« ПредишнаНапред »
being told by Everard the book was treasonable, he said, the more treason, the better. What use he intended to make of it, whether to hide it in the pockets of the Whig leaders, or to take it‘ directly to the King, is uncertain. The former was reported as a plan in agitation; and Lady Russell, in a letter to her husband at this time, bids him look to his pockets. '
The intentions of Fitzharris, however, whatever they may have been, were frustrated by Sir W. Waller, who being concealed at a second conference he held with Everard, laid the whole matter before the King. Fitzharris was imprisoned in Newgate, and then began to look for safety to the opposite party. He told She-' riff Cornish, that he knew much of the Popish plot. Cornish, with great judgment, immediately told the whole story to the King. The King owned that he had given money to Fitzharris, and that, for three months before, he had been promised by him information of a plot concerning his government and life. The secretaries of state were sent to take his examination, which was nothing more than a tissue of fictions about the Popish plot. To give his discoveries more air, he sent for Sir R. Clayton and Sir George Treby, before whom he swore to the same story. He now became a valuable
witness in the eyes of the Opposition, and a
Shaftesbnry to the King. It is pretended, that that in a private audience, he told the King he had received an anonymous letter, pointing out a method of quieting the disturbances of the nation, without the Exclusion Bill ; which, when explained, consisted in settling the crown on the Duke of Monmouth. The King answered him, with surprise and indignation, that such a measure was against law, and his own conscience. *
Whatever foundation there may be for this anecdote, Sir R. Clayton moved, on the 26th March, that the Exclusion Bill be‘ brought in. The motion was-l‘I seconded by Lord Russell. They both declared they had received ad», dresses in its favour from their constituents. In the course of the debate, Sir William Pulteney, and Mr. Booth, repnesentatiw- of Westminster, and Cheshireamade a similar declaration,
would assemble under the shelterr of the law,
a North. Examen. p. 123, 124.
to support the regency of the Prince and Princess of Orange, and a security against any attempt of the Duke would be found in his fears of forfeiting his landed property. Sir W. Jones replied, that to him who was playing for a kingdom, such a stake as an estate in land, would not be worthy of consideration; and that, by the doctrine of the law, all incapacity is done away by coming to the throne; so that the restrictions would of themselves fall to the ground.
After a long debate, the House resolved, that the Bill of Exclusion be brought in. ' An impartial observer of those times would probably have been inclined to blame the imprudence of the Whigs in rejecting the limitations offered by the King. Experienceteaches us not to rely on the continued support of the people, for the estafiishqrent of a. check to arbitrary power, entirely prcspective in itsvobject. V The utmost that the great body of a nation can be brought to do, is to‘ apply a remedy to an evil that has been felt, provide at the same time against its future recurrence. By the alarm of the Popish plot, however, a certain degree of popularity had been procured for the Exclusion Bill. At that time, and with all the strength, both in parliament and in the council, which could ever be reasonably expected, the measure