« ПредишнаНапред »
testant religion. " In the paper which Lord Russell delivered to the Sheriff's on the scaffold, he speak thus: “ As for the share I had in the prosecution of the Popish Plot, I take .God to‘ witness that I proceeded in -it in the sincerity of my heart, being then really convinced (as I am still) that there was a conspiracy against the‘
King, the nation, and the Protestant religion; and I likewise profess, that I never knew any thing either directly or indirectly, of any practice with the witnesses ; which I looked upon as ’ so ‘horrid a thing, that I could never have‘ ’ enduredit.” - ' The sincerity of Lord Russell is- so generally’ acknowledged, that credit must be given to him for upright intentions at this singular period: The character of Lord Shaftesbury is not so pure; as to free him equally from reproach. Perhaps he may have reasoned to himself in this manner: --“. It is clear that designs exist somewhere to subvert our laws and religion. But the people who would never listen to us when we in
* So also was Mr. Evelyn. “ For my part," he says, “ I‘ look on Oates as a vain insolent man, puffed up with the favour of the Commons, for having discovered something really true, moreespecially as detecting the real intrigue of ‘ Coleman, proved out of his own letters, amid‘ a general design which the jesuited party of the Papists ever had, and still have to ruin the Church of England," &c. Vol. i. p. 479.
"01.. I. K
} ' formed them of the conspiracy carried on with . France, are now thoroughly awakened to a sense ; their ‘danger, when it has been drest up in ' wonders and horrors by the knavery of Oates.' It is much better to promote their credulity than, by letting this plot fall, to incur the risk of their sinking again into a fatal apathy.” Shaftesbury, who was not very scrupulous, may have satisfied his conscience with such arguments. But whatever may have been his secret views, the party in general seems to have given into the belief of the plot with the rest of the nation, including a majority of the ministers, and nearly the whole of the church. 2 The enquiries to which the plot gave rise soon involved the Duke of York.
Coleman, formerly the Duke’s secretary, afterwards in disgrace, and at that time secretary to the Duchess, was the agent of a correspondence during the .years 1674', 1675, and part of 1676, between James and the King of France, through
- the means of Fathers‘ Ferrier and Le Chaise. It related chiefly to advances of money from the French king to obtain the dissolution of the
=: English Parliament, and promote the French and Catholic interest. But nothing seems to have been concluded, the effectual negociations having been carried on, as we have seen, by other hands. In one of these letters, Coleman says,
this correspondence, though but a small part ‘of the Duke of York’s intrigues, would have been sufiici'ent grounds for the impeachment of any other subject. It 'is to be attributed to the moderation and prudence of the country party that the first motion they made on this subject was only for the removal of ithe Duke from direct influence in the administration.
Lord Shaftesbury moved, in the House of Lords, on the 2d of November, that he might be removed from all councils and public affairs. Two days afterwards, the King desired him not to come to the foreign committee, and to decline meddling anymore in public business. The Duke reluctantly obeyed. * But the popular party, not satisfied with this concession, resolved to move an address in the Commons, to remove him from the King’s presence and- councils. The person chosen to make this important motion was Lord Russell. It was not because he was endowed with extraordinary Sagacity to detect the intrigues of the Duke, or with remarkable eloquence to rouse the passions of a popular assembly, that he was the fittest person to take the lead; but the great stake which he had in the country, and, above all, the personal integrity and temperate love of liberty which distinguished his character, pointed him out for this important duty.
In the prevailing temper of the House, the” ministers did not venture to meet the motion by‘ a direct negative. They allowed, in debate, the dangers to be apprehended from the Duke’s influence; but they said he had himself proposed to withdraw from the King’s councils. And that after what had passed in the Lords, such w an address as the present might create a misunderstanding between the Houses. , They argued also, that the measure would not answer the end proposed, as the King and Duke might correspond by letter. Sir John Ernly, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said, “ If you put the Duke “ away, you put him at the head of 20,000 “ “ men, and then it will be much more in his ’ ‘ ' ' “ power to do you hurt.” The debate‘ was ‘ ' adjourned to the 8th, and after a short conversation on that day, ministers found means to prevent its again coming forward. Several circumstances, which occurred upon this occasion, serve to show the temper of the House. Sir T. Clarges declared it was the greatest debate that ever was in'Parliament. Mr. Waller having desired time to consider, Mr. Harwood said, that he who moved to defer the ‘question a minute longer was an enemy to his king and country. Sir Robert ‘Sawyer, a great courtier, proposed an address to the King to represent that his brother, being a. Papist, was the cause of all the con