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Monmouth was appointed to the command of the army sent to quell the insurrection. After the council was over at which his commission was read, Lauderdale followed the King out, and begged him to revoke that part of it which gave Monmouth power to treat with the rebels before using force to subdue them. The King asked him why he had not mentioned this at the council, to which Lauderdale artfully replied, "Were not your enemies at the board?" * Such a minister was the fit servant of a master who could say, after a long examination of some Scottish petitioners, "I find that Lauderdale has done many things against the people of Scotland, but nothing against my service." The commission to Monmouth was altered according to his desire. The defeat of the insurgents at Bothwell Bridge, and the immediate suppression of the insurrection, are related in all the histories of this reign.
When the day approached to which Parliament was prorogued, the same advisers who had concerted the prorogation, being still in fear of Lord Shaftesbury's influence, agreed to move in council for a dissolution. But having neglected to prepare the King's ministers, the Lord Chancellor, and every one present, except the three Lords and Sir William Temple,
spoke against it. So that when the King dedared his determination in favour of these private counsellors, the Council broke up "with great rage on the part of Lord Shaftesbury and of Lord Russell, and the general dissatisfaction of the whole board." *
A pamphlet published at this time, called " An Appeal from the Country to the City," shows the extreme violence of party. The King is there desired to think himself Henry the Eighth for one month, and told that he will get no money from Parliament, unless he takes off the heads of the Popish faction. The Duke of Monmouth is plainly recommended for the succession, upon the old maxim, that " he who has the worst title makes the best King." Harris, the publisher, when prosecuted, was followed into court by an immense concourse of people, and the jury found a verdict of, "Guilty of selling the book only." A most important precedent.
In this place I may mention the trials of many accused of the Popish Plot. Five Jesuits, and Langhorne a lawyer, were condemned and executed. But it was remarked, that " as letting blood abates a fever, these executions cooled the heat of the nation." And the uniform protestations of innocence on
the part of the condemned did not fail of shaking the credit of the plot. At length, on the trial of Sir George Wakeman, physician to the Queen, the King ventured to exert his influence in favour of the prisoner. It was the more incumbent on him to do so, as the accusation was directed against the Queen as well as her physician. Oates swore that he had seen a letter from Sir George, mentioning the intention of poisoning the King. But the accused, besides many circumstances which rendered the story improbable, proved that Oates, on his examination before the council, had only mentioned a letter from a third person whom he had seen at St. Omers; and being asked if he knew any thing more against Sir George Wakeman, he had held up his hands, protesting he did not; and that he had then owned that he did not know the prisoner's hand-writing, though he now asserted the contrary. These contradictions were exposed in the charge of Chief Justice Scroggs, who having been at first shamefully violent in prosecuting the plot, was now as willing to please the court by bringing it into discredit. The prisoner, and three others who were tried with him, were acquitted. This trial seems to be the point of departure of the two great parties on the subject of the Popish Plot. Hitherto, the whole nation had given up
their senses and their reason to this favourite delusion. But henceforward, the court and church party seem to have used every means to bring odium upon the witnesses; thus exchanging their fears of popery for alarms of fanaticism. The country party, on the other hand, represented the trial of Wakeman as partial and unfair; and they endeavoured to magnify the danger of the plot, by representing the court as favouring the escape of the conspirators.
If Shaftesbury's violence during the Sept. 2. s-ttjng Qf parliament haci tne effect of
alarming the King, his imprudent menace at the time of the prorogation served to bring back the Duke. For the King being taken dangerously ill at Windsor, the three Lords who formed the secret cabinet, thought their lives in danger should the King die, and Monmouth obtain possession of the crown. * They, therefore, advised Charles to send for his brother, who arrived from Brussels, to the great astonishment both of the court and the country. When he came to Windsor, he found his brother recovering, and he was requested to return with as much earnestness as he had been desired to come. He found means, however, by acting on the fears of Essex and Halifax, to change his banishment to
Brussels, for retirement to Scotland, and what was still more important, to have Shaftesbury dismissed from his office of President of the Council, and Monmouth deprived of his command of the army. And to complete the triumph of James, this dangerous rival was sent to the place of exile from which he had himself returned.
The elections, as might have been expected, went generally in favour of the country party. The King, grown still more suspicious of his parliament, and more averse to the troubles of contention, had recourse to his old expedient, the alliance of France. He endeavoured to obtain nine millions of livres from Lewis, to be paid in the course of three years, on the condition that parliament should not be assembled during that time. He repeatedly represented to Barillon, that this step would place England in the dependence of France for ever. The terms asked by the Duchess of Portsmouth and Lord Sunderland were still higher. The King at length agreed, however, to accept of one million of livres yearly for three years, with the condition that parliament should not be assembled during that time.
In the hope that a treaty would be concluded on these terms, Charles told his council, that he had resolved to prorogue his,