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THE duke of York, who succeeded his brother by the title of king James the Second, had A. IX been bred a papist by his mother,and was strongly 1685. bigoted to his principles.
He went openly to mass with all the enfigns of his dignity, and even sent ore Caryl as his agent to Rome to make submissions to the Pope, and to pave the way for the re.admission of England into the bofom of the catholic church.
A conspiracy, set on foot by the duke of Monmouth, was the first disturbance in his reign. He had, fince his last conspiracy, been pardoned, but was ordered to depart the kingdom, and had retired to Holland. Being dismissed from thence by the prince ef Orange, upon James's accession, he went to Brussels, where, finding himself still pursued by the king's severity, he refolved to retaliate, and make an attempt upon the kingdom. He had ever keen the darling of the people, and fome averred that Charles had married his mother, and owned Monmouth's legitimacy at his death. The duke of Argyle seconded his views in Scotland, and they formed the scheme of a double insurrection; fo that while Monmouth should attempt to make a rifing in the West, Argyle was alfo to try his endeavours in the North.
Argyle was the first who landed in Scotland, where he published his manisestoes, put himself at the head os two thoufand five hundred men, and strove to A. D. influence the people in his cause. But a formi- I6sj. dable body of the king's forces coming against him, his army sell away, and he himself, after being wounded in attempting to escape, was taken prifoner by a peafant, who found him standing up to his neck in a ool of water. He was from thence carried to Ediiturgh, where, after enduring many indignities with a gallant spirit, he was publicly executed.
Meanwhile Monmouth was by this time landed in Dorsetshire, with scarce a hundred followers. However his name was fo popular, and fo great was the hatred cf the people both for the perfon and religion of James, that in four days he had assembled a body of above two thoufand men.
Being advanced to Taunton, his numbers had increased to fix thoufand men; and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to dismiss numbers who crow ded to his standard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells, and Frome, and was proclaimed in all those places: but he lost the hour of action in receiving and claiming these empty honours.
The king was not a little alarmed at his invafion; but still more at the success of an undertaking that at first appeared desperate. Six regiments of British troops were recalled from Holland, and a body of regulars, to the number of three thoufand men, were sent, under the command of the earl of Feversham and Churchill, to check the progress of the rebels. They took post at Sedgemore, a village in the neighbourhood of Bridge, water, and were joined by the militia of the country in confiderable numbers. It was there that Monmouth refolved, by a desperate effort, to lose his lise or gain the kingdom. The negligent dispofition made by Feversham invited him to the attack; and his faithful followers
shewed shewed what courage and principle could do against dis. cipline and numbers. They drove the royal infantry from their ground, and were upon the point of gaining the victory, when the misconduct of Monmouth, and the cowardice of lord Gray, who commanded the horse, brought all to ruin. This nobleman fled at the first onset; and the rebels being charged in flank by the victorious army, gave way, after a three hours contest. About three hundred were killed in the engagement, and a thoufand in the pursuit; and thus ended an enterprise, rashly begun, and more seebly conducted.
Monmouth fled from the field os battle above twenty miles, till his horse sunk under him. He then alighted, and changing clothes with a shepherd, fled on foot, attend. ed by a German count, who had accompanied him from Holland. Being quite exhausted with hunger and fatigue, they both lay down in a field, and covered themselves with sern. The shepherd being found in Monmoiith's cloathes by the pursuers, increased the diligence of the search; and, by the means of blood hounds, he was detected in this miserable fituation, with raw pease in his pocket, which he had gathered in the fields to sustain lise. He wrote the most submisfive letters to the king; and that monarch, willing tor seast his eyes with the mi. series of a fallen enemy, gave him an audience. At this interview the duke sell upon his knees, and begged his lise in the most abject terms. He even figned a paper, ofsered him by the king, declaring his own illegitimacy, and then the stern tyrant assured him, that his crime was of such a nature as could not be pardoned. The duke perceiving that he had nothing to hope from the clemency of his uncle, recollected his spirits, rose up, and .retired with an air of disdain. He was followed to the -scaffold with great compasfion from the populace. He ,warned the executioner not to fall into the fame error which he had committed in beheading Russel, where it •had been necessary to redouble the blow. But this only increased the severity of the punishment: the man was seized with an univerfal trepidation, and he struck a seeble blow, upon which the duke raised his head from the block, as if to reproach him; he gently laid down his head • • 1 a second a second time, and the executioner struck him again and again to no purpose. He at last threw the axe down; but the sheriff compelled him to resume the attempt, and, at two blows more, the head was severed from the body. Such was the end of James duke of Monmoiith, the darling of the English people. He was brave, fincere, and good natured, open to flattery, and by that seduced into an enterprise which exceeded his capacity.
But it were well for the insurgents, and fortunate fof the king, if the blood that was now shed had been thought a sufficient expiation for the late offence. The victorious army behaved with the most favage cruelty to the prifoners taken after the battle. Ferersham, immediately after the victory, hanged up above twenty prifoners.
The military severities of the commanders were still inserior to the legal slaughters committed by judgeJefferies, who was sent down to try the delinquents. The na. tural brutality of this man's temper was inflamed by con. tinual intoxication. He told the prifoners, that if they would fave him the trouble of trying them, they might expect fome favour, otherwise he would execute the law upon them with the utmost severity. Many poor wretches were thus allured into a consession, and found that it only hastened their destruction. No less than eighty were executed at Dorchester; and, on the whole, at Exeter, Taunton, and Wells, two hundred and fifty-one are computed to have fallen by the hands of justice.
In ecclefiastical matters, James proceeded with still greater injustice. Among those who distinguished themselves against popery, was one Dr. Sharpe, a clergyman of London, who declaimed with just severity against those who had changed their religion, by such arguments as the popish misfionaries were able to produce. This being supposed to reflect upon the king, gave great offence at court: and positive orders were given to the bishop of London to suspend Sharpe, till his majesty's pleasure should be farther known. The bishop resused to comply; and the king refolved to punish the bishop himself for difobedience.
To effect his defign, an ecclefiastical commission was issued out, by which seven commissioners were invested with a soil and unlimited authority over the whole church of England. Besore this tribunal the bishop was summoned, and not only he, but Sharpe, the preacher, were suspended.
- The next step was to allow a liberty of conscience to all sectaries; and he was taught to believe, that the truth of the catholic religion would then, upon a fair
tion of general indulgence, and asserted, that non-con. formity to the established religion was no longer penal.
To compleat his work, he publicly sent the earl of Castlemain ambassador extraordinary to Rome, in order to express his obedience to the Pope, and to reconcile his kingdoms to the catholic communion. Never was there fo much contempt thrown upon an embassy that was fo boldly undertaken. The court of Rome expected but .little success from measures fo blindly conducted. They were senfible that the king was openly striking at those laws and opinions which it was his bufiness to undermine in filence and security.
The Jesuits foon after were permitted to erect college* in different parts of the kingdom; they exercised the catholic worship in the most public manner; and four catholic bishops, consecrated in the king's chapel, were sent through the kingdom to exercise their episcopal sunctions, under the title of Apostolic vicars.
Father Francis, a Benedictine monk, was recommended by the king to the univerfity of Cambridge, for the degree of master of arts. But his religion was a stumbling block which the univerfity could not get over; and they presented a petition, beseeching the king to recal his mandate. Their petition was disregarded, their deputies denied a hearing: the vice-chancellor himself was summoned to appear besore the high-commission court, and deprived of his office; yet the univerfity perfisted, and father Francis was resused.
The place of prefident of Magdalen college, one of the richest foundations in Europe, being vacant, the king sent a mandate in favour of one Farmer, a new convert to popery, and a) man of a bad character in other respects. The sellows of the college made very sub
He theresore issued a declara