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and took off his cravat, without the least change of countenance. Just as he was going down to the block, some one called out to make a lane, that the Duke of Albemarle might see; upon which he looked full that way. Dr. Burnet had advised him not to turn about his head when it was once on the block, and not to give a signal to the executioner. These directions he punctually attended to.
"When he had lain down," says Dr. Burnet, "I once looked at him, and saw no change in his looks; and though he was still lifting up his hands, there was no trembling, though in the moment in which I looked the executioner happened to be laying his axe to his neck, to direct him to take aim: I thought it touched him, but am sure he seemed not to mind it."
The executioner, at two strokes, cut off his head. *
* The greater part of this account is taken from Dr. Burnet's Journal, published in the General Dictionary, art. Russell, and in MSS. at Woburn. Other particulars are taken from notes in Lady Russell's and Dr. Burnet's hand-writing. also at Woburn. I have always preserved, as near as possible, the form of expression used in the original. For Dr. Burnet's Journal, see Appendix, where it is given at length.
CHARACTER OF LORD RUSSELL. — SPEECH DELIVERED TO THE
SHERIFFS. LADY RUS8ELL. VISIT OF DYCKTELT.—
PATENT OF THE DUKE OF BEDFORD. CHARACTER OF
Thus died William Lord Russell, on the 21st of July, 1683, in the 44th year of his age. Few men have deserved better of their country. Though not remarkable for very brilliant talents, he was a man of solid judgment; and was never led astray, by any curious sophistry, to confound the perceptions of right and wrong; to mistake slavery for duty; or to yield to power the homage which is due to virtue. He was a warm friend, not to liberty merely, but to English liberty; a decided enemy, not only to regal incroachment, but to turbulent innovation. He was a good son, a good husband, a good father, and, like some others whom our own days have seen, united mildness of domestic affection with severity of public principle. His integrity was so conspicuous, as to gain him that ascendant over the minds of men, which is generally reserved for genius. And, although Englishmen have not much reason to be proud of the reign of Charles the Second, they cannot fail to recognize the sound morality of their countrymen, in the respect and confidence which accompanied an honest man contending against the general corruption, even when surrounded and opposed by statesmen of conspicuous ability. It is gratifying to find that, even in the scale of popularity, eloquence and wit are outweighed by sense and integrity.
It must be owned, that few politicians have been so little swayed by interest as Lord Russell. Even Sprat, who wrote under the eye of James, for the purpose of defaming those who died for the Rye-House Plot, only attributes to him a too great love of popularity, and an idle fear of losing his abbey lands. And, after the Revolution, he eagerly retracted what he had said of the last speech of Lord Russell; declaring himself convinced of " that noble gentleman's great probity and constant abhorrence of falsehood." Evelyn, who was as likely as any man to speak the opinion of his time, says, "Every one deplored Essex and Russell, especially the last, as being thought to have been drawn in on pretence only of endeavouring to rescue the King from his present counsellors, and secure religion from Popery, and the nation from arbitrary government, now so much apprehended."
The political opinions of Lord Russell were those of a Whig. His religious creed was that of a mitd and tolerant Christian. If, as it must be admitted, he showed a violent animosity to the Roman Catholics, to an extent which cannot be justified, it must be recollected, that his hostility was almost entirely political. The attack which was made upon our constitution appeared in the colours and with the ensigns of Popery; and it was only by resisting the Romish Church, that civil liberty could be secured. He wished our own institutions to be more favourable to dissenters; or, in other words, for a larger comprehension of sects. Had this wish been gratified, the Protestant Church of England would have been strengthened, both against the See of Rome, and against future schism, with the loss only of some slavish doctrines, and a few unimportant ceremonies, which our early reformers never adopted.
It must be owned that the violence of Lord Russell against the Roman Catholics betrayed him into credulity. It was the fault of honest men in that age; and it is singular that, absurd as the story of the Popish plot avowedly is, we have more respect for those who fell into the delusion, than for those who escaped it. But whatever blame may attach to Lord Russell for an excess of political and religious zeal, it cannot be denied that his firmness and perseverance were eminently useful to his country, in a most critical period of her fortunes, and that his example contributed to the establishment of those liberties which he died to vindicate.
The following paper was delivered by Lord Russell to the Sheriff:
"I thank God I find myself so composed and prepared for death, and my thoughts so fixed on another world, that I hope in God I am quiet from setting my heart on this; yet I cannot forbear now the setting down in writing a further account of my condition, to be left behind me, than I will venture to say at the place of execution, in the noise and clutter that is like to be there. I bless God heartily for those many blessings which He in his infinite mercy hath bestowed upon me through the whole course of my life; that I was born ofworthy and good parents, and had the advantage of a religious education, which are invaluable blessings; for even when I minded it least, it still hung about me and gave me checks; and has now for many years so influenced and possessed me, that I feel the happy effects of it in this my extremity, in which I have been so wonderfully (I thank God) supported, that neither my imprisonment, nor fear of death, have been able to discompose me in any degree; but, on the contrary, I have found