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ministry of expedients and fears, attached to the Duke, but afraid of adopting the measures he proposed. *
* I will here give the ballad upon these ministers, part of which is quoted in p. 27. It has been attributed to Dryden, but, as Mr. Scott says, " upon slight authority, and contrary to internal evidence." Mr. Scott gJso remarks, that these verses entailed upon the "young statesmen,'' who are the subject of them, the names of Chit Sundtrland,Chit Lory,&c. in the satires of the day; and I may add, in confirmation of this, that Lady Russell says in one of her letters (lately published), "The chits are gone to Althorpe."
Clarendon had law and sense,
Clifford was fierce and brave; Bennet's grave look was a pretence, . And Danby's matchless impudence
Helped to support the knave.
But Sunderland, Godolphin, Lory,*
'Twill turn all politics to jests,
When fidlcrs sing at feasts.
Protect us, mighty Providence!
What would these madmen have?
And without power enslave.
Shall free-born men, in humble awe,
Submit to servile shame,
Which kings pretend, to reign?
* Lawrence, Earl of Rochester, son of Lord Clarendon.
The opposition party had got wind of the King's intention of proroguing Parliament, and actively employed themselves in procuring petitions, that it might meet and do business on jjec. the 26th January, the day formerly ap1679. pointed. Seventeen peers presented a petition for this purpose. These were the Earls of Kent,, Huntingdon, Bedford, Clare, Stamford, and Shaftesbury, and the Lords Say and Sele, Eure, North and Grey, Chandos, Grey, Howard, Herbert, Rockingham, Townsend, Hollis, and Delamere. The King was greatly alarmed at this proceeding, and resolved to discourage the petitions at the outset. He sent for the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, when the Chancellor, by his command, told them, that letters tending to sedition and rebellion had been intercepted, desiring those to whom they were addressed to get as many signatures as possible to the petitions, no matter whether of freeholders or not.. His
The Duke shall wield his conquering sword,
The Chancellor make a speech,
So have I seen a king in chess,
(His rooks and knights withdrawn,
Majesty, said the Chancellor, expected that they would not suffer such persons as should sign such petitions, or procure signatures to them, to go unpunished. He ended by quoting an obscure opinion of the judges, given in the second year of James the First, when a question being put to them, whether it was a punishable offence to procure petitions, menacing the King with the discontent of many thousands of his subjects, if he refused their requests, the judges answered, that it was an offence near to treason and felony. Such an opinion, it is evident, even if it had been much more distinct, could have no bearing upon petitions simply desiring the King to meet his Parliament. This distinction was so obvious, that when the crown lawyers came to draw up a proclamation against the petitions, they had great difficulty in framing it, so as to strike the offenders, and disguise the real offence. Jeffries wished to prohibit the framing and presenting any such petitions; and to command all the peace officers to punish every person acting to the contrary. But Lord Chief Justice North said, with jesuitical refinement, "that the proclamation ought by no means to prohibit the petitioning His Majesty in any case, much less in the case of the parliament; but that it might take notice of certain ill people, who, under the specious pretence of petitioning, went about in a seditious and tumultuous manner, gathering hands to certain papers." And in this manner, in spite of some objections from the AttorneyGeneral, the proclamation was drawn up.
The first petition of the Commons was presented by Sir Gilbert Gerrard, in the name of thousands of His Majesty's subjects, in London, Westminster, and parts adjacent; it spoke of the plot, and requested the sitting of Parliament. The King told them, he looked upon himself as the head of the government, and the only judge of what was fit to be done in such cases. A few clays afterwards, another petition to the like effect, from Wiltshire, was presented by Thomas Thynn, Esquire, Sir Walter St. John, and Sir Edward Hungerford. The King asked them, if they came from the grand jury, and upon their replying that they did not, he told them that they came from loose, disaffected people, and desired them not to meddle in his affairs. Petitions from Essex and Berkshire were also dismissed; the first in an insulting, and the second in a contemptuous manner. All these answers were ordered to be printed in the London Gazette, in order to intimidate the country gentlemen; a purpose which they seem to have completely answered; for few, if any more petitions, were presented. In order still farther to produce an effect amongst the people, the court party represented the Duke of Monmouth, who had come over, and remained in England, against the King's positive order, as laying the the foundation for an insurrection, and the petitions as the preparatory steps of that design. Upon which several addresses were sent up, declaring that the subscribers abhorred the action of promoting petitions. Hence the whole nation became divided into petitioners and abhorrers.
At this time, also, arose the distinction of Whigs and Tories. The origin of these names is well known: that of the parties took its rise from the new circumstances of the country. The Whigs formed a popular party far less enthusiastic in their religious tenets, and less divided in their political views, than that which opposed Charles the First. With the exception, perhaps, of Sydney, who was not in Parliament, none of them wished for any thing more than a regular execution of our ancient constitutional laws; government by Parliament, and trial by jury. The hereditary succession of the crown was in their eyes a rule for the benefit of the people, and not a dispensation of Providence for the advantage of a single family. If at any time, therefore, the observance of the rule became dangerous to the welfare of the community, the legislature was, in their opinion, competent to