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Lord Russell. But it weighed upon his mind that he had
brought into their council Lord Howard, — who now turned a
miserable traitor, — against a great dislike Lord Russell had
always had of him. He could not bear the reflection, and de-
stroyed himself before Lord Russell was brought to trial at the
Old Bailey.

He knew very well that he had nothing to hope, having


always been manful in the Protestant cause against the two
false brothers, the one on the throne, and the other standing
next to it. He had a wife, one of the noblest and best of
women, who acted as his secretary on his trial, who comforted
him in his prison, who supped with him on the night before he
died, and whose love and virtue and devotion have made her
name imperishable. Of course, he was found guilty, and was
sentenced to be beheaded in Lincoln's Inn-fields, not many
yards from his own house. When he had parted from his
children on the evening before his death, his wife still stayed
with him until ten o'clock at night, and when their final sepa-
ration in this world was over, and he had kissed her many times,
he still sat for a long while in his prison talking of her good-
ness. Hearing the rain fall fast at that time, he calmly said,
" Such a rain to-morrow will spoil a great show, which is a dull
thing on a rainy day." At midnight he went to bed, and slept
till four j even when his servant called him, he fell asleep again
while his clothes were being made ready. He rode to the scaf-
fold in his own carriage, attended by two famous clergymen,
Tillotson and Burnet, and sang a psalm to himself very softly
as he went along. He was as quiet and steady as if he had
been going out for an ordinary ride. After saying that he wa$
surprised to see so great a crowd, he laid down his head upon
the block, as if upon the pillow of his bed, and had it struck
off at the second blow. His noble wife was busy for him even
then ; for that true-hearted lady printed and widely circulated
his last words, of which he had given her a copy. They made
the blood of all the honest men in England boil.

The University of Oxford distinguished itself on the very
same day by pretending to believe that the accusation against
Lord Russell was true, and by calling the king in a written
paper, the Breath of their Nostrils and the Anointed of the
Lord. This paper the Parliament afterwards caused to be
burned by the common hangman ; which I am sorry for, as 1
wish it had been framed and hung up in some public place, as
a monument of baseness for the scorn of mankind.

Next, came the trial of Algernon Sidney, at which Jeffreys
presided, like a great crimson toad, sweltering and swelling with
rage. " I pray God, Mr. Sidney," said this chief justice of a
merry reign, after passing sentence, " to work in you a temper
fit to go to the other world, for I see you are not fit for this."
" My lord," said the prisoner, composedly holding out his
arm, "feel my pulse, and see if I be disordered. I thank
Heaven I never was in better temper than I am now." Alger-



non Sidney was executed on Tower Hill on the 7th of Decem-
ber, 1683. He died a hero, and died, in his own words, "for
that good old cause in which he had been engaged from his
youth, and for which God had so often and so wonderfully de-
clared himself."

The Duke of Monmouth had been making his uncle, the
Duke of York, very jealous, by going about the country in a
royal sort of way, playing at the people's games, becoming god-
father to their children, and even touching for the king's evit,
or stroking the faces of the sick to cure then, — though for the
matter of that, I should say he did them about as much good as
any crowned king could have done. His father had got him to
write a letter confessing his having had a part in the conspiracy
for which Lord Russell had been beheaded ; but he was ever a
weak man, and as soon as he had v/ritten it, he was ashamed of
it, and got it back again. For this, he was banished to the
Netherlands ; but he soon returned, and had an interview with
his father, unknown to his uncle. It would seem that he was
coming into the Merry Monarch's favor again, and the Duke of
York was sliding out of it when death appeared to the merry
galleries at Whitehall, and astonished the debauched lords and
gentlemen, and the shameless ladies, very considerably.

On Monday, the 2d of February, 1685, the merry pensioner
and servant of the king of France fell down in a fit of apoplexy.
By the Wednesday his case was hopeless, and on the Thursday
he was told so. As he made a difficulty about taking the sacra-
ment from the Protestant Bishop of Bath, the Duke of York
got all who were present away from the bed, and asked his
brother, in a whisper if he should send for a Catholic priest ?
The king replied, " For God's sake brother do ! " The Duke
smuggled in, up the back stairs, disguised in a wig and gown
a priest named Huddleston, who had saved the king's life after
the battle of Worcester, — telling him that this worthy man in
the wig had once saved his body, and was now come, to save his

The Merry Monarch lived through that night, and died be-
fore noon on the next day, which was Friday, the 6th. Two of
the last things he said were of a human sort, and your remem-
brance will give him the full benefit of them. When the queen
sent to say she was too unwell to attend him, and to ask his par-
don, he said, " Alas poor woman ; she beg my pardon ; I beg
hers with all my heart. Take back that answer to her. " And
he also said, in reference to Nell Gwyn, *' Do not let poor Nelly
8tarve. "


He died in the fifty-fifth year of his age, and in the twenty-
fifth of his reign.



King James the Second was a man so very disagreeable,
that even the best historians have favored his brother Charles, as
becoming, by comparison, quite a pleasant character. The one
object of his short reign was to re-establish the Catholic re-
ligion in England ; and this he doggedly pursued with such a
stupid obstinacy that his career very soon came to a close.

The first thing he did was to assure his council that he would
make it his endeavor to preserve the government, both in Church
and State, as it was by law established ; and that he would
always take care to defend and support the Church. Great
public acclamations were raised over this fair speech ; and a
great deal was said, from the pulpits and elsewhere, about the
word of a king which was never broken, by credulous people
'who little supposed that he had formed a secret council for
Catholic affairs, of which a mischievous Jesuit called Father
Petre, was one of the chief members. With tears of joy in his
eyes, he received, as the begin laing of his pension from the King
of France, five hundred thousand livres ; yet, with a mixture of
meanness and arrogance that belonged to his contemptible
character, he was always jealous of making some show of being
independent of the King of France, while he pocketed his
money. As — notwithstanding his publishing two papers in
favor of Popery (and not likely to do it much service, I should
think), written by the king, his brother, and found in his strong
box j and his open display of himself attending mass — the Par-
liament was very obsequious, and granted him a large sum of
money, he began his reign with a belief that he could do what
he pleased, and with a determination to do it.

Before we proceed to its principal events, let us dispose of
Titus Gates. He was tried for perjury, a fortnight after the
coronation, and, besides being very heavily fined, was sentenced
to stand twice in the pillory, to be whipped from Aldgate to
Newgate one day, and from Newgate to Tyburn two days after-


wards, and to stand in the pillory five times a year as long
as he lived. This fearful sentence was actually inflicted on
the rascal. Being unable to stand after his first flogging, he
was dragged on a sledge from Nswgate to Tyburn, and flogged
as he was drawn along. He wa3 so strong a villain that he did
not die under the torture, but li\td to be afterwards pardoned
and rewarded, though not to be ever believed in any more.
Dangerfield, the only other one of that crew left alive, was not
so fortunate. He was almost killed by a whipping from New-
gate to Tyburn ; and, as if that were not punishment enough, a
ferocious barrister of Grey's Inn gave him a poke in the eye
with his cane, which caused his death, — for which the ferocious
barrister was deservedly tried and executed.

As soon as James was on the throne, Argyle and Monmouth
went from Brussels to Rotterdam, and attended a meeting of
Scottish exiles held there to concert measures for a rising in
England. It was agreed that Argyle should effect a landing in
Scotland, and Monmouth in England ; and that two English
men should be sent with Argyle to be in his confidence, and two
Scotchmen with the Duke of Monmouth.

Argyle was the first to act upon this contract. But two of
his men being taken prisoners at the Orkney Islands, the gov-
ernment became aware of his intention, and was able to act
against him with such vigor as to prevent his raising more than
two or three thousand Highlanders, although he sent a fiery
cross, by trusty messengers, from clan to clan, and from glen to
glen, as the custom then was when those wild people were to be
excited by their chiefs. As he was moving towards Glasgow
with his small force, he was betrayed by some of his followers,
taken, and carried, with his hands tied behind his back, to his
old prison in Edinburgh Castle. James ordered him to be ex-
ecuted, on his old, shamefully unjust sentence, within three
days ; and he appears to have been anxious that his legs should
have been pounded with his old favorite, the Boot. However,
the Boot was not applied ; he was simply beheaded, and his
head was set upon the top of Edinburgh jail. One of those
Englishmen who had been assigned to him was that old soldier,
Rumbold, the master of the Rye House. He was sorely
wounded, and within a week after Argyle had suffered with
great courage, was brought up for trial, lest he should die, and
disappoint the king. He, too, was executed, after defending
himself with great spirit, and saying that he did not believe
that God had made the greater part of mankind to carry sad-
dles on their backs, and bridles in their mouths, and to be rid-


den by a few, booted and spurred for the purpose ; in whicli 1
thoroughly agree with Rumbold.

The Duke of Monmouth, partly through being detained and
partly through idling his time away, was five or six weeks be-
hind his friend when he landed at Lyme, in Dorset ; having at
his right hand an unlucky nobleman called Lord Grey of Werk,
who of himself would have ruined a far more promising expedi*
tion. He immediately set up his standard in the market-place,
and proclaimed the king a tyrant and a i^opish usurper, and I
know not what else ; charging him, not only with what he had
done, which was bad enough, but with what neither he nor any-
body else had done, such as setting fire to London, and poison-
ing the late king. Raising some four thousand men by these
means, he marched on to Taunton, where there were many
Protestant dissenters who were strongly opposed to the Catho»
lies. Here, both the rich and poor turned out to receive him,
ladies waved a welcome to him from all the windows as he
passed along the streets, flowers were strewn in his way, and
every compliment and honor that could be devised was show-
ered upon him. Among the rest, twenty young ladies came
forward in their best clothes, and in their brightest beauty, and
gave him a Bible ornamented with their own fair hands, to-
gether with other presents.

Encouraged by this homage, he proclaimed himself king,
and went on to Bridgewater. But here, the government troops,
under the Earl of Feversham, were close at hand ; and he was
so dispirited at finding that he made but few powerful friends
after all, that it was a question whether he should disband his
army and endeavor to escape. It was resolved, at the instance
of that unlucky Lord Grey, to make a night attack on the king's
army, as it lay encamped on the edge of a morass called Sedge-
moor. The horsemen were commanded by the same unlucky
lord, who was not a brave man. He gave up the battle almost
at the first obstacle, which was a deep drain ; and although the
poor countrymen who had turned out for Monmouth fought
bravely with scythes, poles, pitchforks, and such poor weapons
as they had, they were soon dispersed by the trained soldiers,
and fled in all directions. When the Duke of Monmouth him-
self fled was not known in the confusion ; but the unlucky
Lord Grey was taken early next day, and then another of the
party was taken, who confessed that he had parted from the
duke only four hours before. Strict search being made, he was
found disguised as a peasant, hidden in a ditch under fern and
nettles, with a few peas in his pocket which he had gathered in



the fields to eat. The only other articles he had upon hink
were a few papers and little books, one of the latter being a
strange jumble, in his own writing, of charms, songs, recipes,
and prayers. He was completely broken. He wrote a miser-
able letter to the king beseeching and entreating to be allowed
to see him. When he was taken to London, and conveyed
tound into the king's presence, he crawled to him on his
knees, and made a most degrading exhibition. As James never
forgave or relented towards anybody, he was not likely to
soften towards the issuer of the Lyme proclamation, so he told
the suppliant to prepare for death.

On the 15th of July, 1685, this unfortunate favorite of the
people was brought out to die on Tower Hill. The crowd was
immense, and the tops of all the houses were covered with
gazers. He had seen his wife, the daughter of the Duke of
Buccleuch, in the Tower, and had talked much of a lady whom
he loved far better, — the Lady Harriet Wentworth, — who was
one of the last persons he remembered in his life. Before lay-
ing down his head upon the block, he felt the edge of the axe,
• and told the executioner that he feared it was not sharp enough,
and that the axe was not heavy enough. On the executioner
replying that it was of the proper kind, the duke said, " I pray
you have a care, and do not use me so awkwardly as you used
my Lord Russell." The executioner, made nervous by this,
and trembling, struck once, and merely gashed him in the
neck. Upon this, the Duke of Monmouth raised his head, and
looked the mari reproachfully in the face. Then he struck
twice, and then thrice, and then threw down the axe, and cried
out in a voice of horror that he could not finish that work.
The sheriffs, however, threatening him with what should be
done to himself if he did not, he took it up again, and struck a
fourth time and a fifth time. Then the wretched head at last
fell off, and James, Duke of Monmouth, was dead, in the
thirty-sixth year of his age. He was a showy, graceful man,
with many popular qualities, and had found much favor in the
open hearts of the English.

The atrocities committed by the government which followed
this Monmouth rebellion form the blackest and most lament-
able page in English history. The poor peasants, having been
dispersed with great loss, and their leaders having been taken,
one would think that the implacable king might have been
satisfied. But no ; he let loose upon them, among other in-
tolerable monsters, a Colonel Kirk, who had served against
the Moors, and whose soldiers — called by the people, Kirk's


lambs because they bore a lamb upon their flag, as the emblem
of Cnristianity — were worthy of their leader, The atrocities
committed by these demons in human shape are far too horri-
ble to be related here. It is enough to say, that besides most
ruthlessly murdering and robbing them, and ruining them by
makmg them buy their pardons at the price of all they pos-
sessed, it was one of Kirk's favorite amusements, as he and
his officers sat drinking after dinner, and toasting the king, to
have batches of prisoners hanged outside the windows for the
company's diversion ; and that when their feet quivered in the
convulsions of death, he used to swear that they should have
.music to their dancing and would order the drums to beat and
the trumpets to play. The detestable king informed him, as
an acknowledgment of these services, that he was " very well
satisfied with his proceedings." But the king's great delight
was in the proceedings of Jeffreys, now a peer, who went down
into the West, with four other judges, to try persons accused
of having had any share in the rebellion. The king pleasantly
called this "Jeffreys' campaign." The people down in that
part of the country remember it to this day as The Bloody

It began at Winchester, where a poor deaf old lady, Mrs.
Alicia Lisle, the widow of one of the judges of Charles the
First (who had been murdered abroad by some royalist assas-
sins), was charged with having given shelter in her house to
two fugitives from Sedgemoor. Three times the jury refused
to find her guilty, until Jeffreys bullied and frightened them
into that false verdict. When he had extorted it from them,
he said, " Gentlemen, if I had been one of you, and she had
been my own mother, I would have found her guilty," — as I
daresay he would. He sentenced her to be burned aUve that
very afternoon. The clergy of the Cathedral and some others
interfered in her favor, and she was beheaded within a week.
As a high mark of his approbation, the king made Jeffreys
Lord Chancellor ; and he then went on to Dorchester, to
Exeter, to Taunton, and to Wells. It is astonishing, when we
read of the enormous injustice and barbarity of this beast, to
know that no one struck him dead on the judgment-seat. It
was enough for any man or woman to be accused by an
enemy, before Jeffreys, to be found guilty of high treason.
One man who pleaded not guilty, he ordered to be taken out
01 court upon the instant, and hanged; and this so terrified
the prisoners in general that they mostly pleaded guilty at
Ooce. At Dorchester alone, in the course of a few days, Jeffreys


hanged eighty people ; besides whipping, transporting, imprison-
ing, and selling as slaves, great numbers. He executed, in all
two hundred and fifty or three hundred.

These executions took place among the neighbors and friends
of the sentenced in thirty-six towns and villages. The bodies
were mangled, steeped in caldrons of boiling pitch and tai, ana
hung up by the roadsides, in the streets, ovei the very churches.
The sight and smell of heads and limbs, the hissing and bub-
bling of the infernal caldrons, and the tears and terrors ot the
people, were dreadful beyond all description. One rustic, who
was forced to steep the remains in the black pot, was evci
afterwards called " Tom Boilman." The hangman has ever
since been called Jack Ketch, because a man of that name
went hanging and hanging, all day long, in the train of Jeffreys.
You will hear much of the horrors of the great French Revo-
lution. Many and terrible they were, there is no doubt ; but I
know nothing worse done by the maddened people of FrancC;,
in that awful time, then was done by the highest judge in Eng-
land, with the express approval of the King of England, in the
Bloody Assize.

Nor was even this all. Jeffreys was as fond of money for
himself as of misery for others ; and he sold pardons wholesale
to fill his pockets. The king ordered, at one time, a thousand
prisoners to be given to certain of his favorites, in order that
they might bargain with them for their pardons. The young
ladies of Taunton who had presented the Bible were bestowed
upon the maids of honor at court ; and those precious ladies
made very hard bargains with them indeed. When the Bloody
Assize was at its most dismal height, the king was diverting
himself with horse-races in the very place where Mrs. Lisle had
been executed. When Jeffreys had done his worst, and came
home again, he was particularly complimented in the Royal
Gazette ; and when the king heard that, through drunkenness
and raging, he was very ill, his odious majesty remarked that
such another man could not easily be found in England. Be-
sides all this, a former sheriff of London, named Cornish, was
hanged within sight of his own house, after an abominably con-
ducted trial, for having had a share in the Rye House Plot, on
evidence given by Rumsey, which that villain was obliged to
confess was directly opposed to the evidence he had given on
the trial of Lord Russell. And on the very same day, a worthy
widow named Elizabeth Gaunt, was burned alive at Tyburn, for
having sheltered a wretch who himself gave evidence against
ker. She settled the fuel about herself with her own hands, sp


that the flames should reacli liei quickly . and nobly snid, with
her last breath, that she had obeyed the sacred commands of
God to give refuge to the outcast, and not to betray the wan-

After all this hanging, beheading, burning, boiling, mutila-
ting, exposing, robbing, transporting, and selling into slavery,
of his unhappy subjects, tiie king not unnaturally thought that
he could do whatever he would. So he went to work to chanf;e
the religion of the country with all possible speed ; and what
he did was this.

He first of all tried to get rid of what was called the Test
Act — which prevented the Catholics from holding public employ-
ments — by his own power of dispensing with the penalties.
He tried it in one case ; and eleven of the twelve judges decid-
ing in his favor, he exercised it in three others, being those of
three dignitaries of University College, Oxford, who had be-
come Papists, and whom he kept in their places and sanctioned.
He revived the hated Ecclesiastical Commission, to get rid of
Compton, Bishop of London, who manfully opposed him. He
solicited the pope to favor England with an ambassador, which
the pope (who was a sensible man then) rather unwillingly did.
He flourished Father Petre before the eyes of the people on
all possible occasions. He favored the establishment of con-
vents in several parts of London. He was delighted to have
the streets, and even the court itself filled with monks and
friars in the habits of their orders. He constantly endeavored
to make Catholics of the Protestants about him. He held
private interviews, which he called " closetings," with those
members of Parliaments who held offices to persuade them to
consent to the design he had in view. When they did not con-
sent, they were removed, or resigned of themselves, and their
places were given to Catholics. He displaced Protestant officers
from the army, by every means in his power, and got Catholics
into their places too. He tried the same thing with the cor-
porations, and also (though not so successfully) with the lord
lieutenants of counties. To terrify the people into the endur-
ance of all these measures, he kept an army of fifteen thousand
men encamped on Hounslow Heath, where mass was openly
performed in the general's tent, and where priests went among the
soldiers, endeavoring to persuade them to become Catholics. For
circulating a paper among those men advising them to be true
to their religion, a Protestant clergyman, named Johnson, the
Chaplain of the late Lord Russell, was actually sentenced to
Stand three times in the pillory, and was actually whipped fronj


Newgate to Tyburn. He dismissed his own brother-in-law from
his council because he was a Protestant, and made a privy
councillor of the before-mentioned Father Petre. He handed
Ireland over to Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel, a worthless,
dissolute knave who played the same game there for his master,
and who played the deeper game for himself of one day put-
ting it under the protection of the French king. In going to
tliese extremities, every man of sense and judgment among the
Catholics, from the pope to a porter, knew that the king was a
mere bigoted fool, who would undo himself and the cause he
sought to advance ; but he was deaf to all reason ; and, happily
for England ever afterwards, went tumbling off his throne in

Online LibraryCharles DickensA child's history of England → online text (page 37 of 38)