting them, and them alone, from the obligation of taking the test *

5° The bill passed the house of lords, as it had passed Mar. that of the commons, without provoking a division ; and 20. it may reasonably be asked, how it happened that it received no opposition froni the dissenters, when it was so framed as to comprehend them, though its avowed object was the exclusion of others? They seem again to have suffered themselves to be duped by the artifice of their pretended friends. With the bill for the test, was introduced another for ease to protestant dissenters, and thus their objection to the first was neutralized by their hopes from the second. But while one passed rapidly through the house, the other crept slowly on: new questions successively arose, and day after day was spent in debating, what quantity of relief should be granted, to what description of non-conformists it should extend, and for how long a time it should be continued. The house at length agreed to confine the benefit to those dissenters who objected only to the articles of discipline, and were willing to subscribe the articles of doctrine of the church of England, to allow all such to hold separate meetings for the purpose of religious worship, to exempt them from the penalties for absence from the parish church, and to repeal in their favour the compulsory declaration of assent and consent ordained by the act of uniformity. Mar. In this shape the bill was forwarded to the house of 17. • C. Journ. Mar. 12. L. Journ. 557. 9. 561. 7.9. Parl. Hist. iv. 561-6. Stat, of Realm, v. 782.

lords, where it received numerous amendments : to some Mar. of these the commons objected; and, though the kiug 24.

warned them of the approaching termination of the ses.

sion, no care was taken to come to an agreement. On 29.

Easter eve, the parliament was adjourned at nine in the evening; before it met again a prorogation followed, and the hopes of relief which the dissenters had been encouraged to cherish were utterly extinguished*.

In the history of this session, it is worthy of notice : 1o. that not a murmur was heard from the ranks of the opposition against the war, or the alliance with France, or the suspension of payments in the exchequer. Of these great subjects of complaint no mention is made either in the addresses or the debates. But not only was silence observed ; in addition, an act of grace was passed, which, by pardoning all offences committed before the 25th of March, covered the ministers from the risk of subsequent punishment. It seems as if a secret understanding existed between some of the leaders of the two parties; and that the members of the cabal had sacrificed the catholics to the jealousy of their opponents, on condition of indemnity to themselvest. 2° The house of commons, in the bill which it passed for the ease of dissenters, departed from those doctrines which it had so strenuously advocated in its celebrated address to the king, in 1663. At that time it protested against any indulgence, because it was inconsistent with the act of uniformity, calculated to breed schism and multiply sects, and would ultimately lead to universal toleration. But now the distinction between articles of doctrine, and articles of discipline, at that time refused, was broadly admitted; the pains and penalties for absence from

• Lords' Journ. 561. 4. 571. 6. 9. 584. Parl, Hist. iv. 535. 42. 551, 6.
571.5.

+ " It was the constant practice of these ministers, that, when any of
a them were afraid of the house of commons for themselves, they presently
exposed the papists to be worried, hoping thereby to save themselves
from being fastened upon."-James, i. 499.
# C. Journ. Feb. 27, 1663.

A.D. 1673.]

CAMPAIGN BY LAND.

31

church or attendance at conventicles, then considered essential to the safety of the establishment, were taken away; and the declaration of assent and consent, the principal provision in the act of uniformity, was rendered entirely optional. 3°. With respect to the test, it should le remembered that the oath of supremacy and the subscription against transubstantiation were sufficient to exclude the catholics from office: the obligation of receiving the sacrament after the rite of the established church was unnecessary as far as regarded them ; but it operated effectually to the exclusion of the dissenters. Thus the latter, by contributing to the establishment of the test, placed themselves in a much worse situation than before. They forfeited the benefit of the king's declaration; they remained subject to the intolerant laws passed against them since the restoration; and in addition, they entailed on themselves and their posterity a new disability, that of holding employment, civil or military, under the crown.

In Holland, the rapid success of the French had provoked, instead of subduing, resistance. De Witte, who had so long governed the republic, fell a victim with his brother to the vengeance of an infuriated mob; the prince of Orange took on himself the proud task of libe. rating his country; and the absence of contending factions gave a more uniform direction to the national efforts, and inspired with greater confidence the princes who dreaded the ascendency of France. During the winter Louis made no additional conquests: in the summer the reduction of Maestricht was the only exploit which distinguished his arms. After a succession May of marches and operations in Flanders, undertaken for 13. the sole purpose of masking his real object, he suddenly June sat down before that fortress, which capitulated after 1. an obstinate defence of twenty-three days. Monmouth, 23. who led the English auxiliaries, commanded under him with the rank of lieutenant-general. His want of mili. tary experience was supplied by the counsels of Montal;

his personal courage won the applause of the king and of the army*.

In England, the liberal supply voted by parliament gave new vigour to the preparations for war. A feet of more than sixty sail of large ships was equipped, and an army of eight thousand men was raised and encamped at Blackheath for foreign service. But at first all men fixed their eyes on the duke of York, anxious to learn whether

he would take, or refuse, the test. His conversion to the Mar. church of Rome still remained a matter of mere suspi. 30. cion: but it was observed that, at Easter, when the king

received the sacrament, James did not accompany himt; and soon afterwards the fact became public by his vo

luntary resignation of all the offices which he held under June the crown. At the same time, and for the same reason, 19. the lord Clifford relinquished the treasurer's staff, in op

position to the advice and entreaty of the king. By those who were acquainted with his aspiring character, and able to judge how much it must have cost him to suppress at once the hopes which he had so fondly cherished, it was supposed that he had bound himself by promise to follow the duke of York ; but that prince declares that Clifford was actuated by motives of conscience, and pronounces his conduct the more honourable, as it was the less to be expected from one who had so recently become a proselyte. By his resignation the ambition of Arlington was again awakened, but was again disappointed. The king, by the advice of James

• Buckingham (Sheffield, Works, ii. 24.) says that “a sure and easy " attack was kept back till his day of coinmanding, that he might have " the credit of the success." This insinuation is groundless. On that occasion, says Louis in a letter to Charles, il fit tout ce qui se ponvoit pour signaler davantage sa conduite et sa valeur. Je ne dois pas même oublier que le lendemain les assiegés étant sortis sur la demi-lune à la faveur d'un fourneau, il fut à eux l'épée à la main au premier bruit de la sortie, et leur fit quitter le logement. Louis, iii. 412. That this was not mere compliment, appears from the following passage in the king's journal of the siege.-Le duc de Montmouth s'acquit à la tête des niousquetaires une grande reputation.” Ibid. 375. See also James, i. 493.

+ Evelyn, ii. 380. The king had employed Lord Clifford to prevail on James to take the sacrament with him at Christmas: but the duke replied that his conscience forbade him. James, i. 482.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

4.

and Clifford, gave the staff to Arlington's enemy, sir Thomas Osborne, who was soon afterwards raised to the Aug.

15. peerage, by the title of viscount Latymer*.

By the retirement of James, the command of the combined fleet, amounting to ninety sail of the line, had devolved on prince Rupert. With so formidable a force, it was expected that he would sweep the Dutch navy May from the face of the ocean: but he performed nothing : 28. worthy of his reputation; and, though he fought three June actions with De Ruyter, neither received nor inflicted

Aug. considerable injury. His friends complained that his 11. powers were limited by unusual restrictions, and that his ships wanted stores and provisions : an officer who was present asserts, that he was too closely leagued with the country party to obtain a victory, which might render their opponents lords of the ascendant. He was ordered to take under his protection the army commanded by Schomberg, and to land it on the coast of Holland. Schomberg, unacquainted with naval etiquette, affixed the colours of his regiment to the mast of his vessel, as a signal to the officers in the other transports ; but Rupert considered his conduct as an act of insub ordination or insult; two shots were fired through the rigging; and orders were given to sink the general's vessel, unless the flag were immediately struck. Schomberg reluctantly submitted, and the armament proceeded to the Dutch coast; but no landing was effected. Rupert, having alarmed the inhabitants on se- July veral points, from the mouth of the Maese to that of 23. the Ems, ordered the military force to return to Yar- Aug mouth, where it remained encamped during the rest of 2.

* Evelyn (ii. 383.) says, “ I am confident he (Clifford) forbore receiving " the communion, more from some promise he had entered into to gratifie " the duke, than from any prejudice to the protestant religion, though I " found him wavering a pretty while.” But he proved his sincerity, for " the test ousted him of the place of lord treasurer of England, and of be. ing any longer a privy councillor; who, tho' a new convert, generously preferred his conscience to his interests." James, i. 484. These passages prove that those writers are incorrect who represent him all along as a catholic.- Besides lord Clifford, lord Belassye, sir Thomas Strickland, and several others in eminent stations, resigued. Marvell, i. 458.

VOL. XIL.

D

« PreviousContinue »