Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

against him. He at length embarked for Scotland, menacing revenge against his enemies, and assuring Barillon that he was eternally attached to the King of France. He even revolved in his mind the scheme of heading a rebellion in Scotland and Ireland, should his brother consent to the requests of his Parliament. *

In the month of August this year, the Dulvb of Monmouth made the progress in the west which had been celebrated by Dryden. He first visited Mr. Thynne, at Longleat, and from thence proceeded, from one friend's house to another, to Exeter. He was received every where with joyful acclimations, and at Exeter, a band of near a thousand young men, dressed in linen waistcoats and drawers, came out to meet him.

He seems to have been at this time set up by Shaftesbury, and countenanced by the Whigs as a Pretender to the throne, with more confidence than ever. But besides the illegitimacy of his birth, he wanted the qualities fit for a leader. He was deficient in resolution, without which no man can make a figure in public life. His chief attraction with the people was the beauty of his countenance, and the grace of his manner. t

* Dal. 370.

f Whate'er he dill was done with so much ease,
Jn him alone 'twas natural to please;

The Parliament met on the 21st October, 1680. The King's Speech began with informing the Houses of the new alliance with Spain, which he assured himself could not fail of being grateful to Parliament, and to attain the end he had in view, " if our divisions at home do not render "our friendship less considerable abroad. To "prevent these as much as may be, I think fit "to renew to you all the assurances which can "be desired, that nothing shall be wanting on "my part to give you the fullest satisfaction "your hearts can wish for the security of the "Protestant religion ; which I am fully resolved "to maintain against all the conspiracies of our "enemies, and to concur with you in any new

His motions all accompanied with grace,
And paradise was opened in his face.
With secret joy indulgent David viewed
His youthful image in his son renewed.

Notwithstanding the last line, it has by many been supposed that he was the son of Robert Sydney, commonly called handsome Sydney. Mr. Evelyn says he resembled Sydney much more than the King.* And if the biographer of James speaks truth, the circumstance is easily accounted for. Speaking of Monmouth's mother, he says, that after having been in treaty with Algernon Sydney for fifty broad pieces, "as he himself related the story to his K. H." she lived with his brother Robert in Holland, and the latter is said to have hinted that she was with child by hiinf, when she left him for the King.

* Evelyn's Mem. vol. i. p. 567. f Life of James, vol. i. p. 491. "remedies which shall be proposed, that may "consist with preserving the succession of the ** Crown its due and legal descent." The Speech went on to recommend a farther examination of the plot, and a speedy trial of the Lords in the Tower. The King then demanded succours for Tangiers, and concluded by earnest exhortations to union amongst themselves. Mr. Williams was chosen Speaker.

On the 26th October, Dangerfield was brought to the bar, and gave an account of the meal-tub plot. After this, which was represented as a piece of tactics used to impress the House with an idea that the plot was still in vigour amongst the Catholics, Lord Russell rose and said, "Mr. "Speaker — Sir, seeing by God's providence, "and His Majesty's favour, weare here assembled "to consult and advise about the great affairs of "the kingdom, I humbly conceive it will become "us to begin first with that which is of most «* consequence to our King and country, and to "take into consideration how to save the main, "before we spend any time about particulars. «* Sir, I am of opinion that the life of our King, ** the safety of our country and Protestant re** ligion, are in great danger from Popery, and "that either this Parliament must suppress the "power and growth of Popery, or else that "Popery will soon destroy, not only Parliament, Vol. I. p

"but all that is near and dear to us. And, "therefore, I humbly move that we may resolve ** to take into consideration, in the first place, "how to suppress Popery, and to prevent a Popish "successor; without which all our endeavours "about other matters will not signify any thing, "and therefore this justly challengeth the pre« cedency."

The motion was seconded by Sir H. Capel, and supported by Sir F. Winnington and Mr. Montague, after which it was resolved nem. con. "That it is the opinion of this House that they "ought to proceed effectually to suppress "Popery, and prevent a Popish successor."

The next day Sir G. Gerrard brought before the House the subject of the petitions, and the proclamation which had been issued to discourage them. Mr. Sacheverel moved a vote to assert the right of the subject to petition, to which Sir F. Winnington added another, to declare, "That "it is and ever hath been the undoubted right "of the subjects of England to petition the "King for the calling and sitting of parliaments, "and redressing of grievances. 2d. That to "traduce such petitioning as a violation of duty, "and to represent it to His Majesty as tumul"tuous or seditious, is to betray the liberty of "the subject, and contribute to the design of "subverting the ancient legal constitution of I

"this kingdom, and introducing arbitrary power. * 3d. That a committee be appointed to enquire ** after all such persons that have offended «* against the right of the subject."

These votes were unanimously agreed to, and three days afterwards Sir F. Withins was expelled for promoting and presenting an address, expressing an abhorrence of the act of petitioning His Majesty for the calling and sitting of parliaments.

This vote appears at first sight arbitrary and unjust; but if we consider that the tendency of these addresses was to deprive the subject of parliaments, which is not only one of our most valuable rights, but the guardian of all the rest, and that their direct consequence would have been to abrogate a positive law of the realm, we shall rather conclude that the severity shown by the House of Commons is at least excusable.

Yet it is not to be denied, that the rage of the Commons against those who had obstructed their meeting, carried them to unjust and arbitrary proceedings. Not contented with punishing their own members, they sent their Serjeant to take into custody persons even in Northumberland and Yorkshire, suspected of promoting the addresses. This practice became so oppressive, that the people began to turn their suspicions of an arbitrary King into fears of an arbitrary Par

« ПредишнаНапред »