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London, which had long headed the popular party, of their charter. It was not till after an abject submisfion that he restored it to them, having previously subjected the election of their magistrates to his immediate autho. rity. .
Terrors alfo were not wanting to confirm his new fpe. ties of monarchy. Fitzharris was brought to a trial before a jury, and condemned and executed. The whole gang of spies, witnesses, informers, and suborners, which had long been encouraged and supported by the leading patriots, finding now that the king was entirely master, turned short upon their ancient drivers, and offered their evidence against those who had first put them in motion. The king's ministers, with a horrid fatisfaction, gave them countenance and encouragement; fo that Toon the fame cruelties, and the fame injustice, were practised against presbyterian schemes, that had been employed against catholic treafons. '>
The first person that sell under the displeasure of the ministry, was one Stephen College, a London joiner, who had become fe noted for his zeal against popery, that he went by the name of the Protestant joiner. He had attended the city members to Oxford, armed with sword and pistol ; 'he had fometimes been heard to speak irreverently of theking, and was now presentedby the grand jury of London as guilty of sedition. A jury at Oxford, after half an hour's deliberation, brought him in guilty, and the spectators testified their inhuman pleasure with a shout of applause. He bore his fate with unshaken fortitude ; and at the. place of execution denied the crime for which he had been condemned.
Thet-power of the crown became at this time A- D. irrefistible, the city of London having been de•683. prived of their charter, which was restored only upon terms of submisfion; and the giving up the domination of their own magistrates was fo mortisying a circumstance,, that all the oiher corporations in England foon began to fear the fame treatment, and were successively induced to surrender their charters' into the hands of the king. Confiderable sums were exacted for restoring ihese charters^ and al} tj»e offices of .power and pro. s^iu.A sit fit were lest at the dispofal of the crown. Refistance now, however justifiable, could not be fase; and all prudent men faw no other expedient, but peaceably submitting to the present grievances. But there was a party in England that still cherished their former ideas of freedom, and were refolved to hazard every danger in it* desence.
The duke of Monmouth, the king's natural fon by Mrs. Waters, engaged the earl of Macclesfield, lord Brandon, Sir Gilbert Gerrard, and other gentlemen inCheshire in his cause. Lord Ruffel fixed a correspondence with Sir William Courtney, Sir Francis Rowles, and Sir Francis Drake, who promised to raise the West. Shafresbury, with one Ferguson, an independent clergyman, and a restless plotter, managed the city, upon which the consederates chiefly relied. It was now that this turbulent man found his schemes most likely to take effect.
After the difappointment and destruction of an hundred plots, he at last began to be surefof this. But this scheme like all the former was difappointed. The caution of lord Ruffel, who induced the duke of Monmouth to put off the enterprise, faved the kingdom from the horror* of a civil war; while Shafteibury was fo struck with the sense of his impending danger, that he lest his house, and, lurking about the city, attempted, but in vain, to drive the Londoners into open insurrection. At last, enraged at the numberless cautions and delays which clogged and deseated his projects, he threatened to begin with his friends alone. However, after a long struggle between fear and rage, he abandoned all hopes of success, and fted out of the kingdom to Amsterdam, where he ended his turbulent lise foon after, without being pitied by hi* friends dr feared by hisenemies.
The loss of Shaftfbury, though it retarded the view's of the conspirators, did not suppress them. A council of fix was erected, confisting of Monmouth, Ruffel, Essex, Howard, Algernon Sydney, and John Hampden, grandfon to the great man of that name.'
Such, together with the duke of Argyle, were the leaders of this conspiracy. But rher.e was alfo a set of subordinate conspirators, who frequently met togetheF» <V-'I i and and carried on projects quite unknown to Monmouth and his council. Among these men was Colonel Rumsey, an old Republican officer, together with lieutenant-colonel Walcot, of the fame stamp, Goodenough, under-fheriff of London, a zealous and noted partyman, Fergufon, an independent minister, and several attornies, merchants, and tradesmen of London. But Colonel Rumsey and Fergufon were the only perfons that had access to the great leaders of the conspiracy. These men in their meetings embraced the most desperate refolutions. They proposed to assassinate the king in his way to Newmarket; Rumbal, one of the party, possessed a farm upon that road called the Rye-house, and from thence the conspiracy was denominated the Rye-house plot. They deliberated upon a scheme of stopping the king's coach, by overturing a cart on the highway at this place, and shooting him through the hedges. The house in which the king lived at Newmarket took fire accidentally, apd he was obliged to leave Newmarket eight days sooner than was expected, to which circumstance his fasety was ascribed.
Among the conspirators was one Keiling, who, finding himself in danger of a prosecution for arresting the lord mayor of London, refolved to earn his pardon by discovering thi* plot to the ministry. Colonel Rumsey, and West, a lawyer, no fooner understood that this man had informed against them, than they agreed to fave theii lives by turning king's evidence, and they surrendered themselves accordingly. Monmouth absconded; Russei was sent to the Tower; Grey escaped ; Howard was taken concealed ina chimney; Essex,Sydney, and Haoipden were foon aster arrested, and had the mortification to find lord Howard an evidence against them-.
Walcot was first brought to trial and condemned, together with Hone and Rouse, two associates in the conspiracy, upon the evidence of Rumsey, West, and Sheppard. They died penitent, acknowledging the justice of the sentence by which they were executed» A much; greater sacrifice was shortly after to follow. This was the lord Russei, fon of the Earl of Bedford, a nobleman of numberless good qualities, and led into this conspiracy from a conviction of (he duke of York's intentions to restore !• :. popery,
popery. He was liberal, popular, humane, and brave. All his virtues were fo many crimes in the present suspicious dispofition of the court. The chies evidence against him was- lord Howard, a man of very bad character, one of the conspirators, who was now contented to take lise upon such terms, and to aeccept of infamous fasety. This witness swore that Russel was engaged in the defign of an insurrection; but he acquitted him, as did alfo Rumsey and West, of being privy to the assassination. The jury, who were zealous royalists, after a short deliberation, brought the prifoner in guilty, and he was condemned to suffer beheading. The scaffold for his execution was erected in Lincoln's-inn-fields ; he laid his head on the block without the least change of countenance, and at two strokes it was severed from his body.
The celebrated Algernon Sidney, fon to the earl of Leicester, was next brought to his trial. He had been formerly engaged in the parliamentary army against the late king, and was even named en the high court of justice that tried him, but had not taken his seat among the judges. He had ever opposed Cromwell's usurpation, and went into voluntary banishment on the Restoration. His affairs, however, requring his return, he applied to the king for a pardon,and obtained his request. But all his hopes and all his reafonings were formed upon republican principles. For his adored republic he had written and fought, and went into banishment, and ventured to return. It may eafily be conceived how obnoxious a man of such principles was to a court that now was not even .content without limitations to its power. They went fo far as to take illegal methods to procure his condemnation. The only witness that deposed against Sidney was lord Howard, and the law required two. In order, therefore, to make out a second witness, they had recourse to a very extraordinary expedient. In ranfacking his closet, fome discourses on government were found in his own hand-writing, containing principles favourable to liberty, and in themselves no way subverfive of a limited government. By overstraining fome of these they were construed into treafon. It was in vain he alledged that papers were no evidence; that it could not be proved they were ." * written written by him; that if proved, the papers themselves contained nothing criminal. His desence was overruled > 4he violent and inhumam Jefferies, who was now chief justice, eafily prevailed on a partial jury to bring him in guilty, and his execution followed foon after. One can scarce contemplate the tranfactions of this reign without horror. Such a picture of factious guilt on each fide, a court at once immersed in sensuality and blood, a people armed against each other with the most deadly animofity> and no fingle party to be found with sense enough to stem the general torrent of rancour and factious suspicion.
Hampden was tried foon after, and as there was nothing to affect his lise, he was fined forty thoufand pounds. Holloway, a merchant of Bristol, who had fled to the West Indies, was brought over, condemned, and executed. Sir Thomas Armstrong alfo, who had fled to Holland, was brought over, and shared the fame fate. Lord Essex, who had been imprifoned in the Tower, was found in an apartment with his throat cut; but whether he was guilty of suicide, or whether the bigotry of the times might not have induced fome assassin to commit the crime, cannot now be known.
This was the last blood that was shed for an imputation of plots or conspiracies, which continued during the greatest part of this reign.
At this period the government of Charles was as abfolute as that of any monarch in Europe; but happily for mankind his tyranny was but of short duration. The king was seized with a sudden fit, which resembled an apoplexy; and though he was recovered, by bleeding, yet he languished only for a sew days, and then ejfpired, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and the twenty-fifth of his reign. During his illness fome clergymen of the church of England attended him, to whom he discovered a total indifference. Catholic priests were brought to his bedfide, and from their hands he received the rites of their communion.