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WILLIAM LORD RUSSELL. 85
generality of ‘the Protestants. And I beg of your lordship to consider, how it will agree with an avowed asserting of the Protestant religion, to go contrary to the general doctrine of the Protestants.
“ My end in this is to convince your lordship, that you are in a very great and dangerous mistake; and being so convinced, that, which before was a sin of ignorance, will appear of a much more heinous nature, as in truth it is, and call for a very particular and deep repentance; which, if your lordship sincerely exercise upon the sight of your error, by a penitent acknowledgment of it to God and men, you will not only obtain forgiveness of God, but prevent a mighty scandal to the reformed religion.
“ I am very loth to give your lordship any disquiet in the distress you are in, which I commiserate from my heart; but am much more concerned, that you do not leave the world in a delusion and false peace, to the hindrance of your eternal happiness.
“ I heartily pray for you, and beseech your lordship to believe, that I am, with the greatest sincerity and compassion in the world,
' “ My Lord,
July 20, 1683.
Lord Russell, on receiving the paper, went into an inner room, and, after staying some time, upon his return, told the Dean he had read the letter, and was willing to be convinced, but could not say he was so ; and hoped God would forgive him, if he were in error. Dr. Tillotson said, he hoped so too, and soon went away. Meeting Dr. Burnet as he came out, he desired him either to prevail upon Lord Russell to go farther, or to strike out the whole paragraph above cited, from his speech. He went himself to Lord Halifax, to whom he gave his letter, and expressed his regret for having engaged him to make a wrong statement to the King. Upon Dr. Burnet’s entering upon the subject, Lord Russell answered, that he could not tell a lie; and if he went farther, he must needs lie. He said, he had not leisure then to study politics. The notion he had of laws, and of the English government, was different from theirs; yet, he said, so far did he submit to them, and to the reasons they had offered him, that he was willing to go so far as he had done, but could not go further without being disingenuous. When Dr. Burnet proposed striking out the whole paragraph, he was very well satisfied to do so, and said his chief reason for putting it in, was to prevent any inconvenience that might come to Tillotson and him. But he often said, that,. whatever his
opinion might be, in cases of extremity, he was against these Ways, and ever thought a parliamentary cure was the proper remedy for all the distempers of the nation ; and protested that he, and a few more, had taken much pains to moderate people’s heats for three years together, and had ever persuaded their friends to be quiet, and. wait for a parliament.‘
‘It will not now be denied, that the opinion which Lord Russell entertained of the duty of a. subject, was more correct than that of the two worthy and respectable clergymen who attended him, and his asserting that opinion at a moment so solemn, when a different conduct might per
haps have saved his life, ought to make his me- ,
mory dear to every friend of freedom.
* Birch’s Life of Tillotson. -Burnet’s Journal.
THE LAST WEEK OF LORD RUSSELL’S LlFE.-—-HIS EXECUTION
WE have now to detail the last, but not the least glorious circumstances of Lord Russell’s life. During the week which elapsed between his condemnation and his execution, he had full opportunity to exercise the most remarkable virtues of his character, —patience, fortitude, affection to his family, love of his.country, piety to his God. Perhaps there never was a period in the life of any man, in which so much resignation at the prospect of approaching death was combined with such a zealous consideration of every circumstance which might afi'ect the happiness of mankind. From his first coming to the Tower, he had considered.that the sherifi'would take care to return such a jury as would condemn him, if the King’s counsel should bid them. He had also reflected, that it was probable there might be such a noise at his execution, ‘that he would not be able to say much.’ So he employed his leisure in framing a paper, to leave behind him, which should contain a large avowal of his sentiments, principles, and conduct. This occupation took up all the hours he was alone, and even induced him to forego, several times,
- the society of his wife. He discussed the heads
of this paper with Dr. Burnet, and afterwards ‘wrote them out fillly, with a critical exactness in the choice of every word. Dr. Burnet, who was much with him, has also drawn up a very copious journal of his conversation.
Of his own death, he spoke with calmness and deliberate resignation. He often said that he had passed over the best part of his life, for he had lived two parts in three; and he could not think that the remaining third would have been
. as comfortable as the two former had been. He
told his wife, that he was so willing to leave the world, he was even willing to leave her. Yet, upon receiving a letter from her, when he first went to the Tower, concealed in a cold chicken,
* Woburn MSS.